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Catholic Doctrine

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Trinity as the following: “The mystery of the one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine son of the eternal Father” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Glossary).

Catholic doctrine on the Trinity is critical to maintaining the theology of “one God,” while at the same time revealing the power and presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: “...inseparable in what they are…in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity...” (Catechism 267). The Trinity is a doctrine that is shrouded in theological explanation and historical lore. God can reveal himself as three separate beings (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) while still being God in “one essence, substance, or nature” (Lateran Council IV: DS 800).

See Catechism Glossary, 261, 262, 266, 267 and 292.

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

The Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Godhead can be summarized in a single quote from the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, which is in perfect harmony with similar content from the Gospel Principles manual: “They [the Godhead] are distinct beings, but they are one in purpose and effort. They are united as one in bringing to pass the grand, divine plan for the salvation and exaltation of the children of God. In His great, moving prayer in the garden before His betrayal, Christ pleaded with His Father concerning the Apostles, whom He loved, saying: ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us’ (John 17:20–21). It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 2.).

God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings who are one in purpose, but not one in being. While their distinctiveness is manifest in their separate missions and presence, they are unified and inseparable in how they carry out God’s plan of happiness for his children.

See Gospel Principles Manual, 37, and Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 2.

See chapter 6 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on the Trinity or Godhead.

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