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Rob Bowman

Does the Holy Ghost dwell in human beings or not?

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I'm back from my trip to Uganda (where repeated power outages severely limited my access to the Internet) and am still trying to catch up on a lot of things. However, I have just come across something of a puzzle and would appreciate input on this question.

Famously, D&C 130:22 states, "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" (emphasis added).

Now, why should the Holy Ghost need to be "a personage of Spirit," and not have "a body of flesh and bones," in order to "dwell in us"? The logic of this statement appears to be that the Holy Ghost is free to be in more than one place at a time in order to dwell in multiple human beings in different places. The Father and the Son cannot do this, according to D&C 130:22, because they have tangible bodies of flesh and bones. The Holy Ghost, on the other hand, not being located in a physical body, has the capability of dwelling in multiple human individuals in different places at the same time. This, at any rate, seems to be the implicit reasoning underlying the point made in D&C 130:22.

However, later LDS sources seem to take a different view. Gospel Principles, for example, states regarding the Holy Ghost, "He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere at the same time" (2009 ed., 32). The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states, "In a figurative sense, the Holy Ghost dwells in the hearts of the righteous Saints of all dispensations" (2:649). Now, the relation of these statements to D&C 130:22 is confusing to me; let me explain why. If the Holy Ghost does not literally dwell in human hearts, but only "figuratively" does so -- if it is only "His influence" that "can be everywhere at the same time" -- I don't understand what his not having a body of flesh and bones has to do with it. One could just as easily say that while Heavenly Father does not literally dwell in human hearts, he does so figuratively, because his influence can be felt by all of them at the same time.

My understanding -- which I am open to having corrected -- is that D&C 130:22 presupposes that the Holy Ghost is an omnipresent personage, in contrast to the localized (because physically embodied) personages of the Father and the Son. Apparently, at some point in the development of LDS doctrine, this presupposition was abandoned, and now the Holy Ghost is understood to be a localized personage as well, though not possessing a physical body. Note the following statements, quoted in Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, chapter 5:

"As a Spirit personage the Holy Ghost has size and dimensions. He does not fill the immensity of space, and cannot be everywhere present in person at the same time. He is also called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Truth, and the Comforter" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:38).

"The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son, but by his intelligence, his knowledge, his power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, he is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God" (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 61).

Again, do not the Father and the Son also have the intelligence, knowledge, power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, to be "omnipresent" in this figurative sense? And if so, what is the point of the statement in D&C 130:22 that if the Holy Ghost were not a personage of Spirit instead of flesh and bones he could not dwell in us?

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"The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son, but by his intelligence, his knowledge, his power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, he is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God" (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 61).

Again, do not the Father and the Son also have the intelligence, knowledge, power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, to be "omnipresent" in this figurative sense? And if so, what is the point of the statement in D&C 130:22 that if the Holy Ghost were not a personage of Spirit instead of flesh and bones he could not dwell in us?

I am glad you are back and it sounds like you had a safe trip.

I just want to state that I am not sure that God and Jesus are omnipresent. But you did say in the figurative sense. What do you mean by that?

To be honest I don't think I can answer your question about why the HG couldn't dwell in us if he had a body of flesh and bones. I don't understand the mechanics of it to begin with. Do you?

From our bible dictionary under God:

Although God created all things and is the ruler of the universe, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (through his Spirit), mankind has a special relationship to him that differentiates man from all other created things: man is literally God

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Now, why should the Holy Ghost need to be "a personage of Spirit," and not have "a body of flesh and bones," in order to "dwell in us"?

Because, apparently, two beings of flesh can not occupy the same space.

The logic of this statement appears to be that the Holy Ghost is free to be in more than one place at a time in order to dwell in multiple human beings in different places.

No. The ability to be in two places at one time is not a necessity. The influence of the Spirit can and does radiate beyond the bounds of the Spirit "body". Just as the "light of Christ" can radiate throughout the world.

The Father and the Son cannot do this, according to D&C 130:22, because they have tangible bodies of flesh and bones. The Holy Ghost, on the other hand, not being located in a physical body, has the capability of dwelling in multiple human individuals in different places at the same time. This, at any rate, seems to be the implicit reasoning underlying the point made in D&C 130:22.

You are extrapolating beyond what the text says, apparently in search for a contradiction.

Figuratively speaking, you have stretched to the point of falling off the cliff.

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Vance,

I asked: Now, why should the Holy Ghost need to be "a personage of Spirit," and not have "a body of flesh and bones," in order to "dwell in us"? You replied:

Because, apparently, two beings of flesh can not occupy the same space.

Ah, but they can, if the "dwelling" is figurative and not literal, or if the "dwelling" is the dwelling of the personage's influence, and not of the person himself.

I wrote: The logic of this statement appears to be that the Holy Ghost is free to be in more than one place at a time in order to dwell in multiple human beings in different places. You replied:

No. The ability to be in two places at one time is not a necessity. The influence of the Spirit can and does radiate beyond the bounds of the Spirit "body". Just as the "light of Christ" can radiate throughout the world.

I understand that concept, but you are missing the problem. Cannot the influence of the Spirit radiate beyond the bounds of the Father's "body" as well?

You wrote:

You are extrapolating beyond what the text says, apparently in search for a contradiction.

Not at all. I was simply reading what Gospel Principles says and the contradiction jumped out at me. Honestly--I was not and am not trying to manufacture a contradiction. I am trying to understand. If there's no contradiction, fine. But if there is, there is.

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Ah, but they can, if the "dwelling" is figurative and not literal, or if the "dwelling" is the dwelling of the personage's influence, and not of the person himself.

I wasn't talking about "figuratively", and neither is D&C 130:22.

I understand that concept, but you are missing the problem. Cannot the influence of the Spirit radiate beyond the bounds of the Father's "body" as well?

Well, apparently you are operating under the assumption that the Holy Ghost generally resides within the 'Father's "body"'. I find no need to assume this. Why would the Father "need" to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Are you trying to create a problem that doesn't exist?

Not at all. I was simply reading what Gospel Principles says and the contradiction jumped out at me. Honestly--I was not and am not trying to manufacture a contradiction. I am trying to understand. If there's no contradiction, fine. But if there is, there is.

Well, I don't see a contradiction. I don't believe there is one.

It is apparent, that rather than trying to understand by reconciling these quotes, you ARE looking for contradiction.

Please prove me wrong.

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Vance,

You wrote:

Well, apparently you are operating under the assumption that the Holy Ghost generally resides within the 'Father's "body"'.

No, I am not making any such assumption. I am assuming that in LDS theology the Father has some sort of influence that he can exert. The alternative would seem unthinkable.

You wrote:

It is apparent, that rather than trying to understand by reconciling these quotes, you ARE looking for contradiction.

Please prove me wrong.

It is difficult to prove one's motives, but I have told you the truth.

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Here are the scriptures in question:

"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man

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I am assuming that in LDS theology the Father has some sort of influence that he can exert.

Yes, it is His spoken word, and it can be delivered directly to man/men through the Holy Ghost/Spirit. The purpose of the Holy Ghost/Spirit is to testify or witness of the Truth, specifically regarding the Father and the Son.

Obviously, He (the Holy Ghost/Spirit) is need in this capacity or the Godhead would only need two members rather than three.

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Ah..perhaps one of the greatest mysteries known to church doctrine- the nature and identity of the Holy Ghost.

It is important to realize, whether true or not, is that early on in the church the Holy Ghost was not seen as a separate individual identifiable personage. The HG was seen as the mind and will of the Father and the Son and that it was only those "two" personages- the Father and the Son that made up the godhead. I do find it rather interesting that the HG would need to be a spirit personage when in fact he can only be in one place at a time. It is quite paradoxial- how can he be in the hearts of multiple agents at the same time if he himself can only be in one place at a time. In essence we are stating that it is really only his "influence" that dwells within us, not his actual spirit. But why would that differ fromt he light and influence of the Father and the Son?

Another interesting bit is that the throne of God is only spoken of as having two seats, the HG is never mentioned as sitting upon the throne in eternity. The HG is also never mentioned as partaking in events relating to the governship of the throne of the Gods and councils of them (creation, etc).

It wouldn't bother me any if the HG turned out to be nothing more than just the mind and will of the Father and Son and was not a real person. But I do not think it justifiable to teach a contradictory doctrine of how we currently teach- that of him personally dwelling in each of us and also teaching at the same time he can only be in one physical place at a time. It would be better to teach that his "influence" dwells in our hearts all the time, not his actual physical spirit body- that is contradictory.

Another point is that the HG is sometimes referred to as the actual spirit of Christ himself. So who is it really?

I do believe that the HG actually dwells in me and all other saints at the same time and "all" occasionally, but not that an actual separate spirit being is in my physical body along with my own spirit, that to me is kind of freaky.

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