God is Not a Man

Joseph Smith taught, in late works like the King Follett Discourse, that God is an exalted man: "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse). What saith the scripture?

  • “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
  • (Numbers 23:19).

  • “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.”
  • (1 Samuel 15:29).

  • “I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.
  • (Hosea 11:9).

Vasily Polenov, Return in the Spirit

Joseph Smith promised the mourners at King Follett's funeral that they, too, could raise in rank to godhead, just as God Himself had done before them:

"Here, then, is eternal life -- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how 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, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse).

But how is this possible? God is eternal!

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them." (Deuteronomy 33:27).
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90:2).
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isaiah 57:15).

"Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction." (Habbakuk 1:12).

"Thou art God," how long? Lately? No, "even from everlasting to everlasting." He does not change:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17).

Eternity is an attribute which Joseph generously gives to us also: "There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse); however, the Bible says we don't have it:

"The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Isaiah 40:6-8).

We have God's gracious promise of eternal life; we are not, after nature, His contemporaries.

Ivan Kramskoy, The Temptation of Christ

God is not a colleague and a contemporary, further advanced along the promotion track than we; to say so would be no different than for a clay pot to say, 'I'm just as capable as my maker:'

"Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. . .Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?" (Isaiah 29:14-16).

The Bible stresses the futility of trusting in man; help and strength come only from God:

  • “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
  • “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
  • “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:. . .”
  • (Psalm 146:3-5).

The distinction being made here is somewhat blunted if God is, in fact, an exalted man. Mormons continue to this day in believing that God, man, and for that matter angels, are all of the same race and nature:

"Because angels are of the same race as man and God, it is with perfect logic that in the pure language spoken by Adam, they were designated as Anglo-man." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, second edition, p. 37).
"Men and God are of the same race, and those men who overcome all things, being joint-heirs with Son Ahman, become eventually, as he has become, like their Eternal Father." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 744).

The Bible to the contrary continually emphasizes God's grandeur, His height above mankind:

  • “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
  • “With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
  • “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
  • “And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
  • “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.”
  • (Isaiah 40:13-17).

Man is not on the same plane with God, but vastly lower:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The word of God promises that we shall be like Him: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2). This is not however a promise we will be like God in every possible respect, as Mormons understand it: "That exaltation which the saints of all ages have so devoutly sought is godhood itself. Godhood is to have the character, possess the attributes, and enjoy the perfections which the Father has. . .It is to know him in the full and complete sense, and no one can fully know God except another exalted personage who is like him in all respects." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 321). But we will never be like God in the the respect of having no beginning of days; only God is from everlasting to everlasting; we came into existence in time, from having been non-existent.

Other characteristics of God which in no way belong to humanity include omnipresence. The Mormons deny this attribute to their gods: "Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are 'one God' (Testimony of Three Witnesses in Book of Mormon), meaning that they are united as one in the attributes of perfection. . .Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere presence." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 319). The Bible of course ascribes omnipresence to God (singular):

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139:7-10).

One fundamental problem that Joseph Smith never corrected is that his god-count is 'off:'

"In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse).

A "council of the Gods" indeed! The King Follett Discourse is not considered canonical scripture by Latter Day Saints; however, the same perspective appears in sections of the Doctrine & Covenants which are counted as scripture. These late revelations were not cast aside by his followers but embraced and are now central to the religion: "God revealed himself to Adam by this name to signify that he is a Holy Man, a truth which man must know and comprehend if he is to become like God and inherit exaltation." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, second edition, p. 29). Lest any be persuaded these are old-time speculations, later cast aside, realize that they continue to affirm that God is an exalted man:

"God is an exalted Man, and exaltation consists in having the fulness of all powers, all attributes, and all perfections. (D. & C. 76; 93; 132.) The plan of exaltation is one whereunder those who fill the full measure of their creation are able to progress to that state wherein they will gain the fulness of the Father." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 300).

Another point wherein God differs from man is omniscience. Joseph Smith fails to see the distinction: 'The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse.) Really?:

  • “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
  • “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
  • “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
  • “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
  • “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
  • “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. . .
  • “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
  • “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
  • “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
  • “If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
  • (Psalm 139:1-18).

According to God's word, God is the creator of all spirits, not their contemporary and co-equal:

Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:.  . ." (Isaiah 42:5).

"The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him." (Zechariah 12:1).

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12:9).

The fact that we stand to Him in the relation of creature to creator refutes any idea that we are co-eternal or co-equal or on the same plane as He:

"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3).

A better attitude for us to take would be that of Abraham, the friend of God, who called himself "dust and ashes:"

"And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:. . ." (Genesis 18:27).

Ironically their own scriptures go Abraham one better, explaining that mankind are less than the dust of the earth: "Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you." (Mosiah 2:25); "O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:6). Joseph Smith had not yet conceived the idea of men exalted to godhood. Amongst all the contradictions of his prophetic career, between his oscillation from modalism to polytheism, his varying identifications of Elias compounded by his failure to realize Elijah is the same party, this one stands out: he started off realizing how small man is in comparison with God, but then he lost that insight.

In rebuttal, Mormons point to the fact of the incarnation. But the incarnation was not a revealing that God after all has the same nature as man, but rather a new thing; God the Son took on a human nature, in addition to His own eternal divine nature.

For men to acclaim themselves gods is nothing new; the Prince of Tyre and the King of Babylon did it, Wallace D. Fard did it, and the late Kim Jong Il sometimes dipped his toe in the divinity pool, as did Father Divine. It was Satan's lying promise to Adam and Eve that they could be as gods. But those men who so far fail to comprehend their own nature do not gain the living God's praise for so doing. Mormon confusion about this very clear distinction rises to levels beyond what even these deluded men ever claimed:

"Having particular reference to his position as the patriarchal head of the human family — the first man, 'the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor' — Adam is known as the Ancient of Days. (D. & C. 27:11; Teachings, pp. 157-159, 167-169). In this capacity he will yet sit in formal judgment upon 'ten thousand times ten thousand' of his posterity, and before him at Adam-ondi-Ahman will be brought the Son of Man to receive 'dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him.' (Dan. 7:9-14.)" (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 34).

The reason why the Bible teaches that Jesus is both God and man is not because the Bible authors share Joseph's confusion that these are somehow the same thing. The two natures are understood to be of altogether different character and origin, though joined in one person. And Jesus, the God-man, does not receive His kingdom from any man: