"Is this the teaching of the church today, that God
the Father was once a man like we are?"
"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
"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
apologists explain Hinckley's public statements:
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.
Mormon apologist rhetoric, you'd think that fundamental Mormon
doctrine does not include God once being a man.
- The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research
has the Mormon Church consistently taught as doctrine
from 1844 to 2005?
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,
Principles, Chapter 47.
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."
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, True Character of God, Salt
Lake Tabernacle, February 23, 1862, Journal of Discourses,
Vol. 9, p.286
- Prophet Brigham Young, 14 July 1861, Recorded in "The
Essential Brigham Young", p.138
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
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
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"
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"
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."
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."
- Prophet Lorenzo R. Snow, Unchangeable Love of God,
Sunday, September 18, 1898.
- Elder Marion G. Romney, General Conference, October
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
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.
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
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.
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."
- Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Sustaining Each Other in
the Gospel, Sunday, February 16, 1896.
- Elder Goege F. Richards, General Conference, April 1913
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
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
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."
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
- Elder Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages,
- Elder Melvin J. Ballard, General Conference, April 1921
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
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
such a plain and precious Mormon doctrine be denied today
and brushed off as a mere "couplet?"