Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Godhead

One of the great truths that came out of Joseph Smith’s experience when he prayed to know which church to join is the nature of the Godhead.

I have non-believing friends who believe that, counter to the scripture, man has created God in his own image rather than God’s having created man in His. I tell myself they do not understand, and hope that one day they will also find peace and solace in coming to know a benevolent Father in Heaven who is anxious to bless them.

I have other friends who characterize God as a three-personed entity, a Trinity including the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one. I respect their belief, but I do not share it. But I do understand that we each find God in our own way, and in time He will reveal Himself to us as we open our hearts.

When Joseph prayed in the grove, he reports that he saw a pillar of light standing above him in the air, and in the light he saw two personages. One of those called him by name and, pointing to the other, said, “This is my beloved son. Hear Him!” (JSH 1:16-17)

In the New Testament, Matthew records the Savior’s baptism, and reports a voice from Heaven saying “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased,” and describes the Spirit of God descending like a dove (Matthew 3:16-17), also suggesting, as Joseph’s experience did, that there are three distinct members of the godhead.

Later Joseph recorded that the Father and Son each have bodies of flesh and bone, as tangible as man’s, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit but does not have a physical body (see D&C 130:22).

Some might wonder what it matters if God has a body or not, or if God the Father and Jesus are separate beings or not. And I suppose on one level it doesn’t matter, except that it is helpful to me to understand whom I worship. It’s helpful to understand that my relationship to God the Father is different from my relationship to Jesus Christ, that I pray to the Father in the name of the Son, that I recognize that it is only through the Son that I can return to the Father, and that I know it is the Holy Ghost which bears record of these truths to my heart and to my mind.

- Paul

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