“…you have to learn to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, - namely, by going from one small degree to another…” – Joseph Smith
“After men have got their exaltations and their crowns - have become Gods…” - Brigham Young
The fact that some adherents of a religion “don’t focus” on an issue, does not make the issue irrelevant.
The reason the subject is no longer emphasized is not because it was never focused on. Some want to shift the focus away from untraditional beliefs, to forestall criticism. It used to be a central focus. It has been clearly taught ex cathedra. It is unfortunate that once revered prophets of the Church such as Brigham Young and Lorenzo Snow have had to watch while the teachings they presented, as church doctrine, in their prophetic capacities, are reduced to the status of “personal opinions.”
In the 1982 Ensign, someone asked whether President Lorenzo Snow’s statement “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” was official doctrine. The answer:
Generally, the First Presidency issues official doctrinal declarations when there is a general misunderstanding of the doctrine on the part of many people. Therefore, the Church teaches many principles which are accepted as doctrines but which the First Presidency has seen no need to declare in an official pronouncement. This particular doctrine has been taught not only by Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the Church, but also by others of the Brethren before and since that time.
Lorenzo Snow testified, “the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, …
“As man now is, God once was:”
“As God now is, man may be.”
Lorenzo Snow told Joseph Smith about his revelation. Smith’s responded, ”Brother Snow, that is a true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you.” Joseph Smith himself took up teaching the doctrine: “Here, then, is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God. And you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves - to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done - . . . until you are able to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.
. . . What did Jesus do? “Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory.” And so Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before. It is plain beyond disputation.”
Once the Prophet Joseph had taught the doctrine publicly, Elder Snow also felt free to publicly teach it, and it was a common theme of his teachings throughout his life . . . . Numerous sources could be cited, but one should suffice to show that this doctrine is accepted and taught by the Brethren.[President Joseph Fielding Smith said]:“I think I can pay no greater tribute to [President Lorenzo Snow and Elder Erastus Snow] than to preach again that glorious doctrine which they taught and which was one of the favorite themes, particularly of President Lorenzo Snow. … Early in his ministry he received by direct, personal revelation the knowledge that (in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s language), ‘God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens,’ and that men ‘have got to learn how to be Gods … the same as all Gods have done before.’” Lund concludes, in 1982, “It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today.” Thirty-one years have passed since those words. As man’s understanding of theology (and, I suppose woman’s understanding of thealogy ) has deepened, and as insupportable doctrines have been shown to be obstructions to proselytizing, the once boldly taught doctrine of man and God being of the same eternal, divine lineage has had to be swept away as “mere opinion.”
For his own part, Joseph Smith got even more carried away with the doctrine than Snow had: “The head God called together the Gods, and they sat in grand council. The grand councilors sat in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds that were created at that time.
. . . But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house tops that God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle; it is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. Moreover, all the spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible to enlargement.
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God found himself in the midst of spirits and glory, and because he was greater, he saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have the privilege of advancing like himself . . . .”
Denial of man’s being heir to godhood requires re-explanation of other, possibly also non-focal, doctrines of Mormonism:
What is the significance of God the Father having a physical body, the same in every physical respect as finite fallen mortals like ourselves, including flesh and bone but perhaps not blood?
What did Jesus men when he said he did only what he saw his Father do?
Has the song, “O My Father” been removed from the LDS Songbook