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This question is about statements by Latter-Day Saints that seem to indicate that a majority of humankind will be "saved".

For example, this page on resurrection says (emphasis added):

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected and saved from physical death

And this passage in Doctrine & Covenants 76:43-44 says (emphasis added):

43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—

Similarly the answer to this question says (emphasis added):

Finally, the eternal sense of the word hell is reserved for those who reject God, refuse the gospel, and deny the Holy Ghost. It's understood that these will be relatively few in number, but the sons of perdition, having departed in a sense the family of God, will not receive any glory.

Because of these statements I wanted to ask about Jesus' words in Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV):

13 ¶ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

How do Mormons interpret these words of Jesus in light of their view that most of humankind will be saved?

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Let's begin with the basic LDS doctrine. From Moses 1:39:

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

To us, immortality and eternal life are two things. The first is simply the continuation of the body through time. The second refers to the quality of our life in the hereafter. Building on this we find from LDS.org:

Eternal life is the phrase used in scripture to define the quality of life that our Eternal Father lives. ... Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to live in God's presence and to continue as families (see D&C 131:1–4). Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, to inherit eternal life requires our "obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel" (Articles of Faith 1:3).

We therefore interpret Matthew 7:13-14 to refer to eternal life, not immortality, and indeed we believe few there will be who find it.

Now, to complicate the story a bit, the verb "to save" has a more complex meaning in LDS theology than it does in most other Christian religions. That's because we believe the "second death" referred to in Revelations 2:11 and 20:6,14 describes a permanent, spiritual death or separation from our Father and His Son. The Bible no longer describes the First Death (AofF 1:8), but the Book of Mormon does in 2 Nephi 9:15 (and other scriptures):

...when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel....

For us, you can be saved from both the First Death and the Second. Everybody will be saved from the First Death (through resurrection), but only those who have availed themselves of the atonment of Jesus Christ to any degree will be saved from the Second Death. Doctrine & Covenants 76:43-44, which you quoted, clearly states that there are people who will receive no glory after judgement. These are they who died the Second Death. Everyone else receives some glory, depending on their faithfulness and willingness to obey the commandments of Christ and live according to His example throughout their lives.

However, the verse from D&C alone does not fully interpret Matthew. It draws the line between Perdition (which we more commonly name "Outer Darkness" and the other three kingdoms of glory (the Telestial, the Terrestrial, and the Celestial). Mathew is drawing the line below the Celestial, which we believe few will receive. The distinction doesn't bother us for a number of reasons begining with the fact that Jesus was giving instructions to two completely different sets of people for two completely different reasons. Anyone who has tried to give talks to different groups of people with known differences in their needs knows you can't write and deliver an entire book so that both deliveries provide all of the information both parties would need. So, why are we happy with the interpretation I've given you for Matthew?

It's because of Doctrine & Covenants 76:53-70(62), which teaches that our Heavenly Father dwells in the Celestial Kingdom, and Doctrine & Covenants 76:71-89(77, 86), which teaches people not in the Celestial Kingdom will be eternally separated from Him. Though not the Second Death because these people will enjoy some glory, they have not obtained eternal life, or life with our Heavenly Father.

We believe those exalted to the Celestial Kingdom will be few, and that this is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew.

  • sorry but if the "destruction" that Jesus spoke of is merely "not making it to the highest level of heaven" then I do not see why people should put the effort to all the temple rituals and paying tithes. – coderworks Jul 1 '17 at 3:32
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    @coderworks, that's a fantastic question. You should ask it in its own question! The answer is very interesting, but it's not really something for in the comments. – Alamb Jul 1 '17 at 6:27
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    @coderworks The difference between the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial is the like the difference between sun, moon, and stars. Go out at night and look at the moon and stars. Go out during the day and look at the sun, moon, and stars. – PyRulez Jul 1 '17 at 12:39
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    @coderworks, I second Alamb's suggestion of asking your question as its own question. That question deserves a better answer than can be fit in these comment blocks. – NeutronStar Jul 1 '17 at 18:52
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    allright, I have opened a separate question for it, here – coderworks Jul 3 '17 at 0:58

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