"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us.... Here, then, is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves,... the same as all Gods have done before you..."Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 7:333):
"He [God] is our Father - the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being."Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 3:93):
"The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself."Milton R. Hunter (The Gospel Through the Ages, p 104):
"Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God - an exalted being - through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey."Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed p 250):
"...God...is a personal Being, a holy and exalted man..."Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation 1:10, 1954, cited from 21st printing 1975):
"God is an exalted man. Some people are trouble over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith ... that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man..."LeGrand Richards (private letter to Morris L. Reynolds, July 14, 1966):
"There is a statement often repeated in the Church, and while it is not in one of the Standard Church Works, it is accepted as church doctrine, and this is: 'As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.'" (cited by Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, p 164Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (published by the church as an official lesson manual 1997 [text "approved 10/95"], p. 29):
"President Brigham Young taught ... that God the Father was once a man on another planet who 'passed the ordeals we are now passing through...'"
Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs [and other Christian churches]. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?Gordon B. Hinckley, as quoted in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997:
Hinckley: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about. [emphasis added]
Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?
Hinckley: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. ...that's one thing that's different. Modern revelation. We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, we believe he has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
"On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, [Hinckley] sounded uncertain, `I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it.'" [emphasis added]A spokesman for Hinckley, when questioned about the accuracy of the Time quotation, asserted that Hinckley's words were taken out of context, and that Hinckley was thus misquoted. The Time reporter, however, has made available the pertinent part of the transcript of his interview with Hinckley. Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley's interview with Time:
Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follett discourse by the Prophet.
Q: ... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
Hinckley: I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it. [emphasis added]
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© 1998 Richard Packham Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included