God the Father According to Mormonism
God the Father According to Mormonism
The Mormon doctrine of God is not the same as the historic Christian view. It holds that God and man are essentially of the same species, and that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones. He is not uniquely self-existent, transcendent, or eternal. Neither is he truly the creator of all things, for he is one among potentially billions of Gods, and does not even have the ability to create matter. As BYU professor David Paulson once put it, "God does not have absolute power... but rather the power to maximally utilize natural laws to bring about His purposes."
The traditional Mormon view of God is summed up by the famous Lorenzo Snow couplet, "As man is God once was, as God is man may be." The historic understanding of this strongly implies that God the Father was once a sinner, and that we ourselves may model our mortal experience unto godhood after the mortal experience he once participated in. In his famous "King Follett Discourse" Joseph Smith taught,
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... [Y]ou 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..."
In a later sermon Joseph Smith boldly preached:
"If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it."
To the contrary, God says in Isaiah 43:10, "Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." Psalm 90:2 says of him, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." This is the God Christians worship. Of him we can say, "Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:34-36)
Not all Mormon prophets have held to the traditional Mormon view of God the Father. Brigham Young taught that "Adam was the father of the spirits of mankind in addition to being the first procreator of mankind's physical bodies; that Adam came to this earth as a resurrected and exalted being; that he 'fell' to a mortal state of existence in order to procreate mortal bodies; and that Adam was the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ." (David John Buerger, Dialogue, Vol.15, No.1, p.45) This doctrine has been denounced by subsequent Mormon leaders as a deadly, damnable heresy.
Who is the One Mormons Call Elohim?
For centuries Christians have professed their belief in a God who is God alone (Is. 44:8), self-existent (Is. 43:10; 48:12), transcendent (Num. 23:19; Ps. 50:21), immutable (Ps. 102:27; Is. 46:10; Mal. 3:6), eternal (Ps. 90:2; 93:2), omnipresent (1 Kings 8:27; Prov. 15:3; Is. 66:1; Jer. 23: 23, 24), and incorporeal (John 4:24; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17). He is also a God who dwells in the believer (Eph. 3:17; 4:6; Rom. 8:9) and is omnipotent (Job 42:2; Ps. 115:3; Matt. 19:26). Mormons insist that their God, the one they call Elohim, is the Christian God. Why then are his attributes so different from the God who is declared in the Bible?
The god of Mormonism is one of many gods.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, stated, "I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods" (History of the Church 6:474).
Brigham Young, the second prophet and president of the LDS Church, said, "How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods..." (Journal of Discourses 7:333).
The god of Mormonism is not self-existent.
Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught, "We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so one, from one generation to generation" (The Seer, pg. 132).
The god of Mormonism is not transcendent.
While the God of the Bible makes it clear that He is not like man, Mormon leaders have insisted that their God is an exalted human being.
Joseph Smith declared, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 345).
Mormon Apostle John Widtsoe stated, "God and man are of the same race, differing only in their degrees of advancement" (Gospel Through the Ages, pg. 107).
This concurs with Mormon Apostle Parley P. Pratt's comment which states, "God, angels, and men are all of the same species, one race, one great family..." (Key to the Science of Theology, 1978 ed., pg. 21).
The god of Mormonism is not immutable.
Whereas God's perfection makes it never necessary for Him to change, the God of Mormonism changes both in his physical person and moral attributes. This is demonstrated by the fact that he evolved from a man into a God and that he has changed decrees which are theoretically "unalterable." Examples of this would include the abandonment of polygamy in 1890, the reversal of the ban which withheld the LDS Priesthood from Blacks in 1978, and the changes in the LDS temple ceremony in 1980.
The god of Mormonism is not eternally God.
Joseph Smith taught that God was not always God when he stated, "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" (Teachings, pg. 345).
The god of Mormonism is not incorporeal.
Unlike the God of the Bible who is a God of Spirit (John 4:24), Joseph Smith taught, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's" (D&C 130:22).
The god of Mormonism is not omnipresent.
Because the LDS God is limited to a physical body, he is not omnipresent. Brigham Young said, "Some would have us believe that God is present everywhere. It is not so" (Journal of Discourses 6:345).
LDS Apostle James Talmage stated that neither God the Father, nor "any actual person of any one member of the Godhead can be physically present in more than one place at one time" (The Articles of Faith, pg. 39). The Mormon God's "omnipresence" is fulfilled through the Holy Spirit which, according to Mormon Apostle John Widtsoe, is not to be confused with the Holy Ghost (Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 76-77).
The god of Mormonism cannot dwell in the believer.
According to Joseph Smith, "The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false" (D&C 130:3. Oddly enough, the Book of Mormon teaches the Lord does dwell in the hearts of the righteous. See Alma 34:36).
The god of Mormonism is not omnipotent.
As Mormons believe they will always be subservient to their God, so too it would make sense that their God is subservient to his God as well. It would also makes sense that if the LDS God is the offspring of another God, then his God must be more advanced in his eternal progression than the God whom Mormons claim to serve.
Mormon author W. Cleon Skousen stated that God is God only because another force sustains him as such. He wrote, "Through modern revelation we learn that the universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain Him as such...since God 'acquired' the honor and sustaining influence of 'all things' it follows as a corollary that if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or 'sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the 'power' of God would disintegrate...'He would cease to be God'" (The First 2,000 Years, pp. 355-356).
That the LDS God would have to answer to anyone clearly shows he is not omnipotent. Some Mormons insist his omnipotence lies in the fact that he has unlimited power, not all power. This too is inconsistent with Mormon thought since the God of Mormonism has no ability to create ex-nihilo, or out of nothing. The God of Mormonism is limited to only being able to reorganize matter.
The god of Mormonism does not forgive completely.
Another major difference between the God of the LDS Church and that of historical Christianity lies in the fact that the God of the Bible forgives completely. In Isaiah 43:25 we read, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." In Jeremiah 31:34 it says God "will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Hebrews 8:12 states, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." How comforting to know that the God of the Bible wills not to remember the believer's past sins!
The God of Mormonism, however, must keep in remembrance past transgressions for D&C 82:7 warns, "And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto the soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God." There is no possible way that these two beings can be the same.
There is probably no greater sin than to place your trust in a God whose attributes do not match those of the God of the Bible. The biblical term for such a sin is idolatry. The fact that Joseph Smith failed to represent the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob proves that he was not a true prophet. God warned the children of Israel that if any arose and attempted to entice Israel to "go after other gods" he was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:1-3, 5). Do you think He takes this any less serious today? To insist on following the God of the Mormon Church will result in spiritual death, a painful separation from the Creator for all eternity. The stakes are too high to trust in any other. Our prayer for all Latter-day Saints is that they see how they have been deceived by Joseph Smith and the "prophets and apostles" who followed him and ultimately place their trust in the God who has been changing lives for centuries, the God of the Bible.
Listen to an August 2011 Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast on the Nature of God