This well referenced article chronicles the history of a 12 year long contention which arose in the early days of the LDS Church between Apostle Orson Pratt and (then) first president Brigham Young. While there are tangential aspects associated with this contention, the main thrust centered upon the state or condition of God's knowledge: Whether God is perfect or complete in knowledge (Pratt) or ever growing in knowledge (Young). Pratt insisted that God could not be God without perfect omniscience whereas Young insisted that such a perfection in God renders eternity a meaningless concept.

While the contention became quite intense it is to Young's credit that he continuously endeavored to maintain brotherhood and fellowship with Pratt, which thing his religion holds in very high esteem. Ultimately, Pratt acceded to the authority of the First Presidency and, although he never changed his mind about God not being God unless his knowledge was absolutely complete, he did agree to never again publish such an opinion in any LDS literature unless it was confirmed by the Presidency and he publically approved of the collection and destruction of whatever he had published which was contrary:

I, therefore, embrace the present opportunity of publicly expressing my most sincere regret, that I have ever published the least thing which meets with the disapprobation of the highest authorities of the Church; and I do most cordially join with them in the request, that you should make such disposition of the publication alluded to, as counsel- led in their proclamation.

Towards the end of the article it is noted that, after Brigham Young's death, vehemence against Orson Pratt's ideas waned and now such influential twentieth century church exegetes as Joseph Fielding Smith find favor with Pratt's ideas:

"I believe that God knows all things and that his understanding is perfect, not 'relative.' I have never seen or heard of any revealed fact to the contrary. I believe that our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ are perfect. I offer no excuse for the simplicity of my faith."

What is the current, official LDS doctrine regarding the state or condition of God's knowledge, whether it be perfect and complete or ever growing?

Note- All of the quotations here are taken from the linked article.

1 Answer 1


Orson Pratt's has/is not official stance as an official proclamation(1 of 6 ever made) was made in Oct 21, 1865 in response to Pratt's publications:

Orson Pratt has written upon that which he knows, and has confined himself to doctrines which he understands, his arguments are convincing and unanswerable; but, when he has indulged in hypotheses and theories, he has launched forth on an endless sea of speculation to which there is no horizon....contain doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown...It ought to have been known, years ago, by every person in the Church-for ample teachings have been given on the point-that no member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve. There is but one man upon the earth, at one time, who holds the keys to receive commandments and revelations for the Church, and who has the authority to write doctrines by way of commandment unto the Church.

This proclamation did not necessarily state that Brigham Young's was correct (doctrine published with approval First Presidency and Twelve is, of which Brigham was a member, but there doesn't seem to be official statements made by President Young about this subject stating it as doctrine), only that Orson Pratt was speculating and that led to doctrine not supported by first presidency

I feel like some comment will be made about Journal of Discourses, but I'll restate this is not an official publication, nor is Doctrines of Salvation

There is much the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not know about God, heaven, or the pre-existence. Many topics not about one's salvation or time on earth do not have clear doctrine laid out.

What LDS doctrine includes about God's omniscience/foreknowledge:

God the Father:

He is perfect, has all power, and knows all things.

Are "Mormons" Christian?

Latter-day Saints believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving, and they pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 15:18

18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

D&C 3:1

1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

D&C 6:16

16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.

D&C 38:2

2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

D&C 93:24

24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

Abraham 2:8

8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.

The LDS do not believe in predestination1

Meeting Challenges Today, Neal A Maxwell states:

The combined doctrine of God’s foreknowledge and of foreordination is one of the doctrinal roads least traveled by, yet these clearly underline how very long and how perfectly God has loved us and known us with our individual needs and capacities. Isolated from other doctrines or mishandled, though, these truths can stoke the fires of fatalism, impact adversely upon our agency, cause us to focus on status rather than service, and carry us over into predestination.


Of course, when we mortals try to comprehend, rather than merely accept, foreordination, the result is one in which finite minds futilely try to comprehend omniscience. A full understanding is impossible; we simply have to trust in what the Lord has told us, knowing enough...

Articles of Faith, James E Talmage

God's knowledge of spiritual and of human nature enables Him to conclude with certainty as to the actions of any of His children under given conditions; yet such knowledge has surely no determining effect upon the creature

See also:

  • Glory of God is Intelligence, David A Bednar
  • Encyclopedia of Mormonism: Foreknowledge of God
  • Encyclopedia of Mormonism: Omnipotent God; Omnipresence of God; Omniscience of God

    Omniscience. Latter-day Saints differ among themselves in their understanding of the nature of God's knowledge. Some have thought that God increases endlessly in knowledge as well as in glory and dominion. Others hold to the more traditional view that God's knowledge, including the foreknowledge of future free contingencies, is complete. Despite these differing views, there is accord on two fundamental issues: (1) God's foreknowledge does not causally determine human choices, and (2) this knowledge, like God's power, is maximally effacious. No event occurs that he has not anticipated or has not taken into account in his planning.

emphasis mine

1 Romans 8:29–30 seems to indicate that Paul believed in predestination. Did he?

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    Thank you. +1 So, regardless of the use of the word omniscience and God knowing "all things" in official doctrine, it is unclear in LDS theology what "all things" actually means, such that the term omniscience is actually specious? Jan 4 at 19:48
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    @MikeBorden I think it is more proper to say the distinction is between "Does God KNOW the future?" versus "Does God perfectly predict the future?" The end result is the same, as the last quote states "No event occurs that he has not anticipated or has not taken into account in his planning". Personally I feel like proponents of the latter view go too far in their quest to get away from predestination.
    – kutschkem
    Jan 5 at 7:32
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    @kutschkem I cannot perceive a distinction between knowing the future and perfectly predicting the future, as though the latter could be done without the former. The uneasiness surrounding the idea of predestination is not particular to your religion alone. :) Jan 5 at 13:36
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    @MikeBorden finite minds futilely try to comprehend omniscience. A full understanding is impossible;
    – depperm
    Jan 5 at 15:16
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    @MikeBorden By "Prediction" I mean something along the lines "due to knowing the rules of the universe, and our character, perfectly, he is able to anticipate what we will choose". Like you would predict the weather. By "know the future", I mean that through unknown means, he knows how we will choose. Let's say he simply "sees" the future. The end result is the same, but the first view either leaves God too fallible or man too predictable for my taste. The second I am more comfortable with but explains less.
    – kutschkem
    Jan 10 at 8:03

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