The Double Evil of Sin

When I talk with Latter-day Saints about sin and salvation, the conversation inevitably turns to the LDS idea of meriting God’s grace via personal worthiness coupled with repentance. During these conversations I find that, generally speaking, Mormons don’t seem to think about sin in the same way God talks about it in His Word. They don’t seem to grasp the seriousness of sin. They don’t seem to recognize the depth and breadth of the corruption of men’s hearts.

God says there are none righteous (no, not one). He says there are none who do good; that the intentions and desires of men’s hearts are evil continually (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:3; Genesis 6:5).

Charles SpurgeonChristian preacher Charles Spurgeon explained:

“The essence of sin lies in its being committed against God. When men are fully convinced that they have disobeyed the Lord, and that this is ‘the head and font of their offending,’ then they are brought to a true perception of the character of sin. Hence David’s penitential psalm has for its acutest cry, ‘Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight’ (Psalm 51:4). Yet the sword of sin cuts both ways, it not only contends against God but against His creatures too. It is a double evil. Like a bursting shell, it scatters evil on every side. Every relationship which we sustain involves duty, and consequently, may be perverted into an occasion for sin. We are no sooner in this world than, as children, we sin against our parents; as members of a family we sin against brothers and sisters; and against playmates and acquaintances. We launch into the outside world, and…[our] sins dash like raging billows. As our various relations are multiplied, our sins increase also: we sin against a husband or wife, against a servant or against a master, against a buyer or a seller. On all sides the roots of our soul suck up sin from the earth in which they spread. We sin in public and sin in private, sin against our poverty and against our wealth. Our sin, drops on all who come under our shadow. As the sea surrounds all shores, so sin beats with deadly waves upon all connected with our life. Our hundred-handed sin assails both heaven and earth, time and eternity, great and small, old men and children.”

Our sin is so deep and so wide; the temptations so persistent; our righteous determination so prone to faltering. Like Paul, our proper response to a knowledge of our sin should be,

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

PenitenceFor deliverance is what we need. Repentance and trying hard to please God won’t cut it. Our sinfulness is too ingrained. The roots are way too deep.

Until we recognize, as Paul said, that “nothing good dwells in [us]” (Romans 7:18), we will not recognize our true hopelessness before God. Instead, we’ll think we can progress in righteousness (though perhaps in baby steps) by strengthening our resolve to prove our worthiness — which lies hidden somewhere within us. We’ll show God how good we can be, and He will welcome us into His kingdom. When I talk with Mormons, I find that this is the way many think about themselves and about their sin. But, according to God’s Word, this is not the way God thinks.

Isaiah heard the seraphim crying out, in the presence of God’s holiness, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). In that moment, Isaiah recognized his true hopelessness. He said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips…” (Isaiah 6:5). God purged Isaiah’s sin and took his iniquity away. God, in His mercy, delivered Isaiah, just as He will deliver all who recognize their hopelessness and call upon Him.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
(Psalm 119:169-170)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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57 Responses to The Double Evil of Sin

  1. Michael P says:

    Thank you for posting this.

    I have begun to discover this difference in how we view sin. Amanda, in a previous discussion, said she did not think all transgressions against God were sinful. This struck me as a huge difference between us…

    I hope this discussion will bring about some fruitful thoughts. I think the topic of sin is perhaps the most important we can talk about to anyone. Without the full knowledge of what sin is, there is no hope for salvation.

  2. Seth R. says:

    Amanda does not speak for Mormon doctrine Michael. Neither do I. Just keep that in mind.

  3. Megan says:

    Maybe this is just another difference between us, but I find Seth’s statement to be interesting. It might be yet another instance where I need to try to wrap my brain around Mormon thought. I have spent the past 2 years studying the differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity, and it has only been in the past few months where I feel like I can get my mind inside their belief system and understand where they’re coming from. Although of course I have quite a ways to go!
    Anyway, Seth, do you mean that when you speak about Mormon thought you are not a valid source because you’re not a higher up church leader? Should I disregard what you, Amanda and others say on here because you’re not the president or apostles? Why come on here at all then? There are certain areas in the Christian community where there are diverging viewpoints. Some of them are: Calvinism vs. Arminianism, the validity for female pastors, etc. Then one could get into really nit-picky stupid stuff like when the rapture will occur. But when one looks at the truly essential doctrines that define Christianity, like salvation through faith, the nature of God, the Trinity, etc., you won’t find any Christian saying, “well, I don’t speak for the official Christian doctrine”. No, it’s just assumed that we’re all on the same page. The common Christian layman is qualified, and indeed, has the right and the obligation to profess what they believe (ie., doctrine found in the Bible). So what’s with the “I don’t speak for Mormon doctrine” thing?

  4. Michael P says:

    But Seth, it raises questions. Who does speak for Mormon doctrine, currently? How do we know what you believe? Past doctrines have been completely reversed, and you do have quite an array of voices saying different things…

    So she doesn’t speak for the church, but what does, then, the church say about sin? She got that idea from somewhere, and it appears that you very well may have a different view of sin than we…

  5. Rick B says:

    Seth said

    Amanda does not speak for Mormon doctrine Michael. Neither do I. Just keep that in mind.

    I agree with the Others Seth, If your Leaders are saying something then do you agree with them? If so then you should be able to give us an answer, If not then how can we trust you if you do not trust the source you went to?

    What does the Bible say, It says, 1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

    Were asking questions, are you willing and ready to give an answer? We quote the Bible so you could simply support you views from Scripture also. I also recall your Church saying, the Prophet speaks for the Lord in EVERYTHING. So what Did the Lord say through your Prophet on these matters? Rick b

  6. Seth R. says:

    It’s a fascinating study topic Michael. But a very frustrating one. I’m not sure a Mormon orthodoxy even really exists. At the very least, orthodoxy is not a primary concern of the LDS Church and it never has been. We have no professional clergy to enforce it in any case.

    Sources of doctrinal authority in the LDS Church are, in order of importance:

    1. The official LDS canon: The Book of Mormon, The KJV Bible (not the Joseph Smith translation – that’s just inspired commentary), The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.

    2. Prophetic pronouncements when the prophet is speaking officially by way of revelation (rather rare occurence). Whatever Joseph Smith said informally around some campfire doesn’t count.

    3. Officially published statements from LDS General Authorities. These in no way trump the above. If there is a conflict, the above win. When there is a conflict between older statements in this category and newer, the newer have precedence. Best to regard this as inspired commentary. All LDS discussions of doctrine will give lots of deference to these.

    4. Unpublished statements by General Authorities. These are persuasive, but not binding in any sense of the word.

    Note: I’m not interested in playing the “gotcha” game where commenters here gleefully point out contradictory statements, and then accuse me of dishonesty when I try to explain it. If you want to do this, have fun talking to yourself because I have nothing to say to you.

  7. Michael P says:

    Seth, I’m not interested in the gotcha game, either.

    I am interested in the big picture. And when I look at that, I see Mormon doctrine as twisting and turning to avoid the discrepencies. Seemingly everywhich way you turn, there is a reason why something is not true. Using, as an example, the Adam/God doctrine espoused by BY. I’ve been told by Mormon’s that he really didn’t write/say that, and that the Journal of Discourses is not reliable. Well, it used to be a prime source, and now it is discounted. So it is with virtually every issue.

    Its not about gotcha, its about consistency. And you haven’t even tried to explain your position on sin, which should approach what is given oficially by the LDS leadership. Amanda offered a position, and I questioned it. You told me to take her with a grain of salt, so, who should I believe?

  8. Seth R. says:

    I wasn’t particularly directing the last note to you Michael.

    If you want answers to the Adam/God thing or any other particular issue in this respect, you can visit and type in the appropriate keywords. It’s not an official LDS site, but it’s about as good an explanation as you’re going to get.

    As far as the “straight answer” question goes, I’ve already said that the LDS aren’t even half as worked up about orthodoxy as other Christians are. It’s just not that big a deal to us. So we aren’t very careful with it. If that bothers you, fine. But it’s how the religion works.

    And that’s my third comment for the day. See you later.

  9. Rick B says:

    Seth said But it’s how the religion works.

    This is is the Major Difference between a personal relationship with Jesus as Believers have and the I can do enough Good works that I can get my way into heaven by works based religion believe all other Religious groups have.

    In Christianty it is Jesus. In all other religions it is, Jesus and….

    It’s Either Just Jesus, or Jesus and…

    I’ll take Just Jesus. Rick b

  10. falcon says:

    Man do I love Seth’s post “….I’m not sure a Mormon orthodoxy even really exists. At the very least, orthodoxy is not a primary concern of the LDS church and it never has been.”

    That pretty much sums up Mormonism as far as I see it. That’s why they can’t be pinned down on anything. It’s pretty much a bob and weave and an end run type of deal. But when you think about it, it has to be. The faithful really have to want to believe.

  11. Ralph says:

    This is taken from the official LDS church site after looking up ‘transgression’ and ‘sin’. I guess that it’s a transgression and not sin because they were in a state of innocence, not knowing good from evil.

    Transgression, Not Sin
    President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!”
    Regarding this distinction, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed: “This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (emphasis added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall.”
    Even though Adam and Eve had not sinned, because of their transgression they had to face certain consequences, two of which were spiritual death and physical death. Physical death came to Adam and Eve at the end of their earthly lives, but spiritual death occurred as they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, being cut off from the presence of God (see Alma 42:9).

  12. Michael P says:

    Seth, you’re dodging.

    Ralph provided a quote from JFS, but you treat it like a non-issue. Though there are problems in it, from our perspective, he at least provided it.

    The issue of sin is a primacy. It is something that must be addressed before we even begin to understand how we are saved and why we need salvation.

    So, I will ask again, and this is to all the Mormon’s, what is your position regarding sin?

  13. Seth R. says:

    Dodging what Michael.

    You asked about authoritative sources of Mormon doctrine. I gave it. Straight.

    Now you’re going to start posturing because I haven’t gotten around to bothering with the sin question yet?

    Falcon, just because not everyone is hung up on your pet intellectual games doesn’t mean we’re “avoiding things.” We’re not. We just don’t care to play by your rules, and on your turf. And it’s entirely possible that God Himself is every bit as unconcerned with these little academic boondoggles you’ve invented.

    You don’t like it? Go jump in a lake. I’ve seriously had it with people constantly implying I’m being dishonest, when all I’ve tried to do here is answer questions intelligently.

  14. Megan says:

    Yes, Seth, you really do seem to be doing a lot of dodging in this particular thread. First you say that you don’t speak for the LDS church, which is basically a cop-out, then you say evang. are too worked up about orthodoxy, which seems to be another distraction technique. The LDS church must have a particular stance on sin, and if so would you care to share what that is? In addition, how does that stance match up with the Bible?

  15. Michael P says:

    Seth, here is your response:

    “If you want answers to the Adam/God thing or any other particular issue in this respect, you can visit and type in the appropriate keywords. It’s not an official LDS site, but it’s about as good an explanation as you’re going to get.

    As far as the “straight answer” question goes, I’ve already said that the LDS aren’t even half as worked up about orthodoxy as other Christians are. It’s just not that big a deal to us. So we aren’t very careful with it. If that bothers you, fine. But it’s how the religion works.”

    You told me: It’s about as good an explanation as you’re going to get, and its not a big deal, and you aren’t careful with it.

    This is either irresponsibility or leaving it open to dodge.

    I am asking a specific question about a specific topic, one that is at the core of Christianity. To say it is not a big deal is really, to be frank, dangerous.

  16. Seth R. says:

    Megan, every time I’ve tried to answer a question here, I’ve gotten shot-gunned with about half a dozen issues per thread. Seeing as how I have a word limit and a comment limit, I’m a bit limited here. I picked ONE of Michael’s questions to respond to – and a rather important one at that.

    Adam-God is utterly irrelevant to this post and is just about throwing out something else to beat on Mormonism with. If you honestly want to find out about it, go research it yourself.

    As for the sin issue, I’ve already answered that question on this blog, but since some may have missed it, I’ll try again.

    I consider sin to be an absolute bar to being with God in the afterlife. ANY sin, no matter how trivial, no matter if it was from a catch-22 situation like Adam and Eve. Neither do I think that ANYTHING we do brings us any closer to perfection and to heaven. It’s not a matter of us “doing all we can do” and then God topping off whatever we haven’t managed. I believe this is a common Mormon misunderstanding of Mormon doctrine. Perfection is all or nothing. You either are, or you aren’t. We aren’t. God is.

    The Atonement transforms us through the process of repentance and accepting Christ as Saviour. Anyone who is willing to repent is “Celestial material” as far as I’m concerned.

    I consider good works to be an expression of our loving relationship with God our Father and the natural outgrowth of a true conversion to Christ. But it is the Atonement that saves. LDS ordinances such as baptism, and the temple are merely expressions of our reliance on Christ.

    You want the Mormon doctrine on sin and Atonement?

    Book of Mormon, Mosiah Chapters 2-5. Best answer your going to get.

  17. falcon says:

    I went back and read my post and I don’t see where I accused you of avoiding anything. I stated a conclusion based on what you wrote. Don’t get ornery with me when you state something clearly and I agree with you. Your statement supports what many of us have been saying all along about the lack of Mormon consistency in doctrinal matters. And besides I don’t quite get the “academic boondoggles” comment. My point is that when it comes to orthodoxy the Mormon church is in free flow mode claming that God is constantly revealing things to them. That’s why “truth” in Mormon terms is relative and can be changed.

    And by the way, God does personally reveal things to me but what He reveals is consistent with what the Bible teaches. God doesn’t do 180 degree turns.

  18. Megan says:

    Seth, thank you for taking the time to answer me. I will definitely check out that book of Mosiah reference….maybe today even. However, I agree with you when you say that good works are an expression of a loving relationship with God and a natural outgrowth of a true conversion to Christ. I could not agree more. However, everything I have read about Mormon theology and everything I have heard so far (from Mormon friends no less), points to good works going way, way beyond what you stated. Every good Mormon hopes to reach the CK by their good works, those earning their way to Heaven. Right? In contrast, every good work I do does not get me to heaven to be with God. As soon as I committed my life to Christ my salvation was secure. However, I’m getting off topic and this is a subject for another day. And I think this is my third post.

  19. Daniel says:

    Seth, thanks for re-posting your views on sin. Actually, I agree with most everything you said, especially about perfection being all or nothing. As James wrote, “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (2:10).

    Somewhat going back to what was being discussed earlier regarding “transgression” and “sin,” I think a reading of Romans 5:12-21 would really help clarify the Biblical understanding of sin and the “transgression” of Adam…

  20. Michael P says:

    Also my third post, so…

    Seth, I am not picking on you directly, and apologize if that seems the case. Yes, I was pushing for a response on sin. I brought up Ada/God as another example of the twisting I see from Mormons. While I do appreciate the response, and the attitude you give to sin, I do not know where you previously addressed it. I looked back over and didn’t see it. (Perhaps in another thread?) Anyway, pretty much everything you wrote jives with what we think, but I am not sure they mean the same thing. Is anything else needed to be considered “celestial material”?

    And that is the meat of the matter. We believe Christ forgives our sins with our acceptance of him as our savior. And with that forgiveness, we are going to heaven. Mormons, and correct me if I am wrong, believe more is needed. So when I see confusion from you (general) on the nature of sin, it begs the question of where your priorities are. Forgiveness of sin, no matter the definition, or ritual?

    Daniel, my take on that section from Romans is this: it is a comparison between how big a fall Adams sin (transgression, trespass, etc, all meaning sin) to how great and complete is Christ’s restorative powers. Sin and transgression and trespass are all interchangeable. You can substitute each ward and retain meaning. And all separate us from God. And Christ is the only power that can bring us back to him.

  21. lillym says:

    I was wondering if this Mormon idea on good works is sort of like the Christian idea on rewards in heaven.
    For instance, the belief that good works on earth are the basis for rewards in heaven (maybe Matthew 6:1 points to this?) Basically, they don’t save you, and can’t be depended on for redemption – but they “count” in heaven for something?
    I know I mayy be wrong, since I haven’t studied this a whole lot, just throwing it out there. Because Seth is confusing me.

  22. mm says:

    I am a Mormon. I am not as well spoken as others here and I apologize in advance for that.

    Alma 41:3
    3 “And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.”
    4 “And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—”

    I can’t post all of this scripture here. Its too lengthy. But as Mormons, just saying that we accept Christ, is not enough to be forgiven. The desires of our hearts AND our actions are what we will be judged on.

    In the LDS faith, you can’t just say, “I accept Christ” and have your sin taken away. You show through your actions (charity towards others, forsaking sin, etc) as well as in thoughts, that you truly accept Christ and His law.

    The 41st chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon is also a good place to gain some insight and understanding on this matter. As some of you may know, all scriptures can be found on the website.

  23. Megan says:

    No, lillym, it’s completely different. We believe that when a person makes a life-changing commitment to Christ, their salvation is instantly secure (meaning when they die they will go to heaven and be with God). Mormons believe the atonement gives every person the ability to be resurrected, regardless of whether or not people have accepted Christ or not. But where are person goes after that depends on their works. There are 3 levels of heaven. Wicked people go to the Telestial kingdom. Decent, good people who attempted to obey God but did not accept the teachings of Joseph Smith go to the Terrestrial kingdom. Then there is the highest level, the Celestial Kingdom. The first two levels of this kingdom are for Mormons who have not been married in the Temple, while the top level is for those who reach godhood/exaltation. This is what every good Mormons strives for, by attending the temple and leading exemplary lives. In this top level of the CK those who reach godhood are able to continue to have sexual relations, have spirit children, and be gods of their own planets.
    Those who go to the Telestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms will not be with God, but those who go to the Celestial level will be with God…until they go off to have their own planets I guess. Interestingly enough, Emmanuel Swedenborg of the late 1700’s was the first to come up with the names of these kingdom levels. He published a book detailing the kingdoms. The library near Smith’s home in Palmyra, I believe, had this book so it’s possible he read it.
    This is completely different from the Christian teaching that our good works give us rewards in heaven. We believe there is only one heaven, and while our good works give us rewards there, they do not get us there.

  24. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Seth is confusing me.

    lillym, Seth has provided his ideas on the significance of good works in the LDS faith. An official statement on the topic was presented by LDS General Authority Bruce Hafen (a Seventy) at General Conference in April 2004 where he made it clear that good works (i.e., keeping the commandments) is a requirement for gaining eternal life:

    “If we must give all that we have, then our giving almost everything is not enough. If we almost keep the commandments, we almost receive the blessings.” (Ensign, May 2004, p.98)

    In other words, the official LDS position is that the blessing of eternal life is only granted to those who perfectly keep all the commandments.

    You can read more about Mr. Hafen’s General Conference talk here.

  25. lillym says:

    aah. I see – I had no idea that EVERYONE (regardless of faith) was going to this “terestrial kingdom” or whatever. I just thought the three levels of heaven were for the varying “degrees” of Christians. LOL

    So does this mean the Mormons don’t believe in hell?

    Because Seth’s previous explanation here almost sounded exactly like Christianity – that’s why I was confused because I knew it couldn’t be that easy. Just the way the Mormons treat each other over their sins was enough for me to know there is some big difference there.
    thanks for the explanation.

  26. ChelseaW says:

    I’m new here – as a bit of background, I am LDS and half of my family is Evangelical. It’s an interesting mix to say the least. 🙂

    lillym, Yes, I agree with that.

    You’ve taken that quote out of context. What Elder Hafen was saying was that if we are actively sinning while at the back of our minds planning to repent in the future, it is a false repentance. I think you’d agree – if you aren’t really sincere in asking forgiveness, you miss the whole point. Obviously he is not saying that we have to keep the commandments perfectly to be saved. If LDS truly believed that we had to be perfect to inherit eternal life, not a single one of us would make it. Why would we even bother?

    Part of the problem here is what Seth referred to – the LDS church is primarily concerned with orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. You won’t find a “definitive” statement on belief – it doesn’t exist. And I’d remind you that among all Christian churches there are many points on which they disagree vehemently, so you can’t exactly claim one universal belief among all non-Mormon Christians either, even when it comes to key points such as salvation. There are discrepancies in the Bible too – the conclusion you come to just depends on which book you’re quoting and what other creeds you ascribe to. We’re humans trying to figure out godly concepts.

    One of my favorite LDS scriptures on salvation is Alma 34:15: “And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.”

  27. Seth R. says:

    The problem Sharon, is balancing between two extremes.

    For every Mormon who pridefully and wrongly assumes that their good works are what are getting them “in” with God, I can give you an Evangelical who gave a bogus “Jesus saved me” chant and then went on doing whatever he darn well wanted because, after all, he’s saved now. For every example of Mormon arrogance, I can give you an example of Evangelical insincerity. But that doesn’t mean Mormons don’t believe in Grace, no more than it means Evangelicals don’t believe in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Mormonism has a strong emphasis on both grace and works. The pendulum swings within the religion among the population. Currently, it’s swinging back in favor of grace. The best treatment of the subject by one of the “grace Mormons” (of whom I believe I am one) aside from the passage in Mosiah and other Mormon scripture, is a short book by BYU religion professor Stephen E. Robinson – “Believing Christ.”

    Whatever flaws you observe in day-to-day Mormons, there is plenty of room in this church for those who believe in Christ’s saving grace.

    lillym, after having witnessed the treatment many Evangelicals give to homosexuals, Mormons, and Democrats, I have a hard time believing that everyone in Evangelicaldom is even half as big on Christ’s saving grace as they say they are. From where I’m sitting, a lot of American Christians seem exceedingly stuck on the works end of things.

    You want to talk about judgmental and unforgiving people? Do you?

  28. Daniel says:

    lillym, I think perhaps one of the reasons for the confusion might be because, as I have seen posted here several times now, that Mormons are more concerned with orthopraxy (right living) than orthodoxy (right thinking). This goes in the face of many of the teachings of Jesus, where he condemns the pharisees for being “whitewashed tombs” and hypocrites. God cares about our hearts, not our actions. It naturally follows that if our hearts and minds are good, our actions will be good. Interestingly enough, this morning I was listening to a sermon on Romans 12:2…the point was made that up to 95 percent of our actions are not premeditated; that is, they naturally flow from who we are without our thinking, “does this glorify God?” ahead of time. The point is, when we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, then we will naturally desire what God desires, and do actions that please God. Without that, all we are is whitewashed tombs.

  29. Seth R. says:

    One question.

    I’ve told you my view on Christ and his grace. I’m also a practicing Mormon.

    Am I saved?

    Think about if for a bit. I’d like to hear your answer and your reasons behind it.

  30. Michael P says:

    Seth, You are right to condemn hypcrisy, and you are right to say that many evangelicals fail. Yet, you used a word that I am trying to emphasize about your faith, that I find really very troubling. You say there is a pendulum within Mormonism. I am not interested in pendulum swings within faith. This is what I talk about when I say I see you guys twisting and turning. You’re not pinned down to anything, and can change with the times.

    Granted, there are certain trends Christianity takes on what it emphaisizes. I think too much currently is on the “feel good” aspect of it (Joel Osteen, for instance). But if you look at solid, bible based pastors, and those people who truly seek to understand it, there is a great consistency. From the post above from Spurgeon, it applies to us now as it did then…

    And please, do not say the Mormon’s are judgmental and unforgiving… That’s a subject for another post…

  31. Michael P says:

    Seth, are you saved? No. You add to what Christ deems as necessary. You put false gods out there, and you rely on something other than Christ’s grace alone.

    Daniel, I’d offer a similar rebut to your post as I just explained to Seth. You rely on your actions. This is indeed a visible thing we can see and measure. But as you say yourself, God cares only about our hearts, somethign we cannot see. As such, works cannot be a part of how he views us. This is why Paul writes that we are saved apart from work, so no one can brag. Yes, faith without works is dead, but the works are not what saves us. Works emanate from faith, and gain us rewards in heaven, but do not give us access to heaven.

  32. Daniel says:

    Michael, I think you have a wrong understanding of what I was trying to convey…I am definitely not relying on my actions, because I know that they will do me no good. Rather, it follows that if your heart is changed (i.e. you are “saved”), you will bear fruit representative of that change. Right actions necessarily follow right beliefs. The question could be asked, if your faith doesn’t change your life, do you really believe it?

  33. Megan says:

    Seth, your focusing on the poor behavior of some evang. in this country is a distraction technique, of which I might say you are quite good at. You are correct in that many Christians take God’s grace for granted. This is called “cheap grace”, which is an abomination to God (one could discuss Gnosticism here, but that’s way of-subject). If a person says the sinner’s prayer but refuses to change their lives, one might question whether or not that person is actually saved. But let’s stick to the subject at hand, okay? If this current discussion were on orthodoxy/orthopraxy that would be completely different. Let’s focus on the official teachings of each side, and what their definitions of sin mean. MM’s LDS scripture citings were particularly helpful in describing the Mormon stance.
    Would anyone care to describe the Bible’s stance on sin?

  34. Rick B says:

    MM Said

    In the LDS faith, you can’t just say, “I accept Christ” and have your sin taken away. You show through your actions (charity towards others, forsaking sin, etc) as well as in thoughts, that you truly accept Christ and His law.

    The Issue with you claiming Charity towards others and forsaking sin is wrong. Jesus taught Sinners love Sinners, doers that gain them Eternal life? We sin because we are born sinful, try as we might we can never simply say, I am done sinning and then be perfect and be saved, Jesus said if we break on law we are guilty of breakung them all. Once we break the law we can never take that back.

    Seth said, after having witnessed the treatment many Evangelicals give to homosexuals,

    You believe we do not show grace because of the way some of us act towards homosexuals? Gods word in Romans teaches this life style is a VILE PASSION, The NT teaches Homosexuals will NEVER ENTER HEAVEN, Saying what Gods word said and teaches, how is that showing we are not loving and full of grace? Rick b

  35. Michael P says:

    Megan– here’s my shot: sin separates us from God because God is holy and blameless. He is perfect, and only those who are also blameless can be with him. This is what Christ does, he wipes us clean. This is not to say once we accept him we will not sin again, but it is to say that we are covered. This is not a “get out of jail free card” as those who are saved should strive to live like him, holy and blameless. But it is not our actions that keep us clean, but his covering, his power.

    Daniel, to the contrary, I am not sure you understand me. What I say is that nothing we do on the outside saves us, nor contributes to it. Sure, our actions are indicative of our heart, so we should doubt the one who claims Christ but who continues to willingly and joyfully live in sin. But as I explained to Megan, nothing we can do can cover our sin, and it is only through the saving power and grace of Christ that we reach heaven. And anything we put on par with or ahead of, ie rituals and works, gets in the way of his grace. Then it becomes about us and what we can do, not what he can do.

    Make sense?

  36. Seth R. says:

    Either you believe in grace or you don’t Rick. Obviously, you don’t. You’d make a good works-obsessed Mormon.


    “Seth, your focusing on the poor behavior of some evang. in this country is a distraction technique, of which I might say you are quite good at.”

    Oh, give me a break. Ever since I came to this site, every post has had attacks on what “some Mormons” are doing. The lack of self-observation here is astounding. I get the picture. The actions of lay Evangelicals are off-limits here. Right.

    Michael, I commented here solely to give you the sources of official Mormon doctrine and that’s it. I didn’t come here so you could play cross-examination games on why Mormons suck and Evangelicals are cool.

    I’m done. This blog is history for me. My interaction here has been lopsided from day one (I’m talking the whole thing, not just this thread). I explain Mormon beliefs, you attack them. I concede an area where Mormons have room for improvement, you laugh nastily and remark how this is just one more piece of evidence for you on why Mormonism is evil. I try to see both sides of the issue, and you take it as proof of weakness and dishonesty.

    This is an anti-Mormon site, plain and simple. It’s aim is to discredit Mormonism, not to open dialogue. Everything you people say is agenda-driven. I have never once heard any of you concede a point – ever. I have never witnessed any of you critically analyze your own faith (Megan’s comment on cheap grace is about as close as you guys get). This website is about finding sticks to beat Mormons with. If you wish to carry-on fine, but I will have no further part in it.

    Just a suggestion: you might want to try actually selling your own religion rather than simply throwing mud at the competition.

    And a warning: we all live in glass houses, we faithful. You might want to re-think the wisdom of throwing rocks. Indeed, the same criticisms you use against Mormons are being used right now against you by others. Keep that in mind.

  37. Megan says:

    If you’re still on here, Seth, I hope you will re-consider your decision to leave this blog. And it would trouble me greatly if my comments on this past thread were the straw that broke the camel’s back.
    If an area were to come up in which Mormons and evang. had things in common, I would certainly try to agree on that common ground. And if we are mistaken in an area of belief in which Biblical proof could be given, then we should concede. But the thing is, although our terms might often be the same, the meanings are quite different. I want to contend for the faith that is correctly found in the Bible. I know Mormons believe in things that are different than we do. But my desire is that the other side (my camp) points out whenever those beliefs do not have Biblical support. And if that means that Mormon doctrines are criticized, than so be it. Eternal things are at stake. As far as bashing Mormons, yes, that has unfortunately happened on here (I apologize if this has been me) but I have seen many examples from the other side as well.
    I wish you all the best, Seth, and I hope to see you on here again.

  38. mm says:


    Are you referencing Luke 6 when you say that sinners love sinners? What does this scripture mean to everyone else? I think my understanding is different from Rick’s.

    To address Rick’s question about sinners gaining eternal life. We are all sinners in some way, are we not? Just because a sinner has done something wrong, that doesn’t mean he is not capable making right choices.

    Jesus taught-no, wait; Jesus COMMANDED that we love one another. Charity towards others is loving one another. So having charity towards others is in line with what Jesus commanded us.

    I agree with Rick that we cannot simply quit sinning and be perfect. God knows this so He provided a Savior for us–Jesus Christ. We are all sinners. All we can do is forsake our sins and let the Atonement of Christ do the rest.

    Mosiah 4 in the Book of Mormon addresses what we must do to be saved. Please read it. Someone else mentioned this chapter as well. Here is a small part:

    Mosiah 4:6 …”that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
    7 I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
    8 And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.”

  39. Rick B says:

    MM Said

    Mosiah 4 in the Book of Mormon addresses what we must do to be saved. Please read it. Someone else mentioned this chapter as well. Here is a small part:

    I find in the Bible we can do better than what Mosiah teaches, Read,

    Paul and Silas were in Jail, The Jailer came to them and said:

    Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

    Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Grace ONLY, NOT WORKS.

    Seth Here are verse about Homosexuals.

    Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    Rom 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    If you say I am not showing Love and Grace by showing what the Bible teaches, then I guess I do not know what else to tell you. Rick b

  40. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    “Sharon, You’ve taken that quote out of context…Obviously he is not saying that we have to keep the commandments perfectly to be saved. If LDS truly believed that we had to be perfect to inherit eternal life, not a single one of us would make it. Why would we even bother?”

    I don’t think the quote I used from Mr. Hafen’s talk is out of context. He began his talk explaining that the purpose of his remarks was to counteract the “mistaken” idea that Mormonism was moving toward a Protestant understanding of the relationship between grace and works. Mr. Hafen made it clear that works are required in order to obtain eternal life. Furthermore, “almost” keeping the commandments is not enough. All is required. After giving all, doing all, God will complete the process, but that completion is only provided after we keep all the commandments.

    Read Mr. Hafen’s speech here.

    Read about Mormonism’s Impossible Gospel (requiring keeping the commandments perfectly) here.

  41. mm says:

    Thank you for your point of view. I see this is a subject where Mormons and Traditional Christians will have to “agree to disagree.” Your post about grace only and not works helps me understand the traditional Christian view.

  42. Rick B says:

    MM, It is not OUR VIEW, It is Gods word that teach’s this, if you do not agree then please feel free to explain the real meaning of these verse, and remember, I read all 4 standerd works but only believe the Bible, so if you quote from the BoM I do not believe it and will then ask why the Contrdiction of Works in one but not the other. Rick b

  43. Megan says:

    Rick, I agree with you for the most part but it was probably necessary for MM to quote from the BOM to explain their doctrinal stance on sin/grace/works. It is one of their scriptures after all.
    Hey MM, here are a couple of verses for me to just throw out there:
    John 15:4-6 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; APART FROM YOU CAN DO NOTHING. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
    Galations 2: 20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
    When a person accepts Christ as their savior, they are justified through faith. The Holy Spirit and the Son of God then fills that person and helps them to live a regenerate life. This is called sanctification. By yielding more and more to the Holy Spirit (which does result in good works), that person becomes more sanctified. But they do not become more or less saved. The salvation was effected once that person gave their life to Christ. While the person does collaborate in the sanctification process, the original power comes from God alone, not that person. Do you see what I mean? What do you think?

  44. falcon says:

    We’re talking about our “position” before God and our “practice” as Christians. We are saved by faith in Jesus’ final “work” on the cross. We can’t add anything to what Jesus did. The Bible says that a righteous person falls seven times a day. That won’t change the person’s position before God. That’s the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus did for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.

  45. lillym says:

    I’m sorry if I made it sound like Mormons treat the unsaved worse than Evangelicals do. That’s not what I meant at all, Seth. I was thinking more about how Mormons treat each other when it comes to their sin. Just from what I’ve observed, they don’t seem to show each other much grace. (even for drinking coffee/tea!) But again, I’m an outsider so I don’t know everything about it.

    Although I’ve been reading this blog with fascination for a while now, I have to say that I can’t get up the energy to debate all these detailed points on Mormonism vs. christianity, for one main reason: Joseph Smith. I can’t even pretend that I think he might have been a prophet. There’s just too much historical hard evidence against him.So while I find these discussions interesting, and I certainly don’t hate Mormons, I have a difficult time taking them seriously.

    Thanks to all of you who were answering my question/claryifying things! I’ll tell you the main thing I’ve come away with from this blog: I now know the depth of the differences between Mormonism and Christianity, and I’m no longer confused when a Mormon tells me they are the “same faith” as I am.

  46. Rick B says:

    Megan said

    Rick, I agree with you for the most part but it was probably necessary for MM to quote from the BOM to explain their doctrinal stance on sin/grace/works. It is one of their scriptures after all.

    Megan, please do not mis-understand me, I quote from the BoM, and even have a favorite BoM verse, 1 nephi 3:7 I tend to use it a lot in sharing with the LDS, It’s just While he/they quote from it even as I do, I want them to know I do not hold the BoM as the Word of God, but simply a made up book of really bad fiction. Rick b

  47. Megan says:

    I understand better now, thanks Rick.

  48. Jeff B says:

    Chelsea W.,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    I would like some meat with your milk claims on this – “And I’d remind you that among all Christian churches there are many points on which they disagree vehemently, so you can’t exactly claim one universal belief among all non-Mormon Christians either, even when it comes to key points such as salvation.”

    Please tell me what Christian denominations (I don’t count Catholicism as Christian)have differing views on the plan of salvation. Name them and tell me why they are different if you could.

    And also, regarding your statement about not having to be perfect, I suggest you read what Sharon replied back to you, and delve into those sources. It’s unmistakable the bar that has been set by your own leaders is way out of reach for any human.

  49. mm says:

    Rick & Megan-

    I have to be honest. I don’t have any real strong feelings about this topic. This is the first I have heard about these differences in grace and good works. I believe the Book of Mormon AND the bible to be the word of God.

    Here is a quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard-one of the current 12 apostles:

    “In the Christian world, there has been much debate regarding the relationship of grace and works. To The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both are core doctrines. Just as a pair of scissors requires two blades to function, the Lord’s grace and our works of faith in Christ, personal repentance, and receiving saving ordinances are required for eternal life in God’s presence.

    Our works consist of placing our full confidence and trust in Jesus Christ and then exercising our desire and willingness to live by His teachings. We do this by repenting of all our sins and obeying the laws and ordinances of Christ’s gospel. As we do this faithfully over our lifetime, we are sanctified by the Holy Ghost and our nature is changed.”

    I also believe in modern revelation, which is why I believe what Elder Ballard says. Modern revelation occurred in biblical times, (i.e.,no more animal sacrifice) so why can’t we have modern revelation today?

    I live in Southern California and with all the fires and evacuations, my priorities have changed. Please pray for our firefighters! Its pretty bad out here…

    Some day, all this Christian/Mormon mess will be sorted out. Until then, be nice to each other. Respect each other’s beliefs and differences, however major or minor they are. We are all doing the best we can and our Savior will overcome all!

    Farewell, and God bless you all.


  50. Michael P says:

    Mae, I agree we need to be nice to each other. I absolultely believe in Paul’s admonission to treat all with gentleness and respect. However, I cannot down play the differences between our faiths. And here’s the primary difference: our savior’s are not the same. There are too many major differences between the two, faith/works, is but one.

    While I try to be respectful, I must also be honest and say that I do not believe your’s to be Christian faith in the same way I am a Christian. You can call yourself Christian, but it indeed means something drastically different…

    Alas, I do hope we can continue in mutual respect…

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