The Atonement of Jesus Christ According to the Mormon Church

 By John Carson



What do they believe?


I will give brief descriptions of what Mormons call "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (LDS Church) teaches about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They will be titled as follows...


The Act of the Atonement

The Unconditional Provisions of the Atonement

The Conditional Provisions of the Atonement

The Veil


Under those descriptions I provided some quotations taken from their LDS website for documentation purposes. Many other LDS official quotations could have been added, but I provided the quotes below for space purposes and clarity.


The Act of the Atonement


The LDS Church teaches it includes:


  1. Jesus suffering in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.


  1. Jesus bleeding from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane.


  1. Jesus dying on the cross.


  1. Jesus being raised from the dead.


From their LDS website:


  1. His Atonement included His suffering for the sins of mankind, the shedding of His blood, and His death and subsequent resurrection from the grave.” (From: ‘Guide to the Scriptures - Atonement’)


Note: When Mormons talk about Jesus’ suffering, they are speaking mainly of His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane.


  1. Mormon President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught: “We speak of the passion of Jesus Christ. A great many people have an idea that when he was on the cross, and nails were driven into his hands and feet, that was his great suffering. His great suffering was before he ever was placed upon the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the blood oozed from the pores of his body.” (From: ‘Gospel Classics - Gethsemane’) See also: Doctrine and Covenants 19:18 (considered Mormon Scriptures).


  1. “Jesus's atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary.” (From: ‘Topical Studies - Atonement of Jesus Christ’)


  1. The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection.... This triumph of Jesus Christ over spiritual death by His suffering and over physical death by His Resurrection is called the Atonement.” (From: ‘Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004) - The Plan of Salvation’)


[Does the Bible teach Jesus suffered for the payment of sins in the Garden of Gethsemane? Go to: ‘Atonement for Sin - Where Was It Paid?’]


 The Unconditional Provisions of the Atonement


 The LDS Church teaches they include:


  1. The payment for Adam’s transgression (not sin) so that no one is under its penalty.


  1. The resurrection from the dead of every man, woman, and child who lives, has ever lived, or ever will live, on the earth.


  1. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is efficacious for other worlds.


Note: Mormons do not believe Adam sinned when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. In Mormonism, original sin does not exist. Mormons do not believe we inherited Adam’s sin nature (since they do not believe he had one). They believe everyone has the innate capacity to choose to do good rather than evil, as Mormon Elder Delbert L. Stapley - Of the Council of the Twelve, stated: “We have built-in powers of conscience sufficient to develop our free agency in right choices and to acquire qualities of goodness, humility, and integrity of purpose.”(From: ‘Ensign (1975) - Using Our Free Agency’). Therefore, it is important not to confuse this particular LDS doctrine of ‘Free Agency’ as if they teach Christ’s Atonement was efficacious for automatically ridding everyone on earth of sin (known as ‘universal salvation’). They do not believe this, but rather, that the Atonement paid for Adam’s own transgression, and that no one else is responsible for his disobedience.


[For more information about this LDS doctrine about Adam’s Transgression, see: ‘The Fall (Part 1’). For a Christian response, see: ‘The Fall (Part 2)’.] 


From their LDS website:


  1. Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden.” (From: ‘True to the Faith (2004) - Original Sin’).... Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, wrote: “It is proper and according to the scriptural pattern to speak of the transgression of Adam, but not the sin of Adam.” (From: ‘Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (1966), 804. Taken from - “In the Beginning”: By Robert J. Woodford’)


  1. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected and saved from physical death.” (From: ‘Topical Studies - Resurrection’)


  1. The infinite Atonement affects worlds without number and will save all of God’s children except sons of perdition.” (From ‘Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000) - The Atonement of Jesus Christ’)


[Mormons will say they believe in salvation by grace. Yet what they mean by this, is that every person will be resurrected. This is called ‘Unconditional Salvation’, or ‘Immortality’. Being saved by grace does not mean a person enters into an eternal relationship with God. Go to: ‘Mormon Salvation - What Does It Mean?’]


The Conditional Provisions of the Atonement


The LDS Church teaches they include:


  1. The Atonement opens the way for the redemption of anyone upon the condition of obedience in all eras of human history.


  1. The Atonement provides cleansing to individuals of sins and mistakes so they can better exercise their innate abilities to perform good deeds.


  1. Because of the Atonement, those who faithfully adhere to LDS principles and ordinances may enjoy immortality in the Celestial Kingdom.


  1. Because of the Atonement, all will face judgement. Those worthy to dwell in the Celestial Kingdom can enjoy the presence of the Father and Jesus Christ.


 From their LDS website:


  1. “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (From: ‘Pearl of Great Price/ Articles of Faith #3’) Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden. He has given us the assurance of resurrection and the promise that, based on our faithfulness, we can return to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father forever.” (From: ‘Gospel Topics - Original Sin’)


  1. “Intertwined with the principle of agency is the Atonement, through which we become cleansed from our sins and mistakes.... The more we exercise our agency wisely, basing our choices on righteous principles, the more Christlike we become.” (From: ‘Agency: By Elder Spencer J. Condie - Of the Seventy’)


  1. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected. After we are resurrected, we will stand before the Lord to be judged. Each of us will be assigned to an eternal dwelling place in a specific kingdom of glory.... The celestial kingdom is the highest of the three kingdoms of glory....”


  1. “.... Those in this kingdom will dwell forever in the presence of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.... To inherit this gift, we must receive the ordinances of salvation, keep the commandments, and repent of our sins.” (From: ‘True to the Faith (2004) - Kingdoms of Glory’)


[Worthiness is a central teaching of the LDS Church. Only those who are judged worthy through following the Mormon Church’s ordinances, may enter Mormon Temples where they learn how to progress and dwell in the Celestial Kingdom. Does the Bible teach this? Go to: ‘Worthy to Enter’. Is faithfulness in following the commands and ordinances of the Mormon Church necessary to enjoy God’s presence in His Kingdom? Go to ‘Mormon Salvation - What Does It Mean?’]


The Veil


The final teaching I’ll briefly touch on about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, has to do with Mormonism’s doctrine of ‘going through the veil’. Once a Mormon is worthy to enter a Mormon Temple, a temple worker can teach the Mormon sacred tokens and special handshakes. Mormons are taught these can be used in the afterlife in their process of becoming gods. 

[Special note to the Mormon reading this: The details of how these rituals are conducted inside Mormon Temples cannot be retrieved through the LDS website. This is because they are sworn to secrecy for reasons that the rituals are considered too sacred to share with heathens. Mormons are not permitted to read any articles that reveal their sacred rituals outside their Temples. Therefore, I will not expose any details of those rituals here, or from the links provided on this page. Also, I am not an Ex-Mormon. I had never been a member of the Mormon Church. I share this information so the Mormon reading this may continue to research here with a clear conscience.]


President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Boyd K. Packer taught that the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement is “ take anyone who comes, anyone who will join, and put them through an experience so that at the end of their life, they can go through the veil having repented of their sins and having been washed clean through the blood of Christ.” (From: ‘General Conference (October, 2012) - The Atonement’)


‘Going through the veil’ is a sacred teaching of the Mormon Church. They define ‘veil’ as... “A word used in the scriptures to mean (1) a divider separating areas of the tabernacle or temple, (2) a symbol for a separation between God and man.” (From: ‘Guide to the Scriptures - Veil)


This is a definition I agree with wholeheartedly; and it’s a great place to end this study on what Mormons believe. Why do I say that? Because there is a connection between Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and the tearing of the temple veil recorded in the Bible. The separation between God and man has been dealt with, and it’s God’s doing! Scripture reveals some wonderful truths about this that you don’t want to miss. There’s a life-changing reason why the veil was torn by God, and you should know why.

Find out in: ‘The Veil Is Torn!