Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Becoming Gods/Use of sources/Turn to Joseph to gain Salvation

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Use of sources: Must Turn to Joseph Smith for salvation?

A FAIR Analysis of: Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism, a work by author: Richard Abanes

The author tells us that Bruce R. McConkie said that "we must turn to Joseph Smith to gain salvation."

Source(s) of the criticism

Question: Did Bruce R. McConkie state that we must turn to Joseph Smith to gain salvation?

Elder McConkie's intent is clear—salvation is only through Christ, and Christ can only be known through prophets, including Joseph Smith

This claim is made by Richard Abanes in Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 26. ( Index of claims ). This is a classic example of quote-mining. The italicized text is quoted by the author; the other text from this source makes the meaning clear (bold added for emphasis). Here is what Elder McConkie actually said:

Salvation is in Christ. There is no other by whom it comes. He is the Redeemer of men and the Savior of the world. He alone worked out the infinite and eternal atonement whereby all men are raised in immortality while those who believe and obey are raised also unto eternal life. "Salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." None other has ever lived on earth, none other now lives among us, and none other will ever breathe the breath of life who can compare with him. None other, among all the billions of our Father's children, will ever deserve such eternal praise as all the hosts of heaven heap upon him. Yea, "There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." (Mosiah 3:17-18.)

But Christ and his laws can be known only by revelation. His gospel must come from heaven or remain forever unknown. And his word must go forth by the mouths of his servants the prophets, or the message will never be heard. Christ calls prophets. They represent him. Their voice is his voice; their words are his words; and they say what he would say if he were personally present. "I am the vine, ye are the branches," he says to his legal representatives on earth. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5.)

And thus, for this dispensation of grace, we come to Joseph Smith. He was called of God to reveal anew the doctrines of salvation. He was called of God to stand as the Lord's legal administrator, dispensing salvation to all men—repeat: all men—in the last days. Christ is the True Vine; Joseph Smith is the chief branch for our day. Moroni told him that his "name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." (JS-H 1:33.) And as the Prophet, years later, suffered in the jail at Liberty, Missouri, for the testimony of Jesus and the love of the Lord that was his, the voice of the Lord comforted him with these words: "The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand." (D&C 122:1-2.)

And thus, all men—every living soul who has lived or shall live on earth between the spring of 1820 and that glorious future day when the Son of God shall return to reign personally on earth—all men in the latter days must turn to Joseph Smith to gain salvation. Why? The answer is clear and plain; let it be spoken with seven thunders. He alone can bring them the gospel; he alone can perform for them the ordinances of salvation and exaltation; he stands, as have all the prophets of all the ages in their times and seasons, in the place and stead of the Heavenly One in administering salvation to men on earth....

[335] We do not pretend to have authority and gospel knowledge because we read in holy writ that those anciently were so endowed. Ours is a modern commission; ours is a present-day power; the message we declare has been revealed anew to us. That it conforms to the ancient word is apparent, for it is the same gospel given again....

[338] The Lord sends men to match the message, and Joseph Smith, as a revealer of Christ and a restorer of eternal truth, has been the instrument in the hands of the Lord of preparing the way before him.[1]

Elder McConkie's intent is clear—salvation is only through Christ, and Christ can only be known through prophets, and only legal administrators can perform the necessary ordinances. Thus, to come to Christ, one must use what Joseph Smith offers. But, this is not to say that Joseph is the source of salvation, or that we must turn to Joseph in preference to Jesus. Joseph simply provides what we need so that we can completely turn to Jesus and receive all that He wishes to give us.

The critic has flagrantly misrepresented this text.


  1. Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 333–335, 338. ISBN 0877478961. GL direct link