Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being, and that human beings can become gods. "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become" is for Christians a very startling statement made by Lorenzo Snow-the fifth Mormon President and Prophet. Some Mormons even speak about humans as "Gods in embryo." President Snow's theological statement is accepted as doctrinal restoration by the majority of Latter-day Saints today. This troubling declaration summarizes for us the official Mormon teaching concerning the past human nature of God, and the future potential for humans to become gods.
One of the biggest theological problems between Christianity and Mormonism is Christians' belief in the existence of only one God and the LDS Church's belief in the existence of many gods, as the Pearl of Great Price's Abraham 4:1 states:
And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
Bruce McConkie could not be any more clear in this statement:
There are an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus Gods. Indeed, this doctrine of plurality of Gods is so comprehensive and glorious that it reaches out and embraces every exalted personage. Those who attain exaltation are Gods.
Although Mormons do not like to be identified as polytheists- those believing in many gods-because of the direct correlation to paganism, no matter how you spin it, Latter-day Saints affirm and teach a plurality of gods. Now let's look at how the LDS Church formulates and fits the doctrine of the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- within its multitude of gods that populate innumerable worlds or kingdoms scattered throughout the universe.
The Mormon Godhead
The first LDS Articles of Faith creedal statement, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost," sounds quite orthodox to Christian ears. But Mormonism unapologetically rejects and redefines the Christian understanding of the triune nature of God called Trinitarian monotheism, which is fully accepted by Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. Following is a concise definition of the Christian Trinitarian-three-inone- understanding of the nature of God:
The Trinitarian concept of God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the personal, unique, infinite, Creator God. They are not three beings or three Gods, because Trinitarianism firmly embraces monotheism-the belief that there is only one true God. According to orthodox Trinitarianism, there are three distinct persons who together are one being-God.
While all the major branches of Christianity believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons existing in one indivisible substance, Mormonism teaches and believes that there are three totally separate gods in the Godhead-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three separate gods are one only in purpose, not one in being or nature. Latter-day Saints reject the Christian belief that God is three coequal persons in one substance or essence, as Dr. Stephen Robinson makes clear in his book Are Mormons Christians?:
If by "the doctrine of the Trinity" one means the doctrine formulated by the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon and elaborated upon by subsequent theologians and councils-that God is three coequal persons in one substance and essence-then Latter-day Saints do not believe it.
The LDS understanding of the Godhead is not Christian Trinitarianism but Mormon tritheism, that is, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three totally separate gods that progressed and developed into individual deities at different times prior to creation. Bruce McConkie writes:
Three separate personages-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost- comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists.
In fact, the LDS Church describes the Godhead-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-more as the supreme heavenly presidency of three gods than as the historically and universally accepted Christian doctrine of the eternal triune nature of one God. On what authoritative basis does Mormonism teach this understanding of the Godhead? Dr. Stephen Robinson tells us:
We believe this not because it is the clear teaching of the Bible but because it was the personal experience of the prophet Joseph Smith in his first vision and because the information is further clarified for us in modern revelation.
Mormonism's doctrine of the Godhead has absolutely no precedence in the history of the Christian church. For example, during the in-depth theological discussions among Christians concerning the internal nature of God, they never promoted a doctrine of tritheism or belief in three separate gods, as taught in Mormonism today. Early Christians were at all times strict monotheists, believing in one absolute eternal God.