Do Mormons beleive there were/are gods before God?

Hi! I wanted to ask a question of former and current LDS, or others who are well acquainted with LDS beliefs and inquire about Mormon theology concerning God and gods:

I know that historically LDS leaders have taught “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”, but I wanted to ask, does this mean that the LDS believe there were gods formed before God the Father, such as His own father god, His grandfather god, etc.? So in LDS belief is God not truly eternal (without beginning and end) as both being divine and simply being self-existent? I realize that LDS don’t worship any God except Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, the Godhead, but I was curious as to Mormon theology about the existence of other divinities, and our world and God in the overall continuum?

Thanks,
Matt

Hello, Matt. :smiley:

They absolutely do believe that there were other gods before The Father. It’s in one of their most famous hymns; ‘If You Could Hie To Kolob’ lds.org/music/library/hymns/if-you-could-hie-to-kolob?lang=eng

In that song, it is said:
Do you think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where Gods began to be?

There you have it: the question is rhetorically asked if, throughout eternity, you would ever be able to count the amount of gods. We’re talking about a cycle of deification that spans throughout eternity, meaning that, according to this hymn, there are an infinite amount of gods. They [mormons] can’t get around this because this is in their book of hymns, which they still use to this day.

Of course, this teaching of God once being a man opens up a whole other can of worms. It would necessarily follow that God the Father once was a sinner and needed salvation [audhubillah].

Yes. There is a regression of God’s. However, we don’t know the beginning of that process, it has not been revealed to man.

[quote=MattofTexas]So in LDS belief is God not truly eternal (without beginning and end) as both being divine and simply being self-existent?
[/quote]

We believe that all beings are eternal. You, me, and God himself. Inteligence and matter is not created and never can be. God formed this earth from existing matter.This does not “lessen” God in any degree. It simply states facts as they are.

[quote=MattofTexas] I realize that LDS don’t worship any God except Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, the Godhead, but I was curious as to Mormon theology about the existence of other divinities, and our world and God in the overall continuum? Correct you are. We do not concern ourselves with other God’s. To us there is but one God, the Father.
[/quote]

I would suggest reading the King Follett Discourse by Joseph Smith. Here are some of his questions and conclusions:

Question: What kind of being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, or communed with him? If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being he is, -if he will search diligently his own heart - if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realized that he has not eternal life, for there can be eternal life on no other principle.
Answer: God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible, - I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form - like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.

Q: The soul - the mind of man - the immortal spirit. Where did it come from?
A: All learned men and doctors of divinity say the God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it, all ye ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don’t believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. …We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. …The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it.


Perhaps just a note here at the end. There are a number of beliefs from LDS church members on this topic. Some say that God was once a sinful man like us, others say that he was not like us but like Jesus. The LDS church does not define all doctrine on this matter. Some things in this area will certainly remain a mystery.

This does make him completely different than what Trinitarian Christians believe God to be - that is, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent from all eternity to all eternity. If God had an actual origin, and has created the Earth but not the universe, then to me that does make him a sort of “lesser” being.

Hey Matt,
This is a deep topic and one in which a response would require a lot of time that I do not have. But I’d like to share some related beliefs/doctrines for you to chew on.

LDS do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. LDS believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings. Their unity is in being one in purpose. Jesus Christ is subordinate to the Father. Jesus Christ rules the Heavens under the direction of the Father. The Father and the Son have physical bodies of flesh and bone. The Holy Ghost of a personage of spirit without a body of flesh and bone (for now).

LDS believe that God and man have existed from the beginning. We are all without beginning or end. God the Father is truly eternal as is man. However, God the Father didn’t always exist in His current fully divine state.

D&C 93:29 Man was also in the beginning with God.

LDS believe that the elements are eternal, i.e., the Earth was fashioned from unorganized matter. LDS do not believe in creation ex-nihilo.

Any spirit must have a physical body to receive a fullness of joy. (Any divine being including God the Father must have a physical body, and even the Holy Ghost will eventually receive a body after His assignment is over in order for Him to receive His fullness of joy.)

D&C 93:33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

LDS believe that we are literally offspring of God the Father (as is Jesus Christ) and therefore if we follow God’s will we can become ontologically like God our Father.

Some of the LDS beliefs on these matters are laid out in a talk given by Joseph Smith at a funeral for a man named King Follett. Search for “King Follett discourse” on line.

I hope this help.

Thanks for the responses so far. So when you talk about intelligences, is this sort of like a pre-spirit…spirit? I know Joseph Smith taught that there’s no such thing as immaterial matter, so is this like the matter spirits are made of? If so how did it get organized into spirits given that spirits are born through intercourse between a god and goddess? Also is intelligence personal? Is it a being, or a type of matter?

Also just to verify I understand correctly, the LDS believe:

  1. All matter and intelligence are eternal, without beginning or end.
  2. All men, angles, gods, etc. are comprised of said eternal matter and intelligence and thus can be said to be eternally existing, but NOT eternally in the form they now have.
  3. Through a progression of spiritual births, creations, physical births, marriages, and exultations many gods have been made and given rise to new worlds and beings, that are formed out of the eternal elements and intelligences, but newly formed in their current form.
  4. Heavenly Father lived as a man as part of this process, His eternal intelligence was born first as a spirit and then as a mortal man, was subject to His own father god, and through His obedience to the principals of the gospel was exulted to godhood, where he continues to progress in power, glory, and wisdom.
  5. It is the destiny of man, as the offspring of a god, to become gods, if men so merit it by accepting the grace offered through the atonement of Christ and live according to the teachings of the (LDS) church and her prophet.

In short, although the basis of everything may be eternal (matter and intelligence) with regard to beings:
-There are many gods beside ours.
-There were many gods formed before ours.
-There will be many gods formed after ours (in the future), presumably including some of us and those people’s spiritual offspring.

Is this all a correct statement of LDS teachings?

Instead of attempting to confirm each assertion, let me provide a link that addresses much of this from the current BYU Chair of Religion Understanding.

patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Mormon-Understanding-of-Persons-and-God-James-Faulconer-08-18-2011

I will say that there is no LDS doctrine on how Deity reproduces spirits.

Thanks for the link! It’s really interesting to read the author’s suggestion that the LDS understanding of what an intelligence is has actually changed over the years, and thus the first part of Snow’s couplet (“As man is God once was”) may not really reflect current Mormon belief, or at least isn’t necessitated by current belief about intelligences. So while some Mormons may believe that God is an exalted man who is an intelligence that became a man that became God, other Mormons simply see intelligences as individuals and thus see God as having always been Himself in some way, but also extending the opportunity to become like Him to man.

Would it be fair to say that Joesph Smith and Brigham Young held to the older view of intelligences and believed that God had not always been God, but was once a man subject to another God that in turn became God?

When I was LDS, my belief was that the Heavenly Father of this world was the Jesus Christ of his “generation”, and that after this world finished up and people from this world are exalted, Jesus would become the Heavenly Father of the next “generation”.

I also thought that there were technically many heavenly fathers and mothers of the spirits of all the people on this earth, but the “head” heavenly father is the Heavenly Father in the godhead. I hope that makes sense. I also don’t know if these belief is common among LDS as they really don’t discuss much in the way of deep doctrine at church.

I am no longer LDS, and no longer believe these things because Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Mormons are not Christians because of these beliefs. They are very far removed from Christian beliefs.

You have a good understanding, better than many LDS, in fact.

@ MattofTexas. The lds church has ever changing doctrine and old prophets and apostles are thrown under the lds bus when its convenient for them. They believe they will become gods themselves if they are good members and have their own planet with a wife and multiple kids :shrug: This and other questions regarding Mormonism will just confuse you and lead to doubt.

The LDS do believe in multiple gods and the progression of growing to become God. The previous poster was correct to cite the King Follett discourse but forgot to mention some of the other ideas presented there. That is where the polytheistic ideas in the LDS Church come from and many people see a direct connection between the radical ideas presented in that talk and Joseph Smiths death shortly after. That speech was so inflammatory that many Mormons broke with him because of what he preached.

In a word, “YES”, they do believe in a long line of "Gods, like a faily geneology. They will do everything they can to get away from the question. They may even deny it, but yes, they do. Asl them of “The Plan of Eternal Progression”. You will recognise the wordsmithing going on.
I was a Mormon, a Missionary and held various low level leadership positions. They will not tell you a lot.

Don, Las Vegas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Mormons: You can’t square this circle. There is logically only one beginning (not many). The one who can make all things, cannot Himself be made. You are absolutely worshipping a small god.

We believe that all beings are eternal. You, me, and God himself. Inteligence and matter is not created and never can be. God formed this earth from existing matter.This does not “lessen” God in any degree. It simply states facts as they are.

Serious flaws with such a theology. God alone and ONLY God is eternal. Finite creatures are NOT eternal due to the fact all creatures have a beginning and end, God does not. God did not form the world from existing matter, he created ALL matter out of NOTHING!

The Mormon God is confined to space,time and matter, hence he cannot be an omnipotent God.

This article is nothing different than the stuff that FAIR puts out. Classic examples of LDS trying to create reason or logic where there is none…

“It is easy to misunderstand these two revelations because in them Smith doesn’t use the word “intelligence” the way we use it today.”

“Though Smith established Mormon beliefs by revelation rather than by reason, he sometimes gave explanations of his revelations, and his explanation of the eternality of human intelligence was…”

“It is not clear exactly how the doctrine of intelligence was understood during Smith’s lifetime…”

“It isn’t clear when the idea began to change…”

And this quote best sums it up…

“Theological training and knowledge is not a requirement for or expectation of those in Mormon leadership positions.”

The author also clearly neglected to discuss Smith’s initial Trinitarian beliefs and modalistic tendancies in the Book of Mormon and how he went from there to polytheism.

And that last quote that you mentioned (bolded above) was the one that really stood out to me too. So who does have theological training and knowledge in the LDS church? In my experience, no one. Leaders in the LDS church tend to be businessmen and attorneys.

Yep. The best description I’ve seen for the lds church is that it’s a hedge fund with temples. That’s the basis for ‘selecting’ church leaders. They need to be able to manage a multi-billion dollar organization.

I would also include Binitarianism, as we see in the Lectures on Faith.

Thank you so much for your “take” on this question about what Mormon’s believe about the nature of the Holy Trinity! My sister (a lapsed Presbyterian), and I have had many disagreements about LDS theology and you can be sure that I will use this thread the next time we see each other!:thumbsup:

It is a commonly held practice within the Mormon faith that “things do not have toi make any sense, at all, ever…” The reasoning they use to justify that non sequitur practice is that their beliefs are from God, and what God tells you does not have to make any sense, it just has to be correct.
They are in a rush to make themselves look like they are Protestants by no longer sharing these beliefs and “just keeping them quiet”. They used to keep them quiet in UT, then the telegraph and telephone were developed…time marched on … and now we have the internet where one idea can be shared around the world instantly. So, instead of the public embarassment of denying the teachings they stood on the holy mountain top and gave to their members as revelations from the mouth of God…they let it dissapear. It really does not dissapear because we have the internet and records, they just stop talking about it. No one speaks of a belief called “Blood Atonement” (where you had to die/shot for your own sins) either. Thjey never denied that as well.
Thank God for the Catholic Church and the pragmatic logic and education it embodies.

They are bleeding members that never return and are gone. This number leaving is in the millions and for a small Church that credable sources state that 85% do not participate…that a large number. sadly, their inactivity and numbers ordeing their records to be removed and the baptism rate…the folks leaving are greater than the newbies comming in. They have to baptize 10 to keep 1. Sad…

Don, Las Vegas :thumbsup:

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