Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Godhead

Latter-Day Saints agree with most other Christians with regard to what the bible says about God. We believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. D&C 20:28 This is what the Bible declares. This is what Mormons believe.

The Bible teaches that the members of the godhead are both distinct and united. Latter-Day Saints believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are embodied individuals and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and that the three are perfectly united in purpose. That the three members of the Godhead are distinct individuals is clearly taught in the Bible, what is not so clearly explained is the way in which they are united, so I fault no one for disagreeing with me. Whether you believe that Jesus Christ is an individual member of a perfectly united Godhead, or part of the 'Triune' God, I accept that we speak of the same person with the same scripturally-defined attributes, and that He has the power to save all who have faith in Him.

God, the Father, is literally the father of the spirits of all men. We believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, that He has an immortal, perfect, glorified body after which our own bodies are patterned. God's perfect body is a necessary part of who He is and he would be limited without one. God's voice has been heard by man and He has been seen on a few occasions. Some of the most compelling understanding that we have for who the Father is comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding his Father as recorded in the New Testament. I cannot read Christ's prayers and doubt for a moment that he was sincerely speaking to another person, his beloved Father.

Jesus Christ is literally the son of God and is perfectly united with Him. He was the firstborn of Heavenly Fathers children in the Spirit World, and is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh, born to a virgin mother. He is in the express image of his Father in both physical appearance and divine attributes and is the only perfect man ever to walk the earth. God...hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Heb1:1-3 He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of the New. Christ was the first to regain his physical body through resurrection and effected the resurrection of all mankind. It is Christ who atoned for the sins of the world and made possible our return to the presence of God. All those who accept his teachings and come to the Father in his name are adopted by Christ. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. Mosiah 5:7 It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved in the kingdom of God.

The Holy Ghost. The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. D&C 130:22 The Holy Ghost testifies of the Father and the Son, he teaches and reveals truth to men, and he sanctifies those who repent and are baptized.

"To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus . . . being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Plillipians 2:6 Holland

When Christ prayed for those who believe in him, he asked, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:20-23 Christ never intended his followers to be absorbed into the essence of God, rather that we should be perfectly united together with him and the Father in the same way that He is perfectly united with His Father. So perfect is their unity that Christ can speak authoritatively as if he were His Father. His purposes are in line with His Father's and his actions are those of His Father. That is the example that Christ set for us and the standard that we are to strive to attain. We learn through the power of the Holy Ghost, to align our thoughts and actions with God's.

"Latter-day Saints do not accept the Christ that emerges from centuries of debates and councils and creeds. Over the years that followed the death and resurrection of the Lord, Christians sought to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We believe that the epistles of Paul, Peter, Jude and John suggest that the apostasy or falling away of the first-century Christian church was well underway by the close of the first century. With the deaths of the apostles and the loss of the priesthood, the institutional power to perform and oversee saving sacrament or ordinances, learn the mind of God and interpret scripture was no longer on earth. To be sure, there were noble men and women throughout the earth during the centuries that followed, religious persons of good will, learned men who sought to hold the church together and to preserve holy writ. But we believe that these acted without prophetic authority." Millet Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].”2

The Latter-Day Saint concept of God is based on scripture and direct revelation from God through Prophets and Apostles. When I read the New Testament, it amazes me how clearly Christ teaches about the godhead. His teachings about who He is are beautiful, clear, and simple--Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world.

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. Joseph Smith

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