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10 years ago  ::  Apr 04, 2008 - 1:51AM #1
Posts: 127
Does the LDS church get its belief about God having a physical body from the Bible or from the Book of Mormon?
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 04, 2008 - 8:39AM #2
Posts: 12,363

Heavenly Father and Jesus, both as separate and distinct persons, appeared to Joseph at the same time in response to his prayer to know which faith was correct.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 04, 2008 - 10:23AM #3
Posts: 636
[QUOTE=Weeping_Willow1526;407170]Does the LDS church get its belief about God having a physical body from the Bible or from the Book of Mormon?[/QUOTE]


Hi and WElcome --

Actually, LDS teach that the nature of God (which is BOTH Divine AND Physical/Corporeal) was made clear by BOTH anceint and modern scripture, AND by the expereinces of Joseph Smith, the first Prophet and organizer of the Church -- especially what's often called his "First Vision" -- which is what Ironhold was referring to in the previous reply.

I hope that helps -- Please don't hesitate to ask any other questions --

Blessings --
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 04, 2008 - 1:30PM #4
Posts: 1,451
The LDS Scriptures have a topical guide that covers many topics.  You might want to browse them.

One subject covered is:  God, Body of - Corporeal Nature

There are scriptures listed there from all of LDS Scripture, including the Bible and Book of Mormon.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2008 - 2:25AM #5
Posts: 3,242
"Does the LDS church get its belief about God having a physical body from the Bible or from the Book of Mormon?"

While Mormons get their nickname from The Book of Mormon, Mormons actually have four books of scripture which form their Standard Works: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.


The official teaching that God has a physical body is located in Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  In a kind of question-and-answer session given on April 2, 1843, Joseph Smith stated:

22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.


Prior to that, the LDS Church did not have an official position on the matter.  There were even discussions where it was supposed that God must be a spirit.  After all, Genesis 1 says that "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."  In the King James Version of the Bible, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman by the well, "God is a spirit." (John 4:24)  At the time, there weren't an abundance of Mormons who could read Greek, so they relied on the KJV translation to their detriment.  A more accurate translation says, "God is spirit," which is not that different from passages that say, "God is light" (1 John 1:5) and "God is love" (1 John 4:8).

But early on, it was assumed that God was a spirit.  In a treatise known as The Lectures on Faith, a committee of LDS Church leaders - including Joseph Smith - signed on to the statement:

2 There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things--by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space--They are the Father and the Son: The Father being A PERSONAGE OF SPIRIT, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;--he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the 
Father . . . .


In Joseph Smith's 1844 account, recalling an experience he had had 24 years before, the following description is given of what Joseph Smith said he saw:

"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! "

This experience, known to Mormons as The First Vision, gave Joseph Smith reason to believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct and separate beings.  It, would not, however, have made it certain that God had a physical body.  Not surprisingly, questions about this issue remained until the definitive answer was given in 1843.


There are biblical passages that provide indirect support for the idea that God has a physical body.  Because the Bible can be interpreted in so many ways, Mormons could never be sure what to think until an official revelation was given.  However, anyone looking for support would have found the following:

1.  In Genesis 1 and 5, God says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  At least three times, this point is reiterated.  (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1)

2.  Some have suggested that "in our image" could refer to God's vision for man.  But that explanation doesn't hold up to the next phrase, "after our likeness."  In fact, after Cain kills Abel, it says that Adam "begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth."  (Genesis 5:3)  If it's reasonable to say that Seth was the image and likeness of Adam, it's equally reasonable to say that Adam was the image and likeness of God.

3. There are scattered references to God, in terms of God having a specific location and sometimes with references to body parts.  Whether these references are literal or figurative is for the reader to decide.  However, the text does say that "The Lord went his way" (Genesis 18:33); Jacob said he had "seen God face to face" (Genesis 32:30); Moses said, "They saw the God of Israel" and described something "under his feet" (Exodus 24:10); Moses claimed that the 10 Commandments had been written "with the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18); The Lord spoke to Moses "face to face" (Exodus 33:11); God showed himself to Moses, but only his "back parts" (Exodus 33:33); God promises to speak to the high priest "mouth to mouth" (Numbers 12:8); Jesus told his disciples, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9); Paul said that Christ was "the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4); Christ, in revealing himself to his disciples after the resurrection, said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39); Paul later said that Christ was "in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6); Paul even said that "our vile body" would be "fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21); James said that men are "made after the similitude of God" (James 3:9); John the Revelator said that "they shall see his face" (Revelations 22:4).

My favorite passage referring to the idea that Christ is like God and that we can be like Christ, is in 1 John 3:

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


Given the number of times that references are made to God having a body or form in the Bible, one might expect an even larger number of references in the Book of Mormon.  I'm not sure that's the case.  There is, however, at least one passage in the Book of Mormon that discusses this issue.  In Mosiah 7, it says:

27 And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth—
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2008 - 3:31PM #6
Posts: 5,277
I thought the physicality of God sprang into Mormon theology as an offshoot of speculation about polygamy and its heavenly mandate and importance.  If Man enjoyed multiple liaisons on Earth, why not extend it to heaven, and why claim that God ordered it if God did not enjoy these multiple liaisons Himself?
Cry Heaven and let loose the Penguins of Peace
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2008 - 1:00AM #7
Posts: 3,242
It's interesting you should say that.  I wonder if we couldn't get closer to the truth by finding samples of Joseph Smith's early writings and comparing the doctrinal development.  Section 130 precedes the announcement of polygamy, though not its practice.

I wonder, though, if there isn't evidence to support the idea that Sydney Rigdon had a disproportionate influence in the early days, an influence that waned over time.  I say that because Rigdon had been a Campbellite preacher and he was the one credited with bringing into the Church a black book of scriptural references still used today. 

An early Joseph Smith would have had a special relationship with Heaven but would have also lacked experience in the running of a church, let alone a huge movement with lots of moving parts.  Rigdon, who revealed himself to be a cunning and ambitious figure, could have leaned on Joseph Smith - at least early on.  It would take Joseph time to develop the self-confidence to stand apart from Oliver Cowdery and Sydney Rigdon, both of whom were highly influential in the beginning and Ohio periods, but who would later become opponents of the Church.

If you look at the Lectures on Faith, which were published as the beginning of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, they aren't revelations coming from Joseph Smith.  They're a catechism created by a committee, a committee that included Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams.  This is the only time I know of where four men had their names on the Doctrine and Covenants, three of whom weren't prophets and weren't in a position to provide revelations of any kind.

Early on, I would suspect, a lot of the catechistic use of proof texts would have given Sidney Rigdon an exalted influence in the Church.  But as Joseph Smith came into his own, it may well be that his voice became louder and stronger.  By the time we get to the King Follett Discourse, there isn't any hesitation or halting in Joseph Smith's voice.  Interestingly, Joseph introduces doctrines at odds with Rigdon's Campbellite background.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2008 - 1:19PM #8
Posts: 1,020
This is one of the things that is not taught to people who are interested in becoming members of the LDS church. 

Even though I'm not a big believer in the whole idea of 'God' as constructed by the world's various religions, assuming God does exist, then for my money, God always had to be God.  He/She didn't just wake up one day and realize, "Oh crap, I'd God now!!"

Even among faithful members, there is debate on how to present the 'Godhood for humans' concept.  I no longer attend priesthood meetings, so I'm not entirely sure what is being taught these days about this subject.
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