Stop It

This graphic based on the recent General Conference talk by Deiter Uchtdorf has no doubts been making the rounds in LDS circles. I was surprised to see that it had crossed over and was being distributed by Evangelicals.

Holding Grudges. Stop it.

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130 thoughts on “Stop It

  1. Self-Righteousness.
    Acting Selfishly.
    Being a Sinner.
    Being Human.

    Stop it is not the answer to our being fundamentally flawed sinful human beings. Doesn’t work and never will. It’s not in our nature to stop it. That’s why we need a Savior.

  2. 4five,

    What human action do I need to take to invite the savior’s grace into my life?

  3. I don’t understand why St. Paul — who is often alleged to have taught “grace alone” — spent so much time in his letters telling the early Christians about how they should behave.

    President Uchtdorf’s counsel is wise advice for all who follow Christ, and I’m glad to see his words being publicized.

  4. I’m confused… Is there some reason that evangelicals should NOT distribute Uchtdorf’s comments? Was there a memo on ignoring “unapproved” common-sense? Would this apostles comment somehow only be valid if he were Evangelical? What is it about “truth” that seems to surprise you that this benign comment has “crossed-over” to ring true with Evangelicals? Aren’t they smart enough to appreciate wisdom, regardless of the source? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. Please explain. I don’t want to read between your lines, as maybe you just mean your surprised they ran across the quote in the first place, since they don’t move in LDS circles to encounter him. I think the real question that would be illuminating would have been, what if after his attribution of his name only, if they would have added “LDS Apostle”? Would an evangelical have “distributed” what obviously impressed them, if they had to first filter it by “who” said it, rather than what was said? THAT is a sociology study that I would like to have seen as revealing bigotry is always fun to watch.

  5. Eric,

    Its not difficult, St Paul, who taught justification by faith alone, spent so much time teaching all Christians how they should behave in light of grace.

  6. So Gundeck. Are you saying that Uchtdorf is Paul-esque? It sounds like you’d agree that Uchtdorf is doing exactly what someone claiming to be an apostle of Christ is suppose to be doing: i.e. teaching Christians how they should behave in grace and truth. Still not seeing though why Tim was “surprised”. I see non-Mormons are quite often quoted over LDS pulpits. C.S. Lewis has been quoted dozens of times and probably over a hundred quotes in church publications. I’ve never sensed a “qualification” by membership rule in the LDS church, before person “X” can be quoted. I gave a church talk last year in which I quoted Gandalf. (A pagan wizard of middle-earth, no less!) Wisdom is wisdom and common sense is common sense, wherever you find it. Uchtdorf’s quote is just an example of that. I think the LDS article of faith eschews a “litmus-test” when it states…”if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Maybe the evangelicals could use a little less exclusionary-thinking to their betterment? My experience has sadly often shown that there’s too often nothing quite so judgmental as a good-ole Christian! (Westboro baptists are an extreme example.) Something about thinking God only saves 2% of his children,–”me”–that seems to play havoc with some evangelicals magnanimity of accepting the “non-mes”, I think. (SNL the “Church lady” struck a nerve because we all know Christians who live to condemn others.) I actually know of an evangelical web site where they specifically blacklist books, plays, music, etc., based solely on the religion (or lack there-of) of the artist. They ignore the creative content but simply list ALL disapproved people, irregardless of merit or cause. Ouch! I call it the “book-burning-of-the-month” club. Mormons can get cliquish too, but I think our evangelical friends should remember the mote and the beam parable in this context.

  7. Gundeck,

    So you aren’t saved by works, only by grace in Jesus.

    But the only way to tell if you have “grace in Jesus” is whether you are naturally doing good works.

    So… do you see what I mean now?

  8. I don’t want to read between your lines, as maybe you just mean your surprised they ran across the quote in the first place, since they don’t move in LDS circles to encounter him.

    I can’t speak for Tim, but I was surprised too, and that’s the reason.

    I haven’t seen evangelicals in general inclined to use a theological litmus test in circulating quotes by someone; I’ve seen them quote someone like the Dalai Lama, for example, when it suits them. But quoting an LDS authority, I’d say, is rare, but mostly because they wouldn’t run across what he says.

  9. Seth,

    No, I don’t because our assurance isn’t based on our good works but in the promise of salvation and the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

  10. Garth,

    I haven’t heard or read Uchtdorf’s sermon [?] so I couldn’t answer if he was being Paul-esque. I’d imagine we probably have different expectations from a sermon both in content and sources.

  11. Garth,

    I was about to clarify what I meant, but first; I’m curious if you read the graphic or heard President Uchtdorf’s talk? Do you think it might apply to how you talk about Evangelicals?

  12. Garth said, “I’m confused… Is there some reason that evangelicals should NOT distribute Uchtdorf’s comments? Aren’t they smart enough to appreciate wisdom, regardless of the source?”

    Assuming you’re being sarcastic, Garth, great point!
    ———–

    Uchtdorf’s article is great. Here’s to Tim for posting it here. Sometimes Tim is just alright.
    ———–

    Gundeck commented, “I haven’t heard or read Uchtdorf’s sermon.”

    Press on the dang link, Gundeck. It won’t bite you!

  13. Gundeck, if the only way to tell if you’ve been saved by Jesus is evidencing the fruits of righteous works in your life, you’re going to end up with people obsessed with doing righteous works anyway. So I really don’t see the difference.

  14. Seth,

    I would agree with you if assurance was based on works but that isn’t what I believe. Assurance is based on the person and work of Christ and the promises of the gospel.

  15. Then why bring up righteous works as the fruit of conversion in the first place?

  16. Stop it is not the answer to our being fundamentally flawed sinful human beings.

    I think what 4fivesolas is trying to say is that there is no point in being loving if the persoon who is advising you to be so doesn’t have the right Jesus.

    However, if you read Uchdorf’s sermon you find that the method of being loving is by inviting the love of God into us.

    He advises that we should rely on the love of God to “stop it”

    When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake [forgave us].”

    The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.

    Do you disagree with this advice?

  17. Jared

    I’m not sure we are given options who to love, God, our neighbors and our enemies seem pretty inclusive to me.

    Here is the difficulty, ”hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm…” are all wrong and contrary to my understanding of how anyone should live their life. But there is a difference between the declarations “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” and, “Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions.”

    This distinction may not mean much to some, but to others it is difference between the apostolic gospel and a yoke.

  18. I had the privilege of listening in person to Elder Uchtdorf give that talk. It would have never crossed my mind that some would find it objectionable.

    Gundek — Are you saying our forgiveness is unconditional? If that’s what you’re saying, how would you interpret Jesus’ telling us that to be forgiven we must forgive others (e.g., Matthew 6:14-15)? That sounds like quite a condition to me!

  19. David Clark said:

    Admit it Tim, you made the graphic and are playing both sides for laughs and giggles.

    If Tim had made the graphic, he would have used different fonts.

    The creator of the graphic is Nick Sorensen.

  20. Eric,

    Yes God’s forgiveness is unconditional, Have you forgiven everyone perfectly? While I take seriously the command to forgive, I may be the only person who is glad that even this sin can be forgiven.

    As I understand Matthew 6:14-15 it cannot be separated from the Lord’s prayer and the paternal relationship promised in this prayer. The lack of forgiveness in v16 is a breakdown of our relationship with God driving us to repentance.

  21. Tim; perhaps you feel that even mentioning the factual failings of evangelicals is ignoring the Uchtdorf admonition. Uchtdorf doesn’t say we have to ignore reality. You raise a potential point–”is it judgmental to point out the judgmentalism of others?” (A circular conundrum if ever I’ve heard one.) For me to point out the judgmentalism inherent in many Christians is hardly wishing them ill or gossiping or hating or throwing stones. It might be a little ridiculing–but frankly–most right-minded evangelicals are quick to condemn the Westboro Baptists I mentioned too. Christ had no problem using words like “hypocrite” to assess the fallen Jewish aristocracy he encountered. One can be honest without being mean, and frankly, for someone who wants Mormons to honestly confront their inner demons, it would seem strange if you feel offended to acknowledge those similar demons within evangelical ranks. WE are all human, which means to be flawed. That’s a given. My point is that we should NOT judge truth by the “approved” credentials of being ONLY religion “X”. Truth should be truth and stand on its own merits. For me to point that out by contrasting it to when it doesn’t happen is hardly ignoring Uchtdorf’s admonitions.

  22. Jared C,
    I have no problem with all of the application of Law given in this graphic – following all of these things – loving our neighbor – is the application of God’s Law. However, I am completely incapable of fulfilling God’s Law – I break it all the time. So what is the solution when I reallze I cannot “Stop It.” What’s missing is the gospel, the good news that Jesus forgives sinners – people who cannot stop it. When you have the freedom of Christ, freedom from the death grip of the Law, then your perspective changes – you realize that I have the promise of eternal life with the Father through Jesus – and it’s not based on what I have done, or what I will do. Or even my ability to stop it. I can’t stop it. If this graphic lead up to the good news of free forgiveness completely apart from anything you ever said or did – Jesus crucified for our sins – then I would be all for it. But when it focuses back on me and my inner transformation – it’s pointing away from the cross and back to my dark heart of sin. I have no hope apart from Christ.

  23. 4fivesolas, The poster actually streamlines a rather doctrinally rich talk. Before any of the “stop it” rhetoric in the talk, Uchdorf lays this very important groundwork:

    The doctrine is clear. We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ’s Atonement is infinite and eternal.

    Its true that Mormonism teaches a much more incremental relationship with God’s grace – than most Protestant theologies. Also, you can too often find hints of self-help in the way we speak of repentance. (to my great dissapointment) But, any GC talk about applying God’s will in our lives, is most always beggining or ending with Jesus.

  24. But Jared,…while acknowledging that Christ is the “author and finisher” of our faith, and our sole savior, the LDS would still say it’s okay to also be expected to work on ourselves too. We’re not robots waiting for God to “re-program” us. We own that responsibility too. I personally have no problem owning and working on my own character. Flawed as it is. I agree human nature will keep me flawed, but for you to say “I am completely incapable of fulfilling God’s Law” can also become an excuse and rationalization. I for one kinda of appreciate when I’m asked to review my flaws, requiring focusing “back on me and my inner transformation.” That’s a good thing. Mormons agree with our submissive role and God’s dominant role in the salvation equation, but still see it as an equation with more than one factor. I think the LDS fear the “I can do nothing” or “nothing I do pleases God” because it leads to flawed theology. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Both truths (sanctification and justification) can occupy the same space simultaneously. Christ does HIs part. We do our part. Discipleship is a marriage, not an abduction. To me, Uchtdorf is just reminding us that ultimately WE control our choices, so we indeed can STOP many of the wrong choices we make and need to strive to do so. It doesn’t negate Christ just to say free will also puts us under obligations of discipleship too. I don’t find anything Uchtdorf said controversial from a theological stand point for any denomination.

  25. Garth – I can see Calvinists objecting greatly. For them discipleship really is an abduction – and they’re proud of it.

  26. Oops on my last post. Meant to direct @ 4fivesolas, not Jared. And yes to Christian J. I live in Grand Rapids, MI and Calvinist theology is a dominant theology. (HQ for the Christian Reformed Church.) Struggles between “Sovereignty” and “Free Will” have long obscured the issue, which for the LDS is not a struggle in the first place.

  27. Garth I suggested you read the graphic because I think your charges of Evangelical judgemenatlism were over the top. If you had been heeding the wisdom of the sentiment you would not have first assumed my “surprise” was due to an embargo against all Mormon thought and wouldn’t have written a diatribe against such an embargo. I think President Uchtdorf’s talk would have inspired you to see if I intended to offend you before taking offense. You clearly understood that I MIGHT have meant something benign but lack of clarity didn’t stop you from ravaging the character of all Evangelicals. That’s exactly the kind of thing I think President Uchtdorf was counseling against.

    My surprise was due to the fact that it’s not often you see popular Mormon sentiments cross over into other segments of the culture. I’d be just as surprised to see Mormons quoting Dallas Willard. Not becuase his ideas run contrary to Mormonism but because Mormons have no reason to know who he is or what he is saying.

  28. Also, I think emphasizing the total blackness of the human heart really, really misses the point and turns God into a monster. But that’s a whole ‘nother conversation, eh?

  29. To me, Uchtdorf is just reminding us that ultimately WE control our choices, so we indeed can STOP many of the wrong choices we make and need to strive to do so.

    The heart of the Gospel for me, as a Mormon and now, is that love can transform us, if we let it. I don’t see it as a test of will, but a surrender. You find this concept throughout the Book of Mormon, and its pretty clear in Uchtdorf’s sermon. The classic criticism of Mormons is that they focus too much on being righteous by willing themselves to, rather than placing faith in a spiritual transformation. I think this is a valid criticism when LDS forget the dynamics of the Gospel as spelled out in their own scriptures.

  30. I was surprised to see that it had crossed over and was being distributed by Evangelicals.

    In a world that is increasingly dominated by social media, I think it should not be surprising. Probably some Mormon posted it to their Facebook wall, some Evangelical friend saw it and liked the sentiment without knowing (or caring) who Dieter Uchtdorf is and re-posted it, and so on.

  31. Ahem, Tim…maybe you missed the 2nd half of my first contribution: “Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. Please explain. I don’t want to read between your lines, as maybe you just mean you’re surprised they ran across the quote in the first place, since they don’t move in LDS circles to encounter him.” Been there. Covered that. Didn’t know I would offend you by simply pointing out that your comment can easily be taken two ways. The fact I acknowledged BOTH scenarios and asked you to clarify which, hardly seems worthy of your ire, since I said from the outset I was hoping you’d explain WHICH. I said nothing I felt was insulting and if so I apologize as that was not my intent. The worst I did, in my opinion, was to make my point by pointing out the absurdity of exclusionary theology, citing the Westboro Baptists and Dana Carvey’s the church-lady. Shouldn’t have bothered you unless you feel a need to defend them, which I’m sure you don’t. I was presuming all along that you couldn’t really mean that Evangelicals are not smart enough to simply recognize common sense when they hear it. You seem to equate a very mild and valid social observation–that Christianity (of all stripes) can breed exclusionary thought, whether you meant it in this case or not–as if it’s some thrown down gauntlet. No…just an observation that it exists. If you now go farther and think Uchtdorf’s comments precludes even valid observations and critical evaluation, then why does this blog exist? I can’t help but notice that you don’t seem to refute my observation, just that you are offended that I enunciate it. With your clarification that you meant it the 2nd way then that answers my question. It doesn’t mean the 1st way ceases to be a reality to others.

  32. Katie,
    I am not making excuses – just telling the truth. I don’t really believe in spiritual transformation – I am both sinner and saint and will be until I die or am transformed when Christ returns (that’s when the transformation kicks in!). The human condition (my condition) is not one that just needs improvement – it is a condition of complete hopelessness. Apart from Christ crucified. Should pastors preach the law, fully and without reservation? Absolutely, because it crushes sinners and then the pastor should turn us to salvation completely outside of ourselves. The external Word of God – Jesus comes for sinners, in communion He comes to forgive sinners, in our baptism he comes to wash us clean, in his grace and mercy he gives us faith and forgives our sins. Should I strive to do good works? Absolutely. What does that striving have to do with salvation or santification? Nothing. I am free from the Law – and in this dynamic, knowing that forgiveness, I don’t have a task master, but a Savior. I think it is a mercy that is so big that it is hard to grasp.

  33. First, what Jared said and Katie and Tim assented to.

    Garth said:

    I don’t really believe in spiritual transformation.

    To me, that’s the whole purpose of the gospel. In my understanding, even “Mr. Grace” himself said as much:

    Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NET)

    That sounds like a command for the present tense to me.

  34. 4five, yeah, I kinda think spiritual transformation is the whole point of the gospel. It doesn’t make a lick of sense to me otherwise. All this obsession with sin and self-hatred is pretty unhealthy. Speaking as one who’s been there.

  35. All this obsession with sin and self-hatred is pretty unhealthy. Speaking as one who’s been there.

    Total depravity plays out much differently in a Calvinist or Lutheran context than it does in a Mormon context. The difference of course being a robust doctrine of grace, forgiveness, and atonement always at the forefront of both doctrine and pastoring. In the Mormon version of self-loathing, it’s generally a strategy to get you to do more. In Calvinism/Lutheranism, it’s the strategy to make you realize you can’t do anything.

  36. Katie,
    I am not troubled by self-hatred. I am free from that condemnation that comes from the Law. I am not at all obsessed with sin – legalism, striving in my own effort to be holy was crushing to me. I’ve been there, done that. I am a forgiven sinner, and I think that’s awesome.

    Eric,
    I look forward to the transformation – and any transformation that I experience here is a result of God’s work in me – for he has saved me. I can take no credit. Be transformed – not transform yourself. How is my mind renewed? By God’s Word – the external Word of God comes to me. However, just like Paul, I know my condition is that of a sinner, and striving to do what I ought is not going to go well in many cases. Until I am transformed by Christ at the resurrection. I know this is a scandalous gospel of free grace, really completely free grace. God has given us the Holy Spirit and washed us in Holy Baptism:
    “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” Titus 3:4-6

  37. The Calvinist/Lutheran position on never describing human behavior as “good” seems like a taboo. (Perhaps similar to the Muslim taboo against any depiction of the prophet.) The goal is to scrupulously avoid a certain theological trap.

    As with most taboos, common sense is set aside.

  38. The Calvinist/Lutheran position on never describing human behavior as “good” seems like a taboo. (Perhaps similar to the Muslim taboo against any depiction of the prophet.) The goal is to scrupulously avoid a certain theological trap.

    Have you spent any time looking into Calvinist or Lutheran theology/doctrine?

    Remember some dude named Dieter once said to “Stop judging others.” And since it’s now been made into a jpeg, it has to be true.

  39. Some time. But I am not judging them as “bad”, simply as impossible to have a reasonable discussion with using common definitions of good and bad.

    When somebody says humans can do no good, it strikes me as obviously untrue by any commonsense understanding of morality. By saying only God does good, but at the same time, holding that God is not held to any standard of human morality, you are removing the discussion from an area where I can have a reasonable discussion. The proposition seems more like a koan than an argument.

  40. Jared,

    I don’t have an objection to calling human actions good works, in fact I praise God for works done to His glory.

  41. I suppose the generalization “Calivinist/Lutheran” is too inclusive. Perhaps I should limit my observation to “some Calivinsts and Lutherans”.

  42. “To me, Uchtdorf is just reminding us that ultimately WE control our choices, so we indeed can STOP many of the wrong choices we make and need to strive to do so.”

    My question is how well does “we control our choices” preach to a person who has had someone sin against them? A real life changing abomination of a sin? Earth shattering world destroying sin? I’m not sure.

  43. This is why I’ve stopped fighting the Mormon inclinations in my faith experience. My effort to change in fruitless!

  44. My question is how well does “we control our choices” preach to a person who has had someone sin against them? A real life changing abomination of a sin? Earth shattering world destroying sin? I’m not sure.

    I think that’s when this teaching is, perhaps, the most important of all.

    I had an unfortunate experience not long ago. I certainly wouldn’t say it was “earth shattering world destryoing,” but it was a pretty heartbreaking betrayal from someone I had trusted deeply.

    Forgiveness is generally something that comes easily to me. But in this case, it was (and if I’m honest, at times continues to be) a real struggle. Having appropriate boundaries — recognizing while I’m not responsible for the betrayal itself, I am responsible for my reaction and response to it — has been absolutely critical to helping me put the experience in the proper perspective. It might not be fun to remember that you are still responsible for your own choices even when you feel you’ve been “wronged,” but it’s the honest-to-gosh truth.

    In my experience, it was only when I accepted this that God could begin the process of healing and enlarging my heart to love the person who had harmed me, despite the mistreatment. Until then, I was stuck in finger-pointing, “being right,” and judgment. Believe me, I wouldn’t want to be judged at the Last Day the way I was judging her. I’ve had to own my own choices and sins of anger in order to open up enough for God to do His work.

  45. I agree, but I would go past effort to struggle, perseverance, exertion, but on no account a condition and never alone.

  46. Katie,

    I agree with you, in Christ we can forgive. In Christ we will forgive. But not as a condition of our forgiveness in Christ.

  47. I never think of things in terms of “conditions.” Whether it is or isn’t is ultimately irrelevant. All I know is that love requires that I forgive this person, and I want to live in Love, so God will work within me so that I do.

    Perhaps the more important question is this: have I really accepted forgiveness myself if I’m unwilling to extend it to others?

  48. But that wasn’t Uchtdorf’s message. He said, “Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions.” That is my objection to an otherwise reasonable sermon.

  49. But gudek, Jesus gives conditions – more than once. Its pretty plain. Its only when you read Paul as a trump card, that you run into problems. And even according to Paul, forgiveness is conditional

    At the very least, you would place a condition of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior right? And he would have to be the Trinitarian Jesus too right? Those are conditions.

    I don’t expect any of this to phase you. Basically we all seem to start with a notion of what the gospel is all about – then find the verses that support what we already believe right? Saying there is a clear, unmistakeable thread about how to return to God in the Bible, I think, is to not read the text in its entirety. And that, bringing it back Tim’s post, is where Mormon’s think they have something to offer. (of course, I would have to then admit that we/they often add to the confusion – rather than clarifying it. To my great frustration)

  50. FWIW Tim, a few weeks ago, someone gave a talk in church with the main thesis being: Because God has given us everything, we can give nothing to God – including our own salvific efforts. No one batted an eye. I could also dig up similar sentiments found in countless GC talks. It seems that we all just have different words for pretty similar concepts. Maybe the order of operation is not the same (which I’m sure you’ll argue is the most important part!) but I don’t see it as the chasm so often lamented by Protestants and Mormons alike.

  51. Christian,

    I am sorry that you don’t find a path to God in the Bible, I think it is there. What phases me is the source of the Godly sorrow that Paul wrote about (Acts 11:18).

    If you believe that Protestants think they can give nothing back to God you probably have misunderstood our theology. But I should probably bow out, I generally know better that to weigh in on this topic.

  52. Our life experiences in Christ let us know that when Jesus required us to forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from God, he wasn’t talking about the BIG forgiveness (justification, pardon) that we receive when we become Christians.

    I just know that if I don’t forgive someone else, a knot remains in my stomach, i.e., a dark cloud follows me around that HINDERS but doesn’t COMPLETELY CUT OFF my access to God. Maybe this is what is going on: maybe God is not forgiving me for not forgiving the offender.

  53. I wouldn’t say that I do not find a path to God in the Bible gundek. Not at all. (Many Mormons might say it, not me). I was just saying that there are a number of conclusion one can draw from the same Bible. The path I see is based my own reading and experience. There are a thousand others though.

  54. Tim. its to your credit that the chasm is being bridged. I was actually not referring to any of the thoughtful souls on this blog….

  55. As a Christian I should strive to do good works. No one gets to heaven without good works. No one goes to heaven because of good works. Good works do not contribute to salvation. It all comes down to did Jesus do enough to completely save me – give me eternal life with the Father? Yes. Apart from anything I ever said or did. It is truly a great feeling knowing my forgiveness is not contigent on me – it happened on a cross, outside of me. An empty tomb proves it. That is a good reason to do good works – to help your neighbor, to care for the sick, to come along side those hurting and just be there. Good works are not religious works – those that people set up to further their own piety. Rather, good works is loving my neighbor. Perhaps I lack common sense, or am not having a substantive discussion – think what you will, I see it in Scripture and find it to be truly good news. I need God’s grace. And I must strive to love and help my neighbor, freely.

  56. 4fivesolas,

    I give you a hard time for your rhetoric, but I don’t doubt that you feel the Spirit in your life and that your heart is in the right place. Those who really throw their soul into Jesus will reflect it. At least that is my experience.

  57. I was familiar with the talk, but I had never seen the graphic before now.

    I can see two reasons why Tim would be surprised that Evangelicals would be circulating the graphic.

    1. Evangelicals would not come across it, because it was being circulated in LDS circles, and Evangelicals would not be in touch with LDS circles. (Exceptions are the apparently limited number of Evangelicals who follow Mormonism on an ongoing basis so as to engage in ongoing attacks on Mormonism, such as the “Mormon Coffee” blog and this blog.)

    2. Evangelicals would not want to quote or cite an LDS General Authority in a favorable or approving way. Although they might agree with the ideas expressed, they would not want to publicly give credit to to LDS Church for good ideas, because the favorable impression it might give could help the LDS missionary effort and hurt the Evangelical “countercult” effort.

    Evangelicals circulating the graphic might either (A) not realize that the graphic has an LDS source or (B) not care that the graphic comes from an LDS source. Of course, some Evangelicals might be in category (A) and others in category (B). To the extent that there are very many Evangelicals in category (B), that would be inconsistent with reason 2 above. However, while I can imagine that there are some Evangelicals in category (B), I am fairly certain that they are rare. In recent years, I have become aware of how much Evangelicals hate Mormonism. Of course individuals very, but Evangelicalism as a movement regards Mormonism with the utmost fear and loathing. That is understandable. 1 Nephi 14:10

    Try going to he website of the SBC’s North American Missionary Board, and search for “Mormon”, to find the video of the Evangelical minister in Payson, Utah talking about the “spiritual darkness” there.

    I have a few related questions. Has an Evangelical minister given a sermon to the same effect as President Uchtdorf’s talk? Would an Evangelical minister give such a sermon? In particular, if one is saved by faith alone, and not by works, why should an Evangelical minister give a sermon about how people ought to behave? Should not the sermons of an Evangelical minister focus exclusively upon having faith, and not behavior (“works”), because works are not necessary to salvation?

    Extending the above questions just a bit: Under Evangelical ideas, suppose that I have all the necessary (as defined by Evangelicals) faith in Jesus Christ to be saved, but then I engage in serial rape and murder. Do I go to Heaven or Hell? Now, do not respond that, if I was saved by faith in Jesus Christ, that I would not then become a serial rapist and murderer. You have said that the ONLY thing I need for salvation is faith, and works are not necessary, so the hypothetical is that I have the necessary faith and that I am a serial rapist and murderer. Do I go to Heaven or Hell?

    Murdock

  58. Christian J. said, “Saying there is a clear, unmistakeable thread about how to return to God in the Bible, I think, is to not read the text in its entirety.”

    Do you mean there isn’t a place in the Bible that spells out the way of salvation with the clarity that your 4 principles of the gospel do—repentance, faith, baptism, & laying on of hands?

    I remember a story of someone lamenting over the lack of specific direction in the Bible about when leaving your spouse is okay, when remarriage is okay, etc. God told this man something to the effect that if God had put a manual in the Bible that tells us what to do in each and every possible situation regarding divorce & remarriage that we would have made legalistic laws out of them. In other words, we would have tried to follow the laws—which would have resulted in self-righteousness—rather than the Spirit.

  59. Murdock asked, “Has an Evangelical minister given a sermon to the same effect as President Uchtdorf’s talk? Would an Evangelical minister give such a sermon?”

    Yes and yes.

    Murdock said, “In particular, if one is saved by faith alone, and not by works, why should an Evangelical minister give a sermon about how people ought to behave? Should not the sermons of an Evangelical minister focus exclusively upon having faith, and not behavior (‘works’), because works are not necessary to salvation?”

    I think you’re making your point well. You are demonstrating, as someone else already stated, that there is more similarity between your view and ours than most people on both sides of the aisle realize.

    God is excited about us coming together. I can feel it in my bones.

  60. Murdock said:

    I have become aware of how much Evangelicals hate Mormonism. Of course individuals vary, but Evangelicalism as a movement regards Mormonism with the utmost fear and loathing.

    Of course, evangelicalism is not monolithic. But in general (i.e., with exceptions) I’d say “distrust” and even some “couldn’t care less” would be more accurate than “fear and loathing.”

    Has an Evangelical minister given a sermon to the same effect as President Uchtdorf’s talk?

    Undoubtedly. And if the apostle had (for some strange reason) given the talk in an evangelical church it would have been well-received.

    And I think you’re accepting a caricature of evangelical belief on works rather than what they really believe.

  61. Murdock,
    You asked a few interesting questions – I view these from the viewpoint of the original Evangelicals: Lutherans.
    Murdock aked: “Has an Evangelical minister given a sermon to the same effect as President Uchtdorf’s talk? Would an Evangelical minister give such a sermon? ”
    Yes, I have been in two evangelical Churches of different denominations in recent memory where the focus has been exclusively on God’s Law or what we must do as Chrstians. I kept waiting for the good news of Christ crucified for my sins, but it never came. If all I hear is how I ought to live, all I get is “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” or “wow, that’s a lot of stuff I have to do – I can’t. I wonder if it’s working for the other people here?” So yes, I have heard sermons that say a lot about how I am to live, and nothing about my Savior who redeems me – but I find them to be wrong. I would dare say Uchtdorf had more on grace than these sermons – although reading Uchtdorf’s talk the distinction between works and salvation freely given in Christ was not apparent.

    Murdock asked “In particular, if one is saved by faith alone, and not by works, why should an Evangelical minister give a sermon about how people ought to behave? Should not the sermons of an Evangelical minister focus exclusively upon having faith, and not behavior (“works”), because works are not necessary to salvation?

    The Law – focusing primarily on the application of the 10 commandments and how we are to live in relation to God and love our neighbor is essential part of a sermon. God’s Law – his perfect and absolute standard of what is expected of us should be preached without reservation. For instance, honor your mother and father – we should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. So the pastor would expound on this – and God’s absolute standard. Then, the pastor must point us to Jesus who perfectly fulfilled this commandment in our place – when we hate our parents, or despise some authority – Jesus takes this sin from us to the Cross, and gives us His perfect righteousness. The pastor should point us to Christ crucified for our sins. This is the gospel. God uses the Law to expose our sin and then he gives us faith in the good news of free forgiveness. As Christians, the law shows us how we should live, but primarily it reveals how we don’t meet the standard, how we don’t live up to God’s standard. That’s why we need a Savior.

  62. I have seen this graphic. Yesterday, I had over a dozen teenagers at my house for an after school barbecue. After chowing down hamburgers and munching on chips, we jumped into our book study, James. The discussion focused on James 3:1-12. Scripture does say, “My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” All the teens understand this. We all know that it is not very good in how we trash talk one another in the schools of Idaho Falls.

    In fact, I sat with our local mayors of Idaho Falls and Ammon and a Bonneville County Commissioner this past Wednesday where the meeting focused on how local boys verbally abuse their girlfriends. In that meeting, some of the high school boys, when asked what is the answer to the problem, responded, “More morality” . . . . others said, “We need better examples.”

    And yet in yesterday’s Bible study, we looked at how deep the problem is . . . “But no man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8). Men and women and teens say they are going to stop the hurt with their tongues. And then they do it again. It is a vicious, stop and start problem, in the heart of Southeastern Idaho.

  63. Nice little graphic. I noticed it’s been “pinned” in pinterest under craft categories and religion categories so it is available to a broad audience. This is an interesting conversation ensuing, and its nice to see a respectful dialogue taking place. I’m sure President Uchtdorf would be very pleased. Congrats on being featured on the Mormon Times “Bloggernacle Back Bench” today (online Deseret News). Should bring lots of extra traffic. Best wishes, MoSop

  64. 4fivesolas says: “Stop it is not the answer to our being fundamentally flawed sinful human beings. Doesn’t work and never will. It’s not in our nature to stop it. That’s why we need a Savior.”

    Your logic is flawed, and not Biblical. Part of repentance is giving up the sin (stop it). We can’t keep repeating the same sin and expect the Savior to forgive that sin. If we pray for forgiveness but continue in the same sine, we are hypocrites. But you are right in that we do need a Savior. Jesus Christ was the only one who could pay the price for our sins and make the resurrection possible. With out Him, we would all be lost forever.

  65. gogseditor said “Your logic is flawed, and not Biblical. Part of repentance is giving up the sin (stop it). We can’t keep repeating the same sin and expect the Savior to forgive that sin. If we pray for forgiveness but continue in the same sine, we are hypocrites. But you are right in that we do need a Savior. Jesus Christ was the only one who could pay the price for our sins and make the resurrection possible. With out Him, we would all be lost forever.”

    How much of your sin did Jesus die for? He died for all of mine.. All I have done, all I will do. The Bible doesn’t teach that we wouldn’t be forgiven of some habitual sin.. The Bible teaches that all but one sin would be forgiven to us.. Your comments through they seem right to men are not the way of God.
    Matt 12:31
    Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
    Who are you to say who God will forgive and who HE WILL NOT? IHS jim

  66. Lots and lots of confusion!
    I wish someone could come up with an explanation of salvation—the first stage of salvation, justification, acceptance—that everyone could agree with.
    I’m going to take a stab at it:

    First, God sends the gospel.

    Second, someone believes the gospel. (The belief is the condition necessary for God’s acceptance [salvation from condemnation]. The act of believing is something we do, a decision we make. It is also the act that sets in motion all other good acts. Faith gives us the desire to do God’s will.)

    Third, the Holy Spirit comes into the heart.

    Fourth, the Holy Spirit enables us to know God’s will and to do it. (This is an operation of grace [undeserved favor] because the Spirit was a gift, bought by the blood of Jesus, and everything the Spirit reveals to us is a gift and every enablement the Spirit gives us is a gift. In other words, the Spirit does not do all this stuff in us because we kept the Ten Commandments for Ten Straight Years by our natural ability.)

    Everything we do by our natural ability (outside the enablement of the Spirit), whether we did it before we became a Christian or after, is worthless and brings no reward from God.
    But everything we do by the fuel of the Spirit (grace) has worth and will be rewarded.
    In other words, everything we do as a manifestation of the Spirit (God, Jesus) in us, is good.

    I think that some of the confusion of the above discussion is created by a neglect of the work of the Spirit.

    If no one disagrees with what I’ve said, then I’ll know that all Mormons and all non-Mormons on this blog agree. And all disputes on this blog about faith and works will forever end. ;-)

  67. Cal,
    I am afraid I disagree, but that’s okay isn’t it? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17 So we hear God’s Word, the good news of Christ crucifed for our sins, and God creates faith in our hearts. Just like an infant trusts his parents to do good things because he sees and experiences those good things, we to have faith because God graciously gives us his mercy and grace and we simply believe. It’s not something we do – it is simply something that God’s Spirit does in our heart. We can’t even take credit for a decision. I completely trust in the finished work of Christ –

    As for repenting of a sin and giving it up forever, that never worked out well for me, but maybe there are some perfect people out there?? Should we strive to have holy lives and do good works for our neighbor? Absolutely. But it is not a condition of salvation, it has nothing to do with salvation, and we should all thank God for that if we’re honest.

  68. Paul, and Christ himself, ask us to do the best we can. Be the best examples we can be. Be the salt of the earth. Be the light on the hill, not hidden under the bushel. Christ did not teach to be good for nought. Follow Him. Yes, as far as doing evil to others, Stop It! I love the Savior and will always follow him, knowing, however, that His grace alone saves me in my imperfection. Two non-conflicting scriptures: 1)Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. 2)2 Nephi 25:23 “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.” (Book of Mormon).
    Do all you can do. Fight the good fight. Show whose side you are on. Glory in His grace, for without it we are eternally lost. Be a Christian. If you are not trying, even in a miniscule amount, to be like Christ, you are not his follower. Following means to do something. Don’t let being imperfect stop you from trying. Show your love for Christ by trying to be what he asks you to be.

  69. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men” IF we repent. Repentance is Biblical. The Bible is replete with verses talking about repentance. I could give you a dozen verses showing that Jesus and the apostles preached repentance to the people.

  70. Absolutely, repentance and the forgiveness of sins. God works repentance and faith in our hearts, by his mercy we are saved. Does repentance mean never sinning again? If so, I am afraid no one has ever repented. Period.

  71. Assume for a moment that I throughout my life I obeyed every traffic law perfectly and then was wrongly convicted for vehicular homicide. Would that in anyway make the streets safer if people didn’t obey traffic laws after my conviction?

    I think the Mormon conception of sin is far more faithful to the bible. In the old testament you have a very large collection of laws which Protestants mainly ignore but then pick about 5% which they consider important. You have a series of penalties associated with those laws. Some of the laws however involve violations of ritual purity and thus you have purity rites which help to reestablish ritual purity. Ritual purity is conflated heavily with morality.

    In the new testament civil law has become Roman and so religion is mainly about interpersonal relationships and ritual purity. The conflation between ritual purity and morality is virtually complete and so purity rituals become “sin sacrifices”.

    If one is going to hold a doctrine of purity / morality, that God is interested in your ritual / moral state then the most direct translation is:

    a) The more pure you were the closer your relationship with God. There is a hierarchy of relationships.
    b) Try to avoid falling into a state or impurity.
    c) If you do fall into a state of impurity undergo a cleansing ritual for that impurity.
    d) If you fall into a state of impurity about an act that is repeated over and over and over, you don’t want to exist at the higher state of purity and drop back to a lower relationship consistent with that lower state until you are ready to forgo the act.

    The Protestant notion rather than hierarchical is binary.

    a) All sins are equal.
    b) There are only two states absolutely cleaned by Jesus and absolutely dirty because of any sin.
    c) Ritual purity is imparted forever.

    Far from being biblical this is totally alien to the whole point of the sacrificial system and the underlying legal system which does not view all violations as the same.

  72. 4five,

    That’s why you keep repenting. It doesn’t mean you get to say “Jesus did all the work, so I’m just going to give up on my end of the deal – because it never ends!”

  73. CD-Host,
    On preaching or teaching the law, you said: “then pick about 5% which they consider important.” Really? That has not been my experience with either those who preach only God’s Law, nor with those who properly preach both Law and Gospel. Those who preach the Law only often seem to love piling it on. However, I would certainly err in preaching towards the gospel, God’s forgiveness, God’s Law convicts us that we are sinners – people need to hear the news of forgiveness. We should strive to obey God’s Law and serve our neighbors in love – but it has nothing to do with forgiveness or salvation. It seems like people have a very difficult time grasping this – they want to save themselves! Jesus has already perfectly fulfilled the law for you there is nothing you can add. But we must do good works – it’s a command of God, it just does not save me or anyone. Jesus comes to us in the body and blood in holy communion – he hears our confession and forgives all our sins. He says we are his own in baptism. Our faith is sure in him, completely sure as He is doing the work in us.

    Forgiveness apart from me or what I do is completely Scriptural – here are just a few Scriptures (of MANY):
    Rom. 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”

    Gal. 2:16, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

    Rom. 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

    And where does our righteousness, our sanctification come from?

    Phil. 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

    The idea of man working for his salvation/sanctification is far from Biblical. It is only through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice that my sins are forgiven. The Mormon conception of sin departs radically from the Bible – they don’t see their own inability fo fulfill God’s law. So they create a law they can fulfill (no coffee, no alcohol, etc.), they turn God’s law into a few easily kept legalistic (non-Biblical) rules. Jesus turned the water into wine. It’s in there. So enjoy God’s gift of wine – just don’t be a drunkard. Enjoy food – just don’t be a glutton. And if you are, God in his mercy, through the cross, will forgive you.

  74. Really? That has not been my experience with either those who preach only God’s Law, nor with those who properly preach both Law and Gospel. Those who preach the Law only often seem to love piling it on

    Yes really.

    There are 17 laws having to do with debt forgiveness, none are practiced by Christians.
    There are 36 laws proscribing behaviors on various days of the years, none are practiced by Christians.
    There are 24 laws proscribing corporal punishments for various offenses, none are practiced by Christians.
    There are 30 laws having to do with priesthood and purity, none are practiced by Christians.
    There are 24 laws governing how tithes are to be handled, none are practiced by Christians.

    Etc…

  75. So enjoy God’s gift of wine – just don’t be a drunkard. Enjoy food – just don’t be a glutton.

    How is this different from Uchtdorf’s injunctions?

  76. Kullervo,
    It’s not really different. My point is if your message ends with “stop it,” rather than the realization that we don’t and can’t stop it, that we need a Savior, you are not presenting the gospel. We are to follow God’s Law – we don’t. We need to be forgiven through the blood of Jesus – and anything that points to me, points to my fulfilling God’s Law as a condition of forgiveness is setting me up for failure, without question. Preach Law and Gospel. If you focus on the Law, and make conditions on forgiveness, it’s not Scriptural Christianity.

    You missed my last line: “And if you are, God in his mercy, through the cross, will forgive you.” Perhaps I should have said: “And when you do sin, daily and in many ways, God in his mercy, through the cross, will forgive you.”

  77. CD-Host,
    I see where you are going. Yep, we don’t keep Jewish ceremonial law. That was perfectly fulfilled in Christ and has nothing to do Christians. Other than I have all the benefits of Christ perfectly fulfilling this.

  78. It’s not really different. My point is if your message ends with “stop it,” rather than the realization that we don’t and can’t stop it, that we need a Savior, you are not presenting the gospel. We are to follow God’s Law – we don’t. We need to be forgiven through the blood of Jesus – and anything that points to me, points to my fulfilling God’s Law as a condition of forgiveness is setting me up for failure, without question. Preach Law and Gospel. If you focus on the Law, and make conditions on forgiveness, it’s not Scriptural Christianity.

    Do you have to recite the entirety of the gospel message each time you want to talk about any single part, dimention, apect, or facet of it? Or are you allowed to focus on a particular aspect of the gospel message in one talk one time, as long as it is in a broader context of teaching the entire gospel message?

  79. Kullervo,
    Yes, that’s pretty much it. If you do not put the Law into the context of the Gospel one ends up thinking they can do it, that works righteousness is what it’s about. And they’ve missed everything really. As a matter of fact, they’ve been lead astray. If Jesus is not mentioned as dying on a cross for your sins, the sermon is a waste. If the sermon has Jesus as a life coach, or Jesus as the perfect example of how to live righteously, or Jesus as the Law-giver, then it’s even worse than never mentioning Him, because they’ve distorted what Jesus came to do – and that’s die on a cross, become the sacrifice for our sins. He came to bring forgiveness – Churches should give that out to everyone – I know I need to hear about forgiveness.

  80. Yep, we don’t keep Jewish ceremonial law.

    Its not just ceremonial law. Laws regulating debt aren’t exactly ceremonial. Laws governing treatment of strangers are not ceremonial. Laws regulating marriage and family and not mostly ceremonial. Laws governing the courts (46 of them) are not ceremonial.

    Ceremonial is a cop out, it is just evangelical speak for “stuff we don’t want to do”. There is no clear definition of ceremonial as opposed to moral laws. Certainly from a sola scriptura perspective this whole idea falls apart. The laws regarding transvestitism which evangelicals uphold are right next to the laws banning the sorts of fabric mixtures which you wearing church last Sunday; the bible doesn’t distinguish. And “Jesus fulfilled” them is also a cop out, he fulfilled all the laws.

    The moment you start reading the bible’s legal code it is a legal code. You can’t fulfill the law anymore than I could fulfill the US traffic laws by good driving. The concept doesn’t even make any sense. And when you read Paul in context (for example Romans 13):

    13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 13:9 For the commandments, 7 “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” 8 (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    The word that’s get translated as “fulfilled” is packing some something tight like food in a can. Which is very different from the “fulfilled” in Revelations 17:17 which does mean completed. Now why do you think your Protestant bible breaks concordance there and use the same word for both concepts?

  81. The Protestant notion rather than hierarchical is binary.

    a) All sins are equal.
    b) There are only two states absolutely cleaned by Jesus and absolutely dirty because of any sin.
    c) Ritual purity is imparted forever.

    Who believes that?

  82. CD-Host,
    Yes, you are right, we do not live in a theocratic state governed by Old Testament laws. Israel was God’s chosen people – and their state was to be governed as proscribed in the Bible.

    When I last read some of the Law regarding sexuality I remember there were a whole string of rules regarding: incest, beastiality, homosexuality, marrying both a mother and daughter, etc. – and it seemed that there was a clear distinction between the state laws (governing things like courts and debt), ceremonial law, and those for personal morality. Two fabrics being woven together was to be a reminder not to mix the true God with the pagan religions (see how well that law worked out! – once again showing us why we need a Savior). Generally, when we speak of the law we are talking about the 10 commandments –

    Yes, love is the fulfillment of the law. Unfortunately, I so often fail at loving my neighbor in so many ways. Jesus perfectly fulfilled all Law in my place.

  83. Gundik –

    I think you do. Lets prove it wrong.

    a) What sin is so minor that without Jesus’ intervention one can be saved? What sin is so major that Jesus’ intervention is ineffectual and salvation becomes impossible (if you are going to say blaspheme holy spirit are there any others?).

    b) Who other than Jesus is self cleaned, that is pure enough for salvation without Jesus’ intervention? And this is likely the same as (a) but who has been cleaned by Jesus and after this cleaning remains in sin?

    c) What is the expiration data for sins? That is do the answers to (a) depend on when the sin was committed relative to time of death and/or how long ago the sins were committed for the living?

    Just for example what rejection of those ideas looks like Mormons conversely:

    a) Some sins (like murder and apostasy) are far more effectual than other sins.
    b) You are saved by Jesus for sins after all you can do.
    c) There are degrees of purity with each sin being overcome getting you closer to full exaltation.

    Or the actual guidelines in the bible:

    a) Sins are categorized in a complex matrix of effects both spiritual and legal.
    b) There are multiple states of purity with different states being required for different activities. What is acceptable for conducting war is a lower state than what is acceptable for having intercourse is a much lower state than a nazirite needs to maintain.
    c) Ritual purity depends on actions and bodily states. Ritual cleansings can be used to elevate the state and various activities (like handling a dead body or menstruating) lower it.

  84. a) All sins are equal.

    No they are not. (WLC)

    Q. 150. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?

    A. All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

    b) There are only two states absolutely cleaned by Jesus and absolutely dirty because of any sin.

    Sanctification is progressive. (WCF)

    I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    c) Ritual purity is imparted forever. Purity is spiritual not physical and progressive. (WCF)

    V. The sacraments of the Old Testament in regard to the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new.

  85. CD-Host, I think there is a basic difference in how we view sin. Man’s sinful nature as a basic truth of who we are, the fabric of our fallen being. So quantifying my sins, while perhaps beneficial in understanding who I am, really makes litte difference in my essential sinful nature. Are some sins worse than others – inevitably, because the worse the sin, the more numerous the sins that are actually involved.

    Part of the Lord’s prayer is “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And the Lord’s prayer is intended to be a daily prayer “Give us this day our daily bread” – meaning we pray for forgiveness daily.

  86. If Jesus is not mentioned as dying on a cross for your sins, the sermon is a waste.

    I guess that is why we can throw out nearly every sermon from Jesus recorded in the Gospels prior to the passion? The Sermon on the Mount was a waste of everyone’s time?

  87. But waith. .. Sanctification may be progressive but when it comes salvation, sin is binary–> Any sin merits hell.

    The only reason good works merit sanctification is that sin has been “turned off” by Jesus, right?

  88. Generally, when we speak of the law we are talking about the 10 commandments

    Except not really. For example, the 10 commandments only mention one sexual act, adultery. Your typical evangelical believes the bible to speak out against: incest, semi-incest (relations between not blood related family members), fornication, homosexuality, sodomy, pornography, bestiality…. None of those are mentioned in the 10 commandments at all. Similarly with murder which is in the decalogue and all the other violence sins which aren’t.

    Conversely the idea that of prohibiting work on the 7th day is not maintained by Christians even though the decalogue couldn’t be more clear cut.

    and it seemed that there was a clear distinction between the state laws (governing things like courts and debt), ceremonial law, and those for personal morality

    Try it. Write down a simple set of rules and apply them going through the first 5 books verse by verse. You will quite frequently find you are throwing different sentences in a paragraph into different bins and even quite often splitting verses through different clauses into different bins. The bible does not make that distinction ever. And if you don’t want to use a biblical distinction, then you throw the entire old testament after the story of Abraham.

    The bible does do something like what you are saying when it gives a simpler code of 7 commands for the descendants of Noah, which is repeated by James in Acts 15. But then even the 10 commandments are gone, the decalogue is part of the Jewish law being given to a theocratic state as you stated above. That’s the context of the delivery of the 10 commandments, just as much as rules against mixing fabrics.

    Two fabrics being woven together was to be a reminder not to mix the true God with the pagan religions

    And where does the bible say that? And why would the mixing of fabrics be intermixed in a long list of other laws having to do with mixing of other objects (including BTW sex acts you likely disapprove of) and far away from laws having to do with polytheism? And for that matter why do you need that sort of reminder when there are explicit rules against worshipping God’s other than Yahweh? That sounds like a rather adhoc explanation, why couldn’t someone who disagreed with you on any moral code apply that sort of reasoning similarly to any one of the lists you would consider in the moral code?

    To actually apply the system you are recommending in a way that is consistent in a community, you would need to create an entire tradition which takes precedence over scripture by which you would interpret scripture. In effect, a complete violation of sola scripture or even prima scriptura. Of course one of the laws is a direct command (Ex. 23:2), as well as multiple indirect commands to setup such a body and your sect also ignores that one. And that BTW is precisely what people do with laws when they are taking them seriously, they create a judiciary to interpret the edge cases explicate and develop them.

    If someone in New Jersey got nailed to sticks that would have no bearing on the usefulness of me following New Jersey traffic laws.

  89. Gundek –

    You are replacing the definitions i.e. answering different questions and addressing those. And mostly the WLC/WCF is just making assertions of self contradictory gobbly gook. So yes ! 150 and 151 talk about how some sins are more heinous without actually saying what that means, and then 152 procedes to essentially say the exact opposite:

    Question 152: What does every sin deserve at the hands of God?

    Answer: Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserves his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

    The questions I asked are meant to cut through these non answers and hand waiving. As for the old testament sacrificial system and the new testament system, as understood by Protestants being similar much less the same, no they aren’t remotely related. I’ve been going through this dialogue with 4solas and he keeps having to step back from the old testament because of the difficulties.

  90. CD-Host, I think there is a basic difference in how we view sin. Man’s sinful nature as a basic truth of who we are, the fabric of our fallen being.

    I’m not the one asserting a definition of sin mind if I quote you, “However, I am completely incapable of fulfilling God’s Law – I break it all the time. So what is the solution when I reallze I cannot “Stop It.” What’s missing is the gospel, the good news that Jesus forgives sinners – people who cannot stop it. “.

    You can have one of 3 possible definitions:

    a) A collection of specific actions which are in a list.
    b) Bad stuff in a moral sense which is non specific.
    c) A state that is not effected by action but is intrinsic to humanity.

    You can’t casually conflate the three. The bible, particularly the first half of the old testament uses (a) to talk about sin. Paul uses (b) and Augustine uses (c). If you want to say Mormons are violating Augustine I have no problem agreeing. But the original assertion was about the law and how we needed a savior to resolve problems with the law, that is (a). And that what Spencer Kimball / Mormons were talking about was entirely non biblical.

    Let me just point out then when you talk about “God’s law” that evidentially doesn’t mean the long list of laws given in the bible as having originated with God, so its not even clear how one breaks or keeps this non list, much less how you would know you are unable to break/keep it. When you talk about the good news being that Jesus forgives sinners its unclear what he’s forgiving them for, since it evidentially unconnected with stuff people actually do but rather a state of being, which implies a rather odd use of the word forgiveness.

    The good news is that this spiritual disease you didn’t know you had, unconnected with any actual committing of sins, can be cured in a way that is also unconnected with not committing sins and we’ll call that “forgiveness of sin”. And as Jared is pointing out above this also contradicts most of Jesus’ teachings which are all about doing good stuff.

    Rather what Mormons have is a system that actually is much closer. Touching your wife while she’s menstruating has maybe been replaced with drinking coffee but the basic idea of impurity and the basic idea of purification exists in both systems. Doing good stuff is meritorious in a meaningful way, and doing bad stuff is harmful in a meaningful way. Jesus really is taking the place of a goat in that he cleanses the remnants of sins for which you have fully repented on your own, in particular abandoned. And God really does expect you to follow his list of rules.

  91. CD

    You said Protestants believe …

    I showed you what one group believes. I didn’t expect you to agree with their biblical interpretation, but your disagreement doesn’t mean we don’t believe it.

  92. Jared, CD-Host,
    Yes, Jesus preached the law. Even expanded on it. And as you read Scripture notice those on whom He has mercy, it is on those who say “I am undone, Lord have mercy on me a sinner” and He has mercy. Those who claim to keep God’s Law He points out they have not – basically revealing their sinful fallen selves. God will never reject someone who says “Lord have mercy on me a sinner” – Jesus will forgive. Take a look at how Jesus interacts with the self-righteous versus how he interacts with those who fall on their knees and ask for mercy – it is revealing of our position before God.
    You are right – the Sermon on the Mount is the exposition and explanation of God’s Law given by Jesus. So this is a good guide to the Law given by God in the flesh! As you read the Sermon on the Mount think about who has mercy? Who is persecuted because of righteousness? Who is a peacemaker? Whot does not lust? Jesus perfectly fulfills all this, and we are perfect because of his imputed righteousness. And the 10 commandments stand as God’s Law revealed to us. Jared, Were you asking how God should reveal His Law to us, or how pastors who proclaim the good new of Jesus should preach?
    On the 6th commandment: You shall not commit adultery – Luther’s small catechism says:
    “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do…and husband and wife love and honor each other.” So, in principal this commandment speaks to much more than one sexual sin.
    CD – I sin because I am a sinner.

  93. 4five, you keep pushing the idea that all honor belongs to Jesus for what he did for us (and through him – to God).

    But what makes you think Mormons don’t already believe and acknowledge that, and our system of rituals and works is precisely how we show that we know this?

  94. 4solas –

    On the 6th commandment: You shall not commit adultery – Luther’s small catechism says:
    “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do…and husband and wife love and honor each other.” So, in principal this commandment speaks to much more than one sexual sin.

    That’s question begging. If you are throwing out everything but the 10 commandments, other than adultery you have no idea what a sexually pure and sexually decent life are. That’s despite the fact that the bible gives no hint to this expansive reading but rather gives every indication of a very specific reading. The expansive reading is in the other 1000 pages which you’ve thrown out. Worse yet the justification and system for application is in the other 1000 pages which has been thrown out. And you’ve had to throw them out, because those 1000 pages also contain penalties with those acts.

    The way I get justified with the State of New Jersey for violating the parking ordinances is not claiming that some guy got nailed to sticks but rather cutting a check for the ticket. That is a good work (paying an extra tax) compensating for a bad work (illegal parking) Which is essentially the sort of system the old testament does proscribe.

    I sin because I am a sinner.

    And what is the definition of a sin? How do you know which acts of yours are sins and which are non sins? Say for example I told you Bic pens were sinful and good Christians should use Watercross only. How would you know if I were right or wrong?

  95. Gundek –

    I showed you what one group believes. I didn’t expect you to agree with their biblical interpretation, but your disagreement doesn’t mean we don’t believe it.

    I’m not arguing biblical interpretation with you. I’m arguing whether they do believe it. There is a reason you keep not addressing the various question like what “unequally heinous” would even mean and that 2 paragraphs below (question 152 per the quote) the paragraph you cited they have to undercut exactly the interpretation you are giving because they want all sins to be equally punished.

    If you want me to say that conservative Protestants:

    a) Have a belief that bad actions are unequal in practice.
    b) Have a theology that says that all bad actions are equally worthy of infinite punishment.

    and are unable to reconcile the two then I’m happy to agree. But when we talk about Protestantism the theology matters. And the theology of sin is absolutely binary, it is critical to Luther’s entire conception of the bible.

  96. 4fivesolas said: “Cal, I am afraid I disagree, but that’s okay isn’t it?”

    Well, I’m not sure. ;-)

    Then you said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17 So we hear God’s Word, the good news of Christ crucifed for our sins, and God creates faith in our hearts. . . . It’s not something we do – it is simply something that God’s Spirit does in our heart. We can’t even take credit for a decision. I completely trust in the finished work of Christ –”

    So you’re a Calvinist I see! I checked out your website. Are Lutherans Calvinists? (I’ve forgotten.)

    I grew up in a Reformed church myself which held to the Five Points of Calvinism. I didn’t become a Christian, however, until coming to know some wild charismatics. Most charismatics including myself are of the Arminian persuasion, although they usually don’t know what Arminianism is per se.

    I believe, as you do, that faith comes by hearing the Word of God and that faith is a gift from God and that we can’t take credit for anything and I trust in the finished work of Christ. I just don’t think we’re robots. If we were, Satan could have approached God with a much grander accusation when he came into God presence in the book of Job. He could have said to God, “Job just serves you because you’ve forced him to.” And God would have had to say, “You’re right. You win.”

    Yeah, you can disagree with me, just as long as you don’t reject me. Then God will really curse you (Romans 15:1, 5).

    You also said, “Should we strive to have holy lives and do good works for our neighbor? Absolutely. But it is not a condition of salvation, it has nothing to do with salvation, and we should all thank God for that if we’re honest.”

    Would you agree with Martin Luther’s words that a man is justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone? In other words, real faith always produces good deeds, but only faith justifies?

  97. (I’m referring to the Mormon Tim, the one with the purple triangles in his square.)

  98. Cal,
    Luther came before Calvin; so no, Lutherans are not Calvinists – however both are part of the Reformation tradition. There are some precise theological points on which Calvinists and Lutherans agree, just like most Christians agree on the big things.

    My journey is the opposite of yours – as I moved away from the Charismatic movement (which always seemed to point me inward towards my own righteousness and having spiritual experiences) I truly came to understand the mercy of Jesus, completely apart from me and what I experience or can conjure up.

    One difference between Lutherans and Calvinists (among others) is that Calvinists basically say you cannot say yes or no to God. Lutherans believe you cannot say yes; however you can reject God’s Spirit, reject salvation – you can say no. Both affirm that if you believe/trust in Christ it is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. However, Lutherans believe you can turn away and reject God. Lutherans also have a different perspective on the atonement (no limited atonement).

    The greatest thing about Lutheranism in it’s purest form is the emphasis on Christ crucified for our sins, pointing sinners like me to Jesus on the cross – that his death and resurrection is all that I need. Jesus is at the center of worship, practice, and theology in true Lutheranism. We don’t concern ourselves much with election or the sovreignty of God – we focus on Jesus coming to forgive our sins. God has given us tangible means to communicate and know his forgiveness – to be sure of our salvation. Are you baptized? Have you received the Lord’s Supper? Have you heard that Jesus died for your sins? Yes – then you can be absolutely assured of God’s forgiveness given in Christ. God uses these means to communicate the Word of God and create faith in our hearts.

    As you said about Luther I once heard a Lutheran pastor say “No one is saved by good works. No one is saved without good works. Good works save no one.” However, we should not be focusing on good works as a means of salvation or even a way to determine if we are saved. There is only one determining factor in our salvation – Jesus died on the cross and rose again for me.

    CD-Host, You think you are proviing something that you are not proving. I don’t reject God’s Law. It is not confusing to me – I understand my place in relation to the Law. That position is not as a Hebrew living in the theocratic state of Judah or Israel. Nor am I a Levite priest. Moral law applies, other things don’t. I am a citizen of a new kingdom – Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly for me.

  99. 4fivesolas, I agree that the big picture is Christ crucified, but its really hard for me to look past the many “codes” that Jesus subscribed to. Living them out seemed to matter to him a great deal.

  100. CD,

    Understanding of course that question 152 says that every sin deserves wrath, not that every sin will be punished equally.

  101. Gundek –

    In your system actual punishment is tied to your performance at bingo so only theoretical punishment is relevant. The question is to create meaningful distinction:

    a) What sin is so minor that without Jesus’ intervention one can be saved? What sin is so major that Jesus’ intervention is ineffectual and salvation becomes impossible (if you are going to say blaspheme holy spirit are there any others?).

  102. We are taught that the sin of murder and adultery can be forgiven. We are told that anger and lustful intent can condemn. I don’t gamble, but I’m sure bingo can be forgiven.

  103. I’m glad you’ve found salvation (justification) through the crucifixion of Christ.
    I don’t think there’s much difference between us. It just appears that you emphasize justification more, and emphasize less the overcoming life via the power of the Holy Spirit—which of course is also by the blood of Jesus because the crucifixion purchased the Spirit for us.

    I believe there are two different kinds of good works mentioned in the Bible in relation to this issue. There are the “good” works of keeping the law outside the power of Christ, outside faith in Christ. These are worthless.
    Then there are the good works that God does through us. These are good because they are pure, inspired by the love of God, and bring glory to the Lord. Doing these works do help us know the Lord better.
    Psalm 15:1-2 says:
    “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
    Who may live on your holy hill?
    He whose walk is blameless.
    and who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from his heart
    and has no slander on this tongue.”

    You’ll agree with that, 4fivesolas?

    Thanks for your interesting info about how Calvinists differ from Lutherans. It sounds like Lutherans are Arminian. (Mormonism is as well.)
    Have a nice day. Keep growing in our Lord, brother!

  104. Cal,

    45 solas put it very well that Lutherans aren’t Calvinists. However, I think it’s fair to say that Calvinists are in fact by definition semi-Lutherans. And I say this as a Calvinist of the PCA(Presbyterian Church in America) variety.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what was the Reformed denomination you were brought up in?

  105. 4five, no one – Mormons included – is questioning that salvation comes from Jesus and the credit belongs to him and not us.

    The question is HOW you invoke that saving relationship with Jesus.

  106. Seth –
    Does eternal life with the only living God come solely by Jesus death and resurrection? Not salvation as Mormons define it, but eternal life with God the Father? From my understanding Mormons say no.

    Look through the comments from some of the Mormons here – do they agree with your premise?

    gogseditor said: “Your logic is flawed, and not Biblical. Part of repentance is giving up the sin (stop it). We can’t keep repeating the same sin and expect the Savior to forgive that sin.”

    Wow, no forgiveness for those who don’t repent and give up the sin forever. Sounds like no one to me.

    Perhaps the Mormons posting here do agree in part with you, but only in the manner in which you redefine salvation. Most of the Mormons posting want to point me back to works or morality, although I never said one thing against works. It’s just that good works have nothing to do with eternal life with God. Works-righteousness is non-existant, all the believers righteousness comes from Christ alone.

    Cal –
    Thank you for your response – and am glad to count you as a Christian brother. I encourage you to take a closer look at the theology of the Reformation and it’s focus on Jesus on the Cross. It is beautiful and liberating. I think you will find a much richer Christian heritage than you think (or you may already appreciate the treasure of Reformation theology).

    Lutherans and Calvinists are closer to each other than Arminians. Lutherans typically view Arminism as emphasizing man’s role in salvation – so we are much closer to Calvinists in that view. Lutherans really have a unique theological tradition – separate from Calvinism and Arminianism. I am convinced that the Biblical Lutheran view is correct – that’s why I am a Lutheran – I read Scripture and see Lutherans take it for what it says, and don’t try to go much beyond that, or make Scripture fit some kind of theological construct. Lutherans are okay with some things being a “mystery” – we don’t have to define everything or even understand completely – we cannot know the mind of God. Lutherans value Church history and see ourselves as being of the historical catholic faith – meaning we are a continuation of the Church – not a restorationist movement – just a reform movement, seeking to correct those things that were wrong and pointing Christians back to the Cross of Christ.

    For the Scripture you quoted:
    Psalm 15:1-2 says:
    “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
    Who may live on your holy hill?
    He whose walk is blameless.
    and who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from his heart
    and has no slander on this tongue.”

    When I read this I think – who is blameless? who is righteous? who has no slander on his tongue? Jesus. And I have all of his righteousness imputed to me through Him. For in myself -I am an unrighteous, slanderous sinner who cannot live in holiness. Should I strive to do good? Yes. But I cannot. I sin because I am a sinner – and a saint – and will be until Jesus takes me or comes back.

  107. 4five, I do value the treasure of Reformation theology. And I have Catholic acquaintances who love Jesus. As you know, the Pentecostal movement has its roots in historical Protestantism.

    I agree that none of us are perfect. I think of Isaiah coming into the presence of God and feeling ruined because he became so aware of just how much of a sinner he was—and he was one of the greatest prophets of the OT. So we constantly need the covering of the blood of Jesus—what you are calling salvation.

    I believe that you sell the crucifixion of Christ short, however, if you limit its power to saving us from the condemnation that our sins deserve. It also has power to save us from our sin nature. Do you recognize that? I think you do but I’m not sure.

    Have a great day, brother.

    ———–
    CalvinLuther said, “45 solas put it very well that Lutherans aren’t Calvinists. However, I think it’s fair to say that Calvinists are in fact by definition semi-Lutherans. And I say this as a Calvinist of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) variety.
    “If you don’t mind my asking, what was the Reformed denomination you were brought up in?”

    The sign out front said “Congregational,” but we had broken away from that denomination because we felt they were slipping into liberalism—slipping away from the standards of the Bible.

    What’s God doing in the PCA these days?

  108. oops, I’m off topic. CalvinLuther, what do you think of Uchtorf’s article at the top?

  109. *oops, I’m off topic. CalvinLuther, what do you think of Uchtorf’s article at the top?
    Very simply put, I think he is trying to share with his congregation that we have it in us because of the teachings and example of Christ to treat others better and give them the same mercy which we hope to receive.

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