Hinckley no longer says that God was once a man
This discussion thread relates to Hinckley’s quotes that appeared in a San Francisco newspaper which Mormons were trying to rationalize away as either insignificant or merely Hinckley not wanting to give non-members the “meat before the milk”.
> > > Pres. Hinckley, on the other hand, was speaking to the general public,> > > not church members. They are unprepared for strong doctrine. Unprepared> > > spiritually, not intellectually.> >> > So you are saying that one should lie to those who aren't on the inside> > in order to insure that milk is always given before meat?> > No, no, no; did he actually *lie*, or did he give a less than specific answer?
Here is the actual quote:
Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?
A: I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else.
Did he lie or was he just being “less than specific”? I think it was the former.
Lorenzo Snow may have started this “little couplet” as Hinckley now calls it, but Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and virtually every General Authority since then (including Hinckley himself!) has taught it. See D&C 130 for a scriptural reference where it is nearly canonized.
If you type the phrase and similar phrases into the CD-ROM that includes all of the conference addresses and Joseph Smith’s teachings, you will find that “I wouldn’t say that” to the question “don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?” is more than just a “less than specific” answer. It is an incorrect answer.
and from alt.religion.mormon
Wow. That’s a pretty heavy quote. Appears as though Pres. Hinckley is trying to distance himself from the teachings of Joseph Smith:
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!………..It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God……..yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible….” (from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and History of the Church, 6:302-17)
And many others since then. Here are just a few…
“He [God] is our Father–the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being. It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has once been a finite being;” (Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, v. 7, p. 333)
“The Gods who dwell in the Heaven…have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state….they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.” (Apostle Orson Pratt in The Seer, page 23)
“You and I–what helpless creatures are we! Such limited power we have, and how little can we control the wind and the waves and the storms! We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were stated by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: ‘As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.'” (President Spencer W. Kimball in “Our Great Potential” from the April 1977 Priesthood Session of General Conference)
“While serving in Pennsylvania several years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to be visited by a minister of a huge Protestant congregation. We exchanged pleasantries and discussed the doctrinal subjects on which we could find benign agreement. Suddenly he interrupted our conversation by stating, “You teach one belief with which I could never agree. It is your idea that ‘as God is, man may become.’ ” (See History of the Church, 6:302-17.) He held a well-worn white Bible in his hand. I asked him to turn to Matthew 5:48. His nimble fingers quickly turned to that reference, and he read, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He gasped and then hesitatingly agreed to man’s great potential. We read other scriptures, such as: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26.) He understood, and found a new respect for our teachings. He left a wiser man, and I felt a renewed gratitude for the inspiring truths that we understand and teach.” (“Learning Our Father’s Will” Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, famous for his involvement in the Mark Hofmann scandal, October 1984 Sunday Afternoon Session of General Conference)
And from Gordon B. Hinckley himself when speaking to members instead of to potential converts:
I believe that I am a child of God, endowed with a divine birthright. I believe that there is something of divinity within me and within each of you. I believe that we have a godly inheritance and that it is our responsibility, our obligation, and our opportunity to cultivate and nurture the very best of these qualities within us. (BYU 1992)
On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62) and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1) Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom. (Conference Report, Oct. 1994)
Hinckley’s credibility sunk even lower when in the 1997 October General Conference he said,
I personally have been much quoted, and in a few instances misquoted and misunderstood. I think that’s to be expected. None of you need worry because you read something that was incompletely reported. You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the Church.
He blames the press for misquoting him despite the fact that he said basically the same thing, on three different occasions, and they were reported via three separate sources of the “public press”. See this page for those sources. Time responded to Hinckley’s assertion of being misquoted with a complete excerpt of the question and answer as follows:
Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley�s interview with Time:
Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet.
Q: … about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
A: I don�t know that we teach it. I don�t know that we emphasize it. I haven�t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don�t know. I don�t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don�t know a lot about it and I don�t know that others know a lot about it.