Mormonism: A God Contained

(This is a slightly edited repost from July, 2008.)

What are some basic teachings of Mormonism when it comes to theology proper?  What does Mormon theology teach about God?

1) That he is not eternal. “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute this idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see…” (Joseph Smith, Jr. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 2nd rev. ed. [Salt Lake City: Desert Book Company, 1978], 6.305-6).

2) That in his former existence, he was not God, but came to be a flesh-and-bone god through obedience to another god. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…” (Ibid.).

3) That he is not omnipotent or omniscient. “God himself is increasing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so worlds without end” (Wilford Woodruff, late Mormon president).

4) That he is not eternally and absolutely perfect. “He is perfectly just, loving, kind, compassionate, veracious, no respecter of persons, etc. But his perfections are not eternal, but were acquired by means of developmental process” (Mormon philosopher David Paulsen).

5) That he is contingent or dependent. “The prophet taught that our Father had a Father and so on” (Joseph Fielding Smith). God is contingent upon an infinite lineage of gods – he is neither prior to nor outside of the boundaries of contingency.

6) That he is not the only God. “In the beginning the head of the gods called a council of the gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people in it” (Joseph Smith).

7) That he is not Triune. “We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings” (from the LDS website).

8) That he has a real body.  “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).

The very simple logic of this all is that Mormonism is not Christianity.  Mormonism is not a branch of Christianity.  The teachings of Mormonism and Christianity are not compatible.  Mormonism theology is contrary to historic Christian theology.  Mormon theology is a denial of Christian theology.  And so forth.  In the context of religious pluralism today, Christians need to stand firm on the truths of the Bible even if it means we’re called intolerant, close-minded, or whatever else.  If Christianity is true, other religions are false – including Mormonism.

For more information, read Francis J. Beckwith’s article, “Mormon Theism, The Traditional Christian Concept of God, and Greek Philosophy: A Critical Analysis” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/4, (Dec. 2001), 671-695. Most of the above quotes can be found in it.

shane lems