Do Mormons Believe in the Trinity?

I get many great questions asked of me about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. Recently, one visitor asked:

I have heard that Mormons do not believe that God, Lord Jesus, and Holy spirit are one but 3 different entities. WHY???

This is a great question. Mormons believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So in that sense, Mormons believe in the Trinity; however, you’ll most often hear Mormons use the term Godhead (the term ‘Godhead’ actually appears in the Bible, whereas the term ‘Trinity’ never does). However, Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity which states that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one being. Rather, Mormons believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct beings. In this post, I thought I would provide some scriptural examples as to why Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.

  1. The great Intercessory Prayer, as recorded in St. John chapter 17 – This is an example of Jesus praying to a separate being, His Father, God. Interestingly, many point to this instance as evidence of the trinity when Christ prayed that His disciples would “…be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they all may be one in us…” (St. John 17:21). Clearly, Jesus was referring to this oneness as a sense of unity in purpose, not that His disciples would be one being.
  2. The creation of the world. Note the emphasis in the following verses of plural pronouns and the phrase “in the image of God” that God created us.

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (see Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis added).

  3. The baptism of Jesus. In St. Matthew 3:13-17 we read of the baptism of Jesus. After Jesus was baptized the Bible says that “…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.” Three distinct beings are represented in this experience.
  4. The Martydom of Stephen. When Stephen was being stoned and about to die, the Bible records “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7: 55-56). Three distinct beings are represented in this experience.

These are just a few examples. In the end, Mormons take literally the scriptures that state God is our Father and we are His children. Children are created in the image of their parents, and so it is with our Heavenly Father. He created us in His image. If that is true, then the doctrine of the Trinity does not align.