Godhead (Trinity) in Mormonism
Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon Church), wrote, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” Each of these Beings is a distinct God, whose cooperative action and joint purpose with the other two constitute a oneness in the Holy Trinity. They work as one; yet They are separate individuals.
According to Mormonism, God the Father is indeed a Heavenly Parent unto all the people of the earth. Whereas our individual mothers and fathers are the parents of our physical bodies, God is the Father of our spirit bodies. This is not to say that He Himself is merely a spirit. On the contrary, Mormons believe that He is a perfect Soul composed of both a spirit and an immortal physical body—bloodless, yet having flesh and bone.
When we were only spirits, we lived happily with Heavenly Father but could not progress very far in development without undergoing God’s special plan, known to Mormons as the plan of salvation. We would come to earth, gaining a physical body similar to God’s in the process, and have the opportunity to grow and mature by striving to follow the Lord’s commandments. Our Heavenly Father knew that we would make mistakes, and so His plan included the offering of a Savior who would come to live a perfect life on the earth, then suffer and die as recompense for our sins. Though the law of justice would normally bar us from ever returning to God’s presence because of our transgressions, the law of mercy could be activated by our accepting the Redeemer’s sacrifice and turning to Him in faith, humility, and obedience. We would receive mercy and grace from the Savior by gratefully accepting the conditions of repentance, and He would take the brunt of justice for us.
Jesus, the eldest of God’s spirit children, was chosen as the One to bear the awesome burden of being the Redeemer of the world. Thus, He already was starting to take on divine characteristics as the second member of the Godhead. Mormons understand that as such, Jesus Christ created the earth, under the direction of God the Father. In fact all worlds created by the Father were done so through the Son. Furthermore, it is actually Jesus Christ who is Jehovah. As a yet unborn Spirit, He commanded and blessed the peoples of the Old Testament as their Lord. Later, he was born in a miraculous way and led an exemplary life. He voluntarily suffered and died to fulfill His role in the Father’s plan of salvation, then He was resurrected: His body was reunited with His spirit in an immortal form. He continues to this day in such a state; His body is made of flesh and bone just like the Father’s body, and it will never be subject to death again. Both the Father and the Son are so glorious and radiate so much power, that men cannot bear their presence without being “quickened” first.
The third member of the Godhead is the Holy Ghost. He is a distinct Person like the Father and the Son, but He is only a Spirit without a physical body. His role is to testify of the Father and the Son, to guide and comfort us in truth and righteousness, and to sanctify us. He touches our hearts with feelings of warmth, peace, and faith, allowing us to be comforted in times of grief and worry, and granting us realizations and confidence as we seek the truth. He gently teaches people about the divinity of Christ and the truthfulness of Christ’s gospel and Church. His influence can be felt when we read the scriptures, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He confirms the teachings set forth by holy prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith, and the current President of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monson. His power and influence can be felt on an occasional basis when people do good works and when they are striving to learn of God’s will and His true Church. The gift of the Holy Ghost, on the other hand, is a special bestowal granted to individuals who have entered into the Lord’s true Church through baptism. Mormon men who hold the priesthood (God’s authority) place their hands on the head of a recently baptized person and pronounce this gift upon him or her. Then, the Holy Ghost’s influence is felt more continually, guiding and protecting the individual so long as worthiness and faith are maintained.
Mormonism reveals special words that the Lord spoke to Moses: “. . . this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This is the function of the plan of salvation: to give God’s children the opportunity to develop their divine potential, to become more like Heavenly Father, to inherit all that He has. By coming to earth we gain physical bodies which, although they die, will one day become immortalized through the resurrection. We gain experience in exercising faith and obedience to God’s commandments, and through the gospel of Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins and strength to move on. Mormons know all of this because Heavenly Father has lovingly provided prophets to teach it, and the Holy Ghost to confirm its truth to human minds and hearts. In the end, we all decide through our daily thoughts and actions whether we will be saved or not. The Holy Trinity hopes that we will choose to follow Them and be saved.