Lorenzo Snow Manual Lesson 5: Long Live the Couplet

Lorenzo Snow made a provocative statement once that has come to be known the Lorenzo Snow couplet.  The statements is:

As man now is, God once was;

As God now is, Man may be.

This statement is sometimes seen as controversial.  President Hinckley declined to address it once in a public interview.  Critics will point to this couplet as an example of highly unorthodox teachings within Mormonism.  They will also claim that the church no longer teaches this – perhaps implying that the church may be ashamed of the teaching.

I think there is some significance to this statement being prominently quoted in the current Priesthood and Relief Society manuals.  There was no hiding from this quote – in fact, it was set off from the rest of the text as its’ own paragraph.

The lesson speaks of the background behind this statement.  It seems that President Snow felt that it was revelation, and that it was consistent with what Joseph Smith taught.

I have always like this statement.  It rings true to me.  And I am glad that the powers that be included it so prominently in the current lesson manual.  Hardly the act of a church that is embarrassed by or hiding from the idea.  The lesson can be read here.

14 Responses to “Lorenzo Snow Manual Lesson 5: Long Live the Couplet”

  1. 1 Jamie Turner March 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, I’m in primary now, so I’m missing out on all the Lorenzo Snow lessons. That is pretty cool that they have highlighted his famous couplet. I’ve always thought that the nature of who we are is one of the strongest evidences for the existence and nature of our Heavenly Father. We are more than just matter and energy – thought/mind/conscience/spirit, call it what you will, but it exists, and points towards our Creator.

  2. 2 Dave March 10, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I’m afraid I have a different view of the couplet, Eric, but I do agree that highlighting the couplet in the present manual is significant. It provoked a spirited discussion in my quorum when it was taught.

  3. 3 Eric Nielson March 10, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    You are welcome Jaime.

    Thanks for commenting Dave. We had an investigator in our quorum. I wonder what he thought. This lesson was taught and discussed in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. Nobody seemed to bat an eye at it.

  4. 4 Paul March 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Eric, I was glad for the lesson, too. We had a great discussion in our group about the implications for us in our lives and in our conversations with those not of our faith. The discussion will continue next week, as Lesson 6 continues the theme of Lesson 5.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson March 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I look forward to it, Paul.

  6. 6 Eric Nielson March 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    DMI Dave disagrees with my take in a post at Times and Seasons here. Which of course is fine. I don’t want to take the time to argue every point. But I want to argue some.

    First, Lorenzo Snow is not trying to make any logical argument in my view. People receiving revelation rarely do that as Kierkegaard rightly points out. They speak as one who has authority. And while Lorenzo Snow may not have been an apostle or prophet at the time of the revelation, he was when he taught the principle.

    Second, Dave’s scriptural arguments are the stuff of cherry picking as most are. Similar scriptures are given in support of the teaching as was given in the lesson manual chapter in question.

    Third, Dave’s characterization of his absent opponent is something of a straw man – God being some guy like us on a planet near Kolob – while some may think that way, not all do. If we can consider Christ mortal why not the same type of possibility for God the Father? This is bad form for someone who initially points to logical argument.

    Fourth, I find it highly ironic that Dave would end with a crescendo quoting Stephen Robinson!!! Unbelievable! Criticizing an idea for not being canonized and then summing up your point by quoting a mere professor? Wow.

    I still like the couplet, and I am glad it made it into the current manual. And while I do feel that it is part of Mormonism, I also feel we do not know much about how it all works.

  7. 7 Eric Nielson March 15, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Oh, and fifth, part of his argument points to mankind as being contingent. This is another un-Mormon argument to make, as Mormonism rejects ex nihilo creation, and thus at least something about us is necessary.

  8. 8 Paul March 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Glad to see your responses to the JI post. Thanks for those insights.

  9. 9 Keith Stewart March 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Eric, I just found your site while searching for ordinance cards for my missionary in the mtc. Noticed the post on Pres. Snows couplet and thought I’d share with you that there is an excellent article on the very subject in the Winter 2013 edition of the BYU MAGAZINE. it’s a magazine sent out to alumni. The article is tited ‘ Our Identity and our Destiny’ by Elder Tad R. Callister of the Quorom of the Seventy. I wish I were savy enough tech-wise to link it but I’m too old school. Thanks for your site.

  10. 11 Eric Nielson March 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    you are welcome Keith. Perhaps I will add the link myself.

  11. 12 Richard Alger August 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    The inclusion of the couplet is interesting. Following is my journey in discovering differing Mormon opinions on the subject.


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