SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church posted a new, deeply detailed article on its website Tuesday explaining the faith's doctrine about humans "becoming like God."
"The doctrine of humans’ eternal potential to become like their Heavenly Father is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ," the article states, "and inspires love, hope and gratitude in the hearts of faithful Latter-day Saints."
Divided into nine sections, the essay is nearly 3,500 words long. The Web page provides numerous additional resources, including 56 footnotes and links to statements by 10 prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The article explains the biblical foundations of the doctrine, its alignment with early Christianity and revelations on the subject received by Joseph Smith.
The article says "church leader and poet" Eliza R. Snow wrote about a Heavenly Mother in what today remains a well-loved Mormon hymn. "Latter-day Saints," the article states, "have also been moved by the knowledge that their divine parentage includes a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father."
The article quotes Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said: “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”
The essay says the doctrine of what religious scholars call "deification" or what Mormons call "exaltation" does not make Latter-day Saints polytheists: "Latter-day Saints believe that God’s children will always worship him. Our progression will never change his identity as our Father and our God."
The article says the doctrine inspires Latter-day Saints to behave morally and to see themselves and their fellow men and women as having a divine nature as sons and daughters of God and with a "striking view" of their divine potential.
"Perhaps most significantly," the topics page states, "belief in divine nature helps us more deeply appreciate the Atonement of Jesus Christ. While many Christian theologians have expressed the magnitude of the Savior’s Atonement by emphasizing human depravity, Latter-day Saints understand the magnitude of the Atonement of Christ in terms of the vast human potential it makes possible."
The church began to enhance or add new topic pages late last year.
Other Gospel Topics pages enhanced or added at LDS.org since early December include "Race and the Priesthood," "First Vision Accounts," "Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah," "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies" and "Book of Mormon Translation."