Mormons teach that God was once a man. How and when did he become God?
Joseph Smith first taught that God is an exalted man at the funeral of a man named King Follett in April 1844. This is known astheKing Follett discourse. He further taught that men could become gods and create their own worlds. This teaching was later summed up in the famous phrase “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become”.
This teaching confuses Christians who naturally think of God as self existent, unchangeable, and eternal. Mormons insist, however, that God was not always God, that he “progressed” to Godhood, and that he continues to progress, even as God. He is said to progress in the sense that he gains in glory and joy.
For there to be progression in the sense of gaining something that we did not have before, or coming to a point where something in or about us is increased, there has to be time. The words before and after, was, is and will be, all denote the passing of time.
Interestingly Mormon apologist, Bruce R. McConkie, said that God has presided over our universe for almost 2,500,000,000 years. From this we may infer that the reign of God is subject to linear time. We may also infer that 2,500,000,001 years ago he did not preside over our universe. He progressed to hold that position and therefore must have passed through linear time to do that. This is a contradiction of the claim that God is Eternal. To Mormons God is only eternal going forwards. Going backwards he clearly decreases in glory. If he is to gain more glory or joy then there was a time when he had less glory or joy. There is, then, something greater than God to which God is subject – time.
The problem here is that Mormons have no real concept of Eternity. To them it is a continuation of time. For a Christian, when we die we step out of time into eternity. For a Mormon he simply continues to “progress” in linear time. That is how he perceives God. That is what is meant by “eternal progression”. But God is above time and time is subject to him. It is an environment created by God in which his creatures live out mortality. It is not where God lives. God lives in eternity.
This is a huge concept and we cannot completely grasp it but we must try because the understanding of it helps us see how one event in history, the crucifixion, can have eternal consequences. Through faith in Christ all our sins are forgiven. ALL our sins. EVERY SIN past present and future. The atonement can only apply to ALL our sins if time is subject to eternity. If God lives in linear time he cannot promise the future for it is not his to give. If God lives in eternity then all time is his, past present and future.
As a Watch in the night
For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.(Ps.90:4)
Mormons use this verse, or the equivalent 2 Peter 3:8, to show that time is relative to God, and that on the planet nearest to God a day is as a thousand years on earth. This does not work because the psalmist compares a thousand years with a day and with a watch in the night. A watch in the night is considerably shorter than a twenty four hour day (see Judges 7:19). The intent here is not to show actual or relative time but to demonstrate that God is not subject to time. A watch in the night, a day, or a thousand years, it is all the same to God.
The fact is that God does not “become”. God simply “is”. When Moses asked God for a name that he could give the children of Israel for the God who had sent him God said:
“I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” – Exodus 3:14
Moses is not here asking for God’s name as such, but the character behind the name. God’s answer confirms this for he does not give his name, but an interpretation of that name, “I AM WHO I AM”. It denotes infinite existence. The uncreated source of all existence. The name I AM is in the uncompleted tense in the Hebrew, so that it includes the future. In all times and circumstances, God is.
The Old Testament makes plain the fact that “he is the living God, the Eternal King”(Jer.10:10); “His kingdom is an Eternal kingdom”(Dan.4:3); “His dominion is an Eternal dominion”(Dan.4:34); and he is “from all Eternity”(Ps.93:2)
The New Testament speaks of “His Eternal power and divine nature”(Ro.1:20); calls him “the King, eternal, immortal”(1 Tim.1:17); and says that he “lives forever and ever”(Rev.4:10)