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Heavenly Mother: “A Cherished and Distinctive Belief Among Latter-day Saints”

by Sharon Lindbloom
17 May 2021

To coincide with Mother’s Day, on 8 May (2021) The Salt Lake Tribune published an article by journalist Peggy Fletcher Stack titled, “Latter-day Saints are talking more about Heavenly Mother, and that’s where the debates and divisions begin.” Because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t have a systematic theology that includes detailed doctrines related to its Heavenly Mother, Latter-day Saints engage in a lot of speculation about her. Yet Mormonism definitely holds to an official belief in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.

This belief is rather vaguely explained in a Gospel Topics essay (“Mother in Heaven”) which says in part,

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. This understanding is rooted in scriptural and prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the godly potential of men and women. The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.”

The Gospel Topics essay refers to Heavenly Mother as “divine,” but goes no farther than that. The Salt Lake Tribune article supposes that Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother is “a God of mystery,” and “the invisible Mrs. God.” Such ideas, while not official Mormon doctrine, do reflect authoritative LDS teachings.

Ten years ago Brigham Young University Studies Journal (BYU Studies 50, no. 1, 2011) published a paper on the topic of Heavenly Mother by scholars David Paulsen and Martin Pulido. In “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” the authors presented statements spanning 165 years of LDS history that portray Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother as: a divine person; a procreator with Heavenly Father; Heavenly Father’s wife; a parent concerned with and involved in our pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal probations; a co-creator of worlds; and a co-framer of the plan of salvation. They wrote,

“Several Church leaders have affirmed that Heavenly Mother is a fully divine person and have used reverential titles such as ‘Mother God,’ ‘God Mother,’ ‘God the Mother,’ ‘God their Eternal Mother,’ and ‘Eternal Mother’ in referring to her. Elder John A. Widtsoe (Quorum of the Twelve, March 17, 1921–November 29, 1952) wrote: ‘The glorious vision of life hereafter… is given radiant warmth by the thought that… [we have] a mother who possesses the attributes of Godhood.’ This is echoed by Elder James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve, December 8, 1911–July 27, 1933): ‘We… [are] literally the sons and daughters of divine parents, the spiritual progeny of God our Eternal Father, and of our God Mother.’ Furthermore, President Brigham Young (President of the Church, December 27, 1947–August 29, 1877) taught that ‘we were created . . . in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God,’ indicating that calling Heavenly Mother ‘God’ is consistent with the biblical account of the creation of both ‘male and female’ being in ‘the image of God’ (Gen. 1:26–27).”

These are not correlated Mormon doctrines, of course, but they are the doctrinal teachings of LDS prophets and apostles–those who Mormonism says have been chosen and equipped to speak for God in doctrinal matters. These prophets and apostles have clearly and forthrightly identified Heavenly Mother as a God.

The Mormon church’s Bible Dictionary says, “there are three separate persons in the Godhead,”:

“When one speaks of God, it is generally the Father who is referred to…the Son, known as Jesus Christ…is also a God…The Holy Ghost is also a God…” (“God”)

And, according to LDS prophets and apostles, Heavenly Mother is also a God. Considering authoritative LDS teachings on Heavenly Mother, Mormonism’s Godhead must be comprised of at least four Gods: Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

I say “at least” because an early LDS apostle, Orson Pratt, also taught that “If none but Gods will be permitted to multiply immortal children, it follows that each God must have one or more wives” (The Seer, 158).

“We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born, and another being upon the earth by whom He begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as His Only Begotten in this world. We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father… We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time; and that God the Father has already begotten many thousand millions of sons and daughters and sent them into this world to take tabernacles…” (The Seer, 172)

Certainly Orson Pratt’s teaching is controversial, yet since he was an apostle, Mormonism claims he was a prophet, seer, and revelator called by God to speak God’s truth. If that’s the case, then we cannot know how many divine persons – how many Gods — are in Mormonism’s Godhead.

You will find no Heavenly Mother (or Heavenly Mothers) in the Bible. Nor are there three, four, or an uncountable number of Gods. The Bible does not say that the Father is a God, that Jesus Christ is a God, and/or that the Holy Ghost is a God; it says that there is only one true God. Christian theologian James White explains,

“God has been pleased to reveal to us that He exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the Bible, taken in its completeness, accepted as a self-consistent revelation of God, teaches that there is one Being of God that is shared fully by three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (The Forgotten Trinity, 14, 29. For more information please see “What is the Trinity?” by Eric Johnson)

This is so important.

The first and greatest commandment that God has laid upon us is this: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; see also Mark 12:28-30). Furthermore, “…these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Regarding this Old Testament passage, an article at Ligonier Ministries concludes, “Only believing in the right God grants us access to heaven.” For as Jesus Himself said as He prayed for His people, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Hear God’s own testimony of Himself –

  • “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” Isaiah 43:10
  • “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” Isaiah 44:6
  • “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8
  • “For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

Mormonism’s doctrine of a plurality of true Gods opposes God’s own testimony, His self-revelation. If we listen to God there is no question of how many Gods are in the Godhead; we know there is only One.

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

-1 Timothy 1:17-

 

Find more about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity here.

To see Sharon’s other news articles, click here.

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