Today’s post is rather long, but stick with me. The Trinity is a bedrock doctrine of the Christian Church.
Another major difference between Christianity and the Mormon Church is the different view of the Triune God. The Mormon view of the Trinity is three gods, the Father, the Son and the Holy spirit, with a single purpose. Each part of the Mormon trinity is a separate person and a separate identity. In Mormon Doctrine the Trinity is referred to as the Godhead. “Three glorified, exalted, and perfect personages comprising the Godhead or supreme presidency of the universe. Mormon Doctrine goes on to quote Joseph Smith as saying,
“Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth, and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth; these personages, according to Abraham’s record, are called God the first, the Creator; God the Second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the witness or Testator. Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are “one God”.
It is this separating each member of the Trinity into separate and distinct personages that differs Mormon teaching on the Trinity from Christian teaching. What is the Christian definition of the Trinity? Norman Geisler in his Systematic Theology Volume Two defines the Trinity as “God is a plurality within unity. God has a plurality of persons and a unity of essence; God is three persons in one nature.” He further gives the biblical basis for the Trinity. There is one and only one God and there are three distinct persons who are God, The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This difference between the Mormon and Christian definition of the Trinity may seem to be just a matter of semantics, but a closer examination shows there are profound differences. Mormons believe there are three gods with three separate personages in the Trinity. Christians believe there is one God with three separate personages. It is this differing view of the number of gods in the Trinity that separates Mormon belief from Christian. You cannot have three gods and still believe there is only one God.
The Bible teaches that the Father is God. A few of the verses are John 6:27, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval”; Romans 1:7, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” and Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
The Bible teaches that the Son is God. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” was a reference to the Old Testament when God said “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another” Isaiah 42:8. Jesus also claimed to be equal with God by forgiving sins and the power to raise and judge the dead. Jesus said “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 and Jesus’ strongest claim to be God in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was born, I Am” a clear reference to God’s words in Exodus.
The Holy Spirit is also taught in the Bible as God. He is given the names of God, the attributes of God and performs acts of God. In Acts 5:3-4 Peter says “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Did not it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
It is clear that the Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit are all God, each with a distinct personality but each fully God. When Jesus said “I and the Father are one” he was not talking about just one purpose, but on in nature.