I Ain’t Got No Body

Okay, enough of these posts on things that can actually have an effect on our daily lives! I need instead to delve into the mysteries, to things I can’t possibly know, and don’t need to know, you know?

I was reading 3rd Nephi recently, and finally hit the verse that I had previously assumed was mere theory within the church. It seemed like Authoritative theory, but I still thought there might be some wiggle room. Nope. This verse pretty much clears up who the God of the Old Testament was. Ok, fine, I can deal with that – it’s what I’ve been told.

But that got me thinking (oh no!) How was Jesus able to do the things he did, like creating the world and stuff, before becoming a resurrected being? Aside from Him needing to come to Earth to save us all, it doesn’t seem like He needed the ‘mortal challenge’ in order to progress. For that matter, 3rd Nephi suggests that he did the righteous smiting on them before he was resurrected. (Didn’t the darkness lift afterwards?) So, he did all of that world-changing again without a physical body?

I guess I had been led to believe that Jesus was the Firstborn of Heavenly Father, but was pretty much in the same boat as the rest of us, prior to coming to Earth. (Clearly not the case.) There was talk on another blog* about how intelligences / spirits might have been created, but it would seem that not all were created equally. Granted, we can’t all have been Saviors, but it does make me wonder how all of that happened. Perhaps one day it will all become clear. (FWIW, I can see the simple answer to this: He was a member of the Godhead, even pre-mortal.)

* I’m feel like I’m breaking some sort of Bloggernacle rule by not explicitly linking back to the referenced blog, but I really don’t remember where that was.

18 Replies to “I Ain’t Got No Body”

  1. Ooh, I see that Kaimi made this same point (#4) over here:

    (That was referenced in your MMP post, btw. FASCINATING reading!)

    One question I remember having when I was younger was : When did newly-mortal Jesus realize who He was? Did He even have a Veil? Or did He pray (as children are taught) and get some direct revelation?

    (I think I’m going to be reading your MMP-splinter topics for a while yet. It’s just LOVErLY not having anything to do at work.)

  2. Go Geoff! MMPs rock!

    One thing — where is it written (or rather, why is it assumed) that one needs a body to create the world? Paul attributes Jesus as creator of the world in Colossians as well, and Paul knew that nobody has a body (pun intended) before birth. Genesis 1:2 also portrays the ruach ‘elohim as partaking a major part in the Hexameron. Also, it’s God’s voice that commands things into existence (or orders them to behave, if you want to avoid ex-nihilism), with little to no effort mentioned on his part (despite the 7th “day of rest” afterward). The text of Genesis (for the minimalist at least), wants us to know that God effortlessly created the world just by speaking. Why he would need a body (a doctrine wholly foreign to ancient Israel anyway) is never mentioned, probably because it didn’t need to be mentioned (it was a given).

    When did newly-mortal Jesus realize who He was?

    This debate still rages among theologians today, and it’s a heated debate. FWIW, my own view is that he was born like us, and he can’t be our mediator/judge if he didn’t experience life as it is for the rest of us (ie, how can he ransom something he never fully knew about?). He can’t be my mediator if he doesn’t know what it’s like to take upon himself my nature. Something deep inside me whispers that it was progressive knowledge, and that the experiential dimension of that knowledge, epistemologically speaking, was continuous and progressive up until he uttered the words “it is finished.” That’s when he “knew it all” (experientially). But that’s just me.

    Or did He pray (as children are taught) and get some direct revelation?

    That’s a good guess.

    Curious stuff.

  3. Based on my reading of the scriptures, I think it is pretty clear that Jesus did pass through a veil just like we do. We are told that he had to learn “grace for grace” just like we do as well.

    “And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;” (D&C 93:13)

    I also agree that Christ did not have to be in a body to be the creator — even if MMP is an accurate model. One model of MMPs is that a person has a probation, the spirit leaves that mortal body and then repeats on the next inhabited world so that Ether scripture isn’t much evidence one way or the other on that subject.

    But I have always thought it was curious that a spirit cannot shake a physical hand in D&C 129 but can touch a physical rock in Ether. Ideas anyone?

  4. that Ether scripture isn’t much evidence one way or the other on that subject

    Most scriptures aren’t very helpful for finding evidences for MMPs, methinks. Lots of eisegesis. It’s mostly from studs like Heber Kimball.

    But I have always thought it was curious that a spirit cannot shake a physical hand from D&C 129 but can touch a physical rock in Ether. Ideas anyone?

    Yeah, this was discussed about a month ago (can’t remember where, 9 moons maybe?), and we all sort of scratched our heads (or, keyboards). It seems kind of silly to me that the sole method by which a deceiving spirit is detected comes through touch — what, are they going to jump out of the way when you extend your arm to one? C’mon… There’s probably something deeply spiritual there that is difficult to grasp (again, pun intended).

    Maybe I should re-post on MMPs, cuz now this discussion is going off the subject, but I’m too tired. It’s bed-time, so I’ll make this quick:

    Have people been doing MMPs for eternity? If so, does that create the paradox of inevitable repetition? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in MMPs, but the concept of “eternity” does throw a wrench in the cogs, so to speak. Your thoughts?

  5. FHL,

    I think we’re in the middle of the war/council in heaven as we speak. This earth will be in the heavens after we leave it after all. (See here for one of my favorite new posts)


    No I don’t think “we” have been experiencing probations like this for eternity. I currently think the parts that make up our spirits are eternal, not the whole of our spirits. I suspect that our intelligences weren’t nearly as “intelligent” eons ago (see the link I just gave) — rather that we have progressed to our current state and can progress past it too via the gospel.

  6. I currently think the parts that make up our spirits are eternal, not the whole of our spirits.


    Where do you get this?

  7. Also, if our “parts” have been organized and dissolved over and over (I don’t know your vocabulary for any of this) for eternity, wouldn’t that also create the paradox of inevitable repetition?

  8. Where do you get this?

    It’s largely my own riffing on the idea Orson Pratt first taught. I’ve seen others (like Cleon Skousen) use the model too though. It is implied most of the time I think — in ways that the while cloth model just won’t fit.

    The analogy for non-recycyling of our God-like spirits/Intelligences (even if they are made of of parts rather than eternal in current form) would be to compare to the idea to Eternal resurrected bodies. The common concept in the church is that resurrected bodies never dissiolve even though they are made up of particles of matter from our Universe. If resurrected bodied never “dissolve” why then surely Intelligences that have been growing like rolling snowballs of light and truth over eterneities would not inevitably dissolve either.

  9. Orson Pratt first taught

    Ah, thank you. That explains why I’ve never heard this before (I own “The Seer,” but haven’t picked it up much).

    I like Skousen as a man and politician (LP, baby!), but his scholarship lacks somewhat, especially when he gets scriptural. Maybe he didn’t have the scriptural training that I have seen in others of his caliber, I don’t know. I have a cassette tape of his which discusses the atonement, but I quit listening to it after picking up the KFD. His take on intelligence(s), is…. stretchy. Lots of (what I believe) unfair interjection into the text of concepts not inherent therein. I usually avoid guys like that (other than JS).

    the whole cloth model just won’t fit.

    Right — I don’t like the cloth model at all. Eventually, you’d run out of cloth and would have to make some more ex nihilo or something (assuming God’s works are eternal).

    But again, if God’s creative acts are eternally progressive, the paradox of inevitable repetition creates problems, I think. But if the assumption is that his creative acts are not eternal, then it works, at least for a while.

    Back to ancient yahwistic poetry…

  10. Sorry to branch off-topic here, but could someone give me a little bit of insight on the KFD? You nacclers throw around acronyms like you were a government agency sometimes! Yeah, okay, I googled it and found “King Follet Discourse” (but mostly I found a bunch of blog pages!) I feel like I’ve seen a dozen references to it this past week.

    Not looking for an in-depth review or anything. What it is and what its significance is, that’s all.

  11. FHL, drop me an email and I will send you a copy of all the sources for the KFD. It is the best way to read it, in my opinion. This is the General Conference discourse in which Joseph was most explicit on subjects such as the plurality of gods, the eternal nature of spirits, and theogony.

  12. FHL, if you can get your hands on a copy of The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Ehat & Cook, you’ll do well. What’s nice about this book (vs. amalgamated versions like TPJS. The Bible does this too, as the Greek text behind our current NT, the NA27, is an amalgamation as well), is you can do your own text-criticism on the KFD because multiple sources are included. WJS is also faithful to the original typography (or rather, it represents a hand-written fidelity) to the original autographs. So included in the speeches are all the spelling and grammatical mistakes of the originals, which you would expect from someone who is speed-writing a discourse. When reconstruction of the text occurs (such as TPJS or others), often the compiler takes liberties in filling in some of the gaps on which one may disagree. I digress (and lament) somewhat that I use the TPJS version of the KFD on occasion because of how it’s formatted, instead of the standard 4-column comparison one may use from WJS. One caveat with the TPJS version: ignore the footnotes. The footnotes from WJS are much better and are worth half the price of the book itself.

  13. I think the version of the KFD from Teachings of the Prophet Jospeh Smith is very useful and a good place to start. (Though I do agree it is valuable to have the original journal versions as well). The good thing about using the Teachings version is that a lots of members have a copy so you are speaking from common texts when you use that one.

  14. See the 3 BYU Studies articles at

    Cannon, Donald Q., “The King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith’s Greatest Sermon in Historical Perspective” (1978), 18:2:179. here

    Hale, Van , “The Doctrinal Impact of the King Follett Discourse” (1978), 18:2:209. here


    Encyclopedia of Mormonism also has a short article, but isn’t online.

  15. Those, along with a new (for 1978) amalgamated text is available in the same volume. I prefer accessing them from the BYU Archives, which volume is available here.

Comments are closed.