The LDS Church also offers various courses in religion and doctrine, and publishes manuals to go along with these courses. One such manual, Doctrines of the Gospel, is meant for the Religion 231 and 232 classes. Early on (Chapter 3) it addresses the nature of God from the LDS viewpoint. We should no longer be surprised that as soon as the topic is broached, Joseph Smith’s King Follett sermon is cited as authoritative by this official Church publication. But then we have an interesting statement from Spencer W. Kimball:
God made man in his own image and certainly he made woman in the image of his wife-partner (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.25).
Again we encounter the concept of the heavenly Mother, God’s wife in heaven, and have the interesting assertion that women are made, not in the image of God, but in the image of God’s wife-partner.
The discussion goes on, eventually coming to the topic, “The Father presides over the Godhead.” Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie is cited so as to define what the Godhead is:
Three glorified, exalted, and perfected personages comprise the Godhead or supreme presidency of the universe. . . . They are: God the Father; God the Son; God the Holy Ghost.
Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are one God . . . , meaning that they are united as one in the attributes of perfection. For instance, each has the fulness of truth, knowledge, charity, power, justice, judgment, mercy, and faith. Accordingly they all think, act, speak, and are alike in all things; and yet they are three separate and distinct entities. 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. (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 319.)
The unity of the Godhead, then, is not an ontological unity (that is, a unity of being), but a unity of agreement between three separate and distinct entities. These entities occupy space and can be in but one place at one time. So in essence, the unity of the Godhead in Mormon theology would be akin to saying the Congress is one in agreeing on a bill, while consisting of multiple separate entities or persons.
Achieving a Celestial Marriage
A celestial marriage, i.e., one wherein the couple is sealed in the Mormon Temple, is the key to exaltation according to another publication produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Achieving a Celestial Marriage is another student manual, copyrighted 1992 by the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What it says about God is especially relevant, since it does so in the context of guiding couples into the very relationship that makes exaltation to godhood possible! On pages 129-132 we encounter the plain and clear words of this official publication regarding the means by which men are exalted to the status of a God. As normal, the source begins with the idea of man’s capacity for progress and exaltation, and from this, moves to the idea that God Himself went through a similar process.
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that man is an eternal being, made in the image and likeness of God. It also holds that man is a literal child of God and has the potential, if faithful to divine laws and ordinances, of becoming like his heavenly parent. These truths are generally well understood by Latter-day Saints.
The reader has surely noted the repeated emphasis, throughout the literature surveyed so far, on the absolute necessity of faithfulness to divine laws and ordinances if one is to gain exaltation. Here these concepts are said to be definitional of the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. We cannot emphasize too strongly that in Mormonism this idea of advancement to godhood is the gospel of the Mormon Church! If we fail to understand this, we risk seeing this as a mere side-issue, rather than the defining concept that it is. The necessity of obedience to such laws comes out in the next section as well:
Less well understood, however, is the fact that God is an exalted man who once lived on an earth and underwent experiences of mortality. The Prophet Joseph Smith refers to this as the great secret. (Times and Seasons 5:613 [15 Aug. 1844]. See also Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345.) The progression of our Father in heaven to godhood, or exaltation, was strictly in accordance with eternal principles, for he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. (D&C 88:22.)
One of the concepts that is especially troubling to the Christian reviewer of these beliefs is the idea that part and parcel of the idea of exaltation and the very power of God is the idea of procreation. It is not as if there is something wrong with human sexuality: but the projection of creaturely means of propagation onto the Creator Himself is what causes the orthodox Christian to read the following words with amazement:
By definition, exaltation includes the ability to procreate the family unit throughout eternity. This our Father in heaven has power to do. His marriage partner is our mother in heaven. We are their spirit children, born to them in the bonds of celestial marriage.
The Lord would have all his children attain exaltation, but men must have their agency. Only those who subscribe by ordinance and by faithful adherence to covenant are worthy of a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (D&C 132:19.)
When making the decision concerning the magnitude of difference between the LDS view of God, and the historic Christian view, the idea that God has a continuation of the seeds forever and ever, and that this is made a part of His deity, should be kept in mind.
This section is followed by one titled God was once a mortal man, and again, we find the LDS Church falling back, not upon her Scriptures to teach her people, but the King Follett Funeral Discourse. Subtitles include “He Lived on an Earth Like Our Own” and “He Experienced Conditions Similar to Our Own and Advanced Step by Step.” This is followed by another section, “God is Now an Exalted Man with Powers of Eternal Increase,” with a subtitle, “Our Father in Heaven Lives in an Exalted Marriage Relationship.” Under this section Melvin J. Ballard is quoted:
No matter to what heights God has attained or may attain, he does not stand alone: for side by side with him, in all her glory, a glory like unto his, stands a companion, the Mother of his children. For as we have a Father in heaven, so also we have a Mother there, a glorified, exalted, ennobled Mother.” (Melvin J. Ballard, as quoted in Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, pp. 205-6.)
The repetition of the same theme concerning the heavenly Mother should also play a large role in comparing LDS teaching to historic Christian theology. The literal parent-child relationship of God and humans is then emphasized with subtitles including “We Are Literal Children of God” and “We Lived with our Heavenly Parents Prior to Coming to Earth.”
Doctrines of the Gospel, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1986), pp. 7-8.
 The person familiar with LDS theology will find it interesting that in the intervening material there is a citation of Bruce R. McConkie’s Fireside talk at BYU titled, Our Relationship with the Lord. This talk is famous, for in it McConkie counseled against seeking a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The impossible position the LDS are placed in by their theology of God is well illustrated in McConkie’s attempts to explain just who it is that Mormons worship, and how Jesus is not to be worshipped as the Father is. This leads to a direct violation of the commandment to worship Jehovah alone.