Work, Worship, and Grace

Response to Douglas J. Davies. The Mormon Culture
of Salvation: Force, Grace and Glory.

Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000. vii + 293 pp., with bibliography and index.
$29.95 paperback, $109.95 hardcover.

Work, Worship, and Grace

Reviewed by David L. Paulsen and Cory G. Walker

Douglas Davies comes highly qualified to describe and assess
the Mormon culture of salvation. He holds doctoral degrees in both theology
and anthropology, wrote his dissertation on Mormonism (under the title “Mormon
Spirituality”), and serves as director of the graduate program in Mormon
Studies at the University of Durham. He has twice hosted Mormon studies conferences
in the United Kingdom, the first at the University of Nottingham in 1994 and
the second at the University of Durham in 1998. He was an invited speaker
at the Mormon studies conference hosted by the Yale Divinity School in 2003
and at the Joseph Smith Symposium hosted by the Library of Congress in 2005.
Davies began a sabbatical leave in the fall of 2006 during which he will focus
on Mormon Christology and soteriology. He will deliver the plenary address
at the annual meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology hosted
22–24 March 2007 at Brigham Young University. He is also an ordained
priest in the Church of England.

As can be seen from the survey of his bibliography appended
to this review (appendix A), Davies has published extensively on Mormon topics.
Davies often explains that he is writing as neither advocate nor critic of
Mormonism. Rather, he attempts a detached, academic approach to Latter-day
Saint culture and religion.

Davies’s work The Mormon Culture of Salvation is an insightful treatment of religious ritual, practice,
and beliefs pertaining to salvation in Latter-day Saint culture.2
His “outsider” perspective can provoke reflection for those who
have lived their entire lives within the Latter-day Saint faith. Though at
points Davies’s writing, especially his ventures down divergent anthropological
streams, may be difficult to navigate for the casual reader, overall the book
is eminently readable. Most important, it delivers on its promise to provide
a deeper understanding of the Mormon culture of salvation and, thus, makes
a substantial contribution to Mormon studies.

While Davies addresses issues from perspectives that may
not be familiar to some readers, most of his passages are marked by clarity
and insight wholly accessible to all, with prose both moving and illuminating.
Consider the following striking passage:

In the Mormon history of salvation the literal pioneer trek to a promised
land passed into a new ritual path of salvation. . . . Whether in
the room above Joseph Smith’s shop in Nauvoo, in the Endowment House of Salt
Lake City or the St. George Temple and, after it, the other great temples
of the Latter-day movement, Saints could act within a site of destiny: a sacred
place in which death was subjugated and a rich promise of eternity was held
out to those who would be faithful to their endowment vows. Even if wickedness
might have arisen within the Salt Lake community, so that heaven on earth
was impossible, given a community where the evil were ever mixed with the
good, the temple could arise as a citadel of hope. These were places to subdue
the powers of death. For as the Saints had the mysteries of their own potential
divinity revealed to them and were inducted into ritual acts and given the
crucial words of power, they were furnished with the means of passing through
death into the eternal realms of exaltation, passing angels as they went.
(p. 92)

Davies expresses much more than just the importance
of temple worship to Latter-day Saints. The imagery invoked captures a fundamental
spirit of temple rituals, juxtaposing the suffering and trials of the persecuted
pioneers with God’s goodness in supplying a citadel of hope, apart from mobs
and deceitful brethren. A people constantly confronted with the harsh realities
of temporal death were allowed a place to contemplate something more lasting—the
bonds of eternity. Davies thus powerfully connects early Latter-day Saint
difficulties with the profound consolation found in temple worship.

While we believe Davies to be accurate in his overall impression of the temple
and many other aspects of the Mormon culture of salvation, there are also observations
he makes with which many Latter-day Saints would disagree. In the hopes of occasioning
continuing dialogue, we focus on three topics wherein we believe Davies’s book
falls short: the relation of temple work to worship, the Mormon teaching on
grace, and the role of Christ’s death on the cross in Latter-day Saint understanding
of the atonement.

Temple Work as Worship

“Mormon temples,” according to Davies, “are
also regularly regarded more as places of work than of worship. Indeed, the
idea of worship is not a prime consideration in the temple in the sense of
extended periods of reflective quietude or of communal song or chant”
(p. 75). However, doing temple work for the living and the dead, Davies
says, “does not contradict the idea of worship; in fact it is entirely
consonant with the LDS ethic of activity. The temple offers a prime setting
for a sanctified activism. To be active is a key Mormon value” (p. 75).
Davies does acknowledge the role of the celestial room in providing an atmosphere
for personal spiritual reflection and communion. He writes, for instance,
that after engaging in temple rituals, family members may “linger in
the Celestial Room . . . and there may experience a sense of the
presence of God in a special way” (p. 76). The celestial room in
the temple is meant to remind Latter-day Saints of their spiritual goals and
the promises made to them and is, as Davies acknowledges, a sacred place to
be in a special way in the presence of God.

This room does in
fact provide a setting for “extended periods of reflective quietude”
and is also a place for spiritual self-examination and for quiet prayers of
gratitude and of supplication; indeed, this place nearly demands an attitude
of worshipful contemplation. Thus, we believe that Davies’s characterization
is incomplete when inferring that the idea of personal worship is not
a prime consideration for those who attend the temple.

Kathleen Hughes, first counselor in the Relief Society general
presidency, describes Latter-day Saint understandings of temple worship well:

Because the temple is a house of peace, a house of revelation, a house of
prayer, we should prepare ourselves to partake of the spirit and gifts that
reside there for us as [children] of our Heavenly Father. Preparing to experience
the blessings of the temple requires that we go humbly, prayerfully, and thoughtfully,
that we willingly put aside the world and its worries. It requires that while
in the temple we are attentive and we actively and thoughtfully listen and
participate in ordinances we receive for ourselves and for others.3

In many cases the idea of worship is a prime consideration for those who attend the temple.
And that worship even includes corporate worship.4

As Davies points out, when Latter-day Saints go to the temple
they often say they are going there to do “temple work.” However,
we maintain that such statements are not in the least discordant with the
idea of worship and that Latter-day Saints (unlike Davies) generally do not
find work and worship dichotomous. Indeed, we contend that any work performed
with the Spirit and on the behalf of others actually is worship and not merely, as Davies says, activity that does “not contradict
the idea of worship” (p. 75). This theme occurs repeatedly in Latter-day
Saint literature. Consider, for instance, Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s teaching
that “true and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of
the Son of God”5 and President Joseph Fielding Smith’s
claim that “worship is far more than prayer and preaching and gospel
performance. The supreme act of worship is to keep the commandments.”6
These statements can be related to the injunction to worship God with all
our “might, mind, and strength” (2 Nephi 25:29).

While it is easy to see how conventional modes of worship
involve our hearts and our minds, it is much harder to see how our might and
strength could be expended other than actively. We argue for such an understanding
based upon both biblical precedent and modern revelation. The biblical record
is replete with the idea of work as worship. Consider Colossians
3:16–17, where Paul writes: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And
whatsoever ye do in word or deed,
do all
in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”
(emphasis added). The close connection here between activities conventionally
associated with worship (“singing,” “teaching and admonishing”
in “songs and hymns,” etc.) and all other activities indicates that Paul sees no disconnect between the
“inner” activities of worship and contemplation and the outer activities
of daily life and religious service. Indeed, James indicated that what we
do in our daily activities forms the core of our religious devotion: “Pure
religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless
and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”
(James 1:27).

If we think that we still must place greater emphasis on
the activity of quiet reflection than upon Christian labor, consider that
Jesus, when confronted by Jewish authorities for working on the Sabbath, explained
that working lay at the core of the divine life: “My Father is always
at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17 NIV).
By so working, Jesus devoted his entire life to the true worship of his Father,
and he emphatically reinforced the authority of the first commandment to “worship
the Lord thy God, and him only . . . serve” (Matthew 4:10;
see 22:37).

Other sources further corroborate a close connection between
work and worship. For instance, in Hebrew, the word for worship, ʿavodah, derives from the word denoting labor and service, the
same word used when Adam is told that by the sweat of his brow he is to earn
his bread. When the Israelites went to the temple to perform their sacrifices,
they referred to these activities using variants of ʿavodah, combining both aspects of the word to express the fact
that their activities were consecrated to the service of the Lord. Perhaps
one might raise the objection that, in Mormon temple work, the service is
not given “directly” to the Lord but is rather done on behalf of
one’s deceased relatives. Surely, however, this objection comes up short when
we consider that the Lord wants the salvation of all his children (1 Timothy
2:3–4) and that both uniquely Latter-day Saint scripture and traditional
Christian verses declare that any service given by us to our neighbors is
ultimately service to our God (Mosiah 2:17; Matthew 25:40).

It seems, then, that Latter-day Saints (and Christians generally)
can find a middle ground between the apparent dilemma of Mary’s foot washing
and Martha’s housecleaning: provided that our housecleaning is devoted to
the Lord and is according to his purposes, others will simultaneously receive
the blessings of our Christian labors and we will receive the blessing of
being instructed by the Lord in worship. While the Bible provides ample evidence
that soul-saving work is in fact worship,
Latter-day Saints may even consider such work to be worship of the highest
order. Anyone familiar with Latter-day Saint teachings knows that one of the
most frequently quoted Book of Mormon passages is that of King Benjamin’s
declaration, “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that
ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are
only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). What greater service
can one render to another than to unlock the gate to the path of salvation?

According to President Gordon B. Hinckley, “These unique and wonderful
buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in
our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.”7
While Davies appropriately attempts to distinguish the Saints’ participation
in temple ritual from weekly worship services held in chapels or meetinghouses,
the general distinction he draws between worship and temple work does not comport
with Latter-day Saint self-understanding.

Grace and Active Discipleship

The connection Davies draws between temple work and the emphasis
Latter-day Saints put on sanctified activity is both insightful and, in our
opinion, largely correct. The problem in Davies’s account, as we see it, is
one of balance—a problem that also reveals itself in Davies’s discussion
of grace in Mormon culture. There is no doubt that human agency and proactive
approaches to salvation are distinctly emphasized in Latter-day Saint theology.
However, we believe that this emphasis in no way diminishes (nor, to our knowledge,
has it ever diminished) the role of grace nor the centrality of Jesus Christ
as Lord and Savior of all creation.

In many cases, activity and work are meant to accentuate
what, in the Mormon perspective, is a complementary doctrine of works and dependence upon Christ for salvation. Regarding the
connection, Elder Russell M. Nelson wrote of two concepts that need to be
kept especially in mind as one prepares to attend the temple:

The first is covenant. . . . A covenant made with God should
be regarded not as restrictive but as protective. . . .

     The second concept to stress in our mental preparation
is Atonement. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the central act of all
human history. It is the core of the plan of salvation. Without the infinite
Atonement, all mankind would be irretrievably lost
. Temple ordinances
and covenants teach of the redeeming power of the Atonement.8

In the temple, members of the church make covenants with
God. Every action in the temple nonetheless remains intimately connected with
divine grace, as displayed in the atonement of Jesus Christ, without which
nothing else that happens in the temple has any meaning. Elder Dallin H. Oaks
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles helps us understand how Christ and his
atonement give significance to what occurs in the temple.

The scriptures speak of the Lord’s putting his name in a temple because he
gives authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house.
That is the meaning of [Joseph Smith’s] reference to the Lord’s putting his
name upon his people in that holy house. (See D&C

     Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ
can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of
Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we
witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple
and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the
authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us.9

It is the authority of Jesus Christ that gives sacred ordinances
performed in the temple their meaning; it is the Savior’s name that members
of the church take upon themselves when they go into the temple; his authority
is what Latter-day Saints believe gives validity to ordinances performed in
sacred places. It is Christ’s name and authority that make any blessing or
benefit from temple ordinances possible, and such blessings come “when
he chooses to confer them upon us.” Whatever power temple ordinances
have comes from Christ. His grace,10 not the actions of men, has the power
to offer exaltation. Though Latter-day Saints very much believe that God asks
certain things of them before they can receive the “highest blessings
available,” never, from Joseph Smith to the present, has there been taught
any way to receive those blessings except “by the authority of the Savior”;
it is his choice to confer them and his grace by which they are conferred.

The doctrine of our dependence on God and the atonement of
Jesus Christ for salvation runs deep through the teachings of Joseph Smith
and of every Latter-day Saint prophet after him. Though Davies does make several
insightful connections between Latter-day Saint ideals of activity and corresponding
expressions of salvation in the Mormon culture, we believe that some of his
perspectives regarding the church’s doctrine of grace miss the mark. Within
the final pages of his work, Davies writes:

It is worth reiterating the point that, while Mormons have long tended to
avoid the notion of grace, because of its Protestant association with notions
of spiritual rebirth, it may well be that growth in size and self-assurance
will encourage some Saints to stress it once more. Grace will become a resource
for those active Saints who have done all they feel able to do and yet, still,
feel themselves lacking in final religious benefit. The advantage possessed
by Mormonism is that its pool of potential orientations contains doctrinal
elements of grace within it. In practice, it is likely that the dissonance
between self-willed activism and divinely bestowed love will continue to enhance
a creative tension of LDS spirituality that will foster further growth. (p. 265)

Davies’s claim that “Mormons have long tended to avoid the notion of grace”
seems misleading. It is true that Latter-day Saints have consistently rejected
certain formulations of what Davies calls a “Protestant” approach
to grace. For instance, Latter-day Saints reject all five principles of the
Calvinistic doctrine of grace enunciated at the Council of Dort and represented
by the acronym TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement,
Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints). To the extent that
Latter-day Saints avoid some traditional Christian locutions (such as
being “born again” or “grace alone” or even “saved”)
for expressing their doctrine of grace, it is because objectionable theological
baggage has unfortunately become associated with the terms. However, this
avoidance does not constitute (nor has it ever constituted) an avoidance
of a doctrine of grace nor the rejection of a resource on which church members
can rely when they “feel themselves lacking.” Any avoidance of “grace”
has been merely nominal and not doctrinal.

The “Discourse of Grace”

Before we are able to further draw out this doctrine of grace,
however, we must clarify some equivocations in the use of the term grace. Davies writes that “When LDS authors speak of
grace they are radically aware of several ways of interpreting the term and
also of the ethical and social consequences of each perspective” (p. 54).
Davies identifies two senses of grace, the first of which he calls the “traditional”
interpretation of the evangelicals. In this sense, Davies says, grace leaves
no room to speak of works in contributing to salvation because they simply
exist in two separate grammars of discourse. A good life, full of good works,
is a practical consequence of receiving grace, but contributes nothing to
the salvation guaranteed by grace. Davies writes that, concerning the evangelical

In this argument grace on the part of God and faith on the part of individuals
belong, one might say, to the same logical type. The idea of having to earn
salvation or even of having to engage in certain acts because one has been
given grace plays no part in this equation precisely because the grammars
of discourse of grace and works belong to different logical types of thought,
argument and action. (p. 54)

The second sense Davies identifies is that of “grace
as divine love and forgiveness of God . . . to remove the sin, the
original sin, introduced by Adam” (pp. 54–55). Davies here
is directing his discussion to the Latter-day Saint doctrine that through
the atonement of Christ, resurrection and appointment to some degree of glory
are guaranteed for all humankind, save sons of perdition. He makes the point
that though this is true for both those inside and outside the church, active
Latter-day Saints are able to achieve the desired “level of glory, or
of salvation,” only through certain performances within the religious
and moral spheres. Davies marks what he sees as a “divide” between
the atonement of Christ and what Latter-day Saints refer to as “exaltation,”
which needs to be crossed dynamically with human effort and the accomplishment
of certain works.

Even here Davies’s account of the Latter-day Saint doctrine
of grace misses the mark in at least three ways: (1) Latter-day Saints
believe that our individual sins (not
just the original sin introduced by Adam) are forgiven as a result of God’s
grace. (2) Latter-day Saints believe that salvation (in the Protestant
sense of that term—salvation from death and hell, coupled with immortality
in the presence of God) is graciously and unconditionally granted to all but
sons of perdition; (3) For Latter-day Saints the real issue of salvation
has to do with the individual’s continued growth into God’s likeness (sanctification)
and exaltation, which are the synergistic outcome of divine grace and human
striving. It is the Latter-day Saint degrees-of-glory eschatology that does
not fit nicely with Protestant models of grace, grafted as they are to a heaven-or-hell

In order to appreciate the possible misunderstandings that
arise from failing to consider complex Latter-day Saint eschatology, that
eschatology must be briefly summarized. According to Latter-day Saint doctrine,
there are three principal “degrees of glory” in the hereafter: the
telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial (in order from lowest to highest).
Those in the telestial kingdom—in short, those who did not deny the
Holy Spirit but never received the testimony of Jesus and spent their lives
in wickedness—will still enjoy a glory that exceeds our present comprehension,
despite being initially “thrust down to hell” (D&C 76:89; 76:84).
They will ultimately enjoy the ministrations of the Holy Spirit but not the
full presence of the Godhead (D&C 76:86). Those in the terrestrial kingdom
include, among others, those who did not receive the gospel in the flesh but
afterwards received it when the Son visited and taught them in spirit prison
(vs. 73–74), as well as those who received the gospel in the flesh but
were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus (v. 79). These will receive of
the “glory” of the Father but not of his “fulness,” presumably
meaning that they will not progress to share fully in the divine perfection
(D&C 76:75–76, 79). They too will not enjoy the full presence of
the Godhead, being with the Son and the Holy Spirit but not the “fulness”
of the Father (D&C 76:77). Those in the celestial kingdom—”just
men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,” or,
in other words, those who enter into and are faithful to gospel covenants—will
dwell eternally with the Godhead, being made equal to the Father in power,
might, and dominion (D&C 76:69, 95). Within the celestial kingdom, those
in the highest of the three levels of glory are those who have entered into
eternal marriage (D&C 131:2–3) and remained faithful to that covenant
(D&C 132:19). They are the only ones who will have “eternal increase”
(D&C 131:4; 132:19), which many Latter-day Saints have understood to mean
“eternal increase in progeny.”12 It
is these individuals who are referred to as “gods” within Latter-day
Saint scriptures, seeing as they are granted powers, dominions, might, and
increase equal to that which the Father possesses.

Without focusing on the implications of the eschatology and
soteriology described above, Davies’s further explanations continue to miss
the mark. For instance, he writes that

it is this point that introduces a logical problem into the LDS discussion
of grace. For, on one understanding of this scheme of things, it is the individual’s
own level of performance in the moral sphere, within the context of church
organization, that will yield the appropriate level of glory, or of salvation.
. . . In other words, achievements or “works” belong to
the same logical type as rewards or salvation, and they are grounded in human
effort. (p. 55)

As noted, Latter-day Saints do not accept the Protestant
assumption that faith/grace and human agency/actions/works constitute two
separate grammars of discourse. To the contrary, we believe that it is false
and that James and even Paul, as well as living prophets, make it clear that
faith/grace and human agency/actions/works are actually inseparable. Second, though he mentions it, Davies again fails to
adequately consider the bearing on the issue of the Mormon distinctions (1) between
salvation and exaltation in general and (2) between degrees of salvation
in particular.

He makes the point that the lines of argument taken by Latter-day
Saint authors, like Millet and Robinson, maintain that a robust doctrine of
saving grace can be found within Mormon beliefs but seem to do so in discord
with “much LDS material on religious life” (p. 56). The views
which to Davies seem out of place in a traditional Mormon context, and his
assessment of the matter, come to light in the following passage:

Millet’s text addresses the issue of salvation by saying, “my good works
are necessary, but they are not sufficient.” Then in striking terms he
adds, “I cannot work myself into celestial glory, and I cannot guarantee
myself a place among the sanctified through my own unaided efforts. . . .
It is not by my own merits that I will ever make it. Rather it is by and through
the merits of Christ.”

     Given their stress on divine and not human action,
these are relatively strange affirmations of salvation in ordinary Mormon
discussion. But the cultural dilemma still does not disappear, for Millet
is clear in maintaining the importance of human activity. . . .
What is intriguing is that earlier in his book Millet echoes
the extremely traditional language of Protestant theology by using, in a most
positive way, the terms of imputed righteousness. “[The Lord] takes the
sin. He imputes to us his righteousness. That is the only way we can become
righteous in eternity. People do not become perfect just by striving. . .
.” It is, in fact, unusual to find an established LDS writer, and a key
figure in the religious education world of Brigham Young University . . .
in this kind of discussion of religious experience. (p. 59)

With one exception, these affirmations are neither unusual
nor strange.13 Latter-day Saints have never taught that they can guarantee themselves a place among
the sanctified through their own unaided efforts or by means of their own
merits. They have consistently taught throughout their history that Christ’s
is the only name by which salvation can come and that it comes by the grace
of God manifest in the atonement of Christ. The church has always also taught,
however, that God’s grace does not absolve us of having particular duties
to perform. This is not to say that it is the performance of the things God
asks of us through which salvation comes—only that God continues to
expect certain things of us apart from the grace he freely gives.

Heavy emphasis on human action in relation to salvation
has usually been made in polemical contexts in which Latter-day Saints have
defended their doctrine against the claim of salvation by grace alone.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell writes, regarding the parable of the unprofitable servant
from the New Testament, that

God’s generosity [or grace] toward us is not to be expressed by the dilution
of the demands of duty that He lays upon us. Where much is given, much is
expected—not the other way around. Nor is divine generosity to be expressed
by a lessening of God’s standards concerning what is to be done. Rather, when
much is given and much is done by the disciple, then God’s generosity is overwhelming!14

The idea of God asking that we do something before the fullness
of his blessings is conferred is quite common in Christendom, even if it is
believed that all he asks is that we accept Christ as our personal Savior.
In this case it is usually understood that it is not the confessing itself
that saves, but the grace that is given due to the confessing. This is similar
to the church’s teaching that we are saved by grace “after all we can
do.” Note that it is grace that saves, even if God mandates the mode
of our acceptance of the grace. The teaching of a doctrine of grace, like
the one Davies found out of place from Millet, is traceable through the history
of the church. Elder W. Rolfe Kerr put the concept well when he writes, with
reference to his childhood days of living on a farm:

After we plowed, planted, irrigated, and cultivated the fields, we cast our
fate in His hands. We worked hard but knew that without the sunshine and rain,
the grace and mercy of God, and the benevolence of loving parents, we could
accomplish nothing.

     Is not this faith in and dependence upon God what
King Benjamin taught when he said: “If you should render all the thanks
and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has
created you, . . . if ye should serve him with all your whole souls
yet ye would be unprofitable servants. . . . And now I ask, can
ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even
as much as the dust of the earth” (Mosiah 2:20–21, 25).

     We are indebted to God for our very lives. When
we keep His commandments, which is our duty to do, He immediately blesses
us. We are therefore continually indebted and unprofitable to Him. Without
grace, our valiance alone cannot save us.15

There is no conflict or inconsistency with this teaching
from the Book of Mormon, the church’s views throughout its history, and current
church explanations regarding the interplay of grace, works, and salvation.

Joseph Smith did in fact teach that our own efforts could
never do anything to “earn salvation”—which
Davies claims is part of the “traditional” sense of grace—but
that it is only the name of Christ and his merit that has the power to save.
A verse from the second book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon serves to make
this point more apparent: “Wherefore, how great the importance to make
these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that
there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through
the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8).
It is this sense of grace that has been perpetuated throughout the church’s
history and recently reiterated by authors like Millet and Robinson.

In the section that follows we survey Latter-day Saint teachings on grace (a) beginning
with Joseph Smith and his associates and continuing with Joseph’s successors
down to the present day, and (b) in Mormon hymns from the first hymnbook
to the current one. Although we briefly survey the evidence here, we think we
cite enough to seriously challenge Davies’s assertions (1) that Mormons
have historically avoided the notion of grace and (2) that contemporary
LDS discourse on grace represents a turn-of-the-century development. More evidence
is detailed in appendixes B, C, and D, and much more could be gathered. It is
not our purpose in this response to attempt a full formulation of a Mormon understanding
of grace nor to engage in a comparative analysis of the teachings of the several
Mormon prophets. Neither do we attempt to show here that they have all spoken
with one voice, though this may well be the case. Rather, our principal aim
in this section is to provide data to show that, contrary to Davies’s assertion,
the church has never avoided a notion of grace. Indeed, it has always
affirmed that we cannot be saved without grace.

Historical Survey of Prophetic Teachings on Grace

From its most humble beginnings, the church has taught that
salvation from sin and death is possible only in and through the grace of
Jesus Christ. Never has the church taught that we could merit salvation or
that our own efforts could ever suffice to save us. Joseph Smith stressed
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.”16 Indeed, Joseph recognized
that without the grace of God, as manifest in the life and atonement of Christ,
there is nothing we can do to be saved. In his own words, “I do not,
nor never have, pretended to be any other than a man ‘subject to passion,’
and liable, without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that
perfect path which all men are commanded to walk.”17 It
is not only to the grace of God that we owe thanks for our very lives, but
also for our ability to live them well and our hope to return to live with

An article Joseph Smith called “one of the sweetest
pieces that has been written in these last days”18 illustrates
more clearly how he and other early Mormons viewed the roles of grace and
action in our salvation. The article, written by Brigham Young and Willard
Richards, responds to the question, “Do you believe in election and reprobation?”
and begins by stating that their purpose is “that the saints may learn
doctrine.” After offering several scriptural examples of groups and individuals
who were “elected” to do great works to further the purposes of
God, they cite several scriptures to illustrate the roles of faith, works,
and grace in election and salvation:

     Are men, then, to be saved by works? Nay, verily,
“By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it
is the gift of God” (Eph. ii: 8); “Not of works, lest any man
should boast” (v. 9); “Not by works of righteousness which
we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus iii: 5);
and yet faith without works is dead, being alone (James ii:17). Was not Abraham,
our father, justified by works (v. 21)? Shall we then be saved by faith?
Nay, neither by faith nor works, but by works is faith made perfect (v. 22);
but “by grace are ye saved” (Eph. ii: 8); “And if by grace,
then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; and if it be
of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise works is no works” (Rom.
xi: 6); “Ye see then how that a man is justified by works, and not
by faith only” (James ii: 24)

     Rom. x: 3,4, “For they (Israel) being
ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness,
have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; for Christ is
the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Thus
the righteousness of God is made manifest in the plan of salvation by His
crucified son; “for there is none other name under heaven given among
men whereby we must be saved,” but the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
(Acts iv: 10, 12).19

On another occasion, President Young taught that

The best man that ever lived on this earth only just made out to save himself
through the grace of God. The best woman that ever lived on the earth has
only made her escape from this world to a better one, with a full assurance
of enjoying the first resurrection. It requires all the atonement of Christ,
the mercy of the Father, the pity of angels and the grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ to be with us always, and then to do the very best we possibly can,
to get rid of this sin within us, so that we may escape from this world into
the celestial kingdom.20

It is clear from President Young’s words that the combination
of doing the best we can and the grace
of God is necessary in order for us to inherit the celestial kingdom and all
the blessings our Heavenly Father has to bestow. It is also clear that even
the best man is inexorably dependent on grace for his salvation.

What did Brigham Young mean by the phrase “[doing] the
very best we possibly can”? He once said that “in and of ourselves
we have no power to control our own minds and passions; but the grace of God
is sufficient to give us perfect victory.”21 He also said that “the
grace, the power, and the wisdom of God will make me all that I ever will
be, either in time or eternity.”22 Thus, even the ability to make the
very best effort we can, of ourselves, nevertheless requires grace. Without
the grace of God there is no way for us to do our best: it is his mercy that
makes our best even possible. Grace is thereby doubly tied to the Mormon doctrine
of works and salvation for President Young. If there is still any doubt concerning
President Young’s position on the necessity of grace in obtaining salvation,
his following words help make the matter quite clear: “All will have
to come to the Lord and be sanctified through the grace of Christ by faith
in his name; without this, I am happy to say, that none can be purified, sanctified
and prepared to inherit eternal glory.”23

With this clarification, we are prepared to understand what,
to non-Mormons, may seem a very odd phrasing at the start of this quotation:
that the best of men “only just made out to save himself.” Davies
quotes a similar passage in which President Young tells the Saints about “‘how
to save themselves and their friends'” (p. 32).24 If
we are saved either by our own efforts or by God’s power and mercy, then the
cited language, taken out of context, seems to suggest the former. And in
fact, among traditional Christians, discussions of grace have tended to revolve
around the question of “whether, in the last resort, salvation depends
upon human or divine endeavor” (p. 51). Yet President Young’s view
implies that this framing of the question is fundamentally mistaken since
it presupposes that full salvation ultimately depends on either human or
divine endeavor, when in fact it ultimately requires both. Both God’s saving work and our own diligent striving
are essential for us to receive God’s highest blessings, even as our good
works are themselves made possible by grace. Christ enables us to act in a
way that will turn to our salvation.

This doctrine of dependence on the Lord for our ability to
do any good work was reiterated by
President John Taylor when he wrote, “A man, as a man, could arrive at
all the dignity that a man was capable of obtaining or receiving; but it needed
a God to raise him to the dignity of a God.”25 He
admits that a man, on his own, can raise himself only as high as men go, obviously
not to the exalted state of the celestial kingdom, to sit in God’s throne
(see Revelation 3:21). He recognizes that for humankind to dwell in God’s
presence and grow in God’s likeness, God’s assistance and grace are required.

Once again expounding the connection between the efforts
God asks us to make and his grace and how both relate to our salvation and
exaltation, Taylor writes:

     The conditions required of the human family to enable them to obtain the
high exaltation which the atonement makes it possible for them to receive,
are: First, Faith in God as our Father and the great Supreme Ruler of the
universe; in whose hands are the destinies of the human family; in whom we
live and move and have our being. And in His Son Jesus Christ, as the Lamb,
. . . as the great Mediator and great propitiatory sacrifice provided
by the Father before the creation, and consummated by the offering of Himself
upon the cross. For “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life.” . . .

     The second principle of the Gospel of salvation, is repentance. . . .

     Thirdly, Baptism for the remission of sins, of our
personal transgressions, which, through this means, provided by divine mercy,
are, by reason of the atonement, blotted out. To use the words of Paul: “Therefore
we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised
up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life.” . . .

     Next the reception of the Holy Ghost through the
laying on of hands of those who have received the Holy Priesthood.26

Like those who came before him, Taylor makes it quite clear
that it is to God we owe any thanks or hope for full salvation (or “exaltation”
as Latter-day Saints are wont to describe it), though God does expect us to
meet his conditions. “The redeemed of the Lord . . . are indebted
to the Lord Jesus Christ, through His atonement, for the position that they
will occupy in the state of exaltation here referred to; and if they are exalted
. . . it is through the ordinances which He has appointed for the
accomplishment of this object.”27 It is only God’s grace
that can save and exalt and his grace that makes possible the accomplishment
of the good works he asks of us.

Not to belabor the point, we move more quickly through the
rest of the historical line of Latter-day Saint leaders to find what we have
found with the first—a doctrine of works, grace, and salvation in which
Millet’s words are not out of place, but seem quite at home: “I cannot
work myself into celestial glory, and I cannot guarantee myself a place among
the sanctified through my own unaided efforts. . . . It is not by
my own merits that I will ever make it. Rather it is by and through the merits
of Christ.”28

Orson Pratt is quoted as saying that “redemption from
the original sin is without faith or works; redemption from our own sins is
given through faith and works. Both are the gifts of free grace; but while one is a gift forced upon us unconditionally,
the other is a gift merely offered to us conditionally. The reception of the
one is compulsory; the reception of the other is voluntary.”29
Again we note how clear it is that it is God’s grace, the gift of his matchless
love, that makes possible salvation from the consequences of both Adam’s transgression
and our own sins, but there is some conditionality placed on aspects of God’s
great gift of grace. It is an understanding of this point that clears up misconceptions
regarding Latter-day Saints “working themselves into heaven” and
shows Millet’s position to be consistent with historic Mormon teachings on

Lorenzo Snow, perhaps understanding the possible misconception
of the Mormon doctrine regarding works and salvation, taught that “It
is important that we, as Latter-day Saints, should understand and bear in
mind that salvation comes through the grace of God.”30 To
those who struggle to do their best but often find themselves coming up short,
Joseph F. Smith said, “Notwithstanding our many weaknesses, imperfections
and follies the Lord still continues His mercy, manifests His grace and imparts
unto us His Holy Spirit, that our minds may be illuminated by the light of
revelation.”31 President Heber J. Grant declared to
“the people of the world” that the First Presidency and the church
they lead call “all men to come unto [Jesus Christ], that through his
grace they may attain to eternal life and an inheritance with him in the kingdom
of his Father.”32 President Grant invites the world to
the kingdom of God not through any work or combination of works, but through
the grace of God. Though it should be apparent that it is consistent with
Latter-day Saint teachings to declare that it is by the grace of God that
we are saved, we must point out again that there is a difference between Latter-day
Saint views regarding this saving grace and some traditional Protestant views.
President David O. McKay reminds us that the scriptures telling us we are
impotent to save ourselves without the grace of Christ are absolutely true
but also warns us that “the fallacy that Jesus has done all for us, and
live as we may, if on our deathbed, we only believe, we shall be saved in
his glorious presence, is most pernicious.”33

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
writes that “individual salvation or rescue from the effects of personal
is to be acquired by each for himself
by faith and good works through the redemption wrought by Jesus
.”34 Talmage
also argues that “without Christ no man can be saved, and the salvation
provided at the cost of Christ’s sufferings and bodily death is offered upon
certain clearly defined conditions only; and these are summarized under ‘obedience
to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.'”35
Again we see reinforced the doctrine that it is Christ and his mercy that
saves, while aspects of that salvation are made conditional upon our obedience.36

Joseph Fielding Smith writes:

We are therefore unable in and of ourselves to receive redemption from our
sins by any act of our own.

     This is the grace that Paul was teaching. Therefore,
it is by the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved. . . .

     . . . So we are saved by grace and that not of ourselves.
It is the gift of God. . . .

     So Paul taught these people . . . he pointed out
to them the fact that if it were not for the mission of Jesus Christ, if it
were not for this great atoning sacrifice, they could not be redeemed. And
therefore it was by the grace of God that they are saved, not by any work
on their part, for they were absolutely helpless. Paul was absolutely right.37

Ezra Taft Benson taught that “by grace, the Savior
accomplished His atoning sacrifice so that all mankind will attain immortality.
By His grace, and by our faith in His atonement and repentance of our sins,
we receive the strength to do the works necessary that we otherwise could
not do by our own power.”38 Emphasizing this very point in his
Easter message to the church, President Howard W. Hunter said, “In this
Easter season of the year—when we are reminded yet again of all Christ
has done for us, how dependent we are upon his redeeming grace
and personal resurrection, and how singular his name is in the power to dispel
evil and death and save the human soul—may we all do more to respect
and revere his holy name and gently, courteously encourage others to do the

Perhaps one of the clearest statements regarding the doctrine
under discussion was given by the current president of the church, President
Gordon B. Hinckley:

     I believe that through His [Christ’s] atoning sacrifice,
the offering of His life on Calvary’s Hill, He expiated the sins of mankind,
relieving us from the burden of sin if we will forsake evil and follow Him.
I believe in the reality and the power of His Resurrection. I believe in the
grace of God made manifest through His sacrifice and redemption, and I believe
that through His Atonement, without any price on our part, each of us is offered
the gift of resurrection from the dead. I believe further that through that
sacrifice there is extended to every man and woman, every son and daughter
of God, the opportunity for eternal life and exaltation in our Father’s kingdom,
as we hearken to and obey His commandments.40

Latter-day Saints have consistently taught that it is not
our works that save us, while simultaneously teaching that some of the blessings
imparted by God’s grace (including exaltation) are dependent upon our complying
with the conditions he specifies for appropriating that grace. It is Christ,
and only Christ, who can save. God’s grace enables us to do his will, and
the blessings of doing so come by his grace as well. Humans may often feel
themselves lacking and, by themselves, absolutely are lacking. Without God’s grace, we are impotent to achieve
either salvation or exaltation.

Though the church has continuously and consistently taught
the necessity of grace for salvation and exaltation, we find that the word
grace and related locutions are now appearing more frequently
in contemporary Latter-day Saint discourse. As previously mentioned, we believe
the earlier less-frequent usage is explained by the objectionable theological
baggage associated with such terms and the complexity introduced into the
discourse by Latter-day Saint belief in multiple degrees of salvation. For instance, unqualifiedly using the term
saved in reference to oneself when speaking to an evangelical
would blur distinctions between salvation and exaltation that lie at the heart
of Latter-day Saint thought. Thus, by avoiding these terms, some Latter-day
Saint authors may have sought to avoid confusion and endless explication.
However, avoidance of these locutions may have engendered even more serious
misunderstanding. Thus, now may be the time for Latter-day Saint authors to
reappropriate scriptural (both biblical and LDS-specific) soteriological terms,
making clear how their usage differs from that of traditional Christians.

President Hinckley, in an address to the church membership in October 2001,
said, in reference to the growing church, “We are not changing.41
The world’s perception of us is changing. We teach the same doctrine. We have
the same organization. We labor to perform the same good works. But the old
hatred is disappearing, the old persecution is dying. People are better informed.
They are coming to realize what we stand for and what we do.”42
Millet explains that “to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints is to enter a religious society that is anything but static.
. . . So while Latter-day Saints hold tenaciously to the foundational
doctrines and principles of revealed religion laid down by Joseph Smith [and,
we would add, by his successors in the prophetic office], on the one hand, it
will appear to many, on the other hand, that the Latter-day Saints are changing.”43
If there has been any change in the Mormon teaching of grace, it has been merely
nominal, not doctrinal. If the “discourse of grace” has been avoided,
it is not the discourse of grace per se; rather, it is Protestant versions of
the same.

Saved and Born Again

To further illustrate the explanation set out above of Mormon
usage and (nominal not conceptual) avoidance of the term grace, let us consider two related soteriological terms—namely,
saved and born again.

Speaking of the phrase to be saved, Davies comments:

     The phrase, “to be saved”, has often been
associated with the Protestant Evangelical idea of spiritual rebirth understood
as an experience through which the individual senses a removal of guilt and
a newness of personal outlook. Theologically, this is directly interpreted
as the outcome of grace, both in the sacrifice of Christ and in God enlightening
the individual heart through the Holy Spirit to accept the outcome of that
divine sacrifice. There is a sense of having been acted upon, of being a passive
recipient of divine love in this context. This scheme was well known in early
Mormonism’s environment of frontier revivalism, and the Church avoided it.
(p. 55)

Again, even if some Latter-day Saint authors avoid or have,
in the past, avoided such locutions as saved or born again, such avoidance
is merely nominal, not conceptual. In fact, a Latter-day Saint would likely
be more than willing to accept Davies’s summation of spiritual rebirth as
“the outcome of grace, both in the sacrifice of Christ and in God enlightening
the individual heart through the Holy Spirit.” Indeed, the notions of
rebirth and being saved have always been prominent in Latter-day Saint culture.

The Book of Mormon
and the New Testament have the same number of verses using the exact phrase
born again (three verses in
each, though the Book of Mormon is a substantially larger text), and the
Pearl of Great Price contains another verse using the
phrase. In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 27:25 reads, “And the Lord said
unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds,
tongues and people, must be born
yea, born of God, changed
from their carnal and fallen state, to a state
of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.” Alma 5:49 specifically
states that Alma the Younger’s cause and purpose are to teach one central
message to all who will hear it, “that they must repent and be born
.” Additionally, Alma 7:14 tells
us that one “must . . . be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again
ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto
repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on
the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save
and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.” These verses and the verses
of the New Testament in which Jesus taught Nicodemus of spiritual rebirth
have been well-known and have often been quoted since the church began.44 This
is not to say that, when using the locutions being discussed here, Latter-day
Saints and evangelical Protestants mean the same thing by them, only to make
the point that as far as the Mormon culture is concerned, there has never
been a specific avoidance of the terms for lack of a belief in the concept
of grace (although the phrase has been and still is largely avoided). Once
again, this is not to imply that such locutions are commonplace amongst Latter-day
Saints; most would probably resist explaining their spiritual experiences
as experiences of being “born again,” but we emphasize again that,
for Latter-day Saints, the reasons for this resistance stem from potential
misunderstanding and confusion rather than doctrinal disagreement.

The Saints offer no apology or equivocation regarding the
need for being born again; rather, they seek only clarification as to what,
exactly, that phrase means. Being born again, for the Latter-day Saint, has
very much to do, as the verses previously quoted demonstrate, with the doctrines
of repentance and baptism. Coming to faith in Christ motivates repentance,
baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost, and a process of growth toward the likeness
of Christ. This process (as opposed
to a singular discrete experience, though such an experience or experiences
may initiate or may be involved throughout the process is how Latter-day Saints
typically understand the type of spiritual rebirth spoken of by Jesus to Nicodemus.
Of course, none of these actions singly, nor these actions in combination,
effect such a rebirth without God’s grace as mediated through the atonement
of Christ. Though required steps lie along the path toward the gate of heaven,
the gate itself, our ability to pass through it, and the steps that lead up
to the gate, are all there by the grace of God.

To clarify this point, consider, as an example, repentance.
Latter-day Saints believe repentance to be an essential step in spiritual
rebirth and exaltation. Regarding the way repentance and grace are connected,
Elder Gene R. Cook, a member of the Seventy, writes:

     Repentance. . . . The grace of the Lord through
the Atonement can both cleanse us of sin and assist us in perfecting ourselves
through our trials, sicknesses, and even “character defects.” We
are both sanctified and justified through the grace of the Lord. (See D&C 20:30–31.) Truly,
“as a man his sins confess, Christ, in mercy, manifests.” (Gene
R. Cook and Holly Cook, “I Am a Healthy Man,” unpublished hymn;
see Alma 24:10.) Remember,
Christ can repair our flaws and failings that otherwise are not repairable.
(See Gen. 18:14; Mark 9:23–24.)45

Though human volition is required for the essential step
of repentance to be taken, the step would not exist were it not for the grace
of God. Repentance helps to make us more perfect, and the perfection process
could not take place without it; however, the perfecting aspect of repentance
is not any work we perform but “the grace of the Lord through the Atonement.”
Mormon doctrine tells us that without repentance there can be no exaltation46
but also teaches that it is God’s grace that makes repentance possible and

This scheme of receiving God’s grace is not, however, purely a passive one.
Few salvational schemes—including that which was present “in early
Mormonism’s environment of frontier revivalism”— can be considered
completely passive. Nearly all Christians believe that one must at least first
acknowledge Christ as one’s Savior, and thus must act, in order to be
saved by his grace. However, contrary to Davies’s assertions, there is
certainly a strong sense among Latter-day Saints of one having been acted
as a recipient of divine love. Though Latter-day Saint doctrine may
reject the absolute passivity of the individual who receives Christ’s grace,
the church has never avoided the idea that we are acted upon by Christ when
we receive and are transformed by his love.

The Teaching of Grace in Mormon Hymnology

In further support of our claim that Mormons possess an original
and sustained doctrine of grace that runs deeper than merely an explanation
of the resurrection and absolution from original sin, we turn to the Saints’
hymnbooks, which from the beginning were designed to teach and reinforce the
doctrines already established by the church. The preface to the first Latter-day
Saint hymnbook, A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter
Day Saints,
compiled and adapted by Emma
Smith and William W. Phelps, makes this point explicit, stating, “In
order to sing by the Spirit, and with the understanding, it is necessary that
the church of the Latter Day Saints should have a collection of ‘SACRED HYMNS’
adapted to their faith and belief in the gospel
” (emphasis added). Karen Lynn Davidson writes
that “though many hymns and hymn traditions were available to them, the
early Saints did not choose to adopt in its entirety any other church’s hymn
tradition. They felt the need for a distinctive hymn tradition that would
reflect their unique theology.”48 The need for a hymnbook
that provides doctrinally sound and unique Latter-day Saint wisdom has not
changed with the years. In the introduction to the current hymnbook, the First
Presidency praises the hymns for “meet[ing] the varied needs of today’s
worldwide church membership”49 and expresses hope that
the “hymnbook will take a
prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes.”50

The frequent
references to grace in both the early and contemporary hymnals suggest that
a robust sense of grace has always been a part of the theology they reflect.
The first hymn included in the 1835 edition of the LDS hymnbook “Know
then that every soul is free”51 denies a Calvinist tradition that sees
God’s grace as irresistible, being somehow foisted upon the person elected
to receive it, willing or not. The
anonymous author of this hymn expresses the view that “God will force
no man to heav’n” but adds that “God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.”
52 The use of the word
improve in this verse indicates the good use or profitable
application of God’s grace. Thus, according to the hymn, God is pleased when
his grace is accessed and used to the profit and benefit of mankind. The words
improve and seek
as used in this hymn signal a type of active approach to God’s grace and love.
This action, however, does not add anything to the quality of the grace and
does not add to the salvific attributes of the grace itself; the action called
for on the part of humanity seems only to make the effects of God’s grace
attainable. The fifth verse of the song, included in the church’s first hymnal
but left out of the current collection of hymns, helps illustrate the author’s
take on grace. It reads: “It’s my free will for to believe, ‘Tis God’s
free will me to receive: To stubborn willers this I’ll tell, It’s all free
grace, and all free will.” This line of thinking seems quite consistent
with the words of Elder Oaks quoted earlier that, though church members are
asked to exercise their free will in the performance of certain ordinances
to gain access to the full extent of blessings God has to offer, to put his
grace to the most profitable use, or improve his grace, it is Christ who chooses
to confer the blessings and his name and authority by which they are conferred.
Though the verse denies a traditional view of irresistible grace, as did Joseph
Smith, it is obvious from the song that it is God’s grace that allows man
to hear the message and “in glory dwell” (verse 6). The hymn places
a strong emphasis on correct use of our ability to choose and the effects
of that choice which, as Davies properly points out, are prominent themes
in Mormonism. But even with this emphasis, there is room in the hymn, and
in Latter-day Saint theology, to express a doctrine of God’s grace as the
power to save those who cannot save themselves.

The second hymn included in the earliest LDS hymnal reads:
“Rivers of love and mercy here, In a rich ocean join; Salvation in abundance
flows Like floods of milk and wine. The gates of glorious gospel grace, Stand
open night and day.”53 The fourth hymn included in the 1835
hymnal, “Glorious things of thee are spoken,”54 three
verses of which are included in the current LDS hymnal, told even the earliest
Saints to “See the stream of living waters, Springing from celestial
love, . . . Who can faint, while such a river Ever flows their thirst
t’assuage? Grace which like the Lord, the giver, Never fails from age to age.”
These sentiments do in fact sound like the calming words of grace offered
to a congregation that would often have chance to feel themselves lacking
in what they were able to accomplish in relation to what they felt the Lord
expected of them. Davies does indeed identify a legitimate pastoral need in
the church, and likely for many other congregations of believers, of helping
those who feel themselves unworthy or undeserving of the Lord’s blessings.
But there has always been direction given concerning how the need might be
fulfilled. There has always stood the admonition in the church: turn to Christ
and his grace, for he is mighty to save. Thus the first members of the church
could sing for joy with the words of another of their sacred hymns, “My
days unclouded as they pass, . . . are monuments of wondrous grace,
. . . Seal my forgiveness in the blood Of Christ, my Lord; his name
alone I plead for pardon, gracious God, And kind acceptance at thy throne.”55

Many of these early hymns have been included in Latter-day
Saint hymnbooks ever since that first hymnal of 1835, but new additions to
subsequent hymnals reflect the same doctrine. Hymn 16 in the hymnal The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody, gathered for publication in 1889 at the request of
President John Taylor, reminded the saints that “The Lord, who built
the earth and sky, In mercy stoops to hear thy cry; His promise all may freely
claim: ‘Ask and receive in Jesus’ name.'”56 Hymn
22 directed the Saints to ask the Lord in song to “Make our enlarged
souls possess And learn the height and breadth and length And depth of thine
unmeasured grace.” Those laboring under heavy loads were told in hymn
37 of the Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody
that the Lord’s “grace shall make the burden light.” The Latter-day
Saint hymnbook of 1927, meant to supplement a Sunday School songbook and filled
with hymns of a more traditional nature, was intended for use during sacrament
services. The book included “Lord, Thou Wilt Hear Me,” by Isaac
Watts, which, in its third verse reads, “I pay this evening sacrifice,
And when my work is done, Great God, my faith, my hope relies Upon Thy grace

The current hymnbook still contains the popular hymn “How
Firm a Foundation,” also one of the hymns included in the first official
Latter-day Saint hymnbook; the words of this hymn could not leave the attentive
singer in any doubt as to where he might turn for salvation or aid when lacking.
The hymn instructs messianically: “In ev’ry condition—in sickness,
in health, In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth, . . . As thy
days may demand, so thy succor shall be. . . . When through fiery
trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy
gold to refine. . . . The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should
endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”57

We have provided only the smallest sample of hymns that affirm the doctrine
of grace. For a more complete listing of Latter-day Saints hymns that declare
this doctrine, see appendix C. It does not appear to us that the church has
avoided the notion of grace.

The Proactive Christ of Gethsemane and the Cross

Davies accurately identifies the prominent place of human
action and agency in Latter-day Saint culture. He also applies this perspective
of proactive religion to the Latter-day Saint view of the atonement. In a
section entitled “Proactive Christ,” Davies writes,

     The LDS interpretation of Christ’s garden experience
involves a most interesting relocation of the act of atonement within Christian
theological accounts that have, traditionally, seen the cross as the prime
site of assuming human sin. The Encyclopedia entry is telling, at this
point, quoting President Ezra Taft Benson’s words that “it was in Gethsemane
that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world.” One realistic interpretation
of this emphasis concerns Christ’s volition as consonant with that stress
on decision making in Mormonism that comes to a focus in the philosophical
notion of human agency, one so vital to LDS thought. Christ’s acceptance of
the sins of the world in the garden is but the moment of implementation of
his voluntary decision to do so that had been taken in pre-mortal realms.
(p. 48)58

This section illustrates the depth and care of Davies’s examination
of Latter-day Saint belief and practice as he works to draw out the distinctive
themes that run through its texture and tie them together as a whole. As with
his discussion of grace, however, we argue that Davies’s account of Latter-day
Saint belief and practice does not accurately match Latter-day Saint self-understanding.

In his account of the Mormon view of Christ’s atonement,
Davies recognizes that the unique role of Gethsemane supports a distinctive
view of Christ as effecting the atonement by means of his proactive volition
rather than by his passive suffering. However, in Latter-day Saint thought,
the importance of Gethsemane does not eclipse the importance of Christ’s death
on the cross, as Davies seems to suggest. Rather, Gethsemane and the cross
are both necessary phases of the process of atonement, which Christ undertook
on our behalf.

Latter-day Saint understanding of Christ and his saving work
supports an active conception of discipleship. Davies examines the portrayal
of Christ in the sacrament, music, art, texts, and theology of the Saints,
particularly with attention to the role of Christ in Gethsemane. He acknowledges
that his is just one “interpretation” of the emphasis on Gethsemane
and calls for further investigation (pp. 49, 54). While significantly
incomplete, his provocative account provides a valuable opportunity to articulate
the LDS view in ways that otherwise remain implicit.

Key to Davies’s interpretation is a contrast between Gethsemane
as a place where Christ actively chooses to carry out the atoning work and
Calvary as a place where Christ passively suffers a tortured death:

In Gethsemane, as in the LDS preexistence, Christ is the clear and decisive
voice, accepting his heavenly father’s will for the benefit of others. He
is the proactive Christ. On Calvary, by contrast, Christ becomes more passive,
led, mocked, crucified and killed. The logic of LDS discourse on atonement
is grounded in this self-commitment to affliction, and not in an abject passivity
as a sacrifice upon whom death is wrought. (p. 49)

Davies understands Latter-day Saints to emphasize Gethsemane,
in line with their typical emphasis on activity, while downplaying or neglecting
Calvary and the cross. Rather than saving us by suffering and dying, Christ
supremely exemplifies the life of obedience through which Mormons seek salvation:
“the Plan of Salvation . . . was worked out through [Christ’s]
sinless life of obedience . . . and culminated in his resurrection
and ascension” (p. 44). In light of this, “each Saint whose
sins have been forgiven through this atonement should, henceforth and similarly,
seek to live in a dedicated and self-sacrificial way” (p. 52). Latter-day
Saints do believe we are called to follow Christ’s pure example. However,
his sinlessness (as contrasted with our sinfulness) also helps explain why
he was able to offer himself as the supreme sacrifice that made salvation

Davies begins his analysis by observing that Latter-day Saints
do not use the cross as a symbol of their faith.59 He
sees this as theologically significant. He then considers the understanding
of Jesus’s role that is reflected in Latter-day Saint observance of the sacrament
of the Lord’s supper: eating and drinking in remembrance of Christ’s body
and blood. This ritual, the most important element of weekly worship, reflects
the core principles of the LDS understanding of salvation through Christ.60
Surprisingly, Davies takes this ceremony to refer to something other than
Christ’s sacrificial death:

     Another reference to Christ in the Sacrament Service
does refer to his body but does not engage in explicit reference to blood
shedding or to the cross. This comes in the formal rite of remembrance associated
with the Last Supper. . . . This expresses the Church’s strong memorialist
emphasis on the work of Christ, “that they may eat in remembrance of
the body of thy Son,” while largely avoiding any sacramental references
to Christ as sacrifice. (p. 41)

Davies is correct that the prayer given over the bread
in the sacrament service does not mention the blood, and the cross is not
explicitly mentioned in any part of the ceremony. Read in isolation, the reference
to the body might not seem to be a clear reference to Christ’s sacrifice.
However, in combination with the prayer that immediately follows, it should
be clear that this is a reference to Christ’s body which he laid down in death,
as a sacrifice.

The sacrament service comprises two phases, formally quite
similar, and one immediately following the other: the first remembering Christ’s
body and the second remembering his blood. In each, the administering priest
pronounces a prayer over the emblem—bread for the first and water for
the second—and then the emblem is passed to the congregation. The prayer
over the water asks God to bless it to those who drink it “in remembrance
of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them” (D&C 20:79). These
emblems thus represent precisely the flesh and blood of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

While Davies rightly notes that, in contemporary Mormon sacrament
services, no music is played during the blessing and passing of the emblems,
the music played and sung immediately beforehand reveals their significance.
The standard format for sacrament meetings includes a hymn specifically referred
to as the “sacrament hymn,” whose lyrics contemplate Christ’s sacrifice
and during which the bread is broken by the priests. The topical index of
hymns in the back of the current LDS hymnal lists approximately thirty hymns
under the theme “Sacrament” from which the sacrament hymn is typically
drawn. Their themes are represented in titles such as the following: “Upon
the Cross of Calvary” (no. 184), “In Memory of the Crucified”
(no. 190), “He Died! The Great Redeemer Died” (no. 192),
and “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” (no. 194) (referring to
Calvary). The hymns’ lyrics focus the congregants’ minds on how Christ was
“bruised, broken, torn for us On Calvary’s hill” (no. 181),
“died that we might live” (no. 182), hung “on the tree”
(no. 185), accepted the “crown of thorns” and the “cruel
cross” (no. 188), and so forth, as well as referring to the “blood
that dripped like rain” in Gethsemane (no. 185). It is quite clear
to the participants that in the sacrament service they are remembering how
Christ suffered and died to take away their sin. Gethsemane transforms the
Mormon conception of Christ’s sacrifice in large part by extending it: Christ’s
suffering and the shedding of his blood began well before his arrest and torment
and the crucifixion in which it was completed.

The Saints are also, of course, making or renewing a covenant,
as fits the theme of activity that Davies highlights. In the sacrament, Latter-day
Saints remember Christ and renew their commitment to follow him and to obey
his commandments in order to be blessed with his Spirit. It is not a merely
passive reception of his sacrifice, but an active response. The distinctive
combination of active and passive elements in the LDS commemoration of the
Lord’s supper may seem mysterious to someone from another tradition. However,
for a people who understand discipleship actively, it is a natural combination.
Christ taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
He expressed this love movingly in laying down his life for us. Hence to commit
ourselves to keep his commandments is the only fitting response to his sacrifice.
It is by living in obedience that we walk the path of salvation that he opened
for us (cf. 2 Nephi 31:17–21). Latter-day Saints thus are both
passive and active in regard to Christ’s sacrifice: we act in response to

Davies next turns to visual art as an indication of Christ’s
role in Latter-day Saint eyes. He considers two items as representative: the
portrayal of Christ in the Christus
statue in the Salt Lake City North Visitor’s Center and a painting of Christ
in Gethsemane by Harry Anderson. A wide range of visual art appears in Latter-day
Saint homes, meetinghouses, and temples, and in Latter-day Saint publications.
However, these two items do represent key aspects of how the Saints visualize
Christ and reflect a character similar to many other portrayals. Latter-day
Saints focus their attention on the atoning Christ both in his acts in Gethsemane
and as the resurrected Christ.61

The Christus portrays
“one who has conquered and now holds a place of power, albeit, once more,
with sensitive care rather than authoritarianism” (p. 45). Here
Christ is serene and reaches out to us in love. From a distance, one might
see no sign of the agony he has endured, but a closer look at the statue reveals
the marks of the nails visible in Christ’s hands and feet, and of the spear
in his side. These marks are crucial to the Latter-day Saint understanding
of the resurrected Christ. Mormons favor portraying him in this resurrected
state because it marks the completion of his triumph over sin and death, accomplished
through his sacrifice.

More central to the LDS imagination than the Christus is the almost cinematic portrayal of Christ as he descends
to visit the Nephites in the New World, recorded in 3 Nephi 11 (and rendered
literally cinematic in more than one LDS production). This is clearly the
pivotal event of the Book of Mormon, which the Nephites had been anticipating
for years. Announced by the voice of the Father from the heavens, Jesus descends
to a group of Nephites gathered at their temple. He then speaks to them, identifying
himself in a way that is very illuminating of the Mormon view of his mission.
He says:

I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

     And behold, I am the light and the life of the world;
and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and
have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the
which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
. . .

     Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust
your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails
in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel,
and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
(3 Nephi 11:10–11, 14)

Far from downplaying his crucifixion, Christ presents
the wounds left in his body as the characteristic marks of who he is and his
significance for humanity. Rather than beginning to teach, after extending
this invitation he underscores the importance of these wounds by waiting for
what may have been hours as “the multitude went forth . . .
one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and
did feel with their hands” (3 Nephi 11:15), in total “about two
thousand and five hundred souls” (3 Nephi 17:25). As believers in Christ
who were not privileged to know him during his mortal ministry, it is common
for contemporary Mormons to imagine themselves in the place of these Nephites.

As one would expect from such a passage, supported by similar
descriptions in the New Testament, this image of meeting Christ and recognizing
the marks of his crucifixion has strongly penetrated the LDS imagination.
It is frequently recalled in popular discourse as Mormons imagine meeting
Christ themselves, after death or at his second coming.62 An
important stimulus for this pattern is a hymn loved by Joseph Smith, “A
Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (no. 29 in the current hymnal), in
which Christ is recognized by “the tokens in his hands.”63

In Gethsemane, Christ seals his carefully pondered decision
to proceed with the atonement and accepts the suffering that causes him to
“bleed at every pore” (D&C 19:18). The resolve displayed in
John’s description of Christ before his death—”for this cause came
I unto this hour” (John 12:27)—fits well with Latter-day Saint
portrayals of Christ in Gethsemane. As Davies observes, far from being led
around by captors, he is “the one who acts, and acts decisively”
(p. 45). Again, however, as Latter-day Saints interpret these events,
this view of Christ as active is not only available in Gethsemane. The Latter-day
Saint view of Christ as active is not based on a downplaying of his crucifixion
and death. Rather, in light of Gethsemane it becomes clear that Christ is
active throughout his ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection. Not only
the process of suffering in Gethsemane, but the trial and death were part
of what he intended. Thus, while the Gospel of John does not mention Gethsemane,
his descriptions of Christ as in control, even while in bonds, fit seamlessly
with the Latter-day Saint vision of these events.64 The distinctiveness
of the Latter-day Saint view of Gethsemane should not, however, obscure how
much the Saints share with other Christian groups in our conception of Christ’s
atoning sacrifice.

Though Latter-day Saints sometimes speak of the atonement
for sin as occurring primarily in Gethsemane, one of the most influential
articulations of the importance of Gethsemane presents the suffering in Gethsemane
and on the cross in roughly parallel terms. After a moving description of
the events in Gethsemane, Elder Bruce R. McConkie proceeds with a similarly
moving description of Christ’s trial, scourging, walk to Calvary, and crucifixion.

Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the
Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in

     And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the
cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 P.M., all the infinite agonies
and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred.

     And, finally, when the atoning agonies had taken
their toll—when the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled
the will of his Father in all things—then he said, “It is finished”
(John 19:30), and he voluntarily gave up the ghost.65

In McConkie’s description, the process of atonement for sin,
though begun in Gethsemane, extended through the crucifixion. A similar view
of Christ as resolute is illustrated strikingly in a recent video entitled
The Lamb of God—produced first
for the LDS Seminary program and then released more widely—which portrays
Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, his trial, scourging, mockery, crucifixion,
and resurrection.66

This view of Christ as active in the crucifixion as well
as in Gethsemane is obvious in 3 Nephi. In his initial appearance, quoted
above, Christ refers to his suffering and death as a victory (3 Nephi 11:11,
14). Later, he strikingly transforms the image of himself on the cross into
an image of power:

I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent

     And 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,67 that
as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father,
to stand before me. (3 Nephi 27:13–14)

Christ’s undergoing crucifixion at human hands thus
gives him power over humanity. Yet here, as with the Latter-day Saints’ own
activity, it is not merely the activity of a volunteer. Rather, in this, as
in all his actions, Christ is obedient to and carries out the will of the

Davies, approaching Mormonism with his extensive knowledge of traditional Christianity,
is perhaps overly influenced by the categories shaped in its theological debates.
The tie between his interpretations of Mormon beliefs on Gethsemane and on grace
is explicit: “Using slightly inappropriate comparisons, the Gethsemane-Calvary
distinction may, perhaps, be viewed as the Mormon equivalent of the Pelagian-Augustinian
debate” (p. 51). This debate, which in fact continued from “Pauline
thought, through Augustine’s opposition to Pelagius, and into the Reformation
argument about faith and works” considered “the relative importance
of human will and action and divine will and action in the process of salvation.
The crucial element turns on whether, in the last resort, salvation depends
upon human or divine endeavour, whether humans are agents of their own salvation
or whether they are more passive recipients” (p. 51). The traditional
approach thus assumes that salvation must ultimately depend either on human
action or divine action but not both. Seeing the clear Latter-day Saint
teaching that human efforts are crucial to full salvation or exaltation, Davies
infers that Christ’s work of redemption must then be less crucial. Yet the distinctiveness
of the Mormon view lies precisely in overcoming this dichotomy. We can only
be saved through God’s mercy, but God does not choose to save us without our
willing and active acceptance of his gifts and his governance over our lives.
Similarly, it is only because Christ died on the cross that the new life to
which he calls us becomes possible.


We have found much with which to take issue in Davies’s illuminating volume.
And yet Latter-day Saints are fortunate to interact with a scholar of Davies’s
knowledge, experience, and insight who has such a profound interest in our faith.
His publications continue to enrich the field of Mormon studies. They challenge
us to examine aspects of our faith that we may not have considered in depth,
and they cast familiar points in a new and sometimes surprising light. Further,
where we have found gaps in his work, they are of the most interesting kind:
they stem from and express his insights. Davies’s discussions of Mormon approaches
to temple work, grace, Gethsemane, and the cross show how a distinctive Mormon
focus on active discipleship is reflected in all facets of the faith. Although
his account is incomplete, he perceptively draws out key elements of the texture
that unites Mormon belief and practice and gives the combination its peculiar
dynamism. We look forward to future works penned by Davies and the spur they
will provide to clarify and deepen our own understanding of our faith.

Appendix A: Douglas J. Davies Bibliography of Latter-day Saint–Related

(Listed in chronological
order, most recent first)

2005. “Mormonism.” In Encyclopedia of Cremation,
edited by Douglas J. Davies with Lewis H. Mates, 320. London: Ashgate.

2005. “Anglican Soteriology: Incarnation, Worship, and
the Property of Mercy.” In Salvation in Christ: Comparative Christian
edited by Roger R. Keller and Robert
L. Millet, 53–67. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies

2004. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Mormonism).” In New Religions, 32–35.
New York: Oxford University Press.

2004. “Time, Place and Mormon Sense of Self.” In
Religion, Identity and Change: Perspectives on Global Transformations,
edited by Simon Coleman and Peter Collins,
107–18. London: Ashgate.

2004. “Mormonism.” In Encyclopedia of Protestantism,
edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand, 3:1313–17. New York: Routledge.

2003. An Introduction to Mormonism.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2002. Death, Ritual and Belief: The Rhetoric of Funerary
2nd ed., 111–13, 222–23. London: Continuum.

2001. “Gethsemane and Calvary in LDS Soteriology.”
Dialogue 34/3–4: 19–30. (Also guest editor of this issue of Dialogue.)

2001. “‘Gestus’ Manifests ‘Habitus': Dress and the Mormon.”
In Dressed to Impress: Looking the Part, edited
by William J. F. Keenan, 123–40. Oxford: Berg.

2000. The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace, and
. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

1996. Mormon Identities in Transition,
editor. London: Cassell.

1995. “Jural and Mystical Authority in Religions: Exploring
a Typology.” DISKUS (online journal of International Religious Studies)
3/2: 1–12.

1991. “Pilgrimage in Mormon Culture.” In Social
Anthropology of Pilgrimage,
edited by Makhan Jha, 310–25. New Delhi: Inter-India

1989. “Mormon History, Identity, and Faith Community.”
In History and Ethnicity, edited by Elizabeth Tonkin et al., 168–82. London,

1987. Mormon Spirituality: Latter Day Saints in Wales
and Zion
. Nottingham, England: University of Nottingham.

1984. Meaning and Salvation in Religious Studies.
Leiden: Brill.

1973. “Aspects of Latter Day Saint Eschatology.” In Sociological
Yearbook of Religion in Britain,
edited by Michael Hill, 122–35. London:

Appendix B: A Doctrine of Grace throughout Latter-day Saint History

Joseph Smith (1805–44)

     The doctrine that the Presbyterians and Methodists
have quarreled so much about—[once] in grace, always in grace, or falling
away from grace, I will say a word about. They are both wrong. Truth takes
a road between them both, for while the Presbyterian says: “Once in grace,
you cannot fall”; the Methodist says: “You can have grace today,
fall from it tomorrow, next day have grace again; and so follow on, changing
continually.” But the doctrine of the Scriptures and the spirit of Elijah
would show them both false, and take a road between them both; for, according
to the Scripture, if men have received the good word of God, and tasted of
the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, it is impossible
to renew them again, seeing they have crucified the Son of God afresh, and
put Him to an open shame; so there is a possibility of falling away; you could
not be renewed again, and the power of Elijah cannot seal against this sin,
for this is a reserve made in the seals and power of the Priesthood.68

     I only add, that I do not, nor never have, pretended
to be any other than a man “subject to passion,” and liable, without
the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which
all men are commanded to walk.69

Brigham Young (1801–77)

     There are no persons without evil passions to embitter
their lives. Mankind are revengeful, passionate, hateful, and devilish in
their dispositions. This we inherit through the fall, and the grace of God
is designed to enable us to overcome it. The grace of God is bestowed upon
all, and the kingdom of God is planted on the earth expressly to enable mankind
to overcome the evil that is in them, and to save all.70

“Mormonism” has made me all I am, and the grace, the power, and
the wisdom of God will make me all that I ever will be, either in time or

Cast all bitterness out of your own hearts—all anger, wrath, strife,
covetousness, and lust, and sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, that
you may enjoy the Holy Ghost, and have that Spirit to be your constant companion
day by day, to lead you into all truth, and then you will have good doctrine,
good feelings, good wives, good children, a good community; and, finally,
you will be Saints in the fullest sense of the word, but not yet. I believe
we shall be Saints, through the grace of God.72

     We cannot help being Saints; we cannot prevent the
rolling forth of the work of God: in and of ourselves we have no power to
control our own minds and passions; but the grace of God is sufficient to
give us perfect victory.73

Blessed are they who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who know that he
is their Savior, and that in him they can find mercy, and grace to help in
time of need.74

All will have to come to the Lord and be sanctified through the grace of
Christ by faith in his name; without this, I am happy to say, that none can
be purified, sanctified and prepared to inherit eternal glory.75

John Taylor (1808–87)

Furthermore, that the doctrine of the atonement, as understood by us, was
understood in like manner by the ancient servants of the Lord, and that it
was the central principle of their faith, the foundation of their hope for
eternal felicity and salvation, and their only trust for the resurrection
of their bodies and life everlasting in the presence of the Father.76

     A man, as a man, could arrive at all the dignity
that a man was capable of obtaining or receiving; but it needed a God to raise
him to the dignity of a God. For this cause it is written, “Now are we
the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know
that when he shall appear we shall be like him.” And how and why like
Him? Because, through the instrumentality of the atonement and the adoption,
it is made possible for us to become of the family of God, and joint heirs
with Jesus Christ; and that as He, the potential instrument, through the oneness
that existed between. Him and His Father, by reason of obedience to divine
law, overcame death, hell and the grave, and sat down upon His Father’s throne,
so shall we be able to sit down with Him, even upon His throne. Thus, as it
is taught in the Book of Mormon, it must needs be that there be an infinite
atonement; and hence of Him, and by Him, and through Him are all things; and
through Him do we obtain every blessing, power, right, immunity, salvation
and exaltation, He is our God, our Redeemer, our Savior, to whom, with the
Father and the Holy Spirit, be eternal and everlasting praises worlds without

     The conditions required of the human family to enable
them to obtain the high exaltation which the atonement makes it possible for
them to receive, are: First, Faith in God as our Father and the great Supreme
Ruler of the universe; in whose hands are the destinies of the human family;
in whom we live and move and have our being, And in His Son Jesus Christ,
as the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, as the great Mediator
and great propitiatory sacrifice provided by the Father before the creation,
and consummated by the offering of Himself upon the cross. For “God so
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Or, to use the
words of the Nephite King Benjamin:

     “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that
he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all
wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth
not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend,”

     Or as Paul writes; “He that cometh to God must
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek

     The second principle of the Gospel of salvation,
is repentance. It is a sincere and godly sorrow for and a forsaking of sin,
combined with full purpose of heart to keep God’s commandments. As is written
by the Prophet Isaiah: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous
man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy
upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And to quote
from the Book of Mormon:

     “And again: Believe that ye must repent of
your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God, and ask in sincerity
of heart that he would forgive you, and now, if you believe all these things,
see that ye do them.”—Mosiah iv, 10.

     Thirdly, Baptism for the remission of sins, of our
personal transgressions, which, through this means, provided by divine mercy,
are, by reason of the atonement, blotted out. To use the words of Paul: “Therefore
we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised
up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his
death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

     Next, the reception of the Holy Ghost through the
laying on of hands of those who have received the Holy Priesthood, and are
duly authorized, ordained, and empowered to impart this blessing; Thus Peter
preached on the day of Pentecost:

     “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in
the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive
the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children,
and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”—Acts
ii, 38, 39.

     These are the introductory or first principles of
the everlasting, unchangeable Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
that is and has been the same to all men, amongst all nations, in all ages,
whenever, or wherever it has been taught by the authority of heaven.78

It would seem that the redeemed of the Lord from all nations and peoples
are indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ, through His atonement, for the position
that they will occupy in the state of exaltation here referred to; and if
they are exalted to be kings and priests unto God, it is through the ordinances
which He has appointed for the accomplishment of this object, as the wise
will understand.79

Wilford Woodruff (1807–98)

     Under these circumstances, of course, faith is required
on the part of the Saints to live their religion, do their duty, walk uprightly
before the Lord and build up his Zion on the earth. Then it requires works
to correspond with our faith. I know the testimony of Jesus Christ is not
palatable; it does not, and never did, suit the ears of the world at large.
Christendom to-day does not like “Mormonism,” because it comes in
contact with the traditions handed down from the fathers; the world never
did like the truth.80

The first principles of the Gospel taught from the dawn of creation, are
faith, repentance and baptism, and the laying on of hands for the reception
of the Holy Ghost; and they are the same today. To certain minds there might
be a mystery connected with these principles. Why, say some, is this so? We
can only answer, because it is the law of the Great Jehovah, the plan framed
in the heavens for the salvation and redemption of man. They are requirements
made of the whole human family, which must be obeyed in order that the prevailing
mystery may be banished, and the fruits and the blessings of the Gospel enjoyed.
The Gospel is free to all; it is without money and without price.81

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism for the remission
of sin, are absolute requirements, which must be complied with, before the
Holy Ghost can be received.82

Orson Pratt (1811–81)

The salvation, or redemption from your own sins, is not by free grace alone,
it requires a little work. But what are the works? Jesus Christ, through his
death and sufferings, has answered the penalty, on condition that you believe
in him, and repent of your sins, and be baptized for the remission of them,
and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, and continue
humble, and meek, and prayerful, until you go down to your graves; and on
these conditions, Jesus will plead for you before the Father.83

     Redemption from the original sin is without faith
or works; redemption from our own sins is given through faith and works. Both
are the gifts of free grace; but while one is a gift forced upon us unconditionally,
the other is a gift merely offered to us conditionally. The reception of the
one is compulsory; the reception of the other is voluntary. Man cannot by
any possible act, prevent his redemption from the fall; but he can utterly
refuse and prevent his redemption from the penalty of his own sins.84

Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901)

When we experience trying moments, then is the time for us to avail ourselves
of that great privilege of calling upon the Lord for strength and understanding,
intelligence and grace by which we can overcome the weakness of the flesh
against which we have to make a continual warfare.85

It is important that we, as Latter-day Saints, should understand and bear
in mind that salvation comes through the grace of God, and through the development
in us of those principles that governed those righteous people before mentioned.
The idea is not to do good because of the praise of men; but to do good because
in doing good we develop godliness within us, and this being the case we shall
become allied to godliness, which will in time become part and portion of
our being.86

Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918)

When we commit sin, it is necessary that we repent of it and make restitution
as far as lies in our power. When we cannot make restitution for the wrong
we have done, then we must apply for the grace and mercy of God to cleanse
us from that iniquity.87

     In going forth to war these young men are liable
to be confronted with danger far greater than that which they might expect
from the bullets of the enemy. There are many evils that usually follow in
the wake of marshaled armies equipped for and engaged in war, far worse than
honorable death which may come in the conflict of battle. It matters not so
much when our young men are called, or where they may go, but it does matter
much to their parents, friends and associates in the truth, and above all
to themselves, how they go. They have been trained all their lives as members
of the Church to keep themselves pure and unspotted from the sins of the world,
to respect the rights of others, to be obedient to righteous principles, to
remember that virtue is one of the greatest gifts from God. Moreover, that
they should respect the virtue of others and rather die a thousand times than
defile themselves by committing deadly sin. We want them to go forth clean,
both in thought and action, with faith in the principles of the gospel and
the redeeming grace of our Lord and Savior. We would have them remember that
only by living clean and faithful lives can they hope to attain the salvation
promised through the shedding of the blood of our Redeemer.88

Notwithstanding our many weaknesses, imperfections and follies the Lord still
continues His mercy, manifests His grace and imparts unto us His Holy Spirit,
that our minds may be illuminated by the light of revelation.89

Heber J. Grant (1856–1945)

     To the people of the world we send our blessing,
and bear witness to them that God lives, that Jesus Christ is his Only Begotten
Son, the Redeemer of the world. We call upon all men to come unto him, that
through his grace they may attain to eternal life and an inheritance with
him in the kingdom of his Father.90

We urge you to remember that your righteousness rests between you and your
God. Others may exhort, encourage, and support, but you only can win the victory
for your salvation, aided always by the love, the mercy, and grace of your
Heavenly Father, who will be always near you in your righteous life,
wherever your lot may be cast.91

George Albert Smith (1870–1951)

By eternal decree, faith and work must walk hand in hand as we advance toward
the goal of eternal life.92

David O. McKay (1873–1970)

     The fallacy that Jesus has done all for us, and
live as we may, if on our deathbed, we only believe, we shall be saved in
his glorious presence, is most pernicious. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the
world, has given us the means whereby man may obtain eternal happiness and
peace in the kingdom of our Father, but man must work out his own salvation
through obedience to the eternal principles and ordinances of the gospel.
. . .

     I am not unmindful of the scripture that declares,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8.) That is absolutely true, for man
in his taking upon himself mortality was impotent to save himself. When left
to grope in a natural state, he would have become and did become “carnal,
sensual, and devilish by nature.” But the Lord through his grace appeared
to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the
carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spiritual perfection.93

John A. Widtsoe (1872–1952)

     There are two first principles, faith and repentance,
and two first ordinances, baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift
of the Holy Ghost in the Church of Christ. These are closely interwoven. Faith
is the first principle, upon which other principles rest, and in the end all
ordinances are derivatives of faith. But faith must be expressed in human
actions, else it cannot be known. A man proves his faith by his works; he
has no other means of doing so. The ordinance of baptism for example may be
viewed as man’s signature to his compact with God, as an acceptance of the
leadership of Jesus the Christ, and as a promise to live the law of the Lord—the
things that would be expected from one who has acquired faith. Baptism is
a logical sequence of faith. Every ordinance becomes in like manner a necessary
tangible outward evidence of some phase of that inward conviction called faith.
Each ordinance, in its place, becomes a logical acquiescence with some part
of the vast territory covered by faith. Each ordinance becomes a witness to
man’s surrender to his Heavenly Father.94

     Every person who accepts the divine plan for human
salvation must accept the leadership of Jesus, and covenant to keep the laws
of the plan. As Christ is accepted with all the attendant obligations of the
gospel, in spirit and in deed, so man may win salvation (Pearl of Great Price,
Moses 5:8–9), and there is no other way.95

     * * The man who uses his powers in obedience to
law to fight all enemies of progress, whether ignorance, temptation, appetites,
or personalities, rises above existence; he lives; he is on the way to salvation.
For him who does not so use his powers, though he exist, life does not function
fully; the light of truth is blotted out; the enemy may defeat him; he is
retreating from salvation. Salvation then is conditioned under the divine
plan and with divine help, upon the proper exercise of the will of man. Complete
salvation, which is full and eternal life, results from man’s full
endeavor to conform to the laws of life, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why we often say that men save themselves with the aid of the Lord
(D. & C. 29:44, 45).96

The manner of entrance into this the highest kingdom, is therefore made clear.
Any person who wishes to enter it must have faith and repent from his sins.
Then he must be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by one who
has divine authority to perform such ordinances. There are principles and
ordinances which in their entirety belong peculiarly to the higher kingdom.97

     Though all this be so, the principle of free agency
remains. The Church may teach, but each member has the right to accept or
reject, in his life, the truth propounded. There is no more basic law of conduct
in the gospel. The Lord has formulated the plan of salvation; he offers His
help, but each individual must act for himself in winning the salvation offered.
Measurably, with the aid of the Lord, each one of us “works out his own
salvation”; and we must each face the consequences of our disobedience
to law.98

James E. Talmage (1862–1933)

     Religion is more than the confession and profession
of the lips, Jesus averred that in the day of judgment many would pretend
allegiance to Him, saying: “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy
name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful
works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me,
ye that work iniquity.” Only by doing the will of the Father is the saving
grace of the Son obtainable. To assume to speak and act in the name of the
Lord without the bestowal of authority, such as the Lord alone can give, is
to add sacrilege to hypocrisy. Even miracles wrought will be no vindication
of the claims of those who pretend to minister in the ordinances of the gospel
while devoid of the authority of the Holy Priesthood.99

Individual salvation or rescue from the effects of personal sins is to be
acquired by each for himself by faith and good works through the redemption
wrought by Jesus Christ.100

As we proceed with our study, we shall find that among the specific teachings
of the Church respecting the Christ are these:

     (1) The unity and continuity of His mission
in all ages—this of necessity involving the verity of His preexistence
and foreordination. (2) The fact of His antemortal Godship. (3) The
actuality of His birth in the flesh as the natural issue of divine and mortal
parentage. (4) The reality of His death and physical resurrection, as
a result of which the power of death shall be eventually overcome. (5) The
literalness of the atonement wrought by Him, including the absolute requirement
of individual compliance with the laws and ordinances of His gospel as the
means by which salvation may be attained. (6) The restoration of His
Priesthood and the reestablishment of His Church in the current age, which
is verily the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. (7) The certainty
of His return to earth in the near future, with power and great glory, to
reign in Person and bodily presence as Lord and King.101

     The application of the atonement to individual transgression,
whereby the sinner may obtain absolution through compliance with the laws
and ordinances embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ, is conclusively attested
by scripture. Since forgiveness of sins can be secured in none other way,
there being either in heaven or earth no name save that of Jesus Christ whereby
salvation shall come unto the children of men, every soul stands in need of
the Savior’s mediation, since all are sinners, “For all have sinned and
come short of the glory of God,” said Paul of old, and John the apostle
added his testimony in these words: “If we say that we have no sin we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

     Who shall question the justice of God, which denies
salvation to all who will not comply with the prescribed conditions on which
alone it is declared obtainable? Christ is “the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey him,” and God “will render to every man
according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek
for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are
contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation
and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.”

     Such then is the need of a Redeemer, for without
Him mankind would forever remain in a fallen state, and as to hope of eternal
progression would be inevitably lost. The mortal probation is provided as
an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the
dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man
in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity
no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came. The need of a Redeemer
lies in the inability of man to raise himself from the temporal to the spiritual
plane, from the lower kingdom to the higher. In this conception we are not
without analogies in the natural world. . . .

     So, for the advancement of man from his present
fallen and relatively degenerate state to the higher condition of spiritual
life, a power above his own must cooperate. Through the operation of the laws
obtaining in the higher kingdom man may be reached and lifted; himself he
cannot save by his own unaided effort. A Redeemer and Savior of mankind is
beyond all question essential to the realization of the plan of the Eternal
Father, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”;
and that Redeemer and Savior is Jesus the Christ, beside whom there is and
can be none other.102

     Thus the scriptures of both hemispheres and in all
ages of ante-meridian time bore solemn testimony to the certainty of Messiah’s
advent; thus the holy prophets of old voiced the word of revelation
predicting the coming of the world’s King and Lord, through whom alone is
salvation provided, and redemption from death made sure.103

     The narrative of this interview between Nicodemus
and the Christ constitutes one of our most instructive and precious scriptures
relating to the absolute necessity of unreserved compliance with the laws
and ordinances of the gospel, as the means indispensable to salvation. Faith
in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, through whom alone men may gain eternal
life; the forsaking of sin by resolute turning away from the gross darkness
of evil to the saving light of righteousness; the unqualified requirement
of a new birth through baptism in water, and this of necessity by the mode
of immersion, since otherwise the figure of a birth would be meaningless;
and the completion of the new birth through baptism by the Spirit—all
these principles are taught herein in such simplicity and plainness as to
make plausible no man’s excuse for ignorance.104

     A condition essential to the exercise of a living,
growing, sustaining faith in Deity is the consciousness on man’s part that
he is at least endeavoring to live in accordance with the laws of God as he
has learned them, A knowledge that he is wilfully and wantonly sinning against
the truth will deprive him of sincerity in prayer and faith and estrange him
from his Father. He must feel that the trend of his life’s course is acceptable,
that with due allowance for mortal weakness and human frailty he is in some
measure approved of the Lord; otherwise he is restrained from supplicating
the throne of grace with confidence.105

     The Apostle Paul quite comprehensively sums up the
results of Christ’s death and resurrection: “But now is Christ risen
from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by
man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam
all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20–22).
That is, death having come on all men through the disobedience of Adam, so
must all be raised to immortality and eternal life through the death and resurrection
of Christ, Paul also asserted that “the last enemy that shall be destroyed
is death” (verse 26). John the Revelator declares that he saw death and
hell cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). The atonement, as wrought out
by Jesus Christ, further signifies that He has opened up the way for man’s
redemption from his own sins, through faith in Christ’s sufferings, death,
and resurrection. The Apostle Paul well expresses this: “For all have
sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth
to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness
for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of
God” (Romans 3:23–26). These passages evidence that redemption
from death, through the sufferings of Christ, is for all men, both the righteous
and the wicked; for this earth, and for all things created upon it. The whole
tenor of the scriptures assures us that, while they may be sure of resurrection
from death, regardless of their personal acts, yet they will be rewarded for
their works, whether they be good or evil, and that redemption from personal
sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the gospel,
and a life of good works. The transgression of Adam being infinite in its
consequences, those consequences cannot be averted, except through an infinite

     The sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone
has exercised an influence for evil.107
The idea upon which this pernicious doctrine was founded was at first associated
with that of an absolute predestination, by which man was foredoomed to destruction,
or to an undeserved salvation. Thus, Luther taught as follows: “The excellent,
infallible, and sole preparation for grace is the eternal election and predestination
of God,” “Since the fall of man, free will is but an idle word.”
“A man who imagines to arrive at grace by doing all that he is able to
do, adds sin to sin, and is doubly guilty.” “That man is not justified
who performs many works; but he who without works has much faith in Christ.”
(For these and other doctrines of the so-called “Reformation,” see
D’Aubigné’s History of the Reformation, vol. 1, pp. 82, 83, 119, 122.)
In Miller’s Church History (vol. 4, p. 514) we read: “The point
which the reformer [Luther] had most at heart in all his labors, contests,
and dangers, was the justification by faith alone.” Melanchthon voices
the doctrine of Luther in these words: “Man’s justification before
God proceeds from faith alone. This faith enters man’s heart by the grace
of God alone”; and further, “As all things which happen, happen
necessarily according to the divine predestination, there is no such thing
as liberty in our wills” (D’Aubigné, vol. 3, p. 340). It is true that
Luther strongly denounced and vehemently disclaimed responsibility for the
excesses to which this teaching gave rise, yet he was not less vigorous in
proclaiming the doctrine. Note his words: “I, Doctor Martin Luther, unworthy
herald of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, confess this article, that
faith alone without works justifies before God; and I declare that it shall
stand and remain forever in despite of the emperor of the Romans, the emperor
of the Turks, the emperor of the Persians—in spite of the pope and all
the cardinals, with the bishops, priests, monks, and nuns—in spite of
kings, princes, and nobles, and in spite of all the world and of the devils
themselves; and that if they endeavor to fight against this truth they will
draw the fires of hell upon their heads. This is the true and holy gospel,
and the declaration of me, Doctor Luther, according to the teachings of the
Holy Ghost” (D’Aubigné, vol. 1, p. 70). It should be remembered, however,
that Luther, and even the most pronounced contenders for the doctrine of justification
by faith, affirmed the necessity of sanctification as well as justification.
Fletcher, End of Religious Controversy, p. 90, illustrates
the vicious extreme to which this evil doctrine led, by accusing one of its
adherents with having said: “Even adultery and murder do not hurt the
pleasant children, but rather work for their good. God sees no sin in believers,
whatever sin they may commit. * * * It is a most pernicious error of the schoolmen
to distinguish sins according to the fact, and not according to the person.
Though I blame those who say, let us sin that grace may abound, yet adultery,
incest, and murder, shall upon the whole, make me holier on earth, and merrier
in heaven.”

     A summary of the mediaeval controversy regarding
the means of grace, including the doctrines of Luther and others, is presented
in Roberts’ Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, part 3, section
2, to which the student is referred. The quotations given above are incorporated

     Faith includes works—by isolating certain
passages of scripture and regarding them as though they are complete in themselves
some readers have assumed inconsistency if not contradiction to exist. Paul
has been misrepresented as a proponent of the sufficiency of faith without
works, and James has been cited in opposition. Compare Rom. 4:25; 9:11; Gal.
2:16; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5, with James 1:22, 23; 2:14–26. Paul
specifies the outward forms and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, which had been
superseded by the higher requirements of the Gospel, as unessential works.
James speaks of actual effort and effective deeds as the works that result
from true faith in God and His requirements. But after all, the apparent differences
lie in the words and not in the spirit or the fact. The following note by
Elder J. M. Sjodahl of the Church Historian’s Office is instructive and in
point: “If we comprehend fully the meaning in which the authors of the
scriptures use the word ‘faith’ we shall see that there is no difference in
meaning between true faith and works of faith. In the Bible the two terms
mean the same thing. James does not contradict Paul. For, to ‘believe’ is
to live by the laws of the gospel. The [Latin] verbs credere
and vivere are synonymous, since faith without works is dead. That
is the teaching of James, and Paul certainly does not teach salvation by means
of dead faith.”108

     The individual effect of the atonement makes it
possible for any and every soul to obtain absolution from the effect of personal
sins, through the mediation of Christ; but such saving intercession is to
be invoked by individual effort as manifested through faith, repentance, and
continued works of righteousness. The laws under which individual salvation
is obtainable have been prescribed by Christ, whose right it is to say how
the blessings made possible by His own sacrifice shall be administered. All
men are in need of the Savior’s mediation, for all are transgressors. So taught
the apostles of old: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God.” And again: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.” That the blessing of redemption from individual
sins, while open for all to attain, is nevertheless conditioned on individual
effort, is as plainly declared as is the truth of unconditional redemption
from death as an effect of the fall. There is a judgment ordained for all,
and all will be judged “according to their works.” The free agency
of man enables him to choose or reject, to follow the path of life or the
road that leads to destruction; therefore it is but just that he be held to
answer for the exercise of his power of choice and that he meet the results
of his acts.109

Without Christ no man can be saved, and the salvation provided at the cost
of Christ’s sufferings and bodily death is offered upon certain clearly defined
conditions only; and these are summarized under “obedience to the laws
and ordinances of the Gospel.”110

Inasmuch as salvation is attainable only through the mediation and atonement
of Christ, and since this is made applicable to individual sin in the measure
of obedience to the laws of righteousness, faith in Jesus Christ is indispensable
to salvation.111

Though within the reach of all who diligently strive to gain it, faith is
nevertheless a divine gift. As is fitting for so priceless a pearl, it is
given to those only who show by their sincerity that they are worthy of it,
and who give promise of abiding by its dictates. Although faith is called
the first principle of the Gospel of Christ, though it be in fact the foundation
of religious life, yet even faith is preceded by sincerity of disposition
and humility of soul, whereby the word of God may make an impression upon
the heart. No compulsion is used in bringing men to a knowledge of God; yet,
as fast as we open our hearts to the influences of righteousness, the faith
that leads to life eternal will be given us of our Father.112

Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972)

     There is a difference between the Lord Jesus Christ
and the rest of mankind. We have no life in ourselves, for no power has been
given unto us, to lay down our lives and take them again. That is beyond our
power, and so, being subject to death, and being sinners—for we are
all transgressors of the law to some extent, no matter how good we have tried
to be—we are therefore unable in and of ourselves to receive redemption
from our sins by any act of our own.

     This is the grace that Paul was teaching. Therefore,
it is by the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved. And had he not
come into the world, and laid down his life that he might take it again, or
as he said in another place, to give us life that we may have it more abundantly—we
would still be subject to death and be in our sins.

     As it was pointed out by Isaiah and others of the
prophets many hundreds of years before his birth, Christ took upon himself
the transgressions of all men and suffered for them, that they might escape,
on conditions of their repentance, and acceptance of his gospel, and their
faithfulness to the end. So we are saved by grace and that not of ourselves.
It is the gift of God. . . .

     So Paul taught these people—who thought that
they could be saved by some power that was within them, or by observing the
law of Moses—he pointed out to them the fact that if it were not for
the mission of Jesus Christ, if it were not for this great atoning sacrifice,
they could not be redeemed. And therefore it was by the grace of God that
they are saved, not by any work on their part, for they were absolutely helpless.
Paul was absolutely right.113

Harold B. Lee (1899–1973)

Spiritual certainty that is necessary to salvation must be preceded by a
maximum of individual effort. Grace, or the free gift of the Lord’s atoning
power, must be preceded by personal striving. Repeating again what Nephi said,
“By grace . . . we are saved, after all we can do.”114

     We hear much from some persons of limited understanding
about the possibility of one’s being saved by grace alone. But it requires
the explanation of another prophet to understand the true doctrine of grace
as he explained in these meaningful words:

     “For,” said this prophet, “we labor
diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe
in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that
we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23.) Truly we
are redeemed by the atoning blood of the Savior of the world, but only after
each has done all he can to work out his own salvation.115

     We are saved by grace, yes, through the atonement
of the Master, but Nephi taught this other principle: “For we know that
it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23.)116

Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985)

     There can be no real and true Christianity, even
with good works, unless we are deeply and personally committed to the reality
of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of the Father, who bought us, who
purchased us in the great act of atonement.117

     However good a person’s works, he could not be saved
had Jesus not died for his and everyone else’s sins. And however powerful
the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply
with the works of the gospel.118

Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994)

     Lehi taught that “no flesh can dwell in the
presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy and grace of the
Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). Even the most just and upright man cannot
save himself solely on his own merits, for, as the Apostle Paul tells us,
“all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Therefore, repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. Many
men and women in the world demonstrate great will-power and self-discipline
in overcoming bad habits and the weaknesses of the flesh. Yet at the same
time they give no thought to the Master, sometimes even openly rejecting
Him. Such changes of behavior, even if in a positive direction, do not
constitute true repentance. Repentance involves not just a change of actions,
but a change of heart.119

     By grace, the Savior accomplished His atoning sacrifice
so that all mankind will attain immortality, By His grace, and by our faith
in His atonement and repentance of our sins, we receive the strength to do
the works necessary that we otherwise could not do by our own power. By His
grace we receive an endowment of blessing and spiritual strength that may
eventually lead us to eternal life if we endure to the end. By His grace we
become more like His divine personality. Yes, it is “by grace that we
are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).120

Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85)

     God’s grace consists in his love, mercy,
and condescension toward his children. All things that exist are manifestations
of the grace of God. The creation of the earth, life itself, the atonement
of Christ, the plan of salvation, kingdoms of immortal glory hereafter, and
the supreme gift of eternal life—all these things come by the grace
of him whose we are.121

     Christ is the Author of Salvation. This means
that he made salvation available to all men in that he worked out the infinite
and eternal atonement. Paul’s statement that Christ is “the author of
eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9), as the marginal
reading shows, means that he is the “cause” thereof, that is, salvation
is possible because of his atoning sacrifice; without this sacrifice there
would be no salvation. Paul’s other statement that Christ is “the author
and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), also according to the marginal
reading, means that he is the “leader” in the cause of salvation.122

     Since all good things come by the grace of God
(that is, by his love, mercy, and condescension), it follows that salvation
itself—in all its forms and degrees—is bestowed because of this
infinite goodness.
. . . The very opportunity to follow
the course of good works which will lead to that salvation sought by the saints
comes also by the grace of God.123

Appendix C: Grace in Latter-day Saint Hymnology

A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints

Hymn 1: “Know then that every soul is free”124

“Our God is pleas’d when we improve His grace, and seek his perfect
love.” (verse 4)

“To stubborn willers this I’ll tell, It’s all free grace, and all free
will.” (verse 5)

Hymn 2: “Let ev’ry mortal ear attend”

“The gates of glorious gospel grace, Stand open night and day: Lord,
we are come to seek supplies, And drive our wants away.” (verse 6)

Hymn 4: “Glorious things of thee are spoken”

“Grace which like the Lord, the giver, Never fails from age to age.”
(verse 4)

“Bless’d inhabitants of Zion, Purchas’d with the Savior’s blood! Jesus
whom their souls rely on, Makes them kings and priests to God.” (verse

“Savior, since of Zion’s city I through grace a member am; Though the
world despise and pity, I will glory in thy name.” (verse 9)

Hymn 8: “O happy souls who pray”

“God is the only Lord, Our shield and our defence; With gifts his hand
is stor’d: We draw our blessings thence. He will bestow On Jacob’s race, Peculiar
grace, And glory too.” (verse 3)

Hymn 10: “He died! the great Redeemer died!”

“Say, ‘Live forever wond’rous King! Born to redeem and strong to save!’
Then ask the monster—’Where’s thy sting? And where’s thy vict’ry, boasting
grave?'” (verse 6)

Hymn 20: “My soul is full of peace and love”

“The Spirit’s power has sealed my peace, And fill’d my soul with heav’nly
grace; Transported, I with peace and love, Am waiting for the throngs above.”
(verse 2)

Hymn 22: “The great and glorious gospel light”

“The great and glorious gospel light, Has usher’d forth my sight, Which
in my soul I have receiv’d, From death and bondage being freed.” (verse

Hymn 24: “Gently raise the sacred strain”

“Sweetly swell the solemn sound, While we bring our gifts around, Of
broken hearts, As a willing sacrifice, Showing what his grace imparts.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 40: “My God, how endless is thy love”

“My God, how endless is thy love, Descending like the morning dew; Thy
glorious gifts come from above, And all thy mercies too.” (verse 1)

Hymn 41: “Awake! for the morning is come”

“O Lord, thou good Shepherd and King—We want, through the day,
to feed in thy pastures, And feast on thy bounteous goodness and grace.”
(verse 2)

Hymn 43: “Come let us sing an evening hymn”

“O thank the Lord for grace and gifts, Renew’d in latter days; For truth
and light, to guide us right, In wisdom’s pleasant ways.” (verse 3)

Hymn 44: “Lord thou wilt hear me when I pray”

“I pay this evening sacrifice; And when my work is done, Great God,
my faith and hope relies Upon thy grace alone.” (verse 3)

Hymn 46: “Great God! to thee my evening song”

“My days unclouded as they pass, And ev’ry onward rolling hour, Are
monuments of wonderous grace, And witness to thy love and power.” (verse

“Seal my forgiveness in the blood Of Christ, my Lord; his name alone
I plead for pardon, gracious God, And kind acceptance at thy throne.”
(verse 4)

Hymn 57: “O God th’ eternal Father”

“When Jesus, the anointed, Descended from above, And gave himself a
ransom To win our souls with love; With no apparent beauty, That men should
him desire—He was the promis’d Savior, To purify with fire.” (verse

“How infinite that wisdom, The plan of holiness, That made salvation
perfect, And vail’d the Lord in flesh, To walk upon his footstool, And be
like man, (almost,) In his exalted station, And die—or all was lost!”
(verse 4)

Hymn 58: “‘Twas on that dark and solemn night”

“What wondrous words of grace he spake!” (verse 2)

“‘This is my body broke for sin; Receive and eat the living food.'”
(verse 3)

Hymn 59: “Arise, my soul, arise”

“Arise, my soul, arise, Shake off the guilty fears, The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears; Before the throne my Sur’ty stands, My name is written
on his hands.” (verse 1)

“He ever lives above, For me to intercede, His all-redeeming love, His
precious blood to plead; His blood aton’d for all our race, And sprinkles
now the throne of grace.” (verse 2)

“Five bleeding wounds he bears, Receiv’d on Calvary; They pour effectual
prayers, They strongly speak for me; Forgive him, O forgive, they cry, Nor
let that ransom’d sinner die!” (verse 3)

“The Father hears him pray, His dear anointed One: He cannot turn away
The presence of his Son: His Spirit answers to the blood, And tells me I am
born of God.” (verse 4)

“My God is reconcil’d, His pard’ning voice I hear: He owns me for his
child, I can no longer fear; With confidence I now draw nigh, And Father,
Abba Father, cry.” (verse 5)

Hymn 61: “Alas! and did my Savior bleed!”

“Was it for crimes that I have done, He groan’d upon the tree? Amazing
pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree.” (verse 2)

Hymn 66: “Let Zion in her beauty rise”

“Alas! the day will then arrive, When rebels to God’s grace, Will call
for rocks to fall on them, And hide them from his face.” (verse 5)

Hymn 67: “Jesus the name that charms our fears”

“He speaks—and list’ning to his voice, Sinners new life receive,
The mournful broken hearts rejoice, The humble poor believe.” (verse

“O for a thousand tongues to sing, My great Redeemer’s praise; The glories
of my God and King, The triumphs of his grace.” (verse 5)

Hymn 72: “Before this earth from chaos sprung”

“He prophesied of this our day, That God would unto Israel say, The
gospel light you now shall see, And from your bondage be set free.” (verse

Hymn 75: “Oh Jesus! the giver Of all we enjoy”

“We now are enlisted In Jesus’ bless’d cause, Divinely assisted To conquer
our foes; His grace will support us Till conflicts are o’er, He then will
escort us To Zion’s bright shore.” (verse 4)

Hymn 78: “The Lord into his garden comes”

“The glorious time is rolling on, The gracious work is now begun, My
soul a witness is; Come, taste and see the pardon free To all mankind, as
well as me; Who comes to Christ may live.” (verse 3)

Hymn 79: “I know that my Redeemer lives”

“He lives and grants me daily breath, He lives, and I shall conquer
death, He lives my mansion to prepare, He lives to bring me safely there.”
(verse 6)

Hymn 81: “Let thy kingdom, blessed Savior”

“He both comforts us and frees us, The good shepherd feeds his sheep.”
(verse 4)

“Christ alone, whose merit saves us.” (verse 6)

Hymn 82: “How firm a foundation”

“In every condition—in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale,
or abounding in wealth, At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, As thy
days may demand, so thy succor shall be.” (verse 2)

“Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismay’d! For I am thy God, and
will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee
to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.” (verse 3)

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all-sufficient
shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross
to consume, and thy gold to refine.” (verse 5)

“The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose, I will not, I cannot
desert to his foes; That soul, though all hall should endeavor to shake, I’ll
never—no, never, no never forsake!” (verse 7)

Hymn 84: “How pleased and blest was I”

“Zion, thrice happy place, Adorn’d with wondrous grace.” (verse

Hymn 85: “Though in the outward church below”

“No! This will aggravate their case, They perish’d under means of grace.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 86: “O God! our help in ages past”

“Under the shadow of thy throne; Still may we dwell secure; Sufficient
is thine arm alone, And our defence is sure.” (verse 2)

Hymn 87: “Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound”

“Grant us the pow’r of quick’ning grace, To fit our souls to fly; Then,
when we drop this dying flesh, We’ll rise above the sky.” (verse 4)

The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody (1889)125

Hymn 4: “And I am Thine by sacred ties, Thy son,
Thy servant bought with blood. . . . And felt the power of sovereign
grace.” (verses 2 and 3)

Hymn 5: “Our hopes for bliss on Thee depend.”
(verse 1)

Hymn 12: “He’ll burst the portals of the tomb,
And bring their sleeping dust to light.” (verse 2)

Hymn 16: “The Lord, who built the earth and sky,
In mercy stoops to hear thy cry; His promise all may freely claim: ‘Ask and
receive in Jesus’ name.'” (verse 2)

Hymn 17: “Hope, hope eternal brings relief; Faith
sounds a triumph o’er the tomb.” (verse 2)

Hymn 20: “Rememb’ring God’s incarnate Son, Who
suffered on th’accursed tree To set the contrite sinner free.” (verse

Hymn 22: “Make our enlarged souls possess And learn
the height and breadth and length And depth of thine unmeasured grace.”
(verse 2)

Hymn 26: “Thy mercy has preserved my soul.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 37: “Blest is the man whose shoulders take
My yoke, and bear it with delight: My yoke is easy to his neck, My grace shall
make the burden light.” (verse 3)

Hymn 38: “Behold the great Redeemer comes To bring
his ransomed people home.” (verse 1)

Hymn 40: “‘Tis you, ye children of the light. . . .
Come, come, ye subjects of his grace.” (verse 2)

Hymn 41: “O Lord, our Father, let thy grace Shed
its glad beams on Jacob’s race. . . . Their mis’ry let thy mercy
heal.” (verses 1 and 2)

Hymn 43: “And when like wand’ring sheep we stray’d
He brought us to his fold again.” (verse 2)

Hymn 46: “When God’s own people stand in need,
His goodness will provide supplies. . . . For nature’s course shall
sooner change Than God’s dear children be forgot.” (verses 1 and 3)

Hymn 49: “Lord, spread the triumphs of thy grace.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 50: “Man broke the law of his estate, And
Jesus came to expiate, Atone and rescue fallen man, According to Jehovah’s
plan.” (verse 3)

Hymn 58: “Happy the man who finds the grace, . . .
Who knows ‘The Savior died for me.'” (verses 1 and 2)

Hymn 60: “Foolish . . . despise the proffered
grace.” (verses 1 and 3)

Hymn 61: “The spirit’s power has sealed my peace,
And filled my soul with heav’nly grace.” (verse 2)

Hymn 72: “Salvation! precious, priceless boon!
Gift of the Gods by God the Son!” (verse 3)

Hymn 80: “Lift up your heads, ye Saints, in peace,
The Savior comes for your release.” (verse 3)

Hymn 88: “O Father, give us grace in store.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 90: “For all the faithful Christ will save,
And crown with vict’ry o’er the grave.” (verse 2)

Hymn 91: “Our weakness help, our darkness chase,
And guide us by the light of grace!” (verse 2)

Hymn 94: “He saves th’ oppress’d, he feeds the
poor.” (verse 2)

Hymn 95: “Our strength thy grace, our rule Thy
word.” (verse 1)

Hymn 99: “When we thy wondrous glories hear, And
all thy suff’rings trace, . . . What sweetly awful scenes appear!
What rich, unbounded grace!” (verse 2)

Hymn 112: “With plenteous grace their hearts prepare,
To execute thy will.” (verse 3)

Hymn 132: “Gather the outcasts in, and save From
sin and Satan’s pow’r; And let them now acceptance have, And know their gracious
hour. . . . What thou hast bought so dear.” (verses 2 and 3)

Hymn 142: “For Jesus is the sinner’s friend; He
died that we might live.” (verse 3)

Hymn 149: “To all who seek and serve him right
Will give a free reward.” (verse 2)

Hymn 155: “O sing the fervor of his love, The wonders
of his grace Who sent the Savior from above To save a dying race.” (verse

Hymn 169: “Great God, my faith, my hope relies
Upon thy grace alone.” (verse 3)

Hymn 171: “And guide their feet in paths that lead
To Israel’s chosen race, And let their remnants now behold The plan of saving
grace.” (verse 2)

Hymn 176: “A son of peace dwells here—Thy
grace to him be giv’n, On earth may he thy law revere, And dwell with thee
in heav’n.” (verse 3)

Hymn 190: “Arise, my soul, arise, thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice In my behalf appears; Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on his hands.” (verse 1)

Hymn 195: “O Lord, our Sovereign King, Our infant
charge now bless; Him to thee now we bring, O grant him now thy grace. And
to us, Lord, may grace be giv’n To train this gift of thine for heav’n. . . .
Sustain’d by grace divine, may he Be taught, O Lord, our God, by thee.”
(verses 1 and 2)

Hymn 196: “He will bestow On Jacob’s race Peculiar
grace, And glory too.” (verse 3)

Hymn 198: “Then all his ransom’d heirs Will find
their promised rest.” (verse 3)

Hymn 208: “In the blood of yonder Lamb—Blood
that washes white as snow.” (verse 2)

Hymn 224: “May we ev’ry grace inherit: Lord, we
seek a boon divine.” (verse 1)

Hymn 229: “Go and publish free salvation.”
(verse 1)

Hymn 240: “God himself shall loose thy bands.”
(verse 1)

Hymn 262: “His love and grace adore, Who all our
sorrows bore.” (verse 1)

Hymn 267: “One only thing resolved to know, To
square our useful lives below, By reason and by grace.” (verse 3)

Hymn 268: “With diligence we’ll still pursue Those
acts of grace and mercy due To toil-worn, lab’ring men!” (verse 2)

Hymn 299: “We shall sing Emanuel’s praise; Freed
from all that now encumbers.” (verse 3)

Hymn 306: “I sing of thy grace from my earliest days, Ever near to allure
and defend: Hitherto thou hast been my preserver from sin; And I trust thou
wilt save to the end.” (verse 3)

Latter-day Saint Hymns (1927)126

Hymn 9: “Again We Meet Around the Board”

Hymn 11: “He Died! The Great Redeemer Died”

Hymn 12: “While of These Emblems We Partake”

Hymn 15: “Behold the Great Redeemer Die”

Hymn 19: “All needful grace will God bestow, And
crown that grace with glory too; He gives us all things, and withholds No
blessings due to upright souls.” (verse 4)

“Might I enjoy the meanest place Within Thy house, O God of grace.”
(verse 2)

Hymn 20: “O Lord of Hosts”

Hymn 25: “The sacred lessons of Thy grace, Transmitted
thro’ Thy word, repent, And train us up in all Thy ways, To make us in Thy
will complete, To make us in Thy will complete; Fulfill Thy love’s Redeeming
plan, And bring us to a perfect man.” (verse 4)

Hymn 28: “We’ll Sing All Hail to Jesus’ Name”

Hymn 30: “I pay this evening sacrifice, And when
my work is done, Great God, my faith, my hope relies Upon Thy grace alone.”
(verse 3)

Hymn 32: “How Great the Wisdom and the Love”

Hymn 36: “The opening heav’ns around me shine With
beams of sacred bliss, . . . If Jesus shows His mercy mine, And
whispers, I am His!” (verse 3)

Hymn 37: “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free”

“Our God is pleased when we improve His grace, and seek His perfect
love.” (verse 4)

“It is my free will to believe: ‘Tis God’s free will me to receive;
To stubborn willers this I’ll tell, ‘Tis all free grace and all free will.”
(verse 5)

Hymn 40: “No; while His love for me extends, The
pattern makes my duty plain; I’ll sound to earth’s remotest ends, His Gospel
to the souls of men.” (verse 5)

Hymn 45: “God of all consolation take The glory
of Thy grace; Thy gifts to Thee we render back In ceaseless songs of praise.”
(verse 1)

Hymn 49: “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But
trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.”
(verse 4)

Hymn 51: “Thou wilt accept our humble prayer, And
all our sins forgive; For Jesus’ sake, the sinner spare, He died that we might
live.” (verse 3)

Hymn 56: “Afflicted Saint, to Christ draw near,
Thy Saviour’s gracious promise hear; His faithful word declares to thee That
‘as thy day, thy strength shall be.'” (verse 1)

Hymn 57: “Now Jesus, now Thy love impart, To govern
each devoted heart, And fit us for Thy will; Deep founded in the truth of
grace, Build up the rising Church, and place The city on the hill.” (verse

Hymn 73: “Blest is the man whose shoulders take
My yoke, and bear it with delight; My yoke is easy to his neck, My grace shall
make the burden light.” (verse 3)

Hymn 76: “Beneath the shadow we abide—The
cloud of Thy protecting love. Our strength, Thy grace, our rule, Thy word,
Our end, the glory of the Lord.” (verse 1)

Hymn 89: “Zion, thrice happy place, Adorned with
wondrous grace, High walls of strength embrace thee round.” (verse 2)

Hymn 91: “Thy works of grace, how bright they shine!”
(verse 3)

Hymn 99: “Brightly beams our Father’s mercy.”
(verse 1)

Hymn 105: “Reverently and Meekly Now”

Appendix D: Relevant Occurrences of “Save” or “Saved”
in Latter-day Saint Scriptures

Book of Mormon

     For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade
men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob, and be saved. (1 Nephi 6:4)

     And behold, because of the thing which I have seen,
I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi
and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of
their seed, will be saved. (1 Nephi 8:3)

     Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen
state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer. (1 Nephi

     And blessed
are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that
day, for they shall have the gift
and the power of the Holy
Ghost; and if they endure
unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the
everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings
of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. . . .

     And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last
records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth
of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make
known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them;
and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of
God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him,
or they cannot be saved. (1 Nephi 13:37, 40)

     And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know
that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people
of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers,
and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered
unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of
their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how
to come unto him and be saved. (1 Nephi 15:14)

     Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his
power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous
be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore,
the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved,
even if it so be as by fire. . . .

     Wherefore, ye need not suppose that I and my father
are the only ones that have testified, and also taught them. Wherefore, if
ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall
be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen. (1 Nephi 22:17, 31)

     Wherefore, how great the importance to make these
things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there
is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save
it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according
to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may
bring to pass the resurrection
of the dead, being the first that should rise.

     Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch
as he shall make intercession
for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.
(2 Nephi 2:8–9)

     And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom
the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and
fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable
church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which
he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written
these things. (2 Nephi 6:12)

     And he cometh into the world that he may save all
men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains
of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and
children, who belong to the family of Adam. . . .

     And he commandeth all men that they must repent,
and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel,
or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. (2 Nephi 9:21, 23)

     Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves
to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember,
after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace
of God that ye are saved. (2 Nephi 10:24)

     And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people
that save Christ should come all men must perish. (2 Nephi 11:6)

     Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid
in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with
healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be
saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning
him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. . . .

     And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that
ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought
Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should
heal the nations after they had been bitten
by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did
raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock
and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these
things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there
is none other name
given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby
man can be saved. . . .

     For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our
children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled
to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can
do. (2 Nephi 25:13, 20, 23)

     He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit
of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life
that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they
shall not partake of his salvation. . . .

     For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for
he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing
save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come
unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him,
black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen;
and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:24, 33)

     And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat,
drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing
a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his
words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these
things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will
beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of
God. (2 Nephi 28:8)

     And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea,
the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the
end, the same shall be saved.

     And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that
unless a man shall endure to
the end, in following the example of the Son of the living
God, he cannot be saved. . . .

     And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten
into this strait and narrow path,
I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come
thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in
him, relying wholly upon the merits
of him who is mighty to save. . . .

     And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the
and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby
man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine
of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one
God, without end. Amen. (2 Nephi 31:15–16, 19, 21)

     And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that
many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last
day. (2 Nephi 33:12)

     And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth
the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands
unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked
and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall
be saved in the kingdom of God. (Jacob 6:4)

     And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should
come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation,
and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering
unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the
Lord liveth ye will be saved. (Omni 1:26)

     And even if it were possible that little children
could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for
behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth
for their sins. (Mosiah 3:16)

     And this is the means whereby salvation cometh.
And there is none other salvation save
this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man
can be saved except the conditions which I have told you. (Mosiah 4:8)

     But now Abinadi said unto them: I know if ye keep
the commandments of God ye shall be saved; yea, if ye keep the commandments
which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai: (Mosiah 12:33)

     But I finish my message; and then it matters not
whither I go, if it so be that I am saved. . . .

     And now, did they understand the law? I say unto
you, Nay, they did not all understand the law; and this because of the hardness
of their hearts; for they understood not that there could not any man be saved
except it were through the redemption of God. (Mosiah 13:9, 32)

     And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your
sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved? (Mosiah

     And he also testified unto the people that all mankind
should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble,
but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created
all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have
eternal life. (Alma 1:4)

     And again I ask, were the bands of death broken,
and the chains of
hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they
were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing
redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

     And now I ask of you on what conditions are they
saved? Yea,
what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being
loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? . . .

     And behold, he preached
the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their
hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust
in the true and living God.
And behold, they were faithful until the end;
therefore they were saved. . . .

     Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto
the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works
upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? . . .

     I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when
you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?

     I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye
cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed
white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all
stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers,
who should come to redeem his people from their sins. . . .

     Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and
the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved! (Alma 5:9–10,
13, 17, 20–21, 31)

     Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born
again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the
kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye
may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who
taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from
all unrighteousness. (Alma 7:14)

     And at some period of time they will be brought
to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions
of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful
unto all who call on his name. (Alma 9:17)

     And Zeezrom said again: Shall he save his people
their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he shall
not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word.

     Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember
these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son
of God shall come, but he shall not save
his people—as though he had authority to command God.

     Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast
lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God
because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.

     And I say unto you again that he cannot save them
in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean
thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except
ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.
(Alma 11:34–37)

     But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand
before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and
dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments
are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the
children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth
on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance. (Alma 12:15)

     And the people went forth and witnessed against
them—testifying that they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers
and judges of the land, and also of all the people that were in the land;
and also testified that there was but one God, and that he should send his
Son among the people, but he should not
save them; and many such things did the people testify against Alma and Amulek.
Now this was done before the chief judge of the land. (Alma 14:5)

     And it came to pass that she went and took the queen
by the hand, that perhaps she might raise her from the ground; and as soon
as she touched her hand she arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with
a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!
O blessed God, have mercy on this people! (Alma 19:29)

     But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold,
thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall
than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall
at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved. (Alma 20:17)

     Thou also sayest, except we repent we shall perish.
How knowest thou the thought and intent of our hearts? How knowest thou that
we have cause to repent? How knowest thou that we are not a righteous people?
Behold, we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to
worship God. We do believe that God will save all men. . . .

     Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them
concerning the coming of Christ, and also concerning the resurrection of the
dead, and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through
the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood. (Alma
21:6, 9)

     And also, what is this that Ammon said—If
ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast
off at the last day? . . .

     O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and
if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto
me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised
from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said
these words, he was struck as if he were dead. (Alma 22:6, 18)

     And now, my brethren, if our brethren seek to destroy
us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep
in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never
used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall
go to our God and shall be saved. . . .

     And it came to pass that the people of God were
joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who
had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt
but what they were saved. (Alma 24:16, 26)

     Now when Ammon and his brethren saw this work of
destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved, and among those who had
so dearly beloved them—for they were treated as though they were angels
sent from God to save them from everlasting destruction—therefore, when
Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction, they were moved
with compassion. (Alma 27:4)

     And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed
are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance;
and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth
mercy and endureth
to the end the same shall be saved. (Alma 32:13)

     Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to
save. (Alma 34:18)

     And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may
learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means
whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life
and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.
(Alma 38:9)

     Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore,
the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved. (Alma

     For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands,
and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly
penitent are saved. (Alma 42:24)

     O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king
Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor
means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ,
who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world. (Helaman

     And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it
shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore,
for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared.

     Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and
hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall
be saved. . . .

     And I would that all men might be saved. But we
read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out,
yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord. (Helaman 12:22–23,

     O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words!
And I pray that the anger of the Lord be turned away from you, and that ye
would repent and be saved. (Helaman 13:39)

     And this to the intent that whosoever will believe
might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment
might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves
their own condemnation. (Helaman 14:29)

     Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption
unto the world, to save the world from sin.

     Therefore, whoso repenteth
and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is
the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken
it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and
be saved. (3 Nephi 9:21–22)

     And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the
same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
(3 Nephi 11:33)

     Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily
I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded
you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (3 Nephi

     And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth
to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:6)

     Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye
cannot be saved. (Mormon 7:3)

     And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,
but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mormon 9:23)

     Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and
come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall
be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name. (Ether 4:18)

     Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these
things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may
have no power
upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually,
that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness
and be saved. (Ether 8:26)

     Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the
Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the
flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved
in the kingdom of God. Amen. (Ether 15:34)

     And after that he came men also were saved
by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ
liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever
thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing
that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you. . . .

     And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come
unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be
saved. . . .

     Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children
of men? Or has he withheld the power
of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the
earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
. . .

     For no man can be saved, according to the words
of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things
have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for
they are as though there had been no redemption made. . . .

     And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto
you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain
unto faith, save ye shall have hope? (Moroni 7:26, 34, 36, 38, 40)

     Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance
and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin;
yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves
as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
. . .

     Wherefore, if little children could not be saved
without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell. (Moroni 8:10, 13)

     But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and
I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will
spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their utter
destruction; for I know that they must perish except they repent and return
unto him. (Moroni 9:22)

     And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved
in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye
have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope. . . .

     And wo unto them who shall do these things away
and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom
of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not. (Moroni
10:21, 26)

Doctrine and Covenants (not a complete list)

And as many as repent and are baptized
in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall
be saved.

Behold, Jesus Christ is the name
which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man
can be saved;
. . .

And after that you have received this, if you keep not my commandments you
cannot be saved in the kingdom of my Father. (D&C 18:22, 23, 46)

For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged,
but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition,
to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels
of God forever and ever. . . .

Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my
law and ye shall be saved. (D&C 132:17, 32)

Pearl of Great Price

     And as many as believed
in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved;
and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned;
and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore
they must be fulfilled. (Moses 5:15)

     And Enoch also saw Noah, and his family;
that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal
salvation. (Moses 7:42)

     But he that remaineth steadfast
and is not overcome, the same shall be saved. . . .

     And again, because iniquity shall abound, the love
of men shall wax cold; but he that shall not be overcome,
the same shall be saved. (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11, 30)

     We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind
may be saved,
by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Article of Faith 3)


1.   The historical
research for this paper was initiated by Kenneth West, who assisted in preparing
a prepublication review of Davies’s book. Benjamin Huff, Jeffrey Johnson,
Stanley Thayne, and Rachel Wilcox have each critically read this manuscript
and made substantial improvements to form or substance. Brett McDonald, Ashley
Sanders, and Tyler Stoehr have also made helpful suggestions. Funding for
this project has been generously provided by the College of Humanities, the
Department of Philosophy, and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious
Scholarship at Brigham Young University. We express our gratitude to all who
have contributed to this project.

2.   We know of two
very brief reviews of Davies’s book: Richard Lyman Bushman, review of The
Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace, and Glory,
by Douglas J. Davies, Journal of Religion 82/1 (2001–2): 117–18; and Malise Ruthven,
Journal of Contemporary Religion 16/2 (1 May 2001): 239–43.

3.   Kathleen Hughes,
in “Visiting Teaching Message: Prepare for Temple Worship,” Ensign,
April 2003, 74.

4.   Davies characterizes
the temple as a place of “sanctified activism” (p. 75) and
some individual and family contemplation, but not of “corporate”
or “congregational worship” (p. 76). However, congregational
worship is an important aspect of temple worship, among the many others. Perhaps
the clearest example of “corporate” worship in the temple setting
is the participation in prayer circles by a significant number of temple patrons.
One of the purposes of this practice is to “bind together the religious
participants as a group” in a sacred relationship with God. See D. Michael
Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer
Circles,” BYU Studies 19/1 (1978): 79. Sealing rites usually performed in the company of extended
family and close friends bind couples and families for eternity, with the
eventual intent to bind the entire human family in one, link by family link—a
rather ambitious corporate project. Even the reception of the endowment and
the making of individual covenants with God are carried out in a group setting.

5.   Bruce R. McConkie,
“How to Worship,” Ensign, December 1971, 130.

6.   Joseph Fielding
Smith, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth,” Ensign, December 1971, 27.

7.   Gordon B. Hinckley,
“Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship,” Ensign, November 1995, 53.

8.   Russell M. Nelson,
“Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, March 2002, 21–22, last emphasis added.

9.   Dallin H. Oaks,
“Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1985, 81.

10.   The LDS Bible Dictionary,
697, speaking of grace, explains that
“The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given
through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. . . . This
grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal
life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”

11.   Salvation
is an all-or-nothing affair for most Protestants, making the distinction between
“born again” and “unregenerate” correspond exactly to
that between “saved” and “damned.” For Latter-day Saints,
though, most of the “unregenerate” receive a degree of glory—one
which passes all earthly understanding (D&C 76:89)—for having chosen
to come to earth and for deciding not to deny the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Latter-day
Saints hold that the life led by those receiving lower degrees of glory is
substantially different than that supposedly enjoyed in Protestant heaven
or hell. Those in the telestial kingdom for instance (and thus some of those
that are “saved”) do not enjoy the full presence of the Godhead
as they would in Protestant versions of heaven. However, the absence of the
Father and the Son (which in this respect would equate to Protestant notions
of hell) is a far cry from the Protestant notion of eternal torment, as they
still enjoy the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, and a glory beyond human
comprehension. Similarly, the residents of the terrestrial kingdom are neither
clearly “saved” nor clearly “damned” according to Protestant
definitions: they have accepted the testimony of Jesus (corresponding to “saved”)
but have not been valiant therein and receive only the “glory” and
not the “full presence” of the Father (corresponding in this sense
to “damned”). Clearly, given these and other differences, the Latter-day
Saint understanding of salvation cannot be directly correlated to Protestant
soteriology and eschatology.

12.   See Shirley S. Ricks, “Eternal
Lives, Eternal Increase,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:465.

13.   One of these terms, imputed
seems to be an exception
and does seem foreign to LDS discourse.
No clear discussion of it was found in recent writings of ecclesiastical leaders,
though Millet himself cites Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s “Justification
and Sanctification,” Ensign, June
2001, 18–25, as using the idea. We believe that Elder Christofferson’s
text does not clearly teach the doctrine of imputed righteousness (and may
in fact contradict it). We believe the doctrine to be problematic; it requires
an impossible transferability of righteousness, demands an untenable penal
substitution theory of the atonement, and entails that God declare sinners
righteous when they in fact are not. See Blake T. Ostler, Exploring
Mormon Thought: The Problems of Theism and the Love of God
(Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2006), 352–61.

14.   Neal A. Maxwell, Even
As I Am
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,
1982), 86.

15.   W. Rolfe Kerr, “Parables
of Jesus: The Unprofitable Servant,” Ensign, October 2003, 47.

16.   Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith,
comp. Joseph Fielding Smith
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 121.

17.   History of the Church,

18.   See History of the Church,

19.   History of the Church, 4:264–65 (punctuation somewhat standardized), quoting
Brigham Young and Willard Richards, “Election and Reprobation,”
Millennial Star 1/9 (January
1841): 224; see also Times and
Seasons 4/1 (15 November
1842): 5.

20.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

21.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

22.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

23.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

24.   Quoting The Essential
Brigham Young
(Salt Lake City: Signature
Books, 1992), 19.

25.   John Taylor, Mediation
and Atonement
(Salt Lake City: Deseret
News, 1882), 145.

26.   Taylor, Mediation and
181–82, emphasis added.

27.   Taylor, Mediation and

28.   Robert L. Millet, Selected
Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 505.

29.   Orson Pratt, Journal
of Discourses,
1:330, emphasis added.

30.   Lorenzo Snow, Journal
of Discourses,

31.   Joseph F. Smith, Journal
of Discourses,

32.   James R. Clark, ed., Messages
of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971), 5:286.

33.   David O. McKay, Gospel
Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay
(Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953), 8; see 10–11.

34.   James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1962),
31 n. 5, emphasis added.

35.   James E. Talmage, Articles
of Faith
(Salt Lake City: The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), 91.

36.   An important Commentary
on the Book of Mormon,
published in seven
volumes between 1955 and 1961, states that the scriptural concept of grace
connotes that “God has done for us something which we could not do for
ourselves.” This commentary is based on the notes and prior publications
of two nineteenth-century scholars, George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl,
and was edited, amplified, and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds with the assistance,
on some volumes, of David Sjodahl King. The section on grace, from volume
four, is either from unpublished notes or is the work of the editors; see
Bruce Van Orden, “Every City, Hill, River, Valley, and Person,”
review of Book of Mormon Dictionary, by
George Reynolds, FARMS Review of Books 8/1
(1996): 58–60.

Grace is portrayed as a divinely bestowed gift that
includes life, faith, forgiveness of sin through repentance, and “immortality
and Eternal Life, wrought by the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The Commentary also recognizes misunderstandings
on the doctrine of grace, such as the suggestion that Paul’s statements on
grace “eliminate the need for personal righteousness (good works).”
The authors resolve this misunderstanding by explaining that Latter-day restoration
has made it “clear that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel
(works) was not lost in the doctrine of grace.” They also recognize,
however, that this renewal of the role of works in the gospel has, unfortunately,
“had a tendency to elevate works above grace in the minds of many believers.”
They suggest that this misunderstanding may be due to an imperfect understanding
of the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression, which is that “God’s children
may progress throughout the eternities, until they may reach the status and
the glory of the Creator Himself.”

To illustrate this misunderstanding, they cite an analogy,
used by “exponents” of eternal progression, which likens “man’s
quest for eternal glory to climbing a flight of endless stairs.” They
view this analogy as one of limited merit since “it does not give sufficient
recognition to the doctrine of grace” and “fails to give full force
and effect to the atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” They modify the
analogy “to include a huge and unbridgeable chasm somewhere along the
stairs’ upward course,” and “it is the Atonement of Christ which
carries us across the otherwise unbridgeable chasm.” And though obedience
is required of us as the “effort by which we ascend the endless stairs,”
we are enabled to do so only by “an outpouring of grace.” Philip
C. Reynolds and David Sjodahl King, eds., Commentary on the Book of Mormon
[from the Notes of George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl]
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1959), 4:7–16.
Thus, under this modified analogy, it is grace that enables us to climb the
stairs and grace through the atonement of Christ that bridges the chasm we
could not cross on our own.

37.   Joseph Fielding Smith,
Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 2:309–10.

38.   Teachings of Ezra Taft

39.   Howard W. Hunter, “‘Jesus,
the Very Thought of Thee,'” Ensign,
May 1993, 64.

40.   Gordon B. Hinckley, “In
These Three I Believe,” Ensign,
July 2006, 7.

41.   What can we make of the
seemingly conflicting ideas that the church is not changing yet never static?
President Hinckley’s statement concerning the unchanging nature of the church
was proffered in the context of discussing a membership growing in faith and
size and in a world with constantly new conceptions and perceptions. In this
respect the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like any other viable
religious body, is always adjusting for such change by emphasizing and refining,
organizing and restructuring. What remains the same are the “foundational
doctrines and principles” set down by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

42.   Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living
in the Fulness of Times,” Ensign, November
2001, 5.

43.   Robert T. Millet, “Joseph
Smith’s Christology: After Two Hundred Years,” in The Worlds of Joseph
Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress,
ed. John W. Welch (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2006), 246.

44.   There are also numerous
relevant uses of the locution to be saved
or saved in Latter-day Saint
specific scripture. See appendix D. Careful comparison and analysis of these
passages is an important task deferred.

45.   Gene R. Cook, “Receiving
Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1993, 80.

46.   See Alma 5:31–33,
49–51; 9:12; 34:15–17; Helaman 14:13; D&C 3:20; 20:29.

47.   See Alma 22:14; Helaman
5:11; 14:17–18; 3 Nephi 7:16.

48.   Karen Lynn Davidson, Our
Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 7.

49.   Hymns of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake
City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), ix.

50.   Hymns of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

51.   The title (and first line)
of this hymn in our current hymnal is “Know This, That Every Soul Is
Free.” Hymns, no. 240 (1985 ed.).

52.   Punctuation and words as
appearing in 1985 hymnal.

53.   “Let ev’ry mortal
ear attend,” Hymns, no. 2 (1835
ed.). The first lines function as titles in the index.

54.   Hymns, no. 46 (1985 ed.). It is interesting to note in context
with the discussion at hand that John Newton, author of “Glorious Things
of Thee Are Spoken,” also authored the well-known lyrics to the Christian
hymn “Amazing Grace.”

55.   “Great God! to thee
my evening song,” Hymns, no. 46
(1835 ed.).

56.   Hymns, no. 16 (1889 ed.). The hymns in this psalmody do not
have titles, but rather names of hymn tunes.

57.   “How Firm a Foundation,”
Hymns, no. 85 (1985 ed.).

58.   Davies’s point here about
the “relocation” of the act of atonement to the Garden of Gethsemane
is not entirely correct. While it is certainly true that Latter-day Saints
focus more attention on the Garden of Gethsemane than other Christians do,
it is LDS doctrine that the atonement started in the garden, reached perhaps
its ultimate depths on the cross, and gloriously ended with the resurrection.
On this second point Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, speaking of the crucifixion:
“While he was hanging on the cross . . . all the infinite agonies
and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred.” Elder McConkie later in
the same talk goes on declare that “[the atonement] took place in Gethsemane
and at Golgotha.” “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign,
May 1985, 10, 11.

59.   While church policy does
discourage using the cross, we believe the reasons are historical rather than
theological. Early church members were drawn largely from communities whose
churches bore no crosses; see Ryan K. Smith, “The Cross: Church
Symbol in Contest in Nineteenth-Century America,” Church History:
Studies in Christianity and Culture
(December 2001): 705–34. Early Latter-day Saints simply followed suit.
When Protestant America began using the cross again in the late 1800s, Latter-day
Saints, culturally and geographically isolated from the rest of America, did
not act similarly. No doctrine entails the policy. See George Scott, “Mormons
and the Cross: A Puritanical Heritage” (unpublished manuscript).

60.   The sacrament service is
much more significant in this way than Davies implies when he says it “is
not the central soteriological vehicle of Mormonism,” but, rather, “a
privilege retained by temple rites” (p. 39). The covenant of obedience
made at baptism and renewed in the sacrament is in fact central to the process
of salvation. Though he does not say why, Davies seems to assume that some
one ritual vehicle must be central to the Mormon understanding of salvation,
rendering others somehow secondary. Without venturing a detailed explanation
here, we suggest that temple ceremonies are better understood as symbolizing
the completion of the process of salvation, the same process of which baptism
signifies the beginning, and that the sacrament signifies the maintenance
and continuation.

61.   At least, this is the focus
in recent decades, as reflected in a number of portrayals of these moments.
The resurrected Christ is depicted, for example, appearing to the disciples
in Jerusalem, appearing to the Nephites in the New World, and returning in
power to begin his millennial reign on earth.

62.   See, for instance, Elder
McConkie’s oft-quoted final conference address, “The Purifying Power
of Gethsemane,” 11, in which he states that “I am one of [Christ’s]
witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and
in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.”

63.   See History of the Church,

64.    Though Christ is
crucified by his fellow Jews, this is an outcome he chooses, and well in advance.
Based on the New Testament record it is appropriate to say he is active and
in control as it happens, particularly as the events are portrayed in the
Gospel of John. Not only did Christ have the power to prevent it, and yet
still allowed it; he took positive steps to set the stage for his arrest and
crucifixion. He set out for Jerusalem, telling his disciples what would happen
(Matthew 20:17–19; Luke 18:31–33). When Judas was about to betray
him, he said to Judas, in effect, “Go do what you are going to do”
(John 13:27). In John 16 he speaks of his death itself in an active voice,
saying he is leaving: “now I go my way to him that sent me” (John
16:5); “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again,
I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:28). In the garden,
he stopped Peter from defending him, saying, “the cup which my Father
hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). When Pilate said,
“I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee,”
Jesus appears to disagree, telling him that the matter is in greater hands
than Pilate’s (John 19:11). Rather than lingering with the two thieves whose
legs were to be broken, Christ seems even to choose his time of death: “He
said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he
gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).

65.   McConkie, “The Purifying
Power of Gethsemane,” 10.

66.   The Lamb of God, VHS (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, 1993).

67.   Compare the similar portrayal
of his crucifixion as empowering in John 12:24: “Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth
forth much fruit.”

68.   Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith,

69.   History of the Church,

70.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

71.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

72.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

73.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

74.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

75.   Brigham Young, Journal
of Discourses,

76.   Taylor, Mediation and

77.   Taylor, Mediation and

78.   Taylor, Mediation and

79.   Taylor, Mediation and

80.   Wilford Woodruff, Journal
of Discourses,

81.   Wilford Woodruff, Journal
of Discourses,

82.   Wilford Woodruff, Journal
of Discourses,

83.   Orson Pratt, Journal
of Discourses,

84.   Orson Pratt, Journal
of Discourses,

85.   Lorenzo Snow, Journal
of Discourses,

86.   Lorenzo Snow, Journal
of Discourses,

87.   Joseph F. Smith, Gospel
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,
1919), 98.

88.   Joseph F. Smith, Gospel

89.   Joseph F. Smith, Journal
of Discourses,

90.   Clark, Messages of the
First Presidency,

91.   Clark, Messages of the
First Presidency,

92.   Clark, Messages of the
First Presidency,

93.   McKay, Gospel Ideals, 8, 10–11.

94.   John A. Widtsoe, Evidences
and Reconciliations
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft,
1960), 196–97.

95.   Widtsoe, Evidences and

96.   Widtsoe, Evidences and

97.   Widtsoe, Evidences and

98.   Widtsoe, Evidences and

99.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,

100.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,
31 n. 5.

101.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,

102.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,
26–27, 28.

103.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,

104.   Talmage, Jesus the Christ,

105.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,

106.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,
478–79, appendix 4, quoting Franklin D. Richards and James A.
Little, A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel (Salt Lake City:
Deseret News, 1884), 8, 9.

107.   We have chosen to lowercase
run-in headings in the quotations from James E. Talmage.

108.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,
480–81, appendix 5.

109.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,

110.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,

111.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,

112.   Talmage, Articles of Faith,

113.   Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines
of Salvation,

114.   Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye
in Holy Places: Selected Sermons and Writings of President Harold B. Lee
Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 213.

115.   Lee, Stand Ye in Holy

116.   Harold B. Lee, Conference
Report, October 1956, 62; see also Clyde J. Williams, ed., The
Teachings of Harold B. Lee
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 407.

117.   Spencer W. Kimball, The
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
ed. Edward L. Kimball (Salt Lake
City: Bookcraft, 1982), 68.

118.   Spencer W. Kimball, The
Miracle of Forgiveness
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969), 207.

119.   Ezra Taft Benson, The
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 71.

120.   Teachings of Ezra Taft

121.   Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon
2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 338.

122.   McConkie, Mormon Doctrine,

123.   McConkie, Mormon Doctrine,

124.   The hymns do not appear with
titles; the index gives the first line of the hymns, by which most hymns became

125.   The hymn titles in this book
function as the names of hymn tunes and do not reflect the words of the hymn.

126.   The hymn titles in this hymnal
usually reflect the first lines of the hymns.