Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
If our ideas about God are wrong then we’ll be wrong about our other doctrines too, because ultimately all our beliefs stem from our understanding of God.
At the start LDS teachings on deity were similar to those of protestant Christianity. They believed that God the Father was an eternally unchanging spirit being, and that there was only one God.
“And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a
Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is
God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that
this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are
in heaven and in the earth?” (BOM Alma 18:26-28)
“… He (God) is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (BOM Moroni 8:18).
On the 24th September, 1834 (four years after the LDS church was officially instituted), a committee was appointed by a general assembly of the church, to arrange their doctrines and revelations into a single volume. It comprised of presiding elders Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. They included their Lectures of Faith as being representative of their beliefs. An extract relevant to deity is given below:
“… We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages… They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle… And he being the only begotten of the Father … possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit.” (1835 Doctrine & Covenants, Lecture Fifth of Faith, 5:1-2, pages 52-53, First edition.)
The church body accepted the committee’s compilation on August 17, 1835, by a unanimous vote. (c/f 1835 D&C, Preface; History of the Church 2: 243-6).
It is the longstanding practice of the LDS leadership to deny and/or sanitize their past history whenever it suits their purposes. Because of this they no longer permit open access to their archives. And in spite of the evidence supporting the above facts (including scriptures in their own Book of Mormon), they will deny that these were the beliefs of their original leadership or of their early church.
On the 6th April, 1844, (fourteen years after the establishment of the LDS church), Joseph Smith radically changed his teachings on deity. In what became known as the King Follett Discourse, he proclaimed:
“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 … God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).
Mormons need to ask themselves how it could be possible for a true prophet of God to establish the so-called true, restored church of Jesus Christ under God’s inspiration and guidance, and then fourteen years later maintain that they had been worshipping the wrong deity.
In the 1844 LDS publication, Times and Seasons, volume 5, pages 613-614, Joseph Smith reiterated that God was an exalted man and that Mormon men could also become Gods. This teaching is well documented, as is their claim that God is not a spirit being, but that he has a body of flesh and bone.
“God is a perfected, saved soul enjoying eternal
life.” (Second Counselor in the First Presidency,
Marion G. Romney, as per Salt Lake Tribune, April 3,
“The Father is a glorified, perfected resurrected, exalted man who worked out his own salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same.” (LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, in A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, page 64)
“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s …” (D&C 130:22)
“God and man are of the same race, differing only in their degree of advancement.” (Dr. John Widtsoe member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Gospel Through the Ages, page 107).
Because he has a body of flesh and bone, the Mormon God cannot be physically present in more than one place at one time. (c/f Articles of Faith, LDS Apostle James Talmage, page 39). Brigham Young and others consistently reiterated this same teaching:
“Some would have us believe that God is present everywhere. It is not so.” (Journal of Discourses 6:345).
But the Bible tells us that because God is Spirit (John 4:24) He is omnipresent, meaning that His presence is everywhere simultaneously:
“… Can any hide himself in secret places that
I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven
and earth?” saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:23-24, KJV)
“… Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27, KJV)
Mormonism is full of contradictions. The Book of Mormon (quoted at the start of this article) says that God is a spirit being who is unchageable eternally. And Joseph Smith proclaimed that it was the most accurate book on earth, that it contained the fullness of the everlasting gospel and that was the keystone of the Mormon religion.
Although they themselves only worship one God, LDS doctrine allows for many Gods, all of whom were at one stage ordinary, fallen men. On April 6, 1844, the LDS prophet Joseph Smith stated:
“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.” (Journal of Discourses 6:4; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 346).
At this stage their Lectures of Faith became obsolete, and they were eventually removed from their doctrinal records. This subject is more fully discussed in Marvin W. Cowan’s work, Mormon Scripture, Doctrine & Covenants, Part II.
The following chorus of LDS hymn No. 27, Praise to the Man, eulogizes Joseph Smith. According to his own theology, he has progressed to godhood:
“Hail to the prophet, ascended to heaven,
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain,
Mingling with Gods he can plan for his brethren,
Death cannot conquer the hero again.”
Brigham Young, the second president and prophet of the LDS church, introduced the teaching that not only was the LDS God an ordinary, exalted man of flesh and bone, but that he was one man in particular, i.e. Adam (Journal of Discourses, Volume 1, pages 50-51 and Deseret News, June 18, 1873). The LDS tries to cover this up by insisting that Brigham’s sermon was wrongly reported. But this wasn’t the only time he’d proclaimed that Adam was the Mormon God. According to their own records, he taught this doctrine consistently over a period of about twenty five years.
Speaking in the Tabernacle on the morning of October 8, 1861, President Young stated:
“I will give you a few words of doctrine, upon which there has been much inquiry, and with regard to which considerable ignorance exists. Br. Watt will write it, but it is not my intention to have it published therefore pay good attention, and store it up in your memories. Some years ago, I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our father and God, that will be a curse to many of the Elders of Israel because of their folly. With regard to it they yet grovel in darkness and will. It is one of the most glorious revealments of the economy of heaven, yet the world holds it [in] derision. Had I revealed the doctrine of baptism from the dead instead [of] Joseph Smith there are men around me who would have ridiculed the idea until doomsday. But they are ignorant and stupid like the dumb ass.” (“Manuscript Sermon, A Few Words of Doctrine,” Brigham Young Collection, Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City.)
In all fairness one must admit that this was a very unpopular teaching. Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt opposed the Adam God doctrine right from the start. But the LDS maintains that their prophets are divinely led by God. Pratt was duly warned that he was on the brink of apostasy. When that didn’t bring an end to his opposition, he was sent on a mission to the eastern United States, effectively removing him from the Salt Lake area.
But that didn’t stem the opposition to this doctrine. As soon as Brigham Young passed away so did his doctrine on the LDS God being Adam. It was soundly refuted by the church leadership and is still a source of embarrassment to them. So much so that they have done their utmost to cover it up, to the extent of denying that it had ever existed.
After Brigham Young’s death, the LDS reverted to Joseph Smith’s doctrine about God being an exalted man. Besides their teaching that the godhead consists of three separate Gods, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; they also have a Holy Spirit. There is a link to an article on this subject at the end of this page.
Bound by the earthly dimensions of time and space, our understanding is limited. And this is where Joseph Smith went wrong. In trying to reduce an eternal, infinite and indescribably powerful God of absolute purity to terms that fitted in with his own finite, fallen, earth bound ideas, he brought God down to his own level. In so doing, he simply denied the truth about Him and detracted from His glory, in the same way as the pagan idolaters of biblical times had done:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man …” (Romans 1:18-23, KJV)
The Mormon deity lived as an ordinary fallen mortal, man on a planet similar to earth, prior to becoming a God. This means that he only attained godhood after the universe had already been created. So he played no part in its creation. Consequently, he never has been, and never ever will be even remotely necessary to the functioning of the universe.
On the other hand, the true, biblical God is the unique, self-existing, unchanging, First Cause, who created the universe and all that is in it, including time, space and matter. He is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9). Everything that exists is subject to Him and sustained by Him (Hebrews 1:3). And as He is the only God who has ever existed, He is supreme over all.
The following articles have relevance to what we have been discussing above:
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Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.