The LDS Church is very actively seeking to reshape itself in the light of the reality that it can no longer survive as a religion focused upon the inter-mountain West of the USA. The final result of this transformation is unknown to anyone but God (apologies to our Open Theistic readers). But one thing is for certain: in seeking to “mainstream” itself, Mormonism faces one fundamental hurdle: at its heart, the religion is opposed to the Christian faith’s most definitional beliefs. So, to “fit in” would require a denial (not just a re-definition) of the heart of LDS teaching and belief, and one thing is for certain, the folks who live around Manti, Utah, will be having none of that any time soon.

One of the strongest statements I have ever encountered from an official (i.e., published by the LDS Church under the copyright of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) resource is found in Achieving a Celestial Marriage: Student Manual (1992), pp. 4-5. Prior to presenting a staged conversation between an older, experienced Mormon and a younger one, some of the subtitles and statements offered include, “God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection; through obedience and celestial marriage we may progress to the point where we become like God;” “…in his mortal condition man is God in embryo. However….any individual now a mortal being may attain the rank and sanctity of godship…;” “God Became God by Obedience to Law” and “Through Obedience to Law We Can Become Like Our Father in Heaven.” But then, in the midst of the conversation, we encounter the following statement by the elder Mormon:

“Always. You are an eternal being. You were never created and you cannot be destroyed, but you can advance, progress, and develop by obedience.”

Consider well these words, offered by the leadership of the LDS Church to their most faithful members preparing to be sealed in the LDS Temple, in light of these passages of Scripture:

You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? (Isa. 29:16, NIV)

These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes. (Psalm 50:21)

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)

One can argue that the Creator/creation distinction (with man, even as the image bearer of God, being firmly in the ‘creation’ category) is so foundational to Christianity that Mormonism’s denial of that distinction is truly its most basic heresy. Indeed, note the words of BYU professor Stephen Robinson:

The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in the divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern…of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pp. 548-549)

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