The LDS Church (Sort of) Answers 21 Questions about Mormon Doctrine at FoxNews.com

John Dehlin Mormon

It looks as though Fox News worked w/ the LDS Church to publish answers to some of the typical questions regarding Mormon doctrine. Most of the answers seem relatively accurate…here are the few that did not seem right to me (either because they come across as “partial” or “technical” truths, but not the “whole truth”):

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe its followers can become “gods and goddesses” after death?

The Church’s Answer: “We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.”

This feels like parsing to me. The answer here (as I’ve been taught my entire life) — is unequivocally YES. What am I missing here?

Here’s a speech by past prophet Spencer W. Kimball to illustrate (from the church’s web site). In part it reads,

“We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were said by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.” This is a power available to us as we reach perfection and receive the experience and power to create, to organize, to control native elements.”

And here it is in “Chapter 1: The Origin and Destiny of Mankind,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 1 (again, from the church’s web site):

“It is for the exaltation of man to this state of superior intelligence and Godhead that the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ is instituted; and that noble being, man, made in the image of God, is rendered capable not only of being a son of man, but also a son of God, … and is rendered capable of becoming a God, possessing the power, the majesty, the exaltation and the position of a God. As it is written, “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.]”

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?

The Church’s Answer: No.

Again, this feels like parsing to me, and an attempt to avoid answering the question as it is intended. Mormons absolutely believe (as indicated here, in the church’s web site ) that for both women and men, special signs and tokens (and code words) are required for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom — the highest degree of heaven. Mormons receive these things in the temple (as the church’s web site also teaches). That is clearly what the questioners (with an imperfect knowledge of Mormon doctrine) were trying to ask. And the answer should be pretty easy:

President Brigham Young (1801–77) said of the endowment: “Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.”3

The way it was answered here seems as if they were fixating on the word “women”, or the general term “heaven”, and thus trying to avoid answering what the questioner clearly meant to ask — by escape through a technicality. Am I totally off base here?

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will “rule” after their death and ascension?

The Church’s Answer: No.

Again, it feels as if lawyers responded to this question, and not someone seeking to tell the complete truth, and answer the questions that were intended. Mormons absolutely believe that those Mormons who live worthily enough will eventually become Gods and Godesses to rule their own worlds (as God does now). See the links and quotes at the top.

Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?

The Church’s Answer: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.

Given our dark history and docrtine on this subject, this answer doesn’t seem to show either the candor, or the contrition that one would expect (based on Jesus’ and the church’s teachings about complete honesty, humilty, etc.). On the black issue, this is perhaps an opportunity for the church to come clean and say, “Leaders of our church once taught many racist teachings about blacks — but those were misguided and wrong”. On the Native American front, complete honesty seems to require that we own up to the fact that the Book of Mormon teaches that Native American dark skin comes as a direct result of a curse from God because of their ancestor’s wickedness.

Anyway, I understand why the church speaks the way it does (some of this stuff is difficult or embarrassing) — but the idealist in me wishes that the church could “tell the whole truth” like it often encourages us to do. It feels as if the church is almost embarrassed by some of its doctrine (unlike the scripture, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” I certainly struggle to see many of our past prophets answering some of these questions in the way they were answered here.

For those of you raised in the LDS Church — where do I have it right and wrong (based on your experience)? I am totally open to being shown wrong or misguided — these are just my initial reactions and feelings.