The Mormons and Justification

By Keith Pruitt

A few years back, a convicted murderer named Gary Gillmore requested to die by firing squad in Utah. One would perhaps think nothing strange of the situation if any but Mormons were involved. I thought little of it until sometime later. I was told that Gillmore, a Mormon, had made the request in order that he might have atonement for sins. Even then the statement did not click.

Recently, research on Mormonism uncovered some interesting discoveries concerning the official belief concerning justification and the efficacy of Christ’s blood. The fact is, Mormons do not believe that Christ’s blood has the power to forgive all sins. Therefore, they teach that one’s own blood must be shed for redemption of certain sins. Note the following quotes:

Once we have been resurrected, it will be our own efforts, and not Christ’s sacrifice, that will be the deciding factor (Wallace Bennett, Why I Am A Mormon, N.Y., 1958, p. 191 as quoted in History and Beliefs of Mormonism by Einar Anderson, p. 19).

Are you aware that there are certain sins that man may commit for which the atoning blood of Christ does not avail? (Joseph F. Smith quoted, R.C. Evans, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, p. 14).

I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins. It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, IV, pp. 53-54).

Thus, there are some sins that cannot be atoned for through the blood of Christ. They can only be atoned for by the shedding of the sinner’s blood. A murderer is one, and an adulterer is another (Charles W. Penrose, Blood Atonement, as Taught by Leading Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1884, p. 29 as quoted in Mormonism and Inspiration, Jack Free, p. 339).

In view of the above quotes from Mormon sources, it is not difficult to understand why Gillmore would ask to die nor is it difficult to see why Utah uses execution via a firing squad. Their efforts are noble, but they fail for lack of biblical sanction.

But directly to the point. Does the blood of Christ cleanse us from all sin? Let the book speak. Let us demonstrate the universal nature of the sacrifice and its efficacy.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1: 15). “. . Who gave himself a ransom for all. . . ” (1 Tim. 2:6). “. . And loosed us from sin by his own blood. . . ” (Rev. 1:5). “. . . For this he did once when he offered up himself. . . ” (Heb. 7:27). “. . . There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. . . ” (Heb. 10:26). “. . But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. . – ” (Heb. 9:26). “. . . So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. . . ” (v. 28). “. . He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).

Now what sin can His blood not remit? What person cannot be saved? Listen to Paul’s address to the Corinthians. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, . . . nor adulterers, . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed (see Rev. 1:5, KJV), but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11; see also Eph. 1: 7). Now the blood of Christ was sufficient to cleanse the Corinthians who had been fornicators and adulterers. It will cleanse the obedient alien of all sin and the penitent Christian of all sin. .

The fact is, if the blood of Christ will not cleanse from some sin, it will not cleanse from any sin! Sin is sin in God’s sight. A man stands as condemned for neglecting his family as for murdering his neighbor (1 Tim. 5:8).

If the blood of Christ could pardon Saul of Tarsus of the murder he was guilty of, would it not pardon the apostle Paul of the same offense (had he been guilty of such)? If not, why not? Under what rules would God show more favor toward an alien than the child of the covenant?

It is a shame that ignorant and deceitful men have led so many astray. Countless hundreds become Mormons every year. They are following a system of teaching that cannot save and are teaching that Jesus is even powerless to save some. How ludicrous and devastating.

Gillmore perhaps went to this death thinking that the very act of the civil government would atone for his unrighteousness. But if one ounce of Gillmore’s blood could atone for any sin, there would be no need of Jesus Christ.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 11, p. 333
June 4, 1987