Many church fathers (influential theologians and teachers in early Christianity) spoke approvingly of the idea that humans can become divine. One modern scholar refers to the ubiquity of the doctrine of deification—the teaching that humans could become god—in the first centuries after Christs death. 11, the church father Irenaeus, who died about. 202, asserted that Jesus Christ did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that he might bring us to be what he is Himself. Evil, god said they had become as one of us, 4 suggesting that a writing process of approaching godliness was already underway. Later in the Old Testament, a passage in the book of Psalms declares, i have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 5, new Testament passages also point to this doctrine. When Jesus was accused of blasphemy on the grounds that thou, being a man, makest thyself God, he responded, echoing Psalms, Is it not written in your law, i said, ye are gods?
By the sixth century, teachings on becoming God appear more limited in scope, as in the definition provided by Pseudo-dionysius the Areopagite (ca. 500 deification is the attaining of likeness to god gpa and union with him so far as is possible. 17, why did these beliefs fade from prominence? 10, these passages can be interpreted in different ways. Yet by viewing them through the clarifying lens resume of revelations received by joseph Smith, latter-day saints see these scriptures as straightforward expressions of humanitys divine nature and potential. Many other Christians read the same passages far more metaphorically because they experience the bible through the lens of doctrinal interpretations that developed over time after the period described in the new Testament. How have ideas about divinity shifted over Christian history? Latter-day saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest generations of Christians than they do to many modern Christians.
The earliest Latter-day saints came from a society dominated by English-speaking Protestants, most of whom accepted both ex nihilo creation and the westminster Confessions definition of God as a being without body, parts, or passions. 23 They likely knew little or nothing about the diversity of Christian beliefs in the first centuries after Jesus Christs ministry or about early Christian writings on deification. But revelations received by joseph Smith diverged from the prevailing ideas of the time and taught doctrine that, for some, reopened debates on the nature of God, creation, and humankind. Creating a, world, without, poverty (french essay 12, clement of Alexandria (ca. 150215) wrote that the word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become god. 13, basil the Great (A.D. 330379) also celebrated this prospect—not just being made like to god, but highest of all, the being made god. 14, what exactly the early church fathers meant when they spoke of becoming God is open to interpretation, 15 but it is clear that references to deification became more contested in the late roman period and were infrequent by the medieval era. The first known objection by a church father to teaching signalman deification came in the fifth century.
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As Joseph Smith continued to receive revelations, he learned that off the light or intelligence at the core of each human soul was not created or made, neither indeed can. Changing perspectives on the creation of the world may have contributed to the gradual shift toward more limited views of human potential. The earliest Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Creation solutions assumed that God had organized the world out of preexisting materials, emphasizing the goodness of God in shaping such a life-sustaining order. 18, but the incursion of new philosophical ideas in the second century led to the development of a doctrine that God created the universe ex nihilo— out of nothing. This ultimately became the dominant teaching about the Creation within the Christian world. 19, in order to emphasize gods power, many theologians reasoned that nothing could have existed for as long as he had.
It became important in Christian circles to assert that God had originally been completely alone. Creation ex nihilo widened the perceived gulf between God and humans. It became less common to teach either that human souls had existed before the world or that they could inherit and develop the attributes of God in their entirety in the future. 20 Gradually, as the depravity of humankind and the immense distance between Creator and creature were increasingly emphasized, the concept of deification faded from Western Christianity, 21 though it remains a central tenet of Eastern Orthodoxy, one of the three major branches of Christianity. 22 How were ideas about deification introduced to latter-day saints?
Then, says the revelation, shall they be gods, because they have no end. God is One - here a little, there a little - godhead. Acts 17:11 Bible Study: God s Wrath. Early revelations to joseph Smith taught that humans are created in the image of God and the that God cares intimately for His children. In the book of Mormon, a prophet saw the finger of the lord and was astonished to learn that human physical forms were truly made in the image of God. 24 In another early revelation, Enoch (who walked with God in the bible 25 ) witnessed God weeping over His creations.
When Enoch asked, how is it thou canst weep? He learned that Gods compassion toward human suffering is integral to his love. 26 Joseph Smith also learned that God desires that His children receive the same kind of exalted existence of which he partakes. As God declared, This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. 27 In 1832, joseph Smith and Sidney rigdon experienced a vision of the afterlife. In the vision, they learned that the just and unjust alike would receive immortality through a universal resurrection, but only those who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the holy Spirit of promise would receive the fulness of Gods glory and be gods, even. 28 Another revelation soon confirmed that the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him. 29 Latter-day saints use the term exaltation to describe the glorious reward of receiving ones full inheritance as a child of heavenly father, which is available through the Atonement of Christ, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. 30 This striking view of each humans potential future was accompanied by revealed teachings on humanitys past.
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36 In that phrase, the Prophet collapsed the gulf that centuries of confusion had created between God and humanity. Human nature was at its core divine. God is the father of each human spirit, and because only spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy, he presented a plan for human beings to receive physical bodies and progress through their mortal experience toward mom a fulness of joy. Earthly birth, then, is not the beginning of an individuals life: Man was also in the beginning with God. 31 likewise, joseph Smith taught that the material world has eternal roots, fully repudiating the concept of creation ex nihilo. Earth, water c—all these had their existence in an elementary State from Eternity, he said in an 1839 sermon. 32 God organized the universe out of existing elements. Joseph Smith continued to receive revelation on the themes of divine nature and exaltation during the last two years of his life. In a revelation recorded in July 1843 that linked exaltation with eternal marriage, the lord declared that those who keep covenants, including the covenant of eternal marriage, will inherit all heights and depths.
Plural Marriage in Kirtland nauvoo - response to lds. They will receive a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. 33 The following April, feeling he was never in any nearer relationship to god than write at the present time, 34 Joseph Smith spoke about the nature of God and the future of humankind to the saints, who had gathered for a general Church conference. He used the occasion in part to reflect essay upon the death of a church member named King Follett, who had died unexpectedly a month earlier. When he rose to speak, the wind was blowing, so joseph asked his listeners to give him their profound attention and to pray that the lord may strengthen my lungs and stay for the winds until his message had been delivered. 35 What kind of a being is God? Human beings needed to know, he argued, because if men do not comprehend the character of God they do not comprehend themselves.
into the world were likewise susceptible of enlargement. Joseph Smith preached that long before the world was formed, god found himself in plan the midst of these beings and saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself 37 and be exalted with Him. 38 Joseph told the assembled saints, you have got to learn how to be a god yourself. 39 In order to do that, the saints needed to learn godliness, or to be more like god. The process would be ongoing and would require patience, faith, continuing repentance, obedience to the commandments of the gospel, and reliance on Christ. Like ascending a ladder, individuals needed to learn the first principles of the gospel and continue beyond the limits of mortal knowledge until they could learn the last principles of the gospel when the time came. 40 It is not all to be comprehended in this world, joseph said.
Three months later, a mob stormed Carthage jail and martyred him and his brother Hyrum. What has been taught in the Church about divine nature since joseph Smith? Since that sermon, known as the king Follett discourse, the doctrine that humans can progress to exaltation and godliness has been taught within the Church. Lorenzo snow, the Churchs fifth President, coined a well-known couplet: As man now mom is, god once was: As God now is, man may. 43 Little has been revealed about the first half of this couplet, and consequently little is taught. When asked about this topic, Church President Gordon. Hinckley iqbal told a reporter in 1997, That gets into some pretty deep theology that we dont know very much about.
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God doesn t exist? Snow, a church leader and poet, rejoiced over the doctrine that we are, in a full and absolute sense, children of God. I had learned to call thee father, / Thru thy Spirit from on high, she wrote, but, until the key of knowledge / Was restored, i knew not why. Latter-day saints have also been moved by the knowledge that their divine parentage includes a heavenly mother as well as a heavenly father. Expressing that truth, Eliza. Snow asked, In the heavns are parents single? And answered with a resounding will no: Truth eternal / Tells me ive a mother there. 41 It will take a long time after the grave to understand the whole. 42 That was the last time the Prophet spoke in a general conference.