The Mormon Doctrine of Deity – A Review

I originally started a series of posts building up my views on the Mormon Doctrine of Deity on Mormon Matters back in 2008. I would like to finish the thoughts I started there, but I felt like I needed to collect my thoughts first. In this post, I’m going to summarize my past posts and the ideas that I explored in each. I’m doing this largely for myself so that I get back in the swing of things and also so that those interested will have a convenient place to link to past posts as I talk about them later.

Way back in January 2008, I posted two posts about the Book of Mormon that started the train of thought. The first was called The Book of Mormon: Keystone. The next was called The Book of Mormon: Paving the Way for the Doctrine & Covenants. In the first, I argued that the Book of Mormon’s main purpose was to concentrate on the doctrines of salvation as opposed to exaltation. It was meant to get us to the Celestial Kingdom, not to the highest tier. The second post argued that the Book of Mormon was actually more than this, it was also laying the ground work for future revelations by softening us up for them.

Probably my first post that hinted at my interest in exploring the Mormon Trinity was Religions in Their Own Words – Morality in Representing Other Religions. In that post, I argued that if the orthodox Trinity doctrine was a contradiction, that didn’t give people the right to call them polytheist, so likewise you can’t say Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Divinity of Christ just because they aren’t Trinitarians. (You have to read it to understand.)

By March of 2008, I posted an article called I Have Never Been Omnipotent, But I Have Loved in which I made the argument that Mormons concentrate on the attributes of Deity that humans do comprehend, such as love, while other Christians tended to concentrate on the attributes of Deity that humans do not comprehend, such as Omnipotence.

In April of 2008, I finally got down to the Trinity doctrine itself. In Mormons as Trinitarians I argued that Mormons already were Trinitarians, at least of the Social Trinitarian variety, and that we should not run from the word “Trinity” because it’s probably the best word with which to to describe ourselves.

In May of 2008, I posted A Jewish Rabbi Defines Monotheism where I argued that Monotheism is best described by the number of Godly moral wills that exist, not the number of persons. Therefore Mormons were Monotheists through and through. This post has particular importance to me and to my views on Mormon Doctrine of Deity.

In Offenders for a Word – Part 1 – Is Jesus God? the main point of the article is that people try to create false dichotomies about Mormon Doctrines through ridge use of words. Of particular interest to my development of the Mormon Doctrine of Deity was my attempt to demonstrate that Mormons actually had no less than five separate definitions for the word God so it was no easy task to place the Mormon Doctrine of Deity into a preexisting mold such as Tritheism, Henotheism, Trinitarian, etc. In a sense we were all of the above, but really we were none of the above.

In the follow on article, Offenders for a Word, Part 2 – Do Mormons Worship Jesus? I did a full study of Bruce R. McConkie’s views on the Divinity and Worship of Jesus and found that, in total, his views are misrepresented a lot. This article raised the ire of several “Third Path Mormons” who hadn’t read the article beyond the title.

In June of 2008, I posted On Three Almighties, One Moral Will, and Why This Post is a Complete Waste of Time I wrote about how even really smart people, like Craig Blomberg, can be completely illogical and thus defeated by more humble intellects. The relevance to the Mormon Doctrine of Deity is that it further developed the concept of Mormons believing the Godhead had “one moral will” and how Blomberg overlooking the logical ramifications of that doctrine had caused him to blunder.

In October 2008, I posted the most important post to date in my development of my views of the Mormon Doctrine of Deity. It was The Book of Mormon’s Doctrine of Deity that I posted on M* a few days ago. However, it’s interesting to see the discussion that ensued over at Mormon Matters over the original post. The key point of this post was to prove that the Book of Mormon does not develop a specific Doctrine of Deity, contrary to popular claims from serial skeptics that it is teaching so-called serial Modalism. These claims simply cannot be sustained and I think my exchange with Rick Grunder in the link to the Mormon Matters conversation leaves little room for doubt about this. The conversation speaks for itself.

That same month, the best Trinity post I never wrote was posted by KC Kern called The Mormon Trinity. I hope KC will forgive me for claiming that this post is part of my series. Here I, as KC (that’s a joke), argue that “God” is in fact primarily the Godhead, not any one of the persons. His analogy was that of a corporation as a legal person consisting of persons. While this analogy is imperfect, it definitely is heading in the right direction.

Finally, in December of 2008, I directly attacked the Orthodox Trinity Doctrine in Is the Trinity Doctrine a Contradiction? That article was difficult, so I posted the equivalent but less technical Trying to Understand Creedal Trinitarianism – An Analogy. Sadly, those were my third and second to last posts on Mormon Matters. I never completed the thoughts I had started.

Now with this review completed, I think I will.

5 thoughts on “The Mormon Doctrine of Deity – A Review

  1. Bruce, you have given me a LOT of homework. When am I going to have time to go back and read all these posts? Perhaps on a layover at an airport sometime or some night when I can’t sleep. 🙂

  2. Wow. This is amazing. I found on my mission that when you asked the average person what they believed about the trinity it was usually in line with the Restored Gospel. I adopted the habit of responding to “Do you believe in the Trinity?” or more common in the south “Do you believe in the Rapture?” With “Can you define that because some people have different meanings?” I think you are right about us unknowingly being Trinitarians.

  3. Thank you Bruce for bringing to our attention your review. I have been using your posts on this subject for my scripture study this weekend. Wow! I am so impressed. What a wealth of knowledge you have tucked into your brain. I look forward to more of the same.

  4. Pingback: Thoughts on the Mormon Doctrine of Deity | Junior Ganymede

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