Do Mormons Believe in the Trinity?

By Dillon Burroughs

Mormons believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. Yet Mormon doctrine teaches that these three persons are not part of one, Triune God as Christianity historically teaches. Why not? Mormon teachings offer several reasons.

First, in Mormon teachings Jesus is a created being. Therefore, he could not be eternal God or part of an eternal Trinity. Christian apologist Matthew Slick notes several differences regarding Mormonism's view of Jesus:

A. The first spirit to be born in heaven was Jesus, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 129).

B. Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163; Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

C. Jesus' sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins, (murder and repeated adultery are exceptions), (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, 1856, p. 247).

D. "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body...of flesh and bones," (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

E. "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood — was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).

F. "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers," (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 547).

G. "Christ Not Begotten of Holy Ghost...Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!" (Doctrines of Salvation, by Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, 1:18).

H. "Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh..." (First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, 1916, "God the Father," compiled by Gordon Allred, p. 150).

Second, Jesus is a son of God, not the Son of God. Alma 36:17 in the Book of Mormon notes, "And it came to pass that as I was thus aracked with torment, while I was bharrowed up by the cmemory of my many sins, behold, I dremembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world" (emphasis added).

Third, Mormon teachings believe in the concept of eternal progression. This teaches that a man can one day become a god of another planet and populate it with spiritual children along with his eternal wife. If a person can become a god, then God cannot also be Triune, one God in three persons, since eternal progression teaches the existence of many gods.

Fourth, many Mormon writers have made clear statements that God is not a Trinity. For example, Mormon writer and leader James Talmage wrote, "The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man" (Articles of Faith, p. 35).

Fifth, Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith made clear statements regarding his rejection of the Trinity (though his earlier writings seemed to agree with monotheism). He wrote, "Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God [anyhow] — three in one and one in three...It is curious organization. All are crammed into one God according to sectarianism (Christian faith). It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God — he would be a giant or a monster," (Teachings, p. 372).

Mormonism believes in God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but does not accept the view of the Trinity accepted by Christianity based on the Bible. As such, it holds a distinctly different view of God that defines the Mormon Church a religion distinct from Christianity rather than part of it.

[1] Matthew Slick, "What Does Mormonism Teach?"

Image Credit: Kersley Fitzgerald

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Republished 3-6-12