Mormonism Is not Christianity Part 2: As man is God once was.
"As man is God once was: As God is man may be,"
Lorenzo Snow, 5th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Welcome to this the 16th episode of Recovering Faith. Today's episode is the second part in the series Mormonism is not Christianity and it will focus primarily on the blasphemous and anti-Christian doctrine of the LDS Church that teaches God used to be a man who through obedience to the rules of his god was exalted to godhood and that through obedience to his rules we can similarly be exalted to godhood status. A lot of lay members of the LDS Church and some of its members like to deny that the church believes that, but it is well established that the church firmly believes it and can be proved using only LDS sources. Two of the LDS leaders who taught it the most prominently was John Taylor and Joseph Smith, but many others has as well, it is briefly discussed in the temple and is talked about in some of the canonized books of the Church such as the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham.
In order to fully understand why such a doctrine is problematic for a church or a religion that claims to be Christian we must first go to the Bible, the true word of God, to learn the true nature of God so that we may compare it to what is taught as doctrine by the LDS Church.
There are many attributes of God that are spoken about in the Bible as immutable truths, including the fact that He is immutable, and I will discuss them briefly before going into the LDS theology regarding their god. The attributes of God that are believed by orthodox Christianity are well established so I won't spend a lot of time on each of them, I just want to mention enough about them to contrast them with the Mormon view. For no particular reason, I will discuss the attributes of God in alphabetical order, and I do not consider my list to be all inclusive or exhaustive by any means.
The aseity of God means that God is so independent that he does not need us. Wayne A. Grudem, a prominent evangelical theologian, seminary professor, and author said, "People have sometimes thought that God created human beings because he was lonely and needed fellowship with other persons. If this were true, it would certainly mean that God is not completely independent of creation. It would mean that God would need to create persons in order to be completely happy or completely fulfilled in his personal existence." (1) The theology that God doesn't need us partly comes from Acts 17:25, where it says that God "is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything" (NIV).
God is eternal, meaning there was never a time when He did not exist or when He was not God, nor will there ever be a time when He does not exist or is not God. Revelations 1:18 says "I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
God is the creator of all things and is above all things and whatever He does is good as it is God's standard that determines what is good and what is not. God does not call something good because it is good; it is good because God determines it to be good. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” So, whatever is good comes from God, and the standard of what is good doesn’t change.
The graciousness of God is a key tenet of Christianity. In Exodus 34:5-6, it is part of the Name of God, "Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God". The descriptive of God in this text is, in Jewish tradition, called the "Thirteen Attributes of Mercy".
Even though the word "gracious" is not used often in the New Testament to describe God, there are more than 100 instances of the word grace being used. Nevertheless, there are plenty if instances to prove that God is gracious.
The Lord God is altogether holy and is separate from sin and is completely incorruptible. Isaiah 57:15 says, 'For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
The immutability of God means He cannot change. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." and Malachi 3:6 says, "I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Numbers 23:19 says "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" keep that last verse in mind because it will be important later when we discuss the Mormon Doctrine on God. Hebrews 13:8 says that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” which means that He has also always been God and was not created.
The impeccability of God, an attribute that is closely related to his holiness, means that He is unable to sin. Hebrews 6:18 says that "it is impossible for God to lie".
Since God is, according to Isaiah 55:8-9 far above our ways and our thinking, we are unable to adequately comprehend God. Isaiah 40:28 says "his understanding no one can fathom"
The incorporeality or spirituality of God refers to him being a Spirit. This idea of God comes from the best teacher on the subject of God we have ever had, from Jesus' statement in John 4:24, when He says "God is Spirit."
The infinity of God includes both his eternity and his immensity. Isaiah 40:28 says that "Yahweh is the everlasting God," and Solomon says in 1 Kings 8:27 that "the heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you". God's infinity encompasses all of His other attributes such as His goodness, His love, His power, etc. All of God's attributes are infinite.
Jealousy is another of the attributes of God and Exodus 20:5-6 says, "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments"
Love is one of the most well known attributes of God and 1 John 4:8;16 says "God is Love." So love is not just something God does, it is also who He is.
The omnipotence of God refers to Him being "all powerful". This is often conveyed with the phrase "Almighty", as in the Old Testament title "God Almighty"
The omnipresence of God refers to him being present everywhere. In Psalm 139:8, David says, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there" There is no space and no time in which God is not currently and forever at.
The omniscience of God means that He is all knowing. Romans 16:27 says, "to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen."
The oneness, or unity of God refers to his being one and only. This means that Christianity is monotheistic, although the doctrine of the Trinity says that God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The father is God but is not the son nor the Holy Ghost, the Son is God but is not the Father or the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is God but is not the Father or the Son, yet there is only one God.
The simplicity of God means he is not partly this and partly that, but that whatever he is, he is that entirely.
The sovereignty of God is related to his omnipotence, providence, and kingship and His freedom. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, 'Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, "My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,"
God's transcendence means that he is outside space and time, and therefore eternal and unable to be changed by forces within the universe. An attribute closely related to God's immutability, and is contrasted with his immanence. A significant verse which balances God's transcendence and his immanence is Isaiah 57:15 which reads, 'For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
The Trinity of God, which I briefly mentioned with reference to there only being one God, refers to him being three in one. God is understood to be a unity of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. One of the most important verses supporting the trinity of God is First John 5:7 (in the KJV) reads "...there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one"
Moses praises the wrath of God in Exodus 15:7. Later in Deuteronomy 9, after the incident of The Golden Calf, Moses describes how: "I feared the furious anger of the LORD, which turned him against you, would drive him to destroy you. But again he listened to me." (9:19). In Psalm 69:24, the psalmist begs God to "consume" his enemies "with your burning anger".
The Bible says that God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, without end or beginning of days, so if God was once a man, which is what the LDS Church believes, than not only did he change but he had a beginning and can't be eternal. The LDS apologist sometimes say that he is eternal because that matter he was created from is eternal, but that makes as much sense as saying that the your car has always existed because the material it was made from came from atoms that always existed, but that argument is just grasping at straws and still leaves the issue that if God used to be a man than there are other gods before him and that he changed and changed a great deal.
Now that we have discussed what the Bible teaches about the nature of God let us compare that to what the LDS Church teaches about God and discuss what the implications of that doctrine are. All of the sources I will use in discussing the doctrine of the LDS Church are from LDS sources, either official LDS publications or LDS apologetic sites or books that are not official church publications but their prime directive is to protect and grow the church at all costs.
There is a saying in the LDS Church that nearly every member knows that says, "As man is God once was: As God is man may be," which was originally stated by Lorenzo Snow who would later become the fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. From the official Church priesthood and relief society manual on the life and teachings of President Snow we learn where how Snow came to believe this doctrine.
Author or “translator” of The Book of Mormon, founder of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and first president of the Church.
Members if the Church view him to be a prophet greater than Moses and that he did more for the salvation of man than anyone else other than Jesus. It is taught that he holds the keys to heaven and gets the ultimate say on who enters.
In the spring of 1840, Lorenzo Snow was in Nauvoo, Illinois, preparing to leave for a mission in England. He visited the home of his friend Henry G. Sherwood, and he asked Brother Sherwood to explain a passage of scripture. “While attentively listening to his explanation,” President Snow later recalled, “the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me. …
“As man now is, God once was:
“As God now is, man may be.”
Feeling that he had received “a sacred communication” that he should guard carefully, Lorenzo Snow did not teach the doctrine publicly until he knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught it. Once he knew the doctrine was public knowledge, he testified of it frequently. (2)
The most well known instance we know of where Joseph Smith publicly taught the doctrine was during the famous King Follett Discourse given at a funeral by Smith two weeks before his death and I will share the entire sermon, which I took from the official Church website, LDS.org. (This sermon was copied and pasted, and not changed or altered in any way).
Beloved Saints: I will call [for] the attention of this congregation while I address you on the subject of the dead. The decease of our beloved brother, Elder King Follett, who was crushed in a well by the falling of a tub of rock has more immediately led me to this subject. I have been requested to speak by his friends and relatives, but inasmuch as there are a great many in this congregation who live in this city as well as elsewhere, who have lost friends, I feel disposed to speak on the subject in general, and offer you my ideas, so far as I have ability, and so far as I shall be inspired by the Holy Spirit to dwell on this subject.
I want your prayers and faith that I may have the instruction of Almighty God and the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that I may set forth things that are true and which can be easily comprehended by you, and that the testimony may carry conviction to your hearts and minds of the truth of what I shall say. Pray that the Lord may strengthen my lungs, stay the winds, and let the prayers of the Saints to heaven appear, that they may enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, for the effectual prayers of the righteous avail much. There is strength here, and I verily believe that your prayers will be heard.
Before I enter fully into the investigation of the subject which is lying before me, I wish to pave the way and bring up the subject from the beginning, that you may understand it. I will make a few preliminaries, in order that you may understand the subject when I come to it. I do not calculate or intend to please your ears with superfluity of words or oratory, or with much learning; but I calculate [intend] to edify you with the simple truths from heaven.
The Character of God
In the first place, I wish to go back to the beginning—to the morn of creation. There is the starting point for us to look to, in order to understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes and decrees of the Great Eloheim, who sits in yonder heavens as he did at the creation of the world. It is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get right.
There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God and His existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.
If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into more lofty spheres and a more exalted understanding than what the human mind generally aspires to.
I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own hearts, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with Him? This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question—What kind of being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen Him, heard Him, or communed with Him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The scriptures inform us that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being He is—if he will search diligently his own heart—if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.
My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being He is; and if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence, put their hands on their mouths, and never lift their hands or voices, or say anything against the man of God or the servants of God again. But if I fail to do it, it becomes my duty to renounce all further pretensions to revelations and inspirations, or to be a prophet; and I should be like the rest of the world—a false teacher, be hailed as a friend, and no man would seek my life. But if all religious teachers were honest enough to renounce their pretensions to godliness when their ignorance of the knowledge of God is made manifest, they will all be as badly off as I am, at any rate; and you might just as well take the lives of other false teachers as that of mine. If any man is authorized to take away my life because he thinks and says I am a false teacher, then, upon the same principle, we should be justified in taking away the life of every false teacher, and where would be the end of blood? And who would not be the sufferer?
The Privilege of Religious Freedom
But meddle not with any man for his religion: all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God’s kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood.
I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to inquire after God; for I want you all to know Him, and to be familiar with Him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of Him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am His servant; for I speak as one having authority.
God an Exalted Man
I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.
In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, 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. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that 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; and I will show it from the Bible.
Eternal Life to Know God and Jesus Christ
I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon!) The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it. 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. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name, is not trifling with you or me.
The Righteous to Dwell in Everlasting Burnings
These are the first principles of consolation. How consoling to the mourners when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear relative, to know that, 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 any more, 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, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when 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 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. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said.
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of anything that is not contained in the Bible. If I do, I think there are so many over-wise men here that they would cry “treason” and put me to death. So I will go to the old Bible and turn commentator today.
I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible—Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith—in, by, through, and everything else. Rosh—the head, Sheit—grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head! It read first, “The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.” That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council.
I will transpose and simplify it in the English language. Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world. The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time. When I say doctors and lawyers, I mean the doctors and lawyers of the scriptures. I have done so hitherto without explanation, to let the lawyers flutter and everybody laugh at them. Some learned doctors might take a notion to say the scriptures say thus and so; and we must believe the scriptures; they are not to be altered. But I am going to show you an error in them.
I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek languages. I have been reading the German, and find it to be the most [nearly] correct translation, and to correspond nearest to the revelations which God has given to me for the last fourteen years. It tells about Jacobus, the son of Zebedee. It means Jacob. In the English New Testament it is translated James. Now, if Jacob had the keys, you might talk about James through all eternity and never get the keys. In the 21st [verse] of the fourth chapter of Matthew, my old German edition gives the word Jacob instead of James.
The doctors (I mean doctors of law, not physic) say, “If you preach anything not according to the Bible, we will cry treason.” How can we escape the damnation of hell, except God be with us and reveal to us? Men bind us with chains. The Latin says Jacobus, which means Jacob; the Hebrew says Jacob, the Greek says Jacob and the German says Jacob, here we have the testimony of four against one. I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments. Come here, ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word rosh—the head, the Father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.
A Council of the Gods
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer.
When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.
Meaning of the Word Create
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end. (3)
Also on the LDS website I found an article answering the question as to whether the Church believes the doctrine, which they do, and whether or not it is official doctrine, which it is not, though they still do teach and believe it, there just has been no reason to make an official statement saying that they believe it. Note: The formatting, bold, italics, etc. are original from the LDS website.
Is President Lorenzo Snow’s oft-repeated statement—“As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be”—accepted as official doctrine by the Church?
Gerald N. Lund, Teacher Support Consultant for the Church Education System. To my knowledge there has been no “official” pronouncement by the First Presidency declaring that President Snow’s couplet is to be accepted as doctrine. But that is not a valid criteria for determining whether or not it is doctrine.
Generally, the First Presidency issues official doctrinal declarations when there is a general misunderstanding of the doctrine on the part of many people. Therefore, the Church teaches many principles which are accepted as doctrines but which the First Presidency has seen no need to declare in an official pronouncement. This particular doctrine has been taught not only by Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the Church, but also by others of the Brethren before and since that time.
In her biography of her brother, Eliza R. Snow explains the circumstances which led Lorenzo Snow to pen the famous couplet: “Being present at a ‘Blessing Meeting,’ in the Temple, previous to his baptism into the Church; after listening to several patriarchal blessings pronounced upon the heads of different individuals with whose history he was acquainted, and of whom he knew the Patriarch was entirely ignorant; he was struck with astonishment to hear the peculiarities of those persons positively and plainly referred to in their blessings. And, as he afterwards expressed, he was convinced that an influence, superior to human prescience, dictated the words of the one who officiated.
“The Patriarch was the father of Joseph, the Prophet. That was the first time Lorenzo had met him. After the services, they were introduced, and Father Smith said to my brother that he would soon be convinced of the truth of the latter-day work, and be baptized; and he said: ‘You will become as great as you can possibly wish—EVEN AS GREAT AS GOD, and you cannot wish to be greater.’” (Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1884, pp. 9–10.)
Lorenzo Snow was baptized a short time later and began his service in the Church. In the spring of 1840 he was called to serve a mission in the British Isles. Before his departure he was in the home of a Church member who was preaching a sermon on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. (See Matt. 20:1–16.) According to Elder Snow, “While attentively listening to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me, and explains Father Smith’s dark saying to me at a blessing meeting in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism. …
“As man now is, God once was:”
“As God now is, man may be.”
“I felt this to be a sacred communication, which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England, when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young, in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation.” (Eliza R. Snow, pp. 46–47; italics added. Brigham Young was President of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time.)
President Snow’s son LeRoi later told that the Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed the validity of the revelation Elder Snow had received: “Soon after his return from England, in January, 1843, Lorenzo Snow related to the Prophet Joseph Smith his experience in Elder Sherwood’s home. This was in a confidential interview in Nauvoo. The Prophet’s reply was: ‘Brother Snow, that is a true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you.’” (LeRoi C. Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith himself publicly taught the doctrine the following year, 1844, during a funeral sermon of Elder King Follett: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that 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.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, pp. 345–46.)
Once the Prophet Joseph had taught the doctrine publicly, Elder Snow also felt free to publicly teach it, and it was a common theme of his teachings throughout his life. About ten years before his death, while serving as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Snow incorporated his original couplet into a longer poem. He addressed the poem to the Apostle Paul, who had written the following to the Philippian Saints:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philip. 2:5–6.)
Part of the poem reads:
The boy, like to his father grown,
Has but attained unto his own;
To grow to sire from state of son,
Is not ’gainst Nature’s course to run.
A son of God, like God to be,
Would not be robbing Deity.
(As cited in LeRoi C. Snow, p. 661.)
Numerous sources could be cited, but one should suffice to show that this doctrine is accepted and taught by the Brethren. In an address in 1971, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
“I think I can pay no greater tribute to [President Lorenzo Snow and Elder Erastus Snow] than to preach again that glorious doctrine which they taught and which was one of the favorite themes, particularly of President Lorenzo Snow. …
“We have been promised by the Lord that if we know how to worship, and know what we worship, we may come unto the Father in his name, and in due time receive of his fulness. We have the promise that if we keep his commandments, we shall receive of his fulness and be glorified in him as he is in the Father.
“This is a doctrine which delighted President Snow, as it does all of us. Early in his ministry he received by direct, personal revelation the knowledge that (in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s language), ‘God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens,’ and that men ‘have got to learn how to be Gods … the same as all Gods have done before.’
“After this doctrine had been taught by the Prophet, President Snow felt free to teach it also, and he summarized it in one of the best known couplets in the Church. …
“This same doctrine has of course been known to the prophets of all the ages, and President Snow wrote an excellent poetic summary of it.” (Address on Snow Day, given at Snow College, 14 May 1971, pp. 1, 3–4; italics added.)
It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today. (4)
If you follow this doctrine to its logical conclusion it lead to the god the LDS Church believes in having a god himself and there being and endless regression of gods. This doctrine is one of the earliest, and definitely the largest, pyramid scheme.
If the LDS Church is correct than the bulk of Christianity will go to a lesser part of heaven when they die, but if Christianity is correct than those who die with aspirations to become a god will not be going to heaven at all or to any degree of glory. Another way of looking at it is if the LDS Church is correct Christians will still go to what they have always thought of as heaven but loose out on becoming gods, but if Christianity is correct than Mormons have lost EVERYTHING, even their very soul.
Even though it is abundantly clear that the LDS Church believes this doctrine, many members and leaders down play it or deny that they believe its, like my mission president asked me to do, because they are trying to look more mainstream from the outsiders point of view and they don’t want to scare people away from joining. Even President Hinkley tried to downplay the importance of the doctrine in an interview with Time Magazine, and the magazine says,
At first, Hinckley seemed to qualify the idea that men could become gods, suggesting that "it's of course an ideal. It's a hope for a wishful thing," but later affirmed that "yes, of course they can." (He added that women could too, "as companions to their husbands. They can't conceive a king without a queen.") On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he sounded uncertain, "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it.” (5)
It is apparent from the Bible that God does not change, and even the Book of Mormon says that God does not change, yet the LDS Church has this doctrine where God used to be an man and there is no end to his increase, which means that not only has their god changed but is continually changing. Moroni 8:18 says, "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." And Mormon 9:9 says, "For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?" However, Brigham Young said, "GOD IS INCREASING IN KNOWLEDGE. If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent and reflecting mind. God Himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end." (6)
The way in which the LDS Church views God is lower than the way in which Christianity has of God since the LDS doctrine is that there is a another god, or gods, above the one they believe in and Christianity holds that there is only one God and there never has been can be nor ever will be another. The LDS view is also that God gives a lot more to us after this life than what Christianity believes He does as Mormonism teaches that everyone is given the chance to become a god if they follow all of the rules where Christians know that we are lucky and blessed just to be saved from hell and taken to heaven where we will eternally serve and worship the one and only God.
We, as humans, are fallen, flawed, faulty and vile sinners, the whole lot of us, and we are NOT god incarnate as the LDS Church claims. God did not created us to become gods. God created us, He didn’t take things that existed before Him and assemble us out of them, He created us the way He created everything. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” - John 1:3 We do not earn our salvation in any way and are only saved because our good and eternal Father, the one true God loves us enough to save us, given as a gift, not earned and not deserved.
Wayne A. Grudem, Independence of God, https://www.monergism.com/independence-god
Chapter 5: The Grand Destiny of the Faithful,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (2011) https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-5-the-grand-destiny-of-the-faithful?lang=eng#note2-
Time Magazine http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,138108,00.html
Journal of Discourses Volume 5, page 120.