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Is There One God or Many Gods?

by W. John Walsh

Doesn't the Mormon belief in more than one God go against Biblical teaching? The Bible teaches that there is only one God: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he : before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior" (Isaiah 43:10-11)

Do you believe in one God or many Gods?

How could God be all knowing and omnipresent and yet claim ignorance of other gods or Gods being all around Him, and claim that his is alone? 

There are many scriptures which indicate that there is only one God.  For example:

"Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared [it]? ye [are] even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, [there is] no God; I know not [any]." (The Holy Bible, Isaiah 44:8)

"And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:21)

"Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen." (D&C 20:28)

The reader will note that the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants all teach that there is one God.  How can the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all be God, yet there still be only one God? 

This apparent discrepancy is easily resolved by understanding the scriptures in context.  The term God is a name-title that can mean different things in different contexts.  When the scriptures teach that there is only one God they are emphasizing the unity of the members of the one true Godhead, the governing council of the universe.  In other words the phrase, "Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God...." actually means "Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one Godhead...."  The scriptures repeatedly emphasize the unity of the members of the Godhead to ensure that all men understand that there is only one Godhead to whom we should look for salvation, which is presided over by our Father in Heaven. There are no competing Gods (i.e., Greek mythology) or other sources of salvation. (See Unity)

Our Heavenly Father has delegated his authority to Jesus Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost.  He has invited them to serve under him in the Godhead.  Therefore, as members of the Godhead, both Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost may also properly be called by the name-title of God.  It should be noted that the other members of the Godhead are subordinate to our Heavenly Father.  All of their power is delegated power and authority from our Heavenly Father.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell has noted:

"Divine investiture is defined as that condition in which --in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. ... Thus. .. Jesus Christ spoke and ministered and through the Father's name; and so far as power, authority, and Godship are concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father. (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 470-71.)" (Sermons Not Spoken, p.22)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"[Jesus] is the Father by divine investiture of authority, meaning that the Father-Elohim has placed his name upon the Son, has given him his own power and authority, and has authorized him to speak in the first person as though he were the original or primal Father." (The Promised Messiah, p.64)

The scriptures also teach that man has the potential to become like God.   (See Godhood) While we believe that the faithful will enjoy a life similar to our Heavenly Father, we also believe we will still be subject to and worship the God of Heaven, which is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Furthermore, while we will be "gods, even the sons of God" (D&C 76:58), we will never be at the same level as them or stop worshipping them, but we will be like them and enjoy a quality of life similar to theirs.  

Therefore, is there one God or many Gods?  It all depends upon what you mean when you use the term God.  If you mean, "are there various competing or independendant Gods?", the answer is no, there is only one God, even our Father in Heaven.  If you mean, "are there other beings that can us the name-title God?", then yes, but we must remember that they are subordinate to our Father in Heaven and their power and authority is delegated from him.

(See The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God; Teachings About the Godhead home page; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

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