This is what the LDS Church teaches…
‘God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible, — I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form…’ (King Follet Discourse, Joseph Smith, History of the Church, volume 6, p305)
Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.”
This is very interesting as it’s not what the Book of Mormon (which is supposedly ‘the most correct book on earth’) teaches…
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:461.)
The Book of Mormon, concerning Gods nature, says…
Alma 22:10 ‘And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest though this?’
Alma 31:15 ‘Holy, Holy God; we believe that though art God, and we believe that thou art Holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.’
If the Book of Mormon is correct, how could it be that Joseph smith later reviled that God in fact had a body, not only that but he was once as we are now? Alma 31:15, says that God was, is and forever will be a spirit, This reads to me as though it is saying, God has always been a spirit, and always will be a spirit. Gods unchangeable nature is confirmed in Moroni 8:18:
18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
According to Joseph Smiths first vision, he saw not only Jesus but God the Father also.
… ‘When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–“This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’…
Not only did he see Jesus and God but he stood there and had a long conversation with them!
Exodus 3:5-6 (KJV)
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Moses did not dare to look upon the face of God! The Bible tells us that God is Holy and awesome, that no Human can look upon his face and live, that he dwells in unapproachable light, these are just some of the statements from the Bible that paint the picture.
Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
John 6:46(KJV) 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
But there are accounts of people seeing God in the OT are these contradictions?
Here are two of them…
Exodus 24:9-11 “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
Moses and those with him were allowed to see something of God, weather it is a shared vision or not, the fact that the only real description of what they saw is of His feet and the ground beneath them, suggests that this might be all they saw. Given that God then says in 30:20, ‘man shall not see me and live’ we need to consider this verse within the context of the whole bible.
Was this God the Father being seen here? Was it the pre-incarnate Christ? Did God allow the people gathered to see him partially? Or was it simply a vision to denote something of Gods glory to the people gathered?
Numbers. 12:6-8 “He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7″Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”
God says here that he will make himself known to prophets in visions, you could interperate that to say that people will see God fully in a vision, but that’s not what the text actually says, it says that God will make himself known, He could do that in many ways. Verse 8 says that Moses beholds the form of God, and since we are told elsewhere that…
God cannot be seen….
1 Timothy 6:15-16(KJV) 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
No one can see God and live…..
Exodus 33:20(KJV) 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
Jesus told us that God is a spirit…..
John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
We have to conclude that Moses did not see the Father
Interestingly Exodus 33:11 says: And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
If this is the case what was meant by ‘face to face’ in verse 11? Because if Moses could not see Gods face and live, how could he then 9 verses earlier have been speaking with him face to face?
Is this a contradiction? Has the Bible been interpreted incorrectly, as the LDS Church states? One explanation could be that the term ‘Face to face’ is being misunderstood by the readers of today, not understanding Jewish or Hebrew idioms
(IDIOM…Dictionary meaning: NOUN…A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., It’s rain cats and dogs, I’ve seen the light).
The Hebrew idiom for face to face translates into English as without a mediator. This verse does not imply Moses physically is seeing the face of God but that he was able to communicate with God as a man speaks to his friend (as a true friend would not require a go-between for communication).
Colossians 1:15 says Jesus is the image of the invisible God
What does this mean? How can you be the ‘image of the invisible’? Are we to understand this verse, as many LDS do, that the Father is the same in physical appearance as Jesus? Or should we understand this scripture within the context of the rest of scripture. Where we’ve already seen the father does not have a physical form. When reading this verse in context, there are no contradictions. Jesus portrayed God the Father to us in all that he said and did. That is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,’ John 14:8-9:
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
I think I should give Jesus the final word on this…
John 5:37 “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.”
Well there we have it! He should know!
Now you might be thinking, but what about all the times in the bible where we read about Gods strong arm, or his right hand? How can the Bible speak of Gods right hand if he doesn’t have one?
These instances of God explaining himself in a Human way are called anthropomorphism, this is Gods way of communicating to us in terms we can understand. I read an analogy somewhere once, that went something like this…
‘Imagine there is a population of Ants, and you know their ant hill is about to be destroyed, what would be the best way of communicating that to them? Would you shout at them and wave your arms? No they wouldn’t understand! Would you write it on a sign? No they can’t read!
No you would become an Ant and speak to them in their own language.
Not a perfect analogy but you get the point, Gods ways are higher than our ways, in order for us to understand him he speaks to us in a way we will understand, using our own language and imagery.
Some other examples of anthropomorphism…
Psalm 33:6(KJV) 6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalm 34:15(KJV) 15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
Psalm 89:10(KJV) 10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.
These verses describe God using Human imagery, but then we have verses like…
Psalm 57:1(KJV) Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
To take the previous verses literally we would also have to take this verse literally! Does God have wings?
Psalm 91:4 (KJV) 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
If this verse were to be taken literally then how big is Gods body? He’d have to be pretty big for the earth to be his footstool! If this verse is a true representation of his size God is HUGE! And then Jesus at his side in his Human body would be minute! (Just a thought!)
FAIR (An LDS Apologetics organisation ) http://www.fairlds.org , has looked into this issue, here are some of the verses they use to support their position of God having a body…
Ezekiel 1:26 (KJV) 26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
Ok Ezekiel has a vision of the likeness of a throne, with the likeness of a man upon it. This is only part of Ezekiel’s vision. The vision actually begins on verse 4 and the whole vision contains much imagery, which you wouldn’t tend to interpret literally.
Why then when we get to verse 26 are we to believe that this vision of a likeness of a throne with the likeness of a man upon it is to be taken as literally being God, and therefore take from it that God has a body. I agree that the image of the man on the throne represents either Jesus or God the Father. But does this mean he has a body? Remember God communicates to us in ways we can understand, how else could he portray himself to Ezekiel in an understandable way?
Acts 7:56(KJV) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Standing at the right hand of someone, was understood in the Jewish culture to be referring to a position. And it still is in our culture today! This is where we get the phrase. ‘right hand man.’
Psalm 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Matthew 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. The Mother of James and John asks for her sons to sit, one on the right hand of Jesus and the other on the left…
Matthew 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
These brothers are not fighting over who gets to stand next to Jesus! These are positions of Authority within the kingdom of God.
Revelation 4:2(KJV) 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Revelation 4 describes one sitting on the throne. This clearly must be God the Father as later on the Lamb is seen. John saw a vision and in it he was allowed to see a form and to be able to understand this form as representing God the Father.
Revelation 4 states in verse 3 that the person on the throne had the appearance of Jasper and Carnelian and that around the throne was a rainbow with the appearance of an emerald!
The mind boggles trying to imagine this, and if it were a vision of the actual appearance of God the Father then why is this not how Joseph Smith described him?
I look forward to reading your responses