Shocking Statements in the LDS Scriptures: An Apologist Explains Why They May Actually Be Somewhat Compatible with the Bible

I’m about to share a troubling excerpt from a rather annoying blogger. This writer has compiled a list of “shocking statements” in the LDS scriptures that are clearly at odds with mainstream Christianity, for they point to the divine potential of humans and hint at some deep doctrines about which we actually know very little (you know, doctrines involving terms such as “gods”). LDS folks and investigators exploring the LDS scriptures might run into these passages and be confused, so by presenting them here with my response, I hope I will just be inoculating people. Using some advanced apologetic techniques and even a touch of logic, I intend to show that these passages, troubling and revolutionary as they may seem, are in some ways compatible with the Bible, when viewed through the right lens and given the right framework for understanding. It may seem like an impossible task, but stick with me on this one. So here’s the excerpt:

Shocking Statements in the Mormon Scriptures about “Gods” and the “Divine Potential” of Humans

The Mormon scriptures contain numerous disturbing statements strongly at odds with several established doctrines of modern normative Christianity regarding what Mormons call “the divine potential” or “divine nature” of human beings. Rather than give my spin, I will let the Mormon scriptures–the “standard works” that form the foundation of official Mormon doctrine–speak for themselves. I will also present a few quotes from widely recognized and respected Church leaders affirming these doctrines. Then I will ask Mormons if they can explain why their doctrines are so out of whack with the rest of Christianity.

From the official Mormon Scriptures (all references use the Mormon Church’s 1979 printing of the Mormon “Standard Works”):

  1. “I said, Ye are gods? . . . he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came.” – Spoken by the Mormon Jesus. The LDS Church has never questioned this verse, never repudiated it, and still prints it and teaches it. Enough said! (Mormon Standard Works, Vol. 2, p. 1346)
  2. “[We are] the sons of God, and . . . when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him.” – Like him?? Like Jesus, the Son of God? (Vol. 2, pp. 1557-8)
  3. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” – Humans sitting with Christ in his throne? (Vol. 2, p. 1569)
  4. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” The text then speaks of “the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Joint heirs? Glorified together? Folks, I’m not interpolating – this is what the Mormon scriptures say! (Vol. 2, p. 1426)
  5. “God is God of gods, and Lord of lords” – Once again, enough said! (Vol. 1, p. 271)
  6. “[T]here be [those] that are called gods . . . (as there be gods many, and lords many)” – This verse of officially canonized Mormon scripture came from an early Church leader. (Vol. 2, p. 1447)
  7. “Thou hast made him [mortal man] a little lower than the angels [originally “gods”!], and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” – This example nicely illustrates the principle of change in the Mormon scriptures. The word “gods” was used in the original version of this verse, but some felt that the use of “gods” in this verse was just too controversial, and so it was later “translated” to give a more socially acceptable result: “angels.” As shameful as this kind of scriptural cover-up is, even the watered-down version reinforces the lofty status of mortals as potentially divine beings, linked to angels and destined for glory and honor in Mormon doctrine. But I say we should hold Mormons accountable for what this verse originally said: “gods”! (Vol. 1, p. 718)
  8. “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” – No wiggle room here! (Vol. 1, p. 768)
  9. In one passage of Mormon scripture, Jesus prays that his followers “may be one as we [Christ and the Father] are”! Shortly after that, he prays “that they also may be one in us” and then offers this zinger: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” Again, the LDS Church refuses to repudiate this passage. It is a core part of what Mormons are asked to believe, being in one of their cherished “standard works” and commonly used. If this passage doesn’t expose the monumental gap between the norms of modern Christianity and LDS theology, I don’t know what does. Absolutely shocking. What’s even more shocking is that most Mormons don’t even see the problem with this kind of doctrine or recognize how far it strays from the rest of Christendom. (Vol. 2, p. 1345-6)
  10. “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.” – Honestly, I’m not making this up! (Vol. 2, p. 1489)
  11. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness . . . Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature. . .. Wherefore . . . give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” (Vol. 2, p. 1551) This troubling passage also reminds us of the Mormon idea, typically found in the context of many of the previous passages, that diligence or obedience is needed in the quest to receive the gift of “the divine nature” or “godliness.”

There are further passages in these volumes of scripture that reinforce these doctrines. Mormons will tell you that they don’t know much about it, which is true, but there’s no denying that it is taught in the Mormon scriptures and that it is far removed from the acceptable standards of normative Christianity. Mormons will say that it is not part of the core teachings that are discussed in their classes, their General Conferences, and Church publications, but it is there, indisputably, and Church leaders have frequently referred to it. Here are some quotes from respected Church leaders and theologians:

  1. “Jesus Christ . . . become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself.”
  2. “Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, . . . he declares, ‘I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.'”
  3. “The Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.”
  4. One leader taught that in the beginning men were “made like God, free from suffering and death,” and that they are thus “deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.”
  5. “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. . . If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods.”
  6. “The Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods…. Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.”
  7. “He [Christ] became man that we might be made divine.”

So, Mormon teachings in official scriptures and the teachings of early Church leaders and theologians, are far different from normative Christianity today. So how do you account for the huge gap between what you Mormons believe and teach, and what the rest of the established Christian world has? Your doctrine regarding the “divine potential” of human beings is simply shocking, disturbing, and unacceptable from the standards of normative religion, and this fact needs to be faced and understood.

Well, I hope that hasn’t shaken your faith too bad. Hang on folks, because I’m going to apply my skills as a Mormon apologist to show that these shocking doctrines aren’t entirely remote from the Bible and original Christianity. Hold on just a second while I get my spinnamometer out and, uh, let’s see. I can bear my testimony of the Gospel . . . trust that warm feeling you’re getting now . . . well then, turn up the heat — any better? Not working? OK, let me try this. Let’s check out the sources cited above. Ah, that’s it. Let’s see, the 1979 printing of the LDS standard works, volumes 1 and 2 – ah, that would be the Old Testament and the New Testament.

So here are the chapter and verse citations, instead of the page numbers from the LDS printing of the King James Bible, given in the same order presented above: John 10:34; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:16-18; Deut. 10:17; 1 Corinthians 8:5; Psalm 8:4-5; Psalm 82:6; John 17: 11, 20-23; Philippians 2:5-6; and 2 Peter 1:3-4,10. Others could be cited. In Psalm 8, by the way, the Masoretic (Hebrew) text has “gods” but the King James translators decided to put down “angels” instead.

As for the Church leader quotes, well, it turns out they are all from the early Church of Jesus Christ, from men recognized and respected by modern mainstream Christianity as genuine early Christians, not heretics or apostates. (Hey, this whole thing looks rigged! Talk about annoying!) The quotes, in order, come from Irenaeus (two quotes), Saint Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Saint Augustine, and Saint Athanasius (two quotes). The quotes were compiled by Stephen Robinson in Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, pp. 60-70), with a slight correction on the first quote from Irenaeus. The relevant excerpt from Robinson with sources for the quoted early Christian leaders are given on my LDSFAQ page, “Theosis, the Divine Potential of Mankind: LDS and Early Christian Perspectives.” So who was that annoying blogger I mentioned?

Boy, that was a close call! Instead of having to do a lot of hand-waving to make the quotes from the LDS scriptures somehow appear consistent with the Bible, I just had to point out that they actually were from the Bible, the largest source of LDS scripture. Whew! And the wacko quotes from Church leaders, in this case, turn out to be wacko quotes from early Christianity, whose doctrines are sometimes remote from the socially acceptable standards of today, but in this case appear to be remarkably close to that of the Bible and strangely close to some controversial doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wow, it’s almost like some sort of Restoration occurred. But that’s just one possible explanation. I’ll leave it to you to sort things out.

Sorry if I shook anyone’s faith, but sometimes it’s best to face these important theological issues head on.

I should also add that we really don’t know much about this doctrine and what it really means. I would be more comfortable if the scriptures said our destiny was to be glorious angels or something, but that jarring word “gods” is hard to avoid. But being godlike Beings does not detract from the glory of the Father but adds to it. We do know that all glory is to the Father and that we are and always will be subservient to Him. We are the fallen, weak mortals who are saved by a perfect and always sinless Savior, acting on behalf of His even greater Father (John 14:28: “My father is greater than I”). See also John 5:19. I see no scriptural or logical basis for the allegation that we think that people will one day worship us or that we somehow replace God. We worship God the Father and always will. Those who do inherit all things from the Father and sit with Christ in his throne and become “like him” nevertheless–and of course–worship God and give glory to Him (and the Savior). Consider Doctrine and Covenants 76:

92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things–where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.

Even those beings the Lord chooses to call “gods.”

Jan. 31 Update: I should note, as I have in the comments already, that I don’t think the early Christian fathers whose writings are extant were just early Mormons who saw everything the way we do. The philosophical issues they faced and debated were much different than those relevant today, and the assumptions and paradigms that they had, in addition to the revealed word of God, surely affected their viewpoints in many ways. They were also writing in a time when the Hellenization of Christianity was well underway and apostolic leadership had already been lost. However, there are persistant references to human deification or theosis that at least appear to reinforce what we understand the scriptures to teach on this topic. My reading of their writings suggests that when they talk of mortals becoming “gods,” it is a reference to participating in the grace of Christ and being made, by grace, more like Him, for we are sons and daughters of God with the potential to receive the divine nature. This, however, is what I believe is the core of the LDS doctrine: a recognition that we are actual children of God (see Acts 17: 28-29 and Heb. 12:9) with the potential to become somehow “like” Jesus and more like the Father, sharing in their fullness. They are the Creators and sources of grace, life, and salvation, and we are the grateful recipients of their mercy, but in receiving these blessings, we become more like them and thus the scriptures dare use the term “gods” to describe an intrinsic potentiality in mortal man, enabled by the grace of the Messiah. We are sons and daughters of God, undeserving recipients of grace and mercy, allowed to share in the blessings of Eternal Life and become “joint heirs” with Christ, having that intrinsic divine potential revealed through Christ, thereby becoming what the scriptures and some early Christians called “gods”–I find that fully compatible with LDS doctrine and believe that the early Christian fathers, in spite of seeing some things differently, would see an awful lot of common ground with modern LDS views on the divine potential of human beings.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

77 thoughts on “Shocking Statements in the LDS Scriptures: An Apologist Explains Why They May Actually Be Somewhat Compatible with the Bible

  1. I also appreciate the distinction that Stephen Robinson makes in "How Wide the Divide?" between "gods" with a lowercase g, and "God" with the uppercase G.

  2. Jeff,

    I am looking forward to reading this post. I scanned it, and am really interested in what you used for any exegesis of the text you will offer…or is it all eisegesis? Perhaps, you'll allow me the same time for a rebuttal as you took for getting this out.

    Praying for you…

  3. Okay, Jeff, I read it. I'm glad you have supporters like pops who thinks what you write is priceless. Hmmm…I see no attempt at exegesis, just proof texting. Good luck to you, Jeff. I'm praying for you. I truly am.

  4. jackg: You're problem is that you don't take the Bible at face value. You and most all "mainstream" modern Christians, are using an interpretation of the Bible that was developed starting in the 4th century.

    If you _really_ believed what the Bible _actually_ says, not just a "post-4th century" interpretation, then you'd also believe the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

    The reason you can't countenance "Mormonism" is that you don't accept the Bible for what it really and actually says.

    Your version of Christianity is congruent in standing to 1st century Christianity as Pharisitical Judaism was in the 1st century AD to the Law of Moses. IE, claiming a heritage of a valid origin, but having an admixture of man-made philosophies that have completely masked the essential truths at the core.

    As the Pharisees of Jesus' time were to Moses, you are to the 1st century apostles.

    By the way, how much income do you expect to make as a preacher/minister/evangelist some day?

  5. Wow. That was awesome. When I first read those scriptures/quotes on divine potential, I assumed he was quoting the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants and early LDS Church leaders. Interesting to note that apparently "Modern Normative Christianity" doesn't believe the whole Bible to be from God. Just the parts that fit their current beliefs.

  6. jackg proves the point that in this world people believe what they want to believe, regardless of evidence against them. Whether out of fear or hatred, he will never open himself up to alternative ways of thinking, and in the least can't appreciate another person's point of view. I have found other religions fascinating and respect the sacrifices and faith of those of other faiths. I appreciate the research you did on this site. I too will pray for you: That you will be blessed with what you need, not simply to fall in line with my school of thought. I hardly see how the latter is a Christian approach to prayer.

  7. I loved this post, loved jackg's 'typical christian' response, and how ntf actually summed up what someone who truly embraces what Christ taught would say. So great! Loved this post and the comments. I check your blog every day Jeff, and on a personal note, your blogs, testimony and explainations of insincere and false doctrine from exmormons and 'haters' helped save my testimony and my family. I pray for you too, and thank God for you!

  8. Man, I don't even know where to start with this. Let me just say briefly, Mormons have some of the most creative sausage making I've ever seen when it comes to Biblical texting (I won't call it interpretation) and fanciful view of Christian Church history. Very creative I must say but using the techniques and faux intellectualism displayed here isn't going to get Mormons any closer to the truth. This approach keeps the folks down at the wards happy along with all of the other folk doctrines.

  9. Amen, Anon! All Jeff has done is cite early Christian sources and Jewish and Christian scriptures in support of the concept of theosis. That doesn't stand up against, uh, your name calling and eye rolling.

  10. I hope you all can help us where Jeff has failed as a result of proof texting because surely all those references to the divine potential mean something else. No need to address all the references in a single post, go ahead and do a post for each reference and demonstrate how proof texting did not bring out the true meaning.

  11. What about the faux intellectualism of Father Jordan Vajda, the Roman Catholic scholar whose work comparing ancient Christian theosis to modern LDS doctrine gave him added respect for the LDS claim of a restoration? Father Vajda eventually made a huge sacrifice in pursuit of truth and today is Brother Vajda.

    The ancient doctrine of theosis is one that is worthy of much study and pondering, and provides some evidence for LDS claims of divine restoration, though there is uncertainty about just what the ancients believed and how broadly disseminated those beliefs were. At least in some parts of early Christianity, some aspects of theosis appear to have been real doctrine, not heresy, though there is much we don't understand yet and surely differences in our limited modern understanding versus what was understood at various times in the past.

    So JackG, what do you think the five early Christians I quote meant? Is there a fundamental difference between what the Bible teaches on this toppic and what the other modern LDS scriptures teach?

    I'm not asking for your extrapolations about what blasphemies you think we believe. I'm asking where the Bible and the early Christians I quoted differ from the doctrine of divine potential of human beings – the concept that we are actually children of God with the potential to become more like our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus, even glorified beings partaking of the divine nature in a way that somehow can be called "gods." I know you and most modern Christians reject that doctrine, but isn't it possible that it is a little closer to early Christianity and the Bible than our critics let on?

  12. Jeff, I applaud your efforts in trying to be a Mormon apologist. However, if I were you, I'd keep your day job. Your fellow followers of Joseph Smith's religion may view you as an intellectual heavyweight, those outside of Mormonism view scholastic attempts such as this as laughable. Why do I say that? I'm glad you asked. Let me explain.

    First, if I were your teacher I'd give you and "F" on your paper for citing no references after quoting the early church Fathers. This is grade school stuff here. If you quote someone, give the references. You could follow the example of Joseph Smith followers over at FARMS like K. Codell Carter who wrote the piece "Godhood" and he cited the references. I gather you are getting your information from him.

    Second, I did look up three references mentioned in my large volume collection of the early Church Fathers. After I got past the third refernce I couldn't justify any more time in this "goose chase". Your quotes aren't matching up with what I am reading in the works of the Irenaeus and Clement. Be a good researcher and look them up and read what is written before and after the reference. You might be in for a big surprise.

    No, my faith isn't shattered one bit. Matter of fact, it's strengthened after reading the writings for myself. Everytime I read the writings of these men from the first three centuries I see a faith shown in historical, orthodox Christianity that is traceable going all the way back. I don't read anywhere from these writings the teachings of Mormonism. You like to do research? See if you can find anything from the early church fathers that coincides with what Joseph Smith said at the King Follet Discourse. And, please, cite your references. It really is hard to take Mormon scholarship serious. I leave you with the words of Tatian on the nature of God the Father. He and the others Father don't believe in your Mormon god as defined in D&C 130:22

    “Our God did not begin to be in time: He alone is without beginning, and He Himself is the beginning of all things. God is a Spirit, not pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits, and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things. (Tatian, Address to the Greeks, Chapter 4)

  13. Andy, maybe you didn't notice that post did give readers information on the sources: "The quotes were compiled by Stephen Robinson in Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, pp. 60-70), with a slight correction on the first quote from Irenaeus. The relevant excerpt from Robinson with sources for the quoted early Christian leaders are given on my LDSFAQ page, "Theosis, the Divine Potential of Mankind: LDS and Early Christian Perspectives." Does that help? Details are given there.

  14. Great job, Jeff.

    Isn't it amazing how many traditional Christians can claim a literal belief in the Bible, yet then seek a non-literal explanation of the verses you provided?

    This one is going to go into my use file….

  15. Andy, I do realize that recorded writings of the early Christian fathers do not reflect 100% Mormon doctrine–in fact, we expect differences. Many already had inherited a variety of Hellenistic perspectives and much had not yet (and still has not yet) been revealed, so we have to fall back upon our own understanding and logic on many issues.

    I don't think Irenaeus understood or taught our views on the premortal existence, for example, and may have been closer to an ex nihilo view on the Creation.

    But if you look at the sources in context, while their relevance to the LDS perspective may vary, I don't think it's fair to say that they are advocating something entirely other than theosis.

    Let's take the example of Justin Martyr. Robinson's work just quotes a tiny snippet from him, so it's fair to wonder what was really being said. OK, so let's read the entire chapter where the quote is taken from. You can see it online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.cxxiv.html. In this case, anyway, the case for the LDS perspective is surprisingly strong. In fact, Justin Martyr quotes Psalm 82 and shows that it is not just an LDS prooftext stripped of context, but argues that it does indeed teach the divine potential of human beings. Those who claim we are completely misreading Psalm 82, and misunderstanding Christ's quotation of it in John 10, now need to explain why Justin Martyr seems to see it our way as well.

    Well, I'm curious to hear your explanation as to how we are takiing Justin Martyr completely out of context. The context looks pretty interesting to me.

  16. While Augustine said and did a lot of things we don't agree with, I think all of us can at least be intrigued by the fuller context of what he said regarding "gods." You can read it at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf108.ii.L.html–not the same translation Robinson used, but very similar. Augustine points out there there is a big difference between those who become "gods" by grace versus Christ and the Father, who are gods by substance or inherent nature. I actually like his argument here and feel that it is relatively close to what the LDS scriptures actually point to. We are fallen creatures, dependent entirely on the mercy of the Father and the Atonement of the Son. There is a difference, of course(!), and while they share all they have, we will always be subservient and will naturally give all glory to them.

  17. Very interesting read.

    The point that sources are left out by the original blogger and then Mr. Lindsey gets a talking to about research methods is ironic indeed.

  18. You know, I am saddened by those negative comments about our beliefs. Usually I would get really upset, but not this time. All I sensed from reading those comments was a lot of hatred. And I just wonder why? It's sad.

  19. I think the BOM falls in line with the Bible so well in many things is because it was copied from the KJV of the Bible. I have seen numerous Youtube videos on this and some noted people talking about how the names were changed in the Bible to make a new book of scripture.

  20. Roxy,

    It's always hatred when someone doesn't agree with the Mormon program, right? The Mormon people need to grow up and get rid of their persecution complex. Joseph Smith made it very clear to the world in Joseph Smith History 1:18-19 and in numerous passages in the Book of Mormon on what he thought about Christianity. Christianity was minding it's own business until Joseph Smith came on the scene and said the whole world was wrong except for him. I call that the epitome of arogance and heresy. He'll have eternity in hell to think it over next to Brigham Young, Gordon Hinckley and many others who the LDS people think are going on to be gods on their own personal "Kolob" to procreate for all eternity.

    I am saddened that so many millions of people have been led astray by this false prophet because they were duped into believeing his story on many accounts. Mormons have swallowed the King Follet Discourse and what he taught there, so they will have to live with the eternal consequences. You and the other Mormons won't be able to blame Joseph Smith for spending eternity in outer darkness. You'll only be able to blame yourself. Yes, you may have a testimony, but it's based on the false teachings from a false prophet.

    There is no anger here. What do I have to be angry about other than spiritualy stirred at seeing Mormons being lied to? No big deal, right? I did the study on Mormonism, read the LDS Scriptures, etc, and knew in short order that this was heresey with a capital "H". I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is my sole reason for existing and being today. ALL of my sins have been forgiven, my name has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life and I have been given the gift of eternal life NOW through Jesus Christ all bases on what He has said in His Word – the Bible. The same is available to you and the other Mormons.

  21. Jeff, you and the rest within the heresy of Mormonism are in violation of LDS Articles/Creeds of Faith No.8. You aren’t translating the Bible correctly. To put it in other terms, Mormonism has once again displayed improper exegesis of Psalm 82:6/John 10:34 and have taken wild liberties with eisegesis. I know that this text is one that the Mormons run to when attempting to prove almost anything they want from the Bible when they want to use the Bible. When the Bible doesn’t agree with what they say…well, just cite ole’ no.8 from the LDS creeds and move on to further revelation from the beloved inspired prophets like Brigham Young who was really spot-on doctrinally in his revelations from the Mormon god on/near Kolob.

    You and the rest of Joseph Smith’s followers aren’t alone in wild eisegesis of favored “pet” verses that in reality don’t help the LDS cause. The next time any of our Mormon readers get a knock on their door from Jehovah’s Witnesses, instead of ignoring them or being rude, invite them in and ask them their take on Psalm 82:6 and be prepared for some exciting enlightenment that is sure to expand the mental horizons of even the most educated Mormon.

    Anyone can prove whatever they want from the Bible if they set out to do it. For example, I can prove to you that Jesus has a sword for a tongue and that God the Father is a rooster all from Bible Scripture. Is any of that true? Nope! It is if I don’t use proper exegesis of a text in relation to other texts.

    The context of Psalm 82 is judges – rulers of Israel (verse 1; see also Deut 1:15-17). Notice the small “g” for gods. Deity is a big “G”. Idols or anything that is not God are false gods. These Jewish judges are also referenced in Exodus 21:6; 22:8-9. The judges were God’s representatives. God is speaking of their office – not their essence. They became as “gods” in the eyes of the people – “mighty ones”. Was Moses “a god” in Exodus 7:1? He was in the eyes of Pharaoh. Was Moses “a god” in the LDS view here in this text? No, he wasn’t.

    Look at verse 7. Taking your conclusion, were men attaining exaltation in the Old Testament? Did anyone become a god in the Old Testament? Do gods die like men? You think one day you will become a god? Do you plan on dying? Can an LDS god die after attaining exaltation? Right….that’s what I thought. It’s not in the LDS program (as Spencer Kimball used to say it).

    James Talmage isn’t even in the camp of modern Mormonism when they reference Psalm 82:6 as an exaltation text. He says:

    “Divinely appointed Judges called ‘gods’: In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called ‘gods’. To this the Savior referred to His reply to the Jews in Solomon’s Porch.” (Jesus The Christ, James Talmage, page 501)

  22. (Cont’d)

    Let’s now look at John 10:34 where Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6. Again, let me ask you these questions in regards to the modern Mormon spin of this text being an exaltation text.

    1. Does Mormonism teach men are gods now? (No!)
    2. Were the Jewish religious leaders (judges) who were the murderers of Jesus actually “gods”? (No!)
    3. Jesus is speaking in the present tense – “Ye ARE gods”. Was there men who became gods before Jesus?
    4. Are any of these Jews that Jesus referred to as “gods” (judges) in fact, gods now or did they die like men as stated in Psalm 82:7? Right, they are deader than dead. So much for exaltation.

    Joseph Smith isn’t the “brainchild” behind the doctrine of exaltation. You know who is? Satan. He hatched this one all by his lonesome in Genesis 3:5 when he told a big “whopper” lie saying, “ye shall be as gods”. No, ole’ Joe didn’t stumble on something new here. This lie has been around for a long time.

    Somehow, I don’t find these official statement from an LDS Church Manual fitting anywhere in the Bible texts mentioned above on what it takes to be a god in the Mormon program.

    “Can you now see how temple marriage allows you to be like God to a degree right now, and not just in the life hereafter? Can you see that since you have power to give both the physical and spiritual endowments of life, you are engaged in the same work as God? Can you see that by doing what God does, you can become as he is? (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, page 63)

    “Parents will have eternal claim upon their posterity and will have the gift of eternal increase, if they obtain the exaltation. This is the crowning glory in the kingdom of God, and they will have no end. When the Lord says they will have no end, he means that all who attain this glory will have the blessing of the continuation of ‘seeds’ forever. Those who fail to obtain this blessing come the ‘deaths’, which means that they will have no increase, forever. All who obtain this exaltation will have the privilege of completing the full measure of their existence, and they will have a posterity that will be as innumerable as the stars of heaven.
    “The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this.” (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p.132)

  23. Jeff,

    How much time have you spent reading the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers? Their writings are massive and extensive. I would be more than happy to completely load up your blog with quote after quote from these men in how they don't believe anything that Mormonism teaches today. You quote Clement, Irenaeus, Martyr and others. Have you read all the rest of their writings to see if what they said adds up to what you think it does? I doubt it.

    I will tell you that the writings of these men is not Scripture and infallible. What can be looked at as authoritative and infallible is the written Word in the Bible and that was done above on Psalm 82 and John 10. Those Scriptures have to be taken into context in light of other Scriptures: scripture interprets scripture. God's Word (the Bible) does not teach exaltation the way the Mormons see it. God the Father has stated repeatedly especially in Isaiah chapters 41-48 that He is the only God and there are not NOW or EVER going to be anyone else becoming God besided Him. You can either take His word for it or not. You have agency/freewill.

    You like to use logic – great. Let's use it here with Justin Martyr and Augustine. Origen was denounced for his wild thoughts and out-of-line reasoning. He snapped out of it eventually. However, people like Arius were defiant to the end. He was excommunicated for believing that Jesus was a created being by God the Father – that's right – the same belief that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have today. Arius taught that Jesus was not equal to the Father in nature and essence. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are carrying on the 2nd century of the Arian heresy right to this very day.

    Arius was put out of fellowhip for his heresy. Now, I stated this to you to show that your view in what you believe some of these statements from the Fathers means is not what Mormonism wants it to be. If Justin Martyr and Augustine believed that human beings could become like the Father and become God/as God/a god or whatever, they would have been promptly denounced and excommunicated if they didn't wise up in short order. They weren't so what does that tell you? It tells me that what they said was not perceived or taken the way that Mormons like yourself or over at FARMS are reading it.

    This same point is demonstrated in the Mormon view of James "faith without works is dead" spin. The Mormons think that James is in their camp, but he's not. Why? James epistle would never be in the Biblical canon if it conflicted with what God had already stated through the numerous writings of Paul that works plays no part in one obtaining salvation. Works is only the product of a salvation that has already taken place. James and Paul were in agreement and in the same camp. The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses have decided to spin this into a salvation-by-works theology when it's simply not the case.

    Likewise, the early Church Fathers aren't in the camp with the Mormons. If they were here today they would look Thomas Monson straight in the face and tell him that he is anathema.

    Jeff, you're right, Irenaeus isn't in the Mormon camp when it comes to the LDS view of the creation. He is in the camp with Hippolytus and the other Fathers with EX NIHILO. I leave you with this:

    “The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God. Now the world was made from nothing.” (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresis, Chapter 28)

  24. hi Andy. you really know your stuff. Pity i think it's irrelevant. No wonder people are leaving mainstram christianity in droves with your kind of reasoning. i'd rather hear a single line of truth from an inspired representative of God than read a treatise full of convoluted contortions from unispired post apostolic christians. The way I see it, Christ looked like one of us in the flesh and he had the potential to be a God, then why is it such a big deal to believe that we can do the same? We were told to be "perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect". What excites me about Mormonism, is that it teaches that we can all share in the divine gift, which is eternal life. I wouldn't be interested in any other form of christianity if it devalued my potential.

  25. Andy, I don't think you have too much to be worried about. Less than 2% of US population is counted as LDS and that is counting every inactive and child on the rolls. No exodus from Christianity to Mormonism. 13 million is world wide number of LDS and more than half are inactive. Mexico alone has 70% inactive.
    Missionary numbers have remained about the same for the past 25 years.
    I am sure the world does not have much to be worried about with the spread of Mormonism.

  26. Andy,

    Keep focused here. The discussion is about man's divine potential. I think that you were going to demonstrate how Jeff was prooftexting.

  27. Andy, did you read what Justin Martyr said about Psalm 82:6? Of course none of these mortals called "gods" were glorious resurrected beings – yet. Just as each sinner is a son or daughter of God by virtue of Who our Father in Heaven is, they do not fully become a son or daughter of God until they are born again and receive the Holy Ghost and the blessings of salvation. It's a matter of potential and promise.

    Look, mortal Christians say they are saved and have eternal life. That's wonderful. But they still bleed and die, they still sin, and they still live in some pretty dismal settings. We can say we are saved, but it's a matter of futurity and promise. Technically, no, we're not yet saved until we are resurrected and safely in the Kingdom of God. But if we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ in a covenant relationship and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are on the path to being true Saints, true sons and daughters of God who receive of His fullness, truly saved souls, and indeed, true "gods" in the sense taught by early Christian fathers. They may not have known or publicly discussed the concept of eternal families, which is a heavy but marvelous one that is compatible with the scriptures. But they definitely recognized that the scriptures point to the divine potential of humans s "gods." Justin Martyr and others spoke of humans being deified, and understood Psalm 82:6 to not just be a random lliterary device, but an important hint about our destiny as sons and daughters of God. If children, then heirs, joint heirs with Christ, glorified with him, having glory to be revealed because our spirits are offspring of God and we have divine potential. All biblical doctrine. Given our divine heritage and potential, "gods" is the jarring word that the scriptures and early Christian fathers used.

    I'm sorry that so many remnants of early Christianity have lost that doctrine (Orthodox Christianity still has at least part of it). Given that loss, it will naturally sound strange and heretical when refreshed.

    Let me ask this: If we didn't believe that families can be eternal but that we were just single, unmarried beings in the eternities participating in eternal life, would you still be offended by our use of the term "gods" to describe that state? Is it the idea of having families, raised to give glory to the Father and to advance His work and His glory, that is your ultimate objection here?

  28. I love the "sound bit" that was suggested by an author that LDS need to get our "message" into smaller, easier understood words so others can "get it" and then ask for more.

    Here is the "sound bit" message–

    Jesus Christ organized a church
    Men changed it
    It has been brought back

    Now my "bit" the pattern of God has been to speak to men he calls prophets and it is THEIR work to share what they are supposed to with us.

    I'm so thankful that God is the same- and still speaking to us, as to me– we REALLY need Him, and his guidance etc. The last days (seconds in time relation?) are upon us. We need to get our lives in order so we can have peace in our hearts- love our neighbors and our Heavenly Father. Gramajane

  29. Gramajane, that sounds like that joke when someone of another language does not understand what you are saying, Just speak slow and loud and they will get it.
    Sound bites won't help erase the problems people have with the history of the Church or with the Current belief system. Speak loud or soft or fast or slow, it will be the same. Kinda 'arrogant' ( to use a term someone just leveled at a non member on here) to think that if you just explained it in simpler terms people would then convert. Problem is the message not the delivery.

  30. Gramajane, that sounds like that joke when someone of another language does not understand what you are saying, Just speak slow and loud and they will get it.
    Sound bites won't help erase the problems people have with the history of the Church or with the Current belief system. Speak loud or soft or fast or slow, it will be the same. Kinda 'arrogant' ( to use a term someone just leveled at a non member on here) to think that if you just explained it in simpler terms people would then convert. Problem is the message not the delivery.

  31. Also, Andy, regarding that whopper told by Satan, did you notice how it is followed up by a statement from God? Gen. 3:22: "The man is become as one of us" because now he knows good and evil. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to transgress a law, and part of his argument was that by gaining knowledge they would become as gods. Once the transgressed, God observed that they had "become as one of us" – as gods, in one aspect, that of having knowledge of good and evil. Seems more like a factoid than a whopper.

    Do you ever wonder who the "us" is in Genesis? Once you recognize that God the Father and Jesus Christ (sometimes called Jehovah) are two Beings yet one in purpose and will, contrary to the post-biblical formulations that gave rise to the mostly-correct creeds, then it's easy to make sense of the "we" and "us" in Genesis. In whose image and physical likeness are our physical bodies created? Not someone without body, parts, or passions, but the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who was resurrected with a tangible glorified body that He still has, and who in this form is clearly "in the express image" of His and our Heavenly Father.

    As to the charge that we are Arians, I disagree. Arius's position involved many points that we sharply disagree with. We believe Christ and the Father are eternal beings, for example. For details, see "Are Mormons Arians?" While he was excommunicated, no one in that day said he wasn't Christian, and scholars and theologians today do not deny that he was a genuine Christian. The noted Protestant scholar, F.F. Bruce, for example, in New Testament History (1972), pp. 302-304, 321-322, 325, accepts Arius as Christian. Because he lost the debate about some metaphysical issues on the nature of Christ, no one that I'm aware of said that he had been worshipping "a different Jesus". Do you?

    Again, I recognize that the writings of early Fathers on human deification have a different flavor that the modern LDS view. But it is, nonetheless, human deification that they are talking about – about participating in the divinity of Jesus and putting on the divine nature. You can argue that we take this too far compared to them, but surely there is a relationship that must at least be considered interesting, especially in a world that has largely lost this ancient concept of theosis.

    I would argue that some Latter-day Saints take the concept too far. I'm much more comfortable with what President Hinckley said which is basically that we don't know much about this. I prefer we stick with official doctrine here, especially the scriptures. And in that light,, I think the LDS position is at least somewhat compatible with the view of early Christians (whose writings came from time devoid of aspostolic leadership, already rife with apostasy and the Hellenization of Christianity) and certainly compatible with the Bible.

  32. Where we may be closest to the early fathers is in the concept of being and becoming "sons of God," whichh is often associated with being "gods." Absolsutely a small "g", as I also explain on my page on theosis. In the LDS perspective, our divine potential is due both to being actual offpsring of God, as Paul taught (Acts 17:28-29 and Heb. 12:9), with divine heritage, plus being able to become more fully sons and daughters of God by being born again and growing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to become more like God.

    I find no support for any claims about mortals ever being worshipped. All glory is to the Father, and we are eternally subservient and subordinate to Him. So yes, I think what some people say we believe is very remote from early Christianity, but the concepot of human deification by participation in the grace of Christ and becoming true sons and daughters of God seems to form a nice bridge between the ancient and modern versions of theosis/human deification.