To my followers who jumped on my tiny bandwagon for the fun posts, I apologize: It’s about to get seriously philosophical up in here.
It’s about time I admitted that I’m Mormon. Some time I’ll explain why I’ve kept away from the subject, and I’ll explain why some other time (It basically boils down to wanting to post on general Christian topics and not have people say “ewwww you’re Mormon, therefore you’re lame and your opinion doesn’t count”), but I had to bring it up, because there are wayyyyyyyy too many interesting things going on in Mormonism these days not to talk about it. So this evening, I want to talk about this believe that’s been flying around (especially since the book of Mormon musical’s release) about Mormon’s getting planets. The Church recently released some “clarification” on the subject, calling it a false, unfair caricature. That is more or less true… sort of… but not really. See, in the same breath, the statements are that we believe that we can become like God, which basically means we can gain his knowledge and understanding (and by extension, the ability to create worlds and life). As this well researched article points out, the church’s response to the subject is somewhat disingenuous, and could get the church caught in some hot water.
Here’s the thing. The LDS church is making a greater effort to cozy up to mainstream Christianity. And I think it is great. In this age of increased skepticism toward all religion, it is increasingly important for us to put aside our differences and show that we can find the common ground, work together, and love each other in spite of differences of opinion. All Christians (And Mormons ARE Christians, even though some will cite doctrines like this one to make the claim that we aren’t) need to come together, or we might just sink ourselves.
So good for the LDS church for wanting to appeal to the mainstream by shunning some less popular/archaic ideas. But please. Not this one. The world needs concepts like this. The doctrine of becoming like God is one that allows us to be something greater than we believe we can be. It’s about learning to achieve our full potential. In a world where people are constantly knocking each other down, I think we need doctrines like this, that inspire us to rise up. So rather than apologize for this belief, I would like to offer up a few scriptural reasons why I think the Mormon doctrine of becoming like God falls right in line with what the Bible and Christ himself taught.
5. First of all, where in the Bible does it preclude this idea?
I’m starting with a seemingly lame argument, but I want to get it out of the way, because I feel like it’s worth saying. As far as I can understand, the only reason that folks say this belief isn’t “Christian” is because 1. The Bible says there is only one God, and if we can become like God doesn’t mean there are multiple Gods? and 2. Satan was cast out for wanting God’s glory. While I understand those arguments, I think they are not fair in interpreting the doctrine. They assume that because God wants us to have his knowledge, that we are saying we’ll be somehow superior to him, which I don’t think we are, and I don’t think it’s blasphemous in the way that the story depicts Lucifer. Anyway, I realize that isn’t much of an argument by itself, so lets move on.
4. The parables.
Jesus taught quite a few parables in the New Testament, and among those, several include a master that represents God. I would like to reference a few here. the First is the parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25. In it, the faithful servants receive the same response: “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (from KJV, in ESV bible the Lord uses softer language, saying “I will set you over much.” the effect is still the same). In this parable, the master gives his faithful great abundance, and even makes them “rulers” because of their faithfulness. Sounds kinda like he’s elevating them to a similar status to himself, right?
How about the parable of the prodigal son (From Luke 15)? at the end of that one, we have the lost son returning, and the father rejoicing, throws a huge celebration to honor his return. When the faithful son questions him, the father responds, “thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine…” here we have an example of the man representing the Lord setting the expectation that the faithful receiving not just a portion of the father’s glory, but he is literally promised all that his father has. This phrase is often overlooked since the main focus of the parable is the lost son returning (if you look up the ESV the meaning is exactly the same “All I have is yours)
The parable of the faithful servant is another, (From Luke 12). in that verse, the wording of the parable is even more direct. “42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.”
There’s that “all” word again. It seems like, very frequently, when Christ told a parable dealing with the kingdom of heaven, the punchline was the same: if you’re faithful, you get ALL the father has.
But those are just parables, right? they’re only metaphorical. Well, I suppose you can ignore my interpretation, but it seems odd that the wording remains consistent. Why not believe that in the next life we’ll receive all the things Mormons believe we’ll receive? But lets look elsewhere, since I suspect you’ll be prone to dismiss this argument, since “it’s just a metaphor.”
3. Heirs of God
If you want something a bit less metaphorical, take these verses from Romans 8:
17 And if children, then heirs; Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Wait a minute… what is Paul saying here? doesn’t an heir mean you get everything? or at least a significant amount? he’s saying that the faithful are literal heirs of God. Furthermore, he says Joint heirs (or Co-heirs if you look at newer translations) with Christ. That wording seems dangerously close to making us potentially equal with Christ if we are faithful. I just don’t know how else you can interpret that. doesn’t seem like it could be a metaphor.
2. Ye are Gods
In John 10, Christ is confronted by zealots who try to corner him, accusing him of blasphemy for saying he is one with the father, and he responds: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” this in reference to psalm 84, where it says “6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”
again, here the implication of potential to not just be children of God, but the implication, to me, seems to be that God wants his children to become like him, just like any good, loving earthly parent wants his/her child to have everything and more than what they have. Which brings me to my last point.
1. The Sermon on the Mount
God is compared to earth parents in the sermon on the mount. in Matthew 7 Christ explains:
ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then… know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Now I may be stretching this scripture a bit, but stay with me. again, God is compared to a parent. As I already mentioned, our parents want the best for us. As a parent myself, I have aspirations for my daughter that she will be greater than me. That she will be all that I am (at least the good parts) and much more. Likewise, why on earth wouldn’t God want the same thing for his children? you really think God wants us to be eternally less than him? eternally inferior? That just doesn’t make much sense. if that’s the case, why elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount, did Christ say “Be ye perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” Why that wording. We know we can’t be perfect in this life. So why bother to say so? Perhaps, because the hope is that we CAN become like God through continued progression in the next life, as Mormons believe? To me, that seems the most reasonable explanation (with the other reason being that Christ told us to be perfect so churches could make us constantly feel guilty for not measuring up *Winky Face*)
So there it is: 5 reasons that the idea of becoming like God (and yes, even perhaps creating things as grandiose as worlds) goes hand in hand with the Bible. As I said before, this is a doctrine we need today. It’s positive, and it encourages us to reach farther, to expect more from ourselves, and to believe that we can be more than what we are now. The church can (and should) apologize for a number of doctrines if they want (Blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, and other issues readily come to mind) but please do not apologize or dilute this doctrine just to seem more mainstream. This is one of the richest doctrines of Mormonism, and if we take steps to chip away at it, eventually one of the most vibrant ideas of the church will be whittled away to nothing. We do need to forge new bonds with the mainstream, but if we go too far, then the LDS Church could become “just another church.” And I don’t want that. After all. It’s no fun to blog about “just another church.”