The 13 April 1997 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle published an interview with LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley conducted by Religion Writer Don Lattin. In this interview President Hinckley was asked about the LDS doctrine that God was once a man.
"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."
What does President Hinckley mean, that's more of a couplet than anything else? According to Webster's Dictionary a couplet is nothing more than "two successive lines of poetry." Surely a doctrinal statement penned by the man who later became the fifth prophet of the Church deserves more credence than that!
The interviewer responded to President Hinckley with a very astute question.
"Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?"
This question might be enlarged a bit. If the prophet, seer and revelator of God's only true church on the earth today cannot understand the Church's own doctrine on the nature of God, what hope is there?
The Bible, one of the four Standard Works of the LDS Church, states that eternal life is to know the only true God (John 17:3). Joseph Smith taught, "It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God " (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)
Doesn't President Hinckley understand even the first principle of the LDS Gospel?
In answer to the interviewer's question President Hinckley said,
"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."
President Hinckley's answer was a non-answer. He completely side-stepped both questions. Is there a problem with admitting LDS doctrine or is President Hinckley actually ignorant of his church's theology?
Later in the interview a question regarding continuing revelation arose. President Hinckley had already stated, " we believe [God] has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. So, we believe in the principle of continuous revelation." The interviewer later asked:
"Q: And this belief in contemporary revelation and prophecy? As the prophet, tell us how that works. How do you receive divine revelation? What does it feel like?"
"A: Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don't need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we've already received."
In 1844, at the General Conference of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith delivered some of this "great body of revelation" to the Saints. He said, quite clearly, "God was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . .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. . ." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345, 346)
President Hinckley, unable to fully understand Lorenzo Snow's couplet "As man is, God once was. . .", would certainly have no trouble understanding Joseph Smith's clear teaching on the subject.
It is really inconceivable that President Hinckley is unaware of Joseph Smith's teaching, for he himself said the Saints must give more heed to the revelation that came through this first latter-day prophet.
If knowing the character of God is the first principle of the Gospel, it appears that President Hinckley is either ashamed of the LDS Gospel or purposely concealing it for ignoble reasons.
Contrast President Hinckley's behavior with what the Apostle Paul said: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. . ." (Romans 1:16)
President Hinckley, it is time to stop dancing and face the music.