The following from T&S (14 Jun 2012) is a report by Dave Banack on a discussion between Robert Millet, Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, and Greg Johnson, an Evangelical pastor who runs the Standing Together Ministry in Utah. Together they coauthored Bridging the Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical in 2007.
The conversation included a discussion of deification:
. . . As for the idea that humans can become gods, Millet cited New Testament scriptures such as Romans 8:17 (we can be joint-heirs with Christ), then suggested a better way to phrase the LDS view is that we believe that men and women can become more Christ-like. . . .
In response to this sentence “Course Correction” responded:
So, has Mormon doctrine tossed out the idea of eternal progresion–that we can become gods and create and people our own worlds?
I think Millet’s position is that the way that idea is popularly expressed–that exaltation means becoming a God with a big G and getting your own world to play with in the hereafter–is speculation, not doctrine. He would probably describe the idea of eternal progression as becoming more Christ-like by progressively developing Christ-like attributes of love and long-suffering patience in this life and the next. . .
More generally, Millet argues for defining Mormon doctrine from Mormon texts (scripture) rather than with reference to public speculation of various Mormon leaders of past eras (current Mormon leaders are much better at avoiding doctrinal freelancing).
As is the case with Millet, Banack’s response is a complete surrender to the Evangelicals. (However, I would agree with him that getting your own planet is speculation.) Why do Mormons need to compromise their beliefs on the subject of deification? It’s an important defining doctrine of the LDS Church.
Also, Banack’s complete abandonement of the “King Follett Discourse,” as hinted in the second paragraph, is indeed disturbing. And to asset that modern-day Mormon leaders are better at “avoiding doctrinal freelancing” made my eyes roll.
Theosis, deification, eternal progression, etc. were all an important part of my Mormon upbringing. Let’s not let Millet and Banack speak for all Mormons.