The following is a talk I gave at church a few months ago.
Mormonism stands out amongst the Christian denominations by its belief in everyone’s potential to become gods. What is a god, and why would we want to become one?
Ancient and modern mythology
Religions throughout the earth’s history have attempted to understand deity, often using common objects and concepts to try to make sense of such a supernal being. For example, ancient Egyptians worshipped a host of gods such as Ra (the sun god). Ancient Greeks and Romans also had their pantheon of gods, each of whom had a mixture of supernatural abilities and human frailties.
Modern culture has been inspired by these ancient myths and legends, as can be seen in the current popularity of superhero movies, comics and television series. Our lives are surrounded by mythology, and we can easily find it alluring, entertaining or even inspiring. However, this mythology can confuse us as to the attributes of our Heavenly Father, the one and only god we worship.
Common (mis)understanding of godhood
In the Church, when the topic of godhood comes up, comments usually revolve around the ability to create worlds and populate them with spirit children, thus taking on a role similar to that which our Heavenly Father currently holds. Critics of the Church often use a caricature of this belief, stating that we believe in creating and ruling our own worlds, being worshipped by their inhabitants. We may speculate until the cows come home, mostly without the support of scriptures. Ultimately, however, we really have no idea what we’re talking about, unless we are intimately acquainted with God the Father.
How do we come to know the Father?
Short answer: Through the Son and the Holy Ghost. John 14:5-11
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
7 If ye had aknown me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the aFather; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the aFather, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
And in John 18:9:
Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
Finally in John 5:19-23:
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he aseeththe bFather do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
The Father never intervenes personally amongst his children, he always does so through His Son, Jesus Christ. Within this simple pattern is an important lesson: if we know the Son, we know the Father. Their unity is so perfect and complete that the discovery of Jesus Christ is literally the discovery of the Father of our spirits.
Here is yet another lesson: it is the unity between the Father and the Son that defines godhood. Even before He took on mortal flesh, Jesus was a “God” (see chapter 4 of Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage). Did he reach godhood through worthy deeds? Did he receive special powers and abilities that gave him this lofty title? No, he became God because he was One with the Father.
Christ’s invitation has always been, and always will be, to become one with Him and the Father. That is godhood: unity with God. The concept of becoming a supreme being with mighty powers, independently of God the Father, belongs to the realm of Hollywood and makes no theological sense. Godhood is not about abilities and powers, it is about knowledge, purpose and identity.
Since all of God’s children have the potential to become gods, and godhood requires a perfect unity with God the Father, what does it say about the relationships between each other? As Jesus explained, we are to become one with each other, just as He is one with the Father. Godhood is not an independent pursuit. It is not the prize of a competitive race. Instead, it is the ultimate community project, the result of unlocking the infinite human synergy.
Does unity entail a loss of identity? This is similar to asking whether a husband and wife who are intimately united have lost their individuality. To the contrary, each of their individuality is enriched by the individuality of the other. That is the beauty of the plan of salvation: each intelligence that participates in it is unique and distinct from all others, including the Father of our spirits, God the Father!
This diversity is so glorious and beautiful that the Father, God himself, seeks to become One with us, giving us all that He has so that we may join in this ever-increasing richness and beauty.