Made in the Image of God

A unique but central tenet of the Mormon faith is found in the LDS Scripture Doctrine and Covenants 130:22. It says,

“The Father [God] has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…”

Mormon Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley defended this doctrine from the Bible:

“In His image man was created. …In the account of the Creation of the earth, ‘God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ (Gen. 1:26). Could any language be more explicit?” (Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Message, “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, March 1998, 2)

first_vision_1838Furthermore, the LDS web site designed for people investigating the Mormon faith states,

“We are created in God’s image. In the Old Testament God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness’ …God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. Joseph revealed that the Father and the Son each have a ‘body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s’ (D&C 130:22). God is our Heavenly Father, and we are created in his image.” [This quoted passage is no longer found at Mormon.org.]

Indeed, Mormons often scoff at Christians who believe the Bible instead teaches God the Father is an invisible Being of spirit, without flesh and bones. (See John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Hebrews 11:27; etc.) They ask, “What else can it mean when God says He created man in His image?”

Christian theologian A.W. Tozer wrote,

“When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean ‘in the exact image.’ To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all. It is to break down the wall, infinitely high, that separates That-which-is-God from that which-is-not-God. To think of creature and Creator as alike in essential being is to rob God of most of His attributes and reduce Him to the status of a creature. It is, for instance, to rob Him of His infinitude: there cannot be two unlimited substances in the universe. It is to take away His sovereignty: there cannot be two absolutely free beings in the universe, for sooner or later two completely free wills must collide. These attributes, to mention no more, require that there be but one to whom they belong.

“When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, He is not, for we have constructed our image out of that which He has made and what He has made is not God. If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.” (A. W. Tozer, “God Incomprehensible” in The Knowledge of the Holy)

Yet God Himself speaks of His image. Christian author and speaker Adrian Plass pondered this. He understood Paul taught in Colossians 1:15 that Christ is the image of the invisible God. But what, exactly, is the image of something that is invisible? Mr. Plass wrote a poem that well describes how Jesus is the image of the invisible God — an image human beings are created to display.

Image of the Invisible God

A lover of nature
Committed
Aggressive
Accessible
Uncompromising
Strangely meek
A story-teller
Master of timing
Hard-working
Relaxed
Emotional
Passionate
Compassionate
Prayerful
A radical
A wit
A good Son
A good friend
He enjoyed parties
He relished the company of people
But He did not trust the hearts of men.

Filled with sadness
Filled with joy
Filled with love
Filled with frustration
He adored children
Because they reminded Him of home.

He broke His own rules
He was angry with enemies and disciples
Happy to get down on His knees to wash feet
A man with secret friends
Needy
Troubled
Terrified
Obedient
Lost and lonely
Neglected and very badly hurt
So courageous
Unpredictable
Dead
Alive
Triumphant
Forgiving
Loves the lost
A man who knows how to cook fish.
Image of the invisible God.

cooking-fish

 

 

 

 

Image of the Invisible God Copyright © 2003 Adrian Plass. Used by permission. To visit Mr. Plass’ web site click here.

This article has been modified from the original, which first appeared on the website Questioning Mormonism in 2003. Many thanks to Rob Silvulka for bringing the A. W. Tozer quote to my attention.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Christianity, God the Father, Jesus Christ, Nature of God and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Made in the Image of God

  1. Mike R says:

    Mormon leaders have truly drifted from the truth about the God we meet in the Bible . They have succumbed to making God in their image — Rom 1:23.

    Look at how Mormon leaders doctrinal error led to more error which led to more error :
    God the Father is a man — so He was’nt always God — so He must have a bigger God above Him who sired Him and who has more dominion than He . — so Mormon males can likewise become Almighty Gods one day , just like heavenly Father did before them .

    Error begets error .

    Just said to be aware of prophets in the latter days not sent by Him — Mk 13:22-23

  2. falcon says:

    And don’t forget, this is all predicated on how the story makes you feel. That’s the test of Mormon truth having sold the idea of feelings equal the “spirit” speaking to the individual. It’s a badge of honor in Mormonism to go against orthodox Christian doctrine and Church tradition to embrace anything that is convoluted and strange. So these “personages” told Smith to dump the traditional Christian Church and, as it turns out, create his own religion.
    BTW, check out the testimony of Charles Finney who lived at the same time and in the same geographical area as Smith. Jesus appeared to Finney after Finney went out into the woods to seek God and on and on.

    The 29-year-old lawyer Charles Grandison Finney had decided he must settle the question of his soul’s salvation. So on October 10, 1821, he headed out into the woods near his Adams, New York, home to find God. “I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there,” he said. After several hours, he returned to his office, where he experienced such forceful emotion that he questioned those who could not testify to a similar encounter.

    “The Holy Spirit … seemed to go through me, body and soul,” he later wrote. “I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/evangelistsandapologists/finney.html

  3. Mike R says:

    The power of emotional manipulation can account for why decent sincere people follow prophets like those of the Mormon church who have taught such egregious doctrines about our Creator .
    2Tim 4:3, 4

    Some T.V. preachers are also included this bunch . Those they may not claim the office of “prophet ” still, people are fooled into following follow them via emotional dependence . Sad .

  4. Mike R says:

    Mormon leaders claim to be reliable and trustworthy as teachers . Brigham Young told LDS that it was his duty to see that only sound teachings were given them , they could trust him . [ Journal of Discourses v 16 p 161 ] . This same promise was echoed in the Mormon church manual ” Gospel Principles ” where it said :
    ” The Lord will allow the President of the Church to teach us false doctrine.” [ 1978 , p 46 ] .

    In a Conference sermon Elder Joseph F. Smith jr stated : ” The Time will never come when we will not be able to put confidence and exercise faith in the teachings and in the instruction of those that lead us … Therefore it behooves us , as Latter day Saints , to put our trust in the presiding authorities of the Church , in the Priesthood of God , and accept their teachings .” [ Conference Report , Oct 1912 ] .

    Concerning the truth about God , Mormon leader John Taylor , who would later become the 3rd President to lead the Mormon church ) said :

    ” What does the Christian world know about God ? Nothing ….Why so far as the things of God sre concerned they are the veriest fools , they neither know God nor the things of God.. .” [ JofD v 13 p 225 ] .

    Well what have Mormon leaders taught about God ? Concerning the topic of this thread , they have taught God the Father is an exalted man , physically the same as any other human male . Here’s another bit of information from Mormon leaders concerning their view of the image of God and defending it :

    ” Some , however , will argue that a black skin is not a curse , nor a white skin a blessing . In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing , and that the Negro
    is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth ; but to us such teachings are
    foolishness . ”

    After exposing what they believe were false teachings , this article went on to say what was a correct teaching :
    ” We understand that WHEN GOD MADE MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE and pronounced him very good THAT HE MADE HIM WHITE .” [ The Church magazine ” Juvenile Instructor” 10-15-1868 p 157 ] .

    So according to Mormon leaders we can understand Gen 1:26 to mean that God is a white man !

    Despite the claims of Mormon leaders to provide reliable and trustworthy guidance in knowing about who God is , they have displayed behavior as teachers that proves otherwise to many times .
    But that is one identifying mark of prophets in the latter days who claim to be sent by God but who are not — Matt 24:11 .

    May the Mormon people trust God to be able to lead them out of Mormonism . He waiting to hear from them and will help them make that first step .

  5. falcon says:

    Over the years, we’d get Mormons who would at some point say to me, “How can you criticize Mormonism when you’ve never read the BoM ?” or “How do you know the BoM isn’t true if you’ve never read it?”.
    My response regarding the truth of the BoM was to tell them that all I had to know was that the god of Mormonism isn’t the God revealed in the Bible. A different god isn’t going to reveal truth. In fact I’m not interested in anything this Mormon “god” had to say. But here’s another thought. Who was the god originally tagged in the BoM? Was it the currently recognized god of the LDS Mormon sect? What most Mormons don’t know is that the current “soup of the day” god of Mormonism wasn’t the god Joseph Smith started out with. Joseph Smith’s “god” evolved over time. This is reflected in the changes made to the BoM. So the revealed BoM in its original form was changed and it wasn’t due to the prophet going back out and digging up the golden plates and give them another read with his magic rock.
    Mormonism as it’s currently practiced by the LDS sect isn’t revealed in the BoM. Joseph Smith just kept rolling out his revelations despite the fact that he originally claimed that he didn’t lay claim to any “gift” beyond “translating” the golden plates.
    If I were a Mormon seeking for truth, the first thing I’d do is take a serious look at what the Bible has to say about God. This is a big step since part of the LDS indoctrination is that the Bible can’t be trusted. There’s the idea of risk/reward. Any risk that a questioning Mormon might feel, should be counter balanced be the reward that will be had when encountering the living God.

  6. falcon says:

    There is no greater question that can be answered than “Who is God?” Interestingly enough, if the LDS sect Mormons are really interested in who the original Mormons acknowledged as “God” they could take a look at the Community of Christ and Temple Lot sect of Mormonism. These folks go way back and reflect a Mormonism quite different from the latter Nauvoo and post Nauvoo sects.
    http://blog.mrm.org/2012/04/a-mormon-denominational-walkabout/

    The claims of Mormonism include a “great apostasy”, “abominable creeds”, a corrupted Bible and a “restoration” of authentic first century Christianity. But when we look at the various sects of Mormonism we find a great divergence of doctrine and practiced. There’s a lot of finger pointing that goes on among the various sects as they would all lay claim to being the original recipe and not the alternate “crispy”.
    Actually, what someone laying claim to being a follower of Joseph Smith needs to do, is to join the FLDS. This sect comes the closest, though not the original, of what Mormonism was about when Joseph Smith met his untimely death. Besides, these folks think that the LDS folks are apostates, which in the wonderful world of Mormonism, they probably are.
    In reality, if a questioning Mormon wants the original revelation, all they need to do is refer to God’s Word the Bible. It reveals who God is and what His plan of salvation entails.

  7. falcon says:

    So if someone read a “religious” book of some sort and if it gives them positive emotions, then they can conclude that what is contained in that book must be true, right? In the case of the BoM, the original copy says one thing about God and then later is “corrected” to say something else. And people get good feelings about both even though they contradict each other. That should be an immediate tip-off that something isn’t right with both the “feelings equal truth” paradigm and the information contained in the book. The problem is that once someone has a positive feeling, it’s very difficult to let go of the premise even when logic and evidence indicate that the information is faulty or not true.
    It’s difficult to divorce religious/spiritual feelings and human emotion from experience. Something that is true can make us feel good and so can something that is not true. The apostle Paul would admonish the followers of Christ to study to be approved. In-other-words get accurate information. He complimented the Bereans saying that they were “noble” because they studied the Scriptures day and night to determine if what Paul had taught was true. Signs and wonders accompanied the teachings of Paul but everything was supported by Scripture.

  8. historybuff says:

    The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith had this to say about Elohim:

    “There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: THE FATHER BEING A PERSONAGE OF SPIRIT, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image….” Lecture 5, verse 2.
    http://lecturesonfaith.com/5.php
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectures_on_Faith

    So, which Joseph Smith are we to believe?

  9. falcon says:

    buff
    There you go again spoiling all the Mormon fun of having a prophet who hears directly from God. Not only this but Smith followers have the added benefit of having a prophet who is given license to change his revelatory experience as he goes along. This progressive revelation is a cult leaders dream. But all false prophets do this and the rank-and-file think these guys are the bomb.
    How difficult is it to disprove Mormonism? Not difficult at all but these folks just don’t have the confidence to do so. Cults thrive because followers just won’t check things out.

  10. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    You are so right. I guess I’m definitely a buzz-killer. I feel so ashamed. I apologize to all those LDS who believe Elohim has a physical body, and also to all those LDS who believe He doesn’t….

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