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The Trinity in the Bible

Why Mormons Disobey the Commandments by Refusing to Acknowledge the Christian Concept of the Trinity

by Pat Goltz

In a discussion with Mormons on a discussion board, a Mormon left me the following message:

You don't have to accept the trinity to be a Christian. This is not in the Bible! Jesus has said that you have to obey the commandments to be a Christian. Big difference.

(New Testament | 1 John 2:3 - 5)

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Here is my answer. Please note that I am using the King James Version throughout, and not the one that Joseph Smith edited


Before I get into the question of the Trinity in the Bible, just let me say that yes, we are to keep the commandments, and this is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. Furthermore, I would like to point out that we CANNOT keep them, and this is the point that makes Jesus' sacrifice critical (as some people here have said they believe).

Matthew 5:

18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Now read Romans 7. All of it. Paul is talking about how the reason we know what sin is, is because of the law. This is a firm legal principle, by the way. You cannot disobey a law that doesn't exist. God gave the law so that He could condemn us for not keeping it. As it says, "without the law, there is no sin." It's not that there is no evil, but God can't hold us accountable for it if He doesn't tell us what His requirements are. Without writing a book, I will go on and explain that Paul said here that he wants to do good, but his body is carnal, and he does the evil he doesn't want to do. And what saved him? Jesus' sacrifice! That is why he is thanking God.

If you have ever offended your OWN standards of righteousness, know that you have that much more offended God's standards. If, for example, a missionary lusts after his partner, he has committed adultery. So what it seems to me LDS is teaching is that you can pay superficial lip service to the law by keeping a few rules (the ones that make you eligible for a temple recommend, for example), you can escape the condemnation of God. In fact, as I understand it, you don't even teach that there is a hell, so everyone is going to go into some kind of heaven. This is a rather wishy-washy view of what God expects of us. God expects perfect obedience. Perfect. Jesus already said that if you disobey ONE commandment, you are guilty of all. I have only begun to recognize the ramifications of that in my own life. I stand condemned before a holy God.

One of the commandments says, Exodus 20:

2. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exodus 34:

13. But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
15. Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
16. And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
17. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

This is where I am going to get into the issue of the Trinity. The first point I want to make is that there is only one God. God has said that there is only One, and this permeates the Old Testament. We are forbidden to worship any God besides YHWH (this is the name God told Moses when He talked to him from the burning bush). And by the way, YHWH means "I am". It's the present first person singular in Hebrew. I take it that this establishes the fact that God exists from eternity to eternity. He IS. He doesn't say He was, He is now, or He will be, but simply, "I am".

By the way, Mormons call one of the members of the Godhead "elohim" as if this is a singular noun. I get into this later, but I want here to point out the the misuse of a Hebrew grammatical construction shows the lack of basic scholarship, and this is a major reason why Mormons do not embrace the Trinity.

In the following, please know that the words "God" and "Father" are often used interchangeably, or the word "God" is used to refer to the Father. This confuses a lot of people. But bear with me, and you will see that even though this is so, it doesn't negate the other Persons of the Trinity being God almighty.

Now as I understand it, Mormons do worship God the Father, and rightly so.

But what about Jesus?

A bit of background will help understand the next passage. In the Old Testament, it tells us that on one occasion, Abraham was visited by three "men". Abraham calls them "Lord". This means that he identified them as God. Lot, likewise, calls two of them Lord. You can find this passage in Genesis 18. Observe that the three "men" accepted Abraham calling them "Lord". This passage is located in Genesis 18.

Jesus addressed this problem in John 8:58:

51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55. Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58. Jesus said unto them, Verily,verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

In verse 58, Jesus calls Himself "I am". In the Greek, this is "ego eimi". In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament prepared by 70 Jewish scholars, YHWH is translated "ego eimi". So Jesus was claiming to be God, THE God of eternity.

This incident is further clarified by something that Jesus said in John 10.

This entire chapter is talking about what Jesus said about His coming as a sacrifice for us. Read now:

27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30. I and my Father are one.
31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33. The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Many people are confused by the next verses:

34. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35. If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

This quote is from Psalm 82:

1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
3. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

I did some research on this further, and looked at the Hebrew word "elohim". This is the word used for "gods" in this verse. The word also means "magistrate". (Strong's 430) The Pharisees who were taunting Jesus were magistrates, and they basically had taken upon themselves the arrogance of judging unrighteously. So what Jesus was doing was calling them on their hypocrisy when they condemned Him for calling Himself God (I and my Father are one). They already worshiped God the Father, so for Jesus to say that He was one with the Father was regarded as blasphemy. Please note that the Jews are completely and utterly monotheistic. They obey the commandment that commands them to have no other gods.

There are further proofs that Jesus is God almighty:

Revelation 1:

8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Revelation 21:

6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:

12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Note here that Alpha and Omega is identified both as the Almighty, AND as Jesus.

Then take a look at Hebrews 1 (read the whole chapter):

1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2. Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6. And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
7. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
10. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
11. They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
12. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
13. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Notice here that God (the Father) has identified Jesus as His Son, Who made the worlds. And if you take a look at Genesis 1, you learn that God created the universe out of nothing at all (this is beyond the scope of this present writing, but it is contrary to Mormon doctrine as I understand it, which says that God made the worlds out of existing matter. This isn't even logical, by the way, because the universe is not eternal. The Laws of Thermodynamics establish that disorder is increasing, i.e. entropy, and that at some point, all of the energy will be uniform throughout the universe. This is called the "heat death". The result is that if the universe and its matter had been eternal, the heat death would have occurred long ago, and we wouldn't even be here discussing it. The fact is, God called everything out of nothingness). So God the Father establishes that God the Son was the One Who created the universe out of nothing.

Look now at John 1:

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

In the Greek, the word "Word" is "Logos", from which we get our word "logic". So I take it that Jesus is logic personified. Notice that the Word in this case was made flesh.

The Son is mentioned in the Old Testament. See Proverbs 30:

4. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
When you look at the information in the Bible regarding the Incarnation, you learn that it is the Son Who was incarnated. The Bible establishes elsewhere that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit never had bodies at all (except for that one brief episode when the three "men" appeared in bodies and visited Abraham and Lot).

Let's look finally at the Holy Spirit. There isn't that much information about the Holy Spirit in the Bible, but He is mentioned in the Old Testament, where He is called "ruach hakodesh", which literally means "spirit the holy". He is mentioned in Psalm 51:

11. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

The passage I want to focus on is the incident where Ananias and Sapphira sold their land and brought part of the price to the Apostles, representing it as the whole proceeds from the sale. Read Acts 5:

1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. The thing we learn from this passage is that the Holy Spirit is a personality Who can understand lies. He is not merely a force. When someone lies to God, he lies to the Holy Spirit.

Now, let's look at some grammar in the Old Testament. For this purpose, you need to know that Hebrews has a dual. In English, we have singular and plural. Plural is more than one. In Hebrew, there is a dual, so the plural in Hebrew is more than two.

Throughout the Old Testament, God is referred to in the plural (though not all the time). There are two Hebrew words that are used in the plural to refer to God. "Adonai" means "lords" and is the plural of "adon". "Elohim" means "gods" and is the plural of "el". Because of the fact Hebrew has a dual, the use of the plural indicates that God consists of a minimum of three. In addition to this, there are constructions throughout the Old Testament, where the singular verb is used with a plural noun, and the plural verb is used with a singular noun. This is the explanation behind the statement in Genesis 1, where God says, "Let US make man in OUR image." This is an example of this construction.

To wrap up the discussion of the use of the singular and plural in the Old Testament, look at Deuteronomy 6:4.

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.

Looking at the Hebrew, it says, "shma yisrael adonai eloheinu adonai echad."

This is the most important verse in the Bible to the Jew. God commanded them to wear it on their foreheads and post it on their doorposts, and to this day, they post it on the doorpost where you enter into their home. It is stored in a little box called a mezuzah.

What does the grammar tell us? "Adonai" means "lords". "Eloheinu" means "our God". The word "echad" is most interesting, because it means "one" but it has the connotation of compositeness. It is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to designate the nature of marriage; it is said that a man and a woman shall become one flesh, and the word "echad" is used here. Obviously, they are still distinct individuals at the same time they are one flesh. It is also used to refer to the clusters of grapes brought back by the spies from Canaan before the Israelites went into the land. Again, grapes forming a cluster are a composite unity. If God had meant to say that He is an absolute unity, the word "yachid" would have been used. The fact that the word "echad" is used indicates that God is composite in some way. The early Jewish writers (Zohar, Mishna, Talmud, Midrashim) were aware that God is a composite unity, and actually supported the Trinity. These were written BEFORE Jesus was born, so at that time, they were already well aware that God is composite. And since only three are ever mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, that limits the number in the Godhead to three. There is an extended discussion of this in the book The Search for the Messiah by Mark Eastman, MD and Chuck Smith.

Now please examine some examples from the New Testament.

In two different descriptions of Jesus' baptism, we are told that when Jesus came up out of the water, the Father spoke from heaven and said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." At the same time, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove and settled on Jesus. Three persons all appearing at the same time.

Matthew 3:

13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:

9. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Luke 3:

21. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22. And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

In Matthew 28, we are told,

19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

So the three Persons are named, and yet they have only one Name!

Then there is the passage in 1 John 5:

7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

People have said that verse 7 is spurious, but they have not made a compelling case for this. And even if they had, there are still so many other references to the Trinity. Take for example, the salutations in some of the Epistles:

II Corinthians 13:

13 or 14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

I Peter 1:

2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

There are a number of other passages in which God the Father and Jesus are mentioned together in coequal terms.

So putting this all together, what do we have? We have that God is composite and consists of three Persons. Mormons acknowledge three, but say they are one in purpose only. They do not agree that they are one in substance. But can this be? No, because there is only one God! So they have to be united in every sense of the word. The Bible will not allow us to fudge this one.

Since the Commandment says, "Thou shalt worship the Lord they God and him only shalt thou serve," taking the whole Bible in context, we are commanded to worship the Trinity.

Since Mormons do not acknowledge the Trinity, they are disobedient to this commandment as a way of life, and cannot be said to be keeping the commandments! It's that simple.

In fact, Mormons REDEFINE God by saying that there are three separate gods who are only one in purpose, and in so doing, they are worshiping a construct which is NOT the true God. So they are doubly disobedient to the Commandment. Mormons are polytheistic, because not only do they believe that God is three separate gods, but they also teach that men who faithfully keep the ordinances of LDS, can become gods of their own worlds, themselves.

I rest my case.

See also my essay on the Trinity in the Book of Mormon.

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