Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FairMormon Response

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

FairMormon Response

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

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

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

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



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

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

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

FairMormon Response

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • "This is the Gospel…that Jesus came into the world to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world." (D&C 76:40–42)
  • "My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross." (3 Nephi 27:14)
  • "Behold [the Holy Messiah] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin." (2 Nephi 2:6–9)
  • "as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins… There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ… Salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ." (Mosiah 3:16–19)



  • For a detailed response, see: Jesus Christ/Atonement/The garden and the cross

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

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

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

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

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

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

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

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

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

FairMormon Response

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

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

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



Question: Are Latter-day Saints are not true Christians because they do not use the cross and believe that the atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Latter-day Saints include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity

Latter-day Saints teach that the atonement of Christ was carried out in Gethsemane, rather than on the cross. However, these statements from a variety of LDS sources are sufficient to show that the LDS include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity. His suffering on the cross was preceded by suffering at Gethsemane.

Even Jesus' life had a part in His atonement, since only God, a perfect being, could perform this service. His mission thus also included being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). It is therefore arbitrary and misleading to draw some type of "line" during Jesus' mortal life or death when He was not working for our salvation. This includes Gethsemane and the cross.

An anti-Mormon protester claims—falsely—that Latter-day Saints do not value the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all humanity.

There is a spectrum of belief in the Church, among both the leaders and the people in the pew, as in all religions. It is true that members of the Church have historically included the garden of Gethsemane as playing a role in Jesus' saving act. Some have emphasized it, perhaps in reaction to the emphasis on the cross alone in other Christian denominations.

The garden and the cross

However, even that emphasis, were it the sole message of the Church (and it is not) does not exclude the cross. Note, for example, this excerpt from the Christmas message of Gordon B. Hinckley, past President of the Church:

We honor His birth. But without His death that birth would have been but one more birth. It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. His was a great Atonement for the sins of all mankind. He was the resurrection and the life, "the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of Him all men will be raised from the grave. [56]

Other statements by Elder Bruce McConkie, who is sometimes used as evidence for this criticism, show he was not as one-sided as critics imply:

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." [57]

The official training booklet sent out with missionaries includes this statement:

The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as His suffering and death on the cross. [58]

As a fourth example, consider something that recently came from the Church press:

Jesus' atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In Gethsemane, He began to take upon himself the sins of the world…. The Savior continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified. [59]

The importance of Gethsemane in the scriptures

Gethsemane does present some interesting problems. Other Christians reject the Latter-day Saint view of the importance of Gethsemane in part because it is only mentioned twice in the New Testament (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). While this may be so, the events that transpired there are mentioned also in the other two gospels. In other words, all four gospel writers felt it important enough to include it in their 'memoirs.' In John 18:1 it is reported that Christ and His disciples "often resorted thither." Luke 22:39 tells us that He went there, "as he was wont" (compare Luke 19:29 and Luke 21:37, the latter of which says He spent the 'nights' on Mount Olive). This was apparently a special place for them to seek solitude, a private place to seek their Father in prayer. It is evident from the commentaries written on the various gospels that the exact purpose of the experience is not well understood. We don't need to go into the events verse by verse, but there are some things that need to be noted. Despite the importance the Lord places on prayer in general, there are only a few places where He is actually depicted as doing so; this prayer in Gethsemane is one of them. Furthermore, there are few places in the New Testament where He is depicted as being 'strengthened' by an angel (Matthew 4:11). The experience in the Garden is one of them (Luke 22:43, in which an angel is sent to strengthen Him during His prayer). There are others who have also commented on the singularity of this experience, and attributed it, at least in part, to the atonement.

Gethsemane as viewed by non-Latter-day Saint Christians

Christian theologian Leon Morris is quoted frequently by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of the book Mormonism 101 (a book critical of Mormonism). It is not without significance, therefore, that Morris quotes Lesslie Newbigin as follows:

The Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, kneels in the garden of Gethsemane. He wrestles in prayer. His sweat falls like great drops of blood. He cries out in an agony: "not my will, but thine be done." That is what it costs God to deal with man's sin. To create the heavens and the earth costs Him no labor, no anguish; to take away the sin of the world costs Him His own life-blood. [60]

Elsewhere, Leon Morris himself admits that, at least for Matthew, "what took place in the Garden was very important." [61]

In a recent commentary, Donald A. Hagner of Fuller Theological Seminary writes:

The thought of what he will have to undergo in the near future fills Jesus with dread and anguish. A real struggle within the soul of Jesus takes place in Gethsemane, and he craves the support of those who have been closest to him during his ministry. The mystery of the agony of God's unique Son cannot be fully penetrated. That it has to do with bearing the penalty of sin for the world to make salvation possible seems clear. [62]

In a commentary on Matthew 26, first published in 1864, German scholar John Peter Lange refers to several interpretations offered by earlier commentators. He quotes a scholar named Ebrard: "His trembling in Gethsemane was not dread of His sufferings, but was part of His passion itself; it was not a transcendental and external assumption of a foreign guilt, but a concrete experience of the full and concentrated power of the world's sin." [63] At the same place Lange refers to the reformer Melanchthon as teaching that in the Garden Christ "suffered the wrath of God in our stead and our behalf."

Another recent commentary quotes favorably a statement to the effect that Matthew 26:37 ("And he took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy") indicates that "at this point the Passion, in its full sense, began." [64]

J.M. Ford writes, "the theological importance, however, is that for Luke the blood that redeems humankind begins to flow in the garden." [65] Popular evangelical scholar Thomas C. Oden paraphrases Catherine of Siena this way:

[Christ] was not externally compelled to be baptized with the baptism of sinners, to set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem or go to Gethsemane, or drink the cup of suffering. Rather he received and drank that cup not because he liked to suffer—the very thought cause him to sweat profusely—but rather because it was an intrinsic part of the purpose of his mission to humanity. [66]

B.H. Roberts quotes the following from the International Commentary on Matthew:

This conflict presents our Lord in the reality of His manhood, in weakness and humiliation, but it is impossible to account for it unless we admit His Divine nature. Had He been a mere man, His knowledge of the sufferings before Him could not have been sufficient to cause such sorrow. The human fear of death will not explain it. As a real man, He was capable of such a conflict. But it took place after the serenity of the Last Supper and sacerdotal prayers, and before the sublime submission in the palace and judgment hall. The conflict, therefore, was a specific agony of itself. He felt the whole burden and mystery of the world's sin, and encountered the fiercest assaults of Satan. Otherwise, in this hour this Person, so powerful, so holy, seems to fall below the heroism of martyrs in His own cause. His sorrow did not spring from His own life, His memory of His fears, but from the vicarious nature of the conflict. The agony was a bearing of the weight and sorrow of our sins, in loneliness, in anguish of soul threatening to crush His body, yet borne triumphantly, because in submission to His Father's will. Three times our Lord appeals to that will, as purposing His anguish; that purpose of God in regard to the loveliest, best of men, can be reconciled with justice and goodness in God in but one way; that it was necessary for our redemption. Mercy forced its way through justice to the sinner. Our Lord suffered anguish of soul for sin, that it might never rest on us. To deny this is in effect not only to charge our Lord with undue weakness, but to charge God with needless cruelty. "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53.4-5]" [67]

David B. Haight, of the Quorum of the Twelve, quotes the following from the Reverend Frederic Farrar:

They then rose from the table, united their voices in a hymn, and left the room together to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane and all that awaited them there "The awful hour of His deepest [suffering] had arrived…. Nothing remained…but the torture of physical pain and the poignancy of mental anguish…. He…[calmed] His spirit by prayer and solitude to meet that hour in which all that is evil in the Power of [Satan] should wreak its worst upon the Innocent and Holy [One]. And He must face that hour alone…. 'My soul,' He said, 'is full of anguish, even unto death.'" It was not the anguish and fear of pain and death but 'the burden…of the world's sin which lay heavy on His heart. [68]

Evangelical scholar Klaas Runia has recently drawn our attention to a prayer which was formerly read at the beginning of the Lord's Supper service in the Reformed Churches in Holland. The prayer said in part: "We remember that all the time he lived on earth he was burdened by our sin and God's judgment upon it; that in his agony in the garden he sweated drops of blood under the weight of our sins." [69]

Alfred Edersheim referred to the Garden as "the other Eden, in which the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, bore the penalty of the first, and in obeying gained life.'" [70] Adam Clarke is quoted as having once said that "Jesus paid more in the Garden than on the Cross." [71] S. Lewis Johnson, from whose article these previous two quotations derive, concluded, "Gethsemane sets forth for us the passion of our Lord for the souls of men. The voice of Gethsemane sounds forth, 'I am willing,' while the voice from Calvary cries, 'It is finished.' Both illustrate how much He cared." [72]

This is the one thing which seemingly all commentators, LDS or otherwise, agree: He loved us and He manifested that love by His life and by His death. As the above quotations indicate, there is a fair amount of non-LDS support for the idea that the experience of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane is also related to the atoning sacrifice which He made for us. There is also enough material by non-LDS scholars to indicate that the exact mechanics of the Atonement are not known.

Latter-day Saint scripture contains some clear references to the cross

Further, uniquely LDS scripture contains some clear references:

1 Nephi 11:33
Jesus was "was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."
3 Nephi 27:14
"My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross"

Latter-day Saint Sacrament hymns refer to the cross

An anti-Mormon protester at October 2004 LDS General Conference claims that members of the Church are "enemies" of the cross. He apparently knows little of LDS scripture, doctrine, hymns, or belief.

It is worthwhile to note that Latter-day Saints make frequent reference to Christ's sacrifice on the cross in their Sacrament hymns:

  • Hymn 171, With Humble Heart: "Help me remember, I implore, Thou gavst thy life on Calvary."
  • Hymn 172, In Humility Our Savior: "Let me not forget, O Savior, Thou didst bleed and die for me when Thy heart was stilled and broken on the cross at Calvary."
  • Hymn 174, While of these Emblems We Partake: "For us the blood of Christ was shed; For us on Calvary's cross He bled..."
  • Hymn 177, Tis Sweet To Sing the Matchless Love: "For Jesus died on Calvary, that all through him might ransomed be."
  • Hymn 178, O Lord of Hosts: "salvation purchased on that tree for all who seek thy face."
  • Hymn 181, Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King: "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King, Our thoughts to thee are led, in reverence sweet. Bruised, broken, torn for us, on Calvary's hill."
  • Hymn 182, We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name: "We'll sing all hail to Jesus name...to him that bled on Calvary's hill, And died that we might live."
  • Hymn 184, Upon the Cross at Calvary: "Upon the cross at Calvary, they crucified our Lord, and sealed with blood the sacrifice that sanctified his word. Upon the cross he meekly died, for all mankind to see that death unlocks the passageway into eternity. Upon the cross our Savior died, but, dying brought new birth through resurrection's miracle to all the sons of earth."
  • Hymn 185, Reverently and Meekly Now: "With my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree, I have ransomed even thee...Oh remember what was done, that the sinner might be won. On the cross of Calvary, I have suffered death for thee."
  • Hymn 190, In Memory of the Crucified: "Our Savior in Gethsemane shrank not to drink the bitter cup. And then, for us, on Calvary, upon the cross was lifted up."
  • Hymn 191, Behold the Great Redeemer Die: "Behold the great Redeemer die... They pierce his hands and feet and side; And with insulting scoffs and scorns, they crown his head with plaited thorns. Although in agony he hung... his high commission to fulfill, He magnified his Father's will."
  • Hymn 193, I Stand All Amazed: "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered he bled and died...I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget? No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat, until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet...Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful... wonderful to me."
  • Hymn 196, Jesus, Once of Humble Birth: "Jesus once of humble birth, now in glory comes to earth...Once upon the cross he bowed, Now his chariot is the cloud. Once he groaned in blood and tears, now in glory he appears."
  • Hymn 197, O Savior, Thou Wearest a Crown.: "O Savior, thou who wearest a crown of piercing thorn, the pain thou meekly bearest, weighed down by grief and scorn. The soldiers mock and flail thee; for drink they give thee gall; Upon the cross they nail thee to die, O king of all."

These hymns are sung every Sunday as the Sacrament is being prepared. It is clear that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is a central focus of Latter-day Saint worship services.

Statements regarding the atonement

These statements are not cited in order to devalue in any way the importance of the cross. It is important to realize however that the cross is not necessarily as significant a concept in the scriptures as some might think. Leon Morris agrees with Murphy-O'Connor that aside from the writings of Paul, there are not many references in the New Testament to the 'death' of Jesus; indeed: "We would imagine that there are many New Testament references to the death of Christ. But, outside of Paul, there are not." [73] And in this context it is important to remember that Paul's writings comprise less than one-fourth of the New Testament writings. Father Murphy-O'Connor also writes "during the first Christian centuries, the cross was a thing accursed. No one professed allegiance to Christ by wearing a cross." He indicates that it was only after Constantine lifted the ban against Christianity in general, and forbade crucifixion in particular, that a "new, more pleasant meaning for the cross was facilitated." But, he concludes, "even after the cross had been widely accepted as a symbol, there was a consistent refusal to accept its reality. Only two crucifixion scenes survive from the fifth century… The situation remains unchanged until the twelfth century." [74] These comments are not intended to devalue the cross or the blood shed there, only to place these events in their proper context within sacred scripture. Despite the fact that Gethsemane is mentioned only twice in the scriptures, it has nevertheless engendered an enormous amount of secondary literature. A study on the study of the passion narratives published in 1989 identified seven books dealing specifically with Gethsemane during the previous 100 years and more than 100 articles. That represents a significant amount of discussion on something seemingly of no account! [75]


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

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

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

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

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

}}


Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 3 (Salt Lake City, Utah; Deseret Book Company, 1980) : .30 The passage is quoted frequently: Richard R. Hopkins, Biblical Mormonism. Responding to Evangelical Criticism of LDS Theology (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1994), 123; Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Company, 1976), 121.; The Teachings of Joseph Smith, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 55; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 60.; also in M. Gerald Bradford and Larry E. Dahl, "Doctrine: Meaning, Source, and History of Doctrine," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 1:393–397; Tad Callister, The Infinite Atonement (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000), 3–4; Keith W. Perkins, "Insights into the Atonement from Latter-day Scriptures," Principles of the Gospel in Practice. Sperry Symposium 1985 (Salt Lake City, Utah;: Randall Book Company, 1985), 91; Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (April 1950), 130; quoted in Richard G. Grant, Understanding these Other Christians. An LDS Introduction to Evangelical Christianity (self-published, 1998): 42; My Errand from the Lord. A personal study guide for Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums 1976-1977 (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 1976), 92. The statement was first published in an early LDS publication, the Elders' Journal I (1832): 28–9. The frequency of appearance of this quotation in LDS literature makes one wonder why it is not to be found in Mormonism 101; indeed, the authors claim to have read the first six references cited here.
  2. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, Fourth Year (1911): The Atonement (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 1994), iv–v. This is a reprint edition of this book, first published by Deseret News Press, 1907–1912.
  3. Joseph F. Smith, "Principles of Government in the Church" (September 13, 1917), Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 5, edited by James R. Clark (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971), 83; first published Improvement Era 21 (November 1917), 3–11.
  4. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1969, 1941), 24. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume. The statement cited is also quoted in a student manual: Doctrines of the Gospel (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President of the Church, 1986), 9.
  5. Grant, Gospel Standards, 6, citing Deseret News Church Section, September 3, 1938, 7.
  6. Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (April 1985), 11, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 17; also, Robert Millet, "Foreword" to Callister, The Infinite Atonement, x. off-site
  7. Brigham Young, "Character and Condition of the Latter-day Saints, Etc.," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 8 May 1870, Vol. 14 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1872), 41, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 9.
  8. Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 7; in Latter-day Commentary on the Old Testament, edited by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2001), 385.
  9. Ensign (May 1975), 93 off-site; cited in Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 26–27.
  10. Ensign (May 2001), 77 off-site.
  11. Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:5–6, 23; cited in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 481–482.
  12. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 140-141. ( Index of claims ) They cite Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 14. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) At that location, the original source is Ezra Taft Benson, Come Unto Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983), 6-7. McKeever and Johnson could certainly have located this volume had they chosen to be thorough. The paper in its entirety has just been reprinted in Ensign (December 2001), 8–15. In this article President Benson gives five marks of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Those marks are: His divine birth; His ministry; His "great Atoning Sacrifice;" His "literal Resurrection;" and His promised second coming. The article was also published in Ensign (April 1997), which McKeever and Johnson read—see Mormonism 101, page 43, note 12.
  13. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 140-141. ( Index of claims ) Again citing Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14, which likewise derives from the same source listed above. It is part of the paper published in "Fiver Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," Ensign (December 2001), 8–15. The next quotation is also from page 14. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume of President Bensons' sermons and writings.
  14. The argument is used by Nicholas Lossky, "Theology and Prayer. An Orthodox Perspective," Ecumenical Theology in Worship, Doctrine, and Life: Essays Presented to Geoffrey Wainwright on his Sixtieth Birthday, edited by David S. Cunningham, Ralph Del Colle, and Lucas Lamadrid (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 24–32. On pages 28–29 Lossky uses the argument as a defense for deification against those who state that the singularity of 2 Peter 1:4 as a scriptural basis for deification is not acceptable.
  15. 'Calvary' is taken from the Latin version and passed into all English translations, until recently. See Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to St. Luke, International Critical Commentary (New York: Scribner's, 1902), 530–531. Cf. LDS KJV, Bible Dictionary, "Calvary,". off-site.
  16. Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1999), 216–217. Leon Morris is referred to by McKeever and Johnson as a "Christian theologian" and is quoted frequently throughout Mormonism 101. Morris is an Australian Anglican.
  17. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "'Even Death On a Cross:' Crucifixion in the Pauline Letters," The Cross in Christian Tradition: from Paul to Bonaventure, edited by Elizabeth A. Dreyer (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2000), 21–50. Murphy-O'Connor, a Catholic, agrees with what Morris said: "If we leave aside the gospels, 'cross' and 'crucify' are Pauline terms." Page 23 includes a chart of Pauline uses in various letters. In fact he indicates that were it not for Paul, the Gospels probably would not have indicated the manner of Christ's death (page 22).
  18. Murphy, 24. Clearly, the emphasis in the early church was not on the death of Christ, but on His resurrection; not on the cross, but on the empty tomb. The nine passages are: 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; Galatians 1:3–4; 1 Corinthians 15:3–5; Romans 1:3–4, 4:24–25, 10:9; also the eucharistic words in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25, and two liturgical hymns: Philemon 2:6–11 and Colossians 1:15–20. Indeed, with reference to Philemon 2:6–11, a leading study refers to "the noticeable absence of those themes which we associate with Paul's Christology and soteriology, e.g., the doctrine of redemption through the Cross, the Resurrection of Christ and the place of the Church," [Ralph P. Martin, A Hymn of Christ. Philippians 2:5–11 in Recent Interpretation and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 49.] It will be observed that verse 8 reads "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Martin continues the above quotation: "Although it is on the Cross that the Lord of glory brings His life of obedience to a climax, no redemptive significance is attached to that death in this verse. Indeed, as was noted earlier, the Cross may not be mentioned in the original version of the hymn." Martin claims the reference is Pauline, that is, it was inserted by Paul into the original hymn, which did not include the reference to the Cross. Hans Urs von Balthasar agrees with this assessment: that the reference to the Cross was added by Paul to a pre-existing hymn. [Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 23.]
  19. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000). ( Index of claims ) They quote Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols., (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1980–1986), 127-128, 224, this quotation is from page 224. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume.
  20. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 225, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 135. Later, Elder McConkie wrote, "that all of the anguish, all of the sorrow, and all of the suffering of Gethsemane recurred during the final three hours on the cross, the hours when darkness covered the land." (McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 232, note 22, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 134–135.) Elsewhere Elder McConkie wrote, "Again, on Calvary, during the last three hours of his mortal passion, the sufferings of Gethsemane returned, and he drank to the full the cup which his Heavenly Father had given him." (Bruce R. McConkie, "The Seven Christs," Ensign (November 1982), 33. This is likewise quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 134–135.
  21. Bruce R. McConkie, "What Think ye of Salvation by Grace?", Brigham Young University 1983–1984 Fireside and Devotional Speeches (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Publications, 1984), 4; quoted in Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, In His Holy Name (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 90–91. In fact, in the words just prior to those quoted, Elder McConkie addressed another topic: If "there is no atonement of Christ, what then? Can we be saved? Will all our good works save us? Will we be rewarded for all our righteousness? Most assuredly we will not. We are not saved by works alone, no matter how good; we are saved because God sent his son…" (Ibid., 90).
  22. Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (1 October 1948), 23, 25. Two years previously Elder Spencer W. Kimball, of the Quorum of Twelve, had testified that the Savior "must die for the sins of the world… They crucified him, the Son of God, on Calvary." [Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report (April 1946), 45.]
  23. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 Vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1965–1973), 3:242.
  24. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 61. GL direct link How could McKeever and Johnson fail to have seen these verses quoted by Brother McConkie, considering the emphasis they place on what they claim as his false teachings about Gethsemane? How also could they miss the fact that Gethsemane is not mentioned once in this article? Nor is there mention of Gethsemane in his articles on Redemption, Mediator, Reconciliation, or Salvation.
  25. McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 141.
  26. M. Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness. An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1993), 13–14. A Protestant minister, after touring the open house in the Arizona Temple, said to Gordon B. Hinckley, "I've been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?" Gordon B. Hinckley responded, "I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ," in Ensign (May 1975), 92. For a similar reason the life of the adult Jesus is more emphasized in LDS thought than the manger.
  27. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 142. ( Index of claims ) They quote Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 3:362.
  28. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses, 3:364-365.
  29. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 144. ( Index of claims ) They quote Leon Morris, The Atonement (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 84.
  30. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 145. ( Index of claims ) This has a clear reference to the Garden of Gethsemane incident as the primary source of LDS doctrine. This has been refuted in the passages already quoted from scripture and LDS leaders.
  31. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 142. ( Index of claims )
  32. Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1995), 131. This is a volume that should have been noticed by McKeever and Johnson; it puts the lie to much of their work. A book that McKeever and Johnson claim to have read contains much of the same material: Richard R. Hopkins, Biblical Mormonism, 184–188. Both Hickenbotham and Hopkins are dealing primarily with the Eucharist, or sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Elder Marion G. Romney, of the Quorum of Twelve, said in General Conference that "the water is to be drunk in remembrance of his blood which was shed for us." [Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (April 1946), 39.]
  33. Cullen I.K. Story, "The Cross as Ultimate in the Writings of Justin Martyr," Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Understanding 21 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 25, citing Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 114.2.
  34. The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1990), 84.
  35. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 2, 15; also in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 54–55. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read both volumes.
  36. Letter dated 6 February 1840, quoted in The Words of Joseph Smith, compiled by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1980), 33; also in Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, 78.
  37. Brigham Young, "The Lord's Supper, Etc.," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 11 July 1869, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 143, in Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954), 153.
  38. George Laub Journal, 12 May 1844, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 371. Cf. History of the Church, Vol. 4, 554; also quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:268. Although the idea of 'original sin' is not dealt with in this chapter of Mormonism 101, it obviously played a part in the atonement, and was negated by the atonement. Joseph Smith was not the only one who suggested that original sin was removed by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The English Reformers, in their Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, wrote that the sacrificial death of Christ is defined as the "perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual," article XXXI, introduced and quoted in Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life. Systematic Theology, Vol. 2 (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989): 389. The discussion by Oden, with representative documentation, makes it clear, however, that the redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for sin is applied only to original sin; our actual sins are atoned for only if we exercise faith in the Atonement of Christ.
  39. Moroni 8:12, 22.
  40. Wilford Woodruff Journal, 20 March 1842, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 109. Again, this is a work which was read by McKeever and Johnson.
  41. Conference Report (April 1917), 70–71, in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:379. For a recent comment on the blood of the Lamb saving little children, see Robert Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," in Nurturing Faith Through the Book of Mormon. The 24th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1995), 128–129, where he cites Moroni 8:12, 22; Mosiah 3:16–19; D&C 29:46, 74:7; and refers to JST Matthew 18:11: 'these little ones have no need of repentance, /for/ I will save them'; and JST Matthew 19:13: 'such shall be saved.' Thomas Oden writes that Hugh of St. Victor (died 1141) wrote that those who die at birth or are retarded "will be saved by this atonement insofar as they are judged to be incapable of refusing it," Hugh of St. Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith 2:17 paraphrased in Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 392.Reformed scholar Augustus H. Strong, in defending his belief that infants are "through the grace of Christ certain of salvation," quoted the following from John Calvin: "Infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Spirit;" further, those who would exempt infants from the grace of salvation are guilty of an "execrable blasphemy;" it is a "blasphemy to be universally detested." [Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1907), 663.] Strong quotes from several other Reformed scholars in this article (pages 660–664).
  42. Brigham Young, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 24 April 1870, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 328, quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 37.
  43. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 94, citing Journal History, entry for September 9, 1888.
  44. John Taylor, An Examination into and an Elucidation of the Great Principle of the Mediation and Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Company, 1882), 31. One can only wonder why McKeever and Johnson failed to take notice of a book by a President of the LDS Church, with the rather catchy title of "Mediation and Atonement." One would think it would have been the first place to look when seeking information about the LDS position relative to the Atonement.
  45. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, edited by Brian H. Stuy (City Unknown: B.H.S. Publications, 1991), 230. Delivered January 20, 1895, at the Oneida Stake Conference in Franklin, Idaho.
  46. Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News Weekly 50 (February 1895), 251.
  47. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, 363–364. Delivered at General Conference, October 5, 1895.
  48. Conference Report (April 1901), 7–8, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:182.
  49. Conference Report (October 1916), 12–14, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 274; see also Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report (April 1912), 12: "…we partake of the emblems of His body and blood sacrificed for us," quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 2, 118–119.
  50. Conference Report (October 1937), 122, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 354–355.
  51. Quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (October 1949), 43.
  52. Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
  53. Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," 137–138.
  54. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 147. ( Index of claims ) They quote Conference Report (October 1953), 35. The remainder, from page 36, is quoted here from Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 2:81–83.
  55. Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
  56. Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Season for Gratitude," Ensign (December 1997), 2. (italics added)
  57. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign (May 1995), 9. (italics added)
  58. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 32. ISBN 0402366174. LDS link (italics added) PDF link
  59. "Atonement of Jesus Christ," in True to the Faith (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 17. [{{{1}}} LDS link] direct off-site (italics added)
  60. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 28, note 30, quoting Newbigin, Sin and Salvation (London: SCM, 1946), 32. As mentioned earlier, Morris is designated by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of Mormonism 101, as a Christian theologian from whom they elicit support.
  61. Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1985), 134.
  62. Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28: Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 33b (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1995), 785. Notice that Professor Hagner mentions the 'dread and anguish' which Jesus felt as He looked ahead to His death on the Cross; this is precisely what several of the LDS Church leaders have said.
  63. Ebrard, quoted in John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Vol. 1, Matthew, translated by Philip Schaff (New York: Scribner, 1899), 481. No further details are given about this 'Ebrard.' However, it is probable that it could be Johannes Heinrich August Ebrard (1818–1888), who, about 1860, wrote a work translated in English as Apologetics; or the Scientific Vindication of Christianity. He was also the author of a Biblical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1853); and another on the Epistles of St. John (1860). In 1858 was published the American version of his Biblical Commentary on the New Testament.
  64. W. D. Davies, Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Volume III: Matthew 19–28 (Edinburgh, T and T Clark Publisher 1997): 494, note 27, quoting A.H. McNeile, The Gospel according to St. Matthew. The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (Grand Rapids 1980): 389. "Magisterial" is a word way overused with reference to others' studies, but it is used with reference to Davies and Allison's commentary by John Jefferson Davis, "'Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.' The History of the Interpretation of the 'Great Commission' and Implications for Marketplace Ministries," Evangelical Review of Theology 25.1 (2001): 77.
  65. J. Massyngberde /Allen, this name is spelled 'Massyngbearde'; I checked it in the library; I have found her name spelt with and without the last 'a' in online discussions; she apparently has the 'a' in; her name is J. Massyngbearde Ford/Ford, My Enemy is my Guest. Jesus and Violence in Luke (Maryknoll, New York Orbis Books 1984): 118. Dr. Ford is a professor at the University of Notre Dame. She cites A. Feuillet, L'Agonie de Gethsemani (Paris 1977): 147–50.
  66. Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 323, citing The Prayers of Catherine of Siena (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 17–18, 174.
  67. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, 2:127–128, quoting International Commentary, Matthew, page 359.
  68. David B. Haight, A Light Unto the World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 16, quoting Frederick W. Farrar, Life of Christ (Hartford, Connecticut: S. S. Scranton Company, 1918), 575–576, 579.
  69. Klaas Runia, "The Preaching of the Cross Today," Evangelical Review of Theology 25:1 (2001), 57.
  70. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1953), 534, partially quoted in Lewis Johnson, Jr., "The Agony of Christ," Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (October 1967), 306.
  71. Quoted in Johnson, "The Agony of Christ," 307. Clarke was a Methodist theologian and died in 1832.
  72. Johnson, Ibid., 313.
  73. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 217.
  74. Murphy-O'Connor, "Even Death On a Cross," 21-22. H.E.W. Turner wrote 50 years ago that "it still remains true that the monumental genius of St. Paul had little permanent influence on the theology of the early Church." [H.E.W. Turner, The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption. A Study of the Development of Doctrine during the Fist Five Centuries (London: A.R. Mobray, 1952), 24.] After his exhaustive study of 'grace' in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, Thomas Torrance had to conclude that Paul had had almost no influence on them: "The most astonishing feature was the failure to grasp the significance of the death of Christ." He further concludes that "failure to apprehend the meaning of the Cross and to make it a saving article of faith is surely the clearest indication that a genuine doctrine of grace is absent" in the Apostolic Fathers. [Thomas Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1948), 137–138.]
  75. David D. Garland, One Hundred Years of Study on the Passion Narratives, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion Bibliographic Series, Vol. 3 (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1989), 73–79. More recent commentaries on the relevant verses add significantly to that total.