Over the years I have repeatedly discussed with LDS members Mormonism’s teaching about persons being able to become a god. The reactions have been varied. Some readily admit that this is LDS teaching and they wholeheartedly accept it. Most, however, try to qualify it and downplay it. They have done this in two different ways.
The first is by saying that Mormonism teaches that they can become like God. They claim that even though LDS Scripture clearly says that people can become gods. The classic passage is D&C 132:20: “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 to them.”
That passage clearly states, in a number of different ways, that people can become gods. And over the years many LDS leaders have pointed to this passage to teach this doctrine. That, I feel, is proof enough that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods, or that when it talks about becoming like god – that is what it means.
The other way that Mormons have sometimes tried to downplay this teaching is saying that they would never become a capital G God. Instead they say that they would be small g gods, thus implying a difference between the two. But again, the question is: Is that what Mormonism teaches? In the student manual on the Pearl of Great Price, a manual in current use, we find this quote: “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.” (p. 4) Note especially the use of the capital G – “evolving into a God”.
This quote is notable for two reasons. One is that it is used in an official LDS Church manual. Although all Mormons do not agree on the weight that such manuals carry, the LDS Church has repeatedly said that church manuals carry a lot of weight. They state that they present the official teaching of the church. That is only to be expected. The normal practice is to consider official anything that is officially published by an organization. It would be, for example, the silliest of arguments if an NFL player argued that the rulebook published by the NFL did not represent the official rules of the NFL and thus what he did wasn’t against NFL policy.
But this quote is significant for another reason as well. It was given by the First Presidency of the LDS. The First Presidency is the prophet and his two counselors. It is the most authoritative body in the LDS Church. Even though it was given in 1909 it is still pertinent as evidenced by it being quoted in a manual published in 2000. Without a doubt we can say that Mormonism teaches that people can become a God.
Why am I making such a big point of this? One is because it is denied by many LDS members today and thus it needs to be stressed to get an accurate picture of Mormonism. Two is because it is another demonstration of the great gap that exists between Mormonism and the Bible. But most importantly of all, I am pointing this out to illustrate the stark difference between the comfort given by Mormonism and the Bible. Look again at that quote. “Through ages and aeons” it says they evolve into a God. That reminds me of one LDS man telling me that it would take him 10,000 eternities to become a god.
Compare that to the wonderful comfort the Bible gives. As soon as believers die, they enter the mind-boggling bliss of God’s presence. Instantaneously all pain and sorrow is replaced with perfect peace and joy. There are no eternities of evolving and work. Instead, instantaneously, there is absolute perfection and wonderful glory.
And the best part of it all is that Jesus accomplished all this for us. He did everything to make us acceptable to God. In him, right now, we are perfect and worthy in God’s sight. This heavenly bliss is his gift to us. To him, and to him alone, be all praise and glory!