Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible?
Article number one of the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints says, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." From this statement many conclude that the LDS believe in the triune God of orthodox Christianity. But Mormonism interprets this quite differently.
LDS Apostle James Talmadge in the Articles of Faith, pp. 47-48, discusses the idea of one God manifested in three persons and he says, "It would be difficult to conceive of a greater number of inconsistencies and contradictions expressed in words as few." In the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370, Joseph Smith taught, "I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit; and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods." However the Book of Mormon in 11 Nephi 31:21 declares: "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." (See also Alma 11:44; Mormon 7:7.) The Doctrine and Covenants 20:28 also teaches that the "Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end, Amen." LDS say this means "one in purpose" but not one God. They believe the Book of Mormon clarifies unclear Bible doctrines. But it always says "one God," never "one in purpose." So LDS scripture contradicts their doctrine!
The LDS have tried to understand God as if He were mortal. But if God is "infinite" as Doctrine and Covenants 20:28 says He is, then man’s attempts to explain God will always fail. Finite man cannot possibly comprehend the infinite because a limited mind cannot encompass an unlimited God! That is why the Trinity is beyond human comprehension. But each member of the Trinity is called God: The Father in John 17:3, the Son in John 1:1, and the Holy Spirit in John 4:24 and Acts 5:3-4. The Bible teaches only one God, not three Gods (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6,8; Mark 12:29). Therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God or the Bible contradicts itself. Mormonism says the latter is true and that their latter-day prophets and scripture clarify this confusion. So let us see what their leaders and their scripture teach about God.
God the Father
A Glorified Man
D&C 130:22 declares: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also, but the Holy Ghost 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." LDS believe that God the Father revealed Himself to Joseph Smith in 1820 (see Pearl of Great Price. Joseph Smith History 1:16-17). Joseph Smith also declared: "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!.. . I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see" (T. of P.J.S., P. 345). Brigham Young carried this thought one step further when he taught: "When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, He came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Arch-angel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken –He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do"(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, P. 50; see J. of D., Vols. 111, P. 319; IV, pp. 331-332; Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, pp. 74-75).
In October, 1976, LDS Prophet Spencer Kimball said that the Adam-God doctrine was "false doctrine". Yet, in the June 18,1873, Deseret News, LDS Prophet Brigham Young declared God revealed it to him! While many LDS are not familiar with the Adam-God doctrine, most LDS are familiar with "eternal progression". On P. 430 of the Articles of Faith, James Talmadge quotes the fifth LDS Prophet, Lorenzo Snow: "As man is, God once was; as God is man may be."
Milton R. Hunter wrote: "Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing … Remember that God our Heavenly Father was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we are and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement" (Gospel Through the Ages, P. 104).
Orson Pratt said on P. 23 in The Seer "The Gods who dwell in the Heaven from which our spirits came, are beings who have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state. They were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever." On P. 132 of the same volume Pratt says "We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on, from generation to generation, from one heavenly world to another still more ancient, until our minds are wearied and lost in the multiplicity of generations and successive worlds." Pratt also said, " If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds."
God in Man’s Image
LDS try to support their claims of a "flesh and bones" God by saying He created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). But God was not created in the image of man! Just because man has a body of flesh, blood, and bones does not mean that God is made of the same material. The Lincoln Memorial is 19 feet tall and made of white Georgia marble. Does this mean that President Lincoln was a giant with a white marble body just because his image is? LDS also use Luke 24:39 to show Jesus has a body of flesh and bones. Since Jesus was "the express image" of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), they say the Father must also have a body of flesh and bones. But in Luke 24:31, just prior to Jesus’ reference to His body of flesh and bones, He "vanished out of their sight." A body "as tangible as ours" can’t just vanish. But Christ "is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).
What God Looks Like
The Bible declares that God is an invisible Spirit and that no man has ever seen Him (see Exodus 33:20; John 1:18,4:24,5:37; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17, 6:16; and I John 4:12,20). The Old Testament records several accounts of theophanies (God-forms) where God revealed Himself in angelic manifestations. Anthropomorphisms (describing God in human forms of speech) explains many of the encounters of God with man such as those in Exodus 33:9,11, 23; 24:9-1 1; Genesis 5:24 and 6:5-9. If the LDS are to be consistent in their claim of God having a physical body because of the Bible expressions "the arm of the Lord," "the eye of the Lord," "the hand of the Lord," and so on, then God must also be a "bird" according to Psalms 57:1 and 91:4. Or He might be a blast furnace from what we read in Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29.
Early LDS View of God
Mormons did not always teach a "flesh and bone" God. Eight years before the revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 saying, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s," Joseph Smith wrote the Lectures on Faith. Lecture Fifth says: "There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things- by who all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space-They are the Father and the Son: the Father being a personage of Spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after his likeness, and in his image; … and is called the Son because of the flesh." In the Documentary History of the Church, Vol.11, p.180, Joseph Smith said these lectures were to be published in the D.&C, and they were until 1921. They were then deleted because it was difficult to teach a god of flesh and bones with that doctrine in their scriptures. The Book of Mormon denies that God is a glorified man in II Nephi 2:14,11:7, 29:7; Jacob 2:21, 4:9; Mosiah 2:23, 4:21, 5:15, 7:27; Alma 18:28, 32; 22:10; Mormon 9:9-11,17,19; Ether 3:15; 1 Nephi 9:6; 11 Nephi 9:20; Mosiah 13:34; Alma 26:35; Moroni 7:22, 8:18. See also D&C 20:12 and 17. Thus Mormon doctrine is contradicted by Mormon scripture.
Biblical View of God
In Romans 1:22-23, Paul warns of those who try to make God in the image of corruptible man. The Bible portrays God as an infinite being who is not a man, exalted or unexalted. It is impossible to reconcile the following verses with the LDS teaching that God is a changing progressing MAN; " God is NOT a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, the he should repent" (Numbers 23:19); "for I am God, and NOT a man" (Hosea 11:9); "I have made the earth, and created man upon it" (Isaiah 45:12); "These things hast thou done and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee and set them in order before thine eyes" (Psalm 50:21). Note that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and so on, and no man with a body could be any of these things! (Revelation 19:6, Psalm 139:1-12, Jeremiah 23:24, Acts 17:24-27, Psalm 33:6, Hebrews 11:3, John 1:3.) The Bible also teaches God is unchangeable and Eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 41:13, 90:2, 106:48; Isaiah 40:28; Jeremiah 10:10; Malachi 3:6; Colossians 1:17; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).
John 17:3 declares, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." That true God is described in the Bible. Do you know Him and the Jesus He sent to save the "lost" (Luke 19:10) and give them eternal life (I John 5:11-13)?
-Marvin W Cowan