LDS Salvation

Limbo was the place in Roman Catholic Church beliefs that  unbaptized infants went because, while they had committed no personal sin, they had not been cleansed of Original Sin, and were unable to enter into Heaven.  Roman Catholics believe that the sacrament of baptism in water gives rise to the argument that, because Original Sin excludes from the “beatific vision” of those in Heaven, those who have not been freed from it by baptism are not eligible for entry into heaven. 

Limbo as a doctrine is dead, which makes one wonder where all those babies went. Maybe Santorum knows.

This posting is not about Catholics though; it is about the Latter-Day Saint (“LDS”) concept of Heaven and Salvation, which—as always—rests on the meanings of words. So, straight to it.

Heaven to orthodox Christians is the place all the elect or saved go to live after they die to live forever and ever with God.

The LDS Heaven is divided into three categories, all of which are so wonderful that we each would gladly kill ourselves to get there.

When I was a youth in the LDS church in Arkansas, there were a lot of Baptists and we constantly heard the “once saved, always saved” and “all you have to do is accept Jesus as your Savior and you will be saved and go to Heaven when you die,” doctrines. The local LDS leaders said that being saved was the equivalent of not going to Hell and that since Christ died, virtually all were saved from Hell, would receive an everlasting resurrected body and live forever in one of three kingdoms, so we could say we were saved, even though to us, “being saved” was different altogether.

Kingdoms? Yes. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:40-41:There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory) speaks of these three degrees of glory, comparing them with the glory of the sun, moon, and stars.

For this discussion, it does not matter what the Orthodox beliefs on this verse are.  What it is not to the orthodoxy is a division of Heaven into kingdoms.

Then in the Revelation (Ch 22:10-11), we find: And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still he that is holy, let him be holy still.

The LDS interpret this as follows:

“the time is at hand” is the final judgement

“he which is filthy” is cast into outer darkness—hell.  But only a very few join Satan and his cadre there.

“he that is unjust” goes to the Terrestrial Kingdom, the lowest of the three, just out of Hell.  Think Adolf Hitler, Stalin, bin-Laden.  Neither God nor Jesus lives here.  This might be like the Catholic Limbo.

“he that is righteous”—all religious people who are not LDS—go to the Telestial Kingdom.  Deserving better than the truly wicked, they still are not quite up to snuff.  Think Billy Graham, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and just about every religious person you know.

“he that is holy” goes to the Celestial Kingdom. This is the exclusive club of the LDS people, or those who were righteous outside the church and had all the ordinances performed for them vicariously. God lives here and it is only in this Kingdom that one lives with God after this life ends.

Inside the Celestial Kingdom, there are three degrees of glory, the highest of which is Exaltation, which provides the opportunity to become exalted, a god. Only LDS who have been sealed in the Temple to their spouse or spouses for “time and eternity” are allowed in. When the LDS people talk among themselves, this is what they mean by Heaven and entry into this degree of glory is what they mean by being saved, and this is done by works, by becoming perfected.

So, using the definition of living God—the most commonly accepted Christian definition of Heaven—the LDS church doctrine is that to go to Heaven, you have to be LDS.

I will probably get comments and emails from LDS people saying I am misrepresenting their beliefs in this post, because they view all three as heaven, “heaven” being not cast into outer darkness, or Hell. But, to most Christian, going to Heaven means living with God, which is not possible unless you are LDS or have vicarious Ordinances performed for you after you die.

I think I state the case and doctrines plainly and each can make up their own mind.

There are any number of Christian denominations that believe they are the only ones going to Heaven—including the theoretical 144,000 of the Jehovah’s Witnesses—and you may or may not consider these denominations Christian either.

One last comment: the official doctrines of any church are just that.  The individual has to make peace with God on his own, whether that is a born-again experience as the evangelicals assert or confirmation and/or baptism.  We are on dangerous ground when we believe we know who is and who is not a Christian.  I believe most LDS people are Christian regardless of what I believe about the orthodoxy of their church’s official doctrine.

This should be apparent in the current flap over the Catholic Church and birth control—99% of Catholic women in this country support the use of birth control while the official position is that it is wrong.  A Mortal or Venial failing, I do not k now.

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