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Blood Atonement


Properly called individual blood atonement, according to this doctrine there are certain sins which place the sinner beyond the forgiving power of the blood of Christ. The only way the sinner can achieve forgiveness is to have his or her own blood shed. This appears to reflect a serious misunderstanding of the Old Testament law where in the Israelite theocratic state certain crimes, like murder, required the punishment of death. But nowhere does the Law of Moses state that this punishment is the means of any forgiveness. In biblical terms, forgiveness is always provided graciously by God. 

According to this doctrine there are certain sins, which place the sinner beyond the forgiving power of the blood of Christ. The only way the sinner can achieve forgiveness is to have his or her own blood shed.

This section is best studied by first reading Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie's 'defense' and explanation for blood atonement, and then reading the statements of early Mormon leaders in their context. McConkie claims that there are no true references to blood atonement in these early writings and that blood atonement can only be practiced in a context where civil and ecclesiastical laws are administered in the same hands. And yet, this was the situation that prevailed in the early years of the Utah territory when Brigham Young was both Governor of the territory and Prophet of the LDS Church.

Click on links below to see scans of actual documents.

  • Bruce R. McConkie - No true references to blood atonement in Mormon history only false and slanderous stories made up by enemies of the Mormon church. Mormon Doctrine, pp. 92-93 (1966) 
  • Brigham Young - After recounting a dream where he slits the throats of two apostates, Brigham Young states, "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife and conquer or die." Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 83 (1853) 
  • Brigham Young - "If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot, and never suffer him to commit another iniquity." Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 108 (1853) 
  • Brigham Young - If you find your brother in bed with your wife, and you put a javelin through them both, you would be justified and they would atoned for their sins and be received into the kingdom of God. ... "There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it;" Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 247 (1856) 
  • Jedediah M. Grant - "I say that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood." Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 49 (1856) 
  • Jedediah M. Grant - "if they are covenant breakers we need a place designated, where we can shed their blood."Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 50 (1856) 
  • Brigham Young - "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground ... I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them not destroy them. ... I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood" Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 53 (1856) 
  • Brigham Young - "It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit." Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 54 (1856) 
  • Heber C. Kimball - "You have heard us talk about it a great deal, and probably many do not believe one word we say, but his people will never, no never, prosper to a high degree until we make a public example of — what? Men who have be warned and forewarned ... we will take them and slay them before this people." Journal of Discourses,vol. 4, p.173 (1857) 
  • Brigham Young - For some the only way to be saved and exalted with the Gods is to have their own blood shed. "Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?" Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 219 (1857) 
  • Brigham Young - (Quote continues) "That is what Jesus Christ meant. ... I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins." Loving our neighbor as ourselves means spilling his blood if that is what is necessary. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 220 (1857) 
  • John Taylor - "This principle [i.e. obedience to Mormon leadership] pervades all, whether in a civil or military capacity or in any other capacity. We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now. Thank God, we have no more temporal and spiritual! We have got Church and State together" Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 266 (1857) 
  • John Taylor - The kingdom the prophets spoke of was both a Church and a State and this is what the Mormons have. Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 24 (1857) 
  • Brigham Young - "Some of our old traditions teach us that a man guilty of atrocious and murderous acts may savingly repent when on the scaffold; and upon his execution you will hear the expression — 'Bless God! he has gone to heaven to be crowned in glory, through the all-redeeming merits of Christ the Lord.' This is all nonsense. Such a character never will see heaven." Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 61 (1860) 
  • Orson Pratt - The same authority God established in the beginning is again restored. "Ours is an ecclesiastical Church and and ecclesiastical state." Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p.105 (1860)