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” (as cited by Gerald McDermott, “Is Mormonism Christian,” New Things, October 2008, p. 41).
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” (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 2). 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…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 373).
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.