Chapters 5 and 6 of President Snow’s book are connected (so sayeth the manual). For us, chapter 5 was taught last month, and so I jumped back momentarily to speak about Pres Snow’s couplet:
“As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.”
In discussing the couplet, I broke it into its two main components: phrases one and two. In teaching, I used the method being used in the Youth classes: focused primarily on asking questions and allowing them to find the answers and experiences. (It works great with high priests – not a single one of them fell asleep. Not even me!).
For phrase one, we discussed what scriptural or authoritative teachings support it. The only answer was the King Follett Discourse by Joseph Smith. I asked why they thought the couplet or KFD were never canonized. We briefly discussed some of the speculation that has come from this part of the couplet, such as the Adam-God theory, to show that it is not understood well even by prophets like Brigham Young. We discussed Pres Hinckley’s television interview with Mike Wallace, where Wallace asked about this belief, and Pres Hinckley answered that while he knew something was taught in the past regarding it, we simply do not know enough to really understand it. It then was interesting to discuss why this part of the couplet was in the manual, and noting that the discussion in chapters 5 and 6 almost entirely focus on the second phrase.
For this part of the couplet, there were several scriptures that were brought up to support it. Interestingly, I had to mention D&C 132, because of the 5 scriptures offered by the high priests, none mentioned that section! Then we discussed what does it really mean to be as God is. What was doctrinal versus what is speculation. We determined that populating our own little planets in this vast universe is a logical conclusion, however is not scriptural. We do know that God will share all he has with us (D&C 84:33-39), that we will sit on his throne with him (Rev 3-4), and that we will rule with him.
Then we spoke on the things we must do to become as God is, according to scripture.
Beyond that, we could not determine anything else that was well established doctrine regarding the couplet. So, for me, it was interesting to see Church Education actually use the couplet, when they have not had lessons on polygamy,
For me, this is an example of the Church’s change from having GAs as teaching speculative things as authoritative to having GAs only focus on the core doctrine and leaving the rest to scholars and speculators (I’m a little of both, I suppose). For me, this is a positive, because we can discuss things without having GA speculation (such as Brigham Young’s Adam-God theory) get in the way of actually discussing the doctrines of the gospel. In the past, I’ve seen two people use different GAs to beat up on each other to try and establish what they felt should be doctrine. The “my apostle is bigger than your apostle” should not be the method for establishing truth nor doctrine. Yet a high priest group should be able to function somewhat like the School of the Prophets did in Nauvoo and Kirtland. It should allow members to expand their minds on the things of God, without feeling imposed upon to believe things the Church officially has not sanctioned as doctrine.
And I still can’t figure out how this one slipped past CES, when they’ve focused so long on keeping it doctrinal and simple.