In the preface of their book, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson claim that their book Mormonism 101 is written to help meet the needs of those who “have sought a resource that compares the teachings of the Mormon leaders, both past and present, with those of the Bible.” They also claim that in preparing that resource they “have purposely made an effort to not alter the meaning of any quote” and invite their readers to check out the context of any quotation which they provide, to determine its accuracy.1 They claim to have “studied this movement for a great portion of our lives,” and “our experience has shown that far too many Latter-day Saints have not taken the time to do an in-depth investigation into the history and doctrines of their faith.”2 They claim “the student of Mormonism still needs to carefully weigh what LDS leaders have said and are saying, since it gives us an idea of what kind of men they really are. For example, if certain LDS leaders continually make irresponsible comments, we must take that into consideration.” The emphasis here is between what former LDS leaders said (i.e., nineteenth century) and what current leaders are saying (i.e., twentieth century). They make this abundantly clear when they write “the current presentation given by LDS Church leaders is much different than earlier years. When Joseph Smith began his new religious movement in 1830, there was no great effort to meld or compromise the teachings of the Mormon Church with those of nineteenth-century Christianity. Instead, early leaders prided themselves on their uniqueness and they boldly and publicly proclaimed their differences. They made little or no effort to associate with what they considered ‘apostate Christendom.’3
Messers McKeever and Johnson need to understand that the rule they have established here is a two-edged sword: what the Christians said in the early days (Bible and Church Fathers) and what Christians are saying today can also be checked, and double checked, against accuracy and agreement. If the differences become apparent, can we also state that we will then have “an idea of what kind of men [modern Christian apologists] really are”? Furthermore, if certain (unnamed) LDS leaders are making irresponsible statements, then doesn’t one have the obligation to determine exactly from whose viewpoint they are to be considered irresponsible: the LDS church, or mainstream Christian apologists? If they are irresponsible from the LDS standpoint, then they ought to be ignored, as not representing the true position of the LDS Church on that particular point of doctrine or practice. If they are irresponsible from the point of view of mainstream Christians, then…
Well, I guess that is what this review is really all about: to determine if the LDS position is as consistent with, or perhaps more consistent with, the Bible teachings, as those of mainstream Christianity today. McKeever and Johnson seek to emphasize ‘alleged’ differences between the early LDS Church leaders and those of more current venue. This amounts to a bias on their part, because they assume, and want their readers to assume, that such a difference actually exists, and that the difference is significant, that it indicates an ‘apostasy’ of the LDS Church from its beginning to the present day. The only way they can make this position valid however is to ignore statements from both time periods, statements which, when made, indicate that there is no such division.4 It is the observation of this reviewer that what most evangelical writers wish to see is a Mormon Systematic Theology, a volume that will give answers to all their gospel questions, and explain Mormon doctrine in a very neat and concise manner. What they fail to recognize (or choose to ignore, since they have studied the subject for so long!) is that letters written to a son-in-law do not hold the same authority within the Church as a talk given at a General Conference, which in turn does not hold the same authority as the words of canonized scripture.
This review of their chapter on the Atonement will seek to present the LDS position, not in a ‘favorable’ light, but in an accurate one. And that is what is needed most here: accuracy and honesty. Those who would bear false witness against another person or Church are seriously condemned by the Savior, and if Messers McKeever and Johnson have studied The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as thoroughly as they claim they have, then they are certainly guilty of bearing false witness. They claim that their book “is the result of our concern for those who belong to the LDS faith as well as for those Christians who want to better understand the beliefs of their Mormon friends, relatives, and neighbors.”5 As this review will indicate, those friends, neighbors and relatives of the LDS Church will not have gained any real insights into the LDS faith by reading this book. Indeed, they will have been seriously misled regarding what the Latter-day Saints truly believe.
The point of their preface is to indicate that the LDS Church began as an enemy of Christianity, but has recently made an attempt to become more mainstream. They ask: “Can an individual or organization willfully deny or distort the basics of the Christian faith and still be considered Christian?” Without going into the question of what constitutes “the basics of Christian faith,” much less the question of who it is who speaks authoritatively for “the Christian faith,” one thing is certain: McKeever and Johnson do not speak authoritatively for either “the Christian faith” or for the LDS faith. This review seeks to determine what the proper LDS belief is regarding the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. It should be indicated at the outset that if Messers McKeever and Johnson understand the Christian belief on this subject they do not exhibit such understanding; if they understand the LDS belief on that subject, then they have distorted it, often beyond recognition. Such distortion can only be considered deliberate, with malice of forethought, as they claim that in the writing of their book they have been “moved with the same compassion felt by the LDS missionaries and lay members who attempt to defend what they believe to be true.” This, of course, has nothing to do with why missionaries are sent into the world; they go to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to defend it against others’ attacks. Most missionaries are totally unaware of anti-Mormon literature, at least for a month or two.6 In 1902 George Teasdale, of the Quorum of the Twelve, discussed the Great Mandate of Mark 16:15–6 to preach the gospel to all the world, teaching them to believe and be baptized. Elder Teasdale asked, and then answered, the question: to believe what? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the atonement, in the resurrection, in holding communication with the heavens, in the spirit of revelation, in putting our trust in God, in doing good, in fulfilling our individual missions, and being in obedience to the principles of the Gospel.” That is what the missionaries were expected to be teaching as they went out into the world.7 One would wish that Messers McKeever and Johnson had written a book detailing what they believe to be the true teachings of Jesus Christ, rather than an outright attack on the beliefs of others. Their approach to others’ beliefs says much about their own.
CENTRALITY OF THE ATONEMENT IN LDS THOUGHT
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.8
McKeever and Johnson begin their discussion of the atonement by stating that mainstream Christians and Latter-day Christians “both accept the atonement of Christ.” In thus stating it they 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. 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.10
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.”11 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.”12 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.”13 Elder Bruce R. McConkie has stated that the “atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel.”14 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.”15 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.”16 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.17
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.”18 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.19
AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT: GETHSEMANE AND THE CROSS
McKeever and Johnson state that there are two main areas of disagreement between traditional Christians (as represented by McKeever and Johnson, at least), and the Church of Jesus Christ. These have to do with what it accomplished by the atonement and where it took place. The second issue seems to be the bigger of the two problems, at least for McKeever and Johnson, so it will be dealt with first.
McKeever and Johnson begin by stating that “Mormon leaders have taught that this atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane.”20 they then quote President Benson and Elder McConkie to the effect that the major portion of the atonement took place in the Garden.21 From this they conclude that one of the major themes of the LDS faith is that the atonement “took place primarily in the Garden”22 (which ought to lead one to conclude that it took place ‘secondarily’ somewhere else: perhaps the cross?) Despite the ambiguity of these statements McKeever and Johnson 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.23 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 McKeever and Johnson 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. McKeever and Johnson 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?24 Is it insignificant that ‘Calvary’ occurs only at Luke 23.33, and that there is absolutely no warrant for it in the Greek?25 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.'”26 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).27 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.28
These statements are not cited in order to devalue in any way the importance of the cross, either for McKeever and Johnson or for the Latter-day Saints. It is important to realize however that the cross is not necessarily as significant a concept in the scriptures as they would like it to appear. 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.”29 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.”30 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!31
Messers McKeever and Johnson 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. For instance, they 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.32
This quotation is meant by McKeever and Johnson 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.”33 Clearly the cross was important in President Snow’s soteriology.
They quote President Ezra Taft Benson to the effect that “it was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world.” Had they 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.”34 Even without having sought out the original text, they could have determined the incorrect judgment they made of President Bensons 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.”35 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.
Again, they quote Bruce R. McConkie: “it was in Gethsemane that ‘he suffered the pain of all men… [and] took upon himself the sins of all men…” What they 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.36
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?”37 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.”38 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.39
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.”40 In his article on “Atonement of Christ” in his Mormon Doctrine, a book that McKeever and Johnson claim to have read, Elder McConkie begins by quoting several scriptural passages. Some of these will be abridged here:41
“This is the Gospel…that Jesus came into the world to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world.”42
“My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.”43
“Behold [the Holy Messiah] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin.”44
“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.”45
They also quote Elder Marion G. Romney that it was in the Garden of Gethsemane “that he suffered most.” What they 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.”46 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.”47
Messers McKeever and Johnson need to understand that the significance of Christ’s death on the cross is of major importance to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is found frequently in the Book of Mormon, as well as in modern scripture, and is frequently spoken of by all of the Prophets since Joseph Smith. Some of those statements follow immediately:
In his vision of the birth, ministry and crucifixion of the Savior Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, writes: “I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.”48
Jacob wrote “we would to God…that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world.”49
Following His death and resurrection in Jerusalem the Savior appeared to His disciples in the New World. There He reported that “my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works.”50
In modern revelation it was reported “Jesus was crucified… for the sins of the world.”51
In the revelation known as the Vision, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that “this is the Gospel, the glad tidings…that He came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world.”52
It is not without significance that the vision regarding the redemption of those who had lived prior to the birth of the Savior, received by President Joseph F. Smith in 1918, came directly as a result of his meditation on the meaning of the atonement. He writes: “I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures; and reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world; and the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world; that through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.” After the vision had closed, President Smith continued: “And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.”53
This is a principle that has been taught from the beginning of the Church down to the present day by its leaders. Joseph Smith taught that God “foreordained the fall of man; but all merciful as He is, He foreordained at the same time, a plan of redemption for all mankind. I believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and that He died for the sins of all men.”54
John Taylor, one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the third President of the Church, taught that “it was necessary that [Christ] should give up his life a sacrifice for the sins of the world.”55
President Wilford Woodruff stated in 1889 that “the Savior came and tabernacled in the flesh, and…laid down His life as a sacrifice for sin, to redeem the world.”56 Two years later President Woodruff stated on behalf of the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that “we believe also in the atonement wrought by the shedding of Christ’s blood on Calvary; that it is efficacious for all the race of Adam for the sin committed by Adam, and for the individual sins of all who believe, repent, are baptized by one having authority, and who receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of authorized hands.”57
In 1892 George Q. Cannon of the Quorum of the Twelve stated with reference to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the world, and that through His death and atonement we are redeemed.”58
In 1896 a Methodist minister living in predominantly LDS Evanston, Wyoming, wrote that the Latter-day Saints “believe in the New Testament scriptures, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the atonement for sin secured by his death. Their ritual consecrating the bread and water for the sacrament shows this, as do also the sermons of their preachers.”59 His information is apparently based on personal exposure to the Latter-day Saint preachers, as well as to their sacramental ritual (Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper). It is a valuable testimony that their leaders actually taught what is here being quoted.
In 1904 Hyrum M. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve taught that Christ “was crucified for the sins of the world and His blood was shed for the redemption of mankind.”60
James E. Talmage wrote that in order “that the supreme sacrifice of the Son might be consummated in all its fulness, the Father seems to have withdrawn the support of His immediate Presence, leaving to the Savior of men the glory of complete victory over the forces of sin and death.”61
In 1921 Rudger Clawson of the Quorum of the Twelve stated “the atonement made upon Mount Calvary was the supreme sacrifice ever made in all the world.”62
In 1921 Heber J. Grant made reference to “the atoning blood of Jesus Christ… Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, who came to the earth with a divinely appointed mission to die for the redemption of mankind.”63 He repeated that reference to His “divinely appointed mission to die for the sins of the world” in 1925.64 Thirteen years later President Grant reaffirmed that same belief, that “we believe absolutely in Jesus Christ… and that He did come to the earth with a divinely appointed mission to die on the cross as the Redeemer of mankind.”65 In 1929 President Heber J. Grant wrote that Christ “died on Calvary for each one of us.”66
The First Presidency, in their Christmas message for 1931, referred to the fact that the world was “redeemed through the shedding of His blood.”67
Joseph L. Wirthlin, of the Presiding Bishopric, stated in October 1948 General Conference that the emblems of the sacrament (eucharist) provided a “deep and lasting impression of what the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ means and what his great sacrifice on the cross did for all of us.”68
In 1949 George F. Richards, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, referred in General Conference to “his death upon the cross, of which it can be said in truth, that as a gift to mankind it was the greatest ever given; a sacrifice, the greatest ever made; a service, the greatest ever rendered; a demonstration of love such as is possessed only by the Gods.”69
Six months later J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency, also in General Conference, stated that “the central point in the great plan framed in the Grand Council of heaven before the world was formed, was the redemption from the mortal death brought by the Fall… His whole earthly career was pivoted about his atoning sacrifice, his crucifixion and resurrection.”70 Later in the same conference he referred to “the cross when the Son of Man was offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world…”71
President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “In the meridian of time came the Son of God, born of an immortal father and a mortal mother, and as he climbed crucifixion’s hill, he carried that Adamic penalty, and as the nails through his hands and feet, and the spear in his side, drained from his body all of his precious blood in this, his voluntary sacrifice, he neutralized and paid for all the Adamic sins.”72
In 1975 Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, stated 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, the bitter mockery of his trial, the vicious crown of thorns tearing at his flesh, the blood cry of the mob before Pilate, the lonely burden of his heavy walk along the way to Calvary, the terrifying pain as great nails pierced his hands and feet…. 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.”73 In 1986 he bore his testimony thusly: “I believe that through His atoning sacrifice, the offering of His life on Calvary’s Hill, He expiated the sins of mankind, relieving us from the burden of sin if we will forsake evil and follow Him. I believe in the grace of God made manifest through His sacrifice and redemption, and I believe that through His atonement, without any price on our part, each of us is offered the gift of resurrection from the dead…. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His wounded feet and hands and side, amazed at the love He offers me.”74 In April 1993 General Conference he stated “the heaviest price of all was paid by the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He gave His life on Calvary’s cross for the sins of all mankind.”75 In 1995 he stated that “nothing done before or since has so affected mankind as the atonement wrought by Jesus of Nazareth, who died on Calvary’s cross and rose from the grave the third day as the living Son of the living God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.”76 Elsewhere he stated that “in the greatest act of human history, He allowed His quivering flesh to be nailed to the cross and lifted up in an act of atonement for each of us…. Nothing, nothing is of greater significance in all the history of the world than that atoning sacrifice of the Son of God.”77 In the 1996 Christmas message he wrote that Christ “condescended to come to earth and give His life on Calvary’s cross for each of us.”78
In 1998 Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote “the marks in His hands and feet are constant reminders to worthy Christians that we are on His errand… We are His; we were bought with His blood. His atonement and redemption mean everything in heaven and earth to us… These wounds in [His] hands and feet (D&C 45.51)…are the absolute and indisputable signs that Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Shepherd of the flock, the Redeemer of the world. We will know Him and fall down before Him in exquisite relief and gratitude, wetting the earth with our fallen tears, for we will know that we are His beloved and that because of Him we have been redeemed from the Fall and from our sins.”79
Is it really possible, after viewing all these statements, from both modern scripture and from modern prophets, to say that Latter-day Saints do not believe that the death of Christ on the cross was efficacious for all mortals? Several of the works cited above were cited (and presumably read) by McKeever and Johnson, and others were clearly available to be read by them if they had so chosen. Either they failed to avail themselves of the opportunity to read these works, or they ignored what they read (and we need to remember that they claim to “have studied this movement for a great portion of our lives”). This latter possibility is a clear evidence of bearing false witness. The truth was before them and they falsified it by ignoring it. We can only agree with them when they write that “we would be remiss if we ignored the many statements that have come forth from these leaders.”80 They have indeed been remiss! And in their ignorance of these passages, they have continued to falsify the Gospel to those who will read their book.
It is also clear from what McKeever and Johnson 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.”81 Later McKeever and Johnson point out “Hebrews 9.22 states that there is no remission of sins without the shedding (not sweating) of blood.”82 The parenthetical comment in this last quotation is a referral back to McKeever and Johnson’s comment that “the New Testament says nothing about this phenomenon [of ‘sweating great drops of blood’] having any role in the atonement.”83 Our authors then quote from several New Testament passages which refer to the fact that Christ died, or died on the cross, for us.84 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.”85
King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught “salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ.”86 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.”87
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. Some of those statements from the Church leaders are:
Joseph Smith made reference to “the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ; by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins.”88 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.”89 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.”90 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.”91 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.”92 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.”93 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.”94 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.”95
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.”96
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.”97
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.”98
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.”99 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.”100
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.”101
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.”102
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.”103
In 1937 Charles A. Callis of the Twelve testified that Christ’s “blood atones for all our sins, through obedience to righteousness.”104
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.”105
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.”106
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.”107
All the above statements from scripture and prophets ought to convince even the most casual observer that the Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was a major component of the redemption wrought by our Savior. It should also be evident that the shedding of His blood was an integral part of that atoning sacrifice.
The Song of the Righteous
From the earliest times Christians have “sung hymns to Christ as to a God.”108 The singing of those hymns was a method of instructing the congregation in the doctrines of the Church. Paul wrote to the Colossians that at their religious gatherings they were to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”109 He taught the same concept to the members in Ephesus: “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”110 Most frequently those hymns are meant simply as a means of expressing devotion to the Savior, or to His Father. But at times they have been polemical, a means of inculcating new doctrine, as in the period following Nicaea.111 The hymns penned by John and Charles Wesley “were more than specimens of devotion. They were tools for doctrinal instruction.”112 The hymns of the Latter-day Saints have also been an effective means of instructing the membership of the Church about their relationship to the Savior. It has been so from the earliest hymnal, published in 1835, to the present. A look at some of those hymns will indicate the centrality of the Savior’s atonement, and the elements of it that were taught to the membership.
The 1835 edition of the hymnal was a collection of ninety hymns, over one-third written by members of the young church, and put together by Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet.113 Twenty-six of those hymns are still in the current hymnal, which includes many written by non-LDS authors. The 1835 edition (which is not available to me) includes hymns with the following thoughts expressed: “Blest inhabitants of Zion, purchased by the Savior’s blood; Jesus, whom their souls rely on, makes them kings and priests to God.”114 Another hymn, by Isaac Watts, stated, “The Lord of Glory died for men. But lo! What sudden joys were heard! The Lord, though dead, revived again.”115 Another hymn, by LDS writer William W. Phelps, indicated that Christ “died for us.”116 One of the more popular hymns in the current edition, also written by W.W. Phelps, is “O God, the Eternal Father,” and appeared in the 1835 edition. It included the phrases “Jesus, the Anointed…gave himself a ransom to win our souls with love… And die, or all was lost.”117
In 1889 another edition of the LDS hymnal appeared. A third reprint of this particular edition was published in 1906. Many of the current hymns also appeared in it, but it also included hymns no longer in the current hymnbook. Among this latter group of hymns, for which no authors are listed, are several which declare the importance of the Atonement of the Savior. “Spirit of faith, come down, reveal the things of God, and make to us the Godhead known, and witness with the blood. ‘Tis thine the blood to apply, and give us eyes to see; who did for every sinner die, did surely die for me.”118 Another hymn includes the phrase “remembering God’s incarnate Son, who suffered death on Calvary to set the contrite sinner free.”119 Another taught the Saints “when He our Savior did the same, without a place to lay his head, a pilgrim on the earth he came, until for us his blood was shed.”120 Another hymn records that “they follow their General, the great Eternal lamb—His garments stained in his own blood—King Jesus is his name.”121 Another, applicable to participation in the Eucharistic celebration (Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper), reads: “O Lord of Hosts, we now invoke Thy spirit most divine, to cleanse our hearts while we partake the broken bread and wine. May we forever think of thee, and of thy sufferings sore, endured for us on Calvary, and praise thee evermore. Prepare our minds, that we may see the beauties of thy grace; salvation purchased on that tree for all who seek thy face.”122 Another tells the family not to weep for their dead child, for “your child is saved through Jesus Christ [for they have] washed their robes and made them white in Christ’s atoning blood.”123 Another hymn, penned by LDS poet Eliza R. Snow, first appeared in an LDS hymnal in 1871, and continues today. It reads, as per 1906: “How great the wisdom and the love, that filled the courts on high, and sent the Savior from above to suffer, bleed and die! His precious blood He freely spilt, his life He freely gave; a sinless sacrifice for guilt, a dying world to save.”124 Another hymn indicates that Christ “died that we might live.”125 Yet another refers to “him who died, that we might live.”126 Another hymn refers to him “who died to save.”127 One proclaims the activities of the missionaries who go out in order to teach “that divine and glorious conquest once obtained on Calvary.”128 Another hymn, written by LDS author William W. Phelps, found in the 1835 hymnal and still very popular today, refers to “that sacred, holy offering, by man least understood… when Jesus the Anointed, descended from above, and gave himself a ransom to win our souls with love… He was the promised Savior.” The recent edition includes a fourth verse that concludes “and die or all was lost.”129 Another hymn, still in the modern edition, tells that “Jesus, our Lord and God, bore sin’s tremendous load.”130
There are simply too many hymns in the current hymnal to recount all of them satisfactorily. But there are several which need some attention. First though, it should be remembered that there are several hymns in the current book which were written by non-LDS authors, and which bear on our theme. Many of these have already been mentioned above. The current hymnal contains many sentiments relative to our theme. “I am the sacrifice offered for thee.”131 “…thou Son of God, who lived for us, then died on Calvary.”132 “Thou gavest thy life on Calvary, that I might live forever more.”133 “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.”134 “For us the blood of Christ was shed; for us on Calvary’s cross he bled… Jesus died that justice might be satisfied.”135 “Oh, wondrous plan—to suffer, bleed, and die for man!… For Jesus died on Calvary! That all thru him might ransomed be.”136 “May we forever think of thee and of thy sufferings sore, endured for us on Calvary, and praise thee evermore… Salvation purchased on that tree for all who seek thy face.”137 “Leaving thy Father’s throne, on earth to live, thy work to do alone, thy life to give… Bruised, broken, torn for us on Calvary’s hill—thy suffering borne for us lives with us still.”138 “…praise and honor give to him who bled on Calvary’s hill and died that we might live… The bread and water represent His sacrifice for sin; ye Saints, partake and testify ye do remember him.”139 “When thy self thou gavest an offering, dying for the sinner’s sake.”140 Vilate Raile wrote: “Upon the cross of 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.”141 “Again we meet around the board of Jesus, our redeeming Lord, with faith in his atoning blood, our only access unto God. He left his Father’s courts on high, with man to live, for man to die… Help us, O God, to realize the great atoning sacrifice, the gift of thy beloved Son, the Prince of Life, the Holy One.” Additional verses included: “Jesus, the great facsimile of the Eternal Deity, has stooped to conquer, died to save from sin and sorrow and the grave.”142 “Thyself the Lamb forever slain… View thee bleeding on the tree: My Lord, my God, who dies for me.”143 “Our Savior, in Gethsemane, shrank not to drink the bitter cup, and then, for us, on Calvary, upon the cross was lifted up. We reverence with the broken bread, together with the cup we take, the body bruised, the lifeblood shed, a sinless ransom for our sake.”144 “…sent the Savior from above to suffer, bleed, and die! His precious blood he freely spilt, his life he freely gave, a sinless sacrifice for guilt, a dying world to save.”145 “O Savior…upon the cross they nail thee to die, O King of all. No creature is so lowly, no sinner so depraved, but feels thy presence holy and thru thy love is saved. Tho craven friends betray thee, they feel thy love’s embrace; the very foes who slay thee have access to thy grace. Thy sacrifice transcended the mortal law’s demand, thy mercy is extended to every time and land… What praises can be offer to thank thee, Lord most high? In our place thou didst suffer; in our place thou didst die, by heaven’s plan appointed, to ransom us, our King. O Jesus, the anointed, to thee our love we bring.”146
Clearly, there is much in the hymns that the Latter-day Saints sing regularly which teaches that the Savior, Jesus Christ, came to earth for the specific purpose of “being lifted up upon the cross” to save the world. Through the sacrifice of His life, the spilling of His blood, he has redeemed all mortals who will come to Him.
Back To Gethsemane
McKeever and Johnson correctly indicate, nevertheless, that the LDS do place a good deal of emphasis on the Lord’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane does present some interesting problems. McKeever and Johnson reject it 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 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 them147. 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, an angel 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.
Christian theologian Leon Morris is quoted frequently by McKeever and Johnson. 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.148
Elsewhere, Leon Morris himself admits that, at least for Matthew, “what took place in the Garden was very important.”149
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.150
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.”151 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.”152
J.M. Ford writes, “the theological importance, however, is that for Luke the blood that redeems humankind begins to flow in the garden.”153 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.154
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]”155
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.156
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.”157
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.'”158 Adam Clarke is quoted as having once said that “Jesus paid more in the Garden than on the Cross.”159 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.”160
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; and therefore to state that “this position” (i.e., my position) is the only correct interpretation, and that “that position” (i.e., your position) is false, is rushing to judgment.
Historical Christianity and the Atonement
They never state it explicitly, but McKeever and Johnson seem to assume that the LDS position is a “ransom” theory of atonement, and that the mainstream Christian interpretation is one of sacrificial death on the cross. They quote some statements from Latter-day Saint leaders emphasizing the Garden of Gethsemane as being the place of the atonement (which has been dealt with above). They write, “Christians have long maintained that this glorious act of sacrifice took place on Golgotha Hill… It was here that God Himself was subject to the humiliating death of a common criminal.”161 They conclude this chapter by writing that “Christians realize that salvation is a result of what Jesus did for them on the cross… To even insinuate that this took place in the Garden of Gethsemane is a foreign concept to the Christian.”162
The Church of Jesus Christ has often been maligned for rejecting “historical Christianity” and therefore it is important that we determine exactly what the historical position of the Christian church has been regarding the atonement of Jesus Christ. This would not be an easy task for McKeever and Johnson, for until the twelfth century there was no explicit study of the theory of the atonement; there was no single predominating theory of redemption. Michael Winter has recently written that “there is a consensus among [modern writers], which is something of a paradox in the context of this study, as they all agree that the New Testament does not tell us how the atonement was effected.”163 Leon Morris, so frequently quoted by McKeever and Johnson, writes that “the New Testament does not put forward a theory of atonement.” Morris goes on to write that “there are several indications of the principle on which atonement is effected” and refers to sacrifice, redemption, new covenant, victory, propitiation, reconciliation. “But however [salvation] is viewed, Christ has taken our place, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Our part is simply to respond in repentance, faith, and selfless living.”164 J.N.D. Kelly wrote (in a book McKeever and Johnson claim to have read):
The development of the Church’s ideas about the saving effects of the incarnation was a slow, long drawn-out process. Indeed, while the conviction of redemption through Christ has always been the motive force of Christian faith, no final and universally accepted definition of the manner of its achievement has been formulated to this day.165
Lutheran scholar Robert Jenson recently wrote, “it is one of the more remarkable and remarked-upon aspects of theological history that no theory of atonement has ever been universally accepted.”166 Later, Kelly writes that
The student who seeks to understand the soteriology of the fourth and early fifth centuries will be sharply disappointed if he expects to find anything…elaborately worked out…[because] the redemption did not become a battle-ground for rival schools until the twelfth century.167
This should not be too much of a surprise to our friends McKeever and Johnson. Leon Morris has written that there is a “problem confronting anyone who would write a theology of the New Testament…namely, a widespread recognition that there are considerable differences among the writers of the various New Testament books.” Although such recognition does not mean that there are “irreconcilable contradictions” between the various authors, it should help to understand why no strict theory regarding the atonement developed during the first twelve hundred years of Christian history.168
Things don’t get better after the closing of the canon, either. In his study of the Atonement Morris writes that “through more than nineteen centuries the church has been working at that problem and it still has not come up with an agreed solution.”169 The point of all this of course is to indicate that, rather than a single theory acceptable to all Christians, there were presented over the centuries several theories regarding the atonement. Reformed scholar Shirlie Guthrie indicates there were four basic images used by the New Testament writers, all of which contain weaknesses; therefore they must be used in conjunction with each other to provide a consistent theory. “The biblical doctrine of the atonement teaches that it is God who initiates and fulfills the reconciliation between sinful humanity and God.”170 Beyond that statement we cannot be dogmatic. Further, we are told that William Tyndale “does not appear to have had a clear doctrine of the atonement.”171 The same is true for John Wesley. W.R. Cannon has written that “there is in all of Wesley’s writings no single work on the atonement, and there is no reason whatever for us to believe that he had any clear, well-thought-out theory of the meaning of Christ’s death.”172 Crawford Knox has recently contrasted the early Christian view with that of the modern West, on various theological themes. With reference to the atonement, he points out that it was Anselm, who died in 1109, “who is seen as the theologian who first crystallised the main Western view of the Atonement, the sacrifice of Jesus as a man on the cross had to be made on behalf of all morally sinful and guilty men to God.” By contrast, “in the earlier tradition, Christ is seen as overcoming sin and death in a series of sequential steps which lead through his life on earth, his death and resurrection to his ascension. His death is one crucial step in this process but it is not all-important.”173
Perhaps the indecisiveness of both the New Testament specifically and Christian history in general will provide a better backdrop for the discussion of the atonement as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will certainly be a more correct version of what that church teaches, than the image McKeever and Johnson have provided their readers. Certainly the suggestions made by Knox would seem to coincide more closely with the position taken in this paper: that the Latter-day Saints are more closely aligned with the early Church, than with the modern West.
SECOND AREA OF DISAGREEMENT: UNIVERSALITY OF EFFECT
The second difference between ‘Christians’ and the Church of Jesus Christ, according to McKeever and Johnson, is 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 McKeever and Johnson’s 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. As demonstrated by the comments in the preceding sections, there is more than sufficient material to demonstrate that the LDS position includes both the Garden and the cross. There is also material indicating that other mainstream Christians considered the atonement to have at least begun in the Garden, being consummated on the cross, which is what the Latter-day Saints have taught for more than 170 years. Our authors say almost nothing about the universalism of the LDS position, simply mentioning it as one of the two major areas of disagreement. This suggests that for McKeever and Johnson the atonement does not provide for all mortals to be resurrected, or saved.
In their conclusion they state the four positions of the LDS church, which by definition must be false, as follows:
The atonement “provides everyone with a general resurrection and cancellation of the consequences of Adam’s transgression;”
It “took place primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane;”
It “was possible before Christ had died and was raised;”
The atonement “is not complete unless the individual demonstrates total obedience.”
The four positions of the Christian theory, which by definition must be correct, are:
The atonement “provides for the salvation of only those who have faith in Christ;”
It “took place on the cross alone;”
It “was possible only after Christ’s death;”
It “is complete for the believer by the grace of God.”174
As is so frequently done, the critics here are attempting to compare apples and oranges. They are contrasting “resurrection” on the LDS side with “salvation” on the other side. They are contrasting “cross only” with “garden and cross.” They are rejecting the possibility of the Israelites having any knowledge whatever of the works of the future Messiah, and therefore being saved by their faith in the future Messiah. And do they really want to contrast “obedience” to the Gospel with the “grace of God?” Does God require nothing at all of us after that grace has entered our life? The Lord had something to say about those who cry Lord, Lord, but do not what He says. The restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith actually makes the two positions most compatible, at least from the perspective of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is really only McKeever and Johnson and their friends who have a problem reconciling the two positions. The LDS position is a broader concept, based on further light and knowledge, i.e., revelation from God.
The Latter-day Saints teach a principle of exaltation, beyond the ordinary salvation mentioned by McKeever and Johnson, which makes both systems compatible on the first point. Salvation is a free gift of grace provided for by the atoning death and resurrection of the Savior; however, the specific type of resurrection is based on one’s own life activity: we will be judged according to our works;175 Jesus Christ is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”176 The “Great Commission” of Jesus to the Apostles at the end of Matthew says that they are “to teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”177 The word ‘primarily’ in the second point of differences opens up the door for reconciling the two positions on the issue of Gethsemane vs. Calvary. As has been seen, there is no such issue for the Latter-day Saints: the atonement begins in the Garden (or before creation, ‘before the foundations of the world were laid’), and ends on the Cross (or perhaps is still continuing, with Christ continuing to intercede for us with the Father).
The Latter-day Saints basically agree with the third McKeever and Johnson position point, in the sense that until, or unless, the atonement and resurrection had actually taken place, there was no opportunity for anyone, before or after that event, to receive the benefits of it. All this really means however is that there was no resurrection prior to the resurrection of the Savior Himself, and, therefore, no possibility of anyone being brought back into the presence of God the Father. Heaven was only a dream until the atonement and resurrection made its attainment a real possibility. As for the forgiveness of sins: since it is based on the atonement by Jesus Christ, that could be accomplished, because of the foreknowledge of the Father: He knew that His Son would follow through with the Atonement, thereby redeeming all from the individual effects of the Fall. The belief in the possibility of receiving a forgiveness of one’s sins prior to the birth and death of the Savior is also contingent upon the belief in Prophets being ‘truly’ called of God. One must believe that God can really and truly call to His service an individual and proclaim to them what will be in the future. If we believe with Paul that the “gospel was preached beforetime to Abraham,” or that the “Israelites were baptized to God in a cloud,” we must do so completely. If the gospel was preached to them, then we have to admit that they were, at least to some degree, taught about the future Savior and His atoning sacrifice. We must believe that, not only would He not leave their souls in hell, but that He would make a way possible for them to confess their sins and repent of them. If this is true, then a certain amount of salvation was possible before the birth of the Savior. However, it still required His atonement and resurrection to make the fullness of that salvation possible.
The fourth position point deals with the principle of grace, which Latter-day Saints accept, if understood properly. The atoning sacrifice of the Savior was an act of grace; no one forced Him to go through with it; nor did we, on the basis of anything we had done, merit its occurrence. Christ atoned for the sin of Adam, and for our individual sins, because He loved us. But we have to accept it if it is going to be meaningful in our lives. All will receive that aspect of the atonement that applies to the resurrection of the body; only those who accept Jesus Christ and follow His commandments are going to receive the fullest benefits of that sacrifice.
Some time needs to be spent however on the extent to which the atonement is applicable in the world. McKeever and Johnson seem to object that the atonement is applicable to all who have ever lived. They want to restrict it to only those who lived after the Savior (“only after Christ’s death” and “for the believer”). This doesn’t only limit its accessibility to those who lived before the Savior, it quite literally slams the door on the possibility of their ever receiving salvation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not restrict itself in that manner. All will be raised from the dead; all will stand before God to be judged; all will be expected to give an accounting of their behavior on Earth. And they will all be held to basically the same standard. No one slides into heaven, or gets there by hanging onto the tailcoats of another. No one is saved on borrowed light.
The Council of Quiersy, convened in 853, in a passage quoted by evangelical scholar Thomas Oden, declared that “as there never was, is or will be any man whose nature was not assumed by our Lord Jesus Christ, so there never was, is or will be any man for whom He has not suffered; though not all are redeemed by the mystery of His passion.”178 How is it that Christ suffered for all, but did not redeem all? Either Christ’s passion was not universal, or “redemption” has a specialized meaning. Clearly all those whose nature has been assumed, which is to say, all who have ever been born, will receive the benefits of His death and resurrection; but also clearly, not all are going to be redeemed because not all have chosen to follow. The paragraph, in the part not quoted by Thomas Oden, refers to those who are “unfaithful,” and “those not believing in faith those things ‘which He has worked through love’ [Galatians 5:6],” that is, those who do not believe in what Christ did for them, which “has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal.” If we do not drink the cup the Savior offers us, the atonement will not heal us.
The extent to which the atonement is applicable has been a hotly debated topic in Christian history, in all traditions, but none more so than in evangelical circles. A recently published book presents several dissenting voices to the position taken by McKeever and Johnson, that is, that only those who believe are affected by the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. I. Howard Marshall says that:
The question at issue is not whether all will be saved but whether God has made provision in Christ for the salvation of all, provided that they believe, and without limiting the potential scope of the death of Christ merely to those whom God knows will believe.179
Marshall, Professor of New Testament exegesis at University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, is one of the leading evangelical scholars today. He concludes his study of the Pastoral epistles by writing that “we have found nothing in the Pastorals that requires that we assume the existence of a ‘hidden agenda,’ a secret plan of God to save only the elect.”180 He refers to some passages in Romans 8–11 and in Ephesians 1 that are frequently taken to refer to the elect having been pre-destined to that status. While not discussing these verses in detail, he does state, “I do not find grounds in these passages for the view that God has purposed to save only a limited number of the elect.”181
Terry L. Miethe is a Baptist; he is the Dean of the Oxford Study Center at Oxford, England. He is also the Managing Editor of Moody Press. The purpose of a paper he wrote is to defend the thesis that “the redemptive events in the life of Jesus provided a salvation so extensive and so broad as to potentially include the whole of humanity past, present, and future!”182 The position Miethe is defending is called unlimited atonement.
“The idea that the death of Christ was designed to include all humankind but is applied only to those who accept it, believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, is referred to as the “unlimited” or “general” atonement. There are many passages in the Bible that clearly teach this idea.183
Miethe refers to Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 11:28; John 3:16–17; 1 Timothy 2:6, 4:10; Titus 2:11, Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2; and Revelation 22:17. He also states that the following have been professors of the unlimited atonement view: Clement of Alexandria (d. 220), Eusebius (d. 340); Athanasius (373), Cyril of Jerusalem (386), Gregory Nazianzen (d. 389); Basil (379), Ambrose (407), Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Richard Hooker (d. 1600), James Ussher (d. 1656), Richard Baxter (d. 1691), John Bunyan (d. 1688), John Newton (d. 1807), Alfred Edersheim (b. 1825), B.F. Westcott (d. 1901), J.B. Lightfoot (b. 1828), Augustus H. Strong (d. 1921), A.T. Robertson (b. 1863), and “many others.”184 There are some important scriptures and some important scholars in those two lists. All of them would apparently take exception to the position McKeever and Johnson uphold.
On 1 Timothy 2:1 Miethe quotes F.F. Bruce: “To say that He died for His people is certainly Scriptural…but it is equally Scriptural to say that He died for all… And when Scripture says ‘all’ in a context like this, it means ‘all.'” Bruce also quotes John Calvin on the universality of the blood that was “shed for many;” Calvin wrote that “by the word many he means not a part of the world only but the whole human race.”185 In discussing 1 Timothy 4:10 (“who is the Savior of all men, and especially those who believe”), Miethe quotes evangelical scholar Millard Erickson who wrote: “This is a particularly interesting and significant verse, since it brackets as being saved by God both believers and others, but indicates that a greater degree of salvation attaches to the former group.'”186 This corresponds precisely to the LDS position; if McKeever and Johnson want to state that it also agrees with their position, by virtue of having been written by a prominent evangelical scholar, then they will have to admit that their position is the same as the LDS! Miethe quotes from another evangelical, Robert H. Culpepper:
The Bible teaches that Christ died for ‘sinners’ (Rom 5.6-8; I Tim 1.15). The word ‘sinner’ nowhere means ‘church’ or ‘the elect,’ but simply all of lost mankind… Are we to suppose that the elect are the only ones who labor and are heavy laden and that they are thus the only ones to whom the invitation of Jesus is issued (Matt 11.28) or that the elect are the only ones who are invited to take the water of life without price (Rev 22.17)? Do not these invitations [made to all sinners] presuppose that the free response of man, though not meriting salvation, is nevertheless the condition upon which the benefits of the atonement are dispensed? Moreover, there are clear assertions in Scripture that Christ died for all (II Cor 5.14), that he gave himself a ransom for all (I Tim 2.6), that he is the expiation of the sins of the whole world (I John 2.2; cf. also I Tim 4.10; Titus 2.11), and that he tasted death for every man (Heb 2.9).”187
Notice again the reference to the “free response of man;” we must cooperate in our salvation, at least to the extent of accepting the atonement into our own lives.
It is Terry Miethe’s contention that John Calvin was also a believer in ‘unlimited atonement.’ Miethe quotes the following from Calvin’s works
On Romans 5:18: “Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world.”
On John 1:29 Calvin wrote: “And when he says the sin of the world, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race.”
On Galatians 5:12 he writes: “it is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world.”
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin wrote: “the way of salvation was not shut against any order of men; that, on the contrary, he had manifested his mercy in such a way, that he would have none debarred from it.”188
Miethe’s conclusion is clearly applicable to the position taken by McKeever and Johnson:
The doctrine of limited atonement is logically contradictory to the clear teaching of passage after passage of Scripture… Second, it is theologically repugnant, for it misunderstands the nature of God and of man. The divine sovereignty of God and human freedom are analogical aspects of the relationship of God to man—of the Creator to that which was created in his image. Third, it is philosophically deficient, for the very existence of reason, or the ability to know, shows that man is capable of choice. Some doctrine of human freedom is essential to any meaningful theory of human responsibility.189
BACK TO THE CROSS
Near the end of their chapter on the atonement McKeever and Johnson 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.”190 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. 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.191
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.
Earlier in this paper I referenced a couple of papers from a recent work by evangelical scholars; the ones by Terry Miethe and I. Howard Marshall. They both spoke of the atonement as being universal, or unlimited, in its effect. A final paper will be discussed briefly, that of Clark Pinnock himself, the editor of the book in which Miethe’s and Marshall’s papers appeared Pinnock is a well-known and well-respected evangelical scholar, of the Baptist tradition. His paper deals with the personal “pilgrimage” he took in arriving at the position he had reached at the time he edited this volume.
Pinnock considered himself to be a fairly orthodox Calvinist until about 1970. He became aware that some of the passages of scripture indicated that “once saved always saved” might not be a scriptural doctrine. “The exhortations and the warnings could only signify that continuing in the grace of God was something that depended at least in part on the human partner.”192 This led him to rethink his position on several other inherited doctrines. At first he returned to Calvin’s writings, and then he was “driven back to the Scriptures to reconsider.” Five different areas of his inherited theology were re-examined. He writes:
Obviously what is happening here is a paradigm shift in my biblical hermeneutics. I am in the process of learning to read the Bible from a new point of view, one that I believe is more truly evangelical and less rationalistic. Looking at it from the vantage point of God’s universal salvific will and of significant human freedom, I find that many new verses leap up from the page, while many old familiar ones take on new meaning.193
Interestingly, another writer in the same volume in which Pinnock’s article appeared, Fritz Guy, also refers to the “paradigm shift” which occurred in his own study.194 The fifth change Pinnock found necessary was “the atoning work of Christ. The easy part was accepting the obvious fact that contrary to Calvinian logic Jesus died for the sins of the whole world according to the New Testament.” He began by asking where the element of human response fit into the new theme. He first concluded “if Christ really took away the guilt of the sins of the race, is the whole race then not now justified by virtue of that fact?” Unfortunately, he decided that was ‘too’ universalistic for him. “Christ’s death on behalf of the race evidently did not automatically secure for anyone an actual reconciled relationship with God, but made it possible for people to enter into such a relationship by faith.”195 Continuing the paradigm shift mentality, Pinnock says, “when I went to the Scriptures with this question in mind, I found more support than I had expected.”196
Clark Pinnock’s comments near the end of his paper are applicable to the attitude that McKeever and Johnson take to the discussion of another’s religion. Pinnock writes: “I guess it is time for evangelicals to grow up and recognize that evangelical theology is not an uncontested body of timeless truth.” He continues a little further on:
I have no remedy for those who wish to walk by sight because they find the way of faith too unnerving, or for those who wish to freeze theological development at some arbitrary point in past history. I have no comfort for those who, afraid of missing eternal truth, choose to identify it with some previous theological work and try to impose it unchanged on the present generation or desire to speak out of the past and not to come into contact with the modern situation. I have no answer for those who are frightened to think God may have more light to break forth from his holy Word.197
This concluding remark from Clark Pinnock is essential to any understanding of the restored Gospel. One must realize that there may be more light coming from the living “Word,” that is Jesus Christ Himself, the Word made flesh, who came to earth “for us and for our salvation” as the Nicene Creed states. We must realize that not all that we have been taught may be agreeable to the truth as taught by Him; a paradigm shift of our own might be necessary; the scriptures refer to this paradigm shift as conversion (metanoia). For those who are too frightened to exercise the necessary faith to make that “leap of faith” the Latter-day Saints have an answer: it is called the Book of Mormon, and in its Foreword there is the testimony of a modern day Prophet. At the end of their book McKeever and Johnson present their final “witnessing tip” for those who would seek to “convert” a “Mormon” to the “Christian” church. Their witnessing technique involves Pascal’s wager: is what you are being asked to give up more than what you might receive in exchange?198 Clark Pinnock’s comments above are a fitting response to that challenge: “frozen theological development” is no excuse for ignoring the voice of a living Prophet.
Throughout this paper I have responded to many of the quotations that McKeever and Johnson claim as representative of the LDS position. I have shown that many of these quotations have been taken out of context, or the further comments of the speaker have been ignored. I suggested that this implied a form of “bearing false witness,” which is completely against the Gospel that the Savior taught during His earthly ministry. I have indicated that McKeever and Johnson show very little evidence of having “studied the movement for the greater part of their lives” as they claimed. In fact took up their challenge to check their sources and in every case found them wanting, often seriously so. In their “witnessing tip” regarding the Book of Mormon they conclude their imaginary dialogue by asking: “If Smith was misleading in this statement, how can I trust his other statements?” My conclusion to this paper is: If McKeever and Johnson are so misleading in virtually every statement, why should I, or any other reader, trust them in any of their other statements, or their other books for that matter?199
Perhaps in conclusion it would be best to provide one more hymn sung frequently by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ during their worship services. It has been in the LDS hymnals since 1896, and includes the following thoughts:
Reverently and meekly now, let thy head most humbly bow, think of me, thou ransomed one; think what I for thee have done, with my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree I have ransomed even thee. In this bread now blest for thee, emblem of my body see; in this water or this wine, emblem of my blood divine. Oh, remember what was done that the sinner might be won. On the cross of Calvary I have suffered death for thee. Bid thine heart all strife to cease; with thy brethren be at peace. Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be even forgiven now by me. In the solemn faith of prayer cast upon me all thy care, and my Spirit’s grace shall be like a fountain unto thee. At the throne I intercede; for thee ever do I plead. I have loved thee as thy friend, with a love that cannot end. Be obedient, I implore, prayerful, watchful evermore, and be constant unto me, that thy Savior I may be.
This hymn, penned by a Latter-day Saint, is even more significant, given that when the new edition of the LDS hymnal was reviewed by a Professor of Music at the University of Toronto, the reviewer indicated that it “would enhance a communion service in any church.”200 It does so precisely because it emphasizes the atoning sacrifice of Christ for all people. He is the Savior, who shed His blood for us. This has been the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the beginning, and continues to be so.
1 Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 9, 12. Whether they distort or de-contextualize their quotations will be one of the items discussed in this paper.
2 Ibid., 9–11. Later, they write, “most Mormons believe in certain doctrines that they cannot fully understand” (page 57). One has to wonder just exactly what constitutes an “in-depth” study for these authors. As will be shown, they have completely taken out of context many statements, ignored so many others in the works they claim to have read, and in some cases actually ignored statements in the same talk or writings from which they have quoted. Did they not read the entire talk? Did they really believe their readers were so naïve that they would not accept their invitation to check out their sources to determine exactly what LDS leaders said?
3 Ibid., 10, quotation from 11. There are so many problems with this statement one hardly knows where to begin. Many observers have stated that the Book of Mormon teaches orthodox mainstream Christology, not something radical. (Indeed, that is one of the issues pointed out frequently: that what is taught in the Book of Mormon has been changed or ignored or contradicted by later LDS thought.) Eighty years ago Reverend John D. Nutting wrote that the Book of Mormon taught “just what the whole Christian world has found in the Bible for 1900 years.” So did the Doctrine and Covenants, up to a certain point, after which “the doctrine is contradictory” [John D. Nutting, Light on Mormonism 1.1 (April–June 1922), 6]; cf. page 4; at 62: “these great truths which were formerly held even by Mormonism itself!” (italics in original); at 71: “the doctrine of God in the Book of Mormon is the correct Bible one”; at 79: “The teachings of Mormonism about the Holy Spirit are closer to those of the Bible.” Nutting was a Pastor in Salt Lake City from 1892–1898, and later Secretary of the Utah Gospel Mission of Cleveland. In point of fact, because he saw nothing radical about it, Joseph Smith was so excited about his First Vision experience that he immediately sought out his minister to discuss it with him. It was not until the Christian world at large began persecuting them for claiming to see angels, and receiving visions from God (i.e., to act and think like New Testament Christians), that the LDS began to withdraw from their society.
4 Indeed, McKeever and Johnson quote current LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley on page 41 admitting the differences that exist between The Church of Jesus Christ and other Christian denominations. In the footnote to that statement they quote him again: “We acknowledge without hesitation that there are differences between us /and other faiths/. Were this not so there would have been no need for a restoration of the gospel,” 288, note 3, quoting Ensign (May 1998), 4. There is certainly nothing in this statement indicating that Hinckley, or the Church in general, is attempting to make themselves look “more Christian, or orthodox” as McKeever and Johnson are suggesting is the case. All that the Church leaders have ever demanded is that our teachings be presented honestly and correctly; if they are then we are clearly seen to be Christian.
5 Ibid., 12. On the reference to ‘bearing false witness against others,’ see Richard Mouw, “Can a real Mormon believe in Jesus?,” Book and Culture: a Christian Review 3 (1997), 11–13, at page 13, where he concludes that evangelicals must cease bearing false witness against their Christian neighbors. In an ecumenical conference held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 1999, Mouw, the President of Fuller Theological Seminary, made the same statement with reference to the other traditions represented there: the Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, and Orthodox (and, in the audience, one Latter-day Saint). Dr. Mouw has once again made the same comment in his Foreword to the recently published book, The New Mormon Challenge. Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement, edited by Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Moser, and Paul Owen (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 2002), 11. Mouw writes: “As an evangelical I must confess that I am ashamed of our record in relating to the Mormon community. To be sure, there are deep differences between our worldviews… But none of those disagreements give me or any other evangelical the license to propagate distorted accounts of what Mormons believe. By bearing false witness against our LDS neighbors, we evangelicals have often sinned not just against Mormons but against the God who calls us to be truth-tellers.” McKeever and Johnson need to take that last statement seriously to heart.
6 Ibid., 12. In 1949 David O. Mckay, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, stated in General Conference that the missionaries’ “message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the redeemer and Savior of mankind.” Conference Report (October 1949), 120.
7 Conference Report (April 1902), 67, in Roy Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 4 volumes (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1963), 3:35.
8 3 Nephi 27:13–4.
9 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, McKeever and Johnson claim to have read the first six references cited here.
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
13 Grant, Gospel Standards, 6, citing Deseret News Church Section, September 3, 1938, 7.
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 Ensign (May 1975), 93; cited in Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 26–27.
18 Ensign (May 2001), 77.
19 Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:5–6, 23; cited in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 481–482. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read both of these volumes.
20 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 140.
21 Ibid., 141.
22 Ibid., 148.
23 Ibid., 141–2.
24 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.
25 ‘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. “Calvary,” LDS Bible Dictionary (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), 629.
26 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.
27 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).
28 Ibid., 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.]
29 Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 217.
30 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.]
31 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.
32 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 142, quoting Collected Discourses (1892-1893), Vol. 3, edited by Brian H. Stuy (City Unknown: B.H.S. Publishing, 1989), 362.
33 Collected Discourses (1892-1893), Vol. 3, 364–365.
34 McKeever and Johnson, 140-141, citing The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14; at that location it is being quoted from 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.
35 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 140–141, quoting The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14. This comment is from the same original source as the quotation above: Benson, Come Unto Christ, 6–7. It is part of the paper published in 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.
36 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 141, quoting Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987), 127–128, 224. My quotation is from page 224. Again, McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume.
37 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, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 134–135.]
38 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), 48, 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).
39 Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (October 1, 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.” [Conference Report (April 1946), 45]
40 Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol. 3 (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1973), 242, quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 138–139.
41 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 60–61. 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.
42 D&C 76:40–2.
43 3 Nephi 27:14.
44 2 Nephi 2:6–9.
45 Mosiah 3:16–9.
46 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 147, quoting Conference Report (October 1953), 35; the remainder, from page 36, is quoted from Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 2:81–83.
47 Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
48 1 Nephi 11:33.
49 Jacob 1:8.
50 3 Nephi 27:14.
51 D&C 21:9.
52 D&C 76:40–41.
53 D&C 138:1–4, 35.
54 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 4 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 78; also in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 55. Both these volumes were “studied” by McKeever and Johnson.
55 John Taylor, “Reflections On the Sacrament, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 22 February 1863, Vol. 10 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1865), 115–116, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 11.
56 Collected Discourses, Vol. 1, edited by Brian H. Stuy (City Unknown: B.H.S. Publishers, 1987), 344. Stated in an address on September 1, 1889. Seven years later he stated, “Jesus Christ…came into the world and laid down His life as a great sacrifice for the redemption of the world.” [Collected Discourses (1892–1893), Vol. 3, 154.]
57 This is from a letter he wrote to the editor of Illustrated American, dated January 9, 1891, found in Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 3, edited by James R. Clark (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 206.
58 Collected Discourses (1892–1893), Vol. 3, 168.
59 Reverend F.S. Beggs, “The Mormon Problem in the West,” Methodist Review (Sept 1896), article VII: online at http://wesley.nnu.edu/mreview/1890/C_%201896_%20Mormon%20Problem%20in%20the%20West_%20754-757.htm.
60 Conference Report (April 1904), 51, in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 3:98–99.
61 James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ (Salt Lake City; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1915), 661, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 144.
62 Conference Report (October 1921), 36, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 2:80–81.
63 Conference Report (April 1921), 203, quoted in Grant, Gospel Standards, 14. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read this volume. It is also quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 371.
64 Conference Report (April 1925), 7–8, quoted in Grant, Gospel Standards, 6–7.
65 Deseret News Church Section (September 3, 1938), 7, quoted in Grant, Gospel Standards, 6.
66 Heber J. Grant, “Marvelous Growth,” Juvenile Instructor (December 1929), 697, quoted in Callister, The Infinite Atonement, 141.
67 Liahona, the Elders Journal 29 (January 5, 1932), 337–339, quoted in Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 5, 305.
68 Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report (October 1948), 125. Franklin D. Richards, of the Quorum of the Twelve, stated in General Conference October 9, 1887, that “It is /Christ/ to whom if you and I should ever be permitted to attain to the redemption from the dead and the exaltation for which we hope, that we shall sing songs of glory and honor to His name, as the One that has redeemed us… /The Lord’s Supper/ is an institution since the crucifixion, since the shedding of His blood… His blood will redeem us.” [Collected Discourses (City Unknown, B.H.S. Publishers, 1987), Vol. 1, 83–88.]
69 George F. Richards, Conference Report (October 1949), 150.
70 J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report (April 1950), 116–117.
71 J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report (April 8, 1950), 181, also quoted in J. Reuben Clark, Immortality and Eternal Life, Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study 1968–1969 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 163. Elsewhere in this latter volume (page 70) President Clark, a member of the First Presidency, referred to “Jesus, the Christ, the Redeemer of the World, the Son of God, the Agency through which the world was made, our Savior, he who died to satisfy the penalty that the Fall brought.” These comments were first offered in an address at Brigham Young University May 13, 1953.
72 Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 69–70.
73 Ensign (May 1975), 93, quoted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 26–7.
74 Ensign (November 1986), 50–1, quoted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 276.
75 Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Church News 71:36 (September 8, 2001), 15.
76 St. Louis, Missouri, Regional Conference April 16, 1995, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 28.
77 Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 283.
78 Ibid., 282–283.
79 Vaughn J. Featherstone, Man of Holiness (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1998), 51–52.
80 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 10.
81 Ibid., 144, quoting Leon Morris, The Atonement (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 84.
82 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 145, with 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.
83 Ibid., 142
84 1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 2:13–4; Romans 5:8, 10; Galatians 6:14; Hebrews 10:10; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20.
85 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.” [Conference Report (April 1946), 39.]
86 Mosiah 3:18.
87 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.
88 The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1990), 84.
89 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.
90 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. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read the Ehat volume.
91 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.
92 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.
93 Moroni 8:12, 22.
94 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.
95 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).
96 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.
97 Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 94, citing Journal History, entry for September 9, 1888.
98 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.
99 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.
100 Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News Weekly 50 (February 1895), 251.
101 Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, 363–364. Delivered at General Conference, October 5, 1895.
102 Conference Report (April 1901), 7–8, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:182.
103 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.
104 Conference Report (October 1937), 122, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 354–355.
105 Quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (October 1949), 43.
106 Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
107 Millet, “The Regeneration of Fallen Man,” 137–138.
108 Pliny (ca. 115 AD), epistle 10:96, in Pliny. Letters, Vol. 2, translated by William Melmoth, Loeb Classical Library (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1958), 403. Pliny’s letter to the Emperor Trajan can be found online at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/texts/pliny.html. See now, Margaret Daly-Denton, “Singing Hymns to Christ as to a God (cf. Pliny Ep. X, 96),” The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism, edited by Corey C. Newman, James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis (Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1999), 277–292. She points out that there are two types of hymns in the New Testament: hymnic and liturgical. The liturgical hymns are about Christ, not to him.
109 Colossians 3:16.
110 Ephesians 5:19.
111 Daniel Liderbach recently wrote that prior to Nicaea the hymns appeared to embody expressions that had their origins in response to the Spirit moving the congregation. “However after the Council of Nicaea and again after that of Chalcedon /451 AD/, the tone of the hymns used by the community shifted to polemical, theological insistence upon the doctrine that the church at Nicaea and Chalcedon had approved,” Daniel Liderbach, Christ in the Early Christian Hymns (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1999), 79–80.
112 Alan C. Clifford, Atonement and Justification: English Evangelical Theology 1640–1790. An Evaluation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 99. Estimates for the number of hymns composed by John and Charles Wesley vary between 6500 and 8000. They published at least 57 hymn collections during their lifetime. The most significant one was in 1780, and was based in part on eight previous collections. In the preface to the 1780 edition John Wesley wrote, “It is large enough to contain all the important truths of our most holy Religion, whether speculative or practical; yea, to illustrate them all, and to prove them by Scripture and Reason.” He also wrote that “the hymns are not carelessly jumbled together, but carefully ranged under proper heads, according to the experience of real Christians. So that this book is, in effect, a little body of experimental and practical divinity.” Quoted in Ken Bible, “The Wesley’s Hymns on Full Redemption and Pentecost: a Brief Comparison,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 17:2 (1982).
113 See Doctrine and Covenants 25:11–12 for the calling of Emma to edit the volume. The Preface to the 1835 edition states: “In order to sing by the Spirit, and with the understanding, it is necessary that the church of the Latter-day Saints should have a collection of ‘Sacred Hymns,’ adapted to their faith and belief in the gospel, and, as far as can be, holding forth the promises made to the fathers who died in the precious faith of a glorious resurrection, and a thousand years’ reign on earth with the Son of Man in his glory. Notwithstanding the church, as it were, is still in its infancy, yet, as the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, it is sincerely hoped that the following collection, selected with an eye single to his glory, may answer every purpose till more are composed, or till we are blessed with a copious variety of the songs of Zion,” quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, Melchizedek Priesthood Manual (Salt Lake City: Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1948), 93.
114 John Newton, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” hymn 46 in the 1998 version. Newton, an Anglican clergyman, was also the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
115 Isaac Watts, “He Died! The Great Redeemer Died,” hymn 192 in the current hymnal. It is hymn 56 in the 1906 (1889) edition.
116 W.W. Phelps, “Come, All Ye Saints Who Dwell on Earth,” hymn 65 in the current hymnal; 114 in the 1906 edition.
117 W.W. Phelps, “O God, the Eternal Father,” hymn 175 in the current edition, 255 in the 1906.
118 Hymn 173, The Latter-day Saints Psalmody, Third Edition (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1906).
119 Ibid., hymn 20.
120 Ibid., hymn 31.
121 Ibid., hymn 105.
122 Ibid., hymn 109.
123 Ibid., hymn 135.
124 Eliza R. Snow, “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” hymn 136; number 195 in the current hymnal.
125 Ibid., hymn 42.
126 Ibid., hymn 198.
127 Ibid., hymn 224.
128 Ibid., hymn 239.
129 William W. Phelps, “O God, the Eternal Father,” hymn 255. It is hymn 175 in the 1998 edition The 1835 edition contained eight verses; the fifth verses included “He is the true Messiah, that died and lives again; we look not for another, He is the Lamb ’twas slain.”
130 James Allen, “Glory to God on High,”., hymn 262. Hymn 67 in the current edition
131 Theodore E. Curtis, “Lean on my Ample Arm,” hymn 120.
132 L. Tom Perry, “As Now we Take the Sacrament,” hymn 169.
133 Zara Sabin, “With Humble Heart,” hymn 171.
134 Mabel Jones Gabbot, “In Humility, Our Savior,” hymn 172.
135 John Nicholson, “While of the Emblems we Partake,” hymn 174; also in the 1906 edition, hymn 50.
136 George A. Manwaring, “‘Tis sweet to sing the Matchless Love,” hymn 176.
137 Andrew Dalrymple, “O Lord of Hosts,” hymn 178; also in 1876 and 1950 editions.
138 Hugh W. Dougall, “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” hymn 181; also in 1927 edition.
139 Richard Alldridge, “We’ Sing all Hail to Jesus’ Name,” hymn 182. It was first published as a poem in the Millennial Star, 1871, with music in Juvenile Instructor, 1883 (both LDS publications). It originally had a sixth verse which read, in part: “Then hail, all hail, to such a Prince who saves us by his blood!”, in Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1988), 199. That a verse is occasionally dropped from an earlier hymn book to a more recent one should not be interpreted as necessarily significant; John Wesley also did the same during his lifetime; see Bible, “The Wesley’s Hymns on Full Redemption and Pentecost: a Brief Comparison,” in the section headed “Overlap of the Two Collections.” Recall also the comments made above by others regarding Paul’s use of, and additions to, earlier hymns.
140 Evan Stephens, “In Remembrance of Thy Suffering,” hymn 183.
141 Vilate Raile, “Upon the Cross of Calvary,” hymn 184.
142 Eliza R. Snow, “Again We Meet Around the Board,” hymn 186; first published in the Millennial Star, 1871, later in Utah Musical Times, 1877. It was included in the 1906 hymnal, hymn 13. The additional verse was included in the hymnals from 1950 until the 1985 edition; Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, 201–202.
143 William H. Turton, “O Thou, Before the World Began,” hymn 189; in LDS hymnals since 1927.
144 Frank Kooyman, “In Memory of the Crucified,” hymn 190. Notice that both the Garden and the cross come into play here, with the strongest emphasis being on the cross, where the sacrifice took place.
145 Eliza R. Snow, “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” hymn 195.
146 Karen Lynn Davidson, “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown,” hymn 197.
147 Luke 6.12 and parallels: on a mountain alone all night, prior to calling the Twelve; Matt 19.13: blessed the little children; Luke 9.29 and parallels: transfiguration; Luke 22.32: I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not; John 17. 1 ff.: Intercessory prayer; Hebrews 5.7: in the days of his flesh he offered up prayer and supplication. Compare Matthew 26.39.
148 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 McKeever and Johnson as a Christian theologian from whom they elicit support.
149 Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1985), 134.
150 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.
151 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.
152 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.
153 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.
154 Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 323, citing The Prayers of Catherine of Siena (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 17–18, 174.
155 B.H. Roberts, The Seventy’s Course in Theology, 2:127–128, quoting International Commentary, Matthew, page 359. I have not been able to locate the original of this volume.
156 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.
157 Klaas Runia, “The Preaching of the Cross Today,” Evangelical Review of Theology 25:1 (2001), 57.
158 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.
159 Quoted in Johnson, “The Agony of Christ,” 307. Clarke was a Methodist theologian and died in 1832.
160 Johnson, Ibid., 313.
161 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 145.
162 Ibid., 148.
163 Michael Winter, The Atonement (Collegeville, Minnesota: Michael Glazier/Liturgical Press, 1995), 30.
164 Leon Morris, “Atonement,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, second edition, edited by Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 2001), 114. The passage is also quoted in Terry L. Miethe, “The Universal Power of the Atonement,” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, edited by Clark H. Pinnock (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 71–72. Notice the emphasis Morris places on the need for our acceptance of the atonement for it to be efficacious in our lives. This is exactly the position taken by the Latter-day Saints.
165 J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, Second Edition (New York: Harper and Row, 1960), 163. One wonders how the LDS position could be considered in error if no particular theory has received unanimous consent.
166 Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1: The Triune God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 186.
167 Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 375. McKeever and Johnson cite this volume several times, so should have been aware of this statement. In 1914 Melville Scott referred to “the fact that, up to the time of Anselm, there was no specifically Latin theory of the Atonement,” [Melville Scott, Athanasius on the Atonement (Stafford, England: Mort, 1914), xi]. Lutheran scholar Robert Jenson writes, “the closest approach to a historically successful theory of atonement is that of Anselm… But Anselm’s theory has never enjoyed favor in the East, and also in the West has been under continuous devastating attack, maintaining its hegemony mostly, one suspects, for want of a better alternative,” (Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, Vol 1, 186). Burnell Eckardt wrote, “it was St. Anselm of Canterbury who had first given celebrated status to the question of the necessity for the atonement, in his Cur Deus Homo,” [Brunell Eckardt, Anselm and Luther on the Atonement. Was it ‘Necessary’? (San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992), xvii]. Eckardt also quotes Gustaf Aulen to the effect that Anselm has given the first “real beginnings of a thought-out doctrine of the atonement,” [Eckardt, 173, quoting Aulen, Christus Victor: an Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement, translated by A.G. Hebert (New York: MacMillan, 1969), 1]. Aulen’s book is a classic in the field. Eckardt also quotes Lutheran scholar Gerhard Forde: “Anselm was the first to pose the question about the necessity for the actual event of the cross,” [Eckardt, 173, quoting Forde, The Law-Gospel Debate: An Interpretation of Its Historical Development (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg, 1984), 21 ff]. Abelard was the first to respond to Anselm; he also asked why it was necessary for God to become man, but concluded only that God could have chosen to simply remit the debt man owed God (Eckardt, 173, note 2).
168 Leon Morris, New Testament Theology, 15–16.
169 Leon Morris, The Atonement. Its meaning and Significance (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1983), 13. Apparently we cannot expect an agreed upon definition anytime soon: Morris writes on page 12, “with few exceptions people are not writing about the atonement.” McKeever and Johnson refer frequently to this book.
170 Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr., Christian Doctrine, Revised Edition (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 252–259 (quotation from page 259).
171 David Broughton Knox, The Doctrine of Faith in the reign of Henry VIII (London: J. Clarke, 1961), 6.
172 William Ragsdale Cannon, The Theology of John Wesley, with Special Reference to the Doctrine of Justification (New York: Publisher Unknown, 1946), 208.
173 Crawford Knox, Changing Christian Paradigms and their Implications for Modern Thought (Leiden, Netherlands,: E.J. Brill, 1993), 62–3.
174 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 148–149.
175 John 5:29.
176 Hebrews 5:9.
177 Matthew 28:20.
178 Partially quoted in Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 383. Entire paragraph is given at Henry Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma, translated by Roy J. Deferrari from the 30th edition of Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum (Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire: Loreto Publications, 2002), paragraph 319.
179 I. Howard Marshall, “Universal Grace and Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles,” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, edited by Clark Pinnock (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 56.
180 Marshall, “Universal Grace and Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles,” 69.
181 Ibid., 68–69.
182 Miethe, “The Universal Power of the Atonement,” 72. Miethe’s thesis is actually a quotation from Donald M. Lake, “He died for all: the Universal Dimensions of the Atonement,” in Grace Unlimited, edited by Clark H. Pinnock (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1975), 31.
183 Miethe, “The Universal Power of the Atonement,” 78–79, emphasis in the original.
184 Ibid., 79. In the footnote Miethe refers to Norman F. Douty, The Death of Christ: Did Christ Die Only for the Elect? (Irving, Texas: William and Watrous, 1978), 136–163, who lists “over 70 of the Church’s leading teachers—from the early centuries to the present one.” Miethe also states that John Calvin himself must have been a believer in unlimited atonement, page 85–86. Alan Clifford concurs, Atonement and Justification, 72–73: “there is considerable evidence to suggest that, judged by seventeenth-century criteria, he did not subscribe to, nor believe in, the doctrine of limited atonement.” On page 73 Clifford quotes Calvin: “God commends to us the salvation of all men without exception, even as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world” (Comm Galatians 5:12). See in general the entire treatment by Clifford, in Part Two: The Theology. Atonement and Grace: Chapter Five: Authentic Calvinism, pages 69–94.
185 Miethe, “The Universal Power of the Atonement,” 80, quoting Frederick F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1972), 197. No source is given for the Calvin comment, but it is probably from Calvin’s Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, three volumes, translated by William Pringle (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1979), in volume 3, on Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24.
186 Miethe, “The Universal Power of the Atonement,” 80, quoting Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1984), 830.
187 Ibid., 82, quoting Culpepper, Interpreting the Atonement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1966), 125.
188 Ibid., 88–90. The quotation is from the Institutes 3.24.6. Miethe also refers us to the following passages: Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.1.1; 3.24.17; Eternal Predestination of God 9.5, and commentaries on Isaiah 53.12; Romans 5.15; Colossians 1.15.
189 Ibid., 92.
190 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 141.
191 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.
192 Clark H. Pinnock, “From Augustine to Arminius: a Pilgrimage in Theology,” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, edited by Clark Pinnock (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 17. Pinnock is a Baptist.
193 Ibid., 21.
194 Fritz Guy, “The Universality of God’s Love,” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, edited by Clark Pinnock (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 35. Could this ‘paradigm shift,’ which necessitates a re-reading of the Bible, which then results in a new understanding of the Bible, be anything like that which the First Presidency of the LDS Church wrote in their Christmas Message of 1910: “Men must be susceptible to truth in order to receive truth.” [Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 4, edited by James R. Clark (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), 220.] To receive new light one must first rid oneself of the old darkness. Compare also Crawford Knox, Changing Christian Paradigms and their Implications for Modern Thought (Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1993).
195 Pinnock, “From Augustine to Arminius,” 22–23. The last line is a theme that runs throughout the papers in the volume edited by Pinnock, and is consistent with the LDS position: Pinnock says that “we are co-workers with God, participating with him in what shall be hereafter” (page 20).
196 Ibid., 25–26.
197 Ibid., 28.
198 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 273–275.
199 Ibid., 136.
200 Joseph L. Townsend, “Reverently and Meekly Now,” hymn 185; first in 1896; also in 1906 edition, hymn 331. The reviewer was Hugh McKeller, in the journal, The Hymn (April 1996), quoted in Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, 200.