Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Do Christians Believe in Three Gods/One God

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What does "One God" mean?

A FairMormon Analysis of: Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?, a work by author: RBC Ministries

According to the Bible, is God "One"?

The RBC Ministries pamphlet mentions some biblical passages which refer to the oneness of God. One well known passage is from the Old Testament:

Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, cited p. 3).

The New Testament also refers to "one God." For example:

  • But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Corinthians 8:6).
  • Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble (James 2:19.)

Clearly, the idea that "God is one" is a Biblical doctrine. It is less well known, however, that several scriptures in the Old Testament imply that the Lord is in fact one of a number of Gods, albeit supreme.

  • The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings [fn. Lit "sons of god(s)"]? In the council of holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you (NIV Psalms 89:5-8).
  • Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works (Psalms 86:8).
  • God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (ESV Psalms 82:1).

These scriptures speak of divine beings, "gods" who are the "sons of god(s)" who are heavenly beings who dwell in the skies. These cannot be idols or false gods. Yahweh dwells among them, reigns over them, and holds judgment in their midst. So, even while asserting God's "oneness," there is also clear mention of other divine beings with whom God counsels and rules.

What does LDS doctrine say about the Oneness of God?

The Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures contain more explicit statements about God's "oneness" than does the Bible. Some examples include:

  • ...there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth (1 Nephi 13:41).
  • ...this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.... (2 Nephi 31:21).
  • Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No (Alma 11:28-29).
  • ...the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God.... (Mormon 7:7).
  • ...Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end.... (DC 20:28.

Clearly, contrary to the pamphlet's claims, Latter-day Saints affirm the oneness of God. But, as we will see, they also affirm the threeness of God.

According to the Bible, in what sense(s) is God "Three"?

As we saw above, the Bible does not deny the existence of other divine beings, while claiming "God is one." The Biblical witness of the "threeness" of God consists in the following claims:

  1. The Father is God
  2. The Son is God
  3. The Holy Ghost is God
  4. The Father in some sense(s) is not the Son, and neither the Father or the Son is the Holy Ghost.

Thus, there are three beings properly labeled "God," who are not identical to each other.

The purpose of Trinitarian theology

The purpose of Trinitarian theologies is to reconcile these two sets of Biblical data:

  1. God is one.
  2. More than one being is appropriately labeled "God."

There is more than one way of solving this apparent dilemma. Indeed, more than one way of doing so has been used throughout Christian history, and even today. The currently predominant method of solving this difficulty is, however, Nicene Trinitarianism. We will first explore its origins and development. We will then see how the Church of Jesus Christ makes sense of the Biblical data.

Endnotes

None

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