I say ‘gods’ because of the LDS doctrine of the plurality of gods. They believe in more than one God.

I’ve now become confused with an LDS answer to this recent question, asking how the LDS view of ‘eternity’ is unique. How is the LDS view of eternity unique?

The chosen answer eventually admits that, “we know from President Snow that our Father had a beginning”. Please read the whole of the official LDS link here to see that this is official LDS doctrine: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1982/02/i-have-a-question/is-president-snows-statement-as-man-now-is-god-once-was-as-god-now-is-man-may-be-accepted-as-official-doctrine?lang=eng

I understand that this Father in heaven is called Jehovah. See this official LDS link: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/jehovah?lang=eng&letter=j “Jehovah - It denotes “the eternal I AM.” Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ and came to earth as a son of Mary (Mosiah 3:8; 15:1; 3 Ne. 15:1–5).”

But this is confusing because this Jehovah (who later became the man, Jesus) is said to have been born as a spirit baby to the god Elohim and his spirit wife. He is said to be their firstborn offspring, one of many. “God the Son: The God known as Jehovah is the Son, Jesus Christ… he is the eldest of the spirit children of Elohim… it was actually Jesus who was the Creator under the direction of God the Father.” Jesus Christ: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/jesus-christ?lang=eng
Jehovah: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/jehovah?lang=eng&letter=j

This means that the LDS Father had a beginning, a starting point in time, and so did his father, Elohim, and so did all the other gods going back and back and back – into eternity?

How can one who calls himself “the eternal I AM” have a starting point in time, requiring a superior being to birth him, and that his creator also had to be birthed, ad infinitum? Surely any such one would have to say “I became the eternal I AM” (once he was created, with ‘eternal’ only meaning from that time on into the eternal future)?

The answer I refer to clearly shows that the LDS view of “eternity” only means from the point of time of that being’s creation, going on into an eternal future. I’m not asking about that.

My confusion is that if they say Jehovah is “the eternal I AM” but he was created by Elohim, and Elohim likewise was created by a previous god, then there cannot be any god (in their estimation) who claims to be the eternal, self-existent One, without beginning or end. Is that actually true, or have I misunderstood? Or do they say that Elohim is the eternal, uncreated, self-existent One?

EDIT CORRECTION I misunderstood when I said (above) that the LDS Father in heaven is called Jehovah. Join JBH on Codidact pointed that out in his comment below. Also, depperm said in his answer here, “Jesus/Jehovah and Elohim are eternal”. Then Hold to the Rod said in his answer to another LDS Q – “Latter-day Saints believe that Jehovah is not the name of God the Father, but rather is the pre-mortal name of Jesus… God as a title, not a personal name” Then from the official LDS site, https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/godhead?lang=eng “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.. These three beings make up the Godhead… They acknowledge the Father as the ultimate object of their worship,”

So LDSs pray to Elohim in the name of the one he birthed as a spirit (Jehovah), who later he created as the man, Jesus. The LDS worship Elohim, who – to them – is the heavenly Father. I’ve finally got it!

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    @depperm This question is quite specific : it is asking for genuine clarification on an obscure point regarding the eternal (or otherwise) nature of the deities/Deity who are/is being described by certain persons. Surely it cannot be difficult to clear up such a fundamental question ? The reason it is taking so many question, in my view, is because there is continued obscurity. A clear, unequivocal statement would be useful, I feel.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 12:59
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    @depperm The single question is the entire last paragraph. I think it is quite clear and unambiguous.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 13:02
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    @MikeBorden The obscurity is that 'eternal' means something and the word is being taken and used for something that is not eternal. 'Immortal' would be the word to use of a being who begins (somewhen) and then continues in an indefinite existence. The English word 'eternal' does not mean 'immortal' . . . . . is the whole of the obscurity. Nor can an immortal say 'I am that I am' : they should say 'I am that I was made'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 13:35
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    I think that D&C 93:29 is very clear and relevant. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. This appears to me to be the deification of man above all that is called God - 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (and the deification of 'mind' above the Creator). It therefore changes the foundation of the question about eternal Deity and introduces an 'eternal humanity' (which appears to be superior as the 'deity' serves the 'humanity').
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 17:32
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    @Nigel Indeed. "From everlasting (olam olam) to everlasting (olam olam) thou art God". Where olam olam indicates "to the horizon...and again...". Everyone limiting eternity is in direct contradiction to Scripture. Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


TLDR: As noted in comments your question(s) are in the final paragraph:

...Is that actually true, or have I misunderstood?

I would say you have misunderstood in part. You are correct that the LDS believe Jehovah/Jesus is the first begotten child of Elohim, but that doesn't remove the eternal nature of either.

Or do they say that Elohim is the eternal, uncreated, self-existent One?

Elohim is also eternal, less is known about his "beginning/creation" (this is in reference to the couplet: As man now is, God once was) as you reference it, but again He is still eternal. The only theology the LDS have on "self-existent" is that intelligences are/were. (see below D&C 93:29) One would probably be safe to say that as spirits are formed from intelligences, we all were "self-existent", though how that definition ties into our current phase is complicated.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe all beings are eternal in nature. The phases/stages of one's eternal nature:

  1. intelligences:

    the spirit element that existed before we were begotten as spirit children.

    D&C 93:29

    29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

    Abraham 3:22

    22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

    The exact process/transition from intelligence to spirit is unspecified in LDS theology. (while intelligences probably fall under your definition of "self-existent" past this point "self-existent" probably doesn't apply-but in a sense it does)

  2. spirits

    That part of a living being that exists before mortal birth, dwells in the physical body during mortality, and exists after death as a separate being until the Resurrection....Each person on earth has an immortal spirit body in addition to a body of flesh and bone.

  3. mortality

    Mortality refers to the time from birth until physical death.

  4. immortality

    Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to live in God’s presence and to continue as families

  5. Exaltation/godhood (continuation of 4)

    Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people may “progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny.”

So Jesus/Jehovah and Elohim are eternal, as are we all. How many times the process goes back (man becoming god, creating men) is unknown exactly (see this answer) and also isn't pertinent to one's salvation as we only have one God (see this answer). Measuring man's time vs God's time is complicated (see this answer)

On the couplet by Pres Lorenzo Snow (source in OP) “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.”, its important to remember little has been revealed about the first half of this couplet, and consequently little is taught (again I'd say this isn't pertinent to one's salvation). President Gordan B Hinckley said:

That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection.

I mention this in part to explain that the LDS have this deep theology (similar questions have been asked in a variety of ways, here are a few questions found on this SE), and there are details we don't know as they aren't pertinent to one's salvation (knowing how intelligences became spirits exactly won't change anything, knowing if God has a God also unimportant as we only have one) and probably because we can't handle the truth (as we all struggle with explaining current doctrine-as there are multiple denominations arguing over meaning over scripture AND this is a complicated subject for a variety of reasons)

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    As man is now, God once was. "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." God was once dust? This is an immeasurable departure from Scripture which declares "from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God". Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 13:23
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    It is immeasurable because you have God starting out as a created being (ala Romans 1:23). Everlasting (olam olam) means "to the horizon, and again" so to say eternity past, as far as we can understand it (in the answer you linked), is disingenuous because we understand that the horizon cannot be reached (because it doesn't actually exist other than in our perception) , just as the beginning or end of God is unreachable (because it also does not exist). Psalm 90:2 is a direct and clear statement against God ever having had a beginning or an end. Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 15:49
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    "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: " ... except for all the self-existent intelligences? There is another group which likes to parenthetically add to Scripture "For by him were all (other) things made". Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 12:13
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    A man may live forever by the grace of God but that is a far cry from claiming to be self-existent. To be like God was the temptation that brought ruin in the first place. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 12:16
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    " The only theology the LDS have on "self-existent" is that intelligences are/were." Well not quite, I think. If I understand D&C 93:33 correctly, then matter ("the elements") is also eternal. It doesn't specifically say "not created", but that is what I would understand from the context and the word "eternal". I think Joseph understood creation as organizing.
    – kutschkem
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 15:57

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