One God or Many?

The following was first published around 1989 in tract form.

The single greatest explanation of the nature and existence of God from the mouth of the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, is to be found in his comments at the funeral of one “King Follett”in April of 1844. This discourse was published first in the Times and Seasons of August 15,1844.

Here are a few of the more important sections:

I have been requested to speak by his friends and relatives, but inasmuch as there are a great many in this congregation who live in this city as well as elsewhere, who have lost friends, I feel disposed to speak on the subject in general, and offer you my ideas, so far as I have ability, and so far as I shall be inspired by the Holy Spirit to dwell on this subject….

God himself was once a man 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;….

….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.

…It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that 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, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power….

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 (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-347. Emphasis ours).

Note what Joseph Smith taught in this passage. First, God was once a man. Secondly, God is nowan exalted man with a physical body. Thirdly, that we must learn how to be gods ourselves. Clearly, Joseph Smith taught that there were many gods, or, as Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt said, “If we should take a million worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds” (Journal of Discourses 2:345). Obviously, other beliefs that are part of the Mormon concept of God include a denial of such historic Christian beliefs as monotheism (there is only one God), the eternal nature of God (God has always been God) and the Biblical view of man (God is unique, and we are not gods or meant to become gods).

What does the Bible teach on these subjects? Is Mormon belief consistent with what the Bible teaches? Most certainly not! Given the shortness of space, we cannot deal with the topic in depth. Instead, we ask you to consider the following questions, and the truths of the Word of God that are provided following each one:

Was God Once a Man, as Joseph Smith Taught?

“…thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes” (Psalm 50:21).

“…for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee…” (Hosea 11:9).

Did God “Become” A God, as Joseph Smith Taught?

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Malachi 3:6). “Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he” (Isaiah 41:4)

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9)

Are There Many Gods, as Joseph Smith Taught?

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:5-6)

“…Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any” (Isaiah 44:8).

“…before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isaiah 43:10).[Some LDS argue that these passages only refer to “Idols” rather than the “true gods” that exist in Mormon theology. Of course, the follower of those idols in Isaiah’s day would have claimed that their idols were true gods, too! But this excuse does not hold up to examination-God claims that he knows of no other gods (Isaiah 44:8)-does this mean He does not know about the false idols?]

Can Men Become Gods like God Himself, or is God Unique?

“To whom will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Isaiah 40:18)

“To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?” (Isaiah 46:5).

We would challenge any LDS person to read the 40th through the 48th chapters of the prophecy of Isaiah with this one question in mind: is the God who speaks in these passages the God that I worship? We do not believe that any person can read Joseph Smith’s words above and claim that they can believe both Joseph Smith and Isaiah’s prophecy.

Remember what the Bible says: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

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