Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Exactly When Do Saved Christians Lose Their Souls?

I've known a number of people who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints years after they considered themselves to be "saved Christians." Now that they are Latter-day Saints, many of their fellow "saved Christians" may believe that they are destined for hell. I'd like to explore the steps leading to their eternal doom to understand when it is that these saved Christians lost their souls.

First, from my perspective, the phrase "I've been saved" always seems so premature because I believe that salvation includes being resurrected and brought back into the presence of the Father, and those who are still mortal just don't look completely "saved" yet, especially with all those wrinkles around the eyes. Plus I believe there there is the possibility that Christians can fall from grace (see I Cor. 10:12, Rom. 11:22, Heb. 3:12-14, etc.), so we need to endure to the end to make the hope of our salvation sure (Matt. 24:13, 2 Pet. 1:10). But when I hear someone say that, I just mentally translate it to mean "I've accepted the Savior, have been forgiven for my sins, have tasted of His love and goodness, and now seek to follow Him." And that's wonderful.

So back to my inquiry. Let's consider the life of "John" - based on real people I've known. I'll go through several stages of John's life. For those of you saved Christians who think Mormons are headed to hell, please help me understand when John became doomed and gave up his salvation. I'll number the stages to make things easier.

  1. John grows up in a Christian home and is taught to believe in the Bible and to believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.

  2. John goes to college and hears many challenging doctrines. He has a crisis of faith.

  3. While pondering, praying, and reading the scriptures, John has a powerful spiritual experience and realizes that Jesus Christ truly is Lord, no matter what scholars and mockers may say.

  4. John commits himself to serving the Lord, and fully accepts Jesus Christ as His Savior.

  5. John continues in college as a science major. In pondering the discrepancies between what he learned in Sunday School and what science teaches, John concludes that there must be ways to reconcile science and true religion. Recognizing that the Hebrew word for "day" can refer to lengthy periods of time, John suspects that the Genesis account of the Creation may describe the stages of Creation in general terms, but need not require a young earth made in six 24-hour days. Perhaps God even took advantage of evolutionary mechanisms to prepare the earth for its present state.

  6. John attends evangelical services, but grows uncomfortable with some of the positions and attitudes. He loves the Lord, but feels he is missing something in his understanding. He wishes to strengthen his personal relationship with the Lord and better understand his mission on earth.

  7. John takes a dance class. He finds he has a flare for dancing. He even enjoys doing the cha-cha.

  8. John meets a Mormon girl, Elaine. He is surprised at how non-evil she seems.

  9. John is disappointed to find that Elaine is waiting for a missionary, but they are still friends. John asks a few polite questions about Elaine's faith, and becomes intensely curious. How can he learn more?

  10. He accepts Elaine's challenge to read the Book of Mormon. John has many questions, but the teachings about the Savior resonate with his beliefs. The insights about the power of the Atonement and the love of the Savior stir him. Is it possible that a fraudulent book could be such a moving witness for the divinity of the Savior?

  11. John meets with the missionaries and learns details about the Restoration that help him make sense of many puzzling issues in Christian history. The idea that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored sounds so exciting - too good to be true?

  12. John earnestly wishes to follow the Savior, and wonders if this Church and the Book of Mormon truly come from Him. As he learns more and experiences more, he senses that he is finding those things that he felt were missing in his understanding and faith before.

  13. John spends a weekend fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and pouring out his soul to the Lord to understand if he should join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is not sure, but as he explores the Book of Mormon in more depth, he has a powerful spiritual experience that gives him knowledge and faith that the Book of Mormon is scripture, like the Bible, and that it stands as a second witness for Christ.

  14. John concludes that his commitment to love and serve the Lord can more fully be realized by joining what he believes to be the Church of Jesus Christ, entering into a formal covenant through baptism to follow Jesus Christ, a covenant that he has already had in his heart for years.

  15. John horrifies his parents when he announces that he has decided to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He explains his decision as best he can, and they try to be understanding, but there is a painful divide as the parents fear their son is lost. They try to point him to some helpful Websites to help him reconsider his faith. One of them, a site providing powerful evidence for Book of Mormon plagiarism, backfires on them - a tragic mistake, they feel. John's intellectual appreciation of the Book of Mormon is only strengthened. He sees it as a Christ-centric scriptural account that profoundly strengthens his understanding and appreciation for His Savior, Jesus Christ.

  16. John is baptized and receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.

  17. John is ordained as a priest in the Church, and takes delight in helping to bless the sacrament - the communion - in Church services, and marvels at the opportunity he has to break and bless the bread in remembrance of the Savior.

  18. Three weeks later, in a testimony meeting, John gladly bears witness of the Savior, of the love and mercy of the Savior, and his gratitude for having learned about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  19. Elaine can't get over John, and they begin dating. Elaine writes something of a "dear John" letter to her missionary.

  20. John spends significant amounts of his free time seeking to serve the Lord through service to others. He gladly pays tithing on his small income, and attends meetings each Sunday at Church. John is puzzled about the indifference some Mormons seem to have about their faith, not taking it as seriously as they should, and prefers to associate with the Latter-day Saints that sincerely seek to live their religion. There are some disappointments in Zion, but John feels closer to the Savior than ever, and feels that he is following Him, though there are plenty of things he doesn't understand about the Church and life in general. He will always seeks to learn and understand more.

  21. Some friends share anti-Mormon literature with John. He is shaken but does online research and finds plausible answers. He is not prepared to deny his faith and the powerful experiences he has had on the basis of some bitter critics ranting, anymore than he was prepared to abandon his faith in Christ and the Bible on the basis of evolutionary theory and other attacks he experienced in his early college days. He recognizes that his understanding may need to be adjusted on some issues, but he has no doubt that the Savior lives, that God is real, and that the scriptures - including the Book of Mormon - are inspired of God.

  22. John is asked if he would be willing to serve on a mission. He has already given that serious thought, and accepts the challenge.

  23. John spends two years in France bearing witness of the Savior and the Restoration to people who mostly don't want to hear what he has to say. It is the most difficult and painful experience of his life, but he later learns that two of the people he taught later joined the Church, and that one of them stayed active. Not a huge harvest of souls, but he knows he made a difference - not to mention the companions he helped strengthen. Regardless of the size of the harvest, the experience of sacrificing for the Lord for two years brought him closer than ever to the Savior, and he feels that the experience was worth the pain.

  24. John returns from France and soon marries Elaine in the temple.

  25. John starts a pro-LDS blog to share his faith promoting experiences and insights, and becomes an amateur LDS apologist. And believe it or not, he sincerely thinks he's serving the Savior in doing this, and in his heart, firmly believes that He has accepted Jesus Christ as His personal Savior, and seeks to be a witness of Jesus Christ throughout his life. He feels he has never departed from his early faith in Christ, have only accepted more of the gifts and blessings that Jesus Christ offers as he has progressed on his journey through life.

So now John, once an acceptable saved Christian, has become a "true blue Mormon" destined for eternal roasting. I'm just curious to know at which point join abandoned Jesus Christ and lost his soul. I ask this question in all seriousness for it points to a very fundamental puzzle that I encounter in dealing with so many angry Christians trying to tell me and other Mormons why we are going to hell for not believing in the Bible or in Jesus, when in fact we do. By considering the case of someone who at least initially met acceptable criteria for salvation, pinpointing the loss of the Mormon soul in the above list of events will help me understand where some of our critics are coming from.

It's hard for me to see at what point our saved Christian friends could say that John truly denied Jesus Christ and became a child of hell. Could it be step 7 - something to do with the cha-cha?

87 comments:

Bruce V C said...

Well, most southern baptist jurisdictions do tend to proscribe dancing (compare Footloose).

I think if I were an evangelical, my response to your question would be, "Between numbers six and seven" in all seriousness. I think it would be a desire to look beyond the community of believers, in your example, to a dance school, for fulfillment, that he starts to "apostatize." Or, I could just be talking out of my you-know-what. But I think it's important to emphasize that we Latter-day Saints can be guilty of accusing people of the same thing. For instance, I recently chose to visit a masjid (mosque) to inquire about Arabic lessons. Telling that to people at church was precarious at best.

I, by the way am a convert to the Church from atheism (though to which degree of atheism, I do not know myself).

Anonymous said...

Wow, Elaine got the short end of the stick. Half way through one missionary only to start completely over.

D360 said...

well from being exposed to the once saved always saved ideas, I have heard it said that a person like that was never really truly saved to begin with.

I'm not sure how you can hold that idea simultaneously though because by default they are then, at least by implication, making a case for enduring to the end at the same time.

Anonymous said...

The moment John accepted a belief that he would one day become a god himself.

The moment he abandoned Christ's teachings (ie: accepted a secret handshake prerequisite for heavenly entry).

The moment he accepted a belief that Christ alone was insufficient for salvation...

Anonymous said...

My name is John, and I haven't gotten past Step 2.

texasspirit314 said...

Conversely, we can ask why anyone who was moved in the Spirit would ever leave the "one true church" (if it even exists).

People switch their religions all the time, even after they claim God was guiding them in their first religion. Even Mormon bishops have been known to abandon their "calling".

Most people, even atheists, base their beliefs on what they want to be true. But wants can be easily manipulated, and what satisfied the soul one day may feel dry the next week. Most spirituality is a matter of taste.

The Book of Mormon reads like a epic, and I myself have been wrapped up in at times. But no matter how fantastic it may sound, I cannot accept what insults my intellectual integrity.

SteSmo said...

I am curious as to why it is that anonymous - let's call him, assuming that anonymous is a male, Joe - thinks that the doctrines of the LDS church (i.e. deification, Temple worship, etc.) are contrary to Christs' teachings. Let us examine as to whether or not those teachings are Christian, shall we?

Joe wrote,

"The moment John accepted a belief that he would one day become a god himself."

The idea that man can become a divine god is nothing new to Mormonism. Early Christian doctrine is saturated in the idea of man becoming a God. Here is what Irenaeus said,

"While man gradually advances and mounts towards perfection; that is, he approaches the eternal. The eternal is perfect; and this is God. Man has first to come into being, then to progress, and by progressing come to manhood, and having reached manhood to increase, and thus increasing to persevere, and persevering to be glorified, and thus see his Lord...We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods." (Henry Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius, 94)

Irenaeus also wrote,

"For he who holds, without pride and boasting, the true glory (opinion) regarding created things and the Creator, who is the Almighty God of all, and who has granted existence to all; [such an one, ] continuing in His love and subjection, and giving of thanks, shall also receive from Him the greater glory of promotion, looking forward to the time when he shall become like Him who died for him, for He, too, "was made in the likeness of sinful flesh,"to condemn sin, and to cast it, as now a condemned thing, away beyond the flesh, but that He might call man forth into His own likeness, assigning him as [His own] imitator to God, and imposing on him His Father's law, in order that he may see God, and granting him power to receive the Father; [being] the Word of God who dwelt in man, and became the Son of man, that He might accustom man to receive God, and God to dwell in man, according to the good pleasure of the Father." ( Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," () Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:450, chapter 6)

Here is Clement of Alexandria,

"...yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god." (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, 1)

And,

"...if one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God...His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes god, since God wills it." (Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 3.1 see also Clement, Stromateis, 23)

And,

"Those who have been perfected are given their reward and their honors. They have done with their purification, they have done with the rest of their service, though it be a holy service, with the holy; now they become pure in heart, and because of their close intimacy with the Lord there awaits them a restoration to eternal contemplation; and they have received the title of "gods" since they are destined to be enthroned with the other "gods" who are ranked next below the savior." (Henry Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), 243–244. And Stromata 7:10 (55–56).)

Justin Martyr,

"to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons... in the beginning men were made like God, free from suffering and death, and that they are thus deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest..." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 124)

Athanasius wrote,

"the Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods....just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both defied through His flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life...[we are] sons and gods by reason of the word in us." (Athanasius, Against the Arians, 1.39, 3.39.)

Augustine wrote,

"...but He himself that justifies also defies, for by justifying He makes sons of God. For He has given them power to become the sons of God, (John 1:12). If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods." (Augustine, On the Psalms, 50:2)

Jerome thought that man could become divine,

"“I said 'you are gods, all of you sons of the most high.’" let Eunomius hear this, let Arius, who say that the son of God is son in the same way we are. That we are gods is not so by nature, but by grace. “but to as many as receive Him he gave power to becoming sons of God” I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. We are called gods and sons!...[Christ said] "all of you sons of the Most High," it is not possible to be the son of the Most High, unless He Himself is the Most High. I said that all of you would be exalted as I am exalted... give thanks to the God of gods. The prophet is referring to those gods of whom it is written: I said ‘you are gods’ and again ‘god arises in the divine assembly’ they who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice an are become perfect, are gods and the sons of the most high..." (Jerome, The Homilies of Saint Jerome, 106–353.)

Now these are not so called 'heretical' teachers and Christians, these are Orthodox Christian theologians and teachers. Now, let's see if this idea of becoming divine is in the Bible. Here is a list of biblical passages that seem to show that indeed man can become perfected and divine:

Romans 8:16-17
Luke 6:40
Hebrews 12:23
Galatians 4:7
Matthew 5:48
Psalm 82:5-6
Revelation 3:21
2 Peter 1:4
2 Corinthians 3:18
Acts 17:29
1 Peter 3:7
Daniel 12:3

So the idea of becoming a divine God is right at home with primitive Christian teachings. Indeed, the early Christian Fathers would have loved Joseph's King Follett Discourse, as he was basically just repeating what they themselves had taught about becoming gods. Now if Evangelicals are so passionate about being "bible-Christians" then why is it they get so mad at Mormons for teaching that you can become like our Father in Heaven when the doctrine is completely biblical?

Mormanity said...

Anon/"Joe", help me out. If someone accepts Christ as his or her savior, but also believes something you think is incorrect -- such as believing that the resurrected Lord still has the glorious, tangible physical body he allowed people to see and touch in Luke 24, or using the Catholic Bible instead of your Bible, or using wrong terminology such as "gods" in describing the final state of sons and daughters of God who put on the divine nature and become more like Jesus -- then why does that error in understanding send the person to hell?

Do they also have to get correct answers on a quantum physics quiz? Or be able to name every starting pitcher in the World Series? Just how extensive is the Eternal Salvation Quiz that we have to pass with perfect answers in order to be saved?

And Anon, if the John of my example never actually thought that he's going to one day be classified among "gods", would he still be OK?

Soledad said...

I just want to say that I really, really appreciate what stesmo explained. I'm a LDS member and I am always questioned about that from people outside the church. Thanks!!!

SteSmo said...

This is a follow up response to Joe's second assertion. I hopefully demonstrated in my first post that the doctrine of Exaltation, or becoming a god/goddess, is right at home in Apostolic Christianity. This second post will be a response to Joe's assertion that John lost his salvation "The moment he abandoned Christ's teachings (ie: accepted a secret handshake prerequisite for heavenly entry)."

Once again, we find that the early Christians were ripe with Temple liturgy, including the Savior teaching his Apostles secret ceremonies. First off, I would recommend Margaret Barker's "The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy", Dan Peterson’s "Offenders for a Word" and Hugh Nibley's "Mormonism and Early Christianity". All of these books deals with this issue quite masterfully.

Now, onto the issue at hand. We find plenty of Biblical references to the “mysteries of God”. Lets use one example, from, let’s say, 1 Corinthians 4:1 wherein Paul refers to himself and his associates as “stewards of the mystery of God”. Now, turning to the Greek word for ‘mystery’, we find the Genitive Plural Neuter word “Mysterion” which literally means “secret doctrines” and is associated with initiation into a religious ritual when put in context with the passage. So, in other words, Paul is saying that he and his associates are “stewards of the [secret doctrines] of God”.

Now, turning to the Secret Gospel of Mark, one of my favorite apocryphal works, Jesus is said to have taught a young man “the mysteries of the Kingdom of God” at the Jordan river while the young man was nothing but a linen cloth. Remember the Greek word “mysterion” meaning secret doctrines or ordinances? Sure enough, the original Greek used informs us the Jesus was teaching the young man “the [secret doctrines and ordinances] of the Kingdom of God”. So we see how Jesus himself was teaching secret doctrines and ordinances. We also read in several more apocryphal texts (i.e. Acts of Peter, Gospel of Thomas) that Jesus’ teachings during his 40 day Ministry was to be top secret, and that the Apostles were to tell no one save those involved about what he was teaching them. Why the Gospel of Thomas flat out tells us that what is being recorded are the “secret sayings that the living Jesus told us.” (80:10)

In the Gospel of Philip, we read that Jesus has “everything within himself, whether human or angel or mystery [secret doctrines and ordinances] and the Father” (Gospel of Phillip, 56:13-15) It is interesting to note that the Gospel of Philip refers to marriage, baptism (i.e. washings and anointings) and many other ordinances as “great mysteries” [secret doctrine and ordinance]” (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 2007, Marvin Meyer, 171, 173).

In the Secret Book of John, in which Jesus teaches John more doctrines, it starts out by saying,

“The teachings of the Savior, and [the revelations] of the mysteries [secret doctrines and ordinances] hidden in silence, the things that he taught his disciple John.” (Secret Gospel of John, 1,1- 4)

And then it ends by saying that the previous teaches had been “communicated to him in a mystery.” (Secret Book of John, 31, 25-32, 10)


So we have Canonical and non-canonical references to Jesus teaching the Apostles “secret doctrines” including the giving of new names, washings and anointings, teaching signs and tokens, teaching the disciples the prayer circle, etc. that were not to be shared publically. Check out two great books entitled “The Nag Hammadi Scriptures” and “The Essential Gnostic Gospels” for more info.

Celsus, the early anti-Christian polemic, often accused the members of the “cult of Christ” - note how early Christians got slack for being a ‘cult’, just like the Latter-day Saints - as being “a secret society whose members huddle together in corners for fear of being brought to trial and punishment.” (Celsus, 1987, 53) Caecilius Natalis asked,

“Why do they [Christians] endeavor with such pains to conceal and to cloak whatever they worship, since honorable things always rejoice in publicity, while crimes are kept secret?...Why do they never speak openly, never congregate freely, unless for the reason that what they adore and conceal is either worthy of punishment, or something to be ashamed of?” (Bolle, 1987, 1) I can almost hear Decker or McKeever as I read these words. Caecilius demanded that the Christians be uprooted because,

“They know one another by secret marks and insignia...certainly suspicion is applicable to [these] secret and nocturnal rites.” (Octavious X, 9). Tertullian wrote that the apostles “did not reveal all to all men, for...they proclaimed some openly and to all the world, whilst they disclose others only in secret and to a few.” (Against Heretics, 25) And finally, Athanasius wrote,

“It is good to keep close the secret of the King, as the Lord has charged us, ‘Give not that which is holy before dogs, neither cast ye pearls before swine.’ We ought not then to parade the holy mysteries [or secret doctrines] before the uninitiated...” (Defence against the Arians, 1:11)

There are countless more apocryphal books and Christian theologians that taught that Jesus himself gave secret doctrines to his Apostles, who should not reveal them to the world. So Joe’s second assertion is spurious, as Christ was recorded teaching the apostles and others secret doctrines and ordinances.

SteSmo said...

This is my final post in response to Joe's comments.

Joe wrote that John would lose his salvation at "The moment he accepted a belief that Christ alone was insufficient for salvation..."

To say that this claim is LDS doctrine is completely bogus! Anyone in the LDS Church who teaches that Christ cannot save you would be excommunicated so fast that it would make their head spin!

Article of Faith 3:

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel"

In 2 Nephi 2:8 we read,

"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."

The entirety of King Benjamin's Address (Mosiah 2-5) was on how *only* through Jesus Christ and his Gospel can we be saved. Here is just a snippet of that address in Mosiah 3:12-18,

"But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus. And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them. Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses. And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood. And even if it were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins. And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent."

The last freakin' thing that Moroni taught in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:32-33) was the following:

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."

Joe's third charge is as spurious as his other two. The entire foundation of LDS doctrine is that only through faith on Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments can we be saved.

Joseph Antley said...

Jeff, this wouldn't happen to be your life story summed up in twenty-five easy steps, would it?

Anonymous said...

Ha - I was wondering the same thing as Mr. Antley...

Mormanity said...

No, I come from an LDS heritage. I'll admit that the part about starting a blog is closer to my experience than the lives of the converts I had in mine, though there some good LDS blogs operated by converts from various forms of Protestantism.

Anonymous said...

It might be interesting for some to read about the Eastern Orthodox's view of "Toll Houses." It isn't a dogma, but many of their saints and theologians believe them and they do bear a similarity in some ways to the whole "passwords and handclaps" thing. Just to show that LDS aren't alone in a view like this.

NM said...

Jeff,

As someone who lives because of His grace, again, I can't help but point out that salvation belongs to God alone. It is Him who chooses and not us...

Throughout your 25-step guide, I couldn't see any evidence of John being in despair because of his sin. There was not an instance when John (it seemed) did not fall to his knees and BEG for forgiveness and for help. It almost seemed like a gnostic's way to attain salvation more than anything else - (that the way to God is through knowledge...)

There are many (even within Evangelicalism) who think that they have salvation when they do not.

The person who failed to live the Mormon life and failed to gain a temple recommend has more chance of receiving salvation than a LDS stake president...just as the evangelical Christian who committed adultery/murdered etc. has more chance of receiving salvation than the Catholic pope. =(

Jeff, it is God who chooses. You will see the true mark of salvation in someone because they recognize the ugly sin that they have been forgiven from. And in their state of forgiveness cannot help but thank God for the rest of their life... =D

There is a youtube video lingering around the net of Mr. John Piper who addresses the absurdity of nominal Christianity... are people really prizing Christ in their lives or are they just after a ticket to heaven? Thought-provoking stuff =)

For those of you who don't know, I was brought up in a Christian environment, a Bible believing family...but my faith was not in Christ but in religion...

At university, I wandered elsewhere - I began to reject Christianity in my embrace for atheistic-existentialism and some traits of Buddhism.

...but something happened...and God broke (even) the power of canceled sin. For once in my life, I could not depend upon anybody (even myself) - only to God. It's very humbling because I've always been brought up to stand up on my own two feet - and it's shameful if one cannot.

But the message of Christianity is that WE ARE ALL FAILURES - WE CANNOT LIVE ACCORDING TO THE LAW. WE CANNOT LIVE ACCORDING TO THE DOCTRINES & COVENANTS - and because the work has already been done (through the death and resurrection of Jesus) - 'grace'...we cannot stand on our own two feet but instead rest and look to Him who has already done the work... =)

And the result? A life filled with thankfulness! =)

NM said...

I have just posted the video of John Piper on my google blog if people want to hear what he has to say - well, his rebuke to nominal Christians(!) =/

NM said...

Jeff,

My head is buzzing with so many criticisms around this 'John' incident...but you say in point #5:

"Perhaps God even took advantage of evolutionary mechanisms to prepare the earth for its present state."

Personally, I am a creationist. I hold to the literal 6-day creation account.

Death and suffering only entered into our world because of Adam and Eve's sin. Purely from a 'gospel perspective', how can you hold to an evolutionary model (survival of the fittest - where death must have existed BEFORE Adam & Eve)?

Again, 'death' and 'suffering' only entered at the point that Adam and Eve sinned...

Interestingly, have you read Darwin's Black Box by Behe? A good read...I don't fully buy everything he says, but it's good. =)

Mormanity said...

NM, from my perspective, being a faithful Christian implicitly calls for the process of pouring out our souls to God, confessing our sins, and seeking His grace and forgiveness. This should be assumed to be part of the background of John's sincere dedication to Christ. To follow Christ is to seek forgiveness of our sins, to confess our sins, and to seek to "go and sin no more." This personal quest for forgiveness and a relationship with the Savior should be understood as implicit to John's life, with numerous events of seeking to be closer to the Savior in contrite prayer. He is not a nominal Christian by any means.

Mormanity said...

And Nat, God doesn't choose what I do. The scriptures plainly teach that God's will is that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-5) and He is "not willing that any should perish, that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Sadly, we resist the grace he offers us through our choices. We choose whether to accept Jesus Christ or not. We are not robots utterly devoid of freedom to choose, but sons and daughters of God called to grace - if we choose to accept His Son and seek forgiveness.

Russell said...

texasspirit314:

I've known Protestant minister to become Latter Day Saints too--so it's a wash. Can't say that Mormons are the only ones to leave their religion for Protestantism. Vice versa as well.

Ryan said...

NM: ...the evangelical Christian who committed adultery/murdered etc. has more chance of receiving salvation than the Catholic pope

I am always puzzled when this notion pops up that the abject sinner is in some way more eligible for salvation than the person who does their best to follow God. I've actually heard it from LDS people as well, and it just doesn't sit well with me.

I think the "abject sinner" theory makes two bad assumptions: (1) that "big" sins are fundamentally worse than "little" ones, and (2) that Grace consists only -- or at least mostly -- of forgiveness for sins. The ability to make "bad men good" is only a small piece of Christ's grace. He also makes "good men better."

1. Even the tiniest sins (committed by "good men") are plenty to keep us out of God's presence, and, to be honest, the big, obvious sins are often not the most pernicious. Adultury, murder, theft, abuse -- they all come with an equally obvious consequences that most people are able to recognize, whether they claim to follow Christ or not. Others, though -- pride, impatience, hypocrisy, and whatever other inner weaknesses keep us from growing closer to God -- they are just as hard to fully root out, in my opinion.

2. We face so many weak moments in mortality, so many painful experiences, and during those times grace takes the form of strength and spiritual healing, in addition to forgiveness for our lapses in obedience. Many of these terribly painful things we go through are not our own fault, but are the result of others' sins (abuse) or of living in a fallen world (sickness). I can only imagine the gratitude of someone who, through no sin of their own, has suffered the most atrocious consequences of sin and mortality and discovers that Christ's Grace can save them, too.

Christ doesn't just open the prison doors for His people; He also wipes away their tears.

So, while I agree that it's possible for a "nominal" Christian to have not accepted Christ's grace in a meaningful way, God is aware of this possibility and has built "ends of the rope" into our mortal experience that do not depend on (our own) sin. Some of them don't even depend on "bad things" happening.

My own experience has been that even an honest, obedient disciple of Christ will come to the end of their rope just trying to follow Him. We can't even bear Christ's "easy yoke" without his Grace. My most profound moments of appreciation for Christ have actually come from the "good" end-of-the-rope experiences where I had to beg for strength to go on rather than forgiveness for some sin.

If someone tries to follow God, and somehow makes it through mortality without committing any "big" sins, I am absolutely certain that God will make sure they come to an appreciation of His grace through other means at some point. I can't imagine Him witholding that blessing from someone just because they did their best to follow His commandments without a full understanding of the grace that made it possible.

Anonymous said...

Ryan,

Very well put.

I've never understood the endless fascination many Christians have with determining who is "saved" and who is not (Mormon w/o temple recommend v stake president, evangelical murderer v. Pope). Isn't judgment something reserved for the Almighty? Didn't Christ have a few choice words to those who would judge others?

I think that those who insist on passing judgment on the souls of others have "missed the memo" regarding the Gospel message.

NM said...

Ryan,

I wasn't talking about BIG sin.

The example I gave is similar to the examples written about in the gospels.

The two kinds of people who were almost always present when Jesus did his healing/exorcism/miracle ministries were the pharisees and the publicans/'sinners'.

All sin is equal in the sight of God...whatever form it takes, they are all expressions of 'I am god'. I think my point was to show that people who fail are more likely to receive help, just as it is those who know they are physically ill who are likely to receive medical attention. =)

I was not making a judgement. It is God alone who has that right; I think I was merely making an observation. =)

What you said were very good points though...

NM said...

Ryan,

"My own experience has been that even an honest, obedient disciple of Christ will come to the end of their rope just trying to follow Him."

EXCELLENT!! Lovin' it! =D

Latter-Day James said...

I believe there is a big difference between sins. Aren't some harder to repent for? Wouldn't the Lord look very differently upon one who tells his wife she doesn't look fat in a dress when perhaps she does compared to one who is a rapist or who has committed adultery?

No, you shouldn't start down the road of small sins; that could lead to the big ones. But there is a difference.

NM said...

"I believe there is a big difference between sins. Aren't some harder to repent for?

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS ALL ABOUT?!

Is this Mormon doctrine? Or this just your interpretation Latter-Day James?

Some sins are harder to repent for(?)

richdurrant said...

I think actually the meaning behind sin being equal could be that any sin will keep you from God, whether it be small or big. The steps of repentance are equal for all sin right? But as far as all sin being equal, apparently one isn't because it is unforgivable.
I really haven't seen a good answer to the question at hand yet.

Ryan said...

LDS James: Sins differ in magnitude, but not in kind. While some sins are "bigger" than others in terms of damage done to self and others, they are all the same in the sense that any single sin -- of whatever magnitude -- is enough to cause spiritual death.

NM: I think what he meant is that some sins have serious consequences in mortality; in the sense that they can impact one's social standing (prison), economic status (fines), and relationships (divorce).

Our worldly concerns over the mortal consequences of sin can interfere with our journey to Christ, while facing those consequences can be a lot of unpleasant work, even after sincere repentance.

In my understanding, Christ's injunction to "render unto Caesar" stands even in matters of sin. The repentant sinner must still pay any debt owed to society, and hopefully has the sense to make restitution to the victim(s) of his sin, when possible -- perhaps even beyond what society's law strictly requires.

I doubt you think a career burglar should keep his booty and escape all criminal prosecution simply because he repented...

Ryan said...

Doh! richdurrant beat me to it.

NM: I really think you would enjoy reading the Psalm of Nephi. I will warn you that it's a Book of Mormon passage ;)

In all seriousness, though, if you'd like to know how Mormons (should) view the Grace of Christ, this would be an awfully good place to start (many more similar passages available upon request).

Richdurrant: This is "the gospel according to Ryan" but I think the only unforgivable sin is the decision not to repent and turn to Christ.

I mean, someone with absolute, complete knowledge of the Atonement and the eternal consequences of sin who then decides they would rather suffer for eternity on their own than turn to Christ for help. "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven."

There's just not much God can do for that person.

richdurrant said...

I agree Ryan, except I was referring to the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost, to be specific. But like I said I agree with your Gospel of Ryan.

Ryan said...

richdurrant -- Let me rephrase:

The unpardonable sin is the decision not to repent and turn to Christ.

It seems highly unlikely that any (finite) mortal can commit a sin so "big" that an infinite atonement can't cover it. However, the utter and eternal refusal to accept that infinite atonement -- after tasting of Christ's grace and having the Holy Ghost reveal its full scope and magnitude -- is another matter entirely.

Fortunately, very few mortal people know Christ well enough that this is even a possibility. All but the most hardened of the wicked will eventually accept Christ to some degree or another.

(see D&C 76)

Latter-Day James said...

You would have to agree that repenting from adultery would take much longer and would be more of a soul searching experience then a little white lie. Hence the "bigger" comment. One would also be cause for excommunication from the Church while one most likely would not. Is one "bigger" or "worse"? Of course.

Russell said...

I agree with you, LD James in at least one sense: that there is a key difference between a sin and a mistake. Take a look at Elder Oaks' talk/article on the subject: "Sins and Mistakes." He sorts out the sometimes treacherous connections between these two concepts, noting that sins often involve mistakes and mistakes often involve sins, but they are not at all the same. The man who gossips about others will have to repent; the man who gossips about his boss will have to repent and find a new job. Very different mistakes/sins and one has ramifications that will require much more work to rectify.

Anonymous said...

I can not speak for all other Christians or denominations, but for me personally, the mistake was posting a question that potentially could inflame those modern day 'Christian's' who would be prepared 'to cast a first stone' (referring to John 8:7).

It is evident that we are all born into sin, however we do have the possibility to adopt the 'mind of Christ' Phil 2:5 .

That can only be done through accepting the council of the Holy Spirit convicting oneself of sin in one's life, an honest acceptance and dependancy on Jesus Christ as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for those sins, and then following through in personal witness and testimony by the processes of baptism, justification and sanctification.

Who are we mortal human beings to falsely adopt the position of God and JUDGE any man /woman according to his or her own personal conviction. This exclusive RIGHT is specifically reserved for Jesus Christ as the granted responsibility for the selfless and blamless death that he undertook on the cross of Calvary.

Refrain from commenting any further at when the subject - John would lose his salvation and write words of encouragement that will ensure that he gets there!

For those of you who are commenting on the nature of sin as in big or small (NM, Richdurrant, Ryan) - don't get too hooked into it. You are all partially right in your comments.

Below is an excerpt from a book that I have been reading recently on this very topic and is the best summary that I have seen to date :

"God does not regard all sins as of equal magnitude; there are DEGREES of GUILT {emphasis mine} in His estimation, as well as in that of man; but however trifling this or that wrong act may seem in the eyes of men, NO sin is SMALL in the sight of God. Man's judgment is partial, imperfect; but God estimates all things as they really are. Many sinners are despised and are told that their sin will exclude them from heaven; while PRIDE, SELFISHNESS, and COVETOUSNESS too often go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give.

----

As you see the enormity of sin, as you see yourself as you really are, do not give up to despair. It was sinners that Christ came to save. We have not to reconcile God to us, but--O wondrous love!--God in Christ is "reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. He is wooing by His tender love the hearts of His erring children. No earthly parent could be as patient with the faults and mistakes of his children, as is God with those He seeks to save. No one could plead more tenderly with the transgressor. No human lips ever poured out more tender entreaties to the wanderer than does He. All His promises, His warnings, are but the breathing of unutterable love.

When Satan comes to tell you that you are a great sinner, look up to your Redeemer and talk of His merits. That which will help you is to look to His light. Acknowledge your sin, but tell the enemy that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" and that you may be saved by His matchless love. 1 Timothy 1:15. Jesus asked Simon a question in regard to two debtors. One owed his lord a small sum, and the other owed him a very large sum; but he forgave them both, and Christ asked Simon which debtor would love his lord most. Simon answered, "He to whom he forgave most." Luke 7:43. We have been great sinners, but Christ died that we might be forgiven. The merits of His sacrifice are sufficient to present to the Father in our behalf. Those to whom He has forgiven most will love Him most, and will stand nearest to His throne to praise Him for His great love and infinite sacrifice. It is when we most fully comprehend the love of God that we best realize the sinfulness of sin. When we see the length of the chain that was let down for us, when we understand something of the infinite sacrifice that Christ has made in our behalf, the heart is melted with tenderness and contrition. "

I hope that you all enjoyed reading this as I did !

Anonymous ^

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to mention that each sinner has the choice to make to listen to the council of the Holy Spirit, convicting oneself of the enormity of sin.

Should one choose not to listen, then this is blatantly the unforgiveable sin which is 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit', which will undoubtedly lead to mortal and eternal destruction.

If you don't agree, please show me a human being over 150 years old that satan has befriended and kept alive to help deceive mankind together with his other demons.

That's right you won't find a single one - because he is glad to take them all.

God asks us all to listen to Him and obey. Should we choose not to listen then satan is more than happy to take us by force as the result of our own free will!

Let us pray that we can all stay under the protective mercy of our powerful Saviour!

Anonymous ^

MICKY said...

How are we going to be free from the past?

NM said...

Thank you for that Mr. Anonymous... =)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mickey,

If you read my earlier message, only Jesus Christ holds the key to forgiveness of past sin. He also hold the power so that sin will not have dominion over you, should you request that too.

Dear NM,

I hope that you enjoyed my comments and hope that I pointed out the correction in the friendly manner that it was intended. Can you offer any feedback on whether there was anything that you disagreed with?

I would be keen to hear feedback from Jeff / Mormanity as he posed this original question asking for feedback from non-mormon Christians.

Christian greetings,

Anonymous ^

Anonymous said...

Apologies Micky - I mispelt your name in my reply.

Anonymous ^

NM said...

Mr. Anonymous,

I have only skim-read what you wrote, but from what i have ingested - I don't think that I disagree with anything that you have said.

Most people here at Mormanity probably know that I am a Biblical Christian. Although I attend an Evangelical Church here in Britain, I don't necessarily ascribe myself to evangelicalism. My personal experiences are mostly based upon what most might call 'Reformed Theology'. As I say, because of my lived-experiences of God's awesome and absurd gift of 'grace', I am a big fan of people like Calvin and contemporaries like John Piper, Tim Keller etc.

There's a nice guy here called Bookslinger and a few weeks ago, he kindly and honestly pointed out that the fundamental difference between Biblical Christianity and Mormon theology is this: that Christians live in response to grace, whereas Mormons live to work toward attaining grace.

Mr. Anonymous, I have been a visitor of Jeff's site for quite a few months now. I tend to loiter within Mormon blogs as well as people who profess to be Biblical Christians. My passion - and it is my only passion - is to communicate that Jesus has already done the work. When we respond to His calling through repentance - and believe me, for me - it was like going to hell and back...God gives enough strength to get through it...and come out the other side victorious - with only my God to thank.

I appreciate your (very) wise words and I look forward to learning more things from you.

In Him alone,

NathanielMacrae

D360 said...

Hi NM,
you said:

"There's a nice guy here called Bookslinger and a few weeks ago, he kindly and honestly pointed out that the fundamental difference between Biblical Christianity and Mormon theology is this: that Christians live in response to grace, whereas Mormons live to work toward attaining grace"

can you point out where he said that? I am LDS and while I believe in the importance of "commandment keeping", as far as I was always taught and believed it is because and only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can attain salvation.

My own understanding of "commandment keeping" essentially comes down to "if ye love me, keep my commandments".

I don't see where that can be taken as we are working for grace instead of because of.

respectfully,
D360

RCH said...

"When we respond to His calling through repentance - and believe me, for me - it was like going to hell and back...God gives enough strength to get through it...and come out the other side victorious - with only my God to thank."

I think this is one of those instances of talking past one another, though (not to speak for Bookslinger; my apologies to him). I think you're really saying the same thing: His "working toward" is equivalent to your "responding to ... through repentance." Same thing, different words.

As an LDS Christian, I believe that it is ONLY through Jesus Christ's atonement that we can be saved. ONLY. But that doesn't absolve me from responding to His grace by repenting and keeping His commandments in a (necessary though inadequate) show of love and gratitude for His sacrifice.

Latter-Day James said...

Should I take offense to being called a non-biblical Christian?

NM said...

Hi D360,

Here is a link to what bookslinger was alluding to: 7:14 PM, June 18, 2007.

You said, "My own understanding of "commandment keeping" essentially comes down to "if ye love me, keep my commandments".

I don't see where that can be taken as we are working for grace instead of because of.
"


Firstly, you are absolutely right. Can I invite you to imagine what it must have been like for people at that time to hear those words coming out of Jesus' mouth?

Here's a guy, who is out-rightly blaspheming! (well, according to the pharisees...) This Jesus guy had the nerve of claiming that He is the image of the invisible God?! Craziness. So, for Jesus to say, "If you love me, keep my commandments" would have stirred outrage to the contemporary religious leaders.

D360, please know that I speak about grace to both Mormons AND self-professed evangelicals/Biblical Christians. We talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? And please understand that when I communicate matters of grace, I too, am pricked in the heart because I know that in most of my everyday life - I depend upon my own strength =(

The message of the Bible is this: that Jesus has done all the work. And because Jesus has done all the work, He calls us to Himself by believing that He has done so.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Yes, it does. It sounds like the simplest thing in the world - but it isn't. Because to truly believe that Jesus has done all the work means that we DENY the work that we have done! That's a lot of pride to swallow, believe me.

It means that the act of going to church is necessary for salvation. It means that keeping the commandments is also NOT necessary for salvation etc. BUT DO NOT MISCONSTRUE, please keep reading...

To fully accept that Jesus has already done the work - is a point (for the person who is about to truly realise this) will BE HUMBLED. That person is in a state of SEVERE SHAME AND GUILT. Does this sound familiar? It's repentance =) Repentance just means, "I can't do this anymore, please God, you do it for me; from now on - You lead me and I'll follow".

The trouble is D360 is that most of us who profess to know Jesus only have a head-knowledge of it. the reality that Jesus breaks EVEN THE POWER of canceled sin is something that we reduce to the intellect. For most of us, we do not really know it...so we get trapped into legalism.

Legalism IS THE FALSE GOSPEL.

Legalism IS THE FALSE GOSPEL that Paul warned the Galatian church about!

Do you remember what Paul said? "For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH, it is the gift of God; lest any man should boast."

Grace is the undeserved favour that God gives. IT IS A GIFT?! What do we do to accept a gift? Do we work for it? NO! We simply receive it. =)

And when one receives this FREE GIFT, that person cannot help but WANT TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!

Do you see? A true believer lives IN RESPONSE TO grace, where a person caught in legalism is always working to attain grace =)


D360, God has already done the work - it leaves nothing else for us...

But don't misconstrue: Just as Jude spoke about, most have taken the free gift of God and made a license of committing sin again! Jude warns against it. You will know a true believer because the minute they sin - they straight away - RUN TO GOD! They no longer want to offend God for wanting to go their own way (sin), but instead are in a constant state of dependency upon Him who saved them from sin, death and even the power of canceled sin! =)

Wonderful! =)

Once God has gripped you with 'grace' D360, you'll have a different outlook upon things like working towards attaining the Aaronic/Melchisidek priesthood etc. =)

NM said...

Sorry, I meant to say that the act of going to church as an activity in of itself does not gain us salvation.

We might say, "durr, of course that's right!" but you'll be surprised by how many people live this kind of principle - not necessarily about the subject of going/not going to church but in other things like, "Oh, I must make sure I don't drink coffee" and what not?! Crazy, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Dear NM/ Nathaniel,

You make some very good points regarding grace.

We can achieve not even an ounce of salvation through our own merit - only a fool would consider this.

Each one of us must look only to Jesus as the source of our salvation. This great gift that you so rightly pointed out is freely available to all. This is His Divine Grace.

However Jesus (whilst on Earth) also forgave and healed many people with the comment - 'go and sin no more' .

So in order to remain under God's grace, we also are requested to have an obligation to follow His instruction in obedience. Notice the words above. There is no force here, just the choice for a conscious decision on our part to give our ALL to Him.

Does this mean that we can keep some of our old self locked up in secret for 'old times sake'? A whiskey bottle perhaps or maybe a second wife / husband in another town. Maybe we long for our neighbour's sports car? No we owe it to ourselves to give our ALL.

Then we can fully come into the fellowship, protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit who will lead us into truth and discernment. This is how we can measure TRUTH from error. It is possible to then be presented faultless through this finishing work :

Jude 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.


NM - I appreciated your kind words of encouragement and agreement of my previous post, but really I prefer like you, to give all glory to God.

I have a small question in reply. When you point out that Jesus says - 'If you love me, keep my commandments ' - If we accept Jesus' free gift of grace, which commandments must we keep out of love for Him ?

Anonymous said...

anonymous ^

D360 said...

NM,

Quoting you again :).

"And when one receives this FREE GIFT, that person cannot help but WANT TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!

Do you see? A true believer lives IN RESPONSE TO grace, where a person caught in legalism is always working to attain grace =)"

None of these things would I disagree with. further this is in full concert with my understanding LDS teachings and upbringing -

I guess maybe my question came from in your summary of what Bookslinger said (I didn't read the link yet by the way) but it makes it sound like every Mormon out there is ticking things of his/her checklist to heaven and all I can say is that in my personal experience, and the way I have been taught, that is simply not the case. Are there Mormons who get caught up in this thinking? I would venture to say that is probably the case but to make it seem as though that is the doctrine, I don't think (again from my own experience) is an accurate portrayal.

I don't know if I will be able to articulate this the right way, so bear with me: but because of the awsome, immeasureable price paid for me, why would I want to do anything less than to try my level best to do those things that the Savior has asked.

Would it ever come close to being enough to even scratch the surface of the gratitude that I have (and should have) for my Savior's supreme sacrifice, not in this lifetime, but that does not excuse me for doing all I can because of all that was done for me.

I know exactly what you mean when you say even with some semblence of this understanding, many times we still rely on our own strength -and stupidly so;

again all I know how to articulate is that we respond by obediance to the Savior out of love for Him who has paid it all. Without the Atonement, nothing else - not any amount of commandment keeping - matters.

Another quote :)

"To fully accept that Jesus has already done the work - is a point (for the person who is about to truly realise this) will BE HUMBLED. That person is in a state of SEVERE SHAME AND GUILT. Does this sound familiar? It's repentance =) "

It is very familiar to me. It is the sound of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.


as far as coffee drinking and stuff like that goes (and the following is solely my opinions!!)- I don't think its a matter of ticking something off the list, but rather keeping a commandment (word of wisdom) that we believe was revealed to us(LDS) by the Lord and being interpreted to include coffee.

again this would come back down to doing those things that we think the Lord has asked of us out of a loving, greatful response to the love He first showed us. (i suspect this will be an area of disagrement - further revelation and such, but the principle to me is the same)

As far as the Priesthood goes, again I personally see no difference, That also is a gift from God to be used for the service of others. It is a gift received by the voluntary obediance to the Savior's commandments.

In other words if you are already living in response to that Grace, it is something that is a natural progression, if you will, there is no need to change or earn anything. (again granting we will probably disagree as to whether or not the Priesthood was restored to the earth).

I hope I do not come off confrontational as it is hard to convey tone in writing. I am no theologen but this is how I understand the teachings of my church and how they relate to the Atonement.

I do not know everything (in fact I KNOW very little) and other members of the church may disagree with me on some points but I know who owns my heart, however imperfect my theological understanding of the universe is :).

thanks for listening to my feeble attempts at articulating some of these things as I understand them. And I gotta say to RCH I think you are pretty close on - I think many times we wind up saying/meaning the same thing with different words and I think then we run the risk of judging the other's intentions (their heart) and that job is given only to the Son.

very respectfully,
D360

NM said...

D360,

Very wise words =)

Here is another example of another Mormon who has skewed beliefs of grace.

And please don't forget that I also speak to so called professing Biblical Christians about this issue. Too many people miss the point of the gospel because they are so embroiled within legalism. =)

I'm sure I'll see you around; take care,

Nathaniel

NM said...

D360,

There's a great book by Philip Yancey titled, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" if you're interested to read what 'grace' truly means from a non-mormon Christian says about it.

There's another by Rob Rufus - but it's not as good (I think), but the good thing about this book is that it's short! You could probably read it in 2 hours. =)

Of course, we could always go to the puritans! Or say, John Calvin or even one of the contemporaries for Reformed Theology - John Piper?

You would of course, have to subscribe to the idea that the Biblical God is NOT an exalted man like Joseph Smith declared =) but a being who from everlasting to everlasting has always and always will BE. That God is THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS - even eternity itself. =)

I need to say thank you to you too, for taking the time to read what I have written. Thank you =)

Take care D360

Nathaniel

Anonymous said...

Dear d360 / NM,

Very carefully selected words and well received and understood.

d360 - Please would you also allow me to (also respectfully) comment on a couple of points that I personally disagree with, as you seem to contradict yourself.

Firstly let me quote your own words -
" Would it ever come close to being enough to even scratch the surface of the gratitude that I have (and should have) for my Savior's supreme sacrifice, not in this lifetime, but that does not excuse me for doing all I can because of all that was done for me."

This I uphold and fully agree with you, but then you undermine it with : "we respond by obediance to the Savior out of love for Him who has paid it all. Without the Atonement, nothing else - not any amount of commandment keeping - matters."

I read this latter statement as in line with the 'new age' kind of Christian Evangelical teaching of 'once saved, always saved' - that as long as we accept and believe in the atonement - nothing else matters.

Well, I can confirm that one's love for Jesus (including my own) will be measured at how we obey His Commandments. This is the demonstation of our love that we unconciously adopt.

We need to understand the Commandments in order to be able to keep them. This IS NOT legalistic, because to the truly contrite in heart, the principals are already accepted because they are fully in line with the Character of Christ. It is by understanding this that you can see clearly that the 10 Commandments written by Jesus with His own finger in 'stone' (so that it will never be changed or done away with or perish - that was the symbolism as to why papyrus wasn't used at that time).

The you will also see that the 10 Commandments are a direct transcript and His Divine description of His own loving Character.

This is why He stated the words -

Matthew 5:18
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
The 10 Commandments are established until sin is totally eradicated - then it will no be necessary as it will be established fully in our characters as immortal beings.

Matthew 24:35
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Which words did Jesus give us in writing - of course the only ones that are eternal - the Decalogue!

Matthew 5:17
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."
Self explanatary

Then Paul writes
Romans 8:4
" That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "
So he understood the concept of adopting the Divine Character of Christ that was transcripted in the Decalogue.

Finally James writes,
James 2:8
" If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: "
What is the royal law - of course - also the decalogue.

So maybe it is more important to act in obedience than many sincere Christians are understanding today. It isn't simply a question of legalism - this is an excuse to continue in the life that has always been affluently and comfortably lead. If one can show improvement on a physical and spiritual road, then one must be a great Christian when measured by human standards - that is the legalistic way.

Consider Jesus Christ's judgement of ourselves and the love that we profess to have for him.

Have we given all that we have to follow Him as He asked the rich young ruler to do ? Have we given ALL of our heart and mind to Him ?

Self examination is the greatest critical thing that we would all be sensible to do on a regular basis. Do we love enough to be worthy of His Grace, OR

will we experience the following prophecy of Jesus Himself from Matthew 7 :
" 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. "

Let us seriously coonsider the Decalogue (do we unconsciously keep all 10 of them or maybe only 8 or 9 ? ) and it's importance to our salvation, as it was made flesh in the form of Jesus Christ!

In loving kindness,

Anonymous ^

D360 said...

I have to say I typically shy away from participating in these kinds of things but this has turned out to be a pretty interesting dialogue.

Thanks NM for the kindness and Anon @2:56. I sometimes am not that great at articulating my thoughts clearly and I definately did not want to seem to discount the need for obedience - as that is one of the fundamental tenants of the teachings of our church (often times contributing to much criticism of the church)- but I guess what I was trying to state is that without the Atonement it wouldn't matter what we did or didn't do cause we'd be damned.

The Atonement unlocks and makes our salvation possible and because of that incomprehensible Miracle we are asked to be faithful and obediant to the things that He has asked us to do. we are of couse free to choose not to but what a foolish thing to do.

I mean afterall how does one tell that they have the faith in Jesus Christ necessary for salvation - its not by words alone; anyone can SAY anything they want - but those who actually bear the fruits meet of repentance and "whosoever shall do the will of My Father..." (actions/keeping the commandments) are those that deomonstrate they have that Faith in the Savior that He asks us to have.

I was just trying to refute the popular - but false - notion that Mormons (generaly speaking) think that we can somehow 'earn' our way to heaven and thereby setting the Atonement as a thing of naught. Nothing is further from the truth.

I hope that came out a little better. Again these things are my opinions and you'll have to bear with my limited abilities of blogging communication :).

and I will add Anon, that I can't really see anything in your 2:56 post that I personally would disagree with. - not that you need my approval for anything but that I appreciate those thoughts and reasonings.

respectfully,
D360

Anonymous said...

Well, vive la france and long live the mormons but at point 5 I must say that the word is yom and it is only used in a 24 hours day (and night).

And yes I believe in a young earth.
Well done.

Lodewijk Rijff/The Netherlands
(greeting from elders Rock and Thomas who are in Holland right now.)

Anonymous said...

Dear d360,

Many thanks for accepting my comments respectfully as intended (of course) and also stating that there is nothing that you disagree with. You are right that I don't 'need' your's or anyone elses approval. But if there is a fundamental disagreement I am always keen to be open and learn Biblically if correction can be made.

As I understand from your message - you are a member of the LDS faith ?

One key question (bearing in mind my earlier message:

At what point in time or history did God authorise the changing of the fourth commandment from the seventh day to the first day of the week ?

(I know all the arguments for man's changing of the day - but I am keen to learn when you think / believe that God changed it, especially as Jesus Himself kept the seventh day, Saturday as modernly named - sunset Friday to sunset Saturday and we choose to follow Him in everything that He did as our example for our lives ? )

I also understand going on from that question - that LDS keep Sabbath (Sunday) from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday following the Roman calendar. Is this correct ?

Many thanks in advance,

Anonymous ^

RCH said...

Anon,

This is a bit off-topic from the original post, but I'll answer (to the best of my ability).

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take Sabbath observance pretty seriously, and in general, that Sabbath is observed on Sunday.

However, I have heard of congregations in predominantly Muslim countries (just as a for instance) who observe the Sabbath on Friday, in keeping with the local custom there.

My [LDS born & bred] understanding of the commandment is that the Lord asked that, out of every seven days, we labor six and honor Him on the seventh. It doesn't matter when you begin counting the days of the week -- start with Saturday, start with Wednesday, whatever you like -- as long as 1/7th of your days are tithed to the Lord in worship and in setting aside the things of the world.

The nearly universal practice of LDS Sabbath observance on Sunday is more a matter of tradition and local culture than doctrine; the day chosen is less important than the act of keeping one day holy, as the Lord has asked.

D360 said...

Yes I am LDS and I agree with RCH's explanation of what it means to keep the Sabbath Day holy.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear RCH & d360,

I answer respectfully, since I am sure that un your denomination you have been 'blinded by the theology of your denomination' in order to believe that your comments are true.

Here are the true words of Jesus :
( Mark chapter 7 )
7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.
9 And he said to them: You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

We all understand that Sunday is the pagan festival for worshipping the sun god - hence 'sun day'. This is listed in the Bible as the first day of the week. The one true Sabbath was sanctified at creation by God on the seventh day evening sixth day to evening seventh day. It has been carried to the 10 commandments in Moses time. It was kept by Jesus (as God on earth) and so it should be followed by us today.

What is 'sanctified' please? Bearing the above texts in Mark - what man has the authority to change this sanctified time for the Sabbath day. If you look to the Catholic teaching in their catechism, they (as the self-appointed authorised church) claim the only authority to make the change that the whole of Christianity follows today.

I choose not to follow them. What you choose to do is your own concern for all eternity. But I do know that once sanctified God will not change the day. Modernly named Saturday is the day of the true Sabbath, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday (when Sunday starts).

In Christian loving kindness,

Teranno4x4

D360 said...

Hi Teranno4x4,

I have a quick question for you and I understand completely if you don't want to answer - but I must admit your responses make me curious.

since most Christian denominations I am aware of (and thats probably not very many) hold their worship services on Sunday and I would assume they equate that with the Sabbath - when does your congregation(?) meet, maybe more to the point is do you belong to any particular 'denomination' and would you mind sharing which one if you do.

I hope this question does not come off as anything other than just plain curiosity. I am not looking to bash anyones particular denomination or anything but I am curious especially with your previous reference to disagreeing with much of new age-Christianity's "once saved always saved" notion - which is something I also disagree with

(that comment was posted under annonymous but based on the context of the conversation I assume that is you - sorry in advance if not)

thanks, d360

teranno4x4 said...

Dear d360,

I am happy to share with you my denomination, now that you ask.

I am just surprised that no one has asked previously.

I am a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist. I was born into the faith, experienced a very 'colourful' young adult-hood (read into that what you may, but there was no drug use whatsoever), and decided to fully give my life to Jesus 6 years ago.

I trust that in return for my honesty that my integrity and sincerity for the comments on this site can remain intact and received as respectfully as they are intended. No 'bashing' please...!

I am always pleased to engage in topic discussion, as long as it is honest, thoughtful and Bible based as our life guide coming from God.

SDA's worship on the Sabbath Day. We ususally welcome the Sabbath in as families, small groups or collectively at organised Friday evening prayer groups. A Sabbath School incorporating mission work (in the field) usually starts at 10am in the morning in a SDA Church, followed by a Divine Service at 11:15 (after a short break). On closing Sabbath evenings, families or small groupls will get together to thank God for blessings bestowed on His sanctified Day of Rest.

If you have any other (serious)denominational questions please just ask and I will share if allowed .... (as it is not my site here) - I am only a self-appointed guest commenter who has an interest in LDS through some good friends of mine.

Teranno4x4

I did write previously under 'Anonymous ^ ' so that one could distinguish between my comments and those of other anonymous.

D360 said...

Hey Teranno4x4,

I was gonna take a guess at your affiliation but I did not want my ignorance to be insulting. In my own limited knowledge of religious movements (generically using the secular labels), I made an assumption of some type of "restoration movement". and I definately mean nothing demeaning by this "label" since the LDS fall under that blanket label as well

(Well it is my understanding anyway that SDA fall under this umbrella). I think we (SDA/LDS) even shared a vehement critc at one point under the name of Walter Martin- but it was my understanding that he later decided SDA could be considered Christians while LDS could not - I thought it was rather magnanomous of him to decide that.

well at any rate I will be the first to admit I know virtually nothing about SDA doctrine and origin but I do know that I share very similar beliefs with you - at least pertaining to the posts I've seen from this thread, and I suppose while we will have many differences I also think that we probably do share many similarities that we may not be aware of at first sight (?). that would be my hope anyway.

I stumbled onto a website called conerstone1.org who claim to be an evangelical association but the stuff they say does not fall in with the new-age stuff we both have referenced. I am wondering if you have seen their site and what you think of them.

as far as I can tell they don't really claim any 'denomination' but they 'sound' similar to some of the stuff you had talked about regarding the Sabbath Day. And they also address on of my personal 'gripes/beefs' in that these new-agers treat Grace like it is a license to sin.

also you will get no insult from me, after having been on the receiving end of bashing, not just disagreement but outright vitrol, for my beliefs from people who are very close to me and supposed to be "on my side", I will never do that to others. It sucks.

D360

D360 said...

i'll just add that I have just started looking at Adventist.org. I presume this is the 'official' website of your faith?

I was skimming through some of the tenants under beliefs and fundamental beliefs. Have you checked out LDS.org? (not a 'missionary effort' I swear : ) there are definately some differences but I personally like to find the similarities.

when I have more time, I'll go over them in more detail and I'm sure I can come up with some questions - always respectful from a learning posture and never meant as any kind of a 'theological trap' or anything like that.

talk to you soon,
D360

teranno4x4 said...

Dear D360,

Many thanks for your supporting sentiments. I too like to think that we share many common Christian values, although some have not been so charitable to varying comments that I have made on this site. I look forward to corresponding more with you on some of these topics.

As a Bible believing Christian, I can vouch that whilst SDA's have what are termed core fundamental commonly accepted beliefs, they are NOT a creed or something to which we can be held to ransom over in doctrine. We are Bible based only and encouraged to prayerfully study the scriptures in order to ask God to come and dwell close by us and shed a brighter light on His word so we can obtain a deeper understanding and connection with Him.

If we learn new Biblical insights or revelations into a particular passage or topic, we are not afraid to review our individual or collective standing. I have no authority to speak on behalf of the church as a denomination, but I will always stand up for God and constantly pray that I will never let Him down.

Of course I am pleased that Walter Martin made his review of our church a positive one, although why do we need this kind of approval ? I would still worship God with or without his say so. I often wonder (with his more evangelical stance) how he would conduct the same review if taken now in 2007 ?

Please do understand that I will never offer a 'bashing comment' but that I sometimes feel the need to point to the Bible and then ask an objective question. Often my questions on this site remain unanswered, with only spiked comments sent in reply. This is the part that I see as a shame as it only exposes that my critics are not yet in tune with the 'mind of Christ' as we are instructed to be as Christians. In trying to understand more about your faith from my own stand-point I face only negative criticism and claims that I distort a Biblical interpretation.

You have read my comments - can it really be that I am guilty of this ?

Thanks again,

Teranno4x4

PS. Yes you have the correct official SDA website. I will check out the links that you provided - I have already visited the official LDS site quite a few times for reference.

D360 said...

hi Teranno,

regarding Martin thats exactly the point I was tryng to make - he was the "kingdom of the cults" (50's and 60's) guy who condemned us both (SDA/LDS) for a long time. In my failed attempt at sarcasm I was trying to say that same thing- who is he to judge who is and isn't acceptable as a Christian.

regarding your last question, that a tough one cause I think both sides are are coming at it with a differnt understanding of what the same verse says and then accuses the other of not reading it correctly... I mean many of the reformationist/early Protestants were able to use the Bible to justify slavery.... (how's that for a diplomatic non-answer!!!)

the only thing that I can offer from the LDS perspective is that we regularly have people who camp out in front of our temples and drag copies of the Book of Mormon on the ground tied to their feet and condemn us to hell and we regularly face folks who profess to be Chrisitian on the outside but are decidedly the most venomous tongued people you'll ever meet.

I think then some LDS immediately put the shields up and go into defense when we are questioned on our beliefs because the thoughts of 'here we go again' start to creep in and we are just waiting for the attacks to come.

having said that, those of us who do that are not justified in our reaction as we are explicitly instructed by the Savior as well as the teachings of the LDS church to pray for and love those who curse you - but we are human and subject to our fallibilities while in mortality.

I only offer the above as reason for why some of us react the way we do and not as justification.

the other thing that is difficult is that we do accept that further revelation from God is possible and has happened. so when ground rules are placed on us to answer questions from the Bible alone - it often puts us in somewhat of a quandry because while we do accept the Bible as the word of God, we also believe that further revelation has cleared up some 'blurred lines' that have been introduced through scribal/translator errors that have occurred over the centuries.

so yes we can answer questions from the Bible, but it is in some cases through the lense of what we believe to be modern revelation.

(i'm not sure if you have seen them or not but our articles of faith are a good summary of our fundamental beliefs).

I know you disagree with our belief in modern revelation and stuff like that but hopefully that at least puts a perspective on the situation.

and again I can only speak for myself but it is how I understand the world around me

teranno4x4 said...

Dear d360,

Many thnaks for taking the effort to do what is difficult, carefully and thoughtfully offering reason and explanation of various situations. Partly I agree with you from a humanistic perspective, but not from a Biblical or Spiritual perspective (and I don't mean the spirit that you believe to be inside each and every one). I mean the Holy Spirit that can lead our very lives if we invite Him to. We do not have to be under the dominion of sin. The Bible says that 'sin shall not have dominion over you' and 'we can have the mind of Christ'. This very aspect can take us out of our sinful state already being justified from sin, we can then be sanctified and have the possibility (only) to remain in His hands.

This way we can understand how to deal with times of difficulty when oppressed. If not - are individuals really living in Jesus Christ fully ?

In terms of the actual oppression - I have not personally experienced anything like that so I can only imagine - but what would stimulate an individual to do something this aggressively insulting ?

In consideration, I can only offer you the question - was the Bible translated / scribed with blurred lines ? I don't believe so. I believe that each word was inspired and can lead one to God and as such is the fairest record of God's word for all humankind. If you have any doubt yourself, please learn Hebrew and Greek, so that you can take the original text into closer consideration. (To answer your point on slavery - yes you can arrive at pro and against arguments with Biblical evidence. What about when you measure the same argument with the Character of God also Biblically revealed. What about when measured with the ministry of Jesus, our own saviour ? That doesn't do so well from the pro side does it? Anyone can make a distorted or out of context view of any writing - this website also proves this point clearly !)

To measure the Bible with the newer 'revelation' of the BOM, I understand this to be a mistake if you want the Bible to speak to you out loud. If you take one passage and it's meaning, one can arrive at a totally different understanding if analysed by text from the BOM. The Bible MUST stand on it's own merit, whether you consider it to be flawed or not.

Here is one important context that I can glean so far. Jesus lived on Earth approx 2000 years ago and this was His First Coming. The BOM teaches that He appeared to the people of America, so this would have to be His Second Coming. Most Christians, are expecting Jesus to return to take His faithful home to heaven, so from the BOM perspective this would be the Third Coming. But the Bible only describes one return, which is considered to be the Second Coming in our future time. Is this a Biblical error, oversight or something of a need for a new 'revelation'. Or could it be a BOM error, or perhaps even some kind of deception ?

Can you see where I am coming from in just a single doctrinal understanding?

Without wanting to go anywhere down the same road as the 'protesters' that you describe, please understand that for some of 'us' Biblical Christians, we are trying to humbly reason with you in an attempt to find out the motives for your reasonings. Going on the defensive is not the best way to make friends or influence anyone of your sincerity (and that is meant collectively not personally).

Respectfully,

Teranno4x4

D360 said...

Hi Teranno,

I know we disagree on points of docterine but I really appreciate the tone with which we have been able to communicate.

specifically with regards to the Second Coming, I understand it this way:

After Christ was crucified and rose again on the 3rd day he made further appearances to his disciples to instruct and show of his resurrection. one might suggest well he had not yet really left the Earth but when he first appeared to Mary outside of the tomb he instructed her not to touch him for he had not yet ascended to The Father, yet later he appeared to the disciples and allowed them to "handle me and see" (doubting Thomas).

So I believe that between the appearance to Mary and then later to the deciples He must have ascended to heavan. It is also my understanding that he made his appearance to the ancient peoples of the Americas during this time frame.

so when he made both appearances to his desciples and the Americas this was not His Second Coming when He will come in all his Glory to reign over the Earth, as we also believe that His Second Coming is yet to be and will usher in the Millenial reign of peace.

and I have no issue with protestation or disagreement as truth should be able to withstand scrutinty - its just the mean spirited stuff that is hard to deal with and thus far in my conversations with you I have not sensed any spitefulness and I hope I have not given any sense of 'mean spiritedness' either.

a docternal question I have for you is I have noticed that you made reference to the spirit that "you" (I took that to mean me/LDS theology) believe to be inside us... is it not SDA docterine that we (humans) have a soul or spirit? (curiosity question)

Thanks,

D360

teranno4x4 said...

Dear D360,

Here are a few questions and answers that I trust will assist you further in understanding life, death, spirits and souls from my own personal belief (based on Bible text) :

How did we get here in the first place?

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7.

Answer: God made us from dust in the beginning.

What Happens When a Person Dies?

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (Hebrew - Ruah / Ruach) shall return unto God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7.

Answer: The body turns to dust again, and the spirit goes back to God, who gave it. The spirit of every person who dies--whether righteous or wicked--returns to God at death.

What is the "spirit" that returns to God at death?

"The body without the spirit ["breath," ] is dead." James 2:26. "The spirit of God ["the breath which God gave him,"] is in my nostrils." Job 27:3.

Answer:The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life. Nowhere in all of God's book does the "spirit" have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the "breath of life" and nothing more.

What is a Soul?

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7.

Answer: A soul is a living being. A soul is always a combination of two things: body plus breath. A soul cannot exist unless body and breath are combined. God's Word teaches that we are souls.

Do Souls Die?

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20. "Every living soul died in the sea." Revelation 16:3.

Answer: According to God's Word, souls do die! We are souls, and souls die. Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The concept of an undying, immortal soul goes against the Bible, which teaches that souls are subject to death.

Do good people go to heaven when they die?

"All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth." John 5:28, 29. "David ... is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day." "For David is not ascended into the heavens." Acts 2:29, 34. "If I wait, the grave is mine house." Job 17:13.

Answer: No, people do not go either to heaven or hell at death. They go to their graves to await the resurrection day.

How much does one know or comprehend after death?

"The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun." "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10. "The dead praise not the Lord." Psalm 115:17.

Answer: God says that the dead know absolutely nothing!

But can't the dead communicate with the living, and aren't they aware of what the living are doing?

"So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." "His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." Job 14:12, 21. "Neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun." Ecclesiastes 9:6.

Answer: No, the dead cannot contact the living, nor do they know what the living are doing. They are dead. Their thoughts have perished (Psalm 146:4).

Jesus called the unconscious state of the dead "sleep" in John 11:11-14. How long will they sleep?

"So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more." Job 14:12. "The day of the Lord will come ... in the which the heavens shall pass away."
2 Peter 3:10.

Answer: The dead will sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. In death, humans are totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind.

What happens to the righteous dead at the second coming of Christ?

"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:12. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, ... and the dead in Christ shall rise ... and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. "We shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, ... and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. ... For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

Answer: They will be rewarded. They will be raised, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death or put somewhere in limbo.

I really appreciate this comment conversation. It's certainly assisting me more in a practical, more real understanding of LDS faith. I hope that this helps you,

Teranno4x4

Jeff said...

I'm stuck in 10. I must tell you that I began reading the BOM to prove to a LDS friend that it was false. There are issues that I had with is taught to me by many years in an evangelical church. What I didn't know or understand was that there were actual ANSWERS to those points that made more sense than the points I was trying to make. Chief among them that "prophets are never wrong in their prophecies". I still struggle with that one and would appreciate any info or guidance on where to go to see if that is true. Every google search produces gobs of info on Deut and that we should test what they say not go by our feelings. Regardless, I feel God will answer my heartfelt questions. I just need to be patient. I have asked for a confirmation and have not recieved it yet. I feel I am finally ready to act on it when/if it comes.

Mormanity said...

Jeff from Aug. 27: Thanks for the note - very glad you've taken up the challenge to read and ponder. It's the beginning of a wonderful journey, in my opinion. Regarding your difficulty at point 10, the anti-Mormon interpretation of the Deut. statement on prophecy is extreme. In fact, their standards would reject a number of biblical prophets in addition to Joseph Smith. See jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_prophets.shtml#wrong.

Anonymous said...

This story is similiar to my story. With two minor exceptions. The girl was asked by the boy to learn about your scriptures and it has been 7 years, not 2.

That, and the boy doesn't know she has been looking for him to tell him.

KimLairson said...

My Granny says the law (of MOses) is the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. AiLl our righteousness is as filthy rags & there is none righteous, no not one...

Anonymous said...

The word Christian is used without any real idea of what a real Christian is. For example, Paul spoke of those he visited as being Saints, The Romans called them Christians in a form of derision,and the Saints adopted the name. When the Gospel was restored to the earth, the members os the Church were officially known as Saints. So if you wanted to call yourself a Christian, you would also have to be a Saint,or call yourself other than Christian. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are the ONLY TRUE CHRISTIANS.

James R said...

Still getting hits on this blog post! Must be a hot topic, if I landed here too. ;)

NM said:

Interestingly, have you read Darwin's Black Box by Behe? A good read...I don't fully buy everything he says, but it's good. =)

I've got to recommend Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller in return. Miller is a working biologist and also a Christian, and he competently breaks Behe's box.

(And I note the irony of a 6-day creationist pushing Behe's book, which relies on evolution on a billions-of-years old Earth. Oh well.)

Anonymous said...

Romans 10:9,10 NKJ that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,you will be saved.v. 10For with the heart one belives to rightousness, and with mouth confession is made to salvation.v 11 says- Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.v12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek,for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.v.13 For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. v14.How then -
The word of God is clear,to be saved and how to get saved and you must go to church and renew your mind in the word because the word of God IS THE BREATHE of life and our direction in this world.
People tend to make things in life hard and it's not. People want to complicate it and all you need is the bible and God and your family and or friends .You don't need all this other stuff. You get into works and that is not what God wants us to do 90% of the time .If people would pray and listen to hear HIS voice and that's all.I am of no paticular faith. Just not a Mormon.I believe when Joseph Smith prayed and the angle of light came on him he was attacked by a demon-out of his own mouth darkness surrounded him,he believed he would soon be destroyed? Sorry but that is not God- I leave you with this last word and I pray for you as a church and for the souls that knock on my door that Jesus the true and loving Jesus help change their hearts and minds for His next and very soon coming,Could this Mormon religion (Joesph Smith) be deceived ? 2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles,deitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Chirst.v.14 And No wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
HOPING YOU PRAY INSTEAD OF ........

Lamdaddy said...

Did anybody really ever answer Jeff's question adequately? He posed a really good question. Answer it! Answer the August 4th questions if you can.

Anonymous said...

“If someone accepts Christ as his or her savior, but also believes something you think is incorrect -- such as believing that the resurrected Lord still has the glorious, tangible physical body he allowed people to see and touch in Luke 24, or using the Catholic Bible instead of your Bible, or using wrong terminology such as "gods" in describing the final state of sons and daughters of God who put on the divine nature and become more like Jesus -- then why does that error in understanding send the person to hell?”

Why not use the Biblical terminology of Revelation in the description of the redeemed ? I never see the term gods (emphasis on little ‘g’ being used). I particularly see this in the lie of Satan to Eve in Genesis chapter 3. If this was the lie back in Creation times, then why is it still being argued over today, in the last days of earth’s history ? In the book of Revelation, I read ‘saints throughout and particularly inch 19 verse 1, I read ‘much people’ !

So in answer to the question, if error is being understood, then by direct deduction it is not Truth. Should it be followed or practiced ?


"Do they also have to get correct answers on a quantum physics quiz? Or be able to name every starting pitcher in the World Series? Just how extensive is the Eternal Salvation Quiz that we have to pass with perfect answers in order to be saved?

It is not about knowledge or intelligence. It is all about acceptance and condition of mind and heart. If a person has followed the precepts of Christ, been baptized and accepts the free gift of salvation, being washed clean from sin by the blood of Jesus, giving 100% of his life over to his Saviour, why should he not be saved ? If again that same person keeps a secret ongoing sin, like porn, or an affair, or hateful behaviour to certain people, or even knowingly following a doctrine of error because it can not be supported from the Bible or the teachings of Jesus, then is there a True Divine love in his heart? Is he ruling his own mind or is the mind of Christ described in Philippians 2:5 at work here ? It really is down to a full surrender – that is only when Jesus can lead an individual to know the Truth as it is in Him !

"And Anon, if the John of my example never actually thought that he's going to one day be classified among "gods", would he still be OK? "

It is really in the decision making process that John actually goes through. Jeff alluded to many ‘feelings and emotions’ and of course John is only a fictional character. God is Righteous and Holy, Jesus is Righteous and Holy, the Holy Spirit is Righteous and Holy. Together they are also omnipotent and omniscient, judging each of us with all seen, unseen, spoken and unspoken acts and words. This is what eventually will save us. Those without knowledge can never be accused of receiving and rejecting the light. But how much more powerful the condemnation for those who do receive the light, who claim to study their Bible and yet reject the messages from God because of their preferred or chosen understanding.

Praise and Honour be to God that He will act righteously with each and every one of us who will be weighed in judgment and understand the verdict and outcome of our own life decisions and choices. We are victims only to ourselves and potentially will have ourselves to blame for listening to the voice of the evil one’s temptations, no-one else.


From one awaiting with patience.

Mormanity said...

Patient anonymous, thanks for this last comment. Like many people, though, I don't think you've come to grips with the question I raised. You say that if a person truly accepts Jesus, why shouldn't he/she be saved? OK, but then you add the old biblical intelligence test proviso: "If again that same person keeps a secret ongoing sin, like porn, or . . . even knowingly following a doctrine of error because it can not be supported from the Bible or the teachings of Jesus, then is there a True Divine love in his heart?" Ah, so following a doctrine of error not supported by the Bible - or rather, your particular interpretation of the Bible (yes, come on now, you know that's your meaning, right?) - can keep you from heaven? So isn't that why sincerely believing in Christ is good enough to save almost everybody -- except those Mormons, right??

As far as believing in doctrines of error not supported by the Bible, you have inferred that the concept of the divine potential of mankind, i.e., the potential to become the kinds of being the Bible calls "gods," is not supported by the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. May I ask what you think Jesus meant when he used the word "gods" in John 10:33-35? Or what the Psalmist mean in Psalm 82:6? Or what many early Christian writers meant when they used that word to describe the end-state of Christians? For details, see LDSFAQ on Theosis (the Divine Potential of Mankind - a Biblical and Early Christian Doctreiin)

Nathan said...

Lamdaddy - that's the problem, folks who try to counter Jeff's original post (August 4, 2007) only dig themselves into deeper ditches of confusion and are misconstrued.

(After reading all of these comments, it is only those comments that are semi-anti- that seem muddled with confusion and misunderstanding)

The wonderful thing about the Gospel is that it HAS answers to all of their inquiries and attacks (See Jeff's FAQ page - it's a wonderful source) and scriptural evidence to support our beliefs.

The Gospel isn't going anywhere. We know that. It keeps spreading over the Earth, and it will continue to do so, currently to the tune of 250,000 new members per year.

There will always be uneducated and stubborn opponents to the light of the Gospel, but we expect that.

I am grateful to know that the full Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the Earth today. It blesses my life each and every day and the life of my family. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it make "bad men good and good men better."

I am grateful for the widening expanse of LDS throughout 'cyberspace' where we can share experiences and thoughts and our beliefs with each other to "strengthen [our] brethern."

I am grateful for sites like this one that shed Gospel light to the world and Gospel principles that will only bless the lives of others, if they would only "exercise [their] faith."

And most importantly, in reading these comments from guys like Anonymous/Joe, it strengthens my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, as I see right through their invalid and transparent arguments/comments.

So thank you "Joe" for strengthening my testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ without even knowing it.

As Jesus said to Paul: "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

Lamdaddy said...

Patient Anon, I also have trouble with the statement

"If a person has followed the precepts of Christ, been baptized and accepts the free gift of salvation, being washed clean from sin by the blood of Jesus, giving 100% of his life over to his Saviour, why should he not be saved ? If again that same person keeps a secret ongoing sin, like porn, or an affair, or hateful behaviour to certain people, or even knowingly following a doctrine of error because it can not be supported from the Bible or the teachings of Jesus, then is there a True Divine love in his heart?"

It sounds like there is a condition to the "free gift." If this is the case then there really is no arguement, wouldn't you say? It seems that saying "is there a True Divine love in his heart" is a question that addresses, but takes away from the responsibility to keep the commandments of God.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mormanity and Lamdaddy,

OK - let's simplify it further with a few questions.

If a person has 'a True Divine Love' in his heart after he has accepted the free gift, will the Holy Spirit 'guide him into all truth' as stated in John 16:13 ? Will the 'all truth' that he gets to understand and comprehend lead him into perpetual sin or maybe the occasional sin of omission or even commission ? Or could it be that the 'all truth' would assist and build on his character so that he keeps the commandments in 'the mindset of Jesus' so that he doesn't even realise that he is keeping them. No legalism, just out of reactive love for His Saviour. Read Romans 6 - the whoe chapter.

Yes there is a condition to accepting the free gift that Jesus is offering to each and every person. It is an open and willing heart and a mind that is receptive for the sinner to repent.

If I were to offer you the free gift of a car, a house or any other animate object, you would need to be receptive bodily to receive it. Yes you could accept the idea of the gift that I was offering, but then you would never have received or continue to own the gift, it would still only ever be a concept in your mind that I had given it to you - a virtual car or house maybe (in internet terms). Jesus gift of salvation is presented as a concept and an ideal, yet it IS very real and it is He that paid the price for it.


One awaiting with patience

Anonymous said...

Dear Mormanity in reply,

"Ah, so following a doctrine of error not supported by the Bible - or rather, your particular interpretation of the Bible (yes, come on now, you know that's your meaning, right?) - can keep you from heaven? So isn't that why sincerely believing in Christ is good enough to save almost everybody -- except those Mormons, right??"


I accept the context of the Bible as it is written, in 3D colour and not as literal black words printed on white paper in 2D. You are entirely in your right to state that this is purely my interpretation, but how can you accuse me of being wrong ? What if your interpretation is wrong ? Is there more than one 'truth'?

Having the right to believe freely doesn't lead to 'all truth' - that is especially the right and responsibility of the Holy Spirit only as quoted in my comment above. Too many feelings, emotions, interpretations and philosophies crept into Christianity even before the first Century had ended. The same applies today and the same applied to how the Jewish authorities upheld the legalistic approach to their laws. This is why Jesus refers to them as 'hypocrites', 'generation of vipers', being evil and 'workers of iniquity'. Jesus (as God and whilst still in heaven) gave them the laws and whilst he was a man on the earth He upheld His own laws. The problem was how the authorities interpreted the scriptures and ignored why they were given in the first place. The importance was in their own selfish personal demonstration of keeping the law and none of the love for God or humanity that was to be found in it's writing.

I can not speak against if you or your denomination follow doctrines of error or not. That is not for me to judge. I accept your 'right' to believe in what you personally prefer. I can only provide the warnings as taken from history and say that we do not agree on various Biblical scriptures and subsequent doctrines. It is only by discussing that we can distinguish and learn from each other.

As for the 'concept of the divine potential of man' I can answer very easily.

In each of the Biblical uses of the word gods (little 'g'), it is referring to idols, false gods or fallen angelic beings subscribing to deity status.

The Bible teaches that men and women in their glorified state willbe the same status as the angels. Fallen mankind is 'made a little lower than the angels' in terms of status or standing before God and certainly we are bound by our sinful nature. We can only break free from these bonds by the blood shed by Jesus in atonement for our sins.

We can be called Children of God, but we can never assume a deity status as we will only ever be on an equal level as currently held by the unfallen angels.

1 Cor 8:5
'Called gods' - Heathen people believe in and worship many imaginary beings that they call gods, but they are really not gods; they do not even exist (see on v. 4). Lacking the inspired revelation of truth that the Christian possesses in the Bible, the heathen knows not that there is only one God, who is the Creator, and in his ignorance he attributes divine qualities to many things both imaginary and real. Heathen peoples deify the sun, moon, stars, fire, water, earth, certain animals and birds, as well as mythological beings such as Apollo, Jupiter, Venus, Bacchus, etc. Paul here states that although there are representations of things in heaven and on earth that the heathen call gods, they have no divine power. But because the Bible believer scorns the idea that these gods are real, he does not therefore hold that there are no supernatural beings who can affect human destiny. Satan and his angels have power to manifest themselves to men in various forms (see 2 Cor. 11:13–15). Through this power the devil is able to delude and enslave millions of people in the worship of false gods.
gods … lords. The heathen believed that heaven and earth were peopled with gods and lords of many different ranks and powers. But they were only imaginary deities.


One awaiting with patience

Shauna said...

As an LDS person this is one point that I never can answer, when have you done enough? When are your efforts combined with Jesus' grace enough for you to achieve glory in the hereafter? It seems to be that God will judge us as worthy or not but that we should strive to do all we can, knowing that we cannot do it all, or cannot be perfect, and then have a testimony of the atonement and trust in it's saving grace. Can anyone explain that a little more concisely/scripturally for me? This is a question that is occasionally posed to me, that I have faith enough for myself, but no answers to give the questioners.

Bryan said...

So, first a comment and then a question for all of the born agains in this thread. It seems to me that a fundamental difference between evangelist christians and mormons is that evans see heaven as a destination while mormons see it as a continuation of the journey that we believe life is. In other words, life here or hereafter, is our effort to follow Christ's commandment to become perfect as He is perfect. I don't think Christ was on LSD when he gave us that commandment. I actually think he meant it or else He would not have said it.

Now, if I were to die tomorrow I believe that I would continue doing the same things that I'm doing here (minus the activities that involve sustaining my life physically and the lives of my family). Namely, I would be trying to follow Christ's commandment as well as help my fellow beings to follow that commandment.

So, there is a CLEAR distinction of what we think heaven is, right? Born-agains, I've described my "heaven" to you, could you please reciprocate and describe your heaven to me?

What is it like there? What exactly will you be doing there for eternity?

I've known Born-Again Christians who truly had a conversion experience that CHANGED their lives, their ability to love and took their commitment to Christ seriously thereafter. I've also known people who had the same conversion experience but that experience seemed to have little effect on their lives, in other words they do not reflect much of Christ's love, they go back to wife abuse, alcohol abuse, etc. Will these two (frankly, infinite) kinds of Born-again Christians go to reside side by side in the same destination heaven that you believe in? I'm very curious. If they are headed to the same reward how does the truly converted feel about that?

Anonymous said...

Bryan,

I think that you need to read the book of Revelation to understand that Jesus is coming back soon to take His saints to the place that he described whilst He was with us during His ministry. (John 14:1-21).

Revelation also describes implicitely, that Jesus will take the redeemed to live with him during the time of the Millennium or 1000 years. The place that they go to is God's dwelling place, otherwise known as the 'heavenly home'.

Jesus often spoke of complete opposites. of divides and of judgmment. Remember the sheep and the goats, remember 'many are called, few are chosen', or :

Matt 7: 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Bryan, this world is coming to an eventful climax, culminationg in the second coming of Jesus in all His glory, along with all the Holy angels of Heaven with Him. There will be no place for the unrepentant 'Christian' who is guilty of the life that you describe, even if he claims to be 'born again'. The verses in Matthew 7 describe Jesus own words to this type of character.

Life is not just a perpetual ongoing into eternity, either in the physical or your understood spirit sense. There will be a finite distinction in how Jesus together with His Father will deal with the 'sin problem' that has blighted this earth since it started with lucifer / satan right at the very start of jealousy and mistrust in God's mighty authority and justice.

Your effort will not hold a judgment decision at bay. Humility, kindness, meekness, love, compassion and servitude (not just limited to these spiritual gifts), borne out of one's love for our dear Saviour Jesus is what will save. An acceptance of His atoning sacrifice together with allowing the Holy Spirit to lead daily is what a true relationship with Jesus is all about.

What you do physically day by day has an absolute zero bearing on this if it out of context with the Spitually led elements described above.

If you don't walk with Jesus - you walk with the enemy and will share in his fate. We will never become perfect in Jesus through any effort on our own, in the same way that you will never be able to jump and land on the moon through any power in your legs. Stop trying and just accept God's grace to transform your life - inside out!

Anonymous said...

Bryan,
After the 1000 years - Heaven comes down to the earth for the absolute final battle between 'evil and good'. The saints are protected in the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, now on earth and the battle ensues.

Evil is eradicated through fire and brimstone along with all natural and physical elements outside the city. Once purified and cleansed the earth is re-created as it was in Eden and the saints live with God in the re-created earth for all eternity.

Read Revelation chapters 21 and 22.
Also Isaiah65:21-25 .

Blessings!

creeksalmon said...

In 1984 the Quorum Of the Twelve were paid in the range of $60 to $80 thousand a year for living expenses, excluding benefits. This does not include any money received by business ventures or sitting on the board of directors for other companies. Most all General Authorities of the LDS Church are wealthy businessmen; most have companies whose income exceeds a million dollars a year. Most General Authorities have bank account balances in the six digit figure. In addition to the modest salary, the Prophet and his Apostles are given living arrangments. Thomas S. Monson lives in a 24000+ square foot condo estimated at a value of $2.8 million. The Prophet and his Apostles all have 24hr limo service provided by private drivers. The Prophet has 24hr "secret service" bodyguards who protect him anywhere he goes.

Quinn's book Extensions of Power does have more current numbers that also delineate by rank. The Prophet makes the most, his two counselors slightly less, and the remaining twelve lesser still. What Quinn also points out though, is that until earlier in the 20th century local bishops and stake presidents were in fact paid from a percentage of the tithing funds collected.

When the Mormon Prophet David O'McKay died in 1970 he had an estate worth an estimated at half a million dollars. David was a lifetime church employee (64 years) and accumulated this wealth from the LDS Church.

General Authority figures in Mormonism are treated as heros and celebrities. General Authorities expect obedience and reverence around them and command enormous power over the members. If a General Authority walked into a Mormon chapel and demanded everyone get on their hands and knees, not a single person would be standing.

creeksalmon said...

James Talmage, a Mormon Apostle, said Psalm 82:6 is not about becoming gods.
"In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called 'gods.' To this scripture the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon's Porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title 'gods.' Compare the similar appellation applied to Moses (Exo. 4:16; 7:1). Jesus Christ possessed divine authorization, not through the word of God transmitted to Him by man, but as an inherent attribute. The inconsistency of calling human judges 'gods,' and of ascribing blasphemy to the Christ who called Himself the Son of God, would have been apparent to the Jews but for their sin-darkened minds." (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 501). -- Mormons often quote Psalm 82:6 which Jesus quoted in John 10:30-34 to show that we can become gods. Rather than them believing the truth from a Christian, perhaps they will believe it from their own apostle.