Do We Have the Potential to become Like God?
by Michael W. Fordham
Critics of the Church claim that the LDS religion is blasphemous and even Satanic because we think we can become a god. They use Isaiah 14:12-14 in an attempt to show that wanting to be like God is satanic.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
When the critics make these claims, they never explain what LDS doctrine really is. Instead, they give a perverted version of LDS doctrine that Latter-day Saints don’t even recognize as what they believe or are taught. We absolutely do not believe that we will ever be independent of God or no longer subject to Him. He will always be our God. We do not believe that we will take away His glory, but we only add to it by following Christ.
Latter-Day Saints believe that God is literally the Father of our spirits. We believe we lived in a pre-existence with Him. This pre-existence is another subject, but it should be understood we believe this, so that we can understand that God, in being our Heavenly Father, is not symbolic or figurative; the relationship is literal.
The Bible tells us that God is the father of our spirits. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the father of spirits, and live?”1 More than this, the Bible tells us we are theoffspring of our Heavenly Father. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.“2 Our physical bodies are the offspring of our mortal parents, and God is the Father of our spirits. Therefore, our spirits are the offspring of God in the very same sense that our bodies are the offspring of our earthly parents. The book of Acts goes on to tell us that since we are the offspring of God, God must be some type of being which we are similar to. “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”3 The doctrine of the Trinity as accepted by most Christians today is certainly based on the creeds, which are “man’s device.”
When the Bible tells us of our creation, we are told we were created in the image of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”4 If God is literally the Father of our spirits, making us offspring of Him, then we could be called gods ourselves. In fact, the Bible makes this very declaration. “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”5 Jesus Christ Himself said we were gods: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.“6 Christ pointed out that Psalm 82:6 was not a mistake or a fluke, for He added the phrase “and the scripture cannot be broken” right after it, stressing that it was accurate and that its meaning could not be argued away.
Even though we can be called gods, we are not on the same level as God the Father. We are like Him in that we have potential. In other words, being his children, we are in essence gods in embryo, not equal to Him. In order to reach that potential, there is a transformation that we must go through. We cannot go through this transformation without Jesus Christ.
The Bible talks about this transformation. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.“7 Adam and Eve ate of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which changed their state of innocence to our mortal condition we are in now. Once Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, our potentiality of becoming like our Heavenly Father was made manifest. “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”8 However, they also transgressed when they ate, and that would prevent mankind from reaching this full potential, since no unclean thing can enter heaven. To prevent mankind from living eternally in this less-than-full potential state, God evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden and made it impossible for them to eat of the tree of Life. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”9 Once the fruit of the tree of Life is eaten, then we would live in whatever condition our life has brought us to. Therefore, it is reserved for those who reach their full potential, or in other words, those who overcome. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will i give to eat of the tree of life,which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”10 Those who overcome are those who have obeyed the Lord: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”11 Among the things that we have been commanded to do is to have the proper ordinances performed (baptism, marriage for eternity, priesthood ordination, etc.), and repent. Without all this, we cannot reach this potential to become a god.
The Bible also tells us that we can be “one” in the very same sense that Christ and His Father are “one.” Now, if God the Father is God, and Jesus Christ is God, and we can be one with them, then we have the potential to be a god ourselves. A God has glory and is perfect. Glory and perfection are two attributes that belong to God. Christ, when He prayed to His Father, prayed for this very thing, that we might receive glory, and be perfect “even as we.”
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.12
To what extent is this glory that we have the opportunity to obtain? The Bible is quite clear that it is the fullness of God that we might have: “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.“13 But does this “fulness” really have anything to do with the very nature of being a god? It most certainly does.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”14
The Bible continues to explain that as children, we have the opportunity to inherit everything the Father has: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”15 The Bible clarifies this inheritance. It tells us that we will inherit the very same thing that Jesus Christ inherits from the Father:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of god: and if children, then heirs; heirs of god, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.16
In fact, the Bible tells us that we may have thrones just like the Son and the Father: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”17
Besides the nature and characteristics of godhood, we are told that our bodies will be just like God’s body. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”18 Though we may not fully understand this, it will become apparent when Christ returns for the second coming. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”19
No true Christian would deny that God is perfect. We have been commanded to be like Him in this respect as well: “Be ye therefore perfect,even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.”20
Latter-Day Saints who have received the temple ordinances recognize that we can only inherit all things if we are married for eternity. This LDS principle, which is ridiculed by critics of the Church, is also taught by the Bible. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”21 Latter-Day Saints are taught that only those who are married for eternity can become as God. Only a god can have spirit children of their own. Thus, the cycle continues, as does our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Why do you think marriage is such a sacred subject in the scriptures? It is not a coincidence that our earthly marriage is a step in preparation for us to reach our full potential of becoming as God.
In conclusion, when the Bible tells us that . . .
- We were created in the image of God
- God is the father of our spirits
- We are the offspring of God
- Christ calls us gods
- Man has become as God
- We will inherit all things
- We will be co-heirs with Christ of all things
- We will have glory
- We will have thrones
- We will be filled with the fullness of God
- We will be partakers of the divine nature of God
- We will be one with God
- We shall be like Him
- Our bodies will be fashioned like His glorious body
- We can gain perfection
then yes, I believe we have the potential to become a god ourselves. It is tradition that teaches these things are not true. It is the councils of men that teach these things are not true; it is the Christian Creeds that teach these things are not true. It is the Holy Bible that teaches these things are true. I choose to believe what the Bible teaches.
1 Hebrews 12:9, emphasis added.
2 Acts 17:28, emphasis added.
3 Acts 17:29.
4 Genesis 1:26.
5 Psalms 82:6, emphasis added.
6 John 10:34-35, emphasis added.
7 Genesis 2:9, emphasis added.
8 Genesis 3:22, emphasis added.
9 Genesis 3:24.
10 Revelation 2:7, emphasis added.
11 Revelation 22:14, emphasis added.
12 John 17:20-23, emphasis added.
13 Ephesians 3:19, emphasis added.
14 2 Peter 1:3-4, emphasis added.
15 Revelation 21:7, emphasis added.
16 Romans 8:14-18, emphasis added.
17 Revelation 3:21, emphasis added.
18 Phillipians 3:21, emphasis added.
19 1 John 3:2, emphasis added.
20 Matthew 5:48, emphasis added.
21 1 Peter 3:7, emphasis added.