In Priesthood Preview last night, one of the speakers posed this question to the attendees: is baptism required for salvation? Staying true to popular LDS beliefs, the response was that baptism is required for salvation.
This is where some Christians disagree with us. They claim that baptism is not required for salvation. Since I have a reputation of bucking LDS tradition in favour of doctrine, I must say that I agree with these other Christians.
You see, the whole problem stems from a misunderstanding?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùboth of the other Christians and the LDS ones?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùon what the word ?¢‚Ç¨?ìsalvation?¢‚Ç¨¬ù means. To a Christian it is being saved from our sins and living with God again; to a member of the Church, it is being saved from our sins and living with God again.
Then where is the difference? The Church teaches that heaven is composed of different degrees of glory with God living in the highest degree. Other Christians teach that heaven is singular, with no divisions, and God lives in this all-encompassing place.
In actuality, what members of the Church are referring to in this instance is exaltation, or ?¢‚Ç¨?ìindividual salvation?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, as many leaders have taught. For example,
?¢‚Ç¨?ìThe?¢‚Ç¨¬¶effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements ?¢‚Ç¨Àúobedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (James E. Talmadge, The Articles of Faith, 87).
“Conditional or individual salvation, that which comes by grace coupled with gospel obedience, consists in receiving an inheritance in the celestial kingdom of God. This kind of salvation follows faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, and continued righteousness to the end of one’s mortal probation” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 670).
Baptism, of course, is required for this salvation. On the other hand, everyone receives salvation?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùor general salvation?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùwith no regard to his or her obedience or commitment to Jesus.
?¢‚Ç¨?ìThe first effect is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (James E. Talmadge, The Articles of Faith, 87).
?¢‚Ç¨?ìUnconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected. In this sense salvation is synonymous with immortality?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 669-671).
?¢‚Ç¨?ìThere will be a General Salvation for all in the sense in which that term is generally used, but salvation, meaning resurrection, is not exaltation” (Stephen L. Richards, Contributions of Joseph Smith, 5).
?¢‚Ç¨?ìGeneral salvation comes regardless of obedience to gospel principles or laws and results solely in resurrection from the dead?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (Theodore M. Burton, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìSalvation and Exaltation,?¢‚Ç¨¬ù Ensign, July 1972, 78).
Baptism is not required for this salvation. It?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s misunderstanding of our own doctrines that cause not only Christians to attack our beliefs, but us to try to defend our supposed doctrines, while we in effect exasperate the situation (i.e. Faith v. Works debate).