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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Hard-Hitting Comments on the Trinity

"The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the 4th and 5th centuries is not to be found in the New Testament."
--Harper's Bible Dictionary


Boldly refuting our critics who claim we aren't Christians because we don't accept some of the extra-Biblical doctrines, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's Saturday afternoon General Conference address included some hard-hitting comments. In addition to testifying of our obvious commitment to Jesus Christ and our sincere and devout worship of Him as our Savior and Son of God, Elder Holland specifically took on the critics who say we aren't Christians for not sharing their views on the Trinity. While we believe that the Father and the Son are One in every meaningful way - one in heart, purpose, will, etc. - our understanding of how they are one does not include the perplexing formulations of an immaterial single being of three persons and one substance or other post-New Testament formulations that were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. After pointing out that the metaphysical doctrine of three persons of one substance and Trinitarian formulations evolved long after New Testament times in councils of men, Elder Holland cited multiple verses from the New Testament illustrating that the early Christian understanding of the Godhead was consistent with the understanding of modern Latter-day Saints, an understanding that came as part of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

His purpose was not to say that Trinitarians are not Christians! Rather, he was clarifying our status and demonstrating the irony of other Christians saying we are not Christian for failing to accept modern doctrines foreign to Peter, Paul, and the early Christians. While we disagree with the modern concept of the Trinity, those who believe it are still Christians in our book. We may be concerned that some of their doctrines are incomplete, but we don't scare others into thinking that other churches aren't even Christian just because we disagree in how we interpret the scriptures.

Some tough love from Elder Holland - but nicely handled, I thought.

Update: here is an excerpt from an excellent source on the development of the doctrine of the doctrine of the Trinity, Barry Bickmore's Restoring the Ancient Church (footnotes deleted - see the original for details):
The Mainstream Trinity: The Nicene Creed

When mainline Christians see the basic propositions about God discussed above, along with statements that "[Christ] and the Father are one" (John 10:30), they conclude that the doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. is the only logical explanation:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion--all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.
That is, there is only one God, but that God is composed of three distinct persons who share in the same substance or essence.

"Of One Substance"

Was this the original interpretation of the scriptural passages in question? Modern scholars agree that the Nicene view introduced new elements into the standard interpretations that had not been accepted by the earliest Church. For example, Maurice Wiles concludes that, "The emergence of the full trinitarian doctrine was not possible without significant modification of previously accepted ideas."

Specifically, the phrase, "of one substance or essence," expresses a concept that was adopted and adapted from contemporary Greek philosophy, but was foreign to the thought of the original Christianity. This concept may seem strange to the modern reader because Greek philosophy is no longer the predominant system of thought, although it has remained the basis of many aspects of mainstream Christian theology even to the present time. At the time the Nicene Creed was adopted, the predominant philosophy was a hodgepodge of ideas, mostly based on Neoplatonism and a few other schools of thought. These schools, in turn, largely based their ideas on the thought of a few earlier philosophers, notably Plato, Empedocles and Xenophanes. A quick summary of how these philosophers viewed God should make the language of the Nicene Creed clear to the reader. (Although the Christians modified the terminology of the philosophers to fit their purposes, one still cannot make sense of their language without reference to these Hellenistic ideas.)

Plato, realizing the material world was ever changing, speculated that it was impossible to obtain true knowledge by observing the natural world. But he had faith that true knowledge was possible, so he posited an unchanging, perfect world that was a higher reality than the material. He called this region or dimension the world of "Ideas" or "Forms." These "Ideas" were considered the perfect essences of various objects or attributes. For example, a waterfall and a person can both be said to be "beautiful" although they seem to have nothing material in common. Plato suggested that there must be an "Idea" or essence in the world of Forms--perfect and unchanging--called "The Beautiful," in which both the person and the waterfall participate. Similarly, Plato's idea of God was a perfect, unchanging, indivisible essence known as "The Divine," or "The One."

Xenophanes and Empedocles expressed similar ideas of what God must be like. Xenophanes (570-475 B.C.) conceived of "God as thought, as presence, as all powerful efficacy." He is one God--incorporeal, "unborn, eternal, infinite, . . . not moving at all, [and] beyond human imagination." And Empedocles (ca. 444 B.C.) claimed that God "does not possess a head and limbs similar to those of humans . . . . A spirit, a holy and inexpressible one . . . ."

Therefore, in the Greek world it was more acceptable for the Christians to say that there are three, distinct persons who are a single "Divine essence or substance"--or as Plato would say, "The Divine." But these three persons cannot be said to be three Gods, because the divine essence must be indivisible and simple. Many Christians envision the Trinity as three "centers of consciousness" within the one God, but even this is inadequate to express the ineffable reality of God.
More on the "Being" of God

Consistent with this conception of the "Divine Substance," God cannot be said to be a material being, for matter is a lower reality than a pure "Idea." Thus, the ancient Greek philosophers and modern mainstream Christians would agree that God is incorporeal, without a material body or human emotions, immovable, indivisible, and therefore ultimately incomprehensible to humanity.

This theory of the nature of God began to be adopted into Christian thought in the late second century. Christopher Stead writes that the early Christian writers Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200), Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) and Novatian (ca. 250) believed in a God who is "simple and not compounded, uniform and wholly alike in himself, being wholly mind and wholly spirit . . . wholly hearing, wholly sight, wholly light, and wholly the source of all good things." This, Stead points out, is almost identical to Xenophanes' assertion that "All of him sees, all thinks and all hears." And "since Clement elsewhere quotes Xenophanes verbatim, we have good grounds for thinking that Clement's description, and indeed the theory as a whole, derives from Xenophanes."

Thus, we see that to interpret what is meant by the mainstream Christian creeds, we must appeal to the ideas of the Greek philosophers. We also see that the concepts of deity derived from these sources are contrary to the doctrines and teachings presented in the New Testament.

84 comments:

THE SEAN said...

Leave it Elder Holland to lay it all down. This is a topic that, even though plainly addressed today by Elder Holland, will continue to be debated. I thought it was well done. This particular topic is, at least in my life, the most brought up by people I meet. An interesting note is that the same very point was brought up in my History class by the professor. (And no, I do NOT attend BYU or some other predominatly Mormon school) That the councils held late after the books of the New Testament were composed largely determined the doctrines of the church. The unfortunate thing is that most of those who were present didn't even agree 100% with the resulting creeds , it ended up being a compromise. The great thing is, and Elder Holland mentioned this, is tha believing in the Trinity doesn't mean you are not a Christian. Great talk.

Anonymous said...

awww...he's just bent out of shape because he didn't get the promotion to the big three.

marcia said...

Elder Holland's talk was outstanding, He backed up his points with scriptures from New Testament that I have always felt solidified the idea that the Father and Son are two separate beings. Jesus was perfect because he submitted his will to the Father's not to His own. Elder Holland is the Lord's Bulldog on doctrine patrol! Marcia

Bookslinger said...

The preponderance of bible verses do indeed support the LDS view of the Godhead.

However, there are at least a few that seem to support the Trinitarian view at first glance:

1. In the OT: "I am THE LORD thy God, thou shalt have no other Gods before me." I think the Hebrew that was translated as "THE LORD" in that verse was YHWH, no? That would then be Yahweh, or Jehovah.

And in the NT:

2. "If you've seen me, you've seen the father."

3. "I and my Father are one."

So the Trinitarian viewpoint is not totally without Biblical support. But yes, the rest of the verses that deal with "God" vis-a-vis "Jesus" do indeed support the LDS view of separate personages.

Mormanity said...

I would probably prefer to say that the Bible definitely teaches the concept of Oneness, with which we fully agree. But the issue is how is the Godhead one? Trinitarians can certainly cite Biblical verses to argue that the creeds are consistent with the Bible, pointing out, for example, that the New Testament teaches the concept of the unified Godhead comprising God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But the defining statements from the creeds about the Godhead being one Being of three persons of "one substance" - a key point of differentiation for the doctrine of the Trinity, or the teaching that the Godhead is one immaterial Being without body, parts, or passions, well, these core doctrines are simply not to be found in the New Testament and are contradicted by numerous examples and witnesses.

If the doctrine of the Trinity and the statements of the creeds had not been so thoroughly infused into mainstream Christianity, I don't think anybody could start with the Bible in a quest to understand the nature of God and the nature of the oneness of the Godhead, and come up with concepts such as "one substance", incorporeality, immateriality, etc.

Naturally, the same can be said of us, for we have doctrines that come from revelations outside the Bible. I don't think anybody could take the Bible alone and come up with the concept of building temples for baptism for the dead, eternal marriage, etc., though we can point to verses that are consistent with some of those themes. Of course, we're more comfortable recognizing extra-Biblical sources for some of our doctrines, llike the Book of Mormon, whereas some of our critics who condemn us for using anything other than the Bible ought to become a little more quiet if they realized how significant extra-Biblical sources have been for the traditions they have inherited (and non-revelatory extra-Biblical sources - namely, the councils of bickering scholars and philosophers called together by a Roman emperor, not a council of Apostles united in prayer to resolve issues through revelation from God). I know that there is trust that the work of these councils was ultimately guided by divine influence, but then should not our critics admit that they believe or hope that a form of revelation was in play? And doesn't that open up my favorite can of worms, ongoing revelation?

anothernonymous said...

Here are scriptures that lend credence to the non-trinitarian view of the Godhead.

Man was formed in the likeness and image of God. Gen. 1:26-27, 5:3
God counseled with one or more others in the creation of man. Gen. 1:26
Hagar sees God and lives. Gen. 16:13
Jacob sees God face to face and lives. Gen. 32:30
God speaks to the camp of Israel behind a cloud. Ex. 19:9
God descends onto a mountain (implies one cannot be present in all places at once). Ex. 19:19-20
Moses, Aaron & 70 Elders of Israel see God, including His feet and hands. Ex. 24:9-11
God speaks to Moses face to face like a man speaks to his friend. Ex. 33:11; Deut. 5:4; 34:10
God mentions his face, hands & backside, and passes by Moses. Ex. 33:20-23
Face to face with Moses again. The “form” of the Lord is mentioned. Num. 12:8
God has ears. 2 Sam. 22:7
God has sons. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7
Job declares he will see God while in his flesh. Job 19:26
Job sees and hears God. Job 42:5
God has a begotten son. Psalm 2:7
The Son of God was chosen in the midst of companions (God has a Beloved Son in company with a multitude of other children). Psalm 45:6-7
God gives His firstborn. Psalm 89:27; Micah 6:7
Isaiah saw God. Isa. 6:5
God dwells with His righteous children in heaven. Isa. 57:15.
Lord is in His temple. Hab. 2:20
Mourning because God’s firstborn is pierced. Zech. 12:10
We all have one Father. Mal. 2:10
The Lord will suddenly come to His temple (a change in position and in time). Mal. 3:1
The three members of the Godhead are manifested separately. Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32.
Support for God’s wings are figurative but that His physical form is not. Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34
Jesus is separate from His Father because He is a free agent. Matt. 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42
In some ways, at least, God is not immutable, because Jesus grew in wisdom. Luke 2:52
Jesus had a resurrected body of flesh and bone that could eat. Luke 24:36-42; John 20:19-20
Jesus in the flesh was the showing of the glory of the Father. John 1:14
The Son follows the Father’s prior example. John 5:19-21,30
Jesus is the Son of Man. John 5:27
Jesus implies God has a voice and a form. John 5:37
The Father is greater than Jesus. John 14:28
The Advocate or Comforter is not present at the same time Jesus is present. John 16:7; Acts 1:8
Jesus asks God to return the glory He had with Him before the world was. John 17:5
The apostles are to become one as Jesus and the Father are one (not in some metaphysical sense). John 17:20-23.
Our God and Father is Jesus’ God and Father. John 20:17
Stephen sees Jesus on the right hand of God. Acts 7:55-56
We are God’s offspring. Acts 17:29
Jesus is the firstborn of a large family. Rom. 8:29
See God face to face. 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 3:18
The Son is subject to God. 1 Cor. 15:28
In the resurrection we will bear the image of the Man in heaven. 1 Cor. 15:49
Christ is the image of the unseen/invisible God. 2 Cor. 4:4
God will walk among us. 2 Cor. 6:16
Humanity’s name was gotten from the Father. Eph. 3:15
At least in one sense, God is not totally immutable because Christ emptied himself of his deity upon coming to earth. Phil. 2:5-9
Christ is the exact imprint of God’s very being (NASB). Heb. 1:3
Jesus’ agency is separate from His Father’s, because he learned obedience through suffering. Heb. 5:7-9
God is the Father of spirits. Heb. 12:9
As God’s children, we will eventually see that He is like us. 1 John 3:1-3
Jesus is the beginning of God’s creations. Rev. 3:14
Jesus inherited His Father’s throne, and we can join him. Rev. 3:21

Here are scriptures that could be used to lend toward the trinitarian view of the Godhead.

God is not a man, that He should lie (or is He the type of Man who would not lie?) Num. 23:19
God has wings (references to God’s form are figurative). Ruth 2:12; Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4.
God is not a man, that He should repent. 1 Sam. 15:29
The heaven of heavens cannot contain God. 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chr. 2:6
Heaven is God’s throne and the earth is His footstool (figurative language). Isa. 66:1
God is at hand, not afar off, He fills heaven and earth. Jer. 23:23-24.
Jesus was in the beginning as the Word and as God. John 1:1
God is Spirit. John 4:24
Jesus and God are one. John 10:30
If you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father (ie Jesus was the physical manifestation of God). John 14:9-11
God dwells not in temples made with hands. Acts 7:48-49; 17:24
God’s Spirit dwells in our physical bodies. 1 Cor. 2:16; 6:19
Christ is the image of the unseen/invisible God. 2 Cor. 4:4

Based on the sheer volume of scriptural references that describe God as being in the form of Man, it can be easily argued that the God the early Christians worshiped is corporeal in form. But the scriptural record itself is inconsistent in this light because there are also passages that claim that the heaven of heavens cannot contain God (1 Kings 8:27), and that He “fills” all things (Col. 1:16). If the scriptural record appears to contradict itself, perhaps the record by itself is unreliable. Perhaps this is why Christian apologists after the first century AD turned to Greek philosophy to resolve these inconsistencies, and this is why the LDS Church receives new revelation to clarify what has already been written in the scriptures. It is no wonder that different religious sects interpret God’s nature differently although they consult the same source. Consulting the Bible alone does not suffice to arrive at uniformity of doctrine. People must decide whether they will consult philosophical and religious traditions, or whether they will seek new revelations from prophets who can clarify the ancient record.

Ranbato said...

For an interesting look at support of our positions by the early Fathers, take a gander at at FAIRLDS. A fair percentage of those at Nicea supported our position.

Mormanity said...

Good reminder, Ranbato. I posted an excerpt from the Barry Bickmore book as an update to the post.

Bookslinger said...

Another factor to nuance the Nicene creed is that the phrase "of one substance" means they are composed of the same _kind_ of substance but not the actual same atoms/molecules.

For instance if you and I both had peanut butter sandwiches, we could say that our sandwiches were "of one substance", ie both made of peanut butter. But that is not to say that when we are talking about our sandwiches that they are the same sandwich.

I wish I had the link where it discussed the actual latin phrase.

Kathleen said...

Hmmm. I'm not a Mormon, but I did watch most of Elder Holland's talk. Very interesting. (It's so annoying how both sides use Bible verses to back up their side.)

As a Christian, the explanation I have always been given of the Trinity is "one God, three persons". I have always understood that to mean one God made manifest in three separate entities. Logically, you can't have three bodies in one body, because then it is three, not one.

About God the Father having a body, though, where do you get that? John 1.24 states clearly that "God is Spirit".

Kathleen said...

Sorry, that is John 4.24. I mistyped.

Anonymous said...

No. God is Love. Or God is Light...or perhaps John 4 isn't really meant to address the ontological nature of God and more about how we are to worship him.

Besides. Jesus is God and that dude has a body...so Jesus must have been confused.

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen: Joseph Smith made a correction to John 4:24. It should have read:

"For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth."

Check out the online LDS KJV edition:
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/john/4/24#24
And then check the footnote "a" which has the Joseph Smith Translation (JST):
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/john/4/24a

It's one of the copying errors in the Bible.

I believe Joseph Smith corrected it back to what it was when John originally wrote it.

Some may counter with "Oh, how conveeeenient." But if Joseph Smith was a real prophet (which I believe, and have a testimony of) then as a prophet, he was entitled to revelation that would correct human errors that crept into the Bible when the scribes made copies of copies and copies.

Unfortunately, the originals are not known to be in existance.

Another way to look at John 4:24, is that it may not be _exhaustive_. That is, that God the Father has a spirit, but is not _just_ a spirit, he has a body too.

Also, if Jesus has a body, and Jesus is the son of God the Father, and Jesus is the "Only Begotten of the Father", then it seems pretty logical to me to assume that God the Father has a glorified body as Jesus has had ever since his (Jesus') resurrection.

I believe Jesus still has his resurrected physical body. The same body he had when he appeared to his apostles and said "Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bone as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39).

Now, since nobody I know believes that Jesus died a second time, then he must still have that body of flesh and bone he showed to his apostles.

Kathleen said...

Bookslinger, so if one doesn't believe that JS had the authority to edit the Bible, do you have anoy other insights on why John 4.24 says, "God is spirit"?

Asked with a smile ;)

Darion Alexander said...

Isn't God also a "burning fire" etc etc. This has definitely been one of THE topics that I always have to go through when discussing the Church. I came from a Catholic background and couldn't understand this whole Trinity thing. It was always pretty apparent to me even at a young age, that Christ was the Son of God, therefore separate and different from the Father...great talk by Holland, all the points I have pointed out with my friends and colleagues.

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen:

Yes. In the 2nd half of my previous comment, I wrote that the phrase "God is a Spirit" may not necessarily mean he is only a Spirit and nothing more.

I'm a Spirit. And more, too. My personal spirit is housed in this sack of skin and bones and mostly water.

Marcia said...

Kathleen,
The social, political and personal life of the Samaritan casts light on the subject. The Samaritans decendants of the northen tribes of Israel had gone their own way turning their temple on Mt. Gerizim into a temple of pagan gods namely Zues. The Jews despised the Samaritans for this and other conflicts between the two. The woman herself was living after the flesh--drifting from man to man and now living outside a marriage covenant. When he invited her to drink living water, he was showing her how she could live spiritually and recieve spiritually not of the body as worshipers of pagan gods often did. Soon, no one would worship at the Jerusalem temple or at Mt. Garazim. Both peoples would have to worship the Father in spirit. Yet, she stands face to face with the mortal Messiah. To the Samaritan women he asked her to look beyond bodily desires and pursuits and come to a spiritual level. The passage could be understood like this; God is spiritual. Worship God the Father spiritually. Marcia

Kathleen said...

Hmm. Interesting insight, Marcia. Bookslinger, I don't quite agree! The text says, "God is spirit." (Not "God is a spirit." :) I interpret that to mean that God is spirit: that's His nature. As Matthew Henry wrote in his famous commentary, "[If He wasn't spirit] he could not be perfect, nor infinite, nor eternal, nor independent". Thoughts, anyone?

Jon said...

Kathleen,

The Greek text of John 4:24 says πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, literally "spirit/breath the god" or idiomatically "God is [a] spirit." Since there is no indefinite article in Greek ("a(n)" in English), it's pointless to quibble over whether or not it says "God is spirit" or "God is a spirit" since both are acceptable translations. I tend to lean, however, toward "God is a spirit," since πνεῦμα (spirit) is a neuter word in the nominative case. If it were supposed to be "God is spirit," i.e. "God is of the spirit substance," I would have expected a genitive πνεύματος rather than the nominative present in the text.

But either way, Mr. Henry's interpretation seems to commit the fallacy of Greek philosophers who assume that corporeality somehow limits perfection, infinity, eternality, and independence. This thinking is fallacious because it assigns to a corporeal God, with whom we may not be acquainted, the characteristics of material things in mortality. This kind of thinking assumes that we can deduce things about God which He has not revealed. After all, Kathleen, does Mr. Henry, in his 'famous' commentary, give any scriptural evidence for his belief that bodies somehow impede the characteristics of godliness he mentions?

Kathleen said...

Fair question, Jon. Henry quotes no scripture, but logically, some things tend to lead us to the conclusion that God is spirit. I have to go to work now, but I'll post on them later tonight or tomorrow.

Oh, and if you'd like to read his commentary for your own interpretation, it's available at www.blb.org. Just enter John 4.24, click on the little blue L next to it, and select his commentary at the bottom. Scroll down till he gets to v 24.

Jon said...

Kathleen,

I'll await your reasons coming later, but I did go and read Henry's commentary on the passage, and I stand by my previous interpretation. The gospel of Jesus Christ, as restored through Joseph Smith, testifies that God is perfect, eternal, and the Father of spirits. We also testify that he has a body which is eternal, incorruptible, and perfect. To say that bodies cannot possess these qualities is to rely more on philosophers, both ancient and modern, than on God's word, in which there is no evidence of God's immateriality, incorporeality, or invisibility.

It seems that Henry's interpretation of the passage relies more on logical deductions made by philosophers than by divine revelation. His allusion to Luke 24:39 ("a spirit hath not flesh and bones") does not help his argument since he ignores the last half of the statement "as ye see me have." In other words Jesus, whom most Christians, including Latter-day Saints, believe is God, evidently, in his resurrected form, has flesh and bones, which a spirit does not. Conclusion: God (Jesus Christ), has a body and is therefore not a spirit. (only if, of course, you see spirits and bodies as mutually exclusive, which Henry does.)

While there may be more than one correct interpretation of John 4:24, to say that God has no body is not one of them. This doesn't necessarily mean that God definitely has a body, it only means that John 4:24 cannot be used to refute the idea.

Anonymous said...

D&C 20: 19 And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.

The above spells out part of the LDS Baptimal covenant. Do LDS worship One Being only? I ask because later LDS revelations and teachings say LDS worship more than One Being.

Mormon Doctrine page 171 makes reference to

“…the true Beings whom men are commanded to worship”.

Linda said...

Bro. Lindsey,

Thank you so much for posting some of Elder Holland's inspired thoughts, as well as your own, all based on real history and restored knowledge.

My son is a born-again evangelical and has been trying for almost two years now to help me recognize the "great deception" of church leadership and teaching. Elder Holland's talk, as well as other talks during General Conference bouyed my testimony considerably.

You provide a great service to the Lord via your various spots on the web. Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Linda McCarthy

SteSmo said...

Dear Kathleen,

First off, I am happy that you are open to continue a friendly conversation. This is one of the things that I love most, that is, when people of different faiths come together for a sincere and open conversation.

Just to let you know, there is a good essay in the book "Early Christians in Disarray" ed. Noel B. Reynolds titled "Divine Embodiment: The Earliset Christian Understanding of God" that deals with this issue over whether or not God was viewed as an Anthropormorphic being in early Christian thought. This is an LDS perspective on this controversial doctrine that I would recommend.

Also, what Jon has pointed out is also correct. Matthew B. Brown in his book "All Things Restored" on page 109 noted the fact that there is no indefinite article "a/an" in the Greek text. So the passage in John 4: 24 would read Theos pneuma or "God [is] spirit".

Just some food for thought.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thank you, Jon - excellent analysis. See also http://en.fairmormon.org/index.php/God_is_a_Spirit at FairWiki:

It is interesting that in 1Cor. 2:11, Paul wrote about "the spirit of man and the Spirit of God." Elsewhere he spoke of the resurrection of the body and then noted that it is a "spiritual" body (1Cor. 15:44-46), though, rising from the grave, it is obviously composed of flesh and bones, as Jesus made clear when he appeared to the apostles after his resurrection.

Yes - we are spirit, but not spirit alone, and when we are resurrected, we will have a spiritual body, clothed in immortal flesh and bone as tangible as that body that Christ showed His disciples, a body that could be touched and that could eat. In fact, He really went out of His way to drive home His corporeal nature in Luke 24. Don't forget or deny what Christ has taught us.

Anonymous said...

I would also add to the "God is Spirit" discussion--the Holy Ghost is also God, and indeed, is Spirit only. So Paul is completely correct in that sense as well.

In fact the Holy Ghost is only spirit, which of course causes great problems for the traditional Trinity: How can Jesus be Spirit only (as the Holy Ghost) if He has his resurrected body as well? How can Jesus' body be the same "substance" as whatever the Holy Ghost consists of?

Kathleen said...

Okay...so God has to be:

-perfect. We know God is perfect as we are commanded to be perfect--and like Him. (Mt 5.48)

-infinite. Finite things are limited and/or have conditions. God does not. He is all powerfula dn can do anything. Finite things also require a cause for existence. Since God does not have a cause, He is infinite.

-eternal. See Isaiah 46:9-10 and the two preceding chapters.

-independent. God created the universe, so He can't be a part of it. And if He were part of it, the other parts would limit Him.

Has anyone given any thought to my other questions?

richdurrant said...

Actually Bookslinger, the OT verse you used is more suited to support the multi God. No other Gods before me, suggests the existence of other Gods that are not to be worshiped. Just a minor quibble.

bassooner said...

Just a short note about something that has always bothered me about the arguments in the nature of God. It seems to me that almost all of the scriptural evidence use to promote the trinity (and saved by grace only) comes from a few words of Paul. It seems that the words of Jesus on the subject are either ignored or rejected because I have alway failed to see anything in the words of Christ that promote either of the ideas of the trinity or that we are saved by grace only. Maybe this is only because I haven't scrutinized the Jesus' teachings enough. I also feel that Paul's teachings are misunderstood because the full context and situations for writing what he does are, again, not understood or ignored.

Kathleen said...

Bassoner, Paul and Jesus do seem to conflict at times. Any thoughts on why this would be so? (Asked as a geniune question, and not meant to provoke a firestorm.)

Some more thoughts on God being a Spirit...True, the fact that God has spirit does not necessarily exclude him having a body (as bookslinger said). 1 Tim 1.17 states that God is invisible, and Lk 24.39 that spirits have no flesh and bones as Christ did. In Rev 22.3-4, a throne is spoken of: that of God and of the Lamb, yet they are spoken of as one God. Jesus is spoken of as "God Incarnate" ie the spirit God who takes on an earthly fleshly body.

Also, orthodox Jews maintain that God does not have a body: any references to body parts are simply figures of speech. And if they, who have sound knowldege of the Hebrew, don't believe God is corporeal, why should we? Any hey--Jesus does not literally have a sword sticking out of His mouth (Rev 1.16)!. It's figurative!

pepektheassassin said...

Ultimately, we (and everything) are all 'spirit,' in that we are all composed of the elements of 'light.'--"through Jesus Christ his Son--He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, that he might be in and through all things, the light of truth; Which light shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. [And in the moon and the stars, and the power by which they were made. And the earth also, upon which you stand.] And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light which quickeneth your understanding; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space--the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed."

D&C 88:6-13

So, then what is light? Quantum physics seems to tell us that light exists as both particle and wave, which to me, means as matter and spirit. Eternal components of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And us. And every tree, blade of grass, elephant, cat, and dinosaur...."all things made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified."

Right?

Bookslinger said...

richdurrant said...

" Actually Bookslinger, the OT verse you used is more suited to support the multi God. No other Gods before me, suggests the existence of other Gods that are not to be worshiped. Just a minor quibble."

Right. I thought of that later. (Honestly, I did!)

I think that logic is also a parallel to "Beware false prophets" which implies there will be true prophets, and to only beware the false ones. A Muslim pointed that out to me in regards to their belief in Mohammed as a prophet.

Otherwise it would have said "beware prophets", or "there won't be any more prophets."

Ranbato said...

kathleen:
They may now...
On the other hand, in the Bible God often appeared as a man. For instance, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel "saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone." (Exodus 24:9-11) And in another appearance, God told Moses that he could not see His face at that time, but said he would "cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts." (Exodus 33:22-23) Ezekiel recounted yet another example: "Above the vault over their heads there appeared, as it were, a sapphire in the shape of a throne, and high above all, upon the throne, a form in human likeness." (Ezekiel 1:26 NEB) Edmond LaB. Cherbonnier of Trinity College summarizes these ideas as follows: "In short, to use the forbidden word, the biblical God is clearly anthropomorphic--not apologetically so, but proudly, even militantly." Christopher Stead of the Cambridge Divinity School agrees that, "The Hebrews . . . pictured the God whom they worshipped as having a body and mind like our own, though transcending humanity in the splendour of his appearance, in his power, his wisdom, and the constancy of his care for his creatures."
Origen rejected anthropomorphism, not because the scriptures or unanimous Christian tradition specifically rejected it, but because the philosophers "despised" it: "The Jews indeed, but also some of our people, supposed that God should be understood as a man, that is, adorned with human members and human appearance. But the philosophers despise these stories as fabulous and formed in the likeness of poetic fictions."

Bookslinger said...

Bassooner:

If you look only at Paul's writings, even he mentions works and obedience FAR more than the few "grace alone" references.

Also missing from the grace/works discussion are the three types of works that Paul referenced. Only two of them are "bad", not all works.

1. Works of the Mosaic law. Done away with, not needed. However, he's talking about the sacrifices and rituals part of the Mosaic law, not the morality part, such as the 10 commandments or standards of proper behavior. Paul frequently condemned sinful behaviors which the Mosaic law also condemned.

2. "Dead works" which are sins and which he condemned.

3. "Good works" which he constantly encouraged.

The only "works" which Paul preached against were "works-of-the-law" (rituals and animal sacrifices) and "dead-works".

Perhaps some evangelicals have used the "dead works" quotes incorrectly, claiming that Paul condemned any kind of outward religious action when he actually meant "sins" for "dead works".

If you look at alternative transations, especially the Amplified Bible, the "dead works" comes out as "sin", not the "useless action" which many moderns seem to think it means.

This is a case where I believe the LDS viewpoint does a better job of taking Paul's writings as a whole

bassooner said...

Hi Bookslinger.

That is the point I was trying to make. The points Paul makes against "dead works" seems to be read by the mainstream protestant churches as "all works" hence the insistence that man need do nothing to be saved -- which begs the question, how then does God determine who is saved and who isn't (but I don't want to bring that discussion up here).

I know, too, that Paul does talk about doing; but again, this seems to be ignored by protestantism just as much as the emphasis that Jesus made on doing. Jesus never stated that men will be saved by doing nothing and this light seems to be ignored when some intrepret the writings of Paul.

This also applies to the teachings of Christ concerning the nature of God and the Godhead. He never implies that the three are the same being. And the incarnation of Jesus Christ totally and completely obliterates the notion that God has no form or body -- which also seems to be ignored when the scriptures are iterpreted by the same aforementioned individuals.

Kathleen said...

They may have pictured God as having a body, but they never believed he had one. Giving God a form was considered idolatry and forbidden.

Bookslinger, would you share your references? I couldn't find any, but may have been searching under the wrong terms.

Bassoner, interesting point about how God tells who is saved. Some Christians (the more doctrinal ones, esp.) would tell you it is because they are the elect--and God had chosen them beforehand. See Romans 9-11. You also mention that Jesus never implies that he and the Father are the same being. What about the places where he says, "I AM." The Jews would have been like, "Whoa! Blasphemy! He says he's God." Your thoughts?

Has anyone given any thought to any of my other questions?

bassooner said...

Whoa! Wait a minute, for 33 years, people were only picturing Christs body? It was Mary's imagination that she had a child? It was a phantom that the was crucified and died?

That's a new "revelation" for me.

Of course Jesus answered "I AM" because he was the same being that said the same phrase to Moses. The LDS church has always asserted that Jesus is the god of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. He is, indeed, the only God we worship. Jesus created the world and all that is therein and thereon under the direction of the Father.

Kathleen said...

Bassoner, do you mean that the "I AM" in the OT is Christ as well? (As well as Jehovah?) Which names are for which part of God and where?

I don't quite see what you were getting at with the questions at the beginning of your earlier comment...were they terribly relevant? ;)

Kathleen said...

Is this correct?

Elohim=God the Father
Yahweh/Jehovah/LORD=Christ
Adonai/Lord=??
Spirit of God=Holy Spirit

I'm mystified as to why the LDS belief is that Jehovah=Jesus, but the Hebrew Gen 1.1 says Elohim was creating.

Darion Alexander said...

Hmm...well yes and no.

Yahweh is Jehovah as we know.

El-ohim or El is the Father. He doesn't really talk much in the O.T. or the N.T. Generally just to introduce His Son, the Christ.

The whole Elohim with the Hebrew, Elohim Berosheit...I think that's right, comes down to a hot debate among historians and scriptorians. Because if it was singular, it would just be El...plural, or Elohim, creates the deified plurality. So there are two ways to read this, either it's not a plural and reads that "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" or "In the beginning the Gods organized the Heaven and the Earth," which in a sense would make more sense, seeing as later on, it says in verse 26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:"

Just putting in my two cents.

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen: I'm surprised you can't easily find the many instances of "good works" "well doing" "doing well" "do good" etc, in Paul's writing.

Here are the references to "good works" in the LDS Topical Guide.

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/tg/g/97

Plus here are some more of my own that reference doing things, IE a "work", and keeping commandments:
John 5:29, Matt 19:17, 1 Tim 6:18, Romans 2:10, Hebrews 13:16, Matt 7:21, Titus 3:14, 1 John 2:29, Rev 22:12.

Note how many of the above references, plus the ones listed on the scriptures.lds.org/tg (Topical Guide) were from Paul himself.

Just out of curiosity, when LDS talk about "works", what kinds of works, specifically, do YOU think WE are talking about?

bassooner said...

Kathleen,

The first few lines of my last post are referring to the following quote form your post just before.

"They may have pictured God as having a body, but they never believed he had one. Giving God a form was considered idolatry and forbidden."

To this I said:

"Whoa! Wait a minute, for 33 years, people were only picturing Christs body? It was Mary's imagination that she had a child? It was a phantom that he was crucified and died?"

Does it make more sense now?

Perhaps I don't understand what you were talking because I missed the context. If this is so, I apologize. And if I really did understand what it is referring to, it just goes to show just how very important context is.

Also, towards the end of the same post, you talk about how the Jews in Christ's time would have considered his calling himself "I AM" extreme blasphemy -- well that is exactly what happened.

Darion Alexander said...

And the Jews tried to use that "I AM" comment as fuel to the fire. They wanted to get rid of Him, because He was pulling the masses away with His miracles. When He said that He was Yahweh, the Great I AM, that was like the last straw for them.

Kathleen said...

Bookslinger,

Sorry, I was referring to "dead works/sin" in the Amplified Bible. I couldn't find any equivalencies...where are they? Maybe I searched under a different term!

I'm glad you asked about what evangelicals think Mormons believe about works. Generally, evangelicals think that Mormons believe they can only be saved if they do things...ie they must do things to have their sins forgiven. Since evangelicals believe that salvation is equivalent with glorification (see Rom 8:30...), they also think Mormons are wrong in believing that there is a difference b/w salvation and exaltation. As for me personally, I'm open to what the Bible says!

Back to God having a body, the general Christian belief is that God does NOT have (sans an anthropomorphic transformation) any sort of body EXCEPT in the incarnation of Jesus. Hence the names for Jesus "God Incarnate" and "Emmanuel, God with us". A question I have, though, that doesn't square with orthodox Christian belief...If Jesus is actually fully God, why does He pray to Himself?

Darion Alexander said...

Kathleen,

Good question and one that has merit. Jesus, as I am sure you know, doesn't pray to Himself, ie John 17. That is an interesting question to those who do believe that Christ and the Father are the same being. Interesting to also note, is that though Christ may be considered God Incarnate as you mentioned, Christ never left behind His body after the resurrection, so in essence, one could say that God the Father does indeed have a body, if you believe the Trinity view, because Christ resurrected and kept His body. Just a thought...

Kathleen said...

And a very interesting one, too!!

Lars said...

I'm going out on a limb here, so don't take this as doctrinal, but as I understand it, the convention of associating Elohim=God the Father and Jehovah=Jesus Christ has only been adopted relatively recently (early 20th century, according to my institute teacher). Before that, the names have been used interchangeably. Hence the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple in DC 109 that addresses Jehovah rather than God the Father, and hence a lot of confusion as to who is being referred to in Genesis 1 (Elohim) versus Genesis 2 (Jehovah). I think it is doctrinal that both Father and Son were involved in the creation, so it wouldn't be inaccurate to refer to either one as the Creator.

So as not to end on a confusing note, here as I understand it is how Mormons distinguish the two: God the Father is "in charge" of it all, created us, listens to and answers our prayers, and delegates most everything else to the Son. The Son submits his will to the Father, and is who is referred to everywhere else in the Bible and Book of Mormon, as in "God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people." (Mosiah 15:1)

Darion Alexander said...

Good point!! And you're correct! There was a great deal of confusion between the two. Even Brigham Young had interesting notions of who Elohim is. So you aren't incorrect or on a limb. Anyone else have anything to offer on this one?

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen:

Hebrews 6:1, is where the Amplified Bible says "dead works" are "dead formalism", which would be the sacrifices and rituals of the Mosaic Law.

Hebrews 9:14 has "purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to..." which pairs "dead works" to lifeless observances, but since both are mentioned, it implies that they are not entirely identical.

What I was also thinking of was that the "dead works" used in the KJV has also been translated as "sins" in other versions. So it was another transtion I was also thinking of.

As to whether Mormons have to "do things" to be forgiven, if you consider _repenting_ to be "doing something" then yes, it's a "thing" you have to "do" to get your sins forgiven.

Just "believing", but continuing to intentionally sin, isn't really believing. It's hypocrisy.

In Mormon doctrine, repenting isn't just saying "I believe!".

Repenting means saying "I'm sorry. I won't do it again. Is there anything in my power I can do to make amends?"

The last part is restitution. For many sins, especially those sins which grieve God and hurt ourselves, it's nigh impossible to make restitution. So in that sense, and in those cases, restitution is not required, and we have to rely on the grace of God.

(I've done a lot of things which I can't make restitution for, so I need a lot of grace.)

But suppose I stole money from you, and then _said_ I repent, and said I'm sorry, but didn't give the money back (assuming I could still give it back.) Would you say that such repentance was genuine?

Would you teach your children it's okay to steal as long as you believe in Jesus and say you're sorry after stealing?

What about in your church? Can people come in, say they believe, shout "Hallelujah, praise the Lord!" every Sunday, then go on living their worldy and sinful life that they lived before?

Or does your church tell repentant sinners that they need to _change_ and stop "doing things" that are bad, and start "doing things" like living the commandments of God?

If your church preaches that believers should "do things" like keep Jesus' commandments, then in the end, you're in the same boat as us!

Peter said...

I think, Kathleen, that you should have some missionaries around to teach you. Not only will they be able to answer your questions but you will feel the Spirit and they will be able to guide you. I know that most of the LDS members here would love to be instrumental in a "conversion" but I believe that it would be a good idea.
Of course it's entirely up to you.

Kathleen said...

Peter,
Actually, I have a lot of LDS friends and they are all more than happy to answer/discuss my questions. I ask some which were directed to a pair of sister missionaries, but the responses were more than unsatisfactory. They discussion is better around here. However, I will be seeing the lot of them (the Mormons) all next week and I'm sure many interesting discussions will transpire!

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen: Please ask the lady missionaries what the big deal is about green jello (with fruit or shredded carrots in it) and funeral potatoes. Please let us know their response.

PS. When I was little, my mom used to make green jello with canned pear halves, and put a maraschino cherry in the pit of the pear half. And we weren't even LDS.

Anonymous said...

God is spirit. If God is made up of pure electrons or protons is He spirit or physical?

Anonymous said...

God is light. That explains it. Or is it God is energy?

Kathleen said...

Bookslinger,
What on earth does God and works have to do with green jello and carrots and potatoes??!! ;)

Anonymous said...

What is spirit? Is it just another form of energy\matter? Is there really a difference? Is light a wave or a particle? If God is light is He a wave or a particle and can He change from one to the other or is it necessary for Him to do so?

Bookslinger said...

Kathleen: green jello with carrots, and funeral potatoes have nothing to do with the gospel. They are just part of Mormon culture, and something to razz the missionaries about if you are going to talk to them.

OnHech said...

I didn't read all 57 comments, but this one goes out mainly to bookslinger (and anyone else)who quoted the ever popular NT quote

"I and my father are one"

This seems very clear that they are literally one, does it not? Well if you look at the corresponding verses in the other gospels (John 17:21-22) it says after that statement:

" 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be cone in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"

So the question is... are we all going to be literally 'one' with heavenly father and Jesus? Or is it a more figurtive 'one-ness'?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we will become the son's of the light of God our Father in Heaven and join the one God of Light then be one big light. One big light or seperate lights?

Darion Alexander said...

I for one do not wish to become part of One Big Light. I like being an individual light...thank you very much.

Kathleen said...

OnHech, I think when Mormons talk about being one they mean "one in will and intent" but not one thing or substance.

Shawnj72 said...

I have recently discovered Mormanity and have thoroughly enjoyed reading the blogs and serious, considerate discussion instead of the usual sarcasm and insults in other forums.

Can anyone tell me what the evangelical Christian doctrine is regarding Christ's status after the resurrection? In other words, he ascended into the clouds, and then what? Does he still have this same body today? When Christ comes again and rules during the 1000 years will he have this same perfected body? I've never heard a good explanation for the seeming contradiction between "God doesn't have a body" and "Jesus [God] is risen from the dead [with a very real body]". Thanks!

Mormanity said...

Some seem comfortable with the idea of Christ still having a physical nature, fully man and fully God, at the right hand of , using terms that seem to agree with the LDS understanding to a large degree. See, for example, this short article from EvangelicalLutheranSynod.com. So how does that fit with all the statements in the creeds? Well, the Trinity concept is a mystery and is not meant to be easily compartmentalized and reduced to familiar human terms or to be fully grasped by us, so I don't think Trinitarians expect it to fit easy-to-grasp paradigms. Apparent contradiction is not necessarily a problem in the doctrine, but in human understanding.

Anonymous said...

I had a good friend that was evangelical Christian and had a personal relationship with Jesus. As he said "he was high on Jesus".
As we talked about the Godhead what I said sounded good to him and I used the usual scriptures from New and Old Testiment. He then talked with his pastor and well lets say he made sure that my friend knew of my cult status and they beleive in the Trinty. We were still friends for years after this but he could never explain the Godhead ether. Generally, like the Promise Keepers and any pastors that have gone to college or are certifed with the main groups beleive the Trinty.

Anonymous said...

I had a good friend that was evangelical Christian and had a personal relationship with Jesus. As he said "he was high on Jesus".
As we talked about the Godhead what I said sounded good to him and I used the usual scriptures from New and Old Testiment. He then talked with his pastor and well lets say he made sure that my friend knew of my cult status and they beleive in the Trinty. We were still friends for years after this but he could never explain the Godhead ether. Generally, like the Promise Keepers and any pastors that have gone to college or are certifed with the main groups beleive the Trinty.

Anonymous said...

I'll borrow from St. Patrick's teachings to the Irish on the nature of Christ and the Godhead. If you think about the Shamrock, its three distinct parts necessarily connected by the stem. Each part makes up the other. Separately they are leaves, but together they are the Shamrock. The same holds true for the Godhead. Separately they are God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, together they are the Godhead. I believe in the trinty, and frankly don't get why its so hard for others to believe.

I sat and listened to President Hinkley pose that same lack of understanding of the Nicene Creed's discription of God. But, what he's missing, and what I believe is missing from this discussion is the understanding that all things are possible through God. That's the starting point for understanding the trinitarian viewpoint. What I understand to be the Mormon belief about God is why I believe Mormons have a hard time understanding the trinitarian point of view.

From what has been reported to me, Mormons believe God has a body, and is a separate personage. He's an exhalted man. But, in Mormon theology he's still a man who became God. That I believe is the problem. In mormon theology, it would appear that God is limited by having an actual body. He can't seem to be all places at once. He relies on the Holy Ghost to go those places. Therein lies the problem. LDS Doctrine can't conceptualize a trinitarian viewpoint because God seems to suffer from the human limitations a body imposes. But if the viewpoint is that all things are possible with God, then why isn't it possible for there to be a trinity, not three separate beings.

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender,
In Mormon theology, it would appear that God is limited by having an actual body. He can't seem to be all places at once.
I hear this statement from many people that believe in the Trinity and then because the Mormons believe in three separate personages that this some how limits God. I am not sure how people leap to this conclusion. You put limits on our Godhead that we have in fact not stated as our doctrine. Our God is all powerful and can to all thing that pleases Him. We have not stated that God can not be in all places at once; You have. Further, if God uses the Holy Spirit to go to all places, likes He has His angels to go to all places in order to carry out His work, then why is there a problem? Because we do not agree with the Trinitarian view point does not mean we can not conceptualize it. Why do you put limits on our God or think we are unable to conceptualize. If He chooses to be three separate personages then who are you to tell Him He can't? It is possible that God is a Trinity, however, if God our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and from this Joseph was taught by God the concept that the Godhead are three separate personages then why do you desire us to deny God and His Holy Spirit? Why if this concept is also supported by the New Testament scriptures and is an important doctrine that God wants to clarify, then who are any of us to tell God that He should not? We are just pointing out that we believe that Greek concepts played a role in formulating the Trinity statement and contributed to the belief that the Catholic Church and other churches now have as there doctrine.
If Jesus Christ's resurrection is any example of how God's make up is, then using quantum physics we can determine that He can travel faster than the speed of light. He can bend time and space, or time and space has no meaning. He can move in limitless dimensions, though limitless universes at limitless speeds. His subatomic particles can communicate with other subatomic particles across 15 billion light years of time. That in one cubic centimeter of space is more energy than in all the known universe. That there is no space that does not have some form of energy filling it and this energy could be the Spirit of Gods presents. If we can understand this as mere mortals, then God could do much more than our small common human minds can not even hope to comprehend.

Kathleen said...

I think what people like CD on here are saying is that a body, in its very nature, is limited. A body is finite and cannot be in more than one place at once. It cannot permeate all of space if it is confined to a head and arms and legs.

Shawnj72 said...

I'm not sure that any of us should be saying things like "permeate all of space". Do we really know what that means? Nothing against Kathleen, I know what you're getting at, but where in the scriptures (not Greek philosophies) does it say that having a perfect body somehow keeps God from being God. Who are we to say that God cannot have a body and be God at the same time? The Bible certainly doesn't support this. Elder Hollands purpose was to point out that the Trinitarian doctrine is not supported by the bible. Nor is the mainstream definition of "Christian".

Anonymous said...

"permeate all of space". I also missed this scripture. God is also love, light ect. Again, what we know with quantum physics an object can be in one place and permeate all space at the same time. If we can understand this concept from science then how is such a event limiting to God?

Anonymous said...

"permeate all of space". I also missed this scripture. God is also love, light ect. Again, what we know with quantum physics is an object can be in one place and permeate all space at the same time. If we can understand this concept from science then how is such an event limiting to God?

Kathleen said...

So...back to the (non)corporeality of God, if He is a Spirit (Jn 4.24), that should be exclusive of having flesh and bones--Lk 24.39.

What sayest thou?

Kathleen said...

Shawnj72,
The body/omnipresence argument is simple common sense. Bodies have limitations. I'm sitting at the computer desk, so I can't be sitting on the couch. I can't split myself! This may not be explicit in the Bible, but then again, where is your evidence for God being able to be everywhere at once and have a body?

Anonymous said...

I will answer you one question if you will answer one for me. How would you describe or define God in every detail?

Anonymous said...

What is Gods physical make up or what is His matter made of?

Anonymous said...

To first find out if God can be every where at once and be a collective in one place we need to describe what God is made of. The only form that I will address here that is found in the scriptures is light. If you understand light as knowledge or what we understand as consciousness it would be covered by the same understanding in the laws of physics. Just another form of energy. The light that it is found in the scriptures as what people report to have seen, that is associated with God, Jesus Christ, one of His angels, or those that have been in attendance of God is also a form of energy. Or at least the best we can tell by mortals.
This Consciousness non-timespace energy is vaster than our local universe. It can and does transmute itself into electromagnetic energy, and, in turn, matter, in the creation of universes such as ours, though it can also create itself into other pure energy patterns in a myriad ways (they include angelic realms, for example, and all the "worlds" we exist in between lives, and eternally).
David Bohm's understanding of physical reality turns the commonplace notion of "empty space" completely on its head. For Bohm, space is not some giant vacuum through which matter moves; space is every bit as real as the matter that moves through it. Space and matter are intimately interconnected. Indeed, calculations of the quantity known as the zero-point energy suggest that a single cubic centimeter of empty space contains more energy than all of the matter in the known universe! From this result, Bohm (1980, 191) concludes that "space, which has so much energy, is full rather than empty." For Bohm, this enormous energy inherent in "empty" space can be viewed as theoretical evidence for the existence of a vast, yet hidden realm such as the implicate order.
Many distinguished scientists have attempted to explain how electromagnetic radiation can display what has now been termed duality, or both particle-like and wave-like behavior. At times light behaves as if composed of particles, and at other times as a continuous wave. This complementary, or dual, role for the properties of light can be employed to describe all of the known characteristics that have been observed experimentally, ranging from refraction, reflection, interference, and diffraction, to the results with polarized light and the photoelectric effect.
Alan Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn't matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart.
The physical cosmology, dark energy ( it is called dark energy, like dark matter, because it can not be seen) is a form of energy that permeates all space and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the universe.
All of the above are examples of how God may be able to be in one physical location and still have His energy permeate the expansion of the universe. I know of no way to proof God other than prayer. If His energy in the form of the Holy Spirit touches you then you know if not then we are left with faith.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

I wanted to respond a bit to some of the comments regarding my posting. First, I would point out, that Kathleen seems to have gotten the point of what I was saying regarding mormon theology and the inability to understand the trinity. It isn't I that have put limits on God, it is actually your theology. Here's why I say that.

You believe in a God that was once man and became exhalted into God. But he's still a man with a body. Your doctrine is that Joseph Smith saw two personages, at least that's the official doctrine published, though there seem to be different accounts given by JS at different times. But, the official doctrine is two personages, with bodies, and human features. God and Jesus both have actual bodies in mormon theology. This does differ significantly from mainstream christian doctrine and belief.

I hear the argument that mainstream christian doctrine is a manmade, maninterpreted doctrine, but consider the way God is described in the old testament. Throughout the old testament he's described as a spirit. We learn from the old testament that God always was, he's eternal. Only mormon doctrine teaches something different about the nature of God. And its your doctrine that limits him to an actual body.

Now I realize I'm making a bit of a disjointed argument here, but much of what I have learned about your doctrine, I have learned from members of your church. These very members talk about God having a body, and God's inability to be everywhere, which is why his spirit is in the world as our guide. Your member have either been taught this, or have misinterpreted something your prophets have taught. But in either case, the limits to God have been placed on God by your own members, not I.

That's part of the point I was making.

I noticed another person here talking about the nature of God, and indicating that one really cannot prove the existence of God. I say look out your window and you will see the existence of God in every living thing. Those of you in Utah know what I mean. Look at the mountains, the trees, the colours of the leaves. The animals, the forests. Every living thing bares the hand of God. What more proof do you need.

Consider for a moment that man has learned to clone. Has reduced many aspects of our existence down to science and chemical reactions. To some exent science is right. But man as yet can't start that chemical reaction. Only God can start that chemical reaction. There's the rest of your proof. We as humans are fallible, God is not. He's created the childbirth process, the mechanics of our bodies, the process of photosynthesis. All man can hope to do is imitate what God has created. That's the best we can accomplish. God is the master craftsman, that's all the proof you need.

Catholic Defender

Kathleen said...

CD,

I love what you said: "Look at the mountains, the trees, the colours of the leaves. The animals, the forests. Every living thing bares the hand of God. What more proof do you need." That is so very true. I really don't get how people can NOT believe in an intelligent Creator!!

Anonymous said...

The world around you does not prove there is a God. Christ states the only true way to know God is through the Holy Ghost. Took again at the scriptures and science about God and the world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous of Oct. 29,

I would tend to disagree. The world around us is the proof that God exists. Ultimately its a question of faith. But, regardless of religious differences you and I, and the LDS church share, the one truth that there is, is that God does exist. For me that's never been a fact called into question because all I have to do is look out my window to see the proof.

Remember Genisis says we are all created in God's image. I know the LDS faith differs slightly on what that means, but, to me what that means is that we all carry God in us. Our humour, our appearance, our hearts, etc..all bare the hand of God. That's what it means to be created in his image. He isn't created in our image though. So to me if you look at your neighbour, your family, your friends, the stranger walking down the street, you will see God and have all the proof you need that he exists. Its all a matter of perspective and faith.

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

CD,

I have to dissagree, from the point before I felt the Holy Spirit I studied alot of science and was very impressed with His creations, but the times I have felt the Holy Spirit is so far beyond any thing I have experienced on this physical plane.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen,

I'm not really getting why the ability to "be in all places at once" is a prerequisite that God the Father must meet. What does being in all places at once have to do with our salvation? Where has anybody put forth in holy writ that the fulfilling of God's purposes requires that he be able to be "in all places at once?"

To shed some light on this puzzle, lets turn to the scriptures themselves.

God descends onto a mountain (implies one cannot be present in all places at once). Ex. 19:19-20

The Lord will suddenly come to His temple (a change in position and in time). Mal. 3:1

I'm not sure if you'll even see this since it's so long after the fact, but if you do see it, please explain to me why God must be in all places at once.

Anonymous said...

Mormon claim that God and Jesus are two separated being. Where do they get this idea from? The most simple and direct answer is through Joseph Smith's vision. Then another question naturally follows: How do you know he's story is true? Well this one is so easy to answer. The debate about the truthfulness of his vision has never ceased ever since his claim that he had seen God and his son Jesus.

So far none of the side(the believer vs non-believer) can scientifically prove or disprove whether he had seen the vision. Well I guess most of the religion claims cannot be scientifically proved. Otherwise, there is no need for the element of belief. I don't have to believe the Sun will rise every morning from the east as long as it lasts.