Mormon Apostle Discusses “The Essential Doctrine of Christ”

By Sharon Lindbloom
25 January 2016

Dallin OaksLast week Deseret News reported on an address Mormon apostle Dallin Oaks delivered to LDS missionaries during a worldwide missionary broadcast. Reaching an audience of 75,000, Mr. Oaks chose to define “Our message for missionaries.” Deseret News explained,

“Following a period of dramatic changes in the number of missionaries serving in the world, the Church now seeks improved focus on the doctrinal purpose of missionary work: teaching repentance and baptizing converts to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“That was the concluding message delivered by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…”

“The essential doctrine of Christ, he said, was described by the Savior Himself:

“‘And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

“‘And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God’ (3 Nephi 11:32-33).

“Such sacred words confirm that the doctrine of Christ is that ‘we must repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end in order to be saved in the celestial kingdom of our God. Missionaries are called to teach that doctrine.’”

It’s interesting to note that though the “essential doctrine of Christ” started out as “repent…believe…and [be] baptized,” Mr. Oaks’ exegesis of the cited text grew to include “repent…be baptized…receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…endure to the end.” What began as three imperatives attributed to Christ via the Book of Mormon, quickly expanded to five (with the command to “believe” being assumed).

As Mr. Oaks continued his address he continued to enlarge the list of essentials Mormonism requires for salvation in the celestial kingdom:

“The fundamental purpose of our missionary work is to teach the word of God that men and women cannot be saved in the highest degree of glory, the celestial kingdom, without faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that the only way to lay claim to the ultimate merits of that Atonement is to follow the commands of its author: repent and be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances of the temple and endure to the end. Those who do this can be exalted in the celestial kingdom.”

“Repent…believe…and [be] baptized” has now grown to “repent…be baptized…receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost…[receive] the ordinances of the temple and endure to the end.” Now the original three essentials “described by the Savior Himself” have grown to six.

Yet there is still more. Mr. Oaks explained that these things cannot be accomplished outside of the Mormon Church. Non-Mormon missionaries cannot bring the correct message, non-Mormon churches cannot supply what’s needed, and non-Mormon ecclesiastical authority cannot perform the rites that Mormonism believes is essential to salvation. “[O]nly a man exercising the priesthood of God can administer a baptism that will satisfy the divine decree,” Mr. Oaks said; and that priesthood authority is only found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Furthermore, Mr. Oaks instructed LDS missionaries that the investigators they teach should be “connected” to the Book of Mormon in order to “qualify for all the blessings of the restored [LDS] gospel.” Investigators should also be taught to “pay their tithing” and “attend Church each Sabbath so they can partake of the sacrament and be renewed in the cleansing effect of their baptism.”

Therefore, according to LDS apostle Dallin Oaks, the “essential doctrine of Christ…described by the Savior Himself” as “repent…believe…and [be] baptized” in order to “be saved” and “inherit the kingdom of God,” is not quite enough. Mr. Oaks said this salvation also requires:

  • Acceptance of the Book of Mormon
  • A specific baptism (by the “proper” LDS authority)
  • A specific repentance (noted by Mr. Oaks as a “process”)
  • Receipt of the Holy Ghost (by the “proper” LDS authority)
  • Receipt of LDS temple ordinances
  • Payment of tithing (without which temple ordinances are withheld from Mormons)
  • Taking the sacrament every week (without which the cleansing effect of their initial baptism may be nullified)
  • Enduring in all of these things (which includes keeping all the commandments) to the end

All of this is such a contrast to what the Bible teaches. In the words of the 19th century pastor Charles Spurgeon,

“What you have to do is simply accept what Jesus has finished. I know your idea is that you are to bring something to him; but that vainglorious idea has ruined many, and will ruin many more. When you are brought empty-handed, made willing to accept a free and full salvation from the hand of the Crucified, then, and then only, will you will be saved.” (see “One Door to Salvation”)

Mormonism is not Christianity, so it is not surprising to find that Mormonism distorts the biblical gospel message. Yet even from a Mormon perspective, Mr. Oaks’ teaching should be troubling. The three points of doctrine cited from the Book of Mormon at the start of Mr. Oaks’ address had grown to nine points by the end. What’s to be made of this in light of a Book of Mormon passage found just a few verses later? According to this Mormon scripture, after declaring, “this is my doctrine” (as cited above), Christ admonished:

“And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil… and the gates of hell stand open to receive such…” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:40)