Thursday, March 15, 2012

President Thomas S. Orwell?

I stumbled across this issue while browsing this thread over at the message boards.

Apparently, the LDS church is denying the doctrine of eternal progression.  It claims that the belief that when we are given salvation in the celestial kingdom of heaven we become gods and rule over our own spirit children and our own planets is a "misunderstanding" that is "misrepresented by those who caricature the faith."

Wait, what?

There's a famous quote that I think is from James E. Talmage, an oft-quoted and time-honored apostle of the church, that is along the lines of "As man is, God once was.  As God is, man may be."  The teaching that when we die, we can become gods, along with the doctrine that our God was once like us, was relatively common in the church back when I went to church...but that was just three years ago.  The teaching came up in seminary classes, priesthood meetings, sacrament meetings, and probably even family home evening lessons.  It's commonplace both in the "mission field" where I grew up and in the Mormon Corridor where I went to school.  Every member is familiar with it.

I've been waiting for this.

When I left the church, I'd read about the changes made to the Book of Mormon, and I knew some of the more public doctrinal reversals in the church's history (polygamy, blacks in the priesthood), but I'd never witnessed the church directly going back on something that it had preached within my lifetime.  I just found it.

Worried that maybe it was all rumor and I was getting all excited over nothing, I quickly investigated to confirm two things:  first, that this Mormon Newsroom site was actually church-affiliated and second, that my sometimes hazy memory of specific church teachings was accurate.  Maybe all these years I'd just been taught Mormon folklore without realizing that the doctrine hadn't been corroborated by a General Authority.

So I went to and tried to find a link to The Mormon Newsroom.  Sure enough, if you click on the Menu tab and select "News and Events," it loads a page which invites web-surfers to visit the newsroom...and it gives  link to the same site referenced in that thread.  So the church's statement denying the doctrine of eventual godhood was legitimate.

Then I went back to and searched through their archives for one of the speeches mentioned in that thread.  And I found it.  In this General Conference address from 1975, then-President of the Church Spencer W. Kimball made the doctrine pretty damn clear:
Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight.  I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods.  There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe.  And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it.  I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000.
Other ex-mormons and church detractors have gotten busy finding dozens of other, similar quotes from high-ranking members of the church leadership across the church's almost two hundred year history.  No matter how much the church would like everyone to think otherwise, they are not led by a constant, unchanging god.  They're led by a group of men who have realized that the church's most embarrassing doctrines need to be downplayed or eliminated before they scare every potential member (by which I mean every potential tithe-payer) away. 

And that doesn't seem right to me.

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