So is God a Tenor or a Bass?

June 3, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 9:57 am   Category: Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Theology

Recently someone asked me what I thought this verse meant:

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage. (Alma 24:16).

I’ll tell you all what my answer was and you can tell me if you agree or not.

Alma 24 has all sorts of references to the voice of the Lord speaking to Alma and his people. The specific question I was asked was what form I thought that voice came in. Was it in the form of some audible voice or was it the still small voice we talk about today? Well, it depends on what you mean when you say audible. If you mean that if a tape recorder was present it would record the voice I suspect that almost never happens. If you mean that a voice or message can come to a person’s mind so clearly that it is as if the voice was audible I believe that is much more common. The latter is largely a function of the strength of spiritual ears of the recipient.

Consider the instructions God gave to Joseph and Oliver at the beginning of this dispensation:

2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. (D&C 8:2-3)

So that’s how Moses parted the Red Sea — by listening to the voice of the Lord in his mind and in his heart. And that is what I think it means when we read about the voice of the Lord speaking in the Book of Mormon.

Now listening to God in our minds and hearts doesn’t sound too hard does it? Plus we can get better and better at it over time. If that is the case, maybe all of us with the Gift of the Holy Ghost could be like little prophets, seers, and revelators.

The Book of Mormon, more than our other scriptures, is full of narratives where the voice of the Lord gives people instructions. As I mentioned, I suspect that cases where the voice was physically audible are very rare. (I have also been discussing this with Jeffrey Giliam recently at his blog). The cases where there were obvious physical aspects to a revelation are often when the recipient is past feeling so God had to resort to such physical methods to get their attention. (The appearance of the resurrected Lord to the people in 3 Nephi is a notable exception to this pattern though.)

So what do you think? Do you believe there were a lot more physical revelations in the scriptures than I am allowing for? Do you think a physically audible voice of God actually spoke with some or all those folks in scripture? If so, was God a tenor or a bass?


  1. If God makes everyone’s brains think that there is a voice, does that mean there is a voice, or that we just think there is a voice? If God says something in the forest, and no one is there to hear, is he a tenor or a bass? Perhaps he is a counter-tenor alto, or maybe he can be a whole choir?

    Comment by Steve H — June 3, 2005 @ 11:17 am

  2. Exactly, if God speaks in a forest and nobody is there to hear, is it a voice or just vibrations in the air? Is the voice in the creation of the vibrations (God’s brain), in the vibrations themselves (the physical medium) or the reception of the vibrations (our brain)? Is it at all possible for the first to connect with the third without the second? If it’s just the third, does the voice sound anydifferent from my own?

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 3, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

  3. I suspect there are no vibrations at all. Voices are just the medium of communicating information after all. Clearly God does not need to take his T3 bandwidwidth capabilities and reduce them to the 14.4 K modem bandwidth restrictions of audible voices unless he has no other way to force a message through. If he does a direct upload to our receptor (brain) and we figuratively describe it as “a voice” that does not mean our physical ears were ever involved inteh process, right? I suspect there is no literal voice in most cases — just pure knowledge and then our interpretation and synthesizing that knowledge.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 3, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  4. I can’t find anything to disagree with in your post, Geoff. (Which makes this a pretty anemic comment, but I just wanted you to know that I’m not always trying to bust your balls.)

    And by the way, God sounds remarkably like Sean Connery, minus the lisp.

    Comment by Nathan — June 3, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

  5. Ha! Sean Connery does have a pretty good voice.

    And I actually like my bloggernacle friends pointing out flaws in my logic or misstatements in the posts. That’s half of why I write then — to get feedback and see if my thoughts stand up to scrutiny or not.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 3, 2005 @ 12:51 pm

  6. Nathan,
    So god is Scottish? That would explain the inspired popularity of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at funerals for people with absolutely no Scottish heritage.

    Comment by Steve H — June 3, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

  7. That makes sense… The Johnstons are a well-known clan from the highlands after all.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 3, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

  8. Not Scottish, He’s ‘Shcottish.’

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 3, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  9. I’ve wondered how D&C 101:23 “…and all flesh shall see me together…” shall be accomplished. Perhaps, like the audio mentioned above, we shall all see via our brains, not our eyes.

    Comment by Daylan Darby — June 3, 2005 @ 2:37 pm

  10. We simply cannot abandon, however, that they claim to see and hear, not just ‘sense’ these things. If there is some kind of download it must be to those parts of the brain that control those senses.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 3, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

  11. Nice observation Daylan. I hadn’t thought of that but I think you are right. In response to Jeff’s comment, I suspect the computer that is our brain is equipped with all sorts of media players that can handle and properly display the data that that we download directly from God.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 3, 2005 @ 3:30 pm

  12. Well, Wilford Brimley’s voice is kind of comforting, but Kirby spoiled it for me by saying he’d be the type of Satan who could really tempt me.

    Comment by annegb — June 3, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  13. Ha! I wonder if Satan is also a ventiloguist, Anne. Seems like a useful trick. In my earlier post I suggested he had a quiet, creepy whisper but a Wilford Brimley impersonation would probably be more effective for him…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 4, 2005 @ 10:41 pm

  14. Geoff wrote, “. . . what form I thought that voice came in.”

    Is there no balm in Gilead, nor dictionary in the entire world? “Audible” means “heard with one’s ears.” And yes, if there were a tape recorder present, it would record the vibrations carried through the air molecules into any cochlea that might have been present. Otherwise, it would not be “audible” – by definition.

    Geoff, unfortunately it does not matter what “we think.” Or what we feel, believe, hope, interpret, rationalize, have heard people say, may seem to remember what we believe people have said, think we think, hope we understand, have logically deduced, or have reasonable reasons to believe to be true… This is WAY TOO IMPORTANT for those.

    Instead, tell me what you have Found To Be True. (HINT: For this, you may wish to rely upon HIS OWN WORDS.)

    Jesus said “My sheep will know my voice.” Period! Not “My sheep will think something that they will think is a fairly reasonable and rational understanding that (they hope) is coming from deep within their spiritual-mind’s eye’ ” (and not from the guy sitting on their shoulders whispering into “their understanding” of The Truth).

    “The wisdom of men is foolishness to God, and The Wisdom of God is foolishness to men.” This EXACTLY refers to His resurrection and ascension into heaven. God’s Foolishness: that by believing upon this physical resurrection shall any man be saved. That Jesus raised His physical, flesh and bone corpse from the grave – “HOW FOOLISH, men do not raise from the dead!” And that Flesh And Bone Body ascended into heaven, where “that Holy thing” yet resides and from whence shall soon return. And that His Blood yet remains exactly where He personally placed it that first Sunday morn: in the Holiest of Holies of Heaven, before the face of the Eternal Father, to constantly testify before Him that our sins have been paid for, and that our eternal lives have been redeemed by His sacrifice! We are bought and paid for, and here is the Receipt: His Blood.

    Jesus did not say, “First I will first try to warn my sheep using non-audible emanations, ‘leadings,’ guidance through vibrations within their carnal brains, or hints and winks. Then, WHEN I FAIL COMPLETELY TO GET THROUGH TO THEM, then and only then will I resort to being at least as competent as the average human shepherd: I will actually say something out loud to warn them of the wolves.”

    Satan may or may not have an “audible voice.” But we have it on Good Word that The Lord does. And you must accept no substitute. If you do not know THE SHEPHERD’S VOICE, it is not because He is impotent, or that He cannot perform even so much as can a simple shepherd protecting his flock, nor that He is not willing to speak to us. The problem may not be that He does not have a voice, but rather that we have our hands covering our ears.

    There simply is no excuse: if you do not know His Voice, the question is begged, “Are you in His Flock?” He was referring to HIS AUDIBLE VOICE, for it would do no good for the endangered flock to hear an uncertain sound – ALL GOOD SHEPHERDS ensure that their flock can recognize their audible voices, in order that they may discern His Voice from ‘other voices’ at the critical moment. Geoff, GOOGLE “the audible voice of God”

    9) I’ve wondered how D&C 101:23 “…and all flesh shall see me together…” shall be accomplished. Perhaps, like the audio mentioned above, we shall all see via our brains, not our eyes. Comment by Daylan Darby – June 3, 2005 @ 2:37 pm

    And yet she I unto thee a more perfect way . . .
    Again with the wondering, this time from Daylan. Ever heard of television? Is that not within the definition of “seeing with our physical eyes?”

    For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face . . .
    Daylan, you have put yourself in the position to be deceived, if you do not understand the whole nature of – and reason for – the Resurrection. His PHYSICAL, FLESH body, the one that was physically nailed to the cross, was re-animated and ascended into heaven. In fact, Jesus foretold for 42 months (and the scriptures for decades before) that JESUS would HIMSELF raise HIS OWN physical, flesh and bone body from the physical grave. The whole point of the scriptures is that we be not deceived into thinking these are “fables and stories,” but were actual physical events in the very real history of this material world.

    When He appeared in His glorified body to both the disciples in Galilee, and to those in the new land, among His first instructions were to “cast your fists into the hole in my side, and your fingers into the prints of my hands, and see that it is I.” He even ordered that he be served physical food – not “spiritual food” but fish and honeycomb – that He might demonstrate toi them that it was His real FLESH AND BONE body that stood before them (not a ‘ghost or an apparition” as “their understanding” was trying to tell them – AKA “the liar” and/or “the father of lies.”). [just as The Lord and two men of God had sat with Abraham and eaten with him, a newly slain fatted sheep or goat I believe, which was a real physical animal, not some “symbolic sacrifice” such as the one Cain made. And HE ATE WITH THEM.]

    He still has that body (the body that is no longer nailed to the cross, but bears the marks of when He was nailed), and in that physical body He will return. Have you fallen so far from the teachings of the Book, that you have missed this critical point? ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES! The only way the Lord is returning is in the flesh, in the same flesh and bone body that was nailed to the cross. If ever you are “convinced in your mind” that another person is Our Lord, or is sent by Our Lord to lead us, do not be deceived. HIs flock will know His Voice!

    And yes, if you had been present at that time, you would have “seen it with [your] own eyes, and heard it with [your] own ears . . .” Stephen was not referring to some “spiritual eyes” or “symbolic eyes” or “eyes of understanding.” These are the round things in your head, between which is your nose. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTE! If he had a video camera, it would have been recorded as a series of electric charges in binary code.

    13) Ha! I wonder if Satan is also a ventiloguist, Anne. Seems like a useful trick. In my earlier post I suggested he had a quiet, creepy whisper but a Wilford Brimley impersonation would probably be more effective for him. Comment by Geoff J – June 4, 2005 @ 10:41 pm
    Again, His Flock will know His Voice, “. . . if it were possible, that the very elect should be deceived.” Do you understand the importance of this truth, and why it may not be a good idea to put it off until later?

    Comment by Mark Rector — January 3, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

  15. Wow…

    That was a humdinger of a comment… Unfortunately I had trouble deciphering most of it.

    Is your point that every time Christ reveals to us he does so in an audible voice?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 3, 2006 @ 6:57 pm