A statement like the one above strikes people as counter-intuitive, but I actually agree with the man. If you were to read the Book of Mormon alone, you would never arrive at Mormon doctrine. In fact many passages in the Book of Mormon directly contradict the later revelations that Smith taught, even regarding the nature of God Himself.
Eternal ProgressionThe central concept of LDS theology is the doctrine of eternal progression. That doctrine teaches that God is a man who was a faithful Mormon in his physical life and has now been exalted. As the LDS prophet Lorenzo Snow famously put it, "As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be."1 While Snow coined that phrase, he didn’t create the doctrine. Joseph Smith originally taught this idea in a very famous sermon known as the King Follet sermon. There, Smith in his office of prophet who is to present the revelation from God Himself, Smith teaches:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.2Smith goes on to explain that "you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves" in order to have eternal life.
The unchanging nature of God in the Book of MormonThe teaching of the exaltation of God from a man is in direct contradiction to Smith’s Book of Mormon, though. Moroni 8:18 declares, "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity."3 Mormon 9:9, borrowing from the book of Hebrews reinforces the idea that God is changeless. "Do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing."4 According to the Book of Mormon, then, Joseph Smith’s teaching that God was once a man is false.
It is interesting that Joseph Smith prefaced his remarks about God by saying how important it is to get the doctrine correct. He put it in no uncertain terms:
My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being He is; and if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence ... But if I fail to do it, it becomes my duty to renounce all further pretensions to revelations and inspirations, or to be a prophet; and I should be like the rest of the world—a false teacher.5I believe Smith is a false teacher. The man with whom I was conversing did as well, however he still held to the Book of Mormon and claimed that Smith was called to be a translator, not a prophet or political leader. I think that someone who claims to be a prophet and is proven to be false would not be used of God to reveal his word. That’s pretty simple since the definition of a prophet is someone who reveals the word of God to the people. Smith is a false teacher, and none of his teachings, including the Book of Mormon should be trusted.
2. Smith, Joseph, Jr. "The King Follett Sermon." Ensign Magazine. April 1971. Web. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng Accessed 27 June 2014.
3. Smith, Joseph. "The Book of Moroni." The Book of Mormon Online. (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Web. 2007. Accessed 27 June 2014.
4. Smith, Joseph. "The Book of Mormon." The Book of Mormon Online. (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Web. 2007. Accessed 27 June 2014.
5. Smith, Joseph, Jr. "The King Follett Sermon." Ibid.