Isaiah 43:10 says “Before me there was no God formed; neither shall there be after me.” This scripture is commonly used to “trick up” Mormons who claim that we humans are children of God, destined to become Gods like him. But the response to that has been adequately answered here, here, and perhaps best, here, so I’m not going to respond to it here. However, a recent commenter on this blog asked a different question about this scripture, which is this:
How do you interpret the passage where Jehovah God says to Isaiah, “Before me there was no God formed; neither shall there be after me.” (Isa 43:10) in light of the LDS teaching that Elohim was a God formed before Jesus (Jehovah, in LDS theology)?
Now that’s a good question! Not that the other isn’t, but this certainly takes it a step further…further? Farther? Whatever. Anyway, the title of this post is slightly misleading, in that due to not having much time to research what other Mormons think about this scripture, I’m just giving my own opinion, based on thinking it through and referring to some other sources that indirectly touch on this matter. Here are a few thoughts, loosely organized.
First, Mormons believe that all of us humans are “gods”, the same way that a child is a man, if by “man” you mean human. If by “man” you mean grown, male adult, then that’s a different matter. Suffice it to say, we are gods in a child-like state. We may not reach the goal God has set for us, but we are his offspring nonetheless, and therefore of the same species.
Second, Mormons believe that we all existed from all eternity to all eternity. Who we are has no beginning and no end. I don’t pretend to fully understand what that means, at least the “no beginning” part, but if we take it literally, then neither God, nor Jesus Christ, nor we were “formed” at all, that is, created out of nothing. We always existed. Therefore Elohim was not a god before Christ, that is, they were of the same species and always have been contemporary in that sense, although he became God the Father (i.e. an adult) before Christ, the same way a human father becomes an adult before his child.
Third, Jehovah doesn’t always mean Christ in the Old Testament. We believe most instances do, but not all. And really, what’s the difference? Jesus is God’s representative, they’re of one heart and mind, and in a sense they’re interchangeable. One isn’t going to deliver a message that the other wouldn’t, and vice versa.
Fourth, is this a literal statement or a manner of speech, a colloquialism familiar to the understanding of those to whom this message was originally addressed? If we were to apply the same rigor of analysis to the statement “I know everything about flowers from A to Z,” that many people apply to passages of the Bible, what would we conclude is meant? Probably something quite different than what is truly meant, that is “I know a lot about flowers.” Could it be that God was merely saying “Look, you idol-worshippers, there’s no other God you need to recognize, got it? Get rid of your false gods and your idols, and worship the one and only God you need to worry about.” I suppose he could have added “And since I know that what I’m saying right now is going to end up in this so-called ‘Bible’ someday, and people 3,000 years from now are going to get all confused about what I’m saying, let me clarify that yes, there are other gods, but I am the only God anyone on earth needs to worry about. Also, although it may be clear that I am God, and not Jesus Christ, the people 3,000 years from now won’t have access to all the information you do, so let me clarify that this is God the Father speaking, not the Son. Not that it matters, since we both say the same things, and my Son is authorized to speak as though he were me, but again, I need to clarify for those other people. Yeah, I know this doesn’t apply to you people right now, and you’re wondering why I even bring this up because it’s all clear to you, but trust me, I need to say this for the sake of the other people 3,000 years from now, even though I’m going to send them the Book of Mormon, prophets and apostles, the Holy Ghost, and all sorts of other things so that they can figure it out on their own fairly easily.” Yes, I suppose God could have added that, but it doesn’t seem to be his way of doing things.