On May 21, 1845 an article on the nature of God, man, and angels appeared in the LDS publication the “Prophet.” Understood to have been written by the editor, LDS Apostle Parley P. Pratt, the article was reprinted in the 1903 book Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B. H. Roberts. Mr. Roberts identified this article, titled “Materiality,” as one of “A Collection of Authoritative Mormon Utterances on the Being and Nature of God” which he included in Mormon Doctrine of Deity. As a Seventy “noted for his doctrinal knowledge,” Mr. Roberts explained the purpose of the book:
“The task before me, on this occasion, is to take this subject and present to you what in reality the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches with reference to the Godhead.” (page 11)
What follows is a condensation of the main points of Mr. Pratt’s “Materiality” article.
What is God? He is a material intelligence, possessing both body and parts. He is in the form of man, and is in fact of the same species; and is a model, or standard of perfection to which man is destined to attain: he being the great Father and head of the whole family.
He can go, come, converse, reason, eat, drink, love, hate, rejoice, possesss [sic] and enjoy. He can also travel space with all the ease and intelligence necessary, for moving from planet to planet, and from system to system.
This being cannot occupy two distinct places at once. Therefore, he cannot be (in person) everywhere present….
What is Jesus Christ? He is the son of God, and is in every way like his father,… He is material intelligence, with body, parts and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones. He can…perform all things even as the Father—possessing the same power and attributes. And he, too, can travel space, and go from world to world, and from system to system, precisely like the Father; but cannot occupy two places at once.
What are angels? They are intelligences of the human species. Many of them are offsprings of Adam and Eve. That is, they are like Enoch or Elijah, been translated; or, like Jesus Christ, been raised from the dead;… They can go or come on foreign missions, in heaven, earth, or hell; and they can travel space, and visit the different worlds, with all the ease and alacrity with which God and Christ do the same,…
What are spirits? They are material intelligences, possessing body and parts in the likeness of the temporal body; but not composed of flesh and bones, but of some substance less tangible to our gross senses in our present life; but tangible to those in the same element as themselves. In short, they are men in embrio [sic] –intelligences waiting to come into the natural world and take upon them flesh and bones, that through birth, death, and the resurrection they may also be perfected in the material organization. Such was Jesus Christ, and such were we before we came into this world, and such we will be again, in the intervening space between death and the resurrection.
What are men? They are the offspring of God, the Father, and brothers of Jesus Christ. They were once intelligent spirits in the presence of God, and were with him before the earth was formed. They are now in disguise as it were, in order to pass through the several changes, and the experience necessary to constitute them perfect beings.
They are capable of receiving intelligence and exaltation to such a degree, as to be raised from the dead with a body like that of Jesus Christ’s, and to… go on missions from planet to planet, or from system to system: being Gods, or sons of God, endowed with the same powers, attributes and capacities that their heavenly Father and Jesus Christ possess.
What are all these beings taken together, or summed up under one head? They are one great family, all of the same species, all related to each other, all bound together by kindred ties, interests, sympathies, and affections. In short they are all Gods; or rather, men are the offspring or children of the Gods, and destined to advance by degrees, and to make their way by a progressive series of changes, till they become like their Father in heaven, and like Jesus Christ their elder brother.
Thus perfected, the whole family will possess the material universe, that is, the earth, and all other planets, and worlds, as “an inheritance incorruptible undefiled and that fadeth not away.” They will also continue to organize, people, redeem, and perfect other systems which are now in the womb of Chaos, and thus go on increasing their several dominions, till the weakest child of God which now exists upon the earth will possess more dominion, more property, more subjects, and more power and glory than is possessed by Jesus Christ or by his Father; while at the same time Jesus Christ and his Father, will have dominion, kingdoms, and subjects increased in proportion.
Such are the riches, glories, blessings, honors, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, held out by the system of materialism.
Such the wealth, the dignity, the nobility, the titles and honors to which “Mormons” aspire. Such the promises of him whose word can never fail.
With these hopes and prospects before us, we say to the Christian world, who hold to immateriality, that they are welcome to their God–their life—their heaven, and their all.
They claim nothing but that which we throw away, and we claim nothing but that which they throw away. Therefore, there is no ground for quarrel, or contention between us. (Mormon Doctrine of Deity, pages 255-258)
The Christian world, along with the Apostle Paul, is content with “their all”:
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)