This can be a very confusing topic, and cannot be understood without a clear definition of the words "saved" and of "hell".
Those early Mormons should not have been surprised at a revelation that sounded like universalism. The book of Mormon teaches: "Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him. For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone" (2 Nephi. 9:25, emphasis added).
King Benjamin taught the same principle: "For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned" (Mosiah 3:11, emphasis added).
Mormon taught it: "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— . . . for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law" (Moroni 8:22, emphasis added).
So indisputably those who pass mortality unexposed to the law of the gospel are "delivered" by the Atonement and grace of Christ and have part in the first resurrection. But keep in mind that the first resurrection involves a morning and afternoon, and includes those of a Celestial and a Terrestrial glory. So these scriptures do not mean that ignorance is a free pass to exaltation. Notice that nowhere in these verses is the word "saved" which almost always means Gods Kingdom - exaltation. Josephs vision of the degrees of glory says that these who die ignorant of the gospel will be in the terrestrial kingdom. "these are they who are of the terrestrial…
these are they who died without law." D&C 76:72
Of course there are personal exceptions and D&C 137:7 seems to be an exception to D&C 76:72. Do you have another explanation of how to reconcile these two apparently conflicting scriptures?
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