Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Possible Salvation: A Mormon Take

We believe salvation is independent of denomination, which very few people realize is a tenet of Mormonism. In fact, given our belief in the universal potential of the Atonement of Christ, we believe it is independent of religious affiliation in totality - IF someone truly did not have a chance to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in mortality. We believe those judgments will be made by our Eternal Judge, Jesus, the Christ - not by we who see through a glass, darkly. Allowing for salvation outside our own limited understanding is an aspect of humility and gratitude that is central to our theology. (Since there is not one of us that "deserves" salvation, we need to avoid the natural tendency to say that others "don't deserve it". We are commanded to love ALL and not judge ANY - in that regard, at least.)

Ironically, we get told all the time that we believe only Mormons will be saved, while our actual theology allows for the salvation of MANY more of God's children than the majority of Christian denominations allow. We leave salvation open to the reaches of grace beyond the opportunities of this life, while many other Christian theologies deny salvation to all but those blessed to hear of Jesus and the Gospel and accept them in this life. Thus, the number of those who have a shot at salvation within Mormonism's view is exponentially higher than that within almost any other segment of Christianity. It really is one of the misconceptions that bothers me the most, since it is a HUGE moat and beam issue, in my mind.

As succinctly as I can put it, we believe the Bible on this one. We accept Paul's statement in I Corin. 15:22 that "as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive." ALL of God's children are saved from physical death and will be resurrected. ALL will be saved from the effects of the Fall - from those things that are out of their control as a result of being born into a sinful world. ALL will have the opportunity (somehow, at some time) to hear the Gospel of Christ and accept it or reject it. We don't know many details of how that will happen, but we extrapolate from the words of Paul and Peter that it will happen either in this life or in the post-mortal life (whatever title we might give it).


Gwennaƫlle said...

On my mission my President got worried for me because my grand-father died. I had been some really rough things and he was affraid this was going to be an other trial for me after the rocky stuff my family had to go through.
He was surprised by how well I took the news and when we had zone conference he asked me if I was ok.
First for Heaven sake it was only my grand-father, I mean it was in the order of things for him to go.
But this is not what I told him because it was not what was on my mind.
I told him that I was really ok and that during his life my grand-father would not hear that the gospel was he was facing the evidence and had little choice left.
My mission president looked at me like if I was weird and then understood I was really ok.

I believed it and still do.
He was the kind of man who would accept to be wrong if put in front of his mistakes.

Last Lemming said...

For what its worth, the following answer appeared on Jeopardy! last night in the "Afterlife" category.

This faith dating from 1830 says everyone except a few God-rejecters will see glory in the afterlife

I was so stunned to see it that I didn't even notice if anybody got it right. Anyway, your message is getting some airtime.

Clean Cut said...

Papa D, great post. Which leads me to ask you how you feel about this line from Elder Callister's recent conference talk:

"Salvation is to be found in one place alone, as so designated by the Lord Himself when He said that this is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30)."

Is it me, or do I have a legitimate reason to be critical here?

I liked so much about the rest of his talk--especially how he compares how people could view Peter with how people view Joseph Smith. But I ended up pausing the DVR during this line to discuss it over with my wife. I personally would have worded it differently--for several reasons. Am I off base for taking exception here?

John Scherer said...

You have no idea how muh I needed to read this today. Thanks Ray!

Papa D said...

Great story, Gwen. Thanks for sharing it.

LL, about all I can say is, "Wow!!" I never would have expected that. I wonder if Ken Jennings talked with Alex Trebek. *grin*

CC, I have NO problem with placing salvation exclusively within the *Gospel*, and I understand the idea that the sealing ordinances can be administered only through the Priesthood within an organization and thus salvation is tied in with the *Church* (and I try hard to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and find a way to parse things in a charitable manner), BUT . . .

I think Elder Callister conflated two things in his quote you excerpted in your comment. I believe "salvation" and "exaltation" need to be considered separately from "The Church" to understand all three of them fully. I'm ok with his statement IF AND ONLY IF it is applied vary narrowly and symbolically to the here and now, but I don't think that's what he meant, so I agree with your concern.

John, I am glad I chose to post it today - inexpressibly so.

Clean Cut said...

Thanks Ray. I appreciate your response.

Tom Jones said...

The Bible certainly condemns those who have not personally heard about the Messiah and are rejecting God's existence (Rom 1:18-32) simply because they can see that His creation is too precise to be an accident.

But, for those who have had the opportunity to hear the truth via His word, which is most of us, we must not ignore the fact that Jesus himself narrowed the choices, after death, to two destinies. In Matthew 7:13-14, He said,"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to "destruction" (Look this word up in a Greek lexicon. The Greek word translated "Destruction" in this passage is synonymous with "perdition; the loss of ones soul forever"), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to [eternal] life, and only a few find it.

Notice that the "many" will lose their souls forever and "only a few" find eternal life. Clearly, the majority will not be in some level of heaven but in outer darkness forever.

For more on what the Bible says about how to make sure you have eternal life, go to and open the brochure titled "Heavenly Father's Plan for You...according to the Bible."

Papa D said...

Tom, the interesting thing is that both of our beliefs are based on the Bible.

Frankly, I'd rather emphasis the messages about grace than the ones about punishment, even as I accept fully that we will be judged according to our works / fruits. In the end, I think both of us agree that those who hear, truly understand and reject will not be rewarded for it - but I think my interpretation allows more for God to be the judge of whether or not someone else really has had a chance to understand and accept or reject - since I don't believe it is as clear-cut as you appear to believe it is.

I will say one thing, and I don't mean this to be confrontational, but I do believe it strongly:

The idea that this life ONLY is the time to accept or reject is a great cop-out for many people to practice hating and judging their neighbor - since anyone can scream hellfire and damnation at others then blame them for rejecting the message. Also, I just can't accept that God would damn someone who attends Sunday School weekly and hears the Gospel preached but rejects Christianity in this life because her pious father took her to church then went home and raped her repeatedly, for example.

For justice to be just, it simply MUST account for mortal circumstances that cloud judgment and push people away from truth. That, according to the Bible as I read it, is the most powerful application of grace - and rejecting a chance in the post-mortal existence, imo, is rejecting the heart of grace.

Jared said...


I sent you an email yesterday. I used curtisraydegraw at juno dot com.

Forgive me for using this comment page to communicate with you. I'm not sure I have the correct email address for you.