What do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe about the Trinity?
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
The doctrine of the Trinity, or Godhead as members of the church refer to it, is sacred to us and is distinct from other religions. It describes our belief in God the Father, in His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. As part of the religious community, I believe it is valuable to discuss not only what we have in common, but also to share beliefs that may be unique to us. I hope I can share this unique belief without causing argument or consternation.
The doctrine of the Godhead, as understood by members of the church, originates from the first vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the year 1820, when Joseph was 14 years old, he was caught up in the religious fervor of his day. It was the Second Great Awakening and there were many preachers from many religions, all clamoring for his attention. Joseph studied the Bible and prayed for guidance, very concerned for the welfare of his soul.
Eventually he retired to the woods where he could be alone to pray vocally. He wanted to pray to know which church was right. As he prayed, he saw two personages descend from heaven. One of them spoke to him and called him by name. He indicated to the other saying “This is my beloved son. Hear him.“ (For more information, click here.)
God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. By this vision he learned the following:
God the father and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct beings. They are one in unity, purpose, and mission, but not in being.
Each has a glorified body of flesh and bone.
Understanding these key attributes forms a belief that is central to the faith of millions of Latter-day Saints. Each member of the Godhead has a distinct role and yet each work together in harmony towards one unified purpose.
God the Father
The Father is who we worship and to whose presence we strive to return. To be with and like Him represents our ultimate goal and purpose of our creation - to attain exaltation and eternal life. He created us and then set the plan whereby we can return to Him. We pray to Him and revere Him as our God and our Heavenly Father.
The Savior showed us that it is possible to fulfill the Father's plan for us. He set the perfect example which, if we follow, we can accomplish the Father’s purpose and return to Him. He then made the plan possible by atoning for us when we cannot live up to His perfect example. The Savior's atonement is the central act in the Father's plan, the most important event in human history. Without it, we would be lost and unable to fulfill the Father's plan for us. We love and worship the Savior Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost is the member of the Godhead who does not have a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22). He whispers to us and guides us to help us know when we are or are not following that perfect example set by the Son and how to correct our path. He is the influencer, the day to day presence, and constant companion, if we so invite him to be.
(See this article by Elder Jeffery R. Holland for more information on the Church's view on the Godhead.)
Our belief in the three members of the Godhead are core to our understanding of our nature as God's creations and our relationship with deity. These closely held beliefs are dear to us. I hope this article has helped you learn more about us and those things that are most important to us as members of the church.