Of God and Man

July 11th, 2006 by Dustin

Lorenzo Snow once stated:

“As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.”

I’ve heard this often growing up as a child. To a youthful boy this sounds wonderful. “God was once a man? I can become like God if I live worthy?” Going on a mission, you would think this sort of “doctrine” (although I don’t believe this is “official” church doctrine) would be something that people would jump on. I was suprised to later learn while on a mission that this is one one of the most controversial teachings in the Chruch.

While chatting with a friend on IM, he said:

One problem that I have with the LDS church (if you don’t mind) is that in the Bible, God reveals his name as “I Am” and it says that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End… etc… which is what “I Am” represents… time has no bounds on God… got is Eternal… no begining, no end.

Mormons teach that God was once Man and that man can become gods too…. where does that “pattern” of thinking begin? Who is the first “god” then?

That “logic” lines up with the what happened in the Garden of Eden when the serpant (satan) told Eve that they would become “like god” if they ate the fruit… now the mormon church has a better one… you won’t become “like god” but you will become a god.

I suppose the fear is that if you claim you may one day become as God, God will smite you for even thinking you may become like him. Or it may be that we are becoming too prideful to ever think we may be as God and this pride is a sin. Or, at the very least, they may just think we are fools for thinking this and there is no real danger in believing it. I don’t know for sure, it’s probably all of the aformentioned reasons, but whatever the reason, the Christian community really frowns on this thinking.

I’ll try to approach each aspect of my friend’s question. First, “Mormons teach that God was once Man and that man can become gods too…. where does that “pattern” of thinking begin? Who is the first “god” then?”

This is my belief and understanding: There was no first God. Gods are eternal. I’m sure just as there are innumerable planets in outer space, there are innumerable gods. This is not to say we worship any of these other gods. I don’t think our minds can really comprehend this. In this mortal life, there is a beginning and an end to everything. Just try to grasp the fact that you can’t possible count the stars because there will always be more that you cannot see. Try to write the highest number… It is impossible because there is always a higher number. It’s overwhelming to think about really. As for whether God was at one point a man, I don’t know. Maybe he had a different plan of salvation than we have. I really can’t say and I really don’t think we need to know. These are just pondering thoughts and I’m not trying to relate any point of doctrine here.

Here in lies another argument: “But you say that God is not eternal since he was once man.” I guess this would go off the assumption that man is not eternal. There seems to be a philosophy in science that essentially says matter may not be created nor destroyed. I would tend to agree with this. I tend to believe that when God creates, he organizes elements. Just as my wife in her cooking wisdom can turn butter, sugar, flour, eggs, etc. into some delicouse cookies, God in his infinite knowledge and wisdom can command any element to organize into something divine. My belief in this stems from the book of Abraham, chapter 3. Therefore, essentially I suppose you could say man is eternal. I don’t think any of us will just cease to exist at some point. So does the Christian world believe that man will live eternally after death? (This reminds of Geometry lessons in 9th grade where we discussed the differences between lines and rays. Lines have no beginning and no end, where rays have a beginning, but no end. Maybe we are like rays where God is more like a line. Or, are we also like lines? Again, something I don’t fully understand – just pondering)

As for man becoming Gods someday, I can see how this must sound obsurd to the general Christian community. How dare we think we may ever become “equal” with God – or better yet, take his place? I guess this is a view of perspective. I don’t believe we will become equal with God, nor will we ever take his place. We will eternally worship God as our Creator and our Father. As we become exalted (“like God”), more glory will be added to our God.

To make an analogy, I would consider my son. I hope that one day he will grow up to be successful. Nothing will make me happier than to see my children grow in righteousness and become good charitable people. If they become successful, this will in no way diminish my reputation nor status. Instead, “glory” will be added upon me.

The argument to this is that the general Christian world may not believe that we are God’s offspring. This is something that surprised me. I thought everyone believe that we were God’s children. Instead, my friend points out, “That is not relevent… God to man is not equal… a child to a parent (human = human)…. your argument would be better suited to be me telling my dog that he will be like me someday (human != dog)…”

This is something I just disagree with. In the book of Genesis, verse 27 it says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Why would God create us in his image and give us dominion if we were simply as dogs? I believe what is stated in The Family: A Proclaimation to the World: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

10 Responses to “Of God and Man”

  1. Keith Says:

    Christian perspective (and to clarify a misunderstanding from orignal post):
    I wouldn’t say that we are not God’s “children”… but that we are not God’s “offspring”… we are God’s Creation.

    Christians believe that God was first (self-existant) and through him all things are created… not shaped from what is already there.

    We are God’s creation… not “offspring” from some sort of “spiritual sex” of some sort… to imply such a thing would mean that this mechanism for creating offspring was designed by a higher being than God for God to do… but instead God is the “Creator” independent of anything but God himself.

  2. Brandon Says:

    Thanks for the great post, Dustin.
    I would like to add two of may favorite biblical verses about this subject.

    This verse speaks of how we are truly God’s children and can one day become like him and inherit all that he has (we are his heirs).

    Romans 8:16-17
    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    This next verse talks about how we are the literal offspring of God. What the process is of our spiritual or mortal creation I do not know, but I believe that you could say we are of the same “species” as God, our Father.

    Acts 17: 28-29
    28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
    29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

  3. Keith Says:

    Isaiah 43:10 (King James Version)

    Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

  4. Keith Says:

    1 Corinthians 8:4 (King James Version)

    4As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

  5. Dustin Says:

    If you search for either of those scripture references on the interent you will find thousands of links to anti-mormon sites.

    Below are a few links that I feel explain these passages well:
    http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=310 (best)
    http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=379
    http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=339

    Concerning Isaiah 43:10

    There are three rather glaring things about this passage. First that the Lord is talking about Gods being “formed.” Idols, which are false gods, are “formed,” or made by hand. The Lord is clearly saying that no God is ever “formed,” either before him or after him, and yet, idols get formed all the time. Clearly idols, being formed, are not Gods.

    Second, and following from this, we can understand that when the Lord speaks of Gods, he does not mean idols; for these are not Gods. If we find other instances in which the Lord speaks of Gods but does not clearly signal that they are false gods, or idols, then he is probably talking about something else.

    Third, we have to get a handle on what is meant by “before me” and “after me.” One point on which you and I agree is that the Lord has always existed and always will. Thus nothing happened before him, because he always was, and nothing will happen after him, because there is no after with regard to him. Thus if there were to be other Gods, this passage tells us that they would neither be his predecessors nor his successors; they would have to be his “contemporaries.”

    This, therefore most assuredly does not cancel out eternal progression, since, come the day that you enter into your exaltation, the Lord will still be there—he will not come to an end so that you can come “after” him.

  6. Dustin Says:

    One other good article: http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=474

  7. Matthew Says:

    I am Mormon. And grew up with almost all protestant friends. I have been to almost every protestant church and been to the catholic church a few times. There is one Church that tells you to go to God about these issues. It is the Mormon Church. Ask God with a sincere heart, with real intent wanting to know the truth. ” Be still in your hearts and Minds” Ask and ye shall recieve. This is what I did about all the issues that ministers from other churches gave me. When I would take these issues to my mormon church leaders. They simply would say ” ASK GOD” PRAY ABOUT IT” When I did, the truth was manifested to me by the power of the Holy Ghost. I promise if you do the same the Holy Ghost will tell you the same, if your sincere and not afraid to hear. By the way hear means understand.

  8. Mike Says:

    I think we can all agree that Jesus was a Jew. I think we can also agree that the Jewish people have the longest history with God… as they were the chosen people.

    Show me 1 Jew that beleives they will become a God one day. Show me 1 Jew that would not respond to such a blasphemous claim in a very negative way.

    The Jewish people are rooted well in the traditions and teachings of God to this day. The major difference between Jews and Christians is the belief in Jesus Christ as being their Savior.

    If becoming a God was the truth, it would be a major part of Jewish culture / teachings. It is not. Case closed… please do not tell me that for 6,000 years, the Jewish people got it wrong… that God got it wrong, and now you are here to correct everything.

    Teaching that you could become a God goes back to the first trick from Satan in the garden of Eden… which was that you would become “like God”… not a God… perhaps if the serpant would have said you would become a God, then everything would be ok and history would be different.

    I beleive that Satan is up to his old tricks again with all the double speak and false teachings under the Mormon church… too bad.

  9. Dustin Says:

    I think we can also agree that the Jewish people have the longest history with God… as they were the chosen people.

    I think that’s a false assumption that we all agree on this point.

    If becoming a God was the truth, it would be a major part of Jewish culture / teachings. It is not. Case closed

    Case closed? Hardly. So you’re saying for anything to be true, it has to be a major part of Jewish culture? Strange logic.

  10. Greg Says:

    One concern I have with the premise of this blog, “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.” – is that it reminds me too much of this particular verse in the bible:

    “How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the dawn. You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations. You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the uttermost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the mountains. I will make myself like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:12-14).”

    This verse begs the question – “Was Satan trying to replace God or become a god himself” ? If the latter, then this statement Satan makes seems becomes eerily similar to the “mission” of becoming a god. If the former – we need to understand what “Most High” really means. “Most High” or “El Elyon” basically means the “utmost”, “uppermost” or “highest” in authority. Quoting from http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-91-god-most-high/

    “Used of Yahweh, [El Elyon] highlights His pre-eminence over the nations and over other gods.”

    In this context, it’s doubtful that the statement “As God now is, man may be” truly implies that man somehow, someday, will become “El Elyon”. There can only be one “Most High”.

    I’m curious why is there a fascination to be a god, or why does it even matter if we become gods someday? If man’s purpose is to become a god someday, then why is there a need for a saviour? Since man could one day be gods, and carve out their salvation themselves through good works – couldn’t they just tell our saviour, “Move over, I’m next”?

    Romans 8:16-17 does talk about us being heirs of God, but our inheritance is not of Godship. This verse is taken out of context when you look up the word “inheritance”, as it’s used throughout the New Testament. Our eternal inheritance is to live in God’s kingdom forever, as children of God, not equals with God.

    Acts 28-29 is also taken out of context.
    v28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
    v29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill.

    Acts 17 talks about Paul reacting to the people of Athens, a city full of idols. In verses 28 and 29, it talks about not making God in the image of man, who is simply an offspring (i.e. a creation) of God. Offspring in the Greek is “Genos” which means “born [of]“.

    A creature of creation simply cannot be equal with its creator.

    Finally, in the bigger scheme of things – this notion of man becoming God is really irrelevant to who we are in terms of our relationship with God.

    In the end, the only gospel truths that really matter are:
    Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    And

    Titus 3:5-7 (KJV) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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