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42 Questions List
42 Questions



Question 7

The "law" of eternal progression teaches that Gods are men who have passed through an earth life, obeyed the "laws of the gospel," and received their exaltation.  How can the Holy Ghost be a God without a body?  How could Christ have been a God, since He too was without a body until 2000 years ago?   If God the Father was once a man, why isn't that fact clearly spelled out in Doctrine and Covenants?  Since it is clear that only God the Father had a body at the creation, why didn't He say "let us make man in My image" rather than "our" image?

Response by John A. Tvedtnes (FARMS)

Latter-day Saint scriptures indicate that human beings can attain godhood, but they are silent on whether God was once a man.  It seems logical to assume that God was once a man, as Presidents Joseph Smith and Lorenzo Snow said, but we cannot point to a revelation stating that this was the case.  However, an Armenian Christian text has the serpent telling Eve, "God has deceived you, for formerly God was man like you.  When he ate of that fruit, he attained this great glory."1  A similar account is found in the Jewish Zohar:

"R. Jose said: . . . 'He said to the woman: "With this tree God created the world; eat therefore of it, and ye shall be like God, knowing good and evil, for through this knowledge he is called God."  ' Said R. Judah: 'This was not the way he spoke, for had he said that God created the world through this tree, he would have spoken correctly, for the tree was really "like the axe in the hand of him that hews with it".  What he said, however, was that God ate of the tree and so built the world.  "Therefore," he went on, "eat you of it and you shall create worlds.  It is because God knows this that He has commanded you not to eat of it, for every artisan hates his fellow of the same craft.'"2

Latter-day Saints have no problem accepting that Christ and the Holy Ghost were already Gods without having taken a body.  Nowhere do the scriptures indicate that this is not possible, only that it is not the case for us.  If one considers that there are qualitative differences between us and all of the members of the Godhead, there is no problem of logic.  Many of the early Christian fathers wrote that humans can become gods, but some of them noted that there would always be a qualitative difference between those who become gods through Christ's atonement and Christ himself, who was already divine before becoming incarnate.  None of our scriptures contradict this idea.

As for the creation of man in the image of God, there is again no problem, since Latter-day Saints believe that the spirit is like the body in form.  This is explained in the Book of Mormon, where we read, "Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.  And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites" (Ether 3:16-17).

A more important question is why God said "Let us make man in our image" rather than "Let me make man in my image."  The argument that this is a "plural of majesty" might make good sense if God were a European monarch accustomed to using such a form.  But biblical Hebrew has no such concept, and throughout the Bible (except for two verses in Genesis) God speaks of himself in the singular ("I, my, mine, me") and biblical prayers and psalms also address him in the singular ("thou, thy, thine, thee" rather than "ye, your, you").

1.  W. Lowndes Lipscomb, The Armenian Apocryphal Adam Literature (Armenian Texts and Studies 8, University of Pennsylvania, 1990), 262.
2.  Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 36a.