*This post is an extension of a previous post, Concerning Theism.
I will begin by acknowledging that the God I will describe to you is not an esthetic of God regularly discussed in common LDS settings. We tote around these ideas without fully embracing the robustness of Mormon theology. Even so, this esthetic of God is authentically Mormon, though my God is only one esthetic of many Mormon projections of God.
It is also worth noting that the development of my God has been influenced by The New God Argument, with adopted ideas and terminology.
God is Immanent
The Mormon God is immanent, meaning existing within a material world. This could also be thought of as divine presences among and within us. All material creation is filled with immanence, even if we cannot see or recognize it. “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by pure eyes.” (D&C 131:7-8) Furthermore, the term light of Christ is often used to describe the immanence of God that “fills the immensity of space.” The light of Christ is the presence of God that give all things life. (D&C 88:12) It is the light of Christ which connects us with God’s immanence as we become one with God. (D&C 50:24, John 17:22, 2 Corinthians 3:18)
Not only is God immanent, we are also taught that to love our fellow humans as we love God. If you have done it unto one of the least of God’s children, you have done it unto God. (Matthew 25:40) There is no clear distinction between us and God when we are coeternal with God—meaning our intelligence is intimately and inextricably bound with God’s intelligence. (D&C 93:29) Even before we were flesh, we were intelligence with God. (Moses 6:51) When we do unto each other, we do unto God. When we do unto animals, we do unto God. When we do unto our planet, we do unto God.
Accepting the full immanence of God means looking outside ourselves to see the “other” we consider to be so separate from us is actually within us. We are part of the “other” and the “other” is part of us when we are all immanent with God. I do not intend this to be a secular humanist interpretation of scripture. This is intended to mean that God is within and surrounds us—not that mere humans are Gods already. If we are coeternal with God, which I believe we are, God cannot be eliminated from the equation to satisfy secular or hubris interpretations of scripture.
God is Singular and Plural
God is singular in oneness, wholeness, and immanence with humanity, but this oneness is simultaneously dependent on plurality. God is both singular and plural. This idea can be seen in the scriptures when God is referred to as Gods. Ye are Gods and children of the Most High. (Psalms 82:6, Genesis 3:22)
While Mormonism is thought to be a monotheistic religion which worships a deity referred to as Heavenly Father, that is not a complete nor robust interpretation of theology. Under even the strictest interpretations of theology, Mormons are polytheist—meaning they believe and worship more than one personified or anthropomorphized deity. Mormonism rejects the traditional trinity and embraces the esthetic that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate beings—though the Holy Spirit has no body. The Godhead consists of three distinct entities.
Furthermore, God the Father cannot be God without God the Mother. As Erastus Snow (LDS Apostle, 1849-1888) avowed, "If I believe anything God has ever said about himself…I must believe that deity consist of man and woman.” It is only through the union of both male and female that God may attain godhood. We are the spirit children of Heavenly Parents. The nature of God is such that the Godhead has no God unless it is inclusive of male and female representation. In Mormonism, worshiping God the Father without God the Mother is nonsensical; for He is not God without She. We are also symbiotically created in the image of God, both male and female. (Genesis 1:27) In this sense God is omnigender and includes the esthetics of all genders in God’s material plurality. God is queer encompassing.
I would also like to make clear that this is not an appeal to heteronormative assumptions about how spirit children are created and reared. Under the umbrella of “God” there are many possible parental formations and familial dynamics. The union of man and woman doesn’t mandate heteronormative ideas concerning copulation and reproduction. It mandates multi-gender alliances, partnerships, and cooperation. There are many more esthetics of God beyond cisgender, heteronormative assumptions, but I do believe godhood requires cooperation, reconciliation, and representation of diverse genders.
Even beyond the Mormon Godhead being composed of three separate beings, including a God composed of both female and male, the theology can be taken even further. God is a community of plural beings. Each of us may act as a representative of God when we use priesthood power to act in God’s name. The esthetics are far more inclusive than an elderly white man with a snowy beard, and his wife(s). God lives and breathes with each of Their children. Each of us is the material image of God. We are literally made in Their likeness. The plurality of God is in the body of Christ, the community we call Zion, and the literal inhabitants of this earth. God is a community intimately intertwined with the materiality of every living entity. God is life—wholly, singly, and plurally. Any other reductive, androcentric, heteronormative esthetic of an all-encompassing God would be an incomplete, even harmful, representation of God’s plurality. In Mormonism, Gods create Gods in worlds without end, and no God exists independent of its community, heritage, or posterity. The community that is God reflects the image all life, not just men or even humans.
God is Dynamic
All material is in motion in a constant state of flux. If God is material, as Mormonism supposes, then God, nor life, is a static state. Eternal progression mandates a dynamic God who is learning and growing along with humanity. If we are coeternal intelligences with God, our growth is reflected in one another. In this sense, the Mormon God is not an “omni” God. Terms like omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence cannot be applied in a strict sense to the Mormon God, otherwise God would not have eternal progression and eternal increase.
In Mormonism, our aspirations are not simply to be like God, but to join God, live in God’s presence, and be Gods ourselves. For me, theosis is one of the most profoundly beautiful doctrines in Mormon theology. God isn’t this unknowable, immaterial, supernatural epiphany. God was once as we are now, and is exalted, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, the same as all gods have done before you. (Joseph Smith Jr., King Follett Sermon) Not only are we coeternal and immanent with God, we also have the potential to enjoy the same privileges and powers God does, as joint-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) Both God and ourselves are dynamic participants in theosis.
God is Intelligence
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. (D&C 93:36)
We are glorified by gaining intelligence and knowledge. (D&C 93:28-30) When Eve and Adam partake of the fruit of knowledge in the Garden of Eden their eyes were opened, and they were made aware of their ignorance. God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” (Genesis 3:22) This scripture supports the plurality of God and the notion that increased knowledge is essential to our godly progression. Knowledge is gained gradually in an on-going process. Line upon line, precept on precept. (Isaiah 28:10, 2 Nephi 28:30, D&C 93:11-13)
Whatever intelligence is gained here on earth will also be brought forth in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life, they will be advantaged in the world to come. (D&C 130:18-19) Gaining knowledge and intelligence requires we act as free agents. (D&C 93:30) Agency is necessary for advancement in intelligence and ultimately godhood. In this sense, God is community—an interconnected network of progressing superintelligent agents.
God is Love
God loves, because God is love. The scriptures say if we dwelleth in love, we dwelleth in God (John 4:16), and if we do not know love, we do not know God. (John 4:7-8) I suspect it is only through radically loving one another that we will ever come to know God, intelligence alone is insufficient. I’m confident that if God is love, then to the extent that we oppress love, we oppress our godly potential. To become God is to dwell in love.
One example of love we ought to follow is exemplified by Jesus in a more robust Christology. Jesus said the greatest commandment was thou shalt love. All other commandments hinge on this commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40) Jesus then invites each of us to join him in the body of Christ, also called Christosis. (1 Corinthians 12) As members of the body of Christ, this means each of us is anointed to do God’s work as diverse free agents by following the example of Jesus. Disciples of Christ will be known by their ability to love one another. (John 13:34-35) There is no clear distinction between loving God, loving Jesus, loving Christ, and loving your fellow beings. If you have done it unto one of the least of God’s children, you have done it unto God. (Matthew 25:40) This implicitly means God allows atheists into the body of Christ. If you are an atheist and you are loving your neighbor (Mark 12:31), clothing the naked, healing the sick, feeding the hungry (Matthew 25:35-37), and comforting those that stand in need of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4)—so far as God is concerned, you are loving God.
God’s love is necessarily plural, especially when God is plural. There is more than enough to go around. If we are immanent with God in an intimately bound network of coeternal intelligences, it is impossible for God’s love not to be plural. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) and all are alike unto God. (2 Nephi 26:33) God so loved the world, cannot be read without its plural implications for all intelligences. I use the term “plural love” rather than “omnibenevolent” precisely because there is always room for greater development under the premise of eternal progression. God’s love is great, our love is great, yet there is still room for greater love to be shared among each other and the Gods.
Above all, God is loving, and we should be too. (Colossians 3:14-16) Charity is the pure love of Christ (Mormon 7:48) and charity never fails. (Mormon 7:46, 1 Corinthians 13:8, 1 Corinthians 16:14) Love, plural love, will be the lighthouse that will guide us safely toward heavenly vistas.
God is Purposeful
God desires us to become just like Them, essentially theosis. (Matthew 5:48) This makes us Gods in embryo with the potential to have all the divine attributes which God has—that we might become exalted, embodied, intelligent, immortal beings like Them. There is room for all of us to share in God’s glory. (John 14:3) God’s love and glory are not finite resources to be squabbled over.
Happiness is essential to God’s purpose. We are that we might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25) Joseph Smith observed, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God" (TPJS, p. 255). Keep in mind the most important commandment of God is to love and all other commandments hinge on that principle. Obedience to all other commandments cannot conflict with the first commandment to love God and each other. In the Book of Mormon, God’s plan is called “The Great Plan of Happiness,” (Alma 42:8) and happiness is predicated upon love. God’s happiness is to increase love and life in the universe.
In the book of Moses, we are taught that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Their children (Moses 1:39) As noted above, as members of the body of Christ, God’s goals are our goals. We too should be working toward the progression of happiness, love, immorality, life, and increase of intelligences. To know God is to become God, and God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. This includes immortality, or at the very least our sincerest tries. As Joseph Smith taught, "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, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power" (TPJS, pp. 346-47).
In summary, God is a network of superintelligences full of radical love who dynamically change, evolve, and progress together. Their purpose is to create more creators so that we might enjoy all the happiness, love, power, and exaltation They enjoy. This leaves room for a potentially infinite number of Gods who increase in worlds without end.
Esthetically, this means God is far more diverse than a reductive singleton. God is reflected in the face and spirit of every living intelligence who lives and has ever lived. God is the hope that we may overcome the limitations that left us to die. God is what we may become in capacities we have only begun to imagine and discover by embracing a more robust theism as the catalysts to enhance the evolutionary process of eternal progression.
God is eternal life and that image resides in you.