The Highest In Us

The Highest in Us
Truman Madsen – On one occasion Brigham Young was
approached by two women who were asking for a divorce,
and he gave an idealistic response. He said to them: "If that
dissatisfied wife would behold the transcendent beauty of
person, the Godlike qualities of the resurrected husband
she now despises, her love for him would be unbounded
and unutterable. Instead of despising him, she would feel
like worshipping him. He is so holy, so pure, so perfect, so
filled with God in his resurrected body.
There will be no dissatisfaction of this
kind in the resurrection of the just. The
faithful elders will have then proved
themselves worthy of their wives, and
are prepared then to be crowned gods, to
be filled with all the attributes of the
gods that dwell in eternity. Could the
dissatisfied ones see a vision of the future
glorified state of their husbands, love for
them would immediately spring up within
you, and no circumstance could prevail
upon you to forsake them." (Church
Historical Department document Ms/d/1234 box
49/FD8.) Now, it also works the other way
around, that if the husband could only
see his wife in her glorified condition, he
would be so moved he would feel to
worship. (The Radiant Life, p. 88.)
Truth – [I] received a fullness of truth, yea, even of all
truth. … He that keepeth his commandments receiveth
truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all
things. (D&C 93:26, 28.)
Glory – The glory of the Father was with [me] for he dwelt
in [me]. … You shall ... be glorified in me as I am in the
Father. (D&C 93:17, 20.)
Power – [I] received all power, both in heaven and on
earth. … He that is ordained of God and sent forth … is
possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him,
both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the
Spirit and the power ... (D&C 93:17, 50:26-27.)
There are no ordinary people.
Instead we live in a society of
possible gods and goddesses.
The dullest and most
person you talk to
may one day be a creature
which, if you saw it now,
you would be strongly
tempted to worship,
or else a horror and a corruption
such as you now meet,
if at all, only in a nightmare.
– C.S. Lewis
(The Weight of Glory, p. 15.)
Moses 1:39 – For behold, this is my work
and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal
life of man.
Psalms 82:6 – I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are
children of the most High.
John 10:34-35 – Jesus answered them, Is it not written in
your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto
whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be
Light – [My] light shineth in darkness,
and the darkness comprehendeth
[me] not. … And if your eye be single
to my glory, your whole bodies shall
be filled with light ... (D&C 88:49, 67.)
Reign – [I] shall reign for ever and
ever. … They shall be priests of God
and of Christ and shall reign with him
… (Revelations 11:15, 20:6.)
19:16, 1:6.)
Truman Madsen – [Regarding modern theologians.]
Henri Bergson closes his book, Two Sources of Religion
and Mortality, saying, "The universe is a machine for
the making of Gods.”
The Jesuit paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, in The
Phenomenon of Man cited evidence that the ultimate
purpose undergirding even the cells and matter-inmotion of the cosmos is to produce Christs –
Christogenesis, the emerging of a great and glorious
Karl Rahner, certainly the most influential and also the
most officially renowned Catholic theologian, has
written, "It is not possible to speak theologically about
God without at the same time saying something about
man and vice versa." (“Are Christians Mormon?”, BYU Studies,
Beginning – I was in the beginning with the Father. … Ye
were also in the beginning with the Father. (D&C 93:21, 23.)
Fullness – [I] received not of the fullness at first, but
continued from grace to grace, until [I[ received a fullness.
… For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of
his fullness … you shall receive grace for grace. (D&C 93:13,
88:6, 49; 88:49.)
King – … King of kings and Lord of
lords. … – And hath made us kings and priests … (Revelations
The Greatness of Christ vs. Our Potential
Firstborn – I am the Firstborn. … And all those who are
begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the
same, and are the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 93:21, 23.)
Comprehend – … [I] comprehended
all things, that [I] might be in all and
through all things, the light of truth.
… The day shall come when you shall
comprehend even God, being
quickened in him and by him. (D&C
v. 15, No. 1, Autumn 1974, p. 77.)
Brigham Young – The whole object of the creation of this
world is to exalt the intelligences that are placed upon it,
that they may live, endure, and increase for ever and ever.
We are not here to quarrel and contend about the things
of this world, but we are here to subdue and beautify it. Let
every man and woman worship their God with all their
heart. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 87-88.)
Philippians 2:5-6 – Let this mind be in you, which was also
in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it
not robbery to be equal with God.
Joseph Smith – 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, the
same as all Gods have done before you, 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. (History of The Church, v. 6, p. 305-306.)
and holy beings, and that in order to merit this divine
approval, it may be necessary to forget self and individual
aggrandizement and seek the interest of your brethren.
(Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow 376 – 377.)
There is just one thing that a Latter-day Saint, an Elder in
Israel should never forget: it should be a bright illuminating
star before him all the time – in his heart, in his soul, and
all through him – that is, he need not worry in the least
whether he should be a deacon or President of the Church.
It is sufficient for him to know that his destiny is to be like
his Father, a God in eternity... I never sought to be a
Seventy or High Priest, because this eternal principle was
revealed to me long before I was ordained to the
Priesthood. The position which I now occupy [president of
the church] is nothing as compared with what I expect to
occupy in the future... This thought in the breasts of men
filled with light of the Holy Spirit, tends to purify them and
cleanse them from every ambitious and improper feeling.
(BYU Special Collections, quoted in Truman Madsen’s The Highest In Us,
p. 11.)
Hugh Nibley – We are told time and again that when Jesus
came down to earth he took flesh so that we could
Jordan Vajda – [Father Vajda was a Roman Catholic Dominican
monk. His research supports Joseph Smith’s teaching that humans can
comprehend him. He became like us. "Among the angels
he was an angel. Among men he was a man.” He descends become like God. He does so by exploring ancient Christian documents.]
to the level of the people whom he must teach, because he It seems that if one's soteriology [doctrine of salvation]
must do it in order to teach them. Because of this principle cannot accommodate a doctrine of human divinization,
you comprehend what you are like, and
then it has at least implicitly, if not
A horse sires a horse,
comprehension means a lot. You
explicitly, rejected the heritage of the early
a man begets man,
comprehend others only to the degree that
Christian church and departed from the
a god brings forth a god.
you are like them. (“Unscrolling the Scrolls – Some
faith of first millennium Christianity.
– Gospel of Philip
Forgotten Witnesses,” Old Testament and Related
However, if that is the case, those who
Studies, ch. 6.)
would espouse such a [doctrine of
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it
salvation] also believe, in fact, that Christianity, from about
doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
the second century on, has apostatized and "gotten it
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see
wrong" on this core issue of human salvation.
him as he is.
Thus, ironically, those who would excoriate [denounce]
Moroni 7:48 – … When he shall appear we shall be like
Mormons for believing in the doctrine of exaltation actually
him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this
agree with them that the early church experienced a "great
hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.
apostasy" on fundamental doctrinal questions. And the
supreme irony is that such persons should probably
Vision of Potential
investigate the claims of the LDS Church, which proclaims
Lorenzo Snow – Jesus was a god before he came into the
that within itself is to be found the "restoration of all
world and yet his knowledge was taken from him. He did
not know his former greatness, neither do we know what
I firmly maintain that the Latter-day Saints are owed a debt
greatness we had attained to before we came here, but he
of gratitude by other Christians because the Saints remind
had to pass through an ordeal, as we have to, without
us all of our divine potential.
knowing or realizing at the time the greatness and
("Partakers of the Divine Nature”: A Comparative Analysis of Patristic
importance of his mission and works. (Office Journal of L.S., 8
Oct. 1900, p. 181-182, Church Historical Dept., quoted in Truman
Madsen’s The Highest In Us, p. 9.)
The Priesthood was bestowed upon you, as upon the Son
of God, for no other purpose than that through sacrifice
you might be proven, that, peradventure, at the last day,
you might stand approved before God, and before perfect
and Mormon Doctrines of Divinization, 1998 master's thesis at Graduate
Theological Union in Berkeley, California, reprinted by Neal A. Maxwell
Institute. Elder Quentin L. Cook reported that Father Vajda later
become a latter-day saint. “This good man is completely active in the
Church, has been to the temple, teaches the Gospel Doctrine class in his
ward, and has a management position in a hospital in Seattle. BYU
Speeches, 13 March 2007.)
(By Zan and Misty Larsen,
Extra Material
D&C 84:35-39 – And also all they who receive this
priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth
my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me
receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father
receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my
Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according
to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the
D&C 76:55-59 – They are they into whose hands the Father
has given all things— They are they who are priests and
kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
And are priests of the Most High, after the order of
Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which
was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore,
as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or
things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they
are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
Luke 12:25 – And which of you with taking thought can add
to his stature one cubit?
Matthew 19:26 – But Jesus beheld them, and said unto
them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things
are possible.
Mark 9:23 – Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all
things [of God’s will] are possible to him that believeth.
Mark 10:27 – And Jesus looking upon them saith, With
men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all
things are possible [if they be His will].
Moroni 7:26 – And after that he came men also were saved
by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of
God. And as sure as Christ liveth he spake these words
unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the
Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye
shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
John 15:16 – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen
you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth
fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye
shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
1 Nephi 3:7 – And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto
my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath
commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no
commandments unto the children of men, save he shall
prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing
which he commandeth them.
Ether 12:27 – And if men come unto me I will show unto
them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they
may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that
humble themselves before me; for if they humble
themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I
make weak things become strong unto them.
Gospel of Philip [ancient document] – A horse sires a
horse, a man begets man, a god brings forth a god.
( Madsen –
[Speaking regarding] the Prophet's later vision of the
Twelve while in Kirtland-a disparate group of men from a
variety of backgrounds whom he saw in vision, through
their flounderings and struggles, until he saw them
glorified. He saw them welcomed by father Adam, ushered
to the throne of God, greeted and embraced by the
Master, and then crowned. "He saw that they all had
beautiful heads of hair and all looked alike.” This should
not be pushed to mean that the Twelve had absolutely
similar features, but rather that in glory, "in bloom and
beauty" – and the Prophet uses the word beauty to
describe the glory of a resurrected man as well as of a
woman – they were similar. (Joseph Smith the Prophet , p. 12.
The quote of “looked alike” is from Heber C. Kimball, as told to or
recorded by Orson F. Whitney.)
Joseph Smith – 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, the
same as all Gods have done before you, 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. And I want you to know that God, in the
last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his
name, is not trifling with you or me. (Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith, p. 346)
Lorenzo Snow – Every man has got to learn to stand upon
his own knowledge; he cannot depend upon his neighbor;
every man must be independent; he must depend upon his
God for himself entirely. It depends upon himself to see if
he will stand the tide of trouble and overcome the
impediments that are strewed in the pathway of life to
prevent his progress. A man can get information by the
operations of the holy Spirit and he approaches to God and
increases in his faith in proportion as he is diligent. (Lorenzo
Snow, Millennial Star, 10 Dec. 1888, p. 806.)
Ernst W. Benz – One can think what one wants of this
doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain:
with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of
man held by the Ancient Church than the precursors of the
Augustinian doctrine of original sin were, who considered
the thought of such a substantial connection between God
and man as the heresy, par excellence. We must
remember here that for the Ancient Church salvation stood
in direct correlation to embodiment. Athanasius, the great
Bishop of Alexandria, the head of the Church in all Egypt,
summarized the Christian doctrine of salvation in the
words, “God became man so that we may become God.”
The goal of salvation is deification, and Athanasius invokes
in this context the words of Jesus: “Be ye there perfect,
even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew
5:48). (From his chapter titled "Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God," in
Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, p. 215-16. Mr.
Benz is a German Protestant church historian.)
Jordan Vajda
Quentin L. Cook – The conversion of Jordan Vajda, a fine
young man who had been a Catholic priest, is instructive.
When he was in grade school he had Latter-day Saint
friends in his class who shared with him their love of the
gospel. At age 13 he found an offer from the Church for a
free Book of Mormon. He sent for it, and two sister
missionaries responded. They were surprised that he was
only 13 and had requested the Book of Mormon. He was
impressed with what they taught and what he felt, but
after discussions with his family, he decided to become a
priest in the Catholic Church. As he prepared to be a
priest, he remained interested in The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.
He studied at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley,
California. He became acquainted with many who take the
position we are not Christians, but he also associated with
the students at the Latter-day Saint institute of religion at
Berkeley. He decided to write a master’s thesis on why
certain people maintain that we are not Christians. Two of
the issues he addressed in his master’s thesis were:
1. The nature of God and our belief that God the Father
and His Son Jesus Christ are the two separate
individuals the Prophet Joseph beheld in the First
2. Exaltation and our belief in eternal progression—that
we can progress to live with and be like God.
He compared these doctrinal issues with Pre–Nicene Creed
early Christian writers and determined that there was
significant support for the position of the Church of Jesus
Christ. He concluded in his master’s thesis, which has since
been published by the Foundation for Ancient Research
and Mormon Studies:
Ironically, those who would excoriate Mormons for
believing in the doctrine of exaltation actually agree
with them that the early church experienced a “great
apostasy” on fundamental doctrinal questions.
This was primarily an academic pursuit. He became a
priest in the Dominican order and had assignments in
Arizona and then at the University of Washington. There
he came in contact with our missionaries.
After being taught by missionaries and praying sincerely,
he received inspiration that he should resign as a Catholic
priest and be baptized and confirmed into the Church of
Jesus Christ. His letter of resignation expressed his love
and appreciation for the Catholic Church and then stated:
But why am I doing what I am doing? To put it most
simply: I have found a fuller truth and goodness and
beauty in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. After years of study and reflection, I have come
to believe that the LDS Church is the only true and living
Church of Jesus Christ, guided and led by living apostles
and prophets.
I believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called
and ordained for this, the dispensation of the fullness of
times. I love the Book of Mormon; I believe it to be the
word of God for us in these latter days.
I can no longer deny my feelings, my heart, my
conscience. I cannot deny the confirming witness of the
Holy Ghost which has come after much prayer and soulsearching. At this point in my life, at this moment, as I
look forward to and prepare for my convert baptism, I
have found a happiness greater than I ever imagined
This good man is completely active in the Church, has been
to the temple, teaches the Gospel Doctrine class in his
ward, and has a management position in a hospital in
Seattle. (“Be a Missionary All Your Life”, BYU Speeches, 13 March
We Shall Be Like Him
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it
doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see
him as he is.
Moroni 7:48 – … When he shall appear we shall be like
him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this
hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.
D&C 130:1 – When the Savior shall appear we shall see him
as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
Creatures vs. Peers – Truman Madsen
Truman G. Madsen – In a discussion at a widely known
theological seminary in the East, I was asked, "What is the
Mormon understanding of God?" I struggled to testify.
Then three of the most learned of their teachers, not with
acrimony but with candor, said, "Let us explain why we
cannot accept this. First of all, you people talk of God in
terms that are human—all too human.” (That's a phrase,
incidentally, from Nietzsche.) "But the second problem is
worse. You dare to say that man can become like God.”
And they held up a hand and said, "Blasphemy.” Well, that
hurts a little. I was led to ask two series of questions.
(Mind you, I'm telling you the story. I'm not sure they
would tell it the same way. I've had a chance to improve it
in the interim.)
The first was a series of questions about the nature of
Christ. "Was he a person?"
"Did he live in a certain place and time?"
"Was he embodied?"
"Was he somewhere between five and seven feet in
"Well, we hadn't thought of it, but, yes, we suppose he
"Was he resurrected with his physical body?"
"He was."
"Does he now have that body?"
"Will he always?"
"Is there any reason we should not adore and honor and
worship him for what he has now become?"
"No," they said, "he is very God."
"Yes," I said, "what then of the Father?"
"Oh no, oh no.” And then they issued a kind of Platonic
manifesto—the statement out of the traditional creeds
which are, all due honor to them, more Greek than they
are Hebrew. "No, no, the Father is 'immaterial,
incorporeal, beyond space, beyond time, unchanging,
unembodied, etc.'"
Now, earlier they had berated me because Mormons, as
you know, are credited—or blamed—for teaching, not
trinitarianism, but tritheism—the idea of three distinct
personages. And I couldn't resist at that point saying,
"Who has two Gods? You are the ones who are saying that
there are two utterly unlike persons. The religious
dilemma is how can I honor the Father and seek to become
like him (for even the pronoun 'him' is not appropriate)
without become unlike the Christ whom you say we can
properly adore and worship and honor.” Well, the attack
at that point was that I didn't understand the Trinity. And I
acknowledged that was true.
But now the second set of questions: "Why," I dared to
ask—and it's a question any child can ask—"did God make
us at all?" There's an answer to that in their catechism.
Basically, it is that God did so for his own pleasure and by
his inscrutable will. Sometimes it is suggested that he did
so that he might have creatures to honor and worship
him—which, if we are stark in response, is not the most
unselfish motive one could conceive. Sometimes it is said
that he did so for our happiness. But because of the creeds
it is impossible to say that God needed to do so, for God, in
their view, is beyond need. And then the bold question I
put was "You hold, don't you, that God has and had all
power, all knowledge, all anticipatory wisdom, and that he
knew, therefore, exactly what he was about and could
have done otherwise?"
"Yes," they allowed, "he could."
"Why then, since God could have created co-creators, did
he choose to make us creatures? Why did God choose to
make us his everlasting inferiors?"
At that point one of them said, "God's very nature forbids
that he should have peers."
I replied, "That's interesting. For us God's very nature
requires that he should have peers. Which God is more
worthy of our love?"
(The Highest In Us, p. 3-5.)
Richard John Neuhaus – The entire plan of salvation
assumes that God wants company … If we love others, it
seems that we must hope that, in the end, they will be
saved. We must hope that all will one day hear the words
of Christ, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Death on
a Friday Afternoon: Meditation on the Last Words of Jesus from the
Cross, p. 143, quoted in Third Nephi, p. 136. Father Neuhaus “was a
prominent Christian cleric (first as a Lutheran pastor and later as a
Roman Catholic priest) and writer.” –