Ep57-We Shall Be as He Is: The Mormon Doctrine of Deification (P1 1) - Of God and Gods Ch 11

Show Notes:


“The scriptures repeatedly state that humans can reflect divinity. 2 Peter 1:4 expressly asserts that grace is multiplied in us “according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that are necessary unto life and godliness . . . that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature.” In John 10:34–36, Jesus addressed the Jews and quoted Psalm 82: “I said ye are gods.” 1 John 3:2 says that when Christ appears “we shall be like him.” As the earliest Christians pondered these texts and others, they quickly came to the conclusion that God’s goal for us is to become divine in nature and to be gods.”

Deification in the Mormon Tradition

“It is well known that the Fathers of the early church, especially those in the Greek-speaking East, believed in the doctrine of <Greek script> (theosis) or the view that humans become divine or share divine life. However, it is a mistake to argue that their belief in theosis is merely a mirror of the Mormon belief that humans become partakers of the divine nature. Because virtually every single one of the Patristic theologians since Irenaeus (about 195 a.d.) believed in the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, they began from the fundamental assumption that God’s mode of being is radically different from any created substance, including human substances.

“I will distinguish among five different views:
1. Absolute Deification: We can be identical to God.
2. Robust deification: We become the same kind of being as God.
3. Moderate Deification: We become like God in the sense that, although there are ontological differences that cannot be bridged, these differences can nevertheless be blurred by sharing the divine energies.
4. Weak deification: We become something remotely like God in an analogical sense, but there is a vast difference that can never be bridged.
5. Adeification: We cannot be anything like God at all.”

“The comparison between humans and the kind of being that God is can be better compared to the relation between oxygen and hydrogen and water by analogy.
Oxygen and hydrogen are not merely water; rather, they are water only when they are in a particular kind of molecular union. Hydrogen and oxygen considered individually could never grow or mature into water.”

“Deity just is a certain kind of relationship of a certain kind of beings.”

“...I am not asserting that humans become constituent parts of God and are thus divine. Rather, I argue that, when we enter into a loving relation of indwelling unity with the Father, the properties of deity emerge from that unity and interpenetrate our being in such a way as to transform us into something that is a different kind from an isolated or alienated human being.”

“...robust deification is not an accurate description of deification in the Mormon tradition if it is construed to mean:
RD1: Humans, as individuals, become the same kind of being as God.
However, it is accurate if it means:
RD2: Humans perfected in the love of Christ become the same kind of being as God to the extent that they are in a relationship of a fulness of indwelling unity with the Father through Christ.”

“Deification is accomplished when a person’s body is given life by being filled with the glory, light, and power of God. Another revelation, given to Joseph Smith on December 27, 1832, summarized well the entire doctrine of deification:
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God. (D&C 88:67–68; emphasis mine)”

“The December 1832 revelation canonized as Section 88 stated:
They who are a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was the natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. (D&C 88:28–29; emphasis mine)”

“The concept of “a fulness” is intimately connected with the divine glory that characterizes the divine life. “A fulness” in Joseph Smith’s revelations refers to the fulness of life and glory that is given by the Father to the Son and which is received by grace from one glory to another in a process of growth and progression.”

“the fifth “Lecture on Faith” published in September 1835 makes it plain that humans can become a part of the Godhead. It defines the attributes of the Godhead to include perfected Saints within its unity:
And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one; or, in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things; by whom all things were created and made that were created and made, and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one; the Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness—filling all in all; the Son being filled with the fullness of the mind, glory, and power; or, in other words, the spirit, glory, and power, of the Father, possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom, sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father,mediator for man, being filled with the fullness of the mind of the Father; or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father, which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments; and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all; being filled with the fullness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.”

“What has often been missed by Mormon scholars is that the King Follett Discourse, which Joseph Smith delivered on April 7, 1844, is an expansion of the seventh “Lecture on Faith.” That discourse again presents the same argument that beings must be the same kind of being as God to be saved. The “Lectures on Faith” assert that the attributes of God’s character (identified in Lecture 3) are precisely those attributes in which we must share to be saved as God is. That is exactly the starting point for Joseph Smith in the King Follett Discourse. To comprehend ourselves and what our capacities are, we must comprehend God: “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”

“To comprehend ourselves through comprehending God’s character, Joseph Smith places the argument in the context of the eternal human spirit that is uncreated just as God is uncreated”

“The apex of the King Follett Discourse consists of the assertion that humans follow the same path as Christ to become heirs and partake of the same glory as Christ does with the Father. It is a stunning assertion that everything that Christ shares with the Father, the Saints also share with Christ in the Father”

“the view of deification most often implicitly accepted as definitive in the Mormon tradition is the revelation on eternal marriage received July 12, 1843. This revelation redefines deification as “exaltation” and gives rise to the popular view that deification is merely the power to beget offspring in a eternal family unit:”

Explain the difference...

“the essential core of any adequate description of deification in the Mormon tradition includes:
1. The sons [and daughters] of the Most High God in the council of the gods were in his presence prior to this mortal life. However, God desired to share a peer relation with us that is possible to achieve only if we possess the fulness of his likeness and image. The sons of the Most High God were sentenced to become mortal so that they could learn to defend the poor and deal justly with those given to their care (as Psalm 82 teaches).
2. Through the Fall we have chosen to forego our immortal glory to learn from the things that we experience as mortals just as Adam and Eve did as symbolic representatives of all humankind. Like Adam and Eve, we have all freely chosen to leave God’s presence to learn to appreciate good by experiencing evil. To empower our growth to be as God is and to share a fulness of relationship, it was necessary for us to leave our immortal life to experience mortal life and opposition as a means of experiencing further growth into the divine likeness.
“3. Christ, as God, became mortal to restore the image and likeness that we all voluntarily relinquished through the Fall.
4. Those who freely accept Christ enter into a relationship of indwelling communion of shared life and, if they continue, will progress to achieve their ultimate potential as sons and daughters of God, become joint heirs with Christ of all that the Father has and is and are therefore, appropriately, exalted gods.
5. As gods, our premortal glory is restored to us and further added upon, and we become once again members of the heavenly council of gods presided over by the Most High God.”


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