Beliefs about a higher power or a supreme being vary among religions and even members within religion. The nature and existence of this being have been debated amongst theologians for centuries.
I’d like to share some of the beliefs held by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and why we believe the way we do.
(Please note, for official Church statements on this doctrine, please click here.)
First, we believe that God is a literal Father in Heaven. We believe that we lived with him before we came to this life. (Jeremiah 1:5) He begat our spirits and as spirits we lived with and learned from him before we came to earth. He loves us with a perfect love of a father to his children.
We believe that God has a corporeal nature - he has a perfect, glorified body of flesh and bones. (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22) When we are taught in Genesis that man was made in God's image, (Genesis 1:27) we understand that to be quite literal.
Some Christians would point to John 4:24 say the scriptures are clear - God is a spirit. It begs the question "doesn't The Church of Jesus Christ believe in the Bible?"
The answer is yes - the Church does believe in the Bible, as far as it is translated correctly. (Articles of Faith 1:8) However, the Church is not based on the Bible. It's based on revelation and guidance through modern prophets and apostles - a pattern set forth in the Bible. Based on that pattern, Joseph Smith provided additional insights into Bible passages, including John 4:24, teaching that God is not a spirit, but a loving being with a perfected body.
We believe that God and Jesus Christ are two separate beings. (For more information on our beliefs about the Trinity, see this previous blog post.) We believe God's love is perfect and it is reflected in sending His son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for us. We believe mankind is made up of imperfect beings, in need of redemption. That redemption is provided by Jesus Christ if we are willing to follow him by making sacred covenants (promises) with God.
The culmination of God's love is demonstrated in His plan for us after we die. As a loving father, he desires to be with us for eternity. If we keep the covenants we have made with him, we will have the opportunity to return and live with him forever, in a state of perpetual joy. (Click here for more information on our beliefs about life after death.)
Our belief is in a God who is loving and kind. One who is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He is accessible through honest, heartfelt prayer and will grant the righteous desires of our heart.