17
Sep
08

Amazing Grace

 

     Very few words have only one meaning.  That is apparent in any dictionary as most words have a number of meanings listed for them.  Therefore the context in which it is used is vitally important in determining its proper meaning.  Nowhere is this more important than in reading the Bible.

      Take the word grace.  When it is used in the context of salvation, it refers to an attribute of God – his unconditional love.  This is the love Jesus spoke about in John 3:16.  This is the love Paul referred to in Romans 5, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’  What is pertinent to our discussion is that the Bible says, when it comes to salvation, grace and works don’t mix.  “And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work.”  (Romans 11:6)

     Mormonism defines grace differently. The LDS manual, True to the Faith, says:  “The word grace, as used in the scriptures refers primarily to the divine help and strength we receive through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  The LDS Bible Dictionary uses almost the exact same wording.  A couple of other excerpts from it:  “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”  “However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.” Nowhere do either of these two sources mention the idea that grace is God’s unconditional love for mankind.

     One reason I am pointing this out is to highlight the fact that when Christians and Mormons talk about grace, most of the time they will be thinking of two different things.  If there is going to be any meaningful discussion between the two, this fact needs to be acknowledged.  Christians will need to remember that when most Mormons hear the word grace they will be thinking of an enabling power given them.  Mormons will need to remember that most Christians will be thinking of God’s love shown them in giving them salvation totally and freely on the basis of what Jesus did.

     The second reason for doing this is so that I can bear my testimony about this amazing grace.  I know that God has accepted Jesus’ payment for my sins and I don’t have to add anything to it.  I know that I am going to spend eternity in celestial glory in God’s eternal family solely on the basis of what Jesus has done.  To him be all glory!

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6 Responses to “Amazing Grace”


  1. September 17, 2008 at 3:46 am

    the joys of language! the whole theological tomato-tomatoe… i like it.

  2. September 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    There’s a great article over on First Things that offers the LDS point of view and the opposing view point. The LDS side is written by Bruce D. Porter, a member of the seventy, while Gerald R. McDermott is a professor of religion at Roanoke College. Overall it provides good coverage of the opposing view points that have been shared here. One of the main points covered by Elder Porter is salvation by grace. Interestingly Gerald McDermott doesn’t seem concerned by the LDS interpretation of grace too much, but mostly focuses on the nature of Christ and the Godhead. I recommend reading through both sides entirely.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6332

    One last note, Elder Porter mentions that we don’t hear a lot of discussion about the doctrine taught by the Book of Mormon, but rather the focus is on its origin. I was just thinking the same thing. In all of our discussions here I can only remember seeing reference to one scripture: saved by grace after all ye can do. So my question is has anyone here read through the Book of Mormon?

  3. 3 markcares
    September 17, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I have read through the Book of Mormon twice. Also all the other LDS scriptures. What % of LDS members do you think have read all their scriptures? My experience is that many haven’t.

  4. September 17, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Well that’s great. I’m guessing however that doing so didn’t enlighten you in any way? I ask because I find it such a powerful book, full of the doctrine of Christ. I can’t read it without feeling closer to Him.

    I have no idea what percentage of the members have read all the standard works. We are taught to do so. Daily scripture study is the standard; President Benson emphasized that a half hour each day should be spent on the Book of Mormon alone. Personally I haven’t been able to do that every day, but I sure enjoy it when I do. In my area there are plenty of people who know the scriptures much better than I do and I’d guess a majority of the adults have read everything at least once and continue to study. Our Sunday school schedule take us through one book per year so it takes four years to cover the Old/New Testaments, Book of Mormon, and the D&C. In theory everyone is reading along in preparation for each weekly lesson, but obviously not everyone actually does so.

    However let me stress what should be obvious; as LDS we value education and learning on an individual level. I’ve spoken with pastors (and some here) who think we’re ignorant of our beliefs and history. One even stated that at least the FLDS church would be recognizable to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young if they returned today. While the truth is that we’re currently in the middle of a two year course (for priesthood/relief society) on the teachings of Joseph Smith, and we’ve previously covered other prophets such as Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Heber Grant, David McKay, and so on. On the whole we think practicing religion is more important than knowing it, but you can’t practice what you don’t know. We also believe the glory of God is intelligence.

  5. September 17, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    What percentage of Evangelicals read their Bible? My guess would be not that many percentage-wise. Probably similar among LDS.

  6. September 18, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Here’s another link for those looking for more information about DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon. Whether you believe in the Book of Mormon or not, it’s good to understand what is scientifically possible when someone claims that DNA evidence disproves the Book of Mormon (as has occurred here a few times).

    This article provides an overview of what can and can’t be done with DNA testing, as it relates to the theories on the Book of Mormon. Yes it’s from an LDS scientist, but it’s approached from the forensic science point of view.

    http://mormontimes.com/WC_education.php?id=1895

    More info:

    http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=18&num=1&id=601&cat_id=488
    http://farms.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=12&num=1&id=312

    Here’s the main point (read the articles for supporting arguments):

    “The press and the public (use DNA data) to extrapolate beyond what is scientifically possible or appropriate, and draw inaccurate conclusions” – John M. Butler


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