Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Exaltation isn't a new doctrine’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

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Idaho Falls, ID

The LDS newsroom earlier this year tried to play this down. Gordon Hinckley attempted to do the same thing with his statement, "I don't know that we teach that-- I don't know that we emphasize that." So what is it?

Salt Lake City, UT

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: "we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods" Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: "all men are deemed worthy of becoming gods,and of having power to become sons of the Highest."

St. Jerome the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, (d. A.D. 419), wrote that "God made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. They who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice, and are become perfect, are gods and sons of the Most High"

Salt Lake City, UT

Origen in reference to 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 said "Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God . . As, then there are many gods, but to us there is but one God the Father, and many Lords, but to us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: "He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him," (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988)

terra nova
Park City, UT

After saying that He and his Father are one, the Pharisees took up stones to kill Jesus. He asked "Many good works have I showed you from my Father, for which of those do you stone me?" They Jews replied, "For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. And Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods?" (John 10:32-34) KJV

The doctrine is not new. But it is incredibly humbling. For (as Christ taught) he who would be one with him must make himself the basest servant and shepherd.

Northern Lights
Louisville, KY

Daniel Peterson refers to a wonderful doctrinal concept: to become joint heirs with Christ as recorded in the Bible (Romans 8:17) and to inherit the Kingdom of God (as taught through a parable in Luke 15:31 and also in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 9:18.)

The LDS Church practices those things that it believes will allow each individual to qualify for such blessings and to gain eternal life. As an active member, I personally haven't encountered much discussion on what each returning to the presence of God will be doing from that time on, other than they will be able to continue to progress as promised in Galatians 3:26-29 and the Doctrine and Covenants Section 132). Going beyond that just doesn't make for a very productive discussion in my opinion. I suspect that is the reason behind President Hinckley's comment.

Right now, I interact with many members are simply trying to live their religion to the best of their abilities with a hope and a promise of blessings in mortality and eternal blessings and opportunities still to come.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Insightful article on the nascent beginnings or an area of LDS belief that today’s Church leaders don’t seem to want to encourage.

As a skeptic of the idea of divine revelation I was raised to believe in, I’ve since come to see the concept of speculative theology as a more rational explanation for Mormonism’s distinctive theology. The trajectory of Joseph’s thought processes from his earlier writings don’t seem to veer off near as much as one might at first think in light of the Book of Mormon and D&C passages Daniel Peterson calls our attention to.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Craig is correct, the facts point to speculative theology over divine revelation.

layton, UT

RE: Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God: James Talmage ,’Divinely Appointed Judges[men] Called ‘gods’ In Psalm 82:6 ,judges invested by divine appointment are called ‘gods’. Jesus the Christ p. 501.

@BrentBot, Anthanasius: "The Word became flesh … that we, partaking of his Spirit, might be deified" and Cyril of Alexandria: you may become partakers(koinonoi=communion) of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:4 ) Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16-17). The Apostles creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic(universal) church, the “communion “of saints,…
They were all Trinitarians, which would eliminate them from thinking they would be a God in the Godhead.
Origen believed in the pre-existence and transmigration of souls. The Council of Constantinople in 453 CE posthumously excommunicated him.

@Northernern Lights, …(by) “Adoption to sonship”. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16)

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

The idea of man becoming a god did not originate with Joseph Smith. It was an integral part of the religious culture of the Hellenistic world. Greek mythology is a virtual smorgasbord of gods, goddesses, and heroes who became gods, some of them historic figures who actually lived. Even the Galilean carpenter named Jesus could be elevated to deity status. That was antithetical to Jewish belief but it was precisely what happened as the rising Gentile Church was rapidly eclipsing its Judean prototype.


I frankly can't understand how a believer in God could believe anything else but in the possibility of our deification. What kind of loving Father would not want his children to have all that he has and more? Matt 7:9-11 teaches that he is a better and more loving Father than we are and that he knows how to give good things to his children. If we as weak mortal parents want our children to have all that we have how could we think God is a jealous Father that does not want his children to achieve his stature?

The New Testament is filled with this teaching. Matthew 5:48, Rev 3:21, Eph 4:13 (till we all come . . . unto a perfact man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ).

President Hinckley's reticence was just a concern about putting meat before milk.

sandy, ut

No. The presidents and other leaders and members for that matter like to disguise the truth. He was asked a very direct question and he dodged it. It it is a doctrine, state it as such. He wasn't asked to go into great detail, just answer the question. It isn't that hard. Don't use the milk before meat saying, it doesn't fly when somebody asks a direct question and is decieved.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....Origen believed in the pre-existence and transmigration of souls. The Council of Constantinople in 453 CE posthumously excommunicated him....."

All the heresies of the early centuries CE doesn’t exactly paint a harmonious picture of early Christianity, does it? Martin Luther regarded the Church of Rome as a paganized corruption of the early Church. Three centuries later, Joseph Smith would argue that there had been a great apostasy. He and Luther were essentially saying the same thing.

A view more attuned to our times is that what happened is what we today would call cultural assimilation. As the Hellenistic world of which Judea was but one remote corner absorbed what began as a localized movement, both were being changed forever.

Columbia, SC

Re: elchupacabras

If you look at the full context of what Pres. Hinckley was referring to you'll see that he was talking about the belief that God was once a man. This is not a doctrine I hear talked about very often at all. The doctrine of exaltation on the other hand is discussed regularly.
There's a FairLDS article on the topic that will clarify this further.

Kevin J. Kirkham
Salt Lake City, UT

The doctrine of exaltation is also seen in several scriptures. Please consider the following:
1. We are the offspring of God - Acts 17:29, Heb. 12:9
2. We are heirs of God - Gal. 4:7
3. We are joint heirs with Christ - Rom. 8:14-17
4. We shall inherit all things - Rev. 21:7
5. We shall receive a mansion - Jn. 14:2
6. We shall sit on God's throne - Rev. 3:21
7. We will be given a crown of glory - 1 Pet. 5:4
8. We shall receive the same glory and image as the Lord - 2 Cor. 3:18
9. We will receive the same type of body as Christ - Phil. 3:21
10. We will be given power - Rev. 2:26
11. We will be made rulers - Matt. 25:21,23
12. We shall judge the world and angels - 1 Cor. 6:2,3
13. We will bear the image of the heavenly - 1 Cor. 15:49
14. We will be like God - 1 Jn. 3:2
15. We will partake of God's divine nature - 2 Pet. 1:4

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

President Hinckley very nicely removed himself from the discussion. There is a picture of the Saviour and the Father I believe in the temple that teaches in a matter of speaking of what others have been saying. In the picture both have their hands out as in the Christus with nail prints in both hands.

The painting comes from the verse that mainly states that Christ did nothing that he himself saw the father do. This is where the concept of God being man at one time and then becoming God. It is also written in the scriptures that the Earth is not the only world that has been created but many and all are numbered to the Father. There are many who don't like this reasoning and thus it is very much you don't talk about the meat until the milk has been given. Did President Hinckley dodge the question.? Yes, he did just as the savior dodged questions as well.

layton, UT

RE:Only Begotten(mongenes) Son. Better translation than KJV. “ For God so loved the world that he gave his “one and only Son”, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16 NIV,NET). “ As translated correctly.”

@Kevin J. Kirkham: 1. We are the offspring of God - Acts 17:29, Heb. 12:9. True, For in him we live and move and have our being.’[Acts 17:28) Creation is dependent on God for its very existence.(Ex Nihlio)
3.. We are joint heirs with Christ - Rom. 8:14-17, …(BY) “Adoption to sonship”. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children .

5. We shall receive a mansion=(mone/rooms) Jn. 14:2. Heaven, dwelling places.

7. We will be given a crown of glory - 1 Pet. 5:4, , When the Chief Shepherd returns he will reward those who have served as shepherds. see v 1-4.

15. We will partake((koinonoi=communion) of God's divine nature - 2 Pet. 1:4. Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit

the truth
Holladay, UT


You seem to nitpick at sciptures , but miss the big picture.

Why did God create man?

Id we are his children, what do children become when they "grow up"?

Why do we need to aspire to perfection? What is repentance for?

What is the point of our life here?

Why send his only begotten son?

If there is no exhaltation, what is point of it all?

What is God's glory?

What is the point of eternal life?

What do we inherit?

Is eternal life a purposeless existence? Would God do that to us? Why would God do that?

No. Our "childhood" is for us to develop and grow our divine potential to become like our father. It is God's glory to provide way for that to happen.

Just like life here, we are children, we become fathers, and have children of our own to raise, we are still the child of our father, and we are a father as well.

It is an eternal pattern.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

If God loves us as a father, why would he create us to be servants? Would any of us do that to the children we love - create them to forever be an underclass? I do not think so and he says that he loves us far better than we love our children.

And what would be the purpose of our creation? To forever worship him and sing praises to him? That would be rather narcissistic and not indicative of a God worthy of our total devotion (as he is). Further, of what use is the struggle and learning of our mortal lives if our eternity is to be so limited? It would make little sense.

We feel our families are of extreme importance. But why would they be if we cannot retain them in eternity? An omniscient God would have devised another manner of raising the next generation and to have avoided our becoming attached to beings for which our attachment will have to end. If our memories will be dimmed, then of what purpose is the learning we undergo as families?

Westland, MI

Exaltation means to be raised or resurrected to eternal life as the eternal sons and eternal daughters of God the Eternal Father [JEHOVAH] to dwell eternally in the new heaven and the new earth in a state of never ending happiness. Exaltation does not mean Godhood and Goddesshood. It never has and never will mean that.

Westland, MI

@ Kevin J. Kirkham:

14. 1 John 3:2
Our bodies shall be like Christ's glorious body. God does not have a body of flesh and bones. He is a Spirit Personage.

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