Question: Is Jesus Christ the savior of other worlds?

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Question: Is Jesus Christ the savior of other worlds?

Very little has been revealed on this subject

The closest we have to an authoritative statement is an inference from Doctrine and Covenants 76:

For we saw him [Jesus Christ], even on the right hand of God; and we heard [a] voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father — that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (verses 23–24.)

The generally accepted interpretation of this verse is that if Jesus is the creator of many worlds, and the inhabitants of these worlds are children of the Father (both by birth and by covenant), then Jesus must be their Savior. This is probably the understanding of the majority of Latter-day Saints.

This interpretation is strengthened by a poetic version of section 76 (probably written by WW Phelps, but with input from Joseph) in which the vision is restated:

And I give a great voice bearing record from heav'n,

He's the Savior and only begotten of God;

By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,

Even all that career in the heavens so broad.


Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last.

Are sav'd by the very same Saviour of ours;

And, of course, are begotten God's daughters and sons

By the very same truths and the very same powers. [1]

Joseph Fielding Smith speculated that Jesus Christ might be the savior of other worlds

Joseph Fielding Smith said "Perhaps this is the reason Jesus Christ was sent here instead of some other world, for in some other world they would not have crucified Him, and His presence was needed here because of the extreme wickedness of the inhabitants of this earth" (The Signs of the Times, pg. 5)

Brigham Young, on the other hand, taught that each world had its own Adam and Eve, and its own savior

Brigham Young gave a sermon in General Conference on 8 October 1854 in which he espoused a different view:

Let me open the eyes of your understanding. There has never been a time when the creations of worlds commenced. They are from eternity to eternity in their creations and redemption. After they are organized they experience the good and the evil, the light and the dark, the bitter and the sweet as you and I do. There never was a time when there were not worlds in existence as this world is, and they pass through similar changes in abiding their creation preparatory to exaltation. Worlds have always been in progress, and eternally will be.

Every world has had an Adam and an Eve, named so simply because the first man is always called Adam and the first woman, Eve. And the oldest son has always had the privilege of being ordained, appointed and called to be the heir of the family if he does not rebel against the Father, and he is the Savior of the family. Every world that has been created has been created upon the same principle. They may vary in their varieties, yet the eternity is one: it is one eternal round. [2]

This statement is probably where our critics are getting the idea we believe in a different savior for each world. However, Brigham's statement doesn't settle the question. In the early Utah period, there was a great deal of exploration from the pulpit of the limits of LDS belief, but these sermons were not considered final or authoritative. Such ideas play little, if any, part in present-day LDS teaching or discussion.

Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 4 no. 6 (1 February 1843), 83, stanzas 19-20; emphasis added. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.) direct off-site. Michael Hicks argued that Joseph was not the author of the poetic paraphrase in "Joseph Smith, W. W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of 'The Vision'," Journal of Mormon History 20/2 (1994): 63–84.
  2. Brigham Young, "For This Is Life Eternal," in Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 2:230. Brigham Young made similar statements on other occasions; for example: "There is no time when worlds have not been created and exalted; there have always been an Adam and an Eve—the first man and woman, and their oldest son is heir, and should be our Savior. We have one Father and we all are brethren." Journal of the Southern Indian Mission—Diary of Thomas D. Brown, p. 87–89; Friday, 6th Octr. 1854. "President Young said there never was any world created & peopled nor never would be but what would be redeemed by the shedding of the blood of the savior of that world." Journal of Wilford Woodruff; Ms/f/115, Church Historical Department; 12 May 1867. "All worlds have their God, their Savior, their sin, their priesthood, and can choose which they like, but beginning man rejected the priesthood by assuming to be a law unto himself—all other things abide this law." Minutes of Meetings Held in Provo City; Film/979.2/Z99/v. 2, BYU Microfilm Room; Sunday, 2 p.m. 3 October 1869.