“Then shall they be gods”
This is quoted from the LDS Scripture, D&C 132:19. It’s not an obscure reference either. It plays a very important role in LDS theology. Even though it has held a prominent place in much of LDS history, I have rarely seen it quoted in the last decade or so. At least not in official LDS publications. Therefore I did a double-take when I saw it in this December’s issue of the Ensign. Although the following is somewhat lengthy, it is well worth quoting.
“The greatest of all the blessings and gifts of God is eternal life—which is the life God lives! This gift is given only to those who receive all gospel ordinances and abide by the covenants encompassed within the new and everlasting covenant. In the Lord’s words: “The new and everlasting covenant … was instituted for the fulness of my glory.” Indeed, those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant and endure to the end “shall come forth in the first resurrection … and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths.” The Lord emphatically declares that “it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods.”
“In summary, those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant and endure faithfully to the end will (1) receive the fulness of the glory of God, (2) enjoy the power of godliness in time and eternity, (3) be exalted, (4) enjoy eternal marriage and increase, and (5) become gods. Taken together, these blessings culminate in the gift of eternal life.” (Elder Marcus B. Nash, “The New and Everlasting Covenant” December 2015, Ensign, p. 43, my emphasis).
There is much I could comment on. Note how Elder Nash equates eternal life and exaltation and defines both as having the life God lives or, in other words, becoming a god. This illustrates how important it is to carefully define words when speaking with a Mormon since Mormonism defines important words drastically differently.
Note also how this applies “only to those who receive all gospel ordinances and abide by the covenants encompassed within the new and everlasting covenant”. He devotes the majority of the article expanding on that thought. For example, he goes on to say: “The Lord unequivocally declared that we receive these supernal blessings only as we obey His laws as set forth in the new and everlasting covenant.” Such statements highlight the emphasis Mormonism places on human obedience to qualify for God’s gifts. This juxta positioning of a divine gift with human obedience is as irritating to a Christian as a car alarm screeching incessantly.
But the thing that I want to highlight is how this clearly shows that the LDS teaching that people can become gods is not an antiquated, dusty doctrine. It is being publicly proclaimed as we enter 2016. I feel the need to emphasize that because the vast majority of Mormons I have talked with in the last years have denied that Mormonism teaches this. Instead they say it teaches that they can become like God. Just the fact that they feel compelled to say that indicates that they see this as an important distinction.
In that I fully agree. There is a big difference becoming like God and becoming a god. Mormonism teaches that people can become gods. Period. That is why I view Elder Nash’s article as a breath of fresh air. Here there is no subterfuge but rather a clear presentation of LDS teaching.
I anticipate making good use of this article in the coming months to illustrate to both Christians and Mormons alike that there are huge and essential differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity. That is important to point out because, until those differences are acknowledged, it is frustrating and difficult to have a fruitful discussion. But when they are recognized, it has been my experience at least, that the conversation becomes much more focused and fruitful.
That’s so important because of the stakes involved. May 2016 be a year when thousands of Mormons hear the wonderful news that eternal life is living with God, (not living as God) and that it is entirely God’s gift based on the merits of Jesus - demanding no obedience on our part.