Video of Mormon Coffee Tabletalk #1

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The text of my talk is available here. Because Andrew’s drawing didn’t come through, you’ll have to watch his pen closely. The video was supposed to be about 30 minutes, but we really went about 46 minutes.

After watching the video, one BYU student responded online with the following:

I get a knot in my stomach any time Aaron is talking. The bottom line is man is not perfect, but God is. If there are any imperfections they are of man not of God. You talk about these different kinds of mormonism but there’s really only one and that’s what has been laid out in the Book of Mormon and our living oracles. The different ways Mormons choose to live their religion is not a reflection of how God intended for us to live it. We aren’t all perfect but you shouldn’t be judging us for it. I don’t understand this fascination Aaron has with Mormons. I think I just need to understand his intent. While his intent may be innocent the way in which he carries out his intent is not. Please tell me what your TRUE intention of constantly questioning and undermining the Mormon religion is.

I also wanted to apologize for Andrew saying that Thomas S. Monson is not always right, because he is our prophet and if Andrew really had faith that God would not lead us astray, he would know that President Monson speaks by the word of God and everything he says is true.

I responded with:

Andrew was specifically referring to what Monson said here:

“Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?” – Thomas S Monson, “To Learn, to Do, to Be”, October 2008 Conference

As Andrew understands the BofM, this seems to contradict the passages which speak on relying on the merits of Christ alone.

Other quotes brought up from Conference in the video are found here:

http://www.mrm.org/topics/salvation/quotes-merit-earning-and-worthiness

I would agree with you that a true prophet would never lead their people astray on such an important issue as grace, especially in an influential context like General Conference.

Perhaps the knot is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit? In any case, it feels bad to have one’s religion challenged, I understand that.

I got the labels of “humanistic Mormonism” and “redemptive Mormonism” from Mormons, not evangelicals, discussing different kinds of Mormon theology. You can read more about it here:

http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2005/11/nature-of-reality-part-1/176/#comment-7431

My intent has been very explicit in my writings, and it was even mentioned in the video: to evangelize and promote the truth, both positively and negatively. I also just like people and I like making friends. Andrew and I get a long well because of the way we’re able to interact with each other without pretending like we’re someone we’re not.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Aaron

She replied:

I don’t sense a true kinship when I watch that video. I sense a lot of faking going on. You are friends on the surface so that you can “discuss” each others religion but other than that, there’s nothing there. You even said you wouldn’t ever want your daughter to date a Mormon. If you were really friends who respected each other, don’t you think you would love for your daughter to date a Mormon because you respect them so highly? Even if Mormons came up with the different kinds of mormonism, that’s not our core doctrine and shouldn’t even be discussed as such. Like I said, man is imperfect but God is not. I’m getting into a bible bashing spirit though and am going to stop. I would really just appreciate it if you stopped questioning us and our religion and dealt with your own. If you really have questions, take them to our First Presidency. They are the ones to talk to. Maybe you can call in when President Monson is on Larry King and ask your questions.

To which I replied:

Maybe we have very different understandings of what constitutes authentic friends and kinship (and even dating). If I love my daughter, and I think I do, I will want the best for her, but what’s best for her is to do God’s will. I view dating as a precursor to marriage. Marrying a Mormon would not be God’s will, because we do not believe we share the same God or gospel. On a related note, Spencer Kimball has a whole section discouraging interfaith marriage in “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. He agrees in principle over inter-faith marriage not being God’s will.

In front of a camera one feels the need to be presentational, so yeah, I’m probably not acting exactly like I would off-camera, but Andrew and I are not interacting over hidden motives. In fact the first time Andrew and I meant I assertively evangelized him for over an hour. He knows my agenda. And I know Andrew’s agenda: to promote a more historical reading of the Book of Mormon’s view of Christ and salvation. Take care.

Andrew chimed in and re-asserted his allegiance to Thomas Monson as a prophet:

If I may say one thing (and it may seem contradictory, and i dont know how to reconcile that for you). I do sustain Thomas S Monson as God’s prophet, and at the same time i think he’s mistaken on a few points. after we stopped filming i mentioned Gordon B Hinckley’s book, “Standing for Something” the one about the 10 principles. he mentioned a story in there of a palestinian cabbie who said the US never took over another country or imposed its will on another country. my first reaction to that was, “well bro Gordon doesnt know what he’s talking about.” it didnt change my opinion of him as a prophet. its something similar here with Pres Monson. i dont think he knows everything doctrinally, but that doesnt mean hes not God’s prophet.

The next roundtable’s topic will be on hell. Would any Mormon here like to participate?

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31 Responses to Video of Mormon Coffee Tabletalk #1

  1. I mispoke at the end when I said that Paul "quoted Abraham" in Romans 4:1-8. He was actually appealing to Genesis about Abraham, and then quoting David from Psalm 32. The point was going to be that the ungodliness spoken of wasn't mere "imperfection", rather it encompassed the kind of sins we know David to have committed, and the kind of background out of which Abraham was taken. I depend on justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works. Without it I am damned as a vile sinner forever in a hell of eternal punishment, "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). I deserve that, but God's lovingkindness is on me, and he has forgiven and justified me, and he has given me a secure future, even though I am not even partially worthy or meritorious or earning of it.

  2. I mispoke at the end when I said in passing that Paul "quoted Abraham" in Romans 4:1-8. He was actually appealing to Genesis about Abraham, and then quoting David from Psalm 32. The point was going to be that the ungodliness spoken of wasn't mere "imperfection", rather it encompassed the kind of sins we know David to have committed, and the kind of background out of which Abraham was taken. I depend on justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works. Without it I am damned as a vile sinner forever in a hell of eternal punishment, "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). I deserve that, but God's undeserved lovingkindness is on me, and he has forgiven and justified me, and he has given me a secure future, even though I am not even partially worthy or meritorious or earning of it.

  3. I mispoke at the end when I said in passing that Paul "quoted Abraham" in Romans 4:1-8. He was actually appealing to Genesis about Abraham, and then quoting David from Psalm 32. The point was going to be that the ungodliness spoken of wasn't mere "imperfection", rather it encompassed the kind of sins we know David to have committed, and the kind of background out of which Abraham was taken. I depend on justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works. Without it I am damned as a vile sinner forever in a hell of eternal punishment, "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). I deserve that, but God's undeserved lovingkindness is on me, and he has forgiven and justified me, and he has given me a secure future, even though I am not even partially worthy or meritorious or earning of it.

    Of these things God has borne his own testimony in his word, Amen.

  4. I mispoke at the end when I said in passing that Paul "quoted Abraham" in Romans 4:1-8. He was actually appealing to Genesis about Abraham, and then quoting David from Psalm 32. The point was going to be that the ungodliness spoken of wasn't mere "imperfection", rather it encompassed the kind of sins we know David to have committed, and the kind of background out of which Abraham was taken. I depend on justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works. Without it I am damned as a vile sinner forever in a hell of eternal punishment, "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). I deserve that, but God's undeserved lovingkindness is on me, and he has forgiven and justified me, and he has given me a secure future, even though I am not even partially worthy or meritorious or earning of it.

    Of these things God has given his own testimony in his word, Amen.

  5. Peter_Ould says:

    Aaron,

    How do I get hold of one of those FANTASTIC t-shirts?

  6. Hah, I got mine in Nauvoo, IL, at a shop. But I se…. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.google.com/search?q=%22old+nauvoo%22+t-shirt&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a">online.

  7. Hah, I got mine in Nauvoo, IL, at a shop. But I see promising places to buy them online.

  8. I mispoke at the end when I said in passing that Paul "quoted Abraham" in Romans 4:1-8. He was actually appealing to Genesis about Abraham, and then quoting David from Psalm 32. The point was going to be that the ungodliness spoken of wasn't mere "imperfection", rather it encompassed the kind of sins we know David to have committed, and the kind of background out of which Abraham was taken. I depend on justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works. Without it I am damned as a vile sinner forever in a hell of eternal punishment, "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). I deserve that, but God's undeserved lovingkindness is on me, and he has forgiven and justified me, and he has given me a secure future, even though I am not even partially worthy or meritorious or earning of it.

    Of these things God has given his own testimony in his word by the Spirit, and also has reverberated the public objective meaning of them in a way that was subjectively internalized into my heart. Amen!

  9. TDW says:

    I think we all probably agree a lot more than you realize. I am sure you have heard this quote before but I think it is extremely applicable. "Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come." – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity page148) The whole chapter does an excellent job of addressing the issue in a way I think Mormons and Protestants can agree on. Traditionalists included.

    I know the quote speaks of faith and not grace. My understanding of most religious doctrines is that faith and grace go hand in hand. Some expression of faith is required to obtain the grace, whether that is simply the acceptance of Christ or something more is where the argument happens.

    "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." – Philippians 2:12-13

  10. TDW says:

    I've been thinking a bit about the last comment I posted and I have decided I disagree with myself. I like C.S. Lewis' sentiment but I don't think it can be directly applied to grace. I should have thought that through a little more before I posted it. To suggest that works has an equal position with grace in the salvation of man is something I couldn't support with any Evangelical or Mormon cannon. It is by grace that we are saved.

    I think what I was trying to get at is that the discussion on grace and works might be better framed as a discussion of what defines faith. Am I wrong in believing that Protestants and Mormons agree that some expression of faith is required to obtain grace?

  11. I would define saving faith as the desperate trusting and relying on Christ for the free and immediate gift of forgiveness and eternal life and the relationship of transforming grace that follows which is based on having received forgiveness and eternal life.

  12. I would define saving faith as the desperate trusting and relying on Christ for the free and immediate gift of forgiveness and eternal life and for the relationship of transforming grace that follows which is based on having received forgiveness and eternal life. All this is based on the atoning work of Christ accomplished with the "one act of righteousness" Romans 5 speaks of.

  13. TDW says:

    I agree with your point on the scissors analogy. It isn't directly applicable to grace and works. It is by grace that we are saved, no other blade is necessary or sharp enough.

    I agree with the importance of the question you ask, "does faith or works have any meritorious role in proving ourselves worthy of eternal life…?" My answer is no but with a single word change my answer would be yes. The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life but is important because it shows we want it. Jesus doesn't give salvation to those who deserve it, but to those who desire it and are willing to go through Him to get it. How would you respond with that word change? If I choose not to believe in and/or accept Jesus Christ, can I be saved? Is that not an expression of faith?

    As for the chapter in Romans, I interpret it this way. If we work as a means of saving ourselves, thinking to justify ourselves by the law, then we will find ourselves facing the law at judgment day. We will, of course, find ourselves in eternal debt, hence the reward is "not reckoned of grace, but of debt." Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness." Is that different than your interpretation?

  14. "The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life"

    I agree but some leaders of yours, including Monson, don't seem to. That is why Andrew (the Mormon in the dialog) is taking the courageous stance that Mormon leaders need (in my own words here) to evolve back to elements that seem more present in the Mormonism of the early 1830's, and even publicly repent for their current merit-orientation. While the average member assumes the prophets and apostles are speaking the capacity of their offices, Modern leaders continue to speak these kinds of things at General Conference:

    "Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?" – Thomas S Monson, "To Learn, to Do, to Be", October 2008 Conference

    "Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life" – Robert D. Hales, "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets", October 2007 General Conference

    "The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God… Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience." – Richard G.Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 40–42. From General Conference, October 2006.

    "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy." – President James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered", Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.62

    Of course someone has to be willing to be saved to be saved, but does "obedience to the laws and ordinance" constitute a mere willingness? Mormon leaders have not limited the definition of accepting or receiving Christ to mere trusting and willingness or choice.

    Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness."

    I think I would agree if "because of their belief in the Savior" meant "because they have trusted Christ in such a way as to already receive forgiveness for all sins, and to already receive eternal life." So if a Mormon says not all their sins are forgiven, or that they don't have eternal life, it's probably a good indicator they aren't trusting in the Savior for the kind of justifying grace spoken of in Romans.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  15. "The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life"

    I agree but some leaders of yours, including Monson, don't seem to. That is why Andrew (the Mormon in the dialog) is taking the courageous stance that Mormon leaders need (in my own words here) to evolve back to elements that seem more present in the Mormonism of the early 1830's, and even publicly repent for their current merit-orientation. While the average member assumes the prophets and apostles are speaking the capacity of their offices, Modern leaders continue to speak these kinds of things at General Conference:

    "Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?" – Thomas S Monson, "To Learn, to Do, to Be", October 2008 Conference

    "Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life" – Robert D. Hales, "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets", October 2007 General Conference

    "The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God… Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience." – Richard G.Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 40–42. From General Conference, October 2006.

    "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy." – President James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered", Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.62

    Of course someone has to be willing to be saved to be saved, but does "obedience to the laws and ordinance" constitute a mere willingness? Mormon leaders have not limited the definition of accepting or receiving Christ to mere trusting and willingness or choice.

    Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness."

    I think I would agree if "because of their belief in the Savior" meant "because they have trusted Christ in such a way as to already receive forgiveness for all sins, and to already receive eternal life." So if a Mormon says not all their sins are forgiven, or that they don't have eternal life, it's probably a good indicator they aren't trusting in the Savior for the kind of justifying grace spoken of in Romans.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  16. "The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life"

    I agree but some leaders of yours, including Monson, don't seem to. That is why Andrew (the Mormon in the dialog) is taking the courageous stance that Mormon leaders need (in my own words here) to evolve back to elements that seem more present in the Mormonism of the early 1830's, and even publicly repent for their current merit-orientation. While the average member assumes the prophets and apostles are speaking in the capacity of their offices, Modern leaders continue to speak these kinds of things at General Conference:

    "Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?" – Thomas S Monson, "To Learn, to Do, to Be", October 2008 Conference

    "Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life" – Robert D. Hales, "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets", October 2007 General Conference

    "The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God… Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience." – Richard G.Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 40–42. From General Conference, October 2006.

    "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy." – President James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered", Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.62

    Of course someone has to be willing to be saved to be saved, but does the "obedience to the laws and ordinance" spoken in the third LDS article of faith constitute a mere willingness? Mormon leaders have not limited the definition of accepting or receiving Christ to mere trusting and willingness or choice.

    Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness."

    I think I would agree if "because of their belief in the Savior" meant "because they have trusted Christ in such a way as to already receive forgiveness for all sins, and to already receive eternal life." So if a Mormon says not all their sins are forgiven, or that they don't have eternal life, it's probably a good indicator they aren't trusting in the Savior for the kind of justifying grace spoken of in Romans.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  17. TDW, the scissors metaphor is good for speaking of the necessary and inevitable relationship of faith and works, but one shouldn't stop there. The Pharisee who thanked God he wasn't like the Publican in Luke 18 undoubtedly would have agreed with C.S. Lewis on the above point.

    The question must be asked, does faith or works have have any meritorious role in proving ourselves worthy of eternal life or in even partially being the basis of our justification before God? Institutional Mormonism has for a very long time now answered this with a resounding yes. At a practical level, how this has trickled down to common members alarms evangelicals like me. Mormons talk to me of earning blessings, deserving mercy, and meriting eternal life. Rarely will a Mormon tell me he or she believes all their sins are forgiven, or that they have eternal life. Yet many of these same people are optimistic of the possibility of becoming meritorious gods someday worshiped as the "Holy of Holies" and "Eternal Fther" and "Almighty God" by other spirit-children.

    The dangerous and even damning thing Paul worked about in Romans 4:5 was working for justification. If you work for it, God won't give it to you. If you stop working and start trusting the God who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works, he justifies and transforms your heart to love God and love people, as you have been loved.

    So it's life or death. Not something I'm willing to overlook since it is at the heart the gospel.

  18. TDW, the scissors metaphor is good for speaking of the necessary and inevitable relationship between faith and works, but one shouldn't stop there. The Pharisee who thanked God he wasn't like the publican in Luke 18 undoubtedly would have agreed with C.S. Lewis on the above point.

    The question must be asked, does faith or works have any meritorious role in proving ourselves worthy of eternal life or in even partially being the basis of our justification before God? Institutional Mormonism has for a very long time now answered this with a resounding yes. At a practical level, how this has trickled down to common members alarms evangelicals like me. Mormons talk to me of earning blessings, deserving mercy, and meriting eternal life. Rarely will a Mormon tell me he or she believes all their sins are forgiven, or that they have eternal life. Yet many of these same people are optimistic of the possibility of becoming meritorious gods someday worshiped as the "Holy of Holies" and "Eternal Fther" and "Almighty God" by other spirit-children.

    The dangerous and even damning thing Paul worked about in Romans 4:5 was working for justification. If you work for it, God won't give it to you. If you stop working and start trusting the God who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works, he justifies and transforms your heart to love God and love people, as you have been loved.

    So it's life or death. Not something I'm willing to overlook since it is at the heart the gospel.

  19. "The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life"

    I agree but some leaders of yours, including Monson, don't seem to. That is why Andrew (the Mormon in the dialog) is taking the courageous stance that Mormon leaders need (in my own words here) to evolve back to elements that seem more present in the Mormonism of the early 1830's, and even publicly repent for their current merit-orientation. While the average member assumes the prophets and apostles are speaking in the capacity of their offices, Modern leaders continue to speak these kinds of things at General Conference:

    "Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?" – Thomas S Monson, "To Learn, to Do, to Be", October 2008 Conference

    "Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life" – Robert D. Hales, "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets", October 2007 General Conference

    "The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God… Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience." – Richard G.Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 40–42. From General Conference, October 2006.

    "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy." – President James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered", Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.62

    Of course someone has to be willing to be saved to be saved, but does the "obedience to the laws and ordinances" spoken in the third LDS article of faith constitute a mere willingness? Mormon leaders have not limited the definition of "obedience to the laws and ordinances" or accepting or receiving Christ to mere trusting and willingness or choice.

    Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness."

    I think I would agree if "because of their belief in the Savior" meant "because they have trusted Christ in such a way as to already receive forgiveness for all sins, and to already receive eternal life." So if a Mormon says not all their sins are forgiven, or that they don't have eternal life, it's probably a good indicator they aren't trusting in the Savior for the kind of justifying grace spoken of in Romans. If this sounds mean, please know that it isn't. I can't imagine any better gift and blessing for my beloved Mormon neighbors to have than the free gift of eternal life. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

    Grace and peace!

    Aaron

  20. "The act of Faith does not play a meritorious role in the process of obtaining eternal life"

    I agree but some leaders of yours, including Monson, don't seem to. That is why Andrew (the Mormon in the dialog) is taking the courageous stance that Mormon leaders need (in my own words here) to revert back to elements that seem more present in the Mormonism of the early 1830's. While the average member assumes the prophets and apostles are speaking in the capacity of their offices, Modern leaders continue to speak these kinds of things at General Conference:

    "Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father… How might we merit this promise [spoken of in Ezekiel 36]? What will qualify us to receive this blessing?" – Thomas S Monson, "To Learn, to Do, to Be", October 2008 Conference

    "Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life" – Robert D. Hales, "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets", October 2007 General Conference

    "The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God… Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience." – Richard G.Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 40–42. From General Conference, October 2006.

    "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy." – President James E. Faust, "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered", Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.62

    Of course someone has to be willing to be saved to be saved, but does the "obedience to the laws and ordinances" spoken in the third LDS article of faith constitute a mere willingness? Mormon leaders have not limited the definition of "obedience to the laws and ordinances" or accepting or receiving Christ to mere trusting or willingness or choice.

    Only those who believe and work because of their belief in the Savior will have their "faith counted for righteousness."

    I think I would agree if "because of their belief in the Savior" meant "because they have trusted Christ in such a way as to already receive forgiveness for all sins, and to already receive eternal life." So if a Mormon says not all their sins are forgiven, or that they don't have eternal life, it's probably a good indicator they aren't trusting in the Savior for the kind of justifying grace spoken of in Romans. If this sounds mean, please know that it isn't. I can't imagine any better gift and blessing for my beloved Mormon neighbors to have than the free gift of eternal life. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

    Grace and peace!

    Aaron

  21. isaac78 says:

    The one act of righteousness was on Christ's part. Not mans.

  22. isaac78 says:

    Faith and works are meshed. If i am baptized and yet have no faith in Christ, it serves me naught. Faith IS the sole component for grace to be received, yet works accompany those with faith. If a man has the broken heart, and contrit spirit and has faith in Jesus Christ, mighty to save, and the man has been bed ridden and imobilized up to his death…yet will he be saved. But here still, you have the eternal workings of the heart…the decision and will, and trust built up to accept Christ. His faith is not without works…his mind, his thoughts, his intentions, his love, his repentance can be defined as decisions. What you decide each day…to accept Christ, to rely on Him or not. To help and serve and do or not.

  23. Whether faith and works are inextricable and whether good works (the kind that please God) are necessarily enabled by faith isn't the matter of debate. In my opinion these two issues essentially function as red herrings.

    Among others, here are some real watershed issues:

    1. Whether faith-enabled works are part of the steps in a process, the completion of which is a prerequisite requirement for receiving forgiveness. See Spencer Kimball's six-step outline of the repentance which bring forgiveness. Kimball didn't limit his definition of such prerequisite repentance to a mere contrite heart and willingness, etc.

    2. Whether there is any part of faith or works that serves an even partially meritorious role in achieving forgiveness or eternal life.

    3. Whether this life is part of a larger process of becoming the kind of God that can be worshiped someday on the basis of merit by other persons.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  24. Whether faith and works are inextricable and whether good works (the kind that please God) are necessarily enabled by faith aren't matters of debate for me. In my opinion these two issues essentially function as red herrings.

    Among others, here are some real watershed issues:

    1. Whether faith-enabled works are part of the steps in a process, the completion of which is a prerequisite requirement for receiving forgiveness. See Spencer Kimball's six-step outline of the repentance which bring forgiveness. Kimball didn't limit his definition of such prerequisite repentance to a mere contrite heart and willingness, etc.

    2. Whether there is any part of faith or works that serves an even partially meritorious role in achieving forgiveness or eternal life.

    3. Whether this life is part of a larger process of becoming the kind of God that can be worshiped someday on the basis of merit by other persons.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  25. Whether faith and works are inextricable and whether good works (the kind that please God) are necessarily enabled by faith aren't matters of debate for me. In my opinion these two issues essentially function as red herrings.

    Among others, here are some real watershed issues:

    1. Whether faith-enabled works are part of the steps in a process, the completion of which is a prerequisite requirement for receiving forgiveness. See Spencer Kimball's six-step outline of the repentance which brings forgiveness. Kimball didn't limit his definition of such prerequisite repentance to a mere contrite heart and willingness, etc.

    2. Whether there is any part of faith or works that serves an even partially meritorious role in achieving forgiveness or eternal life.

    3. Whether this life is part of a larger process of becoming the kind of God that can be worshiped someday on the basis of merit by other persons.

    4. Whether all true Christians can claim (on the basis of truth) to have received comprehensive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the here-and-now.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  26. Whether faith and works are inextricable and whether good works (the kind that please God) are necessarily enabled by faith aren't matters of debate for me. In my opinion these two issues essentially function as red herrings.

    Among others, here are some real watershed issues:

    1. Whether faith-enabled works are part of the steps in a process, the completion of which is a prerequisite requirement for receiving forgiveness. See Spencer Kimball's six-step outline of the repentance which brings forgiveness. Kimball didn't limit his definition of such prerequisite repentance to a mere contrite heart and willingness, etc.

    2. Whether there is any part of faith or works that serves an even partially meritorious role in achieving forgiveness or eternal life.

    3. Whether this life is part of a larger process of becoming the kind of God that can be worshiped someday on the basis of merit by other persons.

    4. Whether all true Christians can claim (on the basis of truth) to have instantaneously received comprehensive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the here-and-now.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  27. Isaac, it doesn't look like you're reading your e-mail, so maybe you'll see this:

    I have to delete any subsequent comments you make until 12AM MST because you have surpassed the 6/day limit. Please see our comment policy, linked at the top-right of this page.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

    PS: I would add to my list: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=drjrz8s_216cgw6nwcp

  28. Walrus says:

    “We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. The financial affairs of the Church are being managed in this manner, for we are aware that your tithing and other contributions have not come without sacrifice and are sacred funds.

    Let us make our homes sanctuaries of righteousness, places of prayer, and abodes of love that we might merit the blessings that can come only from our Heavenly Father. We need His guidance in our daily lives.

    In this vast throng are priesthood power and the capacity to reach out and share the glorious gospel with others. As has been mentioned, we have the hands to lift others from complacency and inactivity. We have the hearts to serve faithfully in our priesthood callings and thereby inspire others to walk on higher ground and to avoid the swamps of sin which threaten to engulf so many. The worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God. Ours is the precious privilege, armed with this knowledge, to make a difference in the lives of others. The words found in Ezekiel could well pertain to all of us who follow the Savior in this sacred work:

    “A new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. . . .

    “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

    “And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”1

    How might we merit this promise? What will qualify us to receive this blessing? Is there a guide to follow?

    May I suggest three imperatives for our consideration. They apply to the deacon as well as to the high priest. They are within our reach. A kind Heavenly Father will help us in our quest.

    First, learn what we should learn.

    Second, do what we should do.

    And third, be what we should be.”

  29. Walrus says:

    I thought it important to qoute that which was left out. The combining of the different parts is misleading. “Let us make…only from our Heavenly Father” is completely appropriate. Do we not reap blessings from a home that is a sanctuary of righteousness, a place of prayer and an abode for love? I have lived in a home that was not and visited others that were. It makes a BIG difference.
    “The words found in Ezekiel could well pertain to all of us who follow the Savior in this sacred work” notice that before he qoutes Ezekiel, he mentions following the Savior. A shift in his discourse occured.
    Your understanding of what Pres Monson was incorrect and your subsequent questions based off of that misunderstanding unfortunate. The question had no merit and the answer was given from someone who trusted you as giving an accurate source. There is no doctrinal diffeciancy found in the Lord’s Prophet

  30. Walrus says:

    Lets write a few books on what a broken heart and contrite spirit means…seriously, when God speaks a few words, the meaning stretches on for eternity.
    For the benifit of all readers, Kimball’s Six Steps to Repentance:
    1. Faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ
    2. Sorrow over sin
    3. Confession to God, to those personally affected by the sin, and to one’s bishop if necessary
    4. Successful forsaking and abandonment of sin; coming to a point where one will never repeat the sin again[1]
    5. Restitution to the fullest extent possible
    6. Righteous living, “keeping all the commandments”

    All of these principles can be found in the scriptures. To say that these steps occur everytime, in the exact order, with the same magnitude of awarness, or that they must, for forgivness to be recieved, would be missing the point.
    1. Faith, a no brainer
    2. One must have a knowledge of the law broken and the wrongness of the breakage in order to repent…one cannot repent for a sin they know not of.
    3. If one is asking for forgiveness, admitting ones’ mistake is sort of required
    4. If one sins, one must repent…if one repeats the sin, one needs to repent again.
    5. Return the item stolen, sooth the heart troubled, make ammends with your brother, forgive, give back what was taken…some things cannot be given back…virtue, life
    6. Seek to follow the Saviour’s example as best as one might. One who finds forgivness, who has a relationship with the Savior and then denies the faith is hardpressed unless they repent.
    Often time these steps are easily met…and when they are not, we should pay attention as to why…(meekly approach someone with whom you’ve recently had an arguement with)…and the importance of completing the ‘step’ (apologizing for harsh words or mal intent will help to quicken the healing of parties envolved)
    More so i believe these steps help those who avoid certain aspects of repentance…bring to their attention that they ought to make ammends, for instance.
    Last note…by far the most effective (if not the only effective) program that has enabled severe addicts to recover from thier vices is the 12 Step Program. Do not get defensive, it so happens that the 12 step is a beautiful reflection of repentance, of reliance on God. Steps are helpful to those who are so deep in sin, they can only focus on small steps least they be overwhelmed. If they DID have more faith, the process would be less ardious…nonetheless, our Saviour is overjoyed at whatever steps we decide to take toward Him.

  31. faithoffathers says:

    Just watched the initial comments from each speaker. Good jobs!

    I wasn’t real comfortable with Andrews explanation of our doctrine of grace. He seemed to sum it up in a way that left the impression that our works did some of the actual work of salvation. I do not believe this is our true doctrine. Maybe I did not get what he was trying to say accurately.

    Some basics: 1- we must obey god to be saved 2- the extent of our reward is proportional to our obedience here on earth 3- Christ performs 100% of the saving in every person’s life 4- all people can be saved through the atonement.

    The passage which says “we are saved by grace after all we can do” leaves evangelicals thinking that whatever amount of work we cannot complete- Christ picks up and “finishes” what remains of the salvation project for us. Again, this is not true doctrine.

    We must do our very best to follow Christ. And yes, He lifts and helps us as we do this. This is where the peculiar belief of ours come into play that He suffered not just for our sins, but suffered every illness, depression, sadness, loneliness, etc. for all of us. He knows exactly how we feel because He has literally felt it personally for us.

    But all of our effort does not save us- it demonstrates and strengthens our faith in Christ. And it is required to receive His grace and the blessings of the atonement.

    The whole philosophy is our becoming something greater than we are now. That is Christ’s whole objective second only to obeying the Father. Which of course is the Father’s objective- growing us. Making us greater, teaching us, guiding us, and saving us.

    I support the principles outlined in President Kimballs Miracle of Forgiveness. You can find language in statements from our leaders and members that can be interpreted as meaning we “merit” salvation or “earn” it. They are not saying we deserve salvation, or that we did any of it ourselves. They are saying we qualify for Christ’s grace and blessing by doing what he asks of us. It is a different definition of “merit” and “earn” that what you are getting from it. Look at the title of the book: The “Miracle” of forgiveness. It is truly a miracle what Christ can do for us and with us when we follow Him.

    Aaron- I sense a powerful underlying discomfort in you that stems from thinking that we believe we will become equal to the Father, or even someday surpass Him, or lose our dependence upon Him. If this were my perception, it too would bother me. But this, again, is not true doctrine. We will never surpass Him and be independent of Him. Brigham Young stated this clearly.

    As far as us being worshipped by others someday. It is all about legacy and service to others. How do you want to be remembered by others, especially your children? Some see the whole concept of a clergy or priesthood as being somehow self-serving or seeking to glorify one’s self by such pursuits. In reality, the priesthood is all about service to others and lifting others. I think the same inaccurate way of thinking about being one with God is possible here.

    The Father and the Son clearly want us to be one with them (John 17). I think Defender of Faith shared a great analogy with the physics professor idea. God loses nothing by sharing with us. He actually gains joy and glory, because we are His work. One could look at economics for a parallel. Communism claims that there is essentially a fixed amount of wealth. The only variable is how it is divided up. Capitalism, on the other hand, holds that there is an infinite amount of wealth to be created and shared, and that one person becoming wealthy does not necessarily take wealth away from another. I don’t mean to compare our different religions to these respective idiologies. But you get my drift.

    Anyway, just some thoughts on your video!

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