Members of The Church of Jesus Christ (Inadvertently Called Mormons or Latter-day Saints) Believe that After Death, All Mankind Will Be Resurrected With Perfected, Immortal Bodies
Have you ever pondered how long “forever” is in relation to our mortal time here on earth? Here is a visual that helps me “see” the big picture: If you were to take a very long string and drape it all around your house, through every single room, then take a marker and make a small mark on the string. This small mark represents the time of our life on earth. The rest of the string represents eternity. With such an eternity, is it not conceivable that we could learn and grow and become as our Father in Heaven?
Like other Mormons, I believe that faithful Mormon males and females can become Gods and Goddesses…eventually…after a long (almost evolutional) learning curve. This concept is a really big one; even lifelong members of the church can have a hard time getting their heads around it. And while I no longer question that it can happen, I do understand why it seems weird to our friends of other faiths, and why some people go so far as to call The Church of Jesus Christ a cult because of this belief. I hope that if you are of another faith you will read through and allow me to explain a little about the doctrines of The Church of Christ as I understand them so you can see where this belief comes from.
First, it is important that my friends of other faiths understand what Mormons believe about the nature of God. There are three doctrines that make The Church of Jesus Christ stand out as unique. The first is that God, The Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, both have resurrected bodies of flesh and bone. The second is that humans are literal spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven who wants us to learn and grow and truly become as He is. The third is that Mormons believe that God possesses perfect knowledge and uses it to complete His work, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (See Moses 1:39.)
Mormons Believe that God, Our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ have resurrected bodies of Flesh and Bones
Mormons believe that God has a body that looks like ours, but in an immortal, perfected and glorified state. When Joseph Smith was a young boy, he had questions about religion. In answer to his prayers, Joseph received a vision in which he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ appear. The Prophet wrote:
“I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (See Joseph Smith History 1:17.)
This account is very similar to the account of Stephen in the Bible. Said he, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (See Acts 7:56.)
From these experiences, we can understand that The God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate individuals and that both of them have bodies that look like ours. Most Christians recognize that Jesus has a body, because The Holy Bible testifies of such when it records His visit to the apostles where He ate and talked with them, and they were allowed to touch His resurrected body.
Joseph Smith described God as a “Personage, whose Glory defies description.” We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). And while God has a body that looks like ours, His body is immortal, perfected, and has a glory that words can’t describe.
Mormons believe we are literal Sons and Daughters of God.
In The New Testament, The Book of Acts 17:28 we read (speaking of God): “For in Him we live, and move, and have our own being; …For we are His offspring.” Mormons believe that we are spirit children of God. We maintain that His work in creating the earth and placing us upon it is to help us gain the wisdom and knowledge we will need to accomplish this end… to become like him, co-heirs with Christ, which means to share in His attributes of knowledge, wisdom, justice, and the ability to create. To me, it is logical that our Father in Heaven would want His children to grow in wisdom and in stature until they reach a perfected and glorified state. I call that a state of Godliness. I know this is possible because I am His daughter and He is a Perfect Father who will tutor me the entire way.
Mormons Believe God Operates from the Basis of “Knowledge is Power” Quite Literally
The Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed to him the source of His power: “The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 38:2.) This shows us that God knows everything, past, present and future. Doctrine and Covenants 93:36 states that “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” It is from having all truth; perfect truth, all-encompassing truth that God receives His Power to command the Universe. Mormons believe that the Universe is made up of intelligent matter and all matter obeys God because He uses His perfect knowledge justly. Doctrine and Covenants 88: 13 states:
The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.
Because we want to be like our Father in Heaven, Latter-day Saints are well known as being an education seeking people. The Church of Jesus Christ operates several universities, seminaries and institutes of learning around the Globe. They even have a “Perpetual Education Fund” to help people who are unable to afford a college education. Joseph Smith taught:
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19.)
Mormons’ education is hardly limited to Religion. Science, history, language and every other course of study are valued as we believe anything we learn is valuable, as long as we recognize that Earthly knowledge is incomplete without an eternal perspective. In Doctrine and Covenants 88: 78 and 79 we read:
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms.
God will Always be God and We Will Always Worship Him.
Some friends of other faiths believe that Latter-day Saints are guilty of blasphemy because of our belief that we can become as God. I should clarify that Mormons do not believe that there will ever come a time that we will surpass or even become equal with our Father in Heaven. We honor God as Our Supreme Parent and as our Creator. Additionally, we understand that any light, knowledge or power we may ever attain comes from and through Him. As our Creator, we will be subject to Him forever. We believe that as we do gain more light, it gives God more light, so that His Glory increases incrementally to ours. Our ultimate goal is to become “one” with the Father and with Jesus Christ.
This belief has basis in Jesus prayer on the evening before the Garden of Gethsemane:
Neither pray I for these [in other words, His Apostles] 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. (See 1 Corinthians 15:24.)
We All Come to Earth with Different Challenges and Into Different Circumstances.
Mormons believe that no matter where you are in life you should not be stagnant, but should be constantly pushing your mind to learn new things. Most people are innately curious, which Mormons believe is a godly characteristic. Because of this curiosity, the Children of God have made remarkable scientific discoveries. Just think how amazed the people of the Middle Ages would be if they could see our world today! Modern conveniences such as airplanes, telephones, and computers would have made us appear “Godlike.” After all, we can find an answer to any question in seconds via the Internet, we can travel around the world in hours, and we can see our loved ones over Skype even though are thousands of miles away! If in the short 2000+ years since Christ we have made such progress, how can it be unfathomable that we could, in the eternities, become like God?
God Answered My Prayers Regarding this Issue
On a very personal note, I will tell you that I have pondered this concept long and hard. Because I know that I will be resurrected and live forever; I wonder what I will be doing with all that time. I am a person who tends to get bored quite easily. I certainly hope that my learning and growth don’t completely end at death! The idea of having a perfect knowledge is really overwhelming to me. What does that even mean? After I had been praying about this over an extended period of time, I had an incredible vision, or near death experience (although I don’t think I was near death, I was merely sleeping very deeply) where I felt the Lord speak to my heart telling me to be at peace.
This experience has been difficult to put onto paper, because the intense feelings I experienced in those moments were more real than reality. I am aware that sounds nonsensical, but that is the best way I have of describing how I felt. When I read the book Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who had a near death experience, I found words to describe the knowledge that came to me during the experience. Dr. Alexander described in great detail how he had died and visited another realm where He was guided by an angel. This angel answered his questions in a remarkable way. This is how Dr. Alexander described it:
Perhaps the best way of conveying that part of the experience is to say that I had a foretaste of another, larger kind of knowledge: one I believe human beings will be able to access in ever larger numbers in the future. But conveying that knowledge now is rather like being a chimpanzee, becoming a human for a single day to experience the wonders of human knowledge, and then returning to one’s chimp friends and trying to tell them what it was like knowing several different Romance languages, the calculus, and the immense scale of the universe….in the same way [in heaven] there was no such thing as a question without an accompanying answer…[which were] staggering structures of living thought, as intricate as cities. Ideas so vast they would have taken me lifetimes to find my way around if I had been confined to earthly thought” (Eben Alexander, M.D., Proof of Heaven).
In heaven, as soon as a question began to form in Dr. Alexander’s mind, the answer flowed through him, but a huge answer, which back in mortality, he will spend all the rest of his life trying to comprehend.
This description totally matches the emotions I experienced in my “vision.”
Upon realizing where I was, and that perhaps my time on Earth was over, I told the “angel” who was with me that I was not ready to die. I told him that I could not be a God because I knew so very little; I don’t even know how to grow a garden, much less create a world! Instantly, a huge wave of knowledge came over me. And I learned three very distinct lessons. One- that God isn’t through with me yet, and that there would be time to learn everything I needed to. Two- that God loves me more than human words can describe, more intensely than I have ever felt anything and three- that the only things that were of true importance to understand during my time on Earth were to choose God and to choose to LOVE!
I came away from this experience with a deep knowledge and conviction that the doctrine that God is my Father and He wants me to become like Him is true and that, yes, I can and will be like my Father in Heaven someday if I remain obedient and faithful to Him. At the same time, a realization came to me that I should stop allowing the “How Questions” to distract me from the goals I need to accomplish in this life. There are many, many concepts that we as mortal men, simply cannot comprehend right now.
Later, I came upon this scripture:
Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 50:40.)
I know that this is true! I have learned that I need to be patient and learn other important lessons before I can know the details of how everything will happen after I am resurrected. I choose to have faith that it will happen and let go of the doubts about it and the worries about the “How’s” of it.
I hope my story helps you to understand and get a feel for why Mormons believe that they can someday become Gods and Goddesses. If you want more information of why you came to earth, and where you are going to go after death, I invite you to go to http://www.Mormon.org to learn more about God’s Plan of Happiness for you. After studying it out in your mind, I invite you to do as I did and ask God if this doctrine is from Him. If you really have a righteous desire to know His will, you too can feel His love for you through prayer. You will probably not have the exact same experience I did, but if you are humbly searching for His truth, I promise you will feel an answer.