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 ...


Blogger Wray Davis said...

That's really interesting. I thought I had a basic grasp of Mormonism, but I had no idea.

8:49 AM  

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