When Joseph recorded his “first vision” he never mentioned The Holy Ghost in any of the versions published. See all of the accounts side by side.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JS-H 1:17)
Why didn’t Joseph see the Holy Ghost? It is a witness of the Father and the Son. (2 Nephi 31:18), (D&C 20:27), (3 Nephi 28:11).
I was taught that the Holy Ghost is a personage AND a member of the Godhead.
“This is the office of the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of spirit, one of the trinity of the Godhead. It is his mission and office to bear witness of the Father and of the Son and of the truth of all things.” – George F. Richards (CR Oct 1931)
While the Holy Ghost may be conferred upon us, and is designed to be our guide and support, it is only restrained and manifested in its fulness in our guidance and defense in proportion to the degree to which we cultivate it and listen to its promptings. We may lose it entirely through indifference or transgression and once deprived of its presence we are left in darkness more dense than before its reception. Cultivate it, my brethren and sisters, and it will become in reality the iron rod, which is the word of God, and will lead us back to him. – Anthony W. Ivins (CR Apr 1934)
“That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power. – Melvin J Ballard (Three Degrees of Glory)
“Elder James E. Talmage taught: “That the Spirit of the Lord is capable of manifesting Himself in the form and figure of man, is indicated by the wonderful interview between the Spirit and Nephi, in which He revealed Himself to the prophet, questioned him concerning his desires and belief, instructed him in the things of God, speaking face to face with the man. . . . However, the Holy Ghost does not possess a body of flesh and bones, as do both the Father and the Son, but is a personage of spirit.” (1 Nephi 11:11)
“The chief agent or agency by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes his work is usually spoke of as the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God. It is a universe-filling medium or influence.” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliation’s, (3 volumes in one), 1962, p. 62).
“The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a Spirit, in the form of a man.” – Joseph Fielding Smith
So he should have seen him too according to our present teaching and understanding on the Godhead taught in church manuals such as the Doctrines of the Gospel Manual.
“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.” (D&C 130:22)
“The Holy Ghost is yet a spiritual body and is waiting to take to himself a body, as the Savior did.” [Joseph Smith, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997)]
If we look at Stephen’s experience, he saw two personages as well, and it’s described that he was filled with the Holy Ghost.
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55–56)
This is all leading to The Lectures on Faith, particularly Lecture 5.
Why did Joseph teach that the Godhead consisted of TWO personages, and not THREE personages?
“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:
Question 3: How many personages are there in the Godhead?
Two: the Father and the Son.” (LOF 5:2)
He says the Godhead consists of three, but only two are personages.
“We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one:“
Why doesn’t he say the Holy Spirit is a personage? Could it be that The Holy Ghost and The Holy Spirit are different? It’s interesting that D&C 76 doesn’t mention The Holy Ghost one time, yet we’ve assumed it does. Is this important? D&C 130:22 doesn’t say Godhead either, but we assume that’s what it’s teaching.
“Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, The idea that he actually exists. Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (LOF 3:2-5)
I’ve intentionally included quotes about the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, and Godhead by the following persons, “George F. Richards, Anthony W. Ivins, Melvin J. Ballard, James E. Talmage, John A. Widstoe, and Joseph Fielding Smith.” These men disagreed with Joseph Smith about the nature and character of the Godhead. As a committee in 1921 they took out the Lectures on Faith, known as the “Doctrine” portion of the Doctrine and Covenants.
This needs to be studied out, and pondered over. Your Faith might depend on it!
“…by proving contraries, truth is made manifest, and a wise man can search out old paths, wherein righteous men held communion with Jehovah, and were exalted through obedience.” – Joseph Smith
Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah.
Please contact me. I would like to speak with you about your 60 Character Traits of Jesus blog. Thanks, Patrick
Hey there, it’s Steve from oneClimbs. I found your site while looking through my traffic and came to this article here. I may have a little bit of additional info to share on this subject. Many people seem to think that there is a conflict between Lecture 5 and D&C 130 because of how the word “personage” is applied in both sources.
First, I’d like to point out that if you start at the beginning of D&C 130 you’ll see that the corporal nature of God is being specifically addressed.
Second, note that in the Lectures on Faith the focus any talk of deity is focused more on characteristics, attributes, and roles instead of physical properties.
Once these two observations have been made, we can now readdress the word “personage.” The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines personage in three ways:
1. Exterior appearance.
2. Character assumed.
3. Character represented.
I propose that D&C 130 is addressing personage as it relates to the first definition and the Lectures are using personage as it relates to the second or third definitions. Sometimes we see two different things and assume there is a contradiction whereas what we are really seeing is just two sides of the same coin.
Thank you for your response. I wrote this post intentionally the way I did so as to cause current LDS folk to ponder their present belief about the Godhead.
Just so you know, I do not believe the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit are the same thing. I believe the Holy Spirit is exactly what Joseph taught it to be: “The mind and will of God.”
If we receive “the mind and will of God,” then our spirit, or ghost will be made holy. That will then align each of us with God, and salvation and Godhood really is an individual thing. Each needs to “receive the Holy Ghost.”
It gives more meaning to the opening line in the endowment. ELOHIM: “Jehovah, Michael, see…” Father, Son, and YOU. We are to consider ourselves as the man Adam, correct?
The reason there were two personages is because once you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you then are the Holy Ghost, thus completing the Godhead FOR YOU.
I’ve been studying this topic the entire week.
As I prayed about this question, God asked me: “Is there any record anywhere of somebody seeing the Holy Ghost?”
I replied, “Not that I’m aware.” I believe in 1 Nephi 11 that was the Spirit of the Lord, just as the Brother of Jared saw.
The reply was, “What does that tell you?” My gut feeling was that it tells me the Holy Ghost is not a person or spirit body without a physical body.
In short, I had come to the conclusion that our spirit or “ghost” becomes holy or “the Holy Ghost” and at one with the Father and Son when we receive the Second Comforter.
But I’m not certain. When I read this comment above, I was happy somebody else had reached the same conclusion.
But questions remain…like why do we baptize people “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” if WE are the FUTURE Holy Ghost?
Perhaps the very ordinance of baptism is a calling TO BECOME one with the Godhead?
Like the Temple says, we are not kings yet but are called to become such. “Brethren and sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when you will be chosen, called up, and anointed kings and queens, priests and priestesses, whereas you are now anointed only to become such.”
But then there’s the Savior’s teachings of the Holy Ghost in 3 Nephi 11, which seem odd if this definition is true.
I also believe that the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are two phrases for the same thing, and talk about issues related to this in this post, and put together an index of around 16 subjects that the BoM uses for both of these phrases.
2 Nephi (LDS 33:2) (RLDS 15:2) But behold, there are many that DARDEN their HEARTS against the HOLY SPIRIT, that IT hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.
2 Nephi (LDS 31:8-9) (RLDS 13:10-11)
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the HOLY GHOST DESCENDED upon him in the form of a DOVE. 9 And again, IT showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he [Jesus] having set the example before them.
2 Nephi (LDS 32:5) (RLDS 14:6) For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and RECEIVE the HOLY GHOST, IT will SHOW unto you all things what ye SHOULD DO.
Alma (LDS 34:38) (RLDS 16:237-238) That ye CONTEND no more against the HOLY GHOST, but that ye RECEIVE IT, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
Alma (LDS 39:6) (RLDS 19:8-9) For behold, if ye DENY the HOLY GHOST when IT once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny IT, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.
Moroni (LDS 2:2) (RLDS 2:2) And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall GIVE the HOLY GHOST; and in my name shall ye give IT, for thus do mine apostles.
Also this is a great podcast I ran into after I did that post that brings out how the scribes of D&C 130 disagree regarding the Holy Ghost. Personally I don’t regard D&C 130 as scriptures as it has this and other things it contradicts scriptures on. and FYI even though it doesn’t say Godhead it does say Holy Ghost.