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Do God the Father and God the Son have physical bodies?

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Scott C., Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    This thread is a spin-off from a Book of Mormon related thread in discussion with Roli and others.

    The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) is a collection of separate modern day revelations, received mostly by Joseph Smith, and is accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as scripture.

    The Doctrine and Covenants states the following in Section 130:22, 23:

    “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.”

    The LDS Church believes that God the Father and God the Son each have separate and distinct immortal and glorified physical bodies. Since the D&C is accepted as scripture by the LDS Church, the passage quoted above is sufficient to establish this church doctrine.

    The Bible is also accepted by the LDS church as scripture. What does the Bible say concerning the corporeal nature of the Father and the Son?

    Genesis 1:

    26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
    27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    God said let us make man in our image. “Us” includes the Father and the Son. They created us in their image. We look like them, literally.

    Exodus 24:
    9 ¶ Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
    10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
    11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

    The elders of Israel saw God. They saw something “under his feet”. The God they saw had form, including feet.

    Exodus 33
    22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
    23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

    God refers to his hand, his face, and his back parts.

    Exodus 33:

    11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

    When Moses saw God, he saw him as a person. He spoke with him “face to face” the same way that we talk to our friends “face to face”.

    Those who believe the Bible and yet don’t accept that God has bodily form, usually interpret these anthropomorphic references to God as being non-literal or only figurative. I, however, believe these versus to be literal. God has hands, feet, and a face. He has form and prophets have seen his bodily form.

    Some may say that while they accept that God has appeared in bodily form to prophets, this was a temporary form for communication purposes, but does not represent the actual nature or form of God. However, I believe that the Bible should be taken literally on these points. God has appeared to man in bodily form and he did so because he indeed possesses bodily form.
     
    #1 Scott C., Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  2. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    After Jesus died and was resurrected, he said (Luke 24):

    39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

    Jesus made it very clear that his resurrected body is one of “flesh and bones”. Jesus taught before the crucifixion that he would overcome death and rise again. When Jesus was resurrected, this was very different from coming back to life as a mortal. His mortal life was over. He came back from death with an immortal body.

    Jesus ascended to heaven with the same resurrected body of “flesh and bone”. The angels said he would someday return to earth in the same manner (Acts 1:11).

    When Jesus returns to earth, we will see him as the resurrected Lord with a physical body, the same body that was raised from the tomb in the New Testament.

    Jesus never shed his resurrected body. There is no Biblical evidence to suggest that Jesus is no longer the “resurrected Christ”. Jesus’ state of resurrection with a physical body is permanent.

    The Lord Jesus Christ (God, the Son) sits today on the right hand of his Father (God, the Father) as a glorified, resurrected, and physical Being.

    We read this in Acts 7 concerning the vision of Stephen:

    55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus estanding on the right hand of God,
    56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

    Who did Stephen see? Stephen saw two Divine Personages, God the Father and God the Son. Where was the Son? He was on the right hand of the Father. Jesus was exactly the same as when he appeared to his disciples and when he ascended to heaven. He was God the Son, resurrected from the dead with a physical body. He is the same today and will be forever.

    So far, I’ve established that God the Father and God the Son have bodily form. I’ve also established that the Son’s body is a resurrected body of flesh and bone.

    Hebrews 1 says, referring to the Son:

    3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

    This teaches that God the Son is in the express image of God the Father. There are no differences in any godly attributes, forms, or appearances. God the Son looks like and acts like God the Father in all respects. They are more unified than mortals can fully comprehend. This is true, while maintaining their separate physical and spiritual persons. God the Son is on the “right hand of the Majesty on high” which is God the Father.

    God the Son was resurrected to have a permanent and eternal physical body because his Father and our Father also has a permanent physical body. We will one day be resurrected from the dead also. In that day, like Jesus, we will receive a resurrected body of flesh and bones that will know no sickness, pain, or death. We will be immortal and physical like the Father and the Son and we will continue to be in their image.

    Probably the most common Biblical scripture used by some to dispute the corporeal nature of the Father and the Son is found in John 4:

    24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    God has a spirit. His spirit is clothed with his immortal body. We also have spirits and our spirits are clothed with our mortal bodies. God has a spirit component to his nature. We should worship God in spirit and in truth.

    God is also light. God is also truth. But, God is not simply light or simply truth. He is truth, light, spirit, and more. He is also a physical being.

    1 John 3 says:

    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.

    When the Son of God appears again, we will “see him as he is” and we will be “like him”. We will see that he has form and that our form is in his image. We will also see that the Father has form and we and the Son are in the image of the Father.
     
    #2 Scott C., Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  3. 3.14

    3.14 Well-Known Member

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    i'm not sure if god has a body but if he has one i probaly got it by mistake
     
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  4. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Thanks, Scott. That was pretty comprehensive. I can't even think of anything to add, but I'm sure questions will come up, so I'll keep my eye on this thread and contribute as I can.
     
  5. Jordan St. Francis

    Jordan St. Francis Well-Known Member

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    Certainly it is orthodox belief to say that Christ has a physical, glorified body- but not the Father.

    The first question that will be asked (and that I am asking) is whether or not you can support the corporeality of the Father with texts outside the New Testament among the early Christians and the Patristics (or even Jewish literature contemporary with Christ).

    Otherwise the accusation is going to be that the initial LDS leaders literalized New Testament imagery which the Church, from the beginning, had always read as metaphor (in sync with the Second Temple Judaism that birthed her).

    This is, in fact, as I am starting to reflect, one of the most significant differences (apart from the LDS canon) between the LDS church and the historic Christian communities. Without a doubt, this must interfere with doctrines such as the Incarnation, and I would suggest that a belief which regards God the Father to be enfleshed cannot but somehow miss the subliminity of "the Word become flesh".
     
    #5 Jordan St. Francis, Jan 5, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  6. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    I appreciate your response - well thought out and reflective. I can't say off the top of my head what documents outside of the New Testament indicate early Christian thought concerning the corporeality of the Father. I will look into it, as that would be interesting to learn. I'll post what I find.

    I agree that LDS belief concerning the physical nature of the Father is one of the most significant differences we have doctrinally with other Christians. Once we establish the physical nature of the Father and the Son, we now have two separate physical Beings who are one in purpose, but two in substance. That, of course, is not the traditional Trinitarian view.

    Your comment concerning the "Word became flesh", is interesting to me. I also believe that the "Word became flesh" is profoundly important. I see it in a different way as follows (using my own words):

    In the beginning, was the Word (God the Son) and God the Son was with God the Father. God the Father was encarnate, but God the Son was not. The Word was born into the earth of a virgin. Thus "the Word became flesh". The Word was resurrected from the dead with an immortal body. The Word returned to the presence of God the Father, both still in the Godhead, but both now encarnate, the Father and the Son the same forever.
     
    #6 Scott C., Jan 5, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  7. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    Are you out there Roli?
     
  8. roli

    roli Born Again,Spirit Filled

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    I'm here and have been reading and digesting your very well layed out views and will respond, so bare with me ,it's been a busy week thus far.
    I am off to work now, but I am compiling some personal views.
     
  9. roli

    roli Born Again,Spirit Filled

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    I'll be back i have to go to a quick task!!!
     
    #9 roli, Jan 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  10. Jordan St. Francis

    Jordan St. Francis Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I would very much like to see the answer to this question. Did the Father always have his body? Is matter co-eternal with spirit?
     
  11. ayani

    ayani member

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    as the Son walked the earth within history as a man, was buried, and rose physically, the ascended into heaven, Biblically it could be said that the Son certainly has a body.

    as to the Father having a physical body, i would site John 4:24, Matthew 6:6, and Colossians 1:15. these passages describe God as being "unseen", "spirit" and "invisible". God can and did and does make Himself known- through messengers,through His Son, through His creation- as when he spoke to Moses through the burning bush. but to say that God *is* the burning bush would be inaccurate.

    God is also described all over the Bible as the Creator- He created matter, and is distinct from and wholly unlike His creation- save for a single Person we know as Christ. He is holy. He is infinite. He is imperishable, and without beginning- the Bible gives us no starting point for God's creation. it begins with God already existing, and then creating everything- including time and matter.
     
  12. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    This is a question that is not addressed by LDS doctrine. Certain individuals, including Joseph Smith, have speculated that there was a time when God lived on an earth such as ours (presumably in an entirely different universe, since He created ours). If Joseph was right, this would have been at a time which is not mentioned in the Bible. The Bible says that God has existed since the beginning. But what is "the beginning"? There was a time when our universe did not exist. This was "before the beginning." It was "before the clock started ticking," so to speak. Whether or not there was a time "prior to the beginning" when God had His own beginnings, we are unable to say with any degree of certainty. We don't believe it matters greatly. If it did, God would have told us more. At any rate, you will find no reference to this concept in any of our "Standard Works" (i.e. the official LDS canon).

    We believe that all spirit is matter. It is simply more refined than that which we generally think of as matter. We do not believe in an ex nihilo creation, but that God created everything (including us) from spirit matter which was co-eternal with Him.
     
  13. Jordan St. Francis

    Jordan St. Francis Well-Known Member

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    Then can one really speak of the "Incarnation". If, as was relayed to me, the Son was "spirit" before the Incarnation- but spirit is really just a more refined type of matter, then does the Son really not become a less refined version of what he already was? (and thus rendering problematic the idea of "an exchange of nature"?)
     
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  14. ayani

    ayani member

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    Katz, who, according to LDS belief, created God?

    you mentioned something really interesting in your post- you named a number of detailed and non-Biblical Mormon doctrines concerning God's being created, walking on a planet as a man, and then creating our own universe.... then you write "We don't believe it matters greatly. If it did, God would have told us more."

    to which i would respond "exactly", yet limit His word and revelation to the Bible. which states clearly that God is Spirit, Spirit is not matter, that God is the eternal Creator and is Himself un-created. these beliefs are held as fundamentally true by Jews, as well, and are elaborated on philosophically very well by Rambam.

    so does LDS theology totally depart from Judeo-Christianity? one can argue these issues with Biblical Christians, as the Christian idea of the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and the concept of the trinity (the idea of three distinct persons called the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, shared by the vast majority of Biblical Christians and by the the LDS) complicate matters and make for shared vocabularies. but i speculate that to ask a rabbi these same questions would really throw things for a loop.
     
  15. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Let's look at these verses one at a time.

    John 4:24 "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." First of all, the original Greek refers to God as "pneuma." There is no indefinite article in the Greek, so the translators were faced with having to determine whether or not to include one. In John 4:24, they decided in favor of one. Hence, the translation to English reads, "God is a Spirit" as opposed to "God is Spirit." In 1 John 5:5, on the other hand, we read, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." In that instance, the indefinite article was dropped, and instead of "God is a light," we have "God is light." The subtle difference that indefinite article makes is important. I don't know of any Christians who believe that God is a big, shiny orb of light like some giant lightbulb. They see "light" as one of His qualities, but not as a word that encompasses all that He is. We know, for instance, that He is also "love." So what does it mean to say that "God is spirit" (leaving the definite article out)? The word "pneuma" is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as "life." When the translators of the scriptures translated John 4:24, they dropped the definite article and translated "pneuma" as "spirit." In terms of accuracy, it would be just as correct to say that "God is life." He is the essence of existance. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ referred to Himself as "life." If He is "life," certainly His Father is also "life." After all, we know that He is the very source of life.

    Even if we accept the word "spirit" as the best translation for the word "pneuma," what does that say about who God really is? Maybe if I knew what you personally believe that a spirit is, it would help. Does a spirit fill the universe? If it does, we have to wonder why Jesus never referred to His Father as being everywhere in the universe. He always, 100% of the time, referred to Him as being "in Heaven." We worship God, our Father in Heaven, in spirit for one reason alone. It's the only way in which we can worship Him -- spirit to Spirit. We are spirits ourselves, and the scriptures refer to God as the "Father of spirits." Our spirits, however, are clothed in physical bodies. A spirit can exist either in a body or outside of it. One way or the other, it is the body's life force. We believe that both our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, have spirits that reside in immortal bodies. We have spirits that reside in mortal bodies. Through the Holy Ghost, we are able to communicate with the Father of our spirits. Through His power, we are able to worship God "in Spirit," not because He has no physical form, but because we have a spiritual relationship with Him.

    Colossians 1:15 "[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature..." God is spoken of as "invisible" but not because He is incapable of being seen, but because He chooses not to be seen. The word Paul chose to use here, which was translated as "image" is "eikon," which means "likeness, statue, profile, or representation." It's from this word that the word "icon" comes. Clearly, Christ had a recognizable form. This form was exactly like His Father's. Hebrews 1:3 makes it even more clear. It says that Jesus was in "the brightness of [the Father's] glory, and the express image of his person..." How could Jesus have be in the image and likeness of God's person if God was truly invisible? How could Stephen have seen Him "sitting on the right hand of God," if only one of the two had a physical form? It would have been impossible for him to have determined where the two of them were with respect to one another if God was invisible. It would have even been impossible for Jesus to have been sitting on the right hand side of God's glory, as glory has no form.

    Well, the scriptures don't even claim that He is the burning bush -- only that His voice was heard coming from the bush.

    Where does the Bible say that God created time and matter? Just wondering.
     
  16. ayani

    ayani member

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    look to Genesis 1:1.

    God creates "in the beginning". when God begins to create marks the beginning of everything. had anything happened before that, the point of "beginning" would have to be shifted, and the Biblical account would have to be revised. the very word "beginning" means the start of a set, forward-moving, measurable process. in other words, time. God's willful creation sets in motion "the beginning"- God's creation of the universe itself begets time.


    God also created the universe. Hebrews 11:3 states that :

    by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

    the universe is made of matter. when God created the universe, God created matter. the Creator and the creation can not be identical (the painting does not paint itself, neither is the painter made of canvas and pigment). based on these conclusions, God can not be matter, as matter is Biblically speaking, created and finite, where as God is the Creator of matter, and without beginning or end.
     
  17. roli

    roli Born Again,Spirit Filled

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    Very well said and scripturally sound!!!!!!
     
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  18. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    We don't have a doctrine on this.

    I did? Would you quote me please?

    That's right.

    Actually, the Bible doesn't clearly state anything about spirit not being matter, nor does it say anything about God being un-created.

    Of course not.

    You kind of lost me on this last paragraph, ayani. Sorry.
     
  19. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    You know, we're really getting off topic. I thought we were supposed to be discussing whether or not God has a physical body. Now here we are talking about the creation.

    So God did not exist prior to creating the universe?

    Again, this has nothing to do with the topic. Furthermore, it doesn't make an ounce of sense. If matter is created, why doesn't the Bible say this? It only says that God created the heavens and the earth. It doesn't say one way or the other whether He created from nothing or using pre-existent matter. Shall we get back on topic now?
     
  20. ayani

    ayani member

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    *shakes head* i read you wrongly, i am sorry. i was mistaking conjecture for doctrine. here is what you said, and i see now how you said it :

    but here's my question- Joseph Smith speculated on it. but how do we know this? where is it mentioned in anything that he wrote, and if these ideas are written down, is the larger body of these writings considered important to Mormons? why would a prophet of God have to speculate on such matters to begin with? i heard a Mormon say once that Smith was inspired as a young man by James 1:5. if Joseph was a prophet, and God gives His wisdom to all who ask, why would Smith have to speculate of such a huge and decidedly non-Biblical issue, if he was able to ask God about the reality of the proposition, as His prophet and as a Christian?

    in the last paragraph, i was pointing to Judaism. Jews are strict unitarian monotheists, no questions asked. ask a Jew, and he will tell you that his people are not trinitarian, nor are they tri-theists. what i'm saying is that LDS and Biblical Christians share trinitarian terminology, and the assumption that there are, somehow, "three persons" involved in God's being. a Jew would disagree totally, and point to One God, of One Being. Judeo-Christianity begins with Adam and ends with Messiah. to assert that God is three-in-one is a point Jews disagree with and would regard as a falsity. to assert that there are three gods is outright polytheism, and violates the first commandment.

    issues of God's triunity or of the existence of three gods can only be argued between LDS and Biblical Christians because of doctrine of the trinity. unitarian, monotheistic Judaism would reject both ideas, and ultimately it is from Judaism the branch of Messiah has come. so, what i'm saying, is what if the trinity is not really how God works? what if the Jews were and are still right? wouldn't that throw both the triune Godhead idea and the LDS tritheistic (which is based on the trinity, at least in the terms used / persons idividually recognized) model out, so to speak?
     
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