God was once a man

 
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Why do some Mormons give the impression that Mormon Doctrine does not include the belief that God was once a man?


Question: "Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?"

mormon racismHinckley: "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."
- Interviewing Gordon B. Hinckley, Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997
http://home.teleport.com/~packham/gbh-god.htm

Question: "Don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?"

Hinckley: "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."
- Interviewing Gordon B. Hinckley, San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997, p 3/Z1

Church apologists explain Hinckley's public statements:

"The real question should be, is President Snow's couplet an accurate reflection of LDS doctrine? Everything Latter-day Saints teach about God is in agreement with the rest of the Christian world, with the exception of His nature. Joseph Smith said God is in the same form as we are, because we were created in His image as the Bible plainly and clearly tells us... But again, we do not emphasize Heavenly Father's past, but the possibility of our future.
- The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research
(FAIR)

From this Mormon apologist rhetoric, you'd think that fundamental Mormon doctrine does not include God once being a man.

What has the Mormon Church consistently taught as doctrine from 1844 to 2005?

mormon god"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us. Here, then, is eternal life--to know that only wise and true God, and you have got to learn how to become Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you. .. God himself, the father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ."
- The Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-345, also quoted heavily by the church, see Gospel Principles, Chapter 47.

"The idea that the Lord our God is not a personage of tabernacle is entirely a mistaken notion. He was once a man. Brother Kimball quoted a saying of Joseph the Prophet, that he would not worship a God who had not a Father; and I do not know that he would if be had not a mother; the one would be as absurd as the other. If he had a Father, he was made in his likeness. And if he is our Father we are made after his image and likeness. He once possessed a body, as we now do; and our bodies are as much to us, as his body to him. Every iota of this organization is necessary to secure for us an exaltation with the Gods."
- Prophet Brigham Young, True Character of God, Salt Lake Tabernacle, February 23, 1862, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, p.286

"What, is it possible that the Father of Heights, the Father of our spirits, could reduce himself and come forth like a man? Yes, he was once a man like you and I are and was once on an earth like this, passed through the ordeal you and I pass through. He had his father and his mother and he has been exalted through his faithfulness, and he is become Lord of all. He is the God pertaining to this earth. He is our Father. He begot our spirits in the spirit world. They have come forth and our earthly parents have organized tabernacles for our spirits and here we are today. That is the way we came.
- Prophet Brigham Young, 14 July 1861, Recorded in "The Essential Brigham Young", p.138

"On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62); and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become!
- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, October 1994

"Many religions teach that human beings are children of God, but often their conception of Him precludes any kind of bond resembling a parent-child relationship. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught of a much simpler and more sensible relationship: “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 … was to make himself visible … , 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.”"
- “Strengthening the Family: Created in the Image of God, Male and Female,” Ensign, Jan. 2005, 48

"The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this church."
- Official LDS Lesson Manual, 1997, page 34, "The Teachings of Brigham Young"

"God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, are glorified, exalted, resurrected, beings, and from the moment of the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith, we have known their true nature."
- Offical LDS publication, Ensign, June 1998, Apostle Russell Ballard, "Building Bridges of Understanding"

"That exalted position was made manifest to me at a very early day. I had a direct revelation of this. It was most perfect and complete. If there ever was a thing revealed to man perfectly, clearly, so that there could be no doubt or dubiety, this was revealed to me, and it came in these words: "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be." This may appear to some minds as something very strange and remarkable, but it is in perfect harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and with His promises."
- Prophet Lorenzo R. Snow, Unchangeable Love of God, Sunday, September 18, 1898.

"We all know that like begets like and that for the offspring to grow to the stature of his parent is a process infinitely repeated in nature. We can therefore understand that for a son of God to grow to the likeness of his Father in heaven is in harmony with natural law. We see this law demonstrated every few years in our own experience. Sons born to mortal fathers grow up to be like their fathers in the flesh. This is the way it will be with spirit sons of God. They will grow up to be like their Father in heaven. Joseph taught this obvious truth. As a matter of fact, he taught that through this process God himself attained perfection. From President Snow's understanding of the teachings of the Prophet on this doctrinal point, he coined the familiar couplet: "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." This teaching is peculiar to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."
- Elder Marion G. Romney, General Conference, October 1964

"We often say, and you have heard the expression as it has already been referred to in this conference, that "as man now is, God once was, and as God now is, man may become." The only way man may become as God now is, is through fulfilling the laws of celestial marriage and the laws of the gospel, as I have just read to you the word of the Lord from the D&C. Can we afford to overlook such opportunities for exaltation? Temple marriage is not just another form of church wedding; it is a divine covenant with the Lord that if we are faithful to the end, we may become as God now is."
- Elder Eldred G. Smith (Patriarch to the Church), General Conference, October 1948

"Mormonism be it true or false, holds out to men the greatest inducements that the human mind can grasp. And so it does... It teaches men that they can become divine, that man is God in embryo, that God was once man in mortality, and that the only difference between Gods, angels and men is a difference in education and development. Is such a religion to be sneered at? It teaches that the worlds on high, the stars that glitter in the blue vault of heaven, are kingdoms of God, that they were once earths like this, that they have been redeemed and glorified by the same laws, the same principles that are applied to this planet, and by which it will ascend to a perfected and glorified state. It teaches that these worlds are peopled with human beings, God's sons and daughters, and that every husband and father, may become an Adam, and every wife and mother an Eve, to some future planet."
- Orson F. Whitney, Divine Evidences of Truthfulness, Y.M.M.I.A. Annual Conference, June 9th, 1895.

"So the Prophet Joseph Smith, in this age, has added to this truth by the assertion that "As man is God once was, and that as He is man may became," because He is our Father, and like begets like, and inherent within us are the attributes of divinity that shall lead us into perfection, which Christ intended His Saints to attain unto."
- Elder Joseph E. Robinson, General Conference, April 1912

"God our Heavenly Father is still progressing. While He knows all that is, all that has been, and possibly all things that He designs for the future and what will be in the future, yet He is constantly adding to His dominion, constantly increasing His power, constantly developing in His resources and in His glorious aspirations. This, at least, is our understanding of the condition of our Father in heaven. The thought has been expressed and accepted as a truth, that as we are now, God has been, and as God is now we may be; and if we admit this to be a truth-and I have no disposition to dispute it-then I repeat that even God our Heavenly Father has not reached the ultimatum of His greatness, His power, or His capacity, but that He is continually increasing and expanding in power, in dominion, in glory and in greatness, if I may be permitted to use such terms as these which some people who know no better would call blasphemous, in connection with the Supreme Being, the Father of us all.
- Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Sustaining Each Other in the Gospel, Sunday, February 16, 1896.

"We are His children in Very deed, having been born of Him in the spirit, and we have inherited the very attributes which he possesses. They are in us, and they make us God's embryo, We believe that as we are now God once was, and by the practice of virtue and righteousness, by obedience unto law and authority, He has become what He is, and as He is, man may become, on the same principle."
- Elder Goege F. Richards, General Conference, April 1913

"The doctrine of the relationship between God and men, as made plain through the word of revelation, is today as it was of old, though in the light of later scripture we are enabled to read the meaning more clearly. It is provided that we, the sons and daughters of God, may advance until we become like unto our Eternal Father and our Eternal Mother, in that we may become perfect in our spheres as they are in theirs. That grand truth, taught by the Prophet Joseph and ridiculed for the time, has now gripped the minds of the thinkers and philosophers of the age... It was crystallized into what we may call an aphorism, by President Lorenzo Snow: 'As man is God once was; as God is man may be'."
- Elder James E. Talmage, General Conference, April 1915

"I don't understand that the Mormon doctrine, announced by President Lorenzo Snow, and so often quoted by us: "As man is God once was, and as God is man may become" means that all men are going to become what God is, not by any manner of means. It is possible they may become; yes, when men keep and obey the fulness of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I understand, my brethren and sisters, this great scheme of our Father contemplates that the privilege of gaining celestial glory has been extended to nearly all of his children. There are a very few in the world who are barred from all the privileges. Evidently according to the revelations of the Lord, those races and divisions existing among us now, existed before we came into this world, and some had failed to carry out the will of God and to conform to his plans in their former life to prove themselves worthy to receive the highest of privileges, namely, salvation in the celestial kingdom of our God."
- Elder Melvin J. Ballard, General Conference, October 1917

"Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God - an exalted being - through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey."
- Elder Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p 104

"It is a Mormon truism that is current among us and we all accept it, that as man is God once was and as God is man may become. That does not signify that man will become God. I am sorry to say, and yet it is a truth, that not many men will become what God is, simply because they will not pay the price, because they are not willing to live up to the requirements; and still all men may, if they will, become what God is, but only those who are heirs of the celestial glory shall ever be possible candidates, to become what God is."
- Elder Melvin J. Ballard, General Conference, April 1921

"We believe that God is a personal being. By a personal being, we mean that he is a man--an exalted man. Approximately one hundred years ago, soon after Lorenzo Snow became a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ, he formulated a remarkable couplet which has since that time become famous. He said: "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." (Lorenzo Snow, The Millennial Star 54:404.) Time and time again during the period of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith, various evidences were given to him sustaining, amplifying, and explaining the personality of God. If time would permit, many excellent quotations could be cited from the D&C which would help to describe the personality of our Eternal Father."
- Elder Milton R. Hunter, General Conference, October 1948

"We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were said by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: "As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become." This is a power available to us as we reach perfection and receive the experience and power to create, to organize, to control native elements. How limited we are now! We have no power to force the grass to grow, the plants to emerge, the seeds to develop."
- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, April 1977

How could such a plain and precious Mormon doctrine be denied today and brushed off as a mere "couplet?"

  



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