Mormons believe in God the eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost—but they don’t believe in the trinity, choosing instead to accept the Biblical concept of Godhead. Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn more about Mormons and the Trinity.
It’s probably not a secret that Mormon views about God differ from traditional Christianity, but Mormons base these beliefs on the Bible and on modern revelation. The Bible says some interesting things about God, much of which has been forgotten or altered over the years. Let’s look at Mormon beliefs about God and where they come from.
Mormons believe God is eternal. He has always existed and always will (Romans 1:20, Moses 1:3) Mormons believe He is our literal Father in Heaven, having organized us into spirits. (Hebrews 12:9).This spiritual creation of our spirits makes Him our literal Father and so Mormons think of Him in those terms and tend to relate to Him in a parent-child way. We call Him Father or Heavenly Father most of the time and when we try to understand Him, we imagine the perfect Father. You’ll often see, on this website, comparisons of God and perfect fathers.
Mormons view God as kind, loving, and fair, personally and closely involved in our lives. (John 3:16).We believe He hears and answers prayers, that He watches over us, and that He has a plan for us—both a universal plan for all of us and a personal plan for each individual.
Mormons believe Jesus Christ created the Earth under direction from God, who is the Supreme ruler. God created the Plan of Salvation under which we all got to come here to earth. (There is more about that on this website.) He wants what is best for us and has given us everything we need to succeed—if we choose to accept all the gifts that are given.
Now, a lot of churches today believe all that. What is different about Mormon beliefs? First, Mormons believe God has a body. While that is considered odd to many Christians, it is actually very Biblical and was not officially condemned by the Church (not our church—the original church fathers in ancient times) until the third century in a council. Prior to that time, the subject was debated, but it was initially an aspect of Neo-Platonism , was a pet theory of Augustine, and originated, more or less, with a lawyer—not a church leader—named Tertullian.
More on the history of Christian thoughts about God. (This takes you off-site.)
In the Bible, we can find ample evidence that God is not an invisible, shapeless being. Genesis tells us we are created in God’s image—a clear act of love on God’s part. This tells us His body is much like ours, but perfected and glorified. The vision of Stephen showed Jesus standing on the right hand of God, which clearly demonstrates that God and Jesus are two distinct beings and that God has a body we can see. Even the return of Jesus after His death shows that you don’t have to be a spirit to be in Heaven. Jesus had a body when He returned—remember that Thomas insisted on feeling the hands to be sure—and we also know we will be able to see Jesus when He returns. We will also be able to see Him in Heaven. Multiple mentions of God’s body throughout the Bible demonstrate that God does indeed have a body.
Of course, for Mormons, there is a more recent evidence of God’s body. When Joseph Smith was fourteen, he struggled with the choice of which church to join. He read in the Bible (James 1:5) that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and He will tell us what we want to know. Trusting this scripture, he went into the woods near his home and prayed for advice, recognizing that only God knows which church is true. God and Jesus Christ appeared to him. God introduced Jesus and instructed Joseph to listen to Jesus. Jesus instructed him not to join any of the churches, but to wait, which he did. As an adult, he was called by God to participate in the restoration of the gospel in modern times.
This vision, so similar to Stephen’s in that it showed both God and Jesus Christ, leaves no question that God and Jesus are individuals. Since Mormons teach that we must not take the word of any mortal when it comes to religion, Mormons pray to find out if this vision is true, just as Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join. Once a person has received personal revelation from God on this subject or any other, it no longer matters how various individuals interpret what the Bible says. They have their answer directly from God, not from translators.
You may have heard that Mormons believe they can become like God, having their own planet someday. Before sharing that belief with an actual Mormon, you may want to know the planet thing is an inside joke. Yes, in the past many Mormons, including some church leaders, believed it, but it is not canonized doctrine and today, most Mormons use it instead of the lottery joke. Mormons don’t gamble, so instead of saying, “When I win the lottery, I’m going to have all my meals catered,” they say, “When I get my own planet I’m going to make chocolate a vegetable.” In other words, it’s a way of expressing wishes. So you are likely to spark knowing grins if you try to pass it off as doctrine.
That said, Mormons do believe in eternal progression. What does that mean? Mormons believe that we lived with God as spirits for a while before our births. We grew and progressed there. Once coming to earth, we continued to grow and progress. When we die, that progression will continue. We will never stop becoming more than we are—can you imagine how dull eternity would be if you had to be stagnate all that time, never learning, never improving, never becoming more?
The Bible tells us we must become perfect, even as God is. (See Matthew 5:48.) And yet, it also tells us we never will be perfect in this life. We all sin and come short of what God asks us to be. Now, God doesn’t instruct us to do anything we can’t actually do. That would be unfair, and God is not unfair. This means we can indeed become perfect—but not in this life. We need an eternity to get that job done. This is eternal progression.
We don’t know the full measure of eternal progression. We know we can become like God, but we don’t know what that means. In Romans, chapter 8, Paul tells us we are all children of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
In Asaph’s psalm in the Old Testament, we learn:
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High,” (Psalms 82:6).
God gave us our intelligence, and He has chosen not to tell us everything. We have everything we need to achieve eternal salvation, but when we return home to Him, there will be so many things to learn. It’s one of the blessings of eternity—knowing the learning will never stop. Mormons don’t worry a great deal about things that don’t affect our eternal progression here on earth—we enjoy imagining how it will be or thinking up possibilities, but it doesn’t keep us up at night and it is not a major issue to Mormons. In fact, the only people who seem really interested in it are the people who are trying to disprove the church. They focus in on these sorts of questions that don’t interest Mormons in the least.
Let’s move on to something that does interest Mormons—the subject of Jesus Christ.