Feast upon the Word Blog

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“The Holy Ghost is a Son of God” (?!)

Posted by BrianJ on April 18, 2010

“We know that the Holy Ghost is a son of God.”

That’s what I heard (for the first time) in priesthood last week. Add it to the list of statements about the Holy Ghost for which I cannot find a canonical source.

A Son of God
The only citation I could find for this claim is from an Encyclopedia of Mormonism article written by Joseph Fielding McConkie:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father. It is fundamental Church doctrine that God is the Father of the spirits of all men and women, that Jesus is literally God’s Son both in the spirit and in the flesh, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit separate and distinct from both the Father and the Son.”

Unfortunately, the author did not include citations in this portion of the article, so the reader is left to speculate (wink) on where these ideas come from. I find support for the ideas that the Holy Ghost is a spirit (D&C 130:22) and male (John 16:7), but the other claims require some explanation.

It seems that the conclusions are reached through a logical argument based on the premise that God the Father is the spirit father of all spirits; thus, since the Holy Ghost is spirit then he must necessarily be a son of God. It’s a strange premise, however, given that many Mormons believe that God himself had a father and/or that God is our spirit father through some process that required a spirit Mother—in either case, God cannot possibly be the father of all spirits.

Other possibilities for the origin of spirits, or for exactly what it means to be a “spirit son of God”, also exist and therefore also call into question McConkie’s statement. I don’t wish to detail those in this post; I just want to point out that the question is far from settled in my mind given numerous other good possibilities. (Incidentally, when I asked the two class members who made the statement that is the title of this post to explain their reasoning, they did so essentially just as McConkie.)

So, if you have any thoughts/arguments/questions on this that you’d like to share, please do.

The Holy Ghost is Not Omnipresent
I brought this up in the other thread, but I’ll bring it up here too. The new Gospel Essentials manual states that the Holy Ghost “can be in only one place at a time.” Another Church manual quotes Joseph F. Smith making a similar statement: “The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son….” So, what did Smith base this on?

14 Responses to ““The Holy Ghost is a Son of God” (?!)”

  1. RuthS said

    You ask a very good question. I was a heard the part of about the Holy Ghost being a son of God for the first time yesterday as well. I didn’t think much about it as I don’t think we really know. The eternal man concept and the King Follett discourse would neither preclude nor support that belief.

    I think the second part comes from D. & C. 130:22 when it says “the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Where it not so the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” The two three parts that are critical to interpretation is what is a personage, what is spirit and does it have any boundaries as a personage does and the part about dwelling in us. Clearly although the gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost he cannot possibly dwell everywhere and in everything and everyone all of the time. I don’t think we can have any definitive answers without actual revelation. I don’t see it as essential. I think the operative words in the Joseph F. Smith statement are “in person”, If the influence of the Holy Ghost can be at more than one place at one time that might be a good enough explanation.

  2. Rob Osborn said

    It really is a grand paradox. The Holy Ghost to me is best represented as “something” inside of me- that is what I know the Holy Ghost to be- a thing and not an actual person. i say this because if we all have the Holy Ghost inside of us and he can only be one place at a time then the paradox is paramount. So is it really “him” inside of me? No, that wouldn’t make any sense. So what exactly is inside of me that I call the Holy Ghost? That is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of Mormonism.

  3. 2ndSon said

    Joseph Smith taught (see “The Words of Joseph Smith” under Holy Ghost)that the Holy Ghost is currently serving in “a probationary stewardship” through which, if he is faithful in the completion of this calling, he will at some time in the future experience a birth like that of the Son (an Only Begotten birth as a God the Son).

    We believe in a ‘never changing’ God, but also in a path of eternal progression which includes the possibility of becoming like our Heavenly Father and Mother. How these two principles co-exist is one of the most profound questions of Latter-day Saint doctrine.

    I have come to believe that only a God the Father can create a Universe and become the father of spirit children. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has never claimed to be the Father of Spirit Children, but rather that we become children of Christ through His atonement, those whom he once said “my Father hath given me”.

    The Savior also said many times that ‘the Son doing nothing of Himself, only that which he seeth the Father do.” That raises the difficult question of “When did the Son see the Father do all the things that the Savior did?”

    I have come to believe that the Holy Ghost decends upon the Son of God at his baptism, and intimately observes all that God the Son does during his earthly ministry. As the Son completes all that the Father has sent him to do, including an Only Begotten birth, a sacrificial, willing death, and a self-resurrection possible only because God the Son is the literal, genetic son of an eternal God the Father, the Holy Ghost observes and bears witness of it all.

    At the moment of atonement, however, the Holy Ghost must exit from the Son, leaving the Son to fulfill the eternal sacrifice in divine isolation. This may help clarify the scripture that says that “an angel appeared at his side, strengthening Him”.

    And at a glorious marriage feast in some future Celestial Kingdom, God the Son will have fully completed his eternal mission, and together with his Heavenly Bride he will then do that which only a God the Father, a Most High God can do, that which He has been eternally preparing to do: He will create a new Universe.

    Into that new Universe He will take his Eternal Family, including the one who served as the Holy Ghost in this world. Our Savior, Jesus Christ will become the Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost will become his 1st Born Son, foreordained to become His Only Begotten Son on an earth he helps to create. He will have witness all that His Father has done, and he will testify of that truth both as a pre-mortal spirit and during his earthly mission.

    And I have come to believe that those of us who are declared worthy through the redemption of the blood of the lamb, who are chosen, and who choose of our own agency to join the Church of the FirstBorn in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, we will go forward with our Savior, now our literal Heavenly Father, as we will serve in his pre-mortal Council in Heaven among the ‘noble and great spirits’, and help He and His Heavenly Bride raise their spirit children and help guide them through thier earthly experiences.

    This, I have come to believe, is the great ‘Eternal Round’ of eternal progression, not accomplished all in this Universe, but in successive universes as we go forward with our Savior into His Kingdom, and then beyond to future kingdoms of glory.

    As the Prophet Joseph said:

    “you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power”

    This is what I have come to believe.

    • Mitzi Moo said

      Wow, In my own personal study I too have come to similar conclusions but am still in the pondering stage and “catching hold” of these thoughts. Thanks for sharing your beliefs. It helps to read and feel the truth of sincere testimony. Is a lack of understanding on this subject the cause of confusion over the trinity?

  4. BrianJ said

    RuthS: “The two three parts that are critical to interpretation is what is a personage, what is spirit and does it have any boundaries as a personage….” Exactly. I don’t know of any scripture that answers those questions.

    “I don’t think we can have any definitive answers without actual revelation. I don’t see it as essential.” Exactly. What bothers me is that I don’t know of any such revelation and yet there are still those who find it essential to speculate (in an “official” capacity) on definitive answers.

    Rob: great question.

  5. kirkcaudle said

    Great posts and comments all around on this thread. I thought I was lost after reading Brian’s original post, but after I read the comments I have a million more questions!

    To be honest, I thought I understood the Holy Ghost fairly well. I guess I was wrong. I have never thought about it before now, but I think I agree with Rob, “That is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of Mormonism” (#2).

    2ndSon (#3), that was one of the best explanations I have read of the eternal process. I will need to remember all that. Thanks!

    I think we might need to call the first Mormon Ecumenical counsel to deal with all the issues brought up here.

  6. Jesse said

    BrianJ, “Other possibilities for the origin of spirits, or for exactly what it means to be a ‘spirit son of God’, also exist… ”

    This verse suggests another origin of spirits:

    “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).

    The key word there is “unto” — “begotton sons and daughters UNTO God” could mean that other celestial beings bear children unto God. This would explain how God, Our Father, has billions of spirit children.

  7. BrianJ said

    Jesse: that’s not exactly what I had in mind (something along those lines though), but still you provide a good example of what I mean by “alternate explanations.” Thanks.

  8. Fred said

    Good posts and comments. Here is an additional thought for your consideration…

    Regarding whether the Holy Ghost is a Son of God, I am familiar with the entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism by Joseph Fielding McConkie as mentioned by BrianJ. However, I would assume Joseph Fielding’s father (Elder Bruce R. McConkie) would not have been amused to read such entry by his son. When you read the statement below, it seems clear that Elder McConkie felt differently about explanations regarding the origin or destiny of the third member of the Godhead (note particularly the latter part of the quote).

    “He [the Holy Ghost] is the Comforter, Testator, Revelator, Sanctifier, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit of Promise, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of the Lord, and Messenger of the Father and the Son, and his companionship is the greatest gift that mortal man can enjoy. His mission is to perform all of the functions appertaining to the various name-titles which he bears. Because he is a Spirit Personage, he has power—according to the eternal laws ordained by the Father—to perform essential and unique functions for men. In this dispensation, at least, nothing has been revealed as to his origin or destiny; expressions on these matters are both speculative and fruitless” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 359).

  9. John said

    I feel there is no mystery at all in regard to the Holy Ghost…He’s a Third Male member of the God Head and He would be no less called a Son of God than you or I. Of course He is a Son of God.

    I find it strange that there would be any kind of mysterious notion as to who the Holy Ghost is. The only thing that IS a mystery is His name.

    There are a few other points of inference to be drawn from His relationship with other members of the God Head…He is obviously God’s OTHER Son who is repesenting an ANONYMOUS aspect of the nature of Heaven…Thus He is protrayed in an anonymous fashoin by NOT being given a name and the fact that He only REPATS what He hears Heavenly Father & Jesus say to him.

    Is this not an OBVIOUS inference to the nature of our Mother in Heaven whom I am quite sure that Heavenly Father does not act in a vaccumn of authority when it comes to seeking our Mother’s counsel?

    God’s OTHER Son is representive of the OTHER aspect of Heaven that is also anonymous…Our Mother in Heaven.

    Afterall…To come to know and BE a God we must know who & what God is…A combination of two individuals, Male and Female God. Either alone could not be refered to as God’s, as a God must be married to become such. The endowment does not depict individual Gods & Godesses but rather Kings & Queens to MARRY and become God with a twofold face…Male and Female. So the power to act as God does not lie within any one individual. It is the power and funtion of TWO. Male & Feamale for which TWO BROTHERS ( Sons of God…Father & Mother ) selected to represent each and both….Jesus to represent His Father and the anonymous Holy Ghost to testify by inference of the reality of our Mother while at the same time testifying of our Father and Brother Jesus.

    For anyone in the Lord’s Church to believe anything less than the fact that one day the Holy Ghost is to recieve a body as everyone has and perform an earthly mission, is turning the consistency of the Gospel on it’s head.

    And I would venture to make a wild guess here and say that this Mighty and Strong Final Prophet and Man like unto Moses for which even Christ has been compared, is most likely someone VERY CLOSE to Jesus and HIS Father as well.

    Now you tell me….Who is closer in that relationship than the Holy Ghost ?

    Who would be more entitled to wrap this whole thing up and welcome the Saviour to His thrown than the Guy making these preperations from the begining of time ?

    When is HE allowed to come and perform some suitable earthly mission COMENSURATE to the work He has already put in behind the veil ?

    Man, I can’t believe the nieve or unthought out predictions of the End.

    It ALWAYS ENDS WHERE THINGS BEGAN…After the Fall, it began with the Holy Ghost being sent to guide mankind to it’s Saviour and Creator. In the End it will be THE SAME. He will be sent this time in the Flesh to Guide us to our Saviour’s Return. Who ELSE has been called to guide us in the past ?

    Does not Isaiah say we must take the Spirit for our Guide to see us through the trials that lead to our Saviours’s second coming ? Does that mean He is to be there in Spirit form or is Isaih simply refering to someone we ALREADY KNOW as the “SPIRIT”?

    There will be NO MISTAKING as to whether or not the Holy Ghost is a Son of God when He arrives with UNMISTAKABLE GREAT POWER ! How is it that we are so blind to obvious outright clues ?

    The Holy Ghost is not just Heavenly Father’s OTHER Son, He is also Jesus’ Best Friend. And what are Best Friends FOR ? To serve as the BEST MAN who makes preperations and prepares the way for the GROOM…His BROTHER & BEST FRIEND ?

    I don’t think God could spell it out any plainer without holding a neon sign in our faces…

  10. John said

    There are other infrences that can be drawn concerning the persona nature of the Holy Ghost through simple patterns. Take for instance…Why would the Scriptures mention that Jesus was not comely ?

    That is a polite way for God to say… that a man who represents ALL mankind, is niether handsome nor ugly and his appearance represents that universal face that could be drawn from combining all the faces of God’s children. That Physical apperances are not what depict someone’s being Christ like but by rather pearing beyond the facsad and observing the Heart.

    Now lets draw on clues given of the Spirit. Since he too reflects a personality to represent a composite of God’s children, then I’m sure His looks would relfect that as well, as with His Brother Jesus.

    Now lets just assume “The One Mighty & Strong” is also a reference to the Spirit’s Earthly Mission and that as that scripture portrays…He is to be a Mighty & Strong one sent from God.

    Well, the word “ONE” implies something more than MAN, or God would have just said He was sending another man. The fact that this “ONE” is wearing Light for a covering suggests the “LIGHT” & “COVERING” is a reference to a Gloried Body…Not a Ressurected Body but maybe a Translated Body. THAT would SURELY make Him “Mighty & Strong” would it not?

    And I would venture to say that beyond His average looks, He probably pocesses a somewhat Buffed appearance to relflect the nature of His call to be “Mighty & Strong” for us to follow.

    This same scripture also describes this “ONE” as speaking “ETERNAL WORDS OF TRUTH” from the “BOWELS” of his being. Is this not the terminology used by Jesus in the New Testiment to describe the effect the Holy Spirit would have upon His Deciples once that Gift was bestowed upon them ? Fountains of living water ?…The Holy Ghost?

    Only NOW it originates from the original source…from within the “One Mighty & Strong”…

    There are all kinds of little details that can be descerned from the most obvious clues given to us by God.

  11. John said

    And one more example of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and His Brother the Holy Ghost and HOW CLOSE they must be in COMPARISON.

    The scriptures refer to Jesus as the Son of God. And there is other references to a Son of Man and Jesus claims them both. Could not the Holy Ghost proclaim the SAME titles only in reverse?

    Jesus was the ONLY BEGOTTEN IN THE FLESH of God, yet also claimed the right as son of man through his earthly mother. Yet the emphasis is surely upon His Father’s Nature within His Flesh.

    By the same token…If the Spirit where to serve as a REFLECTIVE nature of our Father in Heaven’s PREVIOUS Earthly nature, then the Holy Spirit, when coming to the earth in HIS Flesh could be refered to in the same vinacular that describes Jesus as the Son of God & Man, expcept with the EMPHASIS being placed on “MAN”.

    This covers the OTHER ASPECT of the Nature of our Father in Heaven. His previous earthly one. While Jesus mirrors God’s Heavenly current nature.

    Also the Book of Revelations describes one “LIKE” unto the Son of Man, as opposed to just saying “The Son of Man”. You see where I’m coming from ?

    And there is another part of Revelations that describes one “LIKE” a Lamb leading the 144,000. Would not this be someone “LIKE” the Lamb of God ( Jesus ) and not decribe Jesus Himself ?

    Afterall, this Final Prophet is to PREPARE the way for Jesus’ Return. Jesus does not prepare His own return other than by having ANOTHER sent by the FATHER to prepare the way.

    And if it where NOT the Holy Ghost in the Flesh being sent to do this Work, then it would have been JESUS who appointed this man his work and NOT the FATHER.

    But because of the NATURE of the relationship this Final Prophet has with God as His “OTHER” son, “LIKE UNTO” His First Son, it is necessary for the FATHER to initate this Final Work as described in the Book of Mormon.

    If you really want to know the ENTIRE picture of the Gospel Plan, especially as it applies to US in OUR DAY, then you must read the clear INFERENCES that exist between the lines.

    Like the “ANONYMOUS” man they portray…They sort of linger silently in the background beyond the IMAGE being portrayed…You must recognize the “VOICE” (SPIRIT) of that IMAGE (JESUS), that lies in His background.

    Soon that invisable “VOICE” will be “SEEN” in the foreground of physical earthly reality. And the Former “IMAGE” (Christ) will become HIS VOICE.

    At the First coming of Christ, it was the VOICE OF THE SPIRIT they heard WITHIN CHRIST. At the Second coming, it will be the VOICE OF CHRIST heard in the VOICE of the Holy Spirit in the Flesh.

    It’s sort of a reciprical favor to assist each on His Earthly Mission.

    If you don’t believe me…Just wait & SEE! The 6th chapter of Zechariah describes this relationship between Jesus and His Brother the Holy Ghost, in Type.

    The message is as plain as day…The Spirit of peaceful counsel will exist between the “TWO” of them. Things BEGAN that way and THAT’S the way they FINISH this Work of the Father…

  12. John said

    As one final note to the inferences that can be drawn by recognizing that familar voice in the background…The Very Name of the Holy Ghost can be accessed through the scriptures.

    Revelations makes it clear that this final prophet has been given a stone with a name in it that no other man can know but he who holds that stone. There’s that anonymous name thing again. This is not Jesus being spoken of here. For we KNOW His name. And this is decribing a prepratory work to prepare for the second coming, so it is not some new name being given to Jesus at the time being described.

    Only THIS name applies to that ANONYMOUS man sent from God to prepare the way.

    I’ll bet HE KNOWS who he is by virtue of having been given that certain name in the Temple and knowing that it is a name that is derived from a certain relationship between TWO BROTHERS noted for the work they performed to deliver Israel from bonage…

    Along with maybe a few other clues like a visit or two from his Father & Brother in Heaven to help HIM prepare.

    Maybe it’s just me, but these things seem rather obvious to me.

    Are not these things we should be looking for and anticipating ? Why else would God lay out these clues ?

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