Mormons believe in three gods, as Joseph Smith taught: “I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations where I have preached on the subject of deity, it has [been on] the plurality of Gods.”
According to the Articles of Faith, these three gods are the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Father God is the Supreme creator and being worthy of prayer and worship. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord who empowers miracles, prophecy, and spiritual enlightenment. The Holy Ghost is given to those who repent and convert. The Son is identified as “the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth” (Alma 11:39). The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate gods although they are united in purpose. Some verses from the Book of Mormon, however, seem to say that the three gods are one God,
“Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be a restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is cone Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil” (Alma 11:44)
“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen” (2 Nephi 31:21).
The Son and the Father appear to be the same:
“Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;” (Alma 11:39)
This could be interpreted in a few ways. Sometimes the Son, Jesus, is understood to be or called the Father: the Son could be understood as the Father of creation because he made it; the Son is the Father of all those who accept his atoning sacrifice; or the Son is commissioned to speak and act for the Father. Although the Son might be referred to as the “Father”, in reality the Father and the Son are distinct beings. Joseph Smith learned that the Son and the Father were separate beings when he had his First Revelation .
Later Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught that God is an exalted man, who was once mortal like us before he became God. Mormons thus believe that God was once a man who evolved into godhood,
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” .
Smith taught that if we were to see God “today, you would see Him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man.” In other words, God was not a God from all eternity, but once a man just like any other. Human beings can also learn to be gods themselves. Brigham Young (1801-1877), the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself…We are created… to become Gods like unto our Father in Heaven” .
And as Doctrine and Covenants teaches, although the Father and the Son has “a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s”, the Holy Ghost is immaterial for he “has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (130:22).
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. n.d. God the Eternal Father. Available.
- Chase, Randal. 2012. Church History Study Guide, Pt. 2: 1831-1844. Plain & Precious Publishing. p. 417.
- Collier’s Publishing. n.d. President Brigham Young’s Doctrine on Deity — Vol. 1. p. 78.