Personal salvation is one of the most important doctrines in the Bible. That Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, came into this world to be an all sufficient sacrifice for the sins of mankind is the message of the gospel. In order to further show that Mormons are to be distinguished from Christianity, this post will show that Mormons hold to a gospel that is rejected by the Bible.
I. How Late in Life Can a Person Be Saved?
The Bible teaches that no amount of works can save a person (Eph. 2.8,9; Gal. 2.16). Only grace through faith can save a person. This being said, an individual could be on their deathbed at the end of their life and still put their faith in Christ. The Mormons reject this notion of being saved at “the eleventh hour.” In fact, Brigham Young was vehemently against it:
“Some of our old traditions teach us that a man guilty of atrocious and murderous acts may savingly repent when on the scaffold; and upon his execution will hear the expression – ‘Bless God! 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 never will see heaven” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8.61). Young has forgotten about a certain thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus and asked “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk. 23.42). In response to this question Jesus replied. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (23.42).
II. Means of Salvation in Mormon Theology
Mormons believe that salvation comes from not only faith in Christ, but also by baptism by immersion, obedience to the teachings of the Mormon church, and good works: “If the sinner will repent of his sins, and go down into the waters of baptism, and there be buried in the likeness of being put into the earth and buried, and again be delivered from the water, in the likeness of being born – if in the sincerity of his heart he will do this, his sins shall be washed away. Will the water of itself wash them away? No; but keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin” (Discourses 2.4).
Young seemed to reject the idea that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9.22). In fact he even goes so far as to say that the blood of Christ is limited in which sins it covers. This doctrine (as I understand it) is somewhat suppressed by the Mormon Church, although it has never officially been rejected. Read Young’s own words to understand:
A. “You say, ‘That man ought to die for transgressing the law of God.’ Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands.” Journal of Discourses 3.247
B. “There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants.” Journal of Discourses 3.247
C. “All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed.” Discourses 4.219
D. “I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins.” Discourses 4.220
E. “This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.” Discourses 4.220
To summarize what Young was trying to say: Some sins were so heinous that the blood of Christ could not cover them. The only way the sin could be covered or forgiven was for the blood of the sinner to be spilled, i.e. by death. It could perhaps be argued that this is a form of human sacrifice.
Christians hold to faith in the saving power of the death Christ is what brings salvation. Mormons reject this. They deny the power of Jesus’ blood as well as the sufficiency of it. They hold to a works based gospel in clear contradiction of New Testament teaching.