My Thoughts on the Life & Death of Mormon Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley 

Last night the world lost one of the greatest men ever to live on Earth.  LDS Church President and Prophet, Seer, and Revelator Gordon B. Hinckley passed away.  There is no man to have lived in my short lifetime that was a greater exemplar of faith, love, honesty, integrity, and Christ-like living. 

It is difficult to put into words how I feel personally about the man.  I never had the opportunity to meet him or shake his hand.  The closest I got to him was in 1998 when he spoke in Edmonton, Alberta.   I was serving as a missionary at the time in Calgary and our Mission President allowed us all to travel to Edmonton for the occassion.   I can vividly remember the spirit he carried and brought into the conference hall where the meeting occurred.  I cannot remember what specifically President Hinckley spoke about, nevertheless, I know that I was in the presence of a holy man, a man who literally spoke with our Savior, even Jesus Christ. 

President Hinckley was one of the longest serving President’s of the Church in Mormon’s short history.  He oversaw the largest expansion of Church membership and temple growth.  He made the Temple and provident, Christ-like living the cornerstone of his service.  It was during his tenure that the Lord revealed his plan to make Temple ordinances more readily available to members throughout the world with the plan of building smaller temples that could built in areas with smaller LDS population.   This program allowed more members to receive the saving ordinances and perform such work for their kindred dead.  

President Hinckley has been one of the anchors of the LDS faith over the last half-century.  Having been an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ since the 1960’s, he has had a major role in every major decision since then.  He also largely ran the Church in the late-70’s and through the 80’s when President’s Kimble and Benson had severe health problems that limited their activities.  What a great and wonderful man, he was a kind and loving person and touched millions upon millions of people’s lives for good.

Now, President Hinckley’s death is only sad for those of us whom will miss him dearly, but it is certainly not sad for him.  Pres. Hinckley has returned to that God whom gave us life and he returned in glory and honor.  I am reminded of the closing remarks of Book of Mormon Prophet Enos, in his final statement he said the following:

 27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father.

Indeed, President Hinckley is rejoicing and will continue to rejoice.  He will see the Savior’s face with pleasure and will obtain a place in the mansions of our Father.  He has been faithful and dedicated in the service of the Lord and will be saved in his courts on high.

Yet, the greatest reason to not mourn, but to rejoice in the passing of President Hickley is that he is reunited with his beloved wife Marjorie.  What a blessing it is to be sealed with our spouse for time and all eternity, not just “till death do us part.”  He has rejoined his wife in heaven, there to be by her side throughout all eternity; is there any greater blessing that one can imagine that being able to spend eternity with the one that you love. 

I have a great testimony that President Hinckley was indeed a Prophet of God, on the paralell of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Peter of old.  Can one think of a more important time than this in which we now live where the need for a Prophet of God was greater?  The world has changed immensly over the last 200 years, more so than any period in its previous history.  We face new challenges and evils everyday, how can it be that God has abandonded us to our own devices and own wisdom?  The reality is that he has not.  God loves us the same as he has people of old.   He continues to reveal his will, to teach us the way to follow, and how to traverse these perilous times.   What a great blessing it is to live on the earth in a time when the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth,  when the great gathering of Israel is commencing, and when we have Prophets to teach us the mind and will of God. 

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107 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, Doctrine, LDS, Mormon, Mormonism, People, Politics, Religion

107 responses to “My Thoughts on the Life & Death of Mormon Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

  1. Lisarc

    A very solemn Amen.

  2. Celestina

    Praise to the Man… Amen!

  3. neil sutherland

    What a Great ambassador for the church-Gordon Bitner Hinckly was and now he will continue to be an ambassador in heaven. He is now with his beloved wife and all thew other prophets from adam to today, what a neat thing to be taught by them all.

  4. Samuel

    Not only was he a good man, he was also a true patriot!

  5. You said it wonderfully. A truly amazing man.

  6. ama49

    I liked what you said about him visiting your mission. I had the opportunity to meet him as well as serve with his grandson. I wrote some comments on my latest blog:

    http://www.graceforgrace.com

    I, like you am amazed and grateful for such an amazing prophet and to have had the opportunity to serve a mission under him presiding over the church.

  7. A great testimony. Thanks.

  8. The thing that makes President Hinckley so special to me, is he taught members of the church how to be real people. So many LDS people live in box in their lives, they aren’t aware that there may be other good people in the world that don’t think or believe like they do. I had friends growing up whose parents would tell them, “You can’t go play at so and so’s house because they don’t go to church.” In one particular case it was a less active family they were avoiding. That family truly didn’t get it. President Hinckley certainly did/does.

    I also loved the fact that he was willing to be human. He will never be regarded by people of my generation (the twenty somethings) within the church as the greatest story teller, the deep doctrine man, the uncompromising spiritual man, those titles are bestowed on other great leaders in the church. Gordon B. Hinckley was what I would consider to be “the people’s prophet”. He was someone that seemed palpable, real, and reachable. He wasn’t a great scientist, doctor, justice, pilot or other seemingly untouchable profession. That’s not to say he is less of a man than the others, he just didn’t belong to any groups that our society has seemingly deemed superior to the common man.

    That common-ness (for lack of a better term) was exactly what the Lord needed to further his work. A prophet that could empathize and understand the difficulties for the less fortunate members of the church in getting to a temple that is 12-30 hours away. He understood the need to take the temples to the people, and allow their faith to grow.

    Interestingly enough, when a conference would be playing around families with small children it seemed that although smallish in stature, President Hinckley could command the attention of even the smallest of children. I believe that is a testament to the spiritual greatness of a dear leader that will be missed.

  9. Brad

    Remember the parable in the Bible of the poor man & Lazarus? How each died, and each was then in a separate place – the poor man in Abraham’s bosom, and Lazarus in Hades? And Lazarus wishing he could warn his relatives, and getting told that they have had enough witness already that it should be evident to them? Can you imagine the pain and anguish Lazarus felt, knowing he’d been wrong, probably lead others wrong, wanting to warn them now before death, but knowing he couldn’t? To realize that the people who probably told him he was wrong were actually right, remembering specific conversations that were now crystal clear to him?

    Well, now Hinckley realizes first-hand what that parable is all about, as he is now in the same position as Lazarus.

    Do I say that to be mean? No, though it will be taken that way. I say it as warning to all Mormons – you need to evaluate your religious beliefs apart from what the Mormon church says. Ignore the “feelings” for a second (since the Bible says the heart is wicked and deceitful, anyway), and look at the evidence AGAINST the LDS church. It is immense, and conclusive.

    Don’t be in the position of Lazarus, and remembering this and other conversations, after it is too late.

  10. Swint

    Brad,

    I know that you are not saying that to be mean, I believe that you are genuinely concerned for my soul and the rest of the Mormons’ souls, and I appreciate that.

    Following our many discussions back and forth, I recognize that you are very devout in your faith. So I thank you for your concern. But just know that I am far from ignorant regarding my beliefs compared to the beliefs of the rest of Christianity. I think the evidence against the LDS Church is spotty at best, and no worse than the evidence that is out there concerning the whole of Christianity. You know as well as anyone, that a person’s beliefs, whether Christian, Mormon, or whatever, are a matter of faith and that is what we rely on.
    I certainly believe that my beliefs line up consistently with the bible.

  11. Swint

    By the way, Brad, Do you have your own blog here on wordpress or otherwise? I would love to check it out and/or link to it. Feel free to drop it in a comment here if you want.

  12. Brad says:
    “Mormons – you need to evaluate your religious beliefs apart from what the Mormon church says. Ignore the “feelings” for a second (since the Bible says the heart is wicked and deceitful, anyway), and look at the evidence AGAINST the LDS church. It is immense, and conclusive.”

    Brad,

    Trying to save my soul aside, which I understand and appreciate on some level, please take the time to contemplate and meditate on what I’m about to say to you. It really is for your own good.

    Your statement above rests on one assumption, and one alone. You believe that I (and others) personally have not evaluated my own religious beliefs and that I’m believing what someone is simply telling me. Your are 100% wrong to make that assumption.

    Truth is, I have evaluated the beliefs of the LDS church for a long time, the conclusion I came to is that their (our) belief system falls in line with what the entire Bible (not just bits and pieces) teaches more so than any other Christian religion out there. I would wager that you are more guilty of simply believing the falsehoods that people tell you about the LDS church without truly researching them yourself than I am of simply believe what the church tells me. However, that comparison is for a different place and time, not here, not now.

    All that aside, I realize that you don’t know me from Adam, but I can guarantee you one thing: I have a lot of faults, a lot of them but I’m pretty sure that not very many people that know me personally would ever accuse me of “underthinking” things in my life.

    Thanks for your concern.

  13. Swint and Rational Zen,

    I think that your mistaken when you say the belief system of the Bible is the same as the LDS. There is a major difference between doctrines of Biblical Christianity/ Judiasm and the Mormon Church.

    http://brooksrobinson.wordpress.com/pt1-doctrinal-and-dogmas/

  14. Brad

    Your statement above rests on one assumption, and one alone. You believe that I (and others) personally have not evaluated my own religious beliefs and that I’m believing what someone is simply telling me. Your are 100% wrong to make that assumption.

    Actually, Zen, look back at what I wrote. I never said you need to evaluate your own religious beliefs (period), I said you need to evaluate them APART from what the Mormon church says, and to ignore the “feelings” of the equation, and look simply at the EVIDENCE. There’s a big difference, especially when the Mormon “way” is to wait for the “feeling” that Mormonism is true (as suggested on the Mormon.org website, by the way, so it’s not just “anti-Mormons” making that up, it’s your own organization’s words).

    And I stick by that – you DO need to evaluate Mormonism outside of the bubble you’re in. It’s funny how all Mormons, when confronted by Christians, automatically assume that we’ve done no research, and don’t “really” understand anything about their religion. Seems that’s an assumption that YOU are not authorized to make, either…

    As to the Mormon church’s beliefs lining up most correctly with the “entire” Bible’s, if you TRULY look at the evidence, you’ll find you couldn’t be more wrong. But, that’s for you to investigate. I’ve done my part by letting you know.

  15. Swint

    Brooksrobinson,

    Anyone who has been a party to a doctrinal discussion between a Mormon or a traditional Christian knows that rarely if ever are differences resolved through pointing to scriptures in the Bible. Invariably, both sides of the argument can prove their points through verses in the Bible. For example, last year Brad and I had a fairly long back and forth about various LDS vs. Traditional Christian doctrines and both used biblical verses to back up our own beliefs. Neither of us came remotely close to changing the other person’s mind and both came away feeling we were right.

    You see if the Bible were 100% clear, there would not be thousands of different Christian belief systems in the world. There would likely only be a handful and the Protestant/non-denominational Christian world would be able to come together on nearly unanimous agreement upon practically all of their doctrine, something that is not the case now.

    I am not writing this to criticize Christianity or the Bible, I am simply making the point that the Bible, while having the truth, is not clear, there is a lot of room for interpretation. Mormons can just as well defend our beliefs with Biblical scripture as anyone else can. Hence why we say, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses” will all truth be established.

  16. “Actually, Zen, look back at what I wrote. I never said you need to evaluate your own religious beliefs (period), I said you need to evaluate them APART from what the Mormon church says…..”

    So, in other words, I as well as the rest of the mormons in the world need to evaluate our religious beliefs personally rather than just believe what others are telling us. At least we agree on the substance of what you originally said. Which if you read my response objectively you’ll find I was addressing that very point that you’ve reiterated. It’s up to you, it’s doesn’t bear repeating in my mind.

    I will say this, I love science. I generally apply the scientific method to most of the decisions I ever make in my life. Over the short years of my life, here’s what I know to be true, universally true at that:

    People will be cognitively dissonant when emotions rule their decisions.

    Just to be clear on what cognitive dissonance is, at least according to me, I don’t know how Webster defines it. Cognitive dissonance is when a person wills themselves to ignore information contrary to their beliefs, in order to reinforce their own belief.

    Religion isn’t a logical, scientific, or otherwise provable truth. There is no EVIDENCE (since we’re capitalizing that word for some reason) for God’s existence. If you believe there is, well then don’t bother replying to me. Accepting God is a matter of faith, you know the hope and belief for things that aren’t seen. Therefore, if an atheist tells a Christian that God doesn’t exist and presents the “EVIDENCE” as to why that is true, the Christian will be cognitively dissonant and ignore what the atheist is telling them. Why? Because they know that God exists, they feel it. They’ve never seen God, there isn’t any physical evidence for a being that exists outside space and time, that knows everything, and created the very world we live in. Yet, deep down in their heart of hearts, the Christian “knows” that God exists. The atheist will never talk them out of that position with argumentation or “EVIDENCE”, as it was a decision based on faith.

    For what it’s worth, since you’ve stated as a matter of fact that I live in a bubble. Could you describe this bubble that I live in? Just wondering.

    ~ RZ

  17. Brad

    RZ, it’s the bubble of Mormonism. Dangerous, at best. Eternally dead, at worst.

    Based on your notes on cognitive dissonance, I would say that all Mormons are cognitively dissonant when it comes to their religion.

    And since I do indeed believe there is evidence for God’s existence, I will comply with your request and say nothing further.

  18. Brad

    Swint,

    I would agree with what you said about our discussions, and about interpretations in general.

    Where you and I would probably disagree is that I believe that just b/c an interpretation exists doesn’t make it right, and I believe there is only one correct interpretation of the Bible. I believe we can know it, using diligent study and proper hermeneutics, and I believe most people (Christians and Mormons alike) do not.

    Do I believe the Mormons interpret Scripture correctly? No, I don’t, b/c they interpret it in light of not just the Bible, but in light of what it MUST say in order to not contradict their already existent beliefs. That’s a HUGE problem, when it comes to the methods of correctly interpreting Scripture.

  19. Brookrobinson:

    Full Disclosure: I did not read your entire page, I stopped after two paragraphs.

    There are a couple reasons why:

    1) You said the Bible doesn’t talk about some sort of “universal salvation” as you called it. Without looking it up exactly, am I wrong to believe the Bible when it says, “in Christ all shall be made alive.”? At least when talking to the Corinthians, Paul believed there would be a universal salvation. He didn’t mince words, he said all, not some, part or portion. He said all.

    2) You are trying to establish what you believe LDS doctrine to be using sources outside the LDS canon. If a book hasn’t been universally accepted by the church as doctrine, it’s nothing more than one person’s opinion whom happens to be affiliated with that church.

    I’m sure that if you have even read this far into my comment back to you, that you’ve already got your formulated response as to why my analysis of the Bible in part number one is wrong. Also, why my response to number two is wrong or short-sighted or something.

    The key that I’m getting at, is that it doesn’t matter. All of this “evidence” that people have been talking about so far is completely subjective. You and I will both interpret it as we want, and we will both think the other isn’t understanding the “truth”. Whereas the fact is that it doesn’t actually matter. There are 60,000+ Christian denominations out there, all with different beliefs, we won’t even bother talking about the billions of people that aren’t Christian. That leaves us with three logical choices.

    1) There is either one denomination out there that is teaching the whole, complete, unadulterated truth and the rest are just teaching portions of the truth but lacking the whole of it.

    2) All the Christian denominations are teaching the truth, and it doesn’t matter to which you belong.

    3) All of them are wrong.

    Which of the options do you believe to be correct?

  20. Brad:
    “Based on your notes on cognitive dissonance, I would say that all Mormons are cognitively dissonant when it comes to their religion.”
    No more so than any other person on this planet that believes in a God-like being.

    Yes, you’re included in that group too.
    “And since I do indeed believe there is evidence for God’s existence, I will comply with your request and say nothing further.”

    That statement is cognitive dissonance in action 😉

    Don’t take offense to that statement, I’m including myself in the same dissonant group.

  21. “Do I believe the Mormons interpret Scripture correctly? No, I don’t…..”

    I wonder if we were to ask a Jewish person whether or not they believe that Christians interpret Scripture correctly what their response would be.

    I have my guesses……….

  22. Rational Zen:
    That may be so what that verse says “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive”(1 Corinthians 15:22) The problem with your interpretation is that its a false one which is clearly seen in what Jesus said, as well as Paul. First off you glossed over the whole context of the verse, and you left out verse 18 of the same chapter which says “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” What that verse is saying is that all who are in Christ will be made alive, this is easily pointed out by taking the who Bible into context with that. Jesus says this in John, ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18). No interpretation needed you must believe in Jesus to see heaven. Paul addresses those who do not hear the word in Romans “19. since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). Clearly stated, no man is without excuse, but what happened is man began to worship created gods, therefore God gave them over to their desires.

    We know that we all sin, and as Paul states in Romans that we have enough grace to cover our sins. However Paul also says we become dead to sin and must become servants of Jesus. Continuing with that thought we know that our salvation is clearly a matter of our choice. John writes “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God…Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them”(1John 3:21,24). Jesus also reiterates this in John 15:1-14, 1 John 2:17 also states “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Romans also states that “That 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”(Romans 10:9). If you notice at the beginning it says “that if you confess with your mouth”, then at the end it says “you will be saved.” What that clearly says with no mincing of words you must confess before you will be saved. Peter writes in his second letter “Therefore my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:12). If we are all saved regardless of our believes in Jesus then we shouldn’t have to be eager that we are sure to be elected and saved. The Bible is clear to who will be saved, those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior,(this includes what he said about himself, in which that he is God in the flesh not just a separate god). Those before Jesus had to believe in God and not worship idols and follow the law, and those who did not have the law have to follow God and the natural law God inscribed onto our hearts. The only thing universal about salvation is that everyone has the choice to accept the message or to reject it, or in some cases make up their own messages.

    In Christ,
    Brooks

  23. Insulted

    Brad,
    I am almost speechless. How on earth could you be so heartless and thickheaded to make those comments about such a wonderful man? It is obvious that your views differ from Pres. Hinckley (and Mormonism) and that’s fine, but please leave your opinion for a more appropriate forum. Regardless of your differences on religion you could at least have some respect for this man who has just passed away and has more integrity and selflessness than practically anyone who has lived. Regardless of your beliefs or the intent of your post, the man just passed away and those who cared about him are paying tribute. So leave your anti-mormonism out of it or just don’t comment. We’d rather not hear from you.

  24. Rational Zen:

    To your second reason for not reading my blog.
    The books I quoted from are written by Joseph Smith or prominent Mormon scholars. The doctrinal differences are answered in my blog. Please read, its all from Mormon sources. The other issue is this, you compare Mormons as just another “denomination” the problem is this, if I go to Christian church’s nation wide they will all confess the same thing, which is Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, God in the flesh, not a god separate from God the Father, but the one and only true living God as proclaimed by the prophets in the Old Testament and the New Testament writers, making up the triune Godhead, not 3 separate gods. The doctrinal differences one sees between denominations are minor differences and focus around minimal things that do not affect the God inspired Bible. For ex: some denominations will start a church based totally off of belief in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church verses a post tribulation rapture (not saying in all cases). I know this to be true because I’ve been apart of 4 or so different denominations and I’ve studied or attended a few of the other denominations. The same message remains true for Baptists, Methodist, Lutherans, etc. and that is what I’ve stated up there. The Mormon Church only has a few things in common with traditional Christianity.

  25. Swint

    Ahh, but you see we essentially believe the same thing, with that slight difference that that all three entities are separate beings, to which there is significant biblical support to our claim, in the same way that there is significant biblical support to your claim. Thus, we are back to my earlier point that both of our sides can be backed up with the bible and ultimately we are back to square one.

  26. Swint,

    I’m interested in your response to this:

    I’m sure you’ve heard this referenced before but I would like you to look at it in this way.
    Let’s take John 1:1-3

    John 1:1
    ——–
    “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
    “En arxh hn o logov, kai o logov hn prov ton qeon, kai qeov hn o logov.”

    I think we can both agree that the “Word” here is Jesus. Jesus was with God during the creation. “kai o logov hn prov ton qeon” and the same term that applied to God is applied to Jesus when it says “kai qeov hn o logov.”

    qeon = qeov = theos = God

    John 1:2
    ——–
    “2He was with God in the beginning.”
    “outov hn en arxh prov ton qeon.”

    Another showing the use of “qeon” or “theos”

    John 1:3 (This I feel is most important to pay attention to.)
    ——–
    “3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
    “panta di’ autou egeneto, kai xwriv autou egeneto oude en. o gegonen”

    Please read the whole thing and realize the context that the “Word” is used in:
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    Ok “Through him all things were made” is obviously referring to the “Word” here. All of the other sentences using the word “He” or “Him” are referring to the “Word” and as does the 3rd verse. So we could say “Through Jesus all things were made; without Jesus nothing was made that has been made.” All things are made through Jesus. Without him NOTHING was made that has been made. It’s not saying, just the Earth, or just Man, ALL things. So then, if Jesus and God are completely separate. And through Jesus all things were made. Did Jesus make God?

  27. Swint:
    Now you bring up a good point, the Bible eludes to both, that which Jesus being God, and Jesus being separate from God. So which one is it? It’s both, God exists in Three persons, which is God the Father, God the Son and God’s Spirit, or Holy Spirit. They by nature are all God, one God but in 3 persons, 3 I’s, or 3 centers of self consciousness. Now first to grasp the trinity(or this doctrine) we must first establish there is only 1 God. We can do this by pointing to a handful of verses which are “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”(Deuteronomy 6:4), “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other” (1 Kings 8:60), “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me”(Isaiah 45:5), “For this is what the LORD says– he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited– he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other”(Isaiah 45:18), and lastly “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed– I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am God”(Isaiah 43:10-12). So now that we have a Biblical basis in saying that there is no god but God, that he is our God, no god existed before him, and there will never be another god, we can move on to Jesus being only God.
    First, we know that apart from God there is no savior(Isaiah 43:10), so then we must conclude one of two things, since Jesus claims to be the savior he is either A. God or B. a Liar. If hes a liar then we need not worry about this conversation, if he’s God, then God came in the form of a man named Jesus. This is confirmed in the book of Philippians, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-7), as well as when Thomas turned to him saying “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28).

  28. Swint

    Ericburns, I have heard that argument many times, we just have different interpretations of it. I am not going to get into a big debate about it, I already went through that with Brad last year. However, a short response would be to go read John 17/Christ’s Intercessory Prayer.

  29. Swint

    Brooks, see my last comment. we could go back and forth on this forever and never convince each other. Again, there are just as many verses that support the LDS claim as there are the traditional Christian claim.

    It is also important to point out that this Trinitarian doctrine was not universally accepted until the Council at Nicea, previous to that there were many, many Christians who held the Godhead view. So let’s not act like the our view is out of left field.

  30. Swint:

    This isn’t a debate on whether or not Jesus is a separate being to God the Father, the doctrine of the trinity upholds this belief as well. The arguement is on Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father being 3 persons in 1, making up the Godhead. I clearly gave versus that put Jesus equal to God the Father and at the same time I will not dispute that Jesus is a separate being in the Godhead, because this is traditional Christianity.

    If one remembers what the result of the Council of Nicea was, one will also remember that it was concluded that Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit were 1 God existing in 3 beings(see Nicaean Creed) and that Arianism was thus, judged to be a heretical teaching. This type of belief in Jesus not being God, did not arise until Arius taught this around the 4th century. From what is clear of the early church creeds, the New Testament, as well as writings from church fathers like this one from Ignatius, written in approximately 110AD, “There is one Physician, of flesh and of spirit,[2] originate and unoriginate,[3] GOD IN MAN, true Life in death, son of Mary[4] and SON OF GOD, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord,” in which Jesus is regarded to be God in the flesh, taking his part in the Triune Godhead as “God the Son”, early on in church history. With this being said, Mormon doctrine is not Arianism or even close to being Arianism, but it is Polytheism, believing that many different gods exist, that believers will become gods, and that there is not just one true living God that the Bible boldly proclaims. So please don’t make Mormonism out to be another Arianism or even “just” another denomination of Christianity.

  31. Brooks:
    “The doctrinal differences one sees between denominations are minor differences and focus around minimal things that do not affect the God inspired Bible.”

    You’ve just summed up the entire conversation in one sentence. Essentially what you’re saying is that people are only in spiritual danger if they disagree with you on points that YOU believe to be important. The actual content throughout the whole bible doesn’t actually matter, just as long as the parts that you believe are important are interpreted “correctly”.

  32. Brooks:
    For some reason I can’t edit my comment, so I have to repost. I re-read what I wrote and I think it’s sounding more hostile than it’s supposed to be.

    What I’m getting at, is like I said earlier. Either everyone is right, everyone is wrong, or there is one out of the 60,000+ denominations that is teaching the whole and unadulterated truth.

    The real question is which one is that “one”, and how do we know which “one” that is?

  33. Brooks:
    “I clearly gave versus that put Jesus equal to God the Father and at the same time I will not dispute that Jesus is a separate being in the Godhead, because this is traditional Christianity.”

    You better be careful brooks, you’re sounding like one of them mormons when you say things like that 🙂

    However on that note, the New Testament is very clear that Jesus subjects himself to the Father. Jesus is not equal to God consistently throughout the New Testament.

    Christ’s baptism, and the intercessory prayer shed some very valuable insight on the relationship between Jesus and the Father.

  34. Swint

    “I clearly gave versus that put Jesus equal to God the Father and at the same time I will not dispute that Jesus is a separate being in the Godhead, because this is traditional Christianity. ”

    What are we arguing about? That is exactly what Mormons believe. We believe that God and Jesus are equals and that Jesus and God are separate beings.

    The trinitarian view is that God and Jesus are the exact same being. Something we disagree with.

    By the way, the whole debate is pointless anyway, what does it matter? It is purely a matter semantics. All God cares about is that one believes in Christ, that Christ died for our sins, and was resurrected thus overcoming death. All of us here believe whole heartedly in the divinty of Christ and in his mission. The biggest difference is a very thin line of disagreement on the nature of Christ, a disagreement that I doubt God really is all that concerned about.

  35. “You better be careful brooks, you’re sounding like one of them mormons when you say things like that :)” haha No, I fall in line with traditional Christian thought, Jesus is a separate being making up God the only God ;-). Swint I’ll respond to yours later when I get time.

  36. Swint

    “Jesus is a separate being making up God the only God”

    Again, exactly what we Mormons believe.

  37. “I fall in line with traditional Christian thought, Jesus is a separate being making up God the only God.”

    That was the point, LDS (mormon) teaching says as much.

    We are in 100% agreement 😉

  38. Beautifully written. Imagine his Homecoming Party in heaven!
    I am so humbled to have lived during his presidency and to have heard his voice and felt of his great spirit. I have posted a few video tributes on my blog you may enjoy.

  39. That is not the case Mormon doctrine dictates that Jesus is one of many gods and he is God the Father’s son. So that is not in agreement with the doctrine of the trinity.

  40. We as traditional Christians are monotheistic, do not accept that God the Father is from Kolob, and was once a man like all of us only to decsend into a godhood. We also are not in agreement that believers will become gods of our own planets populating it with a celestial marriage. This is not in agreement with the Bible or any traditional Christian creeds/doctrines. If you do not believe this then perhaps the LDS changed its position on many of its doctrines.

  41. Swint

    Brooks, the fact that we can become like God is all over the Bible (Here is one for fun, go back and read Matthew 5:48, and spend some time pondering and thinking about it). It is one of the clearer taught doctrines. I will agree that it is not in agreement with any traditional Christian creeds/doctrines, but who says they have the final say? I say that God does.

    You are wrong about the Kolob thing by the way, go back and read Abraham in the LDS Pearl of Great Price.

    By the way, the definition of the Trinity that you gave previously is not in agreement with the trinitarian doctrine. you said that you agree that God and Christ are different beings, the Trinity claims they are not, just ask Brad.

  42. Brooks:
    “That is not the case Mormon doctrine dictates that Jesus is one of many gods and he is God the Father’s son. So that is not in agreement with the doctrine of the trinity.”
    1) LDS teaching says that Jesus is one of three persons making up the Godhead.

    Article of Faith number 1, you could call it a creed of sorts: “We believe in God the Eternal Father, in His son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.”

    1 John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

    According to this verse in John if you don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God than you can’t know/have eternal life. If the trinity doesn’t believe that, there are lots of people in trouble.

    brooksrobinson:
    “We as traditional Christians are monotheistic”

    That depends on how you define monotheistic. For example:

    1) If you believe that monotheism is a belief in one and only one God then traditional Christians are not monotheistic. All of the revisions of the Nicene creed, as well as other popular creeds like the Athanasian all state very clearly that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are three distinct individuals with different roles. Jesus himself states that he is subject to the Father’s will, remember in the touching moment where the Son pleads to His Father to allow the bitter cup to pass? Two different people, both God = two Gods, not monotheism.

    Simply saying they are one doesn’t change the fact that they are thought of and defined as separate individuals in the creeds, as well as the scriptures.

    2) If you believe that monotheism is defined as a belief in the oneness of God (like the Trinity does) than you’ll have to extend that definition to the LDS as well. We do believe in a oneness of God, we just call it a Godhead not a trinity. (See article of fath #1 again)

    Sorry brooks, logically you (and the rest of “traditional Christians”) are no more monotheistic than the LDS are. I realize you’ll dismiss that statement, remember it’s all about cognitive dissonance now, but it’s true.

    If you would like to understand the point that I’m saying, ask a Jewish person some time if they believe that traditional Christians are monotheists or not. Perhaps you’ll be surprised.

  43. I have already stated what the trinity is, God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons not to be confused by a “person”, the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth), and the Holy Spirit. This is different from the Mormon belief which is 3 separate beings with one purpose.

  44. Im done discussing this its not going anywhere, I’ve explained the Traditional view of the Trinity as best as I could.

    Good talking this with you guys,

    In Jesus
    Brooks

  45. Air-Rick

    I love how the conversation went from honoring a great leader of a universal church to proving if mormonism is right or wrong. I would submit a response to an earlier conversation in regards to the parable of “the poor man and Lazarus.” The idea of President Hinckley being in that position (wishing he could warn others, so they don’t have the same fate) would be saying that someone like Mother Teresa is in the same place. God judges us by our works and I think Pres. Hinckley’s works while on this earth grant him access to something higher than HADES. The problem with this argument to begin with is that Brad is speculating (has no proof) that President Hinckley is going to hell. It reminds me of a South Park episode where everyone’s in hell and they don’t understand why. They say, “I was a devout Christian, I shouldn’t be here…” Finally someone asks “Who was right?” And the devil replies…”It was the Mormons, yes the Mormons…” That’s just as ridiculous as Brad’s comment. Let’s just speculate and say that the Mormons are the poor man and that Lazarus represents all other worldly religions/belief systems. The mormon religion is unique in that they have 12 apostles, the bible and other scriptures (Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, teachings of latter-day prophets, etc.), they claim to have direct revelation/guidance from God, and they believe that Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God. Geez…if this means the Mormons are going to hell, then I wonder who is going to heaven. Point being, no one can judge and say that another person is going to hell, (HADES, whatever) for their beliefs. That’s God’s job.

  46. Air-Rick

    Here is the link to my SouthPark video clip…actually pretty funny and clean for the “bubble” folks.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5962749791332800248&q=south+park+mormons&total=73&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

  47. Swint

    “Im done discussing this its not going anywhere,”

    And my point from earlier was proven! It never goes anywhere, that is why it is a waste of time to throw scriptures around trying to prove each other wrong.

    It was good talking to you to Brooks, you are a good guy,

  48. Swint

    “I have already stated what the trinity is, God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons not to be confused by a “person”, the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth), and the Holy Spirit”

    Oh, well that clears it up! No wonder there are thousands of Christian churches, can you get any more confusing about the nature of God? I’ll take the Mormon definition, it makes more sense.

  49. haha one more response and I’m truly done,
    “I’ll take the Mormon definition, it makes more sense.”
    Philippians 2:11 in referring to Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO BE GRASPED.” So you right its not easy to grasp their equality. But I truly must bow out now, I just wanted to link this verse to your statement ;-).

  50. Rational Zen

    Brooks, et al:

    The point never was who is right and who is wrong, at least from my perspective. The point is/was always that no matter what evidence is put forward, people make up their minds as they choose.

    At Brooks specifically:
    Philippians 2:6 reads:
    “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”

    FYI, that coincides directly with the LDS belief in eternal progression that you have denounced.

    Again, are you sure you’re not a closet mormon? Your beliefs are awfully close 😉

  51. Haha no I’m not a Mormon, I have many issues with the LDS church, such as, sour feelings on the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, understanding of certain Theological issues, after life doctrines, Lucifer being Jesus’ brother, and many many more(no offense). My biggest issue, is the view of YHWH the LDS church holds, which is not my view haha. My view like I have stated for the past 845873496734896 (over exaggerated haha) responses, is that YHWH is 3 persons existing simultaniously, in other words Jesus is as much YHWH as God the Father is as much YHWH, existing to form one being. The closest analogy I can give is in Genisis, I believe chapter 18(I’d have to double check), God the Father appears in 3 forms, some suspect 1 of these forms is Jesus, either way God the Father appears in 2 or 3 forms all at the same time to Abraham. While doing this YHWH talking between the 2 or 3 forms he showed up as, just as if you or I would be chit chatting, this shows that even though the 3 forms equal God the Father, they still have a communication between each other, which can reveal why Jesus while being God still prays to God the Father, like he was a separate entity. The Mormon doctrine once again, is 3 separate beings for 1 purpose. There is a difference in the term “beings” and “persons” in the Mormon sense. Also if you hold Jesus as a separate being, in that he is just as separate from the Father as I am to you, then when one is worshiping Jesus one then is guilty of breaking the commandment of worshiping another god infront of YHWH. By the way I have an addiction to responding to this even though my plan was to bow out of this debate haha.

  52. Swint

    It’s a pretty thin line of difference between your beliefs and our beliefs, and if your beliefs pretty well consistent throughout mainstream Christianity then I am not sure why we spend so much time talking about this particular difference. I get the impression we are practically saying the same thing in different words. I always thought that what was important was to simply hold the belief in God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. That we recognized the divinity of the three and especially the mission and calling of the savior as our redeemer from both spiritual and physical death.

  53. The problem with the belief that all three are divine, but not one, is that then one is saying theres 3 gods and not just one. The issue with this is God clearly states throughout the Bible he’s the one living God, and that there is no other but him. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are totally separate beings from God the Father one is endanger of violating the Commandment of worshiping other Gods instead of God. If Jesus is God and not just a god then no violation occurs. The other areas include the Book of Mormon, to Christians the Book of Mormon is not a legit book period. To us its not a revelation nor is it historically accurate (even this belief is held by the Smithsonian Institute). Joseph Smith is also, to us, not a prophet or even close to being one. As traditional Christianity is concerned his beliefs are so out there in his writings that its much much deeper then the differences you see between the other Protestant church’s. About the only thing that Mormons and Christians have in common is the Bible, similar names of various people, and a professing faith in God. The major problem however lies with who Jesus is. If one is to have faith in Jesus as his Lord and savior, one is guilty of worshiping other gods before God, unless he’s God. If he’s God then one does not violate this, and one is in harmony with the various times God himself stated that I am the savior of men and I bring redemption to men etc. etc. Also one has a harmony with the fact Jesus claimed to be the Alpha Omega, if Jesus is God the Fathers literal son, which would mean he’d have to come into existence at some point in time, hes not the Alpha Omega, and therefore he lied. Other differences include the church government styles of the
    Mormon church, which rely on names of a priesthood that have long been obsolete especially after Jesus’ death (confirmed this in Hebrews as Jesus is the last Melchizedek priest of the new covenant which he established). I could go on and on on the differences of Mormonism and traditional Christianity. But I’ll spare everyone the book like blog entry I’ve already typed out haha.

  54. Brad

    I am almost speechless. How on earth could you be so heartless and thickheaded to make those comments about such a wonderful man? It is obvious that your views differ from Pres. Hinckley (and Mormonism) and that’s fine, but please leave your opinion for a more appropriate forum. Regardless of your differences on religion you could at least have some respect for this man who has just passed away and has more integrity and selflessness than practically anyone who has lived. Regardless of your beliefs or the intent of your post, the man just passed away and those who cared about him are paying tribute. So leave your anti-mormonism out of it or just don’t comment. We’d rather not hear from you.

    Gee, didn’t I call this in my original comment, that some would view this as mean? I never said anything about Hinckley “the man”, I’m sure he was a kind and moral individual with many good qualities. I’m not disputing that, but that’s also not what I’m talking about either, so you need to make sure you can separate the issues. To say he “has more integrity and selflessness than practically anyone who has lived”, already shows the pedestal upon which you place him, and probably not rightly so, for “anyone who has lived” is a very broad group, don’t you think?

    Irrespective of that, my comments are to his now eternal state, which he will be in forever at this point. Make sure you see the forest for the trees.

  55. Brad

    I would submit a response to an earlier conversation in regards to the parable of “the poor man and Lazarus.” The idea of President Hinckley being in that position (wishing he could warn others, so they don’t have the same fate) would be saying that someone like Mother Teresa is in the same place.

    Not necessarily, but possible. What your assumption does is equate Hinckley with Mother Teresa. What I say is that we have no right to elevate one man over another, b/c we’re all sinners in God’s eyes, and not one of us – not one – can do enough to merit favor in God’s eyes, which is why He had to provide the perfect sacrifice in Jesus to begin with. Hinckley, Mother Teresa, you, me, anyone – we all get to Heaven based on the same criteria, and it is not based on works.

    God judges us by our works and I think Pres. Hinckley’s works while on this earth grant him access to something higher than HADES.

    Interesting you should bring this up. Now I’ve talked with many Mormons, most of whom insist Mormonism is not a works-based salvation; are you saying you believe differently? If so, I would appreciate you explaining your view of Ephesians 2:8-9 for me. Our “works” on Earth grant us no special access to Heaven – we get there by faith through grace alone. Do you disagree?

    The problem with this argument to begin with is that Brad is speculating (has no proof) that President Hinckley is going to hell.

    While I don’t believe it is speculation, but a certainty based upon his beliefs when compared to what the Bible says, your counter argument is inherently based upon your “speculation” that he isn’t. So if you believe my argument to be weak (“has no proof”), then yours would have to be just as weak. No way around that one.

    Let’s just speculate and say that the Mormons are the poor man and that Lazarus represents all other worldly religions/belief systems.

    Yep, that’s definitely speculation, all right.

    The mormon religion is unique in that they have 12 apostles, the bible and other scriptures (Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, teachings of latter-day prophets, etc.), they claim to have direct revelation/guidance from God, and they believe that Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God. Geez…if this means the Mormons are going to hell, then I wonder who is going to heaven.

    I don’t argue that the Mormon religion is “unique.” No argument here on that one. But your argument is flawed. You say “look at all Mormonism has – if that won’t get you into Heaven, nothing will!” But what I’m saying is “what if it’s not true?” There are some grand thoughts that one could have, but if not true, they’re just grand thoughts, not reality. And the circular logic used by the Mormon church to show others it’s true (I know it’s true b/c the BOM said to ask the Spirit if it is, the Spirit confirmed it so I know it is – you’re asking for confirmation ABOUT whether a book is true, using a method from the very book you’re asking about the truthfulness of!!), just doesn’t hold water.

    Point being, no one can judge and say that another person is going to hell, (HADES, whatever) for their beliefs. That’s God’s job.

    It’s God’s power that allows a person to have their will. But you can look at someone’s beliefs, line them up with the Bible, and tell pretty quickly that if they don’t agree with what Scripture says, they’re not believing correctly.

  56. Brad

    Swint is right when he said neither side will convince the other – by and large, this is true, and it just won’t happen.

    Great thing is, it’s not my job to convince anyone.

  57. Swint

    Brad,
    You know full well the LDS belief on works v faith, you also know that we have never claimed that the grace of Christ is not absolutely essential to salvation. But allow me to be unequivocal here, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to be saved with out faith and the Grace of Christ.

    I also think we both believe that our actions on earth and the way we live our lives will also be critical to our salvation. If you don’t believe this, are you saying that as long as I have accepted Christ into my heart and accept his Grace, that one can then live their life any way that they want? One could neglect their family, cheat on their spouse, indulge in porn, participate in gay acts, take drugs, take advantage of people for our own gain, etc? You and I both know that even if we have accepted Christ and have full faith in him, our salvation can still be lost.

    But, you may say, one who has truly accepted Christ would never participate in such acts, for that is not how Christ would have lived. Absolutely right, and, thus, the way we live our lives (our works) are also critical to our salvation.

    However, it also works conversely, we could be practically perfect, lived the best life and done our best to live right, in a manner that would be just as God would desire. However at some point, we would have unfailingly sinned and hence we are unqualified for God’s kingdom. It is only through the atonement of Christ that makes up for that. Thus our works in no way can qualify us for the kingdom without the grace of Christ. It is absolutely impossible.

    I doubt that we disagree much here, but who knows? What I do know is that this is clear in scripture. See James 2, Hebrew 11, you see they all talk about faith preceeding the works, it is through faith that we are compelled to be better people and live better lives, perform good works. However, we still make mistakes, but as long as we do our best and continually repent, the grace of Christ is sufficent for us.

    Where I think the disconnect comes is from misunderstanding on both sides, I think we Mormons, in an effort to both defend ourselves and set ourselves apart, put excess focus on the importance of works. However it is not really works, as much as it is ‘active faith’. I also think that there is a disconnect by ‘opponents’ of the church in that they exaggerate the importance we put on works, in order to widen the divide between us. When in all actuality, I would be shocked if when push came to shove, we didn’t practically agree on the same basic principle here: that Grace and faith are essential, but that “faith without works is dead”, in other words, no matter how much we believe and accept Christ, our actions and choices can still lose us salvation.

  58. Swint

    And let me add, that any faith that did not believe my last comment there (“no matter how much we believe and accept Christ, our actions and choices can still lose us salvation.”) is not worth much in my eyes and I would never ever consider aligning my faith with such, for I believe whole heartedly that God accepts more of us than just saying we believe and signing our name on some piece of paper. Our actions must demonstrate our faith to the best of our abilities.

  59. Brooks:

    “There is a difference in the term “beings” and “persons” in the Mormon sense.”

    The only difference between what you say, and what the LDS says is semantic. Besides if you wanted to split grammatical hairs you have it backwards.

    In the English language the Trinity (as we see in the creeds) would state that the three are separate beings, existing in the same person. The LDS belief of the Godhead would say they are three separate persons, comprising one greater person.

    The point isn’t that one person’s definition is better than the other, my point is that it doesn’t actually matter how we define things. It doesn’t matter what we say, or what belief we profess. It’s our actions that determine our level of faith.

    Remember as was stated by one of the greatest Thinkers of all times, “…….they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

    I think you’d agree that a human being’s actions proceed from the heart, therefore the closer one’s heart is to Christ, it will be reflected in their deeds. A bad tree will not bring forth good fruit.

  60. Brad:

    The LDS believe very much that salvation from sin is something that comes by grace, through faith.

    If you choose to disagree with LDS belief on salvation I think you’ll find that you need to twist, mince words in order to find a disagreement.

    I haven’t met a Christian in the world that disagrees with the LDS view on salvation when spoken about objectively. It’s only when cognitive dissonance warps people’s perceptions that disagreements ensue. I’d also wager that the great tempter Satan would prefer that Christians fight amongst themselves. When we fall into the snare of contention about topics for no good reason, he’s won.

    So if you want to talk about faith, grace and salvation please do so by defining what you believe faith and grace are. I bet if you would be willing to start on a common semantic ground you’ll find you don’t have any disagreement with LDS view on salvation. That’s just a guess based on many trials, I have yet to find that formula fail.

  61. Brad

    Swint,

    While I agree that faith (in Christ, as described completely in the Bible) is absolutely essential to salvation, where you and I would disagree is that I believe that ONLY faith is necessary for salvation. Works are NOT required for salvation. The Bible makes that expressly clear in Eph. 2:8-9, does it not?

    I do agree with you that a lot of the “rift” between Mormonism and Christianity is due to a “difference of opinion”, “misunderstanding on both sides”, etc… of faith and works, and how each might play into salvation. Your description of the problems exhibited by each was actually pretty good. Many Mormons are quick to emphasize works, making it look as important, or more important, than faith for salvation. And many Christians do not understand fully the Mormon doctrine on this. However, I would say that you probably downplay works a little more than even your own doctrine does, b/c inherently built in to your doctrine is the need to continually be doing good works, in order to be assured.

    James speaks of works that are EVIDENCE OF a saving faith, not a REQUIREMENT FOR saving faith. Some would read that statement, and say the 2 terms don’t really mean anything different. I say that’s dead wrong, that they’re completely different in purpose. If you study the Greek in James 2, the word and context used for “works” denotes something that is visible to others, for the purpose of showing something to them. In other words, works are the evidence to the world that someone is saved, but in and of themselves have no part in salvation. They don’t help accomplish salvation, they show that salvation has already been accomplished! That’s a huge difference in concept. I’d be curious if you agree or not.

    As to your last comment, then count me as one whose faith is not worth much in your eyes. I don’t believe for one second that one can “lose” their salvation – there’s too much Scripture that speaks otherwise. If we could, how could we ever be sure we had it? We’d always have to be working, wondering, hoping that we have done enough to make sure we showed that we had enough faith. How is that any different than any other works-based religion? It’s not.

    What about 1 Peter 1:4-5? Romans 8:35-39? John 10:27-29? And what about Hebrews 6:4-6? If you take that passage to mean you can lose salvation, you’d also have to take that passage to mean that if you lose it, you can NEVER regain it! Scripture just doesn’t back up the notion of “losing” one’s salvation. Now, I believe there are those who THINK they’ve had it, but never truly did (Matt. 7:21-23 is a good example). They may have “works”, but it doesn’t mean that they’ve had “saving faith”, in God’s eyes. You commented on this earlier, and said that it shows how critical works are to our salvation. But this negates saving faith, which is clearly the point in Matt. 7 – you may have works that YOU think are good, but God knows your heart, and whether you’ve TRULY placed your faith in Him, and that is all that matters.

    If we have TRUE saving faith, will works accompany that? Absolutely. If there are no works that accompany faith, is it TRUE saving faith? Absolutely not. But do works play any actual role in securing your salvation? Absolutely not – faith does, works just show that you have saving faith.

  62. Brad

    RZ,

    You speak of cognitive dissonance, yet you’re too wrapped up in your own to have a meaningful discussion with. You’ve already “proven” everything out, and are relative in your thinking anyway, and your formulas all work and you’ve tried it all, so why bother?

    I’ll stick to Swint, thanks.

  63. Brad:
    “RZ,

    You speak of cognitive dissonance, yet you’re too wrapped up in your own to have a meaningful discussion with. You’ve already “proven” everything out, and are relative in your thinking anyway, and your formulas all work and you’ve tried it all, so why bother?

    I’ll stick to Swint, thanks.

    I made no bones about it, that I don’t believe there is any physical evidence of God’s existence, that it’s an emotional decision based on faith. So yes, as I stated much earlier, I too am cognitively dissonant. Just not as much as everyone else 😉

    Jokes aside, I haven’t “proven everything out” as you’ve stated. I simply stated, and maintain, that semantic differences are the cause of disagreement and contention most of the time, and 100% of the time when people start the whole faith/grace/works debate.

    If you don’t find meaning in coming to a common understanding, and a potential agreement where both can be edified, with someone from a different faith from your own then you are right, you probably won’t find a “meaningful” discussion with me.

    I think the tragedy is that too many god fearing people in the world don’t find meaning in coming to an understanding with someone they disagree with, or don’t find value in building a conversation amongst differing views on common beliefs or understanding and going from there.

    That tragedy is the root of the tree that bears fruit of well-intentioned people strapping bombs to themselves to prove a point. Not being willing to edify one another independent of belief structure, we are fostering the same tragedy, only in a less violent way.

    If you’ve changed your mind, I would still invite dialog.

    I would posit the following logical statement:

    If a person believes that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, and that person’s belief motivates them to do works (works encompass lots of things like charity, baptism, repentance, taking care of widows/children et al), then that person has true faith in Jesus Christ.

    It then follows:
    That a person that believes that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, and that belief does not motivate them to do works (as described above) then that person does not have true faith in Jesus Christ.

    Therefore:
    1) Works + Belief = Faith
    2) Faith – Works = Belief
    also (less relevant but potentially)
    3) Works = Faith – Belief — meaning, non-believers are capable of doing good things as well.

    Agree or disagree?

  64. Brad

    I would posit the following logical statement:

    If a person believes that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, and that person’s belief motivates them to do works (works encompass lots of things like charity, baptism, repentance, taking care of widows/children et al), then that person has true faith in Jesus Christ.

    It then follows:
    That a person that believes that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, and that belief does not motivate them to do works (as described above) then that person does not have true faith in Jesus Christ.

    Therefore:
    1) Works + Belief = Faith
    2) Faith – Works = Belief
    also (less relevant but potentially)
    3) Works = Faith – Belief — meaning, non-believers are capable of doing good things as well.

    Agree or disagree?

    I would say to start, we’d have to define the term “Jesus Christ”, b/c without a common understanding of that term (and hence that person), any further discussion is moot. I seriously doubt we agree on the nature of Jesus Christ, if you’re a Mormon. And cognitive dissonance aside, I don’t for a second believe it’s all semantics – I believe it’s crucial. How about your definition of Christ, his nature, and his being.

    All that aside, no I still wouldn’t agree with your equations. Works + Belief = Faith is incorrect at its core, b/c as I said, Faith (and salvation) isn’t made up OF works, it is evidenced BY works. Big difference.

    I would pose it this way:

    1) True Faith = Salvation
    2) True Faith + Works = Evidence of Salvation to Others
    3) True Faith – Works = Cannot compute (I don’t believe this exists, as true faith is ALWAYS accompanied by works; put another way…)
    4) Faith – Works = Dead

  65. Swint

    So Brad, I don’t mean to say this as demeaning at all, but I really just want to understand what you are saying,

    Are you saying that so long as one has accepted Christ and his Grace and firmly believes in him, then no matter what kind of sins that person commits, even up to murder, would have no bearing on that person’s salvation?

    I would guess your answer is no, because a person with such true faith would never commit such an act, but there are many who have such faith that has a moment of weakness and do something stupid or that are so wrapped up in their faith that their belief corrupts them to violence (see radical Islam or the Branch Dividians).

  66. Swint

    Brad, also coupled with this discussion is our understanding of what God has in store for us in the next life. I would be interested in hearing what your belief regarding heaven/hell is, what is salvation? what are we going to be doing once we are there? what does God have in store for us?

    Don’t feel obligated to answer these by any means, but I do think that our respective beliefs regarding God’s ultimate goal for his children plays a ton into our beliefs on the role of works in salvation.

  67. Brad

    Are you saying that so long as one has accepted Christ and his Grace and firmly believes in him, then no matter what kind of sins that person commits, even up to murder, would have no bearing on that person’s salvation?

    I think each individual situation is different, but the blanket answer I would give is “yes.” Look at David in the Bible – he certainly sinned greatly, including having Uriah murdered, yet he was still called “a man after God’s own heart.” 1 John makes it very clear that we will still sin, even though we are saved. That doesn’t give us a license to commit sin at will (which both Paul and John explain in various parts of the Bible), but does mean that we don’t “lose” our salvation, b/c of our sin. Although, salvation (hence, true saving faith) does require a change in one’s life, so I would say that a person whose life is characterized by habitual sin probably has never experienced salvation to begin with.

    I would guess your answer is no, because a person with such true faith would never commit such an act, but there are many who have such faith that has a moment of weakness and do something stupid or that are so wrapped up in their faith that their belief corrupts them to violence (see radical Islam or the Branch Dividians).

    See above for my answer . Although a person with true saving faith probably would not commit such an act, the possibility exists depending on the circumstances, but again, it boils down to what saves you – faith, or works?

    I don’t think you can compare Branch Davidians or Islam with evangelical Christianity – the beliefs are entirely different, the method of salvation different, the nature of God and Jesus different. It’s like comparing apples and cucumbers.

  68. Brad

    Brad, also coupled with this discussion is our understanding of what God has in store for us in the next life. I would be interested in hearing what your belief regarding heaven/hell is, what is salvation? what are we going to be doing once we are there? what does God have in store for us?

    In the end, eternal life consists of 2 places – Heaven and hell. You are either with God, or without Him. I believe hell is a literal place, where those who did not have saving faith in this life are cast for all eternity, punished and tormented, and separated from the presence of God forever. I believe they go there of their own free will, not b/c they specifically wished to go THERE, but b/c they did not have faith in God as their Savior. I believe “faith in God as their Savior” doesn’t just mean faith in whatever or whoever we think God is, but involves having faith in who the Bible says He is. I also believe Heaven is a literal place created for us by God, to be with Him forever. I do not believe in levels of Heaven, and believe any notion of that is a complete misinterpretation of Scripture. I do not believe we can “become” gods either, and believe this is also a complete misinterpretation of Scripture. I do believe we receive crowns in Heaven (clearly spoken of in the Bible), based upon things we do here on Earth (i.e. works), but those crowns have nothing to do with our salvation proper – they are merely “extras”, if you will, and there are people who will get to Heaven without them (see 1 Corinthians). The Bible is also clear that when we get there, whatever crowns we have will be thrown at His feet, in worship and honor of Him. In fact, that’s what we will be doing for all eternity – worshiping and honoring God.

    Don’t feel obligated to answer these by any means, but I do think that our respective beliefs regarding God’s ultimate goal for his children plays a ton into our beliefs on the role of works in salvation.

    I don’t mind answering them at all, and I think you’re right about your final statement.

  69. Brad:
    “I would pose it this way:

    1) True Faith = Salvation
    2) True Faith + Works = Evidence of Salvation to Others
    3) True Faith – Works = Cannot compute (I don’t believe this exists, as true faith is ALWAYS accompanied by works; put another way…)
    4) Faith – Works = Dead”

    Together with:
    “Although, salvation (hence, true saving faith) does require a change in one’s life, so I would say that a person whose life is characterized by habitual sin probably has never experienced salvation to begin with.”

    I think we’re actually saying the same thing.

    You said that Faith – Works = Dead, ergo True Faith – Works != Salvation. (For those not in my line of work, != is a logical statement that means not equal to). That implicitly says that Works are a part of salvation, even if they are evidence of our true faith and nothing more, they are a requirement. Otherwise, without works our True Faith is dead, and therefore cannot save us.

    We can explain the LDS doctrine of salvation using the same formulas above and substitute repentance for works. Faith – Repentance = Dead, True Faith – Repentance != Salvation.

    You said above that true salvation, or true faith, requires a change in one’s life.

    The LDS.org website defines repentance as the following:
    “Repentance

    Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel and is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments. ”

    That doesn’t sound too different from what you’re saying. Did I misinterpret anything?

  70. @Brad

    I would define Jesus Christ as:

    Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh. He was the Creator.
    He is our Savior.
    He will be our Judge.
    Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth.
    Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross He saves us from our sins, as we follow Him.
    Through His Resurrection, Jesus Christ saves us from physical death.

  71. Swint

    Interesting stuff Brad.

    “I think each individual situation is different, but the blanket answer I would give is “yes.” Look at David in the Bible – he certainly sinned greatly, including having Uriah murdered, yet he was still called “a man after God’s own heart.” 1 John makes it very clear that we will still sin, even though we are saved. “

    Well, let me say, I wish/hope you are right, that would make living life and my religion a heck of a lot easier. The great thing about this, is that if you are right, I am already saved. I have certainly accepted Christ as my savior and welcomed him into my heart, so I am good to go. (Although, you might have something to say about that :). But I just don’t think it is that easy. I just think that God expects more of us. You know, as a father, I don’t just expect my kids to be average, to just recognize that I am their dad and make sure they love me; no, I expect things of them and require them to live their live their lives in the best way possible, so that their reward when they become an adult will hopefully be greater. I can’t think that God is content so long as we just acknowledge and accept the divinity of Christ. I think God expects more. This, of course, leads to our differing views of what God has in store for us. But I will address that in a bit.

    That doesn’t give us a license to commit sin at will (which both Paul and John explain in various parts of the Bible), but does mean that we don’t “lose” our salvation, b/c of our sin.

    This sentence seems contradictory to me, it makes no sense. If we can’t lose our salvation, how is that not a license to commit sin? Isn’t salvation what we are trying so hard to obtain?

    Now I want to discuss the next life, I am not going to get into proving our beliefs, I am not bringing this up to prove to you what I believe, we can discuss the particulars of scripture later, but I am bringing it up to understand the evangelical view of what God has in store for us.

    Please allow me to be frank here, and I mean no offense, but when I talk with Catholics, Evangelicals, and other Protestants, this is one topic that I never get a clear answer on, the responses are always arbitrary and unclear. If I have time at the end of writing this I will share with you an experience regarding this topic. Anyway, as I read your comments about your belief in the next life, it was all very basic and well and good, but there were no specifics, no answers to the question, “why?”

    You said, The Bible is also clear that when we get there, whatever crowns we have will be thrown at His feet, in worship and honor of Him. In fact, that’s what we will be doing for all eternity – worshiping and honoring God.

    So what does that mean? What is the point of receiving Crowns in heaven? What good does it do us? What good does it do God? What does worshiping and honoring God for all eternity consist of? When I try to picture that, I see a bunch of people sitting around in a beautiful green park or perhaps sitting around a throne singing hymns and just praising for all eternity. Is that really what God went through all this for? Is that why he created the earth, populated it with his spirits, allowed so many to fall away into the grasp of the adversary, allowed his most beloved Son to be practically tortured and then killed and then be resurrected? All just so we can sit around singing hymns? I don’t mean to sound flip or disrespectful, but that is what I imagine when I hear that we will be just worshipping God for eternity. So, again I ask, Why? What is the point? It sure seems like a waste of God’s time and incredible intellect to go through all that just to have us sitting around for eternity not progressing.

    Now let me add, that you are right that we will be worshipping and honoring God for all eternity, I agree 110%. But it is our explanations of what that consists of that differs between us. You see, I believe that God expects more of us, I believe that he indeed expects perfection and that he has a grand mission and plan for our lives here on earth and in the next life, one that consists of eternal progression and a continued glorification of God. Like any good Father, I believe that God wants his Children to be blessed with the same “success” and joy that he has. As a father, I will feel that I have been successful if my children grow up to be honorable and good citizens and are as at least as successful as I am (which won’t be hard! 🙂 ). Why wouldn’t God want the same?

  72. Swint

    If I may share a story about this topic, this occurred when I was 20 years old on my LDS Mission in Calgary, Canada.

    My companion and I began teaching a 16 year old girl who was close friends with a girl in our Ward. Her mom allowed her to be taught, thinking it would not go anywhere. Her mom was a pretty devout Christian, her grandfather and great-grandfather were both pastors and they were all very close to her mom’s pastor as well.

    At this time, missionaries were give six discussions that we were told to learn and memorize and these were what we taught. The first discussion was on God, Jesus, Prophets, and the Book of Mormon, basically introducing our beliefs. The second was on faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost. Third on authority and Priesthood, and the fourth was on the Plan of Salvation- or where we came from, why we are here, where we are going.

    For the first three lessons her Mom pretty well ignored us, but after the third, she thought enough was enough and she decided that she was going to sit in on the 4th to prove us wrong. We were pleased to have her during that meeting. So when we showed up she immediately began firing way, quoting anti-mormon literature she was given and challenging us, and we sat back, listened, and did our best to answer her, after a while we were able to get into our lesson on the plan of salvation. As we started talking about the pre-earth life she was still fired up and had a pretty negative disposition, but as we continued through and answered her questions, her countenance began to change and by the end she was near crying. As we finished the discussion, we just stopped to hear her thoughts. She said (as near a direct quote as I can remember 10 years later), “You know, I have been asking my father and Pastor those questions my whole life. I have asked what heaven is like, what does God have in store for us? and they never could answer, they would just say either we just worship God, or they would say that those things don’t concern us, we only need to worry about what is going on in the here and now.” Her entire attitude changed, and while she never did decide to join with us (although her daughter did), she was always pleasant and welcoming from there on out.

    Now point in writing this is not to convince you or anyone that the LDS belief is right or whatever, my point is that this is illustrative of what I think many, many average Christians struggle with. And I think this is the biggest challenge traditional Christianity faces, it’s a challenge of answering the “why’s”. For many the why’s may not matter, but for me and a large amount of people, the why’s are important, the why’s are motivating. For me, the fact that our faith has deeper doctrines that are not easily understood, is a testimony to me that this is God’s church, I firmly expect that God is far more complex than I can comprehend and that any faith that claims to be “his Church” or claims to be directed by him is going to expect a lot from their adherents and have teachings that are difficult to understand. Where much is given, much is required.

  73. Brad

    You said that Faith – Works = Dead, ergo True Faith – Works != Salvation. (For those not in my line of work, != is a logical statement that means not equal to).

    Sorry, I still disagree. I know it SEEMS similar, but I don’t think it is. For example, you would say:

    True Faith – Works != Salvation

    I would say that’s an invalid equation, b/c true faith is ALWAYS accompanied by works, which show the person HAS true faith. In other words, I would show it this way:

    !True Faith != Salvation

    Forgive my misuse of the ! – I’m not sure if this is right or not. It means “No true faith = no salvation.”

    That implicitly says that Works are a part of salvation, even if they are evidence of our true faith and nothing more, they are a requirement. Otherwise, without works our True Faith is dead, and therefore cannot save us.

    I would say works are EVIDENCE OF our salvation, not a PART OF nor a REQUIREMENT FOR. Without works, we don’t really have true faith, b/c if we did, we would have works that prove it. Our true faith isn’t dead BECAUSE we don’t have works, but BECAUSE we don’t REALLY have true faith! Again, you may think it’s semantics, but to me, I believe it’s a big deal. It determines your real focus on works. If you faith alone can’t save you, then your faith alone hasn’t saved you.

  74. Brad

    I would define Jesus Christ as:

    Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh. He was the Creator.
    He is our Savior.
    He will be our Judge.
    Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth.
    Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross He saves us from our sins, as we follow Him.
    Through His Resurrection, Jesus Christ saves us from physical death.

    I agree with most of this, but certainly not the part that says atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t believe that is a proper understanding of Scripture, and didn’t do anything for our sins. It was His death on the cross that did that.

    Christ’s resurrection doesn’t save us from physical death – we will still die (see Heb. 10:27). It does pave the way for eternal life – either with Him in Heaven, or without Him in hell.

  75. Brad

    Well, let me say, I wish/hope you are right, that would make living life and my religion a heck of a lot easier. The great thing about this, is that if you are right, I am already saved. I have certainly accepted Christ as my savior and welcomed him into my heart, so I am good to go. (Although, you might have something to say about that :).

    I think it IS easier than you think. Any non-works based religion (as Christianity is really the only one) is always “easier” than a works-based religion, b/c you never have to guess if you’ve done enough to merit salvation, or keep it, or at least not lose it.

    It’s not ultimately me who has “something” to say about it, Swint, but God. I can tell you what I think, that’s all.

    But I just don’t think it is that easy. I just think that God expects more of us. You know, as a father, I don’t just expect my kids to be average, to just recognize that I am their dad and make sure they love me; no, I expect things of them and require them to live their lives in the best way possible, so that their reward when they become an adult will hopefully be greater. I can’t think that God is content so long as we just acknowledge and accept the divinity of Christ. I think God expects more. This, of course, leads to our differing views of what God has in store for us. But I will address that in a bit.

    Yes, this leads to our differing views. But it’s not about what WE “think” is right or not – it’s about what the Bible says. Whether it makes sense to us or not is completely irrelevant.

  76. Brad

    I said: That doesn’t give us a license to commit sin at will (which both Paul and John explain in various parts of the Bible), but does mean that we don’t “lose” our salvation, b/c of our sin.

    You then said: This sentence seems contradictory to me, it makes no sense. If we can’t lose our salvation, how is that not a license to commit sin? Isn’t salvation what we are trying so hard to obtain?

    I think you’re looking at different pieces of the puzzle separately, instead of looking how they all fit together, so to speak. First, we don’t have to “try so hard to obtain” salvation, b/c it’s not about works, it’s about our faith. Second, the fact that we will still sin (according to 1 John) doesn’t mean that we aren’t saved if we sin – if it did, then that would mean that nobody could be saved, b/c we ALL sin! It means that though we still sin (b/c we’re not perfect individuals, and have sinful natures), we are still covered by God’s grace, if we have true saving faith. Again, part of the evidence for that true saving faith is works, which certainly entails not willfully sinning habitually, like you mentioned. If one exhibits that in their life, that’s good evidence that they don’t have true saving faith, else they wouldn’t exhibit that behavior! Paul also addresses this in Romans 6:1-2, by the way.

  77. rationalzen

    Sorry, I still disagree. I know it SEEMS similar, but I don’t think it is. For example, you would say:

    True Faith – Works != Salvation

    I would say that’s an invalid equation, b/c true faith is ALWAYS accompanied by works, which show the person HAS true faith. In other words, I would show it this way:

    Well, circular logic aside I agree with the premise of what you’re saying. The funny thing is that what the LDS believe and what you’re saying SEEM (as you capitalized it) similar because they are.

    Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood what you’ve said.
    a: You’re saying that a person can profess faith in Christ but not be saved because it’s not true faith (they lack the works as evidence).

    b: You’re saying that if a person’s faith is not accompanied by their works as evidence, then that person is indeed not truly saved.

    If I’ve correctly interpreted what you’ve said I agree. I would label statement ‘a’ belief. There are many that believe that in Jesus Christ that choose not to follow Him. Judas Iscariot is a great example of this. One wouldn’t/shouldn’t doubt that Judas believed that Jesus was indeed who He said he was. There’s no chance that he would have followed along as one of the apostles without that belief. I think that for at least some short quantum of time Judas lacked the faith to motivate him to do what was right. Fell into temptation, and betrayal ensued.

    There’s also a great example of the evil spirits that believed in Jesus’ power, then shortly thereafter the swine ran into the water. Neither example had the faith in Christ, but they both certainly believed in Jesus.

    Regarding statement ‘b’:
    I actually don’t have issue with this, if people want to think this way that’s fine with me. Personally, I think it’s useless to say that a person is “saved” or not. With good reason. We don’t really know if a person is saved, not at all. For example, if there’s some pastor or reverend out there that has been preaching about getting saved and all this hoop la for years and years then in a lapse of judgment completely changes his life, loses faith and starts philandering and committing other egregious sins, then that pastor is obviously not saved because he lacks the evidence of true faith in his works.

    There are now two options: He’s either lost his salvation, or he never really had it. Since most traditional Christians maintain that salvation is a one time event, that people like this pastor or Judas or other similar cases fall into the latter category. That’s all well and good if you want to believe that way, but please if you do believe that way, realize that you are implicitly stating we don’t know whether we’re saved or not until we die and have committed our last Earthly action.

    Some might argue that there is a third option, that we can be saved even while we sin. That however isn’t actually an option. If one is saved, sins, then continues to repeat that sin ad infinitum then that person hasn’t really changed their life, therefore was never really saved.


    !True Faith != Salvation

    Forgive my misuse of the ! – I’m not sure if this is right or not. It means “No true faith = no salvation.”That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make as well, so we agree at least on the requirements of salvation. Now the only difference in opinion is when one believes that they receive this salvation.

    Am I wrong?

  78. Brad

    So what does that mean? What is the point of receiving Crowns in heaven? What good does it do us? What good does it do God? What does worshiping and honoring God for all eternity consist of? When I try to picture that, I see a bunch of people sitting around in a beautiful green park or perhaps sitting around a throne singing hymns and just praising for all eternity. Is that really what God went through all this for? Is that why he created the earth, populated it with his spirits, allowed so many to fall away into the grasp of the adversary, allowed his most beloved Son to be practically tortured and then killed and then be resurrected? All just so we can sit around singing hymns? I don’t mean to sound flip or disrespectful, but that is what I imagine when I hear that we will be just worshipping God for eternity. So, again I ask, Why? What is the point? It sure seems like a waste of God’s time and incredible intellect to go through all that just to have us sitting around for eternity not progressing.

    Again, I think you’re trying to make sense, in human terms, of something that you truly can’t grasp, b/c you’re not God. It doesn’t have to make sense to us. We don’t have to know the answer to all the “Why” questions out there. Remember, God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. I don’t think we can fully comprehend everything about Him, or His ways, this side of Heaven. That’s OK with me. For those who that isn’t OK for (such as yourself), I have no good answer, b/c I’m not sure there’s one that can be had.

    This is often how religions get started. People are unhappy with the concepts they know, with the answers they do (or don’t, for that matter) have, so they try to “search” for the answers they think fit what they want to believe, or try to find the answers through some source. It’s why I stick to what the Bible says and nothing else.

  79. Swint

    You see, Brad, the thing is we can grasp it, at least more than you think you can. All of those answers are hidden gems in scripture, to include the Bible. This is why I am so attracted by my faith, we have not enclosed ourselves from receiving further light and knowledge. For us, there is no limit to knowledge or possibility. The bible says so much more than so many traditional Christians imagine. I was constantly astounded that while on my Mission as a 20 year old ignorant kid, I knew the bible, at the concepts, as well as most pastors who had been studying it for 20 years. Even some of the scripture you have alluded to (referring to the crowns in heaven) speak to much greater doctrine than you realize. You see, God doesn’t want to only limit us to a certain amount of knowledge, there is a limitless amount of knowledge available and God expects us to learn as much as we can while on the earth; this is not limited to knowledge of a spiritual and eternal nature, but extends to all knowledge that enlightens and uplifts.

    Now, I think one disconnect to why many like yourself don’t think we can or need to know the whys stems from the belief in what kind of being God is. We believe that God is a perfected person, he has a body of flesh of bone. Now, I am not expert in traditional dogma, but my understanding is that in Christianity, God is incomprehensible, he is everywhere yet nowhere (or something like that). Thus, I think that a belief in a God that can’t really be pictured (for lack of a better word…imagined?), makes contemplation of exaltation and eternal progression that much more difficult. Perhaps that is why we Mormons much more easily are able to define the eternities and what God has in store for us; we view God as a loving father whom looks like a perfected version of us, we can literally picture him.

    Most of this is just random thought generation as I type, so I don’t know if it makes sense at all.

    By the way, you said, “It’s why I stick to what the Bible says and nothing else.” I have to say, and I have mentioned this many times to you, I understand what you are saying, but I find that logic flawed. You continue to act like the Bible is clear as a crystal on all doctrines and that there is only one interpretation. I understand you think that the particular interpretation you espouse is the only correct one, I feel the same way about my interpretation, but how do you know your interpretation is right? What makes your interpretation of the Bible and more correct than the Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh Day-Adventist, or even Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation? Do you understand my point? Anyway, at least with my interpretation of the bible I can point to other evidences to support my claim. It is like going to court with 3 or 4 witnesses as opposed to just one. It may not necessarily make my case correct, but it sure strengthens it. Again, for every biblical scripture you can use to prove your point, I can find one to prove mine. In the same way you can accuse me of twisting or misinterpreting scripture, I can accuse you of the same. This is why it was necessary for God to bring for the Book of Mormon and part of the reason for the need to restore Prophets to the earth; to clear up the huge convoluted mess that became of the Christian world. If we didn’t have those things, we would have no better claim at truth than any other faith. This the leads me to a whole other thought on authority/priesthood, Catholicism, the protest movement, and Mormonism. But the last thing we need is yet another topic, so I will stop here.

  80. Swint

    Second, the fact that we will still sin (according to 1 John) doesn’t mean that we aren’t saved if we sin – if it did, then that would mean that nobody could be saved, b/c we ALL sin!

    Oh Brad, you are completly misunderstanding our faith/works argument. We can all be saved despite our sin because of the Atonement of Christ. If the atonement never occured then your above statement would be accurate. Christ makes it entirely possible for all our sins to be eradicated, added to this is the whole purpose of repentance. You see if Christ never performed the atonement, no amount of repentance would ever have gotten us back to heaven, one sin would have kept us out for eternity. But because of the atonement, the door has been opened and a path assured. Now it is on our shoulders to do our best to make it there. When we stray from the path a bit, we repent and move forward.

    On this same vein, I will also submit that Christ’s atonement and our acceptance of it, is also no guarantee of exaltation, because sin without repentance (at least grievous ones) can keep us out. I think God and Christ expect more of us than just accepting him and signing our name on a piece paper.

  81. Swint

    I would say that’s an invalid equation, b/c true faith is ALWAYS accompanied by works, which show the person HAS true faith.

    Doesn’t that just prove one of my points from a previous post? What if someone has true faith, but in a time of rage makes a terrible mistake like murdering his wife? Is that automatically forgiven because of his true faith? Would that keep him out of heaven? or would God expect the sinner to make some sort of recompense through some form repentance?

    I would argue that the correct answer is the 3rd choice. That person must repent. Thus, works plays a significant role in our salvation, but certainly not the defining or sole role.

  82. Brad

    Well, circular logic aside I agree with the premise of what you’re saying. The funny thing is that what the LDS believe and what you’re saying SEEM (as you capitalized it) similar because they are.

    I disagree, but I won’t convince you nonetheless, so no use arguing about it.

    Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood what you’ve said.
    a: You’re saying that a person can profess faith in Christ but not be saved because it’s not true faith (they lack the works as evidence).

    Basically, yes. But again, the works are only evidence that they lack what is necessary for salvation, being true saving faith. It’s not the lack of works that doesn’t save them, it’s the lack of saving faith that doesn’t save them – works missing are only a byproduct of the saving faith not being there. I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    b: You’re saying that if a person’s faith is not accompanied by their works as evidence, then that person is indeed not truly saved.

    Basically, yes. But again, works are only the byproduct of a saving faith – it’s the saving faith (or lack of one) that is the determining factor for salvation. In other words, God doesn’t look to the works, b/c He already knows the state of the heart, and whether the true saving faith exists. The works are more for proof for this world to others, not proof to God. Again, I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    If I’ve correctly interpreted what you’ve said I agree. I would label statement ‘a’ belief. There are many that believe that in Jesus Christ that choose not to follow Him. Judas Iscariot is a great example of this. One wouldn’t/shouldn’t doubt that Judas believed that Jesus was indeed who He said he was. There’s no chance that he would have followed along as one of the apostles without that belief. I think that for at least some short quantum of time Judas lacked the faith to motivate him to do what was right. Fell into temptation, and betrayal ensued.

    There’s also a great example of the evil spirits that believed in Jesus’ power, then shortly thereafter the swine ran into the water. Neither example had the faith in Christ, but they both certainly believed in Jesus.

    I would agree – I think this is James’ point in chapter 2.

    Regarding statement ‘b’:
    I actually don’t have issue with this, if people want to think this way that’s fine with me. Personally, I think it’s useless to say that a person is “saved” or not. With good reason. We don’t really know if a person is saved, not at all. For example, if there’s some pastor or reverend out there that has been preaching about getting saved and all this hoop la for years and years then in a lapse of judgment completely changes his life, loses faith and starts philandering and committing other egregious sins, then that pastor is obviously not saved because he lacks the evidence of true faith in his works.

    See, I think it does matter. Remember, according to James, works are the evidence to the world of your salvation, but aren’t required for salvation, and aren’t evidence to God, as He already knows the state of one’s heart. And in your example above, I don’t think the pastor “lost faith” – I would say he never had true faith to begin with, else he wouldn’t have done what he did.

    There are now two options: He’s either lost his salvation, or he never really had it.

    I agree with those 2 options being the only available. I think the Bible clearly shows that “losing” your salvation doesn’t happen, and I believe the 2nd option is correct.

    Since most traditional Christians maintain that salvation is a one time event, that people like this pastor or Judas or other similar cases fall into the latter category. That’s all well and good if you want to believe that way, but please if you do believe that way, realize that you are implicitly stating we don’t know whether we’re saved or not until we die and have committed our last Earthly action.

    I agree that most traditional Xns believe salvation to be a one-time event, as do I. However, I strongly disagree with your suggestion that it implicitly states “we don’t know we’re saved or not until we die and have committed our last Earthly action.” Again, this gets back to works being the key factor, which I don’t believe is the case, nor do I believe the Bible supports that notion. If it’s not based on works, then we CAN know we have salvation, b/c it HAS occurred, rather than continually trying to MAKE it occur through any works we do. Remember, works are only evidence to the world, not to God, and in and of themselves aren’t required for salvation, but are only byproducts of a true saving faith. The Bible says, in various places, that once saved we are “kept”, and can be “sure” of the blessed hope we are awaiting. That doesn’t speak to a state of always wondering if we have salvation or not – it speaks against such a notion.

    Some might argue that there is a third option, that we can be saved even while we sin. That however isn’t actually an option. If one is saved, sins, then continues to repeat that sin ad infinitum then that person hasn’t really changed their life, therefore was never really saved.

    I would tend to agree.

    That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make as well, so we agree at least on the requirements of salvation. Now the only difference in opinion is when one believes that they receive this salvation.

    Am I wrong?

    I think there are some similarities, but I do still believe we have genuine differences in the role of works. I know you can probably ask 10 different Christians about works vs. grace & salvation, and get 10 different answers, but I can do the same by asking 10 different Mormons, as well. And I think by the very fact that we differ on WHEN one receives salvation, that we inherently believe completely different things about salvation, so I don’t think we’re as close as you seem to think we are.

  83. Brad

    You see, Brad, the thing is we can grasp it, at least more than you think you can. All of those answers are hidden gems in scripture, to include the Bible. This is why I am so attracted by my faith, we have not enclosed ourselves from receiving further light and knowledge. For us, there is no limit to knowledge or possibility. The bible says so much more than so many traditional Christians imagine. I was constantly astounded that while on my Mission as a 20 year old ignorant kid, I knew the bible, at the concepts, as well as most pastors who had been studying it for 20 years. Even some of the scripture you have alluded to (referring to the crowns in heaven) speak to much greater doctrine than you realize. You see, God doesn’t want to only limit us to a certain amount of knowledge, there is a limitless amount of knowledge available and God expects us to learn as much as we can while on the earth; this is not limited to knowledge of a spiritual and eternal nature, but extends to all knowledge that enlightens and uplifts.

    Where does the Bible tell us this, as opposed to the other Mormon scriptures? This is exactly what Smith thought, which is why he went to the grove. I think we, as curious humans, want to know more, and THINK we OUGHT to be able to know more, but I would like to see the Biblical basis for it. If we start using books other than the Bible as basis, then I would need to be convinced of the truthfulness of those books before I believed what they said, anyway.

    Now, I think one disconnect to why many like yourself don’t think we can or need to know the whys stems from the belief in what kind of being God is. We believe that God is a perfected person, he has a body of flesh of bone. Now, I am not expert in traditional dogma, but my understanding is that in Christianity, God is incomprehensible, he is everywhere yet nowhere (or something like that).

    I would like to know the Biblical basis for believing this about God. Christians believe God is a spirit, and does not have a body (John 4:24, for example). What is the Biblical basis for believing otherwise?

    Thus, I think that a belief in a God that can’t really be pictured (for lack of a better word…imagined?), makes contemplation of exaltation and eternal progression that much more difficult. Perhaps that is why we Mormons much more easily are able to define the eternities and what God has in store for us; we view God as a loving father whom looks like a perfected version of us, we can literally picture him.

    I don’t disagree that your differing view of God leads you to different conclusions about various things. What we probably need to understand about each other is where those differing views come from, and what they’re based upon. I don’t think either of us will believe the other is correct, when it comes to that.

    You continue to act like the Bible is clear as a crystal on all doctrines and that there is only one interpretation. I understand you think that the particular interpretation you espouse is the only correct one, I feel the same way about my interpretation, but how do you know your interpretation is right? What makes your interpretation of the Bible and more correct than the Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh Day-Adventist, or even Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation? Do you understand my point?

    I do understand your point – all other religions make the same argument. Do you believe in absolute truth? If you do, then we both can’t be right, b/c we believe completely different things about the same subject, and interpret the same body of work very differently. Absolute truth says that if that is the case, at least one of us (or both, if neither have the correct interpretation) is wrong, but at most only one of us can be right. So, do you believe in absolute truth?

    Anyway, at least with my interpretation of the bible I can point to other evidences to support my claim. It is like going to court with 3 or 4 witnesses as opposed to just one. It may not necessarily make my case correct, but it sure strengthens it.

    Again, the testimony of any other “witnesses” are only as credible as they are. In court, witnesses are cross-examined – their testimony isn’t just assumed to be correct, just b/c they said so. If you want to use that line of thinking (that you have more “witnesses”, therefore it makes Mormonism correct), then you have to be willing to subject your “witnesses” to cross-examination. While you think they would pass, I have done so, and don’t believe they do, as do many others, for a variety of reasons. But if we stick to the Bible, which we both believe, then we’re on common ground.

    Again, for every biblical scripture you can use to prove your point, I can find one to prove mine. In the same way you can accuse me of twisting or misinterpreting scripture, I can accuse you of the same.

    See what I wrote about absolute truth above, though – it applies here just as well.

    This is why it was necessary for God to bring for the Book of Mormon and part of the reason for the need to restore Prophets to the earth; to clear up the huge convoluted mess that became of the Christian world.

    See what I wrote about cross-examining the “witnesses”, though – it still applies here. And if it’s now so clear with Mormonism, why isn’t the whole world Mormon? I get that question in reverse A LOT from Mormons – “if Christianity is so clear, why isn’t the whole world Christian?” I would ask the same thing of Mormons, if the whole purpose of Mormonism was to “clear up the convoluted mess of Christianity.”

    If we didn’t have those things, we would have no better claim at truth than any other faith. This the leads me to a whole other thought on authority/priesthood, Catholicism, the protest movement, and Mormonism. But the last thing we need is yet another topic, so I will stop here.

    I think you have to continue, b/c you claim to have the whole truth b/c of the other books, the living prophet, etc… At which point I would say, let’s do the cross-examination. At which point you would think it passes, and I don’t, at which point we’re back at square one.

  84. Brad

    But because of the atonement, the door has been opened and a path assured. Now it is on our shoulders to do our best to make it there.

    See, it is not up to us to “do” anything, b/c we can’t do anything to merit salvation. I think that’s a key difference.

    On this same vein, I will also submit that Christ’s atonement and our acceptance of it, is also no guarantee of exaltation, because sin without repentance (at least grievous ones) can keep us out. I think God and Christ expect more of us than just accepting him and signing our name on a piece paper.

    This is almost a moot point for this discussion, b/c exaltation isn’t a Christian concept, but a Mormon concept, one that I believe doesn’t have Biblical basis and is incorrect.

  85. rationalzen

    Brad says:
    I agree with those 2 options being the only available. I think the Bible clearly shows that “losing” your salvation doesn’t happen, and I believe the 2nd option is correct.

    Regarding the hypothetical faithful pastor that starts a path towards sin:
    Me
    There are now two options: He’s either lost his salvation, or he never really had it.
    Brad:
    I don’t think the pastor “lost faith” – I would say he never had true faith to begin with, else he wouldn’t have done what he did.
    Then later,
    Brad:
    However, I strongly disagree with your suggestion that it implicitly states “we don’t know we’re saved or not until we die and have committed our last Earthly action.”

    You can’t have it both ways, this isn’t a salvation bandwagon that you jump on and off.

    The pastor had all the evidence of his true faith, by his good works. I bet many, even he, were saying he was saved because of his good works being evidence for the true saving faith. Yet when he faltered, those that believed he was once saved now come back with the answer, “He was never saved to begin with, he never had the true faith.”

    I personally don’t buy the proverbial get out of jail free card in this scenario. If the only evidence of that pastor not having true faith was the cessation of his works, then there is no certainty on the status of anyone’s true faith. Absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence.

    That is why traditional Christians implicitly state that you can’t really know if one is saved until their last Earthly action. You never know what people will do tomorrow, there are no guarantees that tomorrow’s behavior will be the same as today’s or yesterday’s.

    If someone has great works, that is the byproduct of their great faith, all that really shows is that today that person is on a good path. We can only hope and pray they don’t falter and stray tomorrow, like Judas.

  86. rationalzen

    Brad:
    “See, it is not up to us to “do” anything, b/c we can’t do anything to merit salvation. I think that’s a key difference.”

    Do we not have to accept Christ?

  87. Brad

    Again, RZ, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    For your sake, I hope you’re right.

  88. Swint

    Hah, the vicious cycle continues :)! At which point you would think it passes, and I don’t, at which point we’re back at square one.

    I was going to make the same point, we are back at square one.

    RZ, Do we not have to accept Christ; Love it. Is that check mate?

    Brad, I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussion and love that it has been so civil. You are great. Thanks again, I may get to responding to your comments, but again, we are back at square one.

  89. rationalzen

    Again, RZ, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    For your sake, I hope you’re right.

    Serious Comment:
    For your sake I hope I’m right too.

    Superfluous commentary:
    Brad, others have disagreed with me before. Don’t worry, they were wrong too 😉

    Joking aside, I think this exchange is fitting towards my point on cognitive dissonance. You’re an intelligent guy, or at least play the part on various Internet fora, yet you’re basic logic is failing you in this decision.

    I think you’d agree, that regardless of my behavior today there is no guarantee that I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. Here’s then what I see as a logical disconnect: If I have no guarantee that I won’t continue to have true faith, as evidenced by my good works, then there’s no guarantee that I’m actually saved. If I can’t lose my salvation, and my life turns for the worse, I’ll find out later that despite my own belief in my being saved, and others believing that I have been saved, “I never had true faith to begin with.”

    Ergo, there is no way to know whether one actually has true faith until they are dead and we can fully, objectively analyze their life.

    In my non-expert opinion, if you disagree with what I’ve said it’s because emotions are inhibiting your reason and logic. The emotional attachment causes one to filter out objectivity in order to help satiate the emotional need, cognitive dissonance.

    Don’t take that to mean that I’m not guilty of being cognitively dissonant at times as well, just not as often as the next person, and I’m certainly more open and accepting of my lack of reasoning with some decisions I make.

  90. rationalzen

    Brad, I was asking a serious question with the following, I’d appreciate a response.

    Brad:
    “See, it is not up to us to “do” anything, b/c we can’t do anything to merit salvation. I think that’s a key difference.”
    RZ reply:
    Do we not have to accept Christ?

  91. Swint

    Brad said: For your sake, I hope you’re right

    Brad, don’t you realize that by your definition of what being saved is, I already qualify? I have totally and completely accepted Christ as my personal savior, I recognize his divinity and welcome his grace. Thus, according to your definition I am already saved.

    So this is how I break it down:

    If I am wrong and you are right, what have I lost? Nothing, I am still saved and you are too, we are all happy.

    But what if you are wrong and I am right? What have you lost? Everything.

  92. Brad

    Brad, others have disagreed with me before. Don’t worry, they were wrong too

    Funny – I was going to write and tell you the same thing 😉

    You’re an intelligent guy, or at least play the part on various Internet fora, yet you’re basic logic is failing you in this decision.

    Funny – I was going to write you the same thing 😉 You see, I will probably never agree with, or understand, where you’re coming from, just as you will probably never agree with, or understand, where I’m coming from. I have thoroughly thought through my decision, as I’m sure you believe you have. Square one.

    I think you’d agree, that regardless of my behavior today there is no guarantee that I’ll do the same thing tomorrow.

    Agreed.

    Here’s then what I see as a logical disconnect: If I have no guarantee that I won’t continue to have true faith, as evidenced by my good works, then there’s no guarantee that I’m actually saved.

    This is the disconnect. It doesn’t TAKE works to make true saving faith – you either have it or you don’t. I don’t have to “prove” it to anyone that I’m saved – God already knows. It is just for the benefit of others that works can show them that I AM saved. But the end isn’t to “prove” it to anyone, it is to serve Christ. Not b/c I HAVE to in order to be saved, but because I WANT to because I AM saved. If you want to talk about disconnect, here’s where it’s happening. You think the disconnect is happening on my end, I believe it is happening on your end. Square one. I’m OK with that – it’s not my job, or goal, to convince you otherwise.

    If I can’t lose my salvation, and my life turns for the worse, I’ll find out later that despite my own belief in my being saved, and others believing that I have been saved, “I never had true faith to begin with.”

    Could be – they’ll be many people shocked to find that hell is their destination, I presume. I personally don’t think anyone will be shocked to see Heaven as their destination, though. But here’s the thing – it isn’t your actions that determined your salvation, it’s your faith. But faith misplaced, is no faith at all, b/c it only matters for eternity about having faith in one – the God as described in the Bible.

    Ergo, there is no way to know whether one actually has true faith until they are dead and we can fully, objectively analyze their life.

    I completely disagree. The Bible says we CAN be sure in too many places for the above to be a true statement. Your statement says that WE can analyze a person’s life after their dead, to see if they were saved or not. I don’t believe you can do that necessarily. There are a lot of unsaved people who exhibit good “works” – my father-in-law was one of them for a long time, until he accepted Christ. Further, it’s nothing that WE can know for sure, ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE. But it IS something we can know for sure about ourselves. If you’re not sure, and are trying to make sure you have enough good works to make sure, then I do feel sorry for you. I’m positive of mine, works aside.

    In my non-expert opinion, if you disagree with what I’ve said it’s because emotions are inhibiting your reason and logic. The emotional attachment causes one to filter out objectivity in order to help satiate the emotional need, cognitive dissonance.

    That’s fine, it’s no different than where we’ve been the whole discussion.

  93. Brad

    I said See, it is not up to us to “do” anything, b/c we can’t do anything to merit salvation. I think that’s a key difference.

    To which RZ said Do we not have to accept Christ?

    Yes, we do have to accept Christ. That is a free-will choice we make. I know where you’re going, it’s not a new argument. It’s a “work”, an action, to “accept”, right? I guess you would call it that. But we accept Christ by what? By faith – true, saving faith that He is who He says He is, and that we want Him as Lord of our life. The “work” doesn’t save you – the faith saves you.

  94. Brad

    Brad, don’t you realize that by your definition of what being saved is, I already qualify? I have totally and completely accepted Christ as my personal savior, I recognize his divinity and welcome his grace. Thus, according to your definition I am already saved.

    Again, I would unfortunately, and sadly, disagree, for reasons we’ve gone over before. I do not believe that the god worshiped in Mormonism is the same as God, in the Bible. I know you vehemently disagree, and that’s OK. I’ve given many reasons before, on many blogs. And again, it’s a square one debate. The Mormons will give their reasons why it is the same, I give my reasons why it isn’t. They provide Scriptural interpretations why they’re right, so do I. Square one.

    So this is how I break it down:

    If I am wrong and you are right, what have I lost? Nothing, I am still saved and you are too, we are all happy.

    This is where the viewpoints differ, Swint. In my viewpoint, believing Mormonism is incorrect, then here’s how it goes: If I am right and you are wrong, I’m in Heaven, and you’re in hell. We’re not both happy.

    But what if you are wrong and I am right? What have you lost? Everything.

    Again, we’re off here, based on my belief that Mormonism is incorrect. Even if you are right, then obviously you would be fine, but under Mormon belief, I would still be in Heaven, I just may not attain to the level you would. But I haven’t lost “everything”, b/c I am not in hell, I’m just not at the highest level of heaven.

  95. rationalzen

    Brad:

    Interesting concept….. you said
    “I don’t have to “prove” it to anyone that I’m saved – God already knows. It is just for the benefit of others that works can show them that I AM saved.”What do others gain from seeing that you ARE saved? Presuming of course you don’t turn towards a life of sin tomorrow like the hypothetical pastor.

    Brad:
    I personally don’t think anyone will be shocked to see Heaven as their destination, though.That’s probably true.

    What I can’t wait for is the shock on people’s faces that believe a certain group of people are destined for “hell” end up seeing a whole bunch of those people there.

    Brad:
    “If you’re not sure, and are trying to make sure you have enough good works to make sure, then I do feel sorry for you. I’m positive of mine, works aside.”I’m sure similar words were uttered by our hypothetical pastor 😉

  96. rationalzen

    I find this telling:

    I said: The emotional attachment causes one to filter out objectivity in order to help satiate the emotional need, cognitive dissonance.

    To which the reply from Brad was:
    That’s fine, it’s no different than where we’ve been the whole discussion..

    My original statement was:
    I haven’t met a Christian in the world that disagrees with the LDS view on salvation when spoken about objectively. It’s only when cognitive dissonance warps people’s perceptions that disagreements ensue.

    I guess it holds true still.

  97. rationalzen

    Yes, we do have to accept Christ. That is a free-will choice we make. I know where you’re going, it’s not a new argument.For the record, I wasn’t going anywhere with it other than clarify what you were saying.

    Your original statement said we can’t do anything to merit salvation. That would mean that we’re either predestined to heaven or hell independent of our choices and actions. I don’t believe that, and I didn’t believe that you believe that. So I asked a question for more insight.

    I now wonder if you’ve been answering all my questions with leading presumptions………if so that’s not a productive discussion at all.

    continued……… It’s a “work”, an action, to “accept”, right? I guess you would call it that.
    I personally wouldn’t call it one way or another, I’d call it obedience.

    How do you qualify a conscious choice of our own volition to do a certain thing relating to a spiritual commandment?

  98. Swint

    “but under Mormon belief, I would still be in Heaven, I just may not attain to the level you would. But I haven’t lost “everything”, b/c I am not in hell, I’m just not at the highest level of heaven.”

    Excellent point, I overlooked that fact.

  99. Swint

    This is where the viewpoints differ, Swint. In my viewpoint, believing Mormonism is incorrect, then here’s how it goes: If I am right and you are wrong, I’m in Heaven, and you’re in hell. We’re not both happy.

    So then, we are not just required to accept the grace of Christ and believe in him, one also has to be considered within the fold of traditional Christianity? That makes two works I have to perform, believing in Christ and being a “traditional” Christian. It seems to me that Christian’s don’t really care what brand of Christianity you belong to, so long as you fall under the evangelical/protestant umbrella. Thus, are you saying that there is indeed a “true Church” that is Christ’s? Traditional Christianity. If so, how do you resolve the fact that so many of the faiths that fall within that realm disagree on so many fundamental points? Who determined that such an umbrella is the only group that represents Christ?

    From our conversations and conversations with other evangelicals, you all say that all you have to do is believe in Christ, accept him as your personal savior, and accept his grace and you are saved. So why when I do that as a Mormon, am I still going to hell. There is no consistency in your statement.

    I think I already know the answer, we apparently don’t believe in the same Christ that you do. But again, I go back to my point of why is the evangelical umbrella the end all, be all on who’s particular belief in Christ is correct? Especially, when you all come from the Catholic church and lost any authority they may have had to make such a claim as soon as they left the Church. The evangelical definition of Christ is no more authoritative than the Mormon or anyone else’s. Besides those definitions, as we determined in the earlier parts of this thread, are so miniscule and basically difference in semantics not in substance. We all still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, was born to the Virgin Mary, suffered in the garden, was crucified on the cross, and resurrected 3 days later. We also all believe that his death and resurrection made it possible for all of us to be saved and without it, no one could ever return to God. So, according to the requirements you have given throughout this thread for being saved, we Mormons are saved because we have done exactly as you say is required.

    This brings me to another question. I hear many evangelicals say that the Catholics are not Christian either. So are they, like us, going to hell? Despite the fact that they believe in the exact same definition of Christ that evangelical Christianity believes in. (Besides, the Catholics are where you got that belief anyway). So are Catholics also going to hell? If so, how do you differentiate which religions that espouse Christ as the Savior will qualify for salvation? Why do they have to fall under the evangelical umbrella, an umbrella that was practically created in the last 100-150 years by people who didn’t like what they were being taught so decided to create their own movements? Why do they get the final say, where do they get their authority to make such serious claims?

    I submit that they don’t. I submit that if your definition is true, everyone of any religion who acknowledges the divinity and grace of Christ would qualify for heaven. The fact is, your faith within the evangelical umbrella is really no different than mine in the sense that we both believe that we provide the only way to true and complete salvation. There are only two differences aside from doctrine, one we are more organized and you are more of a collective collaboration of various movements. And two, we have the balls to at least admit that we are the only true Church on the earth, oh and we also at least claim to have authority to make such distinctions.

    The fact is, if there is a “true Church” on the earth that is Christian, there are only two real possibilities: Catholics and Mormons (or none). Why? Because the Catholics and the Mormons are the only two faiths that can claim any sort of authority from God. Every other Christian faith practically falls with in the protestant movement, like any faith or movement, once a person leaves that faith, they also lose all titles and authority that were once theirs due to their association with it. Thus, if the Catholics had the true authority passed on through the apostles, once the protestant leaders left the faith, they also left their authority. Thus, the evangelical and protestant movement has no better claim than the Catholics or the Mormons to say we are the right way and if you don’t follow are way you are going to hell. If anything, they have less of a claim than the Mormons or Catholics.

  100. Swint

    One more thought about your comment that I responded to above:

    Just because Mormonism may be incorrect in their doctrines, doesn’t mean that Mormons don’t believe in Christ and have not done exactly what you said is necessary to be saved. By your definition, our belief in baptism for the dead (for example) would have no effect whatsoever on our status with God, he would just say, you were wrong about that, but you still accepted Christ as your savior thus you are saved.

    Also, I presume that you believe that other Christians who attend a different denomination or sect than you are still saved, despite the fact that they are not as correct as you? You can’t both be right on everything.

  101. Brad

    Swint/RZ,

    There are so many incorrect assumptions, and non-factual statements in the last few posts by you, that I truly will not have time to go over all of them at this point – I have a lot of stuff at work to accomplish. I will get to them at some point, but it truly will require a decent amount of time to address them correctly, and I simply don’t have it right now.

    If, when I have time, I come back and still see that answers or replies are desired, I will do so. If not, I will let it go.

    Swint, there is one question I asked a while back that you have never answered: do you believe in absolute truth?

  102. rationalzen

    “do you believe in absolute truth?”

    Absolute is a very versatile word. It will be interesting to see which definition you’re applying to it.

    I’m not swint, but it’s an interesting question to be taken a couple ways:

    Absolute could mean immutable (unchangeable). If that’s what you meant, then I would posit that all truth would be absolute.

    Absolute could mean complete. If that’s what you meant, then we know that truth isn’t absolute, yet. There will be a time when it is/can be but not in our lives here on Earth.

    Interesting question.

    Brad how are you defining absolute and do you believe in absolute truth?

  103. Brad

    How about we define absolute as “non-relative”, i.e. as comparing absolute to relative.

    If that’s the case, do you believe in absolute truth, and in all truth being absolute?

  104. rationalzen

    Hmm,

    Pretty vague still, I’ll keep widdling away.

    Relative to me implies there are either dependencies involved, which still seems to have some consequence on the completeness of all truth.

    So, that being said I will answer with the following example.

    Truth: Obedience is a part of God’s plan. — Absolute, complete, immutable.

    Truth: God’s people must obey “Mosaic Law”. — Relative, mutable.

    So the broad sweeping answer to your broadly painted question is: it depends. I can come up with examples like the second truth presented where the abstraction of “all truth” becomes relative in spite of the same principle on a different level of abstraction becomes absolute.

    I guess it’s sort of like the view of the Bible for most traditional Christians. There can be many different interpretations but the overall guiding principle is the same 😉

    Your turn now, do you believe that all truth is absolute, relative or other?

  105. Brad

    RZ,

    I’ll leave it alone. You make it way too complicated.

  106. Rational Zen

    RZ,

    I’ll leave it alone. You make it way too complicated.

    Well, it can’t be that simple. You have refused to answer at all.

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