“Ye Are Gods”

In one of the Psalms, after urging us to see other people as God sees them, the author (Asaph) makes the following startling assertion:

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Psalm 82:6

Most people who believe in God would agree that we are His children. But the first half of the statement sounds overblown and perhaps even blasphemous: “Ye are gods.” What did Asaph mean by that?

The Savior referenced this passage during His mortal ministry in defense of His claim to be the Son of God:

Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

John 10:34-36

Obviously, our relationship with God is different from the Savior’s. But if His listeners had already accepted the fact that they were children of God, created in His image, and if they were even willing to accept the more dramatic assertion, “Ye are gods,” then how could they be offended by the Savior’s statement that He was the Son of God?

The book of Genesis tells us that God created us in His image, male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree, they became more like God. They not only looked like Him but they also recognized good from evil and were therefore empowered to make choices. (See Genesis 3:5, 22, Alma 12:31.) Mormon tells us that the purpose of striving to emulate Christ is to become like Him, “that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moroni 7:48, see also 1 John 3:2-3).

So if we were created in the image of God and if we are progressively becoming more like Him, then Asaph’s assertion must be in reference to our trajectory and our potential, not our current state.

In their their vision of life after death, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw that some people, with God’s help, would realize that potential:

As it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—

Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Doctrine and Covenants 76:58-59

As President Dallin H. Oaks has explained, our divine lineage is the source of our divine potential:

Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them. Under the merciful plan of the Father, all of this is possible through the atonement of the Only Begotten of the Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

Apostasy and Restoration,” General Conference, April 1995

And Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has reminded us that, even though the process will take a long, long time, we should remain focused on the goal:

We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.

Now, brethren, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.

Four Titles,” General Conference, April 2013

Today, I will remember that, as a child of God, I have the ability to become like Him with His help. I will remember that the process takes time, and I will strive to be patient with myself and with others as we learn and grow. But I will remain focused on the goal and will strive to see us as we can become, not merely as we currently are.

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