Breathing the Breath of God

Genesis (2:7) says that God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. Is our life a portion of God’s? Jesus quoted a Psalm (82:6) that said, “Ye are gods,” when confronted about his claims to divinity. Mormons are usually not so bold, but there is certainly an element in our tradition that states that humans are children of God, like godlings, capable of developing into gods. Is this idea arrogant or humbling? It depends. Is God arbitrary? then it would seem to justify irresponsibility. Is God loving and holy? then it would seem rather to remove all of our excuses for ungodliness. Does it encourage us to shrug off God’s commandments, or does it lay upon us infinite responsibilities? Does it teach us to be self-centered, or does it require us to treat one another as divine, holy beings, whom to mistreat or offend is blasphemous? Christ said, “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Does it make us proud of our achievements and successes, or show how dreadfully we have fallen from our proper character?

4 comments for “Breathing the Breath of God

  1. Clair
    April 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Thank you for putting those thoughts into words.

    Today especially, we can look to our Savior’s example in answering those questions. His divinity led him to elevate and to serve others.

    If it is correct that, “as man is, God once was,” then which man was he? Would we know such a man if we saw him today? A rich man or a poor man? A young man or an old man? An intelligent man or a slow man? A healthy man or a sickly man? An educated man or a simple man? A man who looked and talked like us or a man from a foreign place, with foreign looks and speaking a foreign language?

    Today, as we mingle with other people, and perhaps help some, cheer some, mourn with others, we might not only entertain angels unawares, but gods.

  2. Troy Keller
    April 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

    If I understood the post correctly, all things show the hand of their creator, and so the question is what attributes of ours can we say are inherited (and so we should foster) and what parts are instead corruptions from the ideal (and so we should despise)? Going down this path, the best I can do is think of the character in Anna Karenina who resolves his crisis of faith by realizing that the really good things in life are all consistent with (or result from) the religious structure that he’s been wondering about intellectually. So he avoids the whole complexity of trying to sort out what is godlly (and if there is a God) by putting the name of God on everything he most values. Not perfect, but it helps.

    Coming back to your post, the breath of God is a pretty metaphor (and very appropriate this Easter Sunday), though honestly it doesn’t give us much illumination doctrinally. The “I am a child of God” approach opens up a lot more doors.

  3. Ben H
    April 12, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you, Clair. What a great way to extend that thought!

    Troy, I agree that sorting out which of our traits are the ones to preserve and develop is a task. Moroni 7:12-16 offers another strategy. While the image of breath is not developed extensively in Genesis 2, I think it is actually very rich doctrinally. The trick is to see what other scriptural themes and symbols to connect it with to fill it out. Maybe I’ll do a post on that one of these days.

  4. Adam Greenwood
    April 12, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Another example of how revealed truth (about deification) makes much more sense of the gospel teachings about sin and our need for redemption.

    Animals are sinless not because they’re kind and selfless and thoughtful but because they’re just animals.

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