As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be

LDS Prophets proclaim that God has not always been God. They teach that God is an “Exalted man,” the God of this earth, was once a man, the very same as men now are: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.”

“Chapter 47: Exaltation,” Gospel Principles, 301

“The Lord has said, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fulness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348). This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345–46). Our Heavenly Father knows our trials, our weaknesses, and our sins. He has compassion and mercy on us. He wants us to succeed even as he did.”
Link:https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-47-exaltation?lang=eng

“Strengthening the Family: Created in the Image of God, Male and Female,”

Ensign, Jan 2005, 48–49
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught of a much simpler and more sensible relationship: “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 … was to make himself visible … , 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 instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2005/01/strengthening-the-family-created-in-the-image-of-god-male-and-female

“The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation,”

Ensign, Jan 1989, 27, Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch

“God the Father. The truths about God that Joseph Smith restored are of paramount importance. In 1844, he taught 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.” 7 Ten years earlier, the Lectures on Faith, which Joseph Smith directed and approved, taught that to acquire faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes, and that one needs to know that the course of life one is pursuing is according to God’s will. 8 He also added, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” 9 The Prophet explained that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens”; 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”; and that he “worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling.” 10 Through the Prophet, we learn that we “are begotten sons and daughters unto God” and that Christ is the Firstborn. (D&C 76:24; see D&C 93:21–22; Heb. 12:7–9.) As God’s children, we may become gods ourselves through Christ’s atonement and the plan of salvation, being joint heirs of Christ of “all that [the] Father hath.” (D&C 84:38; see also Rom. 8:17; D&C 76:58–60; D&C 132:19–21.) Along with these concepts is the concept of divine parents, including an exalted Mother who stands beside God the Father.”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1989/01/the-restoration-of-major-doctrines-through-joseph-smith-the-godhead-mankind-and-the-creation

“The Privilege of Holding the Priesthood,”

Ensign, Nov 1975, 77, Spencer W. Kimball

“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. Just think of the possibilities, the potential. Every little boy that has just been born becomes an heir to this glorious, glorious program. When he is grown, he meets a lovely woman; they are married in the holy temple. They live all the commandments of the Lord. They keep themselves clean. And then they become sons of God, and they go forward with their great program—they go beyond the angels, beyond the angels and the gods that are waiting there. They go to their exaltation. You remember in the 132nd section it says that Abraham received all that he received in this same manner, and that Abraham already was on his throne. He had his exaltation. It’s been a long time since he died, of course.”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/11/the-privilege-of-holding-the-priesthood

“The King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith Jr.”

Ensign, Apr 1971, 13–14

God an Exalted Man

“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, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man. 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 instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another. In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. 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; and I will show it from the Bible…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.”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon

God Loves and Helps All of His Children,”

Ensign, Keith B. McMullin, Nov 2008, 75–78

“One of the overarching truths of the Restoration is that God lives and dwells in His heavens, that He is an exalted man with “a body of flesh and bones,”1 and that He is yesterday, today, and forever the same unchangeable God,2 the fountain of all virtue and truth. Adam and Eve were the first of His mortal children upon this earth. Of their advent, He said: “And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”3 This truth elevates the human family. Men and women are wondrous creations endowed with divine attributes. At the time of Creation, God placed in Adam and Eve the supernal capacity to bear children in their likeness. We are all, therefore, in His image.”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/11/god-loves-and-helps-all-of-his-children

Lesson 32: “To Seal the Testimony”, Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, p. 183

Truths about the Godhead

“• What truths about the Godhead were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? (See D&C 130:22–23; Joseph Smith—History 1:17; and the following quotation.) In a sermon given at the funeral of Elder King Follett on 7 April 1844, the Prophet 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 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 instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 345). • Why are the truths about the Godhead that were restored through Joseph Smith important to us? Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “Knowledge of God is the greatest truth in all eternity. … Joseph Smith came to reveal God, in a day of almost total spiritual darkness, in a day when men no longer knew the nature and kind of Being whom they should worship” (“This Generation Shall Have My Word through You,” Ensign, June 1980, 55).”
Link:

https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-32-to-seal-the-testimony?lang=eng

“I Have a Question,”

Ensign, Feb. 1982, 39–40,

“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?”

“Gerald N. Lund, Teacher Support Consultant for the Church Education System: To my knowledge there has been no “official” pronouncement by the First Presidency declaring that President Snow’s couplet is to be accepted as doctrine. But that is not a valid criteria for determining whether or not it is doctrine. Generally, the First Presidency issues official doctrinal declarations when there is a general misunderstanding of the doctrine on the part of many people. Therefore, the Church teaches many principles which are accepted as doctrines but which the First Presidency has seen no need to declare in an official pronouncement. This particular doctrine has been taught not only by Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the Church, but also by others of the Brethren before and since that time. In her biography of her brother, Eliza R. Snow explains the circumstances which led Lorenzo Snow to pen the famous couplet: “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.)

“Lorenzo Snow was baptized a short time later and began his service in the Church. In the spring of 1840 he was called to serve a mission in the British Isles. Before his departure he was in the home of a Church member who was preaching a sermon on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. (See Matt. 20:1–16.) According to Elder Snow, “While attentively listening to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me, and explains Father Smith’s dark saying to me at a blessing meeting in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism. … “As man now is, God once was:” As God now is, man may be.”“I felt this to be a sacred communication, which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England, when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young, in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation.” (Eliza R. Snow, pp. 46–47; italics added. Brigham Young was President of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time.)

“President Snow’s son LeRoi later told that the Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed the validity of the revelation Elder Snow had received: “Soon after his return from England, in January, 1843, Lorenzo Snow related to the Prophet Joseph Smith his experience in Elder Sherwood’s home. This was in a confidential interview in Nauvoo. The Prophet’s reply was: ‘Brother Snow, that is a true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you.’ ” (LeRoi C. Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.) The Prophet Joseph Smith himself publicly taught the doctrine the following year, 1844, during a funeral sermon of Elder King Follett: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! … 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.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, pp. 345–46.) Once the Prophet Joseph had taught the doctrine publicly, Elder Snow also felt free to publicly teach it, and it was a common theme of his teachings throughout his life. About ten years before his death, while serving as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Snow incorporated his original couplet into a longer poem. He addressed the poem to the Apostle Paul, who had written the following to the Philippian Saints: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philip. 2:5–6.)

“Part of the poem reads: The boy, like to his father grown, Has but attained unto his own; To grow to sire from state of son, Is not ’gainst Nature’s course to run. A son of God, like God to be, Would not be robbing Deity. (As cited in LeRoi C. Snow, p. 661.) Numerous sources could be cited, but one should suffice to show that this doctrine is accepted and taught by the Brethren. In an address in 1971, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “I think I can pay no greater tribute to [President Lorenzo Snow and Elder Erastus Snow] than to preach again that glorious doctrine which they taught and which was one of the favorite themes, particularly of President Lorenzo Snow. … “We have been promised by the Lord that if we know how to worship, and know what we worship, we may come unto the Father in his name, and in due time receive of his fulness. We have the promise that if we keep his commandments, we shall receive of his fulness and be glorified in him as he is in the Father. “This is a doctrine which delighted President Snow, as it does all of us. Early in his ministry he received by direct, personal revelation the knowledge that (in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s language), ‘God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens,’ and that men ‘have got to learn how to be Gods … the same as all Gods have done before.’ “After this doctrine had been taught by the Prophet, President Snow felt free to teach it also, and he summarized it in one of the best known couplets in the Church. … “This same doctrine has of course been known to the prophets of all the ages, and President Snow wrote an excellent poetic summary of it.” (Address on Snow Day, given at Snow College, 14 May 1971, pp. 1, 3–4; italics added.) It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today.
Link:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1982/02/i-have-a-question

This Page contains the LDS references for the Blog Post: “Exaltation: As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may?” found at this link:

http://latterdaysaintwoman.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/exaltation-can-you-really-become-a-god/

6 Comments

  1. July 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    The concept that man may become God through the atonement of Jesus Christ is not just an LDS belief. Eastern Orthodox Christians still believe it. Most of the early church fathers in the 1st and 2nd century believed it. Here are two quotes:
    Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, 130 AD-200 AD. Against Heresies, bk. 5, preface
    “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.”
    Clement of Alexandria, 150 AD- 215 AD, “Exhortation to the Heathen”,
    Chapter 1
    “And now the Word Himself clearly speaks to you, shaming your unbelief; yea, I say, the Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God.”

  2. choosethechrist said,

    August 2, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Marcela, LDS and Eastern Orthodox beliefs are NOT the same. The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches a doctrine of theosis which is equivalent to the Western Church’s doctrine of divinization or sanctification. Theosis or sanctification is the process of becoming more like God in character/nature and in no way resembles the teaching of the LDS church’s law of eternal progression/doctrine of exaltation: that a man can literally become a god. I would encourage you to research this further.
    Theosis: Partaking of the Divine Nature @http://www.antiochian.org/content/theosis-partaking-divine-nature
    Deification, Mormonism and The Early Church
    @http://www.neirr.org/Deification.htm
    Did Joseph Smith Restore Theosis? Part One: The Mormon Doctrine of Exaltation (5 Part Series)
    @http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/08/did-joseph-smith-restore-theosis-part-one-the-mormon-doctrine-of-exaltation/
    BECOMING LIKE GOD:
    AN EVANGELICAL DOCTRINE OF THEOSIS
    @http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/40/40-2/40-2-pp257-269_JETS.pdf

  3. August 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I never said the LDS view and Orthodox Christian views on the topic are identical. I think the quotes I gave you on what the Early Church fathers said are rather clear. The LDS concept of the meaning is re-affirmed, or at least not ruled out. If you want to interpret it another way, there is room for that and I respect your interpretation. But I feel deep down that the LDS interpretation is correct. Clement of Alexandria is one of my favorite Early Church Fathers. He also wrote the following, which I think captures the essence and meaning of the power of the atonement at least as good as anything I’ve ever seen.
    “He has changed sunset into sunrise, and through the cross brought death to life; and having wrenched man from destruction, He has raised him to the skies, transplanting mortality into immortality, and translating earth to heaven— He, the husbandman of God, having bestowed on us the truly great, divine, and inalienable inheritance of the Father, deifying man by heavenly teaching, putting His laws into our minds, and writing them on our hearts.”
    “O this holy and blessed power, by which God has fellowship with men! Better far, then, is it to become at once the imitator and the servant of the best of all beings; for only by holy service will any one be able to imitate God, and to serve and worship Him only by imitating Him.”

  4. choosethechrist said,

    August 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

    In my studies on this subject it has been made evident to me that the LDS doctrine of exaltation is clearly derived from pagan beliefs i.e. the Greek culture. The Greek moralists and ancient mysteries taught that a person may be deified by contemplating the eternal and eliminating the sensuous. They also believed many of their gods to be of human origin. Since many early Christians were influenced by Plotinus and NeoPlatonism, divinization found its way into Christianity.

    I think that the quote you have provided actually does more to support the Biblical Christian doctrines than the LDS. For example, God has fellowship with men via the Holy Spirit. We can not serve or worship God until God Himself changes our hearts which can only happen once we are in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit which is God. Christianity teaches that God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are one in the same being (trinity). The LDS teach that the Holy Spirit is not God, but a separate being. We then serve and worship Him “only by imitating Him”. We imitate Him, we do not become Him. Do the LDS ever really have a true union with God the Father while living this lefe since the Holy Spirit is a separate being? Will they ever really have a true union with God the Father if they are simply being made into a seperate literal god? Will they really dwell with God the Father for all eternity in the Celestial Kingdom if they are going to become gods of their own planets while God the Father is dwelling on His own planet? Doesn’t this then imply that the LDS, once they become gods, are then once again separated from God? Aren’t the LDS “eliminating the sensusous” so to speak in an effort to become a god of human origin.

    How did the very 1st LDS god become god? Who did he imitate to become the very 1st God in the LDS heirchy of gods? Whose divine nature did he partake of to enable him to live a worthy life? This statement “inalienable inheritance of the Father” brings another question to mind, do the LDS really have an “inalienable inheritance of the Father”? The “inheritance” of the LDS can be lost based on their obedience or disobedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel.

    This is not so for the Christian because our inheritance can NEVER be lost and is truly “inalienable” because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been reckoned to our accounts. The Holy Spirit, which is God, NEVER leaves the Christian, we are in constant union with God the Father. Not so for the LDS, the Holy Spirit, which is a separate being, leaves the LDS person every time a sin is committed and I have yet to meet an LDS person who is living a life 100% free from sin.

    Athanasius’s Doctrine of Divinization:
    The Word “was made man so that we might be made God” (De Inc 54.3; Robertson 65). Athanasius uses a qualifier on the concept of divinization: Only Christians are divinized. The Word has united himself with humanity, making divinization possible, but it is also necessary for individuals to unite themselves with divinity in a spiritual union. Athanasius’ doctrine of the deification of the Christian in Christ is that we are in Christ because we have been united with God via the Holy Spirit. Our union with the Godhead is through Christ, and that is effected through the Holy Spirit: “The Word became flesh in order…that we, participating in His Spirit, might be deified” (De Decret 14; Kelly 377). “We are divinized by intimate union with the Holy Spirit, who unites us to the Son of God” (Pelikan 1:379, citing Orat 2.59 and Ad Serap 1.23-24). “By participation of the Spirit, we are knit into the Godhead” (Orat 3.24; Pelikan 1:216). There is “sharing” by the Holy Spirit “of the Son with us.”… By a partakability of the Spirit we shall become partakers of the divine nature” (Ad Serap 1.24; Egan 161-162). By the Holy Spirit “the Word makes divine these originated things” (Ad Serap 1.25; Egan 166). All this is done at baptism, which unites us to the Godhead and makes us a child of God (Orat 2.41; 1.34).
    http://www.angelfire.com/md/mdmorrison/hist/DIVINIZ.html

  5. August 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    LDS don’t believe you have to be 100% free of sin to have companionship of the Holy Ghost. Your question about who was first God is like asking when was beginning of time or how does God create stuff. Please don’t destroy your own Christian faith in the process. Sounds like you’re agreeing with me on man can be made God as you’re finding early Christian teachings on the subject. It’s interesting how you’re re-formulating what it actually means to become a God into something that can’t possibly be the LDS belief. In the process you’re making assumptions about LDS doctrine that are just not there. In reality, there is very little in official LDS doctrine that talks about what man becoming God means.

  6. ephesians2810 said,

    August 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    “God Himself who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a Man like unto one of yourselves—that is the great secret! . . . For I am going to tell you how God came to be God and what sort of a being He is. For we have imagined that God was God from the beginning of all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil so you may see. . . . The first principle of truth and of the Gospel is to know for a certainty the character of God, and that . . . He once was a man like one of us and that God Himself, the Father of us all, once dwelled on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did in the flesh and like us.” ~Joseph Smith

    This is NOT the God of the Bible whom Christians worship, God is a Spirit and we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. John 4:24

    Father God, I pray that you will open the eyes of the deceived LDS people who are serving a false man god in idolotry. Please have mercy on their souls, circumsize their sinful hearts, and lead them unto repentance so that you can deliver them from the LDS church and save them by the righteousness of your one and only son. In Jesus name, AMEN.

    Exodus 20: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3″You shall have no other gods before Me.

    Exodus 34:14
    Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

    Deuteronomy 4:24
    For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


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