Monday, August 4, 2008

Mormon Doctrine of Deity

While reading the “Mormon Coffee” blog the other day, I read a quote from Parley P. Pratt that I thought was interesting enough to post about here. For those who don’t know, Parley Pratt was one of the original 12 Apostles in the LDS church. This quote originally appeared in a church paper called “the Prophet” but was also used in a book called Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts who was a member of the First Council of Seventy (a step below the 12 Apostles) for 45 years. On FAIR (a site dedicated to defending Mormonism) they talk about Roberts and this book.

This classic book is by Elder Brigham H. Roberts, a General Authority noted for his doctrinal knowledge and literary skills.

Mormon Doctrine of Deity is one of the most comprehensive statements and scriptural presentations of the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the nature of God in print.

Mormon Doctrine of Deity is highly readable. It is scriptural, it is logical, it is comprehensive.

Here are the main points Parley P. Pratt made about the Mormon belief regarding the nature of Deity.

What is God? He is a material intelligence, possessing both body and parts. He is in the form of man, and is in fact of the same species; and is a model, or standard of perfection to which man is destined to attain: he being the great Father and head of the whole family.

He can go, come, converse, reason, eat, drink, love, hate, rejoice, possesss [sic] and enjoy. He can also travel space with all the ease and intelligence necessary, for moving from planet to planet, and from system to system.

This being cannot occupy two distinct places at once. Therefore, he cannot be (in person) everywhere present….

What is Jesus Christ? He is the son of God, and is in every way like his father,… He is material intelligence, with body, parts and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones. He can…perform all things even as the Father—possessing the same power and attributes. And he, too, can travel space, and go from world to world, and from system to system, precisely like the Father; but cannot occupy two places at once.

What are angels? They are intelligences of the human species. Many of them are offsprings of Adam and Eve. That is, they are like Enoch or Elijah, been translated; or, like Jesus Christ, been raised from the dead;… They can go or come on foreign missions, in heaven, earth, or hell; and they can travel space, and visit the different worlds, with all the ease and alacrity with which God and Christ do the same,…

What are spirits? They are material intelligences, possessing body and parts in the likeness of the temporal body; but not composed of flesh and bones, but of some substance less tangible to our gross senses in our present life; but tangible to those in the same element as themselves. In short, they are men in embrio [sic] –intelligences waiting to come into the natural world and take upon them flesh and bones, that through birth, death, and the resurrection they may also be perfected in the material organization. Such was Jesus Christ, and such were we before we came into this world, and such we will be again, in the intervening space between death and the resurrection.

What are men? They are the offspring of God, the Father, and brothers of Jesus Christ. They were once intelligent spirits in the presence of God, and were with him before the earth was formed. They are now in disguise as it were, in order to pass through the several changes, and the experience necessary to constitute them perfect beings.

They are capable of receiving intelligence and exaltation to such a degree, as to be raised from the dead with a body like that of Jesus Christ’s, and to… go on missions from planet to planet, or from system to system: being Gods, or sons of God, endowed with the same powers, attributes and capacities that their heavenly Father and Jesus Christ possess.

What are all these beings taken together, or summed up under one head? They are one great family, all of the same species, all related to each other, all bound together by kindred ties, interests, sympathies, and affections. In short they are all Gods; or rather, men are the offspring or children of the Gods, and destined to advance by degrees, and to make their way by a progressive series of changes, till they become like their Father in heaven, and like Jesus Christ their elder brother.

Thus perfected, the whole family will possess the material universe, that is, the earth, and all other planets, and worlds, as “an inheritance incorruptible undefiled and that fadeth not away.” They will also continue to organize, people, redeem, and perfect other systems which are now in the womb of Chaos, and thus go on increasing their several dominions, till the weakest child of God which now exists upon the earth will possess MORE DOMINION, MORE PROPERTY, MORE SUBJECTS, and MORE POWER and GLORY than is possessed by Jesus Christ or by his Father; while at the same time Jesus Christ and his Father, will have dominion, kingdoms, and subjects increased in proportion.

Such are the riches, glories, blessings, honors, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, held out by the system of materialism.

Such the wealth, the dignity, the nobility, the titles and honors to which “Mormons” aspire. Such the promises of him whose word can never fail.

With these hopes and prospects before us, we say to the Christian world, who hold to immateriality, that they are welcome to their God–their life—their heaven, and their all.

They claim nothing but that which we throw away, and we claim nothing but that which they throw away. Therefore, there is no ground for quarrel, or contention between us. (Mormon Doctrine of Deity, pages 255-258 emphasis added)

The article is printed in its entirety in Roberts book.

The bold parts are the one that really stuck out in my mind. I have always understood that churches believe that God is Omnipresent (present in all places at all times) but according to Pratt, this is not the case. It is the LDS belief that God, because he has a real body of flesh and bone, cannot be in more than one place at a time. Now, I vaguely remember being taught that when I was a child, that both God and Jesus can only be in one place but the Holy Ghost can be everywhere at once because he does not have a body. Looking at it now, I see how this is in stark contrast to the normal Christian belief.

The other part that really hit me was where he talks about how even the “weakest child of God” will possess more power, dominion, property, and subjects then God/Jesus. WOW, I have never heard that before and in truth, it baffles me. How can they teach that we will become not just LIKE God but BETTER then God? Is it not taught that God is “Omnipotent” or “Almighty” which means having absolute power over all? According to Pratt, it seems that God is not Omnipresent or Omnipotent and if you look at Mormon doctrine about how God came to be, having once been a normal man himself, later being exalted to the status of a God, he is also not the “Alpha” or “Omega” spoken of in Revelations. So if Mormon doctrine teaches that God is not the Alpha and Omega, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, then what on earth do they believe God is?

Reading things like this really make me wonder how they can even make the argument that they are Christian. These teaching are about as contradictory as you can get with the Trinitarian Christian world.


  1. I bet most mormons in their 30's or younger have no clue about this article. Thank you for sharing this bit of info. This is just more evidence towards the fact that mormons have made up a different God and gospel. It is like they took a can of coke emptied it out (of all the good stuff)refilled it (with a bunch of artificial junk)and kept the same label hoping everyone would still buy it.

    Sounds like Galations 1:6-9
    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

  2. Though it does say that the weakest child of God will possess more power and dominion that God and Jesus, it then states that both God and Jesus will increase proportionally as well.

    This tells me that the weakest child will be more powerful that God and Jesus are today, but that God and Jesus will also have increased in power and dominion so as not to be overtaken.

  3. All the nonsense that mormons believe and do. It's a wonder to me. What is it about mormonism that people find so appealing? As someone said, It isn't easy being a mormon. It takes a lot of work, money, time, etc.

  4. The heresy is multifold...

    - God is finite and limited in body and scope.

    - Christ is created and of the same make-up as man (which flies in the face of His perfection, that He is both man and God, the hypostatic union)

    - Man can become like God through our efforts and good works.

    All of which ignores what the Bible teaches and seeks to drag God down to the level of man and that is really the impetus behind virtually every heresy.

  5. "bishop" Rick, please tell us where it says that?

  6. Sido,
    I think Bishop Rick is referring to the line that says “while at the same time Jesus Christ and his Father, will have dominion, kingdoms, and subjects increased in proportion.”

    He is saying that you can become greater then God is NOW but since he is always progressing too you will never be able to catch up to him.

    To me it is a very twisted way of thinking and it puts a limit on God. Now, one thing to notice, and this might be a bit picky, is that it says we will increase to the point where we will have more Dominion, Property, Subjects, Power and Glory. The qualifier that implies that God will also be progressing only mentions Dominion, Kingdoms and Subjects. It does not mention Power or Glory. Does that mean that we can obtain more Power and Glory than God? I don’t know, but it does raise the question.

  7. i'm so amazed at what these people believe -- where in the world do they get this stuff? When will they realize that GOD IS ALL POWERFUL, HE IS EVERYWHERE and is not LIMITED BY US MORTAL BEINGS --let's just take it for what it is -- a young man, disillusioned with the churches of that time and wanted to "shake things up" and throw in a little of various religions -- kind of a "mormon buffet" -- i for one am tired of hearing that they are the ONLY church -- nuff said

  8. It also states in the Bible that God is the same today as he was 2000 years ago and the same he will be 200 0 years from now. PRAISE GOD that he is consistent and NEVER CHANGING!!!!!!!!!

  9. I am learning for about the mormon church here then in the mormon church every sunday. What is up with that? Why is everything whitewashed? Why is it on sundays they never discuss their past and their deep belief of who God, Jesus, and Spirit are? Why?? As a fo-mo I want to know.


  10. Reco-Mo,

    Cr@ig in the Middle has a post up now about truth. The quote below is from his blog but I recommend reading the entire post.

    “I once asked a church apologist why the church isn't honest about it's foundational history and claims. He responded by saying..."Oh Cr@ig, don't be silly, if the church was honest...NO one would join the church." Hmmmm.... but at least he was telling the truth. I only wish Mormon's leaders could value truth as much as they claim to.”

    He hit the nail on the head, if they really told people what they believe and how the church came to be, there would be a mass exodus and no new converts. It is easy to see that they say they value truth but if you look at their actions and how they avoid the truths that do not favor them, the hypocrisy is obvious.

    They only talk about the side of Mormonism they want their followers to see on Sunday because if they started to discuss the less seen/understood side it would bring up questions of their claim to direct prophecy and the whole thing would start to unravel. The are very careful about what they put int he manuals for that very reason. That is my opinion of course but I think it makes good sense.

  11. matthew 7:20

    "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them"

    Mormons seem to think that they bear good fruit because of service, but that only goes so far. What is deeper is sour and bitter tasting fruit.


  12. I've said this before, but the more I think about it the clearer it becomes: the mormon "church" is more like a business than a religion. An unethical, cut throat, scheming, business.

    They do everything based on appearances or marketing strategy. I think that lies and lieing are so embedded in mormonism that they don't even look at them that way anymore. I don't think they think that people should be told the truth only manipulated or coerced.

    Again I'd like to know what is the appeal to mormonism. The mormons get alot of energy, effort, zeal out of their people. How come?

  13. I'll tell Pops the appeal. Family, Eternal Happiness, Be like a God, Exclusivity (by being the only ones allowed in the temple), arrogant pride of knowing you belong to the TRUE church, the fact that you are in control of your salvation, Family, Marriage that is eternal, no drugs, no drinking, no premarital sex.

    I was brought up to believe that their was a laundry list of things I couldn't do and the mormon church had the same list only bigger and better. Outer appearances were all that mattered. What you did on the inside was your business.

    I thought for the first few years of the being a mormon that everyone lived the way "you are supposed to live" I believed that I was changing my family tree.
    Then when I met my inlaws I realized the true side of mormonism. The legalistic, finatical, judgemental, conditional side of the church. The behind the scenes side if you will. The side that when you get home from sacrement meeting you start tearing apart every talk every testimony if it wasn't perfect or up to their standards.

    This is a novel.

    I can't sign my name not after this rant.

  14. hey honey! this topic fascinates me like none other. I know all my words are watched on your blog so I will make it short and sweet. As I have grown to understand my father in heaven I have learned I can't put him in a box. He is infinite and my mind is finite. So no matter what there are some things that will never makes sense and I just have to trust the Lord.

    I enjoyed this article very much. I had no idea that as a mormon God was not omnipresent. I was taught as a kid he was and that isn't a topic in the discussion I don't think anyways. SO I naturally thought that He still was when I became a mormon.

    I have enjoyed the conversations with my mormon friends this week in regards to this subject. No judgement was thrown and I felt like I came away learning a lot about the faith I left behind.