By Eric Johnson
On December 13, 2020, Scott Adams wrote an extended Twitter post about the issue if people can become gods. For the sake of space, I have included much of his post and have bold-faced his exact words. At points I would like to provides responses in regular type. What Scott has written can be found at https://twitter.com/PTSPentax/status/1338291550371999747. Each set of words in quotation marks are individual posts.
“The nature of God and destiny of man: A Thread Two of the most common objections I hear to my faith are: 1. Mormons believe they will become Gods 2. Mormons believe in a different God, in multiple Gods.”
“So, from the mouth of a Latter-day Saint, what do we believe? There’s a reason I’ve chosen to answer these questions together, and I think it’ll be more as I explain.”
Before going any further, let’s be clear on a point. Scott is entitled to his personal view on what he believes Mormonism teaches. Still, I am not required to believe what he says Mormonism teaches unless what he says can be supported by an accurate interpretation of his church’s four standard works and/or the words of his church leaders to support his case. Unless what is said coincides with the official teaching, it would be fair for me to say that what was written is one’s personal interpretation but not official.
What is official? A church manual explains:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts four books as scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These books are called the standard works of the Church. The inspired words of our living prophets are also accepted as scripture” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 45).
It also says,
“In addition to these four books of scripture, the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us. Their words come to us through conferences, the Liahona or Ensign magazine, and instructions to local priesthood leaders. ‘We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God’ (Articles of Faith 1:9)” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 48.).
Of course, it could be possible that one LDS leader says one thing and the doctrine is later changed. Two examples would be polygamy and blacks and the priesthood. When someone cites a leader and the Mormon says, “We don’t believe that anymore,” then it is the responsibility of the Latter-day Saint to show this is the case.
“First, do ‘Mormons’ believe in multiple Gods? I guess you could say yes and no, and I’m not being evasive or obtuse in saying that.”
“We believe in one God, but we don’t believe that has the same meaning as a Trinitarian outlook for example. We do not believe God is three in one and one in three. We believe God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are 3 separate and distinct beings.”
Mormonism teaches that there is only one God who should be worshiped; however, it does teach in the existence of multiple gods. The Lorenzo Snow couplet–which I cited on the December 13th show with Sean McDowell–says, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may be.” Without getting into a deep analysis of this statement, it is clear that Mormons believe that God was once a man who apparently worshiped His god. And obedience Mormons hope they will be exalted someday and become gods and goddesses. For more on the Lorenzo Snow couplet, visit here and here.
It is agreed that Mormons are not Trinitarians as taught in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches alike. In fact, LDS Church leaders have regularly attacked the Trinity, including Joseph Smith who said:
“Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God —he would be a giant or a monster” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 372.).
Apostle John A. Widtsoe wrote,
“The Bible, if read fully and intelligently, teaches that the Holy Trinity is composed of individual Gods” (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 58).
This is not the Trinity.
For more information on the Trinity, click here.
“We believe this both because of scripture, and because of the experience of the church’s first prophet of the last days. Joseph Smith prayed for forgiveness and guidance about which church to join, and was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ.”
There were close to a dozen different versions of the “First Vision” when Smith, as a 14-year-old boy, was visited by God the Father and Jesus in a forest grove near his home in New York state. However, the idea that “Joseph Smith prayed for forgiveness” of his sins is not found in the official version that was published in the 1840s. Instead, this idea is found in his diary entry in 1832, as he recounted, “I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy.” Scott has apparently morphed the two versions together, as the official account does not include this aspect in the First Vision story.
“When they appeared they were two, distinct beings. They had immortal bodies of flesh and bone. The Father spoke first, and testified, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him.”
“From this experience we learned right out of the gate that God is not a single being manifested in three iterations.”
This is a “straw man fallacy” attempting to make the doctrine of the Trinity look foolish by misrepresenting what it teaches. The doctrine he describes is not the Trinity but a heresy called Modalism, which teaches that there are three different modes (Father/Son/Spirit) revealed of the same God. Contrary to this, the Bible teaches that there are three revealed eternal Persons of the one God. As James White writes, “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (The Forgotten Trinity, p. 26). While the doctrine of the Trinity is incomprehensible–that means, it cannot be fully understood because God is transcendent (above our thoughts)–the Bible provides sufficient information for a person to grasp the fundamental teaching.
At MRM, we have an entire series on the doctrine of the Trinity. I encourage you to visit it at The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity
“Joseph Smith would later add: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
This verse is cited in D&C 130:22. However, this teaching is not a biblical concept. John 4:24 says that God is “spirit” and does not possess a physical body as humans do.
“Can this understanding fit within scripture? Personally, I find the idea that the Father and Son are separate and distinct beings to be brimming in scripture. It’s not a view that squares with the Roman Church’s creeds, but believe it is very scriptural (Acts 7:55; Heb. 12:1-3; Acts 17:28-19; John 5:19).”
The verses utilized by Scott do not prove that God has a physical body. Acts 7:55 says that Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” This is not proof that God has a physical body. Hebrews 12:1-3 says nothing more than Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. The “right hand” is a symbolic image of God’s majesty and is not a description of a physical part of the fleshly body of God. Acts 17:28-29 is a quote from a pagan poet (“For we are indeed his offspring”). He was showing the Athenians that God is not an idol in the way understood by the Greek mindset. And John 5:19 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’” Because Jesus “sees” the Father is not an inference that the Father is a physical being. The word “see” can be an idiom. “See” what I mean?
We must also understand the type of language used in the Bible, as the Bible uses metaphorical language to portray the indescribable God of the universe. The Bible says that God the Father is “invisible” and that “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18, 5:37; 1 Tim. 1:17, 6:16). So how does the Bible depict God being “seen”? There are human qualities given to God for humans to better understand God. The language used to give God these qualities is called “anthropomorphism” (lit: in the form of a man). The portrayal was not meant to be taken literally. Thus, God—who, remember, has no visible form—is pictured as having:
- a face (Lev. 20:6; Num. 6:25).
- arms (Psalm 89:10b; Deut. 4:34, 5:15) with hands (Num. 11:23) and fingers (Ex. 8:19).
- eyes (Psalm 34:15; Deut. 11:12).
- ears (2 Kings 19:16; Neh. 1:6).
- feet (Isaiah 66:1).
- nose (Deut. 33:10) and can smell (Gen. 8:21).
- a mouth (Deut. 8:3) with lips (Job 11:5) and a tongue (Isa. 30:27).
God has been personified as being an eagle (Deut. 32:11), a shadow (Ps. 91:1), a temple (Rev. 21:22), or having the wings of a bird (Ps. 36:7, 91:4), among a number of descriptions. In addition, God has changed His mind (Exodus 32:14); relented (2 Sam. 24:16; Jonah 3:10); remembered (Genesis 9:16); been sorry (Genesis 6:6); regretted (1 Sam. 15:35); and rested (Genesis 2:2).
One other question. Where in the Book of Mormon would Scott reference to support his point?
“Do the Father and Son have bodies? That the Son has a body is plainly attested to in scripture. According to the Savior himself, He can only do what He has seen the Father do. How can we exclude gaining a physical body from His meaning?” (Luke 24:36-41; John 20:26-27; John 5:18-19).”
“How then, can we claim, if they are separate beings, that they are one God? What do Latter-day Saints understand ‘being one’ to mean?”
“Pagan polytheism is defined by separate, competing Gods who each have dominion over different realms or powers. Pray to God X for rain, God Y for sun, God Z for tacos on Tuesday.”
The word “monotheism” has a meaning for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is only one God that is worshiped, with the possibility of other gods existing. Rather, each of these monotheistic faiths teach that there is one God in existence, period. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” Isaiah 44:6, 8 says,
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god. . . .
“Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
One would think that, if God really had a god before Him (“As man is, God once was…”) that He would at least remember the God whom He had worshiped. The theme of one God—in essence, not just in purpose—is a theme found throughout the whole Bible. The Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 that declares how there is only one God was repeated by Jesus in Mark 12:29 when He was asked what the most important commandment was. Also see 1 Corinthians 8:6 and 1 Timothy 2:5, among others.
“On the other hand, while we believe in separate beings, the Father and Son are united in purpose. They are not competitive in nature; they don’t occupy separate realms. They both operate under the same power to govern the universe.”
Notice how he says that the Father and Son are “united in purpose.” Of course they are, but they are also “united in essence.” The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but the three are not each other. Thus, the Son can pray to the Father in John 17 and not contradict the idea of one God.
“An overly crude metaphor might be a sports team. Each member of the team may have a different role, but the team is united in a common purpose. They’re shooting for the same goal, and the goal of God is the immortality and eternal life of the human family.”
The three Persons of the Trinity are on the same team, but they are not separate gods as taught in Mormonism.
“This ties in directly with the destiny of man, and what we understand to be meant by eternal life. From one of the most sacred passages in all of scripture, John 17:8-23).”
I’m not clear how John 17 supports the idea that people can become gods.
“What is Christ’s purpose in atoning for our sins? By His own account it is to make us at one with Him in the same way He is at one with the Father. The word atonement literally means ‘at-one-with.’ The purpose is to add us to the team.”
From the churchofjesuschrist.org website comes this definition:
“. . . to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.”
According to Mormonism, all people who are born will be resurrected to one of three kingdoms of glory, which is called “general salvation.” The atonement, then, is efficacious for everyone, but it is not something that, by itself, gets a person celestial glory, also known as “individual salvation,” “exaltation” or “eternal life.” Apostle James Talmage explained the differences in the meaning of “salvation”:
“This twofold effect of the atonement is implied in the article of our faith now under consideration. The first effect is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements—‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’” (Articles of Faith, 1984, pp. 78-79, Italics in original).
In Christianity, the atonement is a reference to the reconciliation of God with His people through Jesus Christ. Romans 3:28 says that a believer is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. A justified person is someone who has eternal life and is destined for heaven.
The problem with using the same terms such as “atonement” is that someone can mean one thing and the other can mean something different. Unless it is explained in a way both parties understand, confusion reigns.
“Does this mean we supplant the Father or Son? No – they will always be our Lords. Think of your relationship to your own parents. As you grow and become like them they will always remain your parents. By God’s law they will always demand your honoring them.”
The idea that people can become divine in their own right and in their own realm is not what the Bible (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter) teaches. That Mormons can be, ontologically, the same as God is taught by LDS leaders. Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith said,
“Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:98).
In a sermon called the 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. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,–I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form–like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man . . .
Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you 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,–namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one,–from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.
Notice how Smith said it is possible “to be Gods yourselves,” not to be “like Gods.” To see the whole sermon, click here.
Those faithful Mormons will receive “celestial glory” by being rewarded with their own worlds, as they will be responsible to create them. Twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball told a general conference audience:
“Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000” (“The Privilege of Holding the Priesthood,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1975, p. 80).
This move into godhood will even include the producing of new worlds, as fifth President Lorenzo Snow taught:
”THEY SHALL ORGANIZE WORLDS AND RULE OVER THEM ‘Only a short time before his death, President Snow visited the Brigham Young University [then Brigham Young Academy], at Provo. President Brimhall escorted the party through one of the buildings; he wanted to reach the assembly room as soon as possible, as the students had already gathered. They were going through one of the kindergarten rooms; President Brimhall had reached the door and was about to open it and go on when President Snow said: ‘Wait a moment, President Brimhall, I want to see these children at work; what are they doing?’ Brother Brimhall replied that they were making clay spheres. ‘That is very interesting,’ the President said. ‘I want to watch them.’ He quietly watched the children for several minutes and then lifted a little girl, perhaps six years of age, and stood her on a table. He then took the clay sphere from her hand, and, turning to Brother Brimhall, said: ‘President Brimhall, these children are now at play, making mud worlds, the time will come when some of these boys, through their faithfulness to the gospel, will progress and develop in knowledge, intelligence and power, in future eternities, until they shall be able to go out into space where there is unorganized matter and call together the necessary elements, and through their knowledge of and control over the laws and powers of nature, to organize matter into worlds on which their posterity may dwell, and over which they shall rule as gods’” (Improvement Era, June 1919, 658–59) (Presidents of the Church Student Manual: Religion 345, 2013, pp. 90-91. Brackets in original).
Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explains,
“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words, we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:48. See also Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, 1976, p. 132).
Notice how that was referenced in a church manual. Finally, Seventy Milton R. Hunter wrote,
“The crowning doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to the principle of men becoming gods. It is marvelous that such a doctrine, although in a polluted form, should have been retained by Indian pagans from the time of the close of the Book of Mormon to the coming of the Spaniards. Through modern revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only know that they are spirit children of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, but they also know that there is a possibility for some of them ultimately to become exalted to Godhood. As early as February 16, 1832, Jesus Christ revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the sublime truth that ‘men may become gods’” (Christ in Ancient America, p. 167. Italics in original).
The idea that a person can someday make their own “planets” or “worlds” is often scoffed at by Mormons, but this is what these leaders were teaching. Richard Sherlock, a Catholic writing in the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series, explains, “It may be true, as LDS bloggers and apologists have noted, that ‘there is no Mormon doctrine that says we will become Gods of our own planets.’ But this is merely a linguistic spin. Joseph Smith used the word ‘kingdom’ and spoke explicitly of getting ‘my own kingdom.’ ” (King Follett sermon) (p. 66).
Sometimes Mormons have pointed to the language used by early Christian church fathers to support the idea that people can become gods. As described by Richard Sherlock in his essay titled “Becoming Like God,” “Of course, the patristic writers never spoke of ‘becoming God’ in the sense of becoming another or separate ‘God the Father.'” (The LDS Gospel Topics Series, p. 59).
Perhaps Scott will explain how I got this teaching wrong when we have our discussion.
“Is this a radically different doctrine than Catholicism or Protestantism? Radically may be an understatement. Is is a belief with support in scripture? Again – I find scripture replete with it. Naming a few: Gal. 4:7; 2 Peter 1:4; Acts 17:28-29.”
The verses used to support the idea that people can become gods is not taught in the scriptures provided by Scott. Galatians 4:7 says the Christian is an “heir through God.” It has nothing to say about godhood. Second Peter 1:4 says Christian “may become partakers of the divine nature.” Christians do believe in glorification and receiving new bodies, but this does not mean they believe they will become gods of their own right. Meanwhile. Acts 17 is a citation from a pagan source, and Paul was not suggesting that he believed Christians could become gods.
“Do I think all Christians must believe this? No. Do I believe that relying on these promises of God as I understand them disqualifies me as a Christian? No, I believe they are completely in line with scripture.”
Of course, a person may assume that what they believe is “completely in line with scripture.” But is it really? If what is believed comes through improper interpretation of the Bible, then it is not in line with scripture. And as I stated in another review (see here), there is a meaning to the term Christian that does not coincide with heretical doctrines.
“The Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon adds further clarification on how we ‘inherit all things’ (Rev 21:7) – on how we ‘become heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ.’ Melchizedek was an exemplar of this, and the power to ‘become the sons of God’ retains his name even today (Alma 13:15; John 17:19-21).”
Mormonism teaches that a person is a child of God naturally based on being a spirit child in the doctrine called “preexistence,” a time before this life when spirits existed with God the Father. Christianity, however, says a person becomes a child of God only through faith, not through natural means, which is called “adoption” and is supported by these verses:
- John 1:12-13: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
- Romans 8:14-17: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
- Galatians 3:26-28: “. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
- Galatians 4:6: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
- 1 John 3:1-2a: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now . . .”
“Now – let me quickly address rumors that won’t die which are gross mischaracterizations of our doctrine. Some of them are opinions that were held by some earlier church members- but, and I can’t stress this enough, they are not our doctrine.”
This is a huge charge (“rumors” and “gross mischaracterizations of our doctrine”). Let’s see if what he says is true.
“1. We do not believe all men get to become the head of harems of thousands from wives having endless sex to populate our own planets. This is the theology of ‘Southpark’ and dishonest smears like the old film ‘The Godmakers.’ It’s stomach turning, and it’s not what we believe.”
I referenced the Lorenzo Snow couplet above. The second half says, “As God is, man may become.” While I am not trying to sensationalize the doctrine, it is true that Mormonism teaches that polygamy will be reinstated in the next life. Apostle Orson Pratt explained, “If none but Gods will be permitted to multiply immortal children, it follows that each God must have one or more wives” (The Seer, p. 158). Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 578).
To prove the point, the top two leaders in the LDS Church—President Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the First Presidency—are each married for eternity to two different wives. Their first wives had died and they each were later married to another woman who had never been sealed for eternity. Both leaders expect to see their two “eternal” wives in the next life or else they would not have been sealed for eternity to these other women.
When Scott uses the term “planets,” I showed above how Mormonism very clearly teaches in the existence of new worlds populated by righteous LDS families. As LDS author David R. Ridges explains the role of God the Father as the father of all people in the preexistence:
“Those who live worthy to become gods (D&C 132:20) will live as husbands and wives eternally and will have the blessing of ‘eternal increase,’ in other words, of having unlimited number of spirit children. Spirit children will be born to them as offspring (Acts 17:28-29), just as we were to our heavenly parents (Hebrews 12:9). This is also referred to as ‘a continuation of the seeds forever and ever’ (D&C 132:19). As gods, they will create worlds for their spirit children and send them through the same ‘great plan of happiness’ (Alma 42:8) that the Father has in place for us” (Mormon Beliefs and Doctrines Made Easier, p. 88).
2. “‘Mormons don’t believe Jesus is God.’ If you missed it, the Book of Mormon says specifically that He is, multiple times. It’s true that we pray to the Father in the name of Christ, but that is because it is the manner in which Christ taught us to pray (Matt. 6:6-8).”
Again, if this is a reference to what I said in my interview with Sean, I never said that “Mormons don’t believe Jesus is God.” The religion does teach that He is “a god.” However, the Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as the Jesus of biblical Christianity (2 Cor. 11:4). This statement finds support with 15th President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages’” ( “Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7).
He also said,
“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say” (“We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).
The Jesus of Christianity was criticized by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:
“And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 269).
Jesus was literally created by the Father according to Apostle Robert D. Hales:
“Jesus was born of heavenly parents in a premortal world—he was the firstborn of our Heavenly Father” (Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1983, p. 67).
There are many differences between the two versions of Jesus. While Mormons pray in His name, they don’t pray directly to Jesus. The question can then be asked, Why don’t Latter-day Saints pray to Jesus?
- “’Mormons believe in a Heavenly Mother.’ We do! We are created in God’s image, male and female. The word Elohim can be translated as Gods plural. Did early Christians believe this too? Methodist Margaret Barker lays out a case.”
“We have unique beliefs. I hope you feel like you’ve learned more about them. Do they disqualify us as disciples of Christ? You must be the one to decide. If you have other questions, please ask! I’m always happy to discuss my faith.”
He agrees that Mormonism teaches in Heavenly Mother. A church manual explains who Heavenly Mother is:
“By definition exaltation includes the ability to procreate the family unit throughout eternity. This our Father in heaven has power to do. His marriage partner is our mother in heaven. We are their spirit children, born to them in the bonds of celestial marriage (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 1976, p. 129).
In the interview, I told Sean that Heavenly Mother is an “unspoken” doctrine in Mormonism, even though none of the standard works can be cited in support. When we read about a “Mother God” (Asherah) in the Old Testament, the biblical prophets were quite critical, including condemning the Asherah poles where fertility rites took place. As far as Margaret Barker, her view is rejected by most Christian scholars. Consider this article by Fred Anson (click here).
- “’Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers!’ I find this such a disingenuous representation (and I understand that not everyone who repeats it really understands it, so not everyone who says it is disingenuous).”
I did say on the show that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, but I don’t find this to be a “disingenuous representation.” Here are a few examples of where this is taught:
“Now there is another personality of which I desire to speak, one that the world calls by a name, but in whose reality as a personal Being it does not believe and that person is Satan, the Devil. But according to our understanding and teaching. Satan is a person with a spirit body, in form like that of all other men. He is a spirit brother of ours and of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Elder Brother in the spirit world” (Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Reports, April 1949, p. 27).
“The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).
“Who is Satan? Satan was the spiritual offspring of Deity. He was a spiritual brother to the Chosen, the one whom we have come to know as the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, p. 36).
“In the wilderness of Judaea, on the temple’s pinnacles and on the high mountain, a momentous contest took place between two brothers, Jehovah and Lucifer, sons of Elohim… Satan, also a son of God, had rebelled and had been cast out of heaven and not permitted an earthly body as had his brother Jehovah. Much depended upon the outcome of this spectacular duel” (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 34. Ellipsis mine).
“On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel ‘who was in authority in the presence of God,’ a ‘son of the morning.’ (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)” (Jess L. Christensen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1986, p. 25).
“We cannot remember that we once lived with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that we probably sat in meetings much like this, where the Father’s plan for us was explained. We cannot remember that Lucifer, a son of God the Father, a brother of Jesus Christ, rebelled against God’s plan and, in his rebellion, promised he would bring us all back home. But Lucifer would have denied us our free agency, the freedom to make decisions. We cannot remember that his plan was not accepted by us because, without choice, there would not have been a purpose for coming to this mortal probation. We would not have had opposition or repentance. We would not have learned obedience” (Robert D. Hales, “The Aaronic Priesthood: Return with Honor,” Ensign, Conference edition, May 1990, p. 39)
These citations from a variety of sources shows how Mormon leaders and teachers describe Jesus and Lucifer as spirit brothers. I’m not sure why Scott disagrees.
“Members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that ALL of the human family are children of God. We are His same species of you will. We are His descendants. That is why we believe we can become like Him.”
As I showed above, the Bible says a person becomes a child of God and is not one naturally from a preexistent state. We are not God’s descendants nor are we of the “same species” as Him. We can certainly be glorified, but humans cannot become gods of their own right.
“Christ being His firstborn, and only begotten in the flesh, has been with the Father ‘from the beginning (John 1)’ but is spiritually our older brother.”
Jesus calls Christians “brothers” in a spiritual, not physical, way.
“Satan also, and the third of the human family that rebelled in heaven are also our siblings, children of God. Yes then, Christ and Satan have the same spiritual Father. So do we all. We are literally a human family. You – reader – are my spiritual sibling.”
The preexistence taught here is not taught in the Bible. Christian believers are certainly “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ in a spiritual manner, but the Bible does not teach that we lived in a preexistent state where everyone was a spiritual brother and sister. There is a difference. For more on this, see this article.
“To omit the larger context of our understanding is to try to pervert its implications. At least that’s how I see it. What it leaves out particularly, is that YOU are a child of God. Known and loved by Him.”
Again, I believe that I explained the teachings of Mormonism in an accurate manner. If these tweets were intended to correct the teaching I had given, Scott has not shown how I have misrepresented the doctrines of Mormonism.
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