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God was a man?


Bernard Gui

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Maybe I'm late with this information. If so, ignore this.

Many critics say the Church is downplaying the doctrine that God was

once a man like us. Let's put it to rest once and for all.

New Gospel Essentials Manual, the one that will be used by the Relief

Society and Priesthood Quorums for instruction in 2010, and thereafter

by the Gospel Essentials class in Sunday School (the class for investigators

and new converts), chapter 47 "Exaltation"

says,

Page 275. "When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our

progression. We could become like him, an exalted being...when life ended,

we would be judged and rewarded according to the degree of our faith and obedience...

exaltations is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory.

He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of

spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father..."

Page 277. "These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:...2. They

will become gods...5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and

Jesus Christ have--all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge."

Page 279. "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."

Let's put this baby to rest.

Bernard

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Nothing's going to cut it until President Monson declares it in every session of General Conference and every First Presidency message.

And then the same people who accuse us of "hiding" our doctrines will just criticize us as being un-Christian.

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Page 279. "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."

Page 279? That's buried pretty deep. Looks like somebody's trying to hide something. wink.gif

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The Joseph Smith manual that we have been using for the past two years also has the Joseph Smith quote in it, so this is old news. But does the Church regularly "teach" or "emphasize" this doctrine? Is it well understood? I don't think so. It may or may not be significant that the Church's current authoritative doctrinal handbook, True to the Faith, is silent on the subject of God the Father's origins.

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So Gordon B. Hinckley's didn't know what he was talking about?

The Church does not emphasize much about God having been a man because it does not have much information about that other than a few most basic assertions made a long time ago. The revealed doctrine is not very complete. We have far much more information and put much more emphasis about becoming Christ-like, which feeds directly into the principle of becoming as God is. We teach a lot about that, but this is only the second half of the "couplet".

So President Hinckley didn't / couldn't say much about the entire couplet in a press interview, especially where the question was, "Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?" His answer, "I don

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I don't think that there is any question that LDS doctrine teaches that God was once mortal.

Concepts attached to that principle that God was a sinner, or that there are generations of Gods fall more into untaught and more mystery-based doctrines.

The God-was-once-mortal doctrine is neither core or clearly articulated as official creedal doctrine. Acceptance of this priniciple is not asked or required in the baptismal interview, is not included in any temple recommend interview, and is not often discussed or taught. I can perfectly accept that some members of the Church do not believe this concept. It has no bearing on their acceptance in full fellowship in the Church.

I do believe that as a non-central (nearly borderline doctrinal mystery) doctrine, it is not commonly taught or emphasized in the Church. However, it was clearly enough disclosed that by the second missionary lesson I fully knew and understood the doctrine when I was taking the missionary lessons. I joined the Church fully and completely understanding this principle. Nothing in this regard was held back from me. My LDS friends were quite open about the concept.

I believe that the accusations that we Latter Day Saints do not teach this doctrine falls under that ol' antiMormon demand that we teach to the antiMormon script...that we are supposed to teach Mormonism and its controversies as they wish it to be. Instead, we teach the Gospel and its principles in a manner befitting the proper place and need for helping members progress toward having the full and eternal blessings offered by a loving Father in Heaven...through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Regards,

Six

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So Gordon B. Hinckley's didn't know what he was talking about?

Actually, I think that President Hinckley got it about right. In the context of the interview, the topic, and the specific question, I think he answered in a manner that was fair and honest...but did avoid a more complete explanation. To answer honestly...and at the same time avoide opening a topic up to greater controversy is not ignorant or dishonest.

Regards,

Six

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Hinckley was asked a very simple "Yes/No" question

President Hinckley's response to the question about the first half of the couplet honors the limited scope of the question, which cannot be fairly answered with a simple "yes or no" response. As with most press interviews, the question could not have been part of a very simple "Yes/No" line of questioning, otherwise it would have been propaganda.

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Since this thread seems to be going in the direction of parsing what President Hinckley said in a Time Magazine interview in 1997...here is the relevant question and answer in context:

Q: ...about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?

A: I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it.

(Emphasis mine)

To me, the question focused less on the concept that God was once mortal...and more on the notion that God was like we are.

If that was the thrust of the question...President Hinckley nailed the answer. The who-what-where-when-how of the nature of God in his mortal existance is pretty much a mystery. We do not emphasize the concept. We don't really teach it beyond rare mentions, it is not a part of our public discourse, we do not know all of the circumstances about it. The nature of God during his mortal existance is pretty much an unknown in revealed LDS theology.

I also take the use of "I don't know" to be a figurative way of expressing disagreement rather than ignorance. It is an idiomatic expression that I use when I want to express disagreement in a polite way. At least that is how I often use the phrase.

Regards,

Six

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The Church does not emphasize much about God having been a man because it does not have much information about that other than a few most basic assertions made a long time ago. The revealed doctrine is not very complete. We have far much more information and put much more emphasis about becoming Christ-like, which feeds directly into the principle of becoming as God is. We teach a lot about that, but this is only the second half of the "couplet".

So President Hinckley didn't / couldn't say much about the entire couplet in a press interview, especially where the question was, "Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?" His answer, "I don

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So, why are LDS, or many, so afraid of this doctrine? Why the fear? Who cares what the rest of the world thinks?

This very doctrine is one of the things that make the Gospel so real and true to me.

I have wondered if the way Pres. Hinckley worded his statement was to make the Church not seem so different from other churches. It has felt to me that there has been a push to seem more like others than to be a "peculiar people". I have to admit, the wording of the statement has always bothered me, granted I am not a prophet and do not lead this church, but it seems like what to me is a core goal of the Gospel seems to be evaded. I tend to see more absolutes, but it seems to me a toning down of a powerful doctrine.

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So, why are LDS, or many, so afraid of this doctrine? Why the fear? Who cares what the rest of the world thinks?

This very doctrine is one of the things that make the Gospel so real and true to me.

I think it had to do with GBH, he said what he said and then the general leadership didn't clear it up for obvious reasons, they were protecting the office of the prophet. Along with God being a man other teachings were then debated...i.e. eternal progression.

Mark

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The Joseph Smith manual that we have been using for the past two years also has the Joseph Smith quote in it, so this is old news. But does the Church regularly "teach" or "emphasize" this doctrine? Is it well understood? I don't think so. It may or may not be significant that the Church's current authoritative doctrinal handbook, True to the Faith, is silent on the subject of God the Father's origins.

I would have to disagree in part. "True to the Faith" (2004) is not intended to be

an exhaustive treatment of LDS doctrine. "Gospel Essentials" (2009) is post-Pres. Hinckley.

If this doctrine has been changed or is in doubt,

it would not have been included in the new edition.

Since it has not been expunged and will be taught to every adult member

and future member, I think we can safely say it is official Church doctrine,

without having to parse President Hinckley's response to Larry King

ever again.

Bernard

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Page 279? That's buried pretty deep. Looks like somebody's trying to hide something. wink.gif

And it probably is not noted in the index. Further evidence of obfuscation.

Bernard

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Can't you complicate it first? Just a little while longer?

Judging by some of the responses here, it doesn't clear things up a bit.

Bernard

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There will always be complications because JS's teachings were basic and not complete. To state that we will become like God is evident even in orthodox Christian teachings. The question that continues to puzzle, at least to me, is that God was once a man. To me this entails that God was a homo sapiens. I am not sure this is what JS meant only that God was, at one time, corporeal and progressed within the doctrine of theosis to God. Am I wrong?

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There will always be complications because JS's teachings were basic and not complete. To state that we will become like God is evident even in orthodox Christian teachings. The question that continues to puzzle, at least to me, is that God was once a man. To me this entails that God was a homo sapiens. I am not sure this is what JS meant only that God was, at one time, corporeal and progressed within the doctrine of theosis to God. Am I wrong?

This is what we know:

Page 279. "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."

If the course of God is one eternal round, and we are doing what has been done

on other worlds, I have no problem believing the above statement. Seems to me

that the atonement of Christ would have to have limits if it were not true.

Bernard

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No! No! Please, no!

The critics need to milk this one for another two or three decades at least.

Stranger things have happened.

Why aren't you in bed getting some sleep before your trip?

Bernard

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