I think it's safe to say that various aspects of the gospel fall under differing degrees: interesting, important, and imperative. I usually spend most of my time and thoughts, as well as my gospel teaching, on the important and the imperative. Nevertheless, when I'm blogging I like to spend time on the "interesting" and even find those conversations beneficial; such as what it means to become like God. A month ago I took part in a discussion on a post at the Exponent entitled Becoming Like God and shared some of my thoughts on the topic there.
I certainly don't want to rule anything out that may very well be true, but I also try to be careful not to say more than we know. With that in mind, I feel clearly that the goal is not to supplant God or become God. The goal is to become one with Him--be like him, and share in "all that [He] hath" (D&C 84:38). This makes us gods by grace, and "partakers of the divine nature" in a most literal sense (see 2nd Peter 1:4). I do not see this as an issue of superiority/inferiority or hierarchy. I truly believe that as we become one with the Father and the Son, all hierarchy becomes meaningless. I'm open for new interpretations, but I feel pretty good about the conclusions I've come to after much reading and contemplation.
I think being "one" with Him (see John 17:21) has more to do with love, unity and relationships rather than not having any differences whatsoever in our roles. Although I do not think that we'll be as different from God as Evangelicals believe (since we believe we're of the same kind/species as God), I think it's safe to say that there will still be differences between us and God. My wife and I will be one, but we'll still be different, especially if gender is truly a part of our eternal destiny. I guess I hold the same for God's unique eternal destiny. However, even with some of those differences, as His "offspring" (and believing we're of the same ontological nature) we're already much more like Him than most of the traditional Christian world even recognizes.
One more thing is clear in my mind: sharing in "all that [the] Father hath" doesn't necessarily mean that we must do all that the Father has ever done. I certainly don't believe I'll need to perform an atonement, as did Christ. Would that mean that I'm not going to be sharing in all that Christ hath? Hardly. We don't have to have the same eternal experiences to be "one" eternally. I do believe that we'll share in a measure of creation and in eternal increase (whatever that means). And I have read the scriptures that talk about thrones, principalities, and powers. But in my paradigm--all of that is but an extension of God and His power and dominion--not independent of Him. We know that as the children of God we will become "gods", but clearly there is a difference between exalted beings and the Exalted One we worship. Thus, for anyone to say that our Church teaches that we will fill the same "Godhead" role for other worlds as the "head God"/Elohim/Heavenly Father would be incorrect because it's not sound doctrine (not to mention saying far more than we know).
The analogy that the "child grows up to be like his father" is helpful to an extent, but it has limitations. As I mentioned on the Exponent blog, the fact that Christ is who He is (even the fact alone that he has 23 chromosomes from his immortal Father and 23 chromosomes from his mortal mother) makes him different--even preeminent over us. Because of all that the Savior has done (and does) for us, I feel that Christ will always be preeminent. Yet the marvel of it all is that he did what he did to make us divine and exalted beings like Him and the Father. I will always praise Him for this--permanently. Although my worship of Them might take on increased significance (for true worship is imitation/emulation), no matter what I become or do in the eternities, it will only be because of the grace of God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.
However interesting it may be to think about and reflect on, it still remains a mystery to fully comprehend what it entails to be completely at one with God and live a life of exaltation; but I sure look forward to finding out.
Jesuit priest Tom Reese joins Religion News Service
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