Update: This was an April Fool’s joke. We underestimated its believability.
Let me be honest, I feel ambivalent on this. We had our laughs, but it evolved into a mindset of seriousness and even depression. Some thought it was hilarious, others were sincerely hurt by it. I’m very sorry for any pain I caused. But part of me isn’t sorry, because the deeper source of pain here is the Mormon Church. I’m not sorry that I used a literary device to bring out the yearnings that Christians have that this book would be condemned by the Mormon Church for the sake of the good of Mormon people..
At the end of the day, we take the spiritual damage done by the Miracle of Forgiveness book (and the religion which continues to perpetuate many of its teachings) very seriously. Some of you readers have had very intense, very personal experiences with this book that cause you to look back with writhing. Some of you have family members who have been through this as well. Only through a personal relationship with Christ, built on the foundation of freely received forgiveness, can we ultimately break free from the bondage of deceit. For those of who are now “in Christ”, you look back at this book with a godly sorrow and a yearning that your beloved Mormon neighbors and family members and friends would be redeemed from the spiritual captivity, oppression, and bondage.
I never thought I’d see the day, but it happened. The LDS Newsroom has a featured article which includes an official repudiation of the book so many Mormons love to hate: The Miracle of Forgiveness, by Spencer W. Kimball. The book teaches that permanent forgiveness only comes when, as a prerequisite, one first successfully abandons sin both in practice and in the mind—that we must absolutely never commit it again and successfully and permanently purge our minds of the sinful desire. Only then can forgiveness be granted. Obviously, this kind of model of the repentance which brings forgiveness doesn’t realistically bring much forgiveness at all, particularly in this life.
In the LDS Newsroom article, Monson states,
“In order to help our people better understand Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, we must bring clarity to the issue of the repentance which brings forgiveness. Unequivocally denouncing the distinctive system of teachings contained within Spencer W. Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness is a move that will bring comfort to many people who have felt spiritually devastated. In its place, we are issuing an official proclamation on the doctrine of forgiveness. For any person with brokenhearted faith who cries out to God for mercy, forgiveness is free and is simply for the asking. The scriptures tell us that we can know that we have eternal life in the present. Forgiveness is immediate and permanent, and as shepherds over our flock we want to care for them by teaching doctrines that will bring a peace that surpasses all understanding. We have decidedly rejected any idea of meriting eternal life (even with gracious assistance) or of proving ourselves worthy of the blessings of salvation. A man or woman is most empowered to fight hypocrisy and pursue genuine, authentic holiness when they have been given the assurance of permanent, comprehensive forgiveness and eternal life.”
Some leaders were enturbulated. Apostle Robert D. Hales told the Salt Lake Tribune:
“When I said last conference that, ‘Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life‘, I was not using the language of speculation. My talk was approved and correlated. I was confidently teaching a message that was widely perceived to be delivered in the capacity of an apostle. This unequivocal reversal of doctrine spearheaded by Monson undermines our perceived trustworthiness and authority from the General Conference pulpit. What will people think of us now? Are we simply latter-day commentators? No, we are prophets, seers, and revelators, and we have no business unequivocally denouncing the teachings of our past leaders. Monson talks of the demands of ‘integrity’ but he is clearly not yielding to the demands of maintaining our membership.”
Plans have already been made to remove the book from Spencer W. Kimball’s showcase at the LDS Church Museum.
Students at BYU were seen dramatically ripping out pages of modern church manuals which quoted from infamous work by Kimball. Student body president Bitner Young told BYU Newsnet,
“Now that our prophet has frankly and unequivocally criticized another prophet for false doctrine, I feel a incredible freedom to rethink what they have been teaching for the past 175 years.”
Various student groups have organized Star Wars marathons in celebration. Molly and Peter of the Science Fiction Fan Club told the Universe newspaper,
“We used to feel burdened by the similarity of Spencer W. Kimball to Yoda, who taught that merely ‘trying’ was weak and inadequate. After all we can do to disassociate the two, we will begin an all-night Stars Wars marathon to celebrate the purging of our minds of the connection.”
While some missionaries were dancing, one man was seen crying on Temple Square, clutching his temple recommend and holding a picture of Joseph Smith close to his chest.
“They’re all fools, I tell you, fools! Now that one domino has fallen, we all know what comes next. What of our beloved prophet? The one who mingles with gods, the one who now reigns as a supreme being over his own worlds? The one who is, in one sense, a god to us? What shall we do with our beloved prophet Joseph Smith if we so forthrightly acknowledge that our apostles or prophets have at times publicly promoted destructive heresy over the most important things in the universe? Who cares about immediate and permanent forgiveness when we could have kept a religion of strict ordinances, individual merit, and personal worthiness? What fools!”