Mormonism and the nature of God/Polytheism

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Mormons, polytheism and the Nicene Creed

Summary: Some non-LDS Christian claim that Latter-day Saints are polytheists because we don't believe the Nicene Creed. Others say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief?

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Question: Are Mormons polytheists because they don't accept the Nicene Creed?

Latter-day Saints are not polytheists in any reasonable sense of the term that does not also exclude most other Christians who deny the Modalist heresy

Some Christians say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief? Trying to reduce LDS thought to a simple term or "slogan" in this way distorts LDS doctrine.

Latter-day Saints worship one God

The Saints worship one God. There are no competing divinities in whom they put their trust. LDS scripture contains such language (1 Nephi 13:41, 2 Nephi 31:21, Mosiah 15:1-5, Alma 11:26-37, Mormon 7:7, DC 20:28, Moses 1:20), but it is qualified in somewhat the same way that Creedal Christians have found a way of saying "three"—as in Trinity—and yet also one.

Almost invariably when someone claims Mormons are polytheists, they are not seeking a clear explanation of Mormon thought on the nature of God, but are simply using a word with negative connotations in our religious culture as a club to intimidate or confuse others. Consider, for example, a conversation that Evangelical Christian author Richard Abanes, in his book Becoming Gods (pp. 107-8), claims to have had with a LDS bishop:

Abanes: "Don't you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"
Bishop: "We certainly do, and they are one God."
Abanes: "Don't you believe the Father is a god?"
Bishop: "Yes, of course."
Abanes: "And the Son is a god?"
Bishop: "Yes"
Abanes: "And the Holy Ghost is a god."
Bishop: "Yes"
Abanes: "That's three gods."
Bishop: "No, they're one God."

The author goes on to describe that he felt he had entered some sort of Twilight Zone scenario, and goes on to declare all Mormons "polytheists." Yet, any Latter-day Saint, upon reading the conversation outlined above, would recognize the creation of a simplified version, or "strawman," of LDS belief. One might also seriously consider how an Evangelical Christian would answer these same questions. The reality is certainly more complex than the "strawman" above would lead us to believe.

There really is not a single word that adequately captures LDS thought on the nature of God. Pertinent key technical terminology includes the following:

  • Monotheism (belief that there is only one God)
  • Tritheism (understanding the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as distinct Gods)
  • Polytheism (worship of, or belief in, more than one God)
  • Henotheism (worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods; also called Monolatry)
  • Trinitarianism (belief that God consists of three Persons in one substance)
  • Social Trinitarianism (belief that the oneness of the three Persons is not one of substance but is social in nature [e.g., unity of thought, etc.])
  • Modalism (belief that there is only one God that does not exist as three separate Persons but rather manifests itself in three different "modes" [i.e., as Father, Son, or Holy Ghost])

Usually the very same people who are pressing the case that Mormons are polytheists are some stripe of Evangelical Christians who claim to be monotheists. But Trinitarians are not Monotheists by definition (just ask a Jew or Muslim).

The facts that the LDS do not believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one in substance, and believe in deification/theosis (that humans may eventually become deified and become partakers in the divine nature), has been used to paint Mormons as polytheists. When we examine the technical terminology above, though, it becomes clear that a key point of demarcation is worship versus acknowledgment of existence. If members of the Church worshiped an extensive pantheon like the Greeks or Romans, then the label would be appropriate. In the context of doctrinal differences over the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, however, or the doctrine of deification (which is a profoundly Christian doctrine and not just a Mormon one), use of the word "polytheistic" as a pejorative is both inaccurate and inappropriate.

Instead of using a single-word label, one must actually articulate the belief (using fully-developed sentences or paragraphs). The single-word label that will adequately describe the full breadth of LDS thought on the nature of God has yet to be coined.

Human deification and monotheism

The Bible contains language indicating human beings can put on the divine nature and be called "gods" (see John 10:33, 34; Ps. 82:6, Deut. 10:17, etc.). They are instructed to become one with Jesus just as he is one with his Father. The key point to realize is that any existence of other beings with godly attributes has no effect on who Latter-day Saints worship. According to Jeff Lindsay, a popular LDS online apologist:

We worship God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ - not glorious angels or Abraham or Moses or John the Baptist, no matter how great they may be in the kingdom of heaven as sons of God who have become "like Christ" (1 Jn 3:2). The only reasonable definition of polytheism requires that plural gods be worshiped - but the beings that Christ calls "gods" are not who we worship at all. In terms of worship, we are properly called monotheists.[1]

Additionally, there is abundant evidence of deification being taught by various commonly accepted Christians. If belief in theosis makes one a polytheist, many Christians would have to be so labeled - including such figures as C. S. Lewis and John Calvin. Clearly, this is not the way in which the term "polytheist" is normally used, but critics of the Church are often willing to be inconsistent if the Church can be made to look alien or "unchristian."

"Monotheism" is sufficiently broad to include the kind of oneness enjoyed by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as that promised to those who become one with them when fully sanctified.

Question: Are Christians monotheists?

Any discussion with Jews or Muslims will quickly demonstrate no Christian is, strictly speaking, a monotheist

One of the chief objections by Jews and Muslims is Christians are polytheists. Most brands of Christians insist on the divinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In addition, the very word those who crafted the great ecumenical creeds used to describe the deity of Jesus, his Father and the Holy Spirit is "trinity," meaning three. Additionally, they insisted the three Persons should not be confounded, as such would be deemed modalism (one of the primary heresies that led to the formation of the ecumenical creeds and various confessions). Modalism often insists the one God merely appears to us in three different ways (i.e., as Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and this is exactly what the creeds deny.

Question: What scriptures explain the Latter-day Saint view of Jesus' divine Sonship?

Although the Bible contains numerous examples of the separate nature of the Father and the Son, there are only a few instances where all three members of the Godhead are described as separate and distinct

How do members of the Church understand the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, and the relationship between the Father and Son, since there is only "one God"?

Although the Bible contains numerous examples of the separate nature of the Father and the Son, there are only a few instances where all three members of the Godhead are described as separate and distinct.[2] The best example is the baptism of Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-32). In all but John's account all three members of the Godhead are identified: the Father bearing witness "from heaven" (Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22), the Son "coming up out of the water" (Mark 1:10), and the "Holy Ghost descending in a bodily shape like a dove" (Luke 3:22). All three members of the Godhead are clearly separate entities who, in this instance, are physically separated also.

John provides another scriptural witness that "there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Holy Ghost"

John provides another scriptural witness that "there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Holy Ghost" (1 Jn. 5:7). John adds that "these three are [actually] one,” apparently meaning one witness because they, like the witnesses of the spirit, the water, and the blood "agree in one" (1 Jn. 5:8). Bible scholars have noted that 1 Jn. 5:7 and 8 are not found in the early Greek manuscripts and may therefore be of questionable authority. Whether or not these verses are authentic, it is clear from other Bible passages that the Father and the Son are in fact separate witnesses. John himself records in John 8:17-18 and 28-29:{{{4}}} that Jesus taught: "It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me... I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him.”

Old Testament

Many who espouse the Triune concept point to Old Testament scriptures as proof that there is only one God (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 43:10-12; 44:6-8; 46:9) but these verses, as originally written, made no such claim. Although our King James Version (KJV) states in Genesis 1:1 that, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” the Hebrew identified Eloheim as the creator. Eloheim is the plural form of eloah (as used in Isa. 44:8) which means God or Deity. Thus eloheim literally means Gods or Deities and Genesis 1:1 could be translated: "In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth" (see Abraham 4:1). Use of "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26 further justifies this conclusion.

Examination of the Hebrew text also helps us understand Isaiah's references (chapters 43 and 44) to one God. Isaiah 43:10-12 in the KJV reads: "Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord [Jehovah in Hebrew]... understand that I am he: beside me there was no God [Eloheim in Hebrew] formed neither shall there be after me. I even I am the Lord [Jehovah] and beside me there is no saviour.... ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord [Jehovah], that I am God [El]." Knowing that Jehovah was Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 10:4), we are confronted with a contradiction. Paul the apostle later taught that "there is but one God, the Father... and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things..." (1 Cor. 8:6, see also 1 Tim. 2:5). If Jesus as Jehovah was saying that he was the only God then the Father could not logically also be the only God and still be separate from Jesus Christ. The Hebrew wording clarifies the meaning of these verses. The last portion of Isaiah 43:10, for example, reads: "who has formed a god or poured out an image [i.e. idol] to no profit?" (Hendrickson Interlinear Bible) Thus, the Lord is not claiming to be the only God in existence but is warning Israel not to uselessly worship false idol gods (see also Isa. 17:7-8; 42:8,17; 43:12; 44:6-18). When these chapters are read in context in the KJV, it is clear that Isaiah's reference to forming god is speaking of graven images of metal and wood. Isaiah 44:8-18 makes it unmistakably clear that the prophet is condemning idolatry and not a belief in more that one god.

Isaiah 43:12 is also clarified when examined in Hebrew. The Hebrew reads: "Ye are my witnesses saith Jehovah, I (or I AM), El (short form of Eloheim) and no other eloheim [gods}}; in this case false gods] no none are like me.” This verse actually uses three names for deity together. The contraction of Jehovah-Eloheim (translated LORD God in the KJV) is a similar, commonly found, grouping of names found in the Hebrew Old Testament. It appears that these compound name-titles were an attempt by ancient writers or scribes to refer to more than one member of the Godhead by a compound name (Articles of Faith, p. 49). Thus the Hebrew of the above verse might more accurately be rendered "Ye are our witnesses saith Jehovah and Eloheim and no other gods are like us.”

Although references to Christ's sonship are somewhat rare in the OT, they nevertheless exist

Although references to Christ's sonship are somewhat rare in the OT, they nevertheless exist. {[b||Daniel 3|25}} describes a fourth individual in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace whose form was like a "Son of God [Elah].” Proverbs 30:4 speaks of the "son" of the creator and Daniel 7:13 refers to the glorious coming of the "Son of man" (compare John 3:13 andMoses 6:57). Hosea 11:1 was quoted by Matthew 2:15) as a prophecy that God's "son" would be called out of Egypt and we should not forget that Isaiah's famous messianic prophecy foretold the birth of a son who would also be known by the titles "everlasting Father" and "mighty God" (Isa. 7:14; 9:16).

New Testament

Although the New Testament also speaks of the "oneness" of the Godhead (John 10:30; 17:11,21,22; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Jn. 5:7), the context of the verses generally provides the key to a correct interpretation. John, for example, quotes the Savior's reference to his own oneness with the Father but also indicates that the disciples need to be one (using the same Greek word) with himself, God, and other believers (John 6:56; 14:20; 17:11,21-22; 1 Jn. 3:24; 4:13,15). The context of many of Paul's references to oneness make it clear that he is speaking of a oneness of mind and spirit. Paul speaks, in 1 Corinthians 2:16, of having "the mind of Christ.” He likewise tells the Philippians "stand fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27; see also Gal. 5:22-25 and 1 Cor. 1:10). Paul also made frequent reference to a oneness of the saints (again using the same Greek word) with God and Christ as well as with other members (Rom. 8:1; 12:16; 15:6; 1 Cor. 3:16;6:17; 10:17; 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:17;6:16; Gal. 2:20; 3:28; Eph. 1:10; 3:17; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:27; 2:10; Heb. 2:11). It is especially significant that Paul used the same verbal construction as Christ used in saying, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) to describe his relationship to Apollos. He wrote, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.... Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one..." (1 Cor. 3:6,8). From the above cited references it should be clear that both John's and Paul's concept of "oneness" was not that of a merging of substance but was an expression of unity of purpose, mind, and heart. Modern scripture also confirms this interpretation (D&C 35:2; 50:43; 130:22).

Jesus Christ taught: "And now... I come to thee, Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one [in purpose and unity] as we are." (John 17:11)

Scriptural examples

Here are some New Testament scriptural examples that illustrate the separate nature and substance of the Father and the Son:

  1. God spoke from heaven while Christ was on the earth - Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; John 12:28-30
  2. God is a separate witness of Christ - John 5:36-37; 8:17-18
  3. Christ was "with" God in the beginning - John 1:1-3,10,14; 6:38; 16:28; 17:3,52; 20:21; 1 Jn. 4:14; Eph. 3:9
  4. Christ is God's Son - Mark 9:7; John 3:16; 9:35-37; 17:1; 20:17,21,31; Eph. 3:14; Heb. 1:6; 5:5
  5. Christ prayed to his Father - Matt. 6:6-9; 26:39; 27:46; Luke 23:34; John 12:27-28; 16:26; 17:10-11
  6. Christ was seen standing at the right hand of God - Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 3:21
  7. The Father committed all judgment unto the Son - John 5:17-20,22-23; Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:1
  8. God anointed Jesus Christ - Acts 10:38; Heb. 1:9
  9. God honored, blessed and glorified Christ - Matt. 12:18; John 5:26; 12:23; 17:1,24; Acts 3:13; 5:30-31; 2 Pet. 1:17-18; Phil. 2:9
  10. Jesus was raised up by God - Acts 5:30-31; 1 Pet. 1:21
  11. God and Jesus are plural (we, our, us) - Gen. 1:26; Isa. 6:8; John 14:23; 17:11,22
  12. God "sent" Christ to atone for us - Mark 9:37; John 3:16; 5:24; 6:38; 7:28-29; 8:42; 12:44-45; 17:3-4,6-10,18,25; 20:21; 1 Jn. 4:14
  13. Christ asked men to pray to God in his name - Matt. 6:6; Col. 3:17; Heb. 7:25-26
  14. Christ spoke of his Father in heaven - Matt. 10:33; 16:15-19; John 14:12; 20:15-17.
  15. Only God knew the exact time of the end; Christ did not then know - Mark 13:32; Matt. 24:36
  16. God the Father is Christ's God - Mark 15:34; John 20:17; Eph. 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:3
  17. Christ's will and doctrine were separate from God's - Matt. 26:39-42; Luke 22:41-42; John 5:30; 7:16-17; 14:10
  18. Christ did his Father's not his own work - Luke 2:49-50; John 17:3-4
  19. Christ came in his Father's name - John 5:43
  20. Christ came from and returned to God - John 14:12; 16:27-28,30; 1 Pet. 3:21-22
  21. The Father was "greater than" the Son - John 10:29; 14:28; 1 Cor. 15:28
  22. We come to the Father only by the Son - John 14:6
  23. Christ will deliver up the kingdom to God - 1 Cor. 15:24
  24. Christ is mediator between God and men - 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:5; 12:24

Question: How is Mormon belief compatible with Isaiah's statement that beside the Lord "there is no God?"

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods

Some Christians claim that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and belief in theosis are not compatible with multiple statements in Isaiah that "beside [the Lord] there is no God." These passages include Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6,8; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 45:21-22; and Isaiah 46:9-10.

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods.

The passages in Isaiah cannot be called upon to disprove LDS beliefs in separate divine beings in the Godhead or theosis. Their main point is to encourage Israel to stop worshiping other divine beings or idols but to worship Yahweh alone (see Isaiah 41:29, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 43:10,12,24, Isaiah 44:8,9,10,17,19, Isaiah 45:9,12,16,20,22.

Any other use of these passages distorts Isaiah's meaning and intent.

Isaiah 44:6 reads:

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Passages such as Isa 44:6,8 and 45:5,21 that read "no God beside me" or a variation of that phrase are traditionally interpreted by mainstream anti-Mormons as meaning that other than Yahweh no form of deity exists at all, including exalted men. This type of interpretation at first seems obvious, but after considering similar passages in other parts of scripture it is clear that this interpretation is incorrect.

For example, Isaiah 47:8-10 depicts the city of Babylon as saying:

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

These passages use the exact same phrase as Isa 44 and 45, yet they certainly do not exclude the existence of any city other than Babylon. The city of Ninevah would be very upset if this were the case, as Zephaniah depicts Ninevah in Zephaniah 2:15 as saying:

This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.

Again it is clear that this phrase does not exclude the very existence of other cities. Using these parallel phrases makes it clear that Isaiah is not excluding the very existence of any other deity when he quotes Yahweh as declaring "there is no God beside me." There are, in fact, several scriptures in the Old Testament that imply that Yahweh is in fact one of a number of Gods, albeit supreme. Compare the following passages from the KJV, NIV and ESV versions of the Bible:

  • And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? aor to thy faithfulness round about thee? (KJV Psalms 89:5-8)
  • The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings [fn. Lit "sons of god(s)]? In the council of holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you (NIV Psalms 89:5-8).
  • Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works (Psalms 86:8).
  • God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (ESV Psalms 82:1)
  • God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (KJV Psalms 82:1)

These scriptures speak of divine beings, "gods" who are the "sons of god(s)" who are heavenly beings who dwell in the skies. These cannot be idols or false gods. Yahweh dwells among them, reigns over them, and holds judgment in their midst.

Another favorite scripture of the critics of the LDS doctrine of exaltation is Isaiah 43:10. They seem to believe it contradicts this doctrine when it says:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Whether this passage is referring to false idols who represent deities that do not exist, or whether it refers to real divine beings who exist alongside and subordinate to Yahweh is not crucial for responding to this particular criticism. The passage specifically says "before" and "after" Yahweh. Since Yahweh has always existed, and since He will always exist no man can ever be exalted "before" or "after" Yahweh. All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh's existence. They will also become part of the divine council over which he presides.

Wherefore, as it is written, [the inhabitants of the Celestial Kingdom] are gods, even the sons of God (D&C 76:58).

LDS trinitarian views are not polytheistic

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[3]

[In Mormon theology] Jesus Christ and human beings partake of the same eternal properties, but they share in those properties in different ways. Jesus Christ has the priority, which is why...Mormons call him “our Elder brother.” This language sounds like it could be a classical example of subordinationism, that is, the subordination of the Son to the Father, thus rendering Christ a secondary or inferior God, which also runs into the problem of polytheism. More generously interpreted, Mormonism takes a strongly social view of the Trinity, seeing each member as an independent or relatively independent person, a position that is not uncommon among many creedal Christian theologians today. Their independence is relative because...Latter-day Saints “believe they are infinitely more one than they are separate.” Indeed, they enjoy a transcendental unity of divine indwelling that serves as a blessed state that all of God’s children can hope to attain.[4]:87–88

Mormons are not Arians

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[3]

By now it should be clear how narrow-minded the charge is that Mormonism is a modern version of Arianism....For me, Mormonism raises the hypothetical question of what would have happened if the best theological minds had dedicated themselves to explicating all of the implications of the heavenly flesh position....we cannot simply turn back the clock to try to find a place and time where we can locate Mormonism in order to make it look familiar. Comparing Joseph Smith to Arius, who denied the Son’s equality with the Father, or, better, Eutyches, an early defender of Heavenly Flesh Christology, is not an unproductive thought experiment, but it misses the point that Mormonism demands a rethinking of classical theism from the ground up and thus a retelling of the Christian story from the Gospels forward—and the ground upon which it erects its speculations is as earthy as it can be. [4]:89

Joseph Smith's theology is not pagan—his theology is vast as the multiverse, and eliminates Neo-Platonism and Augustine

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[3]

Far from reverting to paganism or simply falling into sloppy thinking, Smith was carrying his confidence in Christ to its fullest possible expression....All things are possible not only for us but also for God, in that this universe does not exhaust the divine creativity. The universe is not big enough to hold the majesty of God’s ingenuity. Rather than reacting negatively to the apparently infinite expansiveness of the universe, Smith called astronomy’s bluff and multiplied the universe by the same expansive factor. Smith was wiping the theological slate clean of the Neo-Platonic metaphysics that had so influenced Augustine.[4]:96–97

Common misrepresentation: Joseph Smith does not teach polytheism or "supplanting God" with his doctrine of human divination

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[3]

Two corrections of common misrepresentations of Smith’s theology need to be made at this point....[The] [s]econd [is that] even though Smith says that believers will become gods, he also says that

they will be kings and priests to God, a phrase that qualifies his alleged polytheism. Clearly, the faithful are meant to share in the divine power and glory, and thus they too will have mastery over life and death, in the sense of being able to creatively participate in the creation, sustenance, and governance of life. Divine power seems to be the universal constant in this teaching, but it is not so diffuse that it has no source. God’s power will be shared, but it will still be God’s.[4]:96–97

Gospel Topics on, "Becoming Like God"

Gospel Topics on, (February 25, 2014)
For some observers, the doctrine that humans should strive for godliness may evoke images of ancient pantheons with competing deities. Such images are incompatible with Latter-day Saint doctrine. Latter-day Saints believe that God’s children will always worship Him. Our progression will never change His identity as our Father and our God. Indeed, our exalted, eternal relationship with Him will be part of the “fulness of joy” He desires for us.

Latter-day Saints also believe strongly in the fundamental unity of the divine. They believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though distinct beings, are unified in purpose and doctrine.47 It is in this light that Latter-day Saints understand Jesus’s prayer for His disciples through the ages: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”48

If humans live out of harmony with God’s goodness, they cannot grow into God’s glory. Joseph Smith taught that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only [except] upon the principles of righteousness.” When humans abandon God’s selfless purposes and standards, “the heavens withdraw themselves [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.”49 Pride is incompatible with progress; disunity is impossible between exalted beings.

Click here to view the complete article

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here


  1. Jeff Lindsay, "If you believe the Father and the Son are separate beings, doesn't that make you polytheistic?" (accessed December 2007). off-site
  2. This wiki article was initially based upon an entry in Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions: Replies to 130 Queries by Friends and Critics of the LDS Church (Horizon Publishers & Distributors, 1995) (now published by Cedar Fort Publisher: Springville, UT, 2004), 77–79, 81-83, and 107.. ISBN 0882905368. ISBN 0882907786. ISBN 0882907786. Due to the nature of a wiki project, it may have been expanded, edited, and emended since then.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Webb is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He is a graduate of Wabash College and earned his PhD at the University of Chicago before returning to his alma mater to teach. Born in 1961 he grew up at Englewood Christian Church, an evangelical church. He joined the Disciples of Christ during He was briefly a Lutheran, and on Easter Sunday, 2007, he officially came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Stephen H. Webb, "Godbodied: The Matter of the Latter-day Saints (reprint from his book Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (Oxford University Press, 2012)," Brigham Young University Studies 50 no. 3 (2011). (emphasis added) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "webbBook" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "webbBook" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "webbBook" defined multiple times with different content