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Why would Gordon B. Hinckley President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prophet, Seer & Revelator distances himself from the teachings of many previous Church leaders including Joseph Smith's teachings?





Was Gordon B. Hinckley telling the truth?


When asked: "Was God once a man?" How could President Gordon B. Hinckley Prophet, Seer & Revelator say: "I don't know. ... I wouldn't say that... I don't know that we teach it... I don't know that we emphasize it… We don't know very much about that... I don't know a lot about it… That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about…. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made"?

It's bizarre that Hinckley don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made when his predecessor President Spencer W. Kimball with whom Gordon B. Hinckley worked in the Church for many years said:
"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)


Here are the circumstances under which that statement was made. It was made by Joseph Smith founder of the Church. Joseph said:
". . .I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see."

Joseph Smith's complete statement is to be found below.

In the course of the 1997 October General Conference Gordon B. Hinckley 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."

President Gordon B. Hinckley blames the press — for misquoting him despite the fact that he said basically the same thing, on three different occasions, and they were reported by three separate sources of the "public press". In an August 4, 1997 Time cover story, when asked by religion writer Richard N. Ostling about the Mormon teaching that men can become gods, and that God the Father was once a man President Hinckley played the naïve uninformed Church leader.

Time responded to President Hinckley's declaration of being misquoted with a complete quotation of the question and answer as follows:

— 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. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We're trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.

As quoted in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997: when asked by religion writer Richard N. Ostling.

Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet.

A: Yeah

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.

President Hinckley apparently now wishes to hide from the public what Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seemed to fully understood concerning the character or personality of God.


For those who are not familiar with Joseph Smith's King Follet Discourse, made in April 7, 1844, here is the text as it appears in the History of the Church:

    "I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to enquire after God; for I want you all to know him, and to be familiar with him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am his servant; for I speak as one having authority."
    "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible, - I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form - like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man . . ."
    "I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why he interferes with the affairs of men."
    ". . .I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see."
    ". . . he was once a man like us; 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."
    "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" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 304-306, see also, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 345-347). (See also D&C 130:22).
    Joseph Smith ("King Follett Discourse," Journal of Discourses 6:3-4, also in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-345):

After this clear statement of Joseph Smith how could President Hinckley say: "I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it".
    Joseph Fielding Smith said: (Doctrines of Salvation 1:10):
    "God is an exalted man. Some people are troubled over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith ... that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man..."

Is it possible that he never heard about the teachings of Milton R. Hunter's?
    Milton R. Hunter (The Gospel Through the Ages, p 104):
    "Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God - an exalted being - through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey."

Did not President Hinckley ever read about the knowledge of Brigham Young on the subject?
    Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 3:93):
    "The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself."
    "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)
Here are the words of his predecessor President Spencer W. Kimball with whom he worked in the Church for many years:
    "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)
Not only President Gordon B. Hinckley takes his distance from the teachings of Joseph Smith but by doing so rejects some teachings of the Bible. I understand the frustration of some Bible teachers trying to compare a perfect God to an imperfect man. Without accepting the fact that ``As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become'' we are forced to deny or rephrase a large portion of the Bible.

Some Bible teachers may not have difficulty understanding that Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image Genesis 5:3, but can't believe that God created man in his [own] image and likeness as illustrated in Genesis 1:26-27
    Genesis 5:3
    3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
    Genesis 1:26
    26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
    Genesis 1:27
    27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Some people are tempted to compare chimpanzees or apes to humans. Some believe that men are a race of them that evolved into what we are today.

Even though they may have some of the characteristics of men they where not created to our image, after our likeness. With out the same chromosomes they don't have the look and don't have the attributes that could make them qualify, as a human image. An image is picture, a portrait or a reproduction of a human being or of any other living or non-living things in its totality.

Even though they eat and feel pain, reproduces, die in a comparable way, we all know that chimpanzees and apes don't have the ability to learn and better them selves and improve and eased their living on this earth as we do. They don't have the mental aptitude to build cars, computers or space ships to go to another planet as men may do. They always lived that way in the past and will be living the same way in millions of years from now.

The Bible tells us that not only men were created at the image and likeness of God but tells us also that men are gods. Any man denying this must deny the following verses of the Bible.
    Psalms 82:6
    6 I have said, Ye [are] gods; and all of you [are] children of the most High.
    John 10:34
    34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
    Matthew 5:48
    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The Bible clearly teaches us that as God is, man may become. Any contradictions to this principle are a contradiction to not only the verses mentioned above but to a large portion of the Bible's teachings.

On one hand he says: "That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about" and on the other hand Gordon B. Hinckley says: "Now we don't need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation."

David Ransom: INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY: November 09, 1997
    DR: As the world leader of the Church, how are you in touch with God? Can you explain that for me?
    Gordon B. Hinckley: I pray. I pray to Him. Night and morning. I speak with Him. I think He hears my prayers. As He hears the prayers of others. I think He answers them.
    DR: But more than that, because you’re leader of the Church. Do you have a special connection?
    Gordon B. Hinckley: I have a special relationship in terms of the Church as an institution. Yes.
    DR: And you receive........
    Gordon B. Hinckley: For the entire Church.
    DR: You receive?
    Gordon B. Hinckley: Now we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should take and we proceed accordingly.


Gordon B. Hinckley needs to explain why his predecessors believed differently.

Brigham Young said:

    Discourses of Brigham Young, Pg.39
    "Well, Brother Brigham, have you had visions?" Yes, I have. "Have you had revelations?" Yes, I have them all the time, I live constantly by the principle of revelation. I never received one iota of intelligence, from the letter A to what I now know, I mean that, from the very start of my life to this time, I have never received one particle of intelligence, only by revelation, no matter whether father or mother revealed it, or my sister, or neighbour.


President Hinckley does not completely reject the idea of receiving revelations today but When asked by David Ransom if he has a special connection with God because he is the leader of the Church and if he receive revelations President Hinckley shyly answered with out a clear yes on no: "For the entire Church". When asked again by David Ransom: "You receive?" Gordon B. Hinckley answered: ""Now we don't need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation". I beleive that there are some significant differences in Hinckley's beliefs he has moved away from the teachings of many of his predecessors, like Brigham Young and James E. Talmage who lived under constant revelations.
    James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Pg.509 - 510, Footnotes
    2. The Doctrine of No Further Revelation, New and False -- "The history of the people of God, from the earliest ages, shows that continued revelation was the only way by which they could possible learn all their duties or God's will concerning them. They never once thought that the revelations given to previous generations were sufficient to guide them into every duty. A doctrine which rejects new revelation is a new doctrine, invented by the devil and his agents during the second century after Christ; it is a doctrine in direct opposition to the one believed in and enjoyed by the saints in all ages. _ If they wish their new doctrine to be believed, let them demonstrate it to be of divine origin, or else all people will be justified in rejecting it and clinging to the old." -- Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, 1 (2) 15, 16.


Obviously Gordon B. Hinckley needs a lot of continuing revelation.

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