This post is a bit incomplete, and un-proof read, but I thought I would throw out these thoughts in response to SlowCowboy’s comments.
I am still coming to grips with the conversion experience that I had a few weeks ago, and still very tentative about committing to any particular way of explaining it, even though I recognize that it is unmistakably similar to Protestant Christianity. The new way of feeling joy has made me realize that I probably didn’t know much of anything before, and things that were confusing to me before seem much clearer. I don’t think I have things figured out. Part of my confusion was thinking that I did. I also recognize that I have a lot to learn about the experience of grace, I am a new convert. Pascal’s thought means a lot more to me now: “Men often take their imagination for their heart; and they believe they are converted as soon as they think of being converted.”
I have been thinking a lot about it, and I think there may be a problem with how the term grace is used that turns LDS off. In effect most of the typical Christian terms are politicized by LDS rhetoric – partly because of the boundary maintenance on both sides. Most Protestant ways of describing salvation are foreign to LDS children. I also don’t think grace can be clearly explained within the terminology most LDS accept, even by those who experience grace have problems explaining it to other LDS because the terms are made complicated in LDS theology, the concept of God is also quite complicated in LDS thinking. I am trying to figure out a way to simplify the explanation without invoking politics. My last posts are experiments in trying to describe grace without using the term.
I think there is a similar phenomena in the way the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are used. Most of the time they are just names people use to describe their faction and the opposing faction rather than names for concepts that describe aspects of political thought. A child raised in a Republican home will probably misunderstand the concept of “liberalism” and a child raised in a Democratic home will probably misunderstand the concept of “conservatism”.
Similarly, to the LDS, grace is a term used by another faction, and if you start using it in the same way Protestants do you will often be corrected or denounced, or simply met with confusion. I find that few LDS really “get” it and often it is met with open opposition and even hostility. But I did find that my dad, a devout LDS leader, understood what I had experienced and was very glad to hear of my conversion.
I came to that conclusion several years ago that LDS Christianity and Protestant Christianity probably cannot come to terms, their belief systems are basically incommensurate. Now that I think I have some grasp on what grace is, I am trying to figure out terms that LDS can readily accept that will lead them to a different view of salvation. Nearly all of my family are active LDS, including my children, so the task seems very pressing on me. I have spoken with my dad about this, and he has given me some good ideas, but still a lot of thinking to do.
My ultimate project now, aside from completing my own conversion, is to try to explain the grace that I felt in a way that does not confuse LDS children or lead them to be corrected when they talk about it in Church. I am interested in knowing if anyone reading this blog has any thoughts on this project.