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Geneology of the Gods


Droopy

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Over a number of years, a question has arisen, at least among "internet Mormons", regarding the origin of God the Father, and the relation of that origin to the eternal nature of the plan of salvation as it would normally apply to most of the Father's children within the context of their own eternal development.

On one side are those (the majority, in my experience), who, if well educated in the doctrine of the gospel, are aware of and generally accepting of the concept taught by Joseph Smith (and other General Authorities) that God underwent a process of mortal existence, death, resurrection and ultimate perfection that follows, in substance, an eternal plan and pattern that never had a beginning and will never have an end in the sense of intelligent beings passing through, in some stage of phase, the very same plan. This process has been ongoing from eternity past, and will continue into eternities future; the plan itself being timeless and eternal. This implies explicitly that God the Father himself followed this very plan and obeyed the laws of the very same gospel in the attaining of his exaltation. He lived the gospel, fully obeyed and integrated himself with eternal law, and progressed to a fullness of godhood. These same principles are those which we are following now, and which all gods prior to God the Father followed in attaining to a fullness of Celestial glory.

That is: God the Father, our Father in Heaven, is as much a part of a beginningless eternal family as we; the links welded together with all other gods who have gone before him through the power of the holy Priesthood. Among these gods who have gone before from all eternity past, are the Father's Father, the Father whom he worshipeed and obeyed, while living the same gospel principles as we are now. The Father's Father had a Father, and he had a Father, and so on, back without end into the illimitable abyss of eternity. There is then, according to Joseph, a genealogy of gods just as there is a genealogy of mortals here and of God's spirit children (those descended specifically from our God the Father as spirit sons and daughters).

Some more prominent LDS intellectuals, such as Blake Ostler, have long questioned the doctrinal legitimacy of this concept, and have called into question this doctrine's status as "official" or orthodox LDS teaching. A special status of some kind is ascribed to God the Father, in which he is in some sense removed from this genealogy of eternal progression and development and returned, in some apparent metaphysical sense, to a special status as a kind of LDS first cause, or prime mover, in which he becomes in some way the ultimate ground of his own divine being. If I understand Ostler correctly, he perceives the ideas Joseph taught in History of the Church, and in a similar vein, in the King Follett Discourse, as in some manner undermining or subverting a special status of The Father as, in some greater transcendent sense, a being of ultimate origins; a being who, for whatever reason, is understood to be in some way tarnished or soiled by a conception of him has having ever been "as we are now" in any sense that would place him directly within the mortal sphere as a participant in a mortal probationary experience.

This would seem to return God to an older, sectarian Christian view of God as a being who had, in some sense, always been or been associated with divinity or a special status independent of the eternal developmental paradigm taught by Joseph and the Church (including by a substantial number of General Authorities from that day to this).

Now, President Hinckley made news among our critics some years ago because of the manner in which he avoided a direct and clear answer to the question of whether we, as a Church, taught such a doctrine. Though taken substantially out of context (primarily due to the heavy editing of the discussion in the pop media), President Hinckley (correctly in my view), diverted attention from some of the deepest and profound teachings of the gospel, preferring to downplay its prominence in the Church to casting pearls before swine.

All well and good. Even here, within the last several years, there has been two distinct sides in the argument, some believing Joseph's teachings as definitive, and others taking the position that this is not "official" doctrine, and that perhaps the Father somehow stands outside the eternal developmental paradigm as a kind of transcendent or terminal "ground" of being or existence.

Well, for some reason I missed this, but last night I was reading over some lessons in the 2007 Priesthood manual featuring the teachings of Joseph Smith, and by Crom and Mitra, there in chapter two, on page 40, is the entire offending passage from Joseph's discourse of the plurality of gods:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,--I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form--like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

It would appear then, that those who compile, edit, and correlate our Church curricula for our gospel doctrine, Priesthood, Relief Society, and Institute classes, under the direction and with the approval of the First Presidency and the Council of The Twelve, have approved this doctrine as that which should be taught in our worship meetings as fundamental doctrine.

Joseph expanded upon these concepts in this manner:

If Abraham reasoned thus
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Does this now settled the question as to this concept's status as definitive, settled doctrine, binding on the Saints

I'll place a bet of $2 and change on **NO** to it being settled, definitive doctrine.

Regardless...

I'll bet $100 that I am not bound to except it!

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Do I break the internet Mormon mold since I accept Joseph's clear teachings of an infinite number of Gods who are the progenitors of God our Father?

As far as I'm concerned, it's doctrine. I agree with most of the OP. I would imagine that the only ones who argue that it isn't "official doctrine," which has become an almost meaningless term, are those who don't want to believe it.

Just my two cents.

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Do I break the internet Mormon mold since I accept Joseph's clear teachings of an infinite number of Gods who are the progenitors of God our Father?

As far as I'm concerned, it's doctrine. I agree with most of the OP. I would imagine that the only ones who argue that it isn't "official doctrine," which has become an almost meaningless term, are those who don't want to believe it.

Just my two cents.

Just to be clear, I put the term "internet Mormon" in quotes because I do not take the concept seriously, considering it to be an artificial construct with which our primarily secular apostate critics can play rhetorical games. I don't mean to imply that any such dichotomy exists within LDS culture.

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I guess I'm struggling to see how an infinite regress of Gods works with the scriptures. Those for sure contain official doctrine. There are several scriptures that talk about God being the most High God, the most intelligent being, the God of gods, and things like that. There are also some scriptures that make it very, very clear that God does not change from eternity to eternity. Joseph also made statements affirming these things. Lectures on Faith has statements like this:

We here observe that God is the only supreme governor, and independent being, in whom all fulness and perfection dwells; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnicient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift, and every good principle dwells; and that he is the Father of lights: In him the principle of faith dwells independently; and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers, for life and salvation.

Anyhow, don't think I'm an apostate or a critic, I'm just trying to figure this out. Maybe you could enlighten me.

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I guess I'm struggling to see how an infinite regress of Gods works with the scriptures. Those for sure contain official doctrine. There are several scriptures that talk about God being the most High God, the most intelligent being, the God of gods, and things like that.

I think this verse must also be brought up.

Heb 6

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Of course who made this promise? God the Father or Jesus Christ.

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As a LDS member of the Church, I fully accept and affirm Joseph's teachings regarding God the Father and Jesus Christ, especially as to the truth of Christ's being the Father's only begotten Son in the flesh. We must first understand that specific relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as a Godhead, before we can banter around ideas relating to how many "Fathers in Heaven" there are.

The relational context in which "Gods" without number live and function, as well as the glory that the Father and the Son now possess, makes it virtually impossible for mortal men, (even those enlightened pundits who frequent this board,) to comprehend that glorified existence. Not because we never can attain to it, but because we are not presently given sufficient information from our Father in Heaven that would permit the "unprepared mortal" to even gaze upon the self-sustaining conditions of Eternal Life. The patterns known on earth, (such as family associations, husbands/wives, sons and daughters,) will remain but in a state of perfection that would boggle our earthly minds. We must admit to both member and critic alike that because of those rarified conditions of Celestial life, we would at best be confused and frightened were we shown that realm without God's shield and direct compassionate revelation.

However, is it not plainly taught by the Savior that our (all mankind's) goal is to become like Our Father? And to do this we must be counted as those who have obeyed and believed on His Son. When we are finally clensed and purified, then, and only then can the eternal man fully understand and interactively participate in Celestial realms. Dynamics of both immense spiritual and scientific realities such as dimensions of space and time being altered there, plus the extension of family life within the very fabric and warp of the Celestial sphere will be so advanced in their physics and philosophical underpinnings that all beings who already abide in such a kingdom, will be telepathically and completely one in perfectness of conscious comprehension. Those who only know how to criticize the doctrine by default cut themselves off from the understanding of the revelation regarding the ongoing glorification of the exhalted office of "God the Father." Know ye not that ye are Gods?

In the prior 7 words, we hear the Savior's comments where he proclaimed to His followers, and all that would listen, that in His mortal ministry, he did nothing that he had not seen his Father do before. Christ was literally God's Son, both spiritually and physically, thus giving him the distinct capability and prerequisite power to perform the workings of His sacrifice that wrought the Atonement. All things he did at God the Father's direction. This is the primary role in which we understand that Christ has become "equal" in power and authority with His Father. Christ has promised in numerous revelations that we too can follow Christ, perform and be obedient to God the Father's Laws, with their compassion and loving help, and that once we are cleansed, and presented pure before the Father, we too, will take upon us the divine attributes and infinite love that seemed so difficult in mortality.

Everything that we see in relation to God's work for bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man has to do with authorized delegation of the Father's will. Is it not a fact that in mortality, worthy men are invited to make the oath and covenant of the Priesthood. They become bearers of the lesser priesthood first, so they might learn and grow, helping themselves and others to learn how to serve in lesser capacities. We give these stepping stones of the priesthood to be "deacons, teachers, and priests." Do members balk at the idea that there might be hundreds, thousands, even someday, millions of priests or deacons. No! Does one person being a priest take away anything from another person being a priest. Those who have received the Melchisedek Priesthood have been delegated authority from priesthood leaders. Some may be called to preside, others may be called as Elders, Patriarchs, Apostles. Which of these offices require that there be only one!??? None of them. Even the Prophet and President of the Church indicates that as these mortal men are called from this life, are they released from services... No. Is there more than one prophet of the church who has passed on from this life. No, there are 14 prophets who are working for the salvation of men but in the spirit world.

I propose, (not in any doctrinal way,) but still as a pattern of Christ's church and the Priesthood, that our Father in Heaven is not the only Father in Heaven, but He is the only one we have had revealed to us. God the Father is an office of God's, just as the Name "Jesus Christ" could be a holy calling in all the interations of the plan of salvation for all human spirits, resurrected, and glorified beings.

There is not problem with our Father Who is now reigning in Heavean over all of his off-spring. Be there one or many Gods, is not the problem, because all of them have been granted the authority and power from the council of Gods. Worlds without end. Critics may choke on the concept of the eternities and mortal beings entering that Celestial sphere, as being candidates for Godhood. Yet that is precisely what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as Elohim envision for us... to become like them.

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Why?

Because the spiritual leadership of the church appears to be not in the practice of offering any further definitive statements on the more mysterious points of theology. Although Pres. Hinckley's media interview response was apt for the venue, I believe it is actually indicative of the stance the leadership holds on such issues in relation to the church as well.

A response of "we don't know" or "we have no position", is common place for subjects for which they really don't know. It would take the act of a Seer to change that.

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What I can't understand is why there are those who walk around on egg shells treading lightly on th KFD subject. Let's put it all in perspective. Do we not accept and sustain Joseph Smith as founder, revelator, and prophet of the Lord's church today? We are talking the main man who was given the authority and keys. When he spoke and gave revelation during King Follet's funeral it was recorded, and not even hearsay. What came out of his mouth is revelation that is doctrine, and not subject to wishy washy double speak. If you are a member of this church you accept his word as the wisdom that comes of HF. If you don't like it leave. I'm not flexible on this position. No argument can counter this fact that what comes out of JS mouth is subject to reversal. To question his revelation is to apostatize the church. There should be no dissension among the saints regarding this period. I understand those on the outside not understanding, and arguing their doctrine version, but not Saints. We must be unified, and the GA's need to have the guts to stand up and say this is how it is.

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I think a reason this is so hard to grasp for people is that we cannot understand the Eternal nature of God. The Father sees the past, present and future as one and we know that time is only measured to men. (Alma 40:8 ) Since The Father has attained perfection and Eternal Status, then it is true that He has always been perfect and has infinite power, faith and knowledge. Since it is impossible to have more power faith and knowledge than infinite then no one is more powerful.

When we gain eternal life and have understanding of all eternity, infinite faith and power, the same will be said of us.

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Some more prominent LDS intellectuals, such as Blake Ostler, have long questioned the doctrinal legitimacy of this concept, and have called into question this doctrine's status as "official" or orthodox LDS teaching.

This is why Ostler should not be considered a very reliable source of truth about the LDS Church as he does not know of or agree with the Church's own standard for doctrine.

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I think a reason this is so hard to grasp for people is that we cannot understand the Eternal nature of God. The Father sees the past, present and future as one and we know that time is only measured to men. (Alma 40:8 )

In light of Abraham 3, I think that Alma's statement is simply rhetoric.

"And the Lord said unto me [Abraham], by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob." (Abraham 3:4)

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Because the spiritual leadership of the church appears to be not in the practice of offering any further definitive statements on the more mysterious points of theology. Although Pres. Hinckley's media interview response was apt for the venue, I believe it is actually indicative of the stance the leadership holds on such issues in relation to the church as well.

A response of "we don't know" or "we have no position", is common place for subjects for which they really don't know. It would take the act of a Seer to change that.

Why is an official manual of doctrinal teaching for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published by the Church and initiated and approved of by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve for use in our Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, not to be understood as a "definitive statement"? The "stance the leadership holds" on this issue, as to its ultimate legitimacy as doctrine, appears to have been settled, if any settling was necessary, by the doctrine's inclusion in this series of teaching manuals, and prominently so (the entire elucidation of the doctrine and related concepts takes up an entire page in chapter two of this manual).

I'm not sure at all I understand what you standard here is. What would count for you as a "definitive statement"?

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Why is an official manual of doctrinal teaching for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published by the Church and initiated and approved of by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve for use in our Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, not to be understood as a "definitive statement"? The "stance the leadership holds" on this issue, as to its ultimate legitimacy as doctrine, appears to have been settled, in any settling was necessary, by the doctrine's inclusion in this series of teaching manuals, and prominently so (the entire elucidation of the doctrine and related concepts takes up an entire page in chapter two of this manual).

I'm not sure at all I understand what you standard here is. What would count for you as a "definitive statement"?

We could approach this another way and simply call this a "teaching of the Church" since it's in a manual. Then one has to ask one's self, why would the Church teach anything it didn't consider doctrine? The answer of course is, it wouldn't.

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I think that the scriptures are official teachings as well. Could someone tell me how God could have lived on an earth like us and had a God when there are several scriptures saying he has always been God and does not change: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/tg/g/62

Please note that I am not trying to debate here, but just trying to understand how to believe Joseph Smith's later teachings as well as the scriptures as being true.

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Blake Ostler does not believe he is contradicting anything taught by Joseph Smith. His basic argument is that we have misunderstood Joseph.

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I think that the scriptures are official teachings as well. Could someone tell me how God could have lived on an earth like us and had a God when there are several scriptures saying he has always been God and does not change: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/tg/g/62

Please note that I am not trying to debate here, but just trying to understand how to believe Joseph Smith's later teachings as well as the scriptures as being true.

I posted this is another thread:

In lieu of 1 Corinthians 8:6, there is only one God in which we have anything to do with, our Heavenly Father. That he is "the head one of the gods" must be understood in the context that he is our only God. In the same sermon that we are quoting from, which incidentally was Joseph's final public sermon before the martyrdom (it was given June 16), Joseph said, "I want to set it forth in a plain and simple manner; but to us there is but one God
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Blake Ostler does not believe he is contradicting anything taught by Joseph Smith. His basic argument is that we have misunderstood Joseph.

It appears that Brother Ostler has, in point of fact, misunderstood both Joseph and the Modern Brethren, who, it appears, have not misunderstood Joseph.

At the very least, it is those Brethren I raise my right hand to sustain as prophets, seers and revelators, not Brother Ostler.

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In light of Abraham 3, I think that Alma's statement is simply rhetoric.

"And the Lord said unto me [Abraham], by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob." (Abraham 3:4)

Why is Abraham's statement not 'simply rhetoric'? Kolob was, after all, a teaching device based on ancient views of the cosmos, given for the Egyptians and is a representation of Christ. It may or may not actually exist.

With all the talk of The Father knowing the beginning from the end and with how many times we are told that He is Eternal and even His name is Eternal coupled with the fact that we will have eternal life, how can any one think that time is actually measured to God?

The very fact that we are to have faith in that which has been, and which is, and which is to come, in this life demonstrates that faith is training wheels for us to become like our Father who has all faith, all knowledge and all power. Having a view that God is subject to time and space detracts from his actual power and knowledge. He is beyond all that and He wants us to overcome as well. To equate God with someone who can't die and has really long days is to try to fit Him into things as man understands them. We know that man cannot comprehend all the things which God can comprehend; at least not in this life. Being eternal means more than just existing in time forever. When it is said that God cannot change it doesn't mean that he better not change or he will be in trouble. It means that it is actually impossible for him to change because change takes time and he is Eternally perfected and therefore not subject to change and decay. And because of Christ we can have the same.

Like I said we cannot understand it, so it causes confusion. :P

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Why is Abraham's statement not 'simply rhetoric'?

Alma's statement was his words to his son. The passage in Abraham is in the voice of the Lord, and is more specific and less grandiose than you would typically expect rhetoric to be.

And the idea of God -- or anything, for that matter -- being outside of time is, in my opinion, nonsensical.

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Alma's statement was his words to his son. The passage in Abraham is in the voice of the Lord, and is more specific and less grandiose than you would typically expect rhetoric to be.

So then anything Alma said to his son can now be dismissed. Got it. Also, which Lord, The Father or the Son? Since Kolob represents the Son, I would pick the Latter and He is not who we are talking about.

And the idea of God -- or anything, for that matter -- being outside of time is, in my opinion, nonsensical.

So you believe that God is subject to time. Do you believe that he just finds out what will happen in the future when he comes across it? Is he just a good guesser about what will happen? If you say that God has all knowledge for eternity then you have contradicted yourself as this 'knowledge' of past, present and future proves that God is not subject to time. God is not some indestructible psychic with a long calendar.

I never said God was 'outside of time'. For all we know He could be in every millisecond of time. My contention is that time as we understand it, is nothing to God. Our past, present and future are as one with Him. He has mastered time and is beyond it and its ability to bring change and decay. He could very well be 'outside of time' and the fact that it seems nonsensical to you would just be a good demonstration that man cannot comprehend all the things which God can comprehend (Mosiah 4:9 )

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