Defending the Faith: Reconsidering the emotions of God

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Feb. 10, 2014 7:59 p.m.

    Quite a conundrum that trinitarians have gotten themselves wound into, isn't it? Glad I don't have to rack my brain trying to figure out any of these paradoxes.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Feb. 8, 2014 5:33 a.m.

    To Michigander and Sharrona,

    I have noticed that your comments are ignored by some, as I would suggest these are just Mormons that do so. Why ? Because they see through your comments the nature of your understanding about Mormonism is thin to some point, and they consider it hopeless to explain their opinion to You.

    God having the "all-foreknowledge" is accepted with Mormons, but the assumption that this knowldege is sufficient to deny our existence in other lives is not.

    We may call it faith, but what happens her is that a member of the LDS church gets logic in here, where others seem to rest on fairly interpretations of scriptures.
    Mormons make sure by personal answer through the Holy Ghost, then everything else makes sense.
    It is kind of a discovery of spaces of faith added to our logic.

    If you could take away the BM and BOA etc. they would still believe what most Christians do, that statements about the foreknowing of the prophets is foreknowledge alone.

    Read D&C 138, it is either truth or not. There is nothing then to ignore anymore.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 2, 2014 8:23 p.m.

    RE: How is it possible for God to weep? i.e... The Holy Ghost/Spirit(same Greek word) is grieved (has emotions) (Isa 63:10,Eph 4:30). The Holy Ghost is God (Acts 5:3-4).

    RE: Sego Lilly, God created man in His own image (both man and woman) they would resemble God in certain ways, to reflect God's, spiritual, intelligent, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities.

    The Hebrew root of the Latin phrase for image of God—imago Dei—means image, shadow or likeness of God.
    1 Tim 6:16
    who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.(God the Father)

    RE: Stay the Course, Christians believe that God is omniscient, knowing everything about each person before birth. The emphasis is on God’s foreknowledge (“I knew thee”), not humanity’s knowing God.
    In Job 38:4, God rebukes Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

    Job 38:7 NIV …” and all the angels(sons)shouted for joy”.” In effect, God was reminding Job how Job wasn’t even in existence when the world was created.

  • Sego Lilly Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 2, 2014 12:31 p.m.

    If according to the scholars that Heavenly Father doesn't have a body than how on earth could he make man in his own image? Would we be blobs of unorganized matter? Heavenly Father has a body such as ours - therefore has the same emotions that we have.

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    Feb. 1, 2014 11:36 p.m.

    No I disagree the verse in Jeremiah has everything to do with the correct doctrine of the preexistence

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Feb. 1, 2014 9:53 a.m.


    How could He [God] have known Jeremiah before he was formed in the belly?

    Through the foreknowledge of God who sees and knows all things into the infinite future, including Jeremiah's birth and prophetic calling.

    It has nothing at all to do with the false doctrine of preexistence of men and women.

  • LittleDrummerMan ,
    Feb. 1, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee." How could He have known Jeremiah before he was formed in the belly if he didn't exist? We all lived before this life.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Feb. 1, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    I'm not saying God doesn't exist I'm simply stating that due to his obvious lack of attention to many of the simple things that could be addressed He doesn't have any emotion. The crux of the story.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Jan. 31, 2014 8:37 p.m.

    Twin Lights,

    There has always been and will always be TWO Eternal Personages - The Father [JEHOVAH] and the Son [Jesus Christ], BUT ONE Eternal God. The Father and the Son are ONE because they have the exact same mind which is the Holy Ghost (exact same as the Holy Spirit), the mind of the Father and the Son per 1st Cor.2:10-16 and Philip.2:5.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 31, 2014 7:34 p.m.


    You do realize that Christ's statement was to declare himself as Jehovah, right?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 31, 2014 6:06 p.m.

    RE: The Caravan Moves, as a perfect being will never lessen himself?

    (Kenosis)Phil 2:5-9. Verse 8, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

    Attributes of God(short list): Love, Omnipresence, wrath.

    What’s wrong with equating “God is love” (ho theos agape estin) with “Love is God,”
    If ‘Love is God,’ then all that is done in ‘love. This reasoning means that right and wrong are now justified by personal motives, not by biblical standards. If I have the right motive, I can break any command I want, as long as I do it in love!

    (John 4:24).God [is] spirit. ( *pneuma hο theos). There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the essence of the word, the word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis, would be like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” Jesus did not leave any doubt about this truth. God(The Father)= spirit

    "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16). For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven" (Rom. 1:18).

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Jan. 31, 2014 5:35 p.m.


    "'How do you know for sure we weren't all there??"

    Because the KJV Bible states the following in John 8:58: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM."

    If men and women preexisted, Jesus would have said: Before Abraham was WE WERE.

    Only Jesus Christ preexisted. No one else but Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father [JEHOVAH].

    Also, 1st Cor.15:46 states: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." Adam was created first flesh and bones and then his soul was created in him by the Lord. No preexistence of the spirits of men and women.

    Finally, Zechariah 12:1 states that the Lord "formeth the spirit of man within him." The souls of all men and women were created or "formed" in the wombs of their mothers at conception, Jesus Christ and Adam being the only exceptions.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 31, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    This further confirms the conclusion that god was created in the image of man and the Bible is purely an invention of Homo sapiens sapiens.

    While it's true that a person committed to and invested in the belief that the Bible is the word of a god and reliable history, why is it that virtually nobody converts from Unbelief to Belief based on the conclusions of serious, honest, critical study of the Bible? Compared to those who enter belief either thru childhood inculcation or else while still pretty profoundly ignorant of the Bible itself, the numbers appear vanishingly small.

  • oragami St. George, UT
    Jan. 31, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    In my opinion this article supports the view that "God" is nothing more than a projection of an idealized human nature. From this view, man created God in his own image. Sometimes God is violent and focused on retribution and punishment. Sometimes God is compassionate, kind, and loving. Evolutionary psychologists understand that humans are well positioned to take whichever approach best serves their own interests or the interests of the group to which they belong. God also displays this flexibility, and more tellingly, believing in Him allows human beings to justify violence and extol virtue selectively, as serves their own current purposes.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 31, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    All the different opinions and interpretations of the different posts here just goes to show that no one knows. It is all subject to ones imagination and determined by what one wishes it to be. And this is what the world wars over: man's silly superstitious attraction for religion and soothsayers venality to exploit it. Good luck.

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    Jan. 31, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    @Dennis -- You're attitude is not uncommon. Sam Harris famously uses the same argument as the crux of his Atheist Manifesto. But in that attitude there is a presumption as to what God's purposes are with this whole mortal existence. Atheists roundly dismiss "believers", in their feebleness or ignorance, for inventing Diety to suit any number of purposes, yet will easily fall to the logic of "If God exists, he would do thus and thus -- He doesn't do thus and thus -- therefore, He doesn't exist" (or even if he DOES exist, I don't want to have anything to do with him).

    Let's assume God stepped in to prevent all murders and other heinous crimes, and this was the norm throughout our mortal existence. I'm guessing that Sam Harris would likely have cited that because an old lady is allowed to fall and break her hip, or that a young boy is killed after riding his bike into traffic, is sufficient evidence that God does not exist or at least that God is not good.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Jan. 31, 2014 8:51 a.m.


    "If man and woman preexisted then it would have read "all the sons and daughters of God" shouting for joy."

    Only in the last few decades of the 20th Century have we begun to specifically call out "men and women" or "sons and daughters" when referring to all people of both genders. "Sons" is a term in many languages as well as in Middle English meaning both men and women.

    How do you know for sure we weren't all there??

    Why do people that die and come back tell us that they had a feeling of "returning home"?

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    Jan. 31, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    A couple of my favorite examples that demonstrate the depth of God's (Christ's) emotion -- his caring for our well-being and his sorrow for those who refuse his sacrifice:

    Isaiah 9-10 (2 Nephi 19-20) "... but his hand is stretched out still."

    Matt. 23:37, 3 Nephi 10:4-6, D&C 43:24 "O, ye nations of the earth (or Jerusalem or Israel, etc.), how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!"

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    Jan. 31, 2014 7:15 a.m.

    The though of Heavenly Father possessing love and concern in the same (or at least a similar) sense to us seems essential to the purpose and concept of mortal and eternal life. If God is indifferent to us, what is there to gain in worshipping Him? What joy is heaven and what misery is hell but arbitrary rewards or punishments otherwise?

    And if God has no body, for what purpose was Jesus Christ resurrected in one? Does Jesus have a body, and not Heavenly Father? Or if God is but a single entity, did He resurrect himself only to shed His resurrected body at some point and without mention?

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Jan. 31, 2014 6:42 a.m.

    @ sharrona - layton, UT "RE: 1.96 Standard Deviations, … no one can see me and live. (Ex 33: 18-20)… The LORD often appeared, but not in His full shekinah glory. Gen. 17:1."


    What you're saying, in essence, is that God "dumbed himself down". Such a think is beneath God. He knows who he is and as a perfect being will never lessen himself.

    As far as your attempted refutation of my statement regarding "God is love", you have missed the mark entirely. God IS full of love, which is what the New Testament scripture I was referring to means. I simply said it is utter nonsense to say that God is without passion and yet also claim to believe the Bible, which clearly says that God loves all of us.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Jan. 31, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    If God had any emotions whatsoever how could he allow the atrocities that happen day to day around the universe to his children? Young, old, male, female. Starving children, homeless families freezing in the streets, etc. etc. This isn't a case of "agency" it's a case of neglect and apathy towards humanity. I choose not to worship such a God.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 4:46 p.m.

    RE: 1.96 Standard Deviations, … no one can see me and live. (Ex 33: 18-20)… The LORD often appeared, but not in His full shekinah glory. Gen. 17:1.

    (Jacob): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." (Genesis 32:30); Jacob struggled with the Angel and prevailed; Hosea 12:3-4.

    … the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11) … he (Moses)endured, as seeing him who is invisible (Heb 11:27)

    --- "… Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55); "Hebrew Idiom." a figure of speech like, "he's my right hand man." In the Hebrew this idiom denotes power and strength.

    J S, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

    RE: The Caravan Moves on, “God is Love”, 1John 4:16 ho theos agape estin can only mean "God is love," not "love is God" as Christian scientist would confusedly say. Or,,John 4:24 pneuma ho theos can only mean "God is spirit," not "spirit is God."

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Jan. 30, 2014 3:53 p.m.

    It absolutely inconceivable for any rational, well-read/well-studied Biblican student and disciple of Jesus Christ to claim that God is, like many of them claim in their religious creed(s), a being "without....passion" when the Bible so clearly testifies, and I quote, that "God is love".

    Love is an emotion. As a matter of fact, love is THE crowning emotion. It is the emotion which trumps all others. Without love, can anything truly be worthwhile or have any value?


    So to claim that one believes the Bible and yet also claims that God is devoid of passion is beyond contradictory.

    I literally thank God that I know better.

    To those of any faith or religion or creed or nationality.....if you believe that God is a loving, personal, caring being, you are my friend.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Jan. 30, 2014 2:14 p.m.

    Michigander, the scriptures explain to us what first (sons and daughters were to be understood by)and second (that an angel of god was a spirit son also).

    There is no assumption for this one :

    That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

    And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son
    (DC 76)

    For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth...And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them.
    (Moses 3 )

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Jan. 30, 2014 1:36 p.m.

    1.96 standard deviations,

    Job 38:7 refers to the pre-mortal existence and "all the sons of God shouting for joy."

    These "sons of God" were the holy angels and not pre-mortal men.

    If man and woman preexisted then it would have read "all the sons and daughters of God" shouting for joy.

    Only Jesus Christ preexisted.

    Also, the resurrected Christ wept twice in 3rd Nephi 17:21-22 when visiting Central America.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Jan. 30, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    Hoping I am allowed to make mention of another scripture such as this one in plural :

    Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones (Abraham 3)

    We are not confined to a limited view about who we were when it comes to the scriptures.
    They must be read in comparison to each other, the one not less important to the other.
    To sum it up again, I was never without emotions no matter what time you would place me back then. We can claim that God having a body may express emotions, but this is not necessary, since emotions come from the individual as having existed before the "pre-existence" and before "earth-life". Why would we then have these scriptures, if that was not to be true ? I am not making up a new religion here, it is all what we got from Joseph Smith, Paul and Isaiah and and and.

    We talk little about it, since we run a test here on earth, but good things to ponder about. After all it is about us.

  • hoping Holladay, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Great article, as usual, brother Peterson. Thank you.

  • hoping Holladay, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    Sadness is not confined to physical expressions, it is not confined to spiritual expressions,
    it must have some center of origin, say may be within the "heart" or as we learn intelligences where not made neither could be ?

    A close reading of Doctrine and Covenants 93:29 tells us "intelligence" was not created or made, neither indeed can be. It is singular not plural.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    KTC John:

    To piggy back on your comment, Job 38 refers to the pre-mortal existence and the Sons of God shouting for "joy." Apparently some degree of emotion was experienced before we took on a "tabernacle of clay." D&C 93:33 clarifies that spirit and element, inseparably connected, can receive a fulness of joy.

    Also, Ether 3 has an account about the spirit body of Christ and involves Him touching stones. Apparently spirit bodies have some sort of substance to them that allow them to touch tones. Additionally, the spirit "substance", if you will, is such that it can still dwell within us according to D&C 130:22.

    Interesting stuff!

  • KTC John Wetumpka, AL
    Jan. 30, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    If Joseph Smith is correct, even a spirit personage is composed of matter. Thus, there is a "body" so to speak whether the personage is in a pre-mortal, mortal, or post-mortal condition. Consequently, there is a "body"---- a personage of spirit in a confined image, capable of experiencing emotions regardless of the stage of existence.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 30, 2014 7:29 a.m.

    Another excellent article! One reason I embraced my religion is that I believe that God defined Himself very well in the scriptures (the verses Dr. Peterson used are excellent examples) and not man struggling to define their God.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Jan. 30, 2014 6:32 a.m.

    Of course, I believe that Jesus could feel emotions before he was born, and I also believe that we can feel them after we die; in both cases, without a body.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Jan. 30, 2014 6:13 a.m.

    This article looks like being a little ahead of what is up next Sunday School.
    That is a wonderful thing to do.

    However, it cannot be true that the body of a person is reasonable evidence of emotions alone.

    Our devine origin is more than just having a body of flesh and bone,
    we are God's offspring in so many other ways that could reflect emotions.

    Sadness is not confined to physical expressions, it is not confined to spiritual expressions,
    it must have some center of origin, say may be within the "heart" or as we learn intelligences where not made neither could be ?

    Now if we are talking about our devine home, here in the open regardless to what others believe, we should include what we have in the scripture,
    such as : Enoch having seen God being sad, was not on earth for that experience, neither was the Lord a resurrected being at that time. You could argue it was Heavenly Father being sad, but then again would deny the Lord having emotions before his ministry on earth.

    Just saying, the Prof has a nice saying, but should not be afraid to bring out the real issue.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 6:08 a.m.

    Any one with a brain the emotion is the first to get information. But Christ gave us a good idea. What we do with it is up to us.