26
Aug
08

Does Everybody Have Agency?

 

     One of the many differences between what Mormonism teaches and what the Bible teaches is in the area of mankind’s natural condition.  A key LDS teaching is that of agency.  The “True to the Faith” manual states:  “Your Heavenly Father has given you agency, the ability to choose and to act for yourself.  Agency is essential in the plan of salvation.”  Boyd K Packer, an LDS apostle, wrote:  “It is critically important that you understand that you already know right from wrong, that you’re innately, inherently, and intuitively good.”

      The Bible, however, says that we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1).  After the Flood, we hear God saying:  “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  (Genesis 8:21).  What is so striking about that is that God said that after he had destroyed all the wicked in the Flood.  But, as this verse shows, that didn’t change man’s basic nature.  It remained evil – a very strong word.  And note that he didn’t say some men would be that way – or sometimes men would be that way.  No, the imagination – their inclinations – are evil.  Period.

      Paul, quoting the Psalms, wrote:  “There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they have together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  (Romans 3:10-12)  Again note how absolutely Paul talks.  None, not one, none, none, all, none, not one.  That is all-encompassing.  And note what “the none” do or don’t do.  None are righteous – none are seeking after God – all have gone out of the way.

     In these and similar such verses, the Bible does not just not teach that all people have agency, it rules it out.

      Rather these verses give the reason why Jesus had to do everything so that we could live eternally with Heavenly Father.  He had to do everything because we, by nature, were spiritually dead.  We were so corrupted that even our imaginations were evil.  We were so blind that we weren’t even seeking God.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved).” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

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106 Responses to “Does Everybody Have Agency?”


  1. August 26, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I don’t understand your thought here. Are you saying that some people have agency? Or that none do? If no one has agency, how then can someone exercise faith in the Savior that they may be saved?

    Why does the Bible say to “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve”? Why did Christ invite all to come follow Him? Why is there good and evil in the world if there is no ability to choose between them? Why is the Bible full of commandments, instructions, and teachings if no one can decide to follow them?

    I’ve never before encountered this line of thought from a spiritual leader and I’m quite stunned. It’s a completely ridiculous thought. Why do we even have the Bible or a Savior if there is no agency? It’s useless right? Why would you be here trying to convince us of the errors of our ways if we have no ability to choose to change those ways? Clearly you don’t understand what agency means. “Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices…” from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agency_(philosophy)).

    All these verses teach us is that the natural man is an enemy of God and we need to put off that man, follow God and look to the Savior for forgiveness for our inherit human weakness.

    On a deeper note, on a previous post the question was posed if you apply the same amount of critical thinking to your own religion as you do against LDS doctrines? Do you have a response? Are you willing to explore questions about all of the Biblical pieces that are clearly missing from mainstream Christianity today?

  2. August 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    This is terrible theology. reggie speaks very well here. Does man choose to have faith in Christ? Must man repent? Must man choose to keep the commandments?

    If God is in complete control of every aspect of a person gaining salvation, then he chooses who to save and who not to save on his own whim. Those whom he chooses to save are saved with no merit whatsoever from the individual, and those whom he does not choose to save go to hell.

    You are actually do a great job here. Mormonism is looking better and better all the time.

  3. August 26, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I believe he is saying that Pres. Packer’s statement that we are good conflicts with the biblical statements that we are evil. He is assuming that “evil from his youth” is equivalent to “evil from birth,” which, of course, it is not. He is putting forth the original sin doctrine (born sinners), which is not biblical, but just a misinterpretation of the true doctrine of the age of accountability and the conceiving of sin in one’s heart (over time.) This false doctrine of original sin denies the sanctification of little children. Both Packer’s words and those of the biblical scriptures are correct and compatible, but he can’t see it because of the original sin doctrine. In other words, we cannot choose to be good, because our natures are sinful, so the doctrine of agency, in his view, is false.

  4. August 26, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Mark,
    There is an ancient Philosophy Debate in the Confucius/Taoist arena about the nature of man. Is man inherently Benevolent or Evil? One Taoist said that man was inherently Bad, that it was the nature of things, that being bad was going along with that nature. Another said that man was naturally good, but sometimes went against the natural flow of things and do evil. In much of the Christian view of this debate, one can argue that man is inherently Bad and we are born to our sin, “The natural man is an enemy to God.” Another can stand to reason that man is inherently benevolent as he is “created in the image of God.” This assumes that God is benevolent.
    In all sides of this argument we see the resulting question that if man is evil how then does he choose to do good? And if Man is good, how then does he choose to do evil?
    These questions cannot be asked without the basis or assumption of agency. Here is the big agency question: If we have no choice in doing good or bad, right or wrong, what is it we are to get out of our earthly experience? If we are born and we die and we are saved without any choice in the matter (no agency at all) than why do we care for religion so much? If we get no choice at all then it matters not what we think or do, there is no effect in the over-all picture. However, if we do have choice, if we indeed have agency then it all matters, our experiences, the lessons we learn here and our love for God strait through to our salvation and beyond.
    -D

  5. 5 Stephanie
    August 27, 2008 at 2:51 am

    First, we must remember Isaiah 55:8, in which God speaks of how different His understanding is from our human understanding, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We need to humble ourselves and realize that we are created beings, created by God from the power of His spoken word, and that we in no way can seriously comprehend the wisdom or thoughts of God. God is so completely above and beyond our foggy human reasoning (He is not an exalted human being). I know some of you might think this is an excuse not to use our minds. But this is what the Bible says about the nature of God in comparison to our human reason. 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” Someday we will understand. 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am known.”

    Second, the Bible is pretty clear about the natural state of man. Yes, we are made in the image of God. But that image was corrupted through Adam’s first sin. This is why the Fall of Man was such a terrible event. The LDS portray the Fall as a good event because it brought mortality to mankind, and according to the LDS, mortality and a physical body are required to reach exaltation. They spin the Fall as a good event. But actually, the Fall was a terrible thing because it marred the perfect, good Creation of God forever. This is Original Sin which is inherited through Adam down all generations of people, from birth.

    It is clear that even from birth, we are sinful. Take, for example, Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Today’s English Version Translation says, “I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.”

    Third, the Bible is clear that no one has agency. No one has the ability to choose good. (Romans 3:10-12.) We cannot truly understand this concept because our minds are marred from Adam’s sin. Original sin has contaminated everything on this earth, including our reasoning. We try to filter the Bible through our reasoning so it will make sense to us. Instead, we need to believe what the Bible says without question, no matter how difficult it is to understand or make sense of. This is part of humbling yourself before God.

    Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

    Today’s English Version translation says, “Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son, would be the first among many brothers. And so those whom God set apart, he called; and those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them.” (See also Ephesians 1:5.)

    Humankind does nothing, according to the above verse. God does everything. And why? Because He loves us.

    From our human perspective, this doctrine seems unfair. Why would God choose some and not others? The Bible does not provide an explanation for that.

    Regardless, we cannot discount what the Bible does say simply because it goes against our reason. Again, we look at what the Bible does say. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” So we know that God desires that all men be saved. The Bible doesn’t give us that answer to why all men aren’t saved, but we cannot create answers based on our own human reason.

    Take comfort in the fact that God desires that everyone be saved. Take comfort that He has already done everything required to save every one of us.

  6. August 27, 2008 at 5:08 am

    are you saying that I have no choice in the matter of my salvation? If that is the case then what is the point of your religion?

  7. 7 Berean
    August 27, 2008 at 5:31 am

    Stephanie made some great points and I won’t repeat what she said or what Mark said in the blog thread to begin with which I agree with completely. I think the Mormons need to look closer at what Mark was saying. He is outlining the differences between Christianity and Mormonism.

    Mormons hold to Article #2 where they are not held accountable for the sins of Adam (original sin). Thus the view that mankind is born inherently good. Mormons believe that every person on this earth has the “Light of Christ” in them. The Fall in the Garden of Eden was a good thing and not a sin according to church publications that I have read on the subject.

    Christianity is the exact opposite. Mankind is born with the original sin of Adam (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Mankind is born with a fallen nature already bent on going against God (Romans 3:10,12&23). Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). There is no “Light of Christ” in Christianity for every human regardless of their beliefs. How can a Muslim, Hindu, Satanist, etc. have the “Light of Christ”? They are not God’s children because they did not receive Him (John 1:12), but rather they are children of their father the devil (John 8:42,44&47). The Fall in the Garden of Eden was sin. Christians don’t look to Adam and Eve with hearts of thanksgiving, praise and adoration for their sin as do the Mormons. By the response of God’s actions in Genesis 3 I don’t see how Mormons think the way they do about this text.

    The “age of accountability” as stated by the Mormons as being the age of eight is not found in the Bible. How did they come up with the age of eight? Why not nine or ten? This subject regarding the issue of what happens to little children when they die is a long one, but the short version in Christianity is this: they are with God when they die. The Bible lists only one child that was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth and that was John the Baptist (Luke 1:15). God is a righteous judge and we have that assurance from scripture (Psa 19:9; 96:12-13). Only He knows when a person has the mental understanding to have made a choice in accepting His Son as savior or not. This could vary from one person to the next. We just don’t know. There are many things we know about God from the Bible, but some things we don’t know. Christians don’t have all the answers about God. That’s what makes God who He is and us who we are.

    As Stephanie pointed out, it is God’s desire that all mankind be saved:

    2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

    God also gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekial 18:23,32)

  8. August 27, 2008 at 11:18 am

    So if it is God’s desire that everyone be saved, then everyone will be saved right? If mankind is not able to choose anything, and God desires him to be saved, then he will be saved. What would prevent salvation for anyone?

    And if mankind can not choose anything then why commandments, why baptism, why religion, etc. Everything in life becomes meaningless. Why bother having this big Bible, filled with things we should do, if we are not capable of choosing to do them?

    What you are indirectly saying is that Mormonism is more rational than traditional Christianity.

  9. 9 markcares
    August 27, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Reggie:
    You say that you are stunned by this post. That you have never heard a spiritual leader speak this way. I want to assure you that I am not the only one who believes and teaches this. Many Christian denominations have adopted formal statements of belief – documents like the Westminster Confession or the Augsburg Confession. These and many other such confessions sate this teaching. Or go to the websties of many churches today and you will find a similar statement. Millions upon millions of Christians have held this belief for hundreds and hundreds of years. Therefore your statement that you have never heard this from a spiritual leader indicates to me that you have not investigated Christianity very thoroughly.
    To your question about critical thinking. I have spent a whole lot more time thinking and crticially studying the Bible and Christianity than I have Mormonism.

  10. 10 markcares
    August 27, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Eric:
    I think you made an important point. Traditional Christianity’s goal is to be biblical. As Stephanie pointed out, God’s thoughts are far above our thoughts which means at times we won’t be able to figure them out. I will even make it stronger. Since God’s thoughts are far above our thoughts I will expect at times that I won’t be able to understand them – that they won’t fit into my little mind – that they won’t fit into my puny category of being rational. So yes, Mormonism is more rational and Christianity is more biblical.

  11. August 27, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I disagree. I will modify something Joseph Smith once said.

    Mormons believe the Bible. Evangelicals claim to believe their exteme interpretations of a few verses of the Bible.

    So I would say Mormonism is more Biblical and more rational.

  12. 12 Stephanie
    August 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Eric, how can Mormonism be more biblical if it goes against many clear verses in the Bible? That statement simply does not make sense, and I’m sure most people reading this blog will agree with me. Mark is correct when he says that Mormonism is indeed more rational, but much less Biblical. I agree with Mark’s conclusion completely.

    The Mormon belief of agency makes sense to human reason , although it is not based at all on the Bible. The LDS church itself states that the Bible is missing many precious things, and the LDS church does not base its beliefs on the Bible alone, but on other works and the prophets also. So clearly, your statement that Mormonism is MORE Biblical than Christianity is blatantly incorrect.

    Evangelicals, as you say, look at the Bible as a whole and believe every single verse found within. We do not take a few verses and interpret them in the “extreme.” We just take the verses at face value, without altering them or adding to them or filtering them through our flawed reason.

    I hope you can realize that this is indeed the truth of this matter. There are some things that don’t fit into our little brains, as Mark says. And we have to accept that God is indeed so vastly different from us, his created beings, that we cannot wrap our small minds around many of God’s thoughts. Someday, and I look forward to this day, we will be amazed at how little our understanding really was while upon this earth.

    May God bless you in your pursuit of truth.

  13. August 27, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Eric hit on a very nice point, which points of the gospel are weightier or more central? Often when I talk to evangelicals who know something about LDS beliefs they way over emphasize some LDS doctrines and then hold them out as examples of why everything we believe is wrong, while completely missing the central points. This certainly is happening here. And then it goes in reverse too, putting way too much emphasis on some Biblical verses and completely ignoring others.

    For example Stephanie just said that evangelicals take every verse at face value. But earlier when she and I were discussing the parable of the unforgiving servant she said that she doesn’t believe we will be thrown out like that servant was if we’re unforgiving, but will instead receive mercy through our faith. Can someone explain how these verses can be read at “face value” and interpreted in that manner?

    Matt 18: 33-35 – “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
    And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
    So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

    It seems extremely clear to me: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you…”. Stephanie I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m trying to point out that we all bring our own backgrounds and experience and so what you understand as “face value” can be exactly the opposite of what someone else interprets as face value. As LDS we really don’t filter the Bible so that it supports our doctrines; instead our doctrines are supported clearly by the Bible when it is interpreted correctly, as God intended.

    Mark,

    I never claimed to be an expert in evangelicalism, I’m simply here to offer a clear view on LDS doctrine. I will say that I have had a lot of conversations with members and leaders of various religions and I’ve never encountered this idea. I notice you didn’t answer any of my questions. Why do you care what anybody does if God decides who will and won’t be saved regardless of their choices anyway? You don’t live like someone who believes choices don’t matter, just the opposite. So which is it? Do they matter or not?

  14. 14 Brad
    August 27, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Mark/Stephanie, while I usually agree with what you say, I’m a little puzzled by this one. It seems like it might get caught up in what Mark is defining as “agency.”

    If “agency” is defined ONLY as “free will” (as it’s probably more common thought of in Christian circles as opposed to the Mormon usage of “agency”), then I would disagree with you when you say that we DON’T have that. We clearly have the ability to choose WHAT we do – Scripture also makes that clear. So do we have free will/agency? Yes.

    If, as I suspect you might have been driving at, we define free will/agency along with the quote you gave from Packer, then I would agree with you, we do NOT have that, which Scripture also makes clear. We are not inherently good – Mormons can say that Christians twist that one all they want. Christians would say (as I do) that Mormons have their interpretations wrong – it’s a push, and neither side will convince the other. But if this is the definition of agency/free will, then I agree with you, we don’t have this.

    Your argument really gets to more of a Calvinism/Arminianism debate. I’m not sure which side you come down on. I’m not really on a “side” on that one – each has points that are valid, and some that aren’t. The Bible clearly shows the doctrine of election (essentially Calvinism), and clearly shows that man has free will (essentially Arminianism) – yet our finite minds cannot reconcile the 2, b/c they don’t appear “reconcilable” to us. Which goes to Stephanie’s point of God’s thoughts being higher than our own.

    Does God call us to salvation? Yes. Do we still “choose” whether to accept His free gift? Yes.

  15. 15 Brad
    August 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I disagree. I will modify something Joseph Smith once said.

    Gee Eric, it’s not like THAT hasn’t been done before by Mormons… :)

    Mormons believe the Bible. Evangelicals claim to believe their exteme interpretations of a few verses of the Bible.

    What a patently ridiculous comment, that completely ignores logic, reality or common sense.

    Mormons believe, among other works, the Bible (which includes THEIR interpretations of what verses mean). Christians also believe the Bible (including THEIR interpretations of what verses mean), and ONLY the Bible.

    To say it any other way is to not hold to the truth. But nice try to make it favorable to you, Eric. To truly say it correctly, you have to be favorable to neither side, but impartial to both, and represent the facts only.

    So I would say Mormonism is more Biblical and more rational.

    Yes, YOU would say that. I (and Mark, and Stephanie, and other Christians I know) would say that Mormonism is non-Biblical, completely illogical, and wrong. It’s all about one’s viewpoint. What you’re trying to say, essentially, is that your beliefs are right. OK, we can say the same thing, b/c we believe ours are right. Each of us would believe we have the correct beliefs, and each of us would believe the other has incorrect beliefs. What’s new, Eric?

  16. August 27, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Brad,
    Beyond the general philosophy discussion, we are getting into what the scriptures say and you brought up a good point that I think needs to be brought out into the open… You said something about the Mormon’s interpretation of the Bible. Does this all not come down to personal interpretation of the scriptures?

    You have the right to agree or disagree with some minister’s interpretation of scripture, as many differ on the implications of several bits of scripture. How are you to know which is the correct interpretation? If you have not the direct connection with God to find out then you must rely upon your interpretation and align with those who most agree with it. You make a good point about the correctness of other’s beliefs but I would just as soon assume another person’s personal belief is as valid as my own (even in direct conflict) than assign my authority to a Church as being fully correct and all others being totally incorrect.

    I would agree that we all see some part of Truth but it is difficult for us to assume the entire Truth.

    As to the biblical proportion of a religion, how is that scale determined? Do you posses a Biblio-meter? I do not understand how a religion can be considered to go against something it hold as a guide of its belief system. with the logic applied prior to this post one could debate that there are Christian groups that do not hold to Christianity at all.

    Is there a boolean test we could run to determine if one falls inside the Christian Box or out-side of it?

    -D

  17. August 27, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Stephanie:

    I think what you, Mark, and others are saying here is in clear violation of several Biblical verses. You are standing firm on some, while ignoring others. There are tons of scriptures that give us commandments, and things we should do. To say that we do not have the ability to even chose whether or not to do or choose any of the things Christ taught seems silly.

    Brad hit the nail on the head when he said that this is basically the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. Mormons are more Arminian while Evangelicals are more Calinist. Both sides of the debate have scriptures that back up the claims.

    Brad asks what’s new? Answer: NOTHING!

    To say that evangelicals believe only the Bible, does not mean that they believe it better or more than Mormons do. I realize that my twisted Joseph Smith quote would seem ridiculous. But many Mormons sincerely feel that we believe and follow the Bible in a better and more complete way than others do. We feel that our additional scriptures and modern day revelation gives us a better viewpoint.

    Also, I see that many of my comments will seem blunt and rude. I apologize for that – it is bad form on my part.

  18. 18 Brad
    August 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Beyond the general philosophy discussion, we are getting into what the scriptures say and you brought up a good point that I think needs to be brought out into the open… You said something about the Mormon’s interpretation of the Bible. Does this all not come down to personal interpretation of the scriptures?

    Yes, I would say it does. People’s beliefs (at least as far as Evangelicals & Mormons are concerned) are usually (though not always) based on their interpretations of Scripture.

    You have the right to agree or disagree with some minister’s interpretation of scripture, as many differ on the implications of several bits of scripture. How are you to know which is the correct interpretation?

    Mormons would say they know theirs is correct due to the Holy Spirit. However, I would say the same about my beliefs (which run contrary to Mormon beliefs). Therefore, aren’t we still left with the same question?

    If you have not the direct connection with God to find out then you must rely upon your interpretation and align with those who most agree with it.

    But that’s my point. I say I do have that direct connection with God (through the Holy Spirit) – Mormons would say the same. Have I aligned with a church that generally conforms to what I believe is correct? Yes, based upon my beliefs and interpretations of the Bible (which I believe to be correct). Haven’t you, with the Mormon church?

    You make a good point about the correctness of other’s beliefs but I would just as soon assume another person’s personal belief is as valid as my own (even in direct conflict) than assign my authority to a Church as being fully correct and all others being totally incorrect.

    Whoa, wait a minute. Do you not believe the Mormon church is “fully correct”? Are you saying you doubt the Mormon church? Maybe there’s hope for you yet… :)

    It doesn’t matter what we WANT to believe is true, it matters what IS true. Based upon WHAT we (Mormons & Evangelical Christians) believe at our cores, both of us can’t be right at the same time, b/c the beliefs lead us to 2 different conclusions, both of which can’t be true, based on Scripture. Therefore, 1 set of beliefs is right, and the other must be wrong. I’ve never really understood why Mormons are so hesitant to admit that other beliefs can be flat-out wrong, rather than just “not complete” or “not the fullness.”

    I don’t believe that Mormon beliefs are as valid as my own, based on all the studies I’ve done and my relationship with God. I have no problem with that. You are free to think that my beliefs are valid, albeit not “full”, but that doesn’t change my position.

    I would agree that we all see some part of Truth but it is difficult for us to assume the entire Truth.

    I wouldn’t agree, but then you may have guessed that already. I don’t share a common bond of any kind with Mormons – we believe in different Gods, so there is no “Christian bond” that I can have with them. I may be able to be friends with them, to have a personal bond with them, but not a spiritual bond, despite what Mormons think is possible. Doesn’t mean I hate them, or can’t like them, but it does mean that I am not spiritually bonded to them. You seem to pose that truth isn’t knowable – I disagree. You must take your position, in order to also have the position that not everyone is incorrect.

    As to the biblical proportion of a religion, how is that scale determined? Do you posses a Biblio-meter? I do not understand how a religion can be considered to go against something it hold as a guide of its belief system. with the logic applied prior to this post one could debate that there are Christian groups that do not hold to Christianity at all.

    Depends on your view of truth, Ditchu. With your viewpoint, I can see why you’d have a hard time believing it, b/c things are more relative for you. I believe there is absolute truth, and that there is absolutely right, and absolutely wrong, and that it is knowable, although just b/c it is knowable, doesn’t mean people acknowledge it. I do believe there are groups who PROFESS to be Christian, who, as you say, really don’t hold to Christianity at all. Absolutely.

    Is there a boolean test we could run to determine if one falls inside the Christian Box or out-side of it?

    Yes, but only I know it. I found the secret decoder card that it works with inside a box of Lucky Charms. :)

  19. August 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Stephanie:

    You end very nicely by saying ‘May God bless you in your pursuit of truth.’

    But do you catch the irony in your kind words?

    With your religious beliefs (which I believe are non-Biblical), what am I to do with this statement?

    In your view I am:

    Incapable of choosing to pursue truth.
    Incapable of pursuing truth.
    Incapable of recognizing truth.
    Incapable of following truth.

    From your point of view, all I can do is sit there and hope to win the random slavation lottery. There is nothing else I can do.

    So even though your words and intentions are kind, they are religiously meaningless coming from you.

  20. August 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Brad,

    As LDS we believe there is only one true gospel. However lots of people/religions have some of the truth and we believe that’s good; it’s better than not having any truth. We also believe that every good thing comes of Christ and that’s why we believe it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to have a witness from the Holy Ghost about a religion (belief system) that points them towards Christ, even if that religion doesn’t have the fullness of the gospel.

    The key is to remain open to the Spirit of Truth so you can be led into ever greater realms of understanding. That’s the LDS claim, that the God of Heaven has sent further light and knowledge so that we might better understand His gospel, beyond what the learning of man can give us.

  21. 21 Stephanie
    August 27, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Hello again everyone :)

    Ditchu, you brought up the parable of the unforgiving servant in reference to my claim that I take verses at face value yet I still somehow missed the point of that parable. Let me explain.

    Jesus used parables to teach lessons, right? Many times the parables were not literal. For example, the parable of the vineyard. The owner rents his vineyard to some workers, and when he sends his servant to collect the money, the workers beat the servant. Finally, the owner send his own son, whom the workers kill. This parable is not literal. We aren’t supposed to learn about vineyards, rent money, and murderous renters. It is a parable about God sending his Son to save mankind, only to have his Son murdered. There are many parables like this, and the unforgiving servant is one of those parables.

    Another non-literal parable is about types of soil. Some soil accepts the seed that lands on it. Some soil grows the seeds quickly, but then weeds come and choke out the good plants. Etc etc.. I am sure you are familiar with this. But again, we aren’t supposed to learn about farming techniques from this parable. We are learning about the different hearts that people possess, and the difference outcomes when a person hears the truth of God’s word. Hearing the Word brings faith to many, but sometimes the world chokes out that faith. Etc…

    But now to the parable of the unforgiving servant. Jesus used that parable to send a non-literal message. This is very important. The crux of the Christian interpretation hangs upon this: Because we know that we are already forgiven, we cannot possibly be afraid of God revoking that forgiveness as a result of our own unforgiving nature. Get it? Biblically, the LDS interpretation does not make sense because it presumes that mankind can lose forgiveness, which as Christians, we know we cannot lose. The difference goes back to the foundational differences of our basic philosophies and beliefs about what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.

    Christians believe that Christ paid for all sins, for everyone, for all time – and it isn’t “conditional” to our behavior. It is an absolute. Therefore, in this parable, Jesus cannot possibly be telling us that we risk losing our forgiveness if we don’t forgive others. For us Christians, our forgiveness is a done-deal. And we know that we will/do mess up, and we know that we will/do carry grudges, and we know that we will/do harbor an unforgiving spirit… because we are sinners! But, we also know that God will not revoke His forgiveness because Christ has already declared us perfect. God, when He looks at us, sees only the righteous perfection of Christ instead of our sins. This is why I, and others, interpret this parable differently than the LDS church.

    Jesus is showing us the hypocrisy of the unforgiving servant, and He is exhorting us to forgive others because we have been forgiven already. Jesus is telling us that we have no right to withhold our mercy, compassion, love, and forgiveness from anyone else. How hypocritical would that be, seeing that God (through Christ) has already washed us whiter than snow? As you can see, when you start at a different point, you end up at a different point. Christians start on the assured forgiveness already won for us. There is no possibility that it can ever be revoked. Therefore, this parable, in the eyes of the Christian, can only be interpreted in this fashion. We don’t have to be afraid of losing forgiveness when we mess up, because (as you all agree), we all mess up quite frequently.

  22. August 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Stephanie:

    So everyone is saved right? It has already been done, and can not be undone by anything we do, or think, or belive.

  23. August 27, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Stephanie,

    It was me (Reggie) and not ditchu that left that comment about the parable. You just proved my point; you used several paragraphs of context and background to explain the way you interpret that scripture at its “face value”. So face value is just relative to our own understanding.

  24. 24 noclaf
    August 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Not to be insulting, but this is a go nowhere conversation on a couple of levels. Number one, Mormonism is a totally different system than Biblical Christianity. Mormonism has a different God, a different Jesus, a different Holy Spirit, and a different plan of salvation. While Calvinism, Armeninism et al are kind of fun to kick around, as a Biblical Christian, I don’t get too excited about any of it. As a Christian, I know I’m saved by grace a part from any works I can do. It’s a free gift that God offers. I receive it in faith and out of gratitude for what Jesus did for me and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I lead a trasformed life.

    What about the people who never hear the Christian Gospel? I haven’t a clue. I’ll leave it to God. It’s His program. He’s soverign. My job is to sow seeds. Preach the Word.

  25. 25 Brad
    August 27, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    As LDS we believe there is only one true gospel. However lots of people/religions have some of the truth and we believe that’s good; it’s better than not having any truth. We also believe that every good thing comes of Christ and that’s why we believe it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to have a witness from the Holy Ghost about a religion (belief system) that points them towards Christ, even if that religion doesn’t have the fullness of the gospel.

    Reggie, I know that’s LDS beliefs – what I’m saying is that I don’t believe it’s correct or holds to the Bible. Just as you would say you don’t think mine does. Let me ask you this – is the Holy Spirit pointing those who follow Islam to Christ? Is the HS pointing those who follow Buddhism to Christ? Is the HS pointing those who follow Hinduism to Christ? Would be curious to know your answer on those.

    The key is to remain open to the Spirit of Truth so you can be led into ever greater realms of understanding. That’s the LDS claim, that the God of Heaven has sent further light and knowledge so that we might better understand His gospel, beyond what the learning of man can give us.

    And the Christian claim would be that we have revealed to us already (through the Bible and from Jesus coming to Earth) everything we need in order to have salvation. There is nothing we were “missing”, even prior to Mormonism.

  26. August 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Brad you are trying to figure out which of all of us is right, without thought to the fact that we all may be right. Again you are looking for full truth and I commend you on this but all I think you will find this side of death is some truth here and some there. Even if all the Docturine and beliefs the Mormon’s have are true and correct, I doubt that it will ever be the full truth until we all reach the other side and can learn it for ourselves.
    -D

  27. August 27, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I’m not sure if we have any ground left uncovered in our saving grace discussion, but we also do believe we’d be extremely ungrateful indeed if we didn’t forgive others after we’ve been forgiven. In fact so ungrateful that we wouldn’t be showing any faith in the Master and thus would need to repent or else we would not receive mercy; just exactly as happened in the parable.

    Here’s another verse we take at face value:

    Matt. 28:20 – “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:…”

    We believe the Master literally when He taught us how to act, think, pray, and so on.

    Mark do you not teach members of your congregation to follow the commandments? Or do you teach them to obey the commandments and you just teach a different reason why? I can’t imagine that you really teach people to go ahead, eat, drink and be merry for nothing that we do here matters. Do you tell married people it’s ok to sleep around because that little commandment about adultery doesn’t apply to someone who has faith?

    If salvation is completely unconditional then we don’t need commandments, instructions, hope, faith or charity. If it is conditional then we need to do our best to follow all these things.

    I believe that evangelicals believe it is conditional. The condition is whether someone has faith or not (as I understand it). We say the same thing, we just believe that it’s our actions that show faith and not our lips, and so we strive to observe all things whatsoever Jesus commanded.

    Of course our best will never be perfect, but God knows this. He’s the one who gave us our abilities and agency and only asks that we use what He has given us to serve Him and our neighbors.

  28. August 27, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    nodaf,
    Biblical Christianity is radically differentiated within itself. I think you are trying to explain to what degree the differences are for Mormonism to stand-out amoung all the other differing groups. But I still stand by my point as to the differances are not on the centrial Gospel but on how we like other Christian Groups differ on our views of things related to the gospel. Anything beyond, God loved man so much to send his son to die for our sins, and by accepting it our salvation is granted by Jesus Christ and the Atonement, is fair game in the Christian view.
    -D

  29. August 27, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Brad,

    I am not an expert on all the world’s religions. I’m only saying that where there is good or truth, the Spirit will testify of it. It doesn’t matter if that truth is that we should be kind to each other, respect our ancestors, be of good cheer, or look to Christ as our Savior. Of course some truths are more important than others and Christ as our personal Savior is the central LDS doctrine and everything else is a less important branch.

    How do you claim you need nothing else when you have knowledge about doctrinal disputes that have continued on for centuries and you don’t know which one is correct?

    Also which part doesn’t hold to the Bible? The part about there being only one gospel? Or the part about all good coming Christ? Or the part about the Holy Ghost’s role to provide witness of truth to the hearts of men?

  30. August 27, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Or was it part about not needing any more of God’s word? Is the Bible not full of prophesies regarding the everlasting gospel coming forth in preparation for the second coming?

  31. 31 Stephanie
    August 27, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Eric,

    I understand your question. I hope I can answer you.

    There are certain things we do know from the Bible.

    First, we know that God wants all mankind to be saved.
    Second, we know that all mankind is dead in sin. No one is better off than anyone else.
    Third, the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit, same thing) gives faith.
    Fourth, God is just (fair).

    Yet only some are saved. Hmmm… the Bible doesn’t give us any more information about this particular topic.

    The above points do underscore that salvation is indeed a gift, however. All other positions start with the focus on mankind, such as “He was saved because he did this, or he chose this.” The above truths from the Bible make it clear that the starting point is not mankind (because we are dead in sins), and that salvation does not depend upon our own actions, but upon God, whom we can only understand partially.

    There is a debate among Christians about the role that man plays in his salvation. Many Christian churches say that man must choose Christ, and make a decision for Christ. Many others, like me, believe that man can play no role in his own salvation because he is spiritually dead. This is the difference between ‘reformed’ and ‘unreformed’ doctrines that exist in Christian churches today. However, both churches contain true believers in Christ, true followers of Christ. One church does not contain all the saved people, with all other churches containing only unbelievers.

    How we arrive at faith remains a mystery. But we also know from the Bible that hearing the Word of God brings faith, so we Christians continue to proclaim it however, whenever, and wherever is appropriate. Romans 10:14-15, “But how can they call to him (Heavenly Father) for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out?” So, we do know that there is purpose in sharing the Bible with others, and we know that God will use His word to bring about His purposes, however mysterious.

    I’m sorry I cannot answer your question completely, because the Bible doesn’t give us the answer. I know there are many verses/interpretations that support “free will” and human choice, and many verses/interpretations that equally do not support “free will” or human choice.

    My advice would be to pray for God to open your eyes to the Truth of His Word (the Bible), and to teach you from His Word. In this sense you aren’t doing anything for yourself, but only praying for wisdom and revelation from God. And we know it is His will that all men be saved…

    I also believe (personally) that man’s free will is actually quite limited. How free are we really? All sorts of things govern our freedom, like genetics, country of birth, era of birth, economic status, gender, etc… Our freedom is limited. We don’t really know how free we are or aren’t.

    I believe we can exercise some free will, but definitely not in the category of being able to “choose the right.” Until we have been “regenerated” by the Holy Spirit (born again, if you will), we are incapable of choosing or doing any good thing. However, once we have been “redeemed” through God’s grace alone, we are capable of doing all kinds of good things through the power of Christ’s love in us. God gives us the ability to do good, to be good. But we cannot attain that ability by our own effort.

    I hope this response made a little bit of sense to you.

    So I say it again, God bless you in your pursuit of truth. :)

  32. August 27, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Stephanie,

    We believe that agency is possible because of Christ’s Atonement. Without it we’re all spiritually dead and have no hope for salvation. With it we have the opportunity to choose to enter at the narrow gate and walk the straight path and thus receive saving grace through our choosing to have the faith to follow the example Christ set for us.

    We can’t choose what circumstances we’ll be born into, but we can choose what we do with those circumstances. That is what we’re talking about with agency. Where will you spend your time, effort, and resources. To whom will you give your heart, mind, and soul?

    Josh. 24:15 – “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”.

  33. 33 noclaf
    August 27, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Jesus is the focus of Biblical Christianity from beginning to end. Now, how someone comes to believe in Christ is an interesting topic for discussion but it really doesn’t matter, does it? I mean the “how it comes to be that I responded”. Who cares? I don’t. I just know that to have eternal life you have to have saving faith. In my case God sent out some very clear signals to me and I responded. Who’s responsible for my responding to His call, God or me? Again, I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s immaterial. It’ won’t change who I witness to or how I witness to the saving grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ. Being saved, will I stay saved. Yes! God extends His grace to me to lead a Godly life and I respond. Why do I respond? I don’t know and again, I don’t care. I know I’m not much fun when it comes to this topic but to me it’s like discussing if Jesus will return at the beginning, middle or end of the tribulation or how you should baptize someone. So why do Mormons even want to have this discussion about election? Your system doesn’t call for it. This is a discussion for Biblical Christians when they don’t have anything better to do.

  34. August 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I think this is kind of silly. It all comes down to the body of canon you accept. All canon is used to interpret all other parts of canon. If I only believe the Old Testament as canonical, will I interpret it the same way as when I add the New Testament to my personal canon? Once I do that, the Old Testament interprets the New Testament and the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. Interpretations change or are modified depending upon how much canon one has. Protestants have a greater canon than the Jews, but less canon than the Catholics. LDS have the greatest canon of them all. One’s Bible, or assembly of canonical books of religious writings, depends on one’s religion and denomination. Thus, a Protestant cannot expect a Jew to look at the Tanakh in the same way as they do, as they (the Protestants) have more canon with which to use to interpret the Tanakh. This goes for any faith. The claim “I am more biblical than you” presupposes that both are using the same Bible. Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and all the rest use different Bibles. Even among Protestants, translations vary, and thus meanings or interpretations vary, too. Even using the same books of scripture, but the “wrong translation” can kick one out to the you’re-with-me club, so, for example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are out, as the Protestants won’t accept their translation as valid.

    The Mormon Bible, if we take the word literally to mean a collection of canonized books of religious writings, includes all the Protestant books, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. So, you can’t expect a Mormon to look at a scripture in Psalms and interpret it only by what is written in the Old and New Testament, just as you can’t expect a Protestant to interpret the same verse without any influence from the New Testament. A Mormon will use the whole body of canon to interpret any part of it.

    Thus, as we Mormons have scriptures that explain the meaning of phrases such as “conceived in sin” written in canonized books that Protestants do not hold as canon, it is unreasonable to expect Mormons to come to the same conclusions as Protestants. Our canon, in fact, is open, as the Apocrypha is open to us, if we want, embracing the Catholic canon, and then there is also the prospect of receiving more holy books from others sources, including revelations.

    So, no one is “more biblical” than anyone else. The Mormons are as biblical as are the Protestants as are the Catholics as are the Jehovah’s Witnesses as are the Jews. But of the bunch, the LDS have the most expansive Holy Bible (Holy Books).

  35. 35 Stephanie
    August 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    noclaf,

    What a relief! You are totally right. This discussion is for Christians who have nothing better to do! I agree 100% with what you said above. Thanks.

  36. 36 Brad
    August 28, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Brad you are trying to figure out which of all of us is right, without thought to the fact that we all may be right.

    If the question is “what is 2+2”, and you say 5, I say 4, and someone else says 3, are we ALL right? I know you don’t see it that way, but the different views that we have on Jesus, God, salvation, sin, heaven, etc… are as different as those answers are. And not all of those answers are correct – in fact, only 1 of them is. Christianity is not in “inclusive” religion – in fact, it is quite “exclusive”, when you think about it.

    Again you are looking for full truth and I commend you on this but all I think you will find this side of death is some truth here and some there. Even if all the Docturine and beliefs the Mormon’s have are true and correct, I doubt that it will ever be the full truth until we all reach the other side and can learn it for ourselves.

    Do I think we can know EVERYTHING here on Earth? No – if so, we would be God, the only One who is omniscient. But I think we can know what He has given us, and can know that it is true. But again, this goes to what I said above with the equation – just b/c a group “thinks” it has truth, doesn’t mean it does. But truth is knowable, for sure.

  37. 37 Brad
    August 28, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I am not an expert on all the world’s religions. I’m only saying that where there is good or truth, the Spirit will testify of it. It doesn’t matter if that truth is that we should be kind to each other, respect our ancestors, be of good cheer, or look to Christ as our Savior. Of course some truths are more important than others and Christ as our personal Savior is the central LDS doctrine and everything else is a less important branch.

    Reggie, I’m not an expert in all world religions either, but I know enough about them to know what is true and what is false, according to the Bible. Just b/c something is “true”, doesn’t mean it leads to salvation. 2+2=4 is a true statement, but has no bearing on salvation. The earth is round – again, true, but no bearing on salvation. Just b/c other religions may share common morals with Christianity, and I believe some of them do (I believe Mormonism shares many, if not most, common morals with Christianity), doesn’t mean that has any bearing on salvation. Does that make sense? It is the truth about Christ – who He is, what His nature is, and His plan of salvation – that is of vital importance to us.

    How do you claim you need nothing else when you have knowledge about doctrinal disputes that have continued on for centuries and you don’t know which one is correct?

    Just b/c there are disputes among religions or religious people, doesn’t mean truth itself is in dispute. Just b/c there is a dispute, the actual truth itself doesn’t change – people just have differing views on what that “truth” is. The “truth”, itself, stays the same, unless, of course, you believe that truth about God is relative, which I do not. And to say that I “don’t know which one is correct” is not true – I do know what is correct, just as you would claim to know what is correct. We just differ in what we believe to be correct.

  38. August 28, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Brad,

    Your argument really gets to more of a Calvinism/Arminianism debate. I’m not sure which side you come down on. I’m not really on a “side” on that one – each has points that are valid, and some that aren’t. The Bible clearly shows the doctrine of election (essentially Calvinism), and clearly shows that man has free will (essentially Arminianism) – yet our finite minds cannot reconcile the 2, b/c they don’t appear “reconcilable” to us. Which goes to Stephanie’s point of God’s thoughts being higher than our own.

    This is what I was asking about, you don’t know which way to go on this one.

  39. 39 Brad
    August 28, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I believe we can exercise some free will, but definitely not in the category of being able to “choose the right.” Until we have been “regenerated” by the Holy Spirit (born again, if you will), we are incapable of choosing or doing any good thing. However, once we have been “redeemed” through God’s grace alone, we are capable of doing all kinds of good things through the power of Christ’s love in us. God gives us the ability to do good, to be good. But we cannot attain that ability by our own effort.

    Stephanie, based on your writings, I would say you are most likely a die-hard Calvinist (perhaps Presbyterian or other Reformed church???). As I said, there are points of each argument (Calv/Arm) that make sense, and points that don’t. But I would have to disagree with your above statement.

    To say that man is “incapable” of choosing or doing “any” good thing until “born again” – what would you say of unsaved people who do good? For example, my FIL, until he was saved, did many “good” things. He helped others monetarily when they needed it. He worked hard, and often helped others fixing things (he’s a farmer). He was always kind to those he met, and would do virtually anything for anyone. Before he was “saved”, this is. All those would be considered “good” things. Didn’t make HIM “good”, or “saved”, but they were “good” acts, done without the Holy Spirit’s leading, as he was not yet saved. After he became “saved” (and he has been), he continues to do these things – no change. Now, his “good” acts didn’t save him – only Christ did that. But the acts were nonetheless “good” BEFORE he was saved, as you say above isn’t possible.

    Would like to hear your explanation – perhaps it’s tied up in the definition of “good”…

  40. 40 Brad
    August 28, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    This is what I was asking about, you don’t know which way to go on this one.

    My point would be that it doesn’t matter. The Calvinism/Arminianism debate is way outside the scope of a Mormon/Christian discussion, anyway. It is one between like-believing Christian groups, not on 2 groups who differ on salvation at it’s core.

  41. August 28, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Actually agency is one of the central gospel principals. We’re here on this earth to be tested if we will follow Christ or Satan. We will be judged on our thoughts, actions and beliefs. We also wouldn’t have agency if not for Christ’s Atonement.

  42. 42 Brad
    August 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Reggie, what about the O/T individuals? Did they not have free will/agency? Christ had not yet atoned for our sins yet, right?

  43. August 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Brad,
    The Atonement happened already. It was for all of us, O/T and N/T, modern peoples ect. We all have a choice and we all have been given Agency to decide to folloe God or reject the atonement. This agency extends into the spirit world and thus those who are dead still have it. We all will be able to decide to accept or reject the atonement for ourselves. How is that hard to understand?
    -D

  44. 44 Brad
    August 29, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Can you tell me where in the Bible you see that agency extends to the dead? That after you die, there are further opportunities to accept/reject Christ and the gospel?

  45. August 29, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    No, for the Bible doen not contain all knowledge and this is from revelation given after the cannon of the bible was constructed. Also I personally am not as astute with the scriptures as many of you are. The Philosophy of free will and agency is one not core to the Gospel in most christian churches, however it is a main idea in the Mormon Church. If you are more intrested in this Philosophy I’d suggest you study the Mormon teachings of the Plan of Salvation, aka the Plan of Happiness.
    -D

  46. 46 Brad
    August 29, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    That’s what I thought, Ditchu. I was pretty sure that idea isn’t in the Bible.

    I understand the Mormon ways, I just don’t believe them to be true. They hang on the truthfulness of Joseph Smith and the ability to prove the BOM, and hence Mormonism, to be correct. Which isn’t possible.

  47. August 29, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I’m not sure that idea came from the Book of mormon or even Joseph Smith. But I know from my personal revelation that we will continue to have agency beyound the veil and after death and after the resurection. I need no scripture to back this up for it is my opinion and the understanding that I have. I do not expect you to beleive it but you are asking about it, so I thought I’s answer as best as I can. (another personal philosophy i have: Don’t ask the question if you cannot afford the answer.)

    Brad, you seem to know what you want, and it is my assumption that you are already estabilished in your faith. That is good. I am not trying to presuade you to change, for it is not me that persuadith men but the truth is reveled upto men by the Holy Spirit.
    -D

  48. 48 Brad
    August 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I’m not sure that idea came from the Book of mormon or even Joseph Smith. But I know from my personal revelation that we will continue to have agency beyound the veil and after death and after the resurection. I need no scripture to back this up for it is my opinion and the understanding that I have.

    You need no Scripture? Just b/c you believe it, and I don’t doubt that you do, doesn’t mean it IS true. It just means you believe it. You could be believing falsely.

    I do not expect you to beleive it but you are asking about it, so I thought I’s answer as best as I can. (another personal philosophy i have: Don’t ask the question if you cannot afford the answer.)

    I can afford the answer – heck, I knew what your answer would be, just wanted it to be written down :)

    Brad, you seem to know what you want, and it is my assumption that you are already estabilished in your faith. That is good. I am not trying to presuade you to change, for it is not me that persuadith men but the truth is reveled upto men by the Holy Spirit.

    Oh, I already know the truth, Ditchu. I’m not searching for it.

  49. August 29, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Good for you Brad,
    If you have found the truth then why do I detect bitterness in your tone here? You would already understand that there is more to the Truth then contained in any book. However I wonder if you would accept another viewpoint on the same truth you have found.
    (If I do uncover the places in the bible that suggest this stuff I will try to let you know.)
    -D

  50. 50 Brad
    September 1, 2008 at 2:33 am

    No bitterness, Ditchu. What do I have to be “bitter” about? I’ve not been deceived by anyone, and I’m saved eternally. Nothing to be bitter about.

    You ASSUME that there is more that we need than is contained in the Bible. This is based on Mormon teachings only. I obviously don’t believe that. Therefore, I think I’ve found all the truth I need in Jesus Christ.

    While you wonder if I would accept “another” viewpoint on the “same” truth, what you really want to present is a different viewpoint entirely, on what YOU view as truth, which I don’t believe to be the case.

    By the way, you won’t uncover the places in the Bible that suggest what you’re looking for, b/c they don’t exist.

    How long have you been a Mormon, anyway? Have you been through the Temple ceremonies? Do you know only what they’ve taught you, or have YOU researched it on your own (perhaps by looking on the internet, even going to a – gasp – anti-Mormon site?)?

  51. September 1, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Brad,
    I needn’t that you beleive my view point. Just that it is a different view that yours, should not be enough to make it wrong.

    As to “Anti-mormon” sites… The anit-mormon stance is usually the same retoric based on mis-understanding and mis-conception.

    As to my mormon experience I can attest that I am not the best example of a Mormon but I have been a mamber for a few years at least and I have studied the many aspects of the religion. I have been to the temple… However, I should warn you that the views I express are my own and unless I notate the accual teaching or docturine form the church they should be respected as my own and not the stance of the LDS Church. I have come to the conclutions of my beleifs not only from the LDS Church but from me entire experience in religion in general, mostly from the varried Christian Churched I grew-up in and have spent years investigating.

    As for learning things not in the Bible, well I can be safe in the assumption that you have knowledge and skills that you utilize which did not come from the Bible. Foe example, where in the Bible does it tell you how to eat, or how to dress oneself, or for many how to drive a car or ride a bike? There is an endless catoluge of items we learn that are not taught from the Bible.

  52. September 1, 2008 at 5:51 am

    I have never ever heard a Calvinist give a logical answer for how Calvinist doctrine doesn’t wind up with the universe being one big arbitrary spiritual lottery.

    You’re saved!

    Why? Because I, God, made you in such a way that you would accept Jesus.

    You’re damned!

    Why? Because I, God, made you in such a way that you would accept Jesus.

    Sure… That makes TONS of sense.

    Really, Calvin paints a God who made the universe pretty-much because He was bored, and then threw all of us here like lab rats on a predetermined course. Reminds me of 3rd grade when my friend and I threw a grasshopper in the ant farm for amusement value.

    Even if such a being WAS God, I would have zero desire to worship such a contemptible deity. If this is the “different Jesus” you guys claim to have, believe me when I say, you can keep him.

  53. 53 Brad
    September 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I needn’t that you beleive my view point. Just that it is a different view that yours, should not be enough to make it wrong.

    Ditchu, your beliefs are documented – this isn’t the first time you’ve ever posted on a blog, remember. Knowing your beliefs, and the general beliefs of Mormonism, I can say they’re wrong. Not b/c they’re DIFFERENT than mine – just b/c the beliefs are MINE, doesn’t make them right, they’re right b/c they are based on the Bible. Just b/c yours are DIFFERENT than mine, doesn’t make them wrong, they’re WRONG b/c they’re not based on the Bible. As such, you are free to present your viewpoint, obviously, but there is 0% chance of me believing it. I already know it’s not true, Ditchu – the Holy Spirit witnesses to me that it’s not.

    As to “Anti-mormon” sites… The anit-mormon stance is usually the same retoric based on mis-understanding and mis-conception.

    Of course – everyone besides Mormons misunderstands Mormonism. Right.

    As to my mormon experience I can attest that I am not the best example of a Mormon but I have been a mamber for a few years at least and I have studied the many aspects of the religion. I have been to the temple…

    Can’t tell much from this how long you’ve been around, and what your level of knowledge is.

    However, I should warn you that the views I express are my own and unless I notate the accual teaching or docturine form the church they should be respected as my own and not the stance of the LDS Church.

    Of course, the standard disclaimer. Does the church make individuals do this, for some reason?

    I have come to the conclutions of my beleifs not only from the LDS Church but from me entire experience in religion in general, mostly from the varried Christian Churched I grew-up in and have spent years investigating.

    And I have come to my conclusions from MY experience with people of the LDS church and my studies of religion in general, too. Amazing how we’ve come to drastically different conclusions, isn’t it, especially given that we BOTH believe the Holy Spirit led us where we currently are? Wonder what that says about our individual basis for belief?

    As for learning things not in the Bible, well I can be safe in the assumption that you have knowledge and skills that you utilize which did not come from the Bible. Foe example, where in the Bible does it tell you how to eat, or how to dress oneself, or for many how to drive a car or ride a bike? There is an endless catoluge of items we learn that are not taught from the Bible.

    Clearly, everything we know and do isn’t contained in the Bible, from a non-religious perspective. What you say above is true. However, we (or at least I) was referencing SAVING truth, which is only found in the Bible. There’s no need to look further. The above items you mention have no bearing on our salvation or relationship with Christ, do they?

  54. 54 Brad
    September 1, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Even if such a being WAS God, I would have zero desire to worship such a contemptible deity. If this is the “different Jesus” you guys claim to have, believe me when I say, you can keep him.

    No problem, Seth – be careful what you wish for…

  55. September 1, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Glad the idea of me in hell gives you some satisfaction Brad.

  56. 56 Brad
    September 1, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Doesn’t give me satisfaction at all, Seth. But there’s nothing that I myself can do about it. You are free to worship whom or what you wish, as God has given you that right. God has also laid out consequences for right and wrong beliefs. So, as I said, be careful what you wish for, b/c you just might get it.

  57. September 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Brad, what it comes down to, is that I can only worship that which I find worthy of worship.

    If a demonic god were to have power over my eternal fate, so be it. I will not worship such a being. And this is exactly the kind of being that Calvinism (which, if I understand, you do not entirely believe in) posits. A repulsive universal psychopath unworthy of so much as a thank you.

    So for a Calvinist to threaten me with hell is really just irrelevant blabber. Unless they can demonstrate to me what is so nice about their God, they are going to get nowhere with me, or any other Mormon (most likely).

    Now, Arminian Christianity is another story entirely. Still problematic, but much closer to something I can get on board with.

  58. 58 Brad
    September 1, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Seth,

    Whether we like it or not, doesn’t make it true (or false, for that matter). It only matters WHETHER it’s true or not, and if it is, WHETHER we believe it or not.

    Do I believe that God has “chosen” believers? Yes, I do. The Bible speaks of this. Do I believe that man ALSO has “free will”? Yes, I do. The Bible also speaks of that. Can I reconcile those 2 concepts to an understanding that is perfectly acceptable to a lot of people? Nope, and I don’t try. God’s ways are higher than mine, His understanding higher than mine. He’s omniscient – further, He is Lord, and whatever He does, I have no reason to question. Why? B/c He’s God, and I’m not.

    Who created us, ultimately? God. For His purposes. B/c we’re NOT God, means that we don’t get to make up the rules, we don’t get to decide what “fits” OUR concept of what is fair, just, deserving of worship, etc… When people do that, they’re essentially saying “I don’t care who God is, I don’t like it, therefore I’m not believing it and I’m not worshiping Him.” Again, God gives people that right, but He also gives a consequence for that belief.

    You are free to choose whatever you wish, Seth. But you’re either choosing the belief, or the consequence. It’s still your choice.

  59. September 2, 2008 at 2:48 am

    “A mystery” Brad?

    Do we Mormons get to use that excuse? Or is it just you?

  60. September 2, 2008 at 3:08 am

    As it so happens, if God created free will, it cannot be free – it must be predetermined. It is a logical impossibility to create free will. There’s nothing “mysterious” about it – it’s simply unreasonable.

  61. 61 Brad
    September 2, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Seth,

    Again, my objective isn’t to convince you, nor is that my job. I’m only telling you what I believe Scripture says. I’ve attached an excerpt below from a well-known theologian, who was speaking on this very topic. I think it addresses the “fairness” of the doctrine of election quite well:

    “In spite of the clarity with which Scripture addresses this topic, many professing Christians today struggle in their acceptance of God’s sovereignty — especially when it comes to His electing work in salvation. Their most common protest, of course, is that the doctrine of election is unfair. But such an objection stems from a human idea of fairness, rather than the objective, divine understanding of true justice. In order to appropriately address the issue of election, we must set aside all human considerations and focus instead on the nature of God and His righteous standard. Divine justice is where the discussion must begin.

    What is Divine justice? Simply stated, it is an essential attribute of God whereby He infinitely, perfectly, and independently does exactly what He wants to do when and how He wants to do it. Because He is the standard of justice, by very definition, then whatever He does is inherently just. As William Perkins said, many years ago, “We must not think that God doeth a thing because it is good and right, but rather is the thing good and right because God willeth it and worketh it.”

    Therefore God defines for us what justice is, because He is by nature just and righteous, and what He does reflects that nature. His own free will and nothing else is behind His justice. This means that whatever He wills, is just; and it is just, not because of any external standard of justice, but simply because He wills it.

    Because the justice of God is an outflow of His character, it is not subject to fallen human assumptions of what justice should be. The Creator owes nothing to the creature, not even what He is graciously pleased to give. God does not act out of obligation and compulsion, but out of His own independent prerogative. That is what it means to be God. And because He is God, His freely determined actions are intrinsically right and perfect.

    To say that election is unfair is not only inaccurate, it fails to recognize the very essence of true fairness. That which is fair, and right, and just is that which God wills to do. Thus, if God wills to choose those whom He would save, it is inherently fair for Him to do so. We cannot impose our own ideas of fairness onto our understanding of God’s working. Instead, we must go to the Scriptures to see how God Himself, in His perfect righteousness, decides to act.”

    Essentially, what we perceive as “unfair” is really due to the definition of “fair” we have set up for ourselves, based on our standards, rather than God’s. Change that definition to one based on God, rather than man, and you get an entirely different perspective.

  62. September 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    That’s a completely circular argument Brad.

    It’s fine to say that “God’s ways are not our ways.” I happen to believe that scripture myself. It works when you are talking about how you or I cannot see the end. For example, Apostle James E. Faust would often tell the story of how, as an officer in the Canadian military, he was turned down for a promotion he had his heart set on, for unfair reasons. He was quite bitter at the time, but it turned out well in the end. With hindsight, he saw that the career path was not what was best for him, and he later came to appreciate the different direction his life took – away from the military. He believes that God had his best interests in mind.

    That’s fine. I’m OK with God taking us down paths that we do not understand now for ends that we will eventually see as good and right.

    But the argument that stuff is good just “because God said so” is entirely unconvincing to me. If God creates people, just to damn them, that is not just by any measure of the word. Creating people deliberately to damn them IS in fact just, because “it’s just what God does.” This does not match up with any existing notion of justice. You might as well call a spoon a sport coat.

    God’s ways are “not our ways” only in the sense that He sees more clearly what is best in each situation. Not because He has a different definition than we do of core concepts of justice, kindness, mercy, honesty, and what have you. You can’t take something fundamentally unfair and unjust, and call it fair and just simply by virtue of the fact that “it’s the kind of stuff God does.” God might torture kittens, and call it kind, but that does not make it so. God might lie and call it honest, but that does not make it so. Even the Bible says he cannot lie. So obviously God is restricted to the same ultimate morality that we are. Otherwise, He would not be God.

    As selfish and nearsighted beings, we may miss the grander narrative of God’s goodness due to our own concerns and limited vision. But if we could see clearly, we would recognize God’s works as good. But that still doesn’t mean that predestination is anything other than an unfair Catch 22.

    You cannot create free will and still have it free. If it is created, it is pre-determined. If it is pre=determined, it cannot be free.

    That is not merely limited vision. That’s just the law of non-contradiction. You can’t just make up a fairy tale world, where whatever you want to argue is possible and right. I can’t just make up a reality where God is a giant golden radish, and intends to turn us all into thumbtacks just “because that’s what God does.”

    Not if I want to have an argument I expect anyone else to take seriously anyway.

  63. 63 Brad
    September 2, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Like I said, I didn’t (and don’t) expect you to believe it, or to be convinced. Not my job, nor my responsibility, in fact. But I’ve told you about it nonetheless. Your option to believe, Seth. I hope you do. Our definition of “fair” or “just” are just our opinions – God’s are definites.

  64. September 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Glad I could help you fulfill your Christian obligation Brad. I trust you feel you have discharged it adequately.

  65. 65 Brad
    September 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I do, Seth. I know that might seem “cold” or “non-caring” to you, but I am glad that God has simply told us to “tell”, rather than “convince.” Thankfully, He has given the Holy Spirit for that, and some listen, some don’t.

  66. September 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Brad it should have been obvious that I have reveled my beliefs about some things that go beyond the Saving Truths contained in the Gospel, and you have then objected that these beliefs are not found in the Bible.

    Well, there is where I stand on my opinion about these truths.

  67. 67 Brad
    September 2, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    And Ditchu, I’ve also given my opinion on my beliefs, as well as yours, and that won’t change either.

  68. 69 Stephanie
    September 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Brad,

    Sorry, I’ve been away from the computer for a while and I didn’t realize you asked me something until today.

    Actually, I am not familiar with calvinism. I don’t know what those two camps believe. I do know the difference between reformed and unreformed. I know I belong to an unreformed church, and I believe those doctrines more accurately reflect Scripture.

    About my statement which you quoted. I don’t have the verses on hand, but if I remember correctly, Scripture says that God does not credit good works toward any person unless that person is a believer in Christ, right? According to the world a person can do many good things, but in God’s eyes, those actions are considered filthy rags because they are coming from a sinful source, an unsaved person. So from God’s perspective, good works don’t really “count” unless you are a believer (i.e. saved in the true sense, not the LDS sense). I am pretty sure this is what Scripture says, but I don’t have the verse on hand. I know there is a verse that says something like, “anything that is not of faith is sin,” which is pretty harsh in that regard.

    Anyways, just wanted to clarify. I should be getting back into this blog again soon. God bless!

  69. 70 Brad
    September 8, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Stephanie, if you’re from an “unreformed” church, you’re not Calvinist, by the way.

    My question really was on what stance you took, but if you’re not familiar with it, then it’s impossible for you to answer!

  70. September 8, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Brad,
    Why don’t you explain for her what your view of Calvinist is, so that she has an oppertunity to answer your question?

    I think it is only fair to offer someone the ability to respond to a reasonable request or question.
    -D

  71. September 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    ditchu, I think Stephanie can ask Brad herself. In an adversarial setting (which we’re kind of in right now), your statement looks suspiciously like a taunt to get Brad to explain Calvinism so the Mormons can bag on it.

    We’ve had enough arguments on this blog. Let’s not make this one of them – it would be completely tangential.

  72. September 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Stephanie,
    Are you sure you understand “the LDS sense” of “saved?”
    It seems vague as you have deturmined that it is not your, “true sense.”

    From much of you preivious writing I am uncertian you have any understanding of the LDS docturne and belief. Mostly it seems you have misconstrude it to be only objectionable and discordant with your views of Christianity. I should note that much is in exact accordance to many other Christian beliefs, there are percise differances in the LDS Churhc (Which is good) but I doubt that there is so much that it is to be considered outside the realm of Christianity. There is as much differances in belief and docturne in the devide from the Lutheren from Catholic as I have seen in many christian churches and the LDS.

    Where do you get your “saved in the true sense” from? Is is directly from some scripture or is it inturpratation of scripture or is it from some religious leader?
    -D

  73. September 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Seth,
    True enough.

    All,
    I was just suggesting to Brad that he could still offer someone the ability to answer his direct question if he wanted to, all he needed to do was explain his view of the subject.

    I care not what his view on Calvan is, He did not ask me his question but I was just reading here that he is disarming the person he asked the question to by making it clear that if any are “not familiar” with a Religion or Philosophy, “then it’s impossible” for them to discuss it.

    If we take this too far, however, many here should not be discussing other religious or philosofical view points.

    sorry if any of this seems like I’m taunting, Let it be stated that I am not, nor am I looking for any negative responce. I just wanted to voice something I saw that seemed unfair.

    Good day to you all,
    -D

  74. September 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Very well. Just wanted to clear that up.

  75. 76 Brad
    September 9, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Ditchu, I could personally care less what you think is fair or not. No one on here with a brain doesn’t see your comments for what they are. Doesn’t matter to me.

    The Calvinism/Arminianism debate is pointless, especially as it concerns Mormonism.

    The fact that you think Mormonism is so much “like” true Christianity would give ME pause to think that YOU probably shouldn’t be discussing anything about Christianity, using your line of thinking. Of course, whenever people disagree with Mormonism, your first inclination is always that they just don’t understand it, so I wouldn’t expect anything else from you, really.

    If Stephanie wishes to answer, she’s free to. I’m not questioning Stephanie, I was just curious of her stance. Based on her earlier reply, it sounds as if she doesn’t have one, which is fine. You seem to be the one that has the problem with that, not me.

  76. September 9, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    B-
    Just putting a fair perspective on your comments and giving you a suggestion.

    I now know that you are not looking for anything but your own vindication. You asked a question then you close it out by saying that it is impossible for someone to answer. You are not used to letting people make up their own minds, or answering your questions in a way you did not plan for, are you? I figure you are either a Lawer, Politician, a Pastor in your Churhc.

    How can one learn when they think they already have the answer?
    How can one accept the truth when they are not open to anything they are not famillure with?

    -D

  77. September 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Hey, leave the lawyers out of this ditchu.

  78. 79 Stephanie
    September 9, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    As far as calvinism and arminianism are concerned, I am not thoroughly enough educated about the differences to feel comfortable expressing an opinion on that topic. I do know that I belong to an unreformed church, and like I said earlier, I think those beliefs best reflect Scripture. I plan to investigate this subject further at my leisure. Truly, as Brad said, it is pointless in regards to a discussion of Mormonism. It is a side-track, and we have enough of those already. I am not in the least offended that Brad didn’t provide me with a lengthy explanation of the two schools of thought. Heavens no! I have no need to distract others on this blog with such a discussion.

    D – Of course I understand very well the LDS version of “saved.” It is funny how you always suggest ignorance or incomplete understanding or a “vague” understanding of LDS doctrine if someone simply disagrees with it. It is entirely possible to disagree with a doctrine and understand it at the same time. Those two factors are not mutually exclusive. You seem to think that if I truly “understood” the LDS doctrine, I will accept it with open arms. I’m sorry to disappoint. The way to salvation in the Mormon church versus the Christian church is very different, and this difference has been pointed out to you again and again. Truly, you seem resistant to hearing the difference. Some of you deny the very teachings of the LDS church in an attempt to appear identical to Christianity. It is baffling to me.

  79. September 10, 2008 at 12:00 am

    I am sorry to suggest that you may have an incomplete view of the Mormon docturine, however you keep saying that the Moron view of Salvation is different to that of the Other Christian Churches, but do not point out what it is about the mormon view of salvation that is different. Also relying on what has been stated prior it seems that there is a distorted understanding of the Mormon view on Salvation. As I see it the Mormon view is much the same as it is in other christian churches but what you all seem to point out is that we have a view that goes beyond that of other churches. We have an understanding of Salvation as a part of some bigger experience, which we have called the Plan of Salvation. Yes, I know that the name can be confusing as it is about Salvation but extends beyond the other views of salvation both after Salvation and before birth on earth. My point on Salvation is that it really is not much different in the grand perspective of a Christian overview. If we pick out any differing opinion on just the Salvation part of the Mormon view and that of another Christian Church we must also allow for the other inter-christian views that differ as well. With this we should find that there is a myrid of differing opinions, but limmiting it to just the Salvation part of each group’s view we must see that Mormons are not the outlyers of the study.

    -D

  80. 81 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I now know that you are not looking for anything but your own vindication.

    My own vindication? What are you talking about? I asked a question of Stephanie, that based on what she knows about the subject, she’s unable to answer. Based on that, I said “no problem” and withdrew the question. No big deal. I’m OK with it, she’s OK with it – YOU seem to be the one who, for whatever reason, is NOT OK with it. That’s your issue, buddy, not ours.

    You asked a question then you close it out by saying that it is impossible for someone to answer.

    No, what I said was that it would be impossible for HER to answer it, since she doesn’t know about the subject I asked a question about. Doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for ANYONE to answer, only her, due to her limited knowledge on the subject. Would be the same if someone asked me a question on physics, and I said I couldn’t answer, and they withdrew the question. I know nothing about physics, so I legitimately can’t answer. I don’t need a quick summary on physics, nor could they give me one. Same with Calvinism – you really can’t sum it up so easily in a couple sentences.

    You are not used to letting people make up their own minds, or answering your questions in a way you did not plan for, are you? I figure you are either a Lawer, Politician, a Pastor in your Churhc.

    What? How do you pull this from a withdrawn question, asked to a person who doesn’t have the information to answer it? That’s retarded. I know the differences myself – I simply asked her what her take was on it. She didn’t know, b/c she hadn’t studied it. That’s fine – neither of us are offended by that. Not sure why you are, for whatever reason. And I’m none of the occupations you state above, so, as with many other things, you continue to figure wrong.

    How can one learn when they think they already have the answer?

    A ridiculous statement. It implies that what one already knows is not correct, which sometimes is, and sometimes isn’t, the case. I know that 2+2=4; doesn’t mean I can’t learn other things. I know that Christianity is correct, as much as I know that Mormonism is incorrect. What you imply above is that I can’t possibly learn, b/c I already think I have the answer. With respect to the truthfulness of Mormonism, yes, I already have that answer. You would say the same – and if you did, I could use your exact statement above about your way of thinking, too. What’s sad is that you don’t see that.

    How can one accept the truth when they are not open to anything they are not famillure with?

    Thanks for proving my point. You always think that anytime anyone disagrees with Mormonism, it’s because they don’t REALLY understand it, implying that if they REALLY understood it, they would tend to believe it. That’s a logical fallacy set up in your mind, and planted there by the Mormon church, as a self-proving way to set aside doubts. Again, what’s sad is that you don’t see it.

  81. 82 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    As far as calvinism and arminianism are concerned, I am not thoroughly enough educated about the differences to feel comfortable expressing an opinion on that topic. I do know that I belong to an unreformed church, and like I said earlier, I think those beliefs best reflect Scripture. I plan to investigate this subject further at my leisure. Truly, as Brad said, it is pointless in regards to a discussion of Mormonism. It is a side-track, and we have enough of those already. I am not in the least offended that Brad didn’t provide me with a lengthy explanation of the two schools of thought. Heavens no! I have no need to distract others on this blog with such a discussion.

    Exactly. Stephanie’s OK, I’m OK.

    Of course I understand very well the LDS version of “saved.” It is funny how you always suggest ignorance or incomplete understanding or a “vague” understanding of LDS doctrine if someone simply disagrees with it. It is entirely possible to disagree with a doctrine and understand it at the same time. Those two factors are not mutually exclusive. You seem to think that if I truly “understood” the LDS doctrine, I will accept it with open arms. I’m sorry to disappoint. The way to salvation in the Mormon church versus the Christian church is very different, and this difference has been pointed out to you again and again. Truly, you seem resistant to hearing the difference. Some of you deny the very teachings of the LDS church in an attempt to appear identical to Christianity. It is baffling to me.

    Absolutely spot on, Stephanie. Of course, he’s been told this before.

    Ditchu, how can you learn when you think you already have the answer? How can you accept the truth when you’re not open to anything you’re not familiar with?

  82. 83 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I am sorry to suggest that you may have an incomplete view of the Mormon docturine, however you keep saying that the Moron view of Salvation is different to that of the Other Christian Churches, but do not point out what it is about the mormon view of salvation that is different.

    Nice try, Ditchu, but no dice. This has been pointed out, to you and in general, on numerous blogs that I’ve personally seen you on, so to say that specific differences haven’t been pointed out is not really true. Stephanie herself may not have pointed them out to you, but you know what Christians will tell you the differences are. Don’t play the victim who doesn’t know the specifics, b/c we all know you do know them, you just don’t agree with them. Of course, using YOUR logic, maybe you don’t agree with them b/c you don’t have a good understanding of Christianity…

    Also relying on what has been stated prior it seems that there is a distorted understanding of the Mormon view on Salvation.

    And you wonder why people tell you that you ALWAYS say that disagreement is due to misinformation? Seriously… did you not read what Stephanie wrote you above?

    As I see it the Mormon view is much the same as it is in other christian churches but what you all seem to point out is that we have a view that goes beyond that of other churches. We have an understanding of Salvation as a part of some bigger experience, which we have called the Plan of Salvation.

    Ditchu, you can explain your side a thousand times. We don’t agree. We won’t agree, we believe you’re wrong. We understand your side, and think it’s wrong. Period. You really make yourself look bad by beating the “but you just don’t understand us” dead horse.

    Yes, I know that the name can be confusing as it is about Salvation but extends beyond the other views of salvation both after Salvation and before birth on earth. My point on Salvation is that it really is not much different in the grand perspective of a Christian overview.

    Your point is wrong. But again, using YOUR logic, maybe it’s because YOU don’t really have a good understanding of Christianity…

    If we pick out any differing opinion on just the Salvation part of the Mormon view and that of another Christian Church we must also allow for the other inter-christian views that differ as well. With this we should find that there is a myrid of differing opinions, but limmiting it to just the Salvation part of each group’s view we must see that Mormons are not the outlyers of the study.

    Comparing Mormonism to Christianity, yes, Mormonism is an outlier.

  83. September 10, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Brad,
    Those questions were not ment as an attack but as general ponderings and if you have answers for them then I would like to hear them but as you have pointed out in your diatribe, there is no clear reasoning of how one learns if they keep a closed mind or are conserned with keeping only to the answers they alread have (keeping to their preconcived notions).

    That is all, Sorry if you took this personally, it was not ment to be personal to you but a general comment… Maybe I should have addressed Everyone just before pondering these things.

    Have a good day,
    -D

  84. September 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Brad,
    Have you picked apart the many differing views that exist in what you consider Christianity?

  85. 86 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Whether an attack or general ponderings, either way, the ideas didn’t make sense, so irrespective of who was addressed, what I wanted you to understand was how others are viewing what you say and why it doesn’t make sense.

    Yes, I’ve picked them apart, Ditchu.

  86. September 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    So you understand my point that there are many differances amoung the Churches you say are part of Christianity. Good, I’d further state that these differances are as varied and seperate in thinking as what we are looking into conserning those of Mormonism and other christian Churches.

  87. 88 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Ditchu,

    I never said anything about certain churches being part of Christianity. I’m not talking about churches – I’m talking about beliefs. Big difference. The church I belong to, while it has set beliefs, doesn’t define my beliefs for me. Rather, my beliefs are defined from the Bible, and I found a church which also generally adheres to those beliefs. It is generally a gathering of like-believing individuals, but doesn’t affect my beliefs, nor does EVERYONE in my church probably have the same beliefs on everything. That would be extremely rare, if nonexistent.

    That’s still a far cry from general “Christian” beliefs and Mormon beliefs. You’re struggling really hard to make sure Mormonism is defined as Christian.

  88. September 10, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Mormonism is as Christian as Baptist is.

  89. 90 Brad
    September 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Again, Ditchu, as this has been gone over a thousand times. Of course YOU’LL say it is – you think it is. Of course I’LL say it’s not – I know it’s not. You won’t change your mind, I won’t change mind.

    One of us is wrong, each of us thinks it’s the other. That won’t change.

  90. 91 Stephanie
    September 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    D-

    There are many ‘Christian’ denominations (Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian etc…). And there are many churches without an official denomination, and they are also ‘Christian’ if they meet two simple requirements. But, I am sorry to say, Mormonism is not one of the ‘Christian’ churches because it does not meet these two simple requirements. First, to receive the label of ‘Christian,’ a church must believe ONLY in the Bible, and nothing else. And second, to be called ‘Christian,’ a church must base salvation only on the work of Christ and not on human works. So it is very simple, really. (Churches who don’t make these claims, or who make these claims but obviously don’t practice them are not Christian, not matter what the label.)

    Mormonism bases salvation on the “Plan of Salvation,” which is a much more complicated process involving the continual efforts of LDS followers. I hope you can see this difference because this difference really does matter. You might think it doesn’t matter, but it really does matter. By adding so much more to the process of salvation, you are stripping Christianity of its beauty, power, and grace. And its simplicity.

    D, I sincerely hope your heart becomes softened to the truth of God’s Word in the Bible and that you are able to someday see all that you have been denying, justifying, and rationalizing in your mind. As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor, and so I truly feel compassion for you and everyone who is lost in this world. You could drop all the extra strings that are wrapped so tightly around you. You could experience the freedom and simplicity of knowing Christ and Christ alone. There is nothing more to it, and nothing less.

    That is what makes a denomination a Christian organization. Sadly, Mormonism does not fit this description.

  91. September 11, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Stephanie,
    Where do you get your definition for Christian? It seem a little made up to me. I found this definition:
    Main Entry: Chris•tian•i•ty
    Pronunciation:\ˌkris-chē-ˈa-nə-tē, ˌkrish-, -ˈcha-nə-, ˌkris-tē-ˈa-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 14th century
    1 : the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies 2 : conformity to the Christian religion 3 : the practice of Christianity
    (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/christianity)
    1.Here we see that the Church must believe in the Bible but in no way is it limited to “ONLY in the Bible.”
    In my experience in a Baptist Church years ago, there was a lot of books written, cataloged, and loaned from the church Library that spoke of Scripture and spiritual matters. These book we have put faith in that they were true and tried to gain further understanding from them. I am sure you would not exclude that church from Christianity?
    Also what Bible do you refer to? There are many versions. Are we speaking of scripture in general? Then we must be open to scriptural texts from other cultures, or is you God a “Race” God.
    2.”… a church must base salvation only on the work of Christ and not on human works.”
    As this is still a great debate among Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, SBC, Methodist, ect.. we have no agreeable answer in the whole of Christiandom to the 2 questions: “Does the act of placing one’s faith in Christ a work?” and, “Is all that is required for salvation to have faith in Jesus Christ?” I can attest that there are Lutheran Ministers, and Catholic Priests that have said that a child is doomed to hell for not being “baptized.” How do they know the state of the Child’s faith?

    On a personal note: As a Christian I do love all of my neighbors (some are harder to love than others).
    You say: “You could experience the freedom and simplicity of knowing Christ and Christ alone. There is nothing more to it, and nothing less.”
    I have experienced that life. If there is nothing more to it then allow me to live, worship, and commune with God in the way that I know is right. As a Mormon I give you the same choice: our eleventh article of faith, makes that clear.

    Good day and God Bless,
    -D

  92. 93 Brad
    September 11, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Where do you get your definition for Christian? It seem a little made up to me. I found this definition: 1: the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies 2 : conformity to the Christian religion 3 : the practice of Christianity
    (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/christianity)

    Ditchu, we’ll never agree on the definition of “Christian”, and we’ll never agree to your position that Mormons are Christian. Just as I would define “morals” different than other people would (and probably different than you would). It goes back to the basic differences we have – what we believe about God and salvation in general (among other things) are completely different. But, feel free to beat the dead horse, if you must.

    1.Here we see that the Church must believe in the Bible but in no way is it limited to “ONLY in the Bible.”

    It also doesn’t say it INCLUDES a basis on the BOM. You’re trying to use an argument from silence, one of the weakest possible arguments. Not to mention (though I have already), that our “definitions” of Christianity will never be the same, despite what Merriam-Webster says!

    In my experience in a Baptist Church years ago, there was a lot of books written, cataloged, and loaned from the church Library that spoke of Scripture and spiritual matters. These book we have put faith in that they were true and tried to gain further understanding from them. I am sure you would not exclude that church from Christianity?

    Are you serious, Ditchu? You’re really reaching to try to make your point, but you’re failing. Can I say an individual Mormon church isn’t really “Mormon”, b/c it has books in its library apart from the 4 std works, which the Mormons will all agree are the standard scriptures upon which their church is based? Would you agree to that? Right, I didn’t think so. No different from a Baptist church having books other than the Bible in its library. There are good books outside of the Bible that can train and uplift believers, but that doesn’t mean the Christian religion is BASED on them.

    Also what Bible do you refer to? There are many versions. Are we speaking of scripture in general? Then we must be open to scriptural texts from other cultures, or is you God a “Race” God.

    Amazingly enough, we have enough manuscript evidence to accurately construct the original writings of the Bible. In fact, the Bible is one of the most evidenced books in human history. So we can get back to the original language, which means we can get back to what “the Bible” is. When you say many versions, I know what you mean and where you’re going, but it doesn’t hold water. We won’t get into a LONG debate about how the Bible (the 66 books as we have them today) was canonized – I guarantee we will disagree, b/c I know the common Mormon position. As it relates to scripture from “other cultures”, there is the Bible, and then there are writings from others. I’m talking about THE BIBLE.

    2.”… a church must base salvation only on the work of Christ and not on human works.”
    As this is still a great debate among Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, SBC, Methodist, ect.. we have no agreeable answer in the whole of Christiandom to the 2 questions: “Does the act of placing one’s faith in Christ a work?” and, “Is all that is required for salvation to have faith in Jesus Christ?” I can attest that there are Lutheran Ministers, and Catholic Priests that have said that a child is doomed to hell for not being “baptized.” How do they know the state of the Child’s faith?

    I think there is an answer, some just don’t accept it. It can be debated all people want, doesn’t mean the answer is up in the air, just means people don’t agree on what the answer is, for a variety of reasons.

    In answer to your 2 questions above, you can call having faith in Christ a “work” if you want, it really doesn’t matter to me. You’re trying to split hairs – feel free. In answer to your 2nd question – yes. As to the Lutheran or Catholic clergy who believe the above, they’re wrong.

    On a personal note: As a Christian I do love all of my neighbors (some are harder to love than others).

    I agree some are harder to love than others. But I still disagree that Mormons are Christian. The beliefs are opposite.

    I have experienced that life. If there is nothing more to it then allow me to live, worship, and commune with God in the way that I know is right. As a Mormon I give you the same choice: our eleventh article of faith, makes that clear.

    You’re “allowed” to do whatever you want, Ditchu. Nobody’s taking away your free will to choose as you wish. How could we? What we’re saying is that we believe you’re wrong, according to the Bible. Whether you give us the same choice or not is irrelevant, as we answer to God, not Mormons.

  93. 94 Stephanie
    September 11, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Of course I “made up” my definition of Christian. I “made it up” because I know what a Christian is. I think it’s funny that you would suggest that I look up the definition of Christian in the dictionary. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    You are like the pharisees who said they did everything right, yet Christ still called them white-washed tombs, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside. When you get to judgement day, you can say to Jesus, “Well, Jesus, I looked up Christian in the dictionary and I did what it said. I fulfilled the definition perfectly.” And Jesus will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

    And I guarantee that not one Christian would disagree with my definition either. I guess my mistake was using the word “Christian” in the first place. I should have said, “I am defining those who have found the narrow gate.” Anyone who lives with a different “definition” of “Christian” is entering the wide gate to hell.

    Of course no one is telling you what to do, Ditchu. You can live with whatever definition you want.

    We could bicker and split hairs about the other issues you brought up. Those issues don’t define a “Christian” church. Many Christian churches hold various beliefs about those other issues. They are irrelevant to my point.

    A Christian church bases its beliefs only on the Bible, and salvation is by grace alone, through Christ’s effort alone. If you haul out your dictionary and try to use Webster to argue with God, I’m afraid you’ll end up with the short end of the stick. And let me be clear and repeat myself again: by “Christian” I mean “those who have found the narrow gate to eternal life.”

    Clearly you have not found the narrow gate.

  94. September 12, 2008 at 12:00 am

    The gate is not as narrow as some minds.

  95. 96 Brad
    September 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Ditchu,

    What’s your point, really? You would define our minds as narrow b/c we don’t agree with you. Fine, whatever. I would define yours as narrow b/c of various things as well. Doesn’t mean that either of us will change our minds, does it?

    Are you approaching your conversations and arguments from the standpoint that you truly believe you’re correct? Yes. Are we? Yes. Is one of us wrong? Yes, has to be, b/c we have opposite beliefs. Will either of us ever think it is US, rather than the other, that is wrong? Nope.

    What’s your point, Ditchu? What are you trying to prove here?

  96. September 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    My point is that redefining a common term to suit your own opinions, and then using your own definition to argue about it is wrong, especially without telling others how you have changed the definition. It has nothing to do with you agreeing with me or not. I respect many who do not agree with me, but let’s be fair and honest with eachother, the issue here stems from some redefining what it means to be Christian.

    I am not saying that your beliefs are incorrect, or that you are bad for following your faith. No, I am defending my right to follow my convictions and also make note of the many arguments about something that is predefined that does not match with someone’s personal opinion on how something should be defined.

    That is me point. The term Christian is a broad term and commonly used as predefined, this is pointed out in the Webster Dictionary. It is a small mind that takes a broad term and try to redefine it to limit out a group that would fit within the normal/common definition.
    This is a form of discrimination, no less than making a statement against a race of people that they are not part of mankind, and redefine mankind to your liking. That would be obviously racist, but what some are doing in trying to redefine the term Christian to limit out some Christian Groups is no less discrimination.

    Good day,
    -D

  97. 98 markcares
    September 15, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Ditchu:
    Your comment about redefining terms and then arguing a point with that definition- on a broader scale – is one thing that many find so frustrating with Mormonism. It defines many terms very differently. For example see my latest post on September 15th.

  98. September 15, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Ditchu, don’t try to tell Evangelical bloggers that they have ideas that are good.

    They’ll just call you a “pansy relativist.”

    They’ll be much happier if you just flat-out tell them that they suck, and have no redeeming qualities.

  99. 100 Brad
    September 15, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Ditchu, this is perhaps the most retarded argument I’ve ever heard on the subject, to be quite honest.

    At best, AT BEST, the term “Christian” is relative, based on who is using the term and what they think it means. You (a Mormon) think it means one thing; I would say it means something entirely different from you. Ask 10 other people (Mormon, non-Mormon, Muslim, whoever), and you’ll get 10 other variations on the subject. So to say that Webster’s definition is the “common” definition is absolutely ludicrous, when you have to have a particular frame of reference to even use the word!!

    I am defending my right to follow my convictions

    You can follow whatever you want – I, or anyone else, can’t take that away from you. But I can, and do, tell you that I believe you’re wrong.

    The term Christian is a broad term and commonly used as predefined, this is pointed out in the Webster Dictionary.

    Broad is absolutely right. But “pre-defined” is where you’ve gone wrong. It’s pre-defined to me, based on what I believe a true Christian is, and I base that on what I believe about the Bible. It’s pre-defined to you, based on your belief of what a true Christian is. What if someone else believes a Christian is something different than either of us believe – it’s also pre-defined to them, but defined differently than either of us. No Ditchu, you’re quite wrong on this.

    It is a small mind that takes a broad term and try to redefine it to limit out a group that would fit within the normal/common definition.

    And I would say it’s a small mind that takes a term and defines it SO broadly, that it encompasses groups that it shouldn’t.

    This is a form of discrimination, no less than making a statement against a race of people that they are not part of mankind, and redefine mankind to your liking.

    Another retarded statement, Ditchu. If this is the case, then you would also have to view God as equally discriminatory, based on the whole of Scripture, as those who do not accept Him are destined to hell. Tell me, do you regard God as equally discriminatory, racially or otherwise?

    Seriously, Ditchu, I’ve heard some doozies, but yours is numbing. Grow a spine and let it go.

  100. September 15, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Brad,
    look the word up! If you cannot find it in a common every-day Dictionary then feel free to make up your own difinition, otherwise stick with the common usage of the term, Or explain your definition before making arguments based on it. That is what I am saying.

    I am not sure what you are gathering from my statments but obviously you have contorted them into something else. Where is God redefining common terms to limit people from a group that they belong as part of?

    -D

  101. 102 Stephanie
    September 16, 2008 at 1:25 am

    I would say that God really discriminates. He separates the sheep from the goats (the saved from the unsaved) for all eternity.

  102. 103 Brad
    September 16, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Geez Ditchu, that’s my point – there is no “common usage” of the term “Christian” – it means different things to different people. Do I believe that Mormonism fits that definition? No, based on the what I interpret Christian to be, which I believe is Biblically based. Do you? Yes, based on the way YOU interpret the word, which you also think is correct. Do others have a different view than either of us? Yes.

    There is no “common usage”, Ditchu. Your argument is falling apart. And like I’ve said before, I don’t know why Mormons are so hell-bent on making sure that they are called Christians. Why do you care? If someone doesn’t want to call ME a Christian, I don’t care – doesn’t affect my beliefs or my relationship with God.

    Why do you care so much?

  103. September 17, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    If there is no common usage of the term then how can it be found in a Dictionary?
    Brad, I think you are refusing to understand and that is what is causing the strife I am getting from you. You can use your own definition for any word you want, but to be understood correctlly you must relate your meaning to others. Too often people generalize and use their own definition at the same time and fail to tell others what that definition is. If there is no common ground in the termonology used then it is impractical to relate with the idea.

    Stephanie,
    I will pose this simple question to you since you seem to have something to say:
    Where is God redefining common terms to limit people from a group?

    -D

  104. September 17, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Brad,
    Thank you for the complement.
    I do write my comments so that even a slow mind can understand.

    I think “Evangelical” is a more appropate term for your usage.
    Glad I could help.

    Again thank you.

    -D

  105. September 17, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Again Common is not an absolute term. It refers to a generally large amount.

    No, I did not use an absolute term like everybody or even anyone, I specifically used the word Common because it is common. Like common sense.

    -D


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