One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Is God a Spirit in the Book of Mormon?

Question: If Mormons believe so strongly that God has a body of flesh and bones, why does the Book of Mormon teach that God is a spirit?
Several passages in the Book of Mormon refer to God as a Great Spirit (See Alma chapters 18, 19, and 22). Alma 18 describes an encounter that the prophet Ammon had with the Lamanite King Lamoni who, following the traditions of his fathers, was a believer in a "Great Spirit." Ammon used King Lamoni's own words, "Great Spirit," to help him understand that the being whom the Lamanites believe created the earth was really God (v.28).

Ammon and other Book of Mormon prophets equated the title "God" with Jesus because Jesus was the ancient God of Israel:

For if there be no Christ there he no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fullness of his own time (2 Nephi 11:7).
The Prophet Nephi further expounded:
And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs he that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God (2 Nephi 26:12).
Critics who suggest that scriptures in Alma indicate an inconsistency in LDS doctrine show that they are unfamiliar with the teachings of the Book of Mormon. A brief glance at the bottom of the pages in Alma reveals that the chronology is BC. Jesus was in spirit form prior to his incarnation, yet had formed the earth and the heavens and was the God of Israel. He did not obtain a physical body until his birth in the meridian of time, decades after these Book of Mormon events.

Thus, King Lamoni's references to God as the Great Spirit were not out of harmony with the thinking of Ammon, for to him God was the pre-existent Jesus in spirit form. Ammon knew that Jehovah would one day have a body of flesh and bones, but such a lesson was unnecessary at that time.

The brother of Jared, an earlier Book of Mormon prophet, had the privilege of seeing the pre-existent Christ, who explained to him:

Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh (Ether 3:16).
In order for critics to make their point, they must first demonstrate that the God spoken of by Ammon or Aaron in the book of Alma is God the Father instead of Jesus Christ. Because the "great spirit" who created all things was Jehovah, this is not demonstrable. Therefore, to conclude that the Book of Mormon teaches that God the Father has no physical body is to form a conclusion that is not supported by The Book of Mormon.