God-3 distinct beings? “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”
**Question:** 1. The Doctrine and Covenants 20:28 states, "Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen." However, Joseph Smith stated different times that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three Gods. Please explain this apparent contradiction.
2. I found on a Mormon website that Mormons believe, "As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be." This was stated by Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the LDS Church. Joseph Smith also made statements such as this, as for example, in History of the Church, 6:305. Is this official LDS doctrine? The Bible strongly emphasizes that there is only one God, and that there never has been or ever will be another God, so if the LDS Church believes in more than one God, then both the Bible and the LDS writings can't both be right. Even worse, at least one of them must contain much intentional dishonesty. I don't see how this doctrinal difference can be explained by honest mistakes.
3. Many people of different religions have told me that they did not pick their religion because of reason, but because of the wonderful feelings it gives them. Since these religions differ in ways that would have serious eternal consequences, we definitely cannot trust feelings. Is there solid evidence that Mormonism is the correct religion?
**Response:** From the Doctrine and Covenants, you quoted, "which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal without end, amen." You then asked how that stands up considering that Joseph Smith stated several times that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three Gods, and asked for an explanation of the apparent contradiction. To that, I call your attention to Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, which states, "the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." Additionally, the "oneness" of God our Father, Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Ghost is that they are one God in purpose. In perspective, in plan and in action, their goal, their work, and their glory is to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man. There indeed is a oneness in the way they operate to accomplish that job.
Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. The coaching staff members of a major football team are separate and distinct individuals, and each has a specific coaching assignment, including the head coach himself. But their purpose is identical, and that is to win the game. In order to make that happen, their individual responsibilities must be done and completed perfectly right, and as they meet to strategize how to accomplish the objective, they finally conclude on the game strategy, and conduct that game plan throughout the course of the game. Albeit they are individuals, they are all of the same mind and determination as to how to get the job done.
Joseph's first vision made it perfectly clear that he saw God our Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, as separate and distinct beings, just as did Stephen on the occasion of his stoning (see Acts 7:54-56). In preaching to the Hebrews, Paul also clarified that Christ Himself, when He finished His work on the earth, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High. He did not become the Majesty on High, but rather, took His place at the right hand of our Heavenly Father.
Your second question had to do with the Lorenzo Snow quote, "as man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become." You then asked if this was official LDS doctrine, and suggested the Bible strongly emphasizes that there is only one God and that there never has been nor will be another God. In answer to the question.yes, Lorenzo Snow's statement is official LDS doctrine.
Perhaps this perspective will be helpful to you. If it is not possible for us to become like God, what did the Savior mean when He instructed us in Matthew 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect?"
That perfection does not come in an instant. It is something that evolves over time. But if He is our Father, our teacher, our mentor; if He wants his children to have all that he has, and if He continues to properly instruct us as He has thus far, then if we are willing to not only learn the lessons but to do everything He has asked us to do, it would seem that over eons of time we will gain greater and greater knowledge and a greater and greater understanding of things as they really are. We will know what He knows. Thus the potential of becoming perfect even as He is. The words eternal life, which we all hope to obtain, simply mean "God's life." We will never take His place. He will always be our Father in the same way that my father here on earth remains to be my father even though I have become a father to my children, and so on and so on. Our Father in Heaven will never get old and retire. He will never be replaced by anyone, including ourselves regardless of our achievements and progression. But it is possible for us to eventually know what He knows and do what He does.
Your third question said, "many people of different religions have told me that they did not pick their religion because of a reason, but because of the wonderful feelings it gives them. Since these religions differ in ways that would have serious eternal consequences, we definitely cannot trust feelings." You then asked, "Is there solid evidence that Mormonism is the correct religion?"
I understand the perspective from which you ask the question; however, this is an interesting point that you make. There are so many different Christian religions, and yet we all claim to believe in Jesus Christ. But, as we compare doctrine and ordinances, all of the Christian religions in the world today, as you have rightly said, differ on major points. So, my answer consists of two parts.
First, God is a God of order. What we claim is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same church which Christ organized when He was on the earth in the meridian of time. When it was organized, His apostles were ordained and given power and authority to act in His name, and given the specific charge to go out into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone. Within 38 years from that time, all of the apostles except John had been killed. Most of them met violent deaths. The last apostle we hear of is John the Beloved, who was banished to the Isle of Patmos, and from there, wrote the book of Revelations. That happened sometime between 78 and 90 AD. By that time, the church was in disarray; even backing up to the preachings of Paul to the Corinthians, the Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, and Thessalonians, there were false doctrines that were beginning to creep in even then. Without the direct guidance of the apostles and prophets on the earth, the church, as it was organized by Christ, fell into a state of apostasy.
In 300 AD, Constantine, the Emperor of Rome and a non-Christian, formed the Council at Nice, where all of his Christian subjects met for one year and decided what doctrines were acceptable to the group as a whole and which ones would be discarded. From that meeting rose the Catholic Church as the predominant Christian religion. But, not all of its doctrines agreed specifically with the doctrines taught by Christ, Peter, James, John, Paul, and others. By the 1400s, there was major antagonism toward the tenets of Catholicism, and the "reformers," or Protestants, began to arise and "protest". Martin Luther was the most visible, followed by John Calvin, John Knox, the Wesleyans, and Roger Williams. All of them claimed that the doctrine of that church was incorrect and that they could not follow its teachings, and were waiting for the Lord to speak again and restore His church to the earth.
As you know from your studies, it is our belief and doctrine that the church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I could repeat all of what I have written about the rest of this history in this email but it would be much better if you read those specifics on my Main Beliefs Page.
So, as you asked, is there any solid evidence that Mormonism is the correct religion? Yes. It is the only one that follows the original organization of Christ's church from the beginning. It is not Catholic or Protestant, but is the restoration of all things. Your friends' statements that they believe what they believe because of wonderful feelings should not be criticized. In the final analysis, the Spirit of the Holy Ghost guides us and directs us toward truth and righteousness by feelings, by promptings, by the whispering of the still small voice, and other spiritually-related matters. If I were you, I would take some time this next week and begin to read the Book of Mormon from the first page to the last, including all of the introductory pages, which explain in detail the origin of the Book of Mormon. If you will do that with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we come to know the truth of all things.
- Donny Osmond