Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16636
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2010, 19:31

As I've been anticipating your answer, which I forecasted would be an attempt to explain away what he said,
Silent Dawning, that, in a nutshell, is why you totally missed what I actually said. You assumed you knew what I was going to say, so you read your assumption into my post - and missed what I actually said completely.

Again, I am not upset as I write this, and I don't want this comment to be seen as an attack of any kind. I am trying very carefully to help you realize that your reaction to the interview is a reaction to an incorrect interpretation of the interview - and it actually is an incorrect interpretation that is very easy to "fix". You simply have to realize that you think his answer applied to the second part of the couplet (or the entire couplet), when, in fact, he was asked only about the first part.

This is a perfect illustration of why I wrote the following post just the other day. You haven't commented on it, so you might not have read it. If not, please do:

"Reading Meaning Into Others' Words" (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1486&start=10)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
cwald
Posts: 3628
Joined: 10 Aug 2015, 06:39

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by cwald » 15 May 2010, 19:42

Ray Degraw wrote:...This does NOT ask if many or most members believe it; it asks only if "the church" teaches it TODAY - ...
I'm going to very respectfully disagree with the explanation for the quote. And I hope Ray that you won't get "defensive" if I don't agree with your explanation. :D i'm not buying it. I kind of see it the way Sam said - "hogwash". From my experience in the church, "as man is, God once was" is a solid - hard core fundamental mormon doctrine. I heard it growing up and still do hear this being TAUGHT from the pulpit TODAY. Now, if I understand the explanation --- are you insinuating that the "church" DOES NOT believe and teach this, and that it is only the "members" who believe and who are teaching it? I don't know - maybe? But if that is the case, then perhaps we need to do some serious reeducation on the principle because, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 99.9% of the church DOES believe that "as man is, God once was" and I think they ARE teaching this today.

I just respectfully disagree with the explanation given. I see Pres. Hinckleys response as a political statement made to protect the church from embarrassment and from driving a deeper wedge between us and our good Catholic and Protestant neighbors. The church has been trying to go "mainstream" for years, and if Pres. Hinckley had answered differently it might have set the church back. Kind of the like the ol' "Don't you guys believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers?" comment.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

nightwalden
Posts: 73
Joined: 05 Sep 2009, 19:34

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by nightwalden » 15 May 2010, 20:26

I see a lot of validity in what Ray said.

I think that the part of the couplet that is emphasized by members of the church is the second part - "As God is, man may become."

There are a lot of mormons that believe that HF was once a mortal man, but I don't think that it is a doctrine and I probably wouldn't even call it a teaching of the church.

But I still don't think that the question was answered well. Hence all the discussion that continues many years later.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16636
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2010, 20:40

cwald, that's a view with which I can't argue. I know plenty of members believe it.

All I have are:

1) my own experiences, and I simply haven't heard "the Church" teach "as man is, God once was" in . . . . . .

I'm seriously trying to remember the last time I heard it from the pulpit at General Conference, and I can't remember it happening. In my own local wards and branches, I can't remember hearing it over the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting, either. I'm sure there are plenty of cases where individuals have done so, but enough to make it something that is emphasized by the Church . . . I just don't think so.

2) General Conference talks, and that part of the couplet hasn't been quoted in General Coference since the '70's - over 30 years ago. (I wanted to know, so I checked.) Elder Packer quoted the entire couplet once only a few years ago in an Ensign article, and there are a couple more instances where it was quoted in the Ensign, but each time the subsequent elaboration dealt with the idea of becoming like God, not God once being a mortal man.

I have no problem with the idea that the answer was "political". I didn't say it wasn't. Pres. Hinckley gave a very carefully crafted answer, imo - but, again based on my own life and experiences, he answered the actual question directly and honestly. That really is my only point, since the idea that he lied about it or gave an incorrect answer is what I generally hear from those on many sites who can't let go of this and use it as "proof" that he wasn't a prophet.

I'm not saying his answer proves anything about his standing as a prophet, but, that part of the couplet really isn't taught and emphasized by "the Church" now, and it hasn't been for a long time - at least 30 years, based on its disappearance from the GC pulpit and my own experiences.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

swimordie
Posts: 755
Joined: 02 Jun 2009, 21:50

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by swimordie » 16 May 2010, 00:56

I agree with Ray. I don't think the concept of God as mortal man on some other planet (or this one) has been taught or even mentioned in my adult life. I will say though that the issue of pre-mortal gender muddies the water a bit and that was a consistent theme of GBH's ministry. By assigning gender to pre-mortal beings, you are implicitly assuming a gender-based mortal existence for God.

I know that may sound like a stretch to some but, in my mind, there's no other way to get from point A (God has a gender) to point B (God is creating pre-mortal beings with assigned genders). The concept being that gender is a pre-mortal condition therefore if God has a gender, it must have been assigned to Him in a pre-mortal condition thus He must have been in a mortal condition subsequently. With this concept as the basis, GBH's answer was, in fact, a dodge, imho. Or, yet another unintended consequence of the irrational concept of gender being an eternal foundational condition.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5418
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by SamBee » 16 May 2010, 01:08

I did read the whole quote properly and thought GBH's answer was shifty and evasive. Not good.

As for the couplet, it even appeared on an Osmonds concept album. So hardly obscure.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
Cadence
Posts: 1176
Joined: 08 Dec 2009, 21:36

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by Cadence » 16 May 2010, 09:01

swimordie wrote:I agree with Ray. I don't think the concept of God as mortal man on some other planet (or this one) has been taught or even mentioned in my adult life.
I have heard it outright or alluded to numerous times.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5418
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by SamBee » 16 May 2010, 09:10

I've heard some of the references to this concept have been toned down, e.g. the Gospel Principles book used to say we could "become gods" and now it's something like "become more like Heavenly Father/Christ"
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
bridget_night
Posts: 872
Joined: 02 Mar 2009, 12:15

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by bridget_night » 16 May 2010, 11:32

With the changes in the gospel principles manual, it does seem like the church is changing things to become more mainstream and gently lead new members into the deeper beliefs of the church later. That may work if one has the trust in the person speaking as we teach line upon line. Other times, it is a shock, like when people go to the temple for the first time. It was only recently the church took out the parts about Heavenly Mother for example, which is understandable as there is no definite teaching on it, only rational deductions made. I was surprised that they took out the part that we 'need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Everything in the temple ceremonies leads to man becoming gods and goddesses. I do recall a tv show "2001 space odessy," where I was shocked when they used that line of "as man is, god once was, as god is, man may become." I heard that couplet often while growing up. I always liked it because it made me feel that God could understand me, having been mortal once. I mean, how can I pray to a God that had never experienced what I have gone through. Being gods in embroyo also made sense to me because a child can become like its parent. When the pearl of great price talked about 3 intelligences that God did not create, it was an aha moment for me because I had always thought that God made me just the way I am and so I could blame him for how I turned out. Knowing that I, as a thinking intelligence, decided to become like God in the pre-existence made me realize I was responsible for how I turned out, not God. So, I tend to think it was political too, but it did disturbe me and my husband when we saw that interview, because it made us feel confused and wondering if the church was changing its teachings. Since, I see church leaders as alot more falliable the past 5 years, I do have a hard time knowing what I can believe when they say something. My only check sourse is the the spirit confirming to me whether what they say comes from God.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16636
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Pres. Hinckley on Godhood Couplet: What He Actually Said

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 May 2010, 11:43

Cadence, have you heard it (that God was once a mortal man) in General Conference or from "the Church" - or have you heard it from members of the Church?

I've heard it from members of the Church, and I'm positive there is a very large percentage of members who believe it. I don't think there's any legitimate way to assert otherwise. I just can't remember the last time I heard "the Church" teach it or emphasize it.

Let me relate this to another topic, while begging everyone not to derail this thread by making it about the priesthood ban just because I'm using it as an example:

"The Church" hasn't taught or emphasized the previous justifications for the ban in a long time, and, in fact, there have been some very strongly worded statements over the past couple of decades, especially, about how we need to let go of those justifications. However, too many members still cling to them, because previous leaders used them.

If Pres. Hinckley had been asked the exact same question about the former justifications for the ban, and if he had said that he wouldn't say that we teach or emphasize them anymore, he would be correct - regardless of how many members can't let go of them. If he said, "Those things are never taught anywhere in the LDS Church today" - well, that obviously would be wrong. However, if he simply said, "The Church doesn't teach them or emphasize them today" - well, he would be correct.

So, based strictly on what he was asked and what he answered, it really doesn't matter if members still believe the first half of the couplet - when it comes to evaluating the interview. Does it matter in the sense that we want to know if it's correct or not? Sure, if we care and want to know; not at all, if we dont' care and don't want to know. How much emotion we invest in it is up to us, but I'm just pointing out that I think we do him a disservice if we support the idea that he lied in his answer, or that he should have given a doctrinal discourse to someone who didn't want one (in a setting where it wouldn't have been appropriate in the first place).

Did he "duck" the question a bit? Maybe, since he might have been able to elaborate a little more - but maybe not, since he might not have been able to elaborate a little more, given the constraints of the interview - and maybe not, since he might have answered more fully in the unedited version or afterward in person to only the interviewer - and maybe or maybe not for a number of other possible reasons. I accept his answer as carefully worded (even with the use of a colloquialism that some didn't understand) and "political" in that sense - but I also accept that it was an answer to the question asked, and that it actually might have been the best answer possible in the circumstances of that interview.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Post Reply