Spiritual Identity Theft

In an article titled “Your Divine Heritage,” LDS General Authority (Seventy) Robert C. Oaks wrote about what he called “spiritual identity theft” (Ensign, April 2008, 49-50). Mr. Oaks suggested that a significant threat to Latter-day Saints achieving their divine potential is the “theft of our eternal identity.” He wrote,

“We know we are sons and daughters of God, with the potential to become like Him as described in His plan of happiness…

The Mormon’s divine potential – described by Mr. Oaks as becoming “like” God – is more properly understood as becoming a God. Throughout the history of Mormonism LDS prophets and apostles have taught that Godhood is the divine potential of men. For example, consider this teaching from an LDS manual:

MEN ARE GODS IN EMBRYO

We Have the Potential to Become like Our Heavenly Parents

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, by experience through ages of aeons, of evolving into a God. (Achieving A Celestial Marriage Student Manual, 130)

With an understanding of what Mr. Oaks meant by the use of the term “divine potential,” consider what he wrote next:

“We also know that Satan is totally dedicated to thwarting and derailing this marvelous plan-of-happiness knowledge and process…

“How does Satan do it? He is quite straightforward and predictable. First, he attempts to prompt doubts in our minds about our divine potential. He even cultivates doctrine in the world implying we are much less than we really are. He undermines our faith—and thus our confidence—in our ability to achieve our potential. He strives to bring us to a mind-set in which we believe that we, individually, are not good enough to ever achieve our celestial goals.”

This is the LDS picture of spiritual identity theft: Satan plants doubts in the minds of Mormons about their potential to become Gods; he suggests Mormons are less than Gods in embryo; he erodes the confidence Latter-day Saints have in their ability to achieve Godhood; and he tries to convince them that they are not good enough to become Gods.

While Mr. Oaks attributes this strategy to Satan, think carefully about these statements from another source:

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. (Isaiah 43:10 plants doubts about men becoming Gods)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 suggests men are, by nature, children of wrath, not embryonic Gods)

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:10 challenges the individual’s self-confidence regarding his or her ability to achieve Godhood via perfect holiness)

Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:5-7 demonstrates we are not, and will never be, good enough to become Gods)

God Himself declares men will not and cannot become Gods. God declares mankind is not worthy to even be brought into His presence, let alone to become equal with Him in power, might and dominion. Unlike Mr. Oaks’ description of Latter-day Saints being the victims of spiritual identity theft, the opposite is closer to biblical truth. Mormonism attempts to steal the unique identity of the Almighty Creator for the eternal aggrandizement of those who are merely creatures.

Though we shall not become Gods and we are not worthy to live eternally in God’s presence, our hope is nevertheless great. Because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. How’s that for divine potential?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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42 Responses to Spiritual Identity Theft

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Amen.

    Mr. Oaks ““How does Satan do it? He is quite straightforward and predictable…”

    In another blog on here I wrote that I believe Satan is not so straightforward. It’s a lot harder to trick people that actually give time to think. I believe he does just as the Bible says, wolf in sheeps clothing.

    If I wanted to kill someone, and I had the option of offering them a plate with dog poo on it and a plate with a nice juicy steak on it, I would choose to offer the steak because there is a much better chance of them eating it. However, on the inside of the steak, I would put poison inside it. The dog poo would probably make you sick, but the poison would outright kill you. Mission accomplished, all the while you were thinking you were eating something good for your body.

    What kind of deceit would one expect from the ultimate deceiver? Straightforwardness? Doubtful.

    It really kills me when I hear Mormon authorities pay lip service to God’s Word, then contradict what it teaches.

    I have been reading “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton (active LDS), and its interesting to note that from affidavits/journals/etc.. Joseph Smith had often promised salvation for the families of some of these girls he wanted to marry. -cough- Wheres Jesus Christ dying for all mankind in this picture? Isn’t the only way to the Father is through Him?

    It’s the same kind of “taking away” from the true Gospel as I see in Mr. Oaks talk. We are dead in our sins and don’t deserve a thing, especially not Godhood. However, God does love the world and He did give His Son, and He gives His grace freely, as a gift, for all those who have faith in Him.

    God is much bigger than what Mr. Oaks cuts him down to by saying he was just like us and we can become our own Gods.

  2. Michael P says:

    Satan is great at what he does. I am sure many Mormons have read CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Here we see how good he is at what he does. It is not always straightforward, if the concept itself is easy to understand.

    My favorite part of that book is when Screwtape advises his nephew to get the “victim” to think himself better than everyone else in church. Pride, friends, is where so much sin starts.

    Becoming Gods, and the potential for it, is ripe with pride. Excuse it with it glorifies the Father all you want, but to suggest we can become equal to Him is egregious. This alone is hugely problematic, even outside of the belittling of God that he was once a man.

  3. falcon says:

    What an ingenious way to seduce people. Not only tell them that they can become a god, but cloak it in a manner that god is progressing just like they are……only he’s ahead in the program. What a head trip (little 60s lingo there). You can see why people would get a spiritual, supernatural (ahem) high off of that thought. Wouldn’t that gem make you feel high every time you thought about it. Then throw in the whole family getting sealed and having your own planet. It’s better than a vacation home.

    What a diabolically creative guy Joe Smith was. He not only had people thinking they could become gods, but he hooked them with progressive and personal revelation. Put that together with the degrading of the Bible’s completness and authority and you’ve got quite a sales package.

  4. bobcrenshaw731 says:

    I understand how this could be a difficult pill to swallow, so to speak. One important piece that is missing from this article is that in order to qualify to become a God one must become perfect. This is not just a lifelong process, but this perfection process continues with our spirits after death. Even one un-repented sin disqualifies us from this supernal gift from God.

    When we were little children it was hard for us to fathom ever being like our fathers, how much harder is it for us as spirit children of our Father in Heaven to believe that we can someday be like Him.

  5. Megan says:

    But Bob, Isaiah 43:10 states outright that there was never any god before God, and there will never be any after Him. He is the only God there is, and the only one there ever will be. What does that verse mean to you?

  6. bobcrenshaw731 says:

    I am not a biblical scholar, but since you are asking me what Isaiah 43:10 means to me I will answer. Isaiah 43:10 “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Ironically Jesus is the God speaking here, Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Knowing that, I take this to mean that the people at Jacob’s time were prone to worshiping idols creating false Gods. To me, again I can not speak for the LDS church as a whole; this is Jesus laying down the law so to speak. God is saying stop worshiping idols. I see this as a perfect example as to why we need a prophet on the earth today. I am so grateful that the Lord has not forgotten us in this time of great evil in the world; He has seen fit to speak to us plainly in a language we can understand through a modern day prophet. I am so grateful for this glorious gift from God.

  7. Michael P says:

    Bob, yes, Jesus is the God of the OT, but so is the Father. You are half correct. You forget we believe all are one, so there’s no irony there.

    Also, I am not sure how you get to is as a perfect example of the need for a prophet. The verse is pretty clear that there is but one God. Do you really need a prophet to tell you that?

  8. jackg says:

    bobcrenshaw,

    How is perfection accomplished? Is it what God does, or what man does that makes him perfect? Do you work from the premise that God is still progressing, as well? If so, is He not yet perfect? When does perfection take place to that man can become a god?

  9. bobcrenshaw731 says:

    jack,

    God is, in fact perfect. As such, He does not need to progress. You asked “How is perfection accomplished?” Honestly I do not really know, but in my struggle toward perfection I look for a time when my will and actions perfectly align with the will and actions of our Eternal Father.
    When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount he said, in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He does not include Himself in this classification of perfection, because at this point, He was not perfect.
    There is much that we do not know about God our Father. Just as there is much that our children do not know and could not understand, that we do know and do understand.

  10. jackg says:

    bobcrenshaw,

    I don’t believe there was a time when Christ was not perfect. After all, He was sinless and eligible to die for our sins. How do you come to the conclusion that Christ was not perfect with reference to Matthew 5:48? Also, doesn’t your view on this subject actually go against LDS teachings that Jesus reached perfection in the pre-mortal existence, qualifying Him to be our Savior? It would be great for you to clarify and correct me where I am wrong in my assumptions regarding your faith.

    I can appreciate the fact that you don’t know how perfection is accomplished. What I was really getting at was whether it is something accomplished by us or by God? I come from a Wesleyan perspective, which means I believe in entire sanctification, which is being perfect in love. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24 says: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” I just wanted to share this verse with you in support of my view. I believe perfection, sanctification, and holiness all to be interchangeable, and I believe they point toward the image of God in which Adam and Eve were created prior to the fall, which has left humanity with a broken image; therefore, I believe being made holy is the return to the original image of God which is God’s character. Yes, I agree with you that it involves perfectly aligning our will with the will of God.

    Looking forward to your response.

  11. falcon says:

    I’ve gone back and looked at the early Church heretics and I can’t find one, even among the heretics, that taught/believed that they could become a god. There is no Chirstian denomination that believes their adherents will become gods. I can’t find any Jews today or in the past that believe(d) they could become a god or that God was a man who became a god.

    So it all comes down to Joseph Smith and his revelations and visions….again….as it always does. We know enough about Joseph Smith to reject his claims and teachings. A person would really want to have the god-trip bad to ignore all of the information available concerning Joseph Smith.

    There is a God. He provided a pathway to salvation for us. It has nothing to do with becoming gods.

  12. jackg says:

    We were created to have relationship with God. That’s what Adam and Eve enjoyed before they no longer trusted God’s word and believed the lie of the serpent. God’s plan of salvation is not dependent on sin; i.e. Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The BOM teaches in chapter two of second Nephi that Adam and Eve did not have joy while in God’s presence, that such an existence was not enough for them and, therefore, for them to experience true joy they needed to experience misery. It further states that they needed to know sin in order to do good. Once again, works-righteousness is the faulty premise from which Mormonism stands. Finally, BOM in this same chapter states: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” We don’t exist because of Adam; we exist because God created us. It is, however, because of Adam that we live in a fallen and broken world and with original sin that constitutes our sin nature. Further, we don’t exist for joy’s sake, we exist to be in relationship with God, which is why Christ died–to reconcile us to God; joy naturally follows because of our relationship with God but is not the central focus as presented in BOM.

  13. mobaby says:

    The Bible is very clear – there is only 1 God – it’s part of the 10 commandments! No other gods before me – meaning don’t worship any of the FALSE gods which fill this land because the Lord God is the ONLY true God. It’s a historical fact the OT Judaism and NT Christianity were and are monotheistic.

    It is such a shocking belief – that sinful man can become a god, that I don’t think many Mormons grasp how Christians find it so wrong. Any belief that so elevates man and so lowers God is antithetical to the Bible. That anyone who claims to be a Christian could believe such a thing is really a shock to the system. I think the LDS leadership understands how ridiculous this doctrine is – that is why they hide and obfuscate when confronted (see Gordon B. Hinkley).

    Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ we partake of the divine nature – meaning we inherit eternal life with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not become eternal gods ourselves.

  14. Rick B says:

    Bob said

    God is, in fact perfect. As such, He does not need to progress.

    Bob, Mormonism teaches God did/does Progress, So do you not know your own Beliefe?

    Then you said

    You asked “How is perfection accomplished?” Honestly I do not really know, but in my struggle toward perfection I look for a time when my will and actions perfectly align with the will and actions of our Eternal Father.
    When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount he said, in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

    So Bob, are you saying, since God commanded us to be perfect we should be perfect? If that is the case we then have to problems? First one is, God created Adam and Eve Perfect, yet creating them perfect was not good enough, since they needed to fall.

    Then the Book of Mormon says, 1 Nephi 3:7

    7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

    So why would God tell you to be perfect like His father in heaven, and then not make you perfect like Nephi teaches?

    Then even if you could find a way to be perfect, you broke at least one law in your life, so your a sinner as the Bible teaches, so really you could never be perfect. Rick b

  15. Lew says:

    Becoming like God, it is the oldest lie in the world. Genesis 3:1-5 says:

    1 Now the serpent was more CRAFTY than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

    2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

    4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, AND YOU WILL BE LIKE GOD, knowing good and evil.”

    Sound familiar to anyone?? It didn’t work out so well for Adam and Eve.

  16. Tasha says:

    Bob, Using Matt. 5:48 to show that we are supposedly expected to be perfect is something I was taught as a Mormon, too. Unfortunately, it can only be used that way if you separate it from the rest of the chapter. The whole point of Christ’s sermon on the mount was to show that not only the letter of the law must be kept, but the spirit of the law. He was expressing to Pharisees and hypocrites that they were not doing it good enough. His teachings made this so clear that the disciples actually asked him “Who then can be saved?” and he told them “With man it is impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible”. Only through God is perfection possible. Christ’s death on the cross is the only thing that makes a person perfect. Two passages you should read are James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” and Galatians 3:24 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
    What Jesus was expressing by saying “be ye therefore perfect even as the Father is perfect” was that NO ONE was ever going to be saved by keeping the law. They would have to be perfect and there is abundant evidence in the Bible, if not in every human heart, to show that no one is perfect. Except for Jesus. Because he was God, he was able to pay the price for sin (which was death) and then conquer death, too, so we could all be together in Heaven.
    Humbling yourself and allowing Christ to save you is the only way. Otherwise, you are like the swimmer who doesn’t realize he is in a riptide. When the lifeguard swims up to save him, he will kick and fight, not thinking he needs to be saved. Until he has gone under a few times and been “humbled” by his imminent destruction, he will not allow himself to be saved.

  17. falcon says:

    There is only one God. That’s it. The point of the Gospel is not that we can become gods. The point of the Gospel is that we can be saved through the blood of Jesus. When we confess our sins and receive Christ Jesus as our Savior, we receive the gift of eternal life.

    There’s nothing in this Gospel about becoming gods. The gospel of Joseph Smith is not the Gospel that leads to eternal life. It is a message that leads people to outer darkness. People have no excuse. The information is available that points to Jesus as the qualified Savior. We need a Savior because depite our best efforts, we always fall short. When people steadfastly refuse to recognize God for who He is and what He has done for them, they are rejecting the only pathway to salvation. Joseph Smith’s gospel has no power to save.

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Part 1

    Bob have you noticed a difference between yours(lds comments) on here and Evangelical comments?

    Based on what has been typed, which side gives more Glory and Honor to God/Jesus Christ?

    I am sad that you have yet to realize it, but the LDS faith starts to create a view of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus as less than what it actually is. Not only that, you say that Jesus wasn’t perfect? Are you listening to what you yourself are saying? It is the single most defining moment in Christianity – when mankind, dead in their sins, hopeless, were given hope and reconciled to God through the shed blood of the Son.

    Is the book of Romans completely removed from the LDS quad or what? If that book of the Bible doesn’t humble you, I don’t know what will.

    I also second what everyone has been saying to you, if the Book of Mormon states that God will give no commandment that one cannot keep, then how come he commanded one to be perfect. It is impossible.

    What is meant in the commandment given in Matthew 5:48 is this (taking this verse into context helps you understand deeper what Matt. 5:48 commands)

    The question is this – Does perfect in this verse actually mean without sin? This is where the issue lies, is peoples definition of what Perfect means. Take into account the following verses (KJV) –

    Genesis 6:9
    “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and PERFECT in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”

    Job 1:1
    “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was PERFECT and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

    Genesis 17:1
    “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou PERFECT.”

    So taken into context, is Matthew 5:42 stating to be sinless? Does God actually expect you to be able to become sinless in your life? If your answer is anything but No, you are beyond help.

    (Continued)…

  19. Jeffrey says:

    Part 2

    Everyone knows that Noah and Job were sinners just like the lot of us. Why then are they called perfect?

    Perhaps perfect doesn’t mean sinless, hmm?

    The Greek word Teleioi is translated as “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 and also means “complete,” “mature,” “ended.”

    There is nothing in the Bible about “perfect” humans progressing to Godhood.

    We can be complete, mature, perfect people as God the Father is complete, mature, perfect, but we will always be human and sinful.

    I suggest going to biblegateway.com and search for the word “Perfect” in KJV translation and see what you come up with. There are more verses to support perfect in the Bible meaning something different than what Mormons typically make it out to be.

    Hope this helps those who may have struggled with that verse.

    A good book that was given to me by an ex-mormon brother of mine is “Mormons Answered – Verse by Verse” and it goes over many of the verses Mormons use from the Bible (OT and NT) and also the BoM and gives solid contextual answers. The book is authored by David A. Reed and John R. Farkas.

    Have a good night folks

  20. I have often wondered about the application of Matthew 5:48 (“Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”) to the LDS doctrine of eternal progression. It has also been (mis)used in some Pentecostal circles to support the idea that we can become morally perfect through a process of spiritual experiences (Holy Spirit Anointings). I have to say that I am not convinced that Jesus is teaching about a journey to moral perfection at all.

    The immediate context is Jesus teaching about love for one’s enemies and, as is the pattern in the Gospels, Jesus does or says something that invokes something from the Old Testament. In this case the commandments in Leviticus 19 (see 19:18 in particular). A distinctive feature of the Lev passage is the repeated appendment of the statement “I am the Lord Your God” to each imperative. Such repetition reinforces the idea that the Israelites are to live out the commandments as an expression (incarnation even) of the character of God on earth. For instance, they are to love their neighbours, even those who are hostile to them, because God’s love for their neighbours is perfect.

    In this interpretation, the statement “be perfect…” is not so much an expectation about what we shall become, it is an imperative to express the nature of a perfectly loving God in our lives today. It gives us the reason why we should love our neighbours in the present time; its not an expectation for the achievement of some future state.

    As I see it, the calling of God’s people (Israel/Church) is to visibly express the nature of God in the world. In this sense we are called to be ‘like’ Him in spirit (small ‘s’), but we, as created beings who are dependent on Him for our sustained existence, can never be ‘like’ him ontologically.

    He is the Alpha and Omega, the parenthesis within which all else exists, who needs nothing to create or sustain him. In contrast, the ‘gods’ of the LDS emerge from, and are ruled and sustained by the (created) cosmos

  21. germit says:

    Martin: that is HANDS DOWN the clearest explanation of Matt.5 that I’ve ever seen. Great job. When is commentary coming out?? It seems we get tripped up by the phrase “perfect as your heavenly father is perfect…” Right on about the ontological differences: we are God’s children, but HE is also “wholly other” as some groups put it. Gen 3, among others, should rule out even the DESIRE to be ‘as god”, so I think you’ve navigated the scripture well on this one. Curious, to me, how the enemy takes a righteous desire, completeness or holiness, and gives it (as always) a hideous twist. God keep us whole, in HIM. GERMIT

  22. falcon says:

    Martin and Jeffery,
    Very good thoughtful exposition of the scriptures. Mormons are proud of the fact that they have no systematic theology, depending instead on “progressive revelation knowledge”, both on a personal and corporate level. That’s where people start moving down the road to folk doctrine, personal opinion and error; accepting heretical teachings like progression to godhood. They depend on a “personal testimony” for truth rather than on the Word of God to guide them. There really isn’t any excuse for not knowing what the Gospel is all about. But it takes courage to move out of ones comfort zone and do a little study. Mormons are taught not to question anything that contradicts their “testimony”. What a self-limiting recipe for disaster.

    The apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy tells him to “…remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct cetain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” In the Book of Acts Luke reports that the Berean’s were noble because they studied the scriptures daily in an attempt to determine if the Christian message preached by Paul was true. Jesus showed the disciples, after his resurrection, from the scriptures that He was the Messiah. God’s Word studied with solid interpretive measures will lead people to the truth and not heretical teachings that they can become a god.

  23. Germit, thanks for your comment. I’d laugh out loud, but its 10:30 pm here and the family are all in bed.

    As far as a commentary is concerned, I posted some of my dubious ramblings on my website, starting here…

    http://web.mac.com/martin_jacobs1/iWeb/Martin's Homepage/Eternal Progression.html

    PS I set up the website name before I found out that apostrophes cause problems to some web browsers. If you get problems hitting the site, its not your fault, its mine.

    Blessings to you all…

  24. Ralph says:

    Falcon said ”I’ve gone back and looked at the early Church heretics and I can’t find one, even among the heretics, that taught/believed that they could become a god.”
    Here are a couple for you, I have bolded the name of the person who made the sentiment –
    ”The divine Word is God, he who bears patiently with man always. He wished to produce humility in the exalted. He (Christ) who has exalted man became like God, not in order that he might bring God down to man, but that man might become like God.” The Teachings of Silvanus 111:5-13, in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, edited by James M. Robinson and Richard Smith (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988), 392
    ”We must remember here that for the Ancient Church salvation stood in direct correlation to embodiment. Athanasius, the great Bishop of Alexandria, the head of the Church in all Egypt, summarized the Christian doctrine of salvation in the words, “God became man so that we may become God.” The goal of salvation is deification, and Athanasius invokes in this context the words of Jesus: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Ernst W. Benz, “Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God,” Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978), 215-216.
    If you want more I can give you the website.

    Lew – did you read verse 22? And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever Can it get any clearer than that?

    As far as Jesus not being perfect, I do not know what Bob means, but Jesus did have mortality to deal with and this is an imperfection. Apart from that, He did not sin so He was perfect and able to perform the Atonement.

  25. Ralph says:

    RickB, we have covered the topic of God’s progression and you should know by now that He only progresses by the number of His children who reach exaltation, He is not progressing in knowledge or power.

    Martin, nice interpretation of Matt 5:48, but I do not agree with it. It is at the end of the chapter discussing many foibles of the human species – ie murder, hateful thoughts, adultery, lust, vengeance, etc. I believe that this last verse is implying the whole chapter, not just the verses immediately prior to it. In fact on the internet there is a page with various bible interpretations side by side and some brief comments by various people/religions as to what they believe they mean. Here is one I think some of you might be interested in which supports my interpretation – ”Wesley notes – Matthew 5:48 Therefore ye shall be perfect; as your Father who is in heaven is perfect – So the original runs, referring to all that holiness which is described in the foregoing verses, which our Lord in the beginning of the chapter recommends as happiness, and in the close of it as perfection. And how wise and gracious is this, to sum up, and, as it were, seal all his commandments with a promise! Even the proper promise of the Gospel! That he will put those laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts! He well knew how ready our unbelief would be to cry out, this is impossible! And therefore stakes upon it all the power, truth, and faithfulness of him to whom all things are possible.”

    How do we become perfect? Through faith in Jesus Christ and from this faith, following His example and commandments.

    MichaelP said – “You are half correct. You forget we believe all are one, so there’s no irony there.” We only need to show the interpretation works in our ideology, not yours. We believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus are 2 separate beings, so Bob’s explanation works.

  26. Jeffrey says:

    Ralph “How do we become perfect? Through faith in Jesus Christ and from this faith, following His example and commandments.”

    So Ralph, it seems we are at the end of the road on this one.

    Of course to some degree, I agree with your statement above. We become perfected (justified, sanctified, accepted) by having faith in Christ. It is however, in my opinion and I believe much of Christianity’s belief that the perfection comes solely from having faith in Jesus Christ, not of ourselves, lest any man should boast.

    The Bible speaks clearly, that when you commit even on sin, you are accountable for all sin. Jesus Christ built the bridge himself, because all of us weren’t skilled enough (good enough) to take part in its construction. All He asks of us is to cross it. To step out in faith and accept his work (Gospel). The bridge is perfect because it could only be created by the Creator, and He has shown us this through his blueprints (The Bible). It was created before you and I were born.

    All of us, because of sin, have been slowly making our way to the edge of the cliff that the bridge is built across, and if it wasn’t for His love and His grace for us, we would all surely fall.

    Jesus Christs work is complete, and there is nothing we can add to it. We don’t even need a prophet to show us where the bridge is because God has showed it to us. We especially don’t need a “prophet” telling us we need to build our own bridges as if Jesus Christ’s is incomplete.

    It is because we know where the bridge is and have been given the opportunity to cross, that we LEAD by example those who may desire to cross as well. We do good works because of this wonderous gift he has given us, and it is all meant for others to find The Way, The Truth, and cross as well.

    No one comes to the Father, but through Him and His bridge.

  27. “It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
    –C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory

  28. RickB, we have covered the topic of God’s progression and you should know by now that He only progresses by the number of His children who reach exaltation, He is not progressing in knowledge or power.

    The church has no consistent position on whether Orson Pratt’s view of eternal progression (asserted here by Ralph) or Brigham Young’s view of eternal progression (where all gods, including ours, always progress in knowledge and power) is correct. Gospel Princples does seem to take a Prattian view in the chapter on exaltation. I talk to Latter-day Saints all the time about this issue and they’re all over the map. It’s hard to tell sometimes which is the dominant view. I would say that the Prattian view is predominant, but some friends disagree with me based on their own experiences.

    Any notion that the Church is unequivocally clear about such matters is misleading. The same goes with the issue of whether God the Father was possibly once a sinner. Defenders of Mormonism who say Mormonism’s official position is that God absolutely never sinned are lying.

  29. falcon says:

    Well Ralph, I have to hand it to you, you did come up with a heretic and it looks like Mormons want to identify with him. Now whether he said what was quoted and what he meant by it, I have no way of knowing. But I do know that Athanasius was exiled in 336 and 339 for maladministration, including charges that he had been violent towards his opponents. His exile,thus, was not purely a matter of theology. So you have your heretic and a champion of Arian heretical theology.

    In an article titled “The Final Act:It took Almost 60 years for the church to make Nicaea its standard of faith” Lewis Ayres author of “Nicaea and its Legacy” says that the idea that Christians did not previously consider Jesus divine is unfounded nonsense. Pro-Nicenes agreed that God’s being was not divided, and that the persons of the Godhead were truly distinct from each other. While they were willing to accept a wide range of terms for unity and distinction in God: what mattered was that God was undividedly one and yet irreducibly three.

    The story of the fourth century is one of the most important examples of the Spirit of truth indwelling and leading the Christian community. It should be remembered that the Spirit leads the Chruch into truth. The Faith of Nicaea is the true faith of Christians, but it was drawn out of the community’s reading of Scripture not only by human effort but by the inspiration of the Spirit shaping and guiding, leading a real human community into the truth.

    Joseph Smith was not led by the Spirit of God. Either directly or indirectly he sided with the heretics of the past. The question is, who will each of us follow. As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.

  30. Bored in Vernal, I’ll see your quote and raise you another:

    Human beings cannot become Gods for other worlds as God is God for all worlds. When all believers become what some Christians such as C. S. Lewis call “gods” in heaven (although the Bible never uses this language of glorified individuals), they are still dependent and human “gods,” and not God by nature, who alone is eternally the Author and Sustainer of literally all that is outside Himself. He is the only God in this fundamental sense of the term (Ibid.; and Lewis, Mere Christianity [N.Y.: Macmillan, 1952], vi, 160, 172).

  31. Athanasius was no heretic. What he meant by becoming a god is far different than Mormons misleadingly take him to mean. Athanasius firmly believed that there was only one Supreme Being for all worlds. The above quote I gave “Bored in Vernal” is applicable to the theology of Athanasius.

    This just gets to the issue of theosis and the question of whether Early Church Fathers meant we could become omnipotent and omniscient someday and be worshiped and prayed to by our own subjects.

    The answer is an unequivocal “no”. All Mormons can do is take ECF language out of context and disregard the larger worldviews from which such language was spoken.

  32. falcon says:

    Aaron,
    My apologies to Athanasius and his family for lumping him in the wrong category.

    Upon further review…Athanasius was known as a pugnacious defender of orthodoxy. As various emperors exercised interference, Athanasius was forced into exile. Athanasius spent these extended periods of exile doing two things. One, he traveled extensively and conferred with churchmen regarding the Arian heresy and other ecclesiastical matters, including imperial interference. His reputaiton as a universal Christian teacher was greatly extended because of this (travel). Two, while in exile he had the time to write the lengthy theological treatises that caused him to be ranked, even today, anong the greatest exponents of Christian doctrine.

    Athanasius understood that if Christ was seen as an exalted creature , the gospel would be lost. He said that no creature possessed the ability or prerogative to save from sin. He also said that the Son is indeed distinct, but we must not allow this fundamental distinction blur the identity of the one godhead. C.S. Lewis said, “(Athanasius)stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, ‘whole and undefiled’, when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius-into one of those sensible synthetic religions which are so stronly recommended today….it is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.”

    Again, my apologize for my previous post regarding this stalwart of the faith. Sack cloth and ashes for me….rye bread…no butter….black coffee, no cream or sugar…..sorry Mormon friends about the coffee.

  33. Aaron, I couldn’t tell from the link where your quote was coming from, but it seems clear it wasn’t from Lewis himself. This, of course, supports your point of view, but the C.S. Lewis quote was to show that some mainstream Christians might believe that humans have the potential to become gods in some manner. Can you show that Lewis did NOT believe this?

  34. Bored in Vernal, the whole watershed issue is what Lewis and (other Christians) mean by such language. The key is understanding that Christians don’t believe that, even if you call saints “gods” in the afterlife, we can ever be equal with God in knowledge or power. We will always be inferior “gods”, learning, subservient, dependent under the one Supreme God who is Supreme over all “gods” and worlds and universes and reality.

  35. Michael P says:

    I was waiting for someone to reference Lewis’ quote on gods. To me, it is a simple manner of reading literature as literature. I think anyone reading most anything would realize you have to think about what you read, and that not everything you read is to be taken literally. (This is even true in the Bible– some metaphor is most definately used). But so it is with Lewis. Notice he uses gods not Gods. To me he is saying we all have a chance to be something more than they are now because God (big G) has something wonderful planned for them if only they would accept Him. Each of us has great potential, but few of us realize it.

    But the little g gods Lewis speaks of certainly does not mean we are to become literal gods akin to big G God. Ultimately, little g gods as used by Lewis is literative and not literal.

  36. Megan says:

    Anyone who has studied the story of Lewis’ faith, as well as read his books on Christianity would know he was using ‘gods’ in a metaphorical sense.

  37. germit says:

    Bored in Vernal: I’m willing to lease you Joel Osteen at a discount summer-sale rate; and you can flat TAKE Eckhart Tolle for nothin’: he says we are ALL GODS, right now as a matter of ontological fact, so you and he have at least a little in common…..but could you spare us dear Mr.Lewis??? He is WAY too orthodox for you, trust me, your ‘alleged’ connections to him will sour. Clive Staples Lewis was as orthodox as they come. My copy of “the Weight of Glory” is packed away some place, as is my copy of “God in the Dock”: but I found your quote in the tail end of “Made for Heaven” a book of extended quotes. You are tripping all over his use of the word ‘gods’. To your credit, his IS talking about an eternal progression of sorts (all orthodox believe in some form of that, as far as I know), but attaining to the status of any part of the trinity is far from his theology. From p.93: “…you have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” Note the last word “splendours”. As those who REFLECT IMPERFECTLY (my description) the gloriously perfect, yes, ‘splendours’. Jack has in mind nothing less, but nothing more. I’ll find more on this later. YOU MISQUOTE THE BEST: GERMIT

  38. falcon says:

    To my knowledge, you can’t find Mormonism in the extensive debate the Church had in the first four hundred years of it’s existance, regarding the nature of God generally and the nature of Jesus specifically.

    The idea that 1) there is a mother and father got that procreate spirit children who than become humans and 2) that God was once a man who progressed to becoming a god and 3) believers in Christ can also progress to becoming gods with their goddess wives and rule their own planetary system wasn’t on the agenda.

    Mormonism can’t be found any where in the NT Church. Mormons buy the folk tale that what they practice is what the NT Church practiced, but by a sinister plot, it all got left out of the NT writings. If Mormons would apply a few basic tests to their doctrine they wouldn’t call their program “Christian”.

  39. Ralph, thanks for the commentary on Wesley’s interpretation of Matt 5:48. Much as I respect Wesley, I believe he saw himself as the servant of the Gospel, not its master. In other words, I’ll do him no dis-service by judging Wesley by scripture, not scripture by Wesley. I retain my doubts that Jesus was teaching that we can attain a state of moral perfection in this life (and I don’t think that the next life is on his agenda at this point either).

    Back to topic on whether we can become gods; why haven’t we gone to Anselm of Canterbury? His famous ontological argument for the existence of God can be paraphrased as; all things are created by something – there must be a maximal being that started off this creating business – that maximal being is God. In other words, if you find something that ‘creates’ God, or is more maximal than God then that something is God, and God is not God.

    The LDS notion that God emerges from the cosmos actually means that God is not God; the cosmos is God because it creates and sustains God – it is more maximal than God. Its a reversal thats repugnant to the Bible. I mentioned the Alpha and Omega previously (Rev 1:8, Rev 21:6, Rev 22:13). See also John 1:3, Col 1:16, or even Gen 1:1.

    The astonishing thing about the Gospel is not that there is a maximal being who created everything that exists, but that this maximal being took on flesh and dwelt with us for a while (John 1:14). The question is not ‘do you believe in God’, but ‘what kind of God do you believe in?’ If you look in the face of your god and see your own image reflected, think again! If you look and see the face of Jesus framed in a crown of thorns, you’re on the right track.

  40. germit says:

    Martin: Great post; the same thing has stood out to me as well. I doubt if many LDS have connected the dots, but if ‘knowledge’ or ‘energy’ were around PRIOR to GOD, we should really be worshiping (properly) ‘knowledge’ and ‘energy’. These points might seem arcane, but are more important than most realize. I don’t know off the top of my head the FAIR or FARMS response to that but I’m just guessing ‘this has already been addressed many times before..’ Just a guess. Enjoy your posts, by the way: do cosmological and epistemological problems just come to you as you eat your Fruity Pebbles???? have to know if that’s just happening to me….. GERMIT

  41. Ralph says:

    Martin,

    We do not know nor do we teach how God was formed/created/came into being what ever you want to say. We have a few comments about Him living as we did on a planet and going through a life as we did. What He did then we do not know. He could have been the Saviour of that planet and thus lead a perfect life. He could have been an ordinary human and made mistakes but repented and became perfect through the Saviour of His world. He could be the ‘head God’ and was neither created nor came into being. There are many things about Him we do not know nor comprehend.

    We do teach that we started out as intelligences and that this can neither be created nor destroyed, and what it is we do not know – but I believe it is not, as Germit states, knowledge. This has always been in existence before the creation of the universe. So where does that leave God? How about the ‘original God’ ie the very first one (if it is not our God)? We do not know. All you or anyone including LDS can give is speculation. Maybe the very first God came about as you Evs say yours did. Maybe the intelligence formed a being who then created the first universe and first humans to populate it which started the whole cascade.

    But we worship our God, our Father in Heaven, as the one and only because that is who He is to us – the one and only God. Until we die and get the answers from Him, that is all I am concerned about.

  42. germit says:

    RALPH: Welcome back from holiday: we saved a cup of MoRMON POSTUM just for you and a tray of Veggie-mite sandwiches. Yummmm. Good post, as usual. A few questions. You don’t ‘know or teach how God was formed…’?? Do we know how men were formed?? Do we know that God was in fact, once a man?? I can readily see that your church might not WANT to ‘teach’ how God came to be, because that comes across as goofy, but this ends up looking like a game of “we’d rather not go there…”. Similar to “we don’t know why Heavenly Father would withhold the priesthood from our dark skinned brothers…..” Call me a linear thinker, but I’m a connect the dots kind of guy. And didn’t the same guy,JS, who knew that information had been around forever also know about the moon people (including their HEIGHT, and HOW THEY WERE DRESSED??) An aside to Footdoc: no, I TRY to start off thinking that JS is neither who he said he was, OR who the Tanners say he was, I try to weigh the evidence and see where it takes me. In this case I end up talking to the Moon people. HMMMM. Some answers we in fact DO have to wait to see God face to face to get. Some answers are available on THIS side of the veil. Yeah, the torn one that Jesus replaced. And if Jesus took all the trouble to tear it down, why on earth would we want to put it back up???? A longer post coming for Footdoc on that issue later, unless Berean and the boys/girls beat me to it. Nobody seems to want to touch sacred=secret. That’s a tough nut. GERMIT

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