Tuesday, January 8, 2008

God has a physical body?

I have long been puzzled by the problem some Christians have with the LDS doctrine that God the Father has a physical body. Why is this a problem? Is Jesus God? All true Christians are obligated to say He is. Does Jesus have a physical body? Once again, all true Christians testify that He was physically resurrected and has a glorified body. Does this lesson his divinity? No, in fact, all power in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus after his resurrection (Matt. 28:18). How does, then, his body limit Him as God? It doesn't.

How would it limit the Father to also have a physical body? Is not Jesus the image of God (Col 1:15, Heb. 1:2, 2 Cor. 4:4)? If Jesus isn't limited by his glorified physical body, surely the Father could have a physical glorified body as well without loosing his divinity. Since Jesus is in fact the image (which implies a physical appearance) of God, God must be physically like Jesus.

4 comments:

Chad said...

I think that the traditional Christian argument against the Father having a physical body is based on Jesus' word to the Samaritan woman when he said " God is a spirit".

I am non-LDS but have been reading and studying the LDS faith for about a year...and though I have always viewed the anthropomorphic language in the Bible as being strictly metaphorical - I really have no problem with the LDS concept that the Father has a physical body.

Where it becomes murky for me is when LDS ideas begin to move into the arena of the Father having been mortal and progressing through to godhood, which I think goes hand in hand with the LDS concept of the Father having a body. If the Father passed through mortality at some point, then is the inplication that He is some other god's son as Jesus is his? Does the Father also have a god that he worships? This is where it becomes very strangr for me.

The more I press my LDS friends or aquaintances about these questions the more they avoid them ~ but clearly the implications that the Father was a man who become God are clearly found in some of Josephs words and others ideas (i.e. Brigham's old Adam = God theory that I know was never doctrine but still it was thought of by the then prophet).

That concept of the Father once being a man and then becoming god if at all widely known among non-LDS could be a factor in people having a problem with the idea of the Father having a physical yet glorified body. It also appears to run contrary to both the biblical and BoM record that God is the Eternal Father...now we could argue over what the proper definition of Eternal is in relation to this title of the Father but I am afraid that we would be much like Bill Clinton did with the word sex attempting to redefine something we all pretty much know the meaning of...

Andrew Miller said...

chad,

Thanks for your comments. You bring up some excellent points.

First of all, the statement of Jesus "God is a spirit" is actually "God is spirit" in the Greek. The Bible also says "God is love" "our God is a consuming fire" and so forth using the same language. Also, D&C 93:33 says "man is spirit." LDS have long understood this to mean that the place of consciousness in God and man is our spirit. That is who we are. However, that doesn't preclude our spirits from possessing a physical body.

As far as your other questions about whether the Father had a father, etc, I think He did. However, there is no official LDS doctrine (the scriptures or official proclamations) that teach this. Joseph Smith clearly taught it as well as Brigham Young and others. I personally believe it.

I can point you toward some good resources on the topic of the LDS concept of God, if you're interested.

Thanks for posting!

Chad said...

Thanks Andrew - I can see where you are coming from with the "God is spirit/God is love" line of thought...again I repeat that I generally don't have a problem with the idea of God having a glorified body of flesh and bones.

I do find it interesting that you point out that there is no official LDS teaching on the father having a father though ~ so it is left up to the individual LDS believer to either believe or not belive that?

Here's another one I have gotten mixed answers about depending on where I have asked it...
deification/exaltation/theosis ~ I can get on board with that I see it's teaching both in the scriptures and in my study of patristics...however...is it LDS belief that the purpose of exaltation is to birth spirit children to populate new worlds who would then take on mortality and progress to godhood and continue that cycle for eons and eternity? Like I said I have gotten different answers from different people...and on mormon.org when chatting with the virtual missionaries I don't seem to get a straight answer...

Anyway

Andrew Miller said...

As far as whether God had a Father, etc, there is no official teaching and I imagine many members of the Church have never heard of the idea. I believe it because I think it makes sense of our theology, especially in lite of deification.

As far as deification goes, I'd say there is a strong case that it IS official doctrine because of scriptural passages (especially D&C 132:19-20). I D&C 131 mentions having "increase" after the resurrection and D&C 132 mentions "baring the souls of men." So, yes, I would say it is fairly official doctrine, but I imagine there are many members of the church who haven't given it much thought. It certainly isn't preached from the pulpit very often. People usually speak in coded language by saying things like "we will become like our Heavenly Father." Like? What does that mean? Usually when a LDS says that, he is thinking "we will be deified and do what He does."

Hope this helps.

You should see my post a few down about Deification in the Bible.