[QUOTE=drstevej;66334647]"As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."
A Response To MRM's "As God Is, Man May Be?"
17 September 2014
Another day, another article to debunk.
This document opens in standard form for critical material, in that the author's citation of McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" lacks any sort of date citation for the edition. This is problematic, as even Wikipedia  notes that the book was unauthorized and that the original edition contained numerous instances of material that was McConkie's personal doctrine and not church teachings. I did locate the citation in my 1979 edition, and in so doing noted that an extensive section of text had been deleted by the ellipses. The full text from the passage is as follows, with the deleted material highlighted:
"Thus, those who gain eternal life receive exaltation; they are sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ, members of the Church of the Firstborn; they overcome all things, have all power, and receive the fullness of the Father. They are gods."
Not only did the document modify the punctuation (a significant warning sign), we see that the deleted material is key to understanding the context. For starters, to those who are LDS, there is a significant difference between the words "God" and "god", with the latter being used to denote an exalted beings (a usage observed in Psalms 82:6 where we read "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."). Not only does the deleted material remove the explanation of the LDS theology on the topic, it also obscures the LDS interpretation as well: humans will become exalted, but will not become challengers to God’s title or position.
Next, the author cites a work known as "The Gospel Through the Ages" as if it were authoritative, when it is also not. A check of the work's info on Half.com  reveals that the work was published not by the church itself but by Deseret Book Company, which (while owned by the church) operates with autonomy and so publishes as it sees fit; just because a work is published by someone who is a church leader does not make it official church doctrine. Likewise, "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" and the "Journal of Discourses" are not official, either. I would love to see the author cite a work that was official, as official works do teach the matter. 
The author tries to use Biblical citations to answer the church's theology, but his answers fall flat. He first tries to cite Isaiah 43:10 as "evidence" that the concept of exaltation is not Biblical, but he misses 43:12, where we read "I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God." Thus, the passage in question is speaking on the matter of idolatry; presuming it to also speak of exaltation is an inference that is not in my opinion entirely justified. Isaiah 44 also speaks of idolatry and not exaltation, with verses 9 and 10 reading "They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?" In this context, it becomes clear that Isaiah 45 is likewise about idolatry and not exaltation. In that sense, all three verses not only come from the same narrow section, but are also not entirely relevant.
The author then goes to Psalms 82 and John 10 in an effort to "explain" the LDS defense, in the process completely missing what I have noted earlier concerning LDS theology. He also failed to actually cite anything officially sanctioned by the church, which makes me wonder if he actually stopped to investigate the church's own materials. I am quite disappointed.
The author tries to follow it up with a citation from Jeremiah 10, in the process ignoring the fact that the chapter is also about idols and not exaltation. Because of this, his attempt at rhetoric falls flat. Also flat is his assertion that "It would be safe to say that most Mormons do not even know what the "fulness [sic] of gospel law" includes, much less obey it." On what basis does he make this claim? We merely have his assertion.
He also tries to use Isaiah 64 to argue that "works" cannot save, in the process making the same mistake of so many other critics by presuming that the LDS faith uses a works-based salvation system. As noted in the Fourth Article of Faith, "We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." Faith is preeminent in the LDS faith, but at the same time we believe that one's faith must be active. We take James chapter 2 quite seriously, in that we regard a faith that is not active as being a faith that is hollow . In that sense, it would be against LDS theology to believe that one can work one's way to salvation. Rather, when we say "We will work out our salvation," we mean "we will obey God's laws and labor to be active in the faith, doing good and remaining mindful of both our promises to the Lord and our standards."
Given this, I find it ironic that the author derides Dr. Mouw when he himself is, indeed, guilty of just what Dr. Mouw was warning about concerning non-Mormons judging the church without first doing their homework.
The author tries to make it appear that he has done so by quoting from a piece in The Ensign, an official publication of the church, but his effort backfires because he hangs himself on this one. As the author did not see fit to cite where he found Dr. Mouw's specific words on the matter, and I have had no success in finding any sort of reference to his remarks outside of this article, the author has rendered the issue moot because his claims cannot be fact-checked (a very serious academic no-no). Yes, the theology does teach exaltation. But until such time as I can find the supposed statement made by Dr. Mouw on the topic, I cannot presume that the statement has been properly presented given the author's other flaws with accurately presenting material as seen elsewhere in this article.
As far as the author's claims concerning contacting the church’s public relations department, he seems to presume that silence is an admission of something untoward when it could simply have been his e-mail getting lost in the shuffle. He also regards it as untoward that his request to speak to someone from church headquarters was "ignored", but even if we presume that the matter happened as the author claims we have no way of knowing why his request was not responded to. He also seems to presume that all members of the church march in lockstep when it comes to matters of theology, hence his seeming surprise that individual members of the church – including folks from BYU – can have their own personal understanding of matters and so can either be unaware of something or even hold a different POV.
All told, I'm not impressed. If I had handed in such a poorly constructed and poorly-referenced work as this during my graduate work, I'd have been laughed out of the program.
 For example, www.lds.org/manual/gospel-prin…