One of the LDS basic manuals is a book entitled “Gospel Principles”. Starting on p. 75 it quotes a parable given by Elder Boyd K . Packer, an LDS apostle. It’s quite lengthy so I will summarize much of it here. Heavenly Father is the creditor. We are the debtors. After awhile we realize that we can’t pay back the debt. After a discussion about justice and mercy, Jesus, the mediator, steps in. He asks the creditor if he will free the debtor from the contract, if he, the mediator, pays the entire debt. The creditor agrees. Let me pick it up there by quoting a few sentences:
“The mediator turned then to the debtor. ‘If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?’
“‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You saved me from prison and show mercy to me.’
“‘Then’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be posssible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’”
For many Christians, this illustrates quite sharply the difference between the teachings of Mormonism and biblical Christianity. Many Christians are genuinely horrified to hear Jesus being described as a creditor. This goes against every grain of their being.
This horror on the part of Christians is mystifying to many Mormons. They don’t see the problem. They wonder what the big deal is. To them seeing Jesus as their creditor is no big deal – it’s even natural.
For me, not only the parable itself, but then also the two differing and drastic reactions to it clearly illustrate the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. The parable illustrates the different teaching; the differing reacttions illustrate the different mindsets. As Christians talk with their LDS friends, they need to not only remember that many times words will be defined differently between the two, but also that their mindsets will be different from that of their LDS friends.