Section 12: The Mormon Family of Gods

The Mormon Family of Gods

God: Father of all Gods, he has a flesh-and-bone body.- Doctrine and Covenants 130:22.

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.

No problem so far… Although, Mormons aren't the only ones who believe God has a body:

In describing the nature of God, Elder Holland cited Kugel, an orthodox Jew—who presumably has nothing to gain by supporting Latter-day Saint doctrines—in contending that the earliest writers of Genesis understood God to have a body like a person and that he interacted with the patriarchs literally face to face19.

Elohim: Sometimes referred to as an individual. Also described as a council of Gods who organized the earth.- Doctrine and Covenants, 121:32;

According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.

As mentioned in the previous section, Mormons believe that all mankind are of the same race as God. The Council spoken of here consisted of all of God's children, who were gathered together in the preexistence so that God could present to us His plan for our exaltation. This was where Jesus (known as Jehovah at the time) was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1:20).

As for the word Elohim, Mormons almost always use this word to refer exclusively to God the Father. It is the Hebrew Bible that almost exclusively uses it in the plural:

Elohim (God; gods; Heavenly Father) is the plural form of the singular noun 'eloah (compare Arabic Allah) in the Hebrew Bible, where it is used 2,570 times as compared to 57 times for its singular. But as one commentator has noted, why this "plural form for "God' is used has not yet been explained satisfactorily."1

To Mormons, this is no difficulty. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

An unlearned boy must give you a little Hebrew. Berosheit baurau, Eloheim ait aushamayeen vehau auraits, rendered by King James' translators, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I want to analyze the word Berosheit. Rosh, the head; Sheit, a grammatical termination, the Baith was not originally put there when the inspired man wrote it, but it has been since added by an old Jew. Baurau signified to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It reads first, "In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods," or, as others have translated it, "The head of the Gods called the Gods together."2

Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost… These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other…

This knowledge concerning the Godhead derives primarily from the Bible and the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith… For example, the three members of the Godhead were separately manifested at the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17) and at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:55-56). Joseph Smith commented, "Peter and Stephen testify that they saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are three personages in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all."

When Elohim is used in its plural form it refers to the Godhead, and therefore to God the Father, who presides over them. Acting as one, there is often no reason to differentiate.

The Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 4:1;

[T]he Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

Latter-day Saints believe that, under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created all things. Since Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are both Gods3, that's who is being referred to.

Journal of Discourses, Volume I, page 51.

My next sermon will be to both Saint and sinner. One thing has remained a mystery in this kingdom up to this day. It is in regard to the character of the well-beloved Son of God… Our God and Father in heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, He has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth His works to organized beings… His son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his father. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord, and issues forth from Himself, and may properly be called God's minister to execute His will in immensity; being called to govern by His influence and power; but He is not a person of tabernacle as we are, and as our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are4.

Jesus: God and Creator of the whole earth, the Savior.- 3 Nephi 9:15; 11:14.

3 Nephi 9:15

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

3 Nephi 11:14

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

To these, I would add Ephesians 3:9:

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Jehovah: The Old Testament name for Jesus.- Compare Mormon 3:22;

And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

See Jesus Christ, Jehovah in the Topical Guide of the LDS edition of the scriptures5 for more verses that support this concept.

Moroni 10:34;

And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

and Book of Mormon index.

Topic heading: "Jesus Christ-Jehovah."6

The New Testament tells us:

Jesus answered… Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him…"7

The Pharisees went to stone Jesus because He declared himself Jehovah, the great "I Am!"

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."8

Trinity: The Godhead of three separate, distinct spirit personages, Father and Son, of flesh and bone, and Holy Ghost.- Alma 11:44; 3 Nephi 11:27.

Our Heavenly Father and Jesus, having "flesh and bone," are therefore not considered "spirit personages" as mentioned here. The term "Trinity" is not used by Latter-day Saints, because it represents common misconceptions about the Godhead.

"We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." (A of F 1:1) This first article of faith epitomizes our doctrine. We do not accept the Athanasian Creed. We do not accept the Nicene Creed, nor any other creed based on tradition and the conclusions of men. We do accept, as the basis of our doctrine, the statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith that when he prayed for wisdom in the woods, "the light rested upon me [and] I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other, This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JSH 1:17)."9

The scriptures provided in the article say:

Alma 11:44

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

3 Nephi 11:27

And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.

It should be noted that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as the Godhead, are one in purpose and not physical body or entity.

Adam: Jesus' helper in the creation. Brigham Young stated: "Our father Adam came into the garden of Eden… and brought Eve, one of his wives… He is our Father and our God." (Journal of Discourses, Volume I, page 50, 1854 Edition)

This passage actually reads a little different:

When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do4.

It is interesting that detractors always like to accuse Brigham Young of saying that Adam was God the Father. In the actual quote, he specifies that Adam was "Michael, the Archangel," who fought against Satan ("the dragon") in the preexistence10. Brigham Young also clearly understood, and taught, that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden, so they could not have been the same person.

[T]he restored gospel of Jesus Christ makes it abundantly clear that Adam and Eve were children of God just as we are11.

Those who peddle the well-worn Adam-God myth, usually charge the Latter-day Saints with believing that: (1) Our Father in heaven, the Supreme God, to whom we pray, is Adam, the first man; and (2) Adam was the father of Jesus Christ. A long series of absurd and false deductions are made from these propositions. Those who spread this untruth about the Latter-day Saints go back for authority to a sermon delivered by President Brigham Young "in the tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 9th, 1852."(Journal of Discourses, 1:50) Certain statements there made are confusing if read superficially, but very clear if read with their context. Enemies of President Brigham Young and of the Church have taken advantage of the opportunity and have used these statements repeatedly and widely to do injury to the reputation of President Young and the Mormon people. An honest reading of this sermon and of other reported discourses of President Brigham Young proves that the great second President of the Church held no such views as have been put into his mouth in the form of the Adam-God myth12.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine13.

After his sin, Adam became earth's first Christian. (The Pearl of great Price, Moses 6:64-66; Ensign, January 1884, page 11)

To begin with, there is no "Ensign, January 1884, page 11," because the Ensign was first published in 197114. Moses 6:64-66, however, says:

And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.

And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.

And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever;

This is, of course, the old "Christian before there were Christians" argument, again. Didn't Adam and Eve walk with God in the Garden?15 Inasmuch as God and Christ are eternal beings, and God never changes16, is it so hard to believe that earth's first prophet knew who the Saviour of all mankind would be? Besides, we are told that God does nothing without the prophets knowing about it17. With the atonement of Christ as the focal point of the Gospel, and with the early laws and commandments foreshadowing and preparing the people for His coming and sacrifice, how could Adam not know what was to come–the source of all redemption?

He is "the Ancient of days" (Doctrine and Covenants 116)

This section has only one verse, which reads:

Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet.

This fact was also verified elsewhere by Joseph Smith:

Daniel 7:22 speaks of the return of the Ancient of Days, which the Prophet Joseph Smith said means the oldest man… Adam.18.

and is the literal physical father of Jesus.- Journal of Discourses, Volume I, page 51.

Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.

As far as I am aware, no Mormon has ever believed that Adam was the father of Jesus. It is definitely not an official doctrine of the Church. Read the quote above, again. Was God the Father ever in the Garden of Eden? Indeed, He was, where he walked with Adam and Eve!

Michael: Another name for Adam, the archangel.- Doctrine and Covenants 107:54.

And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.

As our present names were given us by our physical parents, so were we assigned names by our Eternal parents in the preexistence. Adam was Michael in the preexistence, just as Jesus was Jehovah.

Notes

  1. Elohim, Encyclopedia of Mormonism. (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Elohim)
  2. "Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith." GospeLink. CD-ROM. SLC: Deseret Book, 1998. (http://deseretbook.com/Discourses-Prophet-Joseph-Smith-Alma-P-Burton/i/5087088)
  3. Philippians 2:6
  4. Journal of Discourses, Volume 1, Discourse 8. (http://journalofdiscourses.com/1/8)
  5. Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Topical Guide, scriptures.lds.org. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/tg/jesus-christ-jehovah?lang=eng&letter=j)
  6. Jesus Christ-Jehovah, Index to the Triple Combination, scriptures.lds.org. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/triple-index/jesus-christ-jehovah?lang=eng&letter=j)
  7. John 8:56-58. The New World Translation renders John 8:56-58 as follows: "Abraham YOUR father rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced." Therefore the Jews said to him: "You are not yet fifty years old, and still you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them: "Most truly I say to YOU, before Abraham came into existence, I have been."
  8. Ex. 3:13-14. The New World Translation renders Exodus 3:13-14 as: "Nevertheless, Moses said to the [true] God: "Suppose I am now come to the sons of Israel and I do say to them, 'The God of YOUR forefathers has sent me to YOU,' and they do say to me, 'What is his name?' What shall I say to them?" At this God said to Moses: "I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE." And he added: "This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, 'I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to YOU.'"
  9. "What Are People Asking about Us?" Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign. Nov. 1998, 71. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/11/what-are-people-asking-about-us?lang=eng)
  10. Rev. 12:7
  11. "In The Beginning." Robert J. Woodford, Ensign. January 1998. Emphasis added. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/01/in-the-beginning-a-latter-day-perspective?lang=eng)
  12. "Evidences And Reconciliations." John A. Widtsoe, Bookcraft, 1960, py 68. eBook available from Deseret Book.
  13. "Our Own Liahona." Ensign. November 1976. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1976/10/our-own-liahona?lang=eng)
  14. Ensign (LDS magazine), Wikipedia.
  15. Gen. 3:8
  16. 2 Nephi 27:23; Malachi 3:6.
  17. Amos 3:7
  18. "What Modern Revelation Teaches About Adam." Arthur A. Bailey, Ensign. January 1998. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/01/what-modern-revelation-teaches-about-adam?lang=eng)
  19. How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now, by James L. Kugel. (BYU Studies) (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=7592)