Plan of salvation/Salvation of non-members

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    Do Latter-day Saints believe that everyone else will be "damned"?

Questions


Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be "the only true Church," does this mean that the LDS believe that everyone else will be damned?

And, since the Church teaches that the dead will have the opportunity to hear the gospel preached to them, doesn't this imply that the witness given to those "after death" will be so compelling that virtually everyone will become "a Mormon"?

Answer


Almost all people will receive a greater salvation than they anticipate. The coming of the Lord, or the preaching to departed spirits after death, will not compel belief.

These teachings highlight the necessity of good-will and tolerance among peoples and religions—if the Lord in his glory will allow each religion and group to live peaceably, should we not do the same now?

Detailed Analysis

Leaders of the Church have long taught that a kingdom of glory and salvation is granted to almost everyone, save perhaps those who fully follow Satan as "sons of perdition."[1]

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:

For Latter-day Saints, being “saved” can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see [1 Corinthians 15:40-42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earth—except for a very few—is assured of salvation in this sense...The prophet Brigham Young taught that doctrine when he declared that “every person who does not sin away the day of grace, and become an angel to the Devil, will be brought forth to inherit a kingdom of glory”.[2] This meaning of saved ennobles the whole human race through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this sense of the word, all should answer: “Yes, I have been saved. Glory to God for the gospel and gift and grace of His Son!”[3]

President Brigham Young

Brigham Young taught much about the continuation of a variety of belief systems and religious practices in the hereafter:

15 August 1852

With your mind's eye look at the millions of them in all nations who are doing according to the best knowledge they possess. What! the Roman Catholics? Yes, and then every one of her daughters down to the latest Protestant Church that has been organized. They are all doing just as well as they can, and living according to the best light they have—a great many of them, though not all. What shall we do with them? They pass from the world, their spirits go into the spiritual world, and their bodies go back to their mother earth, and there sleep, while their spirits are before the Lord.
Are they happy? Every son and daughter of Adam who live according to the best light and knowledge they have, when the go into the spiritual world, are happy in proportion to their faithfulness. For instance, take a view of some of our late reformers; take the best specimen of reformers that we have, who are all the time full of glory and happiness and full of praise to the Lord—who meet together oft and sing and pray and preach and shout and give thanks to the Lord Almighty; and in a great many instances and in a great degree they enjoy much of a good spirit, which is the Spirit of the Lord, or the Light of Christ, which lighteth the world.
Now, this may be singular to some. What! they enjoy the Spirit of the Lord? Yes, every man and woman, according to their faith and the knowledge they have in their possession. They enjoy the goodness of their Father in heaven. Do they receive the Spirit of the Lord? They do, and enjoy the light of it, and walk in it, and rejoice in it.
What will be their state hereafter? Every faithful Methodist that has lived up to and faithfully fulfilled the requirements of his religion, according to the best light he had, doing good to all and evil to none, injuring no person upon the earth, honouring his God as far he knew, will have as great a heaven as he ever anticipated in the flesh, and far greater. Every Presbyterian, and every Quaker, and every Baptist, and every Roman Catholic member,—every reformer, of whatever class or grade, that lives according to the best light they have, and never have had an opportunity of receiving a greater light than the one in their possession, will have and enjoy all they live for.
I am telling you the truth as it is, and you may write it down if you please, and call it revelation if you will. But it has been revealed before I revealed it here to-day. This is the situation of Christendom after death.
You may go among the Pagans, or among all the nations there are, and they have their religion, their sacraments, and ceremonies, which are as sacred to them as ours are to us: they are just as precious and dear to them, though we call them heathen. They are idolatrous worshippers; yet their religion is as sacred to them as ours is to us. If they live according to the best light they have in their religion, God is God over all and the Father of us all; we are all the workmanship of his hands; and if they are ignorant, filled with superstition, and have the traditions of the fathers interwoven like a mantle around and over them, that they cannot see any light, so will they be judged; and if they have lived according to what they did possess, so they will receive hereafter.[4]

15 August 1852

How many glories and kingdoms will there be in eternity? You will see the same variety in eternity as you see in the world. For instance, you see here one class of men who have lived according to the best light they had: you may go among the heathen, or among the Christians, it is no matter; I will call them all Christians, or all heathens, if it will accommodate any body's feelings, for they don't come much short of all being heathen. We will take the best men we can find among them,—when they pass through the veil they are in happiness, they are in glory, they go among the disembodied spirits; but they do not go where there are resurrected bodies, for they cannot live there: a Prophet or an Apostle cannot live there. They also go into the spiritual world to live with spirits. Do they commune with the Father and Son? The Father communes with them as he pleases, through the means of angels, or otherwise the Son and the Holy Ghost. This is the situation of the Prophet, the Apostle, and all Saints before they receive their resurrected bodies; but they are looking forward to the time when they shall receive their bodies from the dust; and those that have been faithful, probably, will now soon get their resurrected bodies. Abraham has had his body long ago, and dwells with the Father and the Son, among all the Prophets and faithful Saints who received their resurrected bodies immediately after the resurrection of the Saviour. They were then prepared to enter into the Father's rest and be crowned with glory and eternal lives; but they were not prepared before.
No spirit of Saint or sinner, of the Prophet or him that kills the Prophet, is prepared for their final state: all pass through the veil from this state and go into the world of spirits; and there they dwell, waiting for their final destiny. It no doubt appears a singular idea to you that both Saint and sinner go to the same place and dwell together in the same world. You can see the same variety in this world. You see the Latter-day Saints, who have come into these valleys,—they are by themselves as a community, yet they are in the same world with other communities. But I do not feel as though I am dwelling where there are six or eight kinds of religion or more, and, after all, no religion at all; I am not dwelling where there is cursing, and swearing, and horse-racing, and gambling, and everything else that is calculated to disturb a peaceable community. Though I am in the same world where all this exists, I am not dwelling where it is, nor am I disturbed by it; but I am peaceable and serving the Lord.
You can see the variety here. The Presbyterians can go away by themselves and build cities and towns, and try to prohibit all other persons who are not Presbyterians from dwelling with them: the Methodists can do the same; the Baptists can do the same. We have the privilege of organizing society in the world as we please, in one sense. This is what Mr. Owen calls Socialism. He says mankind are controlled by circumstances, and others say that mankind govern and control circumstances. Both are true. We govern and control circumstances; but when we come into circumstances which the Lord controls, we are then controlled by circumstances. I and my brethren can go and settle down in a certain part; and if you choose, we can go into merchandising or stock-raising; and if we choose, we can live without a family, like a Shaker. In this way we can control circumstances in a great degree, while there are circumstances over which we have no control. All this exhibits precisely the situation of the people hereafter: they control circumstances to a great degree, and sometimes circumstances control them. When they are in the world of spirits, there is the Prophet and the Patriarch; all righteous men are there, and all wicked men also are there.[5]

7 October 1857

Many have thought that all will believe in the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ when the kingdom of God is fully established; but they will not; and if those characters were in heaven, they might believe, but would not obey the revelations of Jesus Christ. There are multitudes in this Church who have not yet learned these truths; and there are multitudes in the world who would not know Jesus, were he to pass before their eyes, and would not understand what he meant, if he were to speak to them. Such will be the case in the millennium.[6]

22 May 1859

When all nations are so subdued to Jesus that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, there will still be millions on the earth who will not believe in him; but they will be obliged to acknowledge his kingly government. You may call that government ecclesiastical, or by whatever term you please; yet there is no true government on earth but the government of God, or the holy Priesthood. Shall I tell you what that is? In short, it is a perfect system of government—a kingdom of Gods and angels and all beings who will submit themselves to that government.[7]

23 December 1866

If the Latter-day Saints think, when the kingdom of God is established on the earth, that all the inhabitants of the earth will join the church called Latter-day Saints, they are egregiously mistaken. I presume there will be as many sects and parties then as now. Still, when the kingdom of God triumphs, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of the Father. Even the Jews will do it then; but will the Jews and Gentiles be obliged to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? No; not by any means. Jesus said to his disciples, "in my Father's house are many mansions; were it not so I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also," &c. There are mansions in sufficient numbers to suit the different classes of mankind, and a variety will always exist to all eternity, requiring a classification and an arrangement into societies and communities in the many mansions which are in the Lord's house, and this will be so for ever and ever. Then do not imagine that if the kingdom of God is established over the whole earth, that all the people will become Latter-day Saints. They will cease their persecutions against the Church of Jesus Christ, and they will be willing to acknowledge that the Lord is God, and that Jesus is the Savior of the world.[8]

Notes

  1. See D&C 76:28-38
  2. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 288)
  3. Dallin H. Oaks, "Have You Been Saved?," Ensign (May 1998), 55, (italics in original).
  4. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:292-293.
  5. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:293-295.
  6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:330-330.
  7. Brigham Young, "Necessity Of Trials — Glory Of The Saints' Religion — Government Of God, etc.," (22 May 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:142-?.
  8. Brigham Young, "Union—Persecution—The Nature of the Kingdom of God—Trading With Enemies—The Jews—On the Murder of Dr. Robinson," (23 December 1866) Journal of Discourses 11:275.


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