Divine Truth or Human Tradition?: A Reconsideration of the Roman Catholic-Protestant Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures

Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople (382–451) and one of the leaders of Assyrian Christianity, responded to the Western church and its discussions about the Trinity and subsequent creeds with the following: “The Word of God became flesh, so that in him humanity might be transformed into divinity and the nature of humanity renewed.” For Nestorius and the Nestorian Church, God was clearly not a separate species, but a true Father in Heaven that man could eventually become like, as children of any father are wont to do. Rome’s insistence on a non-scriptural Trinitarian God was so antithetical to what the church in Constantinople subscribed that a Great Schism between East and West eventually occurred in the eleventh century.

Centuries later, Joseph Smith clarified the nature of the Godhead when he had his vision of the Father and the Son, explaining that nature more fully in the King Follett Discourse of April 1844. Much later, in a conference address given October 6, 2007, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles powerfully and unequivocally reiterated the stand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken with regard to the Godhead and the Trinitarian doctrine espoused by Western Christianity. Among other things, he declared that “it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings.”

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 47:1
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