Here is Part 2 of my series explaining, correcting, and expanding on (to the best of my knowledge) the points made in Stephen Mansfield’s book The Mormonizing of America. You can read Part 1 here. You can buy the book here.
6 – The God of this planet, usually referred to as “Heavenly Father”, was once a man. He now leads a family that rules earth with him. They are spiritual beings but since they are a purer form of spirit, they have an elevated type of physical body. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, both sons of Heavenly Father. There is also a Heavenly Mother.
The Book of Mormon doesn’t say anything about God having once been a man. Joseph Smith taught that God has a body of flesh and bone but from what I can find, he never said anything about God having once been a man. Lorenzo Snow said that he was though.
As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may be.
I don’t believe it’s doctrine, though. Maybe deep doctrine. The way the missionaries explained it to me was that Jesus Christ laid the blueprint for us and so we will eventually have to do all that He did and that He had to do all that God did. So by that logic, God is a resurrected and exalted man. That leads to the “does God have a God” question and I won’t get into that right now. I personally don’t know about the “purer form of spirit” point but maybe the author meant they’re exalted. In which case, he’s right that they have a perfected physical body. But we all get those when we die and are resurrected.
A lot of people try to use the fact that members believe that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers as a sort of “gotcha”. But what they either fail to realize or ignore is that members believe that everyone, including Jesus and Lucifer, was a spirit formed by God in the premortal life and so we are all spirit brothers and sisters. There is not much known about Heavenly Mother. There’s no doctrine on her and she’s rarely mentioned by any modern day prophets. It’s widely believed that she exists, though, and that she gives birth to all God’s spirit children. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering the scriptures say He “formed” us from intelligent matter. Did He put us together and then put us in Heavenly Mother to bake and then be born? I’ve never gotten a sufficient description of Heavenly Mother or why she’s rarely if ever mentioned by anyone in the Church.
7 – When Heavenly Father was devising a plan for populating the earth, Jesus and Lucifer both offered proposals. Jesus’ plan was chosen and Lucifer’s was rejected. Lucifer rebelled and a third of the premortal spirits followed him. There was a great war in the heavens. Jesus was then sent to earth as a loving savior. Mary became pregnant with Jesus as a result of Heavenly Father having physical intercourse with her.
I’ll take this one step-by-step because the logic of it sort of confuses me. Jesus and Lucifer did both offer plans on how best to save mankind and get them back to Heavenly Father after their time on Earth was through. Jesus’ plan was to give us agency (or freewill) to choose right or choose wrong. He knew none of us would choose the right 100% of the time so He offered Himself as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Lucifer’s plan was good in spirit. He wanted to send everyone to Earth without freewill. He wanted our return to be guaranteed but we wouldn’t have learned anything. And knowledge is important to members. The Scriptures say we will bring our knowledge with us after we die and we will continue to learn. Like Mansfield said, Jesus’ plan was accepted and Lucifer’s was rejected. This is where it gets murky for me,
Because of this rejection, Lucifer rebelled and was followed by a third of the spirits, resulting in a great war in Heaven. But if Lucifer didn’t rebel, mankind wouldn’t have needed a plan because there wouldn’t have been anyone there to tempt them to sin. He only rebelled because a plan he was proposing to defeat himself was rejected and that plan was being proposed because of his upcoming rebellion which would come as a result of the rejection.
The last sentence is throwing me off. Maybe some Saints believe that God had physical intercourse with Mary. It seems that there are some quotes from Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie, and others that make it sound this way. And maybe that’s the way they intended it. But to me it wouldn’t make sense. This will probably take a whole other blog post but I’ll just make a few points. Saints believe that marriage is the most important institution established by God and that it was put in place since the beginning. Marriage is between one man and one woman. If God is married to Heavenly Mother, that’s one man and one woman in a relationship. So He’d be cheating on Heavenly Mother if he had sex with Mary. Also, it was taught to me that we live in the terrestrial world because we are imperfect. And since no unclean thing can enter the presence of God, He cannot come down to our world. That’s why He sent Jesus. So how could He come down in the flesh and have sex with Mary? Jesus was born to a virgin. If God had sex with her, that would make her not a virgin. Those are some of my thoughts on that.
8 – Adam and Eve were actually gods who made a heroic choice in eating the forbidden fruit. Their choice made mortal life possible which then gave all preexistent spirits an opportunity to live on earth and qualify for celestial glory.
The only thing I’m not certain on from this point is when he says that members believe Adam and Eve were gods. They were the first spirits to come down to Earth and be given physical bodies. Eating the forbidden fruit did allow them to be able to choose between good and evil and therefore allowed them to sin and stumble and to repent and be forgiven. Without this sacrifice, they would have remained in a perfected state and humanity never would have been able to progress. We would never learn from our mistakes if we never made them.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25
9 – Life on earth is best understood as a time of testing in order to qualify for eternal exaltation.
This is one of those points about the Church that people misunderstand. They think that qualifying for eternal exaltation is the same thing as being saved. It’s not. Everyone is saved from death by Jesus’ sacrifice. Everyone will be resurrected, gain a perfected body, and stand before God to be judged. But the Scriptures teach that there are three different celestial kingdoms and even three different degrees of the highest kingdom. So how you withstand the tests here on Earth determine which kingdom and degree you end up in, not whether or not you are saved.
10 – The death of Jesus Christ introduces men to Heavenly Father but then men must obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel themselves in order to be saved.
This goes along with what I was saying in the point above. Obeying the laws and ordinance of the gospel doesn’t get you saved. You are automatically saved thanks to Jesus Christ sacrificing His life. You will be resurrected, you will receive a perfected body, and you will stand before God to be judged. Following the ordinances (baptism, endowment, sealing) determine which degree of the Celestial (or highest) kingdom you qualify for. Following the laws makes sure you get to stay there.
Read Part 1 here
Buy The Mormonizing of America here