Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#3)
07/16/2007 - James WhiteMen are Gods in Embryo
At times LDS representatives have complained that Christian writers use terminology of Mormonism that Mormons would never use themselves. Sometimes there is truth to this complaint, but in the case of the Mormon doctrine of God, one will find some of the strongest terms being used in LDS literature itself. It might seem to some that saying that Mormons believe that men are Gods in embryo would be to engage in sensationalism, but in reality, this is the title of the next section of this LDS Church published student manual. Men are Gods in Embryo is the title the LDS Church chose to introduce a citation from the First Presidency's statement, The Origin of Man, cited in the previous chapter. Under this title, they quote:
Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of our earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, byexperience through ages of aeons, of evolving into a God. (The First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], The Origin of Man. Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, p.81.)This divine potential, we are told, was transmitted to us through our spiritual birth in the pre-existence. Lorenzo Snow is cited to explain:
We were born in the image of God our Father, he begot us like unto himself. There is the nature of deity in the composition of our spiritual organization: in our spiritual birth, our Father transto us the capabilities, powers and faculties which he himself possessed, as much so as the child on its mothers bosom possesses, although in an undeveloped state, the faculties, powers and susceptibilities of its parent. (Lorenzo Snow, Deseret Weekly News, 20:597.)
The King Follett Discourse is again cited to substantiate the statement that exaltation is attained by going from one small degree to another. This section is followed by another that discusses the importance of the family units and the sealing of the priesthood authority that keeps families together for eternity. The student manual then teaches the faithful Mormon that "Only Through Celestial Marriage Can a Person Become Like God." The centrality of the Temple and celestial marriage is explained by Joseph Fielding Smith:
If you want salvation in the fullest, that is exaltation in the kingdom of God, so that you may become his sons and his daughters, you have got to go into the temple of the Lord and receive these holy ordinances which belong to that house, which cannot be had elsewhere. No man shall receive the fulness of eternity, of exaltation, alone; no woman shall receive that blessing alone; but man and wife, when they receive the sealing power in the temple of the Lord, if they thereafter keep all the commandments, shall pass on to exaltation, and become like the Lord. And that is the destiny of men; that is what the Lord desires for his children. (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43-44.)
So if a person is married in the eternal marriage ceremony, and endures to the end, what is the result? Smith again explains:
But if we are married for time and for all eterand it is sealed upon our heads by those who have the authority so to seal, and if we then keep our covenants and are faithful to the end, we shall come forth in the resurrection from the dead and receive the following promised blessings:
Then shall they be gods. . .
So if you want to enter into exaltation and become as God, that is a son of God or a daughter of God, and receive fulness of the kingdom, then you have got to abide in his lawnot merely the law of marriage but all that pertains to the new and everlastingcovenantand then you have the continuation of the lives forever, for the Lord says:
This is eternal livesto know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law. (D&C 132:24.)' (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:62-63.)
If you are a resurrected and glorified being, you then have the capacity to become parents of spirit offspring, and begin the process all over again, just as the heavenly Father (Elohim) did on this planet.
So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation." (A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose I and the Twelve, The Father and the Son, Improvement Era, June 1916, p. 942.)
This pronouncement is then followed by the assertion that "Celestial Marriage Makes Women Queens and Priestesses unto Their Husbands." Remember, this is what the faithful LDS couple will read as the teaching of their Church prior to entering into a temple marriage. McConkie is then cited:
If righteous men have power through the gospel and its crowning ordinance of celestial marriage to become kings and priests to rule in exaltation forever, it follows that the women by their side (without whom they cannot attain exaltation) will be queensand priestesses. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10.) Exaltation grows out of the eternal union of a man and his wife. Of those whose marriage endures in eternity the Lord says, 'Then shall they be gods' (D. & C. 132:20); that is, each of them, the man and the woman, will be a god. As such they will rule over their dominions forever. (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 613.)
The discussion ends with the continuation of the cycle of eternal progression. The subtitle reads, "Celestial Marriage Makes It Possible for Us to Claim Our Mortal Children in Eternity As Well As to Propagate Ourselves Throughout Eternity."
Parents will have eternal claim upon their posterity and will have the gift of eternal increase, if they obtain the exaltation. This is the crowning glory in the kingdom of God, and they will have no end. When the Lord says they will have no end, he means that all who attain to this glory will have the blessing of the continuation of the 'seeds' forever. Those who fail to obtain this blessing come to the 'deaths,' which means that they will have no increase forever. All who obtain this exaltation will have the privilege of completing the full measure of their existence, and they will have a posterity that will be as innumerable as the stars of heaven . . . .
The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this. (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43-44, 48.)
Thus ends the discussion of celestial marriage and the nature of God in this student manual, used by the LDS Church to instruct its own people concerning the nature of God. The reality of the eternal law of progression could not be more clearly pronounced. The goal of the Mormon gospel of exaltation to godhood is plainly stated: We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring.
Before turning to the statements of General Authorities as they speak in Conference, I wish to reiterate how important is this section of materials from the publications of the LDS Church itself. What is said "in house" is always more revealing, and more honest, than what is said to those outside. We well know that when speaking amongst our own friends and compatriots we speak more directly than we often would in another situation. When we look at the statements of the LDS Scriptures, or leading authorities, we can run into situations where a word or phrase might be taken in another way. But when we read the plain statements of the Church to her own people, there can be little doubt of the doctrine of the Church regarding God as an exalted man, and men as Gods in embryo. And I must also point out that while some modern LDS would like to be free of the weight of the teachings of a Bruce McConkie or Joseph Fielding Smith, the Church itself cites from these sources as authoritative, accurate, and correct. How can anyone complain that such sources are merely speculative when cited by non-Mormons, when they are authoritative when cited by the LDS hierarchy?