A doctrine has become widely spread throughout the church, quoting some verses to present that half the church will gain Eternal Life. The support for this is almost entirely derived from parables. So let's examine the arguments for and against.
Supporting the 50% Concept
Matthew Chapter 12:1-12 States _ "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, that took their lamps, and went forward to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Look, the bridegroom is coming; go you out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; in case there is not enough for us and you: but you go instead to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, surely I say to you, I don't know you."
There is also quotes of a just as opposed to an unjust steward, wheat and tares growing together etc. But are these statistical figures or just opposites Christ used? Was half just an obvious choice for this parable of virgins. The other parables showing opposites say nothing of 50% at all and therefore aren't worth quoting here.
Matthew 24:38-42 says _ "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
Again the question arises as to whether we should take this figure used by Christ as more than merely suggesting that some will be taken in the resurrection and some won't?
Opposing the 50% Concept
If we are to use the parable of the ten virgins as statistics it would pose some serious problems. Let's examine another parable Christ taught.
Matthew 25:14-30 states _ " For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straight away took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them another five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came, and took account with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: look, I have gained, beside them, five talents more. His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: you enter into the joy of your lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: look, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: you enter into the joy of your lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: so, there you have what is yours. His lord answered and said to him, you wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I didn't sow, and gather where I have not strawed: You should therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This parable was given straight after the one of ten virgins. But it has 3 stewards with 2 gaining more and only one being sent to outer darkness. So should we conclude that Christ had changed his mind and decided that 66.6% of the church would make it instead? These are just convenient figures used in parables not statistics.
We have the parable of the merchant who went and sold all he had for the pearl. Should we then conclude that Christ meant 100% of the church would make it? I could go on with how silly this would be from the parables point of view. But what other Scriptures refute this?
"Look, there are many called, but few are chosen…" D&C 121:34
So many are called to positions of responsibility within the priesthood, but FEW will actually measure up to the responsibility. While still in this same discussion (it ends in verse 40) we are informed that "almost all men" given such authority will fail to measure up (verse 39). Therefore few priesthood leaders would be among the 50%. And considering that this 50% that are righteous would have to consist of almost no men (as the converse of "almost all men"), sensibly we would have to conclude that the 50% would almost entirely be women. Thus making almost 100% of the women in the church making it (sounds great for the women).
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart form me, you that work iniquity." Matt 7:22-23
So what percentage of the church members have cast out devils, prophesied and done many wonderful works?
It would be my opinion that far more than 50% of church members would deem themselves unable to perform these tasks. Yet Christ says that many, even having done so, won’t enter into the kingdom of heaven.