Home » Mormonism » The Holy Ghost, and possible power imbalance within the Mormon Godhead

The Holy Ghost, and possible power imbalance within the Mormon Godhead

pentecost-icon (1)One significant lacuna in Mormon doctrine, to me, is the identity of the Holy Ghost.  We are told that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the only Begotten in the flesh.  However, we are not told who the Holy Ghost is.  Another Son of God, and therefore our brother?  God’s brother?  God’s wife?  A single individual or a plurality of individuals?  We do not know.

Neither are we very sure how exactly the Holy Ghost is (a) God.  Is the Holy Ghost worthy of worship?  I don’t know of any context in Mormonism where the Holy Ghost is worshiped.  There are no songs, hymns, prayers, or devotions to the Holy Ghost, directly.  Is the Holy Ghost equal in power and glory to the Father and the Son?  Does the Holy Ghost derive power from the Father, or does (s)He have power of his own?

As to this last question, I reflected on it when a scripture was read in Gospel Doctrine today.  It comes from the LDS Doctrine and Covenants (a canonized Mormon book of scripture that is largely composed of revelations to the prophet Joseph Smith), Section 130, verses 3 and 22:

3:  John 14:23-The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

22:  The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but 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.

Now I have read those verses (and even taught it to a Seminary class) but today I approached it from a different angle.  The Father and the Son, according to these verses, cannot dwell in a man’s heart.  Rather, the Holy Ghost, lacking a physical body, has that ability.

Therefore, on Mormonism, we are told that the Holy Ghost has one power/ability that the other members of the Godhead do not:  the ability to dwell in a man’s heart.

So Mormonism definitely does not teach that all members of the Godhead have the same powers.  The Father and Son, due to their physical bodies, have abilities that the Holy Ghost does not (presumably to walk, appear to men, talk, eat, shake hands, breathe, etc.).  Likewise, the Holy Ghost has powers that the Father and Son do not have (to dwell within men).

I suspect most Mormons would find this a rather trivial thing to point out, but for many Christians it is vitally important for each member of the Trinity to be fully God, in the sense that one Person does not possess any power that the other Persons do not have.  This stems from the belief that the Persons that comprise God must each be fully God, and have all the maximally great attributes that make God God.  Now I think there are Trinitarians that are somewhat looser with their requirements for the Persons, and may say that the three Persons have different roles, or different secondary attributes.

But on Mormonism, only one member of the Godhead has this attribute:  the Holy Ghost.  Not even the Father, who is the source of the power in the Godhead (I presume – though this is an assumption) has that power.  He seems to be literally physically prevented from entering men’s hearts due to his physical body.

However, it’s possible I misunderstand Trinitarian theology.  For instance, in Matthew 24:36 (NIV) we read:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

It seems like the various Bible translations are split regarding whether the Son is included in this verse.  If the Son does not know when “that day” comes, then clearly the Father possesses a power that the Son does not.  So perhaps Trinitarians are not required to believe that each Person in the Trinity has every power that the others have.  I’m relatively new to Trinitarian theology so I would like to know how this verse is understood in a Trinitarian context.


5 thoughts on “The Holy Ghost, and possible power imbalance within the Mormon Godhead

  1. I recommend the book “the Jesus we missed” by Patrick Henry reardon. He explains that verse on why Christ would not know. Basically he talks about how people forget that Christ was fully human, as well as fully God. He was once a baby, and a child. He talks about how Christ likely grew in knowledge, that he did study, that his knowledge was more akin to how a prophet has knowledge, so there could be things he did not know, because of being fully human as well as fully God. The scripture that talks about Christ emptying himself and lowering himself into human form to me means that he sacrificed some of His greatness in order to carry out His work.

  2. I think I understand the point that as to his human nature, Christ did not know certain things. But the scripture says “the Son,” which typically refers to the 2nd Person of the Trinity when written like that. Perhaps since Matthew was unfamiliar with Trinitarian writing conventions (to say the least) he was not being that precise with his language.

  3. The Son DID NOT know it until the day He came back to life to receive His full perfection and, thus, ALL things were revealed to Him by the Father through the Holy Ghost, and had AGAIN, become ONE with them to form the Godhead. What seems to man as imbalance in the so-called “trinity” could be insignificant from the purpose the Godhead was designed to serve in the Plan of Salvation.

  4. Joe,
    “And had AGAIN, become ONE with them to form the Godhead.”

    This seems to imply that the Godhead was temporarily dispanded. That Christ was not apart of the Godhead during his ministry. Am I misunderstanding?

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