Omnipresent

Does the LDS church teach that God is omnipresent? Does omnipresence conflict with the idea that God has a body?

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32 thoughts on “Omnipresent

  1. Yes. but not God the Father, because of his body. But God the Spirit is. Relevant scriptures:

    http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/88.7-13?lang=eng#6

    http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130.22?lang=eng#21

    Although there is also the idea that the Spirit can “withdraw,” so in that sense the Spirit is not always omnipresent—or rather, he can control/limit his omnipresence.

    Would this be similar to how Evangelicals view Jesus, now that he has a body?

  2. I understood that God the Father was only personally in one place at a time, but that the Holy Ghost could be everywhere, and so God the Father could be present-by-proxy everywhere. What with the whole “godhead” thing.

  3. “Would this be similar to how Evangelicals view Jesus, now that he has a body?”

    No, that would be seen as a confusion of the two natures of Christ.

  4. I don’t believe that abstract but absolute human concepts like “omni[whatever]” are actually meaningful or useful ways to describe anything, including without limitation, deities.

    You wind up fighting impotently over an ultimately nonsense abstract idea instead of the real atrributes of a living god.

  5. Tim asked:

    Does the LDS church teach that God is omnipresent?

    Yes. Although it is no longer part of Doctrine & Covenants, Joseph Smith’s statement from his Lectures on Faith continues to be used in church instructional materials: “God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift and every good principle dwell; and that he is the Father of lights; in him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation.”

    Tim also asked:

    Does omnipresence conflict with the idea that God has a body?

    Why should it?

  6. I don’t think the LDS Church does teach that God is omnipresent – except in the sense that his INFLUENCE and POWER are everywhere.

    But then, I don’t think the Bible teaches that he’s everywhere either.

    And no, I don’t consider being corporeal to require being in only one place at a time.

  7. I don’t think the LDS Church does teach that God is omnipresent – except in the sense that his INFLUENCE and POWER are everywhere.

    But isn’t that what “omnipresent” means?

  8. Brian said, “. . . there is also the idea that the Spirit can “withdraw,” so in that sense the Spirit is not always omnipresent—or rather, he can control/limit his omnipresence.
    Would this be similar to how Evangelicals view Jesus, now that he has a body?”

    Yes.

    Gundek spoke of “two natures of Christ.” What are his two natures?

    Eric, that’s a brilliant quote of Joseph. On what page was it? Or where online was it? Why was it taken out of D&C? (I didn’t know anything was removed from D&C.)

  9. Cal, it’s from the Lectures on Faith, which used to be included as a part of the D&C. But they were not really direct revelations, strictly speaking. But my understanding is that they are still more or less unanimously considered doctrinally authoritative by Mormons.

  10. Eric once again making me long for the good ol’ days in Kirtland. If ever there were a modern Kirtland Mormon, I think it might be you (and perhaps Katie).

    Brian, I’m not all that familiar with discussions about whether or not Jesus in omnipresent. Since we only believe in one God, we don’t tend to distinguish between the different persons of the Trinity when we say “God is Omnipresent”

    I believe Gundek makes a good point. We believe Jesus is fully God and fully human. Therefore as God he has every godly attribute. While on earth, he clearly was not everywhere at once. His human body is not omnipresent. It’s confined, but Jesus is not confined to his body. He owns his body but he is not just his body.

    Seth,
    I asked the question because I’m reading a book by a Mormon. He states that the Bible teaches that God is omnipresent. But as evidence he uses:

    2 Corinthians 2:14
    But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

    I’ll be the first to say, in no way is that a convincing proof text. So I was curious what other Mormons would say.

  11. Cal,

    The two natures of Christ are (1) fully God and (2) fully human. Please tell me you knew that?

    How exactly did the incarnation of the Son of God restricted the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit?

  12. Mormon theology defines the three omni’s as the following (as defined at lds.org):

    Omnipresent: God’s ability to be present everywhere through his spirit (Ps. 139:7–12; D&C 88:7–13, 41).

    Omnipotent: The divine trait of having all power (Gen. 18:14; Alma 26:35; D&C 19:1–3).

    Omniscient: The divine trait of having all knowledge (Matt. 6:8; 2 Ne. 2:24).

    Within the Godhead the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are perfectly one in purpose, while maintaining separate natures as soundly defined in the New Testament. Although each have a distinct mission and place in the lives of the children of God, the three can be referred to as One God because of their divine singular purpose. Jesus gave us the clearest understanding of this oneness during his prayer int he Garden of Gethsemane when he pleaded with the Father in reference to the Apostles “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…”

    The three omni traits above belong to God, and despite having a body of flesh and bones he is able to accomplish each as he desires because he “the Supreme and Absolute Being: (Gospel Principles, 5).

  13. Unsurprisingly, Mormons believe in a different sort of omnipresence than do classical Christians.

    (Equally unsurprisingly, I contend that talking about an omnipresent becomes and exercise in nonsense because of our inability to ground the discussion in describable reality. 🙂 )

  14. Eric S,
    Which God are you referring to, the Father, the Son or the Holy Ghost? Psalms and D&C seem to be referring to different persons.

  15. Interesting results from http://lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=Omnipresent+

    “The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son, but by his intelligence, his knowledge, his power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, he is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 61).

    Point out that the person of the Holy Ghost can be in only one place at a time, but his power and influence can be omnipresent—present everywhere at the same time.

    Have a young man read Doctrine and Covenants 88:3–4. Then draw the following on the chalkboard:

    Sun

    Explain that the difference between the Holy Ghost and the power and influence of the Holy Ghost can be illustrated by an analogy to the sun and the light that radiates from it. We know that the sun itself can be in only one place at a time. But the heat, light, and energy that radiate from it can enlighten and fill the entire solar system at once. Similarly, the Holy Ghost as a personage can be in only one place at one time, but his influence and power can and do fill the immensity of space.

  16. I agree that the passage from 2 Corinthians doesn’t have a lot to do with omnipresence.

    If you’re looking for LDS scripture aside from the Bible, D&C 88:41 (yes, Tim, from the Kirtland era) makes a better proof text. It provides a description of omnipresence that I assume sounds more like something a Protestant might say: “He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.”

    On the other hand, I’m not sure how the more modern LDS formulation that God is present through his Spirit everywhere in power and influence contradicts that. I’d say they’re just different ways of revealing the same truth.

  17. Interesting to see (but as Jared said not all that surprising) that Mormons redefine “omnipresence” but still claim the word.

    I think practically speaking it’s not all that different. Orthodox Christians personify the power and influence of God to an extent that they can’t be separated from His presence. But given other descriptions of God I can see why Mormons describe God’s omnipresence in this way.

    The reference to Psalms 139 (which only describes God’s ability to go anywhere) makes much more sense knowing that Mormons, strictly speaking, don’t think that God IS everywhere.

  18. Thanks, Kullervo, for the source/info!

    Gundek said, “The two natures of Christ are (1) fully God and (2) fully human. Please tell me you knew that?”

    Yes, I knew that, wise cracker. I thought you were going to say one nature was his incommunicable attributes and the other was his communicable attributes.

    I’m assuming the following question was directed at someone else. It doesn’t seem to relate to anything I said.
    “How exactly did the incarnation of the Son of God restricted [sic] the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit?”

    Eric Shuster, thanks for your input.
    Please explain what you meant when you said the members of the Godhead maintain separate natures. Is that your way of saying they are two persons with two different bodies? And is it not true the LDS recognizes that the Father is love (1 John 4:8) and the Son is also love, so in that sense, they have the same nature?

  19. Eric Shuster seemed to indicate that he was quoting directly off of lds.org. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Could someone help?

  20. Yes Cal, the question was directly to you and how Christ’s body affects the omnipresence of the Spirit.

  21. Gundek asked, “How exactly did the incarnation of the Son of God restricted [sic] the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit?”

    I don’t imagine the incarnation of the Son of God affected the activity of the Spirit. . . . except that, of course, the Spirit did a miraculous work in Mary’s womb. . . . and the Spirit was poured out on us on the Day of Pentecost as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice, and his sacrifice could not have happened if the incarnation hadn’t.

    What’s the point of your question, my friend?

  22. This is the part of BrianJ’s comment that I totally agree with: “. . . there is also the idea that the Spirit can ‘withdraw,’ so in that sense the Spirit is not always omnipresent.”

    I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit more in some places than in others. For example, where Christians are gathered together and praising him, it is often strong; and in places where most of the people present are not Christians and they are gathered together to voice their suspicions, it is not so strong. (I’m thinking of a public meeting during which the public school board was answering questions from the public before a vote. The darkness was so thick I could almost cut it with a knife!)

    I don’t believe the Holy Spirit lives in hell—although God has knowledge of what’s happening there.
    So you agree?

  23. No I don’t agree. God is omnipresent in His being and nature, upholding and sustaining His creation. I do see a distinction between operations of the Spirit in common grace, upholding creation, and redemptive grace, the application of salvation, but the withdrawal of the Spirit would mean the end of creation.

  24. I see what you’re saying, Gundek. God, through Christ, is certainly sustaining His creation. “In him [the Son] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
    I agree there’s a distinction between common grace and redemptive grace.

    Do you agree that the Bible gives much more attention to redemptive grace? I am reminded of the god of the New Age movement. I’ve been told that to many of them nature is God. How sad if that’s all they know of God.

  25. From my understanding of True LDS Doctrine/Theology/Teaching/Thought/Walk/Practice GOD is Functionaly Omnipresant [By The Awesome Power of the Holy Ghost].

    In His Debt/Grace
    Anakin
    LDS JEDI Knight

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