“Am I saved?” “Is this idea or that practice ‘pertinent to my salvation’?” Many Mormons and other Christians focus quite a lot of energy on concerns about possible rewards or punishments in the afterlife. And many, as seems natural for humans living in an unpredictable and confusing world, long for and (even very consciously) seek assurances here and now that their life is acceptable to God, their “salvation” is secure. Concepts such as having one’s “calling and election (a New Testament phrase and idea) made sure” reveal this longing and concern. Christians seek to know they are “saved” in many different ways, as do Latter-day Saints, but Mormonism also has a formalized ritual in which these concerns are directly addressed and assurances that one’s life is fully accepted by God are given.
“Salvation”—it’s a huge idea. But it often comes as a bit of an eye-opener to those who are raised within some form of Christianity to learn that the idea of “sin” as the major problem we need to overcome in this world and that we as humans would need a “savior” (especially a god of some sort to intervene on our behalf) to overcome it are not obvious to those in other traditions. In fact, many religions do not focus much at all on “salvation” in terms of eternal rewards or punishments, instead viewing religion much more practically in terms of seeking meaning or mediating social conflicts that affect us in “this” world.
In this three-part episode of the Mormon Matters podcast (our biggest one to date), host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Jared Anderson, Chelsea Shields Strayer, and Danielle Mooney dive deep into “salvation.” What are the various ways other world traditions view the human predicament and how to overcome it? How does Christianity differ from these, and Mormon views from those of other Christians? What, exactly, is Mormon salvation theology? How is the LDS “plan of salvation” typically presented—and what are some approaches to it that might lead to more profound insights and understandings? Finally, how does the idea of “calling and election” fit into this story? Is it still part of today’s Mormonism? What about the ritual of the “second anointing” that was practiced intensely at times in LDS history but has had declines and resurgences from time to time. What are its major features? How does it make sense within the overall salvation narrative? What information is available about its being offered today? Also, what is the currency in today’s Mormonism about other seemingly exotic teachings related to a soul’s journey toward salvation and exaltation? In all of this, the panel tries to pay close attention to insights from myth and ritual studies, scripture, and concepts about blessings and acts serving as tokens of promises to come rather than automatic sealings of those promises. Within such contexts, are LDS notions and practices really all that “weird”?
Big podcast about big ideas. We invite you to listen and then join in the conversation below. Just as the panelists in this podcast took great care in the way they described temple-related concepts and rituals, we insist that all who comment here show similar respect to the sacredness of temple promises and practices. Even if you do not share the feeling that such subjects deserve serious consideration, you will not have a chance to be heard in this forum if you at least do not exercise restraint in how you communicate about your possible disagreements or critiques.
“The Fulness of the Priesthood”: The Second Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice, by David John Buerger (Dialogue 16:1, Spring 1983).