Mr. Potter

December 6, 2006 | 30 comments
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Are you bothered that Old Man Potter doesn’t get his just desserts in _It’s A Wonderful Life_?
Today, I’ve been thinking about the “Happily ever after—except that…” endings. I have had one or two “Mr. Potters” in my life—someone who has drawn my anger, invited my obsessive thoughts, and conjured my most malicious speechmaking even during my dreams. My Mr. Potter has not always been male, but I’ll use masculine pronouns in this blogpost anyway. Sometimes my Mr. Potter has humiliated me, but more often he has made life difficult for a loved one of mine—a parent, a sibling, my spouse, my children. I won’t go into detail, but there have been people in my life who have done things to me or my loved ones which are just as serious and hard to forgive as Potter’s cruel theft. (And yes, someone in my family has a Mr. Potter right now.) It’s most difficult to forgive when the offense is continuous, when Potter STILL has our money or our reputation, and no angels are in sight.
As I’ve pondered forgiving Mr. Potter, I’ve found myself thinking, “As soon as he restores what he took, I can forgive this.” Usually, I would prefer (and envision) that the restoration take place after he has been made to feel the full impact of his actions and after I’ve found the perfect adjective to describe him—which I’ve uttered in dramatic contempt, and to his face.
Well, God has called me on this. I’ve had the most uncomfortable of witnesses—the kind when the Spirit witnesses against ME and tells me that my anger is incompatible with a Christ-like life.
Of course, I’ve tried explaining very rationally to the Spirit why in my particular case, the person I’m angry at is a devil, so it’s a good thing to hone my speechmaking skills until I can rival Dick Cheney’s writers describing Saddam Hussein.
An unforgettable image has answered. It is Christ on the cross, forgiving those who have put the nails into his flesh. He doesn’t wait to forgive until after his glorious triumph and resurrection, but does it while he is still suffering from their deliberate aim. He has yet to die when he tells His Father that “they know not what they do.”
What I have realized as I have considered the little thorns in my side and the Mr. Potters who had some part in putting them there, is that anger is faithless. The object of my anger becomes my god, because I am continually returning to it to mentally pronounce yet one more, better-phrased rebuke (the precise opposite of praising the Lord). I have left the true God and am paying obeisance to an image I have patched together from my own scabbed perceptions.
When faith is at my center, I understand that the outcome of whatever machinations Mr. Potter can set into motion will be nothing compared to the miracles of God. If I truly believe, I must somehow declare–even while I’m still bleeding–that God is yet my God, and will forever remain my focus.
So, the cast of SNL was wrong when they showed the “restored” version of Capra’s work (http://snltranscripts.jt.org/86/86hlife.phtml ), and the cast realized just who had stolen George Bailey’s money, and then beat Potter senseless. No, Potter lived out the rest of his days as a mean old man, and nobody ever discovered that he had stolen that all-important payment from Bailey’s Bank and Loan. And George Bailey never returned to him with a better phrase than “scurvy spider,” though he did attend Potter’s funeral, and even offered the eulogy—which was a kind eulogy and acknowledged that we never really know another’s heart, nor what their absence might mean to us. (Who, after all, would George Bailey have become without Mr. Potter?) Mary Bailey sent some roses—and none of the petals were missing.

30 Responses to Mr. Potter

  1. anonymous on December 6, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Margaret, thank you for your very touching post. I once was so angry with a person that I contemplated murdering her. It wasn’t just a perverse reverie. It wasn’t an idle malicious thought. I really thought I could do it, I really wanted to do it, and I felt assured that Heavenly Father would understand, the offense against my family was so great. But when I thought about Christ’s death for her I couldn’t do it. It took me a while to no longer want vengeance, but even that desire disappeared, and I think it disappeared more rapidly because of the “vision” I had of Christ’s suffering.

    Thank you for bringing that vision back to me.

  2. Ben S on December 6, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    “Are you bothered that Old Man Potter doesn’t get his just desserts in _It’s A Wonderful Life_?”

    There’s an old Saturday Night Live skit where the town beats the tar out of him in his office while singing “Auld Lang Syne”…

  3. Margaret Young on December 6, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks, Ben. I actually put a link to that SNL skit in my post (it’s towards the end), but I have no idea how to do what everyone else seems to know how to do in providing a link which doesn’t just copy and paste. Very impressive.
    Anonymous–what a moving and honest comment. Thank you.

  4. Craig V. on December 6, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    I read an account of an African American preacher (unfortunately, I can’t recall his name) who, while traveling in the South, was picked up (for no reason) by the police, thrown in jail and beaten. He was, understandably, filled with rage until, during a beating he looked into the faces of his oppressors. He saw the worthlessness of what these men were living for and his rage turned to pity and prayer for them. I don’t know if I would be able to find the same truth in such a circumstance. It reminds me of Psalm 73 except that the psalmist wasn’t being beaten.

  5. Do Anonymous Commenters Get Their Just Desserts on December 6, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    The T&S admin folks have to be at least mildly tempted to peer behind the false veil of anonymity to investigate the identity of Commenter #1…

  6. Ace on December 6, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you for a truly wonderful post.

    The Mr. Potters in our lives are members of the church (which complicated things immensely) and our lawsuit against them was settled a couple of months ago. But the lessons from the last year and a half are really just beginning for us. Thank you for articulating so eloquently what I want my DH to see. We couldn\’t have learned, suffered, and seen our faith grow without this difficult experience. We surely wouldn\’t choose it again, but I don\’t think our faith or marriage could have grown without it. It\’s less about who was right and who was wrong, and more about the lessons the Lord wanted us to learn. My husband still has thoughts that are definitely more akin to the SNL skit and I even have my moments too. But hopefully for us the time will come when those thoughts are gone and charity has replaced it.

    Thanks again for your timely thoughts.

  7. Matt W. on December 6, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    thanks for this. It is a reminder that, when Christ says he takes upon him the sins of the world, he means it.

  8. John Jenkins on December 6, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    Paul raises this issue in Romans 5:7-8. How many of us would be willing to sacrifice themself for George Bailey? How many of us would die to save (or even create the possibility of saving) Mr. Potter? But that’s what Jesus did, died for the Mr. Potters of the world.
    (Does Mr. Potter even have a first name? It’s not Harry, by any chance, is it?)

  9. Mark B. on December 6, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Nope, John. No first name for Mr. Potter.

    (But the fall of American culture is shown by your suggesting Harry rather than Muff for a first name.)

    Margaret: Great post.

    (Minor quibble: go watch the film again–it’s the Bailey Building and Loan.)

  10. Margaret Young on December 6, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    Dang! I thought I knew the movie so well! My first date with Bruce Young was to see _It’s a Wonderful Life_–and Jimmy Stewart was present. So you see, I am considerably older than I look.
    (Actually, they showed the movie when Stewart donated his papers to BYU back in 1985. I’d have to ask Bruce what the actual date was. I don’t remember that either.)

  11. Tatiana on December 6, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    My Mr. Potter stole from me in a way that was deeply violating. It was horrible. I felt raped. And there was no way I could escape from having to be around him day after day. There was no way that I could find to feel clean again. Then I prayed with all my heart for an answer, and I received one of the most powerful revelatory dreams of my life. It took me almost a year to accept the answer given in the dream, but I finally did.

    In the dream, I was with a large group of good friends, laughing and chatting happily as we strolled into a small town. The love and wholeness I felt as a member of this group were tangible. Suddenly we heard some sirens and alarms going off, and into our view runs this robber, my Mr. Potter, carrying two money bags. He was obviously running away from the scene of a recent robbery, but as he ran, he was trying to get his cardigan sweater on. You know how sometimes you can get a cardigan all twisted up, perhaps the front side panel of the sweater is looped behind the arm and out the neck area, and yet you’re trying to just jam your arm in and pull and force the sweater on but it isn’t going to go? My poor robber was having just such difficulty, and he was further hampered by the bags of money in his hands. He made quite a comical figure, hopping along trying to run away from the authorities, and get his sweater straight at the same time. My friends and I chuckled at his silliness, and then I said “my good man, please allow me to help you!” I temporarily held with his money bags, then gently untangled his sweater and put it right. As I handed him back his bags, I patted his shoulder and said “now run along quickly, before they catch you! I think I hear them coming, Run, run!” and my friends all roared with laughter.

    He scurried off and we continued to stroll into the town, noticing with much laughter and interest as we approached the hubbub left behind by our hapless robber’s recent antics. There were blue lights flashing and policemen running about in and out of the bank. As we came up to the front of the bank building, one of my friends noticed that the bank in question happened to be a bank in one of the banking groups that I owned. So while I had been helping him with his sweater, he was busy stealing money from none other than me! That made the joke doubly funny, and we all laughed heartily over this as we continued on our way.

    I woke up and I realized that the dream was my answer. I still felt violated. I still felt raped. But the dream told me that I am incomparably rich compared to my Mr. Potter, (in friends and happiness, not in money), and it showed me what should be my attitude towards him. It still took a year for me to be reconciled to that view, but I finally was and am. There is nothing of any importance that he can steal from me. I am incomparably rich compared to him, in friends, happiness, the gospel, and in fullness of life. He is a poor desperate robber with his sweater all wonkydoodle. May he find the joy he seeks. Amen.

  12. tyler on December 6, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Margaret–

    My favorite part about your analogy, or, I suppose, the place to which I would extend your analogy is: when we allow Christ to grant us a new heart we find that not only does forgiveness well up within us but, also, recompense and more for what we’ve lost. Thus George, in the end, is “the richest man in town” through the generosity of those he so long cared for. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not suggesting some mystical replacement of all stolen money–let alone the instant healing of all broken hearts–but I really do believe that, when we forgive, God shows us there is enough and to spare of whatever it is we may need.

  13. Mark B. on December 6, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    Ah, you’re not that old, Margaret. I saw your sophomore picture in the Provost I got at the end of my senior year at PHS. (Now you may dig up your old yearbook and try to figure out who I am–or just ask Bill Hamblin.)

  14. Keith on December 6, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    Think of when George Bailey calls Potter “a warped, frusted old man”–something said in anger and frustration, and something Potter remembers and throws back at him later in the movie. Imagine those same lines said, not in anger, but straight-forwardly and without resentment–maybe even in compassion (though not indulgence or excusing what Potter does/who he is). Potter doesn’t need “what’s coming to him”–he’s already got that in who he is and the miserable life he lives. Capra ends the movie with Bailey in companionship with family and friends (and problems solved for now). That’s enough. Once there is there is this reconciliation with Bailey’s life and family, what further need to worry about Potter and getting even? Potter’s last line: “Merry Christmas to you, in jail.” Contrast that to the Baileys and friends singing Christmas Carols and singing “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet.”

    The Lord writes such a script for us. And then writes another to try and win Potter back.

  15. manaen on December 6, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Margaret, Tatiana, anonymous, Craig, Ace, and John — thank you all for your insights!

    This is a lesson I’m grateful to be learning — both in how forgiveness from others helps me become part of a whole and how my forgiveness for others frees my heart. I grew up without much feeling for others (a long story) and ended up causing much damage to my family and to others. The consequences to me have included a felony conviction, disfellowshipment, and divorce.

    I was amazed as I felt the forgiveness of my SP, my bishop, and the Lord. It further softened my previously-hard heart so that I could be healed by the Spirit. (My personal favorite scriptural passage now is: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezk 36:26-27)

    I recently shared some thoughts about forgiveness with my court-mandated weekly counseling group. In particular, I felt to explain that we could do the harmful things we did for lack of love for others, that the reason we had that lack of love wasn’t because we had abuses done to us but that we hadn’t healed from them, and that forgiveness was the way to obtain that healing. It seems paradoxically ironic to say that offenders need to forgive, but I believe that forgiveness can eliminate the drive to hurt others.

    BYU sponsored “Embracing Hope,” a seminar on healing from abuse, in 2002. I’ve been helped greatly by Dr. Elaine Walton’s comments in her presentation. Fortunately, I taped her presentation from KBYU and the group’s leader showed it, testimony and all, to the group a few weeks ago.

    There’s much more to it than the excerpts posted below. I recommend reading or listening to the entire presentation.

    So, what is forgiveness? Forgiveness implies a change of heart. When we say, “I forgive you,” we are saying “I have stopped being angry with you.” Forgiveness also conveys a change in the victim’s expectations. For example, he or she no longer seeks recriminations or tries to get even. Genuine forgiveness is a process, not a product. It takes time and is hard work. It is a voluntary act which gives meaning to the wound, disengages the offended from the offender, and frees the injured person from the ills of bitterness and resentment (Hope, 1987).
    […]
    Forgiveness is the process through which the injured person gains peace, freedom, self-acceptance, and release from self-pity; through forgiveness wounds are healed. It is a privilege to forgive, because forgiveness really is for the benefit of the victim! It may be easier to forgive if the offender repents, but victims should not be dependent on the repentance of the offender in order to experience the freedom that comes with forgiveness.
    […]
    When one has been deeply wounded, there is no way to genuinely forgive without experiencing a great deal of personal growth. After interviewing many victims of intimate wounds, Beverly Flanigan (1992) learned that those who were successful at forgiving became stronger and better able to take care of themselves. They made different choices about the people they let into their lives, but they didn’t stop being vulnerable. Instead, they accepted pain as a part of life, and they developed a new philosophy about people. I would like to share some of their comments:
    .
    “I know that I cannot prevent harm from coming my way. It is the rare person who escapes being injured by a person she loves. I will remove myself from harm’s way when I can; but in the future I will know that injuries happen to everyone. Some of them I will be able to control. Some I will not. Knowing this, I am free. Forgiving will never again be so difficult.” (p. 229)
    .
    “It is essential to not excuse. You can forgive, but you must not excuse. Excusing means you believe there is some logical reason a person behaves the way he behaves. In cases like incest or beating, there is no logical reason. So excusing is dangerous. If we have free will, we are responsible for ourselves. Granted, things may affect our judgment, but it IS our judgment.” (p. 170)
    .
    “. . . You know, I’ve lost everything. It’s all been ripped off. I understand it, though; nothing is worth the hating.” (p. 168)
    […]
    [Dr. Walton says] I want to conclude with my own testimony regarding the personal growth and spiritual cleansing that can come through forgiveness. There was a time in my life when I was so badly injured that I didn’t see any possibility for real recovery. My heart was broken. But, in my state of humiliation—or humility, depending on your point of view—being completely stripped of pride became freeing; it allowed me to make spiritual progress. My broken heart became a “broken heart and a contrite spirit”—not a crushed heart, but a heart broken open to receive help, guidance, and wisdom. I was open to learn, to grow, and to change; pride was no longer a barrier. During that time when my heart was so tender, I could not sit through a sacrament meeting without weeping. People would see my tears and feel sorry for me, but those tears were more than tears of grief. I was overwhelmed with many feelings—including feelings of gratitude, joy, and love. The Lord was aware of my plight, and His grace was at work in my heart. As my own spirit was cleansed, my need for anger disappeared, and it was not difficult to forgive.

  16. Eve on December 6, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    When I’m struggling with my own Mr. Potters, I often find it painfully instructive to reflect on the people to whom I’ve been a Mr. Potter.

    (From the title I thought for sure this was going to be a Book 7 speculation post.)

  17. tyler on December 7, 2006 at 1:33 am

    Manaen–

    You are one of my favorite people; I think you remind me of Alma Jr.

  18. Lamonte on December 7, 2006 at 8:57 am

    Margaret – This is a wonderful post at the perfect time of year. Several years ago I was preparing a talk about forgiveness (my biggest weakness in this mortal life) and stopped to consider this scripture found in the Book of Matthew:

    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

    And then the Lord concludes in the same chapter by saying:

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

    I concluded that day that a forgiving heart is the most important attribute we can obtain in this life if we want to be more like the Savior. Now, if I could only obtain that attribute! Your post has provided a welcome reminder. Thank you.

  19. Phouchg on December 7, 2006 at 10:42 am

    Interestingly, the shooting script called for a scene where we see the exterior of the Bailey house. We see Mr. Potter sitting on the steps, holding the $8,000, listening to the happy singing inside – obviously considering what he has done, and how utterly alone he is in the world. Capra took it out, feeling that Potter’s story didn’t need resolution. And it is true: sometimes people get away with horrible things.Let’s hope there is justice in the next world, because many times there isn’t any in this world.

  20. Margaret Young on December 7, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    I am so moved by Manean’s comments that I intend to print them out to save. I really needed these insightful comments by EVERYONE and genuinely appreciate them. I wouldn’t have written the post if I didn’t need to be reminded of its message myself. And I love that last insight by Phouchg. I had never heard that deleted scene. And of course, now I’m really curious about who Mark B. is. I guess I will ask Bill Hamblin (who used to be my debate partner). But what’s the deal, Mark B.? You saw my picture and never asked me out?
    Oh, I never bought a yearbook, btw. Besides, we graduated ten years ago (plus or minus), so I’m sure we’ve both changed.

  21. Thomas Parkin on December 7, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    When I first peaked into your Bloggernacle, I thought …

    what a bunch of wankers.

    I hope you\’ll all forgive me.

    What a fine and moving post – and also thnks to Tatiana and her dream. And that verse from Ezekiel, manaen … oh, my.

    Yours,

    ~

  22. Thomas Parkin on December 7, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    When I first peaked into your Bloggernacle, I thought …

    what a bunch of wankers.

    I hope you’ll all forgive me.

    What a fine and moving post – and also thnks to Tatiana and her dream. And that verse from Ezekiel, manaen … oh, my.

    Yours,

    ~

  23. Margaret Young on December 7, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    We actually are a bunch of wankers. It’s just that we’re smart wankers.

  24. Mark B. on December 8, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    I didn’t see your picture, Margaret, until six months ago. And by then it was much, much too late.

    Besides, we seniors scarcely recognized the existence of sophomores, even when circumstances forced us to share the same space.

  25. John on December 10, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    #7 \”when Christ says he takes upon him the sins of the world, he means it.\”

    #8 \”Paul raises this issue in Romans 5:7-8… How many of us would die to save (or even create the possibility of saving) Mr. Potter? But that’s what Jesus did, died for the Mr. Potters of the world.\”

    Don\’t let the doctrine confuse you. Jesus died for the sinner that _repents_ (see D&C 18:11-13).

    John 17:9 – _I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me_; for they are thine.

    2 Nephi 25:13,23 – Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and _all those who shall believe on his name_ shall be saved in the kingdom of God. … We know that it is by grace that we are saved, _after all we can do_.

    Paul was speaking to a group of brethren, his fellow Christians, when he said \”while we were yet sinners, Christ died for _us_.\” Paul is also a strong advocate of being saved by grace \”after all we can do.\”

    1 Cor. 15:9-10 – I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and _his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all_.

    Remember, there are those who \”cannot be redeemed according to God\’s justice\” and who will experience the second death spoken of in Alma 12:13-18. The kingdom of God is not filthy, and no unclean thing can or will enter therein (see 1 Nephi 15:33-35).

    The required purification is available only through repentence–not because of any worthiness of the part of the sinner, but because God has granted him a new heart. If any man be in Christ, he is truly a new creature (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

    No wonder God experiences such great joy when even one soul repents!

    Unless Mr. Potter sees the error of his ways and makes necessary changes in his life, his final outcome is unavoidable. Lest we find it in our hearts to forgive Mr. Potter, in spite of his deep character flaws, we will find ourselves in the same position (see D&C 64:10).

  26. John on December 10, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    #7 \”when Christ says he takes upon him the sins of the world, he means it.\”

    #8 \”Paul raises this issue in Romans 5:7-8… How many of us would die to save (or even create the possibility of saving) Mr. Potter? But that’s what Jesus did, died for the Mr. Potters of the world.\”

    Don\’t let the doctrine confuse you. Jesus died for the sinner that _repents_ (see D&C 18:11-13).

    John 17:9 – _I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me_; for they are thine.

    2 Nephi 25:13,23 – Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and _all those who shall believe on his name_ shall be saved in the kingdom of God. … We know that it is by grace that we are saved, _after all we can do_.

    Paul was speaking to a group of brethren, his fellow Christians, when he said \”while we were yet sinners, Christ died for _us_.\” Paul is also a strong advocate of being saved by grace \”after all we can do.\”

    1 Cor. 15:9-10 – I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and _his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all_.

    Remember, there are those who \”cannot be redeemed according to God\’s justice\” and who will experience the second death spoken of in Alma 12:13-18. The kingdom of God is not filthy, and no unclean thing can or will enter therein (see 1 Nephi 15:33-35).

    The required purification is available only through repentence–not because of any worthiness of the part of the sinner, but because God has granted him a new heart. If any man be in Christ, he is truly a new creature (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

    No wonder God experiences such great joy when even one soul repents!

    Unless Mr. Potter sees the error of his ways and makes necessary changes in his life, his final outcome is unavoidable. Lest we find it in our hearts to forgive Mr. Potter, in spite of his deep character flaws, we will find ourselves in the same position (see D&C 64:10).

  27. John on December 10, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    #7 “when Christ says he takes upon him the sins of the world, he means it.”

    #8 “Paul raises this issue in Romans 5:7-8… How many of us would die to save (or even create the possibility of saving) Mr. Potter? But that’s what Jesus did, died for the Mr. Potters of the world.”

    Don’t let the doctrine confuse you. Jesus died for the sinner that _repents_ (see D&C 18:11-13).

    John 17:9 – _I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me_; for they are thine.

    2 Nephi 25:13,23 – Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and _all those who shall believe on his name_ shall be saved in the kingdom of God. … We know that it is by grace that we are saved, _after all we can do_.

    Paul was speaking to a group of brethren, his fellow Christians, when he said “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for _us_.” Paul is also a strong advocate of being saved by grace “after all we can do.”

    1 Cor. 15:9-10 – I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and _his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all_.

    Remember, there are those who “cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice” and who will experience the second death spoken of in Alma 12:13-18. The kingdom of God is not filthy, and no unclean thing can or will enter therein (see 1 Nephi 15:33-35).

    The required purification is available only through repentence–not because of any worthiness of the part of the sinner, but because God has granted him a new heart. If any man be in Christ, he is truly a new creature (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

    No wonder God experiences such great joy when even one soul repents!

    Unless Mr. Potter sees the error of his ways and makes necessary changes in his life, his final outcome is unavoidable. Lest we find it in our hearts to forgive Mr. Potter, in spite of his deep character flaws, we will find ourselves in the same position (see D&C 64:10).

  28. manaen on December 11, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    25. Don’t let the doctrine confuse you. Jesus died for the sinner that _repents_

    Jesus also died for the sinner who remains unrepentant. The Telestial Kingdom, which is a kingdom of *glory* for unrepentant sinners, exists because Jesus died for their sins. If he hadn’t died for their sins, they (we?) would be eternally instead in a place of no glory at all.

    The scriptures that you cite refer to being saved *in the kingdom of God*, which also is known as exaltation. Jesus’s suffering for the sins of unrepentant sinners makes possible being saved (from what otherwise would be their/our fate) in a place other than the kingdom of God. All that’s required to be saved in the Telestial Kingdom of glory is to accept Jesus offer of salvation, no repentance is required, and a time will come in which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Christ’s salvation.

    The few exceptions to having had Jesus die for their sins, of course, are the sons of perdition.

    No wonder God experiences such great joy when even one soul repents!,/i> Yes, because then they will be with Him eternally — not because they won’t be saved somewhere else.

    Joseph Fielding Smith explained this distinction:

    I want to discuss a little these three terms, redemption, salvation, and exaltation, used synonymously in the scriptures. Many places where you see the word redemption or where you see the word salvation it means exaltation, or in other word’s salvation in the kingdom of God; and yet sometimes there is a difference in meaning. While these three terms are used frequently in the scriptures synonymously, in fact most of the time, yet they also do have different meanings describing three separate stages in the eternal progress of man.

    REDEMPTION is the act of purchasing back, recovering from captivity, or restoring. So Christ becomes our Redeemer in bringing life back again where it was taken away through the transgression. There will be some individuals who will be redeemed from death-I am speaking now of the physical death-and that is all. They will go out as sons of perdition to dwell with the devil and his angels, as set forth in section 76 and other scriptures. They are not redeemed from the spiritual death, which is banishment from the presence of God.

    SALVATION is preservation from impending evil; deliverance from sin and its penalty realized in a future state; also, the means of deliverance from evil and ruin. That is salvation. (I am giving you the dictionary definition of these terms.)

    Salvation will come to the great body of humanity. The redemption of the soul is the resurrection. Salvation is to find a place somewhere in that redeemed state, freed from the realms “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” in its fulness, or in other words redemption from that spiritual death which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when the Lord says unto them, “Depart,” and they go into the realms of Satan.

    Salvation will come to all who enter the terrestrial kingdom. They will receive a higher grade of salvation than will those in the telestial kingdom. Salvation will come also to those who enter the celestial kingdom. That will be a still higher grade of salvation.

    Salvation is the gift of God, according to the scriptures, to all men who do not sin against the light and become sons of perdition. Salvation is of varying stages or degrees. Every man is to be judged according to his works, and for this reason various degrees or kingdoms have been established.

    EXALTATION is the act of being raised or elevated, as in position or rank; it is to be magnified or glorified. So in the celestial kingdom those who pass by the gods who are set to guard the way to a fulness, receive exaltation. The telestial kingdom is not a kingdom of exaltation; the terrestrial kingdom is not a kingdom of exaltation, although it is higher than the telestial kingdom; and there will be many who will enter the celestial kingdom in their saved condition without an exaltation in it, for there are different degrees even in the celestial kingdom. Exaltation is to dwell in the presence of God and to be like him.

    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 11-13.) [Some parts deleted or recombined - manaen.]

    Any of the three degrees of glory is salvation from what otherwise would befall us without a Savior. LDS doctrine, then, is that we are *saved* only by accepting Christ as our Savior regardless of our works. This is why we say the unrepentant murderer is saved somewhere in the telestial kingdom simply by accepting Jesus’s offer.

    This sounds foreign to LDS not because it’s wrong but because we’re really in the exaltation business, not the salvation business like are our Catholic and Protestant friends. They promise a heaven that closely resembles the terrestrial kingdom for diligent believers and something like the telestial kingdom to believers without accompanying works — and the restored gospel says that they will deliver on their promises. IMO Jesus told Joseph Smith that their creeds are abominations not because they lead closer to evil but because they deny people the blessings of the celestial kingdom, which was the true purpose of the creation and the atonement.

  29. John on December 14, 2006 at 1:55 am

    Thanks for the clarification, manaen. I will keep those distinctions in mind as I read. I have recently become interested in learning more about the true meaning of “grace” as it is understood by the church in contrast to the world at large. You (and the Brethren) have provided some great insights.

  30. John on January 14, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    It’s probably a dead thread, but I found a few more scriptures that shed some light on the judgements of the Lord. (Posted for those that follow after…)

    Ezek 18:27-32 – The wicked man may turn himself and live. God has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.

    D&C 76:32-38 – Only the sons of perdition will experience the second death. All others will be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after suffering his wrath. [Note the specific use of "redeemed" in this reference.]

WELCOME

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