Mormon Misunderstanding of the Trinity

Every once in a while I browse LDS.net or MADB, and find threads discussing God, and basically the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As most familiar with the LDS, they do not accept the Trinity, formally defined at the Council of Nicaea (including the nature of Jesus Christ). Now, I would just like to emphasize that Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and others that see the Councils as authoritative, do not believe that the Trinity came into existence in 325 AD at Nicaea. Instead, we recognize that in times where heresies begin to arise, a Council can be called to formally define doctrine in the face of that heresy. So, traditional Christians believe that the Trinity has always been the Christian belief, but that in the face of subordinationism and other heresies, it was formally defined at the Council of Nicaea, and can be read in the Nicene Creed.

Now, one major misunderstanding that many LDS have with traditional Christianity is what exactly Trinity means! Many of the discussions begin with “was Jesus talking to Himself when He talked to the Father?” and “how can the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be the same person?”

I would like to state that Catholics do not believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same Person. Catholics believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct, separate Persons. So when Mormons bring up “was Jesus talking to Himself” as an argument against the Trinity, it begins with a false premise, because Catholics accept that Jesus and the Father are separate Persons.

To further define this, let us look to the Catechism:

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

So, Catholics do believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are consubstantial, or are of the same substance. However that does not mean that they are the same Person. Catholics and other traditional Christians fully believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate, distinct Persons, and are also one God.

The trinity is not a Biblical word, but it means three. the bible is very mysterious about that. The bible has a lot to say about God, but we cannot understand it all.

God insists there is one God, and yet, He clearly reveals Himself as three distinct person, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

God says of the Lord Jesus in

Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the God head bodily.

Jesus says of Himself in John 10:30: I am my Father are one.

He says in John 14:9: Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Philippians 2:5,8 : Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

In order to be Messiah, Christ emptied Himself of His glory. He had to take on a human nature and humiliate Himself, and nothing could be worse than identifying Himself with rebellious, sinful man. He had to be laden with the sins of these He came to save. God says in

Galations 3:13: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth of a tree.

christ became a curse for us. God the Father was not cursed, and therefor, in that sense, Christ became lower than the Father. We read in

john 17:5 :And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the word was.

Jesus said that my Father is greater that I, nevertheless, from eternity past and eternity future, the Lord Jesus Christ is as glorious as the God the Father

Religio71,
I have tried to understand what is meant by separate, distinct Persons Who are “of the same substance.” Can you explain what the word “substance” means by using a different word or phrase, other than “essence.” Substance can mean “kind of material” (or “kind of being”), as can the word “essence”. “Consubstantial” can mean “commingled” or “of the same substantive condition”, or in other words, “unified in a complete and ultimate sense, without division.”

This is how I understand it (someone can correct me if I’m wrong ;))

Of one substance simply means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same “stuff” that makes them Divine. They are of the same Divinity. They are three Persons, yet they are of the same Divine “stuff”. This stuff is what makes God, God. I think you hit it on the head when you said “substance can mean ‘kind of material’”.

I think that this is emphasized in the Creed, where we see that the Son is begotten from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (and the Son in Catholic thought). So, the Son and the Holy Spirit both come from the Father, and they aren’t made or created (“begotten not made, one in being with the Father”).

So, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct, separate Persons. Yet they all have the same “stuff” that makes them God. They all are that stuff. We call that “stuff” substance/being/essence.

Bibleanswer. what denomination do you belong to? The reason I ask is that I converted from the denomination that calls itself the churches of Christ, and you post just like my old cofc praycher did.

Just one verse after another with citations.

Do you dislike the word “Trinity” just because it does not appear explicitly in the pages of the bible?

Do you call the Holy Trinity the “Godhead”? Godhead does not occour specifficaly in the words of the bible either.

Catholics, and Orthodox do not worship a book that was written by humanity, we worship God.

Good evening,

This is my understanding from the bible.

The stuff and substance you are referring to, would be a persons spirit, their soul.

God is spirit, His essense, His stuff, His substance, is Spirit.

Jesus Christ was the Lamb slaughtered before the foundations of the world. When the Lamb was resurrected, He became begotten. That is, He became The Christ. Christ came here through Mary, and became man, taking on a human nature, in order to carry the burden of human sin. Sin is spiritual.

The Holy Spirit was poured out, [Act 1] as a result, of Christ ascending into the Heaven. His work was done on earth, it was finished. As a result, He sent down the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is spiritual. It adheres with our soul, which is the Breath of Life, as described in Gen 2,3. The Holy Spirit is Christ as Truth, and this Truth comes from His Word, and His Word is the Scripture, Scripture is read from the bible.

Man was made in Gods image, Gods image is Spiritual. A spiritual body. This means that only man has a spiritual body. Man sinned with Adam, thusly all of his offspring, that includes all of us, are born into sin. So we have an alive body, and a dead spirit. When we are exposed to the Truth, throuth the Holy Spirit, we become alive Spiritually, So when we die, our physical bodies die, but our spiritual self lives. until the day of Judgment when we receive a new resurected body.

I can see you are not a churchachrister, even cofcers are orthodox Christians and would not post the heresy you are.

NO, NO, NO. NO, the bible is not the Word of God with a capital W.

Jesus is the Word of God, since you beleive in nothing but the bible and consider yourself an expert in it, please read the first chapter of John, it begins like this “In the beggining was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God”.

Surely you can’t believe that the bible is God?

And no Jesus was not begotten only at the Ressurection, he was begotten before the begining of all time.

Religio71,
Thanks. I view the words “One God” as having that same meaning. God being omniscient and omnipotent and perfect and omnibenevolent, means that the Father is like the Son and the Son is like the Father in having those attributes, so they each have the same “substance” or “essence” that makes them God, and They are completely unified within those attributes.

I would highly recommend this book:
amazon.com/Theology-Beginners-Francis-Joseph-Sheed/dp/0892831243/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248868138&sr=8-3 Theology for Beginners. It is a great intro book into various items of theology. They used to sell it at Catholic.com but I no longer see it. The version I own even has an intro by our own Karl Keating.

No problem. How do you see the Holy Spirit fitting into this?

Well LDS can’t admit that Nicea and all the other wise and Holy Spirit-inspired councils were legitimate because it destroys their science fiction theory that Jesus allowed His Holy Church to collapse right after the death of the apostles into this silly apostacy. Apparently Christ Almight, who promised the “Gates of Hell would not prevail” against His Church, allowed it to die on the vine for 1,800 years or so until Joseph Smith dug up some plates. That right there, that theory, that statement, should be enough to blow away any credibility to this group. It’s popycock. Throw in the anachronisms and bizarre copy-cat ramblings of the Book of Mormon and it’s a done deal, Mormonism is a fraud.:wink:

The word “Trinity” by itself is neutral. It simply means “three”. It refers to the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is not an endorsement of any one particular definition or theological interpretation of it. It simply meant “The Famous Three!” So your statement that “the Trinity has always been a Christian belief” is correct. The mistake you are making is that you are assuming that the interpretation that latter councils and creeds put on the Trinity has also “always been a Christian belief,” which is not correct. Also, your assertion that Mormons “do not accept the Trinity” is equally incorrect. As I said, the word “Trinity” is neutral. It simply means “The Three”. Well, we also believe in “The Three,” the “Famous Three!” Where we disagree is how you interpret “The Three”. We think that our interpretation of the Trinity is closer to how the first century Christians understood it, than the interpretation that is adopted by most of present day Christendom.

Now, one major misunderstanding that many LDS have with traditional Christianity is what exactly Trinity means! Many of the discussions begin with “was Jesus talking to Himself when He talked to the Father?” and “how can the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be the same person?”

I would like to state that Catholics do not believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same Person. Catholics believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct, separate Persons. So when Mormons bring up “was Jesus talking to Himself” as an argument against the Trinity, it begins with a false premise, because Catholics accept that Jesus and the Father are separate Persons.

To further define this, let us look to the Catechism:

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.

That is great! So here is the question then: if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are so distinctly “personal,” then in what sense these three “persons” one? It is not sufficient to just tell me that they are “one God”! That don’t make sense. How are they “One”? Are they stuck together like Siamese twins with three heads and one body? Throughout the scriptures the “One God” is also depicted as One Person. There is no such thing as “three persons in one God”. The “One God” is Himself ***a Person (One Person)***. So what you are really saying is that the Trinity are “there persons in one person” or “three Gods in one God,” which are equally nonsensical.

So, Catholics do believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are consubstantial, or are of the same substance. However that does not mean that they are the same Person. Catholics and other traditional Christians fully believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate, distinct Persons, and are also one God.

See above. That is just a nonsensical statement. It is utterly meaningless, and has no support in either the Bible or in the writings of the earliest Christians.

How would you know if the orthodox belief in the Trinity, which Christians believe, is incorrect? You see everything after the death of St. John as blasphemy and apostatized.

That is great! So here is the question then: if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are so distinctly “personal,” then in what sense these three “persons” one? It is not sufficient to just tell me that they are “one God”! That don’t make sense. How are they “One”? Are they stuck together like Siamese twins with three heads and one body? Throughout the scriptures the “One God” is also depicted as One Person. There is no such thing as “three persons in one God”. The “One God” is Himself ***a Person (One Person)***. So what you are really saying is that the Trinity are “there persons in one person” or “three Gods in one God,” which are equally nonsensical.

That is not what he is saying at all, but you already knew that. The point is, that the Trinity is a mystery, not something that can be explained by any rational philosophizing.

See above. That is just a nonsensical statement. It is utterly meaningless, and has no support in either the Bible or in the writings of the earliest Christians.

Again, you do not take the witness of the earliest Christians, so why mention them? :confused:

In Christ,
Andrew

You seem to be contradicting your own Mormon beliefs. If you say that the Bible depicts God as “one Person”, then how is it that Mormons believe that the Godhead is three gods?

As I have already stated: God is Three Persons. These Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate, distinct Persons. The Bible is clear on this. However, they are also One. Their oneness is because they are consubstantial. What does that mean? It means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all are the same substance, the same “stuff” that makes God, God. They all are Divinity. We donot say that it is “Three Persons in One Person”, and “three gods in one God” is the Mormon belief.

The main difference I see between the Mormon notion of the Godhead and the traditional Christian concept is that Mormons see the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one of intent and purpose. Catholics see the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one of intent, purpose, and also essence, or the Divine substance, the “stuff” that makes God, God. This difference can also be seen in how we approach God. Mormons do not pray to Jesus. Catholics see the Son and Holy Spirit as co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, and therefore we do pray to Jesus. The Father is greater than the Son, not in terms of divinity, but in terms of relation; The Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.

Other differences between God as seen in traditional Christianity and God in the LDS Church is that LDS also believe that the Father and Son have bodies of flesh and bones, the eternal progression of gods (God the Father had a God, who had a God, etc), that God the Father is married to the Heavenly Mother (found nowhere in the Bible or early Christian writing), etc.

Remember, LDS do not have an exact date of the Apostasy. I have noticed that it sometimes moves forward or backward, depending on the doctrine being discussed.

Actually, that would be how it historically happened, y’know. Remember, we do not believe that everything was lost…the apostasy didn’t show up on June 23, year 95, at 2:03 in the afternoon. In fact, about the only thing about the apostasy that could possibly be dated that strictly would be the time at which the last apostle passed away without passing on the priesthood authority…and we don’t know when that was. Nobody else knows the date of the death of the last of the original apostles, either.

The rest of it, any changes in belief, would have happened piecemeal; some things sooner, some later–and a great deal of it, (like the idea of Jesus Christ being the Savior of mankind, for instance) did not change. You used to be a Mormon, you claim; you should know this.

dianaid.

Why did the Apostles die without passing on their priesthood authority?

Yes I’m aware of this. My point is that, depending on who one asks, the time frame for the Great Apostasy varies. It seems that when we put forward writings of the early Fathers that point towards traditional Christian doctrines, the time frame for the Apostasy moves back. This is an observation I’ve made in discussing with LDS online.

Religio71,
The Holy Spirit has those same attributes and is a separate Person, but of the same “stuff” and completely unified with the Father and the Son.

So when you say the Holy Spirit, Father, and Son have the same “stuff”, do you mean that they are consubstantial/one in being/essence?

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