Do Mormons Believe in the Trinity? A Mormon explains.


As a life-long Mormon, I’m frequently asked about my belief in the Trinity.  I appreciate you taking the time to understand our beliefs, so I’ll do my best to not only explain what we believe, but why we believe the Bible supports that view.

Mormons believe in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the world, and in the Holy Spirit.  We believe that they are three separate people who are perfectly united in their perfection and purpose.  

The Trinity is the teaching that the supreme being is “one God in three Divine persons.”  Though the details of this theology differ between religions, the basic statement of three divine persons acting together as a godhead is something Mormons agree with.  We believe God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are separate and distinct individuals just like you and I are separate individuals; however, that Christ, God, and the Spirit are part of a godhead and are entirely united in their perfection and purpose.

As Bill Forrest said, “To insist that a belief in the Trinity is requisite to being Christian, is to acknowledge that for centuries after the New Testament was completed thousands of Jesus’ followers were in fact not really ‘Christian.’”

Mormons Believe the Bible Shows God, Christ, and the Spirit Are Individuals

My purpose in writing this article is not really to convince you of anything.  It is merely to help other Christians to understand why we, as Mormons, are Christian.  Mostly, I’m just grateful that there are good people in the world like you who seek to UNDERSTAND other people’s beliefs instead of simply belittling them.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.

It is difficult for me to read the Bible and imagine how it could be interpreted to show God, Christ and the Spirit being literally the same person.

When Jesus Christ suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to God saying, “Abba, father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.”  He again prayed to God while on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Who was Christ praying to so earnestly?  Himself?  I think not.

When Christ was Baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, when he came up out of the water, the “Spirit of God descending like a dove.”  Then, a voice from heaven pronounced to the crowd “Behold, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)  Did Christ morph into a bird while he was a man, and then morph his voice into heaven to tell the people that he was pleased with himself?  Again, it’s difficult for me to read the Bible and honestly come to the conclusion that God, Christ, and the Spirit are the same person.  It simply defies logic.

On the mount of transfiguration, Christ came into the presence of God before Peter, James, and John.  As Christ spoke to his disciples, “a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”  Christ was a mortal and could die at this time.  He was transfigured because he came into the presence of the immortal God, who audibly spoke to announce Christ.  Was Christ talking to himself?

Christ is declared numerous times to be the son of God.  It takes a tortured reading of the Bible to believe that he impregnated his earthly mother with himself and was then born to her and was the son of himself.

Are There Bible Verses Which Lend Evidence to a Trinity?

Yes, there are certainly individual Bible verses which seem to support the doctrine of the Trinity (God, Christ, and Spirit as one person).  However, a plain reading of the Bible narrative shows so clearly that they are separate beings that I find it difficult to understand how it could be understood otherwise.

A good student of the Bible may be wondering about some verses which seem to show a different viewpoint.

  • 1 John 5:7-8 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”  This verse could be read to say they are one physical body, in verse 7, but verse 8 clarifies and says they “agree in one”–meaning they have the same desire and purpose.  That purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
  • John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Certainly the phrase “The Word was God” lends credibility to the doctrine of a Trinity, but only if the rest of the verse is ignored.  The start of the verse says the Word was WITH God.  How can one be WITH someone who he is?  Mormons read this verse to say that God and Christ were together in Heaven and that Christ was perfect–a god.

There are many other verses as well, but these verses will at least hopefully give you an idea of what verses show a potential counter-point, and how Mormons respond to them.

It was not until the Nicaean Council three hundred years after Christ when the trinitarian theology was codified.  There is abundant evidence that early Christians did not hold that belief.

Are Mormons Christian?

The full name of the so-called “Mormon Church” is “The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints.”  When I was baptized, I was baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  On Sundays, we remember the Lord’s Last Supper by partaking of the sacrament.  I spent two years as a full-time Mormon missionary in Brazil teaching people to repent and follow God’s commandments.

One could certainly argue that I am not a “Trinitarian” for not believing that God, Christ, and the spirit are physically the same person; however, arguing that I am not a “Christian”, despite believing in Christ and striving to follow him, defies logic.

The dictionary says a Christian is “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.”  When I was baptized, the person performing the baptism said I was baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  And, I believe in Christ.  So, how can anyone say Mormons are not Christian when we perfectly fit the very definition of the word?

I do not get upset when discussing religious topics with others from other religions.  To me, it’s sad when good people get angry with each other when discussing the Prince of Peace.  However, I’ll admit that I get upset when otherwise good people argue that I, as a Mormon, am not a Christian.  I don’t like anyone casting doubt on my faith in Christ.

In Acts 11:26, the saints at Antioch were first called Christians.  They went abroad convincing others to be Christians.  Yet, today, so many who profess to be Christians spend their time not convincing others to be Christian, but attacking other Christians to convince them that they are not Christian.

The second mention of the word “Christian” in the Bible is when Agrippa tells Paul “almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  Yet today, many Christians have taken to convince me that I am NOT Christian.  

What is a Christian?  A Christian is a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ. I do believe in Christ and strive to follow him.  Why are so many people interested in convincing me that I don’t believe in Christ?

Certainly, if someone from another Christian religion became interested in my church, I wouldn’t start by convincing them they don’t believe in Christ!  That runs counter to my objective in teaching the gospel.  I understand that all Christian religions believe doctrines different from each other, but I fail to understand why we cannot acknowledge that we do, at least, have our central tenet in common: that Jesus Christ is our Savior.

If You Wish to Understand What Mormons Believe About Christ…

First of all, THANK YOU for clicking on this article and taking the time to understand our beliefs.  That shows to me that you’re the sort of person who is truly interested in learning rather than simply judging others.  Thank you.

Several years ago, the leadership of the LDS Church put together a statement called “The Living Christ.”  It is quite short, but fully explains our belief in Christ as our Savior.  You can read it here.  Nothing else will help you to understand our beliefs more completely than taking 2 minutes to read this document.

Jim Harmer

I own an online company where I create websites which are read by millions of people. I'm a non-practicing lawyer, husband and a father of three little kiddos. My faith in Christ is the most important aspect of my life, and this blog is where I get to share my beliefs. The rest of the time, I'm riding dirt bikes or traveling the world taking pictures. I live in Star, Idaho where I attend my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each month, over 30,000 people come to this site to learn about the basic beliefs of my religion, and it's my privilege to share about it. The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as this blog is not an official source of church information. However, every effort is put into providing accurate information in support of the church.

3 thoughts on “Do Mormons Believe in the Trinity? A Mormon explains.

  1. Having my Christianity called into question blind sided me. I found myself searching for the definition of a Christian. Somehow the definition got tied to a belief in a Triune God, acceptance as the Bible as the only true word of God, acceptance that apostles and prophets were only needed in the early days of the Christian Church to get it started and other qualifications. These qualifications seemed to counter most of my beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather than a definition of a Christian, it felt more like an attack on my church. I am seeking truth like everyone. I respect others’ beliefs and do not seek to ostracize or criticize them.

  2. I appreciate your irenic manner in sharing your beliefs. I’m an Evangelical Christian who enjoyed several meetings early this year with some Mormon missionaries. I think they enjoyed our conversations as much as I did.

    I’d like to share my Evangelical beliefs on the Trinity because I feel you misunderstand us. Actually, your early definition is not bad for a short six-word statement. But then you seemed to totally disregard it and it appears you are making a straw-man argument, although I’m not suggesting it’s on purpose.

    You suggest the doctrine is “one God in three Divine persons” but then I find at least four sentences in which you claim that we believe they are all the SAME person. In fact, the fourth time you indicate that we believe they are even the same “physical” person. Actually, we believe that God is spirit (John 4:24), (although God the Son has two natures, divine and human, another mystery and is outside the scope of this comment).

    Concerning personhood, one of the qualities of being a “person” is the distinction between “you” and “me.” Trinitarianism has never suggested that the Triune God is only one person. To suggest that what we believe means that Jesus was praying to Himself is a misrepresentation of the doctrine and, it would seem, belittling to those who hold to it.

    To address the two Johannine passages you mentioned from an Evangelical perspective: 1 John 5:7-8 is actually moot because John didn’t write the words “…in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This is famously called the Comma Johanneum. I think this fits what your church means when it says “insofar as it is correctly translated,” which I think actually means “insofar as it is correctly transmitted.” The Comma was never transmitted in the Greek manuscripts. It became a part of the LATE tradition of Latin manuscripts well after the doctrine of the Trinity had been established. Erasmus omitted it from his first printed Greek text because he said no Greek text contained it. He was so sure that he said he would add it in future additions if he could be shown one text that had it. Lo and behold, he was given a very late manuscript with the ink barely dry, and he kept his word, and that’s how the Comma eventually made it to the KJV. The Comma was not inspired; it was added by overzealous Latin scribes who believed in the Trinity. (Also interesting is that the early church Fathers never quoted it in their discussions about the Trinity—because it didn’t exist!) So I’m afraid you actually misinterpreted authorial intent in your post because the authors were indeed referring to Trinitarian teaching, it’s just that the author wasn’t John and the text not inspired.

    John 1:1, however, is indeed a particularly important verse that points to the paradox (to the human mind) that led to the doctrine of the Trinity. Here’s the paradox: The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (see especially Isa 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5-6), and here it says the Word was with God and the Word was God. Only one God, the Word was with God, but the Word WAS God! How can this be?

    I think you and I agree that God (theos) in the second clause (the Word was with the God) refers to the Father, as theos usually does in John, but not always—see 20:28: “My Lord and my God!” The question is, how is theos used in the last clause? The only three choices are definite, indefinite, or qualitative. You are suggesting that we believe it is definite, i.e., the Word was the God, but we don’t believe that. Theos is anarthous (no article), and though it is possible for a noun to be definite without the article, it is not here. If it were definite (and certainly if it had the article!), it would be saying that Jesus was the Father, and that’s modalism/Sebellianism. While there seems to be some evidence of it in the Book of Mormon, I don’t think either of us believes in modalism. The option you picked is indefinite (the Word was a god) but that is a highly unlikely use of a pre-verbal anarthrous predicate nominative (i.e. theos comes before the verb, has no article, and is the predicate nominative with ho logos [the Word] being the subject). By far the most likely use is qualitative: the Word was God by nature. Not the Father, but God, just as the Father is God by nature.

    Trinitarianism believes that the Bible teaches there is only one God who has eternally existed. Yet the Father is fully God, the Son is fully God, and the Spirit is fully God; and yet again the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. Three eternally existent Persons (not people), one God.

    I don’t believe any human can fully comprehend this. While some would call this illogical, I believe it is supralogical. God is beyond our comprehension and Trinitarians often get ridiculed for believing in things that mere mortals can’t comprehend.

    I don’t expect to convince you but hopefully you can now better understand the doctrine of the Trinity even as I have been trying to better understand LDS doctrine.

    1. Thank you for providing this perspective and I do appreciate the further explanation of your beliefs. To me, it takes some real mental gymnastics to try and say that one person is three people and some of them are physical and others just a spirit, but I do appreciate the logical explanation. Thank you for a thoughtful and respectful comment.

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