LDS Articles of Faith, Part V
Article I--God The Father, cont'd.
In part I of this series of articles we mentioned that Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith taught that God the Father was once a man who lived on an earth like ours and through Eternal Progression He became our God (see The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-346). That is what Mormonism teaches today. Smith also taught that we can follow in God’s footsteps and become Gods too if we obey all the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church. Smith said that is how God and His Father and others became Gods (Ibid. p. 373). If God was a man who became God, is it possible for Him to cease to be God? The Bible answers that question in Psalm 90:2, “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” That means He has always been God and always will be God. Nothing in the Bible even hints at the idea that God has ever been anything else or ever will be anything else but the Eternal God of the universe.
The Book of Mormon agrees with the Bible concerning God in Moroni 8:18 where it says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Obviously, if God has been unchangeable from eternity past to eternity future, He could never have been a fallen man who was redeemed and then progressed to the point where He became our God as Mormonism teaches!
But neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon have the final word to Mormons since they have other scriptures and latter day prophets and apostles. W. Cleon Skousen was a popular Mormon writer who is known for his book, The Naked Communist. But Skousen also wrote and lectured on Mormon theology and was a good friend to several LDS Prophets who never challenged or corrected what he taught. Notice what he wrote in his book The First 2,000 Years on pp. 355-356: “Through modern revelation we learn that the universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain Him as such…Therefore, the Father is actually dependent upon their sustaining influence or honor to accomplish His purposes…God’s ‘power’ is derived from the honor and support of the intelligences over whom He rules…It is apparent from these and other scriptures that the present exalted position of our Heavenly Father was gradually built up…But since God ‘acquired’ the honor and sustaining influence of ‘all things’ it follows as a corollary that if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or ‘sense of justice’ of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the ‘power’ of God would disintegrate…’He would cease to be God.’ Our Heavenly Father can do only those things which the intelligences under Him are voluntarily willing to support Him in accomplishing.”
Skousen’s description of “God the Father” in the above quotation cannot be the God of the Bible who is called “Almighty” at least 53 times! “Almighty” means He has “all power” which is also the definition of “Omnipotent,” another word that describes His unlimited power. Skousen said God’s power is dependent upon the sustaining influence of the “intelligences” over which he rules. That means that those He rules over actually have power over Him, so He cannot be Almighty or Omnipotent. In the same book Skousen said on p. 354 “We speak of our Heavenly Father as being omnipotent—all powerful. But that does not mean that He is free to do anything capricious or arbitrary. God is omnipotent, but only within the circumscribed boundaries of law, truth, and justice. He cannot violate these or He would cease to be God.” But whose “circumscribed boundaries of law, truth and Justice” is Skousen talking about? Are these requirements from the intelligences over which God rules? If so, He cannot be Almighty or Omnipotent! Any limits on what the God of the Bible can or can’t do are put there by God Himself. For example II Timothy 2:13 says, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” When the God of the Bible says He will do something He is not dependent on any of His creation to make it happen like the “God” Skousen described.
We have been discussing the first part of the first LDS Article of Faith which says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father…” But that statement tells almost nothing about what LDS leaders and scripture teach about God. Here is a brief summary of things our articles have thus far shown that LDS scripture and LDS leaders have taught about “God the Eternal Father:”
1. Even though the Book of Mormon teaches one triune God in II Nephi 31:21, Alma 11:44 and Mormon 7:7, Joseph Smith and the LDS Church reject the doctrine of the trinity.
2. Joseph Smith and the LDS Church claim God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are actually three separate Gods who work in unison.
3. Although the first LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe in God the Eternal Father…” that does not mean that God has always been God. Eternal is just one of His names.
4. LDS teach that God was once a man on another planet. He lived and died and was then resurrected and through “Eternal Progression” He became a God just like His Father did.
5. LDS believe devout LDS men today can also become Gods. The fifth LDS Prophet, Lorenzo Snow coined the couplet, “As man is, God once was; as God is man may become.”
6. LDS scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 130:22 says God the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s because they believe He is a resurrected, glorified man.
7. Doctrine & Covenants 93:29 says, “Man was in the beginning with God” and LDS believe that God and all people have always existed first as “intelligences” then we were born as baby spirits to God and one of His wives and finally born as mortals here on earth. If we obey all the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church we can progress to Godhood after we are resurrected.
8. Joseph Smith said, “The doctrine of the plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.370). The Bible does not teach a plurality of true Gods. But The Pearl of Great Price in Abraham chapters 4 and 5 teaches a plurality of Gods and so does Doctrine & Covenants in Section 132.
9. The 2nd LDS Prophet, Brigham Young, said of the first man Adam, “He is our Father and our God and the only God with whom we have to do” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50). Young and others taught that doctrine for many years, even though some Mormons never accepted it.
10. While the first LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father,” it does not say, “We believe that God the Father’s wife is our Eternal Heavenly Mother.” But in the LDS website “Gospel Topics” section under the title “Mother in Heaven” it says, “The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.”
Next time we will discuss the first LDS Article of Faith concerning Jesus Christ.