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Difficulties in life are part of the “universal quest for Godhood,” notes LDS apostle.

by Sharon Lindbloom
8 February 2024

In January (2024) a tragic accident in Huntington Canyon, Utah took the life of a vibrant young woman, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS apostle Jeffrey Holland spoke at the 18-year-old’s funeral, offering much-needed words of comfort to grieving family and friends. 

The LDS publication Church News reported on President Holland’s remarks, which primarily focused on “How and why this could happen.” President Holland encouraged the congregation to “look forward and know all is well.”

“If anyone in this room thinks that the righteous are going to be spared the same tribulations and the same tests that all the rest of us will face,” President Holland is quoted as saying, “then we have not understood the plan of salvation.” Church News reported,

“’Bad things, unfortunate things, can happen to good people,’ [President Holland] said. ‘They are part of the universal quest for Godhood, and part of our destiny.’” 

Those familiar with Mormonism know that the LDS “plan of salvation” is in fact a “quest for Godhood.” Some suggest that “Godhood” in the context of this Mormon quest merely means a greater development of what theologians call the communicable attributes of God. These are attributes that God possesses, that He also shares with human beings, though in a limited way. Examples include things like love, goodness, wisdom, and a sense of justice. As noted by Christian author Barry Cooper,

“These are things we ought to be imitating, although of course, there will always remain a distinction between God and us. No one is good like God is good. No one loves like God loves. No one is wise to the infinite extent that God is wise. But still, as Ephesians 5 says, we should try to imitate these qualities.”

But leaders of the LDS church have taught that the kind of Godhood human beings hope to achieve through Mormonism is much more than that

Starting with Joseph Smith and continuing to today’s prophet and president of the LDS church Russell M. Nelson, church leaders have promised that those who achieve Mormonism’s exaltation (i.e., Godhood) “will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20)” (“Blessings of Exaltation,” Gospel Principles, Chapter 47: Exaltation, 2011). 

The characteristics that the LDS church says will define those who attain Godhood includes the same attributes that the Bible says belong to God alone. These attributes are expressed by Christian theologians in different terms but match the essence of what Mormonism is promising its faithful members. The LDS promise of “All power” is synonymous with God’s omnipotence; “All…dominion” is God’s sovereignty; “All…knowledge” is God’s omniscience; and “All…glory” is “the radiance of [God’s] holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections” (John Piper, “What Is God’s Glory?”). 

Pastor Cooper explains,

“There are some ways in which we can never be like God—and we should not try to be. These are His incommunicable attributes. I’m thinking here, for example, of God’s omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and so on. When we try to be like God in those ways, it never ends well. Think about the people who built the Tower of Babel, or King Nebuchadnezzar, or Adam and Eve.”

Yet this is what Mormonism’s promise of Godhood is – not to be “like God” in His moral attributes, but to become a God, “the same as all Gods have done before you” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346).

LDS apostle Jeffrey Holland suggested that there is a “universal quest for Godhood” but, in fact, bible-believing Christians have no such aspirations. Christian pastor and blogger George Lawson explains, “The Scriptures never violate this distinction [between the communicable and the incommunicable attributes of God] when we are exhorted to be like God…the biblical context always makes it clear that we are to imitate God in His goodness not in His greatness” (“To Be Like God: Virtuous or Blasphemous?” The Master’s Seminary Blog, 4/15/15).

Christians are to be imitators of God’s goodness (Ephesians 5), but God says that in His greatness there are none like Him (Isaiah 46:9) and there never will be (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8). 

Within Mormonism, though, the quest for Godhood is universal. This is because, as stated on the LDS church’s website, “The doctrine of humans’ eternal potential to become like their Heavenly Father is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” 

Jeffrey Holland’s positive use of the three-word phrase, “quest for Godhood,” presents to the world proof/confirmation that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. Christianity nowhere promotes a personal quest for this Godhood, encouraging people to strive to become equal to God in power, glory, dominion, and knowledge, to “[grow] up from the low estate of manhood,” as Brigham Young taught, “to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven” (Journal of Discourses 3:93).

No. Where Mormonism calls people to a quest for Godhood, the Bible calls people to a quest for God. 

In his book, The Pursuit of God, Christian pastor A.W. Tozer noted,

“Paul [the biblical apostle] confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ. ‘That I may know him’ (Phil. 3:10) was the goal of his heart, and to this he sacrificed everything. ‘Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…’”

This is what all Christians are called to, to the pursuit of God in order to know Him, that we may find our deepest satisfaction and eternal joy in Him. “The man who has God for his treasure,” Dr. Tozer wrote, “has all things in One.” 

In Psalm 16 David put it like this: “You [God] make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

The Bible says God Himself is our treasure. He is our joy. We are to pursue Him, not His power and position. 

The LDS church says Mormonism’s “quest for Godhood” is “central to the gospel.” This is clearly a different gospel than what God has given us in His Word, for central to the true gospel of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ, our greatest treasure.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

In the words of Dr. Tozer, “the longing heart will understand it.”

To see Sharon’s other news articles, click here.

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