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Responding to the Claim that God was Once a Man

Note: The following was originally printed in the December 2019 edition of the MRM Update. To request a free subscription to Mormonism Researched, please visit here.

Question: “How do we explain to Latter-day Saints that God is not a man, but is far greater?

Answer: First of all, Numbers 23:19 tells us very plainly that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” Now a Mormon might argue that this does not describe God “as he is now,” but even this response fails to explain the fact that the Bible describes God as being “eternally God.” For example, Psalm 90:2 tells us, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” If God was God “from everlasting to everlasting,” He could have never been a human as Joseph Smith taught.

A Mormon might insist that Psalm 90:2 was not “translated correctly.” This is a hard position for a Mormon to defend, given the fact that the Inspired Version of the Bible, a Bible “translation” Smith claimed he finished on July 2, 1833 (History of the Church 1:368), didn’t change this text. It reads just as the King James Version: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

Psalm 90:2 sounds very similar to Moroni 8:18 in the Book of Mormon. It reads, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Again, if the God mentioned in the Book of Mormon is “unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity,” he could not have been a man at some time.

Both the Book of Mormon and early “revelations” found in the Doctrine and Covenants, describe a God who was always God. For example:

  • Mosiah 3:5 – “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity…”
  • Moroni 7:22 – “God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting…”
  • D&C 20:17 – “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God…”
  • D&C 76:4 – “From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail…”

A common question that comes up when such verses are explored is, “Why did Smith contradict these passages?” The answer is really quite simple. The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. D&C 20 was taught by Smith in April, 1830. D&C 76 came about in February, 1832. At this time, Smith’s theology regarding God had not totally evolved. Smith did not declare that God was once a man until he gave his infamous King Follett Discourse on April 6, 1844. In that message, Smith clearly contradicted Psalm 90:2  and Moroni 8:18, when he said, “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 of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345).

It is also important to keep in mind that Smith’s King Follett discourse was a conference message. Conference messages are very important to Latter-day Saints. As Mormon Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf once stated, “Listen to general conference with an ear willing to hear the voice of God through his latter-day prophets.” (Ensign, March 2012, 5).

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