The process by which Mormons become gods is called exaltation. Though they believe in deification, and that God was once like a human who became exalted, Mormons do not believe that they will be equal to the deity they worship; instead, if they live a moral life, follow their religious teachings and participate in certain rites, they can become like God.
God created humans in both his spiritual and physical image, according to Mormon doctrine. Because God was once like humans, humans have an opportunity to become like God. God -- which includes the three parts of God the Father (called Elohim), Jesus the son, and the Holy Ghost -- acts as one, although both Jesus and God have a body that resembles that of humans. Mormons believe that Elohim became a deity when he was exalted, ascending from his human form. Likewise, human beings who become exalted have the opportunity to become like God, though this does not mean that they will become God's equal, or that they will have worshipers of their own. Instead they will share commonalities and characteristics with him.
Premortal Life and Death Beliefs
Before Mormons can become exalted, they have to go through various life stages to earn the privilege. Mormons believe that all lives have existed before birth and will exist after death. Before people are born into this world, they live as spirit children. Mormons believe that a godly father and a godly mother exist, and that spirit children have spirit parents; during the time before birth, they receive preparation for life on Earth. People are then born and receive a body. Life on Earth is a trial to determine the state of their afterlife. After people die, Mormons believe their souls will reunite with their bodies during the Resurrection. All humans will live forever, but their life choices will determine whether or not they are deified.
Mormons believe that God's original plan for creating human beings and the rest of the universe is to afford them the opportunity to gain exaltation; that is, to become like him. God went through the process of exaltation himself, and as a result the process is open to all humans. Mormons believe that after a person dies, if they become exalted they will enjoy various benefits: they will live with God, they will know full joy, they will be allowed to live with their family members for eternity.
To be exalted, a person first must receive a celestial marriage, defined as a marriage consecrated in the Mormon Temple that Mormons believe will last for eternity. In addition, Mormons must receive baptism in the church, although it isn't necessary to be alive to be baptized a Mormon. Through a ceremony known as the "baptism of the dead," Mormons can be baptized in proxy for any deceased person or ancestor -- a baptism which Mormons believe the deceased may choose to accept or reject. They must go through a process called the Laying on of Hands, in which Mormons in authoritative positions in the church place their hands on the subjects' heads. They believe the process dates to the Biblical story of Adam. Males must become Melchizedek priests, focusing on spreading the faith. In addition to the ceremonial requirements, Mormons must lead moral lives, ask for contrition for their sins, attend church services, pray and spread the Mormon faith.
- BBC Religions: God
- BBc Religions: Deification
- BBC Religions: Pre-mortal Existence
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: God's Plan of Happiness
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Chapter 47: Exaltation
- LDS Church Temples: Mormon Celestial Marriage
- BBC Religions: Baptism for the Dead
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Melchizedek Priesthood
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Laying on of Hands
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