Friday, March 15, 2013

Answering Anti-Mormon Stuff - The Trinity

TRINITY: “I will preach on the plurality of Gods.…I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.” —Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, 1976, p. 370
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it.”—Joseph Smith, 1844, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 308
How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds.…”—2nd Prophet Brigham Young, 1859, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333
“Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god.”—Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, 1954, p. 98
TRINITY: One God who is revealed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
MATTHEW 28:19: “...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
  • Tritheism: The view that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods
  • Modalism: The view that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one person or modes of manifestations
  1. THE FATHER IS GOD: Philippians 2:11·
  2. THE SON IS GOD: John 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 9:6; Colossians 2:9, John 1:1
  3. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD: Acts 5:3-4
  4. Yet there are not three “Gods” but only ONE GOD: Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6, 8; 45:21-22; 46:9
ISAIAH 44:6, 8: “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.”

As I stated last time only the Standard Works are Scripture to us. None of these quotes of past GAs in the church are anything more than their personal opinion, and have not been sustained by the church membership as revelations from God. Note the following from a church President, made when he was the church President.

President Harold B. Lee in a European area conference:
"If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth."  The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24-26, 1973, with Reports and Discourses, 69.

Now to the claims of a Biblical Trinity.

Firstly we have a non-descript attempt at explaining what God is, other than to say that he reveals himself as 3 different people.

Then we have a quote from Matthew which doesn't disagree with Mormon doctrine in the slightest. We also believe in those 3 separate people.

He denies Modalism yet he also believes there are 3 beings, not separated but as one being - sounds like Modalism to me.

Next he quotes Philippians 2:11 _
"And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

He mentions that this demonstrates that God is the Father. Yet it additionally mentions that Jesus is classified as "Lord." What is more it is stating that Jesus does things to glorify God. This is declaring that Jesus isn't God in the ultimate sense, but Heavenly Father is.

Next he quotes John 20:28 _
"And Thomas answered and said to him, My Lord and my God."

We also know that Jesus has acted as a God to this planet in behalf of the Father. Yet as John 5:19-20 says, "Then answered Jesus and said to them, surely, surely, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does: and he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel."

So Jesus is saying that he needs instructions from God the Father as to what to do.

Additionally "You have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father: for my Father is greater than I." John 14:28

This is saying that the Father is greater than the Jesus Christ. So if Jesus is God in the ultimate sense then how can anything be greater than Jesus is?

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13

This doesn't explain whether it is talking of Christ appearing as "the great God" or Heavenly Father appearing with Christ. So its interpretation is arguable.

2 Peter 1:1 also suffers from this same problem.

"But to the Son he said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." Hebrews 1:8

These are the words that God the Father said to his Son. Let's look at some verses in the same chapter also on the same subject.

"Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels said he at any time, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" Hebrews 1:4-5

In other words God made Christ at some point. And also he gave him a more excellent inheritance. Now how could he need to do that if Jesus was already God the ultimate and had no beginning as a God?

Next note _

"You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows." Hebrews 1:9

So because Christ demonstrated that he loved righteousness more than his fellow spirits Jesus Christ's God gave him a special position. It doesn't sould anything like a trinity to me.

"See, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23

We don't doubt that Jesus is the God appointed to this earth, as he earned his position by his righteousness. Yet Jesus himself is said to have grown "in wisdom" and "in favor with God" over time (Luke 2:52).

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

We've already looked at why he is called God. The term "everlasting Father" can create some confusion. We know he is the Father of the creation. He directed the creation. Secondly he is the Father in the sense that he did the works of the Father.

"For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Colossians 2:9

Let's look at the next verse after this one _

"And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:10

The word "fulness" in verse 9 comes from the Greek word "pleroo", meaning to fill up something. The word "complete" in verse 10 comes from the Greek word "pleroma" referring to what is filled.

So verses 9 and 10 are saying that because Christ is filled with all the qualities of the Godhead, the church members in him are also filled with this fulness. This doesn't make them all God as well. This wasn't the meaning of verse 9.

Quoting John 1:1 makes an interesting problem in regard who's version of the Bibles in print we read. Additionally to that it depends on whether we look at the idea that it should be interpreted in symbolic form (as is often argued in Protestant churches). But let's look at the most common Protestant interpretation _

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

Well that sounds totally confusing: A word WITH God but who IS God. Yet if we read this a common Protestant way it has the Father needing to have the Son because otherwise he'll be missing the word.

However some point out that the text can equally be translated "and the word was a God". This would make it consistant with the rest of the New Testament that rejects a trinity.

We don't deny that the Holy Spirit acts in behalf of the Father and the Son.

In regard the next line of quotes we don't disagree that Jesus Christ is the God conducting all things pertaining to this planet. He is the only God for here and beside him there is no God.

It must be understood that the Old Testament was given to a hard hearted people who still wouldn't follow God even after seeing miracles. Jesus wasn't going to confuse the issue by explaining that he actually had a Father in Old Testament times. Even in the New Testament to the Jews he still stuck to the Law given to Moses. It was only when people came out to listen to him to learn that he gave instructions such as the Sermon on the Mount. Here he expressed that God was OUR Father. He also explained that God was quite understandable.

In regard the trinity let's look at the following quote from Luke _

"And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? none is good, save one, that is, God." Luke 18:19

Jesus is declared that he is not "good" (whatever that meant in Hebrew), and that only God is. So how can he be God?

Jesus prayed to God on his knees and in regard to his apostles and those who believed their words Jesus said _

"That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:21

So Jesus is asking the Father that in the same way he and the Father are one, that all these others may also be one in them. So if we are to believe this was a trinity, it now has thousands of additional people in that one God. Obviously he wasn't really saying he is one in substance with God anymore than the apostles were one.

I would pose the question to trinitarians in regard their god; how can they regard Christ suffered on the cross since he was also supposedly in heaven with God at the same time? Or why did God need an angel to come and give him strength (Luke 22:43)? And how could part of himself leave himself (Matt 27:46)? Why was he praying to himself, didn't he know what himself was going to say (John chapter 17)?

The trinitarian idea has more Biblical holes than a sponge.


Anonymous said...

This was explained very well. It is frustrating that people of other religions bring out the same Bible verses over and over to prove the Trinity yet ignore other verses that show God and Christ are separate beings. Evangelicals refuse to admit the Trinity is man made doctrine and claim the church Fathers taught it. They have so much hatred for the LDS church that they won't have an intelligent discussion and must resort to name calling when things don't go their way. I believe the church Fathers, after the Council of Nicea, took many, many years and involved 14 councils to hammer out the doctrine of the Trinity (I could be wrong on the number of councils it took). Yet mainstream Christianity refuses to see the falseness of this teaching. Including ex-Mormons.

Doug Towers said...


I hope something in the post helps you in your discussions.

When I'm approaching someone and I'm unsure what their response will be to the church, I usually leave that out at first. I go into the subject as a Bible believer. I don't deny the church, I just say that there are now lots of Protestant churches that have come to see that the trinity is false. This is actually true, of course. And I hold them to that subject, not allowing them to go back to what church I belong to. I say that the point isn't what church I belong to in this issue but is the trinity correct.

I also use this approach on any subject where I feel my religion will get in the way of a sensible discussion.

Most Protestants are afraid of offending God if there really is a trinity. That is a hard one to get past.

Anonymous said...

"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

- Matthew 3:16-17

Ahhh it's so much easier to defend the truth.

Anonymous said...

As you can see from this scripture, they are 3 separate beings. :)

Doug Towers said...


Yes, I agree with you.

The only problem faced is indoctination. Trinitarians feel they will insult God if they make the wrong decision. So it has to be demonstrated quite strongly.

I've been a trinitarian myself, and had to go through that.

Geo Schroder: said...

Interesting points. But here is one "mainstream Christian's" take o. this discussion.

I think it is funny that you seem to discount a number of councils from the early church used to identify and define the truth in scripture, yet your own doctrines have not only gone through the same process to identify "truth" but have re-written the doctrines to fit revelations of men who lead your flock. The point you miss is that most trinitarians tend to view these biblical passages as mysteries, recognizing that human understanding falls short of God's true nature. "Trinitarian" is a term coined to help describe something that is beyond a simple human understanding.

You also have to forgive we Protestants when using the writings and teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. when questioning LDS doctrine, because we have been told (well I have been told by LDS elders, anyway...) these are your founders and the individuals to whom God first revealed his latter day revelations. So, are we to understand later prophets essentially replaced these initial revelations? Did the Quorum of the Twelve change what was revealed to Joseph Smith? If so, them how can we know any such revelations are really true, if they keep changing?

G. Schroder said...

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all begin their Gospel's with Jesus' genealogy, and so does John: 'In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning, Through Him all things were made...(skipping to V. 14:) The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory, the Glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

These passages point to the nature of the Trinitarian view (and I will concede your point that the term "trinity" does not appear in scripture), which is that God became flesh through his son, begotten to become the Lamb of God. Heady stuff, I know, but consistent throughout the New Testament and form the basis for out belief in the trinity. Matthew3:16 is consistent with the "separate but one" framework. These are not beliefs that have been "indoctrinated", and I would gently suggest perhaps the reason you perceive Protestant believers is because of your own practices? I honestly don't know.

g. Schroder, said...

Please understand, we Protestants do not hate LDS church members but we really DO have issues with your interpretation of scripture, especially the notion that it takes "new" doctrines to understand the meanings in the Bible. We see hints as to the true nature of LDS doctrine when you point out how you need to leave certain things out of your discussions to non-LDS believers when teaching about your beliefs, or not even admitting you are teaching LDS doctrine when discussing the matter. We mainstream Christians generally believe the nature of God is apparent in scripture and can be accepted or rejected at face value, and we further believe it is the Holy Spirit who works to soften hearts and lead one to understanding. Coercion in teaching our beliefs is not inconsistent with our protestant framework nor do we believe God would condone such practices.

As for the "number of protestant churches" who reject the trinity? Really? Are you referring to Jehovah's Witnesses? Unitarians? Christian Scientists? None of these are mainstream protestant and none with feel very comfortable with being referred to as "Christian" in the protestant sense and JWs and Unitarians would reject being referred to as Christian at all! Perhaps the reason mainstream Christianity refuses to reject Trinitarian doctrine is because it is true? I have not read anything here in this blog that would shake me, or any mainstream Christian who has read and studied the Word away from the Bibles' basic truths. That is really why we do not give up the "truth"... and yes, it would offend God. Why would we offend God by rejecting the truth, just to make men from another flock happy?

I am happy to hear you are running into issues drawing mainstream Christians away from their beliefs, and pray that your struggles continue. I know several LDS members, some ex-Mormons, but I have a few LDS friends who simply tell me they do not like to discuss deep doctrine, as it is "not really something we like to discuss outside of church."

Hmmm... so, I guess I am curious if the LDS church believes that "...yea shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free"? If so, why not be honest about it up front? In what way would "your religion" get in the way of a "sensible discussion" Isn't that the point, to be sensible about our beliefs? How in the world could discussion about what you believe interfere, unless it requires coercion?

I am not trying to "pick a fight" here, but just ran across your site by accident, was surprised at the general tenor of your arguments and seeming ignorance of what we Trinitarians believe.