FIVE REASONS WHY I BELIEVE MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS – PART 5: JESUS CHRIST AS THE ONLY MEANS OF SALVATION
I am sure I do not need to validate this claim through the New Testament, as no Christian would really question that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to salvation. Indeed, the very essence of Christianity is the message of hope and salvation – the “good news” – through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. At this point, I should hope that it is already apparent that this is what the Latter-day Saints believe. Nonetheless, to be sure I am as clear as possible, allow me to elaborate on this point a little bit.
When the Apostle Thomas asked Jesus, “Lord… how can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:5-6) Thus, Jesus declared the single most important truth of all – and that truth was Himself; that He was the only way one could be reconciled to God.
Later, the Apostle Peter declared this same truth before a hostile group of Jewish elite, as they questioned him regarding the miraculous healing which had happened the previous day. To them, Peter boldly testified, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10,12)
No doctrine or teaching carries more weight in the matter of who is or is not “Christian” than this. Neither is any other doctrine or teaching more central and fundamental to Latter-day Saints than this, and again, given the many passages of LDS unique scripture, and testimonies of LDS leaders already given, there ought to be no question nor doubt regarding this matter. Still, to ensure there is not a shred of lingering doubt, allow me to further cite LDS scripture and leaders. For this very purpose, I have saved the passages and quotes which express most clearly and explicitly the exclusive way of salvation in Christ.
LDS Unique Scripture
No volume of scripture more explicitly declares Christ as the only way to salvation as does the Book of Mormon. Starting with the first prophet of the book, Lehi declared to his sons:
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore… 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. (2 Nephi 2:6-8)
His son Nephi, clearly got the message, for later we read that Nephi himself declared that, “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.” (2 Nephi 25:20) In his final testimony, Nephi again declared that “this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 31:21)
King Benjamin gave a powerful sermon at the end of his righteous reign as king among the Nephites. In that address, he testified “that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17) After his speech, the people, recognizing their need for the atonement of Jesus Christ, began to exercise faith in Him (see Mosiah 4:1-3). Upon seeing this, King Benjamin again emphasized that “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) He then continues to further preach to the people, but as he comes to a close, he states a third time that, “There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ.” (Mosiah 5:8)
After preaching of Christ to the wicked priest of King Noah, Abinadi, the great martyr of the Book of Mormon, asked, “now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?” (Mosiah 16:13)
Later, Alma, the son of Abinadi’s only convert, taught the same thing to his son, saying to him, “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).
The tradition continued, as Helaman (the grandson of Alma), later taught his own sons this same central truth. Specifically quoting King Benjamin, he said, “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 5:9)
As you can see, the Book of Mormon repeatedly declares that Christ is the exclusive means of salvation for all mankind.
There is also the declaration that “Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;” (D&C 18:23) in the Doctrine and Covenants, which further specifies that “all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” (D&C 20:29)
Even in the Pearl of Great Price, we have God state that “the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, [is] the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men” (Moses 6:52).
There can be no doubt then that LDS unique scriptures declare this uniquely Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.
LDS Prophets and Apostles
Not only LDS scripture, but even LDS prophets and apostles have repeatedly testified that salvation is exclusively in Christ. Elder Jeffery R. Holland taught that, “The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him [Jesus Christ] – the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
In response to the question “Are Mormons Christians?,” President Ezra Taft Benson said, “We declare the divinity of Jesus Christ. We look to Him as the only source of our salvation. We strive to live His teachings, and we look forward to the time that He shall come again on this earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
On another occasion, President Benson had this to say:
My message and testimony is this: Only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to provide that hope, that confidence, and that strength we need to overcome the world and rise above our human failings. To do so, we must place our faith in Him and live by His laws and teachings.
Many other leaders of the Church have similarly testified. President Boyd K. Packer said, “I seldom use the word absolutely. It seldom fits. I use it now…. The Atonement was absolutely essential for men to cleanse themselves from sin and overcome the second death, spiritual death, which is separation from our Father in Heaven.”
Elder David B. Haight bore testimony, saying, “I know that he lives, that man was created in his image and likeness. I know that Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, is the Christ, the Son of God, and that there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved. I know that he lives now – today – and that salvation is only through him; that he will bring us back, if worthy, to the presence of God, our Eternal Father.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith testified that, “Salvation is in Christ. It comes because of the infinite and eternal atonement which he wrought by the shedding of his blood,” and Elder Richard G. Scott said, “The Atonement is that essential ingredient of our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness without which that plan could not have been activated.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
He is the chief cornerstone of the Church that bears His name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved. He is the Author of our salvation, the Giver of eternal life. There is none to equal Him. There never has been. There never will be. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Beloved Son, who gave His life that we might live and who is the chief, immovable cornerstone of our faith and His Church.
None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God.
As you can see, the atonement of Jesus Christ is the absolute, essential, and exclusive way of salvation in LDS theology and doctrine. To wrap this up, I wish to quote what is most likely the greatest testimony of Christ that has ever been borne among the Latter-day Saints. Shortly before passing away, Bruce R. McConkie bore the following testimony in General Conference:
And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God – I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.
I am one of his 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.
But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin.
Conclusion of Part 5
What more can be said? Latter-day Saints place the atonement of Jesus Christ at the absolute center of their faith, they believe that it is absolutely necessary and essential for salvation, and that salvation cannot come by any other way or means. This is in harmony with the message of the New Testament, and is the distinguishing mark of Christianity. This ought to be only qualification required for make one a “Christian.” At the very least, it ought to be the first and foremost qualification. By this standard – the only real universal standard that exists in all of Christendom – Latter-day Saints cannot be denied Christian status. Thereby, I submit to you my fifth and final conclusion that, because they place their faith in Jesus Christ as their one and only hope for salvation, Mormons are Christians.
 Elder Jeffery R. Holland, “Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign (March 2001), pg. 8
 President Ezra Taft Benson, in “He Lives! The Witness of Latter-day Prophets,” Ensign (March 2008), pg. 8-11
 President Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ: Our Savior and Redeemer,” Ensign (June 1990)
 Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Ensign (March 2008), pg. 12-19 (emphasis in original)
 Elder David B. Haight, “He is the Son of God,” Ensign (May 1976), pg. 20
 President Joseph Fielding Smith, in “He Lives! The Witness of Latter-day Prophets,” Ensign (March 2008), pg. 8-11
 Elder Richard G. Scott, “He Lives! All Glory to His Name!” Ensign (May 2010), pg. 75-78
 President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Testify of Christ,” Ensign (March 2008), pg. 4-7
 Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign (May 1985), pg. 9
 As Evangelical theologian Craig L. Blomberg explains, “It is the doctrine of salvation that truly distinguishes orthodox Christianity from all other world religions.” (Blomberg and Robinson, How Wide the Divide?, pg. 185)