It’s been bugging me for years. I’ve asked a few people but haven’t had a satisfying answer, so let me ask here. For those of you that accept modern formulations of the Trinity regarding the nature of God and believe that Christ is Spirit only and of one immaterial substance with the Father, I would like to understand how the words and actions of Christ in Luke 24 are to be understood. This scene happens shortly after the Resurrection–the great miracle where the physical body of Christ was missing from the grave apparently because it had been re-united with His spirit.. It’s hard to understand any other way to parse the New Testament information on this event. And then Christ shows Himself and His tangible, physical body to His disciples toward the end of Luke 24, a group of men who still didn’t get what the Resurrection meant. They were about to learn:
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
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.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
He stood before them. They could see Him. Wow! They thought it was His spirit. So then he had them feel His tangible body and stated that it was not just spirit, but also obviously comprised flesh and bones. They marveled. To further remove any doubt, He then asked a most surprising question: “Have ye any meat?” What, He wants to eat? Why was He doing this, if not to teach basic facts about Who He was now as a Resurrected Being with flesh and bone?
They handed him some physical, tangible fish. He held that fish in His hands, put it up to His mouth, bit some off with His teeth, chewed it with His jaws and tongue and palate, then swallowed it, presumably sending the food down an alimentary canal. Or was this all just divine smoke and mirrors, with food particles being suspended by a tractor beam and then teleported a few miles outside of Jerusalem to create the majestic illusion of eating and swallowing food, a second act to the trick of creating the illusion of a tangible body? If this was all just a temporary “manifestation” of a body that wasn’t really there and would soon be abandoned in favor of being immaterial spirit only, WHY was he doing this? Why not just say, “Yes, I’m a spirit. Don’t bother touching me, just look and be glad that my spirit lived on.”
Was He showing us what our resurrection will be like with a temporary manifestation that doesn’t really apply to Him? Why not explain that? Why leave His followers with the unmistakable impression that the Son of God looks like us (as if we were created in His image) and has a tangible body of flesh and bones capable of eating food? Maybe that even enjoys eating food? I can understand why philosophers steeped in Neoplatonic thought would find this laughable or shocking, but should we?
Reality or smoke and mirrors? What was Christ doing in this powerful demonstration to his disciples, whom he now asked to be witnesses of what they had just experienced. Witnesses of what–reality or illusion?
66 thoughts on “The Flesh and Bones of a Resurrected Body: A Serious Teaching Moment or Just Divine Smoke and Mirrors in Luke 24?”
I think the new standard answer is that Christ is a spirit, but retains his resurrected body in a closet just off the main portico. He takes it out and wears it, but only on special occasions…..
Are there really some Christians that believe Christ is Spirit only? I guess for any belief, there's a denomination for it… but as a Catholic, I believe that Christ rose from the tomb, body and soul–isn't this the definition of "resurrection"?
Jesus also ascended into Heaven, body and soul, and the body is something he continues to retain. We also believe that Mary was assumed (translated) into Heaven, body and soul. And as the Apostle's Creed states, we believe in the eventual resurrection of our own bodies as well.
I think this confusion comes in because God the Father and the Holy Spirit are said to not have bodies, and the members of the Trinity are one in being with each other. But to a Trinitarian, they do have a body through Jesus Christ. Christ gave God a face. Christ is not immaterial.
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Jeff, you do the Nicene creed a little injustice in your quote: "of one immaterial substance with the Father," whereas it really reads:
"being of one substance with the Father." The word "immaterial" is not in the Nicene Creed.
I read some scholars say that "being one one substance" means the same kind of substance, but not inter-mingled into one entity. I'm given to understand that in Latin it does not mean one "entity" or "thing" of a certain substance, but that the three members are of the same kind of substance.
IE, like two lumps of clay, not one big lump of clay.
The Athanasian Creed, though it contains lots of double-speak, does elaborate on the point:
"One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person."
Though that itself is open to interpretation too.
I have also always wondered why there would still be wounds in a perfected, glorified body. I know it provided "proof", possibly prophesied, but it still seems to counter what people picture as a celestial body.
So actually, if one can nuance the meaning of "of one substance with the Father", the Nicene Creed does fit in with LDS theology.
I just think that the "of one substance" phrase has been interpreted in a post-Reformation (ie 1500's) western/Platonic mind-set, and is probably not what the original council of Nicea had in mind.
I just checked all three creeds, Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles', at Wikipedia. And that "of one substance" is the only tripping point of the Nicene. And the Apostles' Creed really has nothing objectionable to an LDS viewpoint in it, it's pretty simple.
Note: that the Apostles' Creed says "He was conceived by the _power of_ the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary." And I think that as long as "power of" is in there, that can fit too.
Can someone who knows Latin check the Latin original of Nicene Creed at Wikipedia, and tell us the connotation in the original of the phrase "of one substance with the father", whether that is like two lumps made out of the same kind of clay, or one big lump of clay?
Here's the double-speak Athanasian Creed, but again, there's nothing in there about "immaterial":
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved."
Bookslinger, I'm not too familiar with Latin, but I do know that the Nicene Creed's "one in Being with the Father" is rendered consubstantialis in Latin – consubstantial.
Substance is the inherent nature of something, and is completely apart from its physical properties. Something that is consubstantial has two natures existing fully–for example, Lutherans believe consubstantiation of the Eucharist, where the nature of bread and the nature of Christ's body are equally and fully present in their Sacrament. In contrast, Catholic transubstantiaton means that the nature of Christ fully replaces the nature of bread. In either case, we're not eating physical flesh!
So to say that Christ is consubstantial with the Father is to say that he is fully divine (God's substance) as well as fully human (our substance). Because he is fully divine, we call him God. But the Father and the Son are still their own Persons. They're still physically apart.
I'm not sure how this fits with your clay example, since substance has nothing to do with the physical. When people try to use a physical analogy to explain consubstantiality, it just gets more confusing, I think.
larryco, I think that there will be quite a few upset Vikings if their perfected bodies don't have their battle scars. 🙂
You're right, though, people do seem to think that perfect means to literally be without blemish. But a perfect record of Christ's perfect sacrifice should definitely be on His perfect body.
While I would prefer the poetic mystical sublimity expressed in places like D&C 88 and 93 – I can understand why these creeds carry a lot of clout. They contain a great deal of poetic strength – even if I don't really understand a single concept expressed in them.
What you just said above is pretty much in line with the LDS view of the Godhead: 3 identifiably separate persons or beings or entities who are united in purpose.
However, I have a Catholic friend who understands the Catholic version of the Trinity in terms more like the Protestants, ie, one combined "entity" of three parts/manifestations.
I'll accept that you're giving the correct Catholic understanding. But that's not what Protestants say (or imply) is the meaning of "of one substance" or "consubstantial". The Protestants seem to say it means one single being or one single entity. And then they go on about how the One single entity (ie, "One God") has three simultaneous forms or manifestations.
And, my understanding of what Protestants mean by "substance" is the actual material of composition, whether it be a physical composition, or a spiritual composition, or a meta-physical composition.
Is the official Catholic position that Christ maintained (still has) His post-resurrection physical body that he showed to the disciples? And, if you believe that He does, do you believe that God the Father also has a tangible physical body? Or is the Father a spiritual and non-physical being in Catholic belief?
Reading these comments has corrected my understanding about the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity so I thank all of you who have contributed to this discussion. Now I'd like to point out a glitch in what we LDS tend to think and say about Protestant doctrine.
A large and rapidly growing minority (most Pentacostals) regard the Godhead as does our Catholic friend in this discussion.
I might have included "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the same sentence because they also recognize Jesus and the Holy Ghost as separate from God the Father but I have gotten the impression that they do not recognize Jesus for all of What he is.
Wow! With Catholics and Pentacostals on board with us (for the most part) regarding the Trinity, We LDS aren't as unique on that one doctrine as most of us still believe!
I don't know about Vikings, but I've been promised a perfected body with all my hair back, and I'm stickin' to it.
Also, didn't the catholic fathers us "homoosious" and not "consubstantialis" to describe "of the same substance"?
"So to say that Christ is consubstantial with the Father is to say that he is fully divine (God's substance) as well as fully human (our substance). Because he is fully divine, we call him God. But the Father and the Son are still their own Persons. They're still physically apart."
Actually, in the Trinity they are NOT physically apart. They are one Spirit with 3 persons. But there is nothing physical about them. This description you give almost suggests a modalistic view, where they are viewed as separate. The Athanasius and Nicene Creeds reenforce the idea that while they are three persons, they are yet one indivisible God. That is the incomprehensible part of the Trinity – that they can be One in Three and Three in One.
Bookslinger, it's not quite the LDS view of the Godhead, because the Trinity is united in more than purpose. When Catholics say that Christ is fully divine, we mean that he is fully God, as is the Father and the Spirit. It's a very specific substance, nature, essence, that allows them to truly be one in being with each other, and makes them one God. However, you might be interested in this Christian Churches of God paper, which argues that the early Church viewed Christ's consubstantial divinity as the divinity consubstantial in all of us, and is not specific to God alone (this is different from the Catholic view, which holds that while we are all partakers of the divine nature, the Trinity is of its own divine substance). This author also has a different beef with the Nicene Creed.
Larryco, homoosious is the Greek for the Latin consubstantialis.
Rameumpton, I do give a Trinitarian view of One in Three and Three in One, even though it's something deeper than physical. If you go to a Catholic Mass, you'll hear the Priest talk all the time about Christ's trust in His Father, praying to His Father, having a relationship with his Father–it's more than Him talking to Himself! Even St. Augustine argued against them being the same person:
"Listen to the Son Himself", St. Augustine invites us. "'I and the Father are one.' He did not say, 'I am the Father' or 'I and the Father are one [Person].' But when He says, 'I and the Father are one,' notice the two words '[we are]' and 'one'…For if they are one, then they are not diverse; if '[we] are', then there is both a Father and a Son" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 36, 9).
Here's the creed that gives the "immaterial" belief about God, the "Westminster Confession of Faith", that has the famous "without body, parts, or passions":
Westminster Confession of Faith:
I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
II. God hath all live, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, and upon them, whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Here's the intro to the above "Westminster Confession of Faith" as found at: home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Creeds.html
The Westminster Confession arose out of the stormy political scene in England during the reign of Charles I. "Charles met with resistance when he attempted to impose episcopacy on the Church of Scotland and to conform its services to the Church of England's Common Book of Prayer. A civil war erupted and Oliver Cromwell led the Puritan forces to victory. Charles I was beheaded in the process. In 1643 the English parliament commissioned the Westminster Assembly to develop the creed of the Church of England. The 121 English Puritan ministers met for 1,163 daily sessions from 1643 to 1649. The Westminster Confession of Faith, completed in 1646, affirmed a strong Calvinistic position and disavowed 'the errors of Arminianism, Roman Catholicism, and sectarianism.'
So it appears to me that the "immaterial" adjective comes from Protestantism (Church of England) and is not necessarily something that was passed down through Catholicism.
However, I do remember reading somewhere about a 3rd or 4th century cleric who protested when he was told he must worship an unembodied God.
The double-speak of the Athanasian creed and the impreciseness of the Nicene Creed lead me to believe that the authors were trying to placate both sides of the material/immaterial debate.
Kimberly, just to clarify, do I understand correctly that you do not believe that Heavenly father has a tangible body like Jesus?
Before I discovered Mormonism, I never gave it much thought. But if Jesus still has his physical/tangible body that he was resurrected with, and he's sitting on the right hand (right side) of Heavenly Father, and if Heavenly Father does not have a physical/tangible body housing his eternal spirit, then the scene painted by the scripture writers of Jesus sitting on the right hand of the father seems kind of awkward.
Luckily the bible is so crystal like in it's clarity that the form and nature of God (which the entire book is supposed to teach of) is without question!
On a side note (but it was mentioned earlier) regarding the whole issue of scars and a celestial body. Does one get to choose what scars they keep, or what their idea of a 'perfected' body is? If not then do people that were crushed to death have to retain their flattened characteristics? Perhaps the movie Beetlejuice got it right then!
Bookslinger, you're correct: I don't believe God the Father has a body. With Stephen's vision, I've heard some people point out that Stephen saw the glory of God, and not necessarily God Himself. However, I think the idea of theophany fits well–God's presence revealed to our human senses. This means that God can be present as a man, a burning bush, or anything else, without being confined to a tangible body.
Matthew, this is all speculation on my part, but I'm thinking that crushed people won't have to remain flat. 🙂
I think that being able to choose what scars you retain, or the "age" of your perfected body, etc. would be in line with free will. I could see how some martyrs would choose to keep their cause of death on them for all eternity, while others would not… It's an interesting thought.
Out of curiosity, what do Catholics think "spirit" is?
It's interesting that Joseph Smith clarified that spirit is a different class of matter, but is matter nonetheless. Otherwise, you get into the dilemma where a spirit is not really real, and "immaterial substance" becomes an oxymoron.
["Different class of matter" is an interesting concept from the perspective of physics. For example, photons of a different class of matter might have the wrong quantum of energy to be absorbed by the atoms of our class of matter, and thus could not be detected by our eyes nor by our instruments.]
Just how important is the Trinity vs Godhead argument?
I've never understood why we Christians of all denominations/sects/groups let these issues come between us.
Personally, I believe in the Trinity concept. But if conclusive evidence was found that proved the Trinity doctrine false, I would still believe in Jesus Christ and God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Your outlook is a healthy one. For many people it's of upmost importance that their concept be the correct concept. Nobody likes the idea that the way they understand it could be wrong. Just the psychology of being a human being I'd wager. 😛
Your idea about getting to choose the flat or regular variety of body in the afterlife sounds good to me. So do we reinflate ourselves by blowing on our thumb the way mickey mouse and the looney tunes do? I would sincerely hope so.
Something I've wondered is the following. If I get eaten by a bear and then a hunter kills that bear and eats him and my particles become part of the hunter's particles then what happens during the resurrection? Do I get back those parts, doe the guy that ate the bear or does the bear get them? It seems like resurrecting every man woman and child and every animal would use up a pretty considerable amount of the earth's mass especially if the supposed age of the earth is correct. This is all tounge in cheek of course but still is interesting to me from a theoretical standpoint. Kind of like wondering whether superman or the incredible Hulk would win in a fist fight.
I agree, Creek. I think vital concepts are straightforward and easy to understand, but many people don't understand their own Church's teachings on the Trinity, or they understand it in a highly simplified way (as noted by Bookslinger's Catholic friend). Still, this is fun to talk about. 🙂
Pops, I don't think the Catholic Church has made a statement on what spirit is made of, but we do hold that spirit unconfined by a body can be infinite, and so God the Father is omnipresent. Regardless of what spirit is made of, however, "immaterial substance" is not an oxymoron if you use the definition I provided earlier.
Matthew, my husband says Superman, no question. It should all make sense now. 🙂
As a BYU religion professor once euphemistically explained it to me, it's the "zipper" theory. Christ had a body when he appeared to his disciples on earth but then discarded it once he returned to his Father in Heaven, or himself . . . oh whatever.
I've been looking through Evangelist, Calvinist, and non-denominational statements of belief, and they all seem to believe in a resurrection of Christ's body, as well as his bodily ascension. Even Oneness Pentecostals, who believe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indivisible, immaterial manifestations of one God, believe that Christ ascended into Heaven with a glorified body:
I have found one denomination that believes Christ's resurrected body was divine smoke and mirrors – Christian Scientists. This is because they believe that all things physical are illusions to be overcome. However, they don't hold a Trinitarian belief, but instead believe that Jesus was a man of God that embodied what divinity is, and was not God Himself.
Jeff, I'm really curious to know the denominations of the people you've asked this to. Unless they were confused by your question, I don't know why they would defend it.
You mean it was a straw man? I'm shocked, shocked.
Perhaps I'm missing the point but what are people really saying here. That the beliefs of non mormons are incoherent or irrational because they believe that Jesus died resurrected and then shed his body after returning to heaven?
Is that even slightly less rational or nonsensical then the idea that a man was walking on water, was nailed to a cross, died and then came back to life?
Jeff, I'd imagine other religions reconcile their beliefs with with the logical contradictions in the exact same way that you or anyone else does with their beliefs. They come up with some sort of semi workable reason for how it doesn't really contradict anything and then carry on their merry way. As was stated above I don't think you'll find many religions that disagree with scripture stating that Christ ressurrected. They may not have any perfect understanding of how this fits with all the scriptures that speak of god and jesus as the same being but then again neither do you. There are plenty of places where god refers to himself as 'god' and yet LDS members believe that Joseph Smith was the only person to actually see him other then the brother of Jared. Making it so that all those scriptural accounts where god speaks to his prophets innacurate.
Did God really speak to the prophets of the old testament, or was it just divine smoke and mirrors?
Actually, in the Trinity they are NOT physically apart. They are one Spirit with 3 persons. But there is nothing physical about them.
According to whom? By any historical standard we believe in and have a doctrine of the Trinity as well. Check out D&C 20:28. Furthermore it is not as if the historical Christian tradition is entirely univocal on the subject.
This description you give almost suggests a modalistic view, where they are viewed as separate.
Modalism is exactly the opposite, the view that there is only one divine person who appears in different "modes". What you are speaking of is conventionally known of as "tritheism", a subset of "polytheism".
As to the general subject, it is not even remotely clear that the New Testament era view of a "spirit" entailed that it wasn't composed of some sort of spirit material. The difference between spirit matter and physical matter is so minimal that it can practically only be maintained by convention.
The idea of timeless, immaterial spirit was more or less a Greek invention, something that was adopted into Christian classical theism several centuries later. There isn't any significant argument I am aware of that any reference to "spirit" or "Spirit" in the Bible refers to something immaterial. Luke 24:37 is ample evidence of that.
Finally, with regard to the word "substance". The translation of the Greek ousia into the Latin substantia was controversial and immensely confusing as early as the third century. "substantia" means that which stands under, which is a literally correct translation of the Greek idea. But it had acquired a commonplace interpretation as a classification of _material_ (rather than of form) long before then.
Everytime you read "substance" in a theological or Greek philosophical context, you could do a lot worse than to mentally substitute the word "nature". The debate at the time was whether the persons of the Godhead had similar natures or an identical nature, i.e. homoiousious or homoousious. The latter (largely Western) camp won out, to some considerable controversy.
Re: Smoke and Mirrors. Doesn't physics tell us that all matter is essentially "light" which can be manifest as either wave or particle. In my mind that translates as spirit and matter. Some of the particles can be measured until one tries to "see" them, when they disappear. Some apparently can exist in two places at once. So it looks to me like both and bird and the birdcage are actually the same substance, and the bird could "unzip" the cage if only he knew the how-to's of physics. Isn't EVERYTHING then (Spirit and matter) basically the same thing?
LIGHT. Which really illuminates the 88th section of the D&C!
Matthew said: " There are plenty of places where god refers to himself as 'god' and yet LDS members believe that Joseph Smith was the only person to actually see him other then the brother of Jared. Making it so that all those scriptural accounts where god speaks to his prophets innacurate."
Matthew, I don't think your statement is an accurate presentation of LDS beliefs. cf. Mormon 1:15; 2 Nephi 11:3; Ether 12:19-20.
If I'm incorrect in my assumption then I apologize. That's what I was told over and over in institute classes and seminary but perhaps that was just interpretation.
So according to scripture god the father (not christ speaking as if he was god) has appeared to people other then Joseph Smith? Whenever a scripture speaks with apersonage referring to himself as 'god' is this really god, or is this christ acting on his behalf. My understanding of mormon doctrine is that this is Christ acting on behalf of God the father. This includes the creation of the earth if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps I am though.
Matthew: your explanation of what you meant now clears it up.
Your seminary / institute teachers may have been off. But essentially, they/you were correct, not many prophets got to see God the Father (Elohim) that we know of.
Before the fall, Adam spoke with the Father, "Elohim". Before the fall "Elohim" is used in Genesis, but afterwards "YHWH", Yahweh, or the latinized Jehovah, is used. "YHWH" (Yahweh or Jehova) was translated by the King James tranlsators as "the LORD", with "LORD" in all caps.
If I understand correctly, Enoch and Moses may have also been in the presence of Heavenly Father.
And, it was my understanding that the personage to whom the Brother of Jared spoke, was indeed Jehavah, the Son, not the Father.
This concept of Christ speaking in the name of the Father (or an angel speaking in the name of Christ) is called "divine investiture". A recent blog article about it is here:
You can also search older Ensign articles for the phrase.
And, maybe one of the reasons certain scriptures aren't clear whether it's Christ or the Father, is that it doesn't matter. Whatever Jesus tells us comes from the Father anyway, and is as binding on us as if Heavenly Father spoke it himself. Heavenly Father has delegated that authority to Christ.
You're right. I read more about the brother of Jared and apparently he also just saw Christ acting on behalf of god.
So my whole point is that while LDS members look at the idea/doctrine of other churches that Jesus Christ is the same as god the father, and find plenty of scripture that by their understanding backs this idea up quite well. Christ seems to refer to himself as the father the son and the holy ghost and doesn't bother to explain that he isn't doing so in a literal sense. One can look at the idea as not being all that rational or sensible (how can one person be two people?) but from the point of view of people outside the church it's equally as bizarre to say that on all the occasions where christ refers to himself as God that it wasn't really what he meant. Also to say that when God appears to the ancient prophets and says, "I'm god" that he really means, "I'm God's son and I just talk in third person a lot."
I'm sure there is some sort proposed explanation for trying to reconcile all of this but its just as confusing to me as saying that god the father, christ and the holy ghost are the same personage.
Was this stuff clear to the people that lived during christ's time? Is it just all confusing and contradictory sounding because it doesn't translate well?
The one thing that is clear is that reading the bible doesn't seem to bring people to any common conclusions (or at least not all of them) there is a tremendous amount of leeway in regards to what any given passage could mean.
Long story short it seems irresponsible to criticize another person's interpretation of scripture when your own can be seen as just as flawed as theirs is when looked at from an outside perspective. Perhaps I was reading an air of criticalness in Jeff's post that was not meant to be there though. the title is provocative to say the least.
Sorry, I wrote this:
"So my whole point is that while LDS members look at the idea/doctrine of other churches that Jesus Christ is the same as god the father, and find plenty of scripture that by their understanding backs this idea up quite well."
and reading it now it makes almost no sense. What I meant was this:
"while LDS members see it as odd that other faiths could not find a glaring inconsistency with Christ resurrecting and yet being the same as god and god doesn't have a body; other faiths may see it just as odd that members don't find an logical inconsistency with the fact that Christ commonly refers to himself as god, christ and the holy ghost, or that LDS members believe that even though a personage appears and says he is god, he was in fact not god but God's son.
Hopefully that's clear as mud now. 🙂