In a facebook exchange related to my last post, I stated that, in “The Gift of Grace” President Uchtdorf “teaches explicitly that we get a free ride to heaven.”
One LDS disagreed and responded:
“If by “free ride” you mean free of repentance, obedience, good works, or somehow contradictory to what other prophets and apostles have taught, you’ve clearly completely misunderstood his point.”
Another LDS agreed and stated:
That “free” gift of sanctification, however, is itself conditioned upon repentance, personal righteousness, and “enduring to the end.” Grace assists us in these tasks as well, but DOES NOT override our agency, free will, or the power of Satan to tempt and deceive.
It is after “all we can do” moment by moment, that we are purged and made “new creatures in Christ.”
I totally disagree with these very common mis-interpretations of Mormonism. When I was a Mormon I might have been an outlier in that I based my faith on what it said in the scriptures over any other teachings. Based on the Doctrine and Covenants section 76, Joseph Smith’s revelation concerning the afterlife, these commentators have Mormonism fully bass-ackwards.
In their vision of heaven Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon affirm that Christ himself appeared to them defined the Gospel:
40 And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—
41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucifiedfor the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and tosanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;
42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;
43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.”
It sticks in my craw that Mormons continue to deny even their own scriptural account of the Gospel, to hold onto the dream that eternal joy is not the fate of all who accept the power of God in their lives.
I have always understood that authentic scripture-based Mormonism teaches that all are guaranteed eternal joy in Christ. What the Church has been missing are witnesses to this reality. Without the witnesses, and without the evidence in the countenances of the saved, Mormon children simply won’t get what Jesus — or Joseph Smith — was talking about.
Joseph Smith clearly believed he, and every man, woman and child that was created, was saved from hell and his life was an attempt to glorify God. Only those who rejected God’s grace would not wind up in heaven. What Latter-Day Saints should be teaching is that the ONLY free ride in this world is the ride to Heaven. Instead, they often teach that everything in this world is guaranteed if we obey, EXCEPT our place in heaven.
I may be missing it but after reading Uchtdorf’s talk, I don’t see what you are talking about. He seemed pretty clear that grace is “the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of “truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things” only “available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite”
My comment was in reaction to the idea that Mormons believe “there is no free ride to heaven” (unlike Evangelicals and others.) I think that grace is a “free ride” from God, i.e. not purchased with obedience. D&C 76 clearly teaches that all will have their hearts broken and spirits contrite, in this life or the next. This seems to be a “free ride”. The D&C teaches that only when we reject the gifts offered do we suffer. Part of the gift (not the reward) is the Godly life and exaltation. Uchtdorf doesn’t contradict this at all, even though Mormons commonly do.
Joseph Smith taught elsewhere that the gifts were essentially contingent on our willingness to receive them:
Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”
My point is that Mormons often deny the good news taught in their own scriptures.
But Jared, even in D&C 88, (which I personally do not take as scripture), we see a division of “portions of glory”, celestial, celestial, terrestrial, which are received upon merit of works done in the flesh to make one worthy of attaining them. Isn’t so?
Isn’t that what the bible says about rewards in heaven?