. . . . We Teach That

This is Lesson 47 from the Gospel Principles class taught in all LDS ward houses across the world. I’m just posting it because apparently some members are confused about what the church still teaches when it comes to the doctrine taught in the Lorenzo Snow couplet, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become”.

Blessings of Exaltation
Our Heavenly Father is perfect. However, he is not jealous of his wisdom and perfection. He glories in the fact that it is possible for his children to become like him. He has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

* 1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).
* 2. They will become gods. [emphasis added]
* 3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.
* 4. They will receive a fulness of joy.
* 5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

And also. . .

This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: “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. 345–46). [emphasis added]

Our Heavenly Father knows our trials, our weaknesses, and our sins. He has compassion and mercy on us. He wants us to succeed even as he did.

Whether or not it’s still true doctrine. It’s clearly still taught by the LDS church.

28 thoughts on “. . . . We Teach That

  1. Now, I wonder, has anyone thought this through to its logical conclusion? Let me get you started. This doctrine requires–I repeat, requires– that there be in existence, at this moment, an infinite number of Gods. Gods that stretch back into the infinite past. This follows from the fact that each God must have a Father-God, Grandfather-God, GG-God, GGG-God, and so on, ad infinitum.

    But, of course, that is impossible, for under that system there can be no original God to have started it all off. And it requires that the universe not have been created. All it allows for is the creation of individual “earths.” An infinite number of them, of course.

    It gets worse. As each of these God’s (who were once men) has with him whichever of his sons also reached Godhood, they too are producing even more Gods (and more “earths”). Infinity multiplied.

  2. Gene, I think your logic is a bit flawed there. I would assume that if the LDS doctrine were true that there were multiple universes.

    Here would be my interpretation, based on pure speculation:
    There are multiple universes. Our god created this universe. When he lived before, he was the Jesus Christ of his world. His siblings who attained godhood are also creating worlds (not universes) in his universe. There is no savior on those other planets–Jesus Christ suffered for all of them when he was here.

    And I think that the assumption that there could be no beginning of Gods is similar to the idea that there could be no beginning of humans. Adam and Eve (whether literal or not) didn’t have earthly parents. But yet they lived. And bore children.

  3. Good points, katyjane.

    Gene, I have to say I’m not following your logic.

    1. even if there are an infinity of Gods (with their siblings, etc.), and infinity of universes, or even one infinitely-sized universe, could hold them all neatly. That’s the nature of infinity: infinity multiplied is still just infinity.

    Infinite time, infinite space, even infinite numbers of infinite non-coterminous times and spaces. We can;t really grasp infinity and so we tranlslate it into “really big” in our minds and miss the point entirely. Infinity is not a difference of quantity; it’s a difference of quality.

    Maybe time never began and it wil never end, or it runs in time-cycles like the Hindus teach. We get about a hundred years each at best, so we’re just not in a position to know that kind of thing while we’re in mortality.

    2. all that Mormon doctrine suggests on the topic is that God the father once lived a mortal life and is now exalted. It doesn’t even get into details about how a lineage of Gods got started, how it will end, what purpose it serves, etc.

    Just because we don;t know about how it started doesn’t mean it didn’t start. Maybe God’s God, or his Grandfather-in-Heaven was somehow qualitatively different. I can;t even begin to suggest in what ways that might be possible, because if it was true (which, as a post-Mormon I do not believe), it would be so far removed from my experience, and possibly my ability to comprehend.

    Or maybe after they create a world and raise some spirit children, Gods retire r something. Again, if true, the details are beyond my comprehension probably.

    My point is that Mormonism has enough incoherent doctrines that are more immediate to our experience. To say you don’t believe that God had his own Father in Heaven is one thing, that’s fine. But to claim to know for certain these kinds of details would mean you would need a lot of information we simply do not have (unless you’ve got some kind of mystical connection/experience you’re noty telling us about).

    The Bible teaches us lots about thecharacter of God (and thus why we can trust Him), but not so much about the details of his composition and life history. Most Christian doctrine on those subjects is based on attenuated inferences that are at best unreliably speculative. Absent some kind of direct revelation on the matter from God himself, the answer has to be “we just don;t know.”

  4. Infinite equal billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and . . . it goes on and on and on and on. Whether its gods, earths, or universes is irrelevant.

    Katyjane admittedly bases her response on speculation. Kullervo bases his on speculation also, but without saying so.

    The problem with infinity isn’t speculation. Here something else that isn’t speculation. The Bible says repeatedly that there is only one God. And it says that he put the stars in place. The whole universe is His creation. It also says He is pure spirit, not an exalted man.

  5. Gene, the Bible could easily mean that there is only one god for us. Also, you base your argument on speculation too–since none of us know the answer, it’s all speculation (which is one of the problems with the LDS faith–there are tidbits of information given, with no supporting details, so we are left to assume the details and fill in the blanks, and, like MadLibs, we all put different nouns, adjectives, etc in those blanks).

    Analogous to the fact that there are lots of mothers in the world (me being one of them) but my son only has one. I can say to him, you have only one mother. There is only one mother (implied: when it comes to you).

    Does that mean that my friends aren’t mothers? No. But if my son called someone else’s mother ‘Mom’… it would be weird and inappropriate.

  6. Yeah, Gene, I’m sorry, but you’re drawing some hefty inferences. They might be correct inferences, but they’re inferences nonetheless.

    The bible does not directly state that “only one being like God exists in all of reality.” It just does not say that, anywhere.

    And it also says nowhere that God is pure spirit. You’re inferring. Yes, it says he is a spirit, but not exclusively so. You don;t realize how much you are also “speculating,” as you say.

  7. What Gene is getting at is the LDS problem of not believing in creation ex-nihilo (out of nothing). The problem of an infinite regress is solved in classical Christianity by naming God (our God and the one and only God) as an “uncaused case” and an “uncreated creator”. If Elohim is not the uncaused cause, then we should bypass worshiping him and go directly to whoever is.

    The specifics are much better explained in a chapter written by William Lane Craig in “The New Mormon Challenge“. Inferences can be drawn from scripture and they can be correctly and obviously inferred. But I think that the argument goes over too many people’s heads for it to be really effective. People have to make sure they understand the Kalam Cosmological argument before they can discover that it causes problems for their faith.

  8. Sure, but creation ex nihilo, and the naming of God as uncaused and uncreated, are not directly in the Bible. At best, they can be inferred, but they cannot even be inferred directly.

    And even if soemthing can be inferred from the bible logically and correctly, that doesn;t mea that what is inferred is true. There could be another piece of information that changes things. There could be all kinds of pieces of information that change things. Logic can tell you a conclusion based on the premises you’ve got, but logic can provide no remedy for insufficient premises.

  9. Greetings,
    I had to investigate, once again, this blog to see what possible one-sided post have been created to flummox any wondering blogger questioning Mormonism. However, the current topic is related to Set Theory, so I must have a chance to voice some neutral views.

    The Kalam cosmological argument can be summarized as follows:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition
    2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
    2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

    It appears to be a very good and solid argument that demonstrates a plausible answers for creation Ex-nihilo, yet there are a few criticisms that cause this argument to appear much weaker.
    The most impressive criticism of the argument is as follows:
    (a) There is no a priori reason to believe that everything has a cause or a reason by means of which it is explained or understood. And no set of observations can establish a posteriori the truth of the causal principle (viz., the principle that everything has a cause).

    (b) The argument commits what is called the fallacy of composition: it assumes that a characteristic of parts of a thing is also a characteristic of the whole thing. The fact that members of a team had biological births does not mean that the team itself had a biological birth. Likewise, the fact that each thing in the universe has a cause does not mean that the universe in its entirety has a cause. Speaking about causes makes sense only in regard to things in the world, not the world as a totality.

    (c) If God is the cause of the universe, then what is the cause of God? If God is his own cause, then why can’t the universe itself be its own cause? Perhaps the universe has itself existed forever and needs no cause other than simply being what it is (as is said supposedly of God).

    (d) Besides, why does the existence of anything have to have an ultimate reason in terms of which it is intelligible? Why not accept the possibility that things in the universe are caused by other things, and that the sequence of causes has no particular beginning: it simply goes on endlessly, indefinitely, in what is called an “infinite regress”? If thinking this means that things are ultimately unintelligible, so be it. Only the human inclination to think that everything is intelligible requires us to assume an end to the explanation. (See, The Paradox of Hilbert’s Hotel)

    (e) Finally, even if we were to accept the argument that the universe has a cause, that would not prove that God is infinite, good, caring, etc. Since the universe is finite, it would prove only that its creator would have to be powerful and wise enough to create it, but not infinitely powerful, wise, or good. Likewise, it would prove only that God is a cause of things who might not care at all about his creation.

    Thus, we see that there are many criticism of the Kalam C. argument; ergo, dando can’t use it as justification of absolute evidence against any Mormon doctrine. Because arguments are not logical law (especially when it commits a fallacy).

    Dando said,
    “If Elohim is not the uncaused cause, then we should bypass worshiping him and go directly to whoever is.”
    Why? Perhaps Elohim is the uncaused cause in our realm of existence. One could logically use the C. argument to support individual realms of existence or creation. We could also assume that every universe or realm that is individually created is not completely infinite or that there is not a possible N2 for infinity thus, every individual realm could possess a previous cause.

    To conclude I feel the argument of recurring events seems to reconcile the invalidity of previous (past) causal chains. Here is a simplified version from its mod. Form.
    1. All successive events (A) cause successive events (C)
    2. C –> successive events X, Y, Z… ad infinite
    3. All previous events (B) we caused by previous events (D)
    4. Thus, time is both caused by previous and successive future events.
    5. If time consist of exchanges between events A and D then time consist of a chain of circular events.
    6. If events are circular then time must be circular
    7. Therefore ad infitum can exist in terms of successive and regressive progression
    8. If successive progression dose exist then time consist merely of re-occurring events.
    9. If 8 is true the there is no beginning or end.

    If this is true then that means that the Mormon doctrine is plausible.
    Thank you

  10. Dear gene,
    This argument has nothing to do with reincarnation it actually is a mathamatical parodox, and a very convincig model logic argument orgiginally writen by Dr. O.Van Orten. So, yes I can say ‘reincarnation,’ But that has nothing to do with this argument.
    thank you,

  11. Wow, this is making my head hurt! This is a very interesting deep discussion. I often start wondering about all the worlds and all the spirits out there and I begin to feel very small and insignificant, then I remember that the Lord knows each one of us by name. I think that is so beautiful. I guess that is sorta off point, but sometimes you have to keep things simple or your head will explode 🙂 My feeling is that none of us REALLY know but what is exciting is that one day we will. Our Heavenly Father is so brilliant and our world is so complicated, we just need to have faith that he will explain it all when it is time.

  12. Thank you steffie,
    I think that you have a good point. We cannot use the thought of men even if they at time seem very logical and absolute because as I have demonstrated there is a logical counter to every logical argument. However, dando still insist on covertly commit -Ignoratio Elenchi, and making all his arguments Slanting. We know that the lord has stated that his ways are higher than ours, and especially if he is omnipotent then any possible event can occur even an “infinite causal chain forever and ever in both past and present directions” -Which supports the doctrine that is currently argued. So, to argue that it is possible because men have said it isn’t is to deny God’s omnipotence and omniscient.
    Thank you,

  13. Wow, this post went a totally different direction than I thought it would. Never would have guessed we’d be discussing Kalam.

    I’m glad to see you rely most heavily on the “C” criticism. It’s the most obvious one to refute. Everything in nature has a cause. That is a fact of the natural world. It’s not theory, nor is it speculation. God is outside of nature. That is why we call him SUPERnatural. The laws of nature do not apply to the person who created nature. That is how he can be the uncaused cause.

    You are right that this breaks down if there are multiple universes. But I believe that LDS doctrine teaches that the other gods are in this same universe. (happily take correction if I am wrong on this point)

    I agree that there is a great deal of mystery in the world. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. There is much that we won’t know until we finally meet Him. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to know what we CAN know. If we settle with knowing nothing because we can’t know everything we’ll be missing out on a great deal (in all areas of our lives). I’ll never fully know the mind of my wife, but that doesn’t keep me from striving to know her better.

    One of the things I love about Christianity is that it’s simple enough for a 5 year old to understand, but an educated man can spend his life plumbing its depths.

  14. Dando,
    Thank you for the response. I know that the LDS doctrine speaks nothing of multiple Gods existing in this universe. The LDS doctrine dose, however, refer to our father in heaven as creator of this universe, so indirectly one could come to the conclusion that there are multiple existences of space and time or sub existences of other universes being created by all those who succeed in achieving the position of a God.

    The argument of reoccurring events that is at the end of my argument is the most effective in refuting the kalam argument; especially since the kalam argument can’t be formulated mathematically (or via logic).

  15. To add— if my assumtion of all those who succeed in achieving the position of a God could create a new universe then the causal chain becomes somewhat circular and explanitory, even, logically sound.
    Furthemore, you should investigate the theories about universal time proposed by Stephen Hawkens they thwart the comological argument. I have provided a summary of what he has concluded:
    . As described in ”A Brief History of Time’,(by stephen hawkens)
    there exist four-geometries, or Euclidean histories of the universe that make up the path integral, have no precise initial times, so in a certain sense they have no beginning (though they do not have an infinite age either, but rather time loses its usually assumed character of being a real variable that runs along The real line either from minus infinity or from a finite beginning) and by that theory (although largely supported by Einstein’s theory of quantum time) the only conclusions that follow are: there was a restarted or “loop effect,” or 2. Universal time has no beginning or no first causal event.
    You see the comological argument is only of value if we ignore other metaphysical claims and scientific theories.
    Thus, according to stephen hawkens, albert einstein, and Bryce DeWitt all support the idea of limitless time both to begain and end. Ergo, mormon doctine is correct according to the previous authories, and theories.

  16. Dando I am in no way saying you shouldn’t strive to learn more, but there is a point where you must stop and realize that we, as we are now, will never fully get it til we get there (with our Heavenly Father), I am really enjoying your discussion, It’s just good sometimes to stop and smell the roses 🙂

  17. Great. I hope too that you don’t mistake me for dismissing all mystery and wonder from faith. I think when we are finally with God we will stand in amazement and exclaim “I never really did get it at all!” Not because what we strove for was wrong or meaningless but because God’s glory will be so far beyond what we can imagine.

  18. Dando,
    I am glad that we have concluded that the idea of exaltation and previous causal chains are possible, or… Have we?
    Thanks for the wonderful post I hope that me and my collages have clarified the subject.

  19. John,

    Quite honestly, no credible or worthwhile critique of Dr. Craig’s chapter in “The New Mormon Challenge” has been written. I encourage you to right one and submitted it for publishing to either FARMS or Philisophia Christi (or any other recognized journal or philosophy and theology). At the very least get it posted on FAIR.

    If you’re as convincing as you think you are then you should have no problem getting published and perhaps getting a response from Dr. Craig himself.

  20. I am 100% shure that William Lane Craig is quite aware of the problems that have been presented, you see he is a philosopher, and that means that his aim is not always truth but many times to convince the masses of “his truths.” You see Dr. Craig has never objected to the arguments presented even though the y are well known. Furthermore, he has never adresses oficially the problem of evil etc..

  21. Oh, I’m quite sure that Dr. Craig is aware of your objections as well. But there has not been any serious response written from the LDS perspective. “The New Mormon Challenge” was written practically at the request of Mormon academics so that there could be a more serious dialouge than the current anti-Mormon rhetoric. It’s disappointing that no one has taken “the challenge”. I hope to see LDS intellectuals, such as yourself, at least come to the table with something in hand other than cut and paste jobs or links to infidels.org.

  22. Stephielynn, your posts are refreshing in their innocence, purity and faith. The fruit of the Spirit shines through. Your words are without guile and that is refreshing. Keep in mind that Dando has an agenda with this site and it is definitely anti-Mormon.

    My contribution to this dialogue is the following. I hope everyone will read these verses and ponder on them.


    Revelation 2:7

    “… to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life..”

    Revelation 2:11

    “… He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death..”

    Revelation 2:17

    “… To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

    Revelation 2:26

    “… And to he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.”

    Revelation 3:5

    “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

    Revelation 3:12

    “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jeruselem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

    Revelation 3:21

    “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

    Note that Jesus calls HF His God…

    See also, John 10:30-36
    Psalm 82:6

    1 Cor 8:5-6

    John 14:28

  23. Oh dando,
    Sorry that last post seemed to portray a bully-like tone… we would want to stand on the stool of hypocrisy would we?
    About that, I recently spoke to Dr. Milligan he is a LDS philosopher at BYU, he says that a publication will be available with in the next month on the cosmological argument, the publication will be available on the schools web page for a short time until it is availed in late June. (according to my info)
    I don’t have specifics but here is a preview of the argument, it attack the whole cosmological argument quite effectively

    1. If an uncased cause is the result of itself, then nothing else could have existed to cause its existence. (premise)
    2. If there was nothing in existence, then it is implausible to have the occurrence of a cause.(1)
    3. An uncaused cause is a cause. (premise)
    4. Therefore, an uncaused cause cannot exist. 1-3
    So, (just like usual) I don’t see the “new Mormon challenge” standing on even one leg for long.
    Thank you

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