In the comments of my last post, I had a request to make a full post on something we were discussing. It has been a while since someone actually asked me to blog on a topic, so I am glad to oblige. We were discussing human potential, for lack of a better simplification: what can people become? I believe, as an integral part of my faith, that human beings have the potential to become like God. The scriptures show us that the Savior taught us in Matthew 5:48 to do so, "Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
To be clear, we can never become Heavenly Father. We can never be him, no more so than I can become my father here on Earth. I can follow in my Heavenly Father's footsteps, take his guidance and teaching, and in the course of eternity I have the chance to become a god. I believe it, but I admit that even as I write it, I struggle to comprehend it fully. It was the last great stumbling block for me in accepting my faith. Yet again, I read the scriptures to find that in John 10:34 Jesus quoted Psalm 82, when he said, "Is it not written, ye are gods, and children of the most high?" In other words, he made it plain that he understood and believed what human beings are, and his teachings reflected that.
Human beings, simply put, are therefore gods in embryo. No, we will not become gods in Earthly life. Mortal life is a testing ground, a chance to learn and grow - in a simpler way, like school is to a child - before we reach beyond this life into the next, into eternity. To those who question the possibility of becoming a god, I ask a few questions (and have asked them of many and have not found a satisfactory answer short of what I believe): what do we do after we die? Do we reach our full potential in life, and in death we can never grow? If we can grow in eternity, then at what point do we stop growing? If we are not held back, then why can't we reach a point where we are a god?
The most typical answers are blunt: because that's just not true, because that's not possible, or because that doesn't make sense. I know because I had the same answers to those questions once upon a time. But then there is a simple follow up question: if God wanted us to know that we could become gods ourselves, how would he tell us? Or better yet, what more could he say than is said in those verses already quoted?
I agree that it sounds quite amazing, even beyond reason. But everything is possible with the Lord. And he wants everything for his children. So what can we become? His children in every sense of the word, since that is what we are.
When I look at history and mythology, I see so much that clearly came out of this truth: the pharaoh's of Egypt believed they became gods (and some believe their gods were in fact early pharaohs). Greeks had stories gods and demigods that seem clearly linked with the idea of the human potential to become a god. Many cultures had divine kings who were believed to be gods among their people.
So many Christians have come to believe that Christ taught of a monotheistic religion. It is true that God the Father is one being, but Jesus Christ is another being, and also a god. The Spirit is another god. At the very least, Christianity is a belief system centered around a triumvirate of gods. In truth, though, there is a clear message in the gospel: we can be all He wants us to be, which is to become gods. What an amazing opportunity, and what a great goal. I know I am a long way from being worthy to even be considered for such a lofty state, but knowing what I can be helps me believe more in myself in this life, which really improves my state of mind. Each trial is a chance to learn and grow, and if I follow the guidance of the Spirit - which comes direct from the Father - I can get closer to what my Heavenly Father wants me to be.
P.S. My post about potential kept coming to mind as I wrote this, and I see my calling to become a professor as very linked to helping people find their full potential. I hope I can help people realize all they can be in that process.