In the second addition of Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, he writes under the heading of Salvation that “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” I want to understand this. Isn’t Christ the key to salvation? As well, why do I always hear that it won’t be just Latter-day Saints who gain salvation? I’m confused by this. Any help?
Let me reproduce below the full paragraph from which you have taken your quote because it contains a key word on which the following statements were based.
Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such salvation available to men. Without the atonement, the gospel, the priesthood, and the sealing power, there would be no salvation. Without continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation. If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 1-350)
Elder McConkie is talking here about “Full Salvation.” The statement, “Without the atonement, the gospel, the priesthood, and the sealing power, there would be no salvation.” clarifies that Elder McConkie was talking about the salvation of exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God.
Those who do not avail themselves of the redemptive benefits of the great atoning sacrifice by full compliance with the principles of the gospel and who are not sealed by the power on the holy priesthood in the House of the Lord, will not achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom. They may be saved in the celestial kingdom without exaltation-
For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; (D&C 132:17).
They may also be saved in either the terrestrial or telestial kingdom. But that is not what Elder McConkie is referring to. If you were to replace the word “salvation” with the word “exaltation,” which is the highest order of salvation, and to which Elder McConkie was referring, I think that it would clear up your confusion.