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We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

 

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?  

 

I know this can start getting into the who begat God then thing etc, etc, thinking... and now my brain hurts!  :-)

 

Anyway - does anyone here have thoughts or sources addressing the matter?

 

Cheers,

 

MP

 

Edited: to fix spelling

Edited by Maestrophil
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3 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

 

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?  

 

I know this can start getting into he who begat God then etc, etc, thinking... and now my brain hurts!  :-)

 

Anyway - does anyone here have thoughts or sources addressing the matter?

 

Cheers,

 

MP

If God was once a man, did he ever sin?  Who was God's father? How did it all get started (succession of gods)? Who was the first God? ......my head hurts too.....these are some of the questions I don't find answers to, as well as your questions above. I've thought about these questions since I was a kid.

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23 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption? 

I’ve looked at how the term “as though” is used for some very concrete concepts in the Gospel. When a child is sealed to parents, he has the same blessings, etc. and becomes as though he was born in the covenant. Just looking up a few more examples in the Book of Mormon:

“…the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made…”

“And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.”

“…look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.”

“And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.”

“Behold, I speak unto you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words.”

God is as though He always was God. That is what the state of atonement engages, So yes, He is "Atoned" ("At-one"; "I am that I am" and so forth). We have the same privilege if we live as though the redemption is real and effective for us!

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19 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I’ve looked at how the term “as though” is used for some very concrete concepts in the Gospel. When a child is sealed to parents, he has the same blessings, etc. and becomes as though he was born in the covenant. Just looking up a few more examples in the Book of Mormon:

“…the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made…”

“And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.”

“…look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.”

“And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.”

“Behold, I speak unto you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words.”

God is as though He always was God. That is what the state of atonement engages, So yes, He is "Atoned" ("At-one"; "I am that I am" and so forth). We have the same privilege if we live as though the redemption is real and effective for us!

But how did he achieve that atonement?

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“As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?

 

Only two possibilities spring to mind

Joseph seems to imply that Heavenly Father was once a Christ as Jesus is here and therefore needed no atonement:

  •  He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease for ever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon.) The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, “As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power”–to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious–in a manner, to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again.

Brigham Young taught the Heavenly Father (Adam) became God by following his Savior and partaking in an atonement:

  • I tell you simply he is our father; the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the father of our spirits . . . I say he was not made of the dust of the ground of this earth, but he was made of the dust of the earth where he lived, where he honored his calling, believed in his Savior, or elder brother, and by his faithfulness, was redeemed and got a glorious resurrection

These may seem contradictory on the surface, but if Joseph was subtly alluding to Adam-God (as Brigham claimed to have learned from Joseph) then Adam/Heavenly Father laid his immortal life down and took it up again on this earth, an event the pre-mortal Christ would have witnessed and duplicated.  Which makes both teachings consistent.  How else could Christ have watched Heavenly Father laying down his life and becoming immortal again if he hadn't been created?

Edited by JLHPROF
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59 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

 

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?  

 

I know this can start getting into the who begat God then thing etc, etc, thinking... and now my brain hurts!  :-)

 

Anyway - does anyone here have thoughts or sources addressing the matter?

 

 

I wouldn't worry about the so-called "couplet".  I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I think we might be able to understand the philosophical background behind it, but other than that we don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.

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2 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I wouldn't worry about the so-called "couplet".  I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I think we might be able to understand the philosophical background behind it, but other than that we don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.

Joseph and Brigham and Joseph F. and Heber and lots of other people knew plenty about it.

I think we stopped knowing at some point for some reason.  Might have had something to do with trying to look more protestant...

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17 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

But how did he achieve that atonement?

I don't know exactly, but it is as though He always achieved it, just as He achieves it now. I've heard the comparison of divine forgiveness with a nail being pulled out of a board: there is absolutely no evidence that there ever was a nail hole in it at all, and no one can tell. I'm a convert, but I feel as though i was a member all my life; I'm married 35 years but I feel as though we've lived one life all along.

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13 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I wouldn't worry about the so-called "couplet".  I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I think we might be able to understand the philosophical background behind it, but other than that we don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.

Hey, I recognize those words!

Interesting that when Pres. Hinckley was asked if Mormons believe that God was once a man, he replied, "I wouldn't say that".

Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?

 

A: I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.

 

Q: So you’re saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

 

A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.1

 

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.

 

Edited by pogi
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13 minutes ago, pogi said:

 when Pres. Hinckley was asked if Mormons believe that God was once a man, he replied, "I wouldn't say that".

I would.

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14 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I would.

Not all of us do though.

So at most I would say that only some of us "Mormons" believe that he was "once a man", and I would also say he still is.

Edited by Ahab
typo
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1 hour ago, snowflake said:

If God was once a man, did he ever sin?  Who was God's father? How did it all get started (succession of gods)? Who was the first God? ......my head hurts too.....these are some of the questions I don't find answers to, as well as your questions above. I've thought about these questions since I was a kid.

Did Christ sin? Is he a God?

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7 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Not all of us do though.

So at most I would say that only some of us "Mormons" believe that he was "once a man", and I would also say he still is.

If He wasn't this would mean that what Joseph Smith said about him in the King Follett discourse is wrong.

I think our God the Father was once a man in a separate universe that had its own Heavenly Father and Savior. I don't know if our God the Father was the Savior for that universe but I don't think He had to be. I am not a savior for this universe, but I am told I can be exalted and as a god create my own universe and people.

 

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2 minutes ago, JAHS said:

If He wasn't this would mean that what Joseph Smith said about him in the King Follett discourse is wrong.

I think our God the Father was once a man in a separate universe that had its own Heavenly Father and Savior. I don't know if our God the Father was the Savior for that universe but I don't think He had to be. I am not a savior for this universe, but I am told I can be exalted and as a god create my own universe and people.

 

Not every Mormon would agree with you, either.

Or with what Joseph said at King Follett's funeral. 

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1 hour ago, Maestrophil said:

We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?  

I know this can start getting into the who begat God then thing etc, etc, thinking... and now my brain hurts!  :-)

Anyway - does anyone here have thoughts or sources addressing the matter?

Cheers,

MP

Edited: to fix spelling

Hello Maestrophil,

I am one of those stunted Mormons who has never liked or appreciated the couplet or the King Follet Discourse for that matter.  Not exactly because of what is said, but because of what is not said and the numberless questions that both open.

Here is what works for me.  God has always been God and there was never a time when he was not God; the Son likewise.  Jesus was always the second member of the Godhead even though he came down to this earth, was crucified, and was resurrected.  Neither the Son or the Father have ever needed an atonement were it not so the Savior could have never justified an atonement for all of us.  

The couplet makes more sense to me when it is applied solely through the lens of the Son - he is our intermediary and eternal example to the Father.  

Lastly, I don't know the answer to many things.  The conclusions above are used as markers for me.  For some it works to say I don't know and be okay about it.  These conclusions above could be wrong; I am not committed to them as eternal truths, though they do ring true to me.  

 

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1 hour ago, Storm Rider said:

Here is what works for me.  God has always been God and there was never a time when he was not God; the Son likewise.  Jesus was always the second member of the Godhead even though he came down to this earth, was crucified, and was resurrected.  Neither the Son or the Father have ever needed an atonement were it not so the Savior could have never justified an atonement for all of us. 

I respect your right to believe that, but I find it completely at odds with the restored gospel (not just the KFD, but pretty much everything post-Kirtland).
But goodness knows I have some unorthodox beliefs too.

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4 hours ago, Maestrophil said:

We were discussing the infinite nature of the atonement in Sunday School this week.  As people were opining on what 'infinite" meant, the famous couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” came to my mind.  That started me wondering about how the atonement applies to this...

 

Does this mean that Heavenly Father himself needed an atonement?  Was that atonement retroactively provided by His son?  Did God live a perfect life like unto the Savior and not need redemption?  

 

I know this can start getting into the who begat God then thing etc, etc, thinking... and now my brain hurts!  :-)

 

Anyway - does anyone here have thoughts or sources addressing the matter?

 

Cheers,

 

MP

 

Edited: to fix spelling

I have a thought:

I think what would help is an example of somebody like Howard.  (Howard was a person who sinned but got exalted anyway through the power of the Atonement of his Savior)

The reason I think we need an example of someone like Howard is to show that it is possible for a person to be exalted even though he was once a sinner.

And it might also help to have an example of someone like Dorothy too, just to show that it can also happen to a woman as well as a man.

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The amount of confusion and different opinions in questions like the OP is flabbergasting to me.  Does anyone think about where all the knowledge of the beliefs come from?  They mostly all originate with one person, Joseph Smith.  That's a lot to pin on one person who has such a questionable background.

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7 minutes ago, Sanpitch said:

The amount of confusion and different opinions in questions like the OP is flabbergasting to me.  Does anyone think about where all the knowledge of the beliefs come from?  They mostly all originate with one person, Joseph Smith.  That's a lot to pin on one person who has such a questionable background.

I'm not confused about anything Joseph said.  I'd just like to know more and more about the ideas he had that I also know God inspired him to have.

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25 minutes ago, Sanpitch said:

The amount of confusion and different opinions in questions like the OP is flabbergasting to me.  Does anyone think about where all the knowledge of the beliefs come from?  They mostly all originate with one person, Joseph Smith.  That's a lot to pin on one person who has such a questionable background.

I find NOTHING about his background questionable.
I consider him the head of this dispensation, and therefore an equal with Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I respect your right to believe that, but I find it completely at odds with the restored gospel (not just the KFD, but pretty much everything post-Kirtland).
But goodness knows I have some unorthodox beliefs too.

What may be even worse is that I find it fits perfectly with what we teach as the gospel.  One of the beauties of the gospel is that these beliefs that have nothing to do with salvation are just that - things that have nothing to do with salvation.  

I admit I may be at odds with Joseph and Brigham, but it would not be the first time found this type of conflict.  I try, but it just is going to take me longer than most others.  

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54 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I find NOTHING about his background questionable.
I consider him the head of this dispensation, and therefore an equal with Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

Maybe so, but my thoughts on the subject sometimes turn to: 

Jeremiah 17:5 New International Version

This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

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12 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

What may be even worse is that I find it fits perfectly with what we teach as the gospel.  One of the beauties of the gospel is that these beliefs that have nothing to do with salvation are just that - things that have nothing to do with salvation.  

I admit I may be at odds with Joseph and Brigham, but it would not be the first time found this type of conflict.  I try, but it just is going to take me longer than most others.  

The doctrine that men can become eternal Gods, and women can become eternal Goddesses, quite literally has EVERYTHING to do with the Gospel of salvation. A member of the LDS Church may deny our God was once a mortal man (precisely as we are now) but it cannot be denied that the LDS standard works teach men and women can become EXACTLY like God. See the following, along with my logical commentary inserted in the parentheses):

 19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them (both the man AND the woman) the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye (both the man and the woman) shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights  and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels (they shall be greater than the angels), and the gods which are set there (they shall inherit an even higher state of exalted glory than celestial beings in heaven who are called gods), to their exaltation and glory in all things (i.e. nothing pertaining to a fullness of eternal glory will be withheld from them) as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness (the complete fullness of all things eternity has to offer) and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever (having the everlasting power to produce spirit children, just like our God) .

 20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end (just like our God); therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting (this one is especially interesting because it confers the very everlastingness of the eternal God, of whom it is said he had no beginning, upon beings who were once existed in a fallen/mortal state), because they continue; then shall they be above all (not just above some things or almost all things) because all things are subject unto them (they will reign as eternal kings and queens over ALL things in a role that appears to be suspiciously just like the role of our God). Then shall they be gods (gods who are even greater than the aforementioned "gods" mentioned in verse 19), because they have all power (not just some power or a lot of power) and the angels are subject unto them.

A member of the Church may not believe our God once experienced an earthly probation, but one thing is for sure: the spirit children of the future gods and goddesses, spoken of in Doctrine and Covenants 132, will be ruled over by beings (those of us who hopefully inherit the fullness of the promises set forth in D&C 132) who once existed in a fallen earthly state. So then, why should we not also conclude that our God was once a man who successfully conquered the fallen nature, overcame all things, and inherited the fullness of eternal glory promised to the fully faithful?

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