Grace Defined Anew at General Conference

I’ve been asked a couple of times to share my thoughts on this talk given by LDS Apostle Dieter Uchtdorf. I just watched the talk and I have to confess it was amazing.  It’s like someone snuck an Evangelical pastor into General Conference and taught him how to deliver a sermon in a manner that Mormons can hear it.  If I had to choose only two things that Mormons should accept as authoritative teachings (in contradiction to what they have traditionally been taught) this would be one of them.

uchtdorf
(the embed code is not working on WordPress, I’ll fix this if possible. click image for video)

I don’t have the transcript of the talk yet but here are some quotes that really stood out to me.  I’m so encouraged that Mormons must now view these as reliable interpretations of scripture.

Salvation can not be bought by the currency of obedience. It is purchased by the blood of God.

We obey the commandments of God out of love for him

We misunderstand the words “after all we can do”. “After” does not mean “because”.

It seemed very clear to me that Elder Uchtdorf was teaching that grace is the path to obedience not the prize for it.  Congratulations to those Mormons who have long agreed with this sentiment but lacked the authoritative voice to stand on it with confidence in their wards.  I agree that grace has the power to transform and as Mormons encounter it with a correct understanding they and the LDS will meet God in new and powerful ways.

I don’t have the time to look up dissenting Mormon voices to this talk but I’m interested in how they may now justify their positions.

 

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164 thoughts on “Grace Defined Anew at General Conference

  1. “Today and forevermore God’s grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite.”

  2. This is very GOOD NEWS. My guess is that once the Gospel is taught more clearly that there will be more robust and enlightening LDS interpretations of other scripture, including the Book of Mormon:

    “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

    Matthew 13:52

  3. The question that enters my mind is: If the Mormons adopt an Evangelical gospel, will Evangelicals begin to see the members of the Church as part of the body of Christ?

  4. The good news is both who God is as well as what God has done. And, frankly, who God is is considerably more fundamental.

    I applaud this decisive step away from Mormonism’s history of legalism and salvation by works (although I am not actually convinced that it is consistent with the rest of Mormon theology), but as long as Mormonism’s teachings about the nature of God are so radically, doggedly and comprehensively false, Mormonism’s “good news” of what their god has done doesn’t actually mean the same thing. It’s still not anywhere neat the Gospel, even if some of the words are the same.

  5. What I find funny is the idea that this somehow contradicts what has been taught in the past. It is exactly what has been taught from the beginning.

    I think a lot of non-LDS could learn a lot about our religion from this. I don’t know how many times I have had people try to interpret ‘After’ as ‘Because.’ Maybe now they will step back and let us interpret our own scripture.

  6. “If the Mormons adopt an Evangelical gospel, will Evangelicals begin to see the members of the Church as part of the body of Christ?”

    Jdgng frm th hstry f cmmnts hr, Tm wll, Gndk wll rlctntly tg lng wth Tm, nd Kllrv wll b th lst t hld t.

  7. “What I find funny is the idea that this somehow contradicts what has been taught in the past. It is exactly what has been taught from the beginning.”

    Don’t you think though, that the LDS is renewing its focus a little. Also, aren’t they trying to improve their image with evangelicals by learning our vocabulary and using it more often—not to be deceptive but to . . . whatever. . . .

  8. . . . to please the Holy Spirit—that’s it! The Spirit is stirring in their hearts and in the hearts of evangelicals—that’s what’s exciting.

  9. What I find funny is the idea that this somehow contradicts what has been taught in the past. It is exactly what has been taught from the beginning.

    Yes, what President Uchtdorf taught on Easter has been taught in the past; in one sense there is nothing or very little new here. But what Uchtdorf taught has not been consistently taught in the past, and it does contradict a huge part of LDS culture and common teaching, which say we have to make ourselves worthy of receiving grace before it can kick in.

    Here’s an example of traditional LDS thinking from a 1993 General Conference talk, which also speaks to the traditional interpretation of 2 Nephi 25:23:

    Yes, works alone cannot bring that divine gift, but they are a key condition upon which the gift is received. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Thus, unless one has done all in his own power, he cannot expect the grace of God to be manifest. What a glorious principle to understand: the Lord’s assistance to us—whether we have strong faith or weak faith; whether a man, a woman, or a child—is not based just on what we know, how strong we are, or who we are, but more upon our giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance. Once one has given all he can, then the Lord, through His grace, may assist him. (See D&C 123:17.) [Emphasis added]

    That’s far different than what Uchtdorf said — that none of us do all we can do — or what others such as Brad Wilcox have taught, that grace is with us every step of the way.

    I can’t describe how much I appreciate Uchtdorf’s talk. I hope it opens the way to a fuller understanding of what grace is and how it works.

  10. “as long as Mormonism’s teachings about the nature of God are so radically, doggedly and comprehensively false, Mormonism’s “good news” of what their god has done doesn’t actually mean the same thing. It’s still not anywhere neat the Gospel, even if some of the words are the same.”

    Theologically, it will not look the same, no doubt. The Trinity will always be the litmus test. But you can only ignore authentically regenerate Mormons for so long.

  11. I am with those who question what this really does. Its not the first time I have heard the sentiment from Mormons, but what does it mean about being Temple worthy? Does it change who Mormons believe Jesus was and is, God, and our relationship to them?

    Time will tell how Mormons utilize this talk, though without the entire transcript it is hard to say too much about it. Is it positive to hear? Sure. However, unless and until they make significant changes in how they view the very identity of Jesus and God, I cannot accept them into traditional, orthodox Christianity.

  12. But you can only ignore authentically regenerate Mormons for so long.

    I don’t know that I ignore them. I certainly don’t rule them out as a possibility. But I would also plead with them to leave Mormonism behind, and I think that an authentically regenerate Mormon will inevitably respond to that (not to my pleadings, necessarily, but to the Holy Spirit’s).

  13. Eric

    There is no contradiction between President Utchdorf and what you have quoted from Elder Cook.

    Consider all of President Utchdorf’s words. After explaining the meaning of “after all we can do” he states “I am certain that Nephi knew that the Savior’s Grace allows and enables us to overcome sin. This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and his brethren to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God. After all, that is what we can do; and that is our task in mortality.”

    Elder Cook, as you quoted, said “giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance.”

    There is no real difference in meaning here. We must give ourselves to God, or do all we can to be reconciled to him. That is our task in mortality, and if we do this then the Grace of God is given to us to enable us to overcome sin and become the best that we can be.

    The wording is different because the focus of the talks is different; this gives a different focus for each. However, both are saying the same thing.

  14. Shem, do I understand you to say that it is our effort to overcome sin, and Jesus’ grace gives us the power to do so, rather than Jesus’ grace in and of itself overcomes our sin on our behalf?

  15. If the Mormons adopt an Evangelical gospel, will Evangelicals begin to see the members of the Church as part of the body of Christ?

    It’s a significant step and may be the impetus for other doctrinal changes but no not yet. Kentucky Fried Chicken needs to serve chicken. . . but it’s nice to see the fryers warming up.

  16. What I find funny is the idea that this somehow contradicts what has been taught in the past. It is exactly what has been taught from the beginning.

    I agree with Kullervo that this is Orwellian and I know that I shouldn’t be surprised by it. I suppose this is an aspect of Mormon culture that just has to be accepted to some degree. That the doctrine is taking the right shape is more important to me than any particular Mormon’s ability to see it as a change. (though this does raise a question about the nature of repentance).

    I don’t think the discussion is at all over but this was a significant step. Mormons will need to hear more of it and from other leaders. “The Miracle of Forgiveness” will also need to quietly disappear from Desert Book and LDS Distribution Center shelves.

  17. Orwell was describing a very common pattern of behavior of institutions. These insights are probably why he rejected the Christian church. It is why I rejected the Mormon church.

    I will be happy to see the “Miracle of Forgiveness” consigned to the dustbin, even though I really liked Spencer Kimball.

  18. That the doctrine is taking the right shape is more important to me than any particular Mormon’s ability to see it as a change. (though this does raise a question about the nature of repentance)

    I am of the opinion that simply proclaiming the Gospel is all the repentance a religious person needs, the rest will take care of itself. That seems to be the repentance method of Saul of Tarsus.

  19. “I don’t have the time to look up dissenting Mormon voices to this talk but I’m interested in how they may now justify their positions.”

    None will surface, I assure you. The Mormons most likely to criticize conference talks are the same that have been asking for this for a long time. The Mormons most devoted to the old, more common interpretation, only did so because GA’s told them so. Now they’ll all fall in line. Its a sight to see.

  20. Slowcowboy

    How are you defining ‘overcoming sin?’

    We can never overcome the effect of sin, which is separation from God. That can only be done by Christ. Christ grace, first of all, washing away all our past sins, bringing us into the presence of God clean. Then it gives us the power to overcome the desires and predilections of mortality that would draw us back into sin. On this we must act to gain the full benefit of Grace.

    In other words, an alcoholic may have his sins washed clean, but if he is to be free of the addiction and have no more desire to fall back into sin, then he must seek the enabling power of grace and act on it (in other words, avoid bars and other places where alcohol is sold, etc). If he does not act of his own free will he will not gain the power of grace and will fall back into his sins.

  21. “Christ grace, first of all, washing away all our past sins, bringing us into the presence of God clean.”

    So, if we are at that point but die before being baptized, what’s our eternal destiny? Or, rather, someone is at that point but rejects Smith and never gets baptized?

  22. According to LDS teaching everybody will accept that Jesus is the Christ, every knee will bow before him and everybody have a clear opportunity to be baptized, in person or in proxy. (Why else are they baptized for the dead?)

    This is a message of grace, no question, but the problem is that Mormons imply that only at baptism are we pronounced clean before God. In Christ we are redeemed in every moment. What Mormons miss is that there is just as much cause for joy at this moment as there is when we rise from baptism.

  23. shemawater,

    What is the “power that overcomes the desires and predilections of mortality.” Can you point out an instance of this? Is it something other than the fruit of the tree of life spoken of in the Book of Mormon?

  24. Jared, yes. My question was intended to bring into focus the works that are required for exaltation, the ultimate form of LDS salvation.

    However, that LDS believe in a proxy/after death opportunity for baptism begs the question of what else can they do after they have died under Mormon belief, especially if they are brought into the presence of God clean but failed to participate in several other important Mormon activities.

  25. “This is a message of grace, no question, but the problem is that Mormons imply that only at baptism are we pronounced clean before God.”

    Jared, if you look at various forms of the the word “conversion” in LDS-speak, its used almost the same way Evangelicals talk about being born again. As in, “I was baptized at 8 and grew up in the Church, but I became converted when…..”

  26. Jared

    I like Christian’s comment, to which I will add that there are many times in which we feel the washing of grace that cleanses us from our sins. This happens every time we partake of the sacrament, as this is a renewal of baptism. James also tells us that anyone who has the faith to be healed by the laying on of hands has their sins forgiven (James 5: 14-15). Besides this there are many instances of God declaring a forgiveness of sins at various times to various people.

    However, it is true that after the initial washing at baptism we must use his grace to remain clean and thus continue to receive his forgiveness throughout our lives.

    As to an example of the power, the Book of Mormon does point out the best example when the Nephites, after hearing King Benjamin speak declared they had no more desire to do sin (Mosiah chapter 5 I think). In the bible I would point to Naaman the Syrian who forsook all his former ways after being cleansed. Of course, I ti more in personal experience that one actually comes to know this power as ones actions slowly change over time and ones desires become to do only good.

    Slowcowboy

    One cannot accept the message and reject the messenger. Those who reject the prophets have not yet received the washing of grace to the forgiveness of their sins; and should they die in this state their eternal destiny is less than it could have been.
    Baptism is when you receive the first washing, for John the Baptist preached baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Without a duly authorized baptism one cannot be washed of their sins.

  27. “Christ grace, first of all, washing away all our past sins, bringing us into the presence of God clean.”

    So this means nothing unless one is baptized or accepts Smith as a prophet?

  28. “accepting Smith as prophet” is no different than an Evangelical using the Bible as a test for newly saved Christians. For example, if someone said, “I just got saved and I think homosexuality is totally fine.” – you would not accept they were truly saved.

  29. “I attempted to find someone to disagree with the talk. Apparently this is the way grace has always been described. . .”

    *face palm*

    Unfortunately, this is a very old and tired line of thinking among many LDS.

  30. For example, if someone said, “I just got saved and I think homosexuality is totally fine.” – you would not accept they were truly saved.

    ^ehhh, not quite. I don’t think anyone truly anticipates someone to completely embrace a Christian worldview immediately upon finding salvation.

    A difference would be that a person could not be baptized in the LDS church if they didn’t accept Joseph Smith as a true prophet. Our “altar call interviews” typically consist of two questions; 1) do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. 2) Do you want to pursue him with your life.

  31. But Christian, not accepting Smith as a prophet still means one can accept the Bible as authoritative and Christ’s gift of grace, meaning one is washed of all sin.

  32. Me: “I accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I want to pursue him with my life. But I do not believe the Bible is infallible. I do not believe homosexuality within a committed relationship is a sin. I do not believe abortion is always wrong. I don’t think being a covenant member of a church community is essential for me in the future.”

    You: “thumbs up” ?

    (note: I don’t necessarily believe these things, just picking on hot button issues.)

  33. Tim, I will grant that the LDS baptismal interview (with list) and baptism is more formal than the Evangelical alter call etc. And maybe its the exception, but I have personally interviewed and approved people for baptism who were still in process. Like:

    “I don’t accept the BoM as historical”
    “I want to believe that JS was a prophet, but I’m not there yet.”

  34. cowboy, I don’t like to play gotcha, so if I’ve crossed that line, forgive me.

    We recently had a whole thread about sin and homosexuality and how gay affirming Christian traditions are not really Christians. So Tim’s comments is confusing. Sincerely confusing.

    Can someone be saved in Christ and not be considered a Christian at the same time?

  35. Yes, we did have those discussions.

    But upon becoming a Christian, there is no expectation that all sin will be vanquished or even recognized. A believe must first believe in Jesus, sure, but its a come as you are proposition. There is time to grow and understand God’s will in our lives, and to mature as believers such that we grow to have a better understanding of what constitutes sin and what it means to know God’s will.

    This means, bringing in our sin and homosexuality discussions, that upon acceptance of Christ, they may still believe homosexuality and certain other sin is OK. By the way, I can think of any number of sins that would fit here, too. Drinking, gambling, heterosexual sex, gossip, pride, idols, on and on the list can go, and all would be part of the same conversation.

    Putting theological terms to this, we are essentially in a justification vs. sanctification discussion, with justification being the acceptance of Christ’s taking upon the burden of our debt before God and sanctification being the process by where we grow in Christ to be set apart from the world. Justification is a legal sense of being declared not guilty before God and sanctification is a process where we become more cognizant of the sin in our lives and alter our lives accordingly.

  36. So, you really have to conclude that gay affirming progressive Christians are simply in a process of sanctification right? Or Mormons who accept Christ as their personal Savior for thst matter.

  37. No, we’re talking about different things.

    I would argue that a person who calls himself a Christian and has done so for some time but still excuses certain sins has some issues that need to be dealt with. I don’t know that person’s heart, but as you know, I think sin is sin, and one who excuses it needs some help (very broadly here, and not derogatorily, necessarily). Maybe that person has an addiction that they can’t beat on their own, or maybe that person never really believed to begin with, or some other reason.

    As to Mormons who accept Christ as their savior? Depends on which Jesus, and what they think Jesus can do for us. (I know, I know, this discussion can be tedious, but if they place their hope in a false god, they miss the boat. Personally, I think this is the single most important issue to get right within Christianity, though, but even here one does not need 100% accuracy to qualify.) What is needed is to place hope in the power of Jesus to save you apart from anything you can do on your own or through an organization. This faith places all hope of salvation in God and Jesus, and it recognizes our sinful nature (even if the full gravity is not yet realized). This faith is one where we recognize our need for someone bigger than us to make us right before God, because we recognize we can’t make ourselves right before God, no matter how much we try.

    If the Mormon recognizes that Jesus can do that, and that nothing he can do will add to what Jesus has already done, sure.

  38. If I created confusion I apologize. My point was that not all fruits are apparent immediately upon salvation, but I expect fruits to be present and to continue to grow. LATER on, if fruits aren’t apparent I think it’s worth having a conversation about who is saved and what salvation looks like.

  39. A person’s salvation–regardless of how evident it is to a given observer–is an objective fact: either they’ve been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, given faith in Jesus Christ’s finished atoning work and fully and have been completely justified in the sight of an utterly holy God, or not.

    I’ve you’ve been redeemed, your redemption is not contingent on my ability to recognize it, because your redemption is not contingent on anything other than God. That said, God has told us specific things about the fruit that will manifest in a redeemed person’s life. Because of that, if I find myself willingly rejecting what God’s word teaches about who God is and what kind of life God wants me to live, I am not in a position to be very confident about my salvation.

  40. Christian J,

    I agree with you regarding the “converted” language. Mormons and Evangelicals use the word fairly consistently to describe a similar pattern of behavior. I think the path to conversion is the difference.

  41. The question we have to ask is when are we pronounced clean before God in Christ. If the answer is not “in every moment” then we might maintain a predilection to seek happiness in sin.

  42. Kullervo, I like your first two sentences.
    Then you said, “God has told us specific things about the fruit that will manifest in a redeemed person’s life.” What specific things are you thinking of?

    Then you said, “Because of that, if I find myself willingly rejecting what God’s word teaches about who God is and what kind of life God wants me to live, I am not in a position to be very confident about my salvation.”

    Are you implying that Mormons willingly reject what God’s Word teaches about who God is? If so, I’d like to say that in my contacts with Mormons—mostly missionaries—I consistently find them thoroughly deceived about some aspects of God’s history or his character. I haven’t seen any WILLING rejection of God’s Word.

    I’d like to go back now to the first sentence of yours that I quoted in my first paragraph. I’m thinking also of the important conversation above between Christian J and slowcowboy. Though no good fruit in a person’s sanctification account would mean their justification account is flunking, it is my conviction that we don’t have authority to decide what variety of fruit must appear in a person’s sanctification account. To use an analogy, a student who majors in business may have much more knowledge in business than a psychology major, but the business major has no right to say the psychology major isn’t a true student because she doesn’t know what acquisition costs are, for example.

    To apply that analogy to the discussion above, I don’t believe we have the authority to say someone is not a Christian because they’ve been deceived into thinking that God doesn’t regenerate anyone prior to baptism. If we say such error cannot be covered by the blood of Jesus, what right do we have to say a Christian can gossip, drink too much, get angry, or lust and still claim to know Jesus as Savior? Where in the Bible does it say that gossip, drinking, anger, and lust cannot be covered by Jesus’ mediation at the right hand of the Father while the error of thinking God doesn’t regenerate until baptism cannot be covered?

    Have a good evening, my friend.

  43. Jared,

    I would wager that within a decade of the LDS church dropping the claim of being the One True Church©, recognizing baptism and opening communion to other denominations most of American evangelicalism will accept Mormons as part of Christianity regardless of any doctrine. The most vehement of internet critics will wholeheartedly support this.

    There will be exceptions, Main Line and traditional Protestants, most of the word of faith movement and congregations/denominations who are deliberately theologically conservative. Of course Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism will never accept Salt Lake.

  44. Cal,

    I’ll wait for the transcript of the Uchtdorf talk, but I am not sure if Shematwater isn’t correct, keeping in mind the LDS distinction between salvation and exaltation.

  45. “If I created confusion I apologize. My point was that not all fruits are apparent immediately upon salvation, but I expect fruits to be present and to continue to grow. LATER on, if fruits aren’t apparent I think it’s worth having a conversation about who is saved and what salvation looks like.”

    Tim, this makes more sense. Still, I’m guessing there would still be a conversation about what a Christian life looks like, if the person stated up front a set of lifestyle choices were or were not going to change, some pastoral counsel/correction would be given. It sounds like you’re saying that the pastor would trust that the person would eventually get it (which as I said was not an uncommon attitude in my own experience giving baptismal interviews). I would still expect a level of concern for the authenticity of that persons commitment.

    Also, asking – “what shall we do” – or – what shall we believe – is not unreasonable or unbiblical for that matter. I don’t expect you to disagree.

    cowboy, objecting to Mormons asking new converts to gain a testimony of the mission of the JS is of course a fair critique from a Protestant. But objecting to any sort of theological litmus test seems to lack some self awareness. If, like Marcion, a new Christian told you he rejected large portions of the Bible as being God’s true word, I can’t believe you would not question their as a true believer.

  46. Slowcowboy

    Christian makes a fair point, but I think he uses the wrong comparison.

    Would you count a man a Christian who declared belief in Christ, but at the same time said that he did not believe Paul to be inspired and rejected all of his writings? What of one who said they did not believe Moses to be a Prophet, or Elijah?
    To the LDS rejecting Joseph Smith is no different than rejecting any of the Biblical prophets. If you think that a person can reject these ancient prophets and still be Christian and lay claim to God’s Grace than we have a different point of view.

    Jared

    At every moment we can seek and gain a forgiveness of our sins and be once again washed clean. However, this is not guaranteed, but most be striven for. Paul says to work out your own salvation, and this is what he means. To knowingly engage in sin blocks the power of Grace; not because our actions have a direct effect, but because God has said that he will not give His grace to such.

  47. Cal,

    I think Shematwater’s first comment was correct, if Uchtdorf intended a distinction between salvation and exaltation.

  48. Christian, my opinion on a person’s salvation is useless. I would have to say someone claiming to have accepted Christ and immediately going to participate in a Satanic cult ritual would cause me to doubt their conversion, but really, maybe they did convert. Maybe they begin to feel a guilt and inappropriateness of going to the cult’s activities and start slowly moving away from it. I can’t know their heart, and won’t pretend to.

    I provided a brief, technical discussion of the terms justification and sanctification. These are important in this discussion. But really, it comes down to Tim’s description that immediate recognition of sin and lack of fruit is not a reason to discount someone’s conversion. If, after 10 years, though, there are no fruits, we can begin to discuss.

    As Kull said, conversion is an objective fact. But just because we may fail to see certain fruits at the beginning does not negate the fact of conversion.

    As to conversations, I am sure there are churches that sit down with new converts and discuss lifestyles, I have not been a part of one. What I have seen are conversations about who Jesus is and what he did for us after conversion. But to give a checklist of what is appropriate behavior and what is not is something I have never seen for new believers. Now, if a person outright says that he will not do something, or continue to do something, we have an unusual situation where correction may be necessary. But that is no different than any other similar statement of rebellion or obstinacy.

    (By the way, is there a hope that people will immediately change all their ways? Of course. We actually hear stories of this quite often, but that does not mean it is the rule or even the expectation.)

    As Kull said, conversion is an objective fact. Someone either is converted or they are not. That truth will eventually bear itself out, and we will certainly know at judgment, where I expect there to be some huge surprises.

  49. Shem, I dunno. Someone can discount Paul and still find the true Gospel, not only in nature, but in the Gospels themselves and the writings of Peter, James, etc. I don’t know if acceptance of Paul is a requirement of belief. Same with the OT prophets.

    I suppose we have a difference in opinion on that one.

    Which brings me back to this: “Christ grace, first of all, washing away all our past sins, bringing us into the presence of God clean.” Does this mean anything if one does not accept Smith or is baptized (within the Mormon church, who has authority)? From what I can tell, you believe it does not mean anything. It seems you think grace is contingent upon acceptance of Smith and appropriate baptism. Am I wrong?

  50. slowcowboy, Kull is Robert E. Howards’s moody, introspective barbarian exile from Atlantis who siezed the crown of Valusia. Kullervo is the ill-fated warrior/magician from the Finnish Kalevala epic. Don’t mix them up.

  51. “Am I wrong?”

    I honestly think a testimony of JS is not ultimately contingent. It would cause some concern no doubt if they outright thought of him as a false prophet, because why else would they feel the need to be baptized into the LDS church? But I’ve never in my life had a concrete witness of JS as prophet. I’ve expressed that openly on my mission and since. Because my participation is in line with basic Mormon orthopraxy, its has not given me much trouble.

    But I won’t pretend that missionaries and church leaders do not think a testimony of JS’s role as prophet is insignificant. Just not the final exam.

  52. cowboy, about your previous comment directed at me. I found it clarifying and helpful.

  53. That is:

    “do not think a testimony of JS’s role as prophet is significant.”

  54. I’ll remember that… You learn something new everyday. And I learned something about my wife’s heritage, who is of Finnish descent…

  55. And Christian, Shem seems to be saying that acceptance of Smith as a prophet is a requirement. Maybe he’s not, which is why I am asking.

    And a sincere question: since you mentioned conversations about correcting the wrong belief of a new convert, what do Mormons do with new converts on that front?

  56. Shemawater,

    At every moment we can seek and gain a forgiveness of our sins and be once again washed clean. However, this is not guaranteed, but most be striven for. Paul says to work out your own salvation, and this is what he means. To knowingly engage in sin blocks the power of Grace; not because our actions have a direct effect, but because God has said that he will not give His grace to such.

    I believe we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But, being an only half-recovered cynic and atheist, I tend to think that the fear and trembling is less willed effort and more a simple reaction to the facts. We have to fear the realities of death and hell in order to have our fear turn to joy in the face of deliverance from death and hell.

    I think Mormons (among many others) tend to think it is our sins that are sending us to the grave and to hell, but I think we have to recognize that God himself is doing this. If we are trained to take no mind of death, and taught that we are children of God from birth we may fear sin rather than God.

    I also flatly disagree that God has said that he will not give his grace to the knowing sinner. Jesus said the exact opposite. God’s invitation is not only to those striving for piety alone, but also to the down-and-outers who have given up on being part of pious society, or have been cast out. This is difficult to understand, especially for those who aspire to be good people, it took me quite a while, but I think it is the very beating heart of the Gospel and the only real evidence a sort of love that is worthy of God himself.

  57. Tim, section 130 of the DC is actually a good place to combat what Uchtdorf was obviously saying. I’ve said for years that that passage is really dangerous because of the way people commonly use it. (But if it says what this dude thinks its saying, then you can rip out large portions of the BoM, not to mention the NT)

  58. D&C 130 (note especially vv 20-21):

    18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

    19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

    20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

    21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

    I would provide more of the section for context, but section 130 is somewhat like a chapter in Proverbs in that it is made up of several independent compositions, often unrelated to each other.

  59. “20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

    21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

    Specifically on these points – I have no problems saying that JS was dead wrong (and this it not from God) if it means that all of our blessings come from obedience to a law. It just doesn’t make any sense that way – even within the worst tendencies of Mormon legalism. So, I say if Mormons want to except it as scripture, it must be interpreted differently.

  60. I think Grace is not the same as a blessing. Grace may not change your physical life at all. When people describe blessings in the Church they are generally talking about improvement: self improvement, relationship improvement, and temporal improvement. Section 130 can be interpreted as “You reap what you sow” without effecting any grace theology.

    This principle is taught by Evangelicals, i.e. you won’t get anywhere in life unless you follow the law, even if you are saved from the law in Christ.

  61. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, period. It’s not some kind of thing like juju, mana, the Force or nwyfre or the Mormon priesthood or something. It’s not a substance or a power. It’s God’s unmerited favor. Anytime God gives you something that He is not obligated to give you, it is gracious of Him, and thus it is a manifestation of God’s grace.

  62. Whenever I hear someone remark “you reap what you sow”, proposing that God’s grace, or his blessings are conditional transactions with the divine I am reminded that of all of Job’s friends Eliphaz was singled out in God’s rebuke.

    Then again it could be that I detest any form of prosperity gospel because clearly it does not match reality that people who sow righteousness reap temporal blessings.

  63. I agree with Kullervo and Gundek,

    The blessings we get by following correct principles are not grace, per se, but rewards won in the battle of life. (Of course our ability to do anything is up to God.)

    I am happy to tell people they reap what they sow, as long as you tell them that they are still invited to the harvest feast even if their crops fail, or they never get them planted.

  64. Pingback: “Utter Nonsense” Presented at the April 2015 Mormon General Conference | Mormon Coffee

  65. Sorry this is so late.

    Slowcowboy

    “I don’t know if acceptance of Paul is a requirement of belief.”

    We have a definite difference of opinion. As I said, one cannot accept the message without accepting the messenger.
    Would it make sense to say that the gospel is from God and Paul did not receive it from God? Or Peter, or James, of John? What it make sense that God delivered the covenant to the Jews, but that Moses never received it from God, or was never given authority to deliver it to them?
    To the LDS the same is true of Joseph Smith. It would make no sense to say that you believe the Book of Mormon to be inspired scripture, and yet say that you don’t believe Joseph Smith was inspired in producing it. It would make no sense to say that the church he organized is the true church of Christ, and yet say that God did not direct him in organizing it. To do so is to contradict the very faith you are claiming.

    “Shem seems to be saying that acceptance of Smith as a prophet is a requirement. Maybe he’s not, which is why I am asking.”

    Maybe I am wrong but I don’t think Christian is disagreeing with this. He mentions a concrete witness of Joseph Smith as a prophet not being required, but also says that one who outright rejects Joseph would be in questions, for the same reasons I do. Acceptance of Joseph Smith as a prophet is not the same as divine witness that he was. This divine witness is not generally required, only the acceptance that if the church is true than Joseph Smith was a prophet (a logical reasoning, more than a spiritual confirmation).

  66. Jared

    “I tend to think that the fear and trembling is less willed effort and more a simple reaction to the facts.”

    I agree, though I would dispute what the facts are. However, that does not address the work that Paul tells us to engage in. We must work out our salvation. This must be done with fear and trembling of the realities of our fallen condition, our sinful natures, and the fate of all those who do not repent.

    “but I think we have to recognize that God himself is doing this.”

    If it is God doing it than you have a few problems. First is that we are no longer working out our own salvation, as Paul tells us. Rather it is God doing it. Second, if God is sending us to hell, and we have no part or effect on this, then where is the mercy of God?
    Whenever I think of God I see only His attempts to draw us out of Hell. He will bring us as close to Him as He can, because He loves us. However, if we have chosen wickedness in this life than to be in His presence would be torture. So, in His mercy He brings us as close as He can without increasing our discomfort.
    On this point I kind of agree with Augustine, who saw sin as a degree of separation from God. The more we sin that Farther from God with move, and it is through the grace and the atonement that we are able to move back towards God.

    “I also flatly disagree that God has said that he will not give his grace to the knowing sinner.”

    I apologize for my choice of words on this point. What I meant was intentionally sins; one who knows something is wrong and engages in it anyway, without thought or care to the commands of God or what affect it will have on their lives or the lives of others. The attitude of “I know it is wrong but I don’t care.” This closes of grace to that purpose. I do not mean that it closes permanently, only while the person is knowingly and intentionally engaged in the practice. Once they choose to cease the practice and turn back to God than grace once again flows into their lives to give them the power to overcome.

    Hebrews 6: 4-6
    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
    From this passage alone it seems clear that some actions cut one off from the power of grace. While this is addressing extremes, it shows clearly what I am saying.

  67. Christian

    If you are to reject D&C 130, you must also reject sections 82 and 135, because they teach the same thing. This is also taught in Exodus and Deuteronomy.

    Now, President Uchtdorf makes it clear that grace is not earned. It is not because of our works that grace saves us. Grace is not a blessing, and I don’t recall salvation ever being described as a blessing either.
    Now, having a firm testimony is a blessing, and comes from obeying the laws of prayer and fasting; or seeking God.
    Another blessing is forgiveness, which comes from obeying the law of repentance.
    Other blessings come in the temple, and are gained through obedience to various laws.
    The law of tithing brings with it the blessing of financial security (not wealth).
    All these are blessings, but grace is not, nor do I think salvation is. It is actually described as a gift in the scriptures. But as any intelligent gift giver, God will only give this gift to one who has proven they are capable of handling it. You don’t give a car to one who can’t drive.

  68. If it is God doing it than you have a few problems. First is that we are no longer working out our own salvation, as Paul tells us. Rather it is God doing it.

    Given what I understand God to be, I am pretty confident that whatever salvation I have is worked out by God. It seems as if I am working out my salvation, but there is no “me” except what God has created. But, then again, I conceive of God as being very very very big.

    Second, if God is sending us to hell, and we have no part or effect on this, then where is the mercy of God?

    The mercy of God is in Christ alone.

  69. Shemawater,

    I am not sure about how to describe the phenomenology of turning from God in Christ to our sins again. Paul uses the rhetoric of crucifying Christ anew. I tend to think we are crucifying ourselves for no reason when we do this, but I think that God is mighty to save even the crucified.

  70. Jared

    “I am pretty confident that whatever salvation I have is worked out by God.”

    Then you have contradicted Paul.

    “The mercy of God is in Christ alone.”

    I never said otherwise. What I said is that if God is sending people to Hell regardless of anything they do than there is no mercy in that. In other words, His mercy becomes arbitrary, given to some and not to others with no reason for the choice.

    “but I think that God is mighty to save even the crucified.”

    Again, this would contradict Hebrews which clearly says there is no repentance for these people.
    Christ puts it this way:

    “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. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matthew 12: 31-32)

  71. v. 13 of Phil Ch. 2:

    ” for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

    Don’t forget that it is God working in us to work out our salvation… So its not us, but God who is working our salvation.

  72. Slowcowboy

    Of course God works within us. That is the enabling power of grace that allows us to work out our salvation. We do the work, but it is because of God’s grace that we are able to.

  73. No, that’s not what it says. It does not say that it is God who enables us, it says God works in us.

    Now, to be fair I will grant the possibility of you seeing v. 12 and 13 the way you do, but just the same, it is no slam dunk to your cause. This is where we have to look elsewhere. Let’s start with same book, next chapter. k?

    How about this sentance in vs. 8-11? “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

  74. Slowcowboy

    I never claimed any kind of a slam dunk. I honestly don’t think any such thing can exist when discussing matters of faith. These things are highly subjective and thus nothing is going to convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced.
    However, I will say that your interpretation carries an internal contradiction. If the one verse is denying that we do any work, than it contradicts the next verse that tells us we need to do work. That is why I reject your conclusion.
    Also, nothing I have said contradicts the next passage you quote. The Law, in all of Paul’s writings, refers to the Law of Moses, which was never able to bring anyone to salvation. Following the Torah, as Jews call it, did not give a person righteousness. Our righteousness comes through faith in Christ, which requires our active participation.
    In Roman’s Paul tells us “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (3: 27-28) What is the Law of Faith? It is that we believe enough in the Christ that we are willing to do what He has commanded in all things and accept all His promises, just as our father Abraham did. Abraham believed the promises and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Galatians 3:6); but he proved his faith when he willingly offered Isaac at the Lord’s command (James 2: 21-23) and thus his works made his faith perfect.
    We too must follow this Law of Faith, accepting the Word of God, and submitting in all things to His will. It is not by fulfilling a list of requirements that we are saved, but by having such complete and total faith in God that our choices and in line with His will.

  75. Shem, I am surprised you don’t get the Christian perspective on this by now. Faith means Faith, not works.

    All you’re doing is being creative in asserting a works based theology. If Paul meant we are to do certain things, he would have told us. Yet he never does, does he? Apart from maybe baptism, I struggle to ID anything remotely looking like Mormon rules and rituals.

    For these reasons, and more, I reject your program.

    Looks like, then, we can’t be reconciled…

  76. Slowcowboy

    No, I am asserting a doctrine in which both works and faith are required; where if you are missing one the other is not sufficient by itself. That is what the Bible teaches; James more directly than anyone else, but Paul is very much of the same doctrine.

    This video does a great job of illustrating the doctrine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkVRXV4gk2s.

    Faith alone is not sufficient, and neither is works. It is only when both work together that we can be saved.

    And I am not surprised that you do not find a list of things to do in any of Paul’s letters. He was addressing specific concerns of each congregation and his letters reflect this. They are great at explaining doctrine, because that is their purpose. They were not meant to list the basic commands of God, but to explain theological points.
    Even with this there is definite evidence that Paul advocated obedience to the commands of God.

  77. Shem, I am just going to repeat what I said above: all you have done is repackage words of a works based religion with that of a faith based religion.

    Think about it: we can have faith that doing anything will result in favor with God. That’s all you are saying, and its pretty transparent though in different words (you say your faith is in Jesus, but you still have to do SPECIFIC things). Think about it further: failure to do any of the required things will preclude favor from God. That’s also obvious. Thinking just a bit more, you argue that something never, ever stated in the Bible or recorded in historical documents was true, ie the specific works Mormons require. You cannot prove the Word of Wisdom, D&C, the rituals, and the temple, don’t even get me started on the temple (actually Jesus broke the temple, opening it for everyone, not just the ‘worthy’).

    Conclusion: you’re faith remains a works based faith, by definition and argues specific works from an absence of evidence.

    Anyway, you won’t grant either of these two things, so what’s the point in continuing? Until you are willing to grant you have a merit based system and support for your works comes from hope and not evidence, why waste the time discussing?

  78. Slowcowboy

    “failure to do any of the required things will preclude favor from God.”

    If you think this you don’t understand the doctrine. Maybe I am not explaining it correctly, or maybe you are using the wrong words to explain what you mean. I don’t know.

    First, favor from God comes because of the Grace of God and not because of any works on our part. Grace empowers and enables us and comes because Christ suffered the atonement. We can have this grace regardless of any actions we take.
    For example, Paul received a vision in which he at least heard Christ speak, and yet his works up to that point had been directly contrary to the will of God. Why? Because the grace of God choose him to do a work and so he was given that gift without regard to what he had previously done.
    Another example is Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon, who was very much like Paul, both before and after his conversion.
    On the other hand you have Job, whose works were such that he is describes as being perfect, and yet he was allowed to suffer more than anyone except Jesus.
    The Favor of God is never earned, nor is it based on what we do. It is a free gift.

    Now, if by favor you meant salvation than we would have a different discussion. For instance, salvation from physical death is guaranteed to all who have been born on this earth, regardless of their works. Salvation from Hell is guaranteed to all who do not blaspheme the Holy Ghost (even mass murderers). These are freely given to all men without regard to their works.
    Works become important only after we have receive a salvation from sin and hell. Then our works determine what reward we will receive in the eternities. That is why we believe in three degrees of glory.
    The lowest, or the Telestial, is where those who have neither works nor faith will go, and theirs will be the least reward. The Terrestrial is for those that have either faith or works, and thus they are in the middle, having only half of the requirement. The Celestial is reserved for those who have faith and works working together unto perfection, and thus they receive the greatest rewards.

    Works do not bring us out of hell or the grave, nor do they bring Gods favor. What they do is prepare us for what we will be doing in the eternities. Those whose works have prepared them for the greater reward will receive the greater glory.

  79. OK, but if you fail to do them you can’t reach God’s ultimate favor. Dress them however you want, but that is a works based system.

    I do not need to be prepared for what I am going to be doing in the eternities. My God makes my way for me. My job is to get out of the way and let him do it.

    And like I said, its pointless to engage in a discussion until you at least grant that you have a works based system.

  80. If Paul meant we are to do certain things, he would have told us. Yet he never does, does he?

    Of course he does – he teaches the saints in each of his letters to do numerous things, as well as lists of numerous practices and behaviors to avoid. The question is what his intent is in including these. Is he, like he says of the law of Moses, showing how strict God’s law is? Or is he showing us what a life in the Spirit looks like vs. a life of the flesh? Does one who is born of the Spirit still have to consciously decide to do certain things each day, or does he/she just naturally do them because they are born of the Spirit? If so, why does Paul enumerate the things they are supposed to do and constantly give instructions to the early saints?

  81. Ok it, so saying not commit sexual sin, for example, specific or general? What about showing love as a specific? Avoiding idoloatry?

    He never tells us specifically about these, does he?

  82. Slowcowboy

    “but if you fail to do them you can’t reach God’s ultimate favor.”

    Again I am confused as to what you mean by favor. I don’t think you are using the term correctly, or are applying it to something that it should not be applied to.

    “And like I said, its pointless to engage in a discussion until you at least grant that you have a works based system.”

    Then you are going to have to define what you mean by a works based system.

  83. Slowcowboy

    Are you saying that it is pointless to explain what you mean?
    Honestly, even if I did understand your point there is a chance that I would not accept it as accurate. Your statement seems to assume that the only reason I don’t agree is because I don’t understand. It also seems to assume that I can’t understand, which I find kind of insulting.

    I very politely asked for some clarification of your meaning so that the discussion could continue on your own terms. Why are you refusing to give it?

  84. In my experience and discussions this is what I think most people mean when they called something a works based system.

    Works are the most important aspect of the system, with Faith and Grace playing secondary, and generally minor rolls.
    Grace is something that must be earned by our works and will not be given until our works merit it.
    We earn our salvation by our works, and not by through the atonement of Christ.

    Is this what you mean by a works based system. If it isn’t, please explain the differences.

  85. Shem, you’re a smart guy. You know I am talking about a system wherein you have to work to reach the ultimate pinnacle of the faith. You know that this is God’s ultimate favor.

    Now, it is absolutely 100% clear that within Mormonism one does not reach exaltation without doing very specific works. Failing to do that precludes God from granting his ultimate favor upon the you.

    You know this.

  86. Slowcowboy

    Favor: Propitious or friendly regard, goodwill, esp. on the part of a superior or a multitude. (as given in the Oxford English Dictionary)

    “You know that this is God’s ultimate favor.”

    Eternal Life, or exaltation, is the same as God’s favor. The possibility of it is, but the reality of it is not. As I said, God’s favor brings us out of death and hell and into the eternal worlds. His Favor also gives us strength and power to act so that once there we may have the greatest reward possible.

    As to being a works based system, I still need some clarification. What do you see as the role of Grace and Faith in a works based system. That is what I am getting at and what needs to be made clear. When you say we have a works based system what is your understanding of faith in that system; how does grace operate?
    My point is that, at least in my experience, most people who refer to a works based system are saying that we do not believe that grace or faith really have any impact on the system, but are merely side notes to works. If this is your meaning than I will not concede your point.

    If on the other hand all you mean is that some effort is required on our part to attain the highest levels of glory, then I am in perfect agreement, though I would point out that faith is equally required, and grace is even more important than either faith or works.

  87. Shem, why do you ignore the qualifier “ultimate”? That’s curious.

    My point is that you can dress up your works all you like but you end up with a system that rewards works and is not based on faith alone. I don’t care what role faith plays, or even your definition of grace, because without those works, your faith fails to get you exaltation, or God’s ultimate favor.

    Put me in whatever camp you wish, but you have a works based system in the end.

    And since you won’t grant that, it is a pointless endeavor to discuss much further. What you will grant is what you just said: faith gets you the good side of hell, works gets you further. You won’t grant that the good side of hell is good enough, so you won’t grant that you have a works based system.

  88. a summary of Galatians 1:

    I can’t believe you’re listening to those false teachers.
    If its contrary to what we’ve already told you, don’t believe it.
    Why? Remember that vision I had? This means that I’m not giving you
    my opinion, but the word of God, which he has given me.

    And if that’s not enough for you, we also went to Jerusalem
    and met the original apostles, who had never met us before.
    But they also shook our hands and accepted our mission to the gentiles.

    The letter is not without persuasion of course, but that not how it starts out.

    I don’t think its a coincidence that the whole of Christianity was rooted, for over a millennia,
    in institutional authority.

  89. Slowcowboy

    I didn’t ignore the qualifier you used at all; I simply put it in different terms.

    As I have said, I do not view Exaltation as God’s favor. I think you are misusing that word. But in either case I granted that the greatest rewards require our effort, meaning our works. If you didn’t catch that than you didn’t read what I had written. Let me say it again.

    “If on the other hand all you mean is that some effort is required on our part to attain the highest levels of glory, then I am in perfect agreement”

    Now, I will never use the phrase ‘works based’ because the implications are not accurate and unless one understands this to simply mean that our works are directly involved than it can cause great confusion. Most people who hear or read this phrase will assume that faith plays no part in in our religion, and that grace is only secondary to our own works. These connotations are wrong, which is why I stated that in granting your definition of a ‘works based’ system I would like the clarification that this does not mean that faith is any less a part of the system, or that both are not dependent on the Grace of God.
    This is the trouble with labels.

    “What you will grant is what you just said: faith gets you the good side of hell, works gets you further.”

    This I won’t grant because it is not true, and if this is what you mean by a works based system than I won’t grant it. This is what most people think of when they talk about a works based system, which is why I wanted the clarification.
    Now, if you actually read anything that I had written you would know that this is not the doctrine of the church.
    First it is the Grace of God, and only the Grace of God, that gets us out of hell (or on the good side). Neither faith nor works has anything to do with getting us out of hell.
    Second, neither faith nor works will get you any farther than the other. They are equal. A person with faith but not works will get just as far as a person with works but not faith. It is only in joining the two, that we can get to the ultimate goal.

    This is the doctrine.

  90. “It is only in joining the two [faith and works], that we can get to the ultimate goal.”

    Exactly, and what have I said that contradicts this?

    This is why it is fruitless to discuss too much further.

  91. Slowcowboy

    “What you will grant is what you just said: faith gets you the good side of hell, works gets you further.”

    If this doesn’t contradict it, it sure confuses it. That is the trouble I am seeing, and that I see frequently among those who want to want to use the label of ‘works based.’
    I see no reason why the discussion cannot progress very nicely if you understand the doctrine of our church to include both faith and works on equal ground with each other, as I have already acknowledged this.

  92. Like Gundek in the other thread, I have to thank you, Shem, for making my point. Works and Faith are on equal footing in your faith, meaning you have a works based system because without the works, the foundation crumbles and our faith counts pretty much for naught.

    But, you won’t grant that, because admitting you have a works based religion is just not as attractive as one based on faith. But, no matter how you dress it up, you have a works based faith.

  93. “because admitting you have a works based religion is just not as attractive as one based on faith. But, no matter how you dress it up, you have a works based faith.”

    Funny, I’ve found that at least the Mormons are honest about the necessity of works in the grace through faith equation. Protestants (especially the Evangelical variety) go on and on about the irrelevance of works , until you present them with a Christian who is gay affirming. Then, behavior is preeminent. But they would never say works are essential. Except that they really are.

    Saying that Christian works are an essential result of grace through faith is absolutely saying that works are essential. You may disagree about the placement of works in the equation, but you can’t pretend that they’re irrelevant. Not even the double predestanation types can get away with it.

  94. Christian, that would not be a work. The only way I see Mormons can state that we believe works are essential is to define works in a very broad manner, much like you’ve done here.

    I mean, really, ANYTHING COULD be a work, but not everything IS. A work is not merely avoiding sin. While that is ‘work’, sure, and every Christian would acknowledge that, to avoid sinning. Its tough not sinning. A work is a specific act that one does to aid in his salvation; a ritual or other act supposedly required for salvation (however defined) or to gain the favor of the decision maker.

    Christians are called to lots of hard things. Charity, avoiding sin, spreading the Gospel, etc (heck, even worshiping God all the time can be tough) are all things that take work and dedication. But no matter how much ‘work’ those things are, successful rendering of each does not gain a believer a single ounce more of salvation or favor. Works are, in fact, irrelevant to our salvation.

    What matters is our faith. And our faith will produce fruits, but those fruits will be different for each person. A believer may be a great missionary and spread the gospel very well but may not spend much time in his local soup kitchen. Someone may be great with creating music and worship but not do much mission work.

    Now, you can argue all of these will show God’s power and love and can pull people in. That’s exactly right. All of these are things God wants us to pursue, and we are most effective in doing these things when we find what our strengths are. Some will be leaders, others teachers, others still workers, etc.

    But what is missing from my description of Christian ‘works’ are checklists and specific items one must do to be saved.

  95. Slowcowboy

    “meaning you have a works based system because without the works, the foundation crumbles and our faith counts pretty much for naught.”

    I won’t grant this because it is false, and I think you know it is. I have explained it enough in this thread alone to show this, yet you refuse to see it, or at least acknowledge it.

    Faith gets you a great deal on its own, and by itself it counts considerably. Anyone denying this is either ignorant of our doctrine or is lying. By itself it is not sufficient, but that does not mean it is worthless as you are trying to claim.
    And of course you want the whole thing focused on what faith is without works, but you fail to take into account what works are without faith.
    So, until you can acknowledge the actual doctrine of our religion I would agree with you that discussion is pointless.

    “The only way I see Mormons can state that we believe works are essential is to define works in a very broad manner”

    Now, this makes things more clear to me. The LDS have always used what you call a broad definition. Everything we do, every choice we make, is counted as part of our works. We don’t separate the ordinances and rituals from the day to day living. A person who helps his neighbor has done a good work, and when he is judged that act will be taken into consideration. I think the song “Drop by Drop,” based on the parable of the Ten Virgins, does a great job of illustrating this.
    https://www.lds.org/music/library/search?query=drop+by+drop&x=0&y=0&lang=eng#d
    When I talk of works I am talking about everything, about doing the will of the Father in all aspects of life.

    Of course, I think there is likely much confusion caused by the fact that we believe in varying degrees of glory (and thus salvation) and you don’t. It seems you have a hard time considering this when you are trying to understand or restate our doctrine.

  96. “A work is a specific act that one does to aid in his salvation”

    Doing something to validate the salvation you’ve already received(because not doing that something is proof that you never received said salvation) is a work. Its a salvation partially based on works.

    If I was God, designing a salvation free of specific acts that one does to aid salvation, I would pay the price for the sins of mankind and require nothing more from them. Not a Christian life. Nothing. That’s what a salvation free of works that aid my salvation would look like.

    And conservative Christians have lots of checklists that fall under this definition of works – like, *do not act like a homosexual*, don’t even think about committing adultery, don’t build bigger barns etc. etc.

    The straw man you keep propping up is a Mormon theology that says the act of getting baptized is what matters. A person can be cold toward God, but because they got dunked, they’re all saved. No one teaches this.

  97. “Doing something to validate the salvation you’ve already received(because not doing that something is proof that you never received said salvation) is a work”

    Except that not doing that act is not proof you never received salvation. That’s the point. Its a matter of heart, not external acts.

    As to the straw man you say I keep propping up, I never said that getting baptized is what matters. Be careful not to assume something not directly stated. Nothing I have said contradicts Mormon theology and its relation to works and faith. I have never said Mormons don’t believe faith is not an integral and necessary part of their salvation, and I never will because I know they place a strong emphasis on their faith.

    What I contend is that Mormons are STILL a works based faith, and I think Shem summed it up quite well: faith, “By itself it is not sufficient…”

    You can talk up the faith all you want but as long as faith by itself is not sufficient, you must have works. Works, apparently, are what make the faith sufficient, so works are necessary to validate the faith. And if, as Shem asserted, both are on equal footing, the faith validates the works.

    So, no, just because one gets dunked does not mean they are saved. However, without getting dunked, faith is just about useless.

  98. The straw man you keep propping up is a Mormon theology that says the act of getting baptized is what matters. A person can be cold toward God, but because they got dunked, they’re all saved. No one teaches this.

    No, but again, baptism is a sine qua non of qualifying for salvation in the first place. That’s the issue. slowcowbow is being clumsy about articulating his point (sorry) but the terms of this argument are the same as they were with Rome during the Reformation. Roman Catholicism teaches that faith, grace and Jesus Christ are all absolutely necessary for justification. Many Mormons do too (although I have definitely heard plenty of Mormons articulate something much more Pelagian, and I don’t think they were just wrong about what Mormonism entails). Protestants also believe that good works are absolutely essential in the life of a Christian.

    But the question is, what do you have to do to be made right with God, and who does it? The position of the Reformation–the Biblical position–is that our works in no way merit our justification. Not even a little bit. It doesn’t matter how much you parable-of-the-bicycle man’s contribution to his salvation into an infinitesimally small fraction, it’s still there, and it’s still a meritorious sine qua non.

    The Biblical and Reformed position is that all of the merit for my salvation comes by grace through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus paid it all / all to him I owe.

    You and I agree that a believer’s life necessarily involves good works. That’s not where we disagree. Where we disagree is on whether we do anything at all to merit our reconciliation to a supremely holy God. The conceptual gulf between your answer, no matter how small you make it, and mine, is infinite. The Bible shows us a God who actually saves, not one who makes salvation possible.

  99. I agree with Kullervo, and I think that the orthodox position is the most reasonable. The reason it is the best answer has to do with the way the LDS define God.

  100. Slowcowboy

    “Nothing I have said contradicts Mormon theology and its relation to works and faith.”

    Yet you say “without getting dunked, faith is just about useless” which is a contradiction of the doctrine. As I said, it ignores the doctrine of the degrees of glory and tries to force our beliefs to conform to your concept of Heaven and Hell. It doesn’t work, and it never will.

    Kullervo

    You can claim to be Biblical all you want, but I have never seen what you teach in the Bible. I have read Christ and the Apostles, as well as the more ancient prophets, testify that it is through obedience that we are saved, and that it is our works that will be judged; that it is only through our works can our faith be made perfect and thus we gain salvation.
    The Bible teaches a God that saved all men from death and Hell, but requires our own effort before He will grant His greatest blessings.

  101. But, I still think Christian J has a valid point, why does being gay-married keep you from being a Christian? There may be one Baptism, but it sure ain’t Westboro Baptism.

  102. “slowcowbow is being clumsy about articulating his point (sorry) ”

    No worries at all. You are right to add that the problem is that the Mormon thinks he can add to what God has already done for us. Your clarification and addition is welcome.

  103. But works alone are not sufficient either. So, by your definition, doesn’t that also make it a faith-based soteriology?

  104. Jared,

    Does being gay married stop someone from becoming a Christian? I think there is a critical distinction to be made between a Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and Westboro.

  105. Jt, you’d find no argument from me regarding a statement Mormons were both. I think that is probably accurate. I just cannot deny that Mormons are very works based no matter the faith side of it.

    You can’t take works out.

  106. “The Bible shows us a God who actually saves, not one who makes salvation possible.”

    I’m glad you brought this up. Because I think you would also admit that this is a particularly Calvinist/Reformed view of scripture. Not all Protestants and certainly no Catholic holds to (double)predestination.

    I won’t pretend that the Mormon emphasis on authority and ordinances doesn’t place them as distinct in today’s Christian world. I won’t pretend Mormons themselves have not largely been responsible for their own exclusion at the table. But, if we’re talking about grace/works generally, its not so much a traditional Christian v Mormon divide as much as a Calvinist/Evangelical v Mormon/Arminian/Catholic/EO/Coptic divide. Again, this doesn’t make Mormonism benign to the larger Christian world, but it certainly takes much of the sting out of their particular views/evolutions on grace/works.

  107. Gundek,

    I think it is clear within Christianity that a gay-married person can become a Christian. But there is also a very common opinion that a Christian will not be considered a Christian if they get gay-married after conversion or advocate gay-marriage.

  108. I think the main problem with the LDS view of the Gospel is that they don’t realize that the Gospel is that they are saved not that they can be saved. It is a subtle difference in wording, but a radical difference in psychology.

  109. Christian J,

    I agree that the ordinary Mormon are no more egregious in looking beyond the mark of the Gospel than any ordinary traditional Christian. However the “sting” in the lives of the believer is the same if they don’t grasp the message of the Gospel.

  110. Jared

    “they are saved not that they can be saved.”

    I don’t think you understand our doctrine. Once baptized we are saved, and as long as we remain faithful we will remain in that condition.
    The real difference that I have seen between our doctrine and yours is that we believe a person can loose their salvation, while most Christians would deny this possibility. We do not work to be saved, but to remain saved; in other words, we have been saved from the first death, and don’t want to suffer the second (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8)

  111. Right, but when you say “salvation” you just mean salvation from physical death. You’re playing semantic games, comparing apples to oranges but just calling the orange an apple.

  112. Kullervo

    “when you say “salvation” you just mean salvation from physical death”

    No. When I used the word salvation in my previous post I was referring to exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. This is a full, or complete salvation.

    Slowcowboy

    I have already done the work required for exaltation, and so, right now, I have a good hope of receiving this. No, I am not currently exalted because I have not be resurrected or glorified. But I have the assurance that if I don’t do anything to loose what I have already been given I will be exalted at the final judgment.
    This is the thing that most people don’t understand, and what I explained in my last post. Our works do not earn us salvation or exaltation; but they do keep us from loosing it once it has been given.

  113. Shemawater,

    Once baptized we are saved, and as long as we remain faithful we will remain in that condition.

    Joseph Smith taught universal salvation and eventual salvation from death and hell. All wil, in some sense, saved from the foundation of the world, i.e. from point that the plan of salvation was agreed upon and the war in heaven was fought. Eventual salvation can only be lost by defecting back to the losing side of that conflict and joining the sons of perdition. The “Gospel” is the guidance that we have been given to live with God again, to reach the highest region.

    Paul grasped that the law is our death warrant, the justification for the certain death that is mortality. In Christ the law is fulfilled, i.e. all sacrifices have been made and all sins paid for, we just need to open our eyes to this. The “act” of opening our eyes is only effective means of finding salvation, which is already at hand. Those that do not grasp the gospel and open their eyes in this will suffer hell, in this life and the next.

    The main problem I see with the LDS formulation is that it does not open a person’s eyes that their sins are gone. Mormons obsess over the sins that are paid for, they attempt to convince themselves that they are gone by rituals of repentance and spirituality, they do not clearly teach that the weight of sin is has been lifted once and for all. The message to children is “teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday” rather than “this train is bound for glory”. I admit that the difference can be subtle, but

  114. . . . I think the LDS don’t recognize the power of joy of the Good News. Grace and joy in the love of God drag us along, whatever we do under that influence is enough to give us complete peace now, no matter what else we “can do.”

  115. But, if we’re talking about grace/works generally, its not so much a traditional Christian v Mormon divide as much as a Calvinist/Evangelical v Mormon/Arminian/Catholic/EO/Coptic divide.

    Which side Arminians are one is sort of debatable. We love to accuse them of being on the works side but it makes them mad when we do.

  116. That’s why I think you’re previous statement…

    “The Bible shows us a God who actually saves, not one who makes salvation possible.”

    …Is a better description of the divide. Though, you may not see a difference between a works based salvation and a grace based salvation with free will.

  117. “Joseph Smith taught universal salvation and eventual salvation from death and hell. All wil, in some sense, saved from the foundation of the world, i.e. from point that the plan of salvation was agreed upon and the war in heaven was fought. Eventual salvation can only be lost by defecting back to the losing side of that conflict and joining the sons of perdition.”

    Exactly, this is why the traditional Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, EO, Coptic disagreements just don’t apply.

    Most internet interaction between evangelicals and Mormons fail to account for LDS universalism much less the LDS understanding of the relationship between God and universal laws.

    Evangelicals enter the conversation as if Mormonism is a reincarnation of Roman Catholicism, this misses the point that Joseph Smith was really influenced by the New England Universalists.

  118. Arminians claim a grace based system and free will. Everything starts with prevenient grace for the Arminian rather than the electing grace of the Reformed.

  119. Jared

    Joseph Smith taught a universal salvation from death and an almost universal salvation from hell (excepting only sons of perdition, as you point out). The salvation we seek through our actions is a salvation from eternal stagnation; a salvation from eternity in a lesser glory than our Father.

    As to salvation coming eventually, you need to understand the doctrine better.
    Salvation from death will come eventually, as all must die before they can be resurrected. Many of righteous had to wait thousands of years until Christ came a broke the bands of death.
    Salvation from Hell also comes eventually, but when that eventuality comes depends on us. For the truly evil (such as murders) it will not come until the final judgment after the millennium. For the righteous it can come right now, as we can be saved from the first death while in this life.
    At baptism we are saved, being raised from the first death into the life of Christ. Now, we can loose this salvation, but we are saved and have our sins completely washed clean. This does not mean we won’t sin again, nor does it mean that those later sins are a source of dread or fear; for even though we know we will sin again, we also know that God will forgive the faithful who seek him in humility.

    As I said, the biggest difference I can see is that we acknowledge that our actions can cause us to loose our salvation, while you seem to deny this possibility. It has nothing to do with our eyes being open to our sins being gone. We understand this clearly and glory in it, worshiping God and thanking him for his mercies. When the faithful are baptized, and when they partake of the sacrament, and when they feel the power of God as they lay their hands to bless another, they know that their sins have been washed away and the peace and joy that this brings is indescribable. But we also know that if we turn from the faith, if we engage in those things that God has forbidden and lean towards our own understanding, if we withdraw from God, then he will withdraw from us, and if that happens our peace and joy will be taken and we will feel the full weight of our sins.

  120. Shem,

    My head is spinning. You’ve already done the work for exaltation so now you are just working to avoid losing it? How is this not a system based on works?

    It makes absolutely no sense.

  121. Salvation from Hell also comes eventually, but when that eventuality comes depends on us. For the truly evil (such as murders) it will not come until the final judgment after the millennium. For the righteous it can come right now, as we can be saved from the first death while in this life.

    I think that even murderers can find that salvation is immediately before them, God is not a respecter of persons and the sun shines on the righteous and wicked alike. Mormons should understand this truth better. They often torture themselves through their consciences worse that murderers do because of worry over salvation.

  122. You’ve already done the work for exaltation so now you are just working to avoid losing it? How is this not a system based on works?

    The Plan of Salvation views humans as much more indestructible and important than traditional views. Humans are gods in embryo whose goal is to inherit some portion of the eternal Kingdom of God. God does not destroy us for our sins, or torture us for eternity, he only punishes us for our wrongdoing and eventually saves the entire human family in a higher state than they were in the pre-existence. Salvation is truly free, grace-given, and universal but Mormons generally don’t teach this, mainly because they only focus on achievement rather than mere salvation. Feeling joy in salvation is almost entirely private matter.

  123. Slowcowboy

    It is not a system based on works because our works are not he foundation of the doctrine nor the foundation of our salvation. It is a system which includes works as necessary to its proper operation, but no more necessary than faith, both of which are based in the grace of God.

    I will never deny the need for personal works, nor will any of the leaders of the church. But I will also not use he label of works based because it suggests to the mind a false understanding of the doctrine and thus lends itself too easily to confusion and misunderstanding.

    Jared

    As to our views regarding murderers, that is a subject for different time. I do believe they will be brought out of hell in the due time of the Lord to enter the eternal worlds and inherit glory.
    The only people who will not inherit glory are those who turn against God in open defiance as Cain did. These, known as the sons of Perdition, have chosen to reject all the mercies of God and thus justice has full claim on them and they are cast out forever. From none else will the mercies of God be withheld.

  124. Shem, interesting to see you write that you want to avoid calling it a works based system because you want to avoid confusion. Its actually what I see as a major source of confusion, the denial of the role works play in your faith. There’s nothing inherent in embracing the works that destroys yours faith’s apologetics.

    Now, before I go into the rest of this post, I want to say I grant that your faith is also a faith of belief and hope. You believe Jesus saves you, and that with out Jesus, you are lost. I don’t deny that.

    I just see it as misleading to say you are not a works based system when everything you do involves works. You said a number of things that pretty much admit that this is true. You said the faith is not sufficient and that works are required. You have said that faith and works are on equal footing. You have said you work to be saved and then work not to lose it. You have said that works are necessary for the proper operation of your church.

    Yet, you want to avoid calling it a works based system to avoid confusion? Sorry, not buying it.

    Now, what do I understand your faith’s foundation to be? I think you’d describe it as Jesus, and authority given through Jesus, and a restoration of that authority through Joseph Smith. You must accept that to really be faithful in Mormonism. Further, Jesus commanded us, through his restored priesthood, that we do certain things, and to be all you can be in the Mormon faith, you have to do those things. Failure to do them may not make you less Mormon, but you’re certainly letting Jesus down, not to mention all of your family and friends. You have a lot riding on you to be all you can be, and that fuels yet more works. Even your wife may end up more worthy than you and end up marrying someone more worthy in the next life…

    But the foundation of your faith may be trusting Jesus, but you demonstrate that trust by doing.

    Given your statements, I fail to buy that yours is not a works based system. I get that faith is involved,and that your beliefs may well form a tandem system of works and belief. Great. But why go through all the gymnastics to avoid it?

  125. In other posts, I went into this whole Grace verses Works argument and immediately pointed out there was a cultural issue on the topic, while the LDS leaders generally understood and taught the topic not much different than Utchdorf many Mormons have come to believe they “must work their way to heaven”.

    My understanding of Grace came, not from LDS scholars, as some have attempted to claim these scholars are changing LDS doctrine, they are not, but from McConkie who has been the clearest explainer of LDS doctrine to date.
    In his books, the Doctrinal New Testament Commentaries, McConkie looks at each verse of the New Testament and explains almost everything out right including Eph 2: 1-10.
    McConkie’s book was copyrighted in 1971, so this idea of being saved by grace has been around and openly discussed in class rooms for decades which I am aware of. However, upon hearing the information, many cultural Mormons simply disregarded it.

    While Grace is certainly a much larger topic because it does involve many other gospel aspects, including works, it’s pretty clear from McConkie, that men can not work their way to heaven. Yet, as a new member of the church long ago, I could see the cultural ingrainment of the idea that people are supposed to work their way to heaven. This always was a false doctrine and I wish the leaders had done away with this misconception long ago.

    To try and insist that LDS doctrine was always about working one’s way to heaven is a contradiction to the evidence. For instance, in the Church’s first hymn book in 1835, our hymn # 146 today, references ‘Grace’ and it’s relationship to a ‘broken heart’. And further back it is explained in the 1830 B of M in Moroni 10:32

    A more interesting topic is how do cultural ideas become weaved in any church’s basic doctrines? And why do some many Christians hang onto them? This is not just an LDS problem, as one example, there are still Christians out there who not only believe but promote the idea that the earth is the center of the universe and the sun revolves around it.

  126. Slowcowboy

    I do not use the label for the reasons I have previously mentioned. In my experience when someone says a religion is works based they are assuming that faith has little to no effect in that system, and that grace is a byproduct of ones works. This would not be accurate to LDS doctrine.

    Whether you understand this or not is not the issue. I do not use the label because others reading this are likely to not understand this, and thus simply using the label lends itself to confusion. You want my to admit the label for your benefit, and I am saying that I will not do so for the benefit of others who are less experienced and knowledgeable.

    Now, Ray does bring up a good point. Grace is the foundation of our salvation (meaning exaltations) and that grace is not earned by our works. I love the address of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, especially chapter two of Mosiah.
    “I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants….
    And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
    And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” (Mosiah 2: 21, 23-24)

    He requires us to keep his commandments, but in so doing we are not earning our salvation, for we are still indebted to him. If we are saved and exalted it will be because He has exercised His power and grace, in His mercy, to raise us to that glory. We do not know who will be raised to that glory, and so we cannot judge that matter. A man who does all the works of God may find he has lost that glory because he did not have true faith. On the other hand, a man who struggles with sin all his life may very well be raised to that glory because of his faith. We don’t know. That is dependent on the grace of God.
    This is why I will never use the label of a works based system, because it suggests a denial of this truth.

  127. Shem, again, you do yourself no favors. Now I can add to the list that you think we are indebted to God and have to work AND that we are required to do what he commands us to do and that is how we get immediately blessed. But, on top of that, we are still indebted to him, and will be forever and ever.

    Shem, admit what you will, but on the very face of everything, you are required to work, which infers it is a works based system.

    I have no argument that faith is not also integral to your religion. However, I simply state at this juncture that by avoiding that in the description of your faith you confuse matters more. It is clearly not only a religion based on faith.

    (Oh, what’s the 2nd anointing all about, anyway? http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_temples/Second_anointing; http://www.ldsendowment.org/secondanointing.html)

  128. Slowcowboy

    I think I understand now. Unless I use the label that you want to assign to my beliefs I can’t actually be honest in how I am explaining those beliefs and will only confuse people.

    So, when I say that, for a person to gain salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God they must first believe on Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, obey the commandments of God and receive the temple ordinances, then people are going to get confused and not realize that we teach the need for personal works and righteousness.
    When I quote James concerning the relationship between faith and works and state that faith is not enough without works, I am simply going to confuse the people who read my words.

    You don’t seem to have much faith in people ability to understand a doctrine when it plainly stated.

    (And I will not discuss the Second Anointing in a public forum. It is a sacred ordinance that is not even to be discussed among the members of the church.)

  129. Well, Shem, just don’t push the works to the side when describing what is integral to your faith.

    You’ve couched it thus:

    “Of course God works within us. That is the enabling power of grace that allows us to work out our salvation. We do the work, but it is because of God’s grace that we are able to.”

    And failure to work must mean an absence of God. Sure, you can work without God, but not working must signify an absence of God within the Mormon framework.

    In the end, all I am suggesting to you is that you recognize the very real prominence of works within your religion and not cast it off to the side. When you deny that yours is a works based system, it certainly seems as if that is your intent.

  130. Slowcowboy

    “And failure to work must mean an absence of God.”

    Actually, that is not what it means at all. That is the doctrine that most Christians have espoused in my experience, but it is not the doctrine of the LDS. A person can have the spirit of God in them, and yet choose not to do the works that it inspires. If they continue to do so then the spirit of God will be withdrawn, but it takes an awful lot of wickedness before this happens.

    “In the end, all I am suggesting to you is that you recognize the very real prominence of works within your religion and not cast it off to the side.”

    I have never yet failed to recognize the proper place of works in our faith. I do not use the label of a ‘works based system’ but it implies that works holds a very different place than it really does. The very label implies that works are the most important or, as you say, the most prominent aspect of the doctrine, and this is false. Our works are not the most important or the most prominent. They are secondary to the Grace of God, and are no more than equal to faith. Any other implication needs to be avoided so that people do not get the false idea that we believe we earn our salvation through our own works.
    So, I will always acknowledge the need for works, but I will never acknowledge that they are the foundation, or the base of our doctrine.

  131. Just a point of clarification, Shem: I’ve never said works are the most prominent.

    And I think we have run the course on this. I am not sure you have convincingly made the case that works are not essential. You say Grace is the foundation, but that grace gets you nowhere unless you do your part. You’ve not disputed that, nor can you.

    Anyway, enjoy your day! Its foggy here, which does not help my disposition today… 😦

  132. Slowcowboy

    “I’ve never said works are the most prominent.”

    You implied it though. Now, I apologize for my wording. I meant only that you had used the word prominent and nothing more. However, the use did suggest the idea of greatest prominence.

    “You say Grace is the foundation, but that grace gets you nowhere unless you do your part.”

    I have disputed that, and I will continue to do so, and that is the point. Grace gets us farther than our works ever could. Our works cannot resurrect us, nor can they pull us out of hell and into glory. All this is done through grace. Even after this, it is grace that enables us to do the works that are required of us.
    It would be more accurate to say that works are required, but that they get you nowhere unless God does his part.

  133. Slowcowboy

    Sorry you aren’t doing to well. We have been experiencing hot weather which generally makes me a little more irritable as well.

  134. Oh, Shem.

    Here’s what I wrote with the word prominence in it: “In the end, all I am suggesting to you is that you recognize the very real prominence of works within your religion and not cast it off to the side.”

    You are putting words into my mouth there, guy. It does not suggest the idea of works has the greatest importance. You are fond of invoking the use of language. A place of prominence is merely one of great importance but the concept alone does not suggest something of prominence is alone in its prominence or the most prominent. So, you can’t really fairly conclude that I meant to say that works in Mormonism takes on the greatest importance. To the contrary, everything I have said says otherwise.

    What I have said is that works are an indispensable part of your faith, along with faith. I would actually describe your faith as one wherein faith and works come together to form a dual natured system wherein works and faith are required. The faith is in God, and the works supplement what God has given you. Together, the faith and the works form the path to salvation, which is based upon the Grace that God gives those who believe and show their obedience through the works.

    Without the faith or the works, the Grace alone will not bring someone to exaltation. Grace might keep them saved from the eternal torment of hell, but it won’t get someone the full rewards of an obedient life of faith and works.

    What I ask of you is that you recognize the necessary nature of the works in that equation, and do more than simply say that works are necessary but not really ‘all that’. You see, without the works, Grace is not going to get you where you want to go, just as without faith, you won’t get there.

    You continue to thrust the emphasis aside, as if it is an annoyance rather than a truth. In so doing, you confirm my point that you are uncomfortable with the requirement of works. You don’t like admitting their place of prominence (notice I am not suggesting they hold a place of prominence alone). By saying that it is Grace that allows you work and Grace that actually exalts you, you minimize the works side of it.

    However, by minimizing the works, you confuse the issue. You confuse the issue because a failure to work means that Grace will not apply, and exaltation cannot happen. You say that it is more accurate to say that works get you nowhere unless God does his part. That may be true, but for God to do his part, you have to do yours.

    Anyway, as I said above, I think this discussion is reaching an ending point. As I said much earlier, the discussion hasn’t moved much, and we’ve spent a lot of time on it. Its been rather pointless.

  135. “Sorry you aren’t doing to well. We have been experiencing hot weather which generally makes me a little more irritable as well.”

    I’d take some good heat and humidity. I grew up in it, and miss the days of going to get the mail and coming back needing a shower. But fog and 50 degree weather in May is still an adjustment. Still a chance we might get some snow this season…

  136. Slowcowboy

    “It does not suggest the idea of works has the greatest importance.”

    That one sentence, by itself, does not. But when taken with such statements as “grace gets you nowhere unless you do your part,” and “you work to be saved” (which, by the way, I never said), give the impression that you are claiming works to be of greater prominence than faith or grace. I can’t say whether this was your intent, but that is the implication.

    “The faith is in God, and the works supplement what God has given you.”

    And that is where you are misunderstanding our doctrine. We do not see works as a supplement to what God has given us. We don’t supplement anything.

    “What I ask of you is that you recognize the necessary nature of the works in that equation, and do more than simply say that works are necessary but not really ‘all that’.”

    When have I done otherwise?
    Now, compared to grace our works aren’t really all that. Moses, after seeing God, declared “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing.” (Moses 1: 10) King Benjamin declared “can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth…” (Mosiah 2: 25)

    “By saying that it is Grace that allows you work and Grace that actually exalts you, you minimize the works side of it.”

    This doesn’t matter because it is the doctrine. That is my point. The works side, even the faith side, is minimized when we consider the grace of God. Unless we understand this we will never be able to place works in their proper place.
    You are trying to give works a much greater significance than they actually do, and that is my objection. I have no problem acknowledging the proper place of works in the gospel. I never have, and I never will. But I cannot allow others to place them in an improper place that lends itself to misunderstanding.
    (If I were to give a recipe for salvation I would say one part faith, one part works, and 98 parts grace.)

    Now, I liked the basic summary you give in this last post (with the one objection mentioned).

    “I would actually describe your faith as one wherein faith and works come together to form a dual natured system wherein works and faith are required…Together, the faith and the works form the path to salvation, which is based upon the Grace that God gives those who believe and show their obedience through the works.”

    I would only add that it is not just salvation that is based in grace, but our faith and our works also.

  137. Shem, I suppose our vantage points give us different views of the same thing. Your doctrine is what it is, but what I see is as I have described it. Apparently, what you see is what you have described. Good enough.

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