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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : The Most Profound Doctrine in Mormonism? » The Most Profound Doctrine in Mormonism?

The Most Profound Doctrine in Mormonism?

Don - February 28, 2007

What is the most profound doctrine in Mormonism? That’s a question I’ve given some thought to. We are so different from our Christian brothers and sisters and yet similar too. Many of our doctrines are generally accepted in the Christian world.

There are however many of our doctrines that are far from what would be termed normal christianity.

Which would you say is the most profound?

I would say the doctrine of who God really is, and that we can become Gods ourselves. What would you say?


  1. I remember reading something somewhere that someone said (nice, huh) there are two doctrines that make us different from other churches. One is that God has a physical body. The other is…Um, I forget.

    I think our doctrine of a pre-existence is pretty cool.

    Comment by Susan M — February 28, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  2. I would say the doctrine of who God really is, and that we can become Gods ourselves.”

    I don’t know that we teach that..

    Gordon Hinckley

    Comment by Byron — February 28, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

  3. Byron,

    What the reference on that? Far as I know Pres. Hinckley teaches that doctrine emphatically. Read the ;last chapter of the Gospel Principles manual (that he wrote).

    I’d agree with you, dad, by the way.

    Comment by Bret — February 28, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  4. Don – I think the doctrine you site is indicative of a more pervasive doctrine that governs our lives. We have a personal relationship (person to person) with God in every aspect of our religion. I think that is mostly misunderstood by non-mormons who think we live a very restrictive lifestyle governed by heavy-handed patriarchs. The fact is that our bishop and stake president are their to provide leadership and guidance but we can take our problems and our inadequacies directly to God. Of course the bishop and stake president are there to help us out of the really deep holes we dig for ourselves. Recent debates on other blogs about tithing, Word of Wisdom and other issues just reinforces my belief that we have been given doctrine to guide our lives but it is up to us to establish the specifics of how we will accept and live by that doctrine. That freedom may or may not make us different from our Christian brothers and sisters from other denominations but I think it is different from what the world understands about us. And I love that we have that freedom.

    Comment by lamonte — March 1, 2007 @ 6:14 am

  5. I think our most profound doctrine is actually one we share with the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters. It is that Jesus Christ came to Earth to atone for our sins, griefs, sorrows, pains, and to overcome death so that we, too can, through Him, overcome all things. This is the central point of the Gospel, and every time I think about it, it still amazes me.

    Comment by Keri — March 1, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  6. I believe Gordon B. Hinckley said it in an interview with Mike Wallace.

    We’re not sure if his slightly apologetic General Conference address after the interview was an oblique reference to that statement or not.

    But whatever Pres. Hinckley says, I think the gods-in-embryo idea is my pick for most profound doctrine.

    Comment by Seth R. — March 1, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  7. AMEN, Keri.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — March 1, 2007 @ 10:05 am

  8. Um? How can it be doctrine when it’s never been canonized? GBH was correct; we don’t teach that. The KFD was already dead; GBH just hammered the nails in the coffin.

    Comment by Steve EM — March 1, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  9. Mike Wallace asked if it’s a teaching of the church (that God was once man). President Hinckley’s full response was

    “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.”

    If you read it, it’s obvious that Pres. Hinckley believes it, he just does’t understand it. And by “teach it”, he’s clearly referring to “does it get stressed in instruction” not “does the Church hold it as true”.

    Some may jump on me for this reading, but it’s totally unfair to take that first sentence without the rest. I’m pretty certain KFD is alive and well, if not openly taught, like so much of the Mormon system.

    This gets my vote, too: A God who has learned all and thus can do all (or at least all as far we mortals can see)

    Comment by alea — March 1, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  10. So, because GBH believes it, it’s church doctrine?

    In that case, we have a whole whack of strange doctrines from BY.

    If it ain’t canon, it ain’t our doctrine.

    Comment by JM — March 1, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  11. alea,
    I respect your and Don’s opinion, but you’re following the common LDS approach of hanging on every word of GBH’s statement rather than hearing the message. That’s how we end up with some strange concepts, like the on the LofC and the WofW hang all the laws and all the prophets, absurdities often based on one verse of scripture as opposed to the whole.

    Why isn’t the KFD canonized if it’s one of our most profound doctrines and alive and well? Not being canonized makes it very easy to ignore as apocryphal, which seems to be where our leaders want to keep it. To me the KFD has no more weight than Adam-God.

    Comment by Steve EM — March 1, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  12. I like King Follett Steve.

    Yes, I know it makes the nascent Unitarians in the Church ranks uncomfortable.

    Tough beans.

    Comment by Seth R. — March 1, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  13. Seth,
    “Nascent Unitarian” is fair because I pretty much reject any rigid belief system as the antithesis of faith, but I’m keeping the Evangelical Mormon handle, at least for now. I just want the essence of the gospel and don’t have much patience for the fluff. Maybe that’s why I immediately fell for the good stuff in my drinking days and always liked the impressionist painting style.

    BTW, I like the KFD too, albeit as apocrypha.

    Comment by Steve EM — March 1, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  14. Using a strict definition of doctrine (ala KFD is not doctrine), I would say that the most distinct doctrine is that the heavans are still open. We believe in living prophets. Redeeming the dead is a close second in my book. Not just the idea that ordinances are required, but that the ordinances can be performed by proxy.

    Comment by KyleM — March 1, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  15. Quoting Terryl Givens:

    “Here are the four truths about human nature that Joseph taught that would reinvent man. We are, he declared, eternally existent, inherently innocent, boundlessly free, and infinitely perfectible.”

    from a 2005 speech title “Lightning From Heaven: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community”

    Comment by larryco_ — March 1, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  16. Steve EM- Doesn’t requiring canonization in order for something to be doctrine come pretty close to being a strict creed? I mean, if you’re only willing to accept as doctrine that which is canonized, you’ll shortcircuiting a lot of Mormon belief, which is I term I perfer to Mormon doctrine.

    Also, Mormon belief obviously extends beyond the officially canonized. Is the temple ceremony canonized? If so, please give me the definition of canonization that would include that but exclude the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    Comment by alea — March 1, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  17. alea,
    You raise a good point. Risking a tread jack, regarding the temple liturgy, I don’t know because it is symbolic and, as we know, can be changed at anytime to better convey the instruction, so perhaps it’s not doctrine but a teaching method or tool? Really, I don’t know. I’d say our doctrinal creed for the with-the-program member is restricted to the answers professing belief in the temple recommend interview. Beyond that, most of our individual belief details are speculation, not church doctrine. Hence my questioning someone calling such and such our most profound doctrine when we don’t seem to teach such and such but leave it to the member to decide what to believe.

    Regarding teachings of prophets, not everything makes it into Canon, such as the KFD or Adam-God. There are many other apocryphal LDS works such History of the Church, all useful reference materials, but still apocryphal.

    Comment by Steve EM — March 1, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  18. FWIW – The unofficial Mormon Creed for decades was “Mind your own business.”

    Comment by KyleM — March 1, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  19. I keep reading that we don’t teach that we can become like God. That it’s not doctrine. When did it quit being doctrine, and being taught?

    The Gospel Principles manual, designed to teach new members / those new to the church and those investigating the church teaches it plainly.

    “Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives.”

    “We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father.”

    “Those who receive exaltation…they will become gods.”

    “This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: ‘It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God…He was once a man like us;…God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.’”

    It IS TAUGHT in the church, in an offical publication, designed to teach us the doctrines of the church.

    It stays as my answer as to being the most profound doctrine of Mormonism.

    Comment by don — March 1, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  20. Thanks Bret, I had to borrow your book for the quotes, I don’t have good books on doctrine like you do.

    Comment by don — March 1, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  21. Yeah, I think what President Hinckley is referring to is the part of the couplet that says, “what man is, God once was”, not the “what God is man may become” but I could be wrong.

    Comment by Rusty — March 1, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  22. Don,
    I may actual agree with you, but I think there’s a major difference between a god, gods and the Almighty G-d. The “doctrine” your citing is consistent with the saved reigning with Christ as understood by plenty of serious Christians. So it’s hardly unique to Mormondom.

    And who cares what a church manual says? Some manuals teach a miraculous restoration of the ten tribes. Others teach we gather the tribes via missionary work. For years when teaching I had to skip sections of manuals that covered that dark skin is a curse crap. Even primary manuals contained that hate talk. I think you can still find that bigoted nonsense in some current publications. That doesn’t make it any less than utter rubbish that an individual member should feel free to ignore or reject.

    Comment by Steve EM — March 2, 2007 @ 5:03 am

  23. Steve,

    You state and I agree that we can reign with Christ. The scriptures are clear that we are also joint heirs with Christ. Christ is a god, he created this earth and much more. If I rule with him and I inherit what he inherits then it seems to me I’ll be a god also with his same power, authority, rulership (if that’s a word) and abilities.

    Why does there seem to be some barrier to thinking we can actually become a god?

    If God is our Father – a perfect father – and He loves me then doesn’t He want me to have everything He has and more? I do for my children and I’m certainly not perfect. And I get tremendous joy when I see my kids succeed and do better than I have done. My kids are so much better than me in so many ways it’s amazes me. Why would God be any different than me?

    Comment by Don Clifton — March 2, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  24. “I may actual agree with you, but I think there’s a major difference between a god, gods and the Almighty G-d. ”

    Steve -

    That is the joy of the KFD – there is no difference.

    As for doctrine – our living prophet is living doctrine. What the prophet teaches is binding, in my opinion, for the present. A future prophet may teach otherwise, and that becomes binding. Otherwise, why have modern prophets at all, if canonization is the only means to get doctrine.

    My answer for the question – that all individuals are co-eternal with God. We were not created, but are unique, individual beings with the ability to choose and be independent.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — March 5, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  25. I understand this hasn’t been reviewed in months now, but I could’t help point out some interesting facts. In the KFD Joseph himself declares it as doctrine. The scriptures are full of those same doctrines you just need to know where to look. Read more carefully the D&C.

    Read D&C 132:20- “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

    Sometimes prophets voice opinion and other times they voice doctrine, they will say which one it is. JS, BY and others sometimes had mere opinions on subjects that may or may not be correct. But… if Joseph Smith said it was true… it’s true!

    Comment by Gunner — July 6, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  26. we have to be careful that we don’t jump to conclusions about things too fast.

    regarding what president Hinckley said, i think what he was saying that it’s not official doctrine that we will be God like God is God in that we will create our own planets, etc.

    do i believe that though? you bet ya.

    for me there is a simple and yet astounding conclusion to the so called adam god theory, but it came from my personal prayerful pondering of the issue so i hold it personal.

    the same can be said about things relating to the temple especially for me regarding the coats of skins.

    Comment by garry — July 7, 2007 @ 10:16 pm

  27. I’m a little confused by some of the comments about doctrine. Joseph Smith said in the KFD, “I know better, God has told me so….” It is Mormon doctrine, believed to have come straight from God through the first prophet used to restore the church.

    If the KFD is not doctrine, Joseph Smith was a false prophet speaking heresy in the name of God.

    Deuteronomy 18:20
    ‘But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

    It hardly puts the LDS prophets in a good light to reject what they say because you don’t want to believe it–regardless of how ignorant, racist, or blasphemous it may seem–the only alternative is that they spoke heresy in the name of God. This ‘pick and choose your doctrine’ mentality is exactly the opposite of what the LDS church is supposed to stand for.

    Comment by JD — July 10, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  28. this is a tricky place to find yourself.

    what you are addressing in what we as latter-day saints find ourselves probably for the most part almost unconciously and regulary.

    there is such a thing as official doctrine, unofficial doctrine that is true, things that leaders have said that we believe, things that leaders have said that are just their opinion, doctrinal types of things that have been revealed to us personally and that we keep to ourselves…the list could go on i’m sure. we just have to file them properly into the correct file keeping them in proper perspective.

    i’m sure that those areas are sure to become more clearcut as time goes on for us.

    Comment by garry — July 10, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  29. Garry, I am taking a rather black-and-white view on this. One thing I am trying to say is that Joseph Smith was moved to pray about which Christian sect to join because of the confusion of doctrine in the Christian church. When the church was established with Joseph as prophet, there was supposed to be a direct link to God that would make conflicting/confusing doctrine a thing of the past. There is an inherent authority in ‘I know better God has told me….’

    Latter-Day Saints who cannot trust their prophets’ public doctrinal statements are building their houses on shifting sands. There is no scriptural precedent allowing prophets or other religious leaders latitude to preach heretical doctrines about God from the pulpit. And, a prophet who is right half the time could not lead the church in the truth. God doesn’t send His children false prophets–that’s a job for the Father of Lies.

    The Mormon church stands or falls on its prophets. Every LD Saint has to make the decision on whether they’re going to buy into the whole package or just pick and choose thier doctrine (implicitly calling the Mormon prophets false/mistaken/liars, etc.).

    Perhaps President Hinkley needs to take a break from PR work and building malls and temples to unify the doctrine in the church so the people aren’t left to figure these crucial things out for themselves.

    Comment by JD — July 11, 2007 @ 9:54 am

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