Is God an Exalted Man?

Posted: June 24, 2011 by Amy Hall in Choosing My Religion, God is Real, Jesus Changes Everything

When I was meeting with Mormon missionaries, it was their view of God that was particularly grieving to me. I wanted them to know the God who is, was, and always would be God, who is not of the same species we are, who isn’t limited by a physical body, and who was always perfect, never sinned, and isn’t getting better (because such a thing wouldn’t be possible).

But below is a video where some Mormons explain why the very same LDS ideas about God that horrify me are actually encouraging to them. How can this be? The answer goes to the heart of the difference between the Mormon and Christian gospels.

For those of us whose main, ultimate purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever—a goal which can only be achieved by throwing ourselves into His mercy and grace because of our lowly sinfulness, we rejoice in a perfect and holy non-human God to trust in and worship. But for those Mormons whose main purpose is to progress to godhood through a series of requirements, this kind of God is the ultimate discouragement.

They are horrified by the thought that God is, and always has been, a completely different kind of being from us in form, eternality, holiness, and perfection because that puts the possibility of our becoming like Him (their primary goal) completely out of reach. But if we are of the same species as God, if He were once a sinner just like us, then they know that godhood is attainable, so they’re encouraged to not give up their striving. As one person in the video puts it, “That’s really what the [LDS] teachings are—just try to be better the next day than you were the day before.”

So while Christians are trusting only in God to cross the unimaginable distance between us by paying for our sins, Mormons are working to pay God back what they owe Him (as this LDS parable explains). You can see how an understanding of the vast difference between God and human beings will either cause us to rejoice or despair, depending on our goal.

If you’re interested in understanding the theological differences between LDS and Christian beliefs more clearly, James White’s book, Letters to a Mormon Elder, can be read for free online.  Here, also, is a list of Bible verses from CARM that can help you pinpoint where we differ (HT: Apologetics315, video by Aaron Shafovaloff).

  1. Sam Harper says:

    I actually talked to some Mormon missionaries about this subject a few days ago and last week. The odd thing is, they think God is perfect and unchanging, but that he is also progressing. When I pressed them on this apparent contradiction, they just shrugged and said, “We’re not theologians.”

    We also talked about the need to repent before God’s grace is sufficient for us, and I pressed them on that, too. Has anybody denied themselves ALL ungodliness? Because you’d have to be completely free of all sin to meet that standard. It turns out, they think that’s actually possible. They think the last two Mormon prophets–Monson and Hinckley–had both reached a state of perfection. They even think it’s theoretically possible for a person to go their whole lives without sinning, although it just happens that nobody does.

    Unfortunately, they didn’t want me to video the conversation. It was fun, though. I spent an hour with them last week, and they came back this week for ANOTHER hour! I can never get the Jehovah’s Witnesses to come back, so I was pretty excited about having them come back.

    • Amy Hall says:

      I really miss talking to them.

      I honestly think that their belief that perfection is possible comes from their young age. They just haven’t experienced enough of life or been tested enough yet to know what sinners they are. As is the case with all of us, the state of their hearts will become all too apparent in time. That’s when I can’t even imagine the despair they must go through, if they’re honest with themselves.

  2. Chris Maness says:

    Nice critique, Amy. It seems as though most mormons don’t know what their church truly teaches. I have a friend that is a mormon bishop, and he seems to be lost in this topic as well. Unless however, he is feigning ignorance because he knows I will nail him for a contradiction.

    Chris Maness