PROVO — In an unprecedented effort to continue to educate the world on the doctrinal beliefs of the church, and to help curb LDS urban legends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has spelled out in a lengthy article the doctrine of man’s relationship to God, and his ability to become as God is, a belief considered blasphemy by most Christian groups.
A notion has been floated for some time that members of the LDS Church believe and are taught that they’ll get their own planet. The idea runs throughout pop culture and has even reached the Broadway stage in the popular musical “The Book of Mormon.”
That Mormons, or anyone for that matter, will find their heavenly peace by sitting on clouds and plucking harps is an image dispelled by church teachings. LDS members see their heaven a bit more constructive, progressive and satisfying.
The church’s statement clarifies its unique belief of the familial relationship between God and his earthly children. It states:
“Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. Each has an eternal core and is ‘a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.’ Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people may ‘progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny.’ Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father’s.”
Using numerous scriptural and historical references the article succinctly defines the belief that humans can become like God. It also explains how those early Christian teachings faded and how they became a part of the teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, first prophet and president of the church.
The article explains:
“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 fullness of God’s glory and be ‘gods, even the sons of God.’ Another revelation soon confirmed that ‘the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.’ Latter-day Saints use the term exaltation to describe the glorious reward of receiving one’s 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.”
The article also explains how those teachings continue within the church today.
“Humankind’s divine nature and potential for exaltation have been repeatedly taught in general conference addresses, Church magazines, and other Church materials,” the article said. “Divine nature is one of eight core values in the Church’s Young Women program. Teaching on human beings’ divine parentage, nature, and potential features prominently in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Divine nature and exaltation are essential and beloved teachings in the Church.’
With the LDS church’s full board press on hastening the Lord’s work through missionary service and genealogy research, it is also opting to release more information on the core doctrines that separates the church from other Christian sects.
While Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets, the belief in becoming like God allows for a belief of creating worlds of their own would not be unrealistic.
The 3,500-word article is posted on www.lds.org/topics.