Who Is the God of Mormonism?

The term “God” is the most foundational difference between Christian and LDS theology.

According to official LDS doctrine, Heavenly Father has not always been a god. He was once like us (some say he was a sinner, and some think he never sinned), but he followed a plan (just as we’re required to follow a plan) to reach godhood. He has a physical body as we do and is not a tri-personal being; rather, the Father, Son, and Spirit are completely separate beings—three separate gods.

 

One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation. If you fail to explicitly define your terms, you could easily leave the conversation thinking you’re both in complete agreement. (Ask, “What do you mean by that?” early and often!)

The term “God” is no exception to this. In fact, it’s the most foundational difference between Christian and LDS theology.

An Exalted Man

The key to understanding the god of Mormonism is the idea that he is the same species we are; we’re just in an earlier stage of development. Here’s a quote from Joseph Smith:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another….

I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see…that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did….

According to official LDS doctrine,* Heavenly Father has not always been a god. He was once like us (some say he was a sinner, and some think he never sinned), but he followed a plan (just as we’re required to follow a plan) to reach godhood. (See here for more on how the LDS view of God is connected to their view of the Gospel.) He has a physical body as we do and is not a tri-personal being; rather, the Father, Son, and Spirit are completely separate beings—three separate gods.

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