One of the beliefs that makes Mormonism unique among the world religions is its claim that we can become gods one day. Examined more closely, Mormon doctrine teaches not merely that we can become gods one day, but that men and gods share the same nature. They believe we are of the same species as God and that the only difference between us and God is that he has progressed further than we have along the law of eternal progression. As Mormon President Lorenzo Snow put it, “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.”
Doctrine & Covenants 132:19-20 states:
“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant . . . Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection . . . and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions . . . and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”
Joseph Smith taught in his famous King Follett funeral discourse that God has not eternally been God and that we can become gods ourselves:
“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.”
“Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you.”
In his sermon on the plurality of gods, Smith reaffirmed his belief in polytheism:
“In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through – Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.”
Brigham Young expanded this teaching to include the idea that as intelligences we eternally coexisted with God:
“The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself. . . . The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. . . . There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven. . . . Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement. The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 6-7).
The Mormon publication Achieving a Celestial Marriage, which was required reading for all Mormon couples who wanted to get married in a temple, teaches that we can become gods just as God became God:
“God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection; through obedience and celestial marriage we may progress to the point where we become like God. . . If God became God by obedience to all of the gospel law with the crowning point being the celestial law of marriage, then that’s the only way I can become a god” (4-5).
It then adds these shocking words:
“You are an eternal being. You were never created and you cannot be destroyed, but you can advance, progress, and develop by obedience” (5).
Mormonism teaches that God the Father had his own Father and that he had his own Father and so on and so forth. According to Mormon doctrine, God the Father died, was raised to life, and was exalted to godhood by his God.
As Elder B. H. Roberts taught:
“Man has descended from God; in fact, he is the same race as the Gods. His descent has not been from a lower form of life, but from the Highest Form of Life; in other words, man is, in the most literal sense, a Child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also” (Course of Study for Priests, 1910, p. 35).
Eliza R. Snow, one of the wives of Joseph Smith, put this belief into poetic form:
Adam, your God, like you on earth, has been
Subject to sorrow in a world of sin:
Through long gradation he arose to be
Clothed with the Godhead’s might and majesty.
And what to him in his probative sphere,
Whether a Bishop, Deacon, priest, or Seer?
Whatever his offices and callings were,
He magnified them with assiduous care;
By his obedience he obtained the place
Of God and Father of this human race.
According to Mormonism, we are the product of the union between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Before that, we existed eternally as intelligences as all other beings did. Before we were born into this life, we pre-existed as spirit children on a planet near the star Kolob and the life we now live is our mortal probation to determine whether or not we will be exalted to godhood based on our obedience to the laws and commandments given to Mormons through their prophets.
Originally, Smith taught monotheism in the Book of Mormon but his theology evolved over time so that he was teaching polytheism by the time he wrote the Pearl of Great Price. May these false teachings move us to pray for the salvation of Mormons that they might turn from darkness to light and embrace the true gospel of Scripture.