The following illustration is found in the Instructor’s Guide for the current Mormon Institute manual, “The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (Rel 211-12)” [The posted scan is from the print edition, page 110]. Found in a section of the manual that is discussing 2 Peter and “Partaking of the Divine Nature of God” (2 Peter 1:4), it clearly illustrates classic Mormonism.
Under a section titled “Study Sources,” the instructor’s manual suggests that teachers consult Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (pages 345-348) in order to answer the question, “What must we do to partake of God’s divine nature and become like him?” Found on these pages of Teachings is part of Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse. Here are some excerpts from the cited pages:
“God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!”
“…it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God.”
”…he was once a man like us, yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did…”
“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, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”
“…although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die anymore; but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory, and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power. What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when the worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and so I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children.”
Joseph Smith has done a pretty thorough job of explaining what the manual illustration seeks to depict. Indeed, about his teaching Joseph said, “It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much has been said” (Teachings, 348).
Just for fun and for the sake of discussion, how would you explain the doctrines of Mormonism that are taught via the illustration found in this teaching manual? In addition to what it teaches about man’s potential, what is it saying about Christ?
For a Christian perspective on 2 Peter 1:1-4 and Peter’s teaching on becoming “partakers of the divine nature,” check out John Piper’s sermon, “Liberating Promises” at desiringgod.org.