As is evidenced by comments on this blog, there exists a communication problem between Christians and Mormons.  Mormons complain that Christians don’t understand them.  Christians say the same thing about Mormons.  Charges of misunderstanding and misrepresentation fly back and forth.  Therefore I offer the following in the hope that is will both help Christians understand Mormonism’s plan of salvation and help Mormons understand some of the difficulties Christians have with it.

     Although, in Mormonism, it is referred to as the plan of salvation, from a Christian perspective it is easier understood as a plan of maturity.  Salvation, to a Christian, means going to heaven.  In Mormonism, as is evidenced by its plan, very few people don’t go to heaven.  Therefore, from a Christian perspective, almost everybody will be saved, even if they have no belief in Jesus.  The lowest kingdom of LDS heaven is the telestial kingdom.  “Telestial glory will be reserved for individuals who ‘received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus’ (D&C 76:84, 106).” (True to the Faith)  In other words, if a person rejects Jesus, in Mormonism, they will still be saved, according to Christian terminology.

     Why then does Mormonism have such a detailed plan of salvation?  Seeing it as a plan of maturity rather than as a plan salvation helps clear up some of the confusion for Christians.  The plan takes a person from being a spirit child in pre-existence, to growing maturity on earth as they overcome bodily temptations, to more maturity in the spirit world, until finally, the worthy ones reach exaltation and become gods.  Instead of talking about maturity, however, Mormonism prefers talking about a person’s progression. 

     Another Mormon expression that fits into this description is the description of themselves as “gods in embryo”.  Consider the following quote from the LDS manual, “Achieving a Celestial Marriage”.  The heading of this section is entitled “MEN ARE GODS IN EMBRYO.” 

     “’Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of our earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable by experience through ages of aeons, of evolving into a God.’ (The First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1908, p.81.)”

     If we truly think the differences between Mormonism and Christianity are substantial, then it is is important to try and communicate clearly with each other.  Hopefully this is one step in that direction.


  1. 1 ametanoia
    July 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks for this. I definitely don’t really know or understand much about Mormonism at all.

  2. 2 faithoffathers
    July 29, 2009 at 7:07 pm


    I do not think you understand our doctrine here. While it could, technically, be considered a type of salvation to be resurrected, we do not believe that most people will go to “heaven.” We do not see the telestial or terrestial kingdoms as heaven. All people will be saved from death by the resurrection, but we agree that “narrow is the path” that leads to eternal life. Eternal life is to receive exaltation. Salvation also is synonomous to eternal life and exaltation. Sure, again, it could be considered a type of salvation to be resurrected, but in the broader, more common definition, we do not believe most people will be saved, or exalted.

    Yes, we do not believe that the telestial or terrestial kingdoms are places of burning lava and where a red colored demon with horns is running around. So, yes, we believe those kingdoms are better than what you believe. But from an eternal perspective, those places could certainly be considered hell. Why? Because those who go there will know what they have given up in the way of opportunities and blessings- the will be damned, or stuck, where they are with no opportunity for growth.


  3. 3 ADB
    July 29, 2009 at 7:19 pm


    Wow, I must say I prefer your version of hell to the way Jesus describes it in the Bible … doesn’t sound too bad at all. I also must say that “stuck” is by far the most pleasant euphemism I’ve ever heard for “damned.” :)

    Also, if you get the chance and can find the time, I’d like to hear your thoughts/comments on my post #22 in the “If … Then” thread (assuming you were able to read it).


  4. 4 faithoffathers
    July 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm


    Regarding your post on the If..Then thread- I may not agree exactly with the degree to which you take things, but I agree generally in those passages. But that would tend to support what I am arguing- that is the need for our repentence, forsaking sin, and having the atonement of Christ applied to our lives. How does Christ’s condemnation of the world support the idea that ongoing repentence and obedience is not required for salvation. You lost me there.

    Regarding my “version of hell,” understand that the three degrees of glory (telestial, terrestial, celestial) all take place after the spirit world and after the resurrection. Before the resurrection, those who have not repented of their sins will pay for their own sins in suffering, pain, torment, and shame. Not really accurate to leave that point out. It is not as if they get off scott free- they will pay their own debt to the law.

    EVs version of saved by grace only is equally matched by their take on eternal damnation. It really is not just. If I do not repent for my sins during my 70 years or so on this earth, do you think it just that I burn in a lake of lava and smoke for eternity- forever? At some point 20 billion years from now, or 20 trillion years from now, one would think that the debt to justice would be fulfilled. It is certainly a warped sense of justice in my opinion. The LDS plan of salvation makes infinite more sense.



  5. 5 markcares
    July 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    I have trouble with your response on a number of levels.
    1. Even the lowest kingdom, the telestial kingdom, is a kingdom of glory. “It is a doctrine fundamental to Mormonism that the meanest sinner, in the final judgment, will receive a glory which is beyond human understanding, which is so great that we are unable to decribe it adequately.” D&C Student Manual, p. 166.
    2. In True to the Faith, under Heaven, it says to also see Kingdoms of Glory. That to me indicates that the three kingdoms are all considered heaven.
    3. How does your definition of salvation agree with the statement of Elder Quetin L. Cook in the last General Conference? “The desire of our hearts, of course, is not only to acquire salvation and immortality but also to attain eternal life with a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior in the celestial kingdom with our families.” He sees salvation as distinct from, not synonymous with eternal life.

  6. 6 ADB
    July 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm


    My post on the “If … Then” thread was a response to two points you made in your prior post: 1) You were pointing out the efforts that are required on man’s part to render Christ’s atonement valid, and 2) your charge that EV’s dismiss the words of Jesus.

    My response was an attempt to point to the words of Jesus which categorically rule out our ability to meet Father in Heaven’s requirements for being perfect that need to be met right now.

    “How does Christ’s condemnation of the world support the idea that ongoing repentence and obedience is not required for salvation. You lost me there.”

    Because if you personally apply ALL of the words of Jesus to yourself, as I did in that post (#22 in the “If … Then”), then you CANNOT deny that your repentance and obedience will ALWAYS fall short of what Heavenly Father demands. That is the reality that the LDS refuse to acknowledge. I notice that as we start to apply the law to ourselves as invividuals, and take an honest look at Jesus words of judgment, there are seldom too many LDS left in the conversation.

    The reality of damning sin makes one squeamish, doesn’t it?

  7. 7 faithoffathers
    July 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm


    Again, it can technically be considered a type of salvation to be resurrected, but to us, “heaven” refers to the celestial kingdom. Maybe we don’t use that word as strictly as possible. But when we talk of going to “heaven,” we do not mean any of the three kingdoms of glory- we clearly are talking about the Celestial Kingdom, living with God. So in that sense, I think you stretch the differences in our definitions.

    ADB- I have not claimed that we can even come close to obeying the law perfectly. I have argued that God desires for us to do our very best- to do what we can do for ourselves. Huge difference.

    I know the response is to ask- “how do you know when you have done your best?” I always find this interesting when evangelicals ask this. How does an athlete know when they have done their best. Or how does a student know when they have done their best. How does a surgeon know when he has done all he can to save a person’s life? Should they all just not try at all simply because they cannot determine precisely when they have “done all they could?”


  8. August 1, 2009 at 2:13 am


    I am sorry but you are mistaken. It is commonly taught that Heaven in the Mormon faith is made up of the 3 Kingdoms of Glory – Telestial, Celestial, and Terrestrial.

    This is a direct quote from Gospel Principles Chapter 47.

    “Jesus taught, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). From the scriptures we learn that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. The Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Paul named two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The celestial is the highest, and the terrestrial is second. Through latter-day revelation we learn that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81). We also learn that there are three heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1).”


  9. 9 faithoffathers
    August 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm


    As I said “Again, it can technically be considered a type of salvation to be resurrected, but to us, ‘heaven’ refers to the celestial kingdom.” Ask any Mormon what it means to go to heaven and see what we say. The widely held meaning of heaven in the Church of Jesus Christ is the Celestial Kingdom- to live with the Father and His Son. Within the Celestial Kingdom are three different levels.

    Heaven can, I suppose, be a little nuanced, or have more than one strict meaning.

    I don’t really know why the insistance on the part of EVs to claim we believe the Telestial and Terrestial Kingdoms are “heaven.”

    If you must maintain that the Telestial and Terrestial Kingdoms are “Heaven,” I suppose that is fine, as long as you also acknowledge who goes there and why and how “heaven” is defined in that sense. The Telestial Kingdom is for people who are adulterers, liars, and evil doers- those who are “thrust down to hell.” Read D&C 76. Hardly sounds like the place LDS are aiming for.

    The Terrestial Kingdom is for those who “received not the testimony of Jesus” and who were not valiant “in the testimony of Jesus.” Again- not exactly our goal.

    Yes you can find a statement where the other kingdoms are technically referred to as degrees of heaven, but be honest about what that really means. The criteria for going to these kingdoms and the destiny of those who go there is pretty clearly outlined. It is manipulative to claim that LDS believe everybody goes to “heaven.” Please be honest and clarify what that means to us first.

    By the way, what do you make of Pauls reference to the third heaven? Or Enoch’s record of the levels in Heaven?


  10. 10 markcares
    August 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    I have asked many Mormons about heaven. Most include all three kingdoms. YOu also talk about how bad the lowest kingdom is. But what about the quote in #5 above. “It is a doctrine fundamental to Mormonism that the meanest sinner, in the final judgment, will receive a glory which is beyond human understanding, which is so great that we are unable to decribe it adequately.” D&C Student Manual, p. 166.
    I also quoted one of your apostles in #5 where he distiguishes salvation from eternal life. Isn’t it true that his words are more authorative than yours – especially since I quote his Gneeral Conference address?

Comments are currently closed.

July 2009

Blog Stats

  • 182,897 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 997 other followers

%d bloggers like this: