Question: What was Gordon B. Hinckley's opinion about the King Follett Discourse?

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Question: What was Gordon B. Hinckley's opinion about the King Follett Discourse?

Some Christians claim that, in an effort to appear more "mainline" Christian, the Church is downplaying the importance of some doctrines taught late in Joseph Smith's lifetime

Some Christians claim that, in an effort to appear more "mainline" Christian, the Church is downplaying the importance of some doctrines taught late in Joseph Smith's lifetime. Prominent among these is the doctrine of human deification. To bolster their argument, they usually quote from a 1997 Time magazine interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley.

On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he [Hinckley] sounded uncertain, "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it ... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it.[1]

A combination of an ambiguous question, a complicated and little-understood doctrine, and TIME's incomplete representation of both the question and the answer contributed to the confusion.

It is amusing, though, to see anti-Mormons scramble to find fault—as if President Hinckley would announce a change of doctrine in a magazine interview!

Hinckley considered it's subject a "grand and incomparable concept"

In 1994, Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized the importance of the King Follett Discourse:

On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become!

Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom.
(Gordon B. Hinckley, “Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 46)

Note that President Hinckley is talking about how man may become like God. Note also that he makes no comment about God once being a man. In this Ensign article, he does not comment on the statements made by Joseph Smith or Lorenzo Snow that God was once a man, but he does emphasize what these two men said about man becoming like God.

Notes

  1. David van Biema, "Kingdom Come," TIME Magazine (4 August 1997): 56, ellipsis in original.