When Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon around 1828 to 1829,
his theological background was in Protestant Christianity.
He believed what he was writing in the Book of Mormon narrative –
that God was Spirit.
At that time, everyone who followed Mormonism believed in the one God, who was a spirit. Many years later, Smith changed his theology and then altered the Book of Mormon passages to accommodate his changed thinking – separating God from Jesus. But he did not indicate that God had a body and he certainly did not change the verses in chapters 18 and 22 of the book of Alma, which specifically teaches that God is the “Great Spirit.”
It’s no wonder Elder Smith and Elder Young are confused about this matter. What they don’t realize is that Joseph Smith possibly derived the story in Alma from the notion that some Native North Americans in his day believed such a thing as a Great Spirit God, so he included it in his Book of Mormon.
Time after time, in Alma 18 and 22, God is confirmed as being a “Great Spirit” and
is there a reference to physical attributes – there or anywhere else in the Book of Mormon. It is compelling evidence that Smith did not have a vision in 1820, and that his whole ‘plurality of God’s’ concept was a later idea which he backdated to 1820 for dramatic effect.
The LDS Church today teaches that God and Jesus are two separate and distinct personages each having bodies of flesh and bones. The Church claims that Smith saw God and Jesus with bodies in an early 1820 vision, but it is impossible to derive that idea from the Book of Mormon.
So, if these Elders are thinking clearly when they ask, “What did these missionaries (Ammon and Aaron) teach about the nature of God?” The investigators should conclude that they taught He was a personage of spirit – only. It’s beyond me how the Church expects these Mormon Elders to conclude that God has a body from that (or any other) Book of Mormon passage. I doubt the missionaries would ever share this Book of Mormon account with their investigators. Intelligent questions that would subsequently arise could not be answered.
The only place you find the teaching that God has a physical body is in Doctrine and Covenants 130:22
This teaching cannot be found in ANY of the Mormon Standard Works – The Book of Mormon, or Pearl of Great Price. And especially not in the Bible.
In fact, there is a simple phrase Jesus uttered when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well recorded in John 4:24
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Why didn’t Jesus say, “God has a body of flesh and bones, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”?
If we believe in a man claiming to be a prophet who says God has a physical body, we are standing against the ENTIRE Word of God.
John 1:18 teaches that,
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
Jesus declares in John 5:37
“And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”
As the resurrected Lord, Jesus appears to his disciples and says in 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.”
Paul agrees with Jesus in Colossians 1:15
“Who is the image of the invisible God.”
And in 1 Timothy 1:17
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Timothy 6:16
“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 honor and power everlasting.”
It says in Hebrews 12:29
“For our God is a consuming fire.”
The invisible God – the consuming fire – is not confined or restricted to a material body.
It comes down to this:
Do we believe Jesus when He said no man has seen God at any time – or Joseph Smith who claims to have seen Him in a body of flesh and bone? Do we believe Jesus when He said God is Spirit – or do we believe Smith who said God has a physical body?
I don’t know about you, but I will side with Jesus every time.
Article Bible References
1 Timothy 1:17
In the missionary manual – Preach my Gospel it teaches that missionaries are to teach investigators about the nature of God. The manual refers to the book of Mormon account of two young men, Ammon and Aaron who taught and converted Lamoni and his father.
The manual asks, “What did these missionaries teach about the nature of God?” Then it asks, “How can you follow their examples?”
The book of Alma 18:24-40 states a somewhat confusing passage.
24 “And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?”
25. “And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth.”
26. “And then Ammon said Believeth thou that there is a Great Spirit?”
27. “And he said, Yea.”
28. “And Ammon said: This is God.”
Then let’s jump over to Alma 22.
9. “And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?”
10. “And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this?”11. “And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.”
The manual asks: “What did those missionaries teach about the nature of God?” It’s obvious that Ammon and Aaron taught that God was a personage of Spirit!
There is no mention of a Spirit with no body – whatsoever. Doesn’t it seem odd they didn’t correct king Lamoni’s understanding that God is a Spirit?
Nowhere in the entire Book of Mormon does it teach God is more than Spirit.
In Alma 18:34 “Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and a man in the beginning was created after the image of God.”
Since God has been defined here in the Book of Mormon as a Great Spirit, with out the mention of a body, this verse confirms that man was created after the “spirit” image of God – not a physical image.
This teaching that God is a spirit falls right in line with the Christianity belief in God.
And contradicts what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught about God.