This article was written by Ronald E. Bartholomew.
While Joseph’s teachings regarding the embodiment of the Father and the Son have drawn criticism from Christians who base their perceptions of the embodiment of the Godhead on the creeds, the idea that the Father and the Son have tangible bodies of flesh and bone is still less enigmatic than the description of the embodiment of the Holy Ghost.
The text of D&C 130 is relatively congruent regarding the embodiment of the Father and the Son when considering verse 3, which explicitly states that “the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false,” thus emphasizing the idea in verse 22 that they have tangible bodies of flesh and bone, and therefore would not be able to dwell in a man’s heart. However, verse 22 goes on to state that the Holy Ghost is also “a personage,” but “of Spirit,” and his not having a tangible body of flesh and bones like the Father and the Son enables him to dwell “in us.”
This notion of the embodiment of the Holy Ghost is further complicated when we consider Joseph’s later teachings that “there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes” (D&C 131:7), suggesting that while the Holy Ghost’s body is not comprised of flesh and bones, it is still composed of tangible matter. Therefore, it is not surprising that since the 1850s, this enigmatic phraseology has led to general disagreement among LDS Church leaders and scholars regarding the exact meaning of the final sentence of D&C 130:22, “Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the portion of the canonized text in D&C 130:22 describing the embodiment of the Holy Ghost has undergone multiple revisions from its inception.
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