What do Mormons really believe, part 4

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:  first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Gost.
4th Article of Faith

I can’t help but think back to one of the many things I’ve had to build in my life, you know, one of those projects that come with a list of instructions… furniture, doll houses, bikes, whatever it may be.  Being a guy, and the sort of person I am – a moron (that’s moron, not Mormon, although I am that too), I’ve often simply set to out trying to put it together… without looking at the instructions.

In truth, usually I glance at them and see how simple they appear, and then, confident in my ability to just figure it out, I often get several steps into the process before I realize that something is wrong.  The pieces just don’t fit together, or it doesn’t look quite right (which usually means I’ve been trying to just compare it to the picture on the box). 

Anyway, my first inclination is to curse the manufacturer.  It’s funny how often I’ve done this; you’d think I’d learn.  Now, forced into a corner, I end up going back and reading the instructions, usually only to find I missed some small, simple (but crucial) step.

So often this is the case with the gospel.  The first principles and ordinances are indeed simple, and because of their simplicity, they’re overwhelmingly overlooked. 

It’s the attitude of “Yeah, yeah, faith… I get it.  Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost – great, now let’s get on with something more interesting…” that’s what dooms us.

These first principles and ordinances are foundational – that’s why they’re first.  They’re the basis upon which ALL other principles and ordinances rely.

When we’re so quick to move past them without the benefit of a thorough understanding, appreciation, and testimony of them, then how often we find ourselves, long after, realizing that something is not fitting.  We come upon a principle or doctrine or an event in life that just doesn’t “look right”, and finding ourselves in a corner, we blame the manufacturer.

When in reality, it was simply that we had failed in the first step, to understand the simplest points of the gospel. 

It’s much like the people of Moses, as they were set upon by serpents.  He raised the serpent staff and told his people that if they’d but look upon it, they’d be saved.  But so simple was the task that alas, many did not, and perished.

So too must we continually remember to focus on the core – faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost, if we want to be saved from the serpents of life.  Let not the simplicity or commonness of these betray our judgment – a foundation is only as valuable as it is solid.

So we should ask ourselves… how well do we understand the immeasurable power of faith, and how often do we implement it in our lives, and in the lives of others?  How often do we find ourselves in the process of sincere repentance, and how clearly do we understand and appreciate how it is even possible?  Have we been baptized and born of God, and if so, how regularly do we renew those covenants and how serious do we take them?  What role does the Holy Ghost play in our daily life?  How sensitive and perceptive are we to its promptings and communication?  How well established is our capacity to recognize His promptings?

These are the things that we must return to regularly, for all the remaining steps of life rely on how firmly we’re able to grasp these few things.

Rusty

P.S.  Because of the tremendous importance of these foundational elements of the gospel, I’m going to dedicate a post to each of them, both because each are worth an individual exploration, and also because there are bound to be numerous responses to each of these.  This organization will better allow us to explore each one independently. If you have comments about one of these in particular, please add them to the specific post to which they apply, and reserve comments on this post to the general direction/commentary about this article of faith.  I’ve gone ahead and added the post skeleton for each of these so you can go ahead and add comments now if you already know what they are (hehe), and I’ll fill in the commentary today and tomorrow.  Thanks, and I hope to enjoy some more healthy discussion on each of these!

Here you’ll find Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost

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0 replies
  1. ponderingpastor says:

    Rusty,
    I was afraid you had abandoned your project, having not seen this post until this evening. You are right, this is an important Article of Faith, containing considerable material. I want to comment on what from a Lutheran perspective is glaringly obviously missing in the Mormon “laws and ordinances of the Gospel”. Other comments will wait for your discussion of each of those ordinances.
    I find it interesting that the Articles of Faith exclude two important commandments of Jesus Christ. The first absence is puzzling to me because LDS is well known for its missionary work. From Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” It is clear that this is a command “ordinance” of Jesus. Baptism is certainly covered … but missing is “making disciples of all nations” and “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
    The completely missing (from the Articles of Faith) commandment of Jesus Christ is around what Christians call the Eucharist or Holy Communion. In 3 of the 4 Gospels and in one of Paul’s letters, that command to “do this in remembrance of me” is recalled … consuming the body and blood of Jesus Christ. A group of people who exclude this sacrament from a list of “ordinances” of the Gospel I believe, would have a very hard time calling themselves Christian. It may be that Mormons celebrate a meal of remembrance or an eucharistic meal, but it does not appear in the Articles of Faith.
    Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty:

    Ah, my friend, I won’t abandon it. I just got busy, and there were so many replies on the preceding three articles that they tended to occupy all of my spare time.

    Again you bring up two very important points. First, I can’t answer why those are not listed as part of the articles of faith. Perhaps because they weren’t meant to be all inclusive, but even so, let me address your points from the aspect of Mormonism.

    First, regarding the sacrament, we do indeed partake of the sacrament every Sunday. In fact our primary meeting on Sunday is indeed called “Sacrament Meeting”, with that being the core focus. What a wonderful ordinance that is, to be able to renew the covenants we make with the Lord at baptism, and to have a dedicated time each week where we focus solely on Him and His sacrifice.

    And finally, regarding Matthew 28, and missionary work… Indeed missionary work is central to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and is one of the things for which we are most well known.

    Missions are remarkable things. Young men, only 19 years of age (and women at the age of 21), take two years out of their lives to serve missions. They serve wherever they are called and have no say in where they go. Many are asked to learn foreign languages and travel abroad. There are currently missionaries speaking over 175 languages. What’s even more impressive is that not only are they not compensated for their time and work, but it is all at their own expense. If you’re called to serve in Hong Kong, you must learn Cantonese, pay for your ticket, and two years worth of food, lodging, travel etc.

    It’s a tremendous sacrifice of one’s personal life in the service of the Lord and one of the most enriching and character building experiences I could imagine.

    I myself was called to serve in Sydney Australia and speak Mandarin Chinese, to teach the many Chinese immigrants who live there. There I had some of the richest experiences of my life, and grew to love and appreciate the people whom it was my pleasure to serve and teach.

    Older retired couples are also encouraged to serve missions, also at their own expense.

    There are currently over 52,000 Mormon missionaries serving right now around the world in an effort to fulfill those very words in Mathew. And of course it doesn’t stop there. Every member is encouraged to be a missionary always, constantly looking for ways to teach the commandments and gospel of Christ, encouraging all to be His disciples, and to be baptized in His name.

    In short, yes, I heartily testify that Mormons believe in the sacrament, and take missionary work very seriously.

    Reply
  2. ponderingpastor says:

    However, I’ve heard that “the sacrament” Mormons participate in is water and bread. Is that true?

    From Rusty: It is, according to modern revelation you can find here Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. We’ll talk about revelation in the seventh article of faith. Mormons use water because we don’t drink alchohol, according to another revelation you can find here (the Word of Wisdom).

    Reply
  3. ponderingpastor says:

    Ah … so it doesn’t matter that the “element of this sacrament” is water … but one must be baptized by *immersion* because the amount of water and how it is used is important! That’s really interesting. I’m sure we will be looking at how one baptizes by immersion when baptism by proxy is accomplished.

    I’m still quite puzzled at how and why this particular command of Jesus (do this in remembrance of me) is ignored in the Articles of Faith. This matter is so critical to the Christian church through the centuries, and is evidenced in the earliest church. I’m sure we will be looking at how one baptizes by immersion when baptism by proxy is accomplished.

    I understand a religious group not consuming alcohol, although scripture (Old and New Testament) does not forbid it.) Water is an interesting substitution.

    Puzzled Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty

    That is correct. The amount of water is symbolic in and of itself – immersion is important, which I’m confident we’ll discuss in more detail later. I’ll also make sure to cover the proxy work, since that is so important.

    Don’t puzzle too long over why something isn’t mentioned in the articles of faith, or you could find yourself puzzled to death. It wasn’t the intent to build an all-inclusive list of beliefs.

    But I would add that there are sufficient evidences in the Bible to not drinking alcohol or other strong drinks, so it’s not surprising that eventually it was commanded to be done away with entirely.

    Leviticus 10:9-10 “And the Lord spake unto Aaron saying, do not drink wine nor strong drink”.

    Judges 13:13-14 “And the Angel of the Lord said unto Manoah… She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink…”

    Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

    Proverbs 23:31-35 “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red – at the last it biteth like a serpent and strength like an ader. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”

    Proverbs 31:1-6 It is not for kings, o Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink…”

    Isaiah 5:11-12 “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

    Isaiah 28:7-8 “But they also have erred through wine, the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink,…”

    Daniel 1 “The Israelite boys refuse the king’s meat and wine, and choose to drink only water…”

    Titus 1:7 “For a bishop must be blameless, – not given to wine,”

    Reply
  4. MartyH says:

    I have found that when any belief system tries to add to the simple doctrine of salvation, we start getting the legalistic rules like “drinking wine, abstaining from caffeine etc.. Then these begin will weaken and change through time so we can do them without breaking any prohibitions. Such as the custom of the Pharisees. Soda is OK but stay away from that tea!
    In the scripture quoted above regarding wine, the key words are “given to”, “till wine inflame them”, “at the last it biteth like a serpent “. Moderation is key .

    From Rusty

    Indeed, moderation is the key to so many things in life, religious and otherwise. Still, total abstinence, in other instances, is required. The commandments of god are not “Thou shalt not… except in moderation”. So while moderation is a principle to which we should all adhere, there are times when sheer abstinence is expected.

    Additionally, all belief systems must be added unto, even as Christ did. When He began His ministry, this was one of his primary purposes, to add to the simple doctrines they’d already been taught, but which weren’t complete. For His additional teachings, He was scorned and rejected – a common response whenever new revelation attempts to clarify or add to old revelation. As I’ve said on a previous reply, we mortals tend to get stuck in tradition, comfortable with the things with which we are familiar, and it causes us to naturally want to reject new information that forces us to change our beliefs.

    But revelation was given to man so that he might gain continual clarity, and add to the knowledge he has already received. It’s the reason we’re given “line upon line, precept upon precept” (Isaiah 28:10,13).

    Reply
  5. grinningthorn says:

    Thank you for your offer to explain more of the Morman faith. I look forward to it with intellectual curiosity.

    If you are however, doing this out of a hope of converting some non-mormons by showning there are no great differences between Mormonism and Christianity, I think your project is doomed to failure. Any attempt to justify Mormonism has to also take into account the particulars of its comparitively short and contemporary historical context and the issue of privledged revelation outside of the Bible.

    Ultimately, Mormonism is not Christianity. Not no how. Not no way. Nor, I would suspect, would your leaders want it to be seen as such.

    Ah, let me make sure this is clear, for it is very important – thanks for bringing it up. My goal is not to pursuade people to think there are no differences between Mormonism and other Christian faiths. Our differences are some of the most important and critical aspects of our religion. We don’t make excuses or try to hide our differences, we rejoice in them.

    The purpose of these posts is to clarify the many misconceptions there are on the internet about what Mormons believe, and to do it in a way that invites open discussions, such as this. Too often you’ll have one-sided postings, that are biased and uninformed. The beautiful thing about this kind of environment is that it allows us to explore the true teachings of Mormonism together.

    But I’m under no illusions, I cannot convert anyone, that is the job of the Holy Ghost – to testify of truth. All I can do is make sure the truth is heard. It is up to all men to then seek for themselves a confirmation from the Holy Ghost if it is from God.

    And finally, in response to “Mormonism is not Christianity”. That’d be akin to me saying “protestants aren’t Christian”, or “Lutherans aren’t Christian”, or “Catholics aren’t Christian”, etc. – and then if asked why, I would reply “because they don’t believe as I do”. It’s a weak argument, for according to those standards, none of us are, for none of us agree on every point of doctrine. If one’s definition of Christianity is established through unanimous opinion, then it’s a pointless measure, since we’re not likely to reach consensus among all the different sects any time soon. In essense, we’re simply talking semantics.

    Mormons believe Jesus Christ, their church is called after His name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, He’s the center of our religion, we’re baptized in His name, and partake of the sacrament in His name, and we believe in the Bible. I’m not sure how much more Christian we could be.

    Oh, and yes, for sure we will be addressing the issue of revelation outside of the Bible, to quite some detail in one of my upcoming posts in the next few days. It’s bound to be one of the more interesting discussions, I hope you’ll join and add your insight, even if in the end, we simply agree to disagree.

    Reply
  6. MartyH says:

    Rusty,

    You still aren’t getting it. I will try to help you.

    What is the purpose of the commandments? (Romans 3:20)

    Why are you asking me to stay in bondage to the commandment when by keeping them they do not help save me?

    From Rusty

    Forgive me if I’m slow (I’ve been accused of it before). The problem is I just keep finding teachings that tell me otherwise. The verse to which you refer (and even the whole chapter) is itself describing how man is not justified by the Law of Moses, but rather through righteousness and faith in Christ, made possible through His atonement, emphasizing my point.

    But then there are all these other references that I keep getting hung up on, like this…

    Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

    or perhaps this one…

    Hebrews 5:5-10 “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

    Or this…

    Romans 2:13-16 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

    Or any of these…

    2 Thessalonians 1:1-10 “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    James 1:22-25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

    Romans 2:5-11 “And revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Who will render to every man according to his deeds…”

    Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12-15 “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”

    Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

    John 7:16-17 “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine…”

    John 14:15-21 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

    Acts 1-:34-36 “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

    Titus 3:8 “That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”

    1 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”

    Revelation 22:14-15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.”

    1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than to sacrifice”

    Matthew 7:15-20 “Ye shall no them by their fruits”

    Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”.

    Galations 5:20-23 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

    I hope you see my difficulty. I just keep finding these teachings from the bible that emphasize the importance of our obedience in our salvation.

    Rusty

    Reply
  7. Rusty Lindquist says:

    I might add, that of the two forces at work on the earth (that of Christ, and that of Satan), I would venture to say that only one of these is interested in having us believe that mans actions are of no consequence.

    What more cunning philosophy is there, then to make man believe that he may do what he will, and be saved regardless. Based on these few scriptures listed above, its clearly not the doctrine of Christ and His prophets.

    Reply
  8. ponderingpastor says:

    You are close … but not quite there Rusty. Mormon focus on obedience has blinded you. You write, “but rather through righteousness and faith in Christ, made possible through His atonement, emphasizing my point.” It seems that you are saying that the atonement gives *access* to something new…salvation in Christ. At least that is what I read with your words, “made possible”. For Christians that isn’t quite saying enough about what the atonement is. For Christians, the act of atonement itself is what justifies. Nothing else is necessary.

    You have cited many important passages that talk about obedience or that humans will be judged on account of what they do (and do not do). Obedience flows from faith as a response to that gift. And it is always imperfect obedience. If we are “saved” by our obedience, we are all doomed.

    In our liturgy, during the confession and absolution, we say, “God of all mercy and consolation, come to the help of your people, turning us from our sin to live for you alone. Give us the power of your Holy Spirit that we may confess our sin, receive your forgiveness, and grow into the fullness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.” We indicate that “We are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against [God] in thought, word, and deed. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.” This language is particular. Our ability to “do better” is a gift from God, not an accomplishment of the will. Mormon theology seems to emphasize the obedience, the accomplishment of the will, as if it is possible. Lutherans would argue that it is not possible to be sufficiently obedient. That does not mean that we throw out all obedience … it means that obedience does not lead to salvation.

    For you see the law, which is how we gauge obedience has two primary purposes (some Lutherans claim three). One is to regulate society … and is about doing good for the sake of the neighbor. The second use of the Law is to drive us to the arms of Christ … to recognize our need for the Gospel. If we are saved through obedience, and believe that is possible, who needs Christ (as Galatians 3 says)?

    Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty,

    It’s not either or, but both. Mormons also don’t believe that obedience alone can save you, but that invoking the atonment through repentence, and by obeying the commandments are both required. I just can’t read any of the passages above and reconcile the notion that our salvation is not, in part, determined by obedience – just reread them, they’re inarguable in that point. But each man can read those scriptures and judge for themselves, as must be the case in all things.

    Reply
  9. MartyH says:

    Rusty, Maybe we need to place the verses you quoted in alignment to those that appear before or after for proper interpretation.

    Revelation 20:15
    And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

    Those written in the Book of Life? How are their works judged. Do they get cast into the lake of fire?

    Hebrews 4:4
    for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

    The “obedience” in 5:5 refers to disobedience in 4:4, the failure to enter into God’s rest, Disobedience is rejecting the gospel as there is no other means of salvation available to mankind as stated in Hebrews 6:4.

    Romans 2:13-16
    Verse 13 clarifies and is the same as verse 12, Do you see it? It has nothing to do with Salvation.

    12:For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
    13:For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law

    2 Thessalonians 1:1-10
    Those who do not obey the Gospel are those who do not believe as the following verse 10 states.

    when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

    Rusty, I’m not going to keep going because I’m wearing tired. Please take the remaining sciptures you quoted and read the chapters before and after. How does each verse fit into what the author is writing about?

    From Rusty

    Reading each scripture in context is important, and I encourage all to do that and judge for themselves, for you’re right, we can go back and forth, each convinced of our own interpretation until we grow ever weary. But in the end, each man must judge for themselves, for that is our lot.

    Reply
  10. MartyH says:

    Rusty, agreeing to disagree will land one of us in Hell.
    I don’t want to take such a relaxed position. I was weary as in writing and was hoping that at least you would read my claims and then respond accordingly with your anaysis of the scriptures in context. A simple response with “well there’s your truth and there’s my truth simply won’t work because there is only one truth. There are many who have forsaken all for defense of the gospel and slaughtered at the stake. Now we are aware how your religion also considers Joseph Smith to be a martyr. Yet there are many in your church that also feel that the first vison was not a real theophany. Therefore leaving the claim of Joseph seeing two personages uncertain, and in my opinion the beginning of error in your religion. I’m looks like we will be hearing more about this in the articles to come. Before we go there, can we settle some of these differences we have now?

    Now that was well said, for none should trifle with the souls of men. There is only one truth, and it’s up to all men to find it. Many have sacrificed so much in the endeavor, that we should not take the effort lightly.

    With that perspective, I’ll commit to going back and re-reading each of those references in the context of their surrounding chapters and verses and will report back what I find, if you’ll do the same (and I hope anyone else interested will join the endeavor).

    For indeed, those that believe that our actions are of no eternal consequence in our salvation, have to be able to explain what these verses actually mean (if not that). Looking back at the set of verses I listed above, I think if we each simply focused in on the following, which are simply those that “seemed” most incontrovertible.

    Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

    Hebrews 5:5-10 “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

    Romans 2:13-16 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

    2 Thessalonians 1:1-10 “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven … taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    James 1:22-25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

    Romans 2:5-11 “And revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Who will render to every man according to his deeds…”

    Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12-15 “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”

    Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

    Acts 1-:34-36 “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

    Revelation 22:14-15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.”

    Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”.

    Galations 5:20-23 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

    Thanks again for the perspective you added to this endeavor. I’ll look forward to your reply as I prepare my own.

    Rusty

    Reply
  11. ponderingpastor says:

    Rusty,

    When Mormons say things like, “but that invoking the atonment (sic) through repentence (sic), and by obeying the commandments”, Christians cringe because Mormons are convinced that this is the same as what Christians teach. It is not. This makes the atonement of Christ a gateway rather than a saving act. It is as if Jesus hands us the key and the rest is up to us. It is as if the death and resurrection of Jesus cleansed the world of sin to that particular date and time, and now the rest is up to us. The witness of the New Testament is that Christ’s death accomplishes forgiveness of sin. It is a grace-filled event. It does not require obedience because that would make it earned, not grace-filled. I know this is hard … it is hard for people who have heard this perspective their whole lives.

    I’ve done a fair amount of thinking about the sociological factors contributing to Mormon focus on obedience. It seems to me that a persecuted minority would value obedience to the “rule and norm” of that particular group, to preserve identity and to protect itself. Obedience is a “survival tactic”, not unlike what you see in gang group dynamics and expectations. Please know that I’m not saying that Mormons are a gang, but in terms of demanding obedience, there are similarities. As I understand it, there is a great deal of expectation about obedience, to God and to human authority that is important in the Mormon faith.

    Just pondering …
    Pondering Pastor

    LOL, I’ve never thought about it like that. It would surely be one big gang! With some 13,194,000 members, almost 53,000 missionaries, 124 temples, and almost 28,000 congregations, we’d set some kind of new record. At least it would be a gang of humanitarian focus (since 1985 alone the value of humanitarian assistance from the Mormon churs is over 1.01 Billion dollars from member-donations). Too bad more gangs couldn’t do that!

    Still, you’re right, this seems to be an unwavering differentiation. For we do believe, unequivacobly, that you do have to earn your salvation. Forgiveness of sins is made possible through the atonment, but that man must do more, he can’t stop there. The scriptures I mention above we interpret in their litteral sense (and I’d love to hear how you interpret them), and seem to place far more emphasis on obedience than most (if not all) others.

    Still, if you look at this from the perspective of a global impact – even if you didn’t believe in Mormonism, there are now approaching 14 million people that are committed to keeping the commandments. But more than a worth cause (and as Marty so wisely alluded to above), to us it’s much, much more than that. To us, the benefit to the world is a fringe, while we believe the benefit to our souls is eternal.

    Reply
  12. MartyH says:

    Rusty, I thought I had already tried to give some exposure to the first five scriptures you quoted. Maybe I need to try in more detail and hope to see your conclusion on these five as well. Also please do not use the numbers practicing your religion as factors of Truth. Or we need to except the Islamic, Hinduism, Buddhism as more Truth than Mormon. I think you know what I mean here. And then also the Council of Nicaea was correct in the Trinity doctrine because there was more votes in the end, which I’m sure you vehemently deny.

    I want to make sure that you understand that we are not giving a licensing to sin or any way belittling the commandments. But our relationship to them has changed after believing the gospel. We are now in Christ, and Christ is in us. We don’t continue to work the commandments to earn our salvation. But we work the commandments because we are already saved. We are free to serve him because we are no longer under condemnation.

    From Rusty

    I’m sorry you misunderstood my comment, my intent was to explain that even if we can’t agree on interpretation of scripture, please be cognizant of the tremendous power of good the Latter Day Saints have on the world, due to high value we place on “abounding in good works”. My hope was that “by their fruits, ye shall know them”.

    Whether you agree with the doctrine I outline or not, is up to you. Either way, I accept you and respect your right to believe what you will. I appreciate a warm reciprocation of the same gesture.

    Let each man read the scriptures, hear the truth, and determine for themselves (seeking divine assistance), that which is right.

    Reply
  13. Ricky says:

    I have heard it said this way to help understand our salvation:

    We are saved.
    We are being saved.
    We will be saved.

    I hope this helps you guys understand that scripture reading!

    Reply
  14. Nancy Gart says:

    Since you all are reading the bible scriptures, here are some more for you. Rusty you have a lot of reading to do!

    Galatians 3:1-29
    O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should
    not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath
    been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
    This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the
    works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
    Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now
    made perfect by the flesh?

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only
    Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have
    eternal life.

    Ephesians 2:8
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and
    this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

    Romans 10:9
    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe
    in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be
    saved

    Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal
    life in Christ Jesus our Lord

    John 1:12
    Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his
    name, he gave the right to become children of God

    Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we
    were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Titus 3:5
    He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done,
    but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing
    of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

    Matthew 11:28
    Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I
    will give you rest.

    Romans 5:1
    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we
    have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ .

    Galatians 2:16
    Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
    but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in
    Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
    and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law
    shall no flesh be justified.

    From Rusty,

    Indeed, much reading to do… it shall be a great work to learn the depth of the principles of the gospel, even beyond the grave.

    Whats more, thank you for these beautiful references. The speak powerfully of grace and taken together with the earlier references about works, outline nicely the important conclusion that it’s not one or the other, but both. For none can be ignored.

    Reply
  15. Rusty Lindquist says:

    There comes a point in any religious discussion between multiple parties of differing faiths where the conversation derails. I use two measures to determine this. The first is when each is simply restating themselves, and the next is when it turns from healthy questions of “I never understood why you believed this way, could you explain it” to more of an argument about who is right.

    I don’t expect consensus, nor do I have the delusion that discussions of this nature regarding the salvation of the souls of men (a fairly personal thing, and rather important too), won’t inevitably contain a little “spice” 😉 But, as moderator of this environment, I’m tasked with the burden of making sure a healthy exploration of beliefs doesn’t turn sour.

    The intent of this series of posts is to provide another voice, another witness, to the actual teachings of Mormonism, to provide clarity in the face of so many false statements about LDS beliefs, that those who want to know the truth about Mormonism, can find it, and find for themselves if it is true. Its aim is not to resolve century’s old disagreements in the course of one blog post – that might be unrealistic.

    If there are remaining questions about why we believe what we believe, or confusions about what we believe that have not yet been answered, I’d love to entertain them. But if it’s a comment that seeks to degrade or takes us too far over that line, I’ll moderate it. In this way, the noise of opinion does not degrade the signal of truth.

    I hope you understand… Afterall, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, let us each love one another, even as He has loved us.

    Most warmly,

    Rusty
    Ongofu.com

    Reply
  16. MartyH says:

    Rusty, then we should conclude with the different views on the means of justification.

    Christians believe justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

    Mormons believe a person’s works in this life will determine his or her status in the life to come, and that “salvation” is actually a progression toward godhood.

    From Rusty:

    That’s a good description, I’d only add that Mormons also believe we’re saved through through the atonement of Christ, as well as by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. But I think that’s a good summary. Thanks.

    Reply
  17. grinningthorn says:

    I admit that I can be as feisty defending my faith as many others, but Rusty’s replies to some of the things I wrote and which others wrote impressed me with his patience and clear concept of his goal. Could we call a moritorium on arguing with Rusty as to whether Mormons or traditional Christians are right about certain things?

    Rusty’s offer and demenor made me realize that I want to judge for myself what I do or do not think about Mormons. Heck, it would be nice to get to know one. At least I think we’ll be getting the straight stuff from someone willing to explain.

    He’s already said he’s not converting anybody– that’s not his purpose. Let’s give the Rusty some room and ourselves a chance to understand more. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of finding just the differences between us, we discovered some commonalities.

    I’m satisfied Rusty wants to do just what he says he will. I think he has a right to do so, and I for one would like to hear what he has to say and ask questions.

    If talking about religion does not help us to see each other with compassion and a bit more understanding (albeit we may disagree on many things), than what’s the purpose of faith anyway?

    From Rusty – I have to say, this has to be one of my all-time favorite posts. Thank you so much for being so kind and understanding, AND voicing it. I’m honored to be the Mormon you get to know, and I look forward to our future discussions and questions. I’ll get to my remaining posts on Mormon beliefs soon. I’ve been busy, but am working on the one by Baptism, and have asked my friend the Pondering Pastor to contribute to the post as well with a couple specific things I’d value his insight on. I’m looking forward to it greatly.

    Again, thank you.

    Rusty

    Reply
  18. Matthew says:

    I was passing by the web site, and I thought I would jump in on the debate at hand. First, let me start out by saying that I respect the good works being done by Mormons around the world. I think it is noble, good, and becoming of any descent person to engage in charity. With that said, I think that healthy debate into these matters is important and should be done with love and kindness. I guess I am sort of getting in the middle of you guys’ conversation, and I don’t mean to get anyone side tracked, but I do have a few things to say.

    This talk about justification is, indeed, a very important one. I mean, after all, we are talking about the eternal fate of people’s souls. I think the issue of justification is so important that, if misunderstood, it could lead people down the wrong path. So, that is why debate about the issue of justification is extremely healthy. If it divides, then so be it. If it makes people upset, then that is unfortunate. Yet, we should never cease talking about this subject due to it “making people upset.” Christians should have this debate, and it should not be censored. After all, both sides believe they are combating for the souls of man.

    With that said, I want to express humble ignorance as to what I know abot the LDS faith. I am not thoroughly educated in their doctrine, nor do I have a great understanding about their beliefs regarding the atonement, justification, trinitarianism, sanctification, etc. Though I do know their beliefs are radically different than mine.

    My main concern with Mormonism, however, is their view on two things: the trinity and justification by faith alone. I guess one of my questions would be the following: who do Mormons say Jesus Christ is? I believe most will say, “the Son of God.” And that is correct. However, Mormons (at least as far as I know) do not view Jesus’ position as Son of God as the same thing as being equal in essence with the Father. That is, they do not believe that Christ is fully God just as much as the Father is. They do not believe that there is only one God, yet three persons in that Godhead. Their understanding of the Sonship of Christ is the same as an earthly son’s sonship to his earthly father. That is, inferior to their father. Christ, under the biblical view, is no way inferior to the Father in that they are both one God. Grant it, it is a mystery, yet it has been historically affirmed throughout the ages (through councils, etc.). In a sense, there is one WHAT and three WHOs. As far as I know, the LDS faith does not subscribe to such a doctrine.

    The next thing that I would argue is that the Mormon faith again falls outside of the orthodox Christian faith in that it does not affirm Sola Fide; that is, faith alone. Mormons have traditionally rejected Sola Fide for a merit-based system regarding their salvation. This, according to the reformers and, I believe, the Apostle Paul, segregates them from the holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church of Christ.

    My question would be this: What good works do you have to offer Christ? Is the work on the cross not sufficient? Does it lack in some area? If you claim that your works plus the atonement is required for salvation, then you are implying that the work on the cross is in some way insufficient. This is what makes the Mormon faith a false church. Mormons, by saying this, are saying that the work of man is more favorable in the sight of God than the work of Christ was. This surely can’t be true.

    To God alone be the glory.
    Matthew

    From Rusty

    It certainly seems you’ve come to the right place in a discussion of Justice, Mercy, and Mormon’s views! We have had a fair exploration of these issues.

    If you’ve not yet read all the above comments in this (and the preceding post), then those are likely answer most of your questions about Mormons view of justice, mercy, the role of the atonement and the importance we place on obedience. There are also some scriptural references for context on why we believe the way we do.

    Indeed, as you suggest, we do believe that without the Savior, man cannot be saved, but that in addition God requires us to continually strive to be obedient. We’ll fail of course, repeatedly, and will need to repent. But that in the end, we will be judged out of those things which were written in the book of life, according to our works (or how hard we tried).

    Out of curiosity, and I’m surprised I have failed to ask this before, since it seems so pertinent, how do you guys view repentance? You’ll have to forgive my ignorance as well – for I truly don’t know.

    If our works are not held against you, are you required to repent? Is it optional? What happens if you sin and don’t repent? Or is there even sin? If sin were defined as transgressing the laws of God, but if our unrepented sins don’t hold us from salvation, why then would we repent? It just dawned on me that I hadn’t thought to ask that (again, I probably should know this, but that’s the value of this conversation).

    And finally, we really haven’t talked much about the Trinity, and how Mormons believe they are three distinct personages or why. I would have expected us to do this on the first article of faith, but we never really got to that.

    I’ll post another comment on that tonight (I’ve got a date with my wife right now that I don’t want to be late to!), but I’ll talk about it in that post. In the meantime, if any of you have time to respond to this question above, I’d certainly be grateful.

    Rusty

    Reply
  19. Rusty Lindquist says:

    One more question, is it easier to discuss these things over multiple separate posts, divided by topic, or would it be more helpful to open up a new thread like “An open discussion of Mormon beliefs” where we include it all? That might prevent you from having to check back on multiple posts to see what has been added/updated. Let me know what you guys would prefer, I’m impartial to the format, so long as we can continue the discussion.

    Reply
  20. MartyH says:

    Rusty. what is so terribly wrong with acknowleging that you are a sinful man, totally undeserving of Christ’s love, and faithly resting wholely on his accomplishment of the cross for your salvation? I mean outside of the scriptures that can sway you either way, what is it that holds you back from resting entirely on his finished work?

    From Rusty,

    Nothing at all, I’m sinful, undeserving, and wholly reliant upon him. But his scriptures tell me I must keep the commandments, so I try as hard as I can, and rely on his tender mercy to save me.

    Reply
  21. MartyH says:

    I going to keep on going because you haven’t yet answered my last post – it thats OK. Are you afraid of telling your wife and children that you were wrong? Are you afraid of having to start new friendships and the possible persecution from church menbers? Are you afraid of having to put away your self rightousness or pride by relying totally on someone other than yourself?
    Do you ever wonder why one practices the Islamic faith? Has your cultural surroundings, the BoM, and the D&C told you what to believe? And my last question, where were you the night Christ died?

    From Rusty,

    I have no fear, for I have received a witness from the Holy Ghost that what I believe is correct. I know it as surely as I know anything, and that knowlege gives me the courage to stand in the face of any persecution you or anyone might choose to put before me. For my testimony is not founded upon logic or tradition, which are fallible, but a direct witness from God, which is not.

    Oh, and yes, the srcriptures have taught me the principles of the gospel. I haven’t wondered why one practices Islam. And on the night Christ died, I was with my Father in a premortal existance, undoubtedly watching with unbridled sadness and unspeakable gratitude.

    Reply
  22. MartyH says:

    Rusty,

    There are and have been murderers, prostitutes, rapists, thieves, liars, child molesters, and the worst of evil men that have heard and believed the gospel in it’s simplest Truth:

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only
    Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have
    eternal life.

    When they heard it and believed, they counted Him faithful to uphold his promise. Having been enlightened that He who called and He who promised was the only True God, how be it now that you want them to not trust his Word and add additional requirements to the promise. For why would they had given themselves over to a promise that added also works when knowing themselves as sinners had not in the past and could not in the future uphold.

    If the gospel of salvation is as you say: “through the atonement of Christ, as well as by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel”, Then you are really saying to the murderers, prostitutes, rapists, thieves, liars, child molesters, and the worst of evil men, who have reached out and cast themselves upon His promise, that God is a lair.

    I’m saying to them “now that ye have accepted Christ, keep the commandments, for the scripture say “if ye love me, keep my commandments”.

    What I wouldn’t say is “now that ye have accepted Christ, I hope that you change your ways, but even if you don’t, and you continue to murder, rape, and molest, don’t worry it won’t afect your salvation because your works don’t matter?

    Reply
  23. MartyH says:

    “I hope that you change your ways, but even if you don’t, and you continue to murder, rape, and molest, don’t worry it won’t affect your salvation because your works don’t matter?”

    That as you mention is the very puzzling to understand. Where in you say first write “if ye love me, keep my
    “commandments”, then immediately return back in the second statement to the law as a requirement for salvation.

    The scripture declares:

    “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved”.

    “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.

    “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Another, John 3:5:

    “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Lastly Titus 2:14:

    Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people of his own, zealous of good works.” ”

    I think you may see that there is something common in the above scriptures: It is completely inconsistent with Christ’s work for a believing Christian to live a life of continue sin. Can we habitually do the very thing He came to eliminate? – No!

    “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

    Therefore to the believer sin is incompatible with the law of God, the work of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Why would he continue to practice it?

    I couldn’t agree more. When you have truly accepted Christ, you will naturally abound in good works.

    How do non-LDS view repentance and confession? Lets say I do commit murder, or some other grevious sin, and never repent or confess? Is there a penalty. What role does confession and repentance play? Is it so that I can return to inner peace? Just curious.

    Mormons believe that ongoing confession and repentance is how we continually “invoke” the atonement (like my analogy of the rope to the mountain climber, it’s there when we need it, but we have to reach out and grab it). I know we each have differing opinions on this, so I’m curious what yours is. Thanks

    Reply
  24. MartyH says:

    Rusty,

    You may have read:

    And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

    And:

    Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

    With the Mormon doctrine of salvation, the plan is still bound to strict obedience to the outward appearance of the law. Like the leaders in Christ’s time here on earth. They were binding the people and subjecting them to the law as the qualifier to obtain holiness.

    The Christian views the commandment to keep the sabbath differently. Now, that the believer has entered into God’s rest through Christ’s completed work on the cross, the sabbath is a day of celebration, a feast which we gladly uphold.

    We do not believe that we are climbing the rope and have to reach out for Jesus to take us the rest of the way as you say, “to bridge the gap.”

    We believe that we have fallen from the rope. The old rope was tied together with dirty rags. That Christ alone is the new rope.

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

    I appreciate the restatement of your belief with supporting scriptures (although further repetition would be, well… repetitious, not adding additional value or information to the conversation, since we’ve covered it all before).

    The scriptures are full of beautiful references about grace, and mercy, and that only through Christ can we be saved. They are all true. I believe all of them.

    But because the scriptures must be taken in whole, and not in part, I also believe the other references as well, those that speak of being judged by our works. As I study the scriptures I cannot stop at one convenient point and say “this is enough”. I must continue to add to my knowledge, understanding, and belief, line upon line, and precept upon precept.

    So when I read a scripture that says that only through Christ can man be saved, and then another that says we will be judged according to my works, I cannot selectively choose the former, because it conveniently absolves me of accountability. I must assume that God was not lying or being facetious when he said we’d be judged by our works, so I must therefore believe both.

    Hence the burden is not upon me to justify my belief, for I’ve rested the scriptures before you whereon that belief is founded. The burden is upon you then, to explain those references that seem to so clearly talk about “works”, for the scriptures cannot be taken in part, but must be taken in whole.

    If indeed we are saved by grace alone, without the necessity of obedience, then surely there will be very clear alternate explanations for each of these scriptures.

    To aid in the endeavor, I’m now adding a section in my navigation called “Discussing Mormonism”. There I’ll be putting each of just the main references that seem the clearest about works. I’ll do a post for each independently, so that anyone can add clarification and insight into that given verse, and we can thereby create a valuable archived discussion on each reference in parallel.

    I’ll add those sections shortly.

    Reply
  25. MartyH says:

    31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
    33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
    34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

    Reply
  26. MartyH says:

    Rusty,

    I think we have tried to to explain how a Christian is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To answer your questions about Christians with regards to their works, we have shown that if a man claiming to be a Christian, continues to live a life of sin, then he is not a child of God, and not a Christian.Christ came into the world to take away sin, therefore sin is incompatible with the law of God, the work of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We also believe that a Christian work will be judged, but not as a requirement for eternal salvation.

    “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”

    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

    The scripture declares the opening of different sets of books, one of them the Book of Life, again the last verse. Notice that it doesn’t say that only the ones who were good enough received eternal life, but everyone.

    “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire”.

    Great, then it shall be easy for you, and an interesting and enlightening endeavor for me.

    Reply

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