What Happened to the Trinity in Mormonism?

by grindael
I often wonder about certain teachings in the Mormon Church that sort of ‘fell by the wayside’ so to speak. One of those was the doctrine of the Trinity. Once, it seems, Mormons believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, which then changed to a Modalistic version of the Godhead until about the time that Joseph Smith started taking Hebrew lessons from a man named Joshua Sexias, and one Michael Chandler arrived in Kirtland with some Egyptian Mummies. After that, Smith taught there were many gods, and that the god he worshipped was once a man.

If one goes to the 1830 printing of the Book of Mormon, one reads verses that support the Monotheism Smith taught at this time. Note these verses and their later alterations:

  • And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.(1830)
  • And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:18) (Current altered text)
  • And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Eternal Father! (1830)
  • And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:21) (Current altered text)
  • These last records…shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1830)
  • These last records…shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1 Nephi 13:40) (Current altered text)

In 1832, when Joseph Smith penned his first account of his claimed 1820 vision, he wrote:

“while in (the) attitude of calling upon the Lord (in the 16th year of my age) a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the (Lord) opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me” (original spelling kept & emphasis mine)

But in 1838 he changed this to read:

“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other — This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS-H 1:17, emphasis mine)

In the same year that Joseph penned his first account of his claimed First Vision (1832), we find this amazing commentary written in the Evening And Morning Star, under the title of ‘The Excellence of Scripture’:

“Through Christ we understand the terms on which God will show favour and grace to the world, and by him we have ground of a PARRESIA access with freedom and boldness unto God. On his account we may hope not only for grace to subdue our sins, resist temptations, conquer the devil and the world; but having ’fought this good fight, and finished our course by patient continuance in well doing, we may justly look for glory, honor, and immortality,’ and that ‘crown of righteousness which is laid up for those who wait in faith,’ holiness, and humility, for the appearance of Christ from heaven. Now what things can there be of greater moment and importance for men to know, or God to reveal, than the nature of God and ourselves the state and condition of our souls, the only way to avoid eternal misery and enjoy everlasting bliss!

“The Scriptures discover not only matters of importance, but of the greatest depth and mysteriousness. There are many wonderful things in the law of God, things we may admire, but are never able to comprehend. Such are the eternal purposes and decrees of God, THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, the incarnation of the Son of God, and the manner of the operation of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men, which are all things of great weight and moment for us to understand and believe that they are, and yet may be unsearchable to our reason, as to the particular manner of them.” (The Evening And Morning Star, Vol. I, INDEPENDENCE, MO. JULY, 1832. No. 2. page 12, emphasis mine)

When one considers the Book of Mormon teaching, and looks at the Lectures on Faith, which were published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and voted on as binding doctrine by the Church, one can see the striking similarities, and his change from Monotheism to Modalism. Take this verse from 1st Nephi:

“And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.”

Now compare this to Lecture Fifth, from the Lectures on Faith:

“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power overall things…They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: 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;–he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh.” (Lectures on Faith, 5:2, emphasis mine)

In the questions and answers, at the end of each lecture, we find clarification:

Q. What is the Father?
A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.)…

Q. What is the Son?
A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle. (5:2.)…

Q. Why was he called the Son?
A. Because of the flesh.

Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do.

Q. What is this mind?
A. The Holy Spirit.

Thomas G. Alexander, writing for Sunstone in July of 1980 explained that,

“The Lectures on Faith differentiated between the Father and Son somewhat more explicitly, but even they did not define a materialistic, tritheistic Godhead.  In announcing the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants which included the Lectures on Faith, the Messenger and Advocate commented editorially that it trusted the volume would give ‘the churches abroad…a perfect understanding of the doctrine believed by this society.’ The Lectures declared that ‘there are two personages who constitute the great matchless, governing and supreme power over all things–by whom all things were created and made.’ They are ‘the Father being a personage of spirit,’ and ‘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.’ The ‘Articles and Covenants’ called the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ‘one God’ rather than the Godhead, a term which Mormons generally use today to separate themselves from trinitarians.” (Sunstone 5:4/26 (Jul 80), emphasis mine)

In his translation of the Bible, sometimes called The Inspired Version (completed in 1833), Joseph Smith changed some verses in the New Testament to reflect his early Monotheistic teachings:

KJV: All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.(Luke 10:22)
JST: All things are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.(Luke 10:22 Joseph Smith Translation, emphasis mine)

For a time, it seems, Joseph Smith was a Monotheist, and Mormons agreed with the Christian Trinity.  Monotheism, (identified as the doctrine of the Trinity in light of New Testament revelation) is what is taught in the Bible, the most clearly in Isaiah 44:6-8:

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”

See also: http://carm.org/what-trinity and http://www.bible.ca/H-trinity.htm

This entry was posted in Book of Mormon, Early Mormonism, Nature of God and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to What Happened to the Trinity in Mormonism?

  1. Kate says:

    Sadly this is what happens when power hungry men decide to rewrite Christianity. Most LDS that I know do not study anything that isn’t put in front of them. My point is, that as a Mormon, I had never even heard of the Lectures on Faith. I had no idea that we were not using the original BOM. I knew and had been told that it was updated in the 80’s but nothing was changed. I was shocked to learn that there are nearly 4,000 changes to the original. If it was the “most correct book on earth” then why all the needed changes? When I read the BOM, I understand it to mean Father, Son and Holy Ghost which are one eternal God, why? Because it says so. No amount of twisting or spinning can change that. The apologists do try though, bless their hearts. If the BOM contains the fullness of the Gospel then why aren’t the LDS still believing in the Trinity? Why Baptism for the dead? Temple rituals of the Free Masons? Married for Time and all Eternity? NONE of this is contained in the “fullness of the Gospel” in the BOM. How nice it must be to claim “continuing” revelation because that my friends is the “out” that the LDS use constantly. Why would an all knowing, all powerful God give false information over and over? Why would he say that he is part of the Holy Trinity and then change to be one of many gods and then change yet again to be Adam only to change back to being one of many gods? Not a very trustworthy god if you ask me. May all LDS people come to the saving Grace that is in Jesus alone. It will never be found in the constantly changing doctrines of the LDS Church.

  2. setfree says:

    What a terrific document Grindael. A keeper/printer, for sure! Nice Work!

  3. falcon says:

    I really appreciate your clear, logical, factual thinking and writing. We have been visited most recently by some Mormon writing on this blog that resembles a ride on a tilt-a-whirl. God has drawn you to Himself through His Holy Spirit to understand His Word and to be able to express it in clear terms. I am rejoicing.

    Kudos to you for you diligent work and your steadfast expression of the hope that is within you. Your credentials are supported by your former Mormon status and your willingness to tear back the shroud of deceit that covers Mormonism.
    May God bless your continued efforts to expose Mormonism and bring those folks to an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will lead them to eternal life.

  4. falcon says:

    Mormons can’t reconcile Joseph Smith’s switcheroo from having a traditional view of the nature of God, to a heretical (view).
    The whole idea behind eternal progression and continuous revelation is basically just to make changes as necessary. It would seem that this change-ability gives Mormons cover for the nutty things that their prophets proclaim that don’t make sense even to Mormons.
    Things go out of fashion in Mormonism as time passes. That’s why with one generation of Mormons Bruce McConkie is the go-to-guy for the leadership when it comes to questions of doctrine. In this day and age, the quit publishing Uncle Brucie’s work on Mormon doctrine.
    As always I must conclude that at the end of the day, we see that Mormonism was founded by a guy with a magic rock and a fertile imagination.

  5. falcon says:

    You know Joseph Smith really isn’t much of a prophet for a number of reasons but the primary one, I think, is because he doesn’t get things right. If God is revealing something to someone, a prophet say, then you’d think the revelation would be accurate, true and not subject to change. The fact that the prophet changes his basic revelation, as Smith did, is an indication that the guy is making it up as he goes along and isn’t hearing from God.
    We see this problem generally in Mormonism. The historical record or common sense make it clear that the Mormon prophets or leaders can’t come to any sort of consistent message. But Mormons then go into the “doesn’t count” mode. It doesn’t matter if the doctrine or teaching is published by LDS Inc. or if the proclamation was made at the general conference of the LDS chruch.
    So what is coming from the Mormon god or what is just the unfettered mind of the Mormon leader is sketchy.
    We do know, however, that the Mormon god is not real consistent in what he tells the Mormon prophets.
    I guess magic rocks have their limitations.

  6. Rick B says:

    If one goes to the 1830 printing of the Book of Mormon, one reads verses that support the Monotheism Smith taught at this time. Note these verses and their later alterations:

    I brought this issue up before to Someone. If the BoM is the Keystone to their religion as I was informed, but then they change some doctrinal points, then how can we trust the BoM to be true, accurate and the Most “correct” Book of any?

    But then again Lets not confuse our Mormon friends with Facts and logic.

  7. Rick B says:

    Grindael mentions a couple of first vision accounts,
    Again I also mentioned this before to one of the posters, They asked me for evidence proving the BoM to be false. I said if we have more than one first vision account, then they cannot all be true. So which one is true, and if it is not the first vision, then how can the second or more be the “First” one if it is really the second or beyond? Then if JS lied about the First vision, then it stand to reason he lied about the BoM, because if he had no “Vision” Then he could not have received the golden plates from someone he really did not see or speak with.

  8. Brian says:


    Very well said! It is surprising how many of Mormonism’s central teachings are not in the Book of Mormon.


    What excellent research you have put together. Wow. You have looked at alterations to the Book of Mormon, the Lectures on Faith’s teachings, and Joseph Smith’s changes to the Bible to establish something quite interesting: Once, Joseph Smith was a monotheist.

    As you illustrate, the first edition of the Book of Mormon very clearly teaches that Jesus is God. (The same thing many at this forum seek to teach our LDS friends.) At some point, Joseph Smith rejected this. We see this clearly in the Book of Abraham, a book which wears polytheism on its sleeve.

    Eventually, Joseph Smith would reject the Trinity, claiming he had always been a polytheist (which was not true). We see his explicit rejection in the following, in which Smith makes obvious his regard for the God of the Bible:

    “The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth. Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. … It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 372)

  9. falcon says:

    “The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us…..”
    I think that should be what Mormons proclaim upfront drawing a clear distinction between what Mormons believe and what traditional, orthodox Christianity teaches. All we ask is for Mormons to be up front and honest concerning what they believe. The problem is that Mormonism is all over the page as to what is believed and what it means.
    Any Mormon who is humble and sincere and will examine their religion in the light of day, will figure out that Mormonism is a fraud.
    Mormonism has rightly been labeled a “maze”.

  10. setfree says:

    As a matter of fact, grindael, didn’t some of the earliest Mormons ABANDON Joseph and his church over these issues?? Which makes the “no man ever did such a work…” quote a little ironic, doesn’t it?

  11. This was fantastic, grindael! Excellent and thorough.

    And you’re right, falcon. I think Mormons need to be more upfront with their central teachings from the get-go (the doctrinal stuff, not the love-your-neighbor, “families are forever” stuff). A few days ago, I was reading some comments on an article about the “Book of Mormon” production (curious to see what mormons were thinking about it all). One commentor wrote that as a former Mormon, he’d never been taught that men can become gods or anything about polygamy (he was insinuating that those on the forum were making this stuff up about his ex religion). Makes me wonder how involved he was!? He would’ve HAD to have been involved enough to get baptized/attend meetings and discussions, therefore giving the Church many opportunities to mention this stuff to him. So either he was completely uninvolved/uninterested/deaf or nobody ever mentioned any of the central teachings. Are they teaching the eight-year-olds this stuff before they get baptized? Kind of hard to make an informed opinion about where you want to put your faith when you don’t have all of the facts. It’s much easier to brag about numbers when the followers don’t have a clue as to exactly who or what they’re following. Just keep pushing the forever families, priesthood, good works, etc, then mention Jesus’ name a few times and the members are satisfied.

  12. falcon says:

    I was talking to a recently exed-Mormon a couple of years ago who didn’t know about the men to god program or anything else when he jumped into the Mormon tank. He thought he was joining a denomination of Christianity. One trip through the temple was all it took for him to begin checking out the program which led to him resigning along with his wife who was a life long Mormon.
    I repeat my earlier point, prophets don’t get things wrong, especially when it comes to the nature of God. A prophet can’t do a 180 on the most fundamental doctrine of a religion; who is God? Smith was/is considered a fallen prophet by other Mormon sects.
    Here’s the fundamental problem with Mormonism or any other cult. Once people accept wholly what a self-proclaimed prophet proclaims, they are heading down the road of delusion that is difficult to turn back from. “Prophets” need to be challenged and held to a higher level of performance and behavior than the rank and file church member. If people aren’t actively questioning and challenging prophetic words and those who proclaim them, they are merely pawns.

  13. Sandi B. says:

    I feel out of my depth with the thoughtful and insightful comments that I read on this blog. I can only speak from my experience as a former mormon and BYU graduate and now presently truely saved by the grace of God. Where do I begin? The main problem as I see it as that most LDS do not know and are not taught the Word of God. Whereas, as Christians we are challenged by the Word of God to be Bereans (and hopefully by our pastors and leaders in the church) to test everything that is said against Gods Word, in the LDS program if you are a convert you are told the first vision story (I heard the version about God and Jesus Chirst appearing to JS), read the B of M, pray, get the burning in your bosom and get baptized and your in. Once in you are not taught the
    Word. Chruch is comprised of members who “give talks” and “bear their testimony.” I know if I would have had the first clue about what the Bible taught about anything I would never have gone near the LDS church. My experience as a member is that you know and believe the errent teachings, but because you are ignorant, you don’t know they are in error. I personally just tried not to think about anything that didn’t make sense to me or seemed offensive. I was a member of the church in 1978 when the “revelation” was given to Spencer W. Kimbell saying that blacks could finally “hold the priesthood.” I can’t tell you how releived I was when that “revelation” came down. It took me 17 years out of the LDS program to have the Lord reveal to me Who He really is and how mormonism was not just mainstream Christianity. I knew about the god program, I knew about some of the weirder teachings, but I just didn’t think about it. I think this must be the case with people who remain faithful to the LDS program.

  14. Yep, according to God, it only takes ONE false prophecy to make a false prophet. And in the OT, if a “prophet” speaks on behalf of the Lord, even though he was not commanded to, he was to be put to death (Deut 18:20-22). I don’t think God takes imposters lightly. And Jesus Himself said that not every person that prophesies in His name is saved (Matt 7:22… funny enough, I was in an investigators class once. the teacher asked us who this verse was talking about, and a sister missionary answered “Christian pastors”. it took everything in me not to storm out. looking back, I probably should have!). Christ was very adamant about their being false prophets in the “latter days”. And who bases their entire religion on having modern day prophets? Yeah. Big red flag. Major testing needs to be going on, and when it doesn’t match up with already revealed truths? It’s time to toss them out and keep following Christ. Just because you’ve got answers. that doesn’t make them the right ones.

  15. Hey there Sandi! I think what I love the most about coming to this site is hearing testimonies like yours. The lds religion is SO difficult to get out of, so to hear that another one has made it out and is following the God of the Bible? Gotta give a nice ol’ fashioned “hallelujah” to that.

    I think you’re so right in that those who remain faithful to the CHURCH (not neccesarily Christ), are able to do so through ignoring the harder, shadier parts. Most of my Mormon friends who are aware of the weirder aspects of their faith just don’t talk about it. One friend chooses to live in denial (refuses to discuss polygamy) because the truth infuriates her. Yet she remains a member. The church meetings tend to only discuss the “fluffier” stuff. Pretty sure they don’t tell African-American investigators about how they weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood until social pressures finally backed God into a corner. And while Christian history certainly isn’t innocent in its dealings with civil rights issues, those were the ignorant and racist behaviors of the individuals, not God. What Mormons seem to forget when they try to turn the tables is that their prophets are supposedly speaking on behalf of God. So God was racist with his own creation until 1978? Mmmm’k. How they don’t remember the parts in the Bible where God makes it clear he doesn’t submit to man’s laws or current social/political convictions, I don’t understand.

    Anyways, hope to hear more from you! It’s nice to hear the perspectives from people who have made their way “through the maze” and gotten out.

  16. falcon says:

    This switch-o-chango aspect of Mormonism is also true of the Watch Tower organization. These nameless, faceless “prophets” sit in their offices in Brooklyn and (have) proclaimed the end of the world countless times. When it doesn’t happen, they just move on and if questioned the JW member will say, “We have more light now.”
    It’s amazing how easily Mormons, JWs and others in religious cults just sweep away the inconsistencies, lies, cover-ups and fraud just to maintain some sort of rationalization of their belief system.
    The term “cognitive dissonance” has been coined and applied specifically to Mormons who, when faced with evidence that contradicts their deeply held beliefs, do a form of mind snapping in order to resolve the emotional and intellectual conflict.
    Questioning of the prophet is not allowed in Mormonism because once someone has felt the burning in the bosom that means that everything is true. The individual is wrong to question because the LDS church is said to be true and perfect. So it’s the individual who questions who is wrong and a trouble maker because the organization and leaders are perfect.
    How often do we hear, “When the leadership speaks, the thinking has been done.” A Mormon must surrender their individual integrity to maintain right standing in the organization. Here’s another one, “Follow the leaders, they will never steer you wrong.”
    So it doesn’t matter if the prophet tells you God is one person one day and someone else the next or that the pathway to the highest level of the Celestial kingdom is through the practice of polygamy and says “never mind” the next.
    The Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I guess the Mormon prophet never got the memo. He was too busy with his face stuck in his hat trying to decipher what the magic rock was telling him.

  17. gpark says:

    I ask the consideration of the moderators in my re-posting this. (I had to post it rather late a few articles ago in response to Mutu, and it fits with this article, as well, I believe.


    My apologies for the late response – have been rehabbing a rental property, planning for a family wedding, and taking care of our sweet Rebecca – our adult daughter with special needs.

    Regarding sameness: (not sameness as in so-called ‘oneness’ theology, which is what you seem to be under the impression that Christians believe….Christians do not believe in Modalism!) Christians believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons – equal (same) in Deity, power, holiness, love, knowledge, wisdom… Why do Christians, as do I, quote over and over the verses having to do with the Deity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? One reason is the knowledge, starting in the Old Testament, and certainly known to Jews and Christians alike, that there is one God and that there are no other gods besides Him or before Him, nor will there be after Him. Hence, one of the most well-known declarations of the Jewish people regarding God was/is: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (the first part of Deuteronomy 6:4, NKJV) There is only one acceptable explanation for the fact that the Holy Bible (Old and New Testament, from beginning to end), clearly declares that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have the attributes of Personhood and are God – not three, separate Gods (Polytheism) and not one God Who manifests Himself at different times and for different purposes in 3 different forms (Modalism). The only acceptable explanation, I say again, is that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons.

    The Father is God and is not a god of flesh and bone, as we are!

    John 4:23-24, NKJV, 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    Numbers 23:19, NKJV, 19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

    1 John 3:1, NKJV, Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

    Jesus is God! He is not a different god, nor is He a lesser god. Matthew 1:22-23, NKJV, 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God [θεός – Theos] with us.” John 1:1, NKJV, 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [θεός – Theos].

    The Holy Spirit is God! Acts 5:3-4, NKJV, 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God [θεός – Theos].”

    The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give Life! John 5:21-24, NKJV – 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life [ζῳοποιέω] to them, even so the Son gives life [ζῳοποιέω] to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. See, also, John 6:63, NKJV, 63 It is the Spirit who gives life [ζῳοποιέω]; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

    See, also, Acts 10:19-20, NKJV, 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Here, the Holy Spirit speaks, commands, sends, and refers to Himself as I, as a person would. John 14:26 says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and bring the words of Jesus to our remembrance. [Teaching is an act demonstrating personhood.] John 16:8, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says that He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In Peter 1:2 we learn that the Spirit sanctifies us. [Convicting and sanctifying are acts demonstrating Divine Personhood.] Matthew 12:31 talks about “blasphemy against the Spirit.” One might rightly ask; How, then, could one blaspheme the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is not God? The Holman Bible Dictionary defines blasphemy as: an attitude of disrespect that finds expression in an act directed against the character of God [a crime which, in the Old Testament, resulted in the death penalty]. Ephesians 4:30, NKJV, says, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. How can the Holy Spirit be grieved if He is not a Person, and how can He “seal” people for the day of redemption if He is not God? In Acts 13:2 says, As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” [Calling to ministry is an act of Divine Personhood.]

    In addition, there are simply more verses than I can post right now in which God the Father and God the Son, or God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have the same attributes, such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternality, and have attributes of Personhood.

  18. Kate says:

    Hi all! As one being born into a Mormon family with a looooong Mormon history, it’s a little different for us than a convert. We are just taught the whole life style from birth. It’s a culture. I didn’t know any different because I had never experienced anything different. Everyone around me was and is Mormon. I had never heard at church that our ultimate goal was to become gods of our own worlds. I was however taught that we are to be perfect even as our heavenly father is perfect so that we may become “like” him. Most of the teaching at church “by lay members” are talks given about such subjects as charity, purity, food storage, emergency preparedness, love, eternal families etc. In Relief Society meeting we studied the same things and also studied out of the Teachings of the prophet manuals that basically held that year’s prophet up on a high pedestal showing us just how great of a man he was. The next year would be a new manual and a new prophet to study. Where is Jesus in any of this? We were always taught in primary and young womens just how persecuted the “saints” were and how many righteous souls were murdered for their Mormon beliefs. Now that just makes my skin crawl because Mormons butchered more than twice that many at Mountain Meadows. Yes we learned about Mountain Meadows but the teaching was that the Mormon men lay down on the ground and the Indians shot the Fancher party over them because the Mormon men just couldn’t commit murder. So my point is, these harder doctrines are “glossed” over and Mormon history (such as the Mountain Meadows) are lied about or glossed over and Mormons who just take the leadership at it’s word have absolutely no clue what they are following. I’ve mentioned my mom before, she’s in her 60’s, she didn’t know the truth about Mountain Meadows, my brother studied it and told her about it. She was so upset that he would lie about it that she asked me to research it. I was shocked to learn the truth myself and when I told her my brother was right, she tuned out. I don’t think she believes me either. There is so much brainwashing for those of us born into it. I can’t speak for converts. All I can say is that the LDS missionaries must be very adept at lying or glossing over these things. I would imagine that if they were honest and up front with all of the doctrines and teachings, potential converts would see them for the Christian frauds that they are. I’m so thankful for the Lord leading me out of this false religion. I read on here from an LDS poster boasting the 14 million member number….I would just like to say that number is incorrect. From what I understand, those of us who have left and had our name and records removed are never subtracted from that number. It doesn’t surprise me.

  19. falcon says:

    I don’t have the source in front of me but the number of “inactives” in the LDS church is two-thirds of those on the rolls. The other number I’ve seen is that fifty percent of missionaries go inactive. It would be interesting to know exactly how many LDS folks are actual “temple” Mormons. I’m guessing that it’s probably well below half of the actual “active” members. The number is probably in the twenty-five percent range of active members. You’d probably have a feel for the number based on your experience in your ward. I’d like to know how many of the inactive LDS have basically given up on God and religion.

    Excellent job. Thank you for your contribution.

  20. Brian says:

    Dear Sandi,

    Welcome to this forum. It is so nice to have you participating here.

    Thanks for sharing the reason for the hope that is in you! I always love hearing of how God’s grace has drawn people out of hopelessness, to joy, peace, and salvation. Your insights are very accurate: God’s word is a lamp for our feet. When that lamp is taken away, we are susceptible to wandering down dark paths.

    Thanks so much for being here. May God continue to bless you. I have been blessed by reading your story.

  21. falcon says:

    There’s a considerable difference between someone who is a prophet and someone who is a religious entrepreneur.
    Joseph Smith was the latter of the two.
    There is a distinct criteria, outlined in the Bible, as to what a true prophet of God is. First and foremost, a prophet must be called by God and know who God is. Secondly a prophet needs to speak the truth as supported by God’s Word. Finally, if a prophet foretells future events, he has to be right 100% of the time.
    Joseph Smith failed miserably on all of the above listed criteria. The poor guy couldn’t even get his story straight regarding his encounter with God. Initially he said that he went out to seek God in regards to the forgiveness of sins. Smith’s initial story marks a curious resemblance to evangelical preacher Charles Finney who lived in the same area and in the same time frame as Smith. Of course Finney didn’t change his story as Smith did and Finney turned out to be the preeminent Christian evangelist of his time.
    No, Joseph Smith was not a prophet but he certainly was an entrepreneur and religion was his product. An entrepreneur by design changes his business plan and products and services as needed. The advertising and marketing campaigns fit niche markets and are positioned to place the product and service in the best light possible. Under this model Joseph Smith could change his pitch and dazzle his audience with the best of the snake oil medicine show hucksters of his time.
    The unfortunate thing regarding Smith’s product is that unlike those who bought snake oil thinking they had a cure for their ailments but found that they just wasted two-bits, those who have bought what Smith was selling won’t know it until it’s too late.

  22. falcon says:

    I’m surprised that a Mormon hasn’t shown up here with the (Mormon) trump card that the word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible. I’ve always thought that that’s an odd kind of charge supposing that because the word isn’t in the Bible that the theology that “trinity” explores and defines doesn’t exist outside of the word (trinity).
    The challenge is to realize that Christians began, as Jews. Being Jews their belief was that God is One.
    So the early Christians were left with explaining who Jesus is if there is only One God identified as the Father. The early Christians acknowledged therr were two identifiable realities; God the Father and God the Son and so how does that combine to make one God?
    They had limitations in their language to express who this one God is. One word they used didn’t appear in the Scriptures. The word is “homoousios; of one substance or being. What the Church Fathers said with that one word is that in whatever way God is God, Christ also is God.
    Another term (that does appear in the Bible) is “begotten. “Begotten” gets at the idea that Jesus is not made like human beings but He comes into being eternally from the Father.
    In the early Church the men in the Christian community who were the authorities were the bishops or overseers. The bishop was the person that the religious community looked to for leadership; to be in authority, to give direction. They were who the people looked to to teach and to preside at worship.
    The bishops were charged to teach what they had received from the apostles. So in essence, where the bishop was, that was where the Church was.
    Paul repeats something twice in First Corinthians. He writes, “That which I have received I have handed on to you.” The leaders that followed Paul and the other early disciples understood that what they had received had come directly from those who preceded them and they had received it from Christ.
    As the bishops of the Church met and discussed the Scriptures and what had been taught i.e. the tradition of the Church, vocabulary emerged that gave them a common lexicon (for their discussions).
    The bottom line question is, “In what way is Jesus divine?”
    A final thought: “Time” is a consequence of creation. The Son pre-existed time. Because the Son pre-existed time He is eternal like the Father. “Timelessness” is one of the attributes that manifested him as the divine Son; there is no before or after Him. The divine Son, therefore, is worthy of the worship of the Church.
    (attribution: Christian History; Issue 85, Winter 2005)

  23. What kate describes is a perfect representation of how church typically goes. Why would they want to talk about issues that might make members question their beliefs? All of my Mormon friends are super busy with callings, having lots of babies, and creating 72 hour kits that they don’t have time to research this stuff.
    I’ve met many members who are incredibly intelligent people… lots of doctors, lawyers, etc. But when it comes to religion? It’s like that part of their brain shuts down and they just start repeating the same jargon they’ve heard since they were 5.

    I’m not surprised at all to hear they still include ex-Mormons in their numbers. My husband is considered inactive. This past Christmas, the Bishop of “our ward” (we visited once so my husband could get his relatives/friends to quit bugging him… not quite willing to tell them the truth yet) knocked on our door with another temple-worthy member to deliver a gift basket. I happily accepted it, thanked them, carried a friendly conversation, etc… not realizing their true intent. My husband informed me after they left that HE used to be the one handing out baskets at Christmas, trying to lure inactive members back to church. Instead of being happy we just got free cookies, he was totally insulted. Yep, chocolate and hot cocoa ALWAYS makes me want to go attend a false religion. 🙂
    My point, I guess, is that they’re SO concerned about the numbers game, but they don’t give us the time of day otherwise (which I guess is a good thing for us). And WHY do they always show up at the worst times?? I hate unannounced visitors. 🙂

  24. Brian says:

    Very fine comment, Falcon.

    As the old hymn says, “What can take away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

    Religion can’t take away your sin: Ceremony, temple cards, one’s promises, diets, apparel, power … all worthless in taking away sin.

  25. Rae says:

    “Just because you’ve got answers. that doesn’t make them the right ones.”
    MaM, I just love this quote. May I use it? It would work perfectly as a response on another forum I spend time on.

    Y’all have a wonderful day!!

  26. Kate says:

    The numbers game infuriates me! Call me particular, but I want my number removed from the 14 million! LOL! While I was an active Mormon, I couldn’t see all the dishonesty that goes on. Now that I’ve stepped away and really looked, it’s everywhere. Yes it is nice to be out of the MORG! I was being “love bombed” for the first few months. It was driving me crazy! I’ve been left alone for the last little while. I’m wondering if my mom talked to someone and asked them to leave me alone.

    Thanks for sharing on the Trinity. This is one Christian doctrine that was always taught as false in the LDS church. It was a big deal. Of course it would have to be squashed over and over before Joseph Smith could introduce the heretical teachings of the preexistence and the whole Jesus/Satan brother thing. The Trinity was the hardest thing for me to grasp coming out of Mormonism. It was so hard to wrap my mind around at first.

  27. Kate says:


    Sorry, late response to your question about inactives in the ward. There are a lot of inactive people. For the most part what I have seen (my whole life) is that most people who are inactive were just born into the religion and don’t believe a word of it, but don’t take their name off the roles. They basically could care less. Some believe that they can have a personal relationship with Christ without ever having to step into a church. Most inactives that I know think Mormonism is a joke. They believe in God and to them that is enough. I would say that the 2/3 inactive number is about right. Of the 5 million active members, I would guess that half of those are temple recommend holders, BUT, they don’t always attend the temple because I know many who once they go through the temple the first time, they never go back. Some stop paying tithing because they just can’t afford it, they may have their recommends taken away, but they still wear their garments. No one can know the true numbers for sure and I don’t think that the LDS church will be honest in handing out that information anytime soon.

  28. falcon says:

    I can’t say I understand the trinity but I do “get it”. What I mean is that I see the thinking of the Church Fathers/early Christians. The basis is in the fact that the early Christians were Jews and Jews are monotheists. So how to explain Jesus and the Holy Spirit? The apostle John was pretty clear in his writing regarding who Jesus is. He’s God. So we have these three distinct persons but only one God. The early Church fussed about this for four hundred years. They searched the Scriptures and examined the traditional teaching of the bishops.
    Here’s another thought. We can only be saved by a qualified Savior. That Savior needed to be without spot or blemish. The only one who can qualify under that strict criteria is God. Monotheism is one God.
    So the Church Fathers had to “invent” language (not the trinity per se) to express that reality. Just imagine them saying, “OK, it’s like this.” I was at an infant baptism in a type of Lutheran church this morning. I always enjoy those even though I have no clear idea about where I stand doctrinally on the topic of infant baptism. I like it because all of the elements of faith are there in the baptismal rite. It’s like Christianity 101. I don’t just say the words that the congregants say, I really think about it and what it all means. Part of the ritual had the congregation repeating the Apostles’ Creed. There is that one and also the Nicene Creed. Anyway, what these creeds are is an affirmation of what we believe as Christians.
    To see Jesus as any less than “God” is robbing Him of the fullness of deity as expressed by Paul. The “kenosis” is Jesus emptying Himself not of His Godhood, but of His privilege as God as He takes on the cloak of humanity to die for our sins. I ask myself, “Why would He do that?” It was out of love, mercy and necessity. God reveals Himself to us through Christ Jesus. God made man.
    This is where Mormons get all messed-up. They want to make man god and in the process diminish Our Lord and Savior to a type of a god. What an insult!

  29. falcon says:

    I would think that if a Mormon believes that they have received a witness regarding the BoM then they would believe what the BoM says about the nature of God. The article above demonstrates that the BoM bore witness to the triune God. So either what the BoM says about the nature of God is true or it isn’t. The only thing that could be concluded is that Joseph Smith became a fallen prophet when he began to teach a blasphemous doctrine of the nature of God and also began to marry multiple women when in fact the BoM forbids that also.
    The fact of the matter is that Joseph Smith was never a prophet. He grabbed a little religious thought from column A and then a little from column B and then just went into free flow of consciousness mode.

  30. Rae,
    Of course you can use it! It’s probably one of my best comebacks I had at one point when my husband (then, boyfriend) was being all “join! join!” 🙂

    Awesome comments on the trinity. I may have to print those out. It does seem to be one of the hardest concepts for ex-mormons to grasp, since they were told we believed in a “three headed monster”. James Spencer has an excellent teaching on the Trinity. I got in college awhile back on tape, but I’m sure you can get it on cd by now. 🙂 I definitely recommend it.

    Yeah it seems most inactives I know still believe in the BoM. They just can’t get away from it. A long time ago, when my husband was trying to shove this stuff down my throat, he mentioned the whole burning bosom thing. I’ve been a Christian since I was 6, grew up in a Christian school, etc. I was very aware there was a spiritual battle going on. So yeah, when he would start on his Mormon preaching, that burning bosom feeling actually did happen to me… and it was NOT of God. I think that Mormons (or those who don’t know the true God) somehow miss the fact that the devil can play with your emotions, your body, your mind, etc. I KNEW as I was listening to my husband talk, that what he was saying was unbiblical and wrong, but no matter what I knew in my heart, that burning sensation didn’t want to let up. Pretty sure Satan saw a real opportunity with me and had to bring in the big guns. Sorry, this girl’s not playin’ that game. My heart belongs to the Lord and what He has already revealed as truth, and no amount of special sensations will change that.

  31. Rae says:

    Thanks MaM!!! I’m sure I can put it to good use.

    The Trinity can be a hard nut to crack, even for those of us that grew up in the Christian church. As a child, I simply accepted that it was true, and didn’t try to reason it out. When I got older, I tried sorting it all out, and got dizzy for my efforts. Now, I’m leaning back toward just accepting it, but I’m beginning to learn about Jewish Wisdom theology (on another website), and maybe, just maybe it’s making a little sense. I don’t know that I really buy into what I’m reading, and I’m just touching the surface, but it’s a place to start.

  32. falcon says:

    You hit on two of my favorite topics; Jim Spencer and the burning in the bosom. I have Jim’s CD here on the subject of the trinity. I really got into my interest in Mormonism as a result of several things but one was Jim’s book “Beyond Mormonism”. I’ve probably read it eight times and have had at least one person saved from the clutches of the missionaries after reading the book.
    In “Beyond Mormonism” Jim talks about a big “S” curve outside of Sugar City, Idaho. It’s where he heard the voice of the Lord (internally). Jim says that he entered that curve a Mormon and when he came out the other side he was a Christian. I purposed that someday I’d find that curve but the fact that it’s in Idaho made that idea sort of distant. But wouldn’t you know it, by a series of circumstances I found myself out in Idaho Falls. I tried to find the curve but the four lane highway had gone through the area by passing the old road. To make a long story short, after a couple of inquires the last at the post office in Sugar City, I found the road and the curve. It is a very long “S” curve. I stood by the side of the road and prayed and then took some pictures and e mailed them to Jim. He used the pictures and story in one of his newsletters. Jim’s story is really a miraculous recounting of God’s sovereign will and how he called Jim out of Mormonism and used him to lead countless others out of this cult.
    As to the “burning in the bosom”; there’s a good book called “The Latent Power of the Soul” by Watchman Nee. The guy’s kind of a mystic and I think he was on to something important when he wrote this book. It’s based on the idea that before the fall Adam and Eve had a lot of “power” that they lost as a result of their sin. That power lies dormant in our souls. The devil, Nee claims, traffics in the souls of men because he understands what power he (Satan) can gain by capturing (men).
    So much of what people claim as “spiritual” is really, in the thought of Nee, really a manifestation of the soul and not the spirit. That’s why Mormons can claim a burning in the bosom and all sorts of mystical, spiritual manifestations that have nothing to do with the Spirit of God. Many cults have tapped into this.
    There’s also the ability of some to create an ambiance and a feeling that seems very spiritual but is merely a creation of the atmosphere. Mesmer tapped into this in the 19th century in Paris and created Solons were women in particular were drawn to. He had the people who were at his Solons in quite a state latter known as Mesmerism. Cult leaders pull this off all of the time.
    I think that even in Christian circles, things go on that may seem spiritual but they are manipulation of emotions and the soul. Joseph Smith was into “second sight” vision where by he and his cronies would “see” things like Golden Plates for example. When the stories of the witnesses are deconstructed what we find is they saw the plates with the “eyes of faith” not an actual physical object.

  33. falcon says:

    I think one of the reasons that many LDS folks have problems getting free from Mormonism is because of the “spiritual” experiences they have which for them, confirms Mormonism. I have a book here called “Temple Manifestations”. It’s written by a Mormon and is suppose to serve as an inspiration of sorts by chronicling all of the “super natural” phenomenon experienced by early Mormons in the temples. Really bizarre stuff and it’s a firm example of how some people will grab hold of anything that appears to be super natural (as a way of bolstering their faith in the religious system). Truly scary. They may as well be joining in a seance.
    Mormons lack discernment, plain and simple.
    If I were to have a label applied to me regarding what flavor of Christian I am, I guess I’d be called a full Gospel, evangelical, neo-Calvinist, Pentecostal and someone who believes whole heartily in the Gifts and Offices of the Holy Spirit as described in Ephesians and First Corinthians. I live in the Book of Acts and would like that to be the normative experience for my Christian walk.
    Having said that, I’m probably one of the biggest skeptics there is when it comes to spiritual manifestations and super natural phenomenon. It’s just too easy to jump on board the latest wave and declare it of God when it very well could be emotional manipulation.
    That’s what happens with Mormons with their belief in the Mormon priesthood as a source of power. Believe me, you can lay your hands on people and the very act of touching them will provide an emotional and sometimes physical jolt.
    So not standing on the Word of God is what leads folks, like the Mormons, down all sorts of paths that in the end are heretical and a flim-flam scam.

  34. falcon says:

    One thing we know about Christians and that is we don’t pray for God to give us a confirming feeling that He is God. We read the Bible and see what God has revealed about Himself and believe it. The Bible tells us clearly that there is one God. That was the whole point of God calling Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. There were people about who engaged in idolatry and confessed a variety and number of gods. But the unique thing about the Jews was the monotheism. The early history of the Jews was that they were called by God to be His people. He warned them about mixing with the people that surrounded them because those people would influence them into the worship of false gods. This was not only idolatry but in a broad sense of the word adultery.
    After the seventy year captivity in Babylon, the Jews had their bellies full of idolatry and it was never really an issue for them after that. So there is one God. There are no other gods except those that men have made for themselves which aren’t really gods at all.
    The Mormons have rejected God and have gone chasing after other gods. Not only this but they have decided that they too will become gods, have a goddess wife and rule their own universe.
    Mormons, who are fond of the ten commandments, violate the first one habitually by claiming that there are countless gods and declare that they also will become gods. It’s a strange people who make much about not drinking tea and coffee, not smoking or drinking alcohol but think nothing of rejecting the One and only God of the universe; the only One who can provide for them eternal life.

  35. lol. I love the label you came up for yourself. I try to refrain from labeling myself in Mormon company, just because it always leads down the “see! yall can’t agree on anything!” path (nevermind the many MANY sects of mormonism…). But I’m similar to you. I was raised Lutheran (infant baptism is very familiar to me, since you mentioned it), but if you can believe it, we were a charismatic Lutheran church. I think our church was actually in trouble with the Synod there for awhile, just because our pastor (who was an amazing man of God) offered communion to ALL believers, not just Lutherans or members. Anyways… I’m like you. I’ve witnessed a lot of “odd” things in my Christian walk, and while I certainly believe in the gifts of the Spirit, I’m also not one to jump onto just anything that seems “spiritual”. Oddly enough, my husband accused my church of not feeling the Spirit at all… the reason I felt what I felt in church was because of the drums and loud music. lol. Yep. I’ve been a Christian my entire life and had no idea I’d been emotionally manipulated. So glad he was there to clear that up! (ahem… major sarcasm).
    Yes, I believe that this “spiritual feeling” they get is what keeps them in and so sure that they’re right. What they don’t seem to get is that the devil is able to manipulate us as well. Anything to get us from turning away from the One true God. And really, any religion that downplays the cross and upplays becoming a god yourself has a big red flag marked on it for me.

  36. As for Jim Spencer, his book is the reason I was certain I was never joining the LDS church. While my husband was on his mission, I was looking for any and every piece of evidence as to why it wasn’t true. I knew things in it weren’t true, but I needed help pinpointing exactly what it was. As I read it, I kept going “YES. There it is!!” I read the whole big in like 3 hours. lol. I then spent every night on my knees praying for the Lord to send my husband (then, boyfriend) back home, just don’t let it be because he did something bad. Sure enough, he heard my prayer. He came home early for medical reasons, yet once he touched the ground here? The issue that was life/death? Completely gone.
    I remember reading about the S too. My sis-in-law’s family is from Burley, so I assume one day I may visit and find it. 🙂

  37. falcon says:

    If you need directions to the S curve, I can provide them. I also tooled around Rexburg which figures significantly in Jim’s book; sat out in the parking lot of the temple and prayed up a storm. I also parked on a way side on a mountain overlooking the entire area and prayed that God would break the spiritual strangle hold on the area. I take spiritual warfare very seriously. All of this was ancillary to my real reason for being out there. I thought it was pretty cool how God arranged that trip for me.
    Charismatic Lutherans, oh yes I’m very familiar with the movement but haven’t heard much like it was in the 70s. They used to have a Lutheran conference on the Holy Spirit in Minneapolis every year in the good old days.
    It seems my generation had its revival in the late 60s through the 70s into the early 80s there about. We could sure use another move of the Holy Spirit for the generation that is coming up.

  38. Awesome! You would’ve prayed over my inlaws then. So a big thank you for that. Keep the prayers going. Their lds blood runs deep. I doubt we’ll be headed that way anytime soon, but I’ll certainly keep it in mind if I need directions. 🙂 That’s funny you knew about the movement! Our church was a culmination of highly intelligent people and lots of hippies. I was one of the babies born at the end of it, I guess. I definitely agree this generation needs a good Jesus movement.

  39. falcon says:

    Yup I know Lutheran. My wife is a life long Lutheran and I’m a very lapsed Catholic. I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to denominational Christianity. When I got saved during the Jesus Movement of the early 70s there wasn’t much of an emphasis on denominational distinctives. It truly was focused on Jesus and personal transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit. I get nostalgic for those days for all the right reasons. I miss the fervor and the fellowship and the unadulterated enthusiasm for God.
    I also get nostalgic for early rock and roll (which I play badly on my guitar) and classic cars but these are trivial by far but help mark the era(s) of my life.

  40. falcon says:

    Our Mormon friends have been strangely silent on this thread and I’m guessing it’s because there’s no place for them to go with it. grindael has laid out a solid case for the fact that Joseph Smith in the BoM was affirming the doctrine of the Trinity. So where would a Mormon go after that? The historical record is clear that Joseph Smith started out being one thing and became something else.
    Besides his wild and wacky claims to spirit visitations and visions, stories which he changed often, he was pretty orthodox. But like all self-appointed prophets, as he gained in personal influence, power and persuasiveness he went totally off the rails. He was grabbing all sorts of ideas from a variety of sources to mold and shape his “restored” gospel.
    Mormons would have us believe that first century Christians believed in a mother-father god tandem that procreated spirit children who then would obtain mortal bodies and populate the planetary system of the men made gods. They would further have us believe that the apostles believed in a multitude of gods, that they wore special underwear, and went to Christian temples to put on costumes and perform rituals borrowed from the ancient Free Masons who, I suppose, built the Egyptian pyramids.
    It doesn’t take much digging around to find the evidence necessary to debunk Mormonism. Most people don’t have to even do any digging because Mormonism on its surface presents a narrative that most find total nonsense and laughable.
    Mormons have come up with the “mockers” rule because it’s so difficult for them to defend what they believe in. It’s always back to the tried and true, “You’re persecuting us”, “I bear my testimony”, “Mormon scholars answered that question years ago”, and any other slogan that helps to alleviate the pain of having to face the truth.
    The truth of the matter is that Joseph Smith, in his BoM, affirmed the truth of the doctrine of God of the orthodox Christian faith, namely the Trinity. Mormons need to decide if they’re going to affirm in their personal lives the truth they claim they have received via revelation regarding what is revealed in the BoM, or follow after strange gods.
    They can’t have it both ways.

  41. I know, I’m surprised it’s been so quiet as well. I actually have wondered if there’s some kind of manual handed out that gives them “rebuttals” to give Christians who “attack their faith”. I swear I’ve heard the SAME lines OVER AND OVER again… all by Mormons who don’t know each other! Where are they hearing these things from?? I remember a long time ago, my husband’s brother was all preachy about Mormonism (still is), and he proudly proclaimed that they were “the fastest growing church, how can a Church that’s not true be so blessed, blahblahblah”. And then? I’d hear it again from someone else. And then another. So yeah. Anyone know where this booklet of “acceptable comebacks” are?? I’m still waiting to hear the “three headed monster” bit. Or the “how can Jesus pray to his Heavenly Father if they’re the same God?” Or wait, how about “Joseph Smith saw two beings, not one…”
    *Big Groan*
    I think I just annoyed myself. 🙂

  42. I have to take issue with this post, grindael. You point to 1 Ne 11:18, 21; 13:40 as indicative of an early Trinitarian view that would only later by altered by Joseph Smith, but you’ve overlooked some important historical data. There were two stages of composition prior to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, namely the original manuscript and the printer’s manuscript. In the printer’s manuscript 1 Ne 11:18 and 13:40 have “the son of” inserted into the text (1 Ne 11:18 also reincorporates “whom” from the printer’s manuscript). The changes are actually not “later alterations,” as you assert, but earlier alterations. They were, for whatever reason, not included in the 1830 edition, but incorporated later. Oliver Cowdery cited 1 Ne 11:18 in an 1835 newspaper article where he responded to Alexander Campbell’s assertion that 1 Ne 11:18 used “true Roman phraseology.” He argued against that understanding. Perhaps that confusion is the reason the reading from the printer’s manuscript was reincorporated only two years later.

    Your criticism here falls flat. Joseph Smith did not alter anything to try to bring it around to a new understanding. If he had, he missed some verses that state that Jesus is the Eternal Father (such as Mos 16:15; Alma 11:38-39). Of course, other verses explicitly state that God the Father is the Eternal Father (Mor 4:3; 5:2; 10:4). Jesus was distinguished from God the Father throughout the Book of Mormon, though, but can be called the Father for several reasons that are spelled out therein:

    Mos 5:7: “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”

    Ether 3:14: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.”

    Ether 4:7: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.”

    In 3 Nephi Jesus claims divine investiture of authority, reporting his Father’s words, ending several verses with “saith the Father.” This is similar to the way angels and other messengers delivered messages in the Old Testament (cf. Exod 23:21).

    In addition to being more thorough in your reading of the Book of Mormon, you need to look a bit wider to get a better sense of Smith’s view of the Godhead. For instance, in the Book of Moses, composed in 1830, we read:

    Mos 2:26: “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.”

    This is little different from the third person account of the Book of Abraham, which just says the following:

    “And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness.”

    The Book of Moses also clarifies that God is referring to his own corporeal image:

    Mos 6:8-9: “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; in the image of his own body, male and female, created he them.”

    John Whitmer also wrote in 1831 that Smith had had a vision in which he saw God and Jesus as distinct personages. A text from Smith’s mother from 1830 shows that by that time it was already being taught that God had a physical body:

    “[T]he different denominations are very much opposed to us. . . . The Methodists also come, and they rage, for they worship a God without body or parts, and they know that our faith comes in contact with this principle.”

    Sometime in the winter of 1832-1833 Zebedee Coltrin recorded that he had a vision and Joseph Smith told him (and others with them):

    “Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that They exist and that They are two separate personages.”

  43. grindael says:

    Daniel said: They were, for whatever reason, not included in the 1830 edition, but incorporated later.

    That would be a ‘later alteration’ would it not? Or am I missing something. Your argument is non-sequitor.

    Really you are saying that the changes Smith made to the 1837 version of the BOM make a difference? If you had bothered to read thoroughly the Fair article you quoted you would have read:

    (The strikeouts and in the printer’s manuscript are in Joseph’s hand, and were added by him during the preparation of the 1837 edition.)

    By 1837 Smith’s God Doctrine had radically changed, hence the need to “clarify” the doctrine in the Book of Mormon.

    Daniel said: John Whitmer also wrote in 1831 that Smith had had a vision in which he saw God and Jesus as distinct personages.

    Actually, this is not correct. What Whitmer wrote was,

    “And the spirit fell upon Lyman [Wight], and he prophesied, concerning the coming of Christ, he said that there were some in the congregation that should live until the Savior should descend from heaven, with a shout, with all the holy angels with him. He said the coming of the Savior should be, like; the sun rising in the east, and will cover the whole earth, so with the coming of the Son of man be, yea, he will appear in his brightness and consume all before him. And the hills will be laid low, and the valleys be exalted; and the crooked be made straight; and the rough smooth. And some of my brethren shall suffer martyrdom, for the sake of the religion of Jesus Christ, and seal the testimony of Jesus with their blood.

    He saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the Father. Making intercession for his brethren, the Saints. He said that God would work a work in these last days that tongue cannot express, and the mind is not capable to conceive. The glory of the Lord shone around.”

    This does not prove separate personages by any means. It is an expression of power, ‘sitting on the right hand of’ which I’m sure you know very well. And even Fair gets this wrong, it’s not Smith, but Lyman Wight who sees the vision. If you are referring to the Levi Hancock account of Smith seeing God, that is a different matter. Here it is:

    “Joseph Smith then stepped out on the floor and said, “I now see God, and Jesus Christ at his right hand, let them kill me, I should not feel death as I am now.”

    Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and ordained him to the high priesthood. He turned as black as Lyman was white. His fingers were set like claws. He went around the room and showed his hands and tried to speak; his eyes were in the shape of oval O’s. Hyrum Smith said, “Joseph, that is not of God.” Joseph said, “Do not speak against this.” “I will not believe,” said Hyrum, “unless you inquire of God and he owns it.” Joseph bowed his head, and in a short time got up and commanded Satan to leave Harvey, laying his hands upon his head at the same time. At that very instant an old man said to weigh two hundred and fourteen pounds sitting in the window turned a complete summersault in the house and came his back across a bench and lay helpless. Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out. He did. The man’s name was Leanon [Leman] Coply [Copley], formally a Quaker [Shaker]. The evil spirit left him and as quick lightning Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a panther. Satan was cast out of him. But immediately entered someone else. This continued all day and the greater part of the night. But to return to the meeting, Joseph said, “Now if you elders have sinned it will do you no good to preach if you have not repented. Heamon [Heman] Bassett you sit still the Devil wants to sift you. . .” Then he ordained Jacob Scott and some others to the High Priesthood. He came to Zebidee [Zebedee] Coltrin and myself and told us that we had another calling as high as any man in the house. I was glad for that for I was so scared I would not stir without his liberty for all the world. I knew the things I had seen was not made.” (Levi Hancock, 1803-1882 Autobiography (1803-1836) Typescript, HBLL THE LIFE OF LEVI HANCOCK
    (Copied from his own journal by Clara E. H. Lloyd, great-grand daughter.)

    He certainly does NOT call God a ‘personage’ here, but simply recites what is claimed by Stephen in the book of Acts. And if this is a testament to God being a personage of ‘flesh and bones’ then why is this very phrase repeated in the Lectures on Faith, which call God the Father a Spirit?:

    “And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father-possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all–the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father–possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father--a Mediator for man–being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. (Lecture V:2)

    And, if that is not clear enough:

    “There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power overall things–by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the 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 fulness: 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;–he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh.”(V:2)

    And the questions and answers:

    Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
    Q. Two: the Father and the Son. (5:1.)
    Q. What is the Father?
    A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.)
    Q. What is the Son?
    A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle. (5:2.)
    Q. Why was he called the Son?
    A. Because of the flesh.
    Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
    A. They do.
    Q. What is this mind?
    A. The Holy Spirit.

    Daniel wrote: A text from Smith’s mother from 1830 shows that by that time it was already being taught that God had a physical body:

    “[T]he different denominations are very much opposed to us. . . . The Methodists also come, and they rage, for they worship a God without body or parts, and they know that our faith comes in contact with this principle.”

    As Dan Vogel so aptly puts it:

    In context this statement does not mean that in 1830 Mormons were teaching that the Father has a body like the Son’s—this concept was not introduced into Mormonism until much later. Nor does it necessarily imply that Lucy was reading a later Mormon concept into an earlier time. She was more likely contrasting the Book of Mormon’s teaching that God the Father had become flesh with the orthodox creeds which distinguished between the persons of the Son and Father and described the Father as spirit essence. According to Lucy Smith, the Methodists thus objected to the Book of Mormon’s modalistic view of God because it made the Father into a corporeal being.

    Some of the revelations which Joseph Smith dictated between 1829 and 1831 similarly blur the distinction between the Father and the Son (D&C 11:2, 10, 28; 29:1, 42, 46; 49:5, 28). Also in the early 1830s Smith revised the Bible, changing a number of passages to more explicitly identify the Son with the Father. For example, he changed Luke 10:22, in which Jesus declares that “no man [p.25]knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” In the revised version Jesus says that “no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

    Daniel wrote: Sometime in the winter of 1832-1833 Zebedee Coltrin recorded that he had a vision and Joseph Smith told him (and others with them):

    “Brethren, now you are prepared to be the apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son and know that They exist and that They are two separate personages.”

    That remark was made by Zebedee Coutrin in 1883 at the School of the Prophets, long after the event. This is the same guy that couldn’t remember (or rather lied) that he ordained Elijah Abel a Seventy.

    Daniel wrote: Oliver Cowdery cited 1 Ne 11:18 in an 1835 newspaper article where he responded to Alexander Campbell’s assertion that 1 Ne 11:18 used “true Roman phraseology.” He argued against that understanding. Perhaps that confusion is the reason the reading from the printer’s manuscript was reincorporated only two years later.

    Perhaps, but it is speculation, the Lectures on Faith confirm that the doctrine was taught, as reflected in 1 Nephi. Smith changed his theology by 1837, and made corrections in the Book of Mormon to reflect this. As Bruce Satterfield writes,

    1837 Kirtland Edition

    The Book of Mormon played a major role in the missionary efforts of the early church. As proselyting increased, another printing of the Book of Mormon was needed. In 1837, while the Church was headquartered in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith began the process of reprinting the Book of Mormon. In preparation for this edition, Joseph Smith compared the 1830 edition to the printer’s manuscript and corrected hundreds of typographical, grammatical, and syntactical errors found in the first edition. He also emended the text in nearly 100 cases. No subsequent revision of the text was more extensive than produced in this edition. Joseph Smith also had his named changed from Author and Proprietor to Translator to lessen confusion about who authored the book. There were 3,000-5,000 copies printed. http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/PDF/BMPublicationHistory.pdf

    It could be as simple as they ran out of copies, and knew they would need a new printing. They corrected typographical errors in the original, and Smith got a chance to correct his doctrinal blunders from the first edition, which reflect that the doctrine itself was changed, for the original printer’s manuscript reads the same as the first edition.

    Daniel said: “In addition to being more thorough in your reading of the Book of Mormon, you need to look a bit wider to get a better sense of Smith’s view of the Godhead.”

    In the Book of Moses, it speaks of one God, and in the Book of Abraham it speaks of many. What is your point? You never addressed the Lectures on Faith, or why Smith changed Luke in the inspired version, or many of the other points made. All the things you bring up are unconvincing. _johnny

  44. Well, obviously I didn’t take near enough time to look into the issue, and you rightly called me on it. Well played.

  45. grindael says:

    Daniel, you are an excellent Hebrew (Old Testament) scholar I am sure, (though I do disagree with your interpretations and that they are speculation about the origin of Hebrew deity) but I would never trust F.A.I.R.

    I find an incredible laziness in a lot of Mormons to do their own research, and verify quotes. I ascribe this not to you, for to have gone through the years of schooling that you did shows that you are anything but. So, you may have been pressed for time.

    I’m really not trying to play a game of ‘one up’s’, I am trying to be factual, putting a lot of time into the study of Mormonism (the 13 years I was a member) and my post membership activities in the last two years or so since Missionaries knocked on my door and re-awakened my interest after 25 years.

    I can usually tell from reading something, if it came from F.A.I.R. I did find the quote about Cowdery’s exchange with Campbell highly entertaining, and had to read the whole piece yesterday, to get the gist of the entire exchange. I do want to thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    I don’t leave out the fact that the appellation of ‘Romanism’ may have incensed Smith & Cowdery enough to want to change that verse, (and others) but even that pales in the light of the Lectures on Faith, which I consider a great stumbling block to the assertion that Smith did not change his theology. The fact that there is, in existence an article in an early Mormon publication affirming the ‘doctrine of the trinity’, is fascinating. Even if only opinion, one must think Smith not much of an administrator to have allowed it, (and not retract it, or correct it) but we both know that is not the case.

    And this article does not delve into the plethora of material I have about how Smith and others called the Father Jehovah (a name not applied to Jesus but less than a handful of times in almost 60 years), and how this played out into Young’s excursion into the Adam-god doctrine and the solidification of modern Mormon theology in the 1916 treatise on the Father and the Son by F. Smith.

    I also know that many ascribe the same kind of thing to the exegesis that went on from the time of the Apostles to the Council of Nicaea, but I’m willing to pit one against the other, anytime. _johnny

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