Packer’s Atonement Parable: Refinancing Your Debt

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32 Responses to Packer’s Atonement Parable: Refinancing Your Debt

  1. clyde says:

    Wow what a neat way to explain the atonement.

  2. pould says:

    Pretty similar to the Parable of the Bicyle that Millett (?) tells. I guess LDS claim that the offer of refinance is grace?

  3. Edward Bailey says:

    Most kids in seminary watch this one and the Lamb of God video and might read if they are lucky 30% of the new testament. Perhaps it would be better to just compare 2Nephi2/Alma42 doctrine with a good treatise on the atonement by the references emphasized by Gustaf Aulen (victory atonement, shofar trumpet)? Someone has to respond to Smith/Denton's accusation of teaching a form of moralistic therapeutic deism. It's almost as bad as the poor kid trying to fake cry for this mediator clip. I have an idea for a better ending for this clip; throw in a good Colossians 2:14 shot where you nail the righteous works (Isa. 64:6) foreclosure letter to the cross.

  4. Eric Smith says:

    The LDS doctrine of the Atonement has some truth mixed in. But they blindly miss the mark. This video is a good example of how their doctrine can appear sound and logical- but is actually heretical. The debt is paid. You cannot work off the debt.
    In my mind- the only way you finally "qualify" to have the debt forgiven is through true brokenness. We must be broken in order to be perfect in Christ. He becomes our worthiness and perfection- our only hope. He is not a new taskmaster/debtor/refinancier. He paid it- there is no debt.
    I was lds for 42 years and the Atonement Doctrine is man-made and a very heavy yoke. Coming to SEE salvation as taught in the New Testament for the first time- was the most thrilling event that has ever occurred in my life. His yoke IS east and His burden IS light. Freedom in Christ is truly splendid and beautiful!

  5. falcon says:

    Say clyde baby, do us all a favor here and explain your "wow".
    You see you really don't give us any insights as to why you think there is a "wow factor" in this presentation. I believe this is called "intense debate" and I don't have anything to debate with you because "wow" is just kind of an emotional response. I mean do you have a man-crush on the speaker, are you impressed with his speaking ability or are there some specific points that ring your bell.
    Is the speaker giving you a road map in your quest to become a god and join with the pantheon of Mormon gods? Please share with us the encouragement you are receiving and the steps you need to take to reach deity status. I would also like to know if you have done enough or if you are still falling short of the mark in striving and working to get to the top of the Mormon ladder.
    Thank you in advance for your detailed reply.

  6. falcon says:

    It really doesn't matter what Packer or any of the other Mormon apostles, prophets or apologists say about the atonement because, I repeat, it's Mormon atonement. As such it is not Biblical in its foundation and is based on a false premise that a man can become a god through his own works with the Mormon Jesus making up the difference. It must also be pointed out that in Mormonism there are two levels of salvation. One is a general salvation that everyone who ever lived receives and then there is the man-to-god works program.
    For Mormons who are interested, let me give it to you straight. The OT prophets and NT apostles and prophets recognized that man is, by nature, a sinner. There is one God who is holy and merciful. He paid the price for our sin, by His death on the cross. That's the atonement. This free gift that God offers is received through faith……period. Someone who is born again by the Spirit of God lives a transformed life out of gratitude for what God did for us. Righteous living is a praise offering to God. In the end we take off our crowns with the works earned jewels embedded in them, and toss them at the feet of Jesus as we cry hosanna to the King of Kings.

  7. 4fivesolas says:

    Now, remember, what you owe is two times the national U.S. debt. Your labor pays you in wooden nickles – absolutely worthless in any monetary system. Christ pays the debt for your sin, and you have nothing to offer Him in return. Oh, and it is easy, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:29 – 30) – He has done everything to redeem you from your debt, from beginning to end (Isaiah 61:10 – Jesus is the garment of righteousness which covers us, we cannot cover our own sin and are powerless to do so). Our debt has not been refinanced, it has been forgiven, wiped clean – besides, our debt, our separation from God is so immense that any pitiful working or striving to repay would be of no account. Praise be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that we do not work in any way for our salvation, for as Scripture says, salvation is not of works – lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).

  8. f_melo says:

    "we cannot cover our own sin and are powerless to do so"

    Haven´t you heard, you actually can cover your own sins through the shedding of your own blood according to the "prophets" Joseph and Brigham Young.
    Jesus isn´t necessary – all we need to do is to stand in line while some officers shoot us all. Indeed his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

    to be serious for a moment – it disturbs me to no end that my mormon friends don´t get upset about this doctrine…

  9. f_melo says:

    So clyde, how´s your refinancing going? Are you free from envy, are you free from pride? Are you doing your home teaching, serving in your callings with all your heart, might, mind and strength?(add here the hundreds of other commandments required for someone to become a god).

    If you´re not then you´re not re-paying Jesus, which means that you do not qualify for your "grace" ticket.

  10. falcon says:

    If someone thinks that they are going to become "a god" then it will follow that there will be a cost involved. This is a "there is no free lunch" philosophy and it makes sense to the natural man. This philosophy also provides a certain amount of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. This Mormon male to god program keeps the Mormon male pleb in line and allows the Mormon church to control every aspect of his life.
    This is not the atonement that the Bible speaks of but only in respect to what is known as the "doctrine of demons". It attempts to redefine Christ's vicarious death on the Cross for the salvation of mankind and substitutes a lie that men can become gods. Who would be the author of a philosophy that deifies men and makes god into a former sinful man. Mormons deny the cross and see it as a hideous instrument of death not seeing the power of the cross of Christ as God's choice in redemption.
    God's in charge! He is sovereign! Paul said that he was not ashamed of the cross of Christ because of what it means. Mormons deny the revelation of God and instead choose the revelation of a man who was clever enough to mix in some evangelical Christian revivalism to cover his scheme.

  11. falcon says:

    Mormonism, as is pointed out continually on this blog, stands orthodox Christianity on its head and Mormons love it. Why is that? Well there are people who will believe anything that goes against accepted tradition and practice. It's both a psychological and spiritual phenomenon. This "opposite" effect is a means by which they think something must be true; it defies convention, that's its appeal. But Mormonism has an additional hook. It has the effect of creating a positive feeling in some people which reinforces the belief. A good shot of adrenaline peaks the senses and brings a feeling of truth to a matter. The added "bonus" is that the whole experience seems so spiritual.
    Grant Palmer has pointed out that the preachers of the BoM sound like 19th century itinerant evangelists. Borrowing heavily from the Bible, the BoM has, to some people, a feeling of spirituality about it. So once a person buys into the BoM myth, there isn't anything attached to Mormonism that they won't accept. Given the ability that Mormons acquire to be able to rationalize anything that is weird, wacky and off-the-wall (even perverse and convoluted) and escape from the trap becomes difficult.
    So here we are with Mormon atonement. This is a concept that borrows some from orthodox Christianity, especially in the use of vocabulary, and twists it so that a man striving to become a god can apply Christ's death to his (man's) quest for deification. This is the Mormon attempt to reconcile what Jesus did on the cross with Mormonisms most foul and putrid doctrine; the blasphemy of the person of God.
    There are ancillary things in the history of Mormonism, polygamy for example, that demonstrates that Mormonism is a couple of bubbles off of plumb, but it is the assault on the very nature of God that puts this religion in the camp of the antiChrist. We can't use strong enough language to condemn what the doctrines of Mormonism stand for. Unfortunately, it's impossible to embarrass a true believer enough to make them consider what they believe. Fortunately God does direct them to the truth if they are willing to accept it.

  12. Violet says:

    The video struck me as me-centered instead of Christ-centered. What can Christ do for us and also it relied to heavily on money. I understand the parallel but yet the man was moved because Christ paid so the man's possessions would not be taken. And then, the man was moved to tears. The man did his best, and Christ did the rest. So really its about us, what can we do, and the focus becomes ourselves, our good works, and how we can boast. See Doctrine and Covenants Section 130 regarding intelligence. We can carry it with us to the next. . .

  13. falcon says:

    What we get with Mormonism is a lot of speculation sold as revelation. That's the key to the Mormon program. I think it, I feel it, it must be true. Now can I find something, anything that I can use to substantiate my deeply held convictions based on what I think and feel.
    If I were a Mormon, I'd take a topic like the nature of God, the nature of man, the atonement etc. and I'd study the classical orthodox positions on these topics and examine the writings of the great thinkers in the Christian faith. I'd also take the Bible a part line-by-line and do a topical study utilizing sound methods of exegesis. But alas, that takes work. It's a whole lot easier to think it and feel it and call it truth.

  14. Edward,

    I found it difficult to follow your post, but I'm glad I'm not the only one here who uses the phrase "moralistic therapeutic deism". Didn't follow you on the Shofar trumpet thing. Can you please explain?

    The last book I read on the Atonement was "The Atonement – Its Meaning and Sacrifice" by Leon Morris (former Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne and Canon of St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne). As a Greek Scholar, he explores different areas of meaning in the word in each chapter; Covenant, Sacrifice, The Day of Atonement, The Pasover, Redemption, Reconciliation, Propitiation, Justification.

    I'm not going to reproduce Morris' entire book here, but you might be able to see that the Biblical idea of atonement is in an entirely different league than "refinancing one's debt"

  15. I just watched the video, and I'm convinced.

    I mean, it must be Biblical if you've got people walking round riding donkeys, wearing hemp, writing funny letters backwards. What nailed it for me was the quasi-medieval flute music (like what hear when you walk into a tavern on one of those fantasy role-playing games). Yup, it must be authentic Bible-stuff.

    There are some nice french-horn cadences when the guy gets his debt refinanced, to foster a sense of understated victory and solid dependability. Some of our banks should use them in their adverts – oh, wait, they already have.

    Seriously, I'm spared the exposure some of you guys get with the Mormon PR output. I'm impressed by the effort that went into this.

    One question, though. Did I miss it, or was there any mention of the cross of Christ?

  16. wyomingwilly says:

    Eric, welcome. Thanks for sharing that !


  17. 4fivesolas says:

    Eric – Thank you for your clarity. The truth of Christ as redeemer is great isn't it? Jesus did not come as a second Moses, giving us more law to obey. He came as our Savior – delivering the gift of salvation by grace through faith.

  18. wyomingwilly says:

    Martin, I was in the middle of a sin I enjoy every morning ( drinking my morning coffee)
    when I read your post, and laughed so much I almost choked ! It's really sad what man can do to
    try and earn favor with God. It seems that in Mormonism, Jesus is more of a way shower than being
    THE WAY. Tomorrow a new "law" could be revealed by the Mormon prophet in which LDS must obey
    in order to get into the Temple , and ultimately eternal life with God in heaven. Yesterday, no coffee
    drinking, tomorrow maybe colored shirts at church strictly prohibited will be a law, or perhaps a law
    on what make of car you're allowed to drive. The scriptures? they're from dead prophets, but there's a
    living prophet who declares the mind and will of God to man today . No thank you. I think Jesus'
    messge thru His apostles in His church on how to be reconciled to God is sufficient. It's 2000 yrs
    old and still alive and changing lives today , because Jesus is the way . Heb.7:25

  19. falcon says:

    The questions that must be asked are very simple but at the same time profound if someone wants to really know Jesus and what his vicarious death on the cross does for those of us who come to Him in faith. Here are the questions:
    *Why did Christ die?
    *What does the atonement really mean?
    *Did Jesus die to appease the wrath of God against us?
    *Did He die as an example for us?
    So why did Jesus die? John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Jesus Himself said that His flesh and blood was the sin offering for the world at large (John 6:51). In Acts 20:28 Paul says, "the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood". So we are given our answer in the Scriptures as to "Why did Jesus die."
    The atonement means something entirely different in the Bible than it does in Mormonism. The Mormon god of this world and his many wives procreate spirit children who then in time take on human bodies. In Mormonism this man made god has as his responsibility the achievement of this deification for all of his spirit to human to god male offspring. So Christ's death, the atonement, is a means by which the multi-level god up-line in the Mormon system, can get his male counter parts to the god level of the organization. This is not only perverted, blasphemous, and hideous, it's just plain ignorant and stupid. This is what happens when men get creative and attempt to make-up their own religious system to satisfy their own ego needs.
    There is One God. He is holy and merciful. We are by nature sinners. We cannot close the gap of righteousness needed to achieve eternal life with God. God did for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. He died and shed His blood for us. He was the perfect sacrifice and through this act of atonement He demonstrated His love for us. Jesus declared that this was a New Covenant in His blood. The blood covenant was the most serious of all contractual agreements because it required (the shedding of blood). Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. He didn't wait for us to clean-up our act and then if we showed enough progress, He'd deem us worthy enough to rescue.
    This gift of eternal life bought by Christ blood in payment for our sins is the meaning of the atonement.

  20. f_melo says:

    " examine the writings of the great thinkers in the Christian faith"

    Mormons don´t think the "learned" are reliable. Yet, ironically that only worked for the first generation of mormon leaders because i, in my life time haven´t seen a mormon prophet or apostle who hasn´t been a successful businessman(or in any other profession), and who weren´t very wealthy.

    "is a lot of speculation sold as revelation"

    You can see that when you observe such discussions as the virgin birth – everything in mormonism is considered after man´s manner of doing things. The sacrament/communion is one example of that, it´s the corporative version of the communion of the New Testament.

  21. liv4jc says:

    I haven't posted on MC in quite some time, but felt I had to weigh in. I wrote a long letter to an LDS friend of mine based upon this parable, which is really more of an analogy. Like most Mormon analogies it looks good on the surface, but quickly falls apart when exposed to the light of even secular reasoning. The title of this post is correct, all you are doing is a balance transfer at a supposedly lower interest rate. Instead of owing MasterCard at 35%, you now owe it to Visa at 7%? And who is to set the exact difference between Heavenly Father's demands and Jesus'? It's still debt which you have no money to pay! You incurred your debt by violating the law. If you want to reduce it to human terms your debt is fines imposed by a judge for breaking the law. It's a sin debt. How can you earn money to pay your fines? By obeying the law? NO! You don't get paid for obeying the law, because that's what you're supposed to do. Do any of us get a check from the government every month as compensation for every law that we didn't break? All you could ever do after Jesus paid your fine is hope to maintain status quo by not incurring more debt. Then when it comes time to pay up, beg for mercy because you have no money, but you can't even do that. After refinancing your debt you continued to spend at the same breakneck pace, because you have continued to incurr debt to Jesus by charging sin debt to the account you opened with him. Don't you Mormons understand that you have no money and you never will. Not only can you never have a source of revenue, you were born in debt because your father Adam burdened you, just like the American congress is doing to our children today. Please read Paul's letter to the Romans and these things will become abundantly clear. Everyone is in debt (chs. 1,2, and 3), but Jesus paid your fine in full (Romans 3:20-26). You cannot earn money because God owes you nothing (ch.4). You were born in debt (ch. 5), but there is forgiveness of debt through Christ's payment. You try to stop incurring debt, but you can't (chs. 6 and 7, especially 7:22-23), but thank God that Christ has paid it all (7:24 and 25). There is therefore no debt left to pay (Romans 8:1) for those who have admitted they are in debt, have no way to pay it back, and cannot stop incurring debt (although God gives them a desire and the ability to stop spending as much). That's why it's called the "gospel", which simply means "good news to be proclaimed". Mormonism is nothing but dead works. God is not going to pay you a dime for obeying the commandments, eating bread and drinking water on Sunday ( although you will be punished severely for lying every Sunday for making a promise you know you won't keep), or putting on a green and white baker's outfit and performing pagan ceremonies under the guise of a priesthood that you are not legally able to hold in a temple that God did not command you to build. Repent of your dead works and beg for mercy today. Do not harden your hearts because you won't give up your traditions.

  22. falcon says:

    This is good and I can feel your emotion way out here in the midwest. As I was reading your post the thought popped into my mind as it often does, but this is Mormonism not Christianity. Packers analogy makes sense in the confines of Mormonism but it makes no sense in Christian thought as revealed in the Bible. What you've done in your post is draw a very sharp distinction between Biblical Christianity and the atonement that is the bedrock of the Faith and Mormonism which is a mythological religion as false as Greek or Roman mythology.
    So it is plain from your presentation that Mormonism isn't Christianity and any Mormon that subscribes to it isn't a Christian. There is One God. Man is separated from Him based on the imputed nature of sin which we act out in violation of God's law. God is aware of our nature and knows that we can't save ourselves. It isn't that we're a little bit sick, we are dead! So the atonement is God's sacrifice for sin and the blood of Christ is imputed to us through faith.
    So Packer's presentation is correct within the Mormon system but it's really a futile explanation because at the end of the day it's a false gospel, with a false god, a false christ and false hope.
    The hope that is within us as Christians is eternal life in God's presence, entry into which He provided through Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Mormons will stay in darkness and false hope until they come to the place where they recognize who God is and what He has done for us.
    But alas, they slave away in the Mormon system thinking that if they do enough rituals, pay their tithe, do all the callings that the system demands, that maybe if they do enough, collect enough religious stamps they will be able to turn in their stamp book to Joseph Smith and qualify for the Mormon Jesus to pay what's left of their debt and become a god.
    It's so ridiculous that I often wonder if I'm not a little crazy myself for even having to point out the folly of this insanity.

  23. wyomingwilly says:

    Liv4jc, good to hear from you again.You've been missed !


  24. OK, pop quiz.

    Here's a scripture that fits well with Packer's parable, his theme of an "account" and several other Mormon themes. It fits so well, I believe he should preach it at General Conference. Note the "measuring out" in the closing verses.

    Kudos points for the first poster who can "name that scripture".

    Bonus points if you can reconcile the fact that this "revelation"was received during a time when the Gospel was literally driven from the earth (according to James E Talmadge and co).(PS This is a trick question, of course – if he Gospel was driven from the earth, then this scripture should not have been written – unless the "Gospel" is about something else entirely).

    A Book revealed to you– so let there be no straitness in your breast on account of it– that you may warn thereby, and a reminder close to the believers.
    Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow guardians besides Him, how little do you mind.
    And how many a town that We destroyed, so Our punishment came to it by night or while they slept at midday.
    Yet their cry, when Our punishment came to them, was nothing but that they said: Surely we were unjust.
    Most certainly then We will question those to whom (the messengers) were sent, and most certainly We will also question the messengers;
    Then most certainly We will relate to them with knowledge, and We were not absent.
    And the measuring out on that day will be just; then as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is heavy, those are they who shall be successful;
    And as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is light those are they who have made their souls suffer loss because they disbelieved in Our communications.

  25. 4fivesolas says:

    A slight cross symbolism made a fleeting entrance in the shot of the measuring balance – Mormons don't want too much emphasis on the cross. .

  26. f_melo says:

    I knew that sounded like the Quran!

  27. f_melo

    Awww, I'll give it to you.

    It is the Qur'an, Surah 7, verses 1-8 (translated by Shakir. NB conservative Islam demands that it shouldn't be translated, so the only way the rest of the world can understand it is by learning Arabic. Thankfully for us, Shakir and several others disagree).

    These verses are quite difficult to read, but there are some remarkable similarities with the message of Mormonism;
    * God has written down what he wants us to know in a perfect "book", which puts right all the misconceptions and confusions of previous books (particularly, the Bible).
    * God has delivered this book to humanity through his chosen Prophet
    * God tells us through this book to not follow other prophets or books
    * God judges humanity ("towns").
    * God will also judge the Prophets who lead them (Did you deliver the message that I gave to you? Did they get the opportunity to hear it?)
    * The criteria for judgment are whether the "town's" good deeds outweigh it's bad deeds, and whether the "town" has been receptive to the Prophet.

    It's the idea of the ledger (of good deeds and bad deeds) that links this ideology to Packer's. We've inherited this idea that on the Day of Judgement, we will stand before God and have our good deeds weighed against our bad deeds. If the ledger tips over to the "good" (our account is in "the black") , then we proceed into heaven. If not (our account is in "the red"), we don't, and we burn in Hell forever.

    I'm actually struggling to find a sound basis for such a view in Biblical theology. There is plenty about God being the ultimate judge of our acts, but if we are in Christ, then we are "in", period. In the light of the judgment of God, our deeds are seen for what they truly are, but the criterion for being able to stand in the presence of God rests entirely on Christ's impeccable acts, not ours. In other words, we don't have the right to enter heaven because our "account" might be in credit.

    There's much more to this than I can explore at present but the credit/debit metaphor is only one way to describe our predicament (and it's not a very good one, IMO). Early Biblical texts write that our sin is a weight that has to be loaded onto a pack-animal, which then bore it out into oblivion in the wilderness (Leviticus 16:10 etc). There's also the slave/master metaphor, which raises the question "how can a slave 'buy' his freedom from his master, if his master already owns everything he has?" – the only hope of escape here is to be "redeemed" by someone greater than the master. (see the story of God verses Pharaoh in Exodus 1 to 20).

    Anyhow, if the "Restored Gospel" is all about learning how to work your ledger out of an overdraft under the guidance of a Prophet and a Book, then what, exactly, was "lost" and then "restored"? This Gospel could not have possibly been "driven from the earth", if it was alive and well in the middle east around 700AD.

  28. clyde says:

    Actually I noticed I was the first commenter, Hence the WOW. Followed by my comments on the video. I do think the video is a good explanation but may not be 100% accurate. I once heard an Explanation that described Jesus as or like a whipping boy ( some royal families never whipped the prince but another boy was in his place) people would do good to ease Jesus sufferiing. I don't think that is accurate but people may live by that idea. Here is another wow Idea- Righteous living is a praise offering to God. In the end we take off our crowns with the works earned jewels embedded in them…..
    The jewels are like the decals you might see on some football helmets given for some good play during a game. At the end of the game the pay for all is the same. There is a word I learn while taking a martial art can't remember the word but the meaning was Acting correctly to a situation without thinking. The path is straight and narrow and some may be wary of falling off but if we are able to act- Ask what would Jesus do- and not react we can live a better life.

  29. clyde says:

    I don't really think about it that much. I do like calvin and Hobbes wow camaredery.

  30. f_melo says:

    That´s probably the only way to deal with such debt – how is it going to be when justice meets you though? Are you going to think about it then?

  31. f_melo says:

    "Anyhow, if the "Restored Gospel" is all about learning how to work your ledger out of an overdraft under the guidance of a Prophet and a Book, then what, exactly, was "lost" and then "restored"? This Gospel could not have possibly been "driven from the earth", if it was alive and well in the middle east around 700AD"

    Those are great points! Mohammed becomes even more similar to Joseph Smith when you do a little study on the way he translated the Book of Mormon, without using his plates. There was a point when Joseph wasn´t even using the seer stone, the Urim and Thummin(if that actually existed), he was just dictating the book – how´s that a translation?

    You know what was lost? The "priesthood" authority that entitles the mormon church as the only church everyone has to submit to in order to receive God´s blessings! That´s the whole point of the restoration – world domination. The mormon church is trying to obtain what the Catholic Church once had in the Middle-ages.

    As to the metaphor, i don´t remember exactly where i heard/read that there are only two religions in the world, one is the religion of grace, and the other the religion of works.

  32. PACoug says:

    I never saw it as 'working off the debt under a heavy burden.' Silly me, I just thought I was trying to repent of my sins and do a little better each day and maybe by the end of my road being able to look back and see God's help straightening out my crooked self.

    Even after all that, the one thing I'm sure of is that I'll throw myself on his mercy when judgment day finally arrives, with hope that his mercy and love pulls my soul to his presence. As I understand it, he sets the terms of the 'refi,' and they are not what you would think. I don't see Packer trying to elaborate on what those terms are in this particular presentation.

    I have noted in my time as a LDS that much of the church's method of coaxing righteous behavior is similar to the way kids are told they better watch out, better not cry, better not pout I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is comin' to town.

    The implied 'threat' is not so much the Calvinist burning in hell as it is the loss of fantastical amounts of blessings. So be good for goodness' sake.

    My own hope is just to be moral and ethical and seek truth in the most honest way possible–then conform my life to it as it becomes clear to me.

    I descend from long lines of Mormons–ancestors on statues around the Salt Lake Valley. Many of my very closest friends are committed Latter-Day Saints. Most of them are perfectly happy and well-adjusted people with kids that play sports or musical instruments or take pictures or whatever. And most of them, like me, are committed to living as good a life as they can and repenting when they screw up, hoping that they get the help from above that they'll need to straighten out all their crooked ways. We're not all that different, any of us, from each other.

    They're also not all that interested in finding out from independent sources whether what they've been taught all their lives is the straight truth. I've lived in a straight up Mormon family all my life, parents with bachelor's degrees, hard workers, honest as they come, more intelligent than most. My father has been a bishop, mom has raised six kids, all her kids still go to church and pay ten percent tithing. I'm proud to emulate my father, who has always been willing to hold back on his opinions and let the facts stand or fall. He's built a solid life in his little Pacific Northwest town, one of volunteering, charity, friendship and kinship with the other members of the community, the vast majority of whom don't believe in the small minority Mormon faith. But they love and respect my parents and are proud to be their friends.

    Here in Amish country we Mormons are not quite the strangest religious minority sect. We get a little more acceptance from people who are accustomed to seeing folks in pioneer clothes driving horse and buggy, since we blend a bit more.

    I guess when I saw the Christ figure in the Packer video, I didn't see a creditor who would then impose a heavy burden on the friend he rescued. I saw a Jesus Christ–who requires the whole heart and soul, yet is forgiving when we repeatedly fail to give ourselves totally to him. When he sets the terms of the new agreement, they are so favorable to his loved sons and daughters that for all practical purposes the gift is free. It is only a heavy burden if you prefer a life of sin and debauchery–in which case you probably are nowhere near coming to any agreement or covenant with him in the first place. And even then, the heavy weight is that of the sins. Christ carries that burden for you, if only you will give up your sins and follow him.

    I have so many friends who have left lives of sex, drugs and rock and roll and now go to this church or that church. Some are baptists, some are 'community church' members. A few are Latter-Day Saints. All are far happier and feel much less burdened than they did when they were living with the consequences of unrighteous behavior. All will agree that their repentance blessed their lives and the lives of their loved ones. All would agree that they received divine help to repent and turn away from their sins. Christ's yoke is easy and his burden light because he carries the weight of our past sins and helps us to avoid future ones–and assists us daily in repentance for the wrongs we commit today.

    I've never found freedom in Christ unavailable in the Mormon church, even with so much misconception about 'earning' salvation. I find as many contradictions in other faiths as well, so I don't feel like picking on my own. It's been good to me. Unlike so many other families in and out of the church, we still like each other fine and get together whenever we can. Each of my siblings seems to be living a well-balanced and healthy life, with good results in terms of their own personal sense of well-being and that of their loved ones.

    If my beliefs are flawed, which of course they are, I might point out that yours are severely flawed as well. Ain't it great that a loving savior will help you, flaws and all? Maybe we should try ratcheting back the judgmentalism and leave that to someone who knows more than we do about us.

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