Religious Movements, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

What do Mormons believe about God? Was God once a man?

What Do Mormons Believe About God? Was God Once A Man? is going to be the addressed, and according to Joseph Smith the true test of knowing if he was a true servant of the Lord was by his teachings concerning the nature of God.  Joseph Smith said:  “I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to inquire after God; for I want you all to know Him, and to be familiar with Him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of Him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am His servant; for I speak as one having authority.” (History of the Church, Volume 6, page 305/ Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345)  The proof concerning Joseph Smith being a true servant of the Lord or not is by examining what he taught concerning the nature of God.  If what Joseph Smith taught is inaccurate, then he is by exclusion a false servant in disguise appearing to be of God!

You may ask, “Who are you to say what Mormons believe?”

    • I am a concerned Christian who believes that there are many sincere people in the Mormon Church who have been deceived with believing a false concept of God and the gospel message.
    • I will quote word for word what Mormon resources state concerning the issues at hand.
    • I will quote what Mormons say for themselves on what they believe.
    • I will give an evaluation of the information and let those who examine this decide for themselves.

You may ask, “Who are you to examine what Mormons believe?”

    • Orson Pratt, an early defender of the Mormon Church said:  “If we cannot convince you by reason nor by the word of God, that your religion is wrong, we will not persecute you, but will sustain you in the privileges, guaranteed in the great Charter of American Liberty: we ask from you the same generosity–protect us in the exercise of our religious rights–convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, 1853, page 15)
    • Brigham Young, second Mormon Prophet of the Mormon Church said:  “Take up the Bible, comparethe religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, page 126)

According to Orson Pratt and Brigham Young people are encouraged to examine what the Mormon Church believes and teaches.  So we are taking the invitation to examine what Mormons believe and why they believe what they believe.

What did Joseph Smith Claim?

“Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God’s kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood.  I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to inquire after God; for I want you all to know Him, and to be familiar with Him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of Him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am His servant; for I speak as one having authority.” (History of the Church, Volume 6, pages 305-306/ Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345)

Here we see that Joseph Smith is responding to people who are accusing him of being a false prophet.  Joseph Smith, in his defense challenges the world on the nature of who God is, and he states that through his teachings he will prove to all those who come against him to be false teachers.  You may ask, “Why is this important to know?”  The reason is because so many Mormons today believe that it is them being attacked by others who object to what they believe, but in fact it was first Joseph Smith who went around attempting to prove people wrong.  Joseph Smith’s testimony states that he was seeking God about knowing which religion or sect to join, and he was answered that they were all corrupt and an abomination in His sight.

“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right — and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: `they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’ He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me.” (Joseph Smith History 1:18-20)

It is clear that Joseph Smith believed that all others were wrong and that his teachings were of God.  In examining what Joseph Smith taught concerning the nature of God it is very important to realize that he is not being attacked or bashed, but it is what he taught as true doctrine that is going to be dismantled and proven to be in error.

Official Mormon Statements

“What Kind of Being is God – The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).” (Gospel Principles, Chapter 1, page 9, 1992)

What makes this quote interesting is it comes from Gospel Principles, which is an official Latter-Day Saints publication for doctrinal issues.  The book quotes Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith on page 345 and here is the context surrounding what Joseph Smith was teaching.

“I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible. Say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form, like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345)

From this we see the following:

    • Joseph Smith states that God was once a man like we are now, thus teaching that God was first a man who became a God.
    • Joseph Smith states that he is going to prove from the Bible that God was once a man.
    • Joseph Smith states that God has not been God from all eternity and that he will refute that idea.
    • Joseph Smith states he is going to tell us how God came to be God.

Another interesting quote from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-348)

This is the Scriptural proof that Joseph Smith is attempting to provide that God was once a man.  Joseph Smith seems to believe that Jesus was doing the exact same things that the Father did to attain Godhood according to what Jesus taught in John 5.  The context of John 5 in no way is dealing with the teaching that the Father was once a man who became a God, or that Jesus was duplicating the same type of events that the Father has done in the past.  Joseph Smith is misrepresenting what Jesus was teaching and his conclusions on the nature of God not being from everlasting to everlasting are false.

Former President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Mormon Church stated:  “The whole design of the gospel is to lead us, onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62) and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1.)” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, page 179)

Gordon B. Hinckley is the former prophet for the Latter-Day Saints Church and from the above quote we see the following important points:

    1. President Gordon B. Hinckley endorses the teaching that God was once a man who became a God.
    2. President Gordon B. Hinckley endorses the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and would by logical assertion give it as a modern day truth for What Do Mormons Believe About God? Was God Once A Man?.
    3. President Gordon B. Hinckley endorses former President Lorenzo Snow teachings on the nature of God.  This would be safe to say that Gordon B. Hinckley also agrees with what Lorenzo Snow said, “As man is now, God once was; as God is now man may become.” (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, page 2)

What do Mormons say about God once being a man?

This is an interesting question, and I will quote an answer from a Mormon apologetic website:

“That God was once a mortal being is in no way inconsistent with the fact that he now has all power and all knowledge and possesses every virtue, grace, and godly attribute. He acquired perfection through long periods of growth, development, and progression, “by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation,” asJoseph Smith explained. “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel-you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.” (quotingHistory of the Church, Volume 6, pages 306-307)

How, then, do Latter-day Saints reconcile the scriptural description of God as being “from everlasting to everlasting” with the idea that he has not always been God? For one thing, they believe that biblical passages that speak of God’s eternality and of his being the same yesterday, today, and forever make reference to his divine attributes-his love, constancy, and willingness to bless his people (see, for example, Psalm 102:27; Hebrews 1:12; 13:8). Such passages are also found in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and, again, refer to God’s divine nature (see 1 Nephi 10:18-19; 2 Nephi 27:23; Alma 7:20; Mormon 9:8-11, 19; Moroni 8:18; 10:7; D&C 3:2; 20:12, 17; 35:1).

Not much has been revealed about this concept beyond the fact that God was once a man and that over a long period of time he gained the knowledge, power, and divine attributes necessary to know all things and have all power. Because he has held his exalted status for a longer period than any of us can conceive, he is able to speak in terms of eternity and can state that he is from everlasting to everlasting. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that “from eternity to eternity means from the spirit existence through the probation which we are in, and then back again to the eternal existence which will follow. Surely this is everlasting, for when we receive the resurrection, we will never die. We all existed in the first eternity. I think I can say of myself and others, we are from eternity; and we will be to eternity everlasting, if we receive the exaltation.”

The above information is found at Click Here.  What makes this information useful is that it gives an answer to the question from a Mormon perspective.  This information confirms the following:

    • The doctrine of God once being a man comes from the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
    • Mormons believe that God was once a man because this is what Joseph Smith taught.
    • Mormons believe that God was once a man because this is what the Mormon Church teaches.
    • Mormons also believe the Scriptures teach that God has always been God from eternity, but they have a different theological view on what eternal, eternity, and everlasting means.
    • Mormons agree, “Not much has been revealed about this concept beyond the fact that God was once a man”, therefore Mormons really don’t understand this doctrine nor can they prove it.

Mormons have been deceived on the eternal nature of God

From the Mormon apologetic website they agreed that the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrines & Covenants teach that God has always been God.  Now the doctrine of God once being a man will be shown to be unbiblical and in error.  The heart of the issue is what Joseph Smith said:  I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to inquire after God; for I want you all to know Him, and to be familiar with Him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of Him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am His servant; for I speak as one having authority.”  Did Joseph Smith prove the world wrong?  Did Joseph Smith prove he was a true servant of the Lord?

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalms 90:2)

“Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.” (Psalms 93:2)

“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)

“But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment ofthe everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” (Romans 16:26)

These Scriptures are all from the King James Version and all prove that God has always been God.  Examining the argument that “eternal” simply means from the spirit world and that we are all eternal in that sense in no way proves God was first a man who then became a God over a long period of time.  Common sense says if you were at one time not God and over time became a God, than you were not eternally God!  The reasoning behind what Mormons have been taught to believe is degrading to the intelligence of one’s mind.  The Bible is clear that God the Father did not have to become a God, but that He has always been by nature the eternal God.

“…the Lord your God… that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure…”(2 Nephi 29:7& 9, Book of Mormon)

“For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting…For I know that God is not a partial God; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moroni 7:22; 8:18, Book of Mormon)

“For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and to him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?” (Mormon 9:9, Book of Mormon)

“Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever…By these things we know thatthere is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which in them are.” (Doctrines and Covenants 20:12&17)

The above references are from Mormon resources which are considered to be official revelation for doctrines.  The above references prove the following:

    • God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
    • God is from everlasting to everlasting.
    • God is not one who changes from one stage to another, but is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
    • With God there is no variableness neither changing.  God is God period!
    • The God of all creation, framer of heaven and earth is infinite, eternal, and from everlasting to everlasting, the same unchangeable God!

These points prove that God has always been!  Mormons have been deceived with a different theological view of God’s eternal nature and identity.

This information is to give an accurate, theological, and Biblical response to what Mormons have been taught to believe.  Joseph Smith said that his teaching on what kind of being God is would prove he is a true servant of the Lord, but the opposite has been shown.  Joseph Smith is not a true servant of the Lord but is a false prophet and false teacher, and any person who claims to be a Mormon needs to consider this information very seriously.  Joseph Smith did not know the God of the Bible and has taught many sincere people his unbiblical and false views, and if you are one of them and are wanting to get Biblical and know the truth concerning these issues then contact us.  May God give you guidance and discernment concerning the God of Mormonism compared to the God of the Bible.

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