MR: Please briefly explain to our readers how the LDS Church's doctrine of God is similar to or different from the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity.David offers many interesting insights worth thinking about. It gets into a few heavy areas way over my head, but I enjoyed it. Nicely done, Brother Paulsen!
DP: Our first Article of Faith affirms our belief in the New Testament Godhead. It states simply: "We believe in God the Eternal Father, in his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost." We reject the traditional, but extra-biblical, idea that these three persons constitute one metaphysical substance, affirming rather that they constitute one perfectly united, and mutually indwelling [i.e., referring to whatever John 17:3 means], divine community. We use the word "God" to designate the divine community as well as to designate each individual divine person. Thus our understanding of the Godhead coincides closely with what is known in contemporary Christian theology as "social trinitarianism." This, we believe, is the model of the Godhead portrayed in the New Testament.
MR: Christian theologians from all the major traditions (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) are united in their belief in monotheism (only one God in this and any other universe, existing beyond time and space). Is LDS theology monotheistic or is it polytheistic?
DP: As indicated above, Latter-day Saints, like other Christians and New Testament writers, affirm that there is a plurality of divine persons. Yet, at the same time, we witness (as our scriptures repeatedly declare) that "the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God." Given the plurality of divine persons, how can there be but one God? In at least three ways: (1) There is only one perfectly united, mutually indwelling, divine community. We call that community "God" and there is only one such. (2) There is only one God the Father or fount of divinity. (3) There is only one divine nature or set of properties severally necessary and jointly sufficient for divinity.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
The nature of the Godhead and its relation to the modern Trinity concept is an important topic for LDS folks, one that I write about one my LDSFAQ page on the oneness of God. On this critical topic, FAIRLDS has just published a presentation by David L. Paulsen, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph Smith: Defending the Faith." He looks at the LDS view of deity relative to other Christian faiths. Part of the presentation deals with an interview of him by the periodical Modern Reformation (MR). Here is one excerpt:
Posted by Jeff Lindsay at 8:00 AM