People who are not Mormons (a nickname for people who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) often are bothered by the information that Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity. Sometimes they don’t quite understand what that means—knowing what someone doesn’t believe doesn’t really help you understand what Mormons do believe. Although it’s sometimes portrayed as a secret, it’s really not—or it’s the worst-kept secret in history. A few minutes on Mormon.org (an official Mormon website written for people who are not Mormon) or LDS.org (an official Mormon website for people who are Mormon) will tell you everything you need to know about this “secret.”
Fact: Mormons Don’t Believe in the Trinity
They don’t keep that a secret. They don’t believe in it and they don’t for good reason—it’s not in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or any other book of Mormon scripture. It was developed long after Jesus Christ and His apostles died and it was made doctrine not by Jesus, but by various church councils who, borrowing from philosophy, put it to a vote. You won’t find the word Trinity in the Bible. You also won’t find the formal definition of trinity in the Bible. You will, however, find many verses which prove the Trinity can’t be true.
Let’s start with what Mormons do believe. In the article called, “Trinity,” you can learn what the Bible teaches about the Godhead and the Trinity.
Facts: What Do Mormons Believe About God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?
Mormons refer to these three—God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit—as the Godhead, a term found in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9. This is the term the Bible uses to refer to the three, rather than “trinity.” Mormons generally refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost.
Mormons believe the three are one in that they are unified completely in doctrine, purpose, and love. God is the head of the Godhead, but throughout the Bible, it is Jesus Christ who interacts with us on earth. The only time God directly interacts is when He is testifying of His Son or introducing Him.
You’ll learn more about each member of the Godhead in other articles, but this will give you a light introduction to the topic.
God the Father
Mormons believe God is literally our Father in Heaven. He created our spirits and watches over us. He plans for us in the same way a loving earthly father would. Mormons believe God has a body because the Bible says we are created in God’s image, and we have bodies. We believe He made us to be like Him because He loves us too much to withhold anything He has from us. His body, of course, is glorified and perfected, but when Stephen saw God in a vision with Jesus Christ on His right hand, he was able to recognize God and to see Him. This perfected and glorified body is clearly recognizable as a body, however different it might be inside.
Mormons believe that God is eternal—He has always existed, always been God, and always will be God. Jesus said that God was greater than He was (John 14:28), showing us there is a hierarchy in the Godhead, with God at the head of it. Mormons follow the pattern of the Godhead in their church leadership, so in a Mormon presidency (at the top of the church or in an organization) you have the president, a first counselor, and a second counselor. If we were to place the Godhead into that pattern, God would be the president, Jesus Christ the First Counselor, and the Holy Ghost the Second Counselor. Of course, God’s organization functions at a much higher level, but this is one way to understand the Godhead.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is literally God’s son. The Bible says he is the only begotten Son of the Father and Mormons often refer to Jesus as the Eldest Son, meaning the very first of God’s children. In other words, He was begotten before our spirits were created. He enjoys a special relationship with the Father.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ volunteered for His service as our Savior and that in fact, the atonement had to be a voluntary offering given unselfishly and only because of love for God and for us. When He was born, He was born the literal child of both God and Mary. Mormons do not, contrary to gossip, believe this occurred in a sexual manner. The Bible does not say how it happened, but it does say—as does the Book of Mormon—that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. We don’t know how the conception occurred because God hasn’t chosen to tell us and it has no impact on our salvation. We do know it was respectful to both parents.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that there is no other path into Heaven than through Him. Without the atonement, we could not have returned home to God. Although this might come as a surprise to you, due to prevailing gossip, there will be more on this topic later. Mormons really do believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ as being the essential aspect of salvation.
As mentioned earlier, Mormons usually refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost or the Spirit. Unlike God and Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost does not have a physical body, allowing Him to do things that would be complicated with a body. The role of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth, to bring comfort, and to provide protection and guidance. Mormons believe everyone is born with the Light of Christ and receives periodic guidance from the Holy Ghost, but that after baptism, we are allowed to have the company of the Holy Ghost at all times, as long as we live in a way that makes us worthy of His companionship. It is through the Holy Ghost that we are converted.
As you study the Basic Beliefs section of this website, you’ll be able to learn more about what Mormons really believe and how this affects their lives. Understanding the nature of the Godhead is essential to understanding the rest of Mormon beliefs.