LDS Articles of Faith, Part XI
Article I, The Holy Ghost
Mormonism’s first Article of Faith says, “We believe in God the Eternal Father, and In His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” Christians often use the same words in reference to the Trinity. But as our previous blogs showed, LDS believe God the Father and Jesus Christ both have bodies of flesh and bones which Biblical Christians do not believe. LDS founder, Joseph Smith also said, “The Holy Ghost is yet a spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body (of flesh and bones) as the Savior did or as God or the gods before them took bodies” (Discourses on the Holy Ghost, p. 73, compiled by N. B. Lundwall). Biblical Christians don’t believe that. Dr. John A. Widtsoe was an LDS Apostle and an authority on LDS doctrine. He wrote monthly articles for the official LDS magazine, The Improvement Era, predecessor of the current Ensign magazine. His articles were later published in books and three of his books were put into one volume entitled Evidences and Reconciliations. On page 62 of that book he said, “The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, and of limited dimensions, who cannot himself be everywhere present.” He quoted the sixth LDS Prophet, Joseph F. Smith who said, “The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son.” Then he said, “Consequently, the Holy Ghost needs must use agents in performing his mission. The chief agent or agency by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes his work, is usually spoken of as the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God. It is a universe-filling medium, or influence.” On page 63 Widtsoe said, “It has caused some confusion that the terms, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, and Spirit of God, as rendered by Bible translators with imperfect knowledge of the gospel, appear to be interchangeable…With the restoration of the gospel, this confusion vanished.”
But the LDS “restored gospel” did not resolve confusion about the Holy Ghost, it created it! In the original Greek language of the New Testament the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are the same words and the same Person. There is no Holy Ghost AND Holy Spirit as separate entities. LDS still use the 1611 A D King James Translation of the Bible which uses the old English word “Holy Ghost” instead of “Holy Spirit” like most modern Bible translations. In 1611 the word “ghost” was used instead of “spirit” when speaking about unseen entities. Widtsoe and other LDS leaders seem to be unaware of that! So, Widtsoe said on page 76, “The Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Comforter, is the third member of the Godhead, and is a personage, distinct from the Holy Spirit.” On the same page he said, “The Holy Spirit is the agent, means, or influence by which the will, power, and intelligence of God, and the Godhead, personal Beings, may be transmitted throughout space.”
In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith on page 199, Mormonism’s founder also said, “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized.” Smith then said, Cornelius could only receive “the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.” But Smith should have read the story of Cornelius’ conversion in Acts 10:23-48 more carefully. It says in verses 44 to 48, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” Notice that Cornelius and some of his relatives and friends (Acts 10:24) were listening to Peter preach when the Holy Ghost fell on all of them (Acts 10:44). Verse 45 says the Jews were surprised to see that the Gentiles received “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And Peter said in verse 47, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” Notice that the Gentiles received the gift of the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. Peter said they received the Holy Spirit the same way he and the 120 in the upper room received that gift on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). So, instead of clarifying the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders have created confusion by changing what the Bible actually says!
In Doctrine & Covenants (D. & C.) Sec. 130:22, Joseph Smith said, “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.” He also said in D. & C. Sec. 131:7, “All spirit is matter.” And LDS Apostle James Talmage said on pages 43 and 48 of The Articles of Faith, “An immaterial being cannot exist.” So, the Holy Ghost of Mormonism must be composed of matter or material, yet He can dwell in us according to D. & C. 130:22. But LDS Apostle Widtsoe said, “The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son.” LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie said in Mormon Doctrine on page 317, “The Prophet (Joseph Smith) observes “that God is the only supreme governor and independent Being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient without beginning of days or end of life.” But on page 319 McConkie said, “Three glorified, exalted and perfected personages comprise the Godhead or the supreme presidency of the universe…They are God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Ghost…Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere present.” So, LDS teach that no member of the Godhead is omnipresent but their power or influence is! McConkie also said on page 359, “The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of Spirit, a Spirit Person, a Spirit man, a Spirit Entity. He can be in only one place at one time, and he does not and cannot transform himself into any other form or image than that of a Man whom he is, though his power and influence can be manifest at one and the same time through all immensity… Sometimes the designation Holy Ghost is used to mean, not the Individual or Person who is a member of the Godhead, but the power or gift of that Personage.” Notice that McConkie said that the Holy Ghost can only appear in the image of a man. But Luke 3:22 says, “The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove.” If all of this seems confusing, it is because it is! Mormon answers to questions about their view of the Godhead are often conflicted. LDS claim that having living prophets and latter-day scripture has clarified many Bible doctrines, but is that true?
Our next blog will discuss the second LDS Article of Faith which is about punishment for sin.