Article Categories

Crash Course Mormonism: Holy Ghost / Holy Spirit

By Eric Johnson

According to Mormonism, the Holy Ghost is a child of God from the preexistence who does not have a body of flesh and bones, as do Heavenly Father and Jesus. He is the third member of the Godhead who is sometimes described as the Holy Spirit and other times described as distinct from the Holy Spirit. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father. It is fundamental Church doctrine that God is the Father of the spirits of all men and women, that Jesus is literally God’s Son both in the spirit and in the flesh, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit separate and distinct from both the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Eternal Godhead, and is identified also as the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, and the comforter (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:649).

Official church manuals explain the Holy Ghost’s personhood and purpose:

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (see 1 John 5:7; D&C 20:28). He is a “personage of Spirit” (D&C 130:22). He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere at the same time (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 32).

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). He is often referred to as the Spirit, Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the comforter (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, pp. 81-82).

The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before your baptism, you could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time, and through that influence you could receive a testimony of the truth. Now that you have the gift of  the Holy Ghost, you have the right to the constant companionship of that members of the Godhead if you keep the commandments (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 83).

In Mormonism, having a body is vital for an individual to progress to godhood. Since the Holy Ghost does not have a body, some have asked if he will ever receive a body. Typically, leaders such as Charles Penrose, a member of the First Presidency, chalk it up to the category of nobody knows. He said,

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are three personages. Two are persons of tabernacle. Now, questions arise as to whether the Holy Ghost will ever get a body. I do not know anything about that, because the Lord has not revealed it; and if our brethren, while trying to be wise when they are not always so, would leave out of their preachings and their speculations that which they think may be in the future, but do not know, there will be a good deal of contention avoided. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, as Jesus Christ was when he was Jehovah (Conference Reports, April 1921, p. 12).

Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explained several decades later, “Why not leave matters which in no way concern us alone, and devote our time in gaining knowledge essential to our salvation through the inspired guidance of the Holy Ghost?” (Answers to Gospel Questions 2:145).

There are certain requirements for someone to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. For one, the person must be baptized in the LDS Church, with someone with Melchizedek authority confirming the person who then remains obedient. Without that last part, the Holy Ghost’s influence is lost. Henry B. Eyring, a member of the First Presidency, explained to a general conference audience,

Our families can be given a gift to know what God would have them do and to learn it in a way that will encourage them to do it. God has provided such a guide. It is the Holy Ghost. We cannot give that to our family members as a companion, but they can earn it. The Holy Ghost can be their constant companion only after they have been faithful and after they have received the ordinances of baptism and the laying on of hands by those with proper authority (“A Legacy of Testimony,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1996, p. 62).

What Does Christianity Teach

According to the Bible, the Holy Ghost, also known as the Holy Spirit, is the third Person of the Trinity. He is not a force or lesser being than God. Instead, He is God. He has a will and volition whom people can try to lie to, as did Annanias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11). Jesus promised He would send the Holy Spirit as a comforter, and it was the Holy Spirit who filled the Jewish believers at Pentecost (Acts 2) as well as the Gentiles (Acts 10). When a person receives Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit takes entrance and baptizes that believer. While there will be many spiritual battles in the believer’s life, the goal is to remain filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).

Other articles to consider

Test your understanding

  1. Which of the following is NOT true of the Holy Ghost?

A) A spirit man    B) Does not have a body of flesh and bones    C) Separate from the Father and Son     D) Third member of the Godhead   E) All of the above are true

2. T/F  According to Mormonism, the Holy Spirit can only be in one place at a time

3. T / F  The influence of the Holy Ghost can be felt before a person gets baptized but the gift of the Holy Ghost is available to only Mormons

4. What is something a person does NOT have to do to be able to get the Holy Ghost?

A) The person must be faithful

B) The person must have been confirmed by someone with proper priesthood authority

C) The person needs to go through the temple

D) The person must be baptized by proper priesthood authority

5. T / F  The Holy Spirit will be a constant companion to the Mormon, even when the individual is willfully sinning

Answers to this quiz

  1. E
  2. T
  3. T
  4. C
  5. F

Return to the “Crash Course Mormonism”  Index

Share this

Check out these related articles...