What Do Mormons Believe About Hell?

by
April 20, 2009

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate 

Q. What do Mormons believe about hell, and who is going there?

dantesinferno1

Short answer: Mormons believe in hell, but our conception of hell is different than the one that generally springs to mind, and we use the word to mean different things in different contexts.  For us, there are two “hells”, really.  One is a state of pain, guilt, and anguish where the spirits of the wicked will be after they die but before the final judgment (we often call this state spirit prison).  The other is an everlasting state of hell reserved for a few truly wicked (we commonly refer to this one as outer darkness).  Because the second state only applies to few, for the majority of people hell will not last forever: after the final judgment most people will receive some degree of glory.

Long answer: I wrote this post because I’ve found that people assume we believe in the traditional hellfire and damnation, and that causes a lot of misunderstanding. For instance, we claim to be the only religion with the “fullness of the gospel,” and that you have to be baptized by someone authorized by God (only in the LDS church) in order to be saved. People hear that and assume that we therefore believe that everyone else is “going to hell” in the sense that most modern Christians would use the phrase. That isn’t our belief, however.

What is hell? The word hell in the Bible is the English translation of the Greek word hades or the Hebrew word sheol. It originally referred to a temporary dwelling of spirits of all dead people, both righteous and wicked, and not solely as a place of punishment.  The word hell didn’t evolve the sense of being a place of everlasting punishment until later (see reference 1, or click the word hades above for further reading).

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place of suffering, however. We believe that when we die, our spirits go to a place that we call the Spirit World to await the resurrection and judgment. Furthermore, the Spirit World is divided into two general states: paradise and prison, depending on how you have lived your life (see Megan’s two-part summary of the afterlife). In the Spirit World, everyone gets an equal chance (if they didn’t have it on earth) to hear and accept the gospel. Unrepentant people will still suffer, and we still refer to their suffering as “hell.”

plan-of-salvation1

What is hell like? The torment of the wicked isn’t described in much detail in the Bible, but King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught that the knowledge of our guilt would be our torment:

Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. (Mosiah 2:38)

Alma (also in the Book of Mormon) wrote that we will not be able to look up to God, “and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence” (Alma 12:14)

It’s important to know that this suffering, while agonizing, will not last forever. Of those who would eventually inherit the lowest degree of glory, Joseph Smith taught:

These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. . .These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fullness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work; (D&C 76:103, 106)

hellsign1

What about the sons of perdition? We believe that one day “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” that Jesus is the Christ. With a few exceptions  everyone will be redeemed. Death and Hell will deliver up their captive spirits (2 Ne 9:12, Rev 20:13), all men will be resurrected and be brought forth to be judged and receive a degree of glory. The few exceptions I mentioned are called “sons of perdition.”

Sons of perdition are the truly evil. They are those that want no part in salvation. They deny the truth and defy God’s power, and crucify the Savior unto themselves, and put him to an open shame. They are the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord (D&C 76:31-38). They do not inherit a glory at all, but rather dwell with the devil and his angels forever. Their state is sometimes referred to as “hell” also, or “outer darkness,” though both of those words also refer to the temporary state. It’s hard to be a son of perdition. Really hard. Cain and Judas hard. For all intents and purposes, it’s not even an option for the majority of humanity.

If everyone will just be saved, why does anyone’s conversion even matter? I thought you’d never ask! It matters for two reasons: 1) The wicked will still suffer. A lot. Enough that no amount of raucous fun you could have on earth would ever possibly be worth it. And 2) There are very different degrees of glory that you will inherit forever, based on how much you were “willing to receive.” But that’s a topic for a different day.

(1) See Frederic W. Farrar, Eternal Hope (1892), xxxvi-xlii

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

174 Responses to “What Do Mormons Believe About Hell?”

  1. elle

    Wow, just got to say, the point of a Christian church is to point the way to Salvation by Faith in Christ, alone, not to boast of having the most merciful doctrines in Christianity. God alone is merciful and he provided a way to Him faith in Christ. What could be more merciful than the God of the universe coming to earth as a baby and dying on the cross for us? We all have an opportunity to accept or reject Jesus during our life, and once you die, that’s it. We demonstrate our love for Him through obedience and being Christ-like. As Christ told Nicodemus, we must be born again. Of course God desires that none should perish, but He gave us free will to decide to follow Him. It’s all about love, our choosing to love Him during this life This choice ends upon our death. It’s all about relationship with God as we walk upon this earth. As for prophecy, all prophecy must be judged against the Scriptures in the Word of God, the only Word of God, the Bible. We must not add to it.

  2. Thaddeus

    elle, I appreciate your comment here, and I agree that we ought not get caught up in arguing about which doctrines “feel” better, and focus on which doctrines are true.

    You said twice that death marks the end of our opportunity to accept Christ. Please tell me what brought you to that conclusion. Was this idea taught by Christ or any of his apostles or prophets? Take a look at 1 Peter 4:6 and tell me how you understand it.

    You also mentioned that all prophecy must be judged against the scriptures, and I completely agree. And that is why we invite all people to take a careful look at the prophecies contained in the Book of Mormon and compare them to the Bible. Will you read the Book of Mormon, elle?

  3. Chris

    I’m still a little confused. The Book of Mormon seems to teach that punishment is eternally long. Does this only refer to the sons of perdition? Because the D&C says punishment is not eternally long.

    Or are you suggesting punishment isn’t eternally long and is eternally long at the same time? Do people in the lower two kingdoms still receive punishment? If so, why are they considered glories? Is it official LDS doctrine that the people in the lower two kingdoms (after judgment) will still be punished?

  4. Dave

    Elle,

    You’re absolutely right: the point is not to boast of having the most merciful doctrine– the point is that part of judging the truth of a doctrine is asking if doctrines fit the character of God as we know Him. And I’d say the most fundamental thing I know about God is that he is Good. And this whole “everyone who doesn’t get a chance to hear about Jesus in this life goes to hell anyway, to suffer anguishing torment that literally never ends” thing just doesn’t jive with God who is Love. I think ours fits better. :)

    Dave

  5. Chris, sorry I didn’t make my explanation more plain. I was trying to say that without a Savior, all of us would be condemned for a literal eternity. It is only because of His grace that any of our sentences are shortened, and only those who inherit a kingdom off glory will have truncated or eliminated punishments.

  6. Chris

    Right, I see where you are going with your interpretation. We would be eternally punished if it weren’t for a savior. But I’m not sure that’s what Alma 42:16 is saying. It says that both the plan of happiness and punishment are eternal.

  7. Chad

    I have a comment about 1 Peter 4:6. Nowhere do I see in scripture the teaching that Christ presented the gospel to those who were dead to give them ANOTHER chance at salvation. The verse reads, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

    It is important to put this into context. Verse 5 tells us that the pagans who rejected Christ will have to give an account to the Lord. Hence verse 6 begins with “For this cause..”

    It is CLEAR that the preaching was past tense, or WAS preached. This is cohesive with the preceding verses. The purpose of 1 Peter 4:6 is to declare that the gospel WAS preached to those who are now dead. If it was Christs intent to preach the gospel to all who will die and give them a second chance at salvation, he would have stated that the gospel IS preached. The past tense of the word makes it very clear.

    This verse in no way proclaims a second chance for salvation for the dead. It emphasizes that the pagans will be judged for their unbelief.

    1 Peter 3:19 tells us Christ proclaimed his defeat over death to angels who rebelled long ago. A quick research in the original Greek confirms this.

    And lastly, 1 Cor 15 merely describes a practice that was taking place during the time Paul wrote the letter. Paul CLEARLY separates himself from this fringe group with the use of the words “they” and describes his group as “we.” Paul most certainly had relatives who passed away not knowing Christ, so if he believed this type of doctrine he would have made it abundantly clear.

    Death is the last chance for salvation. Christ would have told the thief on the cross “Today you will die, and then have another opportunity to accept me in Hades.” if he taught salvation for the dead.

    The bible is MORE that clear that death seals our eternal destination. This does not make God unloving or unjust, for it is written in Acts 17:26-27 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

    So the only way to further this doctrine is to bring outside information to the table. And it is clear that all other works of Joseph Smith is of man and not of God by proof in his false prophecies, contradictions to Gods words (see above) and the Book of Mormons contradictions to reality, history, archeology and anthropology. Deut ch13 and ch18 are cleat about what we should do with this type of information.

    I would appreciate your comments.

  8. Ryan

    I understand the desire for all to go to heaven, but the reality is, that’s just not true… Jesus is serious when he says that apart from belief in him, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven… You can say all you want that eventually all will accept Christ, but it’s just not true… “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess” is not the Bible telling us all will go to heaven… it is saying that either willingly or unwillingly, all will say Jesus is Lord and all will be judged. If you’ve sinned your whole life, heard the Gospel, refused it, died, then realized you were wrong and want to change your mind… its too late. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is. Whenever scripture(the Bible) talks about the afterlife, it is eternal. Either eternal life or eternal death. The attribute associated with eternal life is and always has been faith and faith alone in Christ… If you don’t believe until after Christ has returned and damned you to hell, that is not faith. It’s simply acknowledging the truth after it has surfaced… faith is acknowledging, believing the truth before judgement day. anyone else will surely parish. If you have any questions for me, fire away because I can answer them all day. In the meantime, you never answered that question Lesa posed which was this “What do you make of scripture that says nothing should be added or taken away from the Bible?” Why would the Bible NOT be sufficient? It has the beginning and end already written… it is ALL we need. Also, I believe God is telling me to commit murder so should I do it? That is your argument for Joseph Smith’s polygamy. He was just doing what God commanded right? (though it contradicted God’s commandments.) hmmm

  9. Thaddeus

    Ryan, thank you for visiting.

    We don’t believe that everyone will go to heaven. You mistake us for Universalists, the branch of protestant Christianity that teaches that all men will be saved. We believe that sinners must call upon the Lord for salvation and that only “the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:24).

    We are right there with you when you say, “If you don’t believe until after Christ has returned and damned you to hell, that is not faith. It’s simply acknowledging the truth after it has surfaced. Faith is believing the truth before Judgment Day. Anyone else will surely perish.” No argument. You are right, and we Mormons believe the same thing. When Judgment Day arrives, it will be too late to switch sides.

    I couldn’t find where Lesa posed that question, Ryan, but I’ll point you to an article that addresses the question about the sufficiency of the Bible. More Than the Bible?

    Lastly, your question about God commanding you to commit murder…I have a few questions for you:
    * Is your implication that God doesn’t speak to man?
    * Or is it that we can’t be sure it’s His voice we’re listening to?
    * Have there ever been prophets who truly heard His commands?
    * If so, how were they sure it was His voice?
    * How can we be sure they were true prophets?
    * Did God ever tell true prophets to commit murder? (see 1 Samuel 15:3)

  10. Dave

    This comment is directed at no one in particular. Just by way of notification, I’m hereby going to change the wording of the beginning of the post from beginning with “we don’t believe…”. I hope that doing so might cut back on the respectable number of respectable folks who come away from the article thinking that Mormons don’t believe there is a hell. Not true; we do believe in hell. We even do believe in punishment that lasts for eternity. It’s just our conception is different. Unique. And I likes it.

  11. John

    I noticed that you completely dodged Chad. Why is that? I would really like to hear what you have to say to his comments and statements. I believe that you will not answer because you have none. At least none that can override the words of the scripture that is in the bible. Your Joseph Smith in writing his ill conceived book has damned Mormons. Following someone blindly off a cliff will kill you just as dead regardless of who the leader is.

  12. Jesus said if the blind leads the blind they will all fall into a ditch. Lets be careful who we let lead us. Jesus is the best leader of all. Be blessed everyone :)

  13. Julie

    It sounds like your belief about what happens after death is very much like the doctrine of Catholic purgatory

  14. Mark

    Some interpret the scripture to suggest a second chance others interpret that death is the end of chances. These are merely interpretations. Is God able to give men another opportunity beyond death? I see how this idea of second chances seems more loving. I know some that totally reject God that believe this way because they can’t make God work out in their heads saying that if there is not second chances than how can God be considered good. The problem is that why not offer an unlimited amount of chances? And why not offer them to those who are “evil” would not this make God even better and more noble? Interesting board thanks for posting these thoughts they are interesting and make you think.

  15. Dave

    Mark,

    Thanks for your thoughts.  They got me thinking.  I want to clarify something just a bit, and hopefully clear up some confusion that seems prevalent in the comment section on this post.  It has to do with the phrase “second chance.”  I’m not sure to what degree our beliefs could be considered giving anyone a “second chance” to accept something they’ve already rejected. The spirit world “in between” state I talk about is largely a first chance for those who didn’t get a proper first chance in this lifetime.  

    There is an element of second-chanciness to our beliefs, but I’ll clarify:

    Rather than just a binary heaven/hell in the afterlife, we believe the afterlife contains various degrees of glory and happiness.  So those who had a proper first chance in this life, but who rejected the gospel, will receive a lesser degree of glory than they would have if they had accepted it outright.  Their conversion is not because they “change their mind”, per se, it’s because they are confronted with the glory of God, and have little choice but to bend the knee.  

    Thus in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, section 76, Joseph Smith receives a vision of a lesser degree of glory wherein reside those who “received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.”

    So the plan is merciful in the sense that God is not relegating everyone to burn and suffer for an eternity, but it also doesn’t allow for people to reject Him first, only to accept Him in subsequent “chances”, and still expect the same reward as those who accepted him from the start. 

    It pretty well straddles that line that you’re talking about between no second chances and infinite chances, justice and mercy.

  16. Lisha

    Hello Everyone,

    Was wondering what happen to pple who did not have a chance to hear the gospel…people who are like in third world countries…and are people allow the same mercy…i mean some people get a lot of chances to hear about Christ…have family members who are Christian..versus someone grew up in a buddhist home or country.. and maybe was never witnessed to or only heard if Christ’s name once in their life…but never really truly understand who Christ was…just his name..what happen to them? do they still end up in hell….and what are children who don’t know God and dies?  Any answers will be appreciated…from Confused Christian.

  17. Melissa

    “Confused Christian”…
    Titus 2:11 ~ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL men
    Romans 1:20 ~ For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they (men) are without excuse.
    These are a couple of verses that came to mind when I saw your post.  So many people have those same questions.  I am a Christian (not a mormon) and therefore I go directly to the source Himself for answers.  God’s word (The Bible) tells us clearly that His salvation will be offered to ALL men.  In my finite mind, I can’t fully understand how He does that, but that is what makes Him God and not me.  I trust Him and His word.  I also know that God is very loving and gracious, giving everyone an opportunity to know Him.  He tells us this in 2 Peter 3:9…The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for ALL to come to repentance.
    With regards to the comments above about second chances…there are not any second chances, but our enemy satan would love us to believe that, after all he is the deceiver. God makes that fact clear several times in His word as well, and here is just one verse that came to mind…
    Hebrews 9:27 ~ And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
    I hope these verses helped!  Continue to seek God and He will reveal Himself to you and answer the questions that you need answered.
    Jeremiah 29:13 ~ ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart
    Jeremiah 33:3 ~ Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
    In Christ’s Love,
    Melissa
     

  18. Steve

    “Confused Christian”,

    Hey, I’ve been thinking about your comment/questions quite a bit lately.  They are questions that I’ve asked myself.  I hope you don’t mind, but because of your comment, I’ve written a whole article about your questions. 
    Here is a link to it.  Does Everyone Get a Chance?

    I think that it will give you some answers to your questions.

  19. Julie

    Dave, do I understand you to believe that a person can repent after his death?  Why would anyone suffer punishment and then thumb his nose at God and choose to go to “outer darkness”?  This doesn’t make sense to me.  Also, you said that there are different levels of glory or heaven.  My understanding is that Mormons believe that the highest level is godhood.   The Bible is clear that there is only one God and no other.  Two essential beliefs of Christianity (among others) are judgment after death and that there is and always was only one God.  To claim you can become a god is heresy of the highest degree…Satan did this and was cast out of heaven.

  20. Ivan Enfinger

    I do not understand why the rest of the Protastant churches hate the Mormoms so bad I mean they teach that Jesus is God the Son and that salvation is obtained through him. And really is that not the most important thing. Did not Paul teach us that man is saved through grace alone and that all men fall short of the glory of God. So even if they are wrong about everything else they get a pass because Jesus promised to seperate our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Instead of fighting with each we should be working together to spread the word and leading as many souls to salvation as possible. I attend a Baptist church but I consider myseld a Christian not a Baptist and I think that the Christian faith as a whole would be better if more people would feel the same.

  21. Jan

    Bless you, Ivan.  Bless you.
     
    That has been my question all along–what’s the big deal?  We’re in either way.

  22. Angela

    John 14:6 Jesus answers, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but by me.”

    Ephesians 2: 8-9 “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-Not by works, so that no one can boast”

    Ephesians 2: 13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ”

    The Bible is so clear that it is through Jesus Christ, that we can make it to heaven at all! Not a single person is perfect and every single person sins daily. I am so thankful for God’s mercy and that he has provided us a way to be washed clean, free of our sins for if eternity was measured by the perfection and good deeds of our lives…everyone would be doomed.

    In James 2:10 it states that “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” So if you believe in the Bible then this verse means that anyone who sins is guilty of the worst of sins! We have all murdered by hating someone in our minds, we have all lusted after the good-looking person who walks bye. We are all guilty of sin therefore it is only through Jesus who is fully God and fully man who paid the ultimate price by shedding his blood for us on the cross.

    In reguards to hell:

    Mathew 13:50 “They will be thrown into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    Revelation 14:10 “He will be tormented with burning sulfur”

    Revelations 20:10 ” If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of lifew, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

    The bible is very descriptive on what hell is like, who will go there, and how to be saved. There is no place in the bible where it states that it is a state of mind or that you have two chances to go to heaven. Life on earth is your chance, either you choose to follow Jesus and accept his gift or not. Its simple.

    Finally, my other major problem with the mormon religion is that you claim to follow the bible but then contradict half of what it says. It clearly states:

    Galatians 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemed. As we have already said, so now i say again; if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.”

    Revelation 22: 18 “i warn everyone who hears the words of the prohecy of this book; if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And i fanyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book”

    Question: If almost everyone can make their way to heaven then why don’t we just live life to the fullest as we see fit? why are rules so important, and why try to go out and preach to “save” everyone if they can get there on their own anyways??

  23. Dave

    Angela,

    Thanks for your comments.  I think if you re-read the post, and then look through my subsequent comments also, you’ll notice that we don’t disagree with any of those scriptures.  In fact, we use them all the time. We do think there is a place of torment, and we do call that “hell.”   

    See my comment on March 30 about the second chance thing.

    Your “major problems” with Mormonism are best answered as such:
    1. We don’t consider Mormonism to be that “different gospel which is really no gospel at all” that Paul was talking about.  (Mormonism wasn’t around when Paul was alive, turns out).
    Here is a good article about Galations 1:6-9 as it pertains to mormons:
    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/different_gospel.htm
    Incidentally, you seem pretty sure that whatever specific set of doctrines you believe in are exactly the same as the ones the apostles taught in the early church.  How do you know that?

    2. See the following article for a response to the Revelation 22:18 objection:
    http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/AddOrTake.pdf

    3. In response to your last question, please see the last paragraph of my original post.

    Thanks for coming to the site!

  24. Dave 2

    Right to the point:
    1) As was asked before, why are the HARD questions posed by the, obviously, more learned among the crowd simply ignored?
    2) Just how do you reconcile with Joseph Smith’s adultery? Call it what you want; it’s adultery.
    3) It seems clear to me, especially after following the link provided above (More Than the Bible), that the veracity of the Bible itself is called into question by the basic tenets of Mormonism. If you believe what you believe and are not ashamed, do us all a favor and say it loud and proud for us all to see. Come on here and tell us outright that the Bible is fallible and/or errant and/or left incomplete by God, but now corrected by Joseph Smith.
    I can guarantee you that this simple and honest declaration will work wonders for anyone on the fence concerning the validity of the Mormon doctrine. I expect, however, that I will not see this straight forward declaration and that in it’s place, I will find a crafty and elusive dance around the truth of your belief that will only be revealed to folks in pieces as they are slowly immersed in the doctrine.

  25. Sean

    Dave 2,
    1.) I’ll answer Chad as his is unanswered (I was a little confused at the lack of answers myself, but it is a long comment that takes some time to answer. Maybe the authors didn’t want to take the time.) and intelligently thought out and written.
     
    “I have a comment about 1 Peter 4:6. Nowhere do I see in scripture the teaching that Christ presented the gospel to those who were dead to give them ANOTHER chance at salvation. The verse reads, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
    It is important to put this into context. Verse 5 tells us that the pagans who rejected Christ will have to give an account to the Lord. Hence verse 6 begins with “For this cause..”
    It is CLEAR that the preaching was past tense, or WAS preached. This is cohesive with the preceding verses. The purpose of 1 Peter 4:6 is to declare that the gospel WAS preached to those who are now dead. If it was Christs intent to preach the gospel to all who will die and give them a second chance at salvation, he would have stated that the gospel IS preached. The past tense of the word makes it very clear.
    This verse in no way proclaims a second chance for salvation for the dead. It emphasizes that the pagans will be judged for their unbelief.
    First off, this scripture wasn’t talking about pagans only. It didn’t say that. It was talking about all who follow after that way of life. Secondly, we believe that Christ DID preach unto the wicked dead, but that knowing the gospel didn’t automatically save them (give them a “second chance.” You’re right, that IS unbiblical.), but made themlive according to God in the spirit.” (Allowed them to be saved according to their good works or damned according to their evil works.) We believe that the wicked will be judged for their wickedness, but those who never knew of Christ can know Him and be attain salvation if they were righteous. 
    1 Peter 3:19 tells us Christ proclaimed his defeat over death to angels who rebelled long ago. A quick research in the original Greek confirms this.”

    A quick research in the original Greek” has spawned numerous translations of the Bible. Interpretation has a lot to do with it. For instance, the word “baptizo” in Greek means: to immerse in liquid, to dip in liquid, to bathe in liquid, or to overcome. If the definition were so simple, all Christianity would recognize baptism of both the spirit and water as the way to salvation. The way you are reading this verse is simply your interpretation of scripture. We read this verse according to the KJV.

    “And lastly, 1 Cor 15 merely describes a practice that was taking place during the time Paul wrote the letter. Paul CLEARLY separates himself from this fringe group with the use of the words “they” and describes his group as “we.” Paul most certainly had relatives who passed away not knowing Christ, so if he believed this type of doctrine he would have made it abundantly clear.”
    1 Cor 15: 29 KJV: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” The CLEAR separation is not actually that clear. For one thing, if he disagreed with it, why even refer to it? And if he disagreed with it, why not say it was wrong? Plus, your interpretation of “we” refers to his “group,” when my interpretation of “we” is all humanity standing in peril. The practice of baptism for the dead was not a “fringe” practice. It is referred to by many early Christian authors. A form of it is even practiced by some Eastern Churches today. If there was no salvation for the dead (those unaware of Christ in life), that must mean most of humanity must rot in hell. Never mind that they never had a chance to know of Christ.
    “Death is the last chance for salvation. Christ would have told the thief on the cross “Today you will die, and then have another opportunity to accept me in Hades.” if he taught salvation for the dead.”
    For one thing, the thief accepted Him in life, so he wouldn’t have the need to do so in Hades, and the JST translation reads “spirit world,” not “heaven.” He still needed baptism. 
    Following your logic on what is considered clear and truthful, Christ, in order for the belief only/grace only salvation doctrine to be true, would also have had to have said during His ministry that you can disobey all of the commandments and be saved, and that all you had to do is believe in His existence and work for you and acknowledge His Lordship over you. There’s a bit of a double standard here…
    The bible is MORE that clear that death seals our eternal destination. This does not make God unloving or unjust, for it is written in Acts 17:26-27 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
    You’re forgetting something. Even knowing that there is more to life (God), the people that have died being ignorant of Him cannot be saved without believing on His name and taking upon His name. People can know that there is more to life than getting gain and pleasure, and still do good, but being good and doing good works cannot save you from hell. You must have Christ.
    “So the only way to further this doctrine is to bring outside information to the table. And it is clear that all other works of Joseph Smith is of man and not of God by proof in his false prophecies, contradictions to Gods words (see above) and the Book of Mormons contradictions to reality, history, archeology and anthropology. Deut ch13 and ch18 are clear about what we should do with this type of information.”
    The doctrine of salvation for the dead is not a new one (see above) and many in Early Christianity and modern Christianity believed and believe that it is a doctrine of God and in accordance with His words, though you may not.
    Lastly, regarding archeology and the BoM, we have our proofs and theories. However, we understand that you may not view them as legitimate as it contradicts your beliefs, just as atheists and agnostics view most Bible evidence as illegitimate, as it contradicts theirs.
    ———————————————————————————————
     
     2.) Just how do you reconcile with Joseph Smith’s adultery? Call it what you want; it’s adultery.
    Pretty simple. It was polygamy. If it was adultery Abraham and many other prophets would be considered adulterers. I don’t like the idea of polygamy and could never do it myself (there’s probably a lot I don’t understand about it), but it IS historical. Call it want you want.
    3.) It seems clear to me, especially after following the link provided above (More Than the Bible), that the veracity of the Bible itself is called into question by the basic tenets of Mormonism. If you believe what you believe and are not ashamed, do us all a favor and say it loud and proud for us all to see. Come on here and tell us outright that the Bible is fallible and/or errant and/or left incomplete by God, but now corrected by Joseph Smith.
    The Bible is a collection of inspired books handed down and compiled over thousands of years by different organizations. It has gone through a myriad of translations, with differing theologies stemming from these differing translations and interpretations. No two Christian religions agree on everything that the Bible says, and I’m not talking about minor doctrinal issues either. What a Catholic says is Biblical is heresy to a Protestant. What an Orthodox says is Biblical is heresy to a Catholic.
    Is it fallible? Now there’s a question. I wouldn’t say that the books in the Bible are fallible in and of themselves, but I would say that the translations are certainly fallible, being translated by men, who are fallible and prone to inserting their personal beliefs into translations. Plus I would argue that God’s words don’t stop because of Creeds, and that the Bible is incomplete, not containing all of God’s words. Who said that it contained all of His words? The Pope? Martin Luther? Joel Olsteen? The NT didn’t. It couldn’t have anyway, since it was compiled centuries after the books contained in it were written.
    ” I will find a crafty and elusive dance around the truth of your belief that will only be revealed to folks in pieces as they are slowly immersed in the doctrine.”
    You mean like dancing around the faith AND works scriptures, and the priesthood and baptism scriptures? I see that A LOT.
     

  26. Dave

    Sorry about the lack of response, all.  It’s been over two years since I wrote this post, and I tend to forget to check for comments. I do try to make a point of eventually responding to comments that have something to do with the topic of the post, but everyone else should certainly feel free to respond at will.  Oh, I see an outstanding question:

    Julie,  
    Yes I think a person can repent after death, but no I do not think that the person will necessarily receive the same glory they would have if they had repented while they were alive.  
    I, like you, think thumbing your nose at God is probably a rare occurrence, but as you pointed later in your question, someone at least has already done that.  
    Yes, we believe there are different degrees of glory in the afterlife.  The highest one consists of progression for the rest of eternity, eventually inheriting all the Father has.  I do not agree that this is heresy, since nobody is rebelling against or trying to replace God.  I’m not worried that you think I’m a heretic.  I’m sure I can find other people who would call your beliefs heresy based on the bible as well.  We Christians have a grand historical tradition of making heretics of each other.

  27. Sara

    I am so confused after reading your posts.  So do you believe that saved Christians are not going to Heaven and do you believe that your works save you?  And if you believe that Christian do go to Heaven and share in the inheritance then why do you not allow us to share in your fellowship at the Temple for baptisms and weddings?  I don’t know of another Christian church/fellowship that excludes others.  I do believe that God still speaks to man and I do believe that Joseph Smith could be a prophet but your tenets still seem to override what the Bible clearly states and I believe that God put repetitiveness in the Bible to show the truth through multiple prophets, apostles but no one has (as far as I know) has heard again what Smith heard from God.

  28. Sean

    Sara,
    A secret tradition goes all the way back to the NT era. Clement of Alexandra, Origen, and other early Christians speak of it. There are lesser covenants made outside of the temple, and greater ones made within. This isn’t new stuff.

  29. Sean

    Sara,
    Perhaps we could clear a few things up if you put forward the Biblical verses that it is perceived that we contradict. I would be happy to help.

  30. Sara

    Sean–Yes, I understand the secret tradition goes back to NT Era and is nothing new; however, it isn’t necessarily biblical nor common place in today’s churches and I was curious why the divide?  As I am trying to understand the reasoning.  Also I wondered about specifically do you believe that Christians are not going to Heaven?  I appreciate greatly the impact the church of LDS has on the world today and grew up with many LDS friends and spent hours talking with missionaries then–I just wished someone would answer directly these questions why the division and what do you think will happen to Christians?  I will get my Book of Mormon out and read again for myself because it has been quite a few years.

  31. Sean

    Sara,
     
    The tradition wasn’t included in the canons, but there are still references to it that remain in the modern NT canon. It was considered unspeakable to any of the unlearned unless they were initiated. It was referenced by the early fathers as the “Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
     
    I think a good way to explain the divide is the situation in Matthew 13: 10-13 “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Scriptures in the Old Testament speak of mysteries and secrets. These aren’t dark, mystical, scary secrets like the gnostics believed, but simply higher truths that the unlearned should not have thrown in their faces. The Lord who saved us from death and loves us as His children is a god of light, not darkness. He teaches His children line upon line, precept upon precept. The milk comes before the meat.
     
    I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear someone who is sincere and honest like you and who actually wants to learn our beliefs, and can tell you right now that we believe that all Christians will go to heaven if they are righteous. However, as you know, our belief in Heaven is more multifaceted than the simple Hellenized form envisioned by most Christians today.
     
    As we are judged by our faithfulness (believing in Christ, and having faith He will aid us and doing our best to serve Him and follow His commandments) (Romans 2: 5-11) we believe that there are more than two areas of the afterlife as there are different gradients of faithfulness. The slothful servant will receive his due, and the wise servant his reward. The evil will receive their punishment.  We believe in three kingdoms of glory, and that the highest (the Celestial Kingdom, where God the Father and Christ dwell) is reserved for those who follow Christ’s ordinances. In other words, we don’t believe that only LDS will go to Heaven and that righteous Christians who do not obey all the ordinances will enter into paradise, which is the terrestrial kingdom, where Christ may dwell.
     
    PS: Please excuse me for the rambling nature of my answer. I was up all night. I would love to answer any more questions that you have.

  32. Samuel Ivanovich

    The tense in the verb “was preached” is most important (aorist tense [one point], indicative mood [actually happened]). Peter deals here with the historic past. He is not saying that the gospel is in the process of being preached to the dead. The preaching took place when these “dead ones” were still amid the living. This is the only time when preaching is effective — when we are alive physically on earth.
    to those who are dead,
    There is no verb “are” in this verse. Literally, this phrase would read “to dead ones.” They are dead from the viewpoint of the remaining Christians on earth. The dead Christians of verse six had the gospel preached to them while alive on earth (aorist tense; indicative mood). They became Christians while on earth and are now dead. They heard the gospel while alive and have now passed into eternity before the writing of this epistle. This statement encourages Christians that they have something for which to live beyond this present life.
    What is the difference between the “dead” of verse five and verse six? The dead of verse five “will give account” (future tense). Therefore, these persons are spiritually dead, dead in sin. They are eternally out of fellowship with God (Romans 5:12; 6:23; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). The dead of this verse are Christians who have come to Christ and have their sins eternally paid for by the sufferings of Jesus on the cross.

  33. Dave

    Samuel Ivanovich,

    I appreciate your comments.    In regards to the timing of the death of those spoken of in 1 Peter 4:6, I will trust that there is no verb “are” in the verse, and that the phrase might best be translated without one.  So if you’re right, it seems consistent with both interpretations: that they were alive at the time, but are currently dead (as you interpret), but also that they were dead at both times.  I’ll point out that the syntax is ambiguous in any language.  Even so, if I say to you, “I spilled lemonade on the dead guy,” which of the two do you think of first?

    Regarding the aorist tense, indicative mood: although wikipedia reports that “the aorist usually implies a past event in the indicative, but it does not assert pastness, and can be used of present or future events,” I’ll trust you know more about it than I do, and I’ll grant that it is speaking of an event that actually happened in the past.  

    Regardless, I can’t find anywhere on this post or elsewhere where Mormons are claiming that the text of 1 Peter 4:6 is in the present tense.  As far as I can tell you’re arguing against a point that no one is making.
     

  34. Papa G

    Answer to comment dated Nov 5, 2010 regarding 1 Peter 4:6….for this cause - that is the coming Judgement. God wants the Gospel preached to “all” men. And if they don’t hear the Gospel or respond to the Gospel, He makes it very clear, that they are already dead in trespasses and sins and they will be judged as men in the flesh. But if they accept Christ they can live accouding to God in the Spirit. The Lord said in John 5:24, “Verily verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believith on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” – He was in a state of death. He further amplifeid this thought at the time of the death of Lazuras, He said unto her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me: though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?” (John 11: 25-26). In other words you and I were dead in trespasses and sins. Paul meant the same thing when he wrote to the Ephesians, “And you had He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph 2:1). We were spiritually dead. Paul went on to say, “Wherein in times past you walked according to the course of this world…fulfilling the desires of the flesh…(Eph 2:23). Peter is saying the same thing here in this verse. The Gospel is being preached, and when the Gospel is being preached, two things happen. Some accept it and if they accept it they are going to live for God, and live througout eternity. Others reject it, and those who reject the Gospel are men who are “dead in their sins” and are therefore, dead to God throughout eternity; that is, they have no relation to Him whatsoever. Don’t miss the one chance you have to “choose Christ” and therefore choose life!

  35. Heather

    To Elle and Ryan,

    As far as your comment about nothing shall be taken away or added to it, referring to the Bible, please make sure you have the appropriate facts about how the Bible was put together, as you have contradicted yourself since I’m sure you have accepted EVERYTHING in the Bible.

    The Bible is NOT in chronological order.  The Book of Revelations was not the last book written.  In fact, all of the Gospels were separate before they were put together as one, making up the Bible as a whole.  When that was written in the Book of Revelations, it was not referring to the whole Bible, as there was no Bible at that time, it was referring ONLY to the Book of Revelations.  And since it is not in chronological order, does that mean you don’t accept the other “books” in the Bible that occurred after the Book of Revelations was written?  I am sure not. Therefore, your argument isn’t a valid one since you yourself has accepted the Bible as a whole, which completely contradicts everything you said about not adding or taking away.

    Heavenly Father loves ALL of his children, including those of us who are on the earth NOW.  It only makes sense that he would give us a prophet today and additional scriptures that we can learn from as those who wrote the writings in the Bible are not the only ones who have ever had dealings with God.  We need these things now more than ever to prepare the earth for one of the most major events it will ever see, The Second Coming of his Son.  He has ALWAYS had prophets to testify of Christ before he comes and now is no exception.  As I stated earlier, he loves us just as much as he loved them in the past.

     

  36. Patty

    Hi Heather,
    I think this may be a bit off topic of the original post, but briefly, may I make a comment about your first paragraph?
     
    I believe you are referring to Revelation 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life…”


    Would you agree then that the plagues would be for those who add or subtract from the specific book of Revelation? 

  37. Chad

    Heather,

    You are correct. Rev 22:18-19 are specifically talking about the Revelation given to John. We have to search the rest of scripture to find out the answer to additional revelation from God and how to tell if it is of Him.

    There are other similar warning given in the Bible:

    Duet 4:2 “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”

    Duet 12:32 “See that you do all that I command you. Do not add to it or take away from it.”

    Prov 30:5-6 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

    It is a principle found in scripture that we are not to change the word of God in any way whatsoever. Severe warnings are given to those who consider it. Yes the warning you mentioned is specific to the book of Revelation, but it’s principle is timeless.

    So we must test all that man reveals, especially when he says it is revelation of the Lord, with what God has already revealed to us. God is unchanging from beginning to end (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 102:25-27). The bible warns us to test the prophets in two specific ways.

    First, if they say God has given them insight to future events, then those events must take place 100% as predicted by that prophet (Duet 18:20-22). This is for our protection, so we know which prophet is of God. This makes sense, because only God knows the future (Isaiah 42:9). Therefore he could not tell us something that does not come to pass exactly as predicted, because God is outside of time and has already seen it take place. If you want a perfect example of the type of fulfillment necessary, take a look in two places. First, the prophet Daniel. He successfully predicted the succession of nations exactly as they were to take place, in great detail. His predictions were hardly coincidental, or vague. And take a look at Christ himself. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 Jesus predicted in detail the destruction of the temple that would take place 40 years in the future. He stated that all those things would take place withing that generation, and they did 100% as predicted. That is the standard of a prophet.

    The second is to test what the prophet has said in light of what has already been revealed. Dueteronomy chapter 13 states this principle. Because God is unchanging he will not contradict revelation he has given, or change it. This is also for our protection.

    So any person that claims to be a prophet speaking for the Lord must pass these two tests. There future predictions must come to pass as told, and they must not contradict revelation already given. 

    So each and every one of us must check out these men, and in the point of the LDS faith, the prophets of today and yesterday. And you will find clearly that they have changed what each other has said, revealed new contradictory information, and outright failed to predict the future. This is objective, factual information for our protection.

    Please, check these things out for yourself, and be convinced in your own mind what the scriptures say and test that in light of what these prophets of today say, regardless of religious affiliation. Not the least of which would be Joseph Smith. your comments are graciously welcome. 

  38. Jacob

    I’m a Jew and you can debate till the cows come home whether we, scripturaly  speaking, “believe” in a hell but I can tell you from experience that we don’t dwell on the idea much.  I didn’t grow up with the idea and Hell really doesn’t make much sense to me.
    My question is this: what scriptural evidence is there for hell as it’s commonly conceived of? In the new testament there is frequent mention of immortality for the good and faithful, but couldn’t this just mean that the faithful live forever in heaven while everyone else, running the gamut from a perfectly nice pagan to the truly wicked, just… you know, dies. That makes more sense to me. It makes sense that God would reward the good but eternal punishment for the wicked just seems like something humans came up with to scare either others into submission, or as a cathartic, sadistic fantasy for people who have been mistreated.

  39. Thaddeus

    Jacob, it’s true that the Old Testament mentions hell only obliquely, and Jesus’ references could be interpreted much more symbolically than we often do. In fact, a Mormon’s understanding of hell is more a state of being separated from God (and the consequent unhappiness that entails) than a tangible burning lake of fire, as many Christians believe.

    We have scriptures revealed by modern prophets that help us understand these nuances better. I recommend this entry from our LDS Bible dictionary for context and some good scriptural references.

  40. Chad

    Jacob,
    I think there is ample scriptural evidence to support the existence of an eternal Hell. But first I think philosophically we have to come to that conclusion. Jesus came to die and cover our sins with his righteousness, and thus this in itself implies there was “something” to save us from. And scripture declares God is holy, thus sin must be punished. If we sin against a holy God, he demands just punishment, “eye for an eye”. So that gap becomes infinite. We have infinitely sinned against Him, so logic dictates we spend infinity being “punished” for that. Obviously Hell is not Dante’s Inferno where demons whip and beat the unrepentant inside a flaming jail cell dressed in red coats. The metaphors in scripture imply what Hell is “like”, not what it “is”. (Luke 16)
    Scripture, which is most powerful, does declare an eternal Hell. This is found in Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” Hell here is contrasted with heaven, they are both ever-lasting. Jesus spent more time talking about Hell than he did about Heaven. Just read Matt 5-7. If Hell does not exist, he was preaching about “nothing”? Rev 14 talks about smoke rising from the fire of judgement on those that follow the beast. The saying goes where there is smoke there is fire. And if the smoke rises for ever and ever, the fire lasts for ever and ever.
    I think much is misinterpreted about Hell. Hell is not universal. Everyone’s experience in Hell or Heaven will not be equal. Just like there will be rewards Heaven for what we have done (Matt 16:27) so will the experience of those in Hell. (Luke 12:47, Proverbs 24:12, Col 3:25, Rev 20:11. Please read those verses.) If God is just he rewards / punishes justly. Hitler will experience a Hell far greater than a good hearted atheist. Both their actions are categorically different.
    Finally, God has graciously given us the freedom of choice. If there is no choice (ceasing to exist is nothing, so no choice is there) then Heaven is not real. We choose to either live with Him in this life or apart from Him in this life. God simply ratifies that choice in eternity. How cruel would it be for God to create humans simply to snuff some of them out because they choose (He gave them this choice) to spend this life apart from Him? 

  41. Steven Clark

    I know for a fact that there is hell fire because I had a near death experience and when I was there there was fire.

  42. Hef

    I read a few of these, and honestly, it says in Romans 1: 18-20 of the Bible, that “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
    As much as I would love for everyone to go to Heaven, it clearly states that he has shown himself to everyone in this world. Through human nature we suppress the truth, and commit sin every day.

  43. Thaddeus

    Steven, would you feel comfortable sharing more about your experience?

    Hef, you are saying Paul has clearly indicated that all men and women are guilty and they know it. Is that right?

  44. Hef

    Yes. That is what I am conveying.

  45. Thaddeus

    We agree that all people are guilty and they know it by the light of Christ. We believe everyone who doesn’t accept Christ’s atonement and doesn’t repent will be in the torment of hell because of their guilt.

    We also believe that God is merciful enough to receive them into a (probably lower) degree of heaven if they call upon Jesus and repent while in hell. (At least up until Judgment Day).

  46. Steven Clark

    Your wrong the Bible clearly teaches eternal fire in the rich man and beggar Lazarus
    in Luke 16:19-31 and it is also mentioned in your book as stated above in the words of King Benjamin.

  47. Willie

    You are correct in that there definitely is an element of fire or torment for the unrighteous after death.  However, I am certainly grateful that Jesus died for us and is able to bridge that gulf for those who accept him in the afterlife as well.  See 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6.

  48. Chad

    Willie,
     
    Those verses you mentioned do not speak about giving a person a second chance after death to accept Christ’s atonement for their sins. If you would please scroll up I have thoroughly broken down those verses. I would love to hear your thoughts as no one has really commented on those if I recall right.

  49. Melissa

    Matthew 9:6 says that Jesus has authority ON EARTH to forgive sins. 

  50. Hef

    You know, I just realized. We can sit at our computers all day, debating on what happens after death. But then who would be conveying the message of Christ? We can find out when we die on how it will be. But for now, lets get the message out to people so that they can go to heaven when they die. Or, go to the best heaven as Mormons see it. I’m done fighting about death. I’m ready to start fighting for others lives.

Leave a Reply