I’ve got a page (here), where I allow people to ask questions about Mormonism. On June 27th, Mitch.4.Him asked the following:
Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught, “We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on, from generation to generation”
Isaiah 43:10 says “… before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me”.
I think your real question is “why do you preach polytheism (the belief in many gods) when Isaiah apparently teaches Monotheism (the belief in one god)”?
Actually, this is a common question we receive from critics of the church who poorly understand Mormonism and incorrectly interpret this scripture. For Mormons are not Polytheists, and the assertion that Isaiah was teaching Monotheism is an icorrect. But first let me address the notion of polytheism.
Mormons are not Polytheistic, we worship only one God. They’re confusing Polytheism with theosis (human deification, or the belief that we can become like God), which is what we really are. The belief in theosis and being Monotheistic are not mutually exclusive, but are perfectly harmonious, and this scripture in Isaiah happens to point out why (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Additionally the belief in theosis is not, actually, unique to Mormons, but is shared among many early Christians and much of modern Christianity (Eastern Orthodox).
This official statement from the church on the idea that we can become like God was given in response to an interview by Fox News (here):
We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.
This is theosis, or the belief that we can become like God.
Next, the assertion that Isaiah was teaching Monotheism isn’t accurate. Actually in Isaiah’s time, they were not Monotheistic either – so he wasn’t saying “there are no other gods”.
What he actually said was that before God, there were no gods, nor will there be any after him. But if you think about it, God is eternal, which means there never was a time in which God did not exist, so there never was a “before god”, nor a scenario that would be “after God”. But what then could he be talking about?
Further study of Isaiah reveals that this scripture is a comparison of Isaiah between the God of Israel (YHWH) and Ba’al, a deity worshiped by the Canaanites. Ba’al had defeated Yaam, his preceding deity, to become chief of the Canaanite pantheon. And as such, it was assumed he too could be superseded. But Isaiah wanted to make it clear that YHWH did not replace his god, nor could he be replaced (hence – there was no god before me, nor will there be after me). For he didn’t oust some prior diety to become God, and nobody else can remove him to take his place.
You’ll notice, therefore, that while he says there were no gods before him, or after him, there was no mention of any gods “during” him.
Hence, theosis, or the belief that we too can become like God, partaking of his divine nature (Peter), and becoming joint heirs with Christ (Paul), is not in contradiction to scripture, for in doing so, we do not replace god, we simply become like him. Regardless, he is our only God today, and will be our God eternally, our relationship with His is everlasting, but doesn’t preclude our ability to become like him. We are taught that we should become perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect, that we become joint heirs with Christ, inheriting all the father hath.
What a beautiful and magnificent doctrine, to know that our goal is greater than salvation from sin, but rather ultimate exaltation.
Such a notion expands our minds to behold all new vistas of opportunities, and provides further foundation to the real understanding of the true nature of God (which I’ll cover shortly), and the concept that we must do more than just believe and be baptized (which I cover here). Actual exaltation and the opportunity for eternal progression requires a higher degree of dilligence, but is within our reach.
After all, we are children of a living God, and were created in His divine image, is it not fitting that such a loving father would desire that we should inherit all that he hath?
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