The Mormon Doctrine of Eternal Progression (EP) is in some important senses the foundation of Mormon doctrine. For example, if one understands EP, one will understand the Mormon doctrines of God the Father, Jesus, and the ultimate goal for humanity.
EP itself exists in four basic stages: Intelligence, Spirit-Child, Take a Body, and Becoming Gods and Goddesses (ideally). Intelligence has been called “spirit element” by one Mormon apostle. This spirit element is eternal. Next, spirit-children are formed from this eternal spirit element. Next, these spirit-children take bodies on earth. Finally, if faithful, persons may become gods or goddesses.
Let us now move to the Mormon doctrine of the heavenly Father. His name is Elohim. He was first formed as a spirit-child through his heavenly Father and goddess Mother (who, by the way, had a heavenly Father and Mother, who had a heavenly Father and Mother, and so on). In other words, Elohim’s heavenly Mother gave birth to him in the Spirit-Child stage. Then, Elohim was born on a planet as a mere man, died, and became a god. Today Elohim is an exalted man-god, with body parts just like a man, and lives in the heavens with his goddess wife (name unknown).
How about the Mormon Jesus? Jesus was the first spirit-child born to Elohim and his goddess wife. Mormon doctrine deviates from the EP order of things by stating that Jesus became a god in the Spirit-Child stage. Then, this spirit-child Jesus took a body on earth through the “sireship” of Elohim, the heavenly Father, who came to Mary and impregnated her. In this way, say the Mormons, Jesus is the “only begotten of the Father,” while all the rest of humanity was begotten through earthly fathers.
As for Mormons themselves, we follow EP and learn that Mormons (and all other human beings) are sprit-children of heavenly Father and Mother, came to earth and were clothed with flesh through the procreative process with earthly parents, and if faithful they too can become gods and goddesses.
Mormons believe that at the first resurrection they will be raised up as gods and goddesses to live here on earth, procreate their own spirit-children, and send them off to populate their respective planets.
EP will continue on forever.
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth Prophet of the Mormon Church, once wrote that “a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:48; emphases original).
Christians can respond to the above Mormon doctrines as follows. God the Father was not once a man who became a god. Psalm 90:2 in the King James Version (use the KJV when witnessing to Mormons) reads, “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” God was always—from all eternity past to all eternity future—God. Jesus did not become a god in the Spirit-Child stage. Jesus was always God the Son, as John 1:1 attests: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before the creation of all things the Word (preincarnate Jesus) eternally “was”! The Word eternally was with the Father, and the Word himself eternally was God by nature. As for humans becoming gods and goddesses, Isaiah 43:10 is quite to the point: “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” The old and often-quoted Mormon couplet—“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become”—is simply a lie.
As Christians we must pray to possess the attitude of Christ when sharing with Mormons. This is first and foremost. Further, use a KJV when sharing with Mormons. Also, teach them, witness to them, by asking questions. For example, you might say, “Do you believe that if you are faithful enough you can become a god some day?” The Mormon should answer “yes.” Then you might respond, “Would you please read Isaiah 43:10 in your King James Bible and tell me what you think?” As the Mormon is reading the verse, pray for him that the Holy Spirit will open his ears and eyes, so that he may hear and see the truth.
It has often been stated that with pseudo- and non-Christian religions we have a mission field right here on our doorsteps. Are we ready?