Beginning on January 1, 1946, a new book was designed “primarily for a course of study in the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums of the [LDS Church].” The title of this work was The Gospel Through the Ages. Though Seventy Milton R. Hunter is the principal author, the preface states very clearly that “the volume has been written and published under the direction of the General Authorities” (p.vii).
The book offers some incredibly blunt statements regarding the God of Mormonism and the ability of LDS members to become gods. In chapter 16, which is titled “Men May Become Gods,” Hunter recounts his deity’s evolution from mere humanity to godhood. He quotes Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde who taught, “Remember that God our Heavenly Father was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we are, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome until He has arrived at the point where He now is” (p.104).
In chapter 17 (“They Shall be Gods”), Hunter attempts to use pagan history and dogma to justify this Mormon practice. Under the heading of “Pagans’ Concept of Knowing God,” Hunter writes:
“Even the doctrine of a knowledge of God as the avenue to Godhood made its way outward from the Divine Fountain of Truth into the heathenistic religions of the Mediterranean world. The teachings of the Hermetic pagan cult sound quite familiar to those who are acquainted with the doctrine taught by Jesus, by John the Beloved, by Paul, and by Joseph Smith the American Prophet. They have a close kinship to the true Gospel which came to earth through the holy prophets of God. For example, Hermes declared: ‘And this alone, even the knowledge (gnosis) of God, is man’s salvation. This is the ascent to Olympus, and by this alone can a soul become good.’ This religion taught, as did the Prophet Alma, that man must experience a rebirth. The Hermetic rebirth involved nothing less than deification. ‘This is the good; this is the consummation for those who have got gnosis-they enter into God’; so declared the Hermetic teacher.
Cult members believed that such knowledge came about as a special mental or spiritual enlightment which came to them as a gift of God. (Compare this thought with John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:13.) They also maintained that demons were forever present to lead the ungodly man into unrighteous desires and habits. ‘But to the holy and good, the pure and merciful who lived piously, the spirit was ever present to help them win the Father’s love by their upright lives.’
Hunter’s incredibly twisted understanding of the Gospel comes to a crescendo when he states,
“Note the close resemblances between the foregoing pagan teachings and those of the true Gospel…Thus we see that the true doctrine of knowing the Lord as the pathway to Godhood was revealed to man as part of the knowledge of the divine plan of salvation; and, like many other Gospel truths, it was disseminated among pagan worshipers.”
The fact that Hunter thought pagan ideas are a convincing argument is very troubling. (Boldface type in the above quotation is mine.)
For more on the topic of God and the nature of the Godhead, click here.