Lorenzo Snow couplet theology
Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president and prophet of the mainstream sect of Mormonism, is famous both in and outside of Mormonism for his couplet:
- "As man is God once was, as God is man may be."
Snow's sister notes that:
- "Being present at a 'Blessing Meeting,' in the Temple, previous to his baptism into the Church; after listening to several patriarchal blessings pronounced upon the heads of different individuals with whose history he was acquainted, and of whom he knew the Patriarch was entirely ignorant; he was struck with astonishment to hear the peculiarities of those persons positively and plainly referred to in their blessings. And, as he afterwards expressed, he was convinced that an influence, superior to human prescience, dictated the words of the one who officiated.
- "The Patriarch was the father of Joseph, the Prophet. That was the first time Lorenzo had met him. After the services, they were introduced, and Father Smith said to my brother that he would soon be convinced of the truth of the latter-day work, and be baptized; and he said: ‘You will become as great as you can possibly wish—EVEN AS GREAT AS GOD, and you cannot wish to be greater.’ " (Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1884, pp. 9–10.)
This theology became foundational to early, post-Nauvoo Mormon theology. Indeed, Smith claimed in the King Follett Discourse that:
- "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did... 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." (emphasis added)
Modern Mormonism has truncated that which what Smith considered "the first principle of the gospel" and obfuscated what he considered "eternal life". It is not uncommon to hear a Mormon say about the theology of either half of the Lorenzo Snow couplet (especially the first): "I don't know, and I don't care, because it isn't relevant to my salvation."
Preferring more palatable and generalized language than what Joseph Smith and historic Mormon authorities have used, modern Mormons speak of the doctrine of the second half of the couplet using such phrases as:
- "become like God"
- "become like our Father in heaven"
The same can be said for the first half of the couplet. Today, God the Father is sometimes spoken of as a "glorified and exalted Man", but the forthrightness earlier used has been abandoned.
 Is it doctrinal?
Since the very idea and language of "canon" and "doctrine" is problematic in Mormonism, plagued with multiple definitions and rhetorical flexibility, it is best instead to ask: Was Lorenzo Show couplet theology authoritatively taught? Has it historically been accepted as authoritative teaching? Does it have continued life in Mormonism? Has it ever been authoritatively repudiated? Does it still find expression in Church-published literature and curriculum?
- "[T]his doctrine is accepted and taught by the Brethren... It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today." -Hoyt W. Brewster Jr. (now serving as an LDS Seventy), "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1982, 38 
- "Each one of you has it within the realm of his possibility to develop a kingdom over which you will preside as its king and god. You will need to develop yourself and grow in ability and power and worthiness, to govern such a world with all of its people." (Spencer W. Kimball, “. . . the Matter of Marriage” [address delivered at University of Utah Institute of Religion, 22 Oct. 1976], 2. Quoted in Doctrines of the Gospel Institute manual).
- "I bear you my witness that God the Father lives, a glorified and exalted Man. He is the Father of our spirits. He and His Beloved Son, both resurrected and glorified, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in a grove of trees in New York." Henry B. Eyring (Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), "Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times". CES Fireside for Young Adults. September 10, 2006.
In a 1994 Ensign article, Gordon B. Hinckley wrote:
- "On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62; and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1.)
- "Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom."
Gospel Principles, a book the Mormon Church actively uses as curriculum, reads as follows:
- "Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, "All things are theirs" (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:
1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).
2. They will become gods.
3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.
4. They will receive a fulness of joy.
5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have--all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).
The currently used, correlated and church-published manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young contains the following:
- "The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this Church. How do you feel, knowing that God, through His own experience, 'knows all that we know regarding the toils [and] sufferings' of mortality?"
 Modern equivocation
 Gordon B. Hinckley's public equivocations
President Gordon B. Hinckley with Don Lattin, the San Francisco Chronicle religion writer. The article was dated Sunday, April 13, 1997 :
- Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?
- A: I wouldn't say that. There was a 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.
Time magazine of August 4, 1997, in an article titled "Kingdom Come," page 56 :
- Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet.
- A: Yeah
- 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?
- A: 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.
- See main article: Gordon B. Hinckley interviews
When asked about this issue of theology, many Mormons will give responses like:
- "Oh, that doesn't pertain to our salvation. We need not worry about that."
- "That's just speculation."
When pressed, one finds either that the Mormon has a position but wishes not to disclose it, or is simply disinterested in taking any position on the issue at all.
 Modern retraction (developed by Blake Ostler)
There are some, albeit very few, Mormons who believe that God the Father was always God as he is now. The most notable and influential proponent of this position is Blake Ostler. His position is that, "While God, the Father of Jesus, did condescend to become a mortal on one of the innumerable previous inhabited planets, he is the ultimate Celestial Monarch and has no 'Eternal Father' of his own. Further, Blake holds that the Father was not a Savior to the world to which he condescended." Essentially, Ostler believes that God was not first a man and then became a God. Instead, he believes that God has been God from all eternity, but that the Father became incarnate just as the Son did. "... the Father was divine before his mortal sojourn and underwent a form of kenosis or emptying of himself of the divine status for a time just as did Christ."  Ostler relies heavily on Smith's statement that "God was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did..."  This interpretation involves a significant misreading of Joseph Smith's King Follet Discourse and Sermon in the Grove, as Smith was clear on the matter:
- "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."
Those who hold to the neo-orthodox position hold that how the Lorenzo Snow couplet has traditionally been understood is in some important senses wrong. God was not once as we are now inasmuch as that means he was at one point, like us, never a god, but then progressed and proved this worthiness unto exaltation and godhood. Likewise, man will not be as God is, inasmuch as that means that God the Father became a god by submitting to his god. We will become gods, but never as God the Father is, since he has always been God, has no father-god himself, and is the ultimate father-god of all gods.
In opposition to Blake's position, Geoff Johnston writes:
- "The notion that God came to be God is certainly the understanding that Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, Lorenzo Snow, and seemingly all of [Joseph Smith's] companions in church leadership shared. For Blake’s position to be accepted, we have to accept that this was a colossal misunderstanding and that none of the top leaders of the church bothered to confirm what the prophet actually meant in the nearly three months after this astonishing sermon was given."
 The doctrine and church-published literature
 Was the Father a redeemer on a previous world?
- "All that Father Adam did upon this earth, from the time that he took up his abode in the Garden of Eden, was done for his posterity's sake and the success of his former mission as the savior of a world." Joseph E. Taylor, 1888
 Did Elohim sin in the past?
- "We are precisely in the same condition and under the same circumstances that God our Heavenly Father was when he was passing through this, or a similar ordeal." - Joseph F. Smith
The Mormon hierarchy takes no official position on whether or not God the Father once sinned before being resurrected and exalted unto godhood. It is open for members to believe or disbelieve. Since LDS leaders continue to teach that God the Father was resurrected and exalted, one of three positions by Mormons are usually taken or held to be possible:
- God the Father died and was resurrected because he was a fallen and sinful human being. He at some point repented and proved his worthiness unto exaltation and godhood.
- Since God the Father played a savior-type role (citing John 5:19) his death and resurrection were because of his sacrificial mediation (i.e. he did not die because of his own sins).
- God the Father died and was resurrected, but it is possible this happened for entirely different reasons than are assumed the case here on this world. God the Father may not have been a savior, and on other worlds death may not be a consequence for the fallenness or sinfulness of humanity.
Some Mormons are open to believing either way, lean toward one view, but don't feel they can be confident about taking a position with certainty yet:
- "If you take note, it is not the same as man, but the same as Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ was sinless. If God the Father dwelt on earth the same as Jesus Christ, then God the Father's earthly ministry was also a sinless one. I am not proclaiming that it is LDS doctrine that God the Father once served as a savior to previous generation of spirit children, his brothers and sisters. I am not saying that it is completely impossible that God was a mortal man who sinned and made mistakes before his exaltation. I am simply saying that the doctrine does not necessarily indicate that God sinned at some point."
Others find it very probable that the first position is the case:
- "My opinion is yes, not only is what you suggested [that God the Father sinned] possible, I think we have to believe it probably. For, if we do not assume that, we must assume that we'll never become gods ourselves. Sure, someone like Jesus will become a God and never have sinned, etc. But according to the Church's soteriology, you and I are also seeking to become a god. Thus, Jesus would be the exception. Most deities would be people who lived mortal probations and then became gods through relying upon an atonement of a messiah provided them by their messiah." - Alonzo L. Gaskill, BYU Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine (1/24/2007, e-mail dialogue with Aaron Shafovaloff)
 Is there an eternal regression of gods?
Those who hold to the traditional view of God the Father's origin usually believe, as Brigham Young taught, in an eternal regression of gods.
- "But if God the Father was not always God, but came to his present exalted position by degrees of progress as indicated in the teachings of the prophet, how has there been a God from all eternity? The answer is that there has been and there now exists an endless line of Gods, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are as limitless as boundless space." - B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols., 1:, p.476
 Can we become gods as God the Father is a god?
- "Then will they become Gods, even the sons of God; then will they become eternal fathers, eternal mothers, eternal sons and eternal daughters; being eternal in their organization they go from glory to glory, from power to power; they will never cease to increase and to multiply, worlds without end. When they receive their crowns, their dominions, they then will be prepared to frame earths like unto ours and to people them in the same manner as we have been brought forth by our parents, by our Father and God." - Brigham Young
- "Mortal persons who overcome all things and gain an ultimate exaltation will live eternally in the family unit and have spirit children, thus becoming Eternal Fathers and Eternal Mothers. (D. & C. 132:19-32.) Indeed, the formal pronouncement of the Church, issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, states: "So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring." (Man: His Origin and Destiny, p. 129.)" - Bruce R. McConkie
- "So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the sever al stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation." (A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose] and the Twelve, “The Father and the Son,” Improvement Era, June 1916. Quoted in Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, p. 129-132)
- "I believe in the eternities of worlds, saints, angels, kingdoms, and gods: In eternity without beginning. I believe the gods never had a beginning, neither the formation of matter, and it is without end; it will endure in one eternal round swimming in space, basking, living, and moving in the midst of eternity. All the creations are in the midst of eternity, and that is one eternity, so they move in one eternal round. Consequently, when you hear philosophers argue the point how the first god came, how intelligence came, how worlds came, and how angels came, they are talking about that which is beyond their conception; about that which never was, and never will be worlds without end." (Brigham Young)
- And did He not make it plain that He was following in the footsteps of His immortal Father, the very Eternal Father to whom we pray in the name of His Son? It necessarily follows that the Eternal Father once passed through experiences analogous to those which His Son, the Lord Jesus, afterward passed through, and through which we are now passing. The Eternal, Father, therefore, is a Being who has had experiences incident to the mortal state. He is a resurrected Being; He conquered death; and He gave power unto His Son to conquer death, through whom power shall be given unto the Saints, yea, unto all who will accept the boon of eternal life, to be redeemed from death...
God has glorified His Son; but though the Son is glorified with the glory of the Father, you can't change the fact that He is the Son of that Father, and that Father, the Eternal Father, the Father of Jesus Christ, the Father of His spirit and the Father of His body, was once a Man, and has progressed, not by any favor but by the right of conquest over sin, and over death, to His present position of priesthood and power, of Godship and Godliness, as the Supreme Being whom we all profess to worship. We are all spirit sons and daughters of God; but Jesus Christ was and is The Son of God in a superlative and distinctive sense, God the Eternal Father being His Father both in spirit and in flesh...
We believe in the more than imperial status of the human race. We believe that our spirits are the offspring of Deity, and we hold that when Christ said to His apostles, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," He was not talking of a merely idealistic yet impossible achievement; but that on the contrary He meant that it was possible for men to advance until they shall become like unto the Gods in their powers and in their attainments, through righteousness...
The doctrine of the relationship between God and men, as made plain through the word of revelation, is today as it was of old, though in the light of later scripture we are enabled to read the meaning more clearly. It is provided that we, the sons and daughters of God, may advance until we become like unto our Eternal Father and our Eternal Mother, in that we may become perfect in our spheres as they are in theirs. That grand truth, taught by the Prophet Joseph and ridiculed for the time, has now gripped the minds of the thinkers and philosophers of the age. You will find it hinted at and timidly expressed in the writings of many recent and learned publications in the theological field. That great truth is finding its way into the literature of the world. It was crystallized into what we may call an aphorism, by President Lorenzo Snow: "As man is God once was; as God is man may be". We know that Christ is God, and that He lived upon the earth as a Man. In the sense in which Christ was perfect in His sphere, we may become perfect in ours. We may progress, not to become each one a savior of the world in the particular sense in which Christ was the Savior of the world, but we may follow Him to eternal glory, and to eternal life, which may our Father grant, in the name of Jesus. Amen." (James Talmage, Conference Report April 1915, Third Day-Morning Session)
- "God our Heavenly Father was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we are, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is" (Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 1:123).
- "Such limited power we have, and how little can we control the wind and the waves and the storms! We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were said by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: 'As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.' This is a power available to us as we reach perfection and receive the experience and power to create, to organize, to control native elements." -Spencer W. Kimball, "Our Great Potential," Ensign, May 1977, 49 
- "My hope and prayer today is that we will look to ourselves with new responsibility, new self-appreciation, higher self-image, and greater self-respect. We are children of God. We do possess God-given attributes. We do have the opportunity and obligation to learn to be leaders. Let us so live that it may be said of us, 'He's well balanced. He knows where he is going and how to get there. He's a good manager of himself.' By doing this it will be possible to better serve in the kingdom and have a greater appreciation for Lorenzo Snow’s thrilling declaration, 'As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may be.' (See Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.) This is what proper self-management is all about." -Marvin J. Ashton, "Proper Self-management," Ensign, Nov. 1976, 84 (Note: this article is placed under the "gospel topic" of "self-esteem") 
- " 'After death we continue to learn. Exaltation means godhood, creatorship. 'As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.' (Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1884, 46.) This is in the future. It is obvious that before one can take of the materials in existence and develop them into a world like our own, he must be master of geology, zoology, physiology, psychology, and all the others. It is obvious, also, that no soul can in his short mortal life acquire all this knowledge and master all these sciences, but he can make a beginning and with the foundation of spiritual life and controls and mastery, and with the authorities and powers received through the gospel of Christ, he is in a position to begin this almost limitless study of the secular' (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, , 53)." -L. Tom Perry, "Learning to Serve," Ensign, Aug. 1996, 10 
- "All these Gods are equal in power, in glory, in dominion, and in the possession of all things; each possesses a fulness of truth, of knowledge, of wisdom, of light, of intelligence; each governs himself in all things by his own attributes, and is filled with love, goodness, mercy, and justice towards all. The fulness of all these attributes is what constitutes God. "God is Light." "God is Love." "God is Truth." The Gods are one in the qualities and attributes. Truth is not a plurality of truths, be. cause it dwells in a plurality of persons, but it is one truth, indivisible, though it dwells in millions of persons. Each person is called God, not because of his substance, neither because of the shape and size of the substance, but because of the qualities which dwell in the substance. Persons are only tabernacles or temples, and TRUTH is the God, that dwells in them. If the fulness of truth, dwells in numberless millions of persons, then the same one indivisible God dwells in them all. As truth can dwell in all worlds at the same instant; therefore, God who is truth can be in all worlds at the same instant. A temple of immortal flesh, and bones, and spirit, can only be in one place at a time, but truth, which is God, can dwell in a countless number of such temples in the same moment. When we worship the Father, we do not merely worship His person, but we worship the truth which dwells in His person. When we worship the Son, we do not merely worship His body, but we worship truth which resides in Him. So, likewise, when we worship the Holy Ghost, it is not the substance which we alone worship, but truth which dwells in that substance. Take away truth from either of these beings, and their persons or substance would not be the object of worship. It is truth, light, and love that we worship and adore; these are the same in all worlds; and as these constitute God, He is the same in all worlds; and hence, the inhabitants of all worlds are required to worship and adore the same God. Because God dwells in many temples, He frequently speaks to us, as though there were many Gods: this is true when reference is made to the number of His dwelling places; but it is not true, and cannot be true, in any other sense. Therefore, in all our future statements and reasonings, when we speak of a plurality of Gods, let it be distinctly understood, that we have reference alone to a plurality of temples wherein the same truth or God dwells. And also when we speak of only one God, and state that He is eternal, without beginning or end, and that He is in all worlds at the same instant, let it be distinctly remembered, that we have no reference to any particular person or substance, but to truth dwelling in a vast variety of substances. Wherever you find a fulness of wisdom, knowledge, truth, goodness, love, and such like qualities, there you find God in all His glory, power, and majesty, therefore, if you worship these adorable perfections you worship God." (Orson Pratt, The Seer, Vol. 1, No. 2, Feb, 1853, p. 24.).
- "I do not agree that the teaching that the Father was once like us 'has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine.' I do, however, agree with President Hinckley's much-criticized comment that, by and large, we don't teach it. I've never heard a sacrament meeting address on the subject, for example. But it's there in the background. It's certainly a functioning part of my understanding of my theology." - Daniel Peterson 
- "...the Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father is an exalted man, a corporeal being, a personage with flesh and bones. They do not believe that he is a spirit... Joseph Smith taught in 1844 that God our Father was once a mortal man, that he lived on an earth, died, was resurrected and glorified, and grew and developed over time to become the Almighty that he now is. To say this another way, they teach that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but that he has not been so forever..." - Robert Millet, The Mormon Faith, 1998, p. 29
- "Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation. If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father. Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give his children (see D&C 14:7)." 
- "I am no big supporter of that [Lorenzo Snow] couplet as it distorts the King Follet discourse and the Sermon in the Grove." - Jonathan A. Stapley
- "KFD 5:1 Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did. Joseph Smith's purpose is to show that the Bible teaches that our Father in Heaven was once mortal, as we are. To do so he takes John 5:19 as a text. Here the Savior said, 'The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.' The Prophet then reasons that it is Christ's purpose to lay down his life and take it up again. Thus, if Christ can do only that which his father did, his father must also have been subject to death, he must have died and then taken up his life again as a resurrected being. From this statement of the Prophet, many have attempted to reason that he was saying that his father was also a savior for those of another world and thus that all worlds require their own saviors. The Prophet never taught such a thing and was not alluding to it here. His remarks centered on the doctrine of resurrection, not the salvation of God's endless creations. The Prophet had already clearly taught that the atonement of Christ—which was infinite—embraced all that he had created under the direction of the Father (see commentary on D&C 76:23-24). Responding to those who wanted to argue that there is a special strain of savior gods, Elder Bruce R. McConkie often asked, 'What earthly good could possibly come from teaching such a thing?' " - Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration: A Commentary on the Doctrine & Covenants & Other Modern Revelations
- “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’” (LeGrand Richards, July 14, 1966, letter to Morris L. Reynolds).
- "Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God." - A statement by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- "The fact exists that the Father, the Divine Father, whom we serve, the God of the Universe, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our spirits, provided this sacrifice and sent his Son to die for us; and it is also a great fact that the Son came to do the will of the Father, and that he has paid the debt, in fulfilment of the Scripture which says, 'He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.' Is it so on any other earth? On every earth. How many earths are there? . . . Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter; and every earth, and the people thereof, in their turn and time, receive all that we receive, and pass through all the ordeals that we are passing through. (Brigham Young, July 10, 1870. Journal of Discourses 14:71).
- "And do you seriously believe that any reasonably intelligent and reasonably alert long-time member of the Church doesn't know what the Church teaches on this doctrine?" - Daniel Peterson
- We believe that God is a personal being. By a personal being, we mean that he is a man-an exalted man. Approximately one hundred years ago, soon after Lorenzo Snow became a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ, he formulated a remarkable couplet which has since that time become famous. He said: "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." (Lorenzo Snow, The Millennial Star 54:404.) Time and time again during the period of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith, various evidences were given to him sustaining, amplifying, and explaining the personality of God. If time would permit, many excellent quotations could be cited from the D&C which would help to describe the personality of our Eternal Father. However, I would like on this occasion to quote a statement taken from a great sermon which was given by the Prophet Joseph shortly before his death. This quotation is a continuation of the statement I have already quoted from the Prophet. To use his exact words: 'It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of as all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did. . . . I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth . . . 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 veil were rent today, 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 today, you would see him like a man in form-like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instructions from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-346.) I would like to discuss with you for a moment or two the doctrine of what kind of being God is at the present time. He is an exalted, glorified, celestialized man, but actually and literally a personal being." - Milton R. Hunter
- "Now the Creeds say that God has always been God. But this well-motivated expression of reverence is a solemn travesty. The truth is infinitely more inspiring: that God Himself became God (whose power now extends in and through all things) by the mastery of the same ultimate and unchanging conditions to which you and I are subject. So, likewise, did His Firstborn Son, Jesus the Christ." - Truman G. Madsen (BYU professor)
- "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 to 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." - Milton R. Hunter
- “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.” (Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:48, quoted in Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, 132, 1976)
- "Evidently his Father passed through a period of mortality even as he passed through mortality, and as we all are doing. Our Father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father, until we come to a stop where we cannot go further, because of our limited capacity to understand... We are sons and daughters of God in the spirit. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we receive the resurrection, the spirit and the body being united inseparably, never to be divided, so that we will never die again. We thus become immortal, and if we keep the commandments which are given us, we will inherit celestial glory. When we receive this great blessing, we will be sons of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness 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 fulness 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. We will have an endless eternity for this" - Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2
- “One of Lorenzo Snow’s great contributions was his elucidation of the doctrine that man might one day become like God. As President of the Church he gave a discourse entitled ‘The Grand Destiny of Man.’ He related how as a young man he had been inspired by one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s sermons about the manifestations of God and Jesus Christ to him. Two and one-half years later, after a patriarchal blessing meeting, Joseph Smith, Sr., had promised Lorenzo that he could become as great as God himself. Two and one-half years after that, while Lorenzo listened to an explanation of the scriptures, the Lord inspired him to compose this couplet: ‘As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.’ President Snow stated, ‘Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me.’ Shortly before Joseph Smith’s death, Lorenzo heard him teach the same doctrine. Thereafter Elder Snow made the doctrine one of the subjects of his own discourses” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp.451-452).
- "We are charged with the responsibility of getting people out of their ruts and routines, out of their problems and their pain, out of their little arguments and ignorance and sins, and take them to the Gods - to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost - ultimately we are to take them toward their own Godhood." (Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland, Church News, "Divine Companion: Teaching by the Spirit", page 15, week ending July 4, 2009).
- "We are in school, the mortal school, to gain the experiences, the training, the joys, and the sufferings that we partake of, that we might be educated in all these things and be prepared, if we are faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, to become sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ; and in his presence to go on to a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever, and perhaps through our faithfulness to have the opportunity of building worlds and peopling them... We are in the mortal life to get an experience, a training, that we couldn't get any other way. And in order to become gods, it is necessary for us to know something about pain, about sickness, and about the other things that we partake of in this school of mortality." - Joseph Fielding Smith, October 1967 General Conference; cf “Adam’s Role in Bringing Us Mortality,” Liahona, Jan 2006, 8–9
- After men have got their exaltations and their crowns—have become Gods, even the sons of God—are made King of kings and Lord of Lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. (Brigham Young, JoD, August 28, 1852, 6:275.)
- "I will tell you the God which you and I worship is a Being that was on an earth like this. He has been clothed in mortality the same as we have been and he has had devils to fight the same as we have had, but I do not expect they were the same devils that we have. That God says I am your God and there is none else. Let us worship Him and none else. He is the God that we have. No matter what Gods Enoch saw when the heavens were opened unto him, if the God he saw had been exalted millions of years before our God was, he also had to occupy an earth like ourselves and we shall find it out at some period and this is all the mystery there is about it. If we are faithful, we in our turn shall be exalted and become Gods and there will be no mystery about it when we understand it." Brigham Young quoted in Wilford Woodruff Diary, jan 27, 1860
- "We accept the fact that God is the Supreme Intelligent Being in the universe. He has the greatest knowledge, the most perfect will, and the most infinite power of any person within the realm of our understanding. . . . Yet, if we accept the great law of eternal progression, we must accept the fact that there was a time when Deity was much less powerful than He is today. Then how did He become glorified and exalted and attain His present status of Godhood? In the first place, aeons ago, God undoubtedly took advantage of every opportunity to learn the laws of truth and as He became acquainted with each new verity He righteously obeyed it. From day to day He exerted His will vigorously, and as a result became thoroughly acquainted with the forces lying about Him. As he gained more knowledge through persistent effort and continuous industry, as well as through absolute obedience, His understanding of the universal laws continued to become more complete. Thus He grew in experience and continued to grow until He attained the status of Godhood. In other words, He became God by absolute obedience to all the eternal laws of the Gospel–by conforming His actions to all truth, and thereby became the author of eternal truth. Therefore, the road that the Eternal Father followed to Godhood was one of living at all times a dynamic, industrious, and completely righteous life. There is no other way to exaltation." Milton R Hunter.
- “Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was once a child upon the earth as you are now. He was the Son of God on earth, and He is now God in heaven. It was He who spoke to Moses in the wilderness, and it was He who revealed Himself to the brother of Jared and came to him before He was in the flesh. He gave revelations to His servants in ancient days; and He afterwards came upon the earth just as you have done. He came here, was born, had a father and mother like you have. Well, who was His father? Why God was His father; and who was God’s father? Why God had a father like you and I have” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon 1:127-128).
- "In the beginning (but not really the beginning—only a moment in the span of existence that is always), I learned of a plan of my Heavenly Father for me and my spirit brothers and sisters. Himself exalted and perfected and holy, our beloved Father wanted us to have a chance to follow his path" (Young Women Manual 1 , Lesson 6 [20–23]).
- ↑ Text available online here: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/joseph-smiths-sermon-in-the-grove/
- ↑ Text available online at LDS.org here: Part 1, Part 2. Paraellel account of known texts of th discourse available here: http://www.boap.org/LDS/Parallel/1844/7Apr44.html
- ↑ Joseph Smith, "The King Follett Discourse". Delivered by Joseph Smith, on April 7th 1944, at the funeral for King Follet:
- ↑ Henry B. Eyring, "Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times". Fireside address given on September 10th, 2006. Available online: http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11468
- ↑ Gerald Lund, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1982, 38. Under the section entitled, "Is President Lorenzo Snow’s oft-repeated statement—'As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be'—accepted as official doctrine by the Church?." Available online here.
- ↑ URL: http://lds.org/broadcast/ces/CESFiresideEyring00941000.pdf
- ↑ Gordon B. Hinckley, “Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 46
- ↑ Gospel Principles, chapter 47. Available online here: http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-59,00.html
- ↑ "Chapter 4: Knowing and Honoring the Godhead," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 29. Available online here.
- ↑ http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/1997/04/13/SC36289.DTL&type=printable
- ↑ http://www.lds-mormon.com/time.shtml
- ↑ Dictionary.com defines hedging as: "to avoid a rigid commitment by qualifying or modifying a position so as to permit withdrawal". URL: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hedging
- ↑ Geoff J, "Yes, God the Father does have a Father". URL: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2006/05/the-father-has-a-father/253/
- ↑ Osterl, Exploring Mormon Thought: The Attributes of God, p. 79
- ↑ Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346
- ↑ See History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 473-479. See also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 369-376. Available online here and here.
- ↑ Geoff Johnston in "Did God "come to be God" or not?. Available here.
- ↑ From a discourse given in the Logan temple in 1888 by Joseph E. Taylor, a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake presidency. See Brian Stuy's Collected Discourses, Volume 1.
- ↑ Gospel Doctrine: Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1986), 64.
- ↑ Also appealed to is the Lectures on Faith, wherein "the Prophet Joseph makes it clear that one cannot have 'faith unto salvation/ if one cannot trust that God is perfect and free from all error and sin." (W. John Walsh) The Lectures on Faith, however, were decanonized and contain many teachings more consistent with traditional theism. It is anachronistic to appeal to them for support of post-Nauvoo Mormon theology, since they were written and taught at a time when Mormonism had not yet abandoned traditional monotheism.
- ↑ http://theboard.byu.edu/index.php?area=viewall&id=20391
- ↑ Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 18:, p.259 - 260. URL: http://www.journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_18/JD18-257.html
- ↑ Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.517
- ↑ See: http://www.schoolofabraham.com/fatherandson.htm
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ Available here and here.
- ↑ Available here.
- ↑ Milton R. Hunter, Conference Report, October 1948, First Day—Morning Meeting. Available online here.
- ↑ Truman G. Madsen (BYU professor), Eternal Man, p.56. Available online here.
- ↑ Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages (1946 Melchizedek priesthood curriculum), p. 104. Available online here.
- ↑ http://gospelink.com/library/document/1714?highlight=3#
 See also
- Does Lorenzo Snow's famous couplet no longer have a functioning place in LDS theology?, by Bill McKeever
- As God Is, Man May Become?, by Bill McKeever
- God was once a man like us: Finessing an Off-Putting Mormon Doctrine (Institute for Religious Research)
- Gordon Hinckley Hearkens Back to Old Time Mormonism While De-Emphasizing Human Exaltation, by James White
- Can Man Become God?, by Kurt Van Gorden
- A God Who Became a Man, or a Man Who Became a God?, by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. - "Comments on the King Follett Discourse"
- Examining the Mormon concept: How did God become God?, by Russ Bales
- Who Authored the Mormon Couplet?, by Christopher Smith
- Examining the Mormon concept: How did God become God?, by Russ Bales
- The Doctrine of Exaltation, or Becoming a God from Partakers of the Divine Nature, by Jordan Vajda
- King Follett Discourse as recorded by various individuals
- What do Latter-day Saints mean when they say that God was once a man? (FARMS)
- Orson Hyde's Diagram of the Kingdom of God
- President Lorenzo Snow Crossword - Hilary Hendricks, “President Lorenzo Snow Crossword,” Friend, Mar. 2002, 23 - "He wrote as a couplet (two lines of verse) a revelation that he had and that the Prophet Joseph Smith said was true: As man [now] is, God once was: As God now is, man may be."
- Topical Guide: Man, Potential to Become like Heavenly Father (LDS.org)
- Do Latter-day Saints Worship a God who Sinned?, by Kevin Graham - "I'm inclined to believe... that a 'sinning God' was never harmonious with LDS thought -- then or now." Graham offers his personal opinion on the past sinlessness of the Father but cannot provide any evidence for an official position taken by the Church.
- Was God Once a Sinner?, by W. John Walsh
- Our Hero Discovers His Pelagian Taint, by Adam Greenwood
- “Infinite Regress” or “Monarchical Monotheism”