The Facts on The Mormon Church (Harvest House, 1991) p. 24
What does Mormonism teach about the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross?
Mormonism claims that “salvation comes because of the atonement.”* However, in spite of such claims, the Mormon Church does not believe in the biblical atonement, but rather in an atonement of its own devising. The value of the atonement in Mormon thinking is that it gives men the opportunity to earn their own salvation through personal merit.
For the individual Mormon, righteousness by works would avail nothing if the atonement had not canceled the penalty of Adam’s sin which brought physical death to every man.* Mormons are grateful for the atonement because it raises them from the dead—but this is all it does. Mormons believe that “…the Lord died in order to bring about the resurrection of the dead.”*
In other words, in no way has Christ’s death actually purchased full salvation for anyone.*
Just as a college degree does not secure a salary, but only makes earning one possible, so Christ’s death does not secure salvation, but only makes earning it possible by good works. In Mormonism, the actual saving value of the atonement is virtually nonexistent. In fact Mormonism has such a low view of the atonement that during its early history, the Church taught that men must have their own blood shed (be killed) in order to atone for certain sins.* Unfortunately, there is little doubt that many individuals were actually murdered in the mistaken belief that this would allegedly atone for their sins and send them to heaven.* Mormon leaders such as C. W. Penrose have taught that the idea that Christ’s death is sufficient for salvation is “the great error” and most pernicious delusion of Christianity.*
*For full documentation, please see The Facts on The Mormon Church.