One of the most important claims of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter day Saints (Mormons) is that God the Father and God
the Son both appeared to Joseph Smith, the founding "prophet" of
their religion in order to restore the true gospel to the world.
The Mormon religion rests on this claim as well as others
(validity of the Book of Mormon, restored priesthood, etc.).
If Smith was not telling the truth about this encounter with the
Father, then Mormonism is proven false.
Still, Smith claimed to have actually seen the person of God
the Father. Let's look at his own words:
"When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose
brightness and glory defined all description, standing above
me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by
name, and said, pointing to the other -- 'this is my beloved
Son. Hear him!'1
Amidst the many controversial topics that Mormonism teaches
(God was once a man2, God is married3, a
goddess mother4, becoming gods5, etc.),
this teaching is equally problematic because the Bible clearly
tells us that God the Father cannot be seen.
"I give thee charge in the sight of
God, who the all things, and before Christ Jesus, who
before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14That
thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable,
until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15Which
in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and
only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light
which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor
can see: to whom be
honour and power everlasting. Amen," (1
Tim. 6:13-16, KJV)
Let's examine this text closely because if it does tell us
that the Father cannot be seen, then Joseph Smith, the founder
of Mormonism, contradicted the Bible and Smith was not telling
the truth. This means the Mormon would be left with a
choice: believe the word of God or believe Joseph Smith.
6:16 in context.
Verses 13 and 14 are talking about how God gives life to all
things and how Jesus was a witness to the truth before Pontius
Pilate. Paul also urges Timothy to keep the commandment,
the gospel as a whole, without spot, until Jesus returns.
In verse 15 it says,
"which in his times he shall shew,
who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings,
and Lord of lords." The question here is who is the
"he" in "his time he shall shew"?
Who is the only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords
that, that is referred to in verse 16, of whom it is said "no
man hath seen, nor can see"?
The context is dealing with the return of Christ and with God
and since biblically, God is associated with the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit, it must be one of these that cannot be
seen. Let's continue.
Verse 16 says "Who only hath
immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach
unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be
honour and power everlasting. Amen."
Who is the one being spoken about in the first few words
of this verse, "who only hath immortality"? The verse says
that this "figure", this "person" has not been seen nor can be
We know that Jesus was obviously seen since people walked
with him. So it cannot be the Son who is being spoken of
here. The Holy Spirit appears as Wind
Acts 2:3, a Dove,
etc., but never in the form of a person. So, the only one
left would be a person of the Father. Therefore, the text
would require that it is the Father who has not been seen or can
Since we have verified that the Scriptures teach that God the
Father cannot be seen, we must then conclude that Joseph Smith
was not telling the truth about the first vision. This
means that Joseph Smith's account of the first vision is wrong
and since the first vision is foundational in Mormonism, without
it, Mormonism cannot be true.
Objection one: God was seen in the Old
This is a typical response from Mormons to say that since God
was seen in the Old Testament. They assert that it was the
Father who was seen and
6:16 cannot restrict the Father's appearance.
First of all, the Mormon's position would impose a
contradiction in the Bible. Furthermore, if the Mormons
must assert there's a contradiction in the Bible in order to
maintain their theology, then they are attacking God's Word as
Satan did: "Now the serpent was
more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had
made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, 'You
shall not eat from any tree of the garden"?'” (Gen.
Second, though they are most definitely are occurrences of
God being seen in the Old Testament, these are not
manifestations of the Father. They are the appearances of
the pre-incarnate Christ. Let's go over some of the
- Gen. 17:1, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine
years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am
God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless."
18:1, "Now the LORD appeared to him by the
oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the
heat of the day."
6:2-3, "God spoke further to Moses and said to
him, I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I did not make
myself known to them.'"
24:9-11, "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab
and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw
the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a
pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did
not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of
Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank."
- Exodus 33:11, "Thus the LORD used to speak to
Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend..."
- Num. 12:6-8, "He [God] said, "Hear now My
words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall
make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him
in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in
all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even
openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of
Now let's look at
John 1:18, "No man has seen God
at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of
the Father, He has explained Him."
- John 6:46, "Not that any man
has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has
seen the Father."
If God is a
(one God in three persons, not three gods), then
1:18 is not a problem because in John chapter one, John
writes about the Word (Jesus) and God (the Father). In verse 14
it says the Word became flesh. In verse 18 it says no one has
seen God. Since Jesus is the Word, God then, refers to the
This becomes even more clear when we examine the words of
Jesus in John 6:46 where he said that no one has ever seen the
Father, except the One who is from God. Therefore, Almighty God
was seen in the Old Testament, but it was not the Father. It was
Jesus before His incarnation.
Objection two: The text of 1 Tim. 6:16 is
There is absolutely no textual variation in 1 Tim. 6:16 in
any copy of the New Testament documents that contain this verse.
Therefore, it cannot be said that the text has been altered in
any way. For verification of this fact, all you need to do
is go to the Nestlé Allan Greek New Testament, 26 addition.
You do not need to read Greek to be able to understand the
textual apparatus that occurs at the bottom of each page.
The English Textual Apparatus includes all variants of
manuscripts of the New Testament documents with verse numbers in
normal English form. There aren't any variations of any
copy of this text. Therefore, the verse is accurate.
1. Berrett, William, The Restored Church, 14th
edition, Deseret Book Company, 1969, p. 10.
2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345;
Times and Seasons, Vol 5, pp. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of
Discourses, Vol 2, p. 345, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses,
vol. 7, p. 333.
3. Mormon Doctrine p. 516.
4. Talmage, James, Articles of Faith,
5. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347,