The July 2016 issue of Friend, a Mormon periodical for teaching children, includes an article entitled “Your Path to Heavenly Father.” The article presents a game to teach children to recognize the “necessary steps” to salvation or to going back to Heavenly Father, and to distinguish those steps from other mundane activities such as biking or reading. Here is the list of “steps to salvation”:
- Premortal life
- Get a body
- Be baptized
- Receive the Holy Ghost
- Take the sacrament
- Keep the commandments
- Go to the temple
- Be sealed to your husband or wife
- Be resurrected
Strikingly, the list says nothing about repenting of one’s sins or putting faith in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. Instead, the “steps” are all about undergoing rituals and following rules. The first two steps are beyond anyone’s control and according to LDS theology have already happened to everyone who is ever born on earth, so we can set those aside. The last step, being resurrected, also happens to everyone, or virtually everyone, according to Mormon doctrine, with the only question being to which heavenly kingdom one will go after being resurrected. This leaves six steps for mortals to take, the ones numbered 3 through 8 above. Of these six steps, five are rituals that must be performed in the LDS Church:
- Mormonism recognizes only the LDS Church’s own baptisms as valid; therefore, one must be baptized as a Mormon to be saved and return to Heavenly Father. LDS theology does allow that a person can receive Mormon baptism by proxy after death, but the point remains that LDS baptism is required. Either the person must himself be baptized in the LDS Church, or a member of the LDS Church must be baptized on his behalf.
- To receive the Holy Ghost, according to Mormonism, one must undergo a ritual in which an authorized priesthood holder in the LDS Church lays hands on the individual. One does not receive the Holy Ghost simply by faith in Jesus Christ (which again this article did not even mention!), but by participation in the LDS Church’s ritual. Making reception of the Holy Spirit dependent on a religious organization’s ritual is contrary to the biblical gospel.
- “The sacrament” in Mormon language refers to what Christians call the Eucharist, Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Again, the LDS Church claims that its members alone are authorized by God to perform this ritual. Regular participation in “the sacrament” is required for salvation. The Mormon claim to a monopoly on the sacrament is also unbiblical.
- The temple is the LDS building in which sacred rituals are performed to ensure salvation for each member and his family (including dead ancestors who were not baptized in the LDS Church). In Mormonism, temples are the places where salvation is actually accomplished.
- All faithful LDS adults are expected to get married to another Mormon in the LDS temple in a ritual that is supposed to “seal” them together for eternity. Although the LDS Church has occasionally made statements suggesting that single members might still qualify for life with Heavenly Father, marriage is clearly viewed as one of the “necessary steps” for full salvation. Here again, Mormonism makes its own rituals obligatory for salvation. The LDS concept of eternal marriage is unbiblical; marriage is a foretaste of the perfect fellowship we will have with Christ and with each other in eternity.
The only other “step to salvation” mentioned in the article that can be taken by any mortal is to “keep the commandments.” While the LDS Church’s teaching includes adherence to valid biblical commandments, it also includes various obligations that the Bible does not impose on Christians, notably its tithing requirements (viewed as commandments necessary for salvation) and its “word of wisdom” (its food and drink taboos especially with regard to alohol, tobacco, and “hot drinks”).
“Your Path to Heavenly Father” thus reveals that Mormonism views salvation as mainly about accepting the LDS Church’s rituals and rules. No doubt Mormons will insist that faith in Jesus Christ is part of the process, even central to it. Yet the LDS Church, in one of its own official teaching publications, managed to print an article about the steps to salvation that neglected even to mention Jesus Christ. That, Friend, is tragic.