By Grant Sinclair
The following is a fictitious debate between representatives of the Christian and Mormon faith. There is no intention to mock or belittle individuals in this entertaining presentation. The purpose is to instruct in an alternate style. All references to Mormon as well as Christian beliefs are based on fact.
Note: This originally appeared in my master’s thesis, entitled, A Christian Response to the Cults: An Aid For the Lay Person, Appendix One. It was in response to a course assignment to share the gospel in a unique way. I chose to use apologetics (with a focus on Mormonism) along with a touch of humor.
Tom Owens: Welcome to the new television show entitled, “Friendly Debates.” My name is Tom Owens and I am the host of the show. Last week, as some of you may recall, we had on four individuals who claimed to be extraterrestrials. Tonight we have two special guests. On my right is Joe Smith, long-term Mormon missionary and visiting professor of missions at Brigham Young University. Welcome to the program, Joe.
Joe Smith: Thank you, Tom. I’m glad to be here.
Owens: Joe, are you any relation to the Joseph Smith?
Smith: No sir. Possibly in some very distant manner but I am not aware of the link. I wish I were his direct descendent.
Owens: And on my left is Ortho Dox, a veteran missionary to non-Christian religions and visiting professor of apologetics at Regent College, located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Welcome, Ortho.
Ortho Dox: Thank you, Tom.
Owens: Ortho, is it true you have recently written a book?
Dox: Yes, Tom. It’s at the publishers now. I have had a desire in my heart for some time to write a type of handbook for the average Christian on the whole area of apologetics and cult evangelism. Other than the odd course at college or graduate school, little exists to train Christians to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” 1 Peter 3:15.
Owens: Well, we certainly look forward to the discussion both of you gentlemen are about to have. For the benefit of the audience I will announce that our topic is limited to “The True Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Ortho, why don’t you start things off.
Dox: I am very thankful for a program like this. Right from the start I want to make it clear to our viewers that the Christian gospel and that of the L.D.S. are quite different. In this rare, televised discussion I hope to demonstrate this to all who are listening tonight. Joe, why don’t you tell our audience where Jesus was born?
Smith: Quite the opening Dr. Dox! I will gladly respond to your question. First, I would like to mention that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be in town next Friday, should anyone be interested. In answer to your question, Jesus was born in Jerusalem. You will find this in Alma 7:10.
Dox: That is only found in the Book of Mormon [Note: This will usually be listed as B.O.M. from this point on]. The Bible clearly states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Dox: Yes, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the references I’m about to give. See for example Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-6. Not only is it found in those two gospels but the prophet Micah predicted the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. You will find that in Micah 5:2.
Smith: Who’s to say what the correct interpretation of that prophecy is?
Dox: It’s true that some prophecies are difficult to understand but this one is interpreted for us in Matthew’s gospel, chapter two and verses four to six. Here we read that when the chief priests and teachers of the law were asked where the Messiah would be born they answered by referring to this passage in Micah and stated that Bethlehem would be the location.
Smith: My good Dr. Dox…
Dox: Ortho, please.
Smith: Fine. Ortho, everyone knows the Bible we currently have is far from perfect. Only some of your radical fundamentalists would think that the Bible is perfect, as we have it.
Dox: I think it’s quite accurate.
Smith: That’s not the point. We all know that the majority of scholars who hold to your brand of Christianity readily admit that questions exist in regard to the many manuscripts. While some believe the original autographs were perfect, we don’t have these any more. This means part of the Bible is missing. Thanks to Joseph Smith, our problems are over.
Dox: Are you going to say that Joseph Smith was a New Testament scholar and linguist?
Smith: Far from that. He had something much better. God and angels directly spoke to him so we know that the B.O.M. is completely trustworthy and to be accepted over the Bible when conflicts arise. Look, this is a small point for us to be using up valuable time. We both agree that Jesus came to this earth for the sake of mankind. Let’ proceed from common ground.
Dox: But how did Jesus come to the earth?
Smith: His spirit took on human flesh.
Dox: Yes, but how did that happen?
Smith: You’re bringing up another minor point.
Dox: I will let the audience judge whether three references to Jesus’ birth place against a much later opinion as found in the B.O.M. is a minor point. Regardless, how Jesus came into this world is crucial to our very souls.
Smith: That’s a very serious statement.
Dox: The Apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 4 that some people preach a different Jesus, a different gospel, and come with a different spirit. A similar warning is found in Galatians 1:6-9.
Smith: Just what are you trying to say? Are you going to deny that due to a slight variation in the description of how Jesus came to earth we Mormons arn’t good Christians like yourself?
Dox: Orthodox Christianity teaches that Jesus was born by the Holy Spirit, in the body of a virgin named Mary. This is found in Matthew 1:18-25.
Dox: If you told the audience what the L.D. S. believe and teach, you would shock all Christians, many non-Christians and even a few Mormons.
Smith: The Book of Mormon teaches the very thing you just mentioned in Alma 7:10.
Dox: We both know your church teaches something far different.
Smith: Like what?
Dox: I was hoping you were going to level with me on this one. In spite of what is found in Alma 7:10, Brigham Young, your church’s second greatest prophet taught…
Smith: Unless someone says, “Thus saith the Lord,” it’s not to be considered scripture.
Dox: So your prophets can say whatever they want and it doesn’t matter how erroneous it is as long as they did not say, “thus saith the Lord?”
Smith: That’s a rather crude way to put it, but yes, that is technically correct.
Dox: Amazing. However, Brigham Young has helped us out in what I am going to say. In the Journal of Discourses, volume thirteen, and page ninety-five, he said that all his sermons were to be received as scripture. Shall I hold this volume up to the television camera for all to see?
Smith: No, that’s fine. Go on.
Dox: Brigham Young taught that our heavenly Father is not only an exalted man, but that he had sexual relations with Mary in order to produce Jesus.
Smith: I hope you can back that up.
Dox: My prayer is that all Mormons who are listening will write down all the references I am about to read off and go to their own library and check them out. I have eleven clear references, all found in the Journal of Discourses. They are as follows: Vol. 1, pp. 50-51; Vol. 3, p.365: Vol. 4, pp.27, 216, 218; Vol. 8, pp.67, 115; Vol. 9, p.291; Vol. 10, p.192; Vol. 11, p.268; and Vol. 13, p.145. I will now quote from one of these passages: “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who was the Father? He was the first of the human family [i.e. Adam];…Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.” This was taken from Journal of Discourses, volume one, pages fifty and fifty-one. Any way you look at it, this is a different Jesus and a different God than the one in the Bible.
Smith: Ortho, that quote is quite old.
Dox: Joe, this is your second greatest prophet, who claimed that his words were scripture. However, I will provide you with a more current source. Bruce McConkie, in his L.D.S. authorized book entitled, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, on pages 546, 742 and 743 reaffirms this belief. In fact, in reference to the phrase that Jesus was the “only begotten of God” McConkie writes, “Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only, Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” This appears on pages 546 and 547.
Smith: O.K., that’s one small point. We are discussing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you intend for us to spend the whole evening on this point?
Dox: No. Let’s move on.
Smith: And since we’re on the topic of strange beliefs, why don’t you tell everyone what you plan to do in heaven?
Dox: What do you mean?
Smith: Oh, come now, Mr. Dox. Can’t take your own medicine?
Dox: What do you want me to say? The Bible doesn’t provide many details, but I’m sure that I will worship the Lord forever.
Smith: Let’s be more specific. All of you so-called orthodox Christians plan to sit around playing your harps!
Dox: You must be referring to the book of Revelation, chapter fourteen and verses two and three, as well as chapter fifteen, and verses two and three. I have no idea of the list of activities I will perform after I die, but it may well include playing the harp. Joe, if I didn’t know better, I would say you were mocking this seeming lack of activity. I know of no Christian theologian or pastor, who teaches that we will only “harp” in heaven. I must point out to the audience that only other Mormons could understand the thrust of your question. We all seem like bone-heads to you. Why don’t you tell the people what you think you will be doing in heaven?
Smith: I know what I will do in heaven, contrary to well-intentioned individuals, like yourself.
Owens: Gentlemen, I must break in at this point. It is time for a station break. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
Owens: Welcome back to “Friendly Debates.” L.D.S. representative Joe Smith, no relation to the Joseph Smith, is about to tell us what Mormons will do in heaven. Ortho Dox, missionary to non-Christian religions and representing biblical Christianity will respond. Mr. Smith, please go ahead.
Smith: Thank you Tom. As I said before the break, all members of the L.D.S. know what they will be doing in heaven, contrary to so-called biblical Christians like yourself, Ortho. Let me back up a little first. We believe there are three heavens. First is the Telestial, which is for the heathen people who reject the gospel. Next is the Terrestrial. People found here consist of Christians who reject the Mormon message, as well as Mormons who don’t live up to the requirements of their church, and people from all other religions who are honorable but reject Mormonism. The third heaven is broken down into three further levels. Mormons who are not married in the temple are found in levels two and three. The first level is godhood, exaltation for those married in the temple. This is the ultimate goal for a Mormon.
Dox: Do you hope to become a god?
Smith: Most certainly!
Dox: And you believe there are billions of gods in existence?
Smith: Yes. Each has their own planet and multiple wives by whom they populate it.
Dox: Their job is to be “eternally pregnant” and they can’t rise from the dead unless their husband gives the word, right?
Smith: Very good, Dr. Dox, I mean, Ortho. You are correct. I realize that those into women’s rights won’t be too happy but that is the truth on the matter.
Dox: So you will be very busy impregnating your many wives and ruling your very own planet?
Smith: That is my hope and belief.
Dox: Well, while I disagree, I would like to commend your forthright declaration. I have never had an L.D.S. representative freely offer this information. Instead, I have had to state it then ask the individual to either confirm or deny it.
Smith: Well I have nothing to hide.
Dox: As you know, biblical Christians believe in one God.
Smith: Let’s stop right there. You’re going to complain about us being polytheists yet you believe in a monster God, one that has three heads. I’ll have you know that the so called Trinitarian doctrine was a pagan concept.
Dox: Now I will respond. Not only Mormons, but Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals and a few other groups teach that the Trinity was a pagan idea imposed on the people by the Roman Catholic church via Constantine, at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. This is historically false and contrary to the facts. One of the early church fathers, Tertullian, used the term “Trinity” over a century before Nicea. The Roman bishop wasn’t even present at the council. It was not until around A.D. 590 that the Roman bishop began to claim supremacy over other bishops. Lastly, it was not until A.D. 1054 that the Eastern and Western churches split, resulting in the Greek Orthodox (Eastern) and the Roman Catholic (Latin, Western) churches coming into being. The plain fact is that there was no Roman Catholic church back then. Lastly, the Council of Nicea did not even convene over the issue of the Trinity. It dealt with the Arian heresy, which attacked the deity of Jesus.
Smith: Sounds impressive, but do scholars outside of your brand of Christianity come up with the same information?
Dox: Please go to any university or public library and check their history section. You will find that scholars of various backgrounds are in agreement here.
Smith: I have never heard this type of information before.
Dox: With all due respect, I have heard that response from several individuals, all of whom aggressively deny the Trinity. The idea (of the Trinity) is not pagan but is found in the Bible.
Smith: How can you say that? Where’s your evidence?
Dox: While I can provide multiple references, for the sake of time I will give only a few. Scripture teaches that the Father is God, 1 Pet. 1:2. We also see that the Son is God, Jn. 20:28. The Holy Spirit is also referred to as God, Acts 5:3, 4. Yet, we read there is only one God, in such passages as Deuteronomy 6:4. The conclusion we reach is that the three must somehow be the one God.
Smith: Well Ortho, you are the first Christian that has ever been able to come up with some sort of explanation of the Trinity. I commend you for that. However, you must admit that the very idea of three equaling one is not only difficult to comprehend, it also sounds very ignorant.
Dox: If God was so small that we could fully comprehend him and his ways, he would be no greater than you or I. Who can comprehend resurrection, yet Jesus rose from the dead? Who can possibly comprehend creation, but we believe it since the Bible tells us this is so. In the same way, if the scriptures teach that there are three who make up the one God, who am I to argue? I simply want to be obedient.
Smith: But Ortho, you mean to tell me that God always existed?
Dox: Exactly. Some of the previous references I gave make this quite clear.
Owens: Gentlemen, I’ll just intrude briefly to inform our audience that transcripts of tonight’s dialogue will be available to the public. Simply send a donation of ten dollars to the address shown at the end of the program and we will make them available to you. With the many references you gentlemen are giving I’m sure there are some frustrated listeners out there who missed copying them all down or would like to take time to check them out. Sorry, Ortho. Go ahead.
Dox: Thanks Tom. While I could provide a rather long list of scriptures to substantiate my position, I think it would be interesting for everyone if instead I quoted from the Book of Mormon. In 2 Nephi 26:12 we read that Jesus is the eternal God. In the same portion of the B.O.M. in 31:21 it says that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are the one God. In Moroni 8:18 we read that God is unchanging from all eternity to all eternity. Other relevant passages n the B.O.M. in regards to the Trinity and God existing throughout eternity include: Mosiah 15:1, 3, 4 and Mormon 9:9, 19. Several other references could be given.
Smith: I’m impressed with the zeal you have exhibited in your faith and striving to prove it in the book of Mormon. While I interpret things differently , it’s interesting to hear your view. Tell me, Ortho, how come you don’t believe that man progresses to godhood? Your view sounds quite dull.
Dox: Dull or not, I must stand on God’s word. I realize that you believe that every one of the billions of gods were once just a man like you and I, then in time they progressed to godhood.
Dox: Yet, we read in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that should change his mind.”
Owens: It’s time for another station break. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
Owens: Welcome back to “Friendly Debates.” Gentlemen, it’s been fascinating listening to the various aspects which make up the different faiths. At this point, perhaps you could zero in more on Jesus and the Gospel.
Smith: Great idea. Why don’t I lead out?
Dox: Be my guest.
Smith: The Jesus which we of the L.D.S. church believe in is not who you people refer to as “the second person of the Godhead.” Jesus was simply a pre-existent spirit and was also the spirit brother of Lucifer. This is clearly alluded to in another inspired book called, The Pearl of Great Price. You will find this important passage in Moses 4:1-4.
Dox: I’m sorry but the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus created all things, including Lucifer. See for example: John 1:3 and 10 as well as Hebrews 1:1 and 2. He always existed. See also John 1:1, 14…
Smith: Will you kindly let me finish?
Smith: Thank you! I will now talk about the gospel. You quoted earlier from Bruce R. McConkie’s excellent book entitled, Mormon Doctrine. He sets out our beliefs quite clearly. In regard to the plan of salvation, he writes on page 331, “it embraces all of the laws, principles, doctrines, rites, ordinances, acts, power, authorities, and keys necessary to save and exalt men in the highest heaven hereafter.”
Dox: I must comment here. The Apostle Paul spelled out what the gospel included in his first letter to the Corinthians. I might add that this letter predates the four gospels found in our Bibles. I now quote from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, out of the King James Version, which is the only one your church accepts: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Dox: Can’t you see?
Dox: The gospel is Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. It’s also the fact that he died for our sins. It has absolutely nothing to do with rites, ceremonies and church regulations. The gospel is the good news about Jesus’ work of redemption.
Smith: Can you cross reference that?
Dox: Yes. See Romans 10:8-10. I will read verses 8b to 9: “That is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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.” No rules or special rites were given as requirements. Also, please turn to Acts 16:30 and 31. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’” No further requirements were given but he did explain the things of God. We know that from the following verse (32), “ And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
Smith: You seem to be alluding to what is called, “salvation by grace.”
Dox: Most certainly.
Smith: McConkie writes on p.671 of the book we mentioned previously, “salvation in the celestial kingdom of God, however, is not salvation by grace alone. Rather, it is salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”
Dox: Laws and ordinances which your church lists off but are not found in the New Testament.
Smith: Correct. The fuller revelation was given to us by Joseph Smith and he provided three more books of scripture, which include the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, as well as Pearl of Great Price.
Dox: I am aware of your church’s acceptance of those volumes, but don’t you ever wonder about the conflicts?
Smith: Name some.
Dox: Already I have mentioned that the bible informs us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as found in Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-6, yet the Bok of Mormon says Jerusalem, in Alma 7:10.
Smith: That’s a minor technicality, as I said previously.
Dox: Another interesting difference is found in Acts 10:38, where we read that Jesus “went about doing good” yet in the book of Mormon it records that Jesus destroyed sixteen cities and slaughtered thousands of people at his death. This is located in 3 Nephi, chapters eight and nine.
Smith: May I remind you, Ortho, that the Old Testament wasn’t exactly a Sunday school picnic. There was lots of blood and gore. Also, there is an element of mystery involved. No one knows everything. Not even you!
Dox: Please, I’m the first to admit my limitations…
Smith: I’m glad to hear that.
Dox: …but we all must strive to understand those things which are possible to comprehend. I would like to get back to the whole area of salvation. There is an interesting quote by McConkie in his book, What the Mormons Think of Christ. I should emphasize to the audience that both of McConkie’s books cited tonight are official Mormon publications. I will quote portions from pages 27 to 33, where he provides the Mormon interpretation of salvation by grace.
Smith: This should be good.
Dox: And I quote, “Grace is simply the mercy, the love and the condescension God has for his children, as a result of which he has ordained the plan of salvation so that they may have power to progress and become like him…All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part, meaning that they are resurrected and become immortal because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ…In addition to this redemption from death, all men, by the grace of God, have the power to gain eternal life. This is called salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Hence Nephi was led to write: ‘We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.’
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. His blood, without any other act than mere belief, they say, makes us clean…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.”
Smith: Now that was an excellent quote!
Dox: I agree. It demonstrates your church’s teachings on this most essential area.
Smith: I couldn’t have chosen a better quote.
Smith: I think if you Christians would stop persecuting the Mormons, we would all get along quite well together.
Dox: The reverse is true.
Smith: What do you mean?
Dox: The Mormons consistently attack biblical Christianity and cry “foul” when we respond by contrasting the Jesus of the Bible with the one of Joseph Smith.
Smith: I hope you can document that!
Dox: I’m quite surprised that you have set yourself up for what I am about to say. While I have several sources with me, I will limit myself to two. Let’s begin with Joseph Smith, your founder and greatest prophet. After he inquired of the Lord regarding which group or sect of Christians was right, he claims to have seen the Father and the Son and wrote, “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors (meaning those who profess such belief), were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’” This famous quote was from the first chapter of Joseph Smith’s History of the Church, verse 19. The chapter was important enough to be included in Pearl of Great Price, the third sacred volume of Mormon scripture.
Smith: Joseph Smith was quoting what God said to him.
Dox: Next, I will quote a portion of the secret Mormon temple ceremony. Every obedient Mormon will go through this at some point. It’s not intended to needlessly embarrass your church, but to expose to the public one section which ridicules all Christian preachers of the gospel.
Smith: I have not resorted to exposing y our church’s secrets, so why are you doing this to us?
Dox: I appreciate your concerns. However, Christians don’t have any equivalent secret rituals. In fact, contrary to your church’s temple ceremony, the Bible strictly forbids taking oaths. In Matthew 5:34-37 Jesus forbids it and it’s repeated again in James 5:12. Regarding the temple ceremony, I’m only going to quote from the section which is pertinent to this whole area of one group instilling animosity towards another. This portion is entitled, “The Lone and Dreary World.” It used to be acted out but in recent times has been put on film for individuals to view. I now quote:
“Lucifer: Oh, I see, you want religion. You want someone to preach to you. I’ll have some preachers here presently.
Preacher: My! A fine congregation!
Lucifer: Oh, are you a preacher?
Lucifer: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry.
Preacher: Why, certainly. A man cannot preach unless he has been trained for the ministry.
Lucifer: Well, do you preach orthodox religion?
Preacher: Yes, that is what I preach.
Lucifer: Well, if you’ll preach your orthodox religion to this people and convert them, I’ll pay you well.
Preacher: I’ll do my best. Good morning, sir.”
Smith: As you well know, this has been discontinued as part of the ceremony.
Dox: It was only put aside more recently. I heard an announcement about this on FM radio station in April of 1990. It was also on the front page of the New York Times newspaper on May 3, 1990. However, this disgusting ceremony has been going on for over a century and half. In addition, paid preachers are mocked in it.
Smith: And so they should be!
Dox: Jesus told the seventy disciples which he sent out, to enter anyone’s house who would receive them. They were to eat and drink whatever they were given, “for the laborer is worthy of his hire.” You can read this in Luke 10:5-7 in your King James Bible. The Apostle Paul confirms this when he writes in First Corinthians 9:14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
Smith: I trust my authorities over your reading of the Bible. You see, as far as I’m concerned, when the Bible is in conflict with any of our other holy books, I believe the works of Joseph Smith over it.
Dox: That’s fine. I just wanted to make the public aware of this information.
Owens: Gentlemen, allow me to break in here. As we are approaching the final portion of our program, perhaps Joe, you could expand a little on the Mormon doctrine of salvation and Ortho can respond.
Smith: Thank you. I would love to. We do not believe in original sin.
Dox: Then what do you call what Adam did?
Smith: Adam broke a law of God yet did not commit sin. The effects of his action touched all mankind and brought such effects as death. We all hold the possibility of godhood and are not sinners from birth.
Dox: I beg to differ with you. In Romans 5 we read in verse 12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Also, verses 18 and 19 are pertinent to this discussion, “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Smith: People can find whatever they want in the Bible, although I admit, it would appear on the surface that we have a contradiction. Regardless, I will now describe salvation. We believe there are two kinds.
Dox: Really? This should be interesting.
Smith: I think you will find it interesting. First, there is what is known as general salvation. This is unconditional and synonymous with resurrection.
Dox: So everyone gets saved?
Smith: You’re an eager student, Ortho. Since one result of the fall is that everyone dies, general salvation is necessary to redeem everyone from death. Obviously, redeeming mankind from death requires resurrection. This salvation or resurrection is automatic and is granted to every person without any necessary act on his or her part. Belief in Jesus Christ is not an issue.
Smith: I wish you really believed that. Before you cut in, I have more to say. Even the wicked will be saved in that they will be resurrected. All mankind, with the exception of the “sons of perdition” will be resurrected and judged at the resurrection by their works. Depending on what they have done, they will receive a part in either the Telestial or Terrestrial kingdom. Those who have a part only in this general salvation or resurrection are considered by the Mormon church to be “damned.”
Dox: Fascinating. And what do you have to say regarding personal salvation?
Smith: Since people do commit personal sins, a personal or individual salvation is needed to redeem people from these sins. What does Mormonism propose as a solution to such sins? We believe that redemption from such can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the gospel and a life of good works.
Dox: I knew it!
Smith: I know this will bother you, Ortho, but we believe that individual salvation, therefore, is one which man merits by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. But more than that, it is what man must do in order to attain godhood. Individual salvation, in its fullest form, is exaltation. In other words, progressing to godhood.
Dox: And what does a person have to do in order to receive forgiveness from personal sins and to attain godhood?
Smith: I would say there are essentially eight areas:
- Faith in Jesus Christ.
Dox: That’s where our list stops.
Smith: Thank you, Ortho.
- Laying on of hands (which is the ceremony for conferring priesthoods, and indicates a transfer of authority and power to that person),
- Church membership.
Dox: So in that sense you’re like the Catholic church used to be?
Smith: Correct. One cannot be saved, in the sense of exaltation or attaining godhood outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Keeping the commandments,
- Accepting Joseph Smith and his successors as God’s mouthpiece, and
- Temple work.
According to Mormonism, your status after death will all depend upon your good conduct. Whether you become a god or not, or which of the three glories you will dwell in is determined by our life, works and obedience here on earth.
Dox: So says Joseph Smith.
Smith: Yes, and our church authorities.
Owens: We are near the end of our program so Ortho why don’t you give a quick response.
Dox: Thanks Tom. It’s difficult to give a brief response to the material Joe just finished presenting but I will try. Perhaps a few more scriptures on salvation by grace would be appropriate.
Smith: Not again?
Dox: Sorry Joe. It’s what the Bible teaches. Paul declares in Galatians 2:21 that if salvation comes by works, then Christ has died for nothing. Next, I will quote the classic passage on this topic: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This is found in Ephesians 2:8-10.
Smith: Excellent. You have just proved my point.
Dox: I don’t think so. We are saved by grace but due to this salvation, we then desire to do these good works, which were prepared for us in advance.
Smith: You’ve lost me and I’m sure most of the audience.
Dox: Sorry. My goal is to speak clearly. Let me try again. We are saved completely apart from any good work. Once we are saved, out of our new relationship with God, we begin doing good works as a natural consequence and outflow of our new state.
Smith: Sounds quite complex!
Dox: Not really. Jesus defined what work the people had to do in order to inherit eternal life. He said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him who he hath sent.” Period! This is from John 6:29.
Owens: Gentlemen, the time has arrived. A parting shot from Joe?
Smith: Yah. Ortho, you’d make one heck of a Mormon! I wish you would consider what I have shared tonight.
Dox: Thanks! Joe, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Jesus loves you! Please make sure you love the right Jesus.
Owens: That’s it for tonight. The audience is reminded that they can write in for a set of transcripts for a donation of ten dollars. Gentlemen, you have provided a fascinating look at differing views on salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We would love to have you both back on another occasion.
Smith: I would love to come again.
Owens: Next week we will have on a witch, a Satanist, and a Christian. You won’t want to miss it! This is Tom Owens, saying, “Have a good one! Good night.”