UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF GOD – ACCORDING TO MORMONISM
When the Mormon missionaries come a person’s house and give their discussions* about Mormon beliefs, they will use the term “Heavenly Father” almost exclusively when talking about God. The Missionaries will paint a picture of a loving Father who loves His children (all of mankind from the beginning of the world until the end of the world) and wants them to become like Him. They will speak of a Plan of Salvation in which Heavenly Father provided a way for us to become like Him.
According to Mormon theology, we lived with God in a “pre-existence” as spirits. As spirits, we had progressed as far as we could but could progress no further. Because Heavenly Father loved us so much, he wanted us to be able to grow and progress. Therefore, He created a plan, known to Mormons as “The Plan of Salvation”.
In a nutshell, this Plan of Salvation provided that we would come down to earth and receive a body. During this life on earth it is our duty to learn to control our body (suppress its appetites and bring it into the submission of our will and spirit), we must experience pleasure and pain, sickness and health, so that we can appreciate health and happiness. We must also seek out and find the one True Church on earth, gain a testimony of it, become a member of it, receive all of the requisite ordinances found only in the one true church (baptism, confirmation, LDS temple endowment, and LDS temple marriage), and we must be completely obedient to all of the Heavenly Father’s commandments (as given through the one true church – The Mormon Church – and its Prophet, Apostles and leaders).
If we accomplish this list of requisites, we will be allowed to enter into God’s Kingdom (the “Celestial Kingdom” – which is the highest of what is actually Three Kingdoms and the only place where God dwells, where we can continue to progress eternally and where we can have Eternal Increase). Throughout these discussions, the Mormon Missionaries will reiterate over and over again of this loving Heavenly Father and how he wants us to grow to become “like” Him.
But what does all of this really mean and what is the nature of God, according to Mormon theology?
A look at the nature of God, according to Mormonism.
As you may begin to understand from the foregoing, the God presented in Mormon theology is certainly different than the God of the bible. Though presented by the church in a beautiful, nice-sounding and attractive way, God, in Mormonism, is actually ultimately reduced to the level of a mere man -- although a highly "evolved" man. This may, at least partially, account for the fact that Mormons rarely use the word “God” in referring to God. God is almost exclusively referred to in public (inside the temple God is referred to as “Elohim”) as “Heavenly Father”.
While it is not unusual for Christians to refer to God as “Heavenly Father” as well (as believers, God is indeed our Father in Heaven), you will rarely hear a Mormon refer to God as “God”. Again, part of the significance of this, I believe, lies in the fact that the ultimate goal for Mormons is to become as God – in other words, to become Gods and Godesses ourselves. Thus, God is really ultimately just like us.
This is a concept that sounds a bit bizarre to the average Christian. But it all sounds perfectly logical and reasonable to a Mormon – and, unfortunately, when presented in the soft, sincere voice of an enthusiastic young Mormon Missionary who fervently believes it to the point of teary eyes, it can sound reasonable even to Christians that are not founded enough in the Word of God to know the counterfeit when they hear it.
GOD WAS NOT ALWAYS GOD
As we can grow and progress to become “like” God (to become a God), Heavenly Father too progressed to BECOME God. Yes, that means what it sounds like. According to Mormon doctrines and beliefs, God was not always God. He became God. The Mormon belief is expressed as follows:
“This is the way our Heavenly Father BECAME God. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345–346, 348).
So, in other words, God, according to Mormon beliefs, lived on an earth, just as we do. He was born to fleshly parents as a child and grew to manhood. According to Mormon theology, God had to get a body, just as we all do, and he had to be tested and prove himself worthy to return to His Heavenly Father - another God who was God’s Heavenly Father. God lived life as we do, he had to learn good from evil, had to overcome evil (according to logic, God must have been a sinner as well - and there had to be a savior to redeem God from His sins). Ultimately, God proved Himself and progressed far enough that He, Himself, became a God. God, our Heavenly Father, now has His own world.
According to Mormon doctrine, we too can evolve ("progress") to the level that God has achieved, through adherence to His Plan of Salvation and perfect obedience to the Mormon Church (the one and only true church on the face of the earth) and its doctrines, ordinances and commands. As such, the Mormon view really consists of worlds without end (in both directions – from infinity in the past, to infinity in the future) with unending multitudes of highly evolved humans who have achieved such a high level of perfection so as to be Gods. Yes, the God of Mormonism is not the one and only God – He is one of many “Gods” – but for us, according to Mormon theology, Heavenly Father is the only God we here on earth are to worship.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, made clear:
“I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 370).
Heber C. Kimball, one of the Mormon Church’s original apostles in the council of Twelve Apostles, declared that we would one day look to Joseph Smith as a god: "You call us fools; but the day will be, gentlemen and ladies, whether you belong to this Church or not, when you will prize brother Joseph Smith as the Prophet of the Living God, and look upon him as a God, and also upon Brigham Young, our Governor in the territory of Deseret.” Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, p. 88).
Brigham Young, Joseph Smith’s successor, also stated emphatically:
“He [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:289 (Oct 9, 1859).
Brigham Young further declared:
“NO MAN OR WOMAN IN THIS DISPENSATION WILL EVER ENTER INTO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM OF GOD WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF JOSEPH SMITH. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, EVERY MAN AND WOMAN MUST HAVE THE CERTIFICATE OF JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR, AS A PASSPORT TO THEIR ENTRANCE INTO THE MANSION WHERE GOD AND CHRIST ARE . . . .” Brigham Young, JoD 7:289 (Oct 9, 1859)
So, while Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith in the sense that they pray to him, Mormons do believe that no one will enter the Kingdom of Heaven without the consent of Joseph Smith and that Joseph Smith will be a God to us (but those who are faithful will also be Gods themselves, if proven faithful enough to become such).
GOD – THE GREAT “ORGANIZER” OF THINGS
Interesting also is the fact that God, according to Mormonism, is not really a "creator". In the Mormon Temple narrative of the creation, God says:
“yonder is matter unorganized, go ye down and organize it into a world like unto the worlds that we have hereunto formed”.
In Mormon theology, nothing can be created from nothing – not even God can do that. Everything has already been created and exists in spirit form, before it can be made in physical form. God is only the master "organizer" of things that have always existed (and God is also powerless to make anything cease to exist). All men and women existed first as “intelligences” that were unorganized. God then organized the intelligences into spirit bodies and these spirits dwelt with God, in His presence. After God organized the earth, He put men and women on the earth in physical bodies.
THE JESUS OF MORMONISM ACHIEVED HIS GOD STATUS
According to Mormon doctrine, in our pre-existent state as spirit children of Heavenly Father, God wanted to created the earth and send His children there so that they could get a body, be tested and tried and proven worthy to return to His presence where His children too could then become Gods and Goddesses (note that men and women must be married in an LDS Temple by the power of the Mormon priesthood in order to enter into the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom where these new Gods and Goddess can procreate and populate their own worlds that will create like God and his wives did).
In the pre-existence, God held a grand council with all of his spirit children (which included Jesus and Satan, who were brothers to each other and brothers to each of us). God presented His Plan of Salvation for mankind and asked “whom shall I send?” Jesus answered that He would go. Jesus’s plan was to allow mankind his own freewill ("free agency") to choose whether to follow God’s plan or not and provided that He would be the savior of mankind and that Jesus would give God all the glory.
Another son, Satan, also responded, requesting that God send him, instead. Satan’s plan was to force all men to choose the right. Satan's plan would ensure that not one soul would be lost and that all of God’s children would be returned to Him. Satan, however, wanted God to give Satan the glory for what he would do in ensuring that every soul would be returned to God without sin. God, answered: “I will send the first”. Satan became angry and rebelled against God. Because of his rebellion, Satan was cast down to earth and became the devil (together with 1/3 of the hosts of heaven – which were not angels according to Mormon theology, but rather were also spirit sons and daughters of God, our brothers and sisters who were disobedient - As an interesting aside, the black race were spirt sons and daughters of God who were "fence sitters" in the pre-existence and were not valiant in the support of God and His plan. These less valiant children became the seed of Cain and were cursed with a skin of blackness and, until 1978 black males were not allowed to hold the Mormon Priesthood).
In the pre-existence, Jesus was the first-born of all of God’s spirit children. Yes, Jesus was born as a spirit, according to Mormon theology. He was not born a God. He was essentially God’s helper who helped create the earth by power and authority delegated from God the Father, but Jesus did not fully achieve his own Godhood until He proved Himself worthy - by His presentation of the best plan in the pre-existence, His perfect performance of living a sin-free life, bearing the burden of the weight of the sins of the world in the Garden of Eden (this is a whole other topic on its own) and His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. Because Jesus was perfect and proved Himself worthy, He became a God (not THE God – A God).
Logically, according to Mormon theology, Satan could just as well have been the "savior" of the world, if he had been more humble, presented a better plan and performed better. But Satan blew it in the pre-existence, lost his shot and became the devil instead of our savior.
I know this all sounds crazy to the average Christian, but it is imperative to understanding the true nature of the Mormon God and of the Mormon Plan of Salvation.
GOD – THE MASTER SCIENTIST AND OBEYER OF NATURAL LAWS
God, according to Mormonism (aside from being a super-highly evolved being and the master "organizer" of things), is really more akin to being God, the master scientist who understands and works with natural laws (that he can't create or change) to do amazing things - but, not because of His supernatural power. Rather it is because of God’s ability to perfectly know and make use of the eternal laws of nature. If God defied these laws, according to Mormonism, God would cease to be God and could not do any mighty work.
GOD – INFINITE AND ETERNAL ONLY FROM A FORWARD PERSPECTIVE
God, according to Mormonism, as God, is “infinite and eternal” only from a "forward" perspective because He did not always exist as God. God existed eternally in the past as an intelligence and later as a man, as we all are at one point (According to Mormon theology: "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be." D&C 93:29). Again, at one time, according to Mormonism, God was powerless as a mere man ("as man is, God once was, as God is man may become”. Joseph Smith, the King Follet Discourse). As such, God is also likely to have been a sinner at one point, before He became perfected to his godly state. As God’s power was “achieved”, He is not really an infinite God, according to Mormon theology. The creator, at some point was “created” (or “organized”) as was man into a spirit body and He later attained a physical body in the same manner as man, then he died and was resurrected.
Again, the God of Mormonism is bound by natural laws. If God failed to abide by the natural laws, He would cease to be God. Is the God of Mormonism really an all powerful, omnipotent God? Not really. God's powers are limited to the confines of natural laws and they are exercised only because He perfectly understands and uses those laws.
THE GOD WHO CONSTANTLY CHANGES HIS MIND
In addition, the God of Mormonism is constantly changing His mind. He gives Joseph Smith one revelation and later apparently directs Joseph to go back and make changes to it (there are many changes to the revelations recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants – compare the numerous substantive changes made from the original Book of Commandments to the same verses now contained in the Doctrine & Covenants). God also pronounces the Book of Mormon translation “correct” and later Joseph Smith and the church go back and make numerous changes to the Book of Mormon. He gives one revelation to His prophet but changes the directive to a later prophet (e.g., Adam-God doctrine; Blacks shall never hold the priesthood in this life; Polygamy is an eternal principal and requisite for salvation; the temple endowment shall never be changed, etc.). What God declares to be eternal doctrine that shall never be changed is later changed. Maybe the Mormon God’s man-like characteristics account for this apparent fallibility?
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
Compare the God that is taught in Mormonism to the God that is declared in the bible:
"Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." Isaiah 43:10.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Psalm 90:2
"Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:34-36
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent." (1 Samuel 15:29) "Repent" = to change his mind or His ways
"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Psalms 119:89
"For I am the LORD, I change not;. . ." Malachi 3:6
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John 4:24 ("Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” Luke 24:39)
"To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" Isaiah 40:18
"No man hath seen God". John 1:18
"Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen." Timothy 6:16
"I am that I am." Exodus 3:14
“the everlasting God” Genesis 21:33
"thou art the same, and thy years have no end". Psalm 102:27
"Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him." Deuteronomy 4:35
"Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Isaiah 44:6
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" 1 Kings 8:27
"But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?" 2 Chron. 2:6
"Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." Jeremiah 23:24
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" Isaiah 66:1
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:1
"For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:11
"Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee." Nehemiah 9:6
"Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?" Job 12:9
"He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." Job 26:7
"For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." Psalm 24:2
"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Psalm 33:6
"The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95:5
"Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands." Psalm 102:25
"Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever." Psalms 104:5
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding." Isaiah 40:28
"I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." Isaiah 45:12
"Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together." Isaiah 48:13
"And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:" Acts 4:24
"Hath not my hand made all these things?" Acts 7:50
"And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:" Acts 14:15
The God of Mormonism is substantially different from the God of the Bible - the God that Bible-Believing Christians know. None of this is presented with intent to disparage Mormons or the Mormon Church, but rather so that Christians may be warned of “another gospel” and that they may discern the counterfeit when they see it and be not led after the doctrines of men, mingled with scripture.
The truth shall set you free!
For more, go to: www.truthshallsetufree.com
*"Missionary discussions” are lessons that are formally known as “The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel” that the Mormon missionaries learn and recite to potential Mormon converts (known as “investigators” in Mormon vernacular) which are prepared outlines of 6 specific lessons that Missionaries must teach to a potential convert before the person may be baptized into the Mormon Church.
Read more articles by Rob Johnson or search for articles on the same topic or others.