We’ve come to the 100th anniversary of the removal of the Lectures on Faith (LoF) from the Doctrine and Covenants, so I thought I’d revisit the “Evolution of the Godhead” that I last wrote about four years ago. Since the LoF were the “doctrine” part of the D&C, it should have been renamed “The Covenants” after it was removed, but I digress.
The part about the Godhead that really stood out in the LoF was the following from Section 5.
There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man…..
And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the greatLectures on Faith 5:2
So to sum it up, God is a spirit, Jesus has a body, and the Holy Ghost is the mind of God and not part of the Godhead.
One of the most quoted scripture in Mormonism is John 17:3 “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” So if this is the key to eternal life, to know God, let’s take a look at the history of knowing God.
1830: First edition Book of Mormon is more Trinitarian than the Bible
1832: Original First Vision account: one being, no mention of a physical body
1837: Book of Mormon is altered to make it less Trinitarian
1835: Lectures on Faith added to D&C: Jesus has a body, God is a bodiless spirit, the Holy Ghost is not a person, but the mind of God(s)
1838: The God of the First Vision God has split into two people
1843: Revelation first reveals that God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as Man’s
1844: King Follett discourse. God was once a human who is now exalted to a throne along with millions of other gods, including baby gods
1844-1915 God is Adam, a polygamous exalted man who uses his own seed to populate worlds with his various wives.
1898-1901: Lorenzo Snow’s tenure. He taught “as Man is God once was, as God is Man may become”
1915: Talmage reformats the Godhead: Jesus is Old Testament Jehovah. Elohim is his remote overseer who only appeared once in the Sacred Grove
1921: The Lectures on Faith removed from the D&C because it teaches the wrong God
The rest of the 20th Century: the deification doctrine is actively taught and emphasized in priesthood manuals
1997: Gordon B. Hinckley on the nature of God & Man: “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it.”
21st century: the church backs away from its doctrine, tries to blend in with Christianity while eschewing the Trinity
All of the above is from the church that claims to be the only “True Church” on the face of the earth. As Brother Wilcox put it, all the rest are “playing church.” It seems the Church has a pretty fluid idea who God is, and is playing catch-up to churches that have stabilized their understanding of God 1500 years ago.
Brother Wilcox told his audiences that what sets us apart from all other churches, and the reason they are all just “playing at church”, is that we KNOW that God has a body of flesh and bones.
But do we?
1) It took Joseph 18 years to come to that conclusion. That was not much before he also started filling the universe with infant and toddler Gods.
2) Apparently there’s no way of telling a spirit from a body, as illustrated by N.T Steven, Moses, and the Brother of Jared.
3) Joseph himself said that the ONLY way to tell a spirit from a physical being is to shake their hand.
4) Joseph did not shake Elohim’s or Jehovah/Jesus’ hand. He only claimed to see “personages,” like countless other people have done.
It seems we still have a long way to go to “know” God.
(Idea for this post and the timeline came from a friend on Reddit)