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Last Update:  4/2014

The sections within the Salvation menu highlight Christian vs. Mormon differences in Salvation, grace, faith and works. 

The Mormon doctrine of salvation is detailed out in their Plan of Salvation, which is drawn from the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, can only be attained by Mormons who have been baptized into the Mormon church, received endowments at the temple, been strictly obedient to Mormon laws and ordinances, paid a full 10% tithe, magnified their church callings, obeyed the word of wisdom, followed the law of chastity, performed many good works, and endured to the end in Mormonism.  Godhood is reserved for those who have done all this and who have been sealed in the temple to their wife, or wives, if any previous have died since polygamy will be practiced when Christ returns to earth and in heaven according to Mormon doctrine.

However the biblical plan of salvation is very different as there is only one requirement to gain eternal life and is exemplified in John 3:16: 

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Mormons use the same terminology as Christians in discussing doctrine so it is important to understand the differences in definition before talking with Mormons on these topics.  You could be hours into a conversation with them and have no idea the words you are both using hold very different meanings.  Salvation, the atonement and grace are topics where Mormons and Christians use the same terminology, but a deeper study shows definitions which are worlds apart.  Here I present the teachings of the Bible and Mormon standard works to reveal what each has to say about the effects of atonement, our eternal salvation and what role we have in the process.

Christian Definition of Salvation

Christians believe salvation is a free and unmerited gift of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible and this is what Christian's trust alone in for their eternal life.  It is the transfer of trust from what work you do to the work Jesus Christ has already completed on the cross.  This transfer of trust alone secures your place in heaven.  It should be noted the type of trust and faith I am speaking of is a living faith, not just a simple belief (James 2:19).  A living faith transforms our hearts and will be reflected through our actions and changed motivations; selfless motivations to glorify God for the free gift of eternal life through the shed blood of Jesus.  One of the clearest scripture references which details how salvation is attained is found in the book of Romans.

Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Mormon Definition of Salvation

Salvation from the Mormon perspective is a little more complex as there are two types of salvation.  The first is all humanity will receive a general or unconditional salvation (universal resurrection), which is all the atonement pays for.  Mormon doctrine teaches Jesus’ atonement only has the power to resurrect us from the grave, period.  Where a person ends up after judgment must be earned based on obedience to laws, ordinances, works and moral conformity.  This is the second salvation they refer to as an individual salvation or conditional salvation, and is the motivation driving Mormons to try to be perfect like Jesus so they can reach the highest level of heaven, the Celestial kingdom, and become gods themselves.  Only after a Mormon does all he or she can do by “extending their best effort,” “denying yourselves of all ungodliness,” “loving God with all your might, mind, and strength,” and “enduring to the end,” can the grace of Christ be availed allowing them into one of three levels of heaven (2 Nephi 25:23; Moroni 10:32).  Salvation in Mormonism is essentially "getting what you pay for" or deserve, whereas in Christianity, salvation is receiving a free gift Jesus paid for out of His great love on our behalf (what we don't deserve).

All the following statements are by Mormon leaders are consistent with Mormon salvation being based on the power of Jesus’ atonement only resurrecting us plus works and moral conformity to "qualify" for the celestial kingdom.  [emphasis added]

“Salvation is twofold: General ~ that which comes to all men irrespective of a belief (in this life) in Christ ~ and, Individual ~ that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:134).

“As the result of Christ’s victory over the grave, we shall all be resurrected. ... It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned” (Thomas S. Monson, "An Invitation to Exaltation," Ensign, May 1988).

“Jesus Christ made the resurrection a reality, but each person determines what kind of reward he or she will receive” (Church News, week ending May 25, 1996, 14).

“…all will be resurrected because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father. Depending on our individual obedience to the laws, ordinances, and commandments of God, each mortal can have the blessing of attaining eternal life; that is, returning to live in the presence of their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, having eternal increase for all the eternities to come” (Apostle Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, November 1996, 64).

“Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, we will all be resurrected. Jesus Christ is our Savior, for He saves us from physical death…This [spiritual] redemption is conditioned on our having faith in His Atonement, our repenting from our sins, our keeping the covenants we make with the Lord, our obeying all His commandments, and our enduring to the end. Obeying the sacred covenants and all the commandments qualifies us to receive the remission of our sins, allowing us to live clean and pure lives in the presence of God as resurrected and exalted beings” (Seventy Adhemar Damiani, “The Merciful Plan of the Great Creator,” Ensign, March 2004, 11-12).

“The Lord’s mission in mortality was to accomplish the Atonement, which is the gift of immortality to every individual who has ever lived. That is an incredible gift. Part of that mission was to make eternal life a possibility for anyone who would qualify for it. That is a gift conditioned upon obedience to the laws and temple ordinances and covenants” (Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “The Mission and Ministry of the Savior,” Ensign, June 2005, 19).

Please continue to read each of the sections within this topic as I compare and contrast the Mormon doctrine on salvation/eternal life versus the biblical doctrine on salvation.