Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 10

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 10: The Atonement"



A FAIR Analysis of: Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Response to claims made in Mormonism 101, "Chapter 10: The Atonement"


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This is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross. (3 Nephi 27:13–4)

Response to claim: 139 - Mainstream Christians and Latter-day Christians "both accept the atonement of Christ"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors begin their discussion of the atonement by stating that mainstream Christians and Latter-day Christians "both accept the atonement of Christ."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

In thus stating it the authors seriously understate the position of the Church of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith, the founding prophet, stated that "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." Those appendages include the gift of the Holy Ghost, power of faith, enjoyment of the spiritual gifts, restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth.9 The atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the central fact of all LDS theological teaching.


Question: Do Latter-day Saints diminish the importance of Jesus Christ and His atonement?

Joseph Smith stated that "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day

Joseph Smith, the founding prophet, stated that "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." Those appendages include the gift of the Holy Ghost, power of faith, enjoyment of the spiritual gifts, restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth. [1] The atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the central fact of all LDS theological teaching.

B.H. Roberts: The atonement of Jesus Christ "is the very heart of the Gospel"

Almost one hundred years ago LDS historian and theologian Brigham H. Roberts wrote that the atonement

is the very heart of the Gospel from whose pulsations the streams of both spiritual and eternal physical life proceed. It is the fact which gives vitality to all things else in the Gospel. If the Atonement be not a reality then our preaching is vain; our baptisms and confirmations meaningless; the eucharist a mere mummery of words; our hope of eternal life without foundation; we are still in our sins, and we Christian men, of all men, are the most miserable. A theme that affects all this cannot fail of being important. [2]

Joseph F. Smith: "A man who says he does not believe in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ who professes to be a member of the Church...is not worthy of membership in the Church"

In 1917 President Joseph F. Smith delivered an official statement on principles of government in the Church, which included the following statement: "A man who says he does not believe in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ who professes to be a member of the Church…but who ignores and repudiates the doctrine of the atonement… [I say that] the man who denies that truth and who persists in his unbelief is not worthy of membership in the Church." [3]

Heber J. Grant: "any individual who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, has no business to be associated with The Church"

In 1924 General Conference Heber J. Grant, then President of the Church, stated that "any individual who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, has no business to be associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." [4]

Fourteen years later President Grant was just as emphatic: "We want it distinctly understood that we believe absolutely in Jesus Christ, that He was the Son of God, and that He did come to the earth with a divinely appointed mission to die on the cross as the Redeemer of mankind. We do not believe that He was just a 'great moral teacher,' but that He is our Redeemer." [5] Elder Bruce R. McConkie has stated that the "atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel." [6]

Brigham Young: "the moment the atonement of the Savior is done away, that moment, at one sweep, the hopes of salvation entertained by the Christian world are destroyed"

Speaking with reference to all who call themselves Christian, which obviously included the Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young stated that "the moment the atonement of the Savior is done away, that moment, at one sweep, the hopes of salvation entertained by the Christian world are destroyed, the foundation of their faith is taken away, and there is nothing left for them to stand upon." [7]

Howard W. Hunter: "nothing is more important in the entire divine plan of salvation than the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ"

Howard W. Hunter, of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught that "nothing is more important in the entire divine plan of salvation than the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We believe that salvation comes because of the Atonement. In its absence the whole plan of creation would come to naught." [8]

Twenty-five years ago Elder Gordon B. Hinckley reminded the Saints that:

No member of this Church must ever forget the terrible price paid by our Redeemer who gave his life that all men might live—the agony of Gethsemane …[or] the cross, the instrument of his torture… This was the cross on which he hung and died on Golgotha's lonely summit. We cannot forget that. We must never forget it, for here our Savior, our Redeemer, the Son of God, gave himself a vicarious sacrifice for each of us. [9]

Elder John K. Carmack, in April 2001 General Conference, took it to a more personal level: "Christ's Atonement is the central doctrine, but of even more comfort and benefit has been how wonderfully accessible and individual His mercy and help have been to me personally." [10] The significance of the atonement was also brought out by the first prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith, who wrote regarding:

The condescension of the Father of our spirits, in providing a sacrifice for His creatures, a plan of redemption, a power of atonement, a scheme of salvation, having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence of the King of heaven… The great plan of salvation is a theme which ought to occupy our strict attention, and be regarded as one of heaven's best gifts to mankind. [11]


Response to claim: 140 - The authors quote President Ezra Taft Benson to the effect that "it was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors quote President Ezra Taft Benson to the effect that "it was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Had the authors but taken the time to seek out the entire article from which this statement is taken they would have noticed that Elder Benson continues by referring to "the glorious Atonement of our Lord which extended from Gethsemane to Golgotha."[12]

Even without having sought out the original text, they could have determined the incorrect judgment they made of President Benson's position. They could have quoted from the same volume the quotation immediately preceding the one they cited: "In Gethsemane and on Calvary, He worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history. Thus He became our Redeemer."[13]

The atonement is clearly defined as having encompassed both the Garden and the cross. The cross is not in the least devalued or neglected. Had there been no death on the cross, whatever it was that happened in the Garden would have been superfluous. With the cross, the events in the Garden have meaning and significance.

Response to claim: 140-148 - One of the major themes of the LDS faith is that the atonement "took place primarily in the Garden"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors begin by stating that "Mormon leaders have taught that this atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane." They then quote President Benson and Elder McConkie to the effect that the major portion of the atonement took place in the Garden. From this they conclude that one of the major themes of the LDS faith is that the atonement "took place primarily in the Garden."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The authors claim that the atonement "took place primarily in the Garden" ought to lead one to conclude that it took place 'secondarily' somewhere else: perhaps the cross?

Despite the ambiguity of these statements the authors rather strangely write that "if Mormons doubt that their church emphasizes the importance of Gethsemane today" they should consider a statement from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which they then quote. Again, this statement indicates that it took place "primarily" in the Garden. Even though the two passages quoted from Elders Benson and McConkie are unequivocal about the significance of the Garden for the atonement, all the other LDS passages quoted by the authors are just the opposite: they are totally equivocal. And for good reason: the Latter-day Saint leaders, including the two they cite, do not in any way restrict the atoning sacrifice of our Savior to the Garden. But they definitely consider the atonement to have had its beginning there.

The authors write that the Garden of Gethsemane is only mentioned twice in the scriptures, apparently to suggest that anything mentioned so infrequently must not be of much value. They need to realize that the concept that "the Word was made flesh" is mentioned only once; would they therefore reject its significance also?[14] Is it insignificant that 'Calvary' occurs only at Luke 23:33, and that there is absolutely no warrant for it in the Greek?[15] It is also significant, as Leon Morris has written, "to find that, apart from the crucifixion narrative [in the Gospels]…Paul is the only New Testament writer to speak about 'the cross.'"[16] Furthermore, a recent addition to the literature about the cross in the New Testament points out that even in Paul it is not used frequently. His first two letters, the two to the Thessalonians, make no mention of the cross or the crucifixion. Nor do the last three letters make any reference to the cross (i.e., II Corinthians, Romans, and II Timothy).[17] Murphy-O'Connor refers to nine "fragments of traditional teaching" which appear in Paul's letters. These help to determine "the common doctrinal base that Paul shared with the rest of the early church… Not a single one of these formulae that he inherited from his Christian environment mentions the crucifixion." Our source goes on to indicate that only two of them "formally state that he died." Therefore, in the others it must be inferred by the fact that He was resurrected from the dead.[18]

Response to claim: 141 - The authors quote Bruce R. McConkie: "it was in Gethsemane that 'he suffered the pain of all men...took upon himself the sins of all men..."

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors quote Bruce R. McConkie: "it was in Gethsemane that 'he suffered the pain of all men...took upon himself the sins of all men..."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

What the authors fail to quote, from the same source and on the same page, is this:

In some way, incomprehensible to us, Gethsemane, the cross, and the empty tomb join into one grand and eternal drama, in the course of which Jesus abolishes death, and out of which comes immortality for all and eternal life for the righteous.[19]

In point of fact, Elder McConkie writes in the same place regarding the darkness that surrounded the crucifixion: "Could it be that this was the period of his greatest trial, or that during it the agonies of Gethsemane recurred and even intensified?"[20] Elsewhere Elder McConkie is very clear. In speaking to students at BYU he said: "We are saved because God sent his Son to shed his blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary that all through him might ransomed be. We are saved by the blood of Christ."[21] As far back as 1948, in October General Conference of that year, Elder McConkie, then a Seventy, stated:

As I understand it, our mission to the world in this day, is to testify of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to bear record that he is the Son of the Living God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world; that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through his atoning blood… We believe that he came into the world with the express mission of dying upon the cross for the sins of the world; that he is, actually, literally, and really the Redeemer of the world and the Savior of men; and that by the shedding of his blood he has offered to all men forgiveness of sins conditioned upon their repentance and obedience to the gospel plan.[22]

In yet another place Elder McConkie wrote; "What then are the sacrifices of the true Christian? They are unending praise and thanksgiving to the Father who gave his Only Begotten Son as a ransom for our sins; they are everlasting praise to the Son for the merits and mercies and grace of his atoning sacrifice."[23] In his article on "Atonement of Christ" in his Mormon Doctrine, a book that the authors claim to have read, Elder McConkie begins by quoting several scriptural passages. Some of these will be abridged here:[24]

  • "This is the Gospel…that Jesus came into the world to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world." (D&C 76:40–42)
  • "My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross." (3 Nephi 27:14)
  • "Behold [the Holy Messiah] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin." (2 Nephi 2:6–9)
  • "as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins… 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… Salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ." (Mosiah 3:16–19)

Response to claim: 141 - The authors suggest that the apparent overemphasis on the shedding of blood in the Garden rather than on the cross "no doubt is but one of several reasons why crosses cannot be found on LDS buildings"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

*Near the end of their chapter on the atonement the authors suggest that the apparent overemphasis on the shedding of blood in the Garden rather than on the cross "no doubt is but one of several reasons why crosses cannot be found on LDS buildings. Certainly in the mind of the Latter-day Saint, the significance of the cross is not nearly as important as it is to the evangelical Christian."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Whether the cross has any significance in the LDS faith has already been discussed; it does. That it has less importance for the LDS than for the evangelical Christian is simply not true. From the LDS perspective the empty tomb is a more fitting symbol of the Savior's atonement than is the Cross. We mean no disrespect towards those who choose otherwise; but we would like our position to be more faithfully reported by those who think we need their help. Latter-day Saints do not worship at the foot of the Cross; they worship at the feet of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe; He is the Lord and Redeemer of humankind; He is the Founder and Head of His Church; He is my Savior; I have accepted Him as such, and seek constantly to do His will, to do as He would have me do.


Question: Why don't Latter-day Saints use the symbol of the cross?

From the LDS perspective the empty tomb is a more fitting symbol of the Savior's atonement than is the Cross

It is claimed that there is "in the mind of the Latter-day Saint, the significance of the cross is not nearly as important as it is to the evangelical Christian." [25]

From the LDS perspective the empty tomb is a more fitting symbol of the Savior's atonement than is the Cross. We mean no disrespect towards those who choose otherwise; but we would like our position to be more faithfully reported by those who think we need their help. Latter-day Saints do not worship at the foot of the Cross; they worship at the feet of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe; He is the Lord and Redeemer of humankind; He is the Founder and Head of His Church; He is my Savior; I have accepted Him as such, and seek constantly to do His will, to do as He would have me do.

The cross is important in LDS worship, and it is simply not the case that it is less important for the LDS than for the evangelical Christian

The cross is important in LDS worship, and it is simply not the case that it is less important for the LDS than for the evangelical Christian. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, hung and died on the cross; it was by this act that He consummated all that the Father sent him into the world to accomplish. If there is a single reason why there are no crosses on LDS buildings, it is certainly not to be attributed to such an idea as that presented by McKeever and Johnson. The reason, or reasons, as McKeever and Johnson suppose (but never list), has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Garden or the cross is the most important element of the Atonement. Both are significant to the Latter-day Saints. There might in fact be several reasons for the lack of a cross on the LDS chapels, but probably the most important one, and one to which evangelicals such as McKeever and Johnson ought to be able to relate, is that there is simply no scriptural warrant for it. Granted, there were no specifically Christian buildings during New Testament times, other than synagogues, and later private homes. Nevertheless there is no warrant. It is simply a tradition that has arisen within historical Christianity, as part of its cultural evolution. It is not a scripturally based practice. But there is another reason (and the only one the present writer is aware of) why LDS buildings do not have crosses on them. M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote not long ago:

Most other Christians use the cross as a symbol of their devotion to Christ, a physical reminder of His crucifixion on Calvary. So why don't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow suit? We revere Jesus. He is the Head of our Church, which bears His name. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. We love Him. Through Him we worship and pray to our Heavenly Father. We are grateful beyond measure for the essential and awesome power His atonement has in each of our lives. But while thoughts of the blood He shed for us in Gethsemane and on Calvary fill our hearts with profound appreciation, it isn't just the fact that He died that is so meaningful to us. Our hope and faith are rooted in the profound understanding that He lives today, and that He continues to lead and guide His Church and His people through His spirit. We rejoice in the knowledge of a living Christ, and we reverently acknowledge the miracles He continues to work today in the lives of those who have faith in Him. That is why we choose to place less emphasis on a symbol that can be construed to represent primarily His death. We believe that only as we focus our attention on the Savior and build our lives upon the strong foundation the Atonement and gospel give us, are we prepared to resist the challenges and temptations so prevalent in today's world. [26]


Response to claim: 142 - Lorenzo Snow: "He undoubtedly had seen persons nailed to the cross, because that method of execution was common at that time, and He understood the torture that such persons experienced for hours. He went by Himself in the garden and prayed to His Father"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors quote the following from Lorenzo Snow, in 1893:

The time approached that He was to pass through the severest affliction that any mortal ever did pass through. He undoubtedly had seen persons nailed to the cross, because that method of execution was common at that time, and He understood the torture that such persons experienced for hours. He went by Himself in the garden and prayed to His Father, if it were possible, that this cup might pass from Him; and His feelings were such that He sweat great drops of blood, and in His agony there was an angel sent to give Him comfort and strength.[27]

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors are so determined to make Latter-day Saint writers look so 'un-Christian' that they quote those portions of LDS statements which contain the information they want their readers to know, but only that much. Such contextual selectivity is a form of bearing false witness. This quotation is meant by the authors to indicate that the LDS teaching on the atonement is that it took place "primarily in the garden." What they fail to do, however, is read further into the talk given by Elder Snow. He stated in the same talk that "when Jesus went through that terrible torture on the cross, He saw what would be accomplished by it; He saw that His brethren and sisters—the sons and daughters of God—would be gathered in, with but few exceptions—those who committed the unpardonable sin. That sacrifice of the divine Being was effectual to destroy the powers of Satan."[28] Clearly the cross was important in President Snow's soteriology.

Response to claim: 145 - "Hebrews 9:22 states that there is no remission of sins without the shedding (not sweating) of blood"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

It is also clear from what the authors write elsewhere that they are unclear about the LDS attitude towards the blood shed by the Savior. In discussing "Christianity's definition of atonement" they quote from Leon Morris that "because Christ's blood was shed, all who believe in him have access into the very holiest of all."[29] Later the authors point out "Hebrews 9:22 states that there is no remission of sins without the shedding (not sweating) of blood."[30] The parenthetical comment in this last quotation is a referral back to the authors' comment that "the New Testament says nothing about this phenomenon [of 'sweating great drops of blood'] having any role in the atonement."[31] Our authors then quote from several New Testament passages which refer to the fact that Christ died, or died on the cross, for us. (See 1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 2:13–4; Romans 5:8,10; Galatians 6:14; 10/10.{{{4}}}?lang=eng#{{{4}}} Hebrews 10 10:{{{4}}}; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20)

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It should be clear from the LDS references cited above that these Biblical passages also are all accepted by the Latter-day Saints. They believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem humankind. He shed His blood for us. Many of those earlier statements refer to the blood that was shed by Him. LDS apologist Michael Hickenbotham has written that "Latter-day Saints emphatically affirm our reliance on the atoning blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, as attested to in the Bible," and then refers to Colossians 1:14, 1 Peter 1:18–19, 1 John 1:7, and Revelation 7:14. He then refers to those references found in the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 12:10; Mosiah 3:7,11; 4:2; Alma 5:21,27, 21:9, 24:13, 34:36; Helaman 5:9; Ether 13:10; and Moroni 4:1; 5:2; 10:33; and in modern scripture: D&C 20:40; 27:2; 76:69; and Moses 6:62. He then continues:

Even the sacrament prayer for the administration of the water affirms the symbolism of the atoning blood. It states in part: "…bless and sanctify this water to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them."[32]

King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught "salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ." (Mosiah 3:18) King Benjamin lived long before the Savior was born; sometimes this has led to criticisms from our enemies. Cullen Story of Princeton Theological Seminary, in a recent article on Justin Martyr, has referred to what he calls Justin's use of the "prophetic perfect." In his discussions with Trypho on the correct interpretation of Isaiah 53:7 Justin, according to Story,

wanted Trypho and his friends to understand that the prophetic Spirit could and did speak "as if the passion has already occurred" Sometimes, he explained, the prophetic Spirit "has spoken concerning the things that are going to occur, uttering them as if at that time they were occurring or even had occurred."[33]

  • D&C 45:3–4 has the Lord speaking: "Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—saying: 'Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thy self might be glorified.'" There are many other statements regarding the shedding of Christ's blood, and its relationship to His redeeming sacrifice.


Question: How do Latter-day Saints understand the significance of the blood shed by Christ?

It is through the shedding of Christ's blood that we can receive a remission of our sins

  • Joseph Smith made reference to "the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ; by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins."[34] He also taught that "God…prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son who should be sent in due time, to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord's presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience… It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission."[35] In 1840 M.L. Davis wrote a letter to his wife outlining some of the things he had heard the Prophet state in a public sermon. He said that Joseph Smith expressed "his total unbelief of what is termed original sin. He believes that it is washed away by the blood of Christ, and that it no longer exists."[36] Brigham Young later reaffirmed this position: "We must believe that this same Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, that is for the original sin, not the actual individual transgressions of the people; not but that the blood of Christ will cleanse from all sin, all who are disposed to act their part by repentance, and faith in his name. But the original sin was atoned for by the death of Christ."[37] George Laub recorded in his journal in 1844 that the Prophet taught "Jesus Christ left his blood to atone for the sins of the world."[38] One of the principles of the LDS faith is enunciated by the Prophet (and by Brigham Young, the second President of the LDS Church) as stated above by M. L. Davis: that original sin had been done away with in the death of Jesus Christ. The absence of original sin means that the baptism of infants is not necessary. The Book of Mormon is clear on this matter: "Little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world."[39] D&C 29:46 says "little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten." Joseph Smith referred to children as "having been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb."[40] In 1917 Hyrum G. Smith, the Patriarch of the Church, stated that "through the blood of his atonement [little children] shall come forth in the morning of the resurrection with his saints."[41]
  • Brigham Young stated that "the Latter-day Saints believe…that Jesus is the Savior of the world; they believe that all who attain to any glory whatever, in any kingdom, will do so because Jesus has purchased it by His atonement."[42]
  • In 1882 Heber J. Grant, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, encouraged the Saints to "read the revelations given upon the subject and you will find that all mankind, except those who have had the testimony of Christ and rejected it, denying the blood of Christ, will ultimately be saved."[43]
  • That same year John Taylor published his book entitled Mediation and Atonement. After quoting Colossians 1:12–15 he wrote that this passage teaches us "that our redemption is obtained through the blood of Jesus."[44]
  • Joseph F. Smith, in 1895 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, referred to the conditions that Adam "had to be redeemed from by the blood of Christ."[45] A week later, at the Juab Stake Conference in Nephi, Utah, Elder Smith stated that "by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, he, Adam, was redeemed from the fall and the power of Satan…and we are indebted for our redemption to Jesus our Lord, and our Deliverer."[46]
  • Francis M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that "Jesus Christ shed His blood for our sins—not for His own, for He was immaculate and without blemish—and He laid down His life that you and I should be redeemed from that death which had come upon us because of the fall of Adam. By His death are we redeemed. By His blood are we cleansed from the conditions of the fall."[47]
  • In 1901 Rudger Clawson of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that "the souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that he gave to the world his Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of his blood he might draw all men unto him."[48]
  • In 1916 Anthon H. Lund of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that the bread and wine "are simply emblems of his body and blood" and that the wine "represented his blood that was to be shed for the remission of sins."[49]
  • In 1937 Charles A. Callis of the Twelve testified that Christ's "blood atones for all our sins, through obedience to righteousness."[50]
  • In 1949 when Alonzo A. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve learned that he had a terminal illness he wrote a letter to the First Presidency of the Church. Part of that letter was read at the October 1949 General Conference. He said, in part: "As to the future, I have no misgivings. It is inviting and glorious, and I sense rather clearly what it means to be saved by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ."[51]
  • A year later Marion G. Romney of the Twelve stated that "through repentance he may bring himself within the reach of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, so that thereby he may be cleansed from the effects of his transgressions and obtain forgiveness of them."[52]
  • Robert Millet, Professor of Religion at BYU, has recently written about the regeneration of fallen man. He states, "the renewal of which we speak is a conversion from worldliness to saintliness, from being lured by the lurid to being enticed by holiness. It comes to us by virtue of the cleansing blood of Jesus and through the medium of the Holy Ghost, who is the Sanctifier."[53]


Response to claim: 147 - The authors quote Elder Marion G. Romney that it was in the Garden of Gethsemane "that he suffered most"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors quote Elder Marion G. Romney that it was in the Garden of Gethsemane "that he suffered most."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

What the authors fail to quote is the rest of the talk, wherein he states that "we cannot of ourselves, no matter how we may try, rid ourselves of the stain which is upon us as a result of our own transgressions. That stain must be washed away by the blood of the Redeemer."[54]

Three years previously Elder Romney stated, "through repentance he may bring himself within the reach of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, so that thereby he may be cleansed from the effects of his transgressions and obtain forgiveness of them."[55]

FAIR Answers Wiki Main Page

Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 10


Why do the Latter-day Saints not wear or use the cross?

One scholar noted, "During the first Christian centuries, the cross was a thing accursed. No one professed allegiance to Christ by wearing a cross."[56] After the 4th century, the cross slowly became accepted in the Catholic tradition.

In the United States of America, before the mid-19th century, the cross was seen as a uniquely Catholic symbol. As a result, Protestants were adamantly opposed to using the cross in their worship or on their buildings. Eventually, Protestants began adopting the cross as a church symbol. By the late 19th century, the cross had become firmly entrenched as a symbol of Christianity generally, not just Catholicism.[57]

Because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in the mid-19th century, most converts came from religious traditions that did not use the cross. Nor did Latter-day Saints join the general Protestant movement to adopt the cross as a symbol in their worship. However, the Saints did not reject the cross altogether.

In 1957, Church President David O. McKay counseled against using crosses on jewelry because he viewed it as "a Catholic form of worship."[58] In 1975, then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley explained that he viewed "the cross [as] the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."[59] Even though many Protestants view their empty cross as a symbol of the living Christ, the cross is focused on the death of Jesus Christ instead of His living reality.[60] Hence the recent adoption of Thorvaldsen's statue Christus as the centerpiece in the Church symbol.[61]

In addition, Church leaders have taught that the best symbol of our belief in Christ is following His example in how we live. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: "From Matthew 16:24-25: 'Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' We in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in response to these questions, try to teach our people to carry their crosses rather than display or wear them."[62] This counsel echoes that of then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who taught that "the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship."[63] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reiterated this principle:

These considerations—especially the latter—bring me to what may be the most important of all scriptural references to the cross. It has nothing to do with pendants or jewelry, with steeples or signposts. It has to do, rather, with the rock-ribbed integrity and stiff moral backbone that Christians should bring to the call Jesus has given to every one of His disciples. In every land and age, He has said to us all, “If any man [or woman] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”[64]

In summary, in the 21st century the cross reflects the culture and tradition of Christianity generally, and there is nothing doctrinal about using or avoiding the cross as a decorative symbol. We respect other Christian groups that use the cross in that way. And we acknowledge the inestimable sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, for as he said, "My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me."[65]

Do Latter-day Saints believe that Christ suffered on the cross?

Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of all people in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, "It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting."[66] This was also taught by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King."[67]

That Christ suffered in Gethsemane is attested to in the New Testament and latter-day scripture. Luke records that Jesus "kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."[68] This event was prophesied by an angel speaking to King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon: "And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people."[69] And the Savior Himself spoke of this suffering: "Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men."[70]

Latter-day scripture also affirms that Christ suffered the sins of all people on the cross. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi saw Jesus as he "was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."[71] Latter-day prophet Joseph F. Smith saw the spirit world after Jesus died and saw the preaching that "redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross."[72]

Was the cross just a pole?

In the original Greek of the New Testament, accounts of Jesus' death only say he was put to death on "a pole." It is true that the Greek word σταυρος (stauros) used in the NT means a "pole" or "stake" driven into the ground, and not specifically a cross. Calling the upright portion a "pole" does not, however, tell us whether a crossbeam was attached to it or not.

The most common form of Roman crucifixion was to use the crux commissa, which used a permanent pole driven into the ground, to which a cross beam was attached at the time of execution. This formed the shape of a capital 'T' and therefore is also called the Tau Cross (it is also referred to as St. Anthony's Cross). This is different than the Latin cross, which has a lowered cross piece, forming the classic "cross" shape (somewhat like a lower-case 't').

Accordingly, when the scripture talks about Jesus carrying his cross to the place of execution, it probably was not a huge Latin cross as depicted in the movies (such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), but a crossbeam called the patibulum, which would then be placed over the permanently entrenched stauros or stake.

Thus, it is true that the Greek does not specify a cross per se. However, historical evidence regarding the Roman practice of crucifixion makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was crucified on a type of cross, even if not quite the traditional Latin cross commonly portrayed.

For Latter-day Saints, the key point is not Jesus' precise method of execution, but that his suffering, death, and resurrection atoned for the sins of all humanity. (See 2 Nephi 9:7–8, Alma 34:12.)


Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 3 (Salt Lake City, Utah; Deseret Book Company, 1980) : .30 The passage is quoted frequently: Richard R. Hopkins, Biblical Mormonism. Responding to Evangelical Criticism of LDS Theology (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1994), 123; Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Company, 1976), 121.; The Teachings of Joseph Smith, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 55; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 60.; also in M. Gerald Bradford and Larry E. Dahl, "Doctrine: Meaning, Source, and History of Doctrine," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 1:393–397; Tad Callister, The Infinite Atonement (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000), 3–4; Keith W. Perkins, "Insights into the Atonement from Latter-day Scriptures," Principles of the Gospel in Practice. Sperry Symposium 1985 (Salt Lake City, Utah;: Randall Book Company, 1985), 91; Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (April 1950), 130; quoted in Richard G. Grant, Understanding these Other Christians. An LDS Introduction to Evangelical Christianity (self-published, 1998): 42; My Errand from the Lord. A personal study guide for Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums 1976-1977 (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 1976), 92. The statement was first published in an early LDS publication, the Elders' Journal I (1832): 28–9. The frequency of appearance of this quotation in LDS literature makes one wonder why it is not to be found in Mormonism 101; indeed, the authors claim to have read the first six references cited here.
  2. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, Fourth Year (1911): The Atonement (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 1994), iv–v. This is a reprint edition of this book, first published by Deseret News Press, 1907–1912.
  3. Joseph F. Smith, "Principles of Government in the Church" (September 13, 1917), Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 5, edited by James R. Clark (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971), 83; first published Improvement Era 21 (November 1917), 3–11.
  4. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1969, 1941), 24. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume. The statement cited is also quoted in a student manual: Doctrines of the Gospel (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President of the Church, 1986), 9.
  5. Grant, Gospel Standards, 6, citing Deseret News Church Section, September 3, 1938, 7.
  6. Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (April 1985), 11, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 17; also, Robert Millet, "Foreword" to Callister, The Infinite Atonement, x. off-site
  7. Brigham Young, "Character and Condition of the Latter-day Saints, Etc.," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 8 May 1870, Vol. 14 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1872), 41, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 9.
  8. Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 7; in Latter-day Commentary on the Old Testament, edited by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2001), 385.
  9. Ensign (May 1975), 93 off-site; cited in Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 26–27.
  10. Ensign (May 2001), 77 off-site.
  11. Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:5–6, 23; cited in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 481–482.
  12. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 140-141. ( Index of claims ) They cite Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 14. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) At that location, the original source is Ezra Taft Benson, Come Unto Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983), 6-7. McKeever and Johnson could certainly have located this volume had they chosen to be thorough. The paper in its entirety has just been reprinted in Ensign (December 2001), 8–15. In this article President Benson gives five marks of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Those marks are: His divine birth; His ministry; His "great Atoning Sacrifice;" His "literal Resurrection;" and His promised second coming. The article was also published in Ensign (April 1997), which McKeever and Johnson read—see Mormonism 101, page 43, note 12.
  13. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 140-141. ( Index of claims ) Again citing Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14, which likewise derives from the same source listed above. It is part of the paper published in "Fiver Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," Ensign (December 2001), 8–15. The next quotation is also from page 14. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume of President Bensons' sermons and writings.
  14. The argument is used by Nicholas Lossky, "Theology and Prayer. An Orthodox Perspective," Ecumenical Theology in Worship, Doctrine, and Life: Essays Presented to Geoffrey Wainwright on his Sixtieth Birthday, edited by David S. Cunningham, Ralph Del Colle, and Lucas Lamadrid (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 24–32. On pages 28–29 Lossky uses the argument as a defense for deification against those who state that the singularity of 2 Peter 1:4 as a scriptural basis for deification is not acceptable.
  15. 'Calvary' is taken from the Latin version and passed into all English translations, until recently. See Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to St. Luke, International Critical Commentary (New York: Scribner's, 1902), 530–531. Cf. LDS KJV, Bible Dictionary, "Calvary,". off-site.
  16. Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1999), 216–217. Leon Morris is referred to by McKeever and Johnson as a "Christian theologian" and is quoted frequently throughout Mormonism 101. Morris is an Australian Anglican.
  17. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "'Even Death On a Cross:' Crucifixion in the Pauline Letters," The Cross in Christian Tradition: from Paul to Bonaventure, edited by Elizabeth A. Dreyer (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2000), 21–50. Murphy-O'Connor, a Catholic, agrees with what Morris said: "If we leave aside the gospels, 'cross' and 'crucify' are Pauline terms." Page 23 includes a chart of Pauline uses in various letters. In fact he indicates that were it not for Paul, the Gospels probably would not have indicated the manner of Christ's death (page 22).
  18. Murphy, 24. Clearly, the emphasis in the early church was not on the death of Christ, but on His resurrection; not on the cross, but on the empty tomb. The nine passages are: 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; Galatians 1:3–4; 1 Corinthians 15:3–5; Romans 1:3–4, 4:24–25, 10:9; also the eucharistic words in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25, and two liturgical hymns: Philemon 2:6–11 and Colossians 1:15–20. Indeed, with reference to Philemon 2:6–11, a leading study refers to "the noticeable absence of those themes which we associate with Paul's Christology and soteriology, e.g., the doctrine of redemption through the Cross, the Resurrection of Christ and the place of the Church," [Ralph P. Martin, A Hymn of Christ. Philippians 2:5–11 in Recent Interpretation and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 49.] It will be observed that verse 8 reads "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Martin continues the above quotation: "Although it is on the Cross that the Lord of glory brings His life of obedience to a climax, no redemptive significance is attached to that death in this verse. Indeed, as was noted earlier, the Cross may not be mentioned in the original version of the hymn." Martin claims the reference is Pauline, that is, it was inserted by Paul into the original hymn, which did not include the reference to the Cross. Hans Urs von Balthasar agrees with this assessment: that the reference to the Cross was added by Paul to a pre-existing hymn. [Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 23.]
  19. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000). ( Index of claims ) They quote Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols., (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1980–1986), 127-128, 224, this quotation is from page 224. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume.
  20. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 225, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 135. Later, Elder McConkie wrote, "that all of the anguish, all of the sorrow, and all of the suffering of Gethsemane recurred during the final three hours on the cross, the hours when darkness covered the land." (McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 232, note 22, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 134–135.) Elsewhere Elder McConkie wrote, "Again, on Calvary, during the last three hours of his mortal passion, the sufferings of Gethsemane returned, and he drank to the full the cup which his Heavenly Father had given him." (Bruce R. McConkie, "The Seven Christs," Ensign (November 1982), 33. This is likewise quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 134–135.
  21. Bruce R. McConkie, "What Think ye of Salvation by Grace?", Brigham Young University 1983–1984 Fireside and Devotional Speeches (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Publications, 1984), 4; quoted in Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, In His Holy Name (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 90–91. In fact, in the words just prior to those quoted, Elder McConkie addressed another topic: If "there is no atonement of Christ, what then? Can we be saved? Will all our good works save us? Will we be rewarded for all our righteousness? Most assuredly we will not. We are not saved by works alone, no matter how good; we are saved because God sent his son…" (Ibid., 90).
  22. Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (1 October 1948), 23, 25. Two years previously Elder Spencer W. Kimball, of the Quorum of Twelve, had testified that the Savior "must die for the sins of the world… They crucified him, the Son of God, on Calvary." [Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report (April 1946), 45.]
  23. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 Vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1965–1973), 3:242.
  24. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 61. GL direct link How could McKeever and Johnson fail to have seen these verses quoted by Brother McConkie, considering the emphasis they place on what they claim as his false teachings about Gethsemane? How also could they miss the fact that Gethsemane is not mentioned once in this article? Nor is there mention of Gethsemane in his articles on Redemption, Mediator, Reconciliation, or Salvation.
  25. McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 141.
  26. M. Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness. An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1993), 13–14. A Protestant minister, after touring the open house in the Arizona Temple, said to Gordon B. Hinckley, "I've been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?" Gordon B. Hinckley responded, "I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ," in Ensign (May 1975), 92. For a similar reason the life of the adult Jesus is more emphasized in LDS thought than the manger.
  27. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 142. ( Index of claims ) They quote Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 3:362.
  28. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses, 3:364-365.
  29. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 144. ( Index of claims ) They quote Leon Morris, The Atonement (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 84.
  30. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 145. ( Index of claims ) This has a clear reference to the Garden of Gethsemane incident as the primary source of LDS doctrine. This has been refuted in the passages already quoted from scripture and LDS leaders.
  31. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 142. ( Index of claims )
  32. Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1995), 131. This is a volume that should have been noticed by McKeever and Johnson; it puts the lie to much of their work. A book that McKeever and Johnson claim to have read contains much of the same material: Richard R. Hopkins, Biblical Mormonism, 184–188. Both Hickenbotham and Hopkins are dealing primarily with the Eucharist, or sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Elder Marion G. Romney, of the Quorum of Twelve, said in General Conference that "the water is to be drunk in remembrance of his blood which was shed for us." [Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (April 1946), 39.]
  33. Cullen I.K. Story, "The Cross as Ultimate in the Writings of Justin Martyr," Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Understanding 21 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 25, citing Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 114.2.
  34. The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1990), 84.
  35. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 2, 15; also in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 54–55. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read both volumes.
  36. Letter dated 6 February 1840, quoted in The Words of Joseph Smith, compiled by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1980), 33; also in Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, 78.
  37. Brigham Young, "The Lord's Supper, Etc.," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 11 July 1869, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 143, in Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954), 153.
  38. George Laub Journal, 12 May 1844, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 371. Cf. History of the Church, Vol. 4, 554; also quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:268. Although the idea of 'original sin' is not dealt with in this chapter of Mormonism 101, it obviously played a part in the atonement, and was negated by the atonement. Joseph Smith was not the only one who suggested that original sin was removed by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The English Reformers, in their Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, wrote that the sacrificial death of Christ is defined as the "perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual," article XXXI, introduced and quoted in Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life. Systematic Theology, Vol. 2 (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989): 389. The discussion by Oden, with representative documentation, makes it clear, however, that the redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for sin is applied only to original sin; our actual sins are atoned for only if we exercise faith in the Atonement of Christ.
  39. Moroni 8:12, 22.
  40. Wilford Woodruff Journal, 20 March 1842, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 109. Again, this is a work which was read by McKeever and Johnson.
  41. Conference Report (April 1917), 70–71, in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:379. For a recent comment on the blood of the Lamb saving little children, see Robert Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," in Nurturing Faith Through the Book of Mormon. The 24th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1995), 128–129, where he cites Moroni 8:12, 22; Mosiah 3:16–19; D&C 29:46, 74:7; and refers to JST Matthew 18:11: 'these little ones have no need of repentance, /for/ I will save them'; and JST Matthew 19:13: 'such shall be saved.' Thomas Oden writes that Hugh of St. Victor (died 1141) wrote that those who die at birth or are retarded "will be saved by this atonement insofar as they are judged to be incapable of refusing it," Hugh of St. Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith 2:17 paraphrased in Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 392.Reformed scholar Augustus H. Strong, in defending his belief that infants are "through the grace of Christ certain of salvation," quoted the following from John Calvin: "Infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Spirit;" further, those who would exempt infants from the grace of salvation are guilty of an "execrable blasphemy;" it is a "blasphemy to be universally detested." [Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1907), 663.] Strong quotes from several other Reformed scholars in this article (pages 660–664).
  42. Brigham Young, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 24 April 1870, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 328, quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 37.
  43. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 94, citing Journal History, entry for September 9, 1888.
  44. John Taylor, An Examination into and an Elucidation of the Great Principle of the Mediation and Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Company, 1882), 31. One can only wonder why McKeever and Johnson failed to take notice of a book by a President of the LDS Church, with the rather catchy title of "Mediation and Atonement." One would think it would have been the first place to look when seeking information about the LDS position relative to the Atonement.
  45. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, edited by Brian H. Stuy (City Unknown: B.H.S. Publications, 1991), 230. Delivered January 20, 1895, at the Oneida Stake Conference in Franklin, Idaho.
  46. Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News Weekly 50 (February 1895), 251.
  47. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, 363–364. Delivered at General Conference, October 5, 1895.
  48. Conference Report (April 1901), 7–8, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:182.
  49. Conference Report (October 1916), 12–14, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 274; see also Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report (April 1912), 12: "…we partake of the emblems of His body and blood sacrificed for us," quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 2, 118–119.
  50. Conference Report (October 1937), 122, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 354–355.
  51. Quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (October 1949), 43.
  52. Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
  53. Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," 137–138.
  54. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 147. ( Index of claims ) They quote Conference Report (October 1953), 35. The remainder, from page 36, is quoted here from Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 2:81–83.
  55. Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
  56. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "'Even death on a cross': Crucifixion in the Pauline letters," in The Cross in Christian Tradition: From Paul to Bonaventure, Elizabeth Dreyer, ed. (Paulist Press, 2000), 21.
  57. Ryan K. Smith, "The Cross: Church Symbol and Contest in Nineteenth-Century America," Church History, 70:4 (December 2001), 705-734.
  58. Gregory L. Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, 121.
  59. Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Symbol of Christ," April 1975 general conference.
  60. "Early and traditional Christian figures such as Martin Luther’s associate Andreas Karlstadt (1486–1541) were arguing by the late Middle Ages that 'the crucifix [on its own] depicted only Christ’s human suffering and neglected to display his resurrection and redemptive [powers]' (in John Hilton III, Considering the Cross: How Calvary Connects Us with Christ [2021], 17)." Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lifted Up upon the Cross," October 2022 general conference.
  61. See Russell M. Nelson, "Opening the Heavens for Help," April 2020 general conference.
  62. Marvin J. Ashton, "Carry Your Cross," address given at Brigham Young University, 3 May 1987.
  63. Hinckley, "The Symbol of Christ."
  64. Holland, "Lifted Up upon the Cross."
  65. 3 Nephi 27:14.
  66. Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Season for Gratitude," Ensign, December 1997.
  67. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," April 1985 general conference.
  68. Luke 22:41-44.
  69. Mosiah 3:7.
  70. Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19.
  71. 1 Nephi 11:33.
  72. Doctrine and Covenants 138:35.

Response to claim: 148 - The authors claim that the LDS version of the atonement frees up everyone from the effects of Adam's transgression

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that the LDS version of the atonement frees up everyone from the effects of Adam's transgression. That is, the Church teaches that all will be resurrected, without exception. The major portion of the chapter deals with the authors' rejection of the LDS suggestion that the atonement proper took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, as if to suggest that to the LDS His death on the cross itself was simply an afterthought.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

There is more than sufficient material to demonstrate that the LDS position includes both the Garden and the cross.

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Notes