One of the primary reasons that Christians don’t consider members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be Christian, stems from their unbelief in “The Trinity”. This has led people in the direction of saying that Mormons (a nickname based on the Book of Mormon) believe in a different Jesus than is found in the New Testament.
Perform a quick experiment for me if you get the chance.
Go and ask any Christian, of any denomination if they believe in the Trinity. They will resolutely say, “Yes…of course I do”. Quickly follow up by saying, “What is the trinity”? Watch a grin slowly come across their face and then look for words like “supernatural”, “incomprehensible”, “not for me to understand”, and you might get a few other adjectives. Maybe the most prevalent description you’ll get back will be the word “Mystery”.
So I’ve tried to determine how it is that believing in the Trinity became a requirement for being a Christian. Honestly how can a person even have a chance to believe in the Trinity if no one else can explain it sufficiently. I’ve asked a bunch of people and every person’s understanding is different. So what am I supposed to do?
All I know is that John 17:3 says that it is “eternal life to know God…and Jesus Christ, whom God had sent”. (Notice that God sent His Son…keyword; SENT) I’m kind of feeling like its sort of important for me to know who and what God is so that I can become like Him. Not only that, but Christ set it forth as a requirement for “eternal life” to know Him and His Father. If He was a giant incomprehensible mystery, then how am I supposed to know how to become like him?
Here is what I don’t understand.
Why does all of Christendom say that Mormons don’t worship the correct Jesus or believe the Bible when they themselves are basing their entire belief in God not on the Bible but on a creed that was pieced together by the Roman pagans and politicians of the 4th century? I never heard Peter or Paul or John or Christ or anyone else in the New Testament talk about the trinity. But now I need to accept it to be labeled a Christian?
I wonder if Paul had some of the same thoughts I’m having when he cruised into Athens and saw an inscription on an altar that said “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”. He was horrified! An unknown God?!
The rest of the apostles were horrified at the thought as well. They were watching the true understanding of the nature and character of God slip away right before their eyes, and they knew the impact it would have on the Church. By the end of the first century…no one had a clue. Christians had been driven, scattered, and left leaderless. The next 10 Roman emperors starting with Nero set out to exterminate the Christians until Constantine came around and sought to unify the Christians and the pagans for political reasons. Constantine, a pagan himself, called a council at Nicea for the express purpose of defining God in order to establish harmony between Pagans and Christians.
These politicians and a few clergymen voted on how to define God at Nicea and it became later known as the Athanasian creed. The council was a debate between essentially two men; Arius and Athanasius. Arius believed that The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were separate entities, of one mind, but individuals nonetheless. Athanasius believed that the three were “of one substance”. Athanasius was more vocal, more convincing, and had more friends. He won the vote and Arius was cast out as a heretic.
But think about this for a second! If Arius had of been just a little bit cooler than Athanasius at the time…the entire Christian world would be thinking that The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were three separate beings…and then Mormons wouldn’t be so strange after all!
Funny how things work out sometimes.
So when someone tells me that I need to believe in the trinity…it’s hard for me to understand why. Because Athanasius said so? Who is he to me?!
Now this is where it gets really strange. Protestants seem to be the most vocal against Mormons for not believing in the trinitarian creeds. But check out the first sentence of the Athanasian creed!
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith.
Geeee. So…since all other Christian reformers came out of the Catholic Church…it’s hard to believe there are so many protestants that would hold that creed so dear to their hearts…even dear enough that they would send Mormons out of Christianity just for not believing it. That creed just told them that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church!
Talk about a mystery!
So a man named Joseph Smith came around and said “If you don’t comprehend the character of God, then you don’t comprehend yourself.” It seems pretty logical to want to ask “what kind of being is God.” After all…Christ did say “Come follow me” with John later confirming that the next time we see Him, “we shall be like Him”.
It’s pretty difficult to have faith in a being and worship that being, unless you know what kind of being He is, especially when your goal should be to become like Him. In order to comprehend your own divine potential and divine destination, you’ve got to comprehend the being that you are striving to become like.
I don’t know of another religion in the world that is more New Testament Bible-centric as it relates to their belief and understanding of the character and attributes of Christ and I’ll give some undeniable evidence of that in Part 2.