The atonement of Jesus Christ is the central tenet of my faith and upon which the entire Plan of Salvation hinges. What matters most is that that necessary sacrifice was made by a God. It was not a sacrifice of man or animal, it was a sacrifice of the Lamb of God—“God Himself” as the Book of Mormon teaches: “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people” (Mosiah 15:1). He was God and is God.
Alma 34:9-10 states:
"For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice."
It was an "infinite and eternal" sacrifice. That's what matters to me. Nothing short of this would "suffice for the sins of the world" (verse 12). I don’t care so much for “proper theology”, “Christology”, or the history of God, as extreme as that probably sounds to some, because that’s not what saves. I care to learn more of and focus on the central foundation of all human history—Christ’s atonement. It has been said that Mormons generally care more about orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.
Thus, it doesn't even matter to me if some believe that aeons ago Christ somehow "became" a God, because the "crucial fact" and "central foundation" is my saving faith in the atonement that was made by Jesus Christ as the Son of God and God the Son--my Savior and Redeemer. I'll praise his name forever for his victory over death and hell. That atonement is also central to my life as a disciple of Christ, as I now seek to “become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19).
One ex-Mormon critic I conversed with recently seemed to be under the impression that the Church had an official position on this, and that Jesus Christ is referred to as "Eternal" and "Everlasting" only “since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.” That’s certainly one good reason why he can be called Eternal—one way of looking at it--but it’s also not the only way of looking at it. And the only "official position" is that which is found in the scriptures. The scriptures seem to me to be explicit that God is without "beginning" and "end". See, for example, Moses 1:3: "I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?"
I’m aware of other interpretations we're also at liberty to believe--because there is no “official" Church view on this. Some, for example, believe that “the Father became the Father at some time before ‘the beginning,’ as humans know it.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism). I'm just not one of those who think that. I think Joseph Smith makes it very clear in the King Follet discourse that God the Father's mortality was experienced in a divine way; unlike mere mortals, but rather like Christ, who experienced mortality while divine.
However, I'm okay with letting people believe what they want to believe, even if I think that theirs is the weaker argument. After all, I understand that there are some issues with the original words in the biblical manuscripts which were translated into English as our “eternal”. For example, Stephen E. Robinson writes:
"The biblical concept of ‘eternity’ is problematic, and most constructions translated ‘forever’ or ‘eternal’ actually read ‘to the end of the age’ or just ‘to the age.’ Indeed, the words usually rendered ‘forever’ or ‘eternal’ are the Greek and Hebrew words for ‘age’ (aion and olam respectively). First-century Jews understood eternity to consist of successive ages or eons—all within the parameters of the beginning and the end.” ("How Wide The Divide?" p. 90)
The point is that there are various ways of interpreting this (some that seem more correct to me than others) but there will probably never be an “official” statement on this because for Latter-day Saints it’s not really an essential element of the gospel to understand. Thus it would be a caricature to say “Mormonism teaches…” only one stated position, when clearly there are multiple interpretations on some of these things even within Mormonism. As long as we’re all clear on what is actually in our scriptures and on those few things on which the Church actually has an official position, we’re okay. I’m sure one day we’ll find out what it really was like where the scriptures tend to be silent, but that day probably won’t come while we’re on this side of the veil. In the meantime, it would be helpful to understand that various interpretations exist without necessarily contradicting scripture.
Like Joseph Smith, “I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please.” I suppose that as Mormons we can believe whatever we want about spirit "creation". Some believe that our spirits were created (or organized) from existing intelligence. Others believe that our spirits are uncreated, and refer back to the fact that “intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (D&C 93:29). (Spirit is used interchangeably with intelligence.) Furthermore, "man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy" (D&C 93:33). For a robust discussion on this very issue within Mormonism, I’ll include a link to a post at BCC entitled "Tripartite Existentialism".
Many Mormons (like J. Stapley and Blake Ostler), take a position that Jesus was uncreated, and to quote the introduction to the Book of Mormon, “is the Christ, the Eternal God.” This is where I tend to line up too. And if I believe that Jesus was always God (I do), than he would have been God even as “intelligence”. There really isn't much to go on in scripture about him being an “unformed” or “uncreated” intelligence—the scriptures don’t state that. Therefore, I don’t claim to know anything about Jesus as an “unformed”, “unorganized”, or “uncreated” intelligence. I thus go with what the scriptures actually say.
I believe that Jesus, as intelligence, was God, or as Abraham put it: “like unto God”. Why do I believe this? Because clearly in those passages (Abraham 3:22-24) there is a difference between all the rest of us “intelligences” and the One "like unto God”. I interpret that to mean that Christ was just like God the Father—who I also believe to have always been God. As I mentioned earlier, I think it's clear that Joseph Smith taught that when the Father experienced mortality, he did so just as Jesus (with divine power I clearly do not have)--not that the Father became God after never having been divine. Lastly, our scriptures teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost make up the Eternal “one God” (or Godhead) we worship.