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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saved By Grace, After All We Can Do? Inisghts from Paul in Ephesians 6

I've encountered many Christians whose theology makes them struggle with basic LDS views like the importance of keeping the commandments and the concern that we as Christians can fall from grace. While we've beaten these issues many times in the past here at Mormanity and over at JeffLindsay.com, I'd like to point out a minor insight that might help some folks when it comes to confusion over a related Book of Mormon teaching, the idea of being saved by grace "after all we can do". The verse in question comes from Nephi in 2 Nephi 25:23:
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
There are several ways to interpret this verse. Some interpret it to mean that grace makes up the difference between our best efforts and God's standards, but with the expectation that we do everything we can on our own. Some argue that it means that notwithstanding all we can do, it is only through grace that we are saved. A related interpretation is that grace is apart from all we can do. I'm not sure what is best. But I do think we might learn something by looking at another leader in the Gospel who, like Nephi, wrote and spoke to persuade others to be reconciles to God, and who vigorously warned against sin and urged people to be zealous in following Christ. I think we can learn a little by considering Paul's words in Ephesians 6, who exhorts his fellow Christians to encourage them to become strong and diligent in living the Gospel, obviously concerned with the risk that Christians might fall. After all, it's a spiritual war we are in with a real enemy and real casualties. Thus, we need armor:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Verse 13 is especially noteworthy. Christians are exhorted to protect themselves from the dangers of Satan with the multiple components of the armor of God (yes, there is real danger and not guaranteed salvation from a moment of belief). Though Satan's attacks are powerful, if Christians put on this armor, they will be able to avoid falling and, instead, to stand--having done all. Perhaps "and having done all, to stand" is meant to express much the same meaning as Nephi's "after all we can do." If so, I think we should be easy on Paul and not reject him as another non-Christian cultist with no hope of salvation for having errant theology. Paul's still a good fellow Christian in my book.

48 comments:

NM said...

The differences between 'sanctification' and 'justification' come to mind, Jeff. This passage here in Ephesians would probably be more akin to sanctification, because he seems to be talking to people who are already Christians. If it's grace and the all-important issue of salvation we're dealing with, go back four chapters where Paul is much more explicit about the fact that 'grace' is nothing to do with us, let alone our works, but about Him...

Eric said...

NM -- The context of Ephesians 2:8-9 is necessary to understand what Paul was saying, and I think it is best to consider those verses in context. And that includes the following verse, verse 10, where Paul suggests that the purpose in being saved is so we can do good works.

I don't see any question in reading the scriptures that salvation, justification, sanctification and good works are all intertwined (although we could certainly debate how they are intertwined).

You might enjoy reading this talk that was given recently at BYU. It's perhaps the best I've read from the LDS perspective about the nature of grace and why we do good works:

His Grace Is Sufficient

Papa D said...

Excellent point, Jeff - and excellent juxta-positioning of those two verses. "Having done all, to stand" says it very well.

As I've said previously, anyone who believes that what we do has no importance - or that Jesus of Nazareth taught a "confess only and be saved" Gospel - is basing that belief on the words of non-Biblical theologians, not Jesus, Himself. When Paul's words throughout his epistles are taken together as one message, not verses here and there in isolation, he obviously agrees with his Lord and Savior.

Yes, what we do is important - and, yes, even after all we can do it still is by grace that we are saved. Anything except that balance - that cooperative - that humble acceptance and attempted discipleship - is either a denial of the Gospel as taught by Jesus in the Gospels or an actual substitution of Lucifer's plan (and I mean that last statement sincerely - since hardcore, extreme pre-destination [with its accompanying end-result of us sitting around telling "God" how great he is without any real progression for us] literally is exactly what Lucifer presented as his plan).

Anonymous said...

Jeff: I heard this parable in a Seminary class many, many, many years ago.

The Parable of the Oasis

There was once a man dying of thirst in the desert. He had sought for water, but had not found any. Just as he was about to give up, and lie down and perish, his elder brother miraculously found him.

“See here, brother,” said the elder. “On the other side of this hill is an oasis, where you may revive and refresh yourself!”

“I fear I am too weak,” replied the younger. “I have been out in the desert so long, I no longer have strength to climb the hill, even to save my life.”

“Then lean on me,” said the elder, “and I will bring you over the hill to the fountains of water on the other side.”

Then the younger brother pulled himself to his feet, and leaning upon the elder, struggled over the hill to the oasis on the other side. There, he revived himself from the springs of clear water, and his life was saved.

What saved the younger brother?

Was it the faith he had in the words of his elder brother?

Was it following the commandment of his elder brother in crossing to the other side of the hill?

Was it his own effort in struggling to his feet, and persevering in crossing the hill?

Was it his continued reliance on the strength of his elder brother, moment by moment, leaning on him as they crossed the hill?

Or was it actually drinking the water?

NM said...

Thanks for the recommendation Eric :)

Bart said...

@Anonymous,

That parable you shared teaches a pernicious doctrine that cheapens the power of God's Grace.

The true story would be that you are lying in the desert dying of thirst. Christ brings the water to you and gives it to you for free to save your life.

Then you are so grateful you follow him up the hill to the other side.

Papa D said...

Bart, your version is the exact same version as the one Anonymous shared in practical terms.

Seriously, this is why I get so frustrated by the silly, semantic arguments about grace, faith and works. In the end, they say the exact same thing (except at the extremes) - that Jesus gives us the living water we can't have without him. In both cases, we only get the water by relying wholly upon He who is mighty to serve it - and in both cases we walk to the abundance of water at His side.

There is no difference in practical terms - not at the most fundamental level. It's only those who believe he gives it to us and then carries us in His arms as we do absolutely nothing AND those who believe we walk all alone until he serves it at the very end of our lives who disagree with the parable - and those extremes exist, unfortunately, inside and outside the LDS Church.

Thankfully, all of our canonized scriptures teach a balance - a partnership - a "joint-heirship" - an active discipleship - an obedience to command enabled and rewarded by faith and grace. They teach the concept of a yoke - and anyone who has worked on a farm of any kind understands the absolute necessity with a yoke of two walking together as one (not one carrying the other).

Quantumleap42 said...

I still think Paul is a good Christian, despite his claims that we should (*gasp*) act like Christians.

I think that too often we try to over think the concepts of works, faith and grace, mostly so that we can justify our own particular dogmatic view. From my experience I have learned more about faith and grace by applying those principles to my life than all the talks, books and philosophical explanations about grace and faith that I have ever heard. Only after I have learned these things by my own experience do the myriad of explanations begin to make sense, and I am able to know what is truth and what is not. Until we have had personal experience with God's grace I don't think and argument will convince us one way or the other.

And thanks Jeff, for the reminder that I should work on being prepared to withstand Satan and not have my faith shaken.

Tim said...

One day the LDS church will Realize that they are trying to save themselves. Trying to become saved at the end, by the Mosaic covenant ( the old covenant.) The 10 Commandments is impossible to keep. look at the 1st or 2nd commandment: "thou shalt not worship other gods" or Idols. An idol can be your sports team, your diesel pick up truck, your college degree or anything that pulls your attention away from Jesus. A false god is the god of justice ( If you don't follow my rule i'll condemn you to a lesser heaven) God is Love and Mercy! not justice for the one who trusts in Jesus. But God IS justice for those who are perishing. To escape the justice and wrath as an indevidual person you must personally ask Jesus to come into you and give you eternal life to experience a renewed mind. Romans 12:2. The proof of grace alone is the the thief on the adjacent cross Luke 23:43, the thief who recognized Jesus as God, Humbly asked Jesus to "Remember me when You enter Your kingdom" was given eternal life that moment for the asking! Jesus told the man: "Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise". Gospel means good news & the good news is His Grace alone! I can see you rejecting the bible because you are rejecting the prophetic written word of Paul.

steveu said...

But what did the Savior mean when he said the thief would be with him in Paradise. Is Paradise our ultimate desired distination or is it perhaps a temporary place where we can rest awhile before the final judgement? I don't think we know unless we have further light and knowledge revealed from Him.

Bart said...

Based on that scripture 2 Nephi 25:23 "After All We Can Do", I compiled a list to see just exactly how much ALL is in Mormonism.

Here it is, the ultimate checklist for salvation:

http://www.afterallwecando.com

Papa D said...

Bart, I appreciate the effort to compile such a list, but it only applies to a VERY narrow view of the verse in question - and it only works by stretching the idea of rules and commandments beyond recognition. I hope you are aware of the many possible interpretations of that verse - and that the one you use is, imo, the least likely meaning of what is intended.

Furthermore, as Jeff points out in this post, the Bible itself (and Paul himself) teaches exactly the same thing - which is nothing more than the principle that we really do have to do all we can as disciples of the Christ, even if we still are saved by grace, notwithstanding having done all, to stand.

I've said this multiple times hear, but a reading of the Bible (both OT and NT) in its entirety leads solely to that conclusion - even as it is possible to argue convincingly that the exact nature of "all we can do" is open to interpretation.

Gene said...

One day, other christians will realize that you cannot pay lip service to the lord. You cannot live your life anyway you choose.

He who loves me keeps my commandments, our savior said. I think his commandments are more than simply a confession of faith, then doing whatever you want. Apparently, other christian churches feel this way, as they like to criticize the LDS church for actually thinking our actions, not our words, mean something.

I think evangelicals are only trying to marginalize LDS doctrine of keeping your covenants..your agreement with our saviour. The lord said there would be many that complain at their judgment, as they cried "lord, lord" etc...Their argument is weak. And honestly, they shortchange grace as well.

Gene

Gene said...

Let us not forget that the father of protestantism, Martin Luther, called the epsitle of James an epistle of straw. It seems it did not fit in with his concept of the true gospel.

Faith without works is dead.

Then again, Luther came up with this concept of the priesthood of the believer. It was out of theological necessity, not supported by scripture of course, as he knew he had no more authority to preach the gospel than the Catholics.

Bart said...

I can understand why it's difficult to understand the concept of free grace.
The many of Moses' Jews died because they couldn't accept that to be healed all they had to do was look at the serpent on the staff.
They wanted it to be harder, they wanted to work for it.
It takes a lot of humility and a leap of faith to accept the concept of grace as a free gift.

Papa D said...

Salvation through grace is a central tenet of Mormonism. So is exaltation through an acceptance of the requirement for discipleship.

Those two principles (faith AND works, grace AND commandments, etc.) is consistent with what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, etc. preached.

It takes a lot of humility and a leap of faith to believe what Jesus and the early apostles taught (what the Bible actually teaches), especially when it is in conflict with many of the influential theologians and Protestant fathers.

Papa D said...

Also, I find it extraordinarily interesting that those who espouse free grace and salvation without any requirement of reciprocal acceptance on our part NEVER answer those who provide Biblical references that refute that idea. This is at least the fourth or fifth post Jeff has written about this general topic (that I can remember), and this back-and-forth has happened each and every time - and not once has anyone who disagrees with him actually addressed all the verses and passages that support his stance.

Not once.

That is enlightening, to say the least.

Gene said...

Bart, whoever he is, again minimizes grace. Latter Day Saints Understand the concept of a free gift. Christ's atonement gave us all a free gift to come forth in the resurrection. We did not earn that.

When will Bart follow all of the bible that tells us that you must follow the commandments if you truly love the lord. Why do so many that call themselves christian ignore so much of the Bible?

He seems to want to say that the EVERLASTING covenant made with those of the old testament wasn't everlasting apparently. Well it was everlasting until so called evangelical conservative christians said it meant nothing...God changed his mind.

Why can't they see the harmony between Grace and works, the old and new testaments? Why are they so blind?

Pops said...

The false doctrine of salvation by grace without works was first promoted by Lucifer in our premortal existence. Those who rejected Lucifer's doctrine and followed Christ will be rewarded for that meritorious act, through the grace of Christ, with a measure of salvation: an immortal resurrected body, and (for the most part) a post-mortal position in a kingdom of glory. Those who were seduced by Satan's siren song of sans-sweat salvation are the only children of our Father who will receive exactly zero salvation.

Those who change their minds in mortality and decide the no-effort path is best suited to them will not jeopardize the degree of salvation they've already "earned", but will forfeit what greater glory they might have had.

Christ consistently and without ceasing taught the doctrine of salvation by grace and works; sometimes explicitly: "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"; and sometimes implicitly: "If ye love me, keep my commandments".

Paul and other post-resurrection writers echo the same message: "...God ... will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life".

In weighing the scriptures as a whole, it is apparent that the salvation equation is this: our eternal reward is a function of grace, which is a constant, and our works, which comprise the variable that establishes the need for a final judgment.

Paul had occasion to remind the early Saints that works alone could not suffice, whether the works of the Law of Moses or any other works. Living prophets echo the same message.

Pops said...

Perhaps I should have been more explicit that Christ taught both grace and works, as the examples I selected focused on works. Here's an example that speaks of grace: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Bart said...

First of all, I reject the paradigm you propose of salvation without exaltation. That really diminishes the value of the word "save". Your proposition would send hoards of "saved" souls to an eternity outside the presence of God. (aka Hell, saved unto eternal damnation?)

Second, You guys talk about a balance between grace and works. But you'd be hard pressed to find another religion more works based than Mormonism.

Where's the balance? Have another look at my site (linked above). It does a good job showing just how oppressive mormonism is.

Lamdaddy said...

I'm really confused at Bart's list, which is mostly comprised of Biblical references. My understanding is that he believes that we believe that each of the things that HE pointed out must be followed with some sort of exactness like a Pharisee, but this is only a parody of our beliefs and understanding of scripture (and I think he knows it). An example is the encouragement to attend Seminary and Institute. In no way have we taught that that is central to salvation. But thanks for providing the many Biblical references that teach that there are conditions to salvation, and I don't mean a simple uttered prayer. I also find it fascinating that he glossed over the MANY teachings of Jesus in which he makes salvation conditional upon faithfulness and obedience. Like Papa D, I have also noticed that those of Bart's understanding almost never refer to the Savior and ALL that he had to say regarding reward, salvation, and judgment. I suppose it is not as convenient to their philosophy as *some* of Paul's teachings.

Lamdaddy said...

Bart, your list, while well referenced, does not prove a thing. Why would we appeal to YOUR interpretation of OUR interpretation of the Scriptures. If your list was truly how we believed, WE would be the ones with the list. In fact, the Pharisees had a written list of commandments and interpretations of commandments that had to be fastidiously monitored and adhered to. We have no such list, and Joseph Smith himself condemned creeds. So your comparison to the Pharisees is flawed from the start. I agree, your interpretation is oppressive, but it doesn't reflect my beliefs in the slightest.
In fact, I acknowledge that I cannot perfectly keep all of the commandments, and that is where the saving power of Christ does what I cannot do. Without it, my works are dirty rags (sound familiar?).
I believe that we are saved by grace, judged and rewarded by works. That is what Jesus taught, and it is something that Protestants have not really been able to logically contend with.

Papa D said...

"First of all, I reject the paradigm you propose of salvation without exaltation. That really diminishes the value of the word "save". Your proposition would send hoards of "saved" souls to an eternity outside the presence of God. (aka Hell, saved unto eternal damnation?)"

If that wasn't so laughable, it would be sad. Even if you take the multiple degrees of glory into consideration, the Telestial Kingdom is described as eternity in the presence of a member of the Godhead. There literally is NO equivalent in Mormon theology to the actual lake of fire and brinstone taught within much of Christianity.

Bart, you realize, I'm sure, that one of the reasons Mormonism is called a non-Christian cult by many Prostestants is that we teach it isn't necessary for people in mortality to accept Jesus in order to be saved - that we believe Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, atheists, etc. all can be "saved" AND/OR "exalted" through the atonement of Jesus. If you want to get into an argument that says one group is too limiting when it comes to the reach of God's grace and the atonement of Jesus, the Christ, it's patently absurd to claim the more limiting one is Mormonism.

Also, as Lamdaddy said, to chalk up Biblical references to "commandments" as somehow showing that Mormonism is Pharisaical but not admitting upfront that those same commandments apply to all of Christianity (at least those who take the Bible seriously), and to add all kinds of simple counsel and advise that are not enforced as "commandments" in any way, shape or form smacks of the rankest hypocrisy.

Focus on the commandments which, upon violation, will get a Mormon excommunicated by the LDS Church. The list will be quite small - and it will be much more applicable to your Pharisee comparison than your current list.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Works based? The most works-based religion you know? Early Christians were asked to do more that Mormons are today. They were asked to consecrate everything - they had all things in common. They were given abundant commands and instructions from their leaders and had long lists of things to avoid and were encouraged to do many things to build up the kingdom and share the Gospel. Read the New Testament, man, and then read the Apostolic Fathers with the earliest Christian sermons and writings. It's very familiar territory for LLD folks--all the exertions to obey and keep the commandment, a habit reinforced by the rather plain teachings of Christ about the need to keep the commandments with language like "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments". But all the expectations to DO things with their faith, to press toward the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus, to run the race and endure to the end, to serve God with all one's heart and mind and strength as Christ taught, not just the Mormons, does not negate grace or imply that works save instead of Christ. The works don't save us, but the things that we do help us grow in grace, and importantly, help us stay on and move forward on the straight and narrow path that Christ provides for us through His grace. It helps us abide in Him, overcome evil, and keep grace working in us. We are saved by grace, but accessing the full blessings of grace require that we follow Christ and repent of our sins, not just acknowledge Him.

Those who are saved by grace can still fall from grace--we can reject Christ and return to sin. The Bible teaches that plainly. The exhortations of Paul and others to Christians make no sense otherwise. So we maintain grace in our lives by seeking to follow Christ. How difficult is that to grasp? Does belief in that biblical concept make us non-Christian?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating debate, folks, though I have to say that watching it unfold makes me glad I'm Jewish.
;-)

Quantumleap42 said...

At first I thought that Bart and his website didn't merit response, but the more I thought about it I realized that the only person who would spend that much time and effort researching "all" the commandments of "Mormonism" would have to be a member of the Church, because if not then he has apparently outdone every member of the church in terms of orthodoxy and has done what no other member has done, which is enumerate all 600+ commandments (did you know that we have to "Make [our] children fold their arms in church", man, I must be going to hell for that one since my 4 month old just will not fold her arms!).

So once I realized that the list was compiled by such a good faithful member of the Church I though, "Why would such a good faithful Mormon put up such a ridiculous website?" Until I though, "He must be the ultimate anti-Mormon troll." Think about it, a site that is designed to attract anti-Mormons like moths to a light, where the premise of the site is so ludicrous that it would make Pastor Robert Jeffress blush, it makes me wonder if the intent of the site is to spread misinformation and unsubstantiated rumors among anti-Mormon circles in an effort to make them look ridiculous and irrational.

And then they wonder why we don't take them seriously. Seriously.

[Sorry Jeff, if this comment is a little too harsh for your blog feel free to delete it, and let me rewrite it in a less sarcastic way.]

Bart said...

@Jeff,
I'm happy to see we can agree that we are saved by grace and that works don't save us.
My argument is that the LDS church position is quite the opposite.
The 3rd Article of Faith reads "all mankind may be saved by obedience".

Sure, members like yourself have blogs and talk about grace as a free gift, being saved by grace. And posit neo-orthodox interpretations of passages like 2 Nephi 25:23.

However, let's let LDS church leadership interpret that passage. Let us defer to Prophet Ezra Taft Benson who said that "After All We Can Do" is keeping the commandments. He goes on to list a bunch of other items that are part of "All we can do". Such as visiting the sick, etc. It's a list much like mine.

After All We Can Do, Benson, 1988
http://lds.org/liahona/1988/12/redemption-through-jesus-christ-after-all-we-can-do?lang=eng

My website is simply an illustration of what it would really take for someone to do everything as instructed by the LDS church leadership and the Book of Mormon.
-------------------------
@Eric about Eph 2:10. Yes I agree we are saved then we do good works. There's no need for the law anymore, we are driven by gratitude to complete his will.
In other words there's no need at all for the list I compiled on my site yet the church keeps piling on more law. No tattoos, No piercings, No flip flops, tons of stuff that don't matter to salvation but are piled on for nothing more than a Pharisaical Culture.
-----------------------------

Thank you for being open to discussion I've really enjoyed the engagement.

Papa D said...

Bart, read Pres. Uchtdorf's fairly recent General Conference talk about how we tend to take cultural things and make commandments out of them. If you are arguing that common Mormon CULTURE, especially among many local members and leaders, is Pharisaical, I can't argue at all. However, to say that the global leadership endorses such extreme Pharisee-ism just is plain wrong - especially if you are arguing about the current leadership and not compiling a list that goes back decades and centuries and over a millennium.

Even Pres. Packer has warned about over-programming at the local level and cautioned the local leadership to simplify rather than complicate.

Oh, and those things you listed in your last comment? They aren't laws, since they aren't enforced. I've seen tatooed, pierced members being baptized and taking the sacrament - and I saw a man in a witness couple in the temple with a beard and a long braid that reached almost to his waist. I have a fairly conservative Stake President, and I wore a polo shirt or colored shirt to many of my stake leadership meetings without any reprimand whatsoever.

There is a HUGE difference between "law" and "culture" - and you're conflating the two with your list.

Frankly, that's my only objection - that you are equating culture with command, and that simply is inaccurate.

Lamdaddy said...

Bart, I'd be curious to see a response to some of the things that I pointed out. It's curious to make a point that LDS members believe something that we really don't believe. We are regular joe members and have gone through great lengths to explaining the LDS position and you respond with "the LDS church position is quite the opposite?" Sure, people understand as well as explain things differently, but you are going to be hard pressed to find the official LDS position that states that we are somehow saved through works alone.

Quantumleap42 said...

I really like what Lamdaddy pointed out in his 11:23 AM comment, how we have to somehow adhere to the interpretation of our doctrine as given by those who are not of our faith, and not by those who are. In other words, apparently the only valid interpretation of our doctrine is that given by our critics. We are not allowed to define our own faith and doctrine, and when we do we are reminded that some church authority somewhere might possibly disagree with us (again with the words of the church authority subject to the interpretation of the critic, and not us).

I just wonder if I will ever hear a critic that doesn't first tell me what I believe, and when I subsequently try to clarify what I actually believe, I am informed that I really don't understand the doctrine of my church (despite the fact that I have been learning it and teaching it for many years now). I somehow find it hard to believe that someone who is not a member of my church somehow knows more about my faith and doctrine than I could ever know, and that their interpretation is the only authoritative interpretation that can be used in any discussion of my faith's doctrine.

In terms of our doctrine we very publicly and continually assert that we are saved by Christ (or God's grace). But because we are saved by grace, that does not excuse us from keeping the commandments. We also very publicly and forcefully proclaim that if we are to even have a desire to live with God then we must keep His commandments. Is that such a terrible doctrine? Is is such a terrible thing to keep God's commandments? and to insist that all God's children should keep his commandments? We do it because we love Him, and when we are told that we shouldn't place so much emphasis on keeping commandments, what you are in effect telling us is that we should not love God, and we should not be moral, and we should not strive to live up to the potential that God has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ. And for us to give up that is unacceptable. Thus we will keep His commandments.

Bart said...

@Lam,
Sorry I missed your post. There are just so many of you and only one of me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

None of us on this blog thread are in authority to interpret scripture that's why I have referenced the interpretation of church leadership.
-------------------------
@Papa,
There should be no culture line items in my list. Each line item has been researched and documented. These items are coming from church leadership over the pulpit & in church publications.
Tattoos are a good example. Why didn't Pres. Uchtdorf repudiate this edict (tattoos) in the conference talk you referenced? Uchtdorf spoke out against Pharisaical rules but failed to follow up by removing any rules. (He mentioned local stuff but I don't have any local stuff in my list)

Also you seemed to imply that God's word has an expiration date and that the line items in my list are outdated. Please let me know which line items have been deprecated and I will remove them. I was careful not to select any items that have been changed so the list should be absolutely current.

afterallwecando.com

Pops said...

Bart - would you mind responding to this statement by the Savior?

"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"

Lamdaddy said...

Bart, there are several cultural references on your list, as well as many things that I would consider to be "sound counsel." Your position on our beliefs suggests that failing to adhere to each of these items means some sort of damnation or retribution. Is that right? Because if we believe that we MUST do each of things in the strictest sense to be saved, then not doing them would mean the opposite. Where, in our doctrine, does it say that I must group date and not pair off in order to be saved?
We teach our youth things that will help them to be Christlike, such as avoiding fornication, and these guidelines help to facilitate that.

Protestants love Paul, so let me use his words to validate this interesting commandment you've pointed out:

Ephesians 5:3-5

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

So Bart, a couple of things there from your man Paul. First, his list is oppressive, wouldn't you say? I mean, he has a list (and that's not all of it) of things that seem to prevent the saints in Ephesus from "inheriting the kingdom of Christ and of God." And on that list is fornication.

Suddenly, that list of suggestions isn't such a silly idea. And why does Paul teach that salvation is conditional upon works? Your thoughts?

GB said...

The 3rd Article of Faith reads "all mankind may be saved by obedience".

Yup! That is what it says.

Notice that it does NOT say, "all mankind ARE saved by obedience".

I wonder if you can (or want to) understand the difference.

Even this scripture makes it clear.
D&C 14:7 And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which GIFT is the greatest of all the GIFTS of God.

Notice that eternal life is a GIFT that is GIVEN to the obedient. Good works can NEVER earn it. It can only be given. And by God's own words, He gives it to the obedient.

Even Paul admits it.
Rom 2:6 (God) Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

mkprr said...

I just want to say, I’m eternally grateful for Joseph Smith, and all of the modern prophets since him who have been bold enough to teach without reservation the truth that unless we follow Christ with all of our hearts and strenght, we have no reason to expect eternal life. It’s definitely not a popular doctrine but I think it’s one of the most important things ever restored.

Gene said...

Latter Day Saints are fully aware of who Christ is and what he has done for us. We understand this was the plan before the foundation of the world. Without Christ, we are nothing.

However, it is glaringly obvious that our Lord and Savior expects something from those that call themselves his followers. One obvious scripture is from the New Testament, when one asks the Lord what must he do do inherit eternal live.

"And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"...

and the conversation was about living the basic laws of the lord, and the man says he has done that, but Christ tells him he still lacks one thing...

So apparently, simply knowing Jesus is the Christ is not quite enough. Jesus told the man that he actually had to do things, a sacrifice if you will.

The Man did not lack knowledge that Jesus was the Christ based on his questions to the Lord. He wasn't even willing to sacrifice one iota for his salvation.



This notion that you can simply pay lip service to the Lord is one of the worst distortions and changes in the gospel that has been perpetuated on mankind.

Gene

Cindy said...

I think Jeff is right...we do have to keep the commandments...repent of our sins ...accept every bit of good counsel...but Paul does describe the level of the bar if that is what we choose.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."

Falling from grace is seeking to be justified by the law, not failing to keep it. And freedom from the law allows those of us who are saved by Christ to willingly follow His commandments..to love God and others...which fulfills all the law! Amen!

Papa D said...

Cindy, I think every Mormon I know would add their own "Amen!" to that last comment.

CF said...

I just had to comment on this since it is so commonly misunderstood in the LDS Church.

Mormons believe we will be able to get into Heaven by grace alone. By Heaven, I mean a place far more beautiful and lovely than anything we can imagine on Earth. To obtain this, we have to do absolutely nothing. Christ has saved us already.

HOWEVER, to be eligible for the "New and Everlasting Covenant" of Eternal Marriage, and the progression to Godhood, we MUST "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".

Only then, can "ye can in nowise deny the power of God."

Moroni 10:32

So, yes, we have all be "saved" just as the Evangelicals believe, but we have received a new covenant from God, just as Jesus brought a new covenant to the Jews to attain FAR more.

Bart said...

Moroni 10:32 is the IF...THEN statement for grace: (CAPS added)
"... 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"

Have you denied yourself all ungodliness yet? Cause that's what you have to do for his grace to be sufficient.

You can't be ungodly i.e. you must be godly before grace kicks in.

If I was godly I wouldn't need grace. I would already be GOD.

Papa D said...

"godly" = "conforming to the laws and wishes of God; devout; pious;
coming from God; divine."

Fwiw, I know lots of godly people who are not God. They are godly - or, at least, they are striving to be godly.

Dictionary definitions are important. Just saying.

Papa D said...

and those godly people aren't all Mormon - there are more godly people outside the LDS Church (and outside Christianity) than there are in it, since there are FAR more of "them" than of "us"

Lamdaddy said...

Come on Bart! I'm hoping for a great response from you.

Bart said...

@Lam,
I don't have anymore to add than what I've already said. Mormon Scripture clearly sets the bar for achieving grace at "AFTER ALL WE CAN DO", which if you are honest you will have to admit that even now there's more you could be doing. Let me know when you've done ALL...

@Papa
By your definition of Godly I would have to be "conforming to the laws and wishes of God".

How are you doing on that? Are you conforming yet? If not is his grace sufficient for you? (IF...THEN, Grace | Moroni 10:32)

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Bart, you mistake the destination with the journey. Our journey toward Christ begins with simply believing in Him, and grace kicks in right away. After the first brave steps on the straight and narrow path, new Christians will find their sins washed away, their understanding enlightened, their joy growing, and the gifts of the Spirit increasingly guiding their lives. But the journey isn't over and God is not finished with the transformation He seeks. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48) Was He joking??

We can abide in Christ and His grace and grow to be more like Him, or we can wander away or, per the parable of the sower, wither away. The teachings of Christ and the whole organization of His Church are tools to help change us and help us grow.

Christ came to the Jews and immediately raised the bar regarding their behavior. Read the Sermon on the Mount. The law said not to commit adultery, but Christ raised the bar to command us not to even look upon another lustfully. The law said don't kill, but Christ raised the bar and warned us against anger itself. On and on he goes, raising the bar to teach us godly behavior. He gave us commandments to transform us so that we can reach the lofty goal, unachievable on our own, but possible through the grace of Christ.

You speak of the commandment to serve God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength as if it were a pernicious Mormon innovation. Those words were among the most important in the Old Testament (Deut. 6:5). That command was not done away by Christ, by repeated by Him, along with the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself" (another very-high-bar commandment), in Mark 12:29-34.

The journey toward Christ has the impossibly lofty goal of becoming like Him (1 John 3:2, but read all of 1 John). Peter described the journey toward that state of "putting on the divine nature" in 2 Peter 1. He says we must give all diligence, and describes a path of adding knowledge, virtue, patience, and, yes, godliness. He warns that those who don't do these things, who don't progress toward Christ, have forgotten that they were once purged of their old sins. "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." (2 Peter 1:10) Diligence in what? In serving God, even with all our heart. He wants our hearts, our minds, our whole lives to be directed toward Him that we may be joint heirs with Him with glory revealed within us (Romans 8:14-18) later, not now, as we become more like Him through His transformative power along that straight and narrow path. The high prize of Christ Jesus, the one that Paul urges us to strive for, is a destination with a high bar indeed, impossible for us, but possible for God if we'll let Him lead us forward on His path.

Papa D said...

Well said, Jeff. I have nothing whatsoever to add.

Lamdaddy said...

Bart is starting to just repeat himself by restating his position as a response. I would too, if I had put so much time into a website and found that it's completely worthless because of what LDS really believe.