Heretics and cult members do not believe in recompense for evil done in this life or for rejecting Jesus Christ.

Hell hath no fury for Mormons

April 14, 2011
Kevin Barney, Mormon blogger for By Common Consent

Rob Bell, a prominent evangelical pastor in Michigan, suggests that heaven may be universal, and that everyone has a place in heaven, whatever that may turn out to be, regardless of his deeds.

Bell may not be happy to hear it, but what he suggests has a certain resonance with Mormon thought about the afterlife, which is actually (and to many people surprisingly) near-universalist.

Mormons reject the classical conception of Hell: a pit of fire and brimstone and place of eternal torment.

Although Mormons do sometimes use the word "hell," it is usually in one of two much more limited senses.

First, when you die your spirit goes to a sort of waiting room called the Spirit World. The righteous go to Paradise, but those who died without a knowledge of the Gospel or who were wicked go to Spirit Prison. The suffering they experience there is more mental than physical, consisting of guilt and anguish over their misdeeds in mortality.

Sometimes this state is referred to as "hell," but it is only a temporary state. Upon the final judgment, the soul will be assigned to one of three heavens, or "degrees of glory" (called the Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms). Having a variegated heaven means that people will receive their just reward for their lives here on earth, but even the lowest of these heavens is still a heaven, not a place of eternal torment.

The other sense in which Mormons sometimes use the word "hell" is as a reference to what they call Outer Darkness, which is reserved for Satan and his spiritual minions, together with a few human beings that qualify as "sons of perdition."

Although this would be close to the classical conception of Hell, the Mormon belief is that very few will go there, for the bar to be sent there is quite high. One must have a sure knowledge (beyond faith) that Jesus is the Christ, and then reject him anyway in the face of such a knowledge. This is Judas Iscariot territory and really beyond the capacity of the average person to achieve.

Mormons also believe that just because you're dead doesn't mean the game is over. They take seriously the Descensus (mentioned in the Apostle's Creed), and believe that Jesus descended into the Spirit World during the three days that his body lay in the tomb to initiate the preaching of the Gospel to the spirits there, and organized this postmortem evangelization so that it continues even today. So even those who never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel will have such a chance in the next life.

Further, Mormons believe that there are certain necessary, salvific ordinances (what other Christians would call "sacraments"), that one must receive to achieve the Celestial (or highest) Kingdom. That is why Mormons perform these sacraments vicariously for the dead in their temples.

So, for instance, if a deceased person is baptized for the dead, that doesn't mean that person is considered a member of the Church or a Mormon; it simply means that the sacrament has been performed on his or her behalf and he or she has the option to accept it, but also the freedom of will to reject it.

So Bell's formulation that "everyone will have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be" is one that resonates with me, and I think he's on the right path.

I don't believe that a just God would subject people to eternal physical torment for ever and ever, especially when in many cases people simply did not have an opportunity to learn of the Gospel in this life through no fault of their own.

Cults do reserve damnation for people who leave or reject their ungodly message.

1) You are damned unless you are baptized into the LDS church.

And again, hear the word of the Lord through Joseph the Prophet unto the elders of the Church: "Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost." But, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, they who believe not on your words, and are not baptized in water in my name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father's kingdom where my Father and I am." In obedience to these commands, the elders of this Church have continued to proclaim the Gospel among the nations, preaching faith, repentance, and baptism by water and of the Holy Ghost as essential to salvation. A Study of the Articles of Faith, Chapter 6, 1978.

Correction: Sincere belief provides people with the Holy Spirit before baptism.

Acts 10:44-47 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"

Note: True Christians will preach the good news of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.


2) You are damned unless you become a faithful member of the LDS church.

Thus, in the full sense, the faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the only true believers in the world today, just as the apostolic converts of the early Christian Era were the only true believers in that day. (D. & C. 74:5.) Similarly, the Nephites in their day (4 Ne. 36) and the saints in the various dispensations have been the true believers. Men are saved by belief, damned by unbelief (D. & C. 68:9; 84:74; 112:29), or in other words believers are saved, unbelievers are damned. Mormon Doctrine, Bruce McConkie, 1966.

Correction: Christians have been saved by the death of Jesus Christ not church membership.

Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.


3) You are damned unless you accept the message of Joseph Smith.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith is true; I know it, for God has revealed it to me. Every man who rejects it will be damned, and every one who receives it will be saved. Baptism is a sign of the resurrection, and it is the password whereby we enter into the kingdom of God. All the ordinances are signs of things in the heavens. I want my children to observe these things, for we have come into a dispensation when we have got to open a door to receive all dispensations of old. Life of Heber C. Kimball, Appendix, 1936.

Correction: True Christians will receive Jesus Christ and reject Joseph Smith

John 12:48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."

Note: There are no prophets for today.

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,


4) Lazy people will be damned.

"Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you." (D. & C. 90:18.) Those who keep a commandment with slothfulness are damned. (D. & C. 58:26-29.) Those who are slothful in working in their priesthood callings "shall not be counted worthy to stand," that is stand with the faithful in their celestial inheritance. (D. & C. 107:99-100.)

Correction: Words not necessarily actions will determine a persons destiny.

Matthew 12:37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Note: The thief on the cross made a sincere confession of Jesus Christ without works.

Luke 23:42-43 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."


5) Stubborn people will be damned.

Stubborn people will be damned unless they forsake their course of obstinacy, turn to humility, and are "baptized without stubbornness of heart." (Alma 32:14-17.) After baptism, as part of working out their salvation, the saints must strive to shake off every particle of stubbornness against any of the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Mormon Doctrine, Bruce McConkie, 1966.

Correction: True Christians will stand stubbornly against the laws of Mormonism.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.


6) You are damned if you stop in your eternal progression toward godhood.

The divine decree that disobedience and unrighteousness shall stop one's progress is known as "eternal damnation" (D&C 19:7; 29:44). Eternal means proceeding forth from God, for he is Eternal (D&C 19:10-12). And to be damned, said President Spencer W. Kimball, is to be "stopped in progress" (DSY 1976, 154). Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia, 1996.

Correction: A person is saved by faith not by works dictating progress.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.


7) You are damned if you do not practice polygamy (plural marriage).

I will say a few words on a subject which has been mentioned here - that is, celestial marriage. God has given a revelation to seal for time and for eternity, just as he did in days of old. In our own days he has commanded his people to receive the New and Everlasting Covenant, and he has said, "If ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned." We have received it. What is the result of it? I look at the world, or that small portion of it which believes in monogamy. It is only a small portion of the human family who do believe in it, for from nine to ten of the twelve hundred millions that live on the earth believe in and practice polygamy. Well, what is the result? Right in our land the doctrine and practice of plurality of wives tend to the preservation of life. Journal of Discourses, Volume 14, Sermon by Brigham Young on 5/8/1870.

Correction: God wants just one man and woman for each marriage.

Matthew 19:4-5 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?"