Why Wouldn't a Loving God Want to Make Us Just Like Him?

If God is a truly loving Father who wants the very best for us, wouldn’t God want to make us into Gods, just like him? Don’t we want our children to become all that we are, to enjoy all that we enjoy? Do we believe that God cannot do so, or will not do so? And if he will not, then why not? Wouldn’t God be selfish not to do so? What could possibly be a more unselfish act than for God to invite us to become like himself, and then to provide, at infinite cost, a way to make that happen?

That’s the latest argument I’m hearing from LDS folks in favor of their doctrine of eternal progression, the doctrine that each of us humans can, and ought to strive to, become gods, like God and his eternal ancestors once did. It’s a clever argument that has a measure of persuasive power. It is a question that demands an answer.

Becoming a God is not comparable to becoming like your dad. The LDS are the only religion on earth that does not understand this. All monotheists (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, theist, and deist) put God on a pedestal on which none of us will ever belong. For us to become gods is like the pot usurping the Potter, or the creature usurping the Creator. (Isaiah 45:9-11, Jeremiah 18:1-6, Romans 9:19-21) To claim that God is selfish to withhold promotion to Deity from us is a golden example of how human-centered the LDS religion is.

What was the cause of the cataclysmic disaster in the Garden of Eden? It was the desire to become like God. The serpent goads Eve by insinuating that God was being selfish by withholding this opportunity from humans. (Genesis 3:5)

Likewise, in Isaiah 14:13-15, we find that Lucifer’s great sin was his desire to be like God: “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven! I will raise my throne above the stars of God… I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.”

The great theologian Catherine Hobson observes that if we become Gods, and if God has divine ancestors, then Heavenly Father’s kingdom becomes drastically reduced. God becomes a relatively tiny God, compared to the true Biblical God who rules the entire universe, not just a limited piece of it. Indeed, God must parcel out pieces first to Jesus, then to us. Gods become cheaper in quantities of more than one.

You may say that the universe is infinite, therefore pieces of it are infinite, but the piecemeal reality still subtracts from what the Bible says belongs to God alone. Where does it say that? Isaiah 43:10: “Before me was there no god formed, neither shall there be after me.”

But don’t some early church writers use language about us becoming gods? 2 Peter 1:4 tells us we can become “partakers in the divine nature.” Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria talk about humans becoming gods. Let’s take a closer look at the two best sources for this idea: Irenaeus (180 AD) and Athanasius, champion of the Nicene Creed (mid-300’s AD).

Athanasius is famous for saying in his book On the Incarnation 54.3 that Christ “became-human” [enÄ“nthrōpÄ“sen, a verb], so that we “might be-made-divine” [theopoiÄ“thōmen, another verb]. Read the part where he says this here. Read the whole book – if you are LDS and have questioned the Christian Trinity, Athanasius explains our doctrine of Christ and the one true God. If you read the whole piece, you can see that Athanasius is nowhere laying the groundwork for humans to be promoted to the rank of godhood.

Elsewhere, Athanasius says, “And if all that are called sons and gods, whether in earth or in heaven, were adopted and deified through the Word, and the Son Himself is the Word, it is plain that through Him are they all, and He Himself before all, or rather He Himself only is very Son , and He alone is very God from the very God, not receiving these prerogatives as a reward for His virtue, nor being another beside them, but being all these by nature and according to essence.” (Against the Arians 1.39)

Athanasius appears to be saying essentially the same thing as Irenaeus does in Against Heresies, Preface to Book 5: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are, that he might make us what he himself is.”

Irenaeus takes a chapter to discuss why God did not make us perfect at first: “We cast blame on him because we were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.” Against Heresies 4.38.4. (Read the chapter here.) ends this chapter by saying that godhood means “what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God, having received the knowledge of good and evil.” Meanwhile, makes it clear elsewhere that the God of Israel is “the only God and the only Lord and the only Creator and the only Father, the only one who contains all and provides being to all.” (Against Heresies 2.1.1)

So early Christian talk about becoming gods apparently does not mean what it sounds like. The same cannot be said about LDS teaching on the subject. The LDS scripture that commands polygamy, Doctrine and Covenants 132:20, promises to those who obey, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end…then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them. Then they shall be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them.” (132:19 specifies that they “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers”.)

Joseph Smith himself taught: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret…and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you…” (Journal of Discourses 6:3-4) Brigham Young teaches, “How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds...” (Journal of Discourses 7:333)

In 1853, LDS Apostle Orson Pratt expands on this teaching in his volume The Seer (page 134): “The Father of our spirits has only been doing that which His Progenitors did before Him. Each succeeding generation of Gods follow the example of the preceding ones; each generation have their wives, who raise up from the fruit of their loins immortal spirits: when their families become numerous, they organize new worlds for them… The inhabitants of each world have their own personal Father whose attributes they worship…”

It is not unloving or selfish for God to reserve divine status entirely for himself. God is the only One in the entire universe who deserves it. God belongs on the pedestal, and we do not. I will be thrilled simply to become like God in God’s perfection, love, and freedom from sin.