Are Mormons Polytheistic?

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines polytheism as “the worship of or belief in more than one god.” Since Mormons believing in a separate godhead (God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit), are Mormons polytheistic? Since we worship both God and Jesus, does this too make us polytheistic?

48 thoughts on “Are Mormons Polytheistic?

  1. All Christians are polytheistic, they just won’t admit it. Joseph Smith made this perfectly clear in several of his lectures. But the stigma associated with the belief in more than one god – the “guilt by association” with pagan or eastern religions – has caused Christians to run from this self-evident truth for millennia. All of the church councils from the 4th through the 9th century, particulary Chalcedon in 451 a.d., dealt with God and Christ; i.e., who are they, what are they, what is their make-up (the monophysic debates), what is their relationship to one another, etc.
    The creeds of christendom serve the purpose of giving the facade on monotheism while the new testament clearly displays two distinct individuals who are Gods.

  2. larryco_ said: “All Christians are polytheistic …”

    And the ancient Hebrews were polytheistic for that matter. The ancient Hebrews (Abraham on down) were taught by the one, true God that “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,” or, their devotion should be to Yahweh alone. They were not precluded from believing in the existence of other deity, just not in worshipping and covenanting with them.

    Over time, as they became identified by one tribe of Israel, Judah, they became more entrenched in monotheism, which was probably for the best in the long run, however, it did cause problems after the Savior’s appearance as is described above.

  3. How about the whole as we are God once was line of thought?

    That sounds fairly polytheistic.

    But I’m not sure you teach that, it’s more of a couplet than anything anyway…

  4. rick, Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34-35 are both pretty clear on the deification doctrine, and open the polytheistic door on the Old and New Testaments as well.

  5. I don’t know guys, after all “Adam is our God and the only God with which we have anything to do”

    Sounds pretty monotheistic to me!!!

    /sarcasm_off

  6. I think a key point was hit, saying that all Christian religions are polytheistic. I know that our belief in more than one God has made the LDS Church a target of criticism from the rest of Christendom, as they condemn us as polytheistic heretics. It’s pretty convenient when one sets his or her own definitions. According to Muslims, all Christians are polytheists.

    “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not ‘Trinity’: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.” Qur’an 4:171

    But if we go by the definition of whom we worship, we worship God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Or, if you prefer to look at it this way, we worship the Three, who act as one.

    Yes, in a sense, we are polytheistic, but so is every other Christian. In another sense, we are monotheistic, and again, so is every other Christian. It really in the end is a matter of perspective.

  7. I think the definition of a polytheist is one who believes in many gods. It has nothing to do with how many they worship. Since Christians believe in the one God of Israel then we are considered monotheists. But I would definitely like to discuss this issue. Kim

  8. Isn’t there a mother in Heaven?
    Wouldn’t that make the number of gods equal to at least two?

    …or is she still to sacred to discuss?

  9. To answer the question you need to define what a God is. Is Adam a God? Is Noah a God? Can a woman be a God? Are you sure of your answer?

  10. In following with the polytheism discussion, in 1 Kings 18 we have the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal. Hopefully everyone is familiar with this story. But their argument is very similar to the one we’re having here! What was Elijah and the priests of Baal arguing about? Who’s god was the true God, right? We have Elijah representing the one true God of Israel and the priests of Baalim representing the polytheists. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking the Lord God of Elijah’s side in this discussion!! Kim K.

  11. Someone who believes in multiple gods but worships only one is a henotheist, for whatever that’s worth.

    And to answer the original question, it depends on how you define the terms.

  12. Define God – Define Goddess.

    Thou Shalt have no other Gods before me. Does this mean there are other gods? If so define them.

  13. /speculate

    How about God’s cousin Fred who made it to the CK? How about his Uncle Joe who also made it?

    I think regardless if they are imagined or real, we only worship the one God, God the Father.

  14. “Thou Shalt have no other Gods before me”

    Doesn’t mean there aren’t other Gods, just not others that we worship ahead of God the Father.

    You can go look up the definition of God and Goddess, I have to put a load of laundry in.

  15. Interesting comments. Do we worship Jesus Christ? I hadn’t thought much of it before. Really do we not worship ‘through’ Jesus Christ? Although he is a God and shares in the Godhead with the Father, is his place not as Mediator for us? We pray to the Father in His name, but not to Jesus. He is the way to the Father whom we worship. Just as we are not to worship the Holy Ghost who also shares in the Godhead, I don’t know that we are to worship Jesus. I know we adore, and revere him, but worship? Interesting question. He himself while here did nothing of himself, but for the Father.

    I think Mary said it well…

    “Thou Shalt have no other Gods before me”

    Doesn’t mean there aren’t other Gods, just not others that we worship ahead of God the Father.”

    And another thought on this, since the Father and the Son are One, when we worship the Father, do we not worship the Son also, for lack of a better word, by default of association? They are one in purpose, and does the Savior not share in God’s glory? Does he not have a portion of it?

    I think we’re Mono. lol

    Just a couple of thoughts.

    Matt.

  16. “Don’t we worship Jesus, and isn’t he a god?”

    If you are under the impression that worshiping one is not worshiping the other, then perhaps worship is the wrong word to use.

    If they truly are one, then there is no difference.

  17. (dictionary) Polytheism:

    The worship of or belief in more than one god.

    Hmmmmmm, that’s the catcher.

    We believe in the doctrine that we can become as God, and that there are Gods. Hence the belief in more than one god.

    But our worship towards is dedicated only to one. Our Father in Heaven, through his son Jesus Christ. And there is our belief in only ‘worshipping’ one God.

    So we seem to have a leg on either side of the word but we really don’t in practice.

    I think we adhere to a monotheistic practice and outlook, or at least we should, in that we only believe in one true God who is ruler and oversees all things pertaining to our life here and here-after. Only one God who has set forth a plan of salvation for us in pre-existance so we can return to Him and only to Him. Only one God who is our Father. Only one God who offered his Only Begotten. Only one God who bore witness of His son to John, and to Joseph. God the Father is our God. No matter how many other Gods are definitively or vaguely referred to in scripture, God the Father is our God and the only one we need be interested in pleasing or worshiping or serving.

    Copedi used ‘henotheism’. Belief in one god without denying the existence of others.

    Can we apply that word to accurately describe our system of belief?

    matt..
    (man it’s hot here 35 degrees f.)

    matt…

  18. How are we defining “worship”? The same dictionary as above defines it as “yo honor and love as a deity” and “to regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion”. Sounds like we do worship Jesus.

    Unless we are defining it differently.

  19. I don’t think it’s the word worship that we are having a hard time defining. I think perhaps we are having a hard time comming up with a common understanding of what the Godhead is, and each members relationship to each other, and what it means to be “One”.

  20. Mary, in your statement #19: The Lord says in ISAIAH 43:10,11 — 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 44:6,8 — Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 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.

    ISAIAH 45:21 — Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time: who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.

    15. ISAIAH 46:9 — For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.

    These are only a couple of the verses that the Lord proclaims His “Oneness” in the universe.

  21. It is also interesting to note that in Psalms 96:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:26 state that all the gods of the nations are idols. Idol worship is expressly forbidden throughout the Bible.

  22. What I am referring to is that Jesus Christ is also referred to as the God of Israel and then there is God the Father. And as has been mentioned, since we have the potential to become gods and goddesses, wouldn’t it be also apparent that others would have, do have the potential to become so?

    However, we have no other Gods. We do not worship or acknowledge any other deity.

  23. Since Jesus is the God of the Old and New Testaments and he was worshipped in the OT should he not be worshipped now?

    Jesus is the God of this world. Every action we have with God the Father is through Jesus. The only time God the Father speaks to man is to proclaim his son Jesus Christ.

    So if Jesus was worshipped in OT times, do we still worship him today?

    The Church is named after him, not God the Father.

  24. Guys, you’re muddying the waters. God is Lord overall. Jesus was his son sent in human form to die on the cross for our sins, establishing His new covenant with man, and the Holy Spirit is how God “comes upon us” today. Unfortunately, you guys (Mormons) have all these other definitions for gods because this Joseph Smith character made up a new bible. Doesn’t it make you a bit nervous when NONE of your bible can be sustained, it’s been changed over 4,000 times from it’s inception, and you have people coming from other planets???!!! There is no scientific basis for any of your bible, yet the Christian bible has been proven time and time again empirically. I pray all of you will wake up and see these discrepencies, and the one true God will speak to you and open your eyes to the cult you are involved in.

  25. “…yet the Christian bible has been proven time and time again empirically.”

    Please cite the studies you refer to.

    If indeed they are well corroborated, it’d be the first evidence I’ve seen of the Bible proving anything.

  26. Yes, Mormons are polytheists, because not only do they worship three separate gods who are only “one in purpose,” but they also believe in other gods outside of those whom they worship. (You can ask a devout Mormon if they have ever heard of their “Heavenly Mother,” most will say yes if they have been listening in Relief Society). Good old Joe said this when speaking of the Protestant and historic view of God: “Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God [anyhow]–three in one and one in three. . .It is curious organization… All are crammed into one God according to sectarianism (Christian faith). It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God–he would be a giant or a monster.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, 372)

    Second, No, Christians are not polytheists because they believe only in one God, period. Christians believe that Jesus is God, that the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father is God, however, the Father is not the Son who is not the Holy Spirit who is not the Father. It is like how humans have a soul, a spirit, and a body. All three are distinctly human, all three can be called by my human name, but all three are distinct and separate at the same time. There is only one God, and Mormons do not hold to the biblical presentation of the identity of God. Isaiah 43:10 says, “… Before me no god was formed,nor will there be one after me.” Also Isaiah 44:8 says “…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.” In the Bible, God knows of no other god, so if God is all knowing, that would mean that there are no other gods.

    Hope this clears the water a little. By the way, my father is a devout and a very knowledgeable Mormon, and I have been studying Mormonism for many years. I have also been studying biblical Christianity for three years and comparing the two as I go.

  27. If “Christians” (I assume that means ALL Christians except Mormons) are not polytheists, then how do they explain:

    Psalms 82:6
    “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ps/82/1,6#1

    and

    John 10:34-35
    “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
    “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;”

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/john/10/34-35#34

  28. I agree with Zach. Thank you that was very concise. To answer Jeff: Jesus did say, “Ye are gods” in John 10:34. But there are a number of problems with the Mormon argument that this verse supports the idea that men can become Gods in the midst of overwhelming scriptural evidence to the contrary. The scriptures can not be taken out of context or all kinds of misconceptions will occur.

    First of all, Jesus said, “Ye are gods” (judges)not “Ye will become gods”. But more important, we need to consider the context of the passage. Who was Jesus speaking to? What passage of scripture was Jesus quoting from and what was the context?

    Jesus was speaking to Jews who were ready to stone Him to death. Not very God like behavior if He was actually referring to these people as “Gods in embryo”. Also, Jesus was quoting from Psalms 82:6. The context of Psalm 82:2 shows us that these gods were judging unjustly and accepting “the persons of the wicked.” These men were evil and certainly not candidates for Godhood according to L.D.S. theology!

    Please also read Isaiah 14:12-15:

    1. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

    2. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

    3. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    4. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

    For Christians, this our hope, our life and our glory:

    “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

  29. The scriptures can not be taken out of context or all kinds of misconceptions will occur.

    I concur.

    Not very God like behavior if He was actually referring to these people as “Gods in embryo”.

    Perhaps not, but maybe that was the point. “Don’t stone me because I say I’m a god, we’re all gods, remember?”

    The context of Psalm 82:2 shows us that these gods were judging unjustly and accepting “the persons of the wicked.” These men were evil and certainly not candidates for Godhood according to L.D.S. theology!

    LDS theology teaches that we are all candidates for Godhood. Your point is taken, but I don’t think it holds up given the fact that according to the LDS view that even though they are gods they are in the process of being chastised for their wickedness. The very next verse says “ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”

    Now having said that, I’ll admit I don’t really understand the context of Psalms 82. The language is a little too metaphorical for me and I don’t get all the symbolism.

    Anyway, thank-you for clarifying this. I think I now understand how other christians (non-mormon Christians) interpret those particular scriptures.

    As for the Mormon take on the doctrine of “eternal progression”, it comes primarily from the King Follet discourse given by Joseph Smith. Theoretically, this speech “clarifies” any doctrines taught in any other scripture. (That was of course until Hinckley said he doesn’t know that this doctrine is openly taught or emphasized). What can you do?

    As for your Isaiah 14:12-15, your point is well taken. It looks as though Lucifer is condemned for trying to be “like the most High”.

  30. As for your Isaiah 14:12-15, your point is well taken. It looks as though Lucifer is condemned for trying to be “like the most High”.

    I should clarify what I meant by that.

    It could be argued that the problem is either that God doesn’t want Lucifer to be like him (ie. aspiring to godhood is wicked) or that God just didn’t approve of his method. The latter is the argument LDS traditions would dictate. Either is valid, in my opinion.

  31. Psalm 82:6 by Asaph – he’s speaking toungue in cheek about the surrounding wicked nations, they act as though they are gods, blaspheming but if you read the next verse, they will all die like mortals. It’s meant to contrast with God’s one true deity.

    John 10:34-35 is merely talking about how the leaders at the time had a double standard, saying he was blaspheming claiming to be the Son of God whereas they didn’t care that the patriarchs who wrote the old testament were claiming to be given the words of God, yet they follow that as gospel.

    LASTLY – The Trinity (Father Son Holy Spirit) can be viewed as one in the sense that the Father created all, the Son was his earthly human representation that died for our sins and the Holy Spirit is the current manifestation and witness of God’s presense with us. I never did quite understand something more troubling: that mormons believe Jesus and the Devil are brothers, born of a union of God with his “wife”, that our current God is actually a person that died in the past and was good enough to be given his own planet….and so on and so on

  32. the Son was his earthly human representation

    This is something I have never quite understood. If Jesus was God’s manifestation in human form, then did God not exist in heaven during the 30 years of Jesus’s life. In addition, does this mean Jesus was really praying to himself when he prayed?

    I never did quite understand something more troubling: that mormons believe Jesus and the Devil are brothers…

    Mormons believe that all who lived pre-mortally were spiritual siblings.

    …born of a union of God with his “wife”, that our current God is actually a person that died in the past and was good enough to be given his own planet

    If this is indeed believed by the majority of Mormons, it certainly isn’t taught publicly. I have never once heard taught by any Mormon in the 26 years I’ve been in the Church, for example, that God had sex with anyone in heaven.

    Sure we teach that God created spirits to inhabit mortal bodies, and those spirits live(d) in heaven prior to coming to earth. We do not know, however, what method(s) he used to create those spirits.

  33. born of a union of God with his “wife”

    I agree with Kim in that I’ve never heard it taught either. I did ask about it one time, and was told that we (the church) don’t know the method used when God created our spirits.

  34. Back on the subject of polytheism, I’m curious, what is the definition of God or gods? And can that definition affect whether or not one is polytheistic?

    For example, if someone believed in multiple gods but that only one God was to be worshipped (God the Father), would that mean they are not polytheistic.

    Remember the definition you gave was “the worship of or belief in more than one god.”

    Does the use of “or” in the definition allow me to choose which criteria I want for defining polytheistic?

    What do you think?

  35. In my opinion, I think worship is integral to polytheism. I don’t think a simply belief in the (possible) existence of multiple gods makes one polytheistic.

  36. …born of a union of God with his “wife”, that our current God is actually a person that died in the past and was good enough to be given his own planet

    Are you referring to the saying “As man is God once was, as God is, man may become”? This saying was taught quite often during the 1970’s. There was speculation that God the father was a prophet or perhaps a Jesus on another world to a different God and he was so worthy that he progressed to becoming a God himself and our God. It was widely taught that a man could become a God and have planets where men would worshipped him as their God. This philosophy has not been preached for several years.

  37. Kim Siever said: “Sure we teach that God created spirits to inhabit mortal bodies, and those spirits live(d) in heaven prior to coming to earth. We do not know, however, what method(s) he used to create those spirits.”

    Mormon Doctrine 1975 – Mother in Heaven – Joesph F Smith – “all men and women … are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” Formal pronouncement of the Church – “Mortal persons … will live eternally in the family unit and have spirit children.”

    See D&C 132:19-32.

    Before the age of test tube babies & clones (1970’s) it was widely suggested that spirit children were created in a manner similar to the natural way. This has also been dropped from current teachings. Being pg with billions of children was offense to some women.

  38. Per Jeff’s question:

    If one believes in multiple gods but only worships one of them, I believe they must be polytheistic.

    The term to describe the situation is ‘pantheon’, and just as the Norse believed in the literal existence of Thor, Loki, and the rest of the Norse pantheon, it was generally only one of those gods that was worshiped. Based mostly on one’s intents or personal choice.

    The same system of a pantheon of gods worshiped by a polytheistic people would be the Hindu. Although they are distinguished from the LDS in that they can change which one they would like to worship at any time – similar to the Norse.

    The mere fact that one may not worship multiple gods does not preclude one from being a polytheist; simply believing in multiple gods is action enough.

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