By Eric Johnson
Posted November 3, 2021
Grasping the concept of the true God of the universe is crucial for every seeker after truth. This is certainly the message communicated in the Bible. If the Bible ought to be considered the Word of God–and it should–here are 10 reasons why the God of Mormonism ought to be rejected.
1. The God of Mormonism, it is admitted by LDS leaders, is not the same as the God of Christianity and, ultimately, the Bible.
While many Latter-day Saints assume that their God is the same as the God of Christianity, a number of important LDS general authorities admit this is not the case. For example, second LDS president Brigham Young taught,
Now I would ask the Christian world a question, and in doing so I do not mean to reflect upon, or cast an insinuation in the least derogatory to, all Christians, or to any who believe in God; but I would ask them, what do you know of God? Take all the divines on the face of the earth and place them in this stand, and beyond the attributes of God they know nothing of Him; they are entirely ignorant of His person. There is the difference between the various religious sects of the Christian world and the Latter-day Saints (July 11, 1869, Journal of Discourses 13:144).
Seventy B.H. Roberts explained,
The fact is that orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian (The Mormon Doctrine of Deity, 116).
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie did not mince any words when he critiqued the God of Christianity as leading to the damnation of people’s souls:
It follows that the devil would rather spread false doctrine about God and the Godhead, and induce false feelings with reference to any one of them, than almost any other thing he could do. The creeds of Christendom illustrate perfectly what Lucifer wants so-called Christian people to believe about Deity in order to be damned . . . Truly the most grievous and evil heresy ever imposed on an erring and wayward Christianity is their creedal concept about God and the Godhead! (BYU Devotional “Our Relationship with the Lord,” 3. Ellipsis mine).
This corruption of God’s identity came as a result of the Great Apostasy, as taught by Quintin L. Cook:
Among the first principles lost in the Apostasy was an understanding of God the Father (Ensign, February 2012, 33).
And, for good measure, William O. Nelson, the director of the church’s Melchizedek Priesthood department wrote,
Some who write anti-Mormon pamphlets insist that the Latter-day Saint concept of Deity is contrary to what is recognized as traditional Christian doctrine. In this they are quite correct (A Sure Foundation: Answers to Difficult Gospel Questions, 93).
The God of Mormonism is unique and bears no resemblance to the God advocated in biblical Christianity as taught in the Bible.
2. The God of Mormonism (God the Father) was once a human being. The God of Christianity was never human.
Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith originated the teaching that God is a man with a body of flesh and bones. He said,
I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man. 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 (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345. See also Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 129).
George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, gave Smith all credit for this doctrine:
The Prophet Joseph teaches us that our Heavenly Father was once a man and dwelt on an earth like we do upon this and that He has gone on from step to step, from one degree of glory and exaltation to another, until He now rules and governs (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, 1:128).
The Bible does not allow for God the Father to have ever been a man. Numbers 23:19 says,
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
For more on this topic, click here.
3. The God of Mormonism has a body of flesh and bones. The God of Christianity teaches that God is spirit.
Again, Joseph Smith is cited in an official church manual as saying:
That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones (Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Joseph Smith, 42).
Brigham Young wrote,
Our God and Father in Heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, he has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth his works to organized beings, as for instance, in the world in which we live, it is the result of the knowledge and infinite wisdom that dwell in his organized body. His Son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his Father (Discourses of Brigham Young, 24. See also Journal of Discourses 1:50).
Sixth President Joseph F. Smith taught,
God has a tabernacle of flesh and bone. He is an organized being just as we are, who are now in the flesh. . . . We are precisely in the same condition and under the same circumstances that God our Heavenly Father was when He was passing through this or a similar ordeal” (February 17th, 1884, Journal of Discourses 25:58. Ellipsis mine).
Such a teaching would have been a surprise to early Mormons, as pointed out by former BYU professor Charles R. Harrell:
It would have been almost inconceivable to the earliest Mormon converts that God would have flesh and bones, a characteristic universally associated with mortality and denigrated for its corruption and imperfection (‘This is my Doctrine’: The Development of Mormon Theology, 135).
Despite Smith’s disparaging of John 4:24, the God of Christianity does not have a body but instead is spirit, as this verse teaches:
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
And Numbers 23:19a says,
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.
For more on this topic, click here.
4. The God of Mormonism had a mother and father. The God of Christianity was never created.
Brigham Young taught,
What, is it possible that the Father of Heights, the Father of our spirits, could reduce himself and come forth like a man? Yes, he was once a man like you and I are and was once on an earth like this, passed through the ordeal you and I pass through. He had his father and his mother and he has been exalted through his faithfulness, and he is become Lord of all. He is the God pertaining to this earth. He is our Father. He begot our spirits in the spirit world. They have come forth and our earthly parents have organized tabernacles for our spirits and here we are today. That is the way we came (The Essential Brigham Young, 138).
Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explained the infinite regression of gods when he wrote,
The Prophet taught that our Father had a Father and so on. Is not this a reasonable thought, especially when we remember that the promises are made to us that we may become like him? (Doctrines of Salvation 1:12).
And amazingly, Smith also said,
Our Father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father, until we come to a stop where we cannot go further, because of our limited capacity to understand (Doctrines of Salvation 2:47).
Christianity does not teach that God ever had a mother and father. In fact, those who belong to monotheistic faiths believe that such an idea is nothing less than absurd. If God is eternal (our next point), then when was there even a time when He could have been created by parents?
5. The God of Mormonism has not always been God. The God of Christianity has always been God.
Joseph Smith originated the unique LDS teaching that God did not hold that position in eternity past:
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. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-346. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, 305).
Seventy B.H. Roberts gave full credit to Smith for this idea:
The Prophet Joseph Smith corrected the idea that God that now is was always God . . . . But if God the Father was not always God, but came to his present exalted position by degrees of progress as indicated in the teachings of the prophet, how has there been a God from all eternity? The answer is that there has been and there now exists an endless line of Divine Intelligences—Deities, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are as limitless as boundless space (New Witness for God 1:465-466).
Apostle James E. Talmage wrote about a God who could progress:
We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement; the perpetual work of whose creation stands “finished, yet renewed forever;”—a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow; whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of all other sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become” (Articles of Faith, 390).
LDS apologist Ronald R. Zollinger writes,
But there was a time when our God was not God (Mere Mormonism, 90).
Former BYU professor Charles R. Harrell pointed out that the God of Mormonism contradicts LDS scripture when he wrote,
In sum, early LDS scripture and teachings consistently present God as having continued uninterruptedly as God from all eternity (‘This is my Doctrine’: The Development of Mormon Theology, 127).
This would include Psalm 90:2 found in the Old Testament, which says:
Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.
Other LDS standard works are contradicted by this teaching. For instance, Moroni 8:18 in the Book of Mormon states,
For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
And Doctrine and Covenants 20:17 puts it this way:
By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.
6. The God of Mormonism is merely one of many true gods. The God of Christianity is the only God.
Brigham Young taught,
When you can thus feel, then you may begin to think that you can find out something about God, and begin to learn who he is. He is our Father—the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted Being. How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through. That course has been from all eternity, and it is and will be to all eternity. You cannot comprehend this; but when you can, it will be to you a matter of great consolation (October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).
This means there was a God before him whom God himself worshiped, as Bruce R. McConkie cited the LDS founder:
Further, as the Prophet also taught, there is “a God above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Mormon Doctrine, 322.).
God clearly denies the possibility of the existence of additional gods. He states in Isaiah 43:10,
Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.
While it is possible to worship false gods, Jeremiah 10:10 says,
But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King
And don’t forget what Jesus said in John 17:3:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
7. The God of Mormonism had to be obedient in a previous life. The God of Christianity is, by definition, holy in Himself and cannot sin.
Bruce R. McConkie wrote,
The Father is a glorified, perfected, resurrected, exalted man who worked out his salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 64).
Apostle John A. Widtsoe explained that God was required to qualify for godhood through obedience to eternal law:
We may be certain that, through self-effort, the inherent and innate powers of God have been developed to a God-like degree. Thus, he became God . . . attained by the use of his power in simple obedience to the laws he discovered as he grew in experience (Rational Theology, 24. Ellipsis mine).
Seventy Milton R. Hunter expounded on this idea:
How did the Eternal Father become God? . . . He became God by absolute obedience to all the eternal laws of the Gospel – by conforming His actions to all truth, and thereby became the author of eternal truth. Therefore, the road that the Eternal father followed to Godhood was one of living at all times a dynamic, industrious, and completely righteous life. There is no other way to exaltation (The Gospel Through the Ages, 114-115. Ellipsis mine).
Meanwhile, one church manual states,
As shown in this chapter, our Father in heaven was once a man as we are now, capable of physical death. By obedience to eternal gospel principles, he progressed from one stage of life to another until he attained the state we call exaltation or godhood (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 1976, 132).
The Bible teaches that God is holy and has no sin. As 1 Samuel 2:2 says,
There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
Exodus 15:11 states,
Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
And Revelation 15:4 says,
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.
8. The God of Mormonism had a (literal) physical relationship with Mary to sire Jesus. The God of Christianity had no relationship with Mary to produce Jesus.
In contrast to Matthew 1:18, 10th President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote,
CHRIST NOT BEGOTTEN OF HOLY GHOST . . Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:18. Ellipsis mine).
Thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson wrote,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 7. See also the Church News, December 18, 2004, 16).
And Bruce R. McConkie wrote,
Christ was Begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers (Mormon Doctrine, 547).
Even little children in the LDS Church are taught this concept:
Tell the children that each of them has two fathers: an earthly father and a Heavenly Father. Our earthly father is the father of our physical bodies. Heavenly Father is the father of the spirits inside our bodies. Jesus has only one father, because Heavenly Father is the father of Jesus’ spirit and his physical body. That is why Jesus is called the Son of God (Primary 1: I Am a Child of God, 13).
This is an abhorrent teaching. There was no “literal” union between God the Father and Mary–such an idea is incestuous if the doctrine of preexistence is true. There was nothing “physical” between God and Mary. As Matthew 1:18 says,
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
9. The God of Mormonism is not unique, as it is taught that humans have the potential to become gods. The God of Christianity is completely unique as nobody will ever be God like He is.
Joseph Smith taught,
Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-347).
A church manual states,
Can you see the reasonable basis for belief that you can become a God like he is by progressing here and hereafter? (Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, 1989, 58).
Another manual explains,
Those who have been born unto God through obedience to the Gospel may by valiant devotion to righteousness obtain exaltation and even reach the status of Godhood (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 358. See also James Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1984, 424 and Neal A. Maxwell, Men and Women of Christ, 37).
The teaching that men have the ability to become gods through their obedience is different from what the Eastern Orthodox have taught in their church, as Charles R. Harrell honestly admits:
One of the most distinctive doctrines of Mormonism is the belief in a plurality of Gods. This is generally understood to mean that there are innumerable Gods besides (and above) the God that we worship, all of whom are creators of worlds and objects of worship. Furthermore, these Gods were all once human, and just as they attained Godhood, so can we. This view goes beyond the traditional Christian doctrine of human divinization or theosis in which the righteous are partakers of the nature of God through the indwelling of God’s Spirit” (‘This is my Doctrine’: The Development of Mormon Theology, 114).
Second Samuel 7:22 clearly states that there has never been another god, nor will there ever be one to rival the God of the Bible:
How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
First Chronicles 17:20 reads,
There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
Psalm 86:10 explains,
For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
Meanwhile, Isaiah 44:6,8 states,
I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. . . . Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.
10. The God of Mormonism (the Father) is a separate god from the Son and the Holy Spirit. The God of Christianity is one God, as the Trinity describes three Persons but one God.
According to Joseph Smith, there are three separate gods in the LDS Godhead:
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, 370).
These three gods are one in purpose but not in essence. James E. Faust, a member of the First Presidency, explained,
The First Vision confirms the fact there are three separate Gods: God the Father—Elohim, to whom we address our prayers; Jesus the Christ—Jehovah; and the Holy Ghost—the Comforter, through whose spirit we may know the truth of all things (“The Magnificent Vision Near Palmyra,” Ensign (Conference Report), May 1984, 68.
Another member of the First Presidency, Dallin H. Oaks, explained the difference between the doctrine taught by biblical Christians versus what Mormonism says:
In contrast, many Christians reject the idea of a tangible, personal God and a Godhead of three separate beings. They believe that God is a spirit and that the Godhead is only one God. In our view, these concepts are evidence of the falling away we call the Great Apostasy (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1995, 84. See also “The Nature of the Godhead,” Ensign, January 2006, 50).
Oaks further explained,
We have this belief in the Godhead in common with the rest of Christianity, but to us it means something different than to most. We maintain that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings, and that God the Father is not a spirit but a glorified Being with a tangible body, as is his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ (“Fundamental Premises of our Faith,” a talk given at Harvard Law School on February 26, 2010).
Again, LDS leaders admit that the God they worship is different from what is taught in biblical Christianity. They reject the Trinity in every way, shape and form by saying that God the Father is the main God and the other two members of the Godhead are somehow lesser in nature. For a series of articles discussing the Trinity, visit here.
See an article on God the Father on Crash Course Mormonism.
See other articles in the “10 Reasons Why” series by clicking here.