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.