Second question (go here for the first): This question is more philosophical. Driving through the West Desert, Professor JuffÃ© and I had ample time to talk as well as to see the scenery. We talked a lot about Spinoza, his favorite philosopher and someone about whom I am almost ignorant. By the time we got to Temple Square (where, surprisingly, it seemed that every other missionary had a French flag on her lapel), the topic of conversation had shifted naturally to the Church. I was telling him about Joseph Smithâ€™s vision and noted that one thing Joseph learned from the experience was that God is embodied.
Professor JuffÃ© was startledâ€”philosophers and theologians usually areâ€”but for the reason opposite that of most: I said we believe that, in some sense we are not clear about, everything that is is material. â€œOf course,â€? he said. â€œYou are a kind of Spinozist.â€? He found admirable that we are materialists without being reductionists (reducing everything to the merely mechanical understanding of material, Ã la Descartes).
We accept that the Father and the Son have bodies and that the Holy Ghost will someday have one. We accept that our resurrection is literal and that our exaltation is as much a bodily matter as any other kind. Yet we most often talk about these kinds of things with language inherited from the Christian tradition filtered through Descartes and those who followed him. What are the implications of our insistence on materiality? But before that, where do we find the language to talk about those implications?