Perfection and Progression: Two Complementary Ways to Talk about God

Brigham Young stated, “According to [some men’s] theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power, but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children.” It is difficult to imagine a more stark contradiction in authoritative statements about the Mormon concept of God: Hyrum Smith says that God has all wisdom and power; Brigham Young says that he does not and is progressing in those attributes. How could there be such a dramatic reversal in dogma? Isn’t this a simple matter of fact or falsehood? Isn’t it certain that either God is perfect, with all knowledge and power, or he is not?

Eugene England’s simple thesis is that, in fact, these statements are not contradictory. These Church leaders were using two different, but complementary, ways of talking about God based on two different aspects of the Mormon understanding of God, both of which are essential to our theology and must be maintained.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 29:3
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