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According to the doctrine of salvation written by Bruce McConkie,

"If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Official Mormon Doctrine

But Paul says: "...Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." (Acts 16:31)

Is it mutually exclusive? Could Joseph Smith have gone to heaven according to the NT, obviously extending to all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

Protestant tradition may used as the starting point of the answer, although biblical support would be much appreciated.

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    The Title says "according to Protestant Trinitarians", while the Body says "Biblical answer, please". Pick one or the other; there isn't necessarily an answer that fits both restrictions. Apr 1 at 3:09
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    I.e., biblical support from a protestant standpoint. Apr 1 at 14:45
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    Your main question still asks for an answer from Protestant Trinitarians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is neither Protestant nor Trinitarian (in the orthodox Christian sense). Do you therefore wish to exclude any input from Mormons? Furthermore, since when did Tradition ever trump the Bible?
    – Lesley
    Apr 2 at 14:33
  • Yes, I would, because mormons would 100% say Joseph went to heaven, second, tradition is important to interpret the Bible, while is does not trump it. Apr 2 at 15:03
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    Hi Human! There are no such things as "Mormons" apart from a few historical figures and a few people since who have donned the name. The correct name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See the official style guide here: newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/style-guide
    – pygosceles
    Apr 4 at 22:52

3 Answers 3

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Did Joseph Smith go to heaven according to Protestant Trinitarians?

Charles Spurgeon was a very effective Baptist evangelical Pastor, whose preaching brought thousands to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

More to the point he was most clearly a Protestant Trinitarian.

I think it is true to say that in his sermons we have the largest legacy of Protestant Trinitarian sermons by a single ministry (by one man) still being printed in the English language, indeed in any language.

Now C.H. Spurgeon wrote a wrote a little book for Christians to give to unbelievers and to new believers in Christ. It is a presentation of the Gospel. It is called "All of Grace".

He starts by speaking of a poor woman who did not answer the door when someone had knocked because she feared it was the man calling to collect the rent; she had no money so she pretended not to be at home, she didn't answer the door. Spurgeon writes that, in writing his little book, he is not the man come to collect the rent, but he is come to say that salvation is "all of grace", free, gratis, for those who have nothing with which to pay.

Now, what is the first verse of the Bible that Spurgeon quotes from the whole of the Scriptures to begin his presentation of the Gospel? What bible verse is the first chapter of his book all about?

You may find it by googling "bible Romans 4:5". It is this:

"But to him who does not work, but believeth on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness". (King James Bible)

This is the glory of the Gospel which Spurgeon preached: it is for sinners. Everywhere, in so many of his sermons Spurgeon preached "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance", "when they had nothing with which to pay, he frankly forgave them both", "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Now the Mormons have what they claim is Romans 4:5 in what they claim is "the Bible". You may google it using "Mormon Bible Romans 4:5". It reads thus:

"But to him who does not work, but believeth on him that justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness". (Mormon version)

You will see that it has a little word added.

It is a terrible, damnable thing to distort, or change the Word of the Living God away from its original meaning so deliberately and utterly. I do not mean the King James Version is the only true Bible. I personally accept, in the main, all Protestant Bibles, indeed all New Testaments of all Trinitarian denominations. Any translation which makes a serious attempt to reflect the original Greek is worthy of study and comparison with other translations. But the sub-phrase of Romans 4:5 in the Mormon version, "justifieth not the ungodly", clearly contradicts the Gospel truth: the ones producing this "Bible", this anti-bible and anti-gospel, either do not understand or do not accept the Gospel of the Apostle Paul, of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

With respect to Romans 4:5: All the Bible versions in all languages on the one hand and the bible of the Mormons on the other hand cannot both be correct.. it is either one or the other. To be brief, there is no ancient manuscript support for the Mormon version, if there was support, there would be endless discussions about what was originally written. There is no debate.

Now the Bible ends with these words:

"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, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifies these things saith Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all." Revelation 22:18-21.

What has Joseph Smith done? He has added "not" to Romans 4:5. He has distorted the Gospel, making it another gospel. Furthermore, he has presumed to add the Book of Mormon to the scriptures. The Old Testament and New agree together, the Book of Mormon is foreign. It does not point to our Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God.

The Gospel of the New can be traced throughout the Old Testament: it has Gospel types and "non-fictional allegories" such as Genesis 37-50, and the book of Esther; Gospel declarations such as Isaiah 53. But there is main teaching of the Mormons about God found in the book of Mormon which are not found in either Old or New Testaments, which contradict Old and New. They cannot both be right.

Joseph Smith did what Revelation 22:18 forbids, he distorted the Gospel effectively doing what Revelation 22:19 forbids. He introduced "another gospel" and so according to the Word of God in Galatians 1:8-9 he is "accursed". If he had repented before he died God could and would have forgiven him. But there is no evidence he repented and retracted all his errors. If he had confessed the Book of Mormon is not from God, if he had believed on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, even in his dying minutes, God would have forgiven him. But there is no evidence that he did any such thing.

Joseph Smith rejected the teaching of the Apostle Paul. The Apostle taught that an elder must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). If his wife should die he could marry again. This is accepted by all Protestant Trinitarians as the will of God. Joseph Smith taught and practiced polygamy, denying the authority of God's word, and contradicting the final revelation of the New Testament, which shall continue until the Lord Jesus returns; who is currently sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having completed the work of salvation for his bride, the church, whom he shall save by his blood, until the great Day of Judgement, because, having risen from the dead, he is their High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

His whole life was the life of a false prophet, leading his followers away from the Bible, leading them away from the Lord Jesus and his finished work at the cross and in his resurrection as presented to us in the Bible. You shall know them by their fruits. And the fruit of his work is that his followers waste time reading the Book of Mormon, while they could be profitably spending their time reading the Word of God "which is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and which calls us "as newborn babes, to desire the pure milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious", 1 Peter 2:2-3. (And what does a newborn want except milk?)

It is not God's kindness and mercy that is at stake here: it is God's truthfulness. The apostle Paul, speaking under inspiration of God the Holy Spirit has said:

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As I have already said, do I say again, if any preach any other gospel unto you than that which you have received, let him be accursed" Galatians 1:8-9.

It is God's truthfulness which is at stake:

"God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he not said, and shall he not do? Or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"(Numbers 23:19).

It is the divine inspiration of the Holy Bible which is at stake, which says:

in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" - 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9.

Our Lord said to the samaritan woman at the well:

"You worship you know not what: we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews." - John 4:22

The Lord Jesus himself was Jewish; all the Apostles were Jews; all the New Testament was mostly written by Jews, and that which was not so written was authenticated by a Jew (Compare 1 Timothy 5:18 with Luke 10:7). Joseph Smith was not a Jew.

Salvation is not of Joseph Smith.

The Samaritans are more Jewish in blood than any other ethnic non-jewish group: they have more Jewish blood/descent than any other non-Jew. So it is significant Jesus said this to a Samaritan. It was Jews who brought the message of salvation to the world. The Gospel is Jewish. The Person of the Gospel was, and still is, Jewish.

The Protestant Trinitarian lays claim that his faith is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Whether you accept that or not, only a Mormon would believe that Mormonism is so laid. Was the Book of Mormon written by an Apostle in the era of the New Testament? Where is the historical, archaeological evidence? Which of the Church Fathers quoted from the Book of Mormon before it was lost? How could God allow such a critical book to be lost for nearly 2000 years?

The "gospel" of Joseph Smith is not the Gospel. The "bible" of the Mormons is a distortion and not The Bible. The word of the Book of Mormon is not corroborated by either the Old or New Testament: it does not build on the truths of either the Old or New Testaments, but teaches things entirely different and contrary to them.

The Apostle Paul could write to the sinful Corinthians "For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." 1 Cor 2:2. This is true Christianity, full of zeal and love for Jesus Christ, the mouth speaking of that of which the heart is full. For no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.. he said so himself (John 14:6). No other foundation can anyone one lay. (1 corinthians 3:11).

God has set his seal upon his only begotten Son and on his finished work by really, truly, historically, raising him physically from the dead in a resurrection body.

Joseph Smith died, as far as we know, holding on to what he had taught, without repentance, without acknowledging he had made it all up, without pleading for mercy in the name of our Lord Jesus, God the Son, the only Son of God. He is the type of person who is mentioned in Matthew chapter 24. Everything we know about Joseph Smith tells us he is not in Heaven.

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(I'm taking "Protestant" to mean "not Catholic and not Orthodox"...not all who fall into the latter accept the former title.)

Some (certainly not all) Protestants believe in "once saved, always saved" also known as "eternal security". That is, no matter what sin you commit after salvation, you cannot lose your salvation. In the most expansive of this viewpoint, apostasy (losing one's belief in God) is included because apostasy is a sin.

I am not familiar in depth with Smith's biography, but I believe he was a Methodist prior to founding his own church, or a different Christian tradition as part of the Second Great Awakening. If so, and assuming he was genuine in that faith, then presumably he was saved.

Everything after that (including founding his church) is some form of sin - heresy, etc. If you believe in "once saved, always saved" then it's easy to build the argument that Smith went to heaven because his later sins could not have undone his salvation.

I'm not advocating this line of argument personally but it's an obvious conclusion if you start with an OSAS viewpoint.

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    Yes, many Protestants do believe in the assurance of salvation. Tricky thing is we can never know for sure whether anyone else has truly had saving faith! Most Protestants would say that sure, it's hypothetically possible someone like Joseph Smith once had saving faith (and therefore infallible salvation), but that his later life of heresy and false teaching makes that a very unlikely scenario. Though we'd be happy to be proved wrong!
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 2 at 0:09
  • I was going to write up a "we don't know but probably no" answer. You did it better than I did. Rotten fruit suggests no, but doesn't actually prove it.
    – Joshua
    Apr 2 at 3:20
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    @Joshua - yes. 1st John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." Apr 2 at 5:46
  • raindog308 has it correct. We cannot determine if someone will go to heaven or hell, because we cannot speak for God.
    – Fred
    Apr 3 at 13:50
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    Smith was not a member of any church prior to founding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    – Fred
    Apr 3 at 13:52
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No! I'm already way ahead of those that are going to challenge me on this by asking, "How do you know?" According to Joseph's Smith's first vision he stated that God the Father and the Son appeared to him. The first problem is the fact that God the Father cannot be seen with the literal eyes and this is according to Jesus Christ Himself at John 5:37 and at John 6:46.

Point number two is that Smith ask God the Father and His Son which church should I join? Smith was given the answer "that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight." The problem with Smith's question is that he was not seeking salvation, which was a foolish question, that is, "what sect is right that he might join it." You do not join a church to get salvation. Salvation only comes by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ/God This is brought out at John 14:23, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him, and WE will come to him, AND MAKE OUR ABODE WITH HIM." Also read Revelation 3:20.

Problem number three as it pertains to Bruce McConkie. I was told by Hold To The Rod the following: "Mormon Doctrine is not an official church source, and Brother McConkie was severely scolded for including his opinions in it without adequately acknowledge that these were his opinions."

Since these are Mr. McConkie's opinions when he stated the following: "If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." This means to me that his opinions should not count because they are flat out not Biblical.

So I have a question? How did people obtain salvation not only before Joseph Smith showed up, but after he showed up? In any event, Mr. McConkie is "delusional" in my opinion and so is Joseph Smith, they are not to be trusted or believed.

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    Can you link to any official Protestant sources that support your opinion ?
    – Kris
    Mar 31 at 21:07
  • @LukeHill let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Matthew
    Apr 1 at 21:25
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    There may not be official Protestant sources, but there definitely are authoritative sources. Ideally we want all answers to be supported by quotes or references, so I'll leave Kris' request there.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 2 at 0:06
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    To my knowledge, no Christian tradition ever identifies someone specifically as going to hell, so we can't give a definitive "No!" Some traditions (e.g., Catholics) identifies people who they state have gone to heaven (termed Saints, which is not the same as the Mormon use of the word), but even those traditions don't say "this particular guy here went to hell" because we cannot speak for God.
    – raindog308
    Apr 3 at 1:18
  • RE: "How did people obtain salvation not only before Joseph Smith showed up" that is a good question. Like, Jesus was not sufficient to first century Christians? Other than that, about your view on personal relationship with God, what is your take on passages indicating God's worshippers to meet together, like Hebrews 10:24, 25? It seems that there was some organizing of the worship in the first century.
    – alec
    2 days ago

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