“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” – First Article of Faith
With over 100 different Latter Day Saint/Mormon denominations, there are widely differing views of the nature of God. These range from the traditional Trinitarian views given us by the Catholics, to ideas many find rather bizarre like the Adam-God theory. Here we will attempt to go over the variety and evolution of the Restored Gospel’s views on deity.
The trinity is a concept easy to explain, but hard to understand. The general teaching is that the Father is the Son is the Holy Spirit, but at the same time the Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit. How this works is a mystery that humans, by our finite nature, cannot understand. This view was first accepted by the Catholics, and passed on to Protestant Christians. Most of the world’s Christians still hold this popular view today.
Today, there are Latter Day Saint denominations that still worship the traditional Christian trinity, including Community of Christ, the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination.
God the Father, God the Son
“He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” –Acts 7: 55 KJV
In 1835, the Church of God, formerly the Church of the Latter Day Saints, formerly the Church of Christ, accepted into canon the Doctrine and Covenants. The “Doctrine” portion of this book of scripture is now known as the Lectures on Faith. Here, the movement was changed to reflect Joseph Smith’s understanding of his first vision. There, filled by the Holy Spirit, he saw God the Father and Son surrounded by angels.
This new view fit into the young movement’s views of the New Testament, or at least his and Rigdon’s view of it at the time.
“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things… They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man…” -Lectures on Faith 7
Together, according to this scripture, God the Father and Son are of one mind, and the mind or unity of these two is the Holy Ghost.
“[Jesus,] Possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son… And these three constitute the Godhead, and are one.” -Lectures on Faith 7
In this way, they are all one God. To the trinitarian, this can easily appear to be a convoluted attempt to explain trinitarianism. However, to others it makes it clear there are two Gods, God the Father, a spirit, and God the Son, with a physical body.
This is the view of Latter Day Saint denominations such as the Church of Jesus Christ.
“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” – Joseph Smith Jr. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 130: 22)
A few years before Joseph Smith Jr.’s death in 1844, the Mormon concept of God evolved again. Officially, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were now at least three personages; the Father and Son with physical bodies, and the Holy Ghost as a Spirit.
Unofficially, we later learned from Brigham Young that Joseph may have taught that the Holy Spirit was in fact Adam/Michael the archangel. From others we learn that he taught that God the Father was married. The “Queen of Heaven,” mentioned in the Bible and Hymns of the original church, is his wife. She is also a Goddess in her own right with a perfect body of flesh and bone. These secret teachings are still whispered by members of the Latter-day Saint branch of Mormonism. They have been officially promoted, denied, or in question throughout it’s history, depending on the leaders at every level at various times. Some of these teachings are official doctrines of LDS offshoots.
When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us. -Joseph Smith Jr.
As this brief overview shows, there are many views of deity within the Latter Day Saint/Mormon movement. In the Fellowship, we do not promote one view over another. We all must come to our own views of God, as we understand him, or them, through Christ’s grace. As we grow closer to God, we will better understand the divine nature of our creator(s).
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