The Godhead in Mormon Belief
The first Article of Faith of the Mormon Church states simply that, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” This is the basic belief of Mormonism: God is the all-powerful, all-wise, and all-knowing creator of the universe and of all mankind. His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us on the cross at Calvary, so that all mankind can be saved through faith and repentance in His name.
Mormons do not believe in the Trinity (three beings in one entity with God as a spirit-entity who came to earth incarnate), as some Christians do. What Mormons do believe in is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as one Godhhead who are three distinct personages who are one in power, knowledge, glory, perfection, love, and purpose. God the Father and Jesus Christ have glorious, resurrected bodies of flesh and bone, while the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. The logic in this knowledge is inescapable–all Christian religions profess a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why was He resurrected if that is not the perfected immortal state we all desire? Why would he be resurrected, and then return to the spiritual trinity that is God?
God the Father
Mormons believe that God the Father is all-powerful (Alma 26:35, pg. 275), all-knowing (Mosiah 4:9, pg 155), and that His Spirit can be felt by all people, everywhere (Psalms 139:7-12). He possesses an absolute perfection of all good attributes; He is merciful, loving, patient, truthful, and does not judge us by our outward appearance. While Mormon Church members look to the scriptures for instructive information about God, their primary knowledge concerning His nature comes from revelations given to modern prophets like Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. He saw for himself that they are separate personages, but are united in perfection and purpose.
Mormons worship Heavenly Father as God, pray to Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and realize that we are literally His children (Acts 17:28). Each one of us is a spirit son or daughter of God, who knows each of us personally and desires that all of His children love one another and find happiness. The Mormon Church issued this statement in 1995:
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.
God has created this earth for us so that we could come here and gain experiences that would enable us to become perfect, just as He is perfect (see Matthew 5:48). Mormons call this plan the Plan of Salvation.
Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior
Jesus Christ is the central figure of Mormon beliefs and worship. In fact, his name is central in the true name of the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every Mormon has a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that only through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross can mortal man be saved in the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ and His teachings are the central focus of all Mormon scripture: the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the words of Jesus to modern Mormon Prophets, and the Pearl of Great Price. His example, His teachings, and His love for mankind are the central inspiration for what Mormons believe.
In January 2000, Mormon President and Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley and the Apostles of the Mormon Church published The Living Christ as their testimony to the world about Jesus Christ. It reads in part:
We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only perfect person ever to have lived. Before He came to earth, He ruled as Jehovah. On earth, His Father was God, and His mother was Mary. (see Luke 1:32, 35). He lived and taught in Judea and “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He suffered for our sins, died on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day. Mormons refer to this central act as the Atonement, or the at-one-ment of mankind and God.
Jesus’ teachings and revelations to His prophets form the core of Mormon doctrine and practice. He is the perfect exemplar for all mankind. Through His Atonement, all mankind will be resurrected, too, and then they will be judged according to their deeds. Through His mercy and grace, and our faith on His name and repentance from our sins, mankind will be saved from their sins. Those who have repented of their sins and followed Christ by being baptized and “doing good” will be saved from their sins by the Atonement and will inherit Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom.
Jesus Christ is the head of the Mormon Church and He directs it through His Prophets. Today, He stands at the right hand of His Father (Acts 7:55) as our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate with the Father, and our Judge. He will come again at the end of the world to begin the Millennium, a thousand years of righteousness and peace, when He will personally reign on the earth as King of Kings.
The Holy Ghost
The third member of the Godhead is the Holy Ghost, also referred to as the Holy Spirit or the Spirit. The Holy Ghost, unlike God the Father and Jesus Christ, does not have a body of flesh and bone, but only of spirit. He is the member of the Godhead who testifies of the truth and guides mankind. He inspires, comforts, teaches, reveals truth, and strengthens us. The Book of Mormon teaches that the Holy Ghost is “the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men…. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come” (1 Nephi 10:17-19).
The Holy Ghost inspires all people throughout the earth to some degree. Since all good things come from God, and since the Holy Ghost is the comforter who teaches the truth and helps us know what is good and what is bad, then anyone who lives the best they know how can receive the Spirit to inspire them. However, when someone joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he or she can receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost,” which allows that person to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.
The Holy Ghost has four main roles in our life: he sanctifies us, reveals God’s will to us, teaches us the truth, and comforts us in our trials. The Holy Ghost is such an uplifting power and source of necessary gospel knowledge that to have his constant companionship and influence is the greatest gift a person can receive in mortality. Because of the Holy Ghost’s importance in God’s plan of salvation, Jesus taught that no sin is greater than the sin against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32). A latter-day revelation explains that “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:27).
Anita Stansfield began writing at the age of sixteen, and her first novel was published sixteen years later. For more than fifteen years she has been the number-one best-selling author of women’s fiction in the LDS market. Her novels range from historical to contemporary and cover a wide gamut of social and emotional issues that explore the human experience through memorable characters and unpredictable plots. She has received many awards, including a special award for pioneering new ground in LDS fiction, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Whitney Academy for LDS Literature, and also a Lifetime Achievement Award from her publisher, Covenant Communications. She has fifty-six published books. Anita is the mother of five, and has three grandchildren.