In the book of Isaiah 44:8 we read: "... Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." Joseph Smith's first published work, the Book of Mormon, seems to be in harmony with the teachings of the Bible on this point, for it states that there is only one God. In Alma 11:26-31 we read as follows:
"And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now, Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things? And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me."
The Bible teaches that God is a Spirit. In John 4:24, Jesus himself said: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." In Jeremiah 23:24 we read: "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." The Book of Mormon also teaches that God is a Spirit. In Alma 18:26-28, we read as follows: "And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea, And Ammon said: This is God."
As we have already shown, the Book of Mormon teaches that Christ was God Himself manifest in the flesh. In Mosiah 15:1, 2 and 5 we read: "... God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son.... And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God...."
This is also similar to the biblical teaching, for in 2 Corinthians 5:19 we read as follows: "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself...."
It is interesting to note that the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon finished their testimony with the following statement: "And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Ghost, which is one God. Amen" (Book of Mormon, Preface).
From One to Many
By the year 1844 Joseph Smith had completely disregarded the teachings of the Book of Mormon, for he declared that God was just an exalted man and that men could become Gods. He stated as follows:
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret.... I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity.... God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did.... You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves.... No man can learn you more than what I have told you (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 613-14).]
The best way to illustrate Joseph Smith's change of mind concerning the Godhead is to compare the Book of Moses with the Book of Abraham. Both of these books are printed in the Pearl of Great Price—one of the four standard works of the Mormon church. The Book of Abraham was supposed to have been given some years after the Book of Moses. Both books are supposed to contain a direct revelation concerning the creation of the world. While the Book of Moses states that "I, God" created the heavens and the earth, the Book of Abraham states that "they (the Gods)" created them.
|Book of Moses||Book of Abraham|
|"... the Lord spake unto Moses saying: Behold I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the works which I speak....||"And the Lord said unto me: Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words...|
|"And I God, said: Let there be light; and there was light....||"And they (the Gods, said: Let there be light; and there was light....|
|And I, God, called the dry land Earth....||And the Gods pronounced the dry land, earth....|
|And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind....||And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind....|
|And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden...." (Moses 2:1, 3, 10, 25; 3:8)||And the Gods planted a garden in Eden...." (Abraham 3:15; 4:3, 10, 25; 5:8)|
A photograph of the Times and Seasons, vol. 5, page 613. Joseph Smith says that God is just an exalted man.
Apostle Orson Pratt expounded concerning the Mormon doctrine of a plurality of Gods: "If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345).
The Mormon church teaches that God the Father had a Father, and that God's Father also had a Father, and so on. President Brigham Young claimed: "He [God] is our Father—the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being. How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods ... God has once been a finite being ... " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
Heber C. Kimball, who was a member of the First Presidency, made these similar comments: "... then we shall go back to our Father and God, who is connected with one who is still farther back; and this Father is connected with one still further back, and so on ..." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19).
"... for our God is a natural man, ... the first of all mechanics. Where did he get his knowledge from? From his Father, just as we get knowledge from our earthly parents" (Ibid., vol. 8, p. 211).
Orson Pratt explains further: "The Gods who dwell in the Heaven ... have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state ... they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever" (The Seer, p. 23).
"We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father; and so on, from generation to generation, ... we wonder in our minds, how far back the genealogy extends, and how the first world was formed, and the first father was begotten" (The Seer, p. 132).
Brigham Young added further statements about men becoming Gods: "The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself ... We are created ... to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 93). "... man is the king of kings and lord of lords in embryo." (vol.10, p. 223).
Milton R. Hunter, who was a member of the First Council of Seventy, had a great deal to say about the doctrine of a plurality of Gods:
A photograph of the Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, page 333. Brigham Young teaches that there are many Gods and that the Father was once a finite being.
Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing. He became God—an exalted being—through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey (The Gospel Through the Ages, Salt Lake City, 1958, p. 104).
... we must accept the fact that there was a time when Deity was much less powerful than He is today. Then how did He become glorified and exalted and attain His present status of Godhead? In the first place, aeons ago God undoubtedly took advantage of every opportunity to learn the laws of truth.... From day to day He exerted His will vigorously, ... he gained more knowledge.... Thus he grew in experience and continued to grow until He attained the status of Godhood. In other words, He became God by absolute obedience to all the eternal laws of the Gospel....
No prophet of record gave more complete and forceful explanations of the doctrine that men may become Gods than did the American Prophet ... (Ibid., pp. 114-15).
Bruce R. McConkie, who is now an Apostle, has also written on this subject: "... God ... is a personal Being, a holy and exalted man, a glorified, resurrected Personage having a tangible body of flesh and bones, an anthropomorphic Entity ..." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 250). " ... as the Prophet also taught, there is 'a God above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ' " (p. 322).
Joseph Fielding Smith explains:
Some people are troubled over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith.... The matter that seems such a mystery is the statement that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man. This is one of the mysteries.... The Prophet taught that our Father had a Father and so on. Is not this a reasonable thought, especially when we remember that the promises are made to us that we may become like him? (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 10, 12).
Apostle LeGrand Richards wrote a letter to Morris L. Reynolds on July 14, 1966, in which he stated: "There is a statement often repeated in the Church, and while it is not in one of the Standard Church Works, it is accepted as Church doctrine, and this is: 'As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.' "
The Heavenly Mother
Because of their belief that God is just an exalted man, Mormon
leaders teach that He had a mother as well as a wife. Brigham Young stated: "Brother Kimball quoted a saying of Joseph the Prophet, that he would not worship a God who had not a Father; and I do not know that he would if he had not a mother; the one would be as absurd as the other" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 286).
Although the Mormon leaders do not worship God's wife, they teach that she is our "Eternal Mother." Apostle Bruce R. McConkie made these interesting comments:
Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of a Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state.
This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) ... they said that "man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents ..." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 516).
Milton R. Hunter, who served in the First Council of the Seventy, affirmed the same teaching: "The stupendous truth of the existence of a Heavenly Mother, as well as a Heavenly Father, became established facts in Mormon theology" (The Gospel Through the Ages, 1958, p. 98).
On April 8, 1973, the Salt Lake Tribune reported:
Outburst after outburst of delighted laughter filled the Tabernacle Saturday.... The speaker was Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of Twelve Apostles, ... Elder Richards told of speaking to a large gathering of clergymen. " ... when I finished my remarks, one of them stood up and said, 'Mr. Richards, we've been told you believe God had a wife. Would you please explain this.' "
"I think he thought he had me," said Elder Richards. The audience in the Tabernacle began to chuckle. "I retorted that I didn't see how God could have a Son if He didn't have a wife."
The Apostle Abraham H. Cannon recorded in his journal on August 25, 1890, that it was claimed that Joseph Smith saw the Eternal Mother in a vision. President Joseph Fielding Smith defended the idea of an Eternal Mother although he had to admit it was not found in the Scriptures: "The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of
Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did exist there.... does not common sense tell us that we must have had a mother there also?" (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 3, p. 142).
The Virgin Birth
The idea that God is just an exalted man has led Mormon leaders to proclaim a doctrine about the birth of Christ which is very shocking to orthodox Christians.
Brigham Young once stated: "Now remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 51).
This statement is in conflict with both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. In Matthew 1:18 and 20 we read: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.... for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." The Book of Mormon agrees with the Bible on this point, for in Alma 7:10 we read: "And behold, he shall be born of Mary, ... she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God."
In spite of these plain statements, Joseph Fielding Smith denied that the Book of Mormon and the Bible teach that Christ was begotten by the Holy Ghost: "They tell us the Book of Mormon states that Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost I challenge that statement. The Book of Mormon teaches no such thing! Neither does the Bible" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 19).
The reason that Joseph Fielding Smith objects to the teaching that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost is that according to Mormon theology, this would make Jesus the son of the Holy Ghost rather than the Son of God the Father. This idea arises from an improper understanding of the term Holy Ghost. The term Holy Ghost means exactly the same as the term Holy Spirit. The American College Dictionary defines the term "Holy Spirit" as 'the Holy Ghost." Now, since the Bible tells us that God is a Spirit and that He is holy, it is apparent that God Himself must be the Holy Spirit. So we see that there is no contradiction in saying that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost and also is the Son of God.
Since Christians believe that God is a Spirit, they view the conception of Christ as a miraculous event having nothing to with sex or any physical act. Mormon theology, on the other
hand, teaches that God is a man and that Christ was conceived through a sexual act between Mary and God the Father. In other words, the birth of Christ is considered a natural, rather than a miraculous occurrence. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., said: "The birth of the Savior was a natural occurrence unattended with any degree of mysticism, and the Father God was the literal parent of Jesus in the flesh as well as in the spirit" (Religious Truths Defined, p. 44). The late President Joseph Fielding Smith declared: "Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 18).
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie further explains:
"These name-titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers" (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pp. 546-47).
"And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, ... Christ is the Son of Man, meaning that his Father (the Eternal God!) is a Holy Man" (p. 742).
The Mormon writer Carlfred B. Broderick made these comments:
There are two basic elements in the Gospel view of sexuality as I interpret it from the scriptures. The first is that sex is good—that sexuality, far from being the antithesis of spirituality, is actually on attribute of God....
In the light of their understanding that God is a procreating personage of flesh and bone, latter-day prophets have made it clear that despite what it says in Matthew 1:20, the Holy Ghost was not the father of Jesus.... The Savior was fathered by a personage of flesh and bone, and was literally what Nephi said he was, "Son of the Eternal Father" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn, 1967, pp. 100-101).
President Brigham Young had this to say concerning the birth of Christ: "The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband" (Deseret News, October 10, 1866).
This same type of reasoning led Apostle Orson Pratt to say:
A photograph of The Seer, page 158. Apostle Orson Pratt states that Mary and God the Father associated together in the capacity of husband and wife.
The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Saviour unlawfully. It would have been unlawful for any man to have interfered with Mary, who was already espoused to Joseph; for such a heinous crime would have subjected both the guilty parties to death, according to the law of Moses. But God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure: He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women was not intended to govern Himself, or to prescribe rules for his own conduct. It was also lawful in Him, after having thus dealt with Mary, to give her to Joseph her espoused husband. Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity (The Seer, p. 158).
Brigham Young added that "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).
In a sermon delivered in the tabernacle on April 9, 1852, Brigham Young climaxed his teaching with the following explanation:
I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon the subject, when I replied, to this idea—"if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 51).
A careful examination of the Mormon teaching concerning the conception of Christ reveals that it is far closer to paganism than it is to Christianity!
As we pointed out in another chapter, the Mormons claim that a voice from heaven told the witnesses to the Book of Mormon that the translation was correct. In spite of this Joseph Smith tried to change the Book of Mormon to support his concept of a plurality of Gods. Four important changes were made in the second edition of the Book of Mormon concerning the Godhead. One of the most significant changes was made in 1 Nephi 13:40. In the 1830 edition it was stated that the very purpose of the Nephite records was to make known that Christ is the Eternal Father: "... These last records, ... shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world ..." (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., p. 32).
In the current Utah edition, page 25, verse 40, three words have been interpolated: "... These last records, ... shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world...."
A second important change was made in 1 Nephi 11:18; this is page 25 of the 1830 edition. In the first edition it read: "... Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh." In modern editions it has been changed to read: "... Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." Notice that the words "the Son of" have been inserted in the middle of the sentence. Verse 21 of the same chapter originally read: "And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!" It was changed to read: "And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!" Verse 32 of the same chapter, which is on page 26 of the original edition, was also changed. In the 1830 edition it read: "... the Everlasting God, was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record." It was changed to read: "... the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world: and I saw and bear record." These additions begin to distinguish the Son from the Father and are part of the process that ultimately led Joseph Smith to declare the Father and the Son as two separate gods.
Removing the Lectures
In 1835 the "Lectures on Faith," which were originally delivered before a class of the elders, in Kirtland, Ohio, were printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. In these lectures it was definitely stated that God the Father was a personage of spirit.
A photograph of page 25 of the original 1830 Book of Mormon. At the two places where the arrow points the words "The Son of" have been added in later editions.
In the fifth lecture we find this statement about the Godhead: "... the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness, the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle... "(Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., p. 53).
The Lectures on Faith not only taught that God the Father is a "personage of Spirit," but also that God is "omnipresent"—i.e., present everywhere at the same time (Ibid., pp. 12, 26).
Joseph Fielding Smith admitted that Joseph Smith helped prepare these lectures: "Now the Prophet did know something about these Lectures on Faith, because he helped to prepare them, and he helped also to revise these lectures before they were published ..." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 195).
These Lectures on Faith were printed in all of the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, but in 1921 they were completely removed and have not appeared in subsequent editions. John William Fitzgerald, who wrote his thesis at BYU, asked Joseph Fielding Smith why they were removed from the Doctrine and Covenants. One of the reasons given was that they were not complete as to their teachings regarding the Godhead. Actually, these lectures were considered complete with regard to their teachings concerning the Godhead at the time they were given. On page 58 of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants the following question and answer appear: "Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation? A. It does."
Now that the Mormon church teaches a plurality of Gods and that men become Gods, these lectures are considered "not complete" as to their teachings on the Godhead. The truth of the matter is that they contradict what is presently taught by church leaders with regard to this subject.
To avoid "confusion and contention" over the Godhead the Mormon leaders slyly removed the Lectures on Faith from the Doctrine and Covenants. This was done in spite of the fact that Joseph Smith himself had considered them important enough to include. Since these lectures were about seventy pages long, this amounted to a major deletion. On page 345 of his thesis, "A Study of the Doctrine & Covenants," Mr. Fitzgerald supplies this information: "The 'Lectures on Faith' were voted on unanimously by the conference assembled August 17, 1835 to be included in the forthcoming book of doctrine and covenants. The writer could find no documentary evidence that they were voted on by a general conference of the Church to be omitted in the 1921 and all subsequent editions of The Doctrine [and] Covenants."
A photograph of page 53 of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Notice this lecture teaches the Father is a personage of spirit. Today the Mormon Church maintains the Father has a body of flesh and bones. Consequently, these lectures on faith have been removed from recent editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.
A Changeable God
The idea of a progressive God was a natural outgrowth of the Mormon teaching of a plurality of Gods. Apostle Orson Hyde commented: "Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 123).
Brigham Young declared: "We are now, or may be, as perfect in our sphere as God and Angels are in theirs, but the greatest intelligence in existence can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 93).
Wilford Woodruff, who became the fourth president of the church, said that "God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end" (Ibid., vol.6, p. 120).
This idea of a progressive and changeable God is very different from the concept of God taught in the Bible and Book of Mormon. In Malachi 3:6 we read: "For I am the Lord, I change not...." In the Book of Mormon, page 517, verse 18, we find this statement: "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity."
While Brigham Young and other leaders of the Mormon church openly rejected the Book of Mormon teaching that God is "unchangeable," Apostle Orson Pratt had a difficult time accepting the new ideas about God. Although he accepted the idea of a plurality of Gods, he did not seem to believe that they progressed in knowledge. In a sermon delivered in the tabernacle on January 13, 1867, Brigham Young chided: "... Brother Orson Pratt, has in theory, bounded the capacity of God. According to his theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power; but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children: they will increase to all eternity, if they are faithful" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 286).
It is interesting to note that the Mormon church is still divided over this issue. Joseph Fielding Smith sided with Orson Pratt. He stated: "It seems very strange to me that members of the Church will hold to the doctrine, 'God increases in knowledge as time goes on.' ... I think this kind of doctrine is very dangerous" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 7-8).
Though there seems to be a division over whether God is continuing to increase in knowledge, Mormon leaders agree
that there was a time when He was only a man. Marion G. Romney, a member of the First Presidency, recently made this vivid statement: "God is a perfected, saved soul enjoying eternal life. He is both immortal and exalted to the highest glory. He is enjoying that blessed condition which men may attain to by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel" (Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 1974, p. 1).
Spencer W. Kimball, currently president of the church, still maintains that "in each of us is the potentiality to become a God" (Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 1974). Speaking to "priesthood holders," President Kimball made these comments: "Brethren 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000" (Ensign, November 1975, p. 80).
The Holy Ghost
One of the most confusing areas of Mormon theology is that area dealing with the Holy Ghost. In the Lectures on Faith, published in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, it was declared that there were only two personages in the Godhead—the Father and the Son—and that the Holy Spirit is the mind of the Father and the Son:
There are two personages ... the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father a personage of tabernacle, ... called the Son because of the flesh ... possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, ...
Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
A. Two: the Father and the Son.
Q. How do you prove that there are two personages in the Godhead?
A. By the Scriptures....
Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do....
Q. What is this mind?
A. The Holy Spirit.
Q. Do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?
A. They do....
Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?
A. It does (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., pp. 52, 53, 55, 57, 58; removed from modern editions).
The Mormon leaders now teach that there are three personages in the Godhead—the Father and the Son both being personages of tabernacle and the Holy Ghost being a personage of spirit. It is interesting to note, however, that in 1855 Orson Pratt was still not certain whether there was a personal Holy Ghost: "I am inclined to think from some things in the revelations, that there is such a being as a personal Holy Ghost, but it is not set forth as a positive fact, and the Lord has never given me any revelation upon the subject, and consequently I cannot fully make up my mind one way or the other" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 338). On another occasion Pratt stated: "In the Book of Covenants, page 45, we are informed that there are two personages besides the Holy Spirit, which constitute the Godhead; but we are not there informed whether the third, called the Holy Spirit is a personage or not" (Millennial Star, vol. 12, p. 308).
Today, of course, the Mormons teach that the Holy Ghost is an actual personage. William E. Berrett quoted Joseph F. Smith as saying: "The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, he constitutes the third person in the Godhead" (The Restored Church, 1956, p. 541).
Since Mormon leaders teach that God has a wife, some people have speculated that the Holy Ghost might be the wife of God the Father. Joseph Fielding Smith, however, vigorously opposed such an idea: "The Holy Ghost is not a personage with a body of flesh and bones, and in this respect differs from the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is not a woman, as some have declared, and therefore is not the mother of Jesus Christ" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 39).
Apostle LeGrand Richards says that "the Holy Ghost is a male personage.... He is a male personage of spirit ..." (A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, p. 118).
Heber C. Kimball, who was a member of the First Presidency, said that "the Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God ..." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 179).
William E. Berrett gives this information concerning the Holy Ghost: "The Holy Ghost is a person. Unlike the Father and the Son who have bodies of flesh and bone, the Holy Ghost has no body of flesh and bone (that is, of the elements as we know them) but is a personage of spirit" (The Restored Church, p. 540).
While the Mormon church leaders teach that the Holy Ghost does not have a body of flesh and bones, they also teach that it is absolutely essential to have one. In fact, they claim that the devils were denied bodies of flesh and bone as a punishment for their sins. Joseph Fielding Smith said: "The punishment of
Satan and the third of the hosts of heaven who followed him, was that they were denied the privilege of being born into this world and receiving mortal bodies. They did not keep their first estate and were denied the opportunity of eternal progression" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 65).
Brigham Young related that Joseph B. Nobles once told a Methodist priest that the devil was "a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts, and passions. The Devil was cursed and sent down from heaven. He has no body of his own...." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 331).
Mormon leaders are unable to explain why God the Father should have a body and yet the Holy Ghost be without one. It is claimed that a body is necessary for eternal progression, yet the Mormon church teaches that the Holy Ghost became a God without one. Milton R. Hunter said that the "crowning Gospel ordinance requisite for Godhood is celestial marriage ... obedience to this law is absolutely necessary in order to obtain the highest exaltation in the Kingdom of God" (The Gospel Through the Ages, pp. 118-19).
According to Mormon theology, then, it would have been impossible for the Holy Ghost to have obtained Godhood, since he had no body with which to obey the law of "celestial marriage." In a revelation given by Joseph Smith we read: "Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat ..."(Doctrine and Covenants 132:25).
Mormon writers explain that these are the ones who have not obeyed the law of "celestial marriage" and who cannot have children in the resurrection. Bruce R. McConkie comments: "The opposite of eternal lives is eternal deaths. Those who come up separately and singly in the resurrection and who therefore do not have spirit children eternally are said to inherit 'the deaths.' (D. & C. 132:16-17,25.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p. 220). According to this reasoning, the Holy Ghost seems to be on the path that "leadeth to the deaths."
Some members of the Mormon church have been concerned as to whether the Holy Ghost will get a body at some future time. Joseph Fielding Smith, however, claimed that he was not concerned about the matter: "I have never troubled myself about the Holy Ghost whether he will sometime have a body or not because it is not in any way essential to my salvation" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 39). Apostle McConkie calls the Holy Ghost "a Spirit Man" and then goes on to state: "In this dispensation, at least, nothing has been revealed as to his origin or destiny; expressions on these matters are both
speculative and fruitless" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 329).
No Real Answers
In this chapter we have seen how the Mormon concept of God has changed from one God to a plurality of gods. Mormon leaders claim that all Christians are in a state of apostasy and have lost the true knowledge of the Godhead, yet a careful examination of Mormon teachings concerning the Godhead reveals a serious state of confusion. Mormon missionaries go throughout the world using Joseph Smith's story of the first vision as evidence that Christians are in error about the Godhead. In the new missionary manual we read the following: "Missionary: Mr. Brown, we learn another beautiful principle from Joseph Smith's visit from the Father and the Son. When he saw and talked with them, he learned that the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, are separate and distinct individuals and not just different manifestations of the same person. He also learned that they each have a body of flesh and bones" (The Uniform System For Teaching Families, Deseret Press, 1973, p. C-31). The missionaries, however, fail to inform their contacts that in the first handwritten account of the first vision Joseph Smith never even mentions that God the Father was present.
While Mormonism claims to give all the answers about the Godhead, the honest investigator soon finds that these answers do not solve the real problems and that many of them are built upon the sandy foundation of change or falsification.
In the next chapter we will deal with Brigham Young's Adam-God doctrine, which is certainly one of the low points in Mormon theology.