5 reasons why conservative Mormons would win from having Heavenly Mother be the Holy Ghost. Wait for it.

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Holy GhostA few years ago I had a conversation with a TBM* who referred to the Holy Ghost as “he.”

“In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for spirit is feminine, and in New Testament Greek it’s gender-neutral,” I said.

He saw my Bible and raised me a Book of Mormon. “Maybe, but in 1 Nephi there’s a part where the Holy Ghost appears to Nephi as a man.

“Fair enough,” I acknowledged. “But in other parts of scripture, the Holy Ghost appears as tongues of fire, or as a dove. We think those manifestations were just symbolic, so why do we take literally the notion that just because the Holy Ghost appeared one time in the form of a man, that it was a man?”

Having thrown my heretical cards on the table, I plowed heedlessly ahead. “Besides, I’ve always wondered if the Holy Spirit and Heavenly Mother might be connected. What if the Holy Ghost is actually Heavenly Mother?”

“That is not doctrine!” he sputtered. I think he was about to say something derogatory about my wild and crazy feminism, but he didn’t. That was kind of the end of the conversation.

So since we’re well outside the carefully manicured lawn of accepted Mormon doctrine and venturing into the untamed meadows of pure speculation, here’s a thought: Having Heavenly Mother and the Holy Ghost be one and the same isn’t some left-wing feminist program to empower women. It’s actually a reactionary strategy to disempower them while appearing to empower them. The TBM guy just couldn’t see that this theological shift would actually allow him to hold on to several other ideals he holds near and dear.

It would be genius. Here a five semi-serious reasons why.

1. The Holy Ghost is that still, small voice you know it’s good to listen to but you can also choose to ignore.

Conservative values teach us that women are created to work behind the scenes, influencing people’s hearts. They don’t crave powerful positions or outward authority. They flee from the first hint of conflict or dissension, and they never, ever hang out in bars. They give us comfort and TLC when we ask for it. They speak quietly to our inner souls. This is exactly like the Holy Ghost. If you think about it from the perspective of traditional gender roles, that “still, small voice” could only belong to a woman.

2. The Holy Ghost does not have a body!

This would resolve some of the deep discomfort that conservative Mormons feel about women’s bodies. We need never worry whether Heavenly Mother’s shoulders are appropriately covered, or if her flowing robes reach discreetly past her knees. What could be better than making her problematic female body simply disappear?

3. The Holy Ghost worships the males in the family.

Since an important role of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son, it’s a job tailor-made for Heavenly Mother. She doesn’t need or want any glory of her own, and would simply redirect any praise to the men in her family. This is what good women do.

4. The Holy Ghost is a cleaning lady and a teacher.

Remember that in Mormon theology, another important role of the Holy Ghost is to clean and sanctify people so they’ll be well-scrubbed to meet their father in heaven when the time comes. It’s a never-ending job, helping kids stay clean and wiping their boots before they can enter the house. Best leave that to Mom. Also, we know the Holy Ghost is a teacher (“All who will be saved must be tutored by the Holy Ghost,” the Church teaches us). Three-quarters of teachers are female. It’s perfect.

5. Dissing the Holy Ghost can get you into major trouble.

Remember: blaspheming the Holy Ghost is the only sin the scriptures say is unpardonable. And sure, we could spend all day trying to figure out what it actually means to blaspheme the Holy Ghost . . . or we could just play it safe by assuming it’s better not to talk about the Holy Ghost at all. Ever. Just like with Heavenly Mother. See what we did there? Having Heavenly Mother be the Holy Ghost gives us a pretty darn good reason to avoid so much as speaking her name.

And best of all: we can appear to be giving more visibility to female leadership without changing anything at all about the way things are currently done.

Well played, conservative Mormons. Well played.


* Updated 2/27/15. A reader just emailed me to ask what a TBM is. I’m sorry — it’s a colloquial term for a “true blue Mormon,” or very conservative member of the LDS Church. I should not assume that readers are going to be familiar with this slang!

  • Danny S

    Jana, what a delicious post! I had to chuckle. (real humor, not snark) Reminds me of one time in the son in law’s van I asked if black people are resurrected white? I don’t have time to go into historical doctrines and scriptures, but the question is not as facetious as one might at first think. Uncomfortable silence followed, sort of like someone had passed gas loudly.

  • Well played. I believe it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton who wrote that perhaps we should view the Godhead/Trinity as Father, Mother, and Son rather than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I do find it interesting that we talk about there “being” a Heavenly Mother but no one has seemed to really sit down and see if we could get some divine words that can really define how to describe her.
    Q: Is there a Heavenly Mother?
    A: Oh sure, of course there is.
    Q: So, tell me something about her
    A: Uh, well, uh, um, uh….she’s just there.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Uh, um, well, ahh, uh, um…there has to be one, the universe wouldn’t be balanced without one. There, there just has to be.
    Q/A: Uh huh.

  • Ron

    Again, you have brightened my day! Thank you.

  • Ha! I needed this laugh today.

  • Sue

    I like the way you think. ;). Thanks for your posting.

  • Madison

    Wow. You’re going for a lot more snark than substance lately, Jana.

  • Bob Davis

    Very convincing and very possible. The idea is delicious, and I say, “why not?”

  • Jeff P

    Your thoughts brought to mind some passages I love from the Wisdom of Solomon, clearly identifying the feminine ‘Woman Wisdom’ with God, in language that sure sounds like the Holy Spirit:

    Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 8

    For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
    because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
    For she is a breath of the power of God,
    and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
    therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
    For she is a reflection of eternal light,
    a spotless mirror of the working of God,
    and an image of his goodness.
    Although she is but one, she can do all things,
    and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
    in every generation she passes into holy souls
    and makes them friends of God, and prophets;

    LDS Question: Jana could you, or someone, explain to us un-informed who or what the ‘Heavenly Mother’ is, inside the ‘carefully manicured lawn Mormon theology’? Is the ‘Heavenly Mother’ just the LDS way of describing what the Hebrews describe as God’s ‘Sophia’, feminine elements of, or feminine imagery for the Creator God, or ‘woman wisdom’ as the authors of Proverbs 8 or Wisdom of Solomon 7 & 8 describe her?. As you say, the Old Testament does occasionally use feminine imagery for the one God of Israel, the Lord of Hosts, the Alpha and the Omega.

    Or, on the other hand, does LDS theology see the ‘Heavenly Mother’ as actually a second Goddess? Does LDS theology have two, or more, Gods and Goddesses?

    The Old Testament uses feminine imagery to describe God, so I’m surprised your conservative friend would be upset at the idea that God has both a ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ identity and characteristics-

  • GP

    Very nicely done… #2… haha

  • Fran

    The holy spirit is God’s active force that he uses to accomplish his purposes and is not a person. There is also no Trinity since Jesus is the son of God and is in subjection to God (1 Corinthians 11:3), his Father.

    The woman referred to in the first Bible prophecy at Genesis 3:15, is referring to God’s heavenly organization which gave birth to God’s kingdom and its heir, Christ Jesus, its King (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-9).

  • I love this, Jana!

  • Nobody Important

    Jana, in your view, can a “true blue/believing Mormon” be a democrat or a liberal?

  • brotherofjared

    She is a mother, no different that a mother here. Without Her, there would be no life.

  • Danny S

    Madison, where’s the snark? Jana stated this was “semi-serious”. Just because she hits a little close to home is no reason to harrumph.

  • Danny S

    Fran, surely you can do better than lob non-sequiturs as authoritative pronouncement. Sheesh.

  • david

    Isn’t our Heavenly Mother a resurrected person of flesh and bone, perfect in every way?
    If she is, I hope to meet her, hang out a bit, tell her the adventures and mishaps I’ve seen and done.

  • Fred M

    Don’t know what Jana would say, but I think by definition a TBM is an ultra-conservative member of the church. It has nothing to do with “believing” or strength of testimony. I think testimonies can run the gamut with both liberals and conservatives.

  • Anon

    Since the brethren don’t seem to be the least bit interested in her, we will probably never know. See, the way they see it, a male God is in charge, so all is well with the universe. They are probably thinking, let’s throw an invisibility cloak over her and maybe she’ll go away.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Let me help you out here,Danny S…Fran is speaking the invented pseudo – theological constructs of Jehovah’s Witnesses’Watchtower groupthink,in which the clear language of Holy Scripture is tweaked and parsed to fit their belief system.So…don’t sweat it,my friend.You’ve been found out,Fran,so…BIG FAIL.

  • Anon

    You know, David, I’m going to bet that She’s already quite familiar with your mishaps and adventures.

  • And not for the first time and most assuredly not the last, I am reminded about how much I over-the-moon love you and your work, Jana.

  • I’ve been debating over writing a post on my blog talking about the Godhead, and this article as pushed me to it. I’ll briefly summarize what I will be writing here.

    We have 4 Gods and numberless gods in Christianity, the LDS Mormon variety of it at least (the others generally reject the Bible in this.). The first two Gods are Elohim – our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. This is why it is plural – we have more than one parent. When we pray to God the Father, we pray to God the Mother. They are fully equal in power and Godhood. The second member of the Trinity is Jesus Christ, YHWH, or I Am. He is the creator of our physical bodies and the father of our salvation. The third is Adam, Michael, as we know him, the Holy Ghost. we see him working with YHWH in the creation in the temple and this is what Brigham Young meant by what is known as the Adam God Theory. We openly reject the idea that Adam is God the Father, but if you read Young’s teachings it is clear he is telling us Adam is the Holy Ghost. All of the other gods are elohim – us. (See Psalms 82).

    If you really want a win for Mormon feminists, look at why Family Home Evening is on Monday – the day of the Moon. This is a day of feminine power. Why FHE on Mondays? Because the woman rules the home. Take a look at the tree in Lehi’s dream. it turns into Mary. Why? Because it represents our Heavenly Mother. There are loads of feminism in Mormonism that we ignore, like the fact that as a man, I can’t lead the Church or bless my kids without holding the office of the priesthood. Yet, a woman my bless her children and hold priesthood authority in the temple as a worker or at church as a leader without holding an office of the priesthood as they already just have the priesthood. I could go on, but that’s enough to make my point.

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  • Raye-Lee

    Nice catch, Laurence!

  • Raye-Lee

    You make some interesting points, but missing 1 very important thing. Adam is a resurrected being of flesh & bone & as such, can not fulfill the role of The Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, by calling & design, must be a spirit in order to fulfill his calling properly. He couldn’t, otherwise. He will receive his body, when his mission is completed.

  • MaryKaren Solomon

    Jana, I have always half-believed this, and it’s good to see it in print! A dear older friend of mine, wife of a mission president, once shared her theory that the Holy Ghost was our Mother in Heaven with me, and it made total sense. We had a great couple of hours discussing it. Who can believe that a mother wouldn’t want to be involved with or influence her children on earth? Or that a Father in Heaven wouldn’t let her?

  • Jenny

    It actually doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would God be married to someone who wasn’t ALSO a god/goddess? And in order to reach godhood, you HAVE to have a body, which the Holy Ghost doesn’t have. I think that our Heavenly Mother IS, indeed, involved with Her children, but not as a bodiless being but a glorified goddess equal in EVERY way to our Heavenly Father. And that includes physically. Why would a god who urges us to be like Him and work to attain god/goddess-hood not have the perfect example of such an existence? We are meant to be co-equals, working side-by-side in our perfected (ie BODIED) existence in eternity, and our Heavenly Parents would naturally serve as the model for that. I admit I’d like to know more of our Heavenly Mother, but making her the Holy Ghost just to fill that void doesn’t cut it. I think we diminish Her by doing so. She is a goddess in every way, and wishes for Her daughters to be like Her and aspire to Her level of glory.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    How long have you been smoking those drugs,Mr.Lewis? Time to put the pipe down and move on.

  • BG

    The longer I am away from the Church the more all of the arguments about “doctrine” sound exactly like two guys arguing at a Star Trek convention about the origin of Klingons.

  • Danny S


  • “So since we’re well outside the carefully manicured lawn of accepted Mormon doctrine and venturing into the untamed meadows of pure speculation…”

    Pure speculation would not be outside of the realm of Mormonism.


  • trytoseeitmyway

    “TBM” is not used as an acronym for “true blue Mormon.” It is used as an acronym for “true believing Mormon,” and it is a slur. If you think about it, the work “true” in that phrase is redundant – unless you intend to invoke the pop psychology concept of the “true believer.” This term gained currency back in the post-war era with Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951). The term “true believer” is never used as a compliment.

  • Travailen

    it is not that the Holy Ghost does not have a body, it is only that He does not have a body of flesh and bone. He has a body. It is just different from ours.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Right. I think that is exactly the correlation.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    “Goobledeegook pablum and cliches.” Hmmm.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Good point. But Ms. Riess was not trying to be serious. She was trying to combine sarcasm with sacrilege. This is actually an improvement for her, but not by much.

  • Joel

    It simply doesn’t work.

    If the Heavenly Mother is the eternal companion of Heavenly Father, then she would by necessity (in Mormon Doctrine) need to be a divine exalted being – which would mean that Heavenly Mother has a body. In other words, she can’t be the Holy Ghost.

    Perhaps the better argument for the feminist Mormons out there would be to consider whether or not the conception of the Mormon Godhead should be expanded to include 4 beings – Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost.

  • KOH

    I think it’s fun – perhaps sometimes beneficial – to play in the speculation world. For that reason, I don’t have a problem with any of the “doctrinal” assertions (hopes) made here.

    I do, however, have a little issue with your last statement, Jana. “Well played, conservative mormons”? Why are you blaming conservative mormons for these ideas or theories? Wasn’t it you that brought up to the TBM (and I’m not sure you get to judge whether others are believing or not, whatever that means) the possibility that the Holy Ghost was Heavenly Mother. These are your ideas, your thoughts, your assertions, and your explanations. No one else is making them but you. And then you go and seem to blame others for the potentially anti-feminist slant on the “Holy Ghost is Heavenly Mother” argument that YOU AND YOU ALONE ARE MAKING. Am I missing something? Maybe I read that wrong, but that is how it came across to me. And that seems like a cheap shot to be taking.

    Other than that, it’s fun to speculate. I have no problem with asking questions to try and figure out things we may not completely understand (as you probably can gather from the previous paragraph). And if it turns out in the end that you are right, well that would be just fine with me, too.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Even “semi-serious” overstates it.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    It’s pretty clear she wrote that (“Well played,” etc.) to be sarcastic. The whole piece is plainly intended as satire. However, I would agree that it isn’t very good satire, and treats faithful and believing Mormons (whom Riess disparages with the derogatory term, “TBM”) as Riess’s foils.

  • Jeff P

    As I said earlier, I am trying to understand who the ‘Heavenly Mother’ is. The LDS website mentions her, but only very briefly. The Book of Mormon I read recently didn’t make any mention of a Heavenly Mother, or a female Goddess, and was explicitly monotheistic.

    The understanding I am getting from the comments here, and from some other reading, is that ‘inside the carefully manicured lawn’ of traditional LDS theology:
    1) the ‘Heavenly Mother’ is an independent, female deity, possibly also known as the Holy Ghost
    2) She and several other Gods, one being Jesus, think alike and are collectively are referred to as the ‘Godhead’.
    3) She is the one who gave birth to mankind (presumably including Jesus too?) just as our earthly mother created our earthly bodies.

    Is my understanding correct?

  • KOH

    Well, OK. I’m, however, not sure if she is serious or sarcastic about the doctrine (at least partially, and I tend to think she is), about the anti-feminist reasoning behind the doctrine, or about the small-mindedness of those who she thinks need anti-feminist reasons to validate a doctrine. I originally read her “well played” comment as sarcastic (as in “well played, you TBM idiots”); maybe she was being sincere.

    I don’t like to make waves. Maybe I’m thinking too hard or being too literal. Maybe this is simply a commentary on Jana’s writing abilities/style, not her philosophy. Maybe I’m too dense to understand what everyone else is thinking and feeling simply by what they say.

    But I don’t think I’m the only one …

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Yes and no. Let me help:

    0. It’s true, as you say, that the Book of Mormon has apparently monotheistic/trinitarian passages. But the separateness of the Father and the Son which we see in the New Testament likewise persists in the Book of Mormon, and there are compelling counter-examples as well. E.g., 2 Nephi 31:11–12, 14–15.

    1. Yes, in LDS theology, “the ‘Heavenly Mother’ is an independent, female deity.” No, She is not also referred to as the Holy Ghost.

    2. No, Heavenly Mother is not included in the Godhead. Also, we would not say, “think alike,” but we would say, “united by common purpose.”

    3. Yes, Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father are the Parents of our (human beings’) spirits. This includes Jesus Christ, who is explicitly identified in ancient and latter-day scripture as the Son of God. He is referred to as “the only begotten” because His human incarnation was as described in the New Testament.

    The concept of a Heavenly Mother grows out of reason and inference more than explicit revelation. The thought was expressed poetically in the following:

    In the heav’ns are parents single?
    No, the thought makes reason stare!
    Truth is reason; truth eternal
    Tells me I’ve a mother there.

    The poem by Eliza R. Snow (1804 – 1887) was set to music and canonized (as it were) in the Church hymnal as, “O My Father” (#292). The 4th verse of that hymn anticipates Heaven with the words,

    When I leave this frail existence,
    When I lay this mortal by,
    Father, Mother, may I meet you
    In your royal courts on high?
    Then, at length, when I’ve completed
    All you sent me forth to do,
    With your mutual approbation
    Let me come and dwell with you.

    These concepts set orthodox Catholics’ and Protestants’ teeth on edge, and yet, as Sister Snow observed, the whole concept of the Fatherhood of God, which is in the very warp and woof of the Bible, especially the New Testament (see, e.g., Heb. 12:9), would be meaningless if not for the complementary idea of a Heavenly Mother.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I don’t think you’re the only one either.

  • cnandrews

    If true, she’s definitely not a Jewish mother.

  • Pacumeni

    Jana, you should not have conceded that the Holy Ghost appears as a man in the Book of Mormon. If you read the text closely, it is clear that “the Spirit of the Lord” who serves as Nephi’s guide is the Pre-Mortal Jehovah, not the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Spirit commands Nephi to “look.” Nephi looks at the Spirit but it disappears and he sees instead the Virgin Mary, who is declared to be the mother of Jehovah in the flesh. An angel descends to take the place of the Spirit of the Lord who has disappeared. This replacement guide, the angel, repeats the command the Pre Mortal Jehovah had given “look!” Nephi looks and this time sees Mary holding the baby Jesus. So Nephi sees the person he was initially commanded by Jehovah to look at. If the Spirit of the Lord was the Holy Ghost, it would have had no reason to disappear when Mary and Jesus showed up. If it is the Pre Mortal Jehovah, he had to disappear and be replaced by the angel so as not to be in two places at one time, both standing with Nephi as guide and being in Mary’s arms as the baby Jesus. Close reading makes it clear that Nephi’s guide, the Spirit of the Lord is Jehovah, not the Holy Ghost.

    A better approach to Mother in Heaven is to see Elohim as a divine couple. Elohim is a plural, meaning Gods, that occurs thousands of times in the Old Testament. The Elohim create man and woman in “our own image” in Genesis. We should read Elohim, the Gods, as being El and Ella. To be sure, Elohim, doesn’t always work that way in the Old Testament. But in light of modern revelation confirming that we have a Mother in Heaven (which is consonant, as Margaret Barker has shown, with ancient beliefs in Mother in Heaven), El and Ela, the divine couple, may be the best reading of Elohim and the best place to find Mother in Heaven in scripture.

  • Adam

    I was always open to the idea that the Holy Ghost isn’t necessarily one person, but a collection of spirits that have either yet to be born or already passed away, probably more often the latter. They would be the ones most wanting a family member to accept the gospel because they either haven’t have the veil lifted or know that is it true. Even my athiest relatives have had experiences where they have had strong witnesses to the fact that the spirits of the dead still roam the earth and can communication in times of sadness or need. It would also help explain how the spirit can be everywhere at one time. Anyone who has strong testimonies of family history know that the protection you get is often from ancestors having your back because you have theirs.

  • Jeff P

    Hi Trytoseeitmyway:

    Thanks much for your explanation. I really enjoy Jana’s general-Christian writing, and read the Book of Mormon because she made it seem ‘safe’ to read, and am trying to understand what I read.

    May hit you with a few follow-up questions? (The LDS Website doesn’t say much of anything about this).

    When you say ‘God’, why do you use the singular, and not ‘The Gods’? How many Gods are there? And which of these Gods/Goddesses does LDS theology have man worship? I assume you don’t worship this Heavenly Mother, (although She is our co-Creator)?

    I know that there are Mormons who believe in only one God, not multiple Gods/Goddesses, and I’m sure they would quote the Book of Mormon’s Monotheistic language to support that. How would those people be viewed by the LDS Church? What would the LDS church tell someone who didn’t believe in a ‘heavenly mother’, but believed that the ‘heavenly mother’ is feminine imagery for that one God, who has no gender? ?Would those people be excommunicated? Denied access to the sacraments? (i.e. is Monotheism acceptable within the LDS church? )

    Thanks. As you say, this is very different than what we in Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox Christianity are familiar with.

  • laverl 09

    The Holy Ghost is NOT the Holy Spirit

    The difficulty of considering the Holy Ghost to be the same as the Holy Spirit has caused confusion amongst Christian theologians from the very beginning of Christian writings. And even with modern revelation, early Mormon theologians heatedly debated the issue while even today’s scripture ponderers remain confused as to how to understand what is being communicated when the words “Spirit” and “Light of Christ” are used.
    In April of 1843 Joseph Smith was recorded as saying, “The Holy Ghost is a personage and a person cannot have the personage of the Holy Ghost in his heart.”(Words of Joseph Smith p 70)
    Later in the same month he was recorded as saying that “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All Spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” (D&C 131:7-8)
    Had Joseph known then what we know now, he could have used common knowledge to explain that just as each person has an aura of light around his body, the auras of the embodied Godhead could fill the universe and still be felt within each person’s heart at the same time.
    As can be seen in the following ruminations, the problem lies in not being able to sort out when the scriptures are speaking of the Holy Ghost and when they are speaking of the Holy Spirit.
    Orson Pratt argued that the original divine entity was not God the Father, but rather “the Great First Cause itself and consisted of “conscious, intelligent, self-moving particles, called the Holy Spirit.”(First Great Cause pamphlet, 1851) As we shall see, his basic problem was considering the Spirit to be an entity.
    Parley P Pratt said that the Spirit is “the grand moving cause of all intelligences and by which they act.” (Key to the Science of Religion, p 45, 1855)
    Both Pratts speculated that the Spirit was a kind of base out of which all self-awareness, sentience and even God himself emerged.
    The Pratts had Joseph’s writings to back them up as in D&C 88:5-13: The glory of God through Jesus Christ His son, “He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.”

    However, by trying to meld the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit into one entity, complications arose. They postulated that because the Holy Ghost was the power by which God became God, then the Holy Ghost pre-dated the Father and the Son and was therefore the most important member of the Godhead.
    Brigham Young did not agree with the Pratts’ ideas that seemed to portray the Holy Ghost as above God the Father and at the same time may have found Joseph Smith’s original remarks misleading or misrecorded because he said in 1857 that “the Holy Ghost was a personage, but not a personage having a tabernacle like the Father and the Son.” (Discourses of Brigham Young 3:1377).
    Thereafter, Joseph Smith’s words were changed in the Church’s official history and incorporated as changed into the 1876 canonization of the Doctrine and Covenants now in Section 130 verse 22.
    If the Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit, then Mormon scripture in some cases would have the Holy Ghost as predating the Father and the Son and be the agency by which the Father and the Son operate in their various capacities. Fortunately, we are beginning to see some agreement in our theological writings that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit are not the same.

    Elder Joseph Fielding Smith taught that ‘this Spirit fills the immensity of space and is everywhere present. This Spirit is impersonal and has no size, nor dimensions; it proceeds forth from the presence of the Father and the Son and is in all things.” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:49–50.)
    Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave this explanation: “There is a spirit—the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, the light of truth, the light of Christ—that defies description and is beyond mortal comprehension. It is in us and in all things; it is around us and around all things; it fills the earth and the heavens and the universe. It is everywhere, in all immensity, without exception; it is an indwelling, immanent, ever-present, never-absent spirit. It has neither shape nor form nor personality. It is not an entity nor a person nor a personage. It has no agency, does not act independently, and exists not to act but to be acted upon .” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 1985, p. 257.)
    Elder McConkie also taught that the Light of Christ “is the agency of God’s power; it is the means and way whereby ‘he comprehendeth all things,’ so that ‘all things are before him, and all things are round about him.’ It is the way whereby ‘he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 258; D&C 88:41).
    And Elder McConkie adds: “The Holy Ghost makes use of the Light of Christ to perform his work. The Spirit of Christ (or Light of Christ) is the agency through which the Holy Ghost operates”. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 314.) (italics in original)

    The Spirit is also the power which the Holy Ghost uses to testify of ALL truth to all men (scientific discoveries as well as eternal truths). “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things”. (Moroni 10:5)

    “Moroni wrote that all spiritual gifts come through the Spirit of Christ” (Moro. 10:17), meaning that when the Holy Ghost works with us, he transmits his gifts by the agency of the light of Christ”. (Ensign June, 1989, p 26-29).

    The Holy Spirit is the operative power in the companionship of the Holy Ghost promised to baptized members who worthily partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (III Nephi 18:11; Moroni 4, 5; D&C 20:77-79)

    The Holy Spirit is also the operative power by which the Gift of the Holy Ghost acts as the refiner’s fire and sanctifies all who have been baptized and given this Gift by the laying on of hands. “By listening to the promptings of the Spirit [of Christ] one is led via faith and baptism to a higher spiritual blessing called the gift of the Holy Ghost, ‘a greater and higher endowment of the same Spirit which enlightens every man that comes into the world’”. (CW Penrose, JD 23:350) as cited in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
    “More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin.” (Bible Dictionary p 704).

    Once we can accept the Holy Ghost as a personage and NOT the impersonal, non-embodied Holy Spirit, we can go back and revisit the interpretation of Joseph’s Smith’s words that will allow the Holy Ghost to have a resurrected body. [Joseph Smith’s words were changed in the Church’s official history and incorporated as changed into the 1876 canonization of the Doctrine and Covenants now in Section 130 verse 22.] (see above for the history and reasons)
    Thanks to Terryl Givens writings for pushing my thoughts in this direction.

  • sven

    David, you are correct. But that wasn’t the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post was to demonize those whom the author disagrees with. Which having drawn up a good straw-man of her opponent she was able to knock down her imaged evil men easily.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Fred M helps to illustrate how “TBM” is a slur.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    You’re welcome. When you say “the LDS Website doesn’t say much about this,” I am not sure what “this” refers to. The comment field of a blog isn’t suited for extended theological conversation, but I’d be curious why you would ask “[w]hat the LDS church [would] tell someone who didn’t believe in a ‘heavenly mother’, but believed that the ‘heavenly mother’ is feminine imagery for that one God, who has no gender?” Is the “someone” in that example anyone who accepts the Bible as the word of God?

    The fatherhood of God the Father is strongly taught in the Bible. Every reference to the Father of our spirits implies a Mother too, don’t you agree? I think it’s hard to avoid that conclusion and still take the Bible at its word. The plurality of gods.is likewise taught in the Bible and Catholics, at least, accept the principle of divinization. Many Protestants do too, because they accept the truth of scripture.

  • Jeff P

    Hi Try:
    I am just trying to understand the LDS concept(s) of God(s?).
    Obviously as a Protestant I would believe that there is only one God, and I read the Bible (and Book of Mormon) that way.

    I didn’t intend to debate – just understand how far apart we may, (or may not), be.

    All the best-

  • trytoseeitmyway

    So, just to be clear, you want to ask me questions but you don’t want to answer any. OK. That doesn’t seem fair.

  • TomW

    Jana, you wrote, “Having thrown my heretical cards on the table, I plowed heedlessly ahead. ‘Besides, I’ve always wondered if the Holy Spirit and Heavenly Mother might be connected. What if the Holy Ghost is actually Heavenly Mother?’ ”

    There was a time in my young life that I contemplated that possibility myself. But eventually that concept got smashed by the reality of LDS doctrine that our Heavenly Mother would likewise be an exalted, resurrected Being, just like the Father.

    That said, though I’m certainly open to a different speculative theory being dashed by doctrinal reality, is there necessarily anything preventing the Holy Ghost from being our Elder Sister, just as Jesus is our Elder Brother? Perhaps the divine Leia to His Luke? Wielding the power of God, just as Jesus was able to do in spirit form during the creation of the world and in His dealings among mankind prior to His mortal birth, to penetrate the very hearts of the human family? (Heaven help me if this musing takes off among some of your readers and ends up causing me grief in my home ward/stake. I’m not the least bit vested in such speculation. It’s not my primary view, or even a secondary view. Just a light musing.)

    As for the 5 musings expressed in the blog, I seriously dislike them. I hope they are largely intended as tongue-in-cheek, but I consider the characterizations of faithful Latter-day Saints with regard to the respective items to be unnecessarily demeaning and undignified, let alone grossly in error. I concur with KOH who wrote, “that seems like a cheap shot to be taking” and trytoseeitmyway who wrote, “I would agree that it isn’t very good satire, and treats faithful and believing Mormons (whom Riess disparages with the derogatory term, “TBM”) as Riess’s foils.”

    Anon writes, “Since the brethren don’t seem to be the least bit interested in her, we will probably never know.”

    I would be willing to bet that the brethren are at least as interested in Her as any other Latter-day Saint, if not more. But they are limited to the light and knowledge that the Father chooses to reveal, and are probably more sensitive than most to the concept of badgering God over things He has elected not to grant. The brethren are unlikely to desire a repeat of the Martin Harris episode. Revelation is sought. God’s response or continuing silence is subsequently respected.

    I wholly concur with Jenny who wrote, “I admit I’d like to know more of our Heavenly Mother, but making her the Holy Ghost just to fill that void doesn’t cut it. I think we diminish Her by doing so. She is a goddess in every way, and wishes for Her daughters to be like Her and aspire to Her level of glory.”

    I recognize that some might respond by saying, “How can I become more like Her when we know virtually nothing ABOUT Her?”

    To that I would respond that men and women can both learn pretty much every critical thing necessary for them to know by becoming true disciples of Her Son, Jesus Christ. His example is universal.

    Joel write, “Perhaps the better argument for the feminist Mormons out there would be to consider whether or not the conception of the Mormon Godhead should be expanded to include 4 beings – Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost.”

    I suspect that in the end this view is probably closer to reality than anything else put forth in mainstream Christianity.

  • Val Larsen

    The “spirit of the lord” that appears as a male in the Book of Mormon is not the Holy Ghost. It is the pre-mortal Christ. The spirit commands: Look. When Nephi looks it disappears and an angel replaces it as Nephi’s guide. The angel repeats the command: Look. Nephi looks again and sees Christ in Mary’s arms. The passage also alludes to Moses’s face to face conversation with Jehovah, suggesting that Nephi is having a similar conversation with the pre-mortal Lord.

    But let’s not think of the Holy Ghost as Mother. In the ancient cananite religion, there were four main dieties: El, Elah, Yahweh (or Baal), and a daughter. The divine daughter is the best candidate for the Holy Ghost. Mother in Heaven clearly has a body of flesh and bone like that of the Father.