Saturday, June 18, 2005

Mormon doctrine of "eternal progression"

Mormons or Latter-Day Saints (LDS) profess that God the Father was once a man, who progressed to become a god. They assert that God the Father is an exalted man who literally has flesh and blood, and lives on a planet near the celestial body called "Kolob."

They profess also that we humans can become gods, just as God the Father, once a man, became a god. This is the doctrine of "eternal progression."

I've spoken to many LDS about this doctrine, even an LDS bishop, and read many LDS source texts that describe this doctrine. Nevertheless, it is not among the first things they talk about when visiting you at your home. Some LDS have even denied it.

In this blog, I will place some source information which will help to illuminate that this doctrine is indeed from LDS sources. As I gather more source texts, I will post it here for future reference when discussing this doctrine with LDS missionaries.

God bless,



"For Latter-day Saints, the term "godhood" denotes a state in which one has all the divine attributes of God and participates in his eternal work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all resurrected and perfected mortals become gods....Latter-day Saints believe that God achieved his exalted rank by progressing much as man must progress and that God is a perfected and exalted man."

(abstracted from K. Codell Carter, "Godhood" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:553–55, as cited at the BYU FAQ website, )

"Latter-day Saints perceive the Father as an exalted Man in the most literal, anthropomorphic terms. They do not view the language of Genesis as allegorical; human beings are created in the form and image of a God who has a physical form and image (Genesis 1:26)” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “God”).

With regard the God living near Kolob, the LDS Scripture, The Book of Abraham, 3:2-3,9 states:

"2 And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them [stars] was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it; 3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest....9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest."

A Mormon source from BYU source says:

"Abraham gives Kolob as the name of the celestial body nearest God's abode" (, and"Abraham, who taught his revealed knowledge to the Egyptians, offers the most detailed description of astronomy in the Pearl of Great Price. He learned about the age of the universe, about the rotation of the stars, sun, and planets, and about Kolob's place as the star nearest to God's celestial abode." (

The BYU source also tells us what scripture is, according to LDS doctrine:

"Although "scripture" usually denotes written documents, in LDS sources it is also defined as "whatsoever [God's representatives] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost" (Doctrine and Covenants 68:2–4)" (

More from BYU

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 181:

"[After the earth is redeemed and celestialized, it] will be rolled back into the presence of God."

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:143:

"When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. And when man fell...the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system, and the sun became our light.... This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father, and it will dwell there, and these intelligent being that I am looking at, if they live worthy of it, will dwell upon this earth."

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:317:

"This earthly ball, this little opake [opaque] substance thrown off into space, is only a speck in the great universe; and when it is celestialized it will go back into the presence of God, where it was first framed. All belongs to God, and those who keep his celestial law will return to him."

John Taylor, The Mormon, 29 August 1857:

"[The earth] was organized near the planet Kolob."

An Explanation from a Mormon:

"a major star named Kolob near the throne of God"

"[God] is omnipotent, and his influence is everywhere, but there are actual places where actual beings actually reside, and heaven is an actual place. The throne of God, based on Abr. 3, is somewhere, and that somewhere has a large star nearby."

"God is truly our Heavenly Father and that He is not a single parent. We do believe that we have "heavenly parents" and that God is the Father of our spirits"

"Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God"

According to Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, he warned women, "that you can never obtain a fullness of glory without being married to a righteous man for time and all eternity." (The Seer, p. 140).

From Mormon Scripture, D&C 130:22 "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s"

Joseph Smith’s King Follet Discourse, made in April 7, 1844, here is the text as it appears in the History of the Church:

I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to enquire after God; for I want you all to know him, and to be familiar with him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am his servant; for I speak as one having authority.I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why he interferes with the affairs of men.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, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible, — I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form — like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man . . .. . .I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.. . . he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.Here, then, is eternal life — to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 304-306, see also, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 345-347).
I have difficulty reconciling what Joseph Smith contends above about God's eternal, unchanging existence (i.e., God was not God from all eternity) and the following quotes from the Book of Mormon...

"I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity" (Moroni 8:18).

"For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and in him there is no variableness, neither shadow of changing? And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles" (Mormon 9:9-10).

More from Joseph Smith...

... they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.... My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself.” (King Follet’s Discourse)

"As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become."
-- LDS apostle Lorenzo Snow, 1837.

LDS theologian Gordon Allred explains,

"Service is, in fact, the fundamental purpose of God's existence. 'God himself,' said Joseph Smith, 'finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself' " (History of the Church, 6:312)….Here indeed is a divine being with whom one may identify, in whom he may repose complete trust, to whom he may pray with full faith and conviction. Consider the empathy with which God the Father must view our own struggles, for he journeyed the entire course, knows every stone, pitfall, and obstacle. He has groped his way in storm and darkness, swum the rivers, traversed the barren desert and the teeming wilderness, found at times his place of respite, and surmounted the final peaks into sunlight [godhood]."

LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley:

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! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1) Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom. (Conference Report, Oct. 1994)

Bringham Young:

"He [God] is our Father--the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being. It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has once been a finite being;" (Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, v. 7, p. 333)

LDS Apostle Orson Pratt:

"The Gods who dwell in the Heaven...have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state....they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever." (Apostle Orson Pratt in The Seer, page 23)

LDS President Spencer Kimball:

"You and I--what helpless creatures are we! Such limited power we have, and how little can we control the wind and the waves and the storms! We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were stated by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: 'As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.'" (President Spencer W. Kimball in "Our Great Potential" from the April 1977 Priesthood Session of General Conference)

LDS Prophet Joseph Smith:

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!...........It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God........yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible...." (from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and History of the Church, 6:302-17)

The first chapter of the current edition (1992) of the Latter-day Saint teaching manual, Gospel Principles (Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints,1992 ed., p. 9.), quotes from the above passage under the heading What Kind of Being Is God?:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith said: "If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible — I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). God is a glorified and perfected man, a personage of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22)."

more to follow ...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Baptismal regeneration a heresy?

Protestant 'Pastor Robert' from a Catholic Answers discussion stated,
"I smell the heresy of baptismal regeneration ... a foundational error of Rome that deceives many into trusting their eternal destiny to a sprinkling of water on their head."

It is no more "trust in water" than the blind person trusted in mud to cure him at the hand of Jesus. On the contrary, it is more a trust in the miracles at the "hand of Jesus" and how he conveys his grace through mud, or water, or oil, or any other means.

When Christ was baptized in water, the Holy Spirit came upon him. This pre-figures for us, what the sacrament of Baptism is all about. It is a sacrament (Latin for "oath," sacramentum). It is both a promise and a prayer that the people of God make in obedience to God's will. We believe that our prayer is answered and the recipient is regenerated, not by the power of water, but by the power of God, the one who answers our prayer.

The sacraments are not acts of magic. The are both a prayer for regeneration and a promise or oath to Him who regenerates. Just because the prayer is made with matter, form, and intent in accord with apostolic teaching, this doesn't mean that it is magical. On the contrary, we understand it as a miracle, as do Orthodox and many other Protestant Christians.

You believe in the power of prayer don't you? You believe that God walks with us only when we, in faith, obey, don't you?

Calvinist theologian C.H. Spurgeon puts it...
"Have I that faith which leads me to obey my God?—for obedience, if it be of the kind we are speaking of, is faith in action—faith walking with God" (C.H. Spurgeon, Sermon called "Obedience of Faith," August 21, 1890)

For Catholics, a sacrament is faith in action.

C.H. Spurgeon continues...

"If our faith...lacks the fruit of obedience, it will leave us among the "dogs" who are "'without." The faith that makes us obey is alone the faith which marks the children of God. It is better to have the faith that obeys than the faith which moves mountains. ... If thou believest in the living God unto eternal life, thou wilt be quick to do thy Lord's bidding, even as a maid hearkens to her mistress. Thou wilt not be as the horse, which needs whip and spur; thy love will do more for thee than compulsion could do for slaves. Thou wilt have wings to thy heels to hasten thee along the way of obedience. ... He would have us obey him with the heart, and that will lead us, not merely to regard a few pleasing commands, but to have respect unto all his will. ... Alas! dear friends, we have so much talk, and so little obedience! The religion of mere brain and jaw does not amount to much. We want the religion of hands and feet." (ibid.)

From my studies and experience, Catholicism is truly a "religion of hands and feet!!" Finally, from C.H. Spurgeon...

"Those who practice the obedience of faith look for the reward hereafter, and set the greatest store by it.... They know the words, "No cross, no crown;" and they recognise the truth that, if there is no obedience here, there will be no reward hereafter....The obedience which faith produces must be continuous.... Providence is God's business, obedience is ours.

What comes out of our life's course must remain with the Lord; to obey is our sole concern. We can win "Well done, good and faithful servant": to be a successful servant is not in our power, and we shall not be held responsible for it. Our greatest risk is over when we obey. God makes faith and obedience the way of safety....

Obedience may appear difficult, and it may bring with it sacrifice; but, after all, it is the nearest and the best road....He who through the Holy Spirit, is always believingly obedient, has chosen the good part.... this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God....

If we transgress against him, we shall soon be in trouble; but a holy walk—the walk described by my text as faith working obedience—is heaven beneath the stars. God comes down to walk with men who obey. If they walk with him, he walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with his servants as they obey. Obedience is heaven in us, and it is the preface of our being in heaven. Obedient faith is the way to eternal life—nay, it is eternal life revealing itself. (ibid.)

"The Lord can only have fellowship with his servants as they obey." Sounds Catholic!!!

God bless,


Thursday, June 02, 2005

The scandal of dissenting and disobedient priests

In a conversation with another Catholic, they had praise for a priest who they believe acted "charitably" because he disregarded canon law and knowingly gave Holy Communion to someone who was not canonically disposed to receive it.

I disagree that such sinful disregard for canon law and ecclesiasical authority is compatible with charity.

Obedience of faith is very much a part of Christian soteriology, according the dogmas of Catholicism. The papal Bull Unam Sanctum, states: "every human creature ... by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff."

If this dogma is bothersome to dissident priests, then I suggest they take a sabbatical from their ministry and pray upon it. If after much reflection and prayer, they cannot give their assent of faith to this dogma, then there are many non-Catholic ecclesial communities they might be more comfortable with. In my opinion, they ought to either live in accord with the oath of office they freely made before God with all their hearts, or be honest with their superiors and admit they cannot live it, and request to simply step down from their office. Now, that would be an act of charity to us all.

What the priest should have done was seek dispensation from lawful authorities. He didn't. So instead he chose to violate canon law giving himself dispensation, as if he had the authority to do so. He committed scandal, not an act of charity.

One can rationalize their sins all day long with the cover story of "charity," elevating one's own conscience as more authoritative than the collective conscience of the Church. I know some who advocate abortion with the same reasoning.

What is astonishing, is that Catholics, especially priests, view Catholicism as though it taught that charity was compatible with willful disobedience to ecclesiastical and Divine law.

The apostles, saints, doctors, and popes of the Church have never taught such a thing. They instead consistently link obedience in all things lawful to charity and holiness. Observe...

St. Catherine of Sienna, Doctor of the Church:
"For divine obedience never prevents us from obedience to the Holy Father: nay, the more perfect the one, the more perfect is the other. And we ought always to be subject to his commands and obedient unto death. However indiscreet obedience to him might seem, and however it should deprive us of mental peace and consolation, we ought to obey; and I consider that to do the opposite is a great imperfection, and deceit of the devil." (Letter to Brother Antonio of Nizza)

Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman:
"I say with Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience. His facts and his warnings may be all wrong; his deliberations may have been biassed. He may have been misled. Imperiousness and craft, tyranny and cruelty, may be patent in the conduct of his advisers and instruments. But when he speaks formally and authoritatively he speaks as our Lord would have him speak, and all those imperfections and sins of individuals are overruled for that result which our Lord intends (just as the action of the wicked and of enemies to the Church are overruled) and therefore the Pope's word stands, and a blessing goes with obedience to it, and no blessing with disobedience." [John Henry Newman "'The Oratory, Novr. 10, 1867", The Genius of Newman (1914), by Wilfrid Ward, Vol II, Ch. 26,]

First Vatican Council, Session 4 (18 July 1870):

Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other hurch, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

St. Pius X:
"... however great their learning, they must be lacking in holiness, for there can be no holiness in dissension from the Pope." (Pope St. Pius X, allocution of 18 November, 1912, AAS vol. 4 (1912), 693-695. Selection from p. 695)
John Paul II:

"It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Catholic Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the clear position on abortion. It has to be noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church’s moral teaching. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being a “good Catholic,” and poses no obstacle to the reception of the Sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching of the Bishops in the United States and elsewhere.” (Pope John Paul II in his speech to the Bishops in 1987)

Finally, let me quote from Pope Benedict XVI, from his instruction to theologians while he was still prefect of the CDF, an instruction approved and promulgated by Pope John Paul II. This seems applicable to dissident priests who have the gall to presume the Holy Spirit is working in them more so than in their lawful superiors, and as such thinking their conscience is a much more trustworthy guide to the truth than the collective conscience of the authentic teaching authority of the Catholic Church appointed by God over him...

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of theologian:

Never forgetting that he is also a member of the People of God, the theologian must foster respect for them and be committed to offering them a teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith. (par. 11) ... the theologian is officially charged with the task of presenting and illustrating the doctrine of the faith in its integrity and with full accuracy. (par. 22)

... the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect. This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith. (par. 23)

... the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion ... The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule.... it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies.... But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. (par. 24)

... Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them. (par. 27)... The preceding considerations have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him wellfounded, in accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching.... conscience does not constitute an autonomous and exclusive authority for deciding the truth of a doctrine. (par. 28)

... In any case there should never be a diminishment of that fundamental openness loyally to accept the teaching of the Magisterium as is fitting for every believer by reason of the obedience of faith. (par. 29)

... If, despite a loyal effort on the theologian's part, the difficulties persist, the theologian has the duty to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented. He should do this in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties. His objections could then contribute to real progress and provide a stimulus to the Magisterium to propose the teaching of the Church in greater depth and with a clearer presentation of the arguments. In cases like these, the theologian should avoid turning to the "mass media", but have recourse to the responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and renders servite to the truth. (par. 30)... a loyal spirit, animated by love for the Church, such a situation can certainly prove a difficult trial. It can be a call to suffer for the truth, in silence and prayer, but with the certainty, that if the truth really is at stake, it will ultimately prevail. (par. 31)

... In opposition to and in competition with the authentic magisterium, there thus arises a kind of "parallel magisterium" of theologians.... it can cause great spiritual harm by opposing itself to the Magisterium of the Pastors. Indeed, when dissent succeeds in extending its influence to the point of shaping; a common opinion, it tends to become the rule of conduct. This cannot but seriously trouble the People of God and lead to contempt for true authority. (par 34)

The freedom of the act of faith cannot justify a right to dissent. (par 36).... the theologian who is not disposed to think with the Church ("sentire cum Ecclesia") contradicts the commitment he freely and knowingly accepted to teach in the name of the Church. (par 37)

... Finally, argumentation appealing to the obligation to follow one's own conscience cannot legitimate dissent. ... because while the theologian, like every believer, must follow his conscience, he is also obliged to form it.... Setting up a supreme magisterium of conscience in opposition to the magisterium of the Church means adopting a principle of free examination incompatible with the economy of Revelation and its transmission in the Church and thus also with a correct understanding of theology and the role of the theologian

.... Polling public opinion to determine the proper thing to think or do, opposing the Magisterium by exerting the pressure of public opinion, making the excuse of a "consensus" among theologians, maintaining that the theologian is the prophetical spokesman of a "base" or autonomous community which would be the source of all truth, all this indicates a grave loss of the sense of truth and of the sense of the Church.

...The acts of assent and submission to the Word entrusted to the Church under the guidance of the Magisterium are directed ultimately to Him and lead us into the realm of true freedom.