Ep53-The Godhead in Mormon Thought (pt 1) - Of God and Gods Ch 8

Topics Discussed:
• Mormon Social Trinitarianism
• The Logical Problem of the Trinity and Mormon Thought

Show Notes:


“The Mormon view is most distinctive in its view that there are divine persons who are truly other to each other”

“What distinguishes the Mormon view most from the conventional tradition is that the divine nature is possessed by more than one instance of that nature and is shared with others through a freely chosen relationship of indwelling love.”

“The Mormon scriptures make clear that there is a “God of all other gods” (D&C 121:32). It is implicit in this scriptural assertion that, although there is more than one individual of the kind “God,” there is only one who is preeminent and the God of all. Such language is similar to the New Testament language that the Father is “the God and Father of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3), even though it calls Christ “God.” The book of Abraham says that this God of all other gods “is more intelligent than they all” (3:19).”

Mormon Social Trinitarianism

“There is only one Father of all, one king of the universe to whom all others are subordinate—but there are gods who are subordinate to this one God and who serve him as one council of divine beings. There are and eternally have been three who have shared together the fulness of the divine nature.”

“Because I want to emphasize that there is a sense in which the Father alone is truly the one God and that a relationship of indwelling unity with the one God actualizes the properties of divinity in the other divine persons, my position is much more like the original Social Trinitarian position of Cornelius Plantinga who viewed the Father alone as properly God.3 As Plantinga observed—correctly in my view:
We have in Paul one God, one Lord, and one Spirit. I might add that Paul’s habit of reserving the designator God for the Father, and indicating the divinity of the Son and Spirit in ways usually other than calling them God straight out, is typical of the New Testament generally. This habit, combined with biblical characterizations of the Father as generator and sender, lies behind Christian trinitarian tradition, especially pronounced in the Greek East, of regarding the Father as God proper, as the source or font of the divinity of Son and Spirit. The latter two may be fully divine, but they are derivatively so.”

“I suggest that the Mormon view of the relation of the divine persons to the Godhead can be outlined as follows:
1. Distinct Persons. There is exactly one Most High God, the Father. There are three in the Godhead who have shared the intimate relationship of indwelling love from all eternity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct divine persons who are one Godhead in virtue of their voluntary indwelling unity. Each of the three divine persons is a distinct person in the fullest modern sense of the word, having distinct cognitive and conative personalities. Each also possesses a unique material body. Because each of these capacities requires a distinct consciousness, each divine person is a distinct center of consciousness.
2. Loving Dependence and Ontological Independence. The Son and the Holy Ghost are subordinate to the Father and dependent on their relationship of indwelling unity and love with the Father for their divinity. That is, the Father is the source or font of divinity of the Son and Holy Ghost. If the oneness of the Son and/or Holy Ghost with the Father should cease, then so would their divinity. Further, it is inconceivable that the Father could be fully divine in isolation from them because the divine attributes are literally actualized by the love of the divine persons for each other. The divine properties of a fulness of deity emerge from the relationship of unity of the divine persons. The emergent divinity also deifies each of the persons in the Godhead aand each is thus a God in unity of shared divinity. The divine persons are essentially related to each other in a genetic sense as members of the same divine family. The Son is not only equally divine with the Father; he is the Father’s Son—the perfect reflection of the Father’s likeness and image because he is begotten as issue of the Father. The Spirit is the exact replica of them both as their joint agent and advocate. They are defined both in their individual identities and also in the kind of beings that they are by these essential relations. However, the Son and Holy Ghost do not depend upon the Father for their existence as individuals and thus each of the divine persons has individual or de re ontologically necessary existence.
3. Divinity. Godhood or the divine nature is the immutable set of essential properties necessary to be divine. There is only one Godhood or divine essence in this sense. Each of the distinct divine persons shares equally this set of great-making properties which are severally necessary and jointly sufficient for their possessor to be divine. Each of the divine persons has this essence, though none is simply identical with it. All of the divine persons or gods belong to the same genus or kind as the one God in the sense that they equally possess the “same divine nature.
4. Indwelling Unity. The divine persons actualize the divine nature by virtue of a voluntary relationship of indwelling love or perichoresis with each other. The unity of the divine persons falls short of identity but is intensely more intimate than merely belonging to the same class or genus. There are distinct divine persons, but not separated or independent divine persons. Because the divine persons have access to the mental states of each other, they are fully transparent to each other and in the divine life there are no barriers between the persons; and thus there is no alienation, isolation, insulation, secretiveness, or aloneness. The divine persons exist in a unity that includes loving, interpenetrating, and intersubjective awareness of another who is also in one’s self. The divine persons somehow spiritually extend their personal presence, awareness, and power to dwell in “each other and thus become “one” “in” each other. Thus, the divine persons as one Godhead logically cannot experience the alienation and separation that characterizes human existence. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have freely chosen to be in this relationship of indwelling unity in each moment for all eternity.
5. Deification. Humans may share the same fulness of divinity as the divine persons in the Godhead through grace by becoming one with the divine persons in the same sense that they are one with each other. However, humans are eternally subordinate to and dependent on their relationship of loving unity with the divine persons for their status as gods. By acting as one with the Godhead, deified humans will share fully in the divine nature, including the attributes of knowledge, power, and glory. There are divine persons or gods other than the Father who are subordinate to the one God (in senses that I will explain).”

The Logical Problem of the Trinity and Mormon Thought

Talk about metaphysical monotheism and Mormonism

“(1) There is exactly one Most High God.
(2) The Father is identical to the Most High God.
(3) The Father, Son, and Spirit are each equally and fully divine.
(4) The Son is not identical to the Father, and neither one is identical to the Spirit.
These propositions are not inconsistent. Any three of them are consistent with the fourth. Of course, a problem arises if we add a fifth premise:
(5) If X fully possesses the divine nature, then necessarily X is the single instance of the kind divine.”

“the divine nature can be fully possessed by the Son, and yet the Son can be subordinate to the Father in authority and sovereignty because he always honors the Father’s will. Just as I can always agree with and subordinate my will to my own father’s and yet be equally human with him, so the Son can be subordinate to the Father and yet be equally divine.”

Seems like the problem would be more like saying you have equal power and standing as the ceo but are subordinate to him....that highlights the problem more clearly.


  1. Were Jehovah and Michael actually resurrected Beings who had kept their Second Estate when they created our earth like Brigham, the codifier of the Temple endowment, taught? https://www.2bc.info/pdf/Creation.pdf


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