Did the Mormons' president downplay a central teaching of Mormonism?

By December 26, 2014 3 Comments

Full Question

I heard that the current Mormon “prophet” gave an interview in which he waffled on the key teaching of Mormonism—that men can become gods. Is this true?


Yes, it is. Shortly after Easter 1997, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, who has been the president and “prophet” of the Mormon church since 1995.
In the interview, he was asked: “[D]on’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” the prophet responded. “There’s 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” (“Musings of the Main Mormon,” April 13, 1997, 3/Z1).
There’s something wrong here, as even Latter-day Saints admit. Hinckley appeared to dismiss the traditional Mormon belief that God was once a man by using the demeaning terms “little,” “couplet,” and “coined.” What he failed to point out was that the couplet, coined in the late 19th century by previous Mormon president and prophet Lorenzo Snow, was a succinct summary of the doctrine taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the founding theologians of Mormonism (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
When asked how he receives divine revelation, to which he is supposedly entitled as God’s prophet on earth, Hinckley said, “[W]e 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.”
Discussing abortion, Hinckley said his church permits it in several circumstances, including for the mother’s health. This is a change to a more liberal, politically correct position than what Mormonism has held to this point.
When asked about euthanasia, Hinckley declared that “no, at this point at least, we haven’t favored that” (emphasis added). Mormons may well wonder if this leaves the door cracked open to future divine permission to kill their sick and elderly.
Ultimately, the past doctrinal transformations of Mormonism give no confidence that there will not be equally drastic revisions to Mormon doctrine in the future. There may be more stages yet to come as Mormonism reinvents itself to fit the culture around it.


  • there are many sects in our world,mormons are not Christian,they are a cult

  • smcd says:

    Mormons have a living prophet, so that LDS doctrine is not set in stone. It can change if the First President receives a new revelation. The Mormon God is not the God of the Philosophers – he is not immutable and can change both his mind and Church teaching if he so chooses. A notable example of this was when Spencer Kimball recieved a revelation permitting priesthood for black men, which had previously been denied since the time of Joseph Smith. Not much of their doctrine is defined and none of it is unchangeable. I am not LDS but I don’t see any logical inconsistency in their handling of this question. You are looking at this from the Catholic point of view, but that is not their point of view. Your criticism is thus misplced.

  • Blaine Clayton says:

    The real name of the church is not Mormon. It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe that we are the restored church that Jesus established on the earth during his life

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