Has God always been God?
There is not a clear teaching about the nature of God when it comes to the official web site of The
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (www.lds.org).
Some believe that Heavenly Father has always been God, while others believe that He once used to be a
mortal man who progressed into a God. This may be an attempt of the LDS Church in modern times to
focus on similarities rather than differences with other Christian groups.
You may even receive different answers from Mormon missionaries you question.
Let's examine some teachings:
The Mormon Heavenly Father progressed from a man into becoming a God.
Former LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley seemed to dodge and dissemble in an August 4, 1997 Time cover
story when veteran religion writer Richard N. Ostling asked him about the distinctive Mormon teaching that
humans can become gods, and that God the Father was once a man (p. 56).
Question: ... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers
are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like
Answer: I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed
for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that
statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about
it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.
The truth of the matter is that the LDS Church does teach this, despite the statement of Mr. Hinckley that
he does not know the first principle of the gospel of Joseph Smith.
"God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme" (Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual
- Religion 430-431, chapter 7, page 17).
"Through a continual course of progression, our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory; and He points
us out the same path ... we shall eventually come in possession ... of everything that heart can desire" (Lorenzo
Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 3-4). See also "Religion
430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student
Manual", page 92.
“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top;
and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the
principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will
have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation
and exaltation even beyond the grave. This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. It is the first principle
of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the
Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, pp. 345–346, 348; Gospel Principles, chapter 47, 1998, p.
305, exhibit a). The
statement "This is the
way our Heavenly Father became God" was removed from the 2009
version of Gospel Principles. The 2009
version even omits the copyright reference to the 1998 version.
But if you can manage to get the 1978
version, this statement is present there.
"If we passed our tests, we would receive the fulness of joy that our heavenly parents have received" (Gospel
14, exhibit b). The LDS version of Heavenly Father and Mother received their fulness of
joy (exaltation, eternal life - 3 Nephi 28:10; Doctrine and Covenants 76:59; 84:38) through their heavenly
parents; Jesus' grandfather and grandmother for lack of better terms.
"We believe in a God who has attained his exalted state by a path which now his children are permitted to
follow. In the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the church proclaims the eternal truth: As Man Is, God
Once Was, As God Is, Man May Be" (Doctrines of Salvation, page 430).
This 'truth' has become watered down in recent decades. It is now referred to as a
Subsequent Mormon teachings have been just as clear
on Heavenly Father becoming a God:
"Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal
man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing" (The Gospel
Through the Ages, 1945, p 104).
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man ... God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an
earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did ... He is the one who was once as we are now"
(Religion 430-431 -
Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, chapter 3, page 8).
"The progression of our Father in heaven to godhood, or exaltation, was strictly in accordance with eternal
principles" (Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, p. 129).
"In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends,
it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for 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"
(History of the Church, volume
"The means was provided, and the means was rejected, and then when
our Father has done this, though he be
God, is yet limited to law, by obedience to which he became God, and he must honor the same, he
beyond those limitations and set aside the law" (Conference Report, October 1923, page 31).
The teaching that the Mormon Heavenly Father is an
exalted man can also be found in other passages:
April 1971, New Era, People on other Worlds
April 1971, Ensign, The King Follett Discourse
May 1976, New Era, How to Gain a Testimony
July 1979, Ensign, Line Upon Line
February 1982, Ensign, I Have a Question
January 1989, Ensign, The Restoration of Major Doctrines Through Joseph Smith
February 2002, Ensign, The Origin of Man
January 2005, Liahona, Strengthening the Family: Created in the Image of God, Male and Female
October 2008, General Conference, God Loves and Helps all His Children
2008, Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Joseph Smith, chapter 2: God the Eternal Father
February 2012, Liahona, Our Father in Heaven.
The files are zipped here.
God - Eternal and Everlasting or not?.
At one point in his life, Joseph Smith wrote, "By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who
is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven
and earth, and all things which are in them" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:17). The Book of Mormon
teaches something similar: "For 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).
At another point in his life, he taught that Heavenly Father changed from some type of being into a God:
"I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being
was God in the beginning? Open you 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 man. God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder
"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". These two quotes are also found on
page 345 of the 1938 version compiled by
Joseph Fielding Smith (image).
This is also in the 1978 amalgamated work done by BYU. You can view the
But apart from these two sources, these particular words of Joseph Smith have been
removed from the 2008 version of Teachings of Presidents of the Church -
Joseph Smith. It has also been
removed from the 2003 version of "Religion 345 - Presidents of
the Church - Student Manual (p. 89).
It seems like the LDS Church does not want people to know
what her prophet taught
What is your definition of "Eternal" or "Everlasting" God?
The Mormon Heavenly Father is a resurrected being
"I testify that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They are resurrected and
glorified beings who
love us and watch over us" (Conference Report, April 2010, page 63).
"Father in Heaven: A perfect being who looks
like a mortal man but has a resurrected body of flesh and
bones. He is the Father of our spirits, to whom we pray"
(Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, Words to Know,
The Mormon Heavenly Father is not omnipresent.
"Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that
is everywhere present"
(Religion 430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, page 8).
The Mormon Heavenly Father is married to at least one Goddess wife in heaven.
“All men and women are … literally the sons and daughters of Deity. Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born
of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the
earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Gospel Principles, page 11).
"These spirit beings [referring to those on planet Earth], the offspring of exalted parents, were men and
women, appearing in all respects as mortal persons do, excepting only that their spirit bodies were made of
a more pure and refined substance" (Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, chapter 6, page 14).
Heavenly Father, like Heavenly Mother, was a person who needed to get exalted. It is unclear from
Mormon theology whether some other 'Jesus' atoned for the sins of Heavenly Father on his earth or
whether Heavenly Father atoned for the sins of Heavenly Mother when she was a mortal.
The following writing by Joseph Smith reveals that Heavenly Father is a polygamous husband:
"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to
know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses,
David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and
concubines - Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter."
"Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith
the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne. Abraham received promises
concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph -
which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of
the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable
as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them. This promise
is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is
the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself" (Doctrine and Covenants
The Mormon Heavenly Father glorified himself in the same law. A polygamous marriage is a requirement
for exaltation as pertaining to the law of the LDS priesthood: “They [the virgins] are given unto him to
multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given
by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may
bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” (vv. 61, 63).
Polygamy was suspended by the Mormon Church back in 1890. It is believed by some that polygamy
will be resumed again in the future.
Heavenly Father and the Patriarchal Blessing
"The priesthood was originally exercised in the
patriarchal order ; those who held it exercised their powers
firstly by right of their fatherhood. It is so with the great Eloheim. This first and strongest claim on our love,
reverence and obedience is based on the fact that he is the Father, the Creator, of all mankind. Without him
we are not, and consequently we owe to him existence and all that flows there
from all we have and all that
we are" (Gospel Doctrine, page 183).
Eloheim is the name Latter-day Saints use for
Heavenly Father. Either he was the "Adam" of his planet or
he received the patriarchal blessing from Jesus' Grandfather.