By Sharon Lindbloom
19 July 2016
The July issue of Friend, a magazine for children published by the LDS Church, includes an activity for children titled, “Your Path to Heavenly Father.” Presented as a board game, the instructions explain,
“Your path back to Heavenly Father has some necessary steps. It also has other experiences that are not necessary but that help you learn. Find out more as you play this fun game!”
Each player receives a game card listing the necessary “Steps to Salvation” and “Other Experiences” that are then checked off as the player lands on the related squares found on the game board. Each player collects all the Steps to Salvation before the game ends.
The “Other Experiences” in the game consist of things that are typical to a child’s life: “go to school,” “make a friend,” or “read a book.” But the “Steps to Salvation” are the focus of the game. This is what Mormon parents want to be sure their children learn. The steps (as included in the game) are these:
- Premortal life
- Get a body
- Be baptized
- Receive the Holy Ghost
- Take the sacrament
- Keep the commandments
- Go to the temple
- Be sealed to your husband or wife
- Be resurrected
An evangelical Christian would find much on this list to question, but what really stands out is that the Mormon “Steps to Salvation” don’t include Jesus. It’s true that even though Jesus isn’t mentioned by name, these LDS “Steps to Salvation” do include being baptized, which is done in Jesus’ name; making promises about Jesus when one takes the sacrament; and being resurrected because of Jesus’ atonement. But what about having faith in Jesus? What about loving Jesus? What about trusting Jesus? Don’t Mormons need Jesus Himself to be saved?
In the Bible Paul tells us,
“‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved… For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:8-18, 13)
But calling on the name of the Lord is not one of the “Steps to Salvation” that Mormon children are encouraged to take.
The biblical apostle John tells us,
“But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12)
But receiving Jesus is not one of the game’s “Steps to Salvation.”
John also tells us,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
Even though the Bible says those believing in Jesus are not condemned, and that the world is saved through Jesus, Jesus isn’t to be found in the Mormon children’s game that teaches how to gain salvation.
“Your Path to Heavenly Father” is simply a children’s activity; it’s not meant to be an exhaustive lesson on Mormon theology and doctrine. Even so, according to the Bible Jesus is not merely one of several important “Steps to Salvation” — He is to be our focus (“looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” –Hebrews 12:2), our path (“I am the way…” –John 14:6), and our only access to God the Father (“No one can come to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6).
Isn’t it odd, then, that Jesus is absent from the “Path to Heavenly Father” and the Mormon children’s list of “Steps to Salvation”?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asserts that Mormonism is a Christian religion. But leaving Christ out of salvation, even in a children’s game, is the sort of omission that makes that LDS claim ring hollow.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:4-8)