William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On The Implication That Mormons Doctrine Is Heresy Because It Supposedly Rejects Grace

The comment was made:

"i found this today..what say you?

The Mormon Relationship to Gods Commands
But because of him {Jesus}, if we will keep his terms, which are to repent and keep his commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father. Gospel Principles page 78.
Through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can also be saved from sin. 2nd Missionary Discussion.
The kingdom of heaven is governed by law, and when we receive any blessing, it is by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is based( see D&C 130:21; 132:5) Gospel Principles page 227

In essence, Mormons say: Jesus did his part, now its our turn. Our eternal life is predicated on our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS church. Mormons have voluntarily placed the possibility of having eternal life under this yoke of laws and ordinances. They are slaves to the law.

The Christian Relationship to Gods Commands
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6 (see KJV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1 (see KJV)
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. Galatians 2:19 (see KJV)
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. Galatians 3:23 (see KJV)
Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.? Galatians 3:25 (see KJV)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (see KJV)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.? Galatians 5:18 (see KJV)

Christians were once slaves to the law, but having been saved; are no longer slaves to the law. We are free to live by the Spirit.

When discussing this topic with Mormons it is important to be sensitive to their unique language. Rather than slavery we want to use obedience. Rather than law, we want to use commands or commandments.

Expect a response like Then why did God give us commandments? This gives us the opportunity to point out what God says concerning the purpose of the Law.

The Purpose of the Law Is Not
The following passages show what the law cant do:

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.? Romans 3:28 (see KJV)
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. Romans 7:11 (see KJV)
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, Romans 8:3 (see KJV)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 3:21 (see KJV)

The law has no power to save man unless he keeps it perfectly. But because of his sinful nature he can not do that. Being a means of salvation, therefore, is not the purpose of the law.

The Purpose of the Law Is
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Romans 3:20 (see KJV)
What shall we say, then Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. Romans 7:7 (see KJV)
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24 (see KJV)

Gods commandments show man his sinfulness through his inability to keep them. In this way, they lead man to rely solely on what Christ did for him.

Slavery to the Law Brings Eternal Death
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Romans 3:19 (see KJV)
I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. Romans 7:10 (see KJV)
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:4 (see KJV)

The consequence of placing oneself under the law as a way to eternal life is certain eternal death. Unless one keeps every command perfectly, damnation is the final verdict. There is no grace for those striving to earn eternal life through obedience.

Freedom From the Law Brings Good Fruit
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4 (see KJV)
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. Galatians 2:19 (see KJV)

Having the yoke of the law removed takes the focus off self and puts it on God. Those freed from the burden of the law are free to praise God through their actions and their mouths. They follow Gods command not out of obligation or fear, but out of thankfulness. Their works will be motivated by love, not by a desire to gain something for themselves. They will justly give God ALL the honor glory and praise for their salvation. Someone coined the phrase: Christianity is not a Have to religion but a Want to religion.

Apostle Paul states this topics conclusion. We are not saved BY our works, rather we are saved TO DO works.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (see KJV)"

To which I responded:

Here we go again. Another ignorant Evangelical attempt to paint Mormons as non-Christians. If you want to focus only on one side of Biblical rhetoric emphasizing grace, go ahead. But don't pretend that other scriptures supporting the LDS view are absent from the Bible. Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom, but he that does the will of the Father. How does one know a master whom he has not served? Faith without works is dead. If ye love me, keep my commandments. Any of those paraphrases sound familiar?

We must understand Paul's rhetoric about grace in proper context. He was a convert to Christianity from a branch of the Jewish faith which was obsessed with the minutiae of rituals. He saw the evils of people getting self-righteous and competing with each other for the "most obedient" prize. He wanted to instill in the minds of the people that they should not lift themselves up in the pride of appearing righteous, and he also wanted to encourage the people who felt that living the law was going to be too challenging. To get his point across, he engaged in rhetoric which emphasized the importance of grace and de-emphasized the importance of works. But as far as I can tell, Paul never told anyone not to live the commandments; in fact, he did just the opposite. So to take Paul's statements out of context and claim that Mormons are not Christians because they focus more on works is unfair, distortionary, and disrespectful.

Granted, Mormons need a stronger dose of feeling God's grace, and a weaker dose of feeling his wrath. But to recategorize us as non-Christian crosses the line.

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