“God Has No Body” Part 6.1

Find Part 1 here.

Those who argue that God has a corporeal body often point to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If the Savior so diligently endeavored to show that he had been resurrected, why would he so quickly shed that physical body? The argument responding to this objection goes something like this:

  1. Many Biblical verses say that God has always existed, and is unchangeable
  2. Jesus assumed an earthly body only after being born of Mary in the meridian of time
  3. Thus, this body must not be part of God’s unchangeable nature (1) (2)
  4. Thus, God could exist as spirit even though the Son took on human form

Being “Unchangeable” is Important

Joseph Smith, the first president and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught in his Lectures on Faith that it was vital to understand the character of God in order to exercise faith in Him. The third of six characteristics he defined was unchangeableness.  Joseph said,

“From the foregoing testimonies [in scripture] we learn the following things respecting the character of God… that he changes not, neither is there variableness with him; but that he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and that his course is one eternal round, without variation.”

Joseph then went on to explain why it was vital for men to believe that God held this characteristic:

“But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long-suffering; for without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and that his course is one eternal round.”

Obviously, Latter-day Saints not only believe that God is unchangeable, but that it is essential we know this in order to exercise faith in him.

What is “Unchangeable”?

This argument could benefit from an expansion of what it means to be unchangeable. Physical change is not prohibited, it is claimed, by being unchangeable (premise 3). The evidence provided is the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Yet while this is good evidence, there are many more scriptures in both the Bible and LDS scriptures that teach more about what it means to be unchangeable.

For example, in 2 Nephi 27:23, Nephi quotes (and effectively endorses) Isaiah, who quoted the Lord:

“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.”

In working with his children, God does not favor some above others.  He is willing to work miracles in all of our lives as long as we have faith in him.

Considering these two sections, the argument can be adjusted as follows:

  1. Many Biblical verses, along with LDS scriptures and LDS leaders, teach that God has always existed, and is unchangeable
  2. Jesus assumed an earthly body only after being born of Mary in the meridian of time
  3. Many Biblical verses, along with LDS scriptures and LDS leaders, teach that God being unchangeable does not preclude him from changing physically, but rather helps define his interactions with his children.
  4. Thus, physical change is not prohibited by the scriptural meaning of God’s unchangeable nature (1) (2) (3)
  5. Thus, God could exist as spirit even though the Son took on human form

Continued at Part 6.2.

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