That is a title of an article in this week’s Meridian Magazine, a Mormon online magazine. The premise of the article is that the controversy between Mormons and Christians about salvation by faith alone shouldn’t exist – it’s all one big misunderstanding.
This article caught my attention since the relationship between faith and works as been the subject of numerous posts and a lot of the discussion on this blog. There have been more than enough quotations from Mormon sources (including one in my last post) that I could never accept as correct statements of biblical truth. The difference between Mormonism and Christianity on “faith and works” is not just one big misunderstanding.
Instead of citing more quotes to prove that, in this post I am going to mention something else that has dramatically demonstrated that difference to me. And that is the reactions of Mormons I have spoken with. My experiences have remained remarkably consistent over the last two decades.
First, there is the reaction of total rejection of my position. I’m not talking about when I am discussing Mormon teaching but rather when I am explaining my belief that I have to do absolutely nothing to be saved. Years ago a member of the local stake presidency, after meeting with me for a couple of times, in all sincerity told me that my teaching about salvation was demonic. Most Mormons have not reacted that strongly but he has not been alone in that reaction. More than one Mormon has warned me about my being a pawn of Satan because of my belief about salvation. The majority of Mormons have rejected, with varying degrees of intensity, what I believe. I don’t think they are just misunderstanding me.
Then there are the Mormons who rejoice to hear the wonderful news that Jesus has done it all for them – that they don’t have to do anything. Over the years, I have gotten that reaction as well. And often what accompanies that reaction is first the statement that they have never heard that before and secondly, anger at the LDS Church for not teaching that. And these were not all inactive Mormons either. Some were very active and from good hardy Mormon roots. Did they just misunderstand what they have been taught all their lives by the LDS Church? I don’t think so.
Therefore when I saw that article in Meridian magazine, I found myself wondering if its author is being deliberately deceptive. To me, the member of the stake presidency was being a whole lot more honest with me. At least he was reflecting official Mormon teaching. “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” Spencer W. Kimball quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 36)