In November 2004 Dr. Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, spoke in front of a packed house at the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square. Dr. Mouw apologized for the way evangelicals had borne “false witness” about the teachings of Mormonism. Later, when asked to clarify his statement, Dr. Mouw wrote,
“I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don’t understand and has no functioning place in present day Mormon doctrine.”
A few years later (2007), in the thick of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, FOXNews.com asked the LDS Church to comment on 21 questions regarding some controversial beliefs allegedly promoted by Mormonism. Two questions and answers of interest were:
Q: Does the Mormon Church believe its followers can become “gods and goddesses” after death?
A: We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.
Q: Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will “rule” after their death and ascension?
The June 2009 issue of Ensign magazine sheds some light on LDS teachings related to the above statements. In “Our Refined Heavenly Home” by Seventy Douglas L. Callister we learn,
“I imagine that our heavenly parents are exquisitely refined. In this great gospel of emulation, one of the purposes of our earthly probation is to become like them in every conceivable way…” (page 55)
“Your Father in Heaven has sent you away from His presence to have experiences you would not have had in your heavenly home–all in preparation for the conferral of a kingdom. He doesn’t want you to lose your vision. You are children of an exalted being. You are foreordained to preside as kings and queens.” (page 58)
“…may we become worthy to enjoy the refined society of heavenly parentage, for we are of the race of the Gods, being ‘children of the most High’ (Psalm 82:6).” (page 58)
To summarize, the LDS gospel is one of “emulation” of God the Father and His heavenly partner. Human beings are of the “race of the Gods,” and as such, each person’s goal is to become like his or her heavenly parents “in every conceivable way.” Once a person is prepared for “the conferral of a kingdom,” he or she will fulfill the foreordained plan to “preside” therein as a king or queen and enjoy the “refined society of heavenly parentage.”
Mr. Callister’s comments are refreshingly straightforward. I hope readers benefit from his teaching and gain expanded insight into a few Mormon doctrines.