Monday Mid-Day Theological Poll: Divine Embodiment Edition

When will the Holy Ghost get a body?
[poll id=”127″]

Please post your reasons below.


  1. I can’t find the “I have no idea whatsoever” option.

  2. In the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph Smith described the trinity, and then said “but the[y] all agree in one or the Self Same thing But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did”

  3. Ditto, Ray’s comment.

  4. Martin Willey says:

    “Never” is winning? Really?

  5. I’m with J. Stapley. That’s how it was explained to me– and it makes sense, doesn’t it? The progressive process and all.

  6. He is getting a body, after the millennium, because my parents told me so.

  7. I’m in the “never” category because I tend to think of “spirit” in general, and “Holy Spirit” in particular, to be educational constructs of the way we experience existence than specific, separate, identifiable, and permanent “things.”

  8. I don’t know (yeah, as if all of YOU did!) I said “never” only because the Holy Ghost seems to be a personage apart, completely outside of the pattern of progression normal for humans and gods.

  9. After: because He is now a Spirit, a God no less, and thus requires a physical body to fully progress as a celestial being. This according to my limited knowledge. Now when “after” is would definitely be up for debate… or eventual revelation.

  10. Hmm… Ardis, you make a good point. Maybe differs from the normal process?

  11. Aaron Brown says:

    He gets a body everytime he inhabits mine, and makes me do things. That comment of mine the other day that you didn’t like …. that was His.


  12. Yes, but J. Stapley, that quote doesn’t address when the Holy Ghost would receive a body like Jesus. There are those who say the Holy Ghost is part of this creation and thus must receive it prior to the final judgment. There are then those who say the Holy Ghost is not part of this creation and will receive his (or her) body in a future creation and thus after the final judgment.

    So far as I know there is absolutely no way to determine the answer. Those who hold strong views on the subject typically also hold to a particular theology on the identity of the Holy Ghost.

  13. To add, Ardis raises a good point since some, like Orson Pratt, might see at least a significant number of references to the Holy Ghost as to a spiritual fluid fairly independent of the individual embodied personages such as the Father or the Son.

  14. Clark, you will note that I didn’t say what I thought, just what JS said.

    A consistent reading of the KFD and the SitG gives you a pattern where Jesus came to earth as God the Father once did. That little bit from the SitG would put the Holy Ghost in that same pattern.

  15. If the Holy Ghost receives a body, who will prompt him to do what’s right?

  16. If I had to speculate, I would guess sometime during the Millennium. Since Satan will be bound, and Christ will be reigning personally on the earth, that seems to be the time when He will be the least missed in spirit form.

  17. #16, What about this statement in reference to the tellestial kingdom: D&C 76: 86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;

  18. I don’t know, CW, that’s a good question. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will be embodied at that point? I’m just guessing here.

  19. Re: #17 The Holy Ghost could minister and have a body. The Savior is going to minister to the terrestrial kingdom.

    I have thought about this question more than is probably worthwhile. I think He needs to get a body before the judgement in a this creation sort of thing. I agree with the millenium #16, however, I wanted to suggest that maybe the Holy Ghost has already received his body and been seperated from it again. (Cue wild speculation about when during the history of the earth this might have happened) Maybe the last baby born before the rains came down and the floods came up (whether you believe in a worldwide or more regional variety). Those dark ages were pretty dark, etc.

  20. If the Holy Ghost receives a body, who will prompt him to do what’s right?

    The next spirit to fill that calling of course.

  21. I don’t really know or particularly care, but, at least until the Lectures on Faith were “de-canonized” (which occurred before my birth), I would have thought along the lines of the Fifth Lecture that the Holy Ghost was not a personage, but something like a shared mind of the Father and Son:

    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 great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three
    constitute the Godhead, and are one: . . .
    . . . .
    Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
    A. Two: the Father and the Son. (5:1.)

  22. The problem is that whoever wrote Lecture 5 forgot about 1 Ne 11:11.

  23. Why assume the spirit in 1 Ne 11 is the Holy Ghost? I always took it as Christ myself.

  24. J Stapley, yeah, although I think you may be reading a tad too much Utah thinking back into those sermons. (Of course I tend to do that too, so I can’t criticize)

    DavidH, the issue of Lecture 5 is always a contentious one. I’d note that Pratt’s odd notion of the Spirit as a spirit fluid in and through all things as a kind of intelligent aether probably got some basis on Lecture 5. I think it wrong of course. It would be interesting to know how much of Lecture 5 is an odd attempt to salvage Trinitarian thought, how much is based on revelations like Mosiah 15, and how much originated with Joseph Smith or Sydney Rigdon.

  25. BTW speaking of decanonization of the LoF I notice the Dialogue article on this is available online.

  26. “Why assume the spirit in 1 Ne 11 is the Holy Ghost?”

    1. “The Spirit of the Lord” is a formal title for the third member of the Godhead. By contrast, the premortal Messiah in Ether 3 is referred to as “the Lord”.

    2. The “Spirit” in 1 Ne 11 refers to the Son of God multiple times in third person. In Ether, the Lord refers to himself in first person.

  27. #18 and 19, If the HG can minister to us with a body, why was He ever not embodied to begin with? I mean I thought that was why He didn’t have a body, so His influence could be felt everywhere? In any event, I definitely buy the idea that somebody else can receive the assignment. We don’t even know His name, so who knows, maybe He is replaced every 3 years like a mission president.

  28. #27 He can’t minister to us with a body. That much is clear. My point is that if Christ can minister to the terrestrial kingdom with a body, then the Holy Ghost can do the same in the telestial world.

    Right now, Christ and the Holy Ghost have different roles in the same place. The scripture you cite would seem to indicate that after the assignment to kingdoms, they will perform the same function in different places.

  29. If the Dread Pirate Roberts can be different people over time, I can buy the Holy Ghost being a title filled by multiple personages throughout the eternities.

  30. Thomas Parkin says:

    I don’t take much from the idea that Christ will minister to the Terrestrial Kingdom except that they are able to bear His presence there. I imagine that having inherited all that Father has, He will have plenty of other things to do with His eternity than spend a lot of it slumming in the TK.

    I do think it is significant, however, that the type of being that the Holy Ghost is minsters to Telestial worlds, since we are living on one now. It is the Holy Ghost that ministers to us here, not Christ, certainly not the Father. The Holy Ghost testifies to us of the Father and the Son, and angels and ministering spirits are sent. I appreciate the saying of Joseph Smith that the idea that the Father and Son dwell in our hearts is a false notion. They may at some point “make their abode” with us, but that personal ministration will come no sooner, it seems to me, than we are at least capable of living Terrestrial laws. ~

  31. Yes, but it says “but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;”. ‘Through the ministration of the terrestrial’ implies that the HG is still ministering through people just as He now ministers through His servants. Whereas the terrestrial kingdom will “receive of the presence of the Son,” (verse 77). So it appears to me that in the eternal world the HG is still unembodied.

  32. Mark D,
    I don’t think we can take those passages as so rigidly defining who is the Lord and who is his Spirit. You have to take context and audience into account. For that matter, President Packer seems to teach that most instances of inspiration that we would call the “influence of the Holy Ghost” are actually the Light of Christ/Spirit of the Lord. Our titles and definitions are obviously muddled here.

  33. Last Lemming says:

    I’m in the “never” camp. Although the Holy Ghost I believe is not human and not in need of any body, he (it) is also not quite so ethereal as Greenfrog’s. I would describe it as identifiable (at least conceptually) and permanent, but not separate.

    Comment #31 also makes a good argument.

  34. Dang! Ray (29) beat me to it!

    I have no idea where I heard this or whether it’s true, but can’t the “Holy Ghost” be both a person and a role? Like the term “Elias,” is it that hard to conceive of the Holy Ghost being an actual individual, but not necessarily having to be the SAME individual throughout all eternity?

    If we can’t receive a fullness of glory without a body, neither can the Holy Ghost. And considering that he is as perfect as a being can be without a body, wouldn’t it seem fair that there’s a plan for him to receive his fullness of glory at some point in the eternities? If Jesus and the Holy Ghost could have been gods even before their mortal experience, it seems logical to me that God the Father may have other spiritual children who can fill the roll of “Holy Ghost” for the worlds yet to be created, once the individual currently filling that role receives his fullness of glory.

    I have no references to support that, but does anyone know any reason this couldn’t be in the realm of possibility?

  35. Lorin (#34): Could Christ also be a role, then, too? Will there be another Jesus (for worlds not yet created)? or is his atonement good for everything the Father has created, for ever and ever, worlds without end? When I think on the “infinite atonement” statements made by church leaders over the years, I marvel at the fact that considering the expanse of the visible universe as we know it, the chances that we would end up on the same planet that Jesus Christ came to to atone for the sins of all humankind are mind-bogglingly slim. Slim, that is, unless out of all the known universe we are the only planet capable of sustaining human life.

    Speculation, all, I know, but isn’t that what the monday midday theological poll is all about? Cheers.

  36. “Can’t the Holy Ghost be..a role”.
    “Could Christ be a role too”

    I think we are getting into “fundamentalist mormon” thinking when we begin seeing members of the Godhead as roles or offices. Some fundamentalists have assigned Joseph Smith the current “role” as the Holy Ghost. To me, I don’t see anything in church teachings, past or present, that supports this. Obviously, our lack of information concerning the Holy Ghost has led to vast speculation, sometimes centered on perceived “nurturing” characteristics of His assignment in the Godhead. Again, speculation is fun and generally harmless, but I think I’ll pretty much stick with the 1838 D&C statement on the Godhead as my guide.

  37. Mark (26)

    Jesus speaking as God would speak in third person since he is acting as the mediator for the Father. The account in Ether is unusual precisely because the Brother of Jared gets past that investiture and sees Jesus as he is. Up to that point he is acting as the Father. After he makes a point of saying he’s both the Father and the Son. (And as many have noted this bears great resemblance both here and in Mos 15 to the YHWH, lesser YHWH texts in Judaism)

    As to Spirit of the Lord being a title for the 3rd member of the Godhead I think that’s what is in question. Whether it always is. So that’s circular if you apply the conclusion as evidence for the conclusion. In any case you also have passages like 2 Cor 3 where things are more tricky.

    “Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    The whole use of the phrase “spirit of the Lord” ends up being tricky and is still confusing today in the Church. Sometimes we use spirit as roughly analogous to the influence of God but then that can’t be the personage of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes we use it referring to the personage. Sometimes we use it more as meaning a kind of harmony with the economy of God. (Sort of like the more generic sense in English of spirit such as we use in phrases like “team spirit”)

    While some think Joseph clarified things in D&C 131 and in the later Nauvoo sermons over things like Lectures on Faith 5 I don’t think it really does. We’re still left with a very equivocal term.

  38. Just to add, I think the best reading of 1 Ne 11 is that it is some unknown angel who has the spirit of the Lord on him. It might be Christ but there is no necessary reason for it to be.

  39. Ditto to #29

    I think of the holy ghost as a calling, filled by un-embodied spirits waiting for their calling on earth.

  40. I don’t think it’s a rotating role, that of the Holy Ghost. We worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Elder Maxwell even spoke about worshipping the Holy Ghost in General Conference not too many years back.

    And that explains why I voted “never” – I just don’t think that the Godhead is a changing job, it’s, well, God.

  41. The issue of worship is an other odd term that is, I think, much more confusing than it appears at first glance. For instance there are some such as BRM who would say that while we esteem the Son and the Holy Ghost as God we do not worship them. (I wish there were an online Mormon Doctrine around so I could find the exact phrasing)

    The typical prooftext varies but often 2 Ne. 25: 16 is appealed to. The obvious problem is whether “worship” always means the same thing. This is often wrapped up with the issue of prayer where once again there is sometimes a dispute. Typically the doctrine is taken to be we only pray (and thereby worship) the Father in the name of the Son. The obvious problem is 3 Ne 19:18 for which a few apologetic answers have been provided but none of which are fully satisfactory.

  42. To add the other problem is the ambiguous meaning of “worship.” When exactly are we worshipping? What does it mean? If we are worshipping God during our Sunday meetings what does that mean? I don’t have a good answer for that either.

  43. Clark:

    Do you ever wonder who Old Testament jews were actually praying too? Consider the following:
    1)Saints have been told (at least since Talmage) that Jesus is Jehovah/YHWH, the God of the Old Testament, 2) We are told to only pray to the Father, 3) Jews in the Old Testament prayed to the unnameable God, i.e. YHWH. To add to this, Jesus response to the Pharisee question “where is thy Father?” was “Ye neither know me, nor my Father”.

  44. Larry, I don’t think enough about the Godhead was revealed such that the typical OT person could really even make sense of that question. To them they were praying to God.

    Talmage’s simplification that Jesus is Jehovah is problematic on a whole slew of levels. Certainly there is a sense in which he is at times. However I think that he is by divine investiture of authority (the theological innovation of Talmage’s era even if the ideas predate it). To me this is the key of the YHWH/lesser YHWH speculation in Merkabah literature. It’s also how Jesus can be both the Father and the Son. He literally is the mediator and all dealings with the Father are via the son.

    To us it’s important to ask who someone is. My sense is that in the scriptures that is far less significant a question. There the issue is what is being represented.

    3 Ne 19, which I referred to earlier, actually brings in all the complexities of the OT that you bring up.

  45. Good thoughts, Clark. I would only disagree that Talmage invented divine investiture. As I recall, Justin Martyr in 160 a.d. used the same argument (I believe in his Dialogue With Trypho) to explain why the Father, Jesus, and angels always seemed to speak in the first person as if they were the Father. But then, you mention that the idea predates Talmage, so we’re good.

  46. I was more thinking of divine investiture of authority in terms of discussion among LDS in the sense we talk about it now.

    It predates Justin Martyr as well as is the basis of the lesser YHWH in Merkabah literature as well.

  47. Question... says:

    A apologize in advance for a minor threadjack but hoped that someone would clarify a few things…

    Is it the Holy Ghost that people are referring to when they pray “We ask that Thy Spirit be with us….”?
    It gets a little confusing when we refer to the Holy Ghost as Heavenly Father’s spirit and as Jesus’ spirit (as in the sacrament) and yet the Holy Ghost is himself a personage of spirit while Heavenly Father and Jesus (I assume) have their own distinct spirits.

    Also, for those that have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have the right to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with us as long as we are worthy. So I’m confused why we pray, in a meeting, for example, for “the Spirit” to be with us. Could someone elaborate on these points?

  48. #47, they are in deed referring to the HG, and it would be more accurate to say that they are praying for the influence of the HG, not the actual presence of the HG. And his influence is with us always, but sometimes we are not sensitive or receptive to that influence. Sometimes we aren’t listening hard enough. As others have explained, we must be in tune with the HG to be able to hear its voice. So then prayer is really asking for us to be able to hear/feel the spirit which is everywhere present.

    In a meeting that prayer might actually be asking for one of the gifts or manifestations of the spirit, such as speaking with tongues or the voice of angels, or believing on the words of others, or knowing for yourself.

  49. #12: “So far as I know there is absolutely no way to determine the answer.” Simple: “…by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (you’re welcome:)

  50. Question... says:

    CW #48
    That makes sense and is consistent with what I have always believed. It just seems odd that we muddy the waters by using what I consider to be somewhat confusing terms for the Holy Ghost.

  51. If you think He’ll get a body one day, that means somebody else will have to step in and become the new Holy Ghost for God (because God will always have children and progress and, therefore, need a Holy Ghost).

    Given that, do you think we’ve had the same personage be the Holy Ghost from day 1 or has it changed?

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