Abstract of Callister, Tad R. “Our Identity and Our Destiny.”

Callister, Tad R.  “Our Identity and Our Destiny.”  In Brigham Young University Speeches 2012-2013, 119-141.  Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2013. [Mormon/Theology/Deification/Ritual]

The premise of this address given at BYU Education Week on 14 August 2012, is that it is fundamental in Mormonism to understand our identity as literal spirit sons and daughters of God.  This in turn is the foundation for understanding that mankind’s destiny is to become like their Heavenly Parent–to become gods.  Though this doctrine is one for which Mormonism is frequently attacked, Callister argues that it is not a doctrine that was invented whole cloth by Joseph Smith.  He cites five different sources of evidence which he refers to as “witnesses” to establish this fact.  They are: scripture, early Christian writers, wisdom of poets and other thoughtful authors, logic, and the voice of history.  After outlining the Mormon doctrine of deification he asks how it is possible given man’s imperfections, weaknesses and sins.  The answer is that the Atonement provides the “resources to lift us above our mortal restraints and propel us to divine heights.”  (p. 131)   He elaborates on two such resources.  The saving ordinances of the gospel are the first such resource, and Callister lists five and briefly comments on the corresponding powers of godliness which come through each one.  Second, he argues with the help of supporting quotations that each gift of the Spirit “represents an attribute of godliness” which we are to attain and which move us along the road to perfection and godhood.  Underlying this entire address is the precept that understanding man’s identity and destiny provides greater motivation to live the gospel and pursue this lofty goal.

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