Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Image of God in the Book of Mormon

Ether 3:15-16 [BOM]
“And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, nor never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image. 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.”
Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Col. 1:15 (ESV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

From the passage in Ether, Mormons get the idea that God has a body like ours, even a physical body. In the past I have put it a bit crassly, but the Mormon idea of the Father is a man who pees standing up. With this body the Father is busy on the planet Kolob somewhere in the universe cranking out spirit children. The Mormon Catechetical book “Gospel Principles,” page 9, reads “Because we are made in his image (see Moses 6:9), we know that God has a body that looks like ours. His eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). God’s body, however, is perfected and glorified, with a glory beyond all description.”
For them when God says he created man in his image, it means that when man looks in the mirror they see the basic image of God. This then is something that man has not lost.
But this is not the meaning of the Biblical literature when it speaks of man being created in the image of God.
One merely need read Genesis 1:26 to see that this interpretation of the text is gibberish. Genesis 1:26 is one of the most profound passages of scripture there is concerning the nature of God. For though it does not explicitly teach the triune God here, for that you have to read further into scripture. It reveals that God defies even mathematical comprehension. This is even more apparent in the Hebrew, but it shows through in the English. God speaks in the singular, even though his name betrays a plurality in the Hebrew. And God said, the verb is singular, there is one God, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” there is a plurality of persons, all of whom can speak as one God, and refer to each other as separate. Later in the ongoing revelation and especially with the person and work of Jesus Christ it is shown that this plurality is of God who is 3 in 1, 3 persons yet one God, one being. This does not describe man at all. But God gives definition to what he means by image even in the same verse.
Image here has nothing to do with what we look like in the mirror, but who God is, and what we will need to be in order to have dominion over “all the earth.” We are given perfect soul, eternal life, rational thought, etc. things that are not shared with animals of this world. We are set apart and made holy.
Furthermore it becomes quite apparent with just a cursory reading of scripture that It is not possible for man to share the image of God in any physical sense. Colossians 1 God says that he is invisible. Solomon says that he fills the heavens and the earth and could not possibly inhabit the temple. Paul quoting a poem about Zeus describes God in this way” for
" 'In him we live and move and have our being';
as even some of your own poets have said,
" 'For we are indeed his offspring.'
Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” (Acts 17:28-29 (ESV)
Furthermore, if God has a body, this makes it impossible for Jesus Christ to be God, as Jesus claims to be when he says “Before Abraham was, I am” or as he tacitly admits to being when Thomas confesses him to be his lord and God. This because Nicodemus is quite correct that a grown man cannot crawl inside his mother’s womb to be born again. And Jesus was born of Mary and was clearly God already if “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:48)
Of course this is just it, in Mormon thought Jesus isn’t God when he is man, he is the actual son of God, even physical son of God, who procreates with Mary conceiving a son, or a body for the spirit child he had already sired with his wife in heaven. I’m not sure how this squares with John 3 where he says “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” ( John 3:6 (ESV) But in any case Jesus is not God from the very beginning as is maintained by the very first Chapter of John. (What do Mormons do with John, this Gospel seems to be a preemptive strike against Mormonism)
Jesus trick is he becomes a god, even so special a god that he gets to become part of the God Head with the Father, and then the Holy Spirit shows up there too somehow, so that you have a “trinity”. But the “great thing” about Jesus is he shows us how we too can become gods, and have spirit children of our own, and torture our spirit children with the same game that characterizes this corrupted and sinful world on another planet somewhere else. Or perhaps we get to change it up for them a little somewhere else.
In any case this whole image of God bit in Mormon theology is crazy. Almost the exact opposite of the Christian belief that God became man for us men and our salvation. For the fact is God is not of essence flesh and blood, but he in the person of his Son, took on our flesh and bone to be our brother on this earth to die in our place and save us from our sin. This is the great and wonderful gospel of God. Not that we were created in the physical image of God, that does not exist, because he is spirit, 3 in 1, invisible, omnipresent, and omnipotent, but that this God took on the physical image of man so that he could restore upon us, his fallen creation, the image with which we were originally created and once again make us holy.


Scottydog said...

(What do Mormons do with John, this Gospel seems to be a preemptive strike against Mormonism)

What they do with the the book of John is best illustrated by Joseph smith's "Inspired" translation which starts out John by saying, "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God." John 1:1 (JSIVB)

The rest of the "translation" is every bit as laughable. When you point out how Joseph Smith's translation bears no resemblance to ANY Greek text, they come up with all kinds of mental gymnastics to explain it away. Ive asked them that, given JS's incompetence with Greek and equally incompetent translation of the PGP/Egyptian funerary scroll, what makes them think he may have done any better with the non-existent Reformed Egyptian of the BoM?

Bror Erickson said...

Good Questions Scotty Dog.