I had a conversation a few months ago about this question. Those that I were discussing this with made the argument that the “heathen,” the term my correspondent used for those who’ve never heard a part or portion of the gospel in mortality, are without the gospel law in mortality, and therefore they will be judged very much like little children, and will most likely all be exalted. Here is a followup that one of them recently emailed me:
I finally found the scripture I was thinking of when I wrote that “the heathen” who “died without law”, (that is, without having heard any form or portion whatsoever of the gospel) are still likely to be saved (and most likely even exalted) in the Celestial Kingdom.
In his discourse to his son about infant baptism, Mormon throws in those who “without the law” and puts them in the same category as those who die as infants, Moroni 8:22:
“For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing— ”
I’ll admit that there is still room for interpretation in light of Section 76, and of course Christ is the final judge of every individual.
I disagree with this interpretation of Moroni 8:22 (a similar scripture can be found in 2 Nephi 9:25–26). I believe this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel, which has serious repercussions to our understanding of God’s plan of redemption, and the work we do in the temple. [Read more…]