The Mormon Gospel


As has been demonstrated here on Mormon Coffee, it is difficult to pin-down LDS doctrine with references to LDS scriptures or quotes from LDS authority figures.  Because of “continuing revelation”, what was true before is not necessarily true now.

Thankfully, the LDS church has an official website,, where a person can find accurate, consolidated, up-to-date, LDS doctrine (at least, that part which is okay for public viewing).

I went to the website in search of the current Mormon “gospel”, as published by the church, officially. Here is the given definition:

The Gospel: “The ‘good news’ of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. At the center of His plan is the Atoning sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ, in whom alone salvation is possible. In its fulness, the gospel includes all of the commandments, principles, ordinances, and covenants whereby human beings can be forgiven of sin, overcome the world, and attain immortality and eternal life in the kingdom of God.”

Mormon salvation is not the same as Christian salvation. The website says LDS salvation is “deliverance from sin and death”, and that “… everyone will be given the gift of resurrection, the righteous and the wicked alike.”

So salvation is not what a faithful LDS hopes to achieve. Rather, the aim is “eternal life in the kingdom of God”, which, as you can see above, requires Joseph Smith’s restored “fulness of the gospel”.

Now, the fulness of the gospel includes all of the commandments, principles, ordinances, and covenants.  What are all of those? It took some digging around on the website, but I did find many of these requirements. The following is an overview of what I found, together with a brief description of each term, and some material I quoted because I thought it was interesting. Emphasis is mine.

Ready? Here we go…

The Commandments:

1- “Obedience to God’s Commandments” — (you must obey the Ten Commandments)
2- “Pray Often”
3- “Study the Scriptures” — (you must study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price).
4- “Keep the Sabbath Day Holy”– (you must attend church and take the sacrament to renew your covenants and show “that you are willing to repent of your sins and mistakes”).
5- “Baptism and Confirmation” — (you must repent of your sins, be baptized into and confirmed a member of the LDS church).
6- “Follow the Prophet” — (you must “…have faith in God’s chosen prophet, gain conviction of his divine calling, and follow his teachings. You must prepare yourself so that when the prophets and apostles speak, the Holy Ghost can confirm the truths they teach and you can then determine to follow the counsel they give you.”  Sustaining new church leaders is also part of following the prophet).
7- “Live the Law of Chastity” — (“You are to keep your thoughts clean and be modest in your dress, speech, and actions. You must avoid pornography… and treat the God-given procreative power and your body as sacred gifts. You are not to participate in abortions or homosexual or lesbian relations… those who are married to more than one person at a time may not be baptized.”)
8- “Obey the Word of Wisdom” — (“In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea, harmful, habit-forming drugs.”)
9- “Live the Law of Tithing” — (“A commandment from the Lord to pay one tenth of one’s annual increase or income for the building of His Church on the earth.” “Tithes and offerings are paid voluntarily and privately”).
10- “Observe the Law of the Fast” — (you must skip two meals once per month and make a “fast offering”).
11- “Obey and Honor the Law” — (you must obey “the laws of the country… to be good citizens, to participate in civil government and the political process, and to render community service as concerned citizens.”)
12- “Endure to the End” — (“If you endure to the end of your life and stay true to your covenants, you will receive eternal life.”)

The Principles:

“… include faith in Jesus Christ, prayer, repentance*, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities”, Word of Wisdom, tithing, etc.

*(Repentance is defined as “the process of experiencing sincere regret or sorrow for wrongdoing, confessing one’s sin and asking for forgiveness, making restitution for any damage done, and committing not to repeat the sin”).

The Ordinances:

An ordinance is “a sacred rite or ceremony” such as baptism, confirmation, administering to the sick, baptism for the dead, marriage in the temple, endowments, sealings.  “Some ordinances, such as baptism, are essential for salvation”.

The Covenants:

A covenant is “a binding and solemn agreement, contract, or promise between God and a person or group of persons upon which eternal blessings are based.”

In Baptism and Confirmation, you “covenant with God to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, to follow Him, and to keep His commandments. In return, He promises to forgive your sins and let you return to live with Him, provided you keep your covenants”. did not give a full list of covenants.  Some that were not included are listed below.

During the endowment ceremony, you “solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and [the] witnesses at the altar that you will…”
1 – “…observe and keep the Law of the Lord and to hearken to the counsel of your husband as he hearkens unto the counsel of the Father.” (if female) or “…obey the Law of God and keep his commandments.” (if male). (“The Law of Obedience”).
2 – “…sacrifice all that you possess, even your own life if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God.” ( “The Law of Sacrifice”).
3 – “…avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice.” (“The Law of the Gospel”).
4 – “…have no sexual relations except with your husband to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.” (“The Law of Chastity”).
5 – “…consecrate yourselves, your time, talents and everything which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.” (“The Law of Consecration”).

The New Year’s Resolution list looks pretty big again this year.

Latter-day “saint”, will you be able to live “the gospel” this year? Will you next year? How about your family, friends, loved-ones?

Remember, Jesus promises to forgive your sins and let you return to live with Him, “provided you keep your covenants”.

Please consider what I have pieced together for you, above. Will you ignore it? If so, why? Do you honestly think you are doing all of what is required of you, or do you think that you don’t really have to?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

About setfree

God trusting, Bible believing, Jesus lover.
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152 Responses to The Mormon Gospel

  1. mobaby says:


    These two quotes attributed to Martin Luther I have no problem with:

    “The imputation of righteousness we need very much, because we are far from perfect. As long as we have this body, sin will dwell in our flesh. Then, too, we sometimes drive away the holy spirit; we fall into sin, like Peter, David, and other holy men. Nevertheless we may always take recourse to this fact, that our sins are covered, and that God will not lay them to our charge. Sin is not held against us for Christ’s sake.” – this is the good news of the gospel, our sins are forgiven and covered through the blood of Christ.

    “your sin cannot cast you into hell” – he was obviously speaking to Christians whose sins have been forgiven. Luther certainly believed in the eternal reality of hell. Christians believe in Jesus and they are forgiven, and “your sin cannot cast you into hell.” If that’s not it I would need more context.

    On the other hand-

    “No sin can harm me” – This one is so short that it is impossible to judge anything other than someone thinks it’s scandalous and wants to pull some tidbit out. It’s funny really. “Harm?” – in what way? Physical harm? Spiritual harm? Is it referring to the forgiveness of sins? Is it saying sin is okay? Is it speaking of eternity, or temporal life? It’s really kind of like a fortune cookie it’s so short – read into what you want!

  2. gpark says:

    A very good explanation of the Biblical meaning of repentance is offered at a website called The precise web address for the verses and commentary dealing specifically with repentance, from a Biblical perspective, is:

    Below, I have copied and pasted the question and answer from the site.

    Question: “What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?”

    Answer: Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

    What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

    It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance.

  3. gpark says:

    (continued from:

    All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

    While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

  4. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Hello. I’m a first time poster but I have been reading the comments on this post and I must say, there is some great theological kung fu going on in here. I’m admittedly on the side of the modern evangelical Christian but I do appreciate the sincerity and conviction that is displayed by the Mormons on this thread. I would like to have the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion, as well as having the opportunity to become enlightened on Mormon doctrine as I’m fairly new to this subject matter. I will however try to keep my comments and inquiry civil as we go about articulating our differences.

    I would first like to address and ask questions in regards to comments made by Olsen Jim.

    Comments from Olsen Jim:
    “Your claims about what we believe (i.e. we save ourselves through our works) are false” (also from subgenius – “simply claiming that Mormons believe we are only “saved by our works” is a dishonest representation.”)

    Claiming that mormons are saved by works isn’t a dishonest representation if according to mormon scriptures, including the revelation of LDS prophets substantiate that faith in Jesus Christ alone isn’t sufficient for salvation; rather perfect adherence to the commandments and covenants after the profession of faith. This has been evidenced by grindael with passages from the Miracle of Forgiveness, the BoM, D&C 82, and the LDS official website. Anything other than faith can be considered a work of our own merit. I believe that is why Paul made his distinction clear in Ephesians 2:8-9.

    “I maintain that obedience and repentence are absolutely required to obtain salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ.”

    I think the crucial point in this argument is where we defer in what it means to repent. For the EV it means to change one’s mind. In fact, I believe the correct translation means ‘to think differently after’. If it has been characterized correctly from citations in the MoF, then for the mormon it means to never sin again.

  5. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    “It is impossible for sins to be forgiven if we do not repent and obey Christ. Of course we do not do so perfectly. And that is what repentance is for- it is a lifelong process. Christ said “he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matt 10:22

    You say with regards to repentance and obedience that “Of course we do not do so perfectly.” But yet from what grindael cited from passages in the Miracle of Forgiveness, imperfect repentance doesn’t meet the standard of true repentance. Now, I may be wrong in what I understand those passages to mean but I have yet to hear any clarification as to how the mormon reconciles the description of repentance that is given in the MOF, with what is being described by the mormon apologists on this thread.

    Yes, Matt 10:22 says “he that endureth”, but endureth in what exactly? If we look at the totality of the NT scriptures we find again and again that salvation through faith is what is proclaimed. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the endurance of faith is what is spoken of by Jesus. Especially in light of the context of the passage. In the passage, Jesus speaks of the persecution that will come to the apostles whom he was sending out. It is endurance of faith in the midst of persecution which is spoken of.

    “please explain to me as clearly as possible what you think God expects of us in full to gain salvation. I mean what does God REQUIRE? Please be as brief as the answer allows.”

    Here is the expectation that I understand from Romans 10; “(9) if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.” Continuing with verse 13 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, and how faith is achieved is described in verse 17 as it comes from what is heard about Christ. I believe that is as brief as it can be stated.

  6. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    “But I also know what God expects of me. And it is more than simply acknowledging that His son is my Savior.”

    But we’re talking about two expectations I think. If the expectation is for what you must do to achieve salvation, the only expectation is faith in Christ as the NT scriptures testify. If it’s how you should live after you have professed faith, that is a different expectation. If I understand the main issue on this post correctly, we are speaking of salvation.

    “There is much that we cannot do for ourselves. But God expects us to do what we can for ourselves. Bottom line. Christ is the only means of salvation. That does not remove all responsibility from our shoulder.”

    So then where exactly does the Mormon disagree with the modern evangelical Christian? If as you say Christ is the only means of salvation, and we agree with that premise, where do we differ based on your understanding? Upon further inspection though, this statement appears to be self defeating. If Christ is the only means of salvation, then what responsibility is left on our shoulders?

    “I have yet to read any of you at least restate our doctrine correctly. Even though I don’t expect you to agree with it, I would hope you could at least understand it and restate it fairly and accurately- and that has not happened.”

    I am very interested and I’m not being facetious when I ask – what is the correct description of your doctrine? This isn’t rhetorical. I think clarity is crucial if we are to have the correct assumptions under which we should discuss these matters. It doesn’t do us justice to argue under false pretenses.

  7. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    “By the way- I do believe it is possible to be perfect in Christ in this life.”

    Does this mean that you can attain moral perfection by following Christ or that Christ makes us perfect because we are clothed in him? If the former and you do believe that it is possible to be perfect in this life then that is in direct opposition to what is written in 1 John 1:8, 10 “(8) If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us…(10) If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us ” and Romans 3:10, 23 “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;… For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

    “In other words, to BELIEVE is more than a mental act. FOLLOWING and BEHAVING a certain way is inherent in BELIEVING in the scriptures.”

    I don’t think we’d be in disagreement here. James states as much in chapter 2:18 “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”. I think the issue of disagreement is whether whatever action is committed in our act of “behaving” merits salvation; and James makes sure to point out something that is consistent with the rest of the NT scriptures in that if we break one law, we’re guilty of breaking all. If we examine that against what is spoken of in Galatians 2:16 we find that “because by works of the law no one will be justified” rather “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ”.

  8. Olsen Jim asked

    Tell me where I am wrong.

    To be as obvious as I can; if you believed in Christ you would have no need for the Mormon Temple.

    As setfree wrote above, the Temple Recommend is what Mormons consider to be their ticket into the presence of God (how can you enter into the presence of God without the handshakes, new names etc etc?).

    On the contrary, the Bible teaches that access to God is through the blood of Christ. Consider Hebrews 10:19-22

    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.


    Did you notice that the “new and living way” does NOT require “…the handshakes, new names, etc. necessary to gain entrance into the presence of God.” as setfree so plainly put it. What it DOES require is the completed work of Jesus and faith on our part to believe that his work is absolutely sufficient to get us this access.

    By your reliance on, and promotion of, the Mormon Temple as the means by which you get access to God, you are attempting to substitute the Gospel of Christ with something else, which puts you in direct opposition to Jesus and his followers.

  9. setfree’s original article above illustrates another aspect of salvation-by-obeying-the-law, namely; how do you decide which commandments should be included in the thing that you call “the law”?

    For example, there are 613 laws and precepts in the Old Testament. Let’s say, for sake of argument, that “the law” should only comprise these 613 commandments. If that were the case, then you have a fighting chance of actually obeying them (except that we no longer have an operational temple for the prescribed sacrifices). This is probably (in my view) the scenario that the Pharisees had got to – they had actually succeeded in obeying the list of laws that they thought should comprise “the law”.

    Was that enough to sustain their access to God? Not according to Jesus.

    What happens, then, when someone comes along and tinkers with the list of laws? Mormonism does this by deleting certain laws regarding circumcision, sacrifice, and dietary commands (pork); and introduces other laws like abstaining from caffeine and alcohol.

    The lazy approach is to claim that the new laws supplement or clarify the old laws. Or worse, the new laws get added to the list. In project management, we call this “scope creep” and its all about having to do more than you thought you would have to do at the start.

    Scope creep dominates works based justification as follows: If you haven’t achieved perfection/got access to God/purged yourself of sin its because you need to comply with the extra requirements of XYZ. XYZ can be any arbitrary ordinance or principle or law that is regulated or provided by the religious authority.

    Given that we cannot ever make ourselves good enough to get access to God, scope creep ultimately exhausts and destroys the believer. I believe that it is to this situation that Jesus says

    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

    (Matt 11:28)

    I think setfree rightly concluded his article with these words.

  10. falcon says:

    I watched Dr. Walter Martin and a Jesuit priest, whose name I forget, debate the protestant view of faith-works and the Catholic view of faith-works. I listened intently and having had been a former Catholic and now an evangelical Christian had some insights into both positions. As-a-matter of fact, it seemed to me that these two men, debating vigorously, were saying the same thing. So I told a Lutheran minister I know, who BTW earned a Ph.D from Notre Dame (kind of ironic), that I couldn’t discern a difference between the positions being argued. He says to me, “That’s because there is no difference.”
    In-other-words, it was his opinion that it was the same position only expressed in a different way.
    Christians have a common belief system on the major points but often vary on certain denominational distinctives. Mormons and Christians have no such common belief system in any regards. Even from the get go, the understanding of who God is, is so different that any real discussion is difficult, to say the least.
    Mormons are polytheists who think if they go to the temple and get “secret” passwords and what, handshakes(?) they will learn how to access the secret passage way to the Celestial Kingdom and godhood. And this is all where in the Bible? It isn’t there and no amount of declaring secret conspiracies will explain it away.

  11. falcon says:

    Mormons seem to want to place their hopes, dreams and aspirations on their ability to be perfect, sinless and without spot or wrinkle. Earth to Mormons, I have some bad news for you. You can’t do it, no matter how sincere or how hard you try, you can’t gain one ounce of what it takes to reach the level of “goodness” it takes to enter God’s presence.
    But we forget, the Mormon god is indeed a different god and has a set of criteria for what it takes to become a god; one of the many scooting around the universe tending to their various planets with their goddess wives on their arms. This is what the OT termed going after strange gods. It doesn’t get much stranger than the tale Joseph Smith told.
    So our Mormon posters rifle through their new and improved version of the Joseph Smith “translation” of the Bible trying to find any subtle nuance that might support what they believe. When it can’t be found, well it’s that conspiracy don’t you know. You would have thought that the seer, revealator and communicator with all sorts of spirit beings, Smith, would have straightened it all out. Despite the fact that he was this poor ignorant farm boy with an extraordinary magic rock that allowed him to receive all sorts of secret information from the spirit world, Joe left a lot of loose ends. I think he probably could have done better with a secret decoder ring from a cereal box.
    But fortunately the Mormons have their own modern day prophet that’s available to set everything straight. Problem is, they don’t even try any more because their predecessors made such a mess of this “restored” gospel. There’s just too much ground to cover and way too many inconsistencies to deal with to even take a shot at it so the Mormon leadership just leave it all out there for the members to fill it up with their own meaning.

  12. subgenius says:

    “In-other-words it seems that Mormons post and they are concluding in their minds that they are talking about Christianity, which they aren’t”
    where do you get these sort of conclusions? talk about “conspiracy thinking”. was it difficult to not choose your name as “fountainhead”?

    “Mormons and Christians have no such common belief system in any regards. Even from the get go, the understanding of who God is, is so different that any real discussion is difficult, to say the least.
    Mormons are polytheists…

    false accusations with no foundation in fact or reality.
    falcon, with all your boasting, why not put forth your evidence your finer points?…or will you, once again, claim “pearls and swine”…the last refuge of the defeated Ev.
    1. Mormons are NOT polytheists, never have been, never will be…someone with 3 degrees surely has a dictionary, look up “monolatrism” or “henotheism” (for the purely academic)….then crack the spine of the Bible and reference the “plurality” in the following:
    Genesis 1:26
    Exodus 18:11
    Numbers 33:4
    Deut 10:17
    Psalms 82:1
    Psalms 86:8
    …ad nauseaum (Tammuz,Milcom, Succoth-benoth..etc..)
    2. Any real discussion is difficult only when one party refuses to discuss. A discussion is an exchange of ideas inorder to reach a conclusion..not a one-sided rhetorical sermon based on rhetoric. Mormon posters consistently provide references for their positions.
    3.“Christians have a common belief system on the major points but often vary on certain denominational distinctives” this is the prescription for apostasy in modern Christianity.
    Some things are just allowed to “let slide” aren’t they?
    4. Ironic how the Ev will evoke(or plagiarize) Pentecostal-Adventist-sympathizer Dr. Martin, who had claimed he was a descendent of Brigham Young, but hey, he did believe in the charismatic gifts.

  13. setfree says:


    So nice to meet you! I hope you comment more often.

    I have often wished that there was some sort of “arbitrator” out here. Someone that played the part of watching all comments, and “officiating”, so to speak, by calling on one side to answer the question, articulate better, give up the fight, etc. lol

    Your comment was much like an arbitration. Thanks.

  14. jackg says:

    I don’t have a problem with OJ’s push for repentance EXCEPT for the fact that it comes from the Mormon perspective of being prerequisite to God’s grace rather than an overflowing response to God’s grace. So, it again boils down to works-righteousnes doctrine, which weakens the power of Christ’s death on the cross–it’s not enough to save us. That is a pretty sad way to look at the Work of Jesus Christ, because if God Himself can’t do enough to save us, how can we? (The argument for universal salvation is invalid since we will all resurrect and either live a life in God’s Presence or absent from God’s Presence DEPENDING on the relationship we have with Jesus Christ right now–and it is necessary to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth; in other words, we must be worshiping the True and Living God and NOT some man’s notion of Who God is.)

    We must understand repentance within the context of sanctification. OJ is right when he states that repentance is something we do as part of a lifelong process. In his statement we see that his perspective regarding repentance is not a one-time event and that you had better not repeat your sin again (at least that’s what I think he’s saying). It does seem that his very own statement contradicts Kimball’s teachings on the subject (again, that is what it seems to me–I’m not certain). Now, one has to consider if whether repentance is a work that merits us forgiveness and salvation. We cannot forget that God is Sovereign and doesn’t have to forgive us if He doesn’t want to, but His character, rooted in love, compels Him to forgive us. That is grace! The only valid presupposition from which we can work is that we can only merit death for ourselves as a result of our works. Salvation is based on the merits of Jesus Christ.

    Peace and Blessings…

  15. setfree says:

    Jim, getting back to topic one. Without arguing that repentance is or isn’t good or necessary, without arguing the pro’s or cons of good works, here’s what the issue boils down to.

    You’re convinced that neither you, nor anyone on the planet, is good enough.

    What are you counting on, to make it where you want to go (heaven), then?

    Are you hoping to make it to a Kingdom other than the Celestial one?

    Do you think God will have sympathy on you, despite what religion you claim, and say “Come on in” even though you haven’t met the standards?

    What exactly do you think will be the end result for Jim Olsen, and why?

    Are you counting on Jesus to “do the rest” once you’ve “done your best”? I know most Mormons believe this.

    A couple of Book of Mormon (your religion is based on this book, right?) quotes?

    “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    “…the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them”

    “…and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ;”

    “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his…the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.”

    Your religion says YOU CAN DO IT, and IF YOU DON’T, TOO BAD.

    I quoted it. I didn’t make it up.

    Are you making up what Mormonism is about, so you can stick with it? I hope you’ll quit

  16. Olsen Jim says:


    Thanks for the respectful tone.

    You suggest that we belief more than faith in Jesus Christ is required for salvation. But that argument centers on the definition of faith. I would suggest that faith is not just a mental act. To me, trust is synonymous with faith. Behavior and adherence to teachings is implicit and included in faith. Faith results in obedience, and obedience results in increased faith. Remember, “faith without works is dead.” So why separate them? Probably to give recognition to the being responsible for salvation- Christ. That is commendable, but should not negate the responsibilities that lie with us as individuals.

    I have a 15 year old daughter who is on the precipice of falling into bad things with less than desirable friends. Her mother and I pray and plead with her to follow the Holy Ghost and live the commandments. We promise her she will be blessed if she resists temptations and avoids dangerous situations. But this is difficult for her- she struggles with self-esteem and confidence, and it is nice to receive attention, even it is from bad sources. What I want is for her to have faith in what her mother and I are telling her, and of course faith in Christ. But can she claim to have faith in us and what we say if she does not follow our advice and counsel? NO. Faith in Christ is no different. We do not have faith in Him if we do not follow Him.

    I am familiar with the history of the word repent and its origins. But find me one example in the Bible when somebody was commanded to repent with it not involving their behavior. It is always used synonymously. Look at the old testament usage of the term repent. Did its meaning magically change in the NT? NO. Who is commanded to repent- (yes- everybody), but typically it is the folks who have gone astray and fallen into wicked practices.

  17. Olsen Jim says:

    In other words, bad behavior by God’s people results in His prophets calling them to repentence. He is telling them to change their behavior (and yes, of course their hearts).
    You bring up Spencer Kimball’s book. I find nothing wrong with his teachings. If a person commits the same sin, the process begins again. If I cheat on my wife and promise not to do it again, yet turn around and do the same thing 6 months or 6 years later, have I completely repented in the first place? Bottom line is that we must continuously go back to the basics of repenting throughout our lives.

    You comment on my remarks about being perfect in this life. We can be perfect in Christ in this life. But to obtain this perfection, we must be doing our best to keep the commandments and repent as we make mistakes- that is faith and trust. It is not seeking to lift myself. I can never earn salvation. Christ saves us 100%, but he requires us to keep His commandments and follow Him. Nothing we do does the actual work of redemption, but we are required to do it nonetheless.

    A dying grandpa once arranged for His fortune to be given to his grandson if he followed a series of 10 steps and completed 10 projects. These included giving everything he owned away to the poor. Working on a ranch for minimum wage for many months. Etc. Etc.- each of the steps were designed to help the grandson forget about himself and become a more grateful, humble, service-oriented human. The grandson completed all ten steps without knowing what his grandpa would ultimately give to him. In the end, the grandpa gave away his multi-billion dollar empire to that grandson, but only after the grandson had completed the tasks. This represents my view of grace vs. works. Nothing the grandson did in completing those steps “earned” that huge inheritance. He did not deserve billions of dollars. But the grandfather required certain behavior and work before he would bestow such an inheritance.

  18. jeffrey b says:

    Nice of you to tell me what I think.

    I don’t know where you came to that conclusion but I see nothing in the Bible that is impossible, especially when one has faith in Christ. In the verse we have been discussing, God is telling us to be mature, have integrity, be virtuous, perfect. Basically, be good and wise.. How is that unrealistic?

    Also, calling me a plagiarist? Where did I do that? Because I typed up a definition? Well heaven forbid anyone repeats whats found in a dictionary.

    Sorry, I’m tired. I been up all night copy pasting stuff…

  19. Bill McKeever says:

    SUB,Jeffrey B asks a fair question, either support your accusation or prepare to be carded, and BTW, that will be three.

  20. Chris_from_SoCal says:


    I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you are having with your daughter. I’m a parent myself and I can sympathize with the care and concern you have for her.

    I understand what you mean by your definition of faith; at least I understand your expectations that result from faith. But I don’t see where the term faith means what you are describing though. Faith is an intellectual commitment to a premise or conclusion; it doesn’t include any action other than that commitment. That is why we labor at clearing the distinction between the two. Our actions are based on the conviciton of our faith. But furthermore, I don’t see your definition of faith being used anywhere else in the NT. Paul in Romans 10:9-10 doesn’t testify to the definition of faith you describe, nor does he anywhere else in the Pauline epistles where he describes salvation through faith. You said that “Behavior and adherence to teachings is implicit and included in faith”, but the EV will state that behavior and adherence manifest themselves as a result of faith. And I think the distinction is important.

    “But find me one example in the Bible when somebody was commanded to repent with it not involving their behavior”
    Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the story of the Phillipian jailer in Acts 16. In his terrified state after what he witnessed he asked Paul “What must I do to be saved?” and he replied “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

  21. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    “We do not have faith in Him if we do not follow Him.” To address this Jim I must go back to Romans. In chapter 7 Paul describes this very issue in detail as he claims that he does not do what he wants to do; a cognitive dissonance between what his mind wants versus what his flesh will do. In that frustration he states “What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But here’s the crucial point in verse 25 continuing to 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Comitting a sin doesn’t conclude an unreptant heart; for the Christian it means that one’s behavior is sometimes inconsitent with his/her belief which is understandable given that none of us are perfect.

    There is one point that I think must be made clear from side of the evangelical. The doctrine of salvation by faith doesn’t give the believer free license to commit sin. Paul testifies to this in Romans 6 where he states in verse 1 “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace may multiply? Absolutely not!” Paul was addressing the idea of antinomianism; that how we live is of no matter because God’s grace covers us. He dismissed it as being inconsistent with the message of salvation. But I think he chooses his words carefully has he continues in the chapter by “Therefore do not let sin reign over your mortal body; so that you obey it’s desires.” He states do no let it reign. It doesn’t imply that battles will not be waged with sin, or that we won’t stumble, rather do no let it control us.

  22. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    “Nothing the grandson did in completing those steps “earned” that huge inheritance.” On the contrary, from the way I understand the story, his commitment to doing the 10 steps is what earned his entitlement to the inheritance. I believe that is why you concluded by saying “the grandfather required certain behavior and work before he would bestow such an inheritance”. If the inheritance is salvation, then we are required to perform the works in order to gain it based on the illustration. The way the EV would characterize it though is that the grandson is incapable of completing all of the 10 steps, which is why our works cannot merit our salvation; it must be only by the grace of God.

    And to setfree; thanks for the kind comments. I appreciate being a part of the conversation.

  23. jeffrey b says:

    Hey Jim,

    I wanted to chime in on your personal situation with your daughter if that’s okay. It looks like Chris had the same sentiments that I had in my mind when reading your post.

    It sounds like you are saying that if your daughter chooses to disobey you, then she doesn’t have real faith in you? Below is what you said that makes me think that.

    “But can she claim to have faith in us and what we say if she does not follow our advice and counsel? NO.”

    Well, each scenario is different I presume, but I wouldn’t say that if she went against your word then she must not have faith. In fact, that kind of sounds like the very problem the world struggles with, its called sin!

    We know better because God told us the right way, and the Holy Spirit speaks it into our souls, but we all continue to slip from time to time. God commanded us to not have lustful or angry thoughts. I bet you could ask any honest man who you would say has “great faith” and if they honestly replied I bet they would tell you that they broke that commandment many times over.

    God told you, Jim, to not have hatred in your heart.. Can you honestly say you have not felt hatred your whole life that you considered yourself to be a man of God?

    That is the struggle, friend. We all struggle with it because we are imperfect beings. Your daughter is imperfect and I believe that she loves you, respects you, and has faith in your counsel (because I know Mormons and they are very nice and caring parents generally), but haven’t you ever made a wrong choice despite knowing the consequences? Especially in the teenage years.

    If you having faith in God means you will keep ALL his commandments, then why did Christ die for us?

    I believe its because it levels the playing field. There are people who are stronger mentally and emotionally than others, and Christ wanted to make sure no one had to be cursed and left to their own merits.


  24. subgenius says:

    i ‘accused’ jeffreyb of using the same tactics that others have fallen back on (not the plagiarism, but the ‘editing’). If jeffreyb can provide the citation where he retrieved his rather limited “greek-lexicon” definition of “Teleios” (i can’t that find one), as we discussed above, then i will happily retract my ‘accusation’ to that end. Otherwise information was omitted.

    Then within the context of that discussion we read jeffreyb state:

    Truly though, God does command us to be blameless, but can we ever DO enough to become that? No.

    this statement comes without exception…this “No” is absolute as he writes it.

    The fact that jeffreyb has put forth that God put many commandments and laws in place simply to force man into a situation where, when falling short, would have no choice but to admit defeat and come to Jesus.
    Furthermore, my use of the word “litter” may have been excessive, but considering that this commandment appears in 1 Tim 6:14 and 2 Peter 3:14 and Philippians 2:15 and so on, so i did not think against it.

    So, my “accusation” was more of an expansion of the porportion in his statement to make a point…even this last statement by jeffreyb contradicts the quote i use herein; he now qualifies impossibilities with ‘by the power of Christ’ but the original quote above he says that there is an impossibility and as such ‘necessitates’ faith in Christ.

    “If he thinks we could do that WITHOUT the Son, then why would we even need our Savior?”

    This is sort of a ‘bait-and-switch’ characterization…a scheme jeffreyb does not provide evidence for.

    …and NOW jeffreyb says
    “God is telling us to be…..perfect” a statement he took exception with when i made it (see above, he says i am “quick to shout out” Matthew 5:48), then he claimed it was “impossible” to be perfect, and now he implies that i am the one who thinks it an “unrealistic” statement…when i said it first!

    i hope this calrifies the issu

  25. An accusation of plagiarism probably works better if you can prove it with a reference. For now the accusation seems petty. Don’t throw an accusation like that around lightly.

  26. setfree says:

    I almost forgot an important sidenote to this issue.

    The Book of Mormon was restored to clear up all the errors, and you know, fill in all the gaps where “plain and precious truths” were missing from the Bible.

    However, even the Book of Mormon (and the D&C, if I remember correctly) say that the “fulness of the gospel” can be found in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

    I’m still looking… sure haven’t found it yet… in EITHER book…

  27. subgenius says:

    i did not accuse him of plagiarism, please re-read my original post, just of being in the company of those who have plagiarized. i have only accused one of plagiarism, and there was no argument to that fact, and i provided the source of the material.
    i do, however, stand by my accusation that text was purposely omitted from his greek-lexicon post (which is posted emphaticaly) in order to buttress an otherwise weak position. I have seen this tactic used before, and when called on it, that poster admitted it. like i said, if a citation is provided i will retract my ‘accusation’, with apologies, and do my best to make amends. Otherwise i will no longer dwell on these indiscretions and simply call it when i see and then move on.

  28. Olsen Jim says:


    Thanks for the response. But your analysis of my illustration again shows our different interpretations of this issue. And I wonder if you understand what I am saying.

    When I said the grandson did nothing to earn the billion dollar empire, I meant it literally. He did nothing to build that empire- he had absolutely nothing to do with its creation and growth. His grandpa did that a long time before the kid entered the picture. All the credit goes to the grandpa (and others I am sure).

    A different kid without a rich grandfather does not also inherit a huge fortune just by doing the same things that the favored grandson did.

    And that is the real sense of our inheritance discussed in the NT. Just because there is nothing we can do to create the actual thing called “our salvation” (just like the fortune) does not mean we are not required to do certain things. The kid did nothing to create the fortune, but he had to do certain things to please the grandpa. Our works are qualitatively different from Christ’s- and only His works result in our salvation.

    This is absolutely Biblical- there is nothing that contradicts the teachings of Christ or even Paul. In fact, this picture is the only one that makes sense of ALL statements on the topic in the NT. You will disagree, but it would be nice to have somebody on the other side of this debate simply understand what it is we are claiming.

    Jeffrey B- Thanks for the thoughts. But I simply disagree. If my daughter does not follow my counsel, she does not have faith in my counsel. If it is possible for her to have faith in us as parents, yet she still not follow, what good is that faith? What separates the devils who “also believe and tremble” from people who have faith? The devils believe Jesus is the Savior- they have some form of “intellectual commitment to that premise and conclusion” as ChrisfromSoCal described. Do they have faith? Shouldn’t they be saved?

  29. jeffrey b says:


    Lets cut the bull and get to the chase. I think our discussion has gotten too complex an issue for what the both of us seems to be trying to convey.

    Grindael quoted Spencer Kimball in the miracle of forgiveness – ““This progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving


    through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us. In his Sermon on the Mount he made the

    command to all men: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ (Matt. 5:48) BEING PERFECT

    MEANS TO TRIUMPH OVER SIN. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything

    from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.”


    So what I get from Kimballs words above, is just what he said, perfection is being triumphant (not falling victim) to/over sin.

    This is how I understood that you agreed with Kimball, because I read the following.

    Rvales asked you “But repentance is turning from and never again repeating your sin. Is that not what your church claims the miracle

    of forgiveness is?”

    to which you replied “as simplistic as your question posits, my answer would be “yes”…but both of us knows that it is not so simple, is

    it? Matthew 5:48” do you take this Matthew verse as just another ‘high expectation’?

    From there its obvious that you equated the word “perfection” in regards to sin/sinning when that verse really has nothing to do with

    “turning from sin and never again repeating it”


  30. jeffrey b says:

    Paul used the greek word “Teleios” which has the definitions of “brought to its end, finished, complete, perfect, full grown, adult,

    mature, consummate human integrity and virtue”.

    The greek word that Paul did NOT use which, if he did, would have given credit to Kimballs words above, is “anamartetos” which has

    the definitions “without sin, sinless, one who cannot sin, one who has not sinned.”

    Here’s the reference to do definitions above:

    Here’s some words from one of your own quorum of the twelve. In the 1995 November issue of the Ensign, the article labeled

    “Pending Perfection”, Elder Russel M Nelson had this to say:

    “In Matt. 5:48, the term perfect was translated from the Greek teleios, which means “complete.” Teleios is an adjective derived from

    the noun telos, which means “end.” 10 The infinitive form of the verb is teleiono, which means “to reach a distant end, to be fully

    developed, to consummate, or to finish.” 11 PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WORD DOES NOT IMPLY “FREEDOM FROM ERROR”; it

    implies “achieving a distant objective.””

    Sub, what I claimed was that it is impossible to be “perfect” in the way that I believe you think it is, which is sinless. (Your reply to

    rvales leads me to that belief)

    If God asked us to be sinless, then yes, I would say that is impossible. Show me where God says that and I will become one of your

    servants in the celestial kingdom.

    The only way we can be found blameless before God the Father is if he sees Christ in our hearts.

    The author of the words found at has this to say which is put more eloquently than I can muster..(In Matt

    5:48, He expects us to speak of Him and for Him. He expects us to grow into spiritual maturity in Him, as we have been designed to

    do. That is why He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

    I hope you understand that I am just saying Matt 5:48 isn’t commanding us to be sinless.

  31. Chris_from_SoCal says:


    Thanks for your patience in developing this with me. I hope that you’ll trust me when I say that I do want to understand your side of the debate with clarity.

    I’m going to take what you said and chew on it for a bit as to make sure that I address what you said with a clear understanding of what you’re describing; I don’t want to frustrate you by continuing to mischaracterize your position. But in the interim, could you please provide the scriptural basis in the NT that is used to support your argument? I think this would help me perhaps come to a quicker understanding of your opinion.

  32. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Oh, but one last thing Jim. In reference to your comment to Jeffrey B about James 2:19, yes, the demons do believe there is one God and shudder but the offer of salvation isn’t granted to them. Their destiny was sealed with their fall from heaven and their punishment prepared for them. This is substantiated by Matthew 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6, and Revelation 12:9.

  33. gpark says:

    Merriam-Webster Online, 7 January 2010 defines polytheism as belief in or worship of more than one god.
    Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Online) defines polytheism as belief in many different gods.

    Polytheism is defined as belief in multiple Gods and a polytheist as one who believes in a plurality of gods at

    Biblical scholars interpret the word ‘gods’ in the Bible variously as referring to false gods, idols, angels (good or bad), or earthly rulers.
    Though Genesis 31:19 is not on your list, it, too, references the word, ‘gods.’ Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Genesis 31:19 ESV (In KJV the word ‘gods’ is rendered images, and in NKJV it is rendered idols. Young’s Literal translation renders it as teraphim, about which the Free Online Dictionary says: “in the Bible, a plural term of uncertain origin referring either to household idols or to idols set up in a local sanctuary, or consulted for purposes of divination. Little is known regarding their form, except that they could be of a person’s size, or small enough to be carried by hand.)”
    Re: Exodus 18:11. When read in context, it is a comment from Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, upon Moses’ return from leading Israel out of Egyptian captivity. Pharoahs were considered to be gods, and the Egyptians had many so-called gods – “The creator of all things was either Re, Amun, Ptah, Khnum or Aten, depending on which version of the myth was currently in use. The heavens were represented by Hathor, Bat, and Horus. Osiris was an earth god as was Ptah. The annual flooding of the Nile was Hapi. Storms, evil and confusion were Seth. His counterpart was Ma’at, who represented balance, justice and truth. The moon was Thoth and Khonsu. Re, the sun god, took on many forms, and transcended most of the borders that contained the other gods.

  34. gpark says:


    The actual shape of the sun, the disk (or, aten), was deified into another god, Aten.” (from
    Number 33:4 is also speaking of Israel’s departure from Egypt. (See info above regarding Egypt’s gods.) has a word study regarding Deuteronomy 10:17 – “LORD – Hebrew: Jehovah (aka Yahweh) is the unique name for the God of Israel. English Bibles designate this Hebrew rendering by printing “LORD” in all capital letters.
    God and gods – Hebrew: elohim; context determines to whom this Hebrew word refers – the God of Heaven or the false gods.
    Lord and lords – Hebrew: adon(ay); this word equates to “master” and, in addition to its usage as a reference to God, is also used to note the authority one person has over another i.e. Genesis 18:12 when Sarah refers to Abraham as her “lord.” The proper rendering is determined by context.” [See also 1 Kings 20:4.]
    Psalm 82:1 may refer to angels and/or earthly rulers. See Job 1 for an instance of angels meeting with God in Heaven and being referred to as “sons of God” in the NKJV, KJV, and Young’s Literal Translation.
    Psalm 86:8, once again, may refer to false gods.

    Genesis 1:26 is often thought of by Christians as a verse indicating, from the beginning, God’s triune nature because of the use of a noun indicating plurality with a singular verb, but some Christian Bible scholars and Jewish scholars believe the plural, “elohim,” is used like a “majestic we, ” as when a human writer uses an “editorial we.”
    Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them. (2 Chronicles 25:14 NKJV is obviously referring to idols.)
    Please, also and especially, read 1 Kings 18 and Psalm 135:13-21.

  35. setfree says:


    I don’t know why this never occurred to me before, but bear with me for a second, will ya, while i try to explain something?

    What do Einstein, Mozart, and Michael Jordan have in common?

    How about this. Where the vast majority of people on earth have to work and work and work at math/physics, music, or sports to become super great at them, these people appear to have come by their talents naturally. Right? Wouldn’t you say there was a noticeable distinction between those who seem born with a gift, and all the ones around them who are trying to do the same thing? Much much more work involved for the “common” folk.

    We (humankind) were born with a nature that likes to sin. That’s what we’re good at doing. So, it takes lots of effort on our part to be good. Lots and lots of effort. We have to struggle with it. It doesn’t come naturally to us to be godly.

    Alright, if we can agree on that, let’s continue to Jesus’ part in this.

    Each of us has, if you will, a muddy fountain inside of us. What Mormonism, and all the major world religions (except Christianity) is suggesting, is that with this muddy fountain inside of us, we should DO things that make it appear like we’re not dirty, on the outside. We take our commonness, and work work work to look like someone who is not common.

    Christianity’s approach is entirely different. It assumes that what needs to happen, is that our there needs to be a fresh water supply hooked up to our inside muddy fountain. This water supply, with endless clean, sparkling water, will serve to push out all the mud and dirt, and get rid of it. Thus, when we act according to what’s inside of us, we’re looking like someone who is not common, because we finally are the special ones!

    This is why the “work work work” thing no longer applies. Because hooked up to the “living water”, a person becomes clean from the inside out.

    An important question. Did Michael Jordan, Einstein, and Mozart give their special gifts to themselves

  36. subgenius says:

    Matthew 5:48
    i believe the key to understanding this verse is in the later part…”as Your Heavenly Father is…”

    Now your position is
    “He expects us to speak of Him and for Him. He expects us to grow into spiritual maturity in Him, as we have been designed to do..”
    which means He has already done this, He has already grown into “spiritual maturity”…and what would suppose spiritual maturity is? are you saying that God’s spiritual maturity is not sinless?, i think not. By your own words we are commanded to be as spiritually mature as God.
    One may attempt to omit facts, but one can not re-write the words that are there.
    1 John 3:6
    again, it is not me that views God’s commandments as “high expectations”, yes they are demanding but it is people that subscribe to easy-believism that see them as too lofty.
    just out of curiousity, what do you think Jesus meant when he said for us to be as “complete” as God is “complete”?

    this is all i can say on this subject, so be it.

    it seems this post was to be in “mormon theism”, so i’ll respond there.

  37. gpark says:


    My post is actually in response to one you directed to Falcon (I think) on this thread January 7, 2010.

  38. setfree says:

    I want to ask one more time out here, in case my question was missed.

    Why cannot all of the above list of commandments, principles, ordinances, and covenants be found in either the Book of Mormon or the Bible, if, according to Joseph Smith, “the fulness of the gospel” is supposed to be contained in each?

    Are you guys going to let them (the rule-makers, authorities of your church) mock you like this? Tie you up to the grind stone and never tell you the truth?

  39. Olsen Jim says:


    Good thoughts. And I agree with many of them.

    By the way, having just read a biography on Einstein, he would argue that his success and achievement was a result of work- more work than those of his peers. He once said (I paraphrase) – People like to think my theories are the result of sudden flashes of genius. In reality, everything I have achieved is a result of working longer, harder, and more intensely than the next guy. (again, a paraphrase)

    But I agree in principle that all those individuals had leap years more natural talent than me. (and as far as who was served by their talents- remember Jordan as he flies around the globe in his private jet enjoying his fortune). (And Einstein was not exactly an altruistic person either).

    I agree whole-heartedly about the natural man. But where you say “there needs to be a fresh water supply hooked up to our inside muddy fountain” I agree and say that part of “hooking” up with that fresh water supply is repentance and obedience.

    I will tell you what I see in the doctrine you espouse. And I do not intend to offend or be sarcastic. I see a doctrine that includes very little if any role for the agency of man. I know you have heard this before from others. But if we really can do nothing good, and if the only good will only be the result of Christ’s intention, and if the only people who do good do so because of Christ’s choosing to “draw” them to him, where is man’s agency? There is none. And if man has no agency, he must not be responsible for the evil he does. After all, God created man at conception to be evil-natured. And God supposedly chooses whom he will convert through the Spirit according to criteria that none of us understand. There can be no other conclusion except that God is at least partially responsible for the evil in the world if not entirely responsible.

  40. Olsen Jim says:

    These are not big leaps in logic here. Seriously. I am not going to deep dark mysterious questions to make anybody look bad. These are very logical questions based on doctrines and statements made by evangelical Christians here on this site.

    I simply disagree whole heartedly. I know man has agency and can choose good over evil. He can choose to resist temptation. He can choose not to do drugs. He can choose not to commit adultery. He can choose many things, and we as a society expect (at least we used to) individuals to make such choices. Do not evangelicals advocate such morals in society? Would you say such advocacy is a result of seeking to lift themselves above others? That is what EV on this site are saying of the motives of LDS actions. Is society’s standard really higher than God’s? How can heaven be a better place if its standard is lower than our earthly standards here?

  41. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Hey Jim,

    I’m so glad you chimed in with your view and based on what you said I think we’re getting closer to clarity.

    The salvation process you describe is not uniformly accepted in modern Christendom. There is an in-house debate in regards to how the role of human agency plays in the faith and salavation process. What you are describing is a Calvinistic or reformed soteriological view. There is another system of theological thought known as the Arminian tradition that includes human agency in the salvation process to the extent that it would satisfy your intellectual hurdle. I will be honest with you, and I may get some flack from reformed folks here, but I too struggle with the salvation process as you describe. But, regardless of how we come to faith, the one thing these two traditions will not disagree about is that salvation comes by faith alone.

  42. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Now, at this point it’s perfectly acceptable to ask why. Well, this is how I understand it. The EV believes that God is completly righteous, holy, and just. Therefore the only standard acceptable to him for entry into his presence is absolute moral perfection form beginning to end. Why? Because if he accepted anything less then he would be unjust because all sin needs to be punished and accounted for. Since all humanity is born into a sinful nature, man cannot be morally perfect and must be held accountable for his sin; even down to the very last and what we believe to be the least. God through the scriptures testifies that the result of all sin is death and nothing that we do will ever erase the sins we’ve committed. No work is sufficient. Works of good do nothing to erase the sins we’ve committed. They are only an attempt to cover them up. If we were judged solely on works then morally we would just break even because we only followed the law. But every good act doesn’t cancel out the cost of the bad act and every bad act must be accounted for and punished. It’s not a matter of if man can choose good or evil; it’s a matter of if he can choose it all the time because that is the standard God requires.

    But the part to rejoice about is that God is not only righteous and just, he is also merciful and gracious and through that he has given us the only means of redemption; and that is through the atoning death of his son. And he has testified in the NT scriptures that it is faith alone which grants us this gift. If we revert back to showing by legalistic means, then we have swapped the new covenent for the old. The reason the new was given was because of the inability to keep the old. 

  43. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Now, I think I better understand your illustration from last night. I think what you’re saying is that Jesus has earned our salvation and it is something we couldn’t accomplish on our own. But in order to be a recipient of that inheritance, we must show our obedience by keeping commandments and covenants. If I have captured it correctly, then I would say that it still puts us in a system of salvation by merit because the inheritance won’t be given unless we perform the works. But our ability to complete those works is what I challenge. If one of those works is the complete abandonment of sin (mof), then we are hopelessly lost because it is simply unachieveable and that may be where we disagree.  

  44. Olsen Jim says:


    Thank you for the respectful dialogue. It is quite interesting and enjoyable when people don’t feel threatened by differences.

    I agree with you absolutely that we cannot do anything to erase our sins. We are absolutely lost without the atonement.

    I will point out what I think is a difference in our thinking.

    Central to the LDS philosophy is the idea that a core source of God’s joy and fulfillment is enabling and making possible the development of His children (very much like us earthly parents). And I think this affects the way we see works in a big way.

    Experience is invaluable. To achieve and triumph is priceless. To risk and try and fail and try again contributes enormously to a soul. We absolutely believe that God wants all of us to become something great. And work is fundamental to achieving anything that is good.

    A big difference I see is that we believe God wants us to do for ourselves what we can. The normal EV response is to say that this is all selfish and arrogant. But I am not talking about storming into the end-zone and dancing, slamming the ball on the turf and signing to the crowd. I am talking about sacrificing, trusting, sweating, and experiencing the peace and joy of accomplishing something of value, something good. I am convinced that God wants this for us in a huge way.

    In other words, it is so much more than accounting. It is more than shifting liabilities, debts, and payments. The underlying purpose of it all is for us to become more like God. We can do nothing to wipe away our sins. But there is more intended for us than merely being free of sin (which is a huge thing for me considering my nature). The experiences we have here on earth are a huge reason we are here.

    I don’t think God wants to wave a wand and magically turn us into heavenly creatures. Otherwise, why would he not just make us that way to begin with? Especially considering the tremendous cost paid for us.

  45. Chris_from_SoCal says:

    Hey Jim,

    I don’t think you’ll find any disagreement from me or any other EV in regards to what God wants for our lives. He desires for our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and to be conformed to the likeness of his son; the scriptures tell us so. That should be the aspiration of each Christian. God doesn’t want our lives to be easy. In fact he tells us that following Christ will lead to quite the opposite; and that’s good because he disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6).

    God wants us to develop and grow, to try and do our best at whatever we do; and to do it humbly for his glory. But one area where our best won’t cut it is with regards to the perfect moral standard he requires for entry into his kingdom. For that nothing less than complete adherance to the law will do. I agree with you that to achieve and trimuph is priceless, but one thing we cannot achieve is this. That’s why he has offered us salvation through his son. It is the one thing in life we will never be able to achieve no matter how hard we try or accomplish. Christ is triumphant, and we share in his triumph through faith; because that is what he’s asked (and faith might I add is no easy task either). And it is this message that I and every other EV believes if the LDS don’t accept, then they will never truly know what the term “Miracle of Forgiveness” means.

    Jim, I want to thank you for the time you’ve taken to dialogue with me. Please believe me when I say that I’ve enjoyed it. I think we’ve come to a place in this discussion where we clearly know where each other stands on this and I invite you to have the last word on it. I hope that on a future topic, you and I will again be able to share our opinions in much the same way as we’ve done here. All the best to you.

  46. setfree says:

    I have an anecdote that I hope will work to help clarify what we’ve been talking about.

    My young daughter and I have “deals” about some things. One deal is that she can not have any “treat” until after she drinks the healthy drink that she gets once a day. So, if she’s refusing to drink the drink, I say, ‘no treats until you do!’, and this motivates her to drink it. On the other side, if she has finished her drink, she proudly says that she has, and expects to get a treat. This is a rewards-type system, right? When she keeps the “commandment” she gets the promised reward.

    But yesterday, for no reason whatsoever, I handed her a treat. It was a little snack-sized pack of about 6 or 7 fruit-gummy things. When she opened it, I asked her if I could have one. She happily gave one to me. We could call that tithing, right? God gives us everything, and wants us to recognize it by giving only 10% back. However, there was no tithing-type rule in place between my daughter and I. I simply gave her a treat, and she was grateful, and she was happy to give me part of it back.

    What comes next is the real clincher. I had left the room where she was, and a few moments later, when I returned, I found out she had saved the last snack in the bag for me. She said “Do you want another one?” and handed it over, smiling.

    This is the difference that I see between Mormonism and Christianity.

    My daughter, who recognized that my “blessing” to her, if you will, was based on nothing that she had done to earn it, did not greedily munch down all the treats she deserved, but gave more back to me than I even asked for, because she wanted to.

    See, Jim, it’s not that Christians don’t do good, that they don’t want to, or that they hope to get things for free. It’s that they ARE GETTING the one thing they needed the very most in this life for free, and they now want to live even better than they “have to” because they understand just what God has done on their behalf.

  47. setfree says:

    Unlike Jesus, my little parables barely stand on even one foot. lol. So, just to make sure there’s no bogging down in my little anecdote, I want to continue on this thought, to two of the points I was hoping to make.

    There are things to do and things to “don’t do” in this life. God’s commandments serve to save us from ourselves. Look at the 10 original commandments, and the amplified and simplified version of them that Jesus gave. A recipe for happiness, that’s what He gave us. Is following them doing more for me, or Him? Well… actually… me. It’s plain ole wisdom to follow them. It’s what’s best for ME. Not cuz I think so. Because He KNOWS so.

    When my daughter gave me more of her treats then I even asked for, it didn’t bless me because I needed the treat. It blessed me because I could see in it that she was thinking of me. She wanted me to be happy, just like I’d made her. It was out of joy and love that she gave me of her treasure. That’s what God wants. He wants us to give Him our best out of joy and love for Him, and because we’re in a relationship with Him that makes us want to bring Him joy. This is how the free thing works in Christianity. It lets us leave the have-tos behind, and do the good more abundantly out of a heart full of joy and love for Him.

    Lastly… the thing we need most in this life is what God provided, as written in the Bible and understood in Christianity. It is relief from our sin-debt. It is knowing that all the bad we have done and CANNOT undo is being taken care of by an Almighty God who loves us perfectly and is perfectly able to work ALL THINGS together for good. It is being able to leave our impossible load of guilt baggage behind, and breathe the fresh air of a new chance each time we have made a mistake. And it includes freedom from the fear of death itself (Hebrews 2:15). And if that wasn’t enough, it includes a re-write of our lives by the original Author.

  48. grindael says:


    I think your ‘parable’ was awesome. Thanks for the thread.

  49. setfree says:

    Just saw this quote, and found it SO applicable:

    “In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws…By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. (3) It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern. (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. (6) It produces inconsistencies. (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. (8) It became a burden to the Jews. (9) It was strictly external. (10) It was rejected by Christ. “

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