Updated: 2 Mar 2014
In a recent Mormon encyclical, there is a fairly detailed discussion on the subject of “Becoming Like God.” The posting is under “General Topics” at lds.org. I find the discussion generally well done:
Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. Each has an eternal core and is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.”
While many Christian theologians have expressed the magnitude of the Savior’s Atonement by emphasizing human depravity, Latter-day Saints understand the magnitude of the Atonement of Christ in terms of the vast human potential it makes possible.
Likewise, while few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities.
I would encourage everyone–particularly Mormon transhumanists–to read the posting carefully. Robert Kirby–humorist and Mormon theologian–has an interesting take on the subject:
Anyway, the church recently issued a statement regarding Mormons believing human beings can become gods or that God was once a man. Just how much this is a solid part of Mormon doctrine is a subject for debate by people with more time than I have.
I have a few general comments from TRW who apparently has too much time:
- I wish the discussion had dealt more with the nature of God, particularly the issue of whether He continues to progress. Quotes from Brigham Young indicate a strong belief that He is eternally progressing. However, this idea was roundly discounted by Bruce R. McConkie.
- I wish the idea of eternal progression had been better developed. For example, the idea that you can take what knowledge you gain is this life into the hereafter is one of the beautiful doctrines of Mormonism. When it comes to the concept of eternal progression and the creation, Mormons could learn a lot from writings and verbiage of Process Theologians. The concept that everything is in an eternal state of flux (and will continue to be for eternity) runs parallel with Mormon beliefs about eternal progression.
- The question of whether Mormons are polytheists is not well answered. The response deals with the relationship between Christ and God the Father, but not with the future status of God’s children. And isn’t our eternal Mother also a god?
- The posting is too defensive about the concept of “getting your own planet.” This idea is pretty much discounted in the posting. But in reality, couldn’t that be a possibility for some? Who knows what “our creative potential will be in the eternities”? The word “planet” becomes a euphemism for unlimited potential.
- While the essay is critical of non-Mormon caricatures like having your own planet,” it then takes a shot at other Christians: “a cloud and harp are hardly a satisfying image of eternal joy.” It would have been better to take the high road here.
The following is a comment by Richard Bushman–LDS historian and author–taken from a write-up in sltrib.com:
[The posting] defines a boundary of what we truly believe and also tries to make it as appealing as possible. It sort of puts the caricature of the Mormons owning their own planet in perspective. In a way, it dismisses it, but it goes on to say this is a respect for the powers of God and creation, and suggests that we may have a part in it.
Note: At the end of the LDS posting there is the following statement:
The Church acknowledges the contribution of scholars to the content presented in this article; their work is used with permission.
We need to know the names of these scholars.