What is the Mormon Doctrine of Salvation?
How Do Mormons “Get Saved”?
The Mormon doctrine of salvation involves not only faith in Christ, but baptism by immersion, obedience to the teaching of the Mormon church, good works and “keeping the commandments of God which will cleanse away the stain of sin,” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 2, page 4). This was written by Brigham Young himself. However, the Bible teaches us that we are saved by placing our personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His shed blood only (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14, 20-22; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:12-14; 1 John 1:7).
The Mormon teaching, as you can see, concerning salvation, is quite the opposite of the New Testament revelation of justification by faith and redemption solely by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Brigham Young also believed that a person could not at any time sincerely repent of his sins and receive forgiveness and eternal life. He wrote the following: “Some of our old traditions teach us that a man guilty of atrocious and murderous acts may savingly repent on the scaffold; and upon his execution will hear the expression–‘God bless! He has gone to heaven to be crowned in glory, through the all-redeeming merits of Christ the Lord!’ This is all nonsense. Such a character will never see heaven. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 8, page 61).
Brigham Young never did explain the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who addressed Himself to the thief on the cross who had repented of His sins at the last moment by saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus replied in verse 43: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Bible teaches us that the Lord Jesus offered one eternal sacrifice for all sins and His salvation comes not by the works of the law or any human works whatever (Galatians 2:16, 21; Ephesians 2:9) but solely by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The Savior of the New Testament Revelation existed eternally as God; lived a holy, harmless and undefiled life, separate from sinners, and “knew no sin.”
Mormon Theology of Jesus Christ
However, in Mormon theology, Christ as a pre-existent spirit was not only the spirit brother of the devil (The Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, chapter 4, verses 1-4; Journal of Discourses, volume 13, page 232) but celebrated his own marriage to both “Mary and Martha, whereby he could see his seed before he was crucified,” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 259-260).
In addition to this concept, Brigham Young categorically stated that the sacrifice made upon the cross by Jesus Christ in the form of His own blood was ineffective for the cleansing of some sins. Young went on to teach an unscriptural doctrine of “blood atonement,” (Journal of Discourses, volume 3, page 246, volume 4, pages 219-220).
It is common to find in Mormon literature the statement that “all men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part.” Although this appears to be perfectly orthodox, it is necessary to study all the Mormon statements relative to this doctrine in order to know precisely what they mean by what they appear to say.
What Mormons Think of Christ
In one such official Mormon publication entitled “What the Mormons think of Christ” by D. R. McConkie, we read the following:
“Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one’s salvation. Many go so far, for instance, as to pretend and at least, to believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept Him as our personal Savior, we are thereby saved. Salvation in the kingdom of God is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. But it is received only on condition of faith, repentance, baptism and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God (pages 27-33).
The foregoing is a typical example of what might be termed “theological double talk” which in one breath affirms grace as a saving principle and in the next declares that it is coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel and ends by declaring that confession of Christ and acceptance of Him as “personal Savior” is “utter nonsense” and “palpably false.”
Mr. McConkie’s assertion, that “salvation by grace” must be coupled with obedience with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel in order for a person to be saved, introduces immediately the whole Mormon collection of legalistic observances and requirements. In the end, salvation is not by grace at all, but it is in reality connected with human efforts: “baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God” (page 33). This is not the Christian doctrine of salvation which the apostle Peter described graphically in 1 Peter 1:18-19, 23.
In diametric opposition to the Mormon concept, the confession of Christ with the lips and acceptance of Him as our personal Savior is indeed the very means of personal salvation (Romans 10:9, 10). The gospel’s command is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). This is, of course, totally foreign to what the Mormons would have us believe.