Mormonism is the nickname given to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One question many Christians have about Mormons is whether or not they believe in the same God as other Christians. First we’ll look at some general Mormon beliefs about God and then we’ll find out what the Mormon prophet says about Him. That will give you a clear view of what Mormons today really believe about God.
Do Mormons Believe in the Trinity?
Key Mormon beliefs are outlined in a document by Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet, called the Articles of Faith. The first one says, “We believe in God, the eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” This sets out the first Mormon belief about God—that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) are not one being.
Although Mormon beliefs are finalized by revelation from prophets, just as they were in Biblical times, they do turn to the Bible, as well as to other scriptures, for confirmation and understanding of Mormon beliefs. The Trinity is not found in the Bible. It was, in fact, an outgrowth of creeds developed in a variety of councils, including the Nicene Creed. These councils were held well after Jesus’ death and were the result of apostasy already in place. Christians no longer agreed on a variety of religious issues and so councils were held to vote on which ones would be accepted as standard doctrine. However, the Bible speaks clearly on the subject. Jesus prayed to God, not to Himself. He said He came not to do His will, but His Father’s Will. When Jesus was baptized, we had the ultimate proof of their separateness: all three were present.
Is God Literally Our Father?
What, then, is God’s role in the Godhead? He is considered the senior member of the Godhead—the most important The Mormon God, as defined in the Bible, is the Father of our Spirits. Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, wrote:
“The Apostle Paul told the Athenians on Mars’ Hill that we are “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29). Since we know that our physical bodies are the offspring of our mortal parents, we must probe for the meaning of Paul’s statement. The Lord has declared that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15). It is the spirit which is the offspring of God. The writer of Hebrews refers to Him as “the Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9). The spirits of all men are literally His “begotten sons and daughters” (D&C 76:24).” (Thomas S. Monson, “An Invitation to Exaltation,” Ensign, May 1988, 53).
Is God Jesus’ Literal Father?
Mormon doctrine teaches that we lived with God before we were born. God created our spirits and we stayed with Him for an undisclosed amount of time learning and progressing before agreeing to come to earth. Mormon beliefs state that Jesus was the first spirit created by God and that He was also the only begotten Son of God. Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the son of God and Mary. However, contrary to popular rumor, Mormons do not have an official doctrine about how this happened. While some leaders have expressed opinions, official doctrine only says that it happened in a way that was respectful to Mary. We know from the Bible the Holy Ghost prepared her in some way, but that God, not the Holy Ghost, is the father of Jesus Christ. The Bible consistently refers to God as Jesus’ Father.
Do Mormons believe God has a body?
The Bible says, in Genesis, that we are created in the image of God. Mormon beliefs include a belief in the Bible, and so they accept that we are literally created in God’s image and are His children. If we are created in God’s image, we must look essentially like Him and this means He has a body. It is an exalted and perfect body, but it is a tangible body.
What Do Mormons Think God is Like?
Mormons believe that God is a kind and loving Father, completely fair, and actively involved in our lives. He is not, however, a permissive parent. Throughout the Bible we read that God expects us to keep the commandments He has made and that there are blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience. Being a Christian is not a one-time act of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is, in fact, a life-long, and even eternal process of continually learning and growing. The Bible is very clear on that subject. Mormons believe God is just but that His kingdom is a holy place and that allowing the wicked and unrepentant into it would pollute that holy place. For this reason, He expects us to obey the commandments and to repent when we fail to do so.
What does the Mormon prophet teach about God?
Thomas S. Monson is the current Mormon prophet. Mormons believe that prophets speak to the specific needs of their own times. For this reason, Mormons give priority to the teachings of living prophets over those that are dead. For instance, we don’t build arks, even though Noah was told to do so because it is not a commandment for our time. The teachings of the living Mormon prophet, then, is important in understanding the most complete knowledge given us today. Following are some of his teachings about God:
Obedience to God
May we remember that the wisdom of God ofttimes appears as foolishness to men; but the greatest lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and we obey, we will always be right (Thomas S. Monson, “They Marked the Path to Follow,” Ensign, Oct 2007, 4–9).
We are children of God
“Each of us should remember that he or she is a son or daughter of God, endowed with faith, gifted with courage, and guided by prayer. Our eternal destiny is before us. The Apostle Paul speaks to us today as he spoke to Timothy long years ago: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust.”
At times many of us let that enemy of achievement—even the culprit “self-defeat”—dwarf our aspirations, smother our dreams, cloud our vision, and impair our lives. The enemy’s voice whispers in our ears, “You can’t do it.” “You’re too young.” “You’re too old.” “You’re nobody.” This is when we remember that we are created in the image of God. Reflection on this truth provides a profound sense of strength and power.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Choose You This Day,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 67)
Pray to God
“Now, if we have hesitated in supplicating God our Eternal Father simply because we have not as yet made the attempt to pray, we certainly can take courage from the example of the Prophet Joseph. But let us remember, as did the Prophet, our prayer must be offered in faith, nothing wavering.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that the brother of Jared saw the finger of God touch the stones in response to his plea.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that Noah erected an ark in obedience to the command from God.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that Abraham was willing to offer up his beloved Isaac as a sacrifice.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that Joshua and his followers brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down.
It was by faith, nothing wavering, that Joseph saw God our Eternal Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.
Now, the skeptic may say that these mighty accounts of faith occurred long ago, that times have changed.
Have times really changed? Don’t we today, as always, love our children and want them to live righteously? Don’t we today, as always, need God’s divine, protecting care? Don’t we today, as always, continue to be at His mercy and in His debt for the very life He has given us?
Times have not really changed. Prayer continues to provide power—spiritual power. Prayer continues to provide peace—spiritual peace (Thomas S. Monson, “Come unto Him in Prayer and Faith,” Ensign, Mar 2009, 4–9).