Mormonism and scripture interpretation/First Corinthians 15 and spirit bodies

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==

QUESTIONS

== Why does the LDS Church teach that man first existed as spirits in heaven when 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical body comes before the spiritual?


To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Answer

In context, Paul is clearly talking about the physical resurrection from the dead. For example, earlier in the chapter he has written:

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
...
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
...
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die... (1 Corinthians 15:12-36, selections as indicated by verse numbers)

Paul clearly believes, then, that the physical body with which we die will be resurrected.

He then tells the Saints that:

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption...
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:40-43.)

The "spiritual body" to which Paul refers is the resurrected physical body which has been glorified.

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53.)

The "natural" body is the weak, corruptible mortal body that is "sown in weakness." The "spiritual body" is the glorified, resurrected body "raised in power." But, this does not mean that it is not also a physical, or corporeal body—Paul has just spent several verses insisting upon the reality of Christ's resurrection, and using Him as a model for the resurrection of the Saints. And, clearly Jesus' body was tangible and physical following the resurrection:

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. (Luke 24:39-42, (emphasis added).)
==

CONCLUSION

==

When Latter-day Saints speak of God creating our "spirit bodies," we do not mean the glorified, physical "spiritual body" of the resurrected. We refer to God's role as our Heavenly Father before our mortal lives.

Biblical statements indicate that God is the father of our spirits and we were known to him before our birth (e.g., Jeremiah 1:5). This is a separate doctrine from the doctrine of a glorious resurrection, which is clearly Paul's topic.

It is unfortunate that critics find it necessary to distort and twist the clear meaning of scripture in an attempt to make the Latter-day Saints "offenders for a word."

Endnotes

None

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles



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  • Is the doctrine that God the Father and Jesus Christ have physical bodies not Biblical?
    Brief Summary: Some Christians attack the LDS doctrine of God the Father and Jesus Christ being corporeal beings—i.e., having physical bodies. They claim that this doctrine is not Biblical. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Elohim and Jehovah
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai and other similar Old Testament Hebrew names for deity are simply different titles which emphasize different attributes of the "one true God." In support of this criticism, they cite Old Testament scriptures that speak of "the LORD [Jehovah] thy God [Elohim]" (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2; 4:35; 6:4) as proof that these are different titles for the same God. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Foreknowledge
    Brief Summary: Most Latter-day Saints hold to unlimited foreknowledge. This has been the traditional view of most Christians since the post-New Testament period, and it is one doctrine that Joseph Smith didn't seem to question, as there are no revelations that address it. Indeed, it appears that most LDS leaders and scholars simply haven't questioned its veracity. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • "God is a man"
    Brief Summary: Some Christians object to the Mormon belief that God has a physical body and human form by quoting scripture which says that "God is not a man" (e.g. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9). (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • God is a Spirit?
    Brief Summary: Some Christians object to the LDS position that God has a physical body by quoting John 4:24: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
    • Lecture of Faith 5 teaches the Father is "a personage of spirit"
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      ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Hinckley downplaying the King Follett Discourse
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that, in an effort to appear more "mainline" Christian, the Church is downplaying the importance of some doctrines taught late in Joseph Smith's lifetime. Prominent among these is the doctrine of human deification. To bolster their argument, critics usually quote from a 1997 Time magazine interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it ... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it." Critics have claimed that this means that President Hinckley has admitted to altering LDS doctrine, or discarding a teaching from the past. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • "Celestial sex"
    Brief Summary: Some evangelical Christians claim that Latter-day Saints believe in a practice called "Celestial sex," and that this is the manner in which "spirit children" are formed. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗




  • Joseph Smith's early conception of God
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith initially taught standard Nicene trinitarianism. The early documents tell a different story, however. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Modalism in the Book of Mormon?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon teaches the trinitarian heresy of modalism or Sabellianism. This reading misinterprets some Book of Mormon verses, and ignores Book of Mormon texts which clearly contradict this reading. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Lecture on Faith 5 and the nature of God the Father
    Brief Summary: Lectures on Faith, which used to be part of the Doctrine and Covenants, teach that God is a spirit. Joseph Smith's later teachings contradict this. More generally, critics argue that Joseph Smith taught an essentially "trinitarian" view of the Godhead until the mid 1830s, thus proving the Joseph was "making it up" as he went along. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Early LDS beliefs about God
    Brief Summary: Some evangelical Christians attempt to show that the LDS idea of deification is unbiblical, unchristian and untrue. They seem to think that this doctrine is the main reason why the LDS reject the Psychological Trinity. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗



It is claimed that the doctrine of human deification is unbiblical, false, and arrogant. Related claims include: 1) Mormons believe they will 'supplant God', 2) Belief in theosis, or human deification, implies more than one "god," which means Mormons are "polytheists," 3) The Mormon concept of "human deification" is a pagan belief derived from Greek philosophy. (Click here for full article)

  • Gods of their own planets
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Mormons believe that they can push themselves higher in a type of 'celestial pecking order.' This is often expressed by the claim that Latter-day Saint men wish to become "gods of their own planets." (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Was God once a sinner?
    Brief Summary: If God was once like us, do Mormons believe that God was once a sinner? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗



A collection of articles that address the Latter-day Saint view of the concept of the Trinity. (Click here for full article)

  • Early beliefs
    Brief Summary: Critics attempt to show that the LDS idea of deification is unbiblical, unchristian and untrue. They seem to think that this doctrine is the main reason why the LDS reject the Psychological Trinity, however, "the historic church's concept of the Trinity" does not exist. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Nicene creed
    Brief Summary: It is claimed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian because they do not accept the Nicene Creed's statement about the Trinity. Since the Nicene Creed was first adopted in A.D. 325, it seems clear that there were many Christians in the first centuries following the resurrection of Christ who did not use it. Those who oppose calling the Latter-day Saints "Christians" need to explain whether Peter and Paul are "Christians," since they lived and practiced Christianity at a time when there was no Nicene Creed, and no Trinitarianism in the current sense. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗




  • Anachronistic Holy Ghost in Book of Mormon?
    Brief Summary: Why is the Holy Ghost mentioned so many times in the Book of Mormon prior to the time of Christ (e.g., 1 Nephi 10:17) and yet in the Old Testament there is hardly any mention of the Holy Ghost, especially with regard to his mission of bearing witness of the truth? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Burning in the bosom
    Brief Summary: Critics complain that the LDS appeal to "revelation" or a "burning in the bosom" is subjective, emotion-based, and thus unreliable and susceptible to self-deception. Sectarian critics also belittle appeals to spiritual experiences, comparing them to "warm fuzzies," or merely something "felt by simply watching a Hollywood movie." (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Some claim that praying to God in order to know the truth is not reliable
    Brief Summary: A variety of attacks have been made on Moroni's promise (Moroni 10:3–5): It is claimed that praying about the Book of Mormon is not an objective standard for determining if the book is true or not, and should therefore not be trusted. It is also claimed that many people have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and have either received no answer, or an answer from God that it is false. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Divinity without a body?
    Brief Summary: Critics charge that since LDS doctrine teaches that a body is required for exaltation, the Holy Ghost cannot be fully God, because he does not have a physical body. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Identity
    Brief Summary: Who is the Holy Ghost? Has he or will he receive a physical body? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Joseph Smith is the Holy Ghost?
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    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Moroni's promise
    Brief Summary: Critics have made a variety of attacks Moroni's promise (Moroni 10:3–5): They claim that praying about the Book of Mormon is not an objective standard for determining if the book is true or not, and should therefore not be trusted. They claim that many people have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and have either received no answer, or an answer from God that it is false. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Similar experiences
    Brief Summary: Some claim that when religious experiences of people of other faiths sound similar, it calls into question LDS spiritual experiences. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Testimony and doubt reconciliation
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    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Will the Holy Ghost receive a body?
    Brief Summary: Who is the Holy Ghost? Has he or will he receive a physical body? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Spectacular Witness (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
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    Brief Summary: How do we know when a revelation comes from God, or from the devil? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗



This page discusses the problem of evil—can one believe in a good, just, loving God when one considers all the suffering and evil in the world? (Click here for full article)




  • Graven images
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the Church violates the Biblical command against "graven images" because it displays sculptures of Christ, statues of the angel Moroni on the spires of our temples, or paintings showing scriptural scenes, within temples, chapels, visitors' centers, and publications. (See Exodus 20:3-4.) (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Heavenly Mother
    Brief Summary: Do Latter-day Saints believe in a female divine person, a "Heavenly Mother" as counterpart to God, the Heavenly Father? Are we allowed to pray to our "Heavenly Mother?" It is claimed that LDS belief in a "queen of heaven" is a pagan belief, and that the concept of a "Heavenly Mother" has no support in LDS scripture. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗




  • Infinite regress of Gods
    Brief Summary: Is it true that LDS doctrine teaches a "genealogy of gods," in which God the Father had/has a God, and this God had a God, and so forth? If so, how does LDS doctrine deal with the problem of an "infinite regress" of "great-great-grandfather Gods"? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • Polytheism
    Brief Summary: Some non-LDS Christian claim that Latter-day Saints are polytheists because we don't believe the Nicene Creed. Others say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief? (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗
  • "No God beside me"
    Brief Summary: Some Christians claim that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and belief in theosis are not compatible with multiple statements in Isaiah that "beside [the Lord] there is no God." These passages include Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6,8; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 45:21-22; and Isaiah 46:9-10. (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗




  • No man has seen God
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the Bible teaches that God cannot be seen by mortals, and so claims by Joseph Smith and others to have seen God the Father or Jesus Christ must be false. The most commonly used Biblical citation invoked by the critics is probably John 1:18, which reads “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗



Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable. (Click here for full article)

  • Ancient of Days
    Brief Summary: If the Adam-God doctrine isn't true, how come DC 27:11 calls Adam the Ancient of Days which is clearly a title for God in Dan. 7: (Click here for full article)
    ∗       ∗       ∗


FairMormon web site

God FairMormon articles on-line
Corporeality
  • Barry R. Bickmore, "Does God Have a Body In Human Form?" FairMormon link
  • Roger Cook, "God's 'Glory:' More Evidence for the Anthropomorphic Nature of God in the Bible" FairMormon link


External links

God on-line articles
  • Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, "The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation," Ensign 19 (January 1989), 27–33. off-site
  • Gordon B. Hinckley, "In These Three I Believe," Ensign (July 2006), 3. off-site
  • William O. Nelson, "Is the LDS View of God Consistent with the Bible?," Ensign (July 1987), 56. off-site
Corporeality
  • Jacob Neusner, "Conversation in Nauvoo about the Corporeality of God," Brigham Young University Studies 36 no. 1 (1996–97), 7–30. off-site
  • David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 6–94. PDF link
  • David L. Paulsen, "Divine Embodiment: The Earliest Christian Understanding of God," in Noel B. Reynolds (editor), Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2005),239–293. ISBN 0934893020. off-site off-site
Infinite regress of Gods?
  • Geoff J. et al., "Yes, God the Father does have a Father," www.newcoolthang.com, blog post and discussion of 25 May 2006. off-site
    This post and subsequent discussion demonstrates a wide range of approaches to the question of whether God the Father has a God "above" Him.
  • Blake T. Ostler, "Review of The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 99–146. off-site
LDS doctrine and primary sources
  • Van Hale, "The Doctrinal Impact of the King Follett Discourse," Brigham Young University Studies 18 no. 2 (1978), 209. PDF link
  • Stan Larson, "The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text"," Brigham Young University Studies 18 no. 2 (1978), 193. PDF link
  • Joseph Smith, Jr., "Sermon in the Grove," (16 June 1844): all versions available off-site
Trinitarian issues
  • Barry R. Bickmore, "Not Completely Worthless (Review of: "Christ," In The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism)," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 275–302. off-site
  • Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen, "The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths (Review of: Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution)," FARMS Review of Books 13/2 (2001): 109–169. off-site
  • Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent," Ensign (November 2007), 40–42. off-site (Key source)
  • Russell C. McGregor and Kerry A. Shirts, "Letters to an Anti-Mormon (Review of Letters to a Mormon Elder: Eye Opening Information for Mormons and the Christians Who Talk with Them)," FARMS Review of Books 11/1 (1999): 90–298. off-site
  • Blake T. Ostler, "Review of The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 99–146. off-site
  • David L. Paulsen and R. Dennis Potter, "How Deep the Chasm? A Reply to Owen and Mosser's Review," FARMS Review of Books 11/2 (1999): 221–264. off-site
  • Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, "Comparing LDS Beliefs with First-Century Christianity" (Provo, Utah: FARMS, no date). off-site
  • Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993). off-site FairMormon link

Printed material

God printed materials
Corporeality
  • Edmond LaB. Cherbonnier, "In Defense of Anthropomorphism," in Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978), 155–173. ISBN 0884943585.
  • Carl W. Griffin and David L. Paulsen, "Augustine and the Corporeality of God," Harvard Theological Review 95/1 (2002): 97–118.
  • James L. Kugel, The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible (Free Press, 2003), xi–xii, 5–6, 104–106, 134–135.
  • David L. Paulsen, "Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses," Harvard Theological Review 83/2 (1990): 105–116.
  • Daniel C. Peterson, "On the Motif of the Weeping God in Moses 7," in Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, ed. Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 285–317. ISBN 0934893713.
  • Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Baker Academic, 2001), 33–34.
  • Roland J. Teske, "Divine Immutability in Saint Augustine," Modern Schoolman 63 (May 1986): 233.
LDS doctrine and primary sources
  • Blake T. Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought Vol. 1: The Attributes of God (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2001). ISBN 1589580036. ISBN 978-1589580039.
  • Blake T. Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought Vol. 2: The Problems With Theism And the Love of God (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2006). ISBN 1589580958. ISBN 978-1589580954.
Reviews of Beckwith and Parrish
  • James E. Faulconer, "review of The Mormon Concept of God, by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish," Brigham Young University Studies 32 no. 1–2 (1992), 185–195.
  • Blake T. Ostler, "Review of The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 99–146. off-site
  • David Paulsen and Blake Ostler, “F. J. Beckwith and S. E. Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 35/2 (1994): 118–20.
  • L. Shane Hopkins, “Assessing the Arguments in The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis” (honors thesis, Brigham Young University, 1999).
Trinitarian issues
  • Timothy W. Bartel, "The Plight of the Relative Trinitarian," Religious Studies 24/2 (June 1988): 129–155.
  • Jean Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, trans. John A. Baker (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964).
  • Jean Daniélou, Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture, trans. John A. Baker (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1973).
  • E. Feser, "Has Trinitarianism Been Shown to Be Coherent?," Faith and Philosophy 14/1 (January 1997): 87–97.
  • Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma, trans. Neil Buchanan, 7 vols. (New York: Dover, 1961).
  • Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church (1914; reprint, Gloucester, Mass.: Smith, 1970).
  • James L. Kugel, The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible (Free Press, 2003), xi–xii, 5–6, 104–106, 134–135.
  • Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Baker Academic, 2001), 33–34.
  • James Shiel, Greek Thought and the Rise of Christianity (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968).
  • Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
  • Harry A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, vol. 1, rev. 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970).

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