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I was recently reading some LDS material and noticed something that did not make sense to me. As I understand LDS teaching, God the Father was once a man on another planet who attained godhood through how he lived. Prior to that, He was the spiritual offspring of the god of that world. Thus, He had a beginning and is not eternal.

However, LDS scripture refers to Him as Eternal Father in many different places, including the following:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen D&C 20:79

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. Moroni 4:3

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. Articles of Faith 1:1

So, my question is why the term "Eternal Father" is used of a being who is not in any way eternal. What is meant by the world "eternal"?

(For these references, I just searched the lds.org site for "eternal father".)

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That's weird. I found a Mormon site that says the opposite: that God is not eternal. mrm.org/god-of-mormonism –  Anonymous Dec 19 '13 at 23:16
    
@Anonymous Thus, the question. –  Narnian Dec 19 '13 at 23:19
1  
@Anonymous Don't fall for it -- That's not a Mormon site! –  Matt Dec 22 '13 at 2:13

3 Answers 3

This is relatively straightforward.

From the LDS article on Eternal Life:

Eternal life is the phrase used in scripture to define the quality of life that our Eternal Father lives. The Lord declared, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being.

Think for a moment of a ray and a line. A ray goes on forever in one direction. A line goes on forever in both directions. Each has infinite length.

Mainstream Christianity teaches that God is eternal in that He has always existed and will always exist, and LDS theology teaches that he is eternal because he will always exist.

It's a different definition of the term, but not one that's not reasonable from their point of view. After all, we are promised eternal life as Christians, are we not?

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So you mean to say that in LDS, God is Eternal only for eternal time to come not from the past. In that sense your answer imply that all Christians could be also referred to as Eternal. –  Seek forgiveness Dec 31 '13 at 11:15
    
@jayyeshu - No, I meant that this is why the LDS Church calls Him eternal even though they think He has a beginning. And they also believe that all exalted Christians are eternal and can become gods of their own I am not a member of the LDS Church, and I don't buy into their view of God's nature or many of their other their beliefs. I was answering the actual question, not giving my view. This site isn't a place to discuss who's right or wrong, it's a place to answer the question that's asked, from the perspective asked for even if we think thst view is wrong. –  David Stratton Dec 31 '13 at 13:18
    
@Seekforgiveness, eternal what? Eternal people. Sure. Everyone is :) –  Paul Draper Jul 21 at 8:44

Upon close examination of this website, God the Eternal Father is God the Father or Elohim.

Latter-day Saints commonly refer to God the Eternal Father as Elohim, a Hebrew plural (elohim ) meaning God or gods, and to his Son Jesus Christ as Jehovah (see Elohim; Jehovah, Jesus Christ). Distinguishing between the persons of the Father and the Son is not possible with more ambiguous terms like "God"; therefore, referring to the Father as "Elohim" is a useful convention as long as one remembers that in some passages of the Hebrew Bible the title elohim does not refer exclusively to the person of God the Father. A less ambiguous term for God the Father in LDS parlance might be "Ahman" (cf. D&C 78:15, 20), which, according to Elder Orson Pratt, is a name of the Father (JD 2:342).

In Mormon theology, although God the Father is not intrinsically eternal and self-existing, God the Father did exist in a pre-mortal state prior to the creation of the universe in which humans live, and to humans, God seems eternal.

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David Stratton's answer is helpful. Some references to LDS scripture answering this questions can be found in the Index to the Triple Combination under God, Eternal Nature of. Here is a sample:

God is same yesterday, today, forever: Morm. 9:9

God knows all things, being from everlasting to everlasting: Moro. 7:22

God’s course is one eternal round: D&C 3:2

God is endless: D&C 19:4, 10

God is infinite, eternal, unchangeable, from everlasting to everlasting: D&C 20:17

Endless and Eternal is God’s name: Moses 7:35

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I understand that these verses do seem to affirm the eternal nature of God. However, that is contrary to LDS doctrine. So, my question is regarding this apparent contradiction. –  Narnian Dec 30 '13 at 12:51
    
@Narnian It seems the discrepancy may be with the definition of eternal we are using. The verses mentioned above are LDS doctrine--they come from canonized LDS scripture--so the LDS do believe God is eternal. For some definitions of eternal, have a look at the 1828 Webster Dictionary (useful because it contains definitions used at the time of Joseph Smith). Several of the definitions fit with LDS understanding of God's nature. –  Calvin Jan 1 at 3:13

protected by David Stratton Dec 31 '13 at 5:47

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