Challenge Response: Mormons Believe in Salvation by Grace

Posted: July 28, 2011 by Brett Kunkle in Choosing My Religion, Weekly Challenge

Here’s the answer to this week’s challenge:

  1. Sam Harper says:

    I wonder if there is a difference in Mormonism between “eternal life” and “everlasting life.” Sandra says that we are all saved by grace in the sense that we are all resurrected and get to go to one of the heavens, but we do not all get “eternal life.” To get eternal life, we have to go through the Temple ceremonies that enable us to go on to exaltation (which can only happen in the Celestial kingdom). But the LDS web page, when defining grace, says, “It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life.” So according to the LDS web page, we are all saved by grace in the sense of being resurrected to everlasting life.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Yeah, I think everlasting life just means it goes on forever. So everybody is resurrected because of Jesus, and everybody will live forever. But when they say eternal life they’re talking about exaltation. I think “eternal” is a quality and “everlasting” is a length. If you look at that page, you’ll see that after they talk about the grace of the resurrection achieving everlasting life, the next part says, “It is likewise” that grace enables people to “lay hold on eternal life.” By saying “it is likewise,” they’re indicating that they’re now talking about something different.

  2. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should have a down payment on the path to eternal life.”

  3. You have to be married to get this eternal life? That’s a lot of pressure!

    • Sam Harper says:

      I think eternal marriage is about the scariest part of Mormonism.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Maybe it’s not so scary if there’s also no sin.

      • Sam Harper says:

        Given their doctrine of eternal progression, it may be millions of years before there’s no sin.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Oh, right. Yikes. Back to scary.

      • Amy Hall says:

        Also, I wonder if they would say that God (or we, in our exalted form) could sin if He slipped. Is His nature perfected, or is He just really good at being good? I think those are two different things.

      • Sam Harper says:

        Amy, I have asked a few different Mormons that very question–whether God could sin. They have all told me the same thing. They believe God CAN sin, but if he die, he wouldn’t be God anymore. To them, “God” is a title, not a species.

  4. Do Mormons believe that the one-and-only-God-with-whom-we-have-to-do, who being once as we are now, was a sinner that needed salvation from his God-with-whom-HE-had-to-do before he was exalted from lowly manhood?

    Is it an infinite “turtles all the way down” regress of sinners?

    • Sam Harper says:

      It’s one thing to say what Mormons believe. It’s another thing to say what the LDS Church officially teaches. As far as what Mormons believe, there’s a wide range of opinions on this subject. As far as what the LDS Church teaches, that it very hard to nail down.

      Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett discourse that God the Father underwent the same experience that Jesus did–he died and was raised from the dead. Since Jesus lived a sinless life, Mormons might say that the Father also lived a sinless life when he was human.

      Some Mormons deny that God was ever anything but God. They deny that he underwent any kind of progression that allowed him to become God.

      I’ve never heard a Mormon anywhere claim that the Father was once a sinner, but since many of them claim that the Father did undergo progression, I’m not sure what they would say about whether he had ever sinned.

  5. Peter says:

    This woman has it backwards. Mormons do not believe that the atonement is a down payment. Mormons believe that we are saved by grace because we are not capable of being perfect. However, Mormons do not believe that we can confess Christ while having our backs totally turned away from him and still receive salvation. We must show some intent.

    From the last chapter of the Book of Mormon:

    “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God”.

    Mormons believe the scripture that says “as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive”. Through the atonement, all will beat physical death by being ressurected. Those who repent will also return to the presence of God, thus beating spiritual death. Eternal life is defined as the life that God lives.

    All who bellieve in (have faith in, trust in, etc.) Christ will receive salvation. All who have read the 4 gospels know that Christ taught that we must be able to sacrifice all to receive salvation (think of the rich young man who had to sell all that he had). Christ was very firm on keeping the commandments. “not everyone who says Lord, Lord will be saved but only he who keeps the commandments”.

    • Sam Harper says:

      Peter, she may have gotten the down payment analogy from this parable on the LDS web page:,4945,11-1-13-18,00.html To me, it does make it seem like Jesus is somewhat of a debt consolidator. It explicitly says that Jesus atonement makes it possible to overcome spiritual death. The downpayment analogy seems to fit perfectly in that case since Jesus takes the first step, and we have to do the rest.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Peter, thanks for your comment. You said:

      Through the atonement, all will beat physical death by being ressurected. Those who repent will also return to the presence of God, thus beating spiritual death.

      I think that’s the very distinction being made. The cross freely resurrects everyone, but in order to reach the highest heaven, there is a list of requirements that must be followed (at least, that’s what I understand from Gospel Principles). The requirements are part of the repentance and turning to God. If they’re not done, no exaltation.

      Here are the discussion questions from the Exaltation section in Gospel Principles:

      Why are faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ necessary to become exalted?
      What ordinances must we accept in order to become exalted?
      What laws does the Lord give us that we must obey to become exalted?

      Why must we learn to follow the direction of the Holy Ghost to become exalted?

      By contrast, Romans 5 says:

      For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…

      For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

      For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants…

      In other words, it’s not just our resurrection that is achieved through faith–it’s much more. We’re actually declared righteous through it. If our presence before God required a fulfilling of the Law, no one would make it because the Law brings only wrath because we’re sinners and not righteous on our own. This is why God made the promise to us that we would have the righteousness of Christ cover us by faith, only through His grace.

      This doesn’t mean we don’t do good (Paul answers this objection later in Romans). It just means that the resurrection and our presence before God is solely by His grace.