Book Review: I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share Christ with Latter-day Saints

September 2, 2005 | 133 comments
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Book Cover

The techniques that Evangelicals use to convert Mormons to ‘traditional Christianity’ do not work. The same cannot be said for the method proposed by David L. Rowe in his new book.

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After years of missionary work in Utah, Rowe has learned a few things. He understands that our history of persecution means that we will not abide attacks on our faith without putting up walls. (This is why the usual methods are ineffective.) Because he realizes that the Church is a culture, not a cult, Rowe is able to propse a method for exploiting the weak spots in LDS culture, which provides an opening to entice Saints to consider ‘traditional Christianity.’ He points to four main areas; for each one, I’ll outline Rowe’s suggestion, briefly discuss the cultural weakness it exploits, and then propose ideas for how we might shore up that levee before it breaks.

Conditional grace
2 Nephi 25:23 teaches that “we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Rowe takes the argument over faith and works beyond some abstract theological tussle and realizes the effect that it can have on real life. You probably know (or are) a Saint who can feel overwhelmed by the ‘to do list’, the guilt over incomplete home teaching, the constant whirl of meetings and family responsibilites. It is not hard for me to imagine someone like this Relief Society President being seduced by an invitation to accept Jesus, be born again, be saved, and never have to attend another ward council meeting. Here, Rowe exploits an LDS cultural weakness: we have a culture of perfectionism, and if you aren’t living up to every obligation you have made, you are not, according to his reading of 2 Nephi 25:23–but also according to the sense that many overwhelmed Saints can have–worthy of God’s grace or salvation. We need to figure out how to encourage people to do better without beating them up. We need to emphasize that direction is more important than speed. We need to tolerate people who are struggling without tolerating sin. It’s a tall order and it is hard to pull off in every lesson, every talk, every conversation in the hallway. But it may be essential in helping our sisters and brothers not to feel overwhelmed and become easy prey for a doctrine that looks like it sure would make things easier.

A personal relationship with Jesus
Apparently, Evangelicals used to be wary of praying with Mormons. But Rowe has realized that Mormons will sometimes hear the earthy, informal prayers of an Evangelical and realize that that person sure sounds as if they have a close relationship with God. He is exploiting here several of our cultural weaknesses: hollow public prayers, formal prayer language that suggests remoteness, a natural tendency to want to be closer to God. We may need to do a better job of praying in public and not letting the language of prayer detract from the experience.

Personal example
Rowe begins the book with an anecdote of an LDS soccer coach who encourages his elementary-aged girls to “forget that Sunday School stuff” and “maim” (!) their opponents. He contrasts this with an Evangelical friend who acted the way a coach should–and whose example led to five LDS families leaving their church for his. Rowe is right that personal example is huge. It should go without saying that he is exploiting our weakness as humans, and that we need to be more Christlike.

Epistemology
Most Saints don’t understand this issue. Many Evangelicals don’t, either, and to the extent that they acknowledge it, they simply say that it is stupid to make decisions based on one’s ‘feelings.’ But Rowe gets it. He encourages Evangelicals to speak ‘Mormonese’: to tell of answers to their prayers, their religious feelings, to, well, bear their testimony. I imagine that this technique will throw some Saints for a real loop, because they aren’t used to hearing others use our rhetoric of religious experience. He’s tapped in to a real LDS weakness: we sometimes act as if no other Christians know anything about God, pray, have their prayers answered, etc. The assumption that no one outside the Church can have a meaningful relationship with God can lead a Saint to marvel; combine this with the idea of unconditional grace and you can just see it, can’t you: “You mean no more Elders Quorum Moving Company and my prayers will still be answered? Sign me up!” A simple acknowledgement by the Saints that what other Christians lack is priesthood authority and its ordinances, not the ability or the desire to know God, may save some souls.

David Rowe seems to genuinely love the Saints; he’s the first mission-minded Evangelical I’ve encountered who didn’t snarl. He knows what won’t work: lobbing isolated Bible verses or Church history factoids at the Saints as if they were grenades with enough force to blow up a worldview. He also knows what may work: exploiting some of the toxic or unchristlike elements of Mormon culture. Rowe is a wolf very capable of picking off weaker members of the flock–unless the undershepherds (that’s you and me) provide better watchcare.

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133 Responses to Book Review: I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share Christ with Latter-day Saints

  1. Clark on September 2, 2005 at 11:09 pm

    I’m not convinced these will work in serious numbers. But it is a welcome change from the nastiness most attempt.

    I do think that the church needs to do more to educate the “to do list” Mormons though. I think it’s hard to get that from the brethren, but it is a common flaw – especially in Utah. I also think that the effects of bad Mormons can’t be understated, as the Soccer coach story demonstrates. However it’s hard to know what to do about that in Utah. Outside of Utah I simply find that you don’t have the “casual members” that you have here. A lot of that sort of thing seems more ubiquitious here. i.e. the idea that you can be Mormon, but shouldn’t take it so seriously. Of course the “to do list” Mormon is probably just the opposite side of the same coin I suppose.

  2. lyle on September 2, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    So, the Elder’s Q moving company is toxic and/or un-Christlike? J/k…I know you didn’t mean that. Thanks for the review. Not sure whether to appreciate the respect; or just see this guy as _the_ _very_ worst and inspired by the devil himself.

  3. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 12:05 am

    I’d be shocked to find that many Mormons are leaving the church for the reasons he’s stressing. I’ve known an awful lot of Mormons, but not a single one who left the church to find a personal Jesus, or because they thought Jesus would save them no matter what they did. And most Mormons know enough other members to not switch churches because one member coaches his team to play mean soccer.

    Clark, don’t worry, Utah’s not worse than elsewhere, we have plenty plenty plenty of casual Mormons out here in the mission field, too. Our ward in the suburbs outside Washington DC has 43% activity, and our Massachusetts ward was about the same. Our “actives” are comprised of casual and stalwart saints, just as my Utah wards were. A BYU sociological study on the issue found Utah county to have stronger youth than both New England and the Pacific Northwest.

  4. Ashley on September 3, 2005 at 1:04 am

    Julie, your last sentence took me aback a little–calling Rowe a wolf seems harsh, (though I don’t doubt many LDS would agree with you). Is it just the fact that he is honing in on our denomination rather than broadly proselytizing?

    I have to think that some of those of other faiths and persuasions see us in this way, as conniving to some extent, perhaps too eager to grow our numbers. There is some correlation, after all, in our willingness to train our missionaries in specific methods based on location (teaching mainly from the bible in the South, etc.).

    When my husband and I lived in Alabama, we had some Evangelical neighbors who asked if they could drop by sometime to tell us about their church. We were intrigued by the chance to play the other role, not investigator, to be sure, but to listen and learn rather than present. We thought it was wonderful that there are other Christians who so carry faith so fervent that they want to share it. We were terribly naive. They brought two ministers with them, who threw proof-texts at us from a printed list, including Alma 38:14. Clumsy and laughable, but only afterwards.

    Of course they weren’t interested in real dialogue, or understanding. They were clearly out to tear, batter, and damage our faith in the LDS church. So I understand calling someone a wolf–but your review leads me to think that Rowe doesn’t deserve the moniker. Isn’t he calling for something more along the lines of *adding to*, a la President Hinckley?

  5. Justin H on September 3, 2005 at 2:07 am

    Matt (#3) I’d be shocked to find that many Mormons are leaving the church for the reasons he stressing.[,,,] And most Mormons know enough other members to not switch churches because one member coaches his team to play mean soccer.

    While I generally agree that most ex-LDS haven’t left because they found Jesus in other churches, I do know a few who have.

    However, I can’t imagine that you’d be shocked to hear the “I’ve been offended” line, or that you’ve never run across it before. Seems like that’s pretty much the motivation behind the danger pointed up in the soccer coach example or by what Clark terms “bad Mormons.” Like Clark, I think this aspect can’t be understated. I’m constantly afraid that I will do or say something to offend a potential investigator who may indeed join another church if they are unsatisfied with my example (which is a bit different but related to what Rowe is pointing up).

    Similarly, I think that the “to do list” syndrome is incredibly, incredibly difficult for many to deal with, and may be a root cause for the “casual Mormon” phenomenon. I know it has been tremendously difficult for me to get through, and something with which I still have to struggle sometimes. I doubt that I would join another church, though, if it finally got the better of me.

  6. Dave on September 3, 2005 at 2:22 am

    Yes, it’s hard to reconcile the claim that he’s “a wolf” with the statement (in the same paragraph) that he “seems to genuinely love the Saints.” Maybe he actually loves the Saints and only seems like a wolf. But as long as he’s encouraging his fellow Christians to act decently toward Mormons, that’s an improvement and I won’t complain.

  7. manaen on September 3, 2005 at 3:31 am

    Julie, it’s easy to see the danger that you call out. Many/most/all of us LDS would like more acceptance and encouragement and less demands to perform in the Church. I’ve enjoyed my visits to the branch in south central LA because of the unvarnished spirit of love and fellowship that I feel there. I once saw a couple of these good members huddled together going over checklists on clipboards and I wanted to tell them, “Don’t do that; you’ll become like the rest of us!”

    I believe that it’s OK to call David Rowe a “wolf” in the sense that he will lead us away from the Good Shepherd, even if he does so mistakenly and lovingly. Joseph Smith taught that the other creeds were abominations, not, I believe, because they didn’t cause good but because they would channel people forever away from the celestial kingdom to something lesser.

    About LDS burnout from worrying about being saved “after all we can do” and completing the seemingly infinite list of commandments, duties, and callings, I’ve found that peace comes from commitment instead of a mechanical interpretation of “be ye perfect.”

    I like how Ester Rasband explains it: “…what [God] really wants is the box you keep under your bed. The one with the rock you found at the beach on your favorite day of all time, and that silly safety pin your boyfriend gave you that day he told you he loved you. Until the Lord has that box, it will never be enough. It will never be enough because that box is the symbol that *there is something you hold more dear than him.* Your need is to give him that box. If and when you can do that, the measuring will stop. You will feel him telling you when it is enough, and the peace will descend.”

    A checklisting missionary shared “that what she had been guarding was her autonomy. ‘I called the missionary rules ‘the order of the white handbook,’’ she said”

    Other comments of hers are: “the Spirit can communicate with you that it is ‘enough’ only when for you there is no limit.” Something like enduring to the end. “It sounds so hard to give in a trusting, unmeasured way. *And yet it is the measuring that wears us out.*” “It is precisely this exhaustion the Lord is addressing when he says, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” “A yoke is necessary, I now know, but not a heavy ‘checklister’s yoke.’ It is the light and easy yoke of giving your whole heart. We can have peace. It comes not so much in ‘outcome’ as in ‘process.’ It comes through identifying that the need of our heart is grace, and that grace comes when the motivation for our unmeasured doing is founded in love.”

    She uses Abraham, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego as examples of people that came to know they gave enough. She uses the story of the rich young man as an example of someone that doesn’t know this. (Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem, pp. 23-30)

    Mother Teresa found this peace by giving wholeheartedly. Someone challenged her on the utility of her work by saying that she never could erase the poverty around her. She answered to the effect that God didn’t require her to do that, only to do what she could (example poached from “Believing Christ”).

    We have the answers to the challenges Mr. Rowe presents. Maybe his will be a useful call to teach each other to drop our pride/pressure in performance and humbly to love the Lord enough to give him our all – thus finding peace.

  8. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 9:17 am

    Justin H,

    I’ve known many people who explain their inactivity with a story of a great offense, but the offenses people have told me of were personal slights — the RS president said something insensitive, the bishop didn’t take care of a problem the way she wanted him to. I’ve never heard someone say they’re inactive, or have left for another church, because there was a member of their ward who was un-Christ-like to others. Not that it couldn’t happen, but I hope we’re judged by our average members, not our worst. And anyone who judges churches by their worst members won’t last long in any church.

    I think it’s probably wrong to attribute Mormon casualness to our doctrine of grace, as I doubt we have any more “casual Mormons” than born-again, we’re-already-saved churches have “casual Christians.”

  9. AH on September 3, 2005 at 9:37 am

    I’m not positive about this, but I think I was in the MTC with this guy’s son. There was a missionary in the MTC I knew–his last name was Rowe–and his dad was a Baptist missionary/preacher somewhere in the Salt Lake Valley. How many Baptist preachers are the in the valley with the last name of Rowe? Probably not many, that’s why I make that correlation.

    Anyway, this particular elder had converted to the church the year before his mission. He was a class-act guy and I remember him speaking highly of his father. I’m sure this David Rowe guy is a well-intentioned person. The label ‘wolf’ I think implies someone trying to deliberately destroy and deceive. I don’t think that is the author’s intention.

  10. Seth Rogers on September 3, 2005 at 10:41 am

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Most “wolves” in history have good intentions (19th century Marxists anyone?). But really, I’m not interested in whether Rowe is a “wolf” or not.

    I’m more interested in what he reveals about the LDS faith. I disagree with the statements indicating that burnout is not a major cause of inactivity in the church. Don’t kid yourself. Burnout is likely a massive problem in the church. Most other stated causes of “apostasy” or “inactivity” can be linked either directly or indirectly to it.

    Very often a person will say that sister so-and-so insulted her. But the real reason is that she wasn’t that committed to the work in the first place. I’d wager that many times, the lack of committment is a natural reaction to how “overwhelming it all is.”

    In my mission in Japan, I’ll personally vouch that EVERY SINGLE INACTIVITY I encountered made it quite clear (usually vocally from the person in question) that burnout was the root cause.

    Now, admittedly, the correlation in Japan was more clear due to cultural factors (such as a more overt sense of obligation and group identity). But I think that the culture simply allowed them to be honest about what is the real reason for a lot of American inactivity: a sense of guilt deriving from unmet self-expectations.

    The insult explanation has always been a red herring. It’s an excuse for those who have left the church to link their inactivity with external forces that they cannot control rather than internal motivations which they can control. It’s a defensive withdrawal.

    Personally, I think that Mormons’ warped perceptions of the “grace vs. works balance” is one of the biggest problems facing our membership. Even Stephen R. Robinson’s wonderful “Parable of the Bicycle” has some real theological problems which Evangelical scholar Blomberg very appropriately points out in “How Wide the Divide.”

    Evangelicals are absolutely right to accuse Mormons of relying overmuch on the “the strength of the flesh.” Mormons do have a culturally inadequate sense of, as King Benjamin put it “the greatness of God and our own nothingness.”

    As with all things in the Gospel, it can all be traced back to the central fact of Christ’s Atonement. All other excuses are secondary.

    I think manaen’s comment is on the right track. We need more discussion like this.

  11. danithew on September 3, 2005 at 10:59 am

    I like the “I love Mormons” t-shirt.

    I have seen some very ugly behavior from evangelicals towards Mormons. Any steps in a new positive friendly direction are encouraging.

  12. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Danithew, wouldn’t it be great to see antis wearing “I *heart* Mormons” shirts at the Hill Cumorah and Manti pageants? I’ve always enjoyed talking to them, but if they wore those shirts I’d line up to have my picture taken, too.

  13. Justin on September 3, 2005 at 11:12 am

    In terms of my initial personal reaction, I will say that I’m not a fan of the title or the cover (showing the author wearing a “I [heart] Mormons” t-shirt; I hope he doesn’t actually wear it while proselytizing). People of various evangelical faiths have said the same thing to me, and it usually struck me as off-putting, phony, and even condescending.

  14. Gavin McGraw on September 3, 2005 at 11:12 am

    A question I have is why Mr. Rowe loves us. Is it because he sees real value in our beliefs/committment to them, our culture, our personalities, examples, etc.? Or is it because he has Christ-like love for everyone and decided to focus on us. I guess this ties in to Nate’s post “Why Universal Love is Creepy”.

    If the answer is the former, I think that’s more valuable, and to me, more complimentary, and thus more effective. “Gee these Mormons are such great people, and their religion is so cool; it’s such a pity they don’t have XYZ in their lives.” This is hopefully along the lines of what the best of us feel when proselytizing others.

    The more remote latter motivation is not so encouraging. It’s great that people can feel that way, but it doesn’t convince me that I am respected as a believer. Maybe that’s just because I don’t have major insecurities about my beliefs anyway, which would make me an easy target if I did.

  15. Seth Rogers on September 3, 2005 at 11:13 am

    Honestly, I hope Rowe is successful and that his approach becomes more widespread among Evangelicals. His success will require the LDS church to engage in some much needed soul searching.

  16. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 11:19 am

    Justin, the phoniness is exactly what I find so funny. Not even God professes to love me as much as Ed Enochs does, and that’s one of the reasons Ed cracks me up. It would be great if the born-agains wore some all-purpose proseltyzing shirts that simply said “I *heart* sinners”.

  17. manaen on September 3, 2005 at 11:42 am

    Julie, thank you for sharing the outline and excerpts from your coming book,

    “I LOVE EVANGELICALS: OUR OLD WAY TO SHARE CHRIST WITH CHARISMATIC PROTESTANTS.”

    The chapters will be:

    INTRODUCTION: “[W]e know what won’t work: lobbing isolated Bible verses or Church history factoids at the [Evangelicals] as if they were grenades with enough force to blow up a worldview. [W]e also know what may work: exploiting some of the toxic or unchristlike elements of [Evangelical] culture [such as calling for political assassinations and unruly demonstrations at LDS General Conference and temple dedications].

    1. CONDITIONAL GRACE. “We need to emphasize that direction is more important than speed. We need to tolerate people who are struggling without tolerating sin. It’s a tall order and it is hard to pull off in every lesson, every talk, every conversation in the hallway. But it may be essential in helping our sisters and brothers not to feel overwhelmed and become easy prey for a doctrine that looks like it sure would make things easier.”

    2. A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. “…hollow public prayers, formal prayer language that suggests remoteness, a natural tendency to want to be closer to God. We may need to do a better job of praying in public and not letting the language of prayer detract from the experience.”

    3. PERSONAL EXAMPLE. “…personal example is huge. It should go without saying that […] we need to be more Christlike.

    4. EPISTEMOLOGYY. “Many Evangelicals […] simply say that it is stupid to make decisions based on one’s ‘feelings.’ […] Encourage Evangelicals to speak ‘Mormonese’: to tell of answers to their prayers, their religious feelings, to, well, bear their testimony. I imagine that this technique will throw some [Evangelicals] for a real loop, because they aren’t used to hearing […] our rhetoric of religious experience. [They] sometimes act as if no other Christians know anything about God, pray, have their prayers answered, etc. The assumption that no one outside the[ir] Church can have a meaningful relationship with God can lead a[n Evangelical] to marvel; combine this with the idea of unconditional grace and you can just see it, can’t you: “You mean [faith made perfect by my works of loving my neighbor means0 my prayers will […] be answered [more deeply]? Sign me up!”

    5. PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY. “A simple acknowledgement by the Saints that what other Christians lack is priesthood authority and its ordinances, not the ability or the desire to know God, may save some souls.” [Some of the blessings that this brings are modern prophets, valid baptisms, and marriages sealed forever].

    An observation about Mr. Rowe’s book: his title admits that what he proposes will be a *new* way for Evangelicals to treat their neighbors, for them to act more like LDS. This may backfire on him because as they begin to act more like the fruits of the restored gospel and less like the fruits of a counterfeit, this new-for-them way of acting may prepare them to accept the tree that yields this fruit.

  18. Kevin Barney on September 3, 2005 at 12:38 pm

    While guilt has its uses, I think we tend to way overuse it as a motivational tool in the church, without appreciating the damage it does or the extent to which it backfires.

  19. gary on September 3, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    Manaen (#7): Those suggestions from Sis. Rasband seem destined to have precisely the opposite effect of her intended purpose and are symptomatic of exactly the kind of perfectionism that the author of this book is trrying to exploit. If Shadrach, Meshac and Abdegno are our examples of people who have given enough, or if we must be like Mother Teresa to find peace, then those with even a slight inclination to perfectionism will find distress, not comfort in Sis. Rasband’s teachings.

  20. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    It’s counterintuitive, but churches with high expectations have actually grown over the past generation while those with low expectations have shrunk. People aren’t looking for confirmation that everything they’re already doing is enough. We do need to ensure that we only teach true principles about how to get to where we’re going, and to focus on direction, not location, but trends in church attendance suggest our striving for perfection is not an impediment to growth.

  21. Mike Parker on September 3, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    I’m continually fascinated by the emphasis evangelical Christians put on “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” They are, to the best of my knowledge, the only faction of Christianity to do this, despite the fact that this phrase appears nowhere in the New Testament, and the scriptural and historical tradition actually leads to a covenant relationship through the sacraments. In this sense, Roman and Orthodox Catholicism are much closer to the mark.

    Bruce R. McConkie gave an address on this subject in 1982. Although I disagree with portions of his remarks, I think he was on the right track: Our relationship is with the Father through covenants made in the name of Jesus Christ.

  22. Justin on September 3, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    Justin, the phoniness is exactly what I find so funny. Not even God professes to love me as much as Ed Enochs does, and that’s one of the reasons Ed cracks me up. It would be great if the born-agains wore some all-purpose proselityzing shirts that simply said “I *heart* sinners”.

    It is kind of amusing. Makes me think of the song sung by Barney the dinosaur. I suppose I could be convinced to wear a “I *heart* sinners AND [Latter-day] saints” or “I *heart* anti-Mormons” or “I *heart* evangelicals” shirt to an LDS pageant or Temple Square.

  23. Matt Evans on September 3, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    Wearing an “I *heart* anti-Mormons” shirt to a debate with anti-Mormons would be hilarious!

  24. A Nonny Mouse on September 3, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    I think statements like the following from Elder Oaks are telling as to what LDS church leaders actually expect from members:

    From such teachings we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.

    I hope the importance of conversion and becoming will cause our local leaders to reduce their concentration on statistical measures of actions and to focus more on what our brothers and sisters are and what they are striving to become.

    For present purposes its lesson is that the Master’s reward in the Final Judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors.
    “The Challenge to Become,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 2000 Conference

    Unfortunatley, 5 years later, I don’t think these counsels have been implemented entirely. I think Elder Oaks similar teaching in regards to the missionary program that he was in charge of for a year or two are part of what led away from the check-list style teaching of the old “Missionary Guide.”

    Unfortunately, it’s much easier to evaluate your “good works” by using Covey-esque techniques, I think. The truest and hardest principles (and consequentially, perhaps, the most efficacious ones in terms of personal salvation?) of the gospel seem to be very counter to the modern-age notion of slicing things up into little bits of effort which can be measured and checked off on a schedule.
    It’s much harder to figure out how effective the atonement is in your life then it is to say, “I visited these three people this month.”

    It’s hard to tell people to do something so amorphous as “Become a Daughter/Son of God.” Perhaps that’s why the much simpler evangelical message is at times more appealing: if you say this prayer, honestly and sincerely, “you’re saved.” I know that’s not the full extent of it, but I think most of us have encountered evangelical tracts like that at some point…

    Time to stop rambling…

  25. Jonathan N on September 3, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    “I Love Mormons” includes insightful criticisms of LDS culture, attributable in my view largely to the “only true church” notion. In the discussions I’ve had with family, friends and others who have left the Church, it has largely been this notion that has been, if not the original motivation for leaving, certainly one of the main rationales for staying away. Disaffected members typically find happiness in their chosen paths, despite not following the latest iteration of the “path to happiness” that the Church teaches. I’ve met many Church members who don’t believe the Holy Ghost works with nonmembers, for example, or that nonmembers can be led by the Spirit in the decisions they make. Or even that they can have strong marriages and happy families without the temple. These attitudes are so detached from reality that they drive other Church members away.

    People leave for a variety of reasons, of course. For some, as noted here, it is burnout. For some, it is the historical and doctrinal anomalies. But I think there is another overriding issue.

    What I find missing among many Church members, and definitely missing among the inactive Church members, is a sense of purpose. Previous iterations of Church doctrine focused more on establishing Zion, gathering the Saints, etc., which created a sense of direction and purpose. For a while, this sense of purpose might have been satisfied by the fast-growing missionary work, but now that active membership is essentially flat, that sense of purpose seems to be waning.

    Consequently, Church members question the point of all their work. In a sense, the service we provide is for our own benefit, as Elder Oaks’ statements imply. However, that is true of service in any context, in or out of the Church. When Church members discover, as I Love Mormons points out, that other people too can talk with God and receive answers, can feel testimony, can live good and happy lives, and can have a close relationship with Christ, all without the bureaucracy, meetings, financial and time commitment, and historical and doctrinal anomalies, they simply drop out. Especially when no one at Church will address their concerns, it’s not surprising that they leave or become inactive.

  26. Gavin McGraw on September 3, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    Gosh, you’d think people were just fleeing the church like lemmings! That’s depressing! I hope I’m not naive to think that it’s not quite that bad in church, and that everyone’s not secretly staring out the chapel windows during sacrament meeting wondering what the true religion would be like. Yeesh.

  27. Julie in Austin on September 3, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    To all who have questioned my calling Rowe a wolf: What would you call someone who writes a book for the explicit purpose of teaching others a method for getting the Saints to leave the Church? The fact that he goes about it in a nice way doesn’t make him nice; it makes him dangerous.

  28. texasviolinist on September 3, 2005 at 11:26 pm

    Yes, now we can trade in the our religion for the religion of Jimmy Swaggart. The AOG sells franchises. This religion will never convice any one who has a real testimony of the restoration but it may appeal to the limbically challenged.

    Protestantism (and evangelicism) is the most foolish religion ever invented.

  29. manaen on September 3, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    19
    Gary, thanks for pointing out my deficiency in excerpting from Sister Rasband’s book in #7. It actually is very encouraging and burden-lifting when you read her presentation of her points instead of my attempt to summarize it. I posted after reading the book a few times, so my frame of reference was her context, which I now see that I failed to convey clearly. I recommend that you read through her book to find the peace that it teaches.

  30. Marc D. on September 4, 2005 at 6:30 am

    27
    Julie, if you call somebody a wolf because he believes that he can help Mormons to see the light than most of us are wolves.
    We are trying to convince Catholics, Evangelists, etc… to leave their church and become Mormons. Is that so much different?

  31. Julie in Austin on September 4, 2005 at 9:52 am

    Mark D.–

    No, not different at all. I doubt there’s a Catholic priest or Evangelical pastor naive enough not to realize that LDS missionaries are ‘wolves’ to their own flocks; the only thing surprising here is the number of people who don’t recognize that Rowe is a wolf to our flock.

  32. anonymous coward on September 4, 2005 at 10:46 am

    burnout is real / was bishop in mid-20s / spent 40+ hours on calling weekly / was so exhausted I started calling in sick for work / family went to pieces because wasn’t ever around

  33. Seth Rogers on September 4, 2005 at 10:58 am

    You know, I keep hearing people come on here and talk about how you can “have a happy life and a personal relationship with the Savior” without having to do any of the work demanded by the LDS faith. The implication seems to be that if religion was less demanding, more people would be into it. They then point to all these theoretical people who left once they discovered that you can go to church without any of the meetings and time commitments required of Mormons.

    Now, there might be some very good reasons why the way church callings are run ought to be changed. But this doesn’t seem to be what is being called for. What is being called for here, and dozens of other spots on the Bloggernacle is a religious experience that makes no external demands on a person’s life. The only demands this so-called ideal religion would make would be internal.

    “The only thing that’s really important is my personal relationship with Jesus.”

    After you acknowlege that, no one cares how you conduct your life.

    We needn’t be surprised that this brand of sugar-religion is so popular. Heck, anybody can do it without breaking a sweat!

    But that doesn’t mean that the LDS Church is untrue. It just means that those who leave for greener pastures are lazy.

  34. Seth Rogers on September 4, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Correction: “Lazy” is not necessarily the correct term. “Uncommitted” may be more appropriate in many instances.

    It’s easy to see why someone who doesn’t really believe in this church would want out. It makes little sense to commit so much energy to something you don’t really believe.

    Note also, I’m not slinging mud at any particular participant on this board (for example, anonymous coward’s post wasn’t even up when I started writing). Jonathan N’s comment got me thinking about this. But I’m sure this wasn’t his point.

    I do agree with his comment that there is a lack of sense of purpose in the modern church (as compared to previous generations). But that may be more a symptom of the general malaise of modern America more than a unique characteristic of the church per se.

  35. annegb on September 4, 2005 at 11:31 am

    I could be converted to a religion that says I don’t have to do all the crap we’re supposed to do. I’m tired. Have I said that often enough for everyone to assume it as a given in my case?

    I might also leave the church to find a personal Jesus. Too many of my compatriots only preach the to-do list and not the love of Christ.

    Maneen, I always smile when I read the Ester Rasband comments, because I know I will see your name at the bottom. Why won’t they listen??? Have you read her book “Man and Woman, Joy in Oneness?” It’s also awesome.

    Gary, yeah, Ester Rasband is really very kind in her writing. I interpret that comment to mean that God doesn’t necessarily desire me to keep my house spotless, He wants me to invite Him into my messy cave of a bedroom and show him my favorite books and candles and make Him my friend.

  36. Ivan Wolfe on September 4, 2005 at 11:53 am

    Seth -

    Sociological research shows that the less demanding religion becomes, the more it loses “market share.” “Sugar-religion” never really lasts.

    Julie is right. The man is a wolf. That doesn’t mean he isn’t nice and well-intentioned.

    [I should know, what with my last name and all.]

  37. matt witten on September 4, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    Oh the literalism. Julie, excellent review of the Wolf’s book. It’s interesting, because, marketing wise, I think more Mormons will read the Book than evangelicals, based on the title. several online stores, when I looked, only had “I love Mormons” as the tile, and focused mainly on Rowe’s positive views of mormonism.

  38. anonymous coward on September 4, 2005 at 8:43 pm

    but the church is not really growing anymore / look at how few units have been *added* in the last decade / pres hinckley is right that there is a retention Crisis

  39. Adam Greenwood on September 4, 2005 at 10:43 pm

    “Wearing an “I *heart* anti-Mormons” shirt to a debate with anti-Mormons would be hilarious!”

    Yes! The next Bloggernacle insider thing! Where can I get mine?

  40. manaen on September 5, 2005 at 2:47 am

    35
    annegb, I hope I’m not over-citing Sis. Rasband here. Her little book opened some important doors for me. e.g. it’s been a while since I played the comparison game to rank myself above/below someone else — and it feels very good to be free of that silliness! I’m amazed at the peace that came from dropping that and instead just looking for ways to help people.

    Thanks for the tip on “Man and Woman, Joy in Oneness.” I just ordered a copy.

  41. Mike B on September 6, 2005 at 12:22 am

    annegb #35: “I could be converted to a religion that says I don’t have to do all the crap we’re supposed to do. I’m tired.”

    Is it “crap”, or is it service? I certainly don’t do all that I could/should, but I don’t spend my time feeling guilty about it. I try to make sure that I don’t slide backward, and try to make improvements–however slight–over who I currently am. Results are not always visible. Just have to keep going.

  42. ryan on September 6, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    I am glad my religion makes me strech, makes me tired, and makes me near burn out at times. I think of “the Cost of Discipleship” by bonhoffer. Too many churches offer “cheap grace.” We take covenants seriously andour works show an acceptance of grace, though ultimately they are nothing in comparison to Gods work for us thour Jesus Christ.

    I love mormons so much that I became one.

  43. Melinda on September 7, 2005 at 12:07 am

    I’m a burned out Mormon. For a bit, I was an inactive Mormon while I attended a Pentecostal church where I really liked all that they had to say about Christ’s unconditional love and salvation. Then I decided I should still be a Mormon because my family and culture are all Mormon, and I do believe we have restored priesthood keys in the Mormon church and the ordinances are important. So I’m a “born again” Mormon. I believe I am saved from my sins, and have received the ordinances necessary for exaltation. I don’t feel guilty about my minimal contribution to the kingdom. I teach nursery. I turned down a more demanding calling. I don’t do missionary work. I don’t visit teach unless my companion sets it up. I don’t go to ward activities. I don’t wear a dress and listen to hymns all day on Sunday. I don’t worry if I happen to miss church because something better came up. I don’t fellowship anyone. I don’t stay for sacrament meeting talks. I don’t even read the BOM anymore. Did you know you can skip all that stuff and still be worthy of a temple recommend? Not that I go to the temple, but I’ve still got the recommend.

    I keep the major covenants, but for everything else, I’m relying on Christ’s grace to save me from all my sins of omission. God knows I tried. And God knows what the effort cost me. I’m done. I hope he saves me; I even hope he exalts me. But I’m never having a “Mormon to-do” list again.

  44. Jesse on September 7, 2005 at 10:29 am

    If the welcome alternative to being fully committed to keeping our covenants and being completely engaged in the church as an organization is to simply develop a relationship with Jesus, I think it appropriate to ask what that relationship consists of.

    I have a relationship with the person sitting in the cube across from mine. I also have a relationship with my spouse. The amount of effort I put into these two relationships and the amount of stretching they involve in my life is dramatically different, as are the results.

    That said, it seems a very individual, personal thing to decide what constitues our “heart, might, mind and strength,” because that assuredly is what the Lord asks us to give and I don’t think there’s any getting around that. Certainly we could agree on some basics. Thou shalt not kill seems like a shoo in. However, doing 100% HT/VT every month may not fall into that category, depending on circumstances, abilities, and need for rest. Perhaps in many cases, giving our full measure may mean giving up on the idea that our salvation or our growth is dictated by the number of “righteous” acts and perhaps more dependent on something like how closely we pay attention and respond to the spiritual promptings we’re given.

    It also seems important to remember that the purpose of giving all that we can is precisly so that God can give us all that He has and wants to give us. I’ve always been very intrigued by verses 32-33 of Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants and think it ties into this discussion.

  45. Seth Rogers on September 7, 2005 at 10:39 am

    Melinda, I think you might be being to hard on yourself.

  46. EricG on September 7, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    I agree with what Seth Rogers said:

    “Personally, I think that Mormons’ warped perceptions of the ‘grace vs. works balance’ is one of the biggest problems facing our membership. … Evangelicals are absolutely right to accuse Mormons of relying overmuch on the ‘the strength of the flesh.’ Mormons do have a culturally inadequate sense of, as King Benjamin put it ‘the greatness of God and our own nothingness.’”

    I believe the problem is a cultural one, not a theological one. Too many people, including those in leadership positions, don’t know how to positively encourage us to do what we ought. They instead rely on guilt as a motivator, which doesn’t work well in the long run.

    One more thing: I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on what the author says. But I think that some of the commenters here are unfairly characterizing how evangelicals view the faith-vs.-works issue. I don’t know any evangelicals who are active in their churches who would choose their church over mine out of laziness.

  47. manaen on September 7, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    43

    Melinda,

    Many of us feel that your nursery calling is the more-demanding calling! That’s usually one of the most difficult callings to keep filled.

    I scorched many walls that I hit with my burnout until I got in trouble and asked for help. I then found the peace behind the scenes that the restored gospel offers. As I healed, I learned that my burnout was from wondering when what I gave would be enough and from always seeing yet-higher hills to climb. I had measured myself and couldn’t abide what I found yet wanting. A lack of love worsened my feelings.

    We frequently feel driven to burnout by the heap of requirements we find in the Church. Sometimes verses like “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Cor. 9:24) seem to demand more than maximum performance and to suggest that we have to be better than others somehow. I’m glad that this is balanced in the BoM, “… for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” (Msh 4:27).

    This idea of doing things in order helps me. We are given the ideal and offered opportunities to grow towards it, but perfection isn’t demanded immediately. I’ve found that giving what I can now – without worrying about my current deficiencies – and having the patience with myself to develop the rest brings more peace. “…and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith […] lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb 12:1-3).

    As we contemplate our challenge, it’s sometimes useful to remember that we won’t be asked to do more than we can do *with God’s help*. I believe that we sometimes are asked to stretch beyond our natural ability so that we’ll come again to the broken heart and contrite spirit that confesses that we need God’s help and to experience again the sweet relief of receiving it. There’s a pattern of challenge, humbling, receiving grace, and moving to the next too-much challenge. “There hath no temptation [test] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13) And God’s help frequently is the only way to escape.

    This measuring against a standard of perfection usually is what wears us out, not the work we’re trying to do. It’s our judgment that we don’t measure up that grinds our hearts. As I understand it, God’s saving his judgment until, well, the Judgment, when we’ve finished our probation here (2 Ne. 2:21). You and I are not to judge at all in this life – including, I suppose, ourselves. I believe this is because this life is the time, with God’s indispensable help, to work out the shortcomings we wrongly use to condemn ourselves prematurely. As I look back, it’s seems odd that I was using the time God alloted to overcome my shortcomings to beat-up myself because I had them. The Doctor doesn’t chastise the patient because the patient needs to heal. But the patient shouldn’t be impatient while working through the healing from the Doctor.

    I hope this helps ease your mind. Some more discussion about weariness through check listing that may be useful is posted in #7 above.

    The BoM calls this life a period of “probation.” Another way to put it — to use the “g” word – is that this is a state of grace. The abeyance that we now enjoy of the consequences of our sins and shortcomings comes by God’s grace, possible by his gift of Christ’s atonement. When we judge ourselves, or others, now we are denying the grace God gives us. Small wonder that we feel crummy when we do that! It is by accepting God’s grace that we can be saved from the weariness and faintness we feel by wrongfully, prematurely judging.

    Learning to have the Lord’s patience with ourselves frees us to enjoy the growth we have instead of worrying about the grwoth we don’t yet have. As I accept the progress I’ve made and come to trust this path, I now look at challenges like becoming perfect [complete] as is God (Matt 5:48) or the warning that we all will be tried as was Abraham (D&C 101:4-5) not as insurmountable but as amazing promises of what we will become if we trust God’s grace now and his help in the future.

    I hope that you also find this peace.

  48. Julie in Austin on September 7, 2005 at 4:14 pm

    To all who have commented on burn-out:

    One thing that I have found useful is to pray before church, general conference, etc., that God will let me know the one thing that I most need to hear to work on at that time. While I listen for that one thing, I can let everything else wash over me without feeling guilty, and without feeling like I have to rationalize ‘ignoring’ that counsel. I’ve had several positive experiences with this. It puts me in the right frame of mind to be teachable without being overwhelmed.

  49. Bryan Robert on September 8, 2005 at 3:09 am

    Whoever said that the “sugar” religions do not last, or are burning out doesnt get out much. Are you not witnessing the absolute plague of “non-demoninational” religions that are springing up? They are basically pseduo-baptist “once saved always saved” things. That is as non demanding as you can get. So add them, add the baptists, and add the mother of all sugar religions the Catholics, and you have a pretty hefty chunk of the “Christian” world.

    One thing that I think about is that the Church is true. It is really true. That means that there is a reason that people leave the Church. That some people that are members, will simply not reach the highest levels of “heaven”. Satan will do his best to fool the very elect. God knows this. He knows what our membership rate is, will be, etc. It really does not matter. We are living in the last days. Only a very small amount is suppossed to make it. We dont know what that will be, but the whole point is that the world will be so wicked, that it simply has to be destroyed. All this is part of his plan.

    It is fun, to sometimes wonder why this or why that happens, but in the end the most important thing to do, is make sure we are doing our best. I am faaarr from perfect, but I am doing my best to endure to the end. The antis will get smarter, the lies, and half truths will get more convincing. Peoples personal trials will get harder. Many people will wander away, and not endure to the end. I kinda think that there is not too much that can be done about it.

  50. David L. Rowe on September 10, 2005 at 11:47 am

    Thank you, Julie, for a fine review! I enjoy your writing, intelligent, insightful and somewhat elegant as it is. You’re only the second LDS person to review or comment on my book who caught the pulsebeat, the other being local columnist Jerry Johnston of the Deseret News. One young LDS man, a man I unabashedly love, said I’m “not extending as much of an olive branch to Mormons” as I think I am, as if that were my interest in writing (first, I’m writing to my fellow traditional Christians, not Mormons, and second, I’m much more interested in helping people of Mormon ethnicity or any other ethnicity receive GOD’S olive branch, to which all else is quite secondary!). Another LDS reviewer cautioned his readers that I’m trying to “convert” Mormons “to become Protestants,” though in truth I really don’t believe we humans can convert anybody, and whether or not someone moves from one religious institutional box to another misses the point entirely–I dream and I pray God uses the book to help people fall radically, passionately in love with Jesus, accept his gift of salvation, and give their lives to him in faith as true disciples (whether they’re Mormon, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian….whatever)!

    Some of my respected LDS friends don’t get what you do get, Julie: OF COURSE it’s a book about evangelizing Mormons! I’m claiming this is one people group among many with some people in it who need what Jesus offers (note I said “some,” not “all”). And my intended readership is orthodox, traditional, biblically based Christians. Therefore when my LDS friends read it (which I’m happy to have them do) they should realize it’s very much like me reading the LDS missionary manual Preach My Gospel (which I’ve done as well) so I can respectfully understand how and why your missionaries work when they come to our doors by the thousands to try to get us to leave our churches to become____(well, you finish the sentence). I’m reminded of the seasoned Christian missionary in India who asked a leading Hindu holy man “Are your people offended when we Christians evangelize them?” The Hindu leader responded, “I have read your New Testament and I know you have no option because you Christians are commanded by your Lord Jesus to evangelize all people. But if you evangelize us in the spirit of Jesus we will take no offense.” Bingo. That’s how I’m urging my fellow [traditional] Christians to evangelize Mormons. And yes, if we are going to really operate “in the spirit of Jesus,” by God’s grace we are called to genuinely love our Mormon friends, neighbors, workmates, family–and loving in Christ means truly understanding and respecting them as well as truly caring about them (no condescension, attack or patronizing). What I hope you find radiating from my book is, I must obey my Lord and have felt and know his call on my life (through struggles and “hard-won lessons”) to do just that from the heart and with integrity–offering the Good News to LDS (and all) people so it truly sounds like good news, just as Jesus did.

    I understand your tone and slant, Julie, and I don’t blame you nor hold ill will toward you for it. You feel the need to warn “the flock” about this “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who is “exploiting the weak spots” and “capable of picking off weaker members” who will be “seduced” and “become easy prey.” Of course I’m disappointed with this rhetoric of attack, polemics and adversarialism, but I do understand because I’ve sat where you sit before, though on the other side of the fence. Do we really want to perpetuate this language and these attitudes? I had the experience of an odd wistfulness when I read this language, because I realized something: twenty or thirty years ago this same kind of language would have been on my lips in speaking of Mormons and I would have felt rather noble about it as one who is “defending the truth.” I bear you no ill will because I can’t since it would be hypocritical and pretentious. It’s been and sometimes still is a struggle, but the Lord Jesus, to put it plainly, has led me to repent of all this so I can truly love and respect my fellow humans/Mormons as he would have me. “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves” has become a real motto for me, straight from Jesus. By his Spirit ( I can’t take credit for this) some substantial changes seem to have taken hold in me: I read your insider literature like Preach My Gospel and tend to see your missionaries in an honest effort to use this material to do good for others based on what they’ve been taught. This is commendable. Maybe I can return the favor.

    All in all, I appreciate your review and the other 49 blogger comments–very enriching! Thanks to all and blessings on all!

    Dave Rowe

  51. Aaron Shafovaloff on September 11, 2005 at 1:36 am

    Melinda, Romans 4:4-5 might be of encouragement to you:

    “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does *not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly*, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin!”

    Precisely because God justifies ungodly people like me, by faith in him who does so, and because he won’t accept any work for him that is done in order to be somehow worthy–precisely because of that I can SING in the shower every morning, BLESSED AM I! MY SINS ARE COMPLETELY FORGIVEN! Only on this foundation have I become a person described in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5. Holiness doesn’t get me to Christ. Rather, Christ gets me, an ungodly person, to holiness. I don’t have my sins conquered in order for them to be forgiven. Rather, I have them forgiven in order for them to be inevitably and unalterably conquered. Even if it takes until the resurrection.

    This is what makes us sing: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5) And if Jesus wasn’t the God we worship, that would be idolatry!

    Grace and peace in Christ,

    Aaron

  52. Julie in Austin on September 11, 2005 at 12:40 pm

    David L. Rowe–

    Thank you for your comments. I am, however, a little unclear: the first paragraph you write above seems to suggest that you aren’t trying to take LDS away from the LDS Church (unless I am misreading you?), yet the final chapter of your book covers the transition out of Mormonism and the integration of the former-LDS into a ‘traditional’ Christian church. Can you clarify for me?

    As far as my decidedly unsheepish rhetoric, I would think that someone working so hard to follow Jesus’ example of loving others would also recognize that Matthew 7:15 is a call from that same Jesus for us to recognize threats to the flock and act accordingly.

    You may have noticed many comments on this post wondering about the success rate of your approach. Do you maintain statistics–do you have any numbers for us concerning conversion of LDS to evangelical Christianity?

  53. Adam Greenwood on September 11, 2005 at 2:00 pm

    “add the baptists, and add the mother of all sugar religions, the Catholics”

    I’m not sure where the ‘sugar’ comes in, with either of these faiths.

  54. Ed Crawford on September 12, 2005 at 3:37 am

    What’s this about “institutional religion” vs. a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? How can there be the slightest doubt that a Christian’s relationship with
    Christ is deeply and supremely personal? “I am the vine,” said Jesus (John 15:5), “ye are the branches.” The figure is potent with meaning: the same life that is in the vine is in the branches.

    Jesus Himself defined the relationship of the Christian believer to Himself with the words “ye in me and I in you” (John 14:20). No words could possibly define a more intimate personal relationship. And Paul wrote these words to the Galatians who were adding Mosaic legalism to the Gospel: “My little children, for whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you …. (Galatians 4:19). Surely the formation of Christ in the life of a human conveys a very personal relationship.

    And Paul further asserts that “…the Spirit of God dwells in you” (I Corinthians 3:16). Since Jesus is “in” the Christian and the Holy Spirit “indwells” the Christian, the relationship is not institutional but personal. Indeed institutionalism misses the point. Jesus didn’t admonish Nicodemus to leave Judaism and join some “institution” but rather to be born again by believing (John 3:16). Jesus never claimed to found a “religion” and I see no evidence that Dr. Rowe is even a “protestant” or a denominational devotee.

    And what is meant by “cheap grace?” By definition “grace” is the unmerited favor of God toward the Christian, and in that sense it costs the Christian believer absolutely nothing. However, the salvation that is by “grace” was bought at a terrible price – the crucifixion of the Son of God – the sinless substitute for sinful man (Isaiah 53:6).

    Further, Paul makes it clear that grace and works cannot be mixed because they nullify each other. Writing of salvation, paul clarified: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Romans 11:6). The moment you add one ounce of “works” to grace, you nullify grace altogether and your standig before God is based on your own “good works” rather than on the grace of God.

    No wonder so many Mormons and others are “burned out” as was Martin Luther in the 16th century. The futile attempt to attain salvation and/or merit before God by the keeping of external commandments and endless humanly devised legalistic rules and rituals is enough to burn anyone out. That is not the kind of life that Jesus died to offer us. “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:19).

    Dr. David L. Rowe’s message has nothing whatever to do with a wolfish attempt to recruit people out of Mormonism and into some “protestant” or institutional denomination or other organization. Fact is, he urges people PERSONALLY to join Jesus Christ, by faith, in the most blessed personal relationship and voluntary commitment that God ever graciously devised. Most non-Mormons in today’s world need to hear the very same message, so Mormons should not be offended by Rowe’s book. He could as well direct the same message of grace to plenty of denominational “protestants” who are shackled in the mesh of perfunctory man-made legalism. “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

  55. GeorgeD on September 12, 2005 at 8:57 am

    Yea I guess Martin Luther was so tired of the works discussion that he condemned the epistle of James as an epistle of straw. He couldn’t stand the faith without works is dead verse.

    I don’t think any serious Mormon believes that works is a path to Heaven. They just tend to take it seriously when Christ tells us that if we are to abide in his love we must keep his commandments and that is mainly to love him and love one another. All the things that keep Latter-day Saints busy are works of love and service. We don’t have any mechanical performances. But even acts of service that are not founded on our unity with Christ are empty and they do become meaningless works and lead to burnout. The key is faith and love and then the service makes sense.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/john/15/10-14#14

  56. Ed Crawford on September 12, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    Luther was wrong about James’ letter, but he was not wrong about the burn-out that would-be keepers of the Mosaic code and the added laws of the Romanism of his time had experienced. Jesus’ “new commandment” of love stands in contrast to the Law of Moses, for Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The good works of the true Christian are not derived from observance of the Mosaic code or added man-made rules and rituals passed down from “religious” potentates. Rather, good works are fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Notice: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Christian love is actually the “agape” love of God manifested through the life of the Christian believer who is rightly related to the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Mosaic commandments are “holy and just and good,” but they have no power to change the inner life. The life-changing power that the Mosaic commandments lack is supplied by the Holy Spirit Himself.

  57. GeorgeD on September 12, 2005 at 5:41 pm

    Well what Mormon practices are Mosaic? I don’t know any.

    It seems like you are setting up some sort of strawman here Mr. Crawford. I don’t know any Mormons who would disagree with:

    “The good works of the true Christian are not derived from observance of the Mosaic code or added man-made rules and rituals passed down from “religious” potentates.”

    I know Mormons who produce seedless fruit because they don’t understand or don’t invite Christ into their lives but I don’t know any who think that they don’t need unity with Christ to bear fruit.

    If, however, you believe that ordinances are not necessary then you err. The New Testament has many examples of ordinances (baptism, the laying on of hands, anointing etc.). But again, Mormons see these as necessary but not sufficient to salvation. Personal righteousness that comes from yielding to the Spirit is essential.

  58. David Kennedy on September 13, 2005 at 10:27 am

    I want to defend the efficacy of being saved by grace, ‘after all we can do’. While it would be nice to luxuriate in the idea of free grace with no requirements on our end, you have to ask yourself how that would affect our eternal state. To start with, heaven would be peopled with some very lazy people who had never strived to improve themselves.

    I struggle every day with the notion that I might not be ‘good enough’ for Celestial glory. While I am often discouraged by this unhappy possibility, I can promise you that this worry had urged me forward to greater and greater heights of personal worthness – can that be a bad thing?

    I feel that too many people have fallen into the trap of imagining that our life on earth is for the purpose of having a nice time. I propose to you that our brief and blazing flash here on earth is for the purpose of proving ourselves, and of casting off bad habits and adopting good ones. I welcome the ‘guilt’ that nips constantly at my heels – I want to make the most of my brief test here on earth, rather than waste it away with a false sense of security, only to find that the day has ended, and the labor has been left undone.

  59. GeorgeD on September 13, 2005 at 10:52 am

    David,

    This is subtle but I think that the proving ourselves is in inviting and accepting Christ into our lives. Our will is necessary and must be exercses over our life times to renew the invitation. Our will is also necessary to choose obedience to his great commandment to love one another. But that is where our exercise of will should begin and end. If we are focussing on the Celestial Kingdom we are aiming beyond the mark. The Celestial Kingdom is God’s reward for those who overcome their will and submit it to Him. (Revelations 21:7)

  60. David Kennedy on September 13, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    George:

    I appreciate your comments, and certainly agree that inviting Christ into our lives is essential. But He gave many more commands than just to love on another. I think my view is backed up by the passage in Luke 18, verses 18 through 30. Jesus looked into this man’s soul and proposed one extra work by which this man could prove himself. This one work was too much for him, and he went away with no promise of eternal glory. Why didn’t Jesus simply say to the man that all he had to do was accept Him as his personal Lord and Savior? Perhaps Jesus didn’t know about the reformation…

  61. GeorgeD on September 13, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    He asked the man to demonstrate his love. Can you show me a commandment that isn’t about loving one another? If you can show me one and I am keeping it today I’ll try to quit by tomorrow.

  62. David Kennedy on September 14, 2005 at 8:11 am

    No I can’t!

  63. monty ledford on September 15, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Dave Rowe is a colleague of mine at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. I was fascinated and encouraged by the civil tone and respectful reasoning of all these comments. We cannot go wrong by treating one another as we want to be treated. My maternal ancestors came west to Salt Lake in 1847, but I was not raised LDS–yet my years here as a pastor in southern Idaho have made me appreciate more and more that we don’t have to be enemies or treat one another with contempt and insult–we may theologically have to give and take some hard knocks, but so long as we fight fair and can shake hands after the round we can be friends, and “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.
    Monty Ledford
    Monty Ledford

  64. Blake on September 15, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    Ed Crawford: Your letter seems to me to express an untrue judgment about LDS — what makes you think so many more LDS are burned out and evangelcal Christians trying prove that they are among the elect are not? You are correct that grace if free; but glorification and reward are not. LDS focus on the commandments because they teach us how to love one another; not because we follow the Mosaic code. What you have written smacks of false testimony. Being a Christian takes hard work — one’s entire heart, might, mind and soul. It takes all that we have to give for the gift that we have been given.

    So do we have any role in our salvation in your view? The problem with the evangelical (Calvinist) view of grace is that it makes God the divine despot who chooses to save a few and damn many. Admittedly, Arminianism goes a long way toward correcting the view entailed by predestination — but your comments lead me to believe that you would assert such a pernicious doctrine.

    All: If you want to know why LDS are skittish about the doctrine of grace taught by evangelicals, in my view there are a few reasons:

    1. Evangelicals have over-theologized the doctrine so that it no longer speaks of love and grace, but of cause and effects. God causes us to accept grace; we are the mere effect of someone acting on us in a way that does not honor personal free will (agency) or in a way consistent with love. The evangelical view of grace has become so analyzed and defined that it sounds like a logical formula rather than a living-breathing relationship that is offered.

    2. (Calvinist) Evangelicals have interpreted the doctrine of grace to entail the doctrines of original sin and predestination (which are mutually entailing doctrines). LDS thought rejects these doctrines and is right to do so. We have much more in common with Arminians.

    3. Many of the Reformers in former days and some present-day evangelicals since have turned the doctrine of grace into a doctrinal battle ground that spews hatred and division rather than love and gift. It has become a dividing ground rather than an invitation that can be accepted freely.

    4. Many evangelicals, like many LDS, misconstrue the doctrine of grace to mean that once one is saved, all is done and there is nothing more to do. They use it as an excuse for easy-beliefism and cheap grace that doesn’t manifest itself in works of love but excuses for doing nothing and congratulating themselves that they finally got grace.

    5. Closely associated with 4, is the notion that justification by grace is all that there is and once one is justified by grace one has it all. They don’t place this doctrine in the complete perspective of sanctification and glorification. I rarely hear an evangelical talk about repentance in connection with accepting Christ. They think that accepting Christ doesn’t require a change of life as a consequence of their acceptance of this wonderful gift of love. I rarely hear evangelicals talk about the work of sancification and judgment by works at the last day when it will be determined if we have endured to the end. S/he who repents and is baptized is saved … but neither earns salvation. It is merely that one who accepts and loves Christ will desire to stop doing those things which alienate us from him and will seek to show that commitment by entering into the covenant of baptism to be identified with Christ by dying and rising with him.

    6. LDS reject the doctrine of eternal security or once-saved-always-saved This doctrine is closely related to 4 and 5 and also to predestination. It is a false doctrine, for we must endure to the end.

    7. I rarely hear an evangelical teach that God has created a body of believers who are to meet to take his sacraments and worship him together. The notion of grace has become so individualized as a “personal relationship” that many evangelcals lose sight of the fact that God is seeking to create a holy people who are one as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one. Love is not something that one does by one’s self or merely in relation to Christ — it demands community and organization to more effectively carry on the work of Christ.

    Anyway, those are are a few of the reasons why I believe that historically LDS don’t like to speak about grace — it is too easily confused with such messes. Moreover, the LDS scriptures have a rich contribution to make to the discussion of grace and I invite my evangelical friends to come to the waters of fresh water unspoiled by centuries of mere mortals trying to fight over it and figure it out. Come and drink freely and refresh your souls. Feast on the new revelations. Remember, God is still speaking — and you haven’t heard it all yet.

  65. David L. Rowe on September 16, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    I appreciate your response, Julie, and the others as well.
    It’s a perfectly fair question you raise about the “transitioning Mormons” my last chapter discusses; it’s also a perfectly revealing question. While you’re right in saying these people are entering traditional Christian church institutions, you’re wrong in reading this as the main event or objective of the missionary sensibilities of the book. This final phase of transition is more like a postlude to the real concert, the essence of which concert is a journey into Jesus Christ (knowing him personally in saving faith), not a journey into a new church institution. The fact that almost all the people I know who have made that journey into relationship with Jesus have made a move into a traditional Christian church is a matter of follow-through, of consequence, of postlude, if you will–even if the postlude is important to their lives. I’m saying it’s a usual and frequently taken journey, not a necessary and sufficient journey. I’m saying my evangelical friends should help these people who do take the (often rough) journey, not that these people MUST take the journey. In fact some don’t: I know LDS people who have a saving relationship with Jesus and still have their institutional membership in the LDS Church. So what? The term “sufficient” is crucial here: indeed, if people move from membership in the LDS Church to membership in the Presbyterian Church USA (let’s say) but still know not Jesus, so very insufficient is it that the whole journey is a damned waste! (No, that’s not swearing; that’s biblical theology–it’s about the tragedy of well-intentioned church folks having to hear Jesus say one day “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”–Matthew 7:23).

    I say your question is “revealing” because I think it reveals the accuracy of the foundational point of my book that Mormonism is a culture. About a week ago I met over…well, uh, coffee on my side of the table with a new LDS friend who just retired from a lifelong teaching career in the LDS Church Educational System. He’s as profoundly aware of the LDS Church culture and teaching as anyone I know. I said, “Correct me if I’m wrong in this perception, but is it accurate to say that LDS people are culturally and religiously taught there is, at least in effect, a one-to-one equation between the kingdom of God and the institution called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such that being member of the institution is equivalent to being a member of the kingdom?” My friend answered uequivocally and with not a nano-second of hesitation, “Yes, that’s accurate.” With complete respect for you, Julie, may I suggest this as a crucial difference? In no way do I buy this equation between the kingdom of God and ANY church institution.

    Responding to your second paragraph, I’ll be briefer. Sure, I follow Jesus in living by what he says in Matthew 7:15 and have no qualms over your intention to do the same. Personally, my conscience is clean before God about the charge of having the character of a “wolf”–a text about “prophets,” you notice (thanks for the promotion)–and I rest in what Jesus says to me in Matthew 5:11.

    On the third issue you ask about: I’m not a statistics keeper, sorry. But there are some interesting cases I’ve become aware of and find quite arresting, even stunning, on the local level. Several local congregations who follow this approach, some small (100ish), some large (one has over 2,000 attending), report that between 25 and 30% of their members are formerly LDS; the church I attend fits into this category. One of the more dramatic cases of the approach I articulate would be a congregation I know of in Orem, Utah with about 600 people, a full 50% of which are former Mormons.

    Grace in Christ,
    Dave Rowe

  66. manaen on September 16, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    65

    Mr. Rowe,

    Regarding your question “Correct me if I’m wrong in this perception, but is it accurate to say that LDS people are culturally and religiously taught there is, at least in effect, a one-to-one equation between the kingdom of God and the institution called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such that being member of the institution is equivalent to being a member of the kingdom?”

    We have an authoritative answer included in the the Book of Mormon. The last sentence of its Introduction reads, “Those who gain this divine witness [that the Book of Mormon is true] from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.”

    Speaking *un*authoritatively now from my own understanding, this life is probationary, conditional (2 Ne 2:21, Al 34:32-33). Membership in the Church is probationary membership in God’s kingdom, pending the final Judgment. The restorative gifts, like redemption and salvation are permanent, once given, except salvation for those few sons of perdition who fall from grace (Heb 6:4-6). Promises of elevating gifts like exaltation and continued membership in God’s kingdom are conditional until the Judgment. (See #70 in “God’s Plan of Grace” here at T&S for the meanings of redemption, salvation, and exaltation).

  67. Ed Crawford on September 19, 2005 at 2:19 am

    Dear Blake and other friends of the discussion,

    Thank you for your extended comment about love, grace, salvation, rewards, glorification, etc. I am happy to know that LDS people are not struggling to keep the Mosaic Law that was delivered to Israel millennia ago. Truly that would be a futile pursuit, as Paul clarified in his letter to the Galatians. However, the addition of a multitude of man-made laws to regulate spiritual life, in the pattern of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, is equally damaging to spiritual life. A prime example of that error is the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. In those terrible times the masses were shackled by man-made laws which had little relevance to the eternal Word of the Living God which is “forever settled in Heaven.”

    It has been my impression that the LDS doctrine of “eternal progression” implies that salvation and/or glorification is gained ultimately by “good works” which, indeed, were the means by which “Heavenly Father” attained His high estate. Remember? What man is, God once was; what God is, man can come to be. How can man come to be God? By “good works?” By striving for perfection? By enduring to the end? Interestingly, Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus that he must strive and endure to the end in order to be saved. Rather, the Pharisee must “believe” (pisteuow) = TRUST JESUS CHRIST.

    A few more comments:

    1. The “doctrine of grace taught by evangelicals” is nothing more nor less than the doctrine of grace taught by Paul and Peter – and it cannot be mixed with works because works nullifies grace (Romans 11:6).

    2. Most evangelicals are not hyper-Calvinists as you assume. Most believe acceptance of Christ is an act of free will.

    3. The idea that the biblical truth about grace “spews hatred and division” is foreign to my observation. I have never encountered it, and if I ever do, I will repudiate it. People who are saved eternally “by grace through faith,” as Paul stated it, should be gracious to others.

    4. Arminianism reduces to a doctrine of salvation by works, which is impossible due to the fallen nature of man ever since the Garden of Eden. One who is saved by “being good” is self deceived. Good and righteous practices are never a means of salvation. Rather, they are a result of salvation. Salvation is neither gained nor maintained by our own “goodness.” It is gained through the extension of God’s marvelous grace to the person who truly trusts Christ the Savior, and it is maintained not by our “good works” but by the power of Him who promised, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:28-30).

    5. The Biblical teaching that salvation is “by grace through faith” does indeed mean that the saved person immediately has full and complete salvation and eternal (aionios) life. However, the new Christian is like a newborn baby who has LIFE, but a lifetime of growth lies ahead. New life implies the beginning of growth, and the Christian life is a life of spiritual growth.

    6. The spiritual growth of the Christian is not accomplished by STRIVING, but by YIELDING to God the Holy Spirit who indwells the born-again Christian. It is only by yielding to God that we can serve Him acceptably, for only then can God accomplish His work through the believer. He who strives in his own strength is not truly depending on the power of God by yielding to God. Self-dependence is the opposite of dependence on God.

    7. Repentance is often preached by evangelical Christians. Indeed, it is a component of faith, for the need to exercise faith would not exist without repentence, which means literally to “turn around.” Faith unto salvation takes place only when a person recognizes and accepts the fact that he or she is a sinner in need of salvation. Faith implies repentance. Nearly 100 times in the Gospel of John salvation is based on faith (Greek pisteuow).

    8. The “change of life” that occurs in the life of the true Christian is not accomplished by personal willpower, determination and striving, but by a miraculous work of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The changed life is wrought by a work of God rather than by one’s own power. Again, it’s a matter of yielding rather than striving. Only as we yield to the Holy Spirit can we serve as channels of His power.

    9. It is sad indeed that LDS people “don’t like to speak about grace,” because the Word of the Living God makes it clear that grace is the only hope of LDS people, as it is the only hope of Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists and all others.

    10. The God who inspired the Scriptures has been fully able to preserve them in their integrity through the centuries – “unspoiled by centuries of mere mortals.” The fresh water of Heaven comes for Jesus Himself, who stated: “WHOEVER DRINKS OF THE WATER THAT I SHALL GIVE HIM WILL NEVER THIRST. BUT THE WATER THAT I SHALL GIVE HIM WILL BECOME IN HIM A FOUNTAIN OF WATER SPRINGING UP INTO EVERLASTING LIFE .” (John 4:14) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and no other person, group, institution, religion or self-asserted revelation, is the true and eternal fountain of living water. A multitude of voices through the long centuries have claimed to have “new revelations,” and without exception those “new revelations” have contravened and contradicted the Word of God which is “forever settled in Heaven.” Ultimately we all must choose whom we will serve – whether the Living and True God who created and sustains the universe and all life, or some self-professed source of a body of claimed “revelation” that abrogates, at least in part, the Word of Truth. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and no other.

  68. GeorgeD on September 19, 2005 at 8:39 am

    Ed, the debate will never end. Evangelicals ignore half of the New Testament in their invented religion. Christ said if ye love me keep my commandments. It is that simple. But Evangelicals misread Paul (http://scriptures.lds.org/2_pet/3/15-17#15) and they no longer believe in stedfastness. Evangelicals don’t know what keeping commandments is. I can’t ignore that much of the Bible Ed. I can’t become a parser of Paul that ignores the historical context of his epistles. I cannot understand a theology that denies Christ’s words.

  69. Julie in Austin on September 21, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    David L. Rowe–

    Thanks for your response. (I didn’t see it until today.)

  70. Ed Crawford on September 22, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    Hi George, Yes, the “debate” about the roles of law and grace has raged through the centuries, long before LDS was ever heard of. Essentially it has to do with how a person understands God’s plan of salvation. Those who partially trust their own “good works” as an essential for salvation simply fail to understand the Gospel (good news) that the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for fallen man is the only basis of salvation, and that salvation is gained by grace through faith alone, and it is eternal because it is a transaction whereby the Christian shares the very life of God. The New Testament makes it very clear that any degree of dependence on “works” for salvation nullifies grace and amounts to a “false gospel.” Unfortunately, dependence on “works” as an essential part of God’s requirement for salvation is quite common not only among LDS people, but among people of all major denominations. Paul dealt definitively with that issue in Galatians and Romans – but modern “salvation by works” people simply reject God’s great Revelation through the man who met Jesus on the Damascus road. Those who mix “works” with grace also fail to comprehend the eternality of the life that God gives the Christian. The Biblical fact is that the only kind of life that God gives the Christian is ETERNAL life. The Greek word is “aionios” and it is used in the New Testament to convey both the eternality of God and the eternality of the life that God gives the true Christian. We simply cannot honestly maintain that “aionios” means “eternal” when applied to God, but that it means something different when applied to the born again Christian. The whole idea of the Gospel is that eternal, never-ending life is given to the Christian freely as a “gift of God.” Those who add their own “good works” as an essential for salvation do not understand what salvation is, and Paul feared for such people lest he had labored in vain when he had first proclaimed the good news to them. If we add one ounce of our own goodness to the finished work of Christ as the basis of salvation, then to that degree we depend on self rather than on the Savior – and there is no salvation through self-dependence. All false “religions,” regardless of name or denomination, are characterized by dependence, to some degree, on human self-suffiency for salvation. Such are not false religions because I declared them to be such, but because the Word of God declares them to be such. Jesus’ “New Commandment” to “love one another as I have loved you” was delivered NOT TO THE UNSAVED, but to His followers (people who were already saved by His grace through faith). The commandment to love other Christians is repeated in the epistles, and the same Paul who taught that salvation is “by grace through faith” and “not of works” wrote a huge volume of exhortation to Christians, encouraging them to perform good works and to love others. But please keep in mind that Paul, while exhorting Christians to yield to the Holy Spirit and to bear the “fruit of the Spirit,” never misled people to believe that their “good works” must be added to the finished work of Christ as a means of salvation. Finally, sweeping statements such as evangelicals “no longer believe in steadfastness” should be avoided because there always have been, and always will be, the sphere of PROFESSION and the sphere of POSSESSION. Not all who “profess” salvation “possess” salvation. The wheat and the tares, which resemble each other, grow together throughout this age. LDS people, as do other people, vary in their degree of steadfastness. Sweeping Judgmental statements about Evangelicals en masse are pointless, for one could make the same statements about LDS people and about adherents of all groups. Regardless of such judgments, which all of us could lodge concerning others, God’s plan of salvation will never change because God will never change. Jesus declared it to Nicodumus and Paul declared it to the Galatians and the Ephesians. Salvation is received by grace through faith plus nothing, and those who would add their own “works” FOR SALVATION nullify God’s clearly revealed plan of salvation and should be, regardless of their religion or denomination, objects of Christian missionary endeavor.

  71. DavidH on September 22, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    Ed,

    Thanks for your comments. I enjoy contemporary Christian music, which is carried on evangelical stations and networks(KLOVE, Air 1, effectradio, etc ….), and am a regular listener.

    I have heard more than one pastor on those stations say that salvation is through grace alone through faith in Jesus, but that we will also be rewarded in heaven for our good works. This potential heavenly reward, as I understand it, is separate from (or in addition to) salvation.

    Do you agree with this? Have I understood this correctly?

  72. b bell on September 22, 2005 at 2:27 pm

    Ed,

    Please respond to the idea that Paul was fighting a battle over works vs faith with those Jewish converts that were still keeping portions of the law of moses after they had become Christians.

    Also what is your understanding of James and faith without works is dead.

    LDS doctrine is not concerned as much about salvation but exhaltation (godhood). LDS doctrine teaches that all shall be saved from physical death by Christ, (free gift) and that Heaven vs Hell is a lot more complicated but that Jesus will pay for our sins. I am pretty confident that most LDS, christians and all other people will receive salvation as you describe by entering into one of the three levels of heaven WHICH WILL BE FACILITATED BY JESUS. When an evangelical asks me if I am saved here in the Bible Belt I always say yes!!

    I think we are talking past each other in the grace vs work discussion because of the LDS understanding of what happens in the next life is different than yours. The works that we LDS perform as a part of our religion are intended to help us reach for exhaltation (godhood, notice that I am unafraid to confirm this doctrine. Its simply a wonderful doctrine) not for salvation as you understand it.

    IF OTHER LDS BLOGGERS WANT TO CORRECT MY DOCTRINE IF I MISSED ANYTHING OR WAS NOT CLEAR PLEASE DO SO. I DO NOT HOLD MYSELF OUT AS AN AUTHORITY ON LDS DOCTRINE AND DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE CHURCH.

    Ed, on a personal note I know that Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, was the Son of God spoken of by the ancient Hebrew prophets, died on the cross, and rose from the dead on the third day. The Holy Ghost has given me this witness as I have studied the scriptures and carefully considered the implications of accepting Jesus. I accept him as my Lord and Savior.

    I also believe that there is much more common ground between evangelicals and LDS than many on both sides will admit to.

  73. manaen on September 22, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    70 & 71

    Ed, thank you for your latest sharing of the Evangelical view of LDS doctrine. A key part of LDS doctrine that’s frequently misunderstood is that we wholeheartedly believe that we are saved — and exalted — by grace. We sinners can do nothing by our works that earns either of these gifts.

    However, God grants his elevating gifts, like exaltation, only to those who have become the kind of “new (hu)man” by whom they can be received. A couple foreshadowings of this pattern are new wine/old bottles and not casting pearls before swine. The value of works is not to earn God’s rewards but to develop the changes in our natures through God’s grace, repentance and forgiveness possible by Christ’s atonement, and guidance and strength through the Holy Ghost that will elevate us above the stature of spiritual swine.

    I believe that this is the point of James 2. Faith is made perfect by our works. The justification by works in verses 23-25 doesn’t mean those sinners earned heaven, but that their works indicated that they had become the kind of people to be given the gifts of salvation and exaltation. Brigham Young taught that the three young men who carried pioneers across an icy river, and themselves died from that ordeal, by that act alone gained the celestial kingdom. This was not because a single heroic effort deserves exaltation but that to have developed the kind of selfless love for others that causes you to lay down your own life for them is a fruit from the kind of person to whom God #gives# this reward.

    What we #earn# is captured in “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) paired with “And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved [exalted] in your sins.” (Alma 11:37). We’re all sinners, therefore barred from the kingdom of heaven without our God that so loved the world that he #gave# his only begotten son to atone for our sins.

    Dallin Oaks, a modern apostle of Christ, explained this clearly in the Oct, 2000 General Conference. A summary quote is, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become” (“The Challenge of Becoming” http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-138-15,00.html). He did not say that Christ’s gospel is the plan by which we can earn/deserve salvation or exaltation. In this, he echoes one of his predecessors who taught that we were given the structural Church “Till we all [be]come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Eph 4:13)

    I see many modern commandments as God-given exercises to help us conform our wills to God so that he can lead us home. I believe that tithing and the Word of Wisdom are only temporal commandments because I suppose that there will be neither money nor cigarettes in heaven. Rather, they are God’s gifts to help us come to the level of the full gifts of adoption and become joint-heirs with Christ.

  74. b bell on September 22, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    This is well said. You should submit to somebody for publishing.

    I agree that you cannot earn exhaltation, that it comes by grace at the end of the day.

  75. manaen on September 22, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    70, again

    Here is an explanation by one of the Church’s leaders about the relationship between God’s gifts of grace and the paradoxical price for him and for us:

    ——–

    We need grace both to overcome sinful weeds and to grow divine flowers. We can do neither one fully by ourselves. But grace is not cheap. It is very expensive, even very dear. How much does this grace cost? Is it enough simply to believe in Christ? The man who found the pearl of great price gave “all that he had” for it. If we desire “all that [the] Father hath,” God asks all that we have. To qualify for such exquisite treasure, in whatever way is ours, we must give the way Christ gave—every drop He had: “How exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” Paul said, “If so be that we suffer with him,” we are “joint-heirs with Christ.” All of His heart, all of our hearts.
    What possible pearl could be worth such a price—for Him and for us? This earth is not our home. We are away at school, trying to master the lessons of “the great plan of happiness” so we can return home and know what it means to be there. Over and over the Lord tells us why the plan is worth our sacrifice—and His. Eve called it “the joy of our redemption.” Jacob called it “that happiness which is prepared for the saints.” Of necessity, the plan is full of thorns and tears—His and ours. But because He and we are so totally in this together, our being “at one” with Him in overcoming all opposition will itself bring us “incomprehensible joy.”
    Christ’s Atonement is at the very core of this plan. Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him. He gave us all He had. Therefore, “how great is his joy,” when even one of us “gets it”—when we look up from the weed patch and turn our face to the Son.
    Only the restored gospel has the fulness of these truths! Yet the adversary is engaged in one of history’s greatest cover-ups, trying to persuade people that this Church knows least—when in fact it knows most—about how our relationship with Christ makes true Christians of us.
    […]
    The rich young man had given almost everything. When the Savior told him he must sell all his possessions, that wasn’t just a story about riches. We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.
    […]
    The people in 3 Nephi 17 had survived destruction, doubt, and darkness just to get to the temple with Jesus. After listening to Him for hours in wonder, they grew too weary to comprehend Him. As He prepared to leave, they tearfully looked at Him with such total desire that He stayed and blessed their afflicted ones and their children. They didn’t even understand Him, but they wanted to be with Him more than they wanted any other thing. So He stayed. Their almost was enough.
    Almost is especially enough when our own sacrifices somehow echo the Savior’s sacrifice, however imperfect we are. We cannot really feel charity—Christ’s love for others—without at least tasting His suffering for others, because the love and the suffering are but two sides of a single reality. When we really are afflicted in the afflictions of other people, we may enter “the fellowship of his sufferings” enough to become joint-heirs with Him.
    May we not shrink when we discover, paradoxically, how dear a price we must pay to receive what is, finally, a gift from Him. When the Savior’s all and our all come together, we will find not only forgiveness of sin, “we shall see him as he is,” and “we shall be like him.” I love Him. I want to be with Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

    – Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All” GenCon 4/2004
    (http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-439-33,00.html)

  76. GeorgeD on September 22, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Ed,

    Mormons don’t believe that good works save them. We don’t believe that we get anything from God without submitting our will to his, not even exaltation. But bending our will to His is our mission.

    But the good news for Protestants is that we have a place for people who were saved in our cosmology. It is called the Terrestial kingdom. It is for the good men and women who were blinded by the doctrines of men and were not valiant in their tetimony of Christ. When I read what little our doctrine teachs about it I am constantly reminded of protestant heaven. We even believe that Jesus Christ ministers to this kingdom of glory. It is a kindgom of glory and it beats anything we have got hear. When ever I hear a Billy Graham sermon on salvation I grant that he has got it right indeed — for the Terrestial Kingdom.

  77. manaen on September 22, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    74
    b bell: “…it comes by grace at the end of the day. ” Or… “after all we can do.”

    Thx for your comment about mine in 73.

  78. Ed Crawford on September 25, 2005 at 6:26 pm

    Since my last comment I have noted thoughtful comments by DavidH, b bell and manaen, plus an extended quote from Bruce C. Hafen. I have read all contributions with appreciation for the high level of discourse. Too much space would be required to reply fully to all comments, so I will try to be as “pithy” as possible while still making some points that would seem to have a place in our discussion.

    1. Grace is “expensive” to God, but it is FREE to us. That’s why it is so AMAZING. We know it is free to us because God declared it in His eternal Word. We are “bought with a price” – and the price was paid 100% by God because He “so loved the world ….” Those who use the words “cheap grace” to denigrate the faith of those who are saved by grace do not understand that the grace of God is indeed a “free gift” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    2. Is it enough to simply believe in Christ? For salvation, yes – if the word “believe” has the weight of the Greek original (“pisteuow”) which means to TRUST Christ, to DEPEND on Him for eternal life, to RECEIVE Him (John 1:12). That kind of belief (faith) is “enough” for salvation, and those who would add their own good works to it actually nullify faith. If you try to give me a gift and I insist on paying for it, and if you then accept a payment of even one solitary penny, then “the reward is not reckoned of faith, but of works.” To the degree that I add my own “works” to God’s “finished work,” to that degree I substitute dependence on self for dependence on God.

    3. Perhaps my greatest surprise in dealing with you, my dear LDS “cyberfriends,” is the seeming absence of your comprehension of the all-important Biblical doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the regenerate believer. Thus far in our cyberchatting, it seems to me that you tend to overlook the role of the Holy Spirit in producing the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), and to substitute “good works” as measured by the keeping of certain rules and regulations. I invite you to have a prayerful and open-minded look at the following Scriptures that assure us of the indwelling and empowering ministry of God the Holy Spirit: Romans 5:5; 8:9 &11; I Corinthians 2:12; 6:19-20; II Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 3:2; 4:6 and I John 3:24; 4:13. The multiple ministries of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian are evident: He regenerates the Christian (Titus 3:5). He indwells the Christian (Scriptures just cited). He seals the Christian (Ephesians 1:13). He fills the Christian (Ephesians 5:18). He conforms the Christian to the image of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). He strengthens the Christian (Ephesians 3:16). He reveals Biblical truth to the Christian (I Corinthians 2:10). He assures the Christian of salvation (Romans 8:16). He frees the Christian from “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). He guides the Christian (Romans 8:14). He empowers the Christian (Acts 1:8). The person who simply believes the Word of God cannot escape the conclusion that victory in the Christian life is not achieved by the observance of rules and laws or by identifying with some institution. Victory is achieved not by self-effort, but by yielding to the Holy Spirit of God so that the character of Jesus Christ our Lord is evident in our lives. Yes, Christians are “exhorted” to goodness and good deeds throughout the New Testament – but the production of such goodness and good works is not accomplished through self-merit or self-effort, but by being rightly related to the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Christian is a channel of God’s goodness; not a producer of it.

    4. Yes indeed, there is a body of New Testament Revelation that assures us of rewards for faithful Christian service. There is the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:2), the incorruptible crown (I Corinthians 9:25), and the crown of glory (I Peter 5:4). Service will be rewarded, but a distinction must always be made between the salvation transaction and the service that follows. Too often adherents of various groups, taking notice of the New Testament emphasis on good works, misunderstand such to be the means of salvation rather than the result of salvation – the fruit of the indwelling Holy Sprit.

    5. The New Testament nowhere equates the joining of any institution with regeneration (spiritual birth) by faith in Christ. Salvation assures one of eternal life, and it is strictly a personal matter. Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus to join any institution. In the New Testament the “church” is both the universal body of believers and a gathering of Christian believers for worship within a local community. One gains membership in the universal body of Christ by salvation through faith. The local church consists of local Christians gathering for worship and remembrance of the sacrifice of the Savior. The ministry gifts which God has given the church are for the “edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

    6. Exaltation (uperupsow) refers to the “exaltation” of Jesus following His humiliation (Philippians 2:9). The root also refers to magistrates, rulers and people in civic authority. Self-exaltation is roundly condemned in the New Testament (Luke 18:14). Because the Christian is identified with Christ’s resurrection, there is a spiritual exaltation associated with that event. Basically the Greek word refers to being “lifted up” and the future state of the Christian does involve being glorified with Christ (Romans 8:17). Again, this is a spiritual matter and there is no association here with any institution, denomination or organization. Hitler, of course, “exalted” his Nazi cronies by elevating them to places of power and prominence.

    7. References to “our religion” have no derivation in the New Testament. Jesus never claimed to found a “religion.” Indeed, “religion” was His supreme enemy – the satanic system that professed to be in God’s inner circle, yet contrived and plotted to kill Him because He pronounced the message of Heaven. “Religion” murdered hundreds of thousands of true Christians in the middle ages, simply because they disagreed with an apostate pope and his evil hierarchy. Beware of “religion,” because it is, historically, the primary enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    8. The statement of James that faith is demonstrated by good works in no way nullifies grace. It always has been true that the good works of the Christian justify him/her before men – a very different matter from the extensive New Testament Revelation concerning justification by faith apart from works. Without works, there is no evidence that faith exists. Works follows faith, but is not mixed with faith as a means of salvation.

    9. The quote by our friend b bell “…it comes by grace at the end of the day.” Or … “after all we can do” conveys the absolute contrary view to the New Testament truth about grace. Indeed, the contrary view could not be stated more clearly. Grace is a “free gift of God” and not something that is only granted to people who have done all they could do. In fact, grace is extended to sinners; not to people who would stand before a Holy God in their own “goodness.” Jesus came not to call the “righteous,” but sinners to repentance. The self-righteous Pharisees, Jesus said, “already have their reward.” Some of the most remarkable conversions to Christ happened at the bottoms of gutters and dens of iniquity. The thief who was crucified beside Jesus said he deserved the sentence of death. He was an evil man, and Jesus assured him a place in Paradise simply on the basis of his faith: “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” That thief was not extended grace as the reward for his striving, trying, and “doing all he could do.” Grace is grace, and it is free to those who only believe.

  79. manaen on September 26, 2005 at 12:08 am

    78.
    Ed, welcome back! Your latest posting is impressive, but I have the feeling that somehow we’re still talking past each other. If I understand what you’re saying, you do not understand what we are saying about salvation, grace, and the Holy Ghost.

    You wrote, “Perhaps my greatest surprise in dealing with you, my dear LDS ‘cyberfriends,’ is the seeming absence of your comprehension of the all-important Biblical doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the regenerate believer. Thus far in our cyberchatting, it seems to me that you tend to overlook the role of the Holy Spirit in producing the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22), and to substitute ‘good works’ as measured by the keeping of certain rules and regulations.”

    Your comments seem to chide us about lack of understanding regarding the Holy Ghost, but your testimony seems to be based upon biblical research and training and not guidance from the Holy Ghost. I’m surprised that would say we trust “keeping of certain rules and regulations” after reading our comments because it feels more scripted than responsive. If you have time, you may want to wander through the parallel thread we’ve been running on this site: “God’s Plan of Grace (/of Love/of Happiness/of Salvation)” for discussion by us more focused on this subject.
    I like the description by President Marion Romney of what happened to me, “It would appear that membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous. Being converted, as we are here using the term, and having a testimony are not necessarily the same either. A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion, on the other hand, is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience. […] [Someone] may be assured of it when by the power of the Holy Spirit his soul is healed. When this occurs, he will recognize it by the way he feels, for he will feel as the people of Benjamin felt when they received remission of sins. The record says, ‘. . . the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience. . . . ‘ (Mosiah 4:3.)” (GenCon 10/1963).
    I love that description of having your soul healed by the power of the Holy Ghost because it expresses how I feel – healed. I also like this summary of my experiences from sin, to forgiveness, to receiving God’s love, to hope of exaltation, “And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” (Mni 8:26).

    I hope that you will open your heart to what the Spirit confirms here.

  80. Gavin McGraw on September 26, 2005 at 8:32 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only who feels like I’m being lectured. Semantic and rhetorical differences still abound, though I don’t think I’m the one to resolve them.

    Straight is the gate, and narrow the way, and few there be that find it. Many will be caught at the last day sitting on the grass, sniffing the flowers of Grace, while the rocky, uphill trail to Exaltation remains by them untrod. At that point, Christ will say to them, “I gave you my Grace, why didn’t you run with it? Sorry, but you’ll have to be content out here with your flowers, while these few will live with me in the mansions of my Father.”

  81. Ed Crawford on September 26, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Manaen and Gavin,

    Your view that I’m “scripted” and “lecturing” is your judgment and you must realize that your judgment of me does not necessarily correspond with reality. What I have written is based on the Word of God, which I have cited extensively. Is my effort as a servant of Christ to be denigrated because I quote the Word of God which is “forever settled in Heaven”? Any “scripting” or “lecturing” by me amounts to nothing – but the Word of the Living God amounts to everything. “If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Referring to His own as His “sheep,” the Lord Jesus Christ said to the hostile Jews in the Temple, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). His “voice” is found in His written Word, and a primary test of the genuineness of Christian faith is the test of confidence in and adherence to the Word of God. It is not my test, but God’s test. With humility and genuineness of spirit I urge you to draw your guidance for salvation and Christian living from no other source than the Word of God. Please remember that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17). I urge you not to exhibit a judgmental spirit toward any person who accepts the Word of God as His or her sole and sufficient guide for salvation and Christian living. I urge you not to yield your life to any source, person or power other than the Triune God and His eternal Word. Grace and mercy, Ed

  82. Seth Rogers on September 26, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    RE: Ed Edwards point #7:

    No, Christ didn’t “found” a religion. Much as he sat teaching Mary, while Martha was busy housekeeping, Jesus had little time and intended to spend it teaching the “weightier matters of the law.”

    He left the establishment of a religious organization to Peter and Paul and others.

    It is misguided to confuse the state-sponsored priestcraft of the Pharisees with the true Zionlike social structure attempted by Jesus’ Apostles with his blessing.

  83. Ed Crawford on September 26, 2005 at 3:27 pm

    b bell

    Thank you for your response in number 72 of this series. You are a nice person, as the spirit of your writings attest. The idea that a human can be exalted to “godhood” is not based on the Word of God. It is definitely a later construct which is actually contrary to the Word of God, as is the idea promulgated in certain circles that God was once a man, and man has the potential to become God or “a god.” Such a concept may tickle the imagination, but God’s Word of Truth was not given to man for that purpose. To affirm that “exhaltation (godhood) is “simply a wonderful doctrine” does not make it a wonderful doctrine. It is not a “wonderful doctrine” unless it is true. In fact the statement does not make it a “doctrine” at all, if by “doctrine” we mean a pronouncement of truth that accords with the Word of God. Concerning acceptance of Jesus as “Lord and Savior,” we must take great care that we are accepting (trusting) the Jesus of the Bible rather than some reconstructed Jesus who does not exist. Through the centuries a whole succession of “teachers” have come along declaring the wonders of some made-over Jesus who is very different from the real Jesus of the Word of God. Harry Emerson Fosdick (Baptist, Riverside Church, New York) preached a Jesus who is not Deity and is no more than a nice man from whom the rest of us can learn something. His “Jesus” is not the Messiah Jesus of the Word of God. Fosdick’s Jesus has no power to save the soul of any person. Mary Baker Glover Patterson Fry Eddy remade Jesus into her own image, as did Charles Taze Russell. Modern Protestant Liberalism denies the Jesus of the Bible and proclaims a different Christ and a different (false) gospel of salvation by self-generated “goodness.” No Jesus other than the Biblical Jesus could save one single soul. As the true Biblical Jesus put it, “I am the door of the sheep. … If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). The Savior who bore our sins on the cross never so much as hinted that any other Jesus would have the power to save. Jesus Himself predicted that “False christs and false prophets will arise and shall show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Clearly there is the True Christ, and there are false christs and deceptive “false prophets.” Such we must avoid. Blessings, Ed

  84. Ben S. on September 26, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    “It is not a ‘wonderful doctrine’ unless it is true.”

    Ed, you haven’t given any argument that it’s false, other than your capitalized Word.
    There’s plenty of LDS and non-LDS scholarship demonstrating the fundamental importance of exaltation or deification or theosis in early Christianity.

    I’m not trying to turn this into an argument. I just don’t think you’re getting anywhere.

  85. Gavin McGraw on September 26, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    Ed,
    The risk you run in posting to an LDS blog, is that there will be many who are sympathetic to, nay, enthusiastic about, LDS doctrine, and will defend it.

    It’s certainly your prerogative to categorically deny the validity of any scripture besides the Bible, but it’s not very endearing to me, and I’d venture the same is true of many LDS. The whole point of David L. Rowe’s book seems to be to bring Latter-Day Saints “to Christ” with love and support for their failings and misunderstandings, not to browbeat them with the same old evangelical “t’ain’t in the bah-ble, so it just ain’t so.”-type of rhetoric.

    I hope you don’t take all this personally, as I’m hardly capable of meaning it personally. I’m also confident that the T&S blog-masters here would always welcome your comments, as you have always been respectful. However, as you continually assert that the Bible is the only word of God, and by implication call to repentance those who believe otherwise, I just think it’s usefull to consider your audience.

    Personally, I believe Nephi as he relates the words of God:
    “…And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.” 2 Nephi 29:9

    In other words, to quote Al Jolson, “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

  86. Gilgamesh on September 26, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    Well said Gavin!

    I am excited by Rowe’s book. In the earlier days of the Church, Brigham Young used to invite visiting pastors from different denominations to preach to the saints in the tabernacle. The attitude then was “let’s have the saints discern truth fro themselves.” They were always friendly to their guests, and would occasionally have a debate with them as well. These debates helped solidify the doctrines of the church and form our religious culture. The open dialogue between LDS and non-LDS individuals can only further the theoretical and doctrinal development and clarify the wonderfully uniques theoligical positions of the LDS church.

  87. Seth Rogers on September 26, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Sorry, that should have been “Ed Crawford.”

  88. GeorgeD on September 26, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    Here is my beef with evangelicals. They rip the Bible completely out of context. They ignore what Christ says (“he was already talking to the faithful”) and what Peter and James and John say and even what Paul says that they don’t like. They narrow in on a few verses of scripture in Paul’s epistles that were aimed at Jewish Christians who wanted converts to adopt all the Pharasaic interpretation of the Mosaic law. Then they say that every thing else came later. Well for 1500 years Christians acknowledged a requirement for righteous behavior as fruit of their faith. It took a reaction to serious excesses for Luther and Calvin to come along and throw the baby out with the bath water. The cure is certainly worse than the disease. Calvin’s predestination is the most perfidious doctrine ever devised. Satan himself probably wondered why he hadn’t thought of it.

    My image (unfair I am sure) of evangelicals will be forever fixed on Jimmy Swaggart and some fruitcake named Bakker who were so into cheap grace and simony that adultery, rape, fornication were just little thorns in their flesh. Their cheap grace doctrine is to the scriptures as some crackpots’ weather theories are to meteorology.

  89. manaen on September 27, 2005 at 12:21 am

    81.
    Ed,
    I see that I wasn’t clear enough in my effort to explain how your comments sounded and I apologize for causing you discomfort. I meant my comments to be a continuation of our efforts to reach common language in this discussion. I see that we have yet some work to do.
    .
    Regarding your comment, “Your view that I’m “scripted” and “lecturing” is your judgment and you must realize that your judgment of me does not necessarily correspond with reality,” when I said, “I’m surprised that [you] would say we trust ‘keeping of certain rules and regulations’ after reading our comments because it feels more scripted than responsive,” I was hoping to convey that I’d supposed that you wouldn’t say such a thing after reading our comments about how salvation is a gift of grace, not something we earn. I said that it felt scripted because I did feel as though you were writing against a preconception of us, not in response to what we are saying. That’s why I recommended in my next sentence that you look at our comments in another thread that’s focused upon the gifts of grace.
    .
    In that thread, we discussed how we believe that the spiritual creation, the physical creation, forgiveness of sins, any joys we receive in this life, the resurrection, and any rewards that we receive after the resurrection are gifts of grace. God’s commandments are not a plan to deserve any rewards, but they are how we can become the kind of person to whom God will give rewards, avoiding the exclusions that are foreshadowed in Jesus comment about not casting pearls before swine. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom 8:16-17) Heirs receive a *gift* of inheritance if the bestower so decides.
    .
    In the hope of clearing for you our understanding of grace, works, and salvation, here’s a citation from the Book of Mormon. I apologize for its length, but I see these verses as integral for this discussion:
    3. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fullness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.
    4. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
    5. And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. [cf Rom 3:23, Gal 2:21, Jas 2:10]
    6. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
    7. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
    8. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah [*not* our own merits -manaen], who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
    9. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved. (2 Nephi 2:3-9)
    .
    Then come rewards according to what we’ve become through the atonement. Our works, coupled with repentance, can help us become the kind of person that will be a joint-heir with Christ in being glorified with him.
    .
    .
    “What I have written is based on the Word of God, which I have cited extensively. Is my effort as a servant of Christ to be denigrated because I quote the Word of God which is “forever settled in Heaven”?”
    .
    My intent wasn’t to denigrate your effort, only to present what I saw as a couple things to be added to it if it were to be effective here: response directly to what you read here and testimony by the Spirit.
    .
    .
    “His “voice” is found in His written Word, and a primary test of the genuineness of Christian faith is the test of confidence in and adherence to the Word of God. It is not my test, but God’s test.”
    .
    Here’s an example of us not yet attaining common language: when I first read this comment, I was enthused about how much you sounded like LDS speakers because I took “adherence to the Word of God” to mean that we should adhere in the sense of being a doer of the word and not a hearer only (Jas. 1:22). Then I realized that you only meant that our *words* should adhere to (what I see as your private interpretation of, in the absence of guidance by the Holy Ghost) the Word of God.
    .
    .
    “With humility and genuineness of spirit I urge you to draw your guidance for salvation and Christian living from no other source than the Word of God. Please remember that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17).
    .
    I thank you for your shared concern. I agree that we should live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. This discussion is evidence that we still have the same confusion about the meaning of God’s words that led Joseph Smith to follow the word of God in Jas. 1:5 and ask for wisdom from God. As you’re aware, the answer was that none of the interpretations of the Bible then extant accurately reflected God’s truth.

    Jesus then restored the apostles, prophets, and other blessings of his Church so that we could avoid this confusion found among learned adherents. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; […] For the perfecting of the saints, […] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:11-15.)

    But “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10) and “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21.) The Holy Ghost is what gives the word of God, including what we have in the scriptures.

    God in modern times coupled the teaching of his truth by the Holy Ghost with its receipt by the Holy Ghost: “Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God. And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:18-22.)

    The scriptures teach that the Holy Ghost is the source God gave us to know the truth (John 14:26, 16:13, Moroni 10:5). Not only that, God’s word tells us that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14) God tells us that the Holy Ghost is how we are to know the truth and he warns us that we cannot know spiritual truth without the Holy Ghost’s help.

    This dependency upon the Holy Ghost is what I was trying to signal in my earlier comment about testimony by the Spirit. This is important to someone like me who has received so many answers – and had his soul healed – by the Holy Ghost. It’s what I was waiting for you to give, not superior learning and research because the world is full of people of various opinions that excel me in those. I’m looking for the confirmation God told me to use: the Holy Ghost.
    .
    .
    “I urge you not to exhibit a judgmental spirit toward any person who accepts the Word of God as His or her sole and sufficient guide for salvation and Christian living.”
    .
    I certainly agree that we aren’t to have a judgmental spirit towards anyone. My understanding is that God doesn’t judge us during this mortal probation and we never are to judge, only love and help, each other. I also agree that God’s word is the sole guide we are to use. I hope that you agree with God’s word that the Holy Ghost is how we can know his word and know that we’re following it.
    .
    .
    “I urge you not to yield your life to any source, person or power other than the Triune God and His eternal Word. Grace and mercy, Ed.”
    .
    Thanks for the sentiment. I choose, however, to follow the True God instead.
    .
    I appreciate you interest in me living by the word of God. I urge you to follow Christ, “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by *every* word of God.” (Luke 4:4) and not limit yourself to only those of God’s words found in the Bible. It is dangerous to add the philosophies of men – their private uninspired interpretations – to God’s word or to take away from it by excluding any of his words from the prophets.
    .
    The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
    The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
    The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
    (Numbers 6:25-26.)

  90. Ed Crawford on September 27, 2005 at 1:05 am

    Ben,

    The argument that exaltation to “godhood” is not true is simply stated: It is not based on the Word of God. From Genesis to Revelation there is not so much as a hint that man can be exalted to “godhood.” God is God – eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. There is none like Him. Those who would imagine that achievement of “godhood” is possible must have re-defined God to be very different from the God of the Bible.

    As for “early Christianity,” numerous errors of every stripe and description existed – beginning even before Paul, Peter and John passed off the scene. Even in Jesus’ time the apostate “religious” establishment that despised Him had already substituted their own tradition for the Word of God. It is a mistake to build any Theology on the early cultists. Whether I’m “getting anywhere” is of no concern to me. I’m not here to get anywhere, but to represent the truth of God as revealed in His Holy and Inspired Word.

    Gavin and Gilgamesh,

    “Browbeating” is not my purpose. It is a sad day if citations from the eternal Word of the Living God are to be regarded as “browbeating.” Whatever I write, I write in a spirit of love (agape). The Bible can be rejected by those who disagree with the Word of Truth, and such rejection is nothing new. It is impossible to believe the Bible and reject it at the same time. Modern Protestant liberals like Fosdick, Buttrick and so many others boldly and explicitly rejected the Word of God, and wrote piles of books communicating their rejection. Although it is sad that they would reject the Word of God, they were honest enough to admit their rejection.

    Changing their minds, or changing your minds, is beyond my power to accomplish. Freedom to reject is as free as freedom to accept. I cannot lead anyone to Christ. Only the Holy Sprit has the power to convict, convince and regenerate. Please do not feel offended when I represent the God of the Bible and the Bible of God. I intend no offense. I intend only to gently and lovingly convey what the Word of God conveys with clarity.

    I appreciate your advice, Gavin, that it’s “useful” to consider the audience. As you have probably discerned, I really don’t know my audience because I’ve never had the joy of meeting any person to whom I have communicated here. Not knowing any person in my audience, I cannot and do not “target” them. I expect there might be some “protestant liberals” who read this blog. Indeed, agnostics and atheists could read it. But unbelief neither alters nor negates one jot or tittle of the truth of God. Jesus made that clear to the Pharisees, and it should be clear to us today.

    George D, my comment concerning “requirement” for righteous behavior is that such behavior results from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian rather than from external “requirements” imposed by men. God does have “requirements,” and He provides the spiritual power to meet them. Your mention of a couple of pentacostalists (Swaggart and Bakker) as examples of evangelicals misses the point. Most evangelicals are not of the pentecostalist persuasion. Besides, we must not judge the Word of God by those who violate it either through blatant sin or pious unbelief. The Word of God does not change simply because people deny its truths or choose to live in contravention of it. The problem with judging Christianity by its apostates is that apostates always have, and still do, exist in every denomination, organization and “religion” on the face of the earth. Paul dealt rather harshly with them in Corinth two millennia ago. Swaggart, Bakker and others like them in every denomination do not change one syllable of the Word of God. Love and grace, Ed

  91. manaen on September 27, 2005 at 2:36 am

    90
    Ed,

    I was pleased to see your comment that “Only the Holy Sprit has the power to convict, convince and regenerate.” Now, I’d like to hear your testimony of how the Holy Ghost confirmed to your heart the words you’re sharing with us. I’d also like to hear you offer us the same confirmation. As you may be aware, this is our approach in bringing our neighbors to Christ: we share the truths we have, then invite them to ask God to show them whether they are true. This is how I came to know the restored gospel of Christ is true — by the confirmation the Holy Ghost gives me.

    I also was pleased to read that your “comment concerning ‘requirement’ for righteous behavior is that such behavior results from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian rather than from external ‘requirements’ imposed by men. God does have ‘requirements,’ and He provides the spiritual power to meet them.” This is the answer to burn-out that we discussed in the other thread I invited you to peruse. My own experience is as Pres. Romney explained, you know you’re converted when your soul is healed by the Holy Ghost. From that comes a love for God and neighbors that leads you to many actions that are in keeping with the two great commandments. Lehi did the same in his dream of the tree of life: as soon as he tasted the fruit that represented God’s love, he only wanted to share it.

    I’d be more accepting of a statement like, “The argument that exaltation to ‘godhood’ is not true is simply stated: It is not based on the Word of God. From Genesis to Revelation there is not so much as a hint that man can be exalted to ‘godhood’.” if you would first explain how the passages we believe do support this truth in fact do not do so. Here’s a short list of some for you to explain how they do not even “hint that a man can be exalted to ‘godhood’.”: http://scriptures.lds.org/tgm/mnptntlb

    I realize that my #89 is long. However, I’d be interested in any response that you’d care to give.

  92. Seth Rogers on September 27, 2005 at 9:54 am

    When Mormons speak of “godhood” as a goal, I don’t think they mean what Evangelicals think they mean.

    For Mormons, godhood does not mean EVER surpassing or even equaling God. In Mormon theology He is considered to be eternally our Lord and object of worship.

    Mormons simply do not subscribe to the artificial view of God as static and un-progressing. That view comes from the early Christians who were simply adopting Plato’s limited view of the universe.

    Mormons are fine with the Bible. It’s Plato that we have a problem with.

  93. GeorgeD on September 27, 2005 at 10:30 am

    Ed, Please don’t deny the scriptures. God promises us exaltation in the Book of Revelations. See Chapter 21:7. But he makes it conditional on our “overcoming” (or is God constrained to reserve some part of all that he has?)

    But Ed you needn’t worry. Our theology has a place for Evangelicals. Its even a heaven that is ministered to by the Savior himself. Our theology comprehends and includes all of your theology. We call it the Terrestial Kingdom. You can get there on all the formulas of evangelicalism. We see your goals. They are worthy. They just are not Celestial.

  94. b bell on September 27, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    Ed,

    Thanks for your reply. Check out Romans 8 16-17

    We are heirs of God. We can have all that the Father has. I do believe that Rev 21 cited by Manean above and this scripture make the LDS belief in godhood biblical. We will if we are faithful receive all that the father has.

    What is your take on the LDS idea that there is a Heavenly Mother? I find this idea as wonderful as the idea of godhood.

    I fully agree that liberal Prot has lost its way in regard to Jesus. Hence their declining numbers and influence. Evangelicals and LDS have far more in common that most Evangelicals will admit to.

  95. manaen on September 27, 2005 at 1:20 pm

    78, #7
    Ed, your comment that “Jesus never claimed to found a ‘religion’.” is a very positive assertion of certainty. Please share the reference in the word of God that states this.

    The Bible itself warns us that it is only a microscopic slice of what would be a comprehensive narrative of Jesus’s works, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25) So, the an item’s omission from the Bible does not mean that it did not occur. A crude example would be that if the Bible is a complete record of Jesus’s actions, he must have fasted for many more than 40 days, given only the times the Bible says that he ate.

    This Bible-or-nothing constraint on one’s understanding of Jesus’s actions can have odd outcomes: I knew of a Campus Crusade for Christ student who said he wouldn’t wear underwear because the Bible didn’t say that Jesus did.

    BTW, I don’t know whether or not Jesus claimed during his earthly ministry to have founded a religion. But because he is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, I believe that he is the foundation of *the* religion.

  96. Ben S. on September 27, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    If we are of the same species (Gr. genos) of God (Acts 17:28), can share in God’s “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), can share the exact same kind of unity with the Father as Jesus shares with the Father (John 17:21), inherit all things (Rev. 21:7), sit with Jesus on his throne just as he on the throne of God the Father (Rev. 3:21), and will be just like (Gr. kathos) Jesus when he appears (1 John 3:2), then I fail to see how anything other than Protestant semantic word games can deny that a fully saved and exalted human being will be exactly like Jesus and the Father.

    I find your implication that Mormons (or me in particular) simply don’t know the Bible to be naive and vaguely amusing.

    Athanasius, who was influential in formulating classical trinitarianism, made his theological arguments in that direction on the basis of his belief in deification. Was Athanasius one of the “early cultists” and his resultant theosis-based trinitarian theology one of the “numerous errors of every stripe and description” that “substituted their own tradition for the Word of God.” ?

    Are you familliar with the scholarship on this topic and disagree with it or are you simply arguing from your own reading of the Bible?

  97. Ben S. on September 27, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    I forgot to mention, our physical form will be like that of Jesus (Phil. 3:21).

  98. Tony on September 29, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    Seth, this is a comment to your comment #92.

    You said, “For Mormons, godhood does not mean EVER surpassing or even equaling God. In Mormon theology He is considered to be eternally our Lord and object of worship”.

    Joseph Smith gave a revelation in D&C (76:94-95) that exalted Saints would equal God.

    “They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace. And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion”.

    The LDS Church’s Gospel Principles teaching manual says that someday, exalted Mormon males will be the objects of worship by their own spirit children.

    See Page 14. “Since we could not progress further in heaven, our Heavenly Father called a Grand council to present his plan for our progression. We learned that if we followed his plan, we would become like him. We would have all power in heaven and on earth; we would become heavenly parents and have spirit children just as he does.

    The belief that Latter-day Saints will one day be worshipped as gods is more fully covered in Gospel Principles Chapter 47.

    Page 302 – “They will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father”.

    And this cylce will repeat yet again when those spirit children become gods too.

    Tony

  99. Ben S. on September 30, 2005 at 8:58 am

    Tony, isn’t it a little arrogant to think that Mormons don’t know their own theology as well as you do? Your citation from Gospel Principles doesn’t say anything about worship, but about relationship, that of parent-child. It may be a logical extension thereof, but that’s certainly not the principle it intends to teach and logical extensions are not always correct.

  100. Tony on September 30, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    Ben,

    Regarding your statement in #99.

    “It may be a logical extension thereof, but that’s certainly not the principle it intends to teach and logical extensions are not always correct”.

    It’s not a question of “may”.

    This is the same logical extension that was applied to Heavenly Father when he became God.

    Page 305 of Gospel Principles quotes, “It will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. This is the way our Heavenly Father became God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-346).

    See also page 92 of Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual. It says, “Through a continual course of progression, our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory; and He points us out the same path … we shall eventually come in possession … of everything that heart can desire”.

    When the LDS Church teaches that Heavenly Father became God and went off to create our planet Earth and procreated it with his spirit children, these spirit children in turn worshipped him.

    The cycle has happened in the past, it will do so again in the future (in LDS theology).

    Don’t forget that Heavenly Father is just one of the billions
    of spirit children his Heavenly Father (Jesus’ Grandfather) had.

    I’m surprised that you don’t know this theology as a member.

    Tony

  101. Ben S. on September 30, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    “I’m surprised that you don’t know this theology as a member.” You mean your interpretation of our theology? Mormons are simply not taught that they will be worshipped.

    Do you not find it strange that you think you know what LDS believe and what the Church officially teaches more than a well-informed life long member?

  102. Ben S. on September 30, 2005 at 9:03 pm

    On second thought, I’m abandoning this conversation. Rarely are such conversations fruitful in bringing the other to understand one’s position, especially when that other is already convinced he knows what the one does or should believe.

  103. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    100.
    Tony, Please expand your citation to include the two preceding verses in Section 76:

    92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
    93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble areverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
    94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
    95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

    From this we see the doctrine as taught in the Church:
    * that God the Father will reign over us forever and ever
    * that he will make those of us with him in the celestial kingdom equal *to each other*; none of these will reign over any other of these but we all will continue to worship only God our Father.

    This is the doctrine I’ve always heard in the Church. We don’t know the theology that you proposed because it isn’t what God said. Jesus said that we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, so my recommendation is to not be selective in the quotations that you use to misstate theology or in which scriptures you accept, such as rejectingf scriptures that don’t support erroneous statements or God’s word outside of Moses’s 5 books, the Old Testament, or only the Bible.

  104. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    103
    OK, I made a hash of that last paragraph.

    Here’s another attempt:

    This is the doctrine I’ve always heard in the Church. We don’t know the theology that you proposed because it isn’t what God said.

    Jesus said that we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, so my recommendation is: please don’t reject the scriptures that don’t support erroneous statements of God’s word or reject God’s word outside of Moses’s 5 books, the Old Testament, or only the Bible.

  105. Gavin McGraw on October 1, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    Even if what Tony says is only a speculation, it’s no more fantastic than some speculations I’ve heard from life-long members. What’s so wrong about postulating that exalted saints will beget spirit children and be worshipped by them? It’s not what God says specifically, so it’s not what gets taught (officially), but I don’t see how it actually goes [i]against[/i] LDS doctrine. It’s simply an unverifiable extension of what has been revealed.

    It’s also not clear to me that Tony is bringing this up by way of condemning Mormons (assuming he is not one himself, which is also not clear). Some non-members do call it blasphemy to suggest that we become exalted, but it all depends on the POV.

  106. GeorgeD on October 1, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    Tony is down at Temple Square today with a sign and a bullhorn…d’ya think?

  107. Gavin McGraw on October 1, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    Ok, but I don’t see any reason to deny that what he says is possible. It’s just not definitely the case. I readily accept that our doctrine of exaltation is shocking and blasphemous to some. They certainly don’t have to have it. See you in the Terrestrial Kingdom Tony!

  108. Tony on October 1, 2005 at 7:48 pm

    Ben,

    Regarding your post #101.

    “Mormons are simply not taught that they will be worshipped”.

    Not directly in your ward classes, but if you read the LDS
    Church publications, it is there.

    “Do you not find it strange that you think you know what LDS believe and what the Church officially teaches more than a well-informed life long member?”

    I am not implying that I think I know more than you. I am
    just pointing out some LDS Church publications that you may not be familiar with.

    When Gospel Priniciples says on page 302, “They will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father”, this means that you (if you become a God) will be worshipped by your spirit children in the future. This is what “same relationship” means.

    That is why I also reference other LDS Church publications
    such as Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual. You can
    obtain it from http://www.ldscatalog.com

    The LDS Church says that even Heavenly Father became God. “It will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. This is the way our Heavenly Father became God” (Gospel Principles page 305).

    “Through a continual course of progression, our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory; and He points us out the same path”.

    In LDS theology, Heavenly Father is just one of billions of
    spirit children of his heavenly father. Some of his other
    spirit brothers are Heavenly Fathers of their own worlds where they are worshipped just like Heavenly Father of planet Earth.

    If you follow all the LDS principles and if they are true, you
    will one day join them in your realm and be worshipped.

    If you doubt what I said, just ask your ward president and
    see the references I have provided. Heavenly Father and
    all those before him went through the same cycle in the past. You will repeat the cycle in the future if LDS theology is true.

    Tony

  109. Tony on October 1, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    Manaen,

    This is in reference to your post # 103.

    “From this we see the doctrine as taught in the Church:
    * that God the Father will reign over us forever and ever
    * that he will make those of us with him in the celestial kingdom equal *to each other*; none of these will reign over any other of these but we all will continue to worship only God our Father.

    This is the doctrine I’ve always heard in the Church. We don’t know the theology that you proposed because it isn’t what God said”.

    I understand what you are saying, but according to the LDS Church, Heavenly Father of planet Earth is just one god in the chain of gods before him. Heavenly Father in LDS theology is one of billions of spirit children of his heavenly father of some other world. When Heavenly Father became exalted, he created this earth and you are one of his spirit children. Does Heavenly Father worship his father? Do you worship his father?

    I see your reference that those equal to each other will not reign over any other. True. But these gods will go to their own realm and populate worlds and procreate spirit children just as Heavenly Father of planet Earth has done. This is called eternal increase.

    Much of what the Church currently writes in the teaching manuals that I have referenced are not found in the Standard Works. The introduction of a Heavenly Mother in heaven
    has allowed the Church to teach a concept of eternal families (both past and future).

    See my earlier post and pick up those Church teaching manuals by http://www.ldscatalog.com

    Search what the LDS Church teaches as truth.

    Just ask your ward president after viewing the sources I’ve referenced.

    I don’t know how long you have been in the Church, but have you seen the following:

    “Through a continual course of progression, our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory; and He points us out the same path” (page 92, Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manaul)?

    According to the LDS Church, Heavenly Father was once a man who became God. If LDS precepts are true, you are to follow the same path.

    Tony

  110. Ed Crawford on October 3, 2005 at 7:56 pm

    As I recall, this exchange began with a critique of a new book by David L. Rowe, Ph.D., titled “I Love Mormons.” I have now had an opportunity to read that volume and I want to assert my complete approval and endorsement of its contents. Dr. Rowe, an evangelical Christian, is sensitive to the LDS culture and brings a remarkable understanding of LDS history and theology. He does not resort to tactics such as throwing verbal brickbats and insults. Instead, he holds out the sweet balm of grace without in any way compromising the traditional biblical Christian faith which he represents. “I Love Mormons” is a remarkable book – arguably the best ever written in the area of communication between evangelicals and Mormons. It will open many doors to further communication and understanding. I trust that Mormon groups will invite Dr. Rowe to address them so that the dialog will continue. Nothing but good can result from honest communication among decent people within an atmosphere of mutual respect.

  111. Ed Crawford on October 3, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Manaen, Thank you for the courtesy of sending me a list of 18 citations from the Bible, in support of your view that man can achieve “Godhood.” I note the heading – “MAN, POTENTIAL TO BECOME LIKE HEAVENLY FATHER.” There is a vast diffence between “likeness” and “sameness.” It is commonly said of nice people that they are “Godly” or “Christlike.” Such are people who manifest superb personal qualities. They are “like” their Heavenly Father, and “like” the Lord Jesus Christ in certain ways. However, there is no biblical basis for concluding that they can progress to actual “Godhood” (Deity). Yesterday I wrote a comment about each of the 18 citations that you offered, but when I clicked “Make comment” there was something technically wrong and the comments were not transferred. If your level of interest in that matter is great, please let me know and I will be happy to re-write my comments. Grace and peace.

  112. Tony on October 3, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    Ed,

    Would you post the 18 citations that Manaen offered and your comments.

    Thank you,

    Tony

  113. Ben S. on October 3, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    Tony, thank you for confirming one of my suspicions. You have read through LDS sources looking for differences, but don’t actually have any familiarity or interaction with Mormons or Mormon thought. (Or else you’d know that there’s no such thing as a “ward president.” There’s a Bishop over the ward. There’s an Elder’s Quorum President as well as a Sunday School President. But there’s no “ward president.”)

    You interpret these differently than we do, looking through your outside protestant (and hostile?) glasses. You read that as teaching or emphasizing worship. I read those sources (and I have read and taught from them before) as teaching relationship, parent and child.

    Some Evangelicals have wrongly asserted that a Mormon’s essential motivation for exaltation is pride and desire for power and worship, and scoured LDS books looking for things that match their preconceived notion. That is the background against which I read your half-informed remarks.

    Again, it seems extremely arrogant for you to inform me how I should understand my own theology. (And thank you for the link. I’ve used it before. Did I mention I’m LDS?)

    Perhaps I’ll start telling you that you’re really a modalist. When you protest, I’ll provide my misreadings of your sources, tell you that you’re the one misreading them, and gently suggest you ask your Pastor about it at Mass. Maybe throw in a link to http://www.bible.org ;)

    I had a bunch of other snarky comments here, but I’m really trying not to let myself be baited so easily…

  114. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    Tony and Ben S.–

    If either of you can point me to a discussion between a Mormon and an evangelical that takes on the issues both of you are taking on and has led to anything productive, then I invite you to continue your discussion here. Otherwise, . . .

  115. manaen on October 3, 2005 at 10:13 pm

    Ben S.

    I wasted 3/4 of my mission getting to the point that I could out-argue JWs with their own translation of the Bible. No conversions resulted. Then I realized that hot argument and cold logic will not work because it is the Holy Ghost that changes hearts. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:10).

    I further realized that it was very prideful to step in front of the Holy Ghost, essentially saying *I* will save this person and bring him back– sound familiar? Then I realized that this had been Satan’s hope all along, to bait my pride into telling people that discussion loaded only with argument and man’s logic, not conversion by the Holy Ghost, was what the restored Church offers.

    Would that I had understood earlier the Savior’s words to the Nephites: “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (3 Nephi 11:29-30). I believe that Satan sometimes prompts our opponents to say things that would be very easy to knock — just so that we will knock them down!

    We have with us a couple of folks that are just entering this world and it’s still foreign to them. They appear to come from a place that teaches confrontation and belittling (e.g. “From Genesis to Revelation there is not so much as a hint that man can be exalted,” ignorantly misrepresenting doctrine and saying “I’m surprised that you don’t know this theology as a member,” and “Just ask your ward president after viewing the sources I’ve referenced.”). Remember, this thread is about a book from one of these people with a title that says loving Mormons is a new way for them. Their old ways are difficult to overcome.

    I hope that we can remember how difficult it is to break the old habits and that what is the old way in Christ’s restored Church is a unusual for these people. It’s common for people to backslide as they seek to incorporate new precepts of the gospel and we can be more helpful by showing patience “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” (rom 15:1-3)

    Regarding help in breaking old habits, C. Terry Graff said in the April, 1985 General Conference,

    “We have found in our activation efforts that that welcome and acceptance and love is so valuable, and not pressure for them to give up their habits first. When we extend that unqualified welcome and love, we can create an atmosphere where the Holy Ghost can bear witness to their hearts. And herein is the spiritual key to activation. Like missionary work, simple teaching, fellowship, and a humble tesitmony allowed the Holy Ghost to bear testimony and recreate the conversion process.”

    I hope that like Saul, these two brothers by their wrestlings (see Jacob/Israel) may come to accept the Spirit’s promptings and find the peace so many others have found in Jesus’ restored gospel. Let us be Christlike in absorbing the product of their strugglings and so help them finds the peace that is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

  116. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    manean–

    Your post makes some excellent points, but please go easy on Ben S.

    As anyone following the horse thread knows, for some of us it is very difficult to remain quiet when our position is misrepresented and our beliefs are mocked.

    (Not that one shouldn’t stand down sometimes, just that it is difficult.)

  117. Seth Rogers on October 3, 2005 at 11:29 pm

    You know, I remember growing up in the LDS church and getting a distinct message (personally):

    -God is in a state of perpetual progression, past present and future (no static and motionless concept of perfection).
    -We are also allowed the opportunity of infinite progression (as long as we inherit the Celestial glory).
    -If so, we will be making our own worlds, etc.
    -There’s a possibility that God was once mortal as we, but now we’re getting into fuzzy territory.

    I always felt that the past experience of God was the realm of pure conjecture. So I always considered it as an area that was open to interpretation and didn’t consider myself bound to believe that God was ever as I am today (or anything similar). Mind, I didn’t discount the possibility that He might have been. But I just saw it as “looking beyond the mark” (i.e. worthless conjecture that might get you in trouble if you took it too far).

    My experience was that Mormons believe pretty firmly in the idea that we are all bound for godhood (with a lower-case “g”) and eternal progression. This stuff is pretty well entrenched even if our standard works don’t directly spell it out. But I never encountered anywhere the sense that we would ever be “equal” with God and our Savior. I didn’t know anyone who was looking forward to “equalling or surpassing” God. I certainly don’t believe that myself!

  118. Seth Rogers on October 3, 2005 at 11:32 pm

    Julie, if you were suggesting that it might be time for this thread to “stand down,” sorry to throw more fuel on it.

  119. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 2:00 am

    116.
    Julie, thank you for your comment. The gentleness of your reminder to me to be gentle is the same gentleness I hoped to convey in my reminder to regular commenters to be gentle with the visiting gentlemen.

    I was hoping to give gentle encouragement to overcome the difficulty that you noted “when our position is misrepresented and our beliefs are mocked.” I’m not suggesting that anyone stand down, but to stand up against falsehood in a way that invites the Spirit. To do otherwise is to have the spirit of mocking the (mistaken) beliefs of our challengers. That only engenders the same annoyance in them that Satan wants their mocking to cause in us.

    “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and ***be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you*** with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
    For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1 Pet 3:14-17)

    As noted in a different thread, “Dennis Rasmussen in his wonderful little book, The Lord’s Question, taught me this: “To hallow my life, [God] taught me to endure sorrow rather than cause it, to restrain anger rather than heed it, to bear injustice rather than inflict it. ‘Resist not evil,’ [Jesus] said in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:39.) Evil multiplies by the response it seeks to provoke, and when I return evil for evil, I engender corruption myself. The chain of evil is broken for good when a pure and loving heart absorbs a hurt and forbears to hurt in return. The forgiveness of Christ bears no grudge. The love of Christ allows no offense to endure. The compassion of Christ embraces all things and draws them toward himself. Deep within every child of God the light of Christ resides, guiding, comforting, purifying the heart that turns to him.”
    (Ann Madsen, As Women of Faith: Talks Selected from the BYU Women’s Conferences, 160.)

    As one who experienced the mighty change of heart (Alma 5) by God’s grace, these words are delicious to me. I wish I now lived them as well as I read them, but I do feel now the peace from knowing I’m working along the right path with God’s help. You should have seen me 15 years ago!

    BTW, “I further realized that it was very prideful to step in front of the Holy Ghost, essentially saying *I* will save this person and bring him back– sound familiar?” is meant to be a general reminder of Satan doing the same thing in the premortal existence. “Sound familiar” does *not* refer to anyone here!

  120. Tony on October 4, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Ben,

    Regarding your comments in #113.

    Do you agree with the LDS Church’s teaching (which I
    quoted) that Heavenly Father became God and learned his
    salvation and exaltation beyond the grave?

    When Heavenly Father was just a man, do you believe that
    he was the only one of all his spirit brothers on his earth (whose Father was Jesus’ Grandfather) that eventually became gods and only one of them went on to his own realm and created a planet called Earth and whom you as his spirit child claim to worship?

    When Gospel Principles says on page 302, “They will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father”.

    What gives you the impression that “same relationship” does not include worship?

    Tony

  121. Tony on October 4, 2005 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Seth,

    Regarding your comments in #117.

    Seth – “There’s a possibility that God was once mortal as we, but now we’re getting into fuzzy territory”.

    This is what the LDS Church currently teaches.

    “Through a continual course of progression, our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory; and He points us out the same path … we shall eventually come in possession … of everything that heart can desire” (Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 3-4). See page 92 of “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual – Religion 430-431.

    “It will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. This is the way our Heavenly Father became God” (Gospel Principles, page 305).

    Seth – “Mind, I didn’t discount the possibility that He might have been. But I just saw it as “looking beyond the mark” (i.e. worthless conjecture that might get you in trouble if you took it too far)”.

    I don’t see this issue when you trust the Bible alone.

    Seth – “My experience was that Mormons believe pretty firmly in the idea that we are all bound for godhood (with a lower-case “g”) and eternal progression. This stuff is pretty well entrenched even if our standard works don’t directly
    spell it out”.

    See D&C (132:20).

    Seth – “But I never encountered anywhere the sense that we would ever be “equal” with God and our Savior”.

    Joseph Smith revealed some people would be glorified to have the same power (“equal”) as God himself in the resurrection: “And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion” (D&C 76:95).

    Tony

  122. Tony on October 4, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    Ben,

    This is a reword of a portion of #120.

    When Heavenly Father was just a man, do you believe that
    he was the only one of all his spirit brothers on his earth (whose Father was Jesus’ Grandfather) to become a god who would eventually go off to create planets, people them with his spirit children, and have them worship him … whereas all his other spirit brothers who became gods and created worlds in some other realm and populated them with their own spirit children were not worshipped by them?

    So, why are you worshipping Heavenly Father (of planet Earth) instead of the Father of Heavenly Father (of some unknown realm) like all the other spirit children of all those other billions of Heavenly Father’s spirit brothers?

    Tony

  123. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    Tony, I don’t know if Ben and/or Seth plan on commenting anymore. But I do know that if they have moved on, it isn’t because they think you have “won,” it is because they think furthering the conversation is a waste of time. Ben and Seth can speak for themselves, but if they choose not to, don’t make the mistake of overreading their silence.

  124. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 9:28 pm

    123,
    Julie, I’m not spending much time in this thread because:

    Ed’s #111. This was supposed to be an answer to my question about the references in the Topical Guides section entitled, “Man, Potential to Become Like Heavenly Father.” Specifically how they “do not even hint” (his words) that exaltation is possible. Instead he tried to say that “like” in the heading means to have characterstics of, but not to become as God — now saying that the Church’s own website is not saying what he complains the Church does say.

    Tony’s #121. He wrote, “Joseph Smith revealed some people would be glorified to have the same power (“equal”) as God himself in the resurrection: “And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion” (D&C 76:95).”

    This is after I asked him in #103 to look at the immediately preceding verses:

    92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
    93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble areverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
    94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
    95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

    And he acknowledged the correction in #109 and quoted it:

    “Manaen,

    “This is in reference to your post # 103.

    ” ‘From this we see the doctrine as taught in the Church:
    * that God the Father will reign over us forever and ever
    * that he will make those of us with him in the celestial kingdom equal *to each other*; none of these will reign over any other of these but we all will continue to worship only God our Father.

    ” ‘This is the doctrine I’ve always heard in the Church. We don’t know the theology that you proposed because it isn’t what God said’.

    “I understand what you are saying”

    and then came back with his original misstatement and selective quoting at the end of his #121.

    I sincerely mean what I said about gentleness with these visitors. I hoped to engage them in friendly, open discussion and sharing of God’s grace. But, I won’t spend as much time with them while they hold to their old ways. This isn’t in the spirit of anger, but to avoid casting pearls where they won’t be appreciated.

  125. GeorgeD on October 4, 2005 at 9:32 pm

    Folks these are the moonbats who hang out at the conference Center with loudspeakers. They are incapable of perceiving the truth. Taling with the them is a waste of time.

  126. Seth Rogers on October 4, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    I’m done.

    I was merely stating what I grew up with and believe, not the official Church view (however you wish to interpret it). Besides, I’m more interested in the Judicial Nomination thread.

  127. Tony on October 5, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Julie – “Ben and Seth can speak for themselves, but if they choose not to, don’t make the mistake of overreading their silence”.

    I won’t.

    I quoted some LDS Church teaching manuals that say that Heavenly Father learned his salvation and exaltation beyond the grave and became a God.

    They or may not agree with what she is teaching to her students. If they wish to check, they may inquire to the http://www.ldsces.org and http://www.ldscatalog.com sites.

    Tony

  128. GeorgeD on October 5, 2005 at 3:56 pm

    Some folks can’t stand the thought of an infinite God. They spend all their life placing restrictions on what he can do. But God loves them and he is going to give them exactly what they asked for — a God who chooses to limit his blessings to them. We sometimes call it damnation.

  129. Ed Crawford on October 5, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Hi all,

    This is Ed and I’m responding to a request that I comment on the 18 biblical scriptures offered by Manaen in #91 to prove that man can be exalted to “Godhood.” My response in #111 was too brief to be of much value to the discussion, so I’ll offer a more adequate response now, with apologies that it will need to be more lengthy than I could wish. I have pasted the list of scriptural citations below. To distinguish my comments I will place a dash after each citation and proceed with my comment following the dash. Please know that no comment of mine is intended to be abraisive or disrespectful. Now to the comments:

    MAN, POTENTIAL TO BECOME LIKE HEAVENLY FATHER – “Like” Heavenly Father, if it means having “Godlike” or “Godly” or “Christlike” characteristics and graces poses no conflict with the Bible. I could devoutly wish that more people were “Godly.” But “likeness” is not “sameness.” To be “like Jesus” or “like God” in no way implies achievement of Deity or “Godhood.” It appears that some correspondents now deny that “Godhood” means to LDS people that “Godhood” has been or can be attained. This, itself, appears to be a subject of disagreement among people of LDS faith. However, some official LDS writings have been cited which affirm clearly that Heavenly Father was once a man, and that man can, through a process of “eternal progression,” achieve “Godhood.” Respectfully I ask, if “Godhood” does not mean “Godhood,” then what does it mean?

    Gen. 1: 26 (Moses 2: 26) let them have dominion.- Yes, God gave man dominion over the beast creation, but that does not imply that man has achieved “Godhood.”
    Gen. 3: 22 (Moses 4: 28) man is become as one of us.- The context clarifies the meaning : “as” one of us in the sense of distinguishing good from evil. There is a vast difference between “as” one of us and “one of us.” “As” does not imply sameness with God or “Godhood.”
    Lev. 19: 2 (1 Pet. 1: 16) be holy: for I . . . am holy. – Throughout the Bible God exhorts His people to holiness. The word means “separateness” from the evil world, but it does not imply a leap to Godhood.
    Ps. 8: 5 thou hast made him a little lower than the angels. – “lower than the angels” – but even angels have never attained “Godhood.” The one who tried it is destined to end up in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
    Ps. 8: 6 madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. – “Dominion” over the creation was granted in Eden. Men were given authority to rule over the most voracious of beasts and use the soil and minerals and crude oil deposits for their own purposes. This prerogative is God’s will and purpose for man, but it does not mean that “Godhood” is bestowed or achieved. If “Godhood” could be attained by man, then man would have power to create, rather than mere power to rule over what has already been created.
    Ps. 82: 6 ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High. – The Hebrew word that is translated “gods” here is “EL” and this word must be understood in its Old Testament usage and also within the context of this Psalm. “EL” also refers to mighty men, human judges and leaders, and false gods of the heathen. Open Young’s Concordance and look up the word “gods.” You’ll find that about 300 times in the OT “EL” refers to false gods and heathen idols. Example: Deuteronomy 7:25 (“… graven images of their gods shall ye burn”). All scriptures must be read in context if they are to be understood. If you read verse 7 in Psalm 82, you find that the “gods” mentioned in verse 6 will come to their doom: “But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Obviously “gods” (“EL”) in verse 6 are the same as the “gods” mentioned in verse 1, who are condemned in verse 2 for judging “unjustly,” and who are doomed to “die like men and fall like one of the princes” in verse 7. It is impossible to conclude from anything in this Psalm that man can achieve “Godhood” in the sense that Jehovah God possesses “Godhood” (Deity).
    Matt. 5: 48 (3 Ne. 12: 48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father. – God’s standard is always “perfection” throughout the Bible. The Greek word (teleion) means “maturity” and spiritual maturity is the goal of redeemed people. However, a human who is spiritually mature has not attained “Godhood.” The Word of God exhorts redeemed people to be “perfect” (teleion), but never are they exhorted to achieve “Godhood” … a position that belongs exclusively and uniquely to the great Creator of the universe who never was begotten by another, who had no predecessor, will have no successor, and who has no peer.
    Luke 24: 39 spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. – Yes, Jesus in His resurrection body had flesh and bones. However, that does not imply that any man can or will achieve “Godhood.”
    John 10: 34 (Ps. 82: 1-8; D&C 76: 58) Is it not written in your law . . . Ye are gods. – Here Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, on which I commented above. Here in John 10:35 Jesus identifies the “gods” of Psalm 82:6 as those “unto whom the word of God came.” Clearly the ones “unto whom the word of God came” are humans, for God is the giver, not the receiver, of the word of God. Again, there is no revelation here that “Godhood” can be attained by humans.
    Acts 17: 29 we are the offspring of God. – This is a reference to creation. The fact that God created man does not imply that man can achieve “Godhood.”
    Rom. 8: 17 heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. – An “heir” receives blessings from his father, but he can never attain to the same standing as his father. Joint heirship with Christ is not “Godhood.” Christians are heirs of eternal life and all of the spiritual blessings that relate to that status, but they cannot achieve “Godhood.”
    2 Cor. 3: 18 changed into the same image from glory to glory. – This passage speaks of spiritual growth through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It does not state or suggest that a Christian can achieve “Godhead.”
    Gal. 4: 7 if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. – Heirship is not “Godhood.”
    Eph. 4: 13 Till we all come . . . unto a perfect man. – Perfection (spiritual maturity) is not “Godhood.”
    Heb. 12: 9 be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live. – Our place is “subjection” to the Father of Spirits (God), not equivalence with Him (“Godhood”).
    1 Jn. 3: 2 when he shall appear, we shall be like him. – Likeness does not mean sameness or “Godhood.”
    Rev. 3: 21 him that overcometh will . . . sit with me in my throne. – He who owns the throne is the King, but he who shares it is subordinate to the King. To sit with God on His throne is not to achieve the status of “Godhood” which belongs to Him alone.

  130. Ed Crawford on October 6, 2005 at 12:26 am

    Much has been written about exaltation to “godhood,” and I would like to extend this aspect of the discussion. Addressing Ben in #90, I stated, “From Genesis to Revelation there is not so much as a hint that man can be exalted to ‘godhood.’ ” Manaen, a nice soul, then misquoted me as follows: “From Genesis to revelation there is not so much as a hint that man can be exalted.” For some reason the last two words of my sentence (to “godhood”) were omitted.

    Of course redeemed man will, in a real and wonderful sense, be “exalted” by God. Resurrection itself can be said to be an exaltation. Addressing the issue of the future of the “body” of the redeemed, Paul declares that it will be “raised in glory,” that it will be “raised in incorruption,” that it shall be “raised a spiritual body,” that it will be “raised incorruptible,” that it will “put on incorruption,” and that it will “put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:42-53).

    Although Paul does not employ the word “exalted” in this great resurrection passage, the transformation of the human body that he describes can certainly be described as a form of “exaltation” – a consummation devoutly to be wished. However, neither here nor elsewhere in the 66 books of the Bible is there the slightest hint that any human has ever been, or ever can be, “exalted to godhood.” Such exaltation is simply not included in the many wonderful promises of Almighty God – probably because the province of “godhood” belongs alone and uniquely to the Almighty.

    The word “exalt” or “exalted” appears about 96 times in the Old and New Testaments. No less than 23 Hebrew words and five Greek words are translated by the English “exalt” or “exalted.” Invariably the words in both of the original languages convey the idea of “lifting up” or being “lifted up” or “elevated.”

    There is much biblical reference to self-exaltation, and this sin is universally condemned. The sin of envisioning exaltation to godhood is the subject of biblical warnings that portend the most horrible of outcomes. Lucifer boasted, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Lucifer lusted for godhood. The destiny of that prince of evil, who is designated “the devil,” is not one that any wise or thoughtful individual would want to share. He who mouthed his determination to “be like the Most High” will end his nefarious career as per the Word of the Living God: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Even to think of such a destiny for humans is to weep.

    Frequently the word “exalted” in inspired biblical literature refers to exalting God in worship (Psalm 34:3; 99:5 & 9; 107:32; 118:28). God humbles the mighty and exalts people of low degree (Luke 1:52). Capernaum, a city that was “exalted unto Heaven,” will be “brought down to hell” (Matthew 12:23).

    Much more is revealed, but these references are sufficient to summarize the biblical doctrine of exaltation, which provides no suggestion that humans can be “exalted to godhood” and specifies the most terrible of judgments awaiting the prince of darkness for his foul plot to achieve Godhood.

    From the ill fated tower of Babel project to construct a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4) to the self-exaltation of Lucifer and Capernaum, God has executed or promised the most horrible of judgments against personages who would intrude into the province that belongs to Him alone.

    How can these facts not stand as a God-given warning to all of us? Would it not be wise for all people of all denominations, churches and faiths, to eschew and abandon any idea of “exaltation to godhood?” Something for all of us to pray about. Grace and mercy.

  131. GeorgeD on October 6, 2005 at 8:15 am

    God can give what no one can take.

    Revelations 21:7

  132. Tony on October 6, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you Ed.

    Would it be okay if I distributed your text to a few friends,
    even posted it on a web site?

    Tony

  133. John C. on October 6, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    Ed,
    What is it that gives your interpretation of those verses more authority than manaen’s? I haven’t been following the argument, so I don’t know all of the ideas involved. I also don’t wish to incur Julie’s wrath by bringing up the already discussed. I am simply curious as to why I should assume that your interpretation of these verses is more accurate in conveying divine meaning than manaen’s?
    If it comes down to a matter of scriptural “he-said, she-said”, where both sides have presented their case, can we just agree to disagree vis-a-vis how to understand the intent of these verses?

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.