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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What’s Wrong With God-Making? » What’s Wrong With God-Making?

What’s Wrong With God-Making?

Rusty - April 13, 2006

During my senior year in high school I had a friendly discussion with a Christian friend of mine about the nature of God. He was aware of (and baffled at) the Mormon belief that we can one day become gods. When he asked how I could believe such a blasphemous teaching I asked him if he thought God was supremely happy. He said yes. Does God want us to be supremely happy? Yes. Why would God not do everything in His (all-encompassing) power to help us become like him? In other words, God doesn’t need to be above us, He’s not going to lift us only part of the way up to him. He wants us to become His equal, to be as happy as He is, not slightly less. (yeah, I know, not the most sophisticated of answers but it served its purpose)

No, my friend didn’t become Mormon. But for me that experience served as a good contrast of the Mormon perception of God vs. everyone else’s perception of God. It’s the greatest of all our doctrines. Now, I don’t claim to know what “be like God” means exactly, but I believe it’s possible. And either God loves us that much or there is no god.

I have a thought experiment in which I try to construct the perfect “religion”. This, of course, is impossible to do without some kind of foundational belief or given. My givens are that God exists, that He is happy and that we’re His children (yeah, I know, those are big givens). After that—the Mormon belief that God wants us to become perfected like Him—I just can’t imagine a more sensible outcome. It makes the word “eternal” mean something. It paints some kind of a picture of what’s possible. It just makes so much sense.

Prophets, “religion”, the Holy Ghost, priesthood, baptism, temples, agency, the BoM, Jesus Christ and the Atonement are all just those things that God has given us to help us become like Him. They make sense to me because becoming a god makes sense to me. If I didn’t believe I could become a god most of that list could go away and I wouldn’t miss it. Yeah, we’ve got some problems, some gaps, some spots, some questions, but it’s either the one that says I can become like Him or it’s none at all.

17 Comments »

  1. It’s fun to see that the more I study, the more I come to understand just how grand and wise that principle is. In fact, if it wasn’t for that one principle, I would never want to be Mormon. The church doesn’t offer me anything else of enough worth to do all the stuff they want me to if it wasn’t for the opportunity, with the proper authority, ordinances and doctrines, to make me like God.

    Funny how our society is so big on equality but they don’t want to believe in a god wants us to be equal (as equal as possible, I suppose, since He’ll always be our God and Father). Maybe that’s one reason why atheism/agnosticism is becoming so prevalent.

    Comment by Bret — April 13, 2006 @ 2:17 am

  2. I think part of the reason people dont like the LDS notion of godhood is it makes God too concrete. People like an ethereal and ephemeral God who is both everywhere and nowhere. If He is intangible then He can be whatever they like or dont like. I have talked to all sorts of people about their personal views of God and they are all over the place. Some people say God is like energy or a force, and they usually end up puzzled or baffled by their own inability to say anything intelligent about Him. The smart ones just say “its a mystery”. You see, if God is an amorphous and unpenatrable mistery, then everything about Him is up for discussion, including what He would expect or want out of you. So, people much more prefer the ethereal to the concrete when it comes to God.

    Comment by Kurt — April 13, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  3. Very nice post. I have often thought that we should not be ashamed of or hide this general belief.

    Comment by Eric — April 13, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  4. My favorite non-member Bible commentator talks about the reason God created us was for fellowship. And that is our goal is to have fellowship with God.

    I’ve always thought how can a man who understands the scriptures so well come up with such a lame reason. God was lonely so he needed some toys to play with, so he creates us so He has someone to fellowship with. But then He pre-destines only some of those creations to come back to Him for this fellowship deal.

    I’m sorry, but I find all other excuses for what God is and what our potential is to be a joke.

    I have yet to have a non-member give me a good explaination of what becoming a joint heir with Christ means. We get everything! Wow what a concept! Truth reigns!

    Comment by don — April 13, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

  5. How odd that someone who believes we were created for fellowship with God cannot see that true fellowship can only occur among potential equals. To say that Heavenly Father created us simply to pass the time and praise Him implies a level of narcissism and megalomania that a true god would not possess.

    Comment by Space Chick — April 13, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  6. Bret,
    Yeah, the equality thing. I hadn’t thought of it in the context of a culture that so highly values equality.

    Kurt,
    Interesting thoughts. It IS convenient to have a god that you can’t nail down, it makes it really easy to conform His character around what is convenient for you.

    Eric,
    Thanks. I feel the same way.

    Don,
    Yeah, friendship is important but if that were our purpose I wonder what the purpose of this earth-life is then. What does the Atonement matter? Why do we suffer? It doesn’t make sense.

    Space Chick,
    You’re exactly right.

    Comment by Rusty — April 13, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

  7. ummm….hmmm…er…

    Well, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Prophet of God Gordon B. Hinckley claimed not to know much about this purported doctrine, and seemed, best I can tell, to be distancing the LDS Church from this teaching.

    Comment by Timothy — April 13, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  8. When I was in high school my friends were asking my dad about how we could believe this. My dad asked them, “Do you believe that you are children of your Heavenly Father?” To which they replied, “Yes.”

    He then asked, “Isn’t it natural to assume that the child will grow and progress to become like the parent?”

    I always liked that answer but if it’s going to work you have to be discussing this with a person who believes they are the actual children of God.

    Comment by kristen j — April 13, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  9. Timothy,
    The question was whether we believed that God was once a man (not if we will become gods) and President Hinckley was as political as he could be in his answer. Like I said, I don’t claim to know exactly what God used to be like and exactly what we will be like, but if you think we’re distancing ourselves from that doctrine go to the temple. It’s made quite clear what our future can be. Whether or not God had to live on an earth or become a Savior, I don’t know, but it’s pretty clear that God wants me, His child, to become like him.

    Comment by Rusty — April 13, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  10. Rusty: It IS convenient to have a god that you can’t nail down, it makes it really easy to conform His character around what is convenient for you.

    But Rusty, couldn’t you say the same about the Mormon conception of God? Mormons have a conception of God as a man–a reflection of who we are.

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. In many respects, it makes God more accessible, particularly if our goal is to be come like him. But I think that with a just a tiny bit of tinkering on the edges, Kurt’s criticism can be turned right back on Mormons.

    Comment by Chris Williams — April 13, 2006 @ 3:33 pm

  11. Whats Wrong With God-Making?

    At Nine Moons, Rusty wonders why non-Mormons dont like the Mormon idea of the deification of human beings.
    I asked him if he thought God was supremely happy. He said yes. Does God want us to be supremely happy? Yes. Why would God not do …

    Trackback by Defensor Veritatis — April 13, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

  12. My two cents: There’s at least one NT scripture that says the righteous will reign with Christ. So critics from other denominations are g-d makers too, unless they reject that part of the bible, which is doubtful. That said, I think Timothy is correct. This is hardly an essential “doctrine” of the church, not something I recall hearing at general conference, and those who so promote it seem to cite uncanonized sources such as the KFD. I also think it’s a concept that can’t be entirely understood in our earthly realm, akin to the wave/particle duality in physics. In other words, both Rusty’s response to the inquiry or a Mormon responding that the inquirer is mistaken and we don’t teach that, at least not in the fashion the inquiry implied, are both reasonable responses.

    Comment by Steve EM — April 13, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  13. Rusty,

    The doctrine of deification is a belief that Mormons share with orthodox Christianity. As you may know, the great Christian philosopher, C.S. Lewis, wrote:

    “The command `Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good his words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to Him perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said.”
    C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity,” Macmillan, 1952, p. 174.

    However, I need to quibble with your phrasing a little bit. Our belief in deification does not mean that we believe that we will ever be “equal” to God or that we will ever stop worshipping him.

    Here is how W. John Walsh states it:

    “While we believe that the faithful will enjoy a life similar to our Heavenly Father, we also believe we will still be subject to and worship the God of Heaven, which is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Furthermore, while we will be “gods, even the sons of God” (D&C 76:58), we will never be at the same level as them or stop worshipping them, but we will be like them and enjoy a quality of life similar to theirs.”
    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/godhood.htm

    As we discuss the doctrine of deification with our non-member friends, we should make certain that they do not misunderstand us to be saying that we will, at some point, stop worshipping God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

    Comment by Rob Johnson — April 14, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  14. And either God loves us that much or there is no god.

    Well said.

    Comment by john f. — April 14, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  15. I don’t see anything the church or the general authorities doin as distancing from this doctrine. Numerous quotes from the prophets and even whole lessons on this are found in the pristhood/RS manuals. Sunday shool lessons don’t shy away from it and then as Rusty said, the temple virtually revolves around it. The only time we may appear to be distancing from it is in public. Even when this happens I would say church leaders are trying more to avoid offending our neighbors or “give them meat before milk” then acting like we don’t believe it as much anymore.

    Chris,

    Good point. Everyone who believes in a Supreme Being are going to have a theology of God that fits into their beliefs rather well.

    Comment by Bret — April 14, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

  16. Kristen, the first time I heard that concept was when Truman Madsen spoke at a Special Interest Conference in Vegas. He was talking from a book he wrote, The Highest in Us, and he said he’d asked some Christian ministers who were debating our doctrine: “why would you want your children to be eternally inferior? Don’t we all want our children to do better than us?” I was mesmerized and suddenly hopeful.

    Comment by annegb — April 18, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  17. More like what is wrong with all you people? Joseph Smith was a false prophet, simple as that. His prophecies never came true and yet he still believed that he was better than Jesus and his apostles. You believe that one day you will die and become a god of your own planet with your multiple wives. Why then would you believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are 3 separate beings ruling over Earth? There’s a contradiction in itself. Who did Joseph Smith think he was, creating a cult that sought to prove the false teaching of the Bible which has historical truth and archeological proof to back up its claims. Joseph Smith’s Book-o-Mormon came almost 2000 years after Jesus, and should in theory be proved more easily, when in fact none of the places described in its scripts has been found to exist. Mormonism is not a Christian religion, it is a widespread cult which has no truth. Mormonism keeps people in line, maybe thats not a bad thing, but that’s all it is. Joseph Smith wasn’t a martyr, he died in a gun fight. Im a Christian and your religion is false, and I say that with not a speck of guilt on my heart in believing that I am going to go to hell for that. As I said at the beginning, Joseph Smith was a false prophet, nothing more, you should have figured that out by now that none of his prophecies came true. Did Jesus return in the 1890s? NO. Time for all you mormons to come out of your cult that was created by generations of people having hoards of children, because that was the main reason for the spread of the religion, brainwashing of you. Open up your minds to everything else. You blame any opposition to your religion as being evil, if your religion is true you have nothing to worry about,(which it’s not). Dinosaur bones weren’t put on earth by the devil. This is absolutely obsurd.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 17, 2006 @ 1:43 am

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