"Who Do [Mormons] Say That I Am?"
A recent conversation on this blog set me to thinking a little more deeply about Mormonism’s current position on the nature of God. I learned recently that some Mormons do not believe in the doctrine that God is an exalted man. As I considered and studied the matter I found a contradiction between what has been historically taught in the LDS church and what is taught in the LDS canon.
First of all, the LDS canon is not only absent any teaching that God is an exalted man – it actually teaches the exact opposite! Yet the exalted man doctrine has been taught historically by LDS prophets, continues to be taught in current church manuals, and is apparently believed by the majority of Mormons. Some Mormons even believe God could have been a sinner during his mortal life prior to his exaltation.
The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants teach against this doctrine that God progressed to be God. The Book of Mormon says that any God who changes is no God at all.
For example, Mormon 9:9-10 says, “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.”
Mormon 9:19 says, “And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”
Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
Moses 1:3: “And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?”
D & C 20:17: “By these things we know that there 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 are in them.”
D & C 7:1-4: “…for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior… From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.”
The Bible, of course, also teaches that God is unchangeable and has always existed as God:
Exodus 3:14: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM” (“the self-existent One”)
Genesis 21:33: “the LORD, the everlasting God”
Psalms 90:2: “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”
Isaiah 40:13-14: “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” (reveals that God has not learned or progressed in understanding)
Malachi 3:6: “I am the LORD, I change not”
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever”
James 1:17: “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.”
Revelation 22:13: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last”
Why is the LDS church teaching a doctrine that directly contradicts their own canon? Would God contradict Himself? Why would He give a revelation that He is unchangeable from eternity to eternity and then give a revelation that He changed from being a mere mortal to God of the universe? It is more like men to change; God does not change.
When I examine the lives of men I find many frailties and failings. In the lives and teachings of the LDS prophets I find failings. When Joseph Smith failed to correctly interpret a revelation he had received, he admitted that sometimes it was hard for him to tell whether a revelation was from God or from himself or from the devil. He admitted a man could be deceived by his own carnal desires, and could receive an answer according to his erring heart, but it would not be a revelation from the Lord.
I understand that some Mormons have backed away from the exalted man doctrine after the famous Gordon B. Hinckley interview. But in all honesty, does this evasive response really constitute modern revelation?
I love my Mormon friends and I am deeply, deeply concerned that this heretical doctrine is being sanctioned by the leadership of the LDS church. There are many sincere, active LDS who believe in a God who was once a man (who may have sinned) and who progressed to being a God. According to Mormonism’s own canon, this is a God who cannot save! President Monson should publicly renounce this doctrine as a heretical teaching and should remove this teaching from church instructional manuals. After all, how can LDS be expected to accept this doctrine? The LDS church teaches members that “God will never give them personal revelation that contradicts what has already been revealed in the scriptures.”
The question with eternal consequences is still being asked of each of us today. Jesus asks each individual Mormon, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
Mormonism: A Way That Seemeth Right, L. Aubrey Gard.
Theology for Today, Elmer Towns.