In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Godhead are the objects of worship and devotion within the faith. It consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Depending on era and denomination, the Latter Day Saint movement accommodates a variety of doctrines concerning the interrelationship and metaphysical nature of the Christian Godhead. These teachings derive mainly from the movement's founder Joseph Smith, Jr., whose teachings evolved over his lifetime.
The prevailing Godhead doctrine within Mormonism is non-Trinitarian, based on Smith's sermons on the subject in the last few years before his 1844 assassination which described the Father, Son, and Spirit as three distinct persons. However, many adherents such as those within the Community of Christ view Trinitarianism as compatible with the Book of Mormon and other early Mormon scripture. Some Mormon fundamentalists also derive part of their Godhead theology from statements by Brigham Young, which they recognize as the Adam God doctrine. It is also common within Mormonism for adherents to believe in a Heavenly Mother and other deities, although they are not traditionally classed within the Godhead and not often viewed as objects of worship.
Most early Latter Day Saints came from a Protestant religious background, believing in the Trinity. In contrast, as early as 1832, Joseph Smith Jr., restorer of the organization, taught that the Father and the Son were distinct, individual members of the Godhead. (See D&C 76:12-24). Smith's teachings described Heavenly Father and Son as possessing distinct physical bodies and the Holy Ghost in spirit, being one together in glory, and purpose (See [D&C 130:22).
Prior to Jesus's birth, The Book of Mormon depicts Jesus as a spirit "without flesh and blood", although with a spirit "body" that looked similar to that as Jesus would appear during his physical life. (Ether 3). Moreover, Jesus described himself as follows: "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters." (Ether 3:14). In another passage of The Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi stated,
After Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, The Book of Mormon states that he visited a small group of people in the Americas, who saw that he had a tangible body. During his visit, he was announced by the voice of God the Father, and those present felt the Holy Spirit, but only the Son was seen. Jesus is quoted,
The Book of Mormon states that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are "one" (See 3 Nephi 11:36). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints interprets this "oneness" as a metaphorical oneness in spirit, purpose, and glory, rather than a physical or bodily unity. On the other hand, some Protestant-oriented Latter Day Saint sects, such as the Community of Christ, consider the Book of Mormon to be consistent with trinitarianism.
In public sermons later in life, Smith began to describe what he thought was the true nature of the Godhead in much greater detail. In 1843, Smith provided his final public description in which he described God the Father as having a physical body, and the Holy Spirit, also, is a distinct personage: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." (D&C 130:22).
During this period, Smith also introduced a theology that could support the existence of a Heavenly Mother. The primary source for this theology is the sermon he delivered at the funeral of King Follett (commonly called the King Follett Discourse). In the Church today, it is generally believed that a Heavenly Mother exists, but very little is acknowledged or known beyond Her existence.
Some Latter-day Saints as well as members of other faiths that comprise the Latter Day Saint movement, have posited additional theories on the nature of the Godhead, some of which appear in the following lists.
Adherents to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that both the Father and the Son have glorified physical bodies, and the Holy Ghost has a body of spirit. The differences between the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and that of Trinitarianism, have set Mormonism apart, with the result that some Christian denominations reject Mormonism as being a branch of the Christian Faith. See Mormonism and Christianity.
The late prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, offered a declaration of belief in a July 2006 Ensign magazine article entitled, "In These Three I Believe," wherein he reaffirmed the teachings of the LDS Church regarding the distinct individuality and perfect unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He affirmed that God the Father is "the Father of the spirits of all men," "the great Creator, the Ruler of the universe," whose "love encompasses all of His children, and it is His work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters of all generations." He affirmed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and "the one perfect man to walk the earth," is the "Firstborn of the Father and the only Begotten of the Father in the flesh," and that He fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy that "his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) He affirmed, "He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world," through whose loving atoning sacrifice is extended to "every son and daughter of God, the opportunity for eternal life and exaltation in our Father's kingdom, as we hearken to and obey His commandments.... I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth.... We approach the Father through the Son. He is our intercessor at the throne of God." He affirmed that the Holy Ghost is a distinct spirit being who is the Comforter and the Testifier of Truth, and that the "perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead."
William Cadman wrote this matter,
"There has been much said about Joseph Smith...all people who manifest faith in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, do acknowledge him to be inspired of God when but a youth....He has been a much accused man, whether truly or falsely, eternity will reveal."
The following theories are not official doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but rather ideas suggested by individuals: