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I was reading this other SE question about Mormon viewpoint on the Trinity, but it did not provide an answer to this specific question.

So for example 1 Nephi 13:40 says:

40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.

The passage in Mosiah 15:2-4, on another hand, seems to also be talking about Jesus and says:

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son— 3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son— 4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

And the passage in Ether 3:14 says:

14 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.

So since Mormons do not believe in trinity, in am curious on how these passages should be understood.

Is Jesus the Son or the Father? Or somehow both?

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    Both, because "Father" and "Son" are ambiguous terms alone. Jesus is the Father of heaven and earth because He created them (and saved them), but God the Father is the father of our spirits, because He created us. Jesus is the Son of God, because He was born of God in the flesh. Sometimes Jesus is called "the Father" because He created the materials that form our physical bodies, and He saved us spiritually. But God our Heavenly Father and Jesus are definitely two different, distinct individuals in LDS theology. – Matt May 24 '17 at 19:51
  • @Matt That looks a lot like an answer. Why not convert it to one? – KorvinStarmast May 31 '17 at 12:25
  • @KorvinStarmast Don't have time right now to get all the references I want to cite. – Matt May 31 '17 at 16:33
  • @Matt Hope to see the answer when you can. :-) – KorvinStarmast May 31 '17 at 16:37
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Matt's comment is correct. Jesus is both the "Father" and the "Son" because He has various of roles, some of which fall into a "Father" category and some of which fall into a "Son" category.

Before diving in, I wish to make clear that Mormon doctrine is that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate and distinct personages, as based on, e.g., The First Vision of Joseph Smith, where he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as two separate beings.

Since the two are separate, it can be confusing when Jesus is referred to as "the Father". Referring to Jesus as "the Father" is not saying He is the same person as Heavenly Father.

In my study of Mormon canon, I have identified two ways in which Jesus is "the Father" (there are likely more, but only two I have a good understanding of):

  • Jesus Christ is the Perfect Son of Heavenly Father, and is a perfect representative of Him. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9), "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (John 5:19). As I understand these scriptures, the Father that Jesus is referring to is His Father, not Himself. But the point of these scriptures is that Jesus the Son of God so fully follows what His Father does that He is doing exactly what Heavenly Father Himself would be doing, and so Jesus Christ is "the Father" is that his words, actions, and perfection are a perfect representation of the words, actions, and perfection of His Father.

  • Jesus Christ is the Father of salvation to those who follow Him. A few verses after the scripture in Mosiah 15 you quote are two verses that teach that Jesus is the Father to those who receive Him and obtain salvation through Him. (Mosiah 15:11-12):

    11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. 12 For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?


Jesus' role as "the Son" is due to the fact that He is the Son of God. This is the role He is most often viewed in and I don't think I need to add much to help understand how Jesus is a Son. If you need more clarification, let me know.



Later addition: I have found a third way in which Mormon canon identifies Jesus as "the Father". From Mosiah 3:7 (the future tense is because this was a prophesy made before Jesus' birth):

And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

Mormons believe that, although Heavenly Father was the one who planned the creation of heaven and earth, it was the pre-mortal Jesus Christ who actually created heaven and earth. Thus, in this sense Jesus is "the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning."

  • How do you understand instances such as "All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, except the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him" and verses like it? – Sola Gratia May 31 '17 at 13:41
  • In this verse, "me" is Jesus referring to Himself, and "my Father" is Jesus's Father, Heavenly Father. Jesus only has one Father. – NeutronStar May 31 '17 at 15:29
  • But you wrote at the very start of your comment, "Jesus is both the "Father" and the "Son" because He has various of roles" So Jesus doesn't have a Father in reality, he is the Father? – Sola Gratia May 31 '17 at 15:36
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    There are two fathers: Heavenly Father, who is the Father of Jesus and the creator of us all; and the Father role that Jesus fulfills. In the Mormon understanding, in scripture, "the Father" can be referring to either of these two people and usually it has to be understood from context whether it's referring to Heavenly Father (the Father of all our spirits and the Father of Jesus) or the Father of our salvation (Jesus Christ). – NeutronStar May 31 '17 at 17:06
  • In Mormonism what does the title "First and Last" mean, and how could it possibly be given to more than one God, given its meaning is precisely the uniqueness and eternity of the one God. – Sola Gratia May 31 '17 at 18:15
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Godhead

One of the most fundamental differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the rest of the Christian world is the belief that the Godhead is comprised of 3 distinct beings, rejecting the traditional definition of The Holy Trinity as outlined in the Nicene Creed.

1 Article of Faith

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

Definitions

  • God, the Eternal Father - The Father of our spirits (including Christ's), the God whom we worship.
  • Jesus Christ - Our spiritual Brother, Son of God (spiritually and physically), the Savior
  • Holy Ghost - Personage of Spirit that testifies of Christ, comforts, and sanctifies

Separate Beings

Joseph Smith History 1:17

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

Christ as The Father

Speaking specifically of Ether 3:14, M. Russel Ballard, an Apostle, said,

“But how is that possible? How can Jesus Christ be both the Father and the Son? It really isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Though He is the Son of God, He is the head of the Church, which is the family of believers. When we are spiritually born again, we are adopted into His family. He becomes our Father or leader."

"We speak of God the Son as the Father of the righteous. He is regarded as the “Father” because of the relationship between Him and those who accept His gospel, thereby becoming heirs of eternal life. "

In 1916 the First Presidency issued a doctrinal statement describing 3 ways that Jesus is referred to as Father:

  1. "Father" as Creator - see Ether 4:7
  2. “Father” of Those Who Abide in His Gospel
  3. “Father” by Divine Investiture of Authority
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Here's a very straightforward answer from the Book of Mormon, Alma 11:38-40:

Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; and he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that have eternal life, and salvation cometh unto none else.

I bolded the relevant parts of this passage. In some way, the phrasing is rather modalistic. The passage from Mosiah 15:2-4 explains this modalism in a different manner, one of which is espoused by Jason Dulle, a Oneness Pentacostal, who goes into detail here. However, Mormons I have spoken with in person have explained their understanding of God in a more social trinitarian fashion who are "one" in purpose and comparable to the three branches of the U.S. government.

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