How Long Perfection?


     “Perfection is an ultimate goal that can be achieved, as we draw upon the power of Christ.”  That is how chapter 8 of “The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles’ begins.  A little later it quotes Joseph Smith who compared the climb to perfection like climbing a ladder.  After talking about our climb to perfection in this life, he continues by saying, “But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them.  It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”

     That raises the question:  How long is that great while that Joseph Smith said it would take?  I have had one Mormon leader tell me that it would take him ten thousand eternities.  Others I’m sure would give different answers.  I would invite LDS members to give their answers.

     Here’s my answer.  Through Christ, I am already perfect in God’s sight.  All my sins have been separated for me as far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103;12)  But not only that.  All of Christ’s perfection has already been credited to my account. (Isaiah 61:10)  Therefore, right now, God sees me as perfect.  And then, the moment I die, I will be taken into his presence where I will no longer be confirmed in righteousness and no longer even be able to sin.  I will live perfectly in a perfect heaven.  There’s no “great while” for me.  There’s “no great work” for me.  All because of Jesus.  That is what is really great!


26 Responses to “How Long Perfection?”

  1. 1 ladonnamorrell
    January 28, 2009 at 4:19 am

    You need to read a little further in Psalms. see verse 18…:”to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” Yes, the Lord has paid the price for our sins and removed them from us AS LONG AS WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HONOR OUR COVENANTS. (see also Hebrews 5:9). Jesus Christ has done His work…as you say “he paid in full”. His work has been accomplished. Now it is up to us to do ours. We must do our part and accept His sacrifice, His gift.
    the scriptures are clear. we have a part in this plan. we must DO!! you may be a great guy and be righteous as all get-out, but until you do your part (just like every one else) you are not “saved”.
    re: 10,000 eternities….darn those humble mormons who believe that they aren’t perfect! imagine that we believe in the scriptures and believe what they say literally! we believe in judgment day! we won’t know what the “judge” decides until He judges us! too bad you can’t read the Book of Mormon with an open mind and heart! you could learn alot!

  2. 2 Berean
    January 29, 2009 at 3:09 am


    Being a faithful LDS member who has been properly educated at the ward, you should know that all mankind is “saved” in Mormon doctrine. Mankind doesn’t have to do anything to receive this gift of immortality. All will be resurrected and thus “saved”. What Mark is talking about is eternal life – the gift. Mormons don’t know right now if they have eternal life. None I have asked can say in the affirmative if they have it. “True to the Faith” says that Church members cannot know it either. Christians (non-Mormons) know right now that they have eternal life. That is something we wish Mormons could have the joy in knowing. We have to define our terms.


    1. Are you obeying the commandments? All of them? 1 Nephi 3:7
    2. Are you doing your part to add to what Christ did?
    3. What did Christ leave out that you have to do on your own?
    4. Are you doing your best?
    5. Are you fulfilling 2 Nephi 25:23 – “after all you can do”?

    LDS leaders in the past and current institute manuals state that Mormons can achieve perfection now in this life and it is incumbent upon them to do so NOW. I’ll be happy to supply the references. Mark has them as well as I and would be happy to give them to you too.

    The Bible has declared me not guilty (Romans 8:1). I am declared perfect right now (Hebrews 10:14) because I am sanctified through Christ right NOW (Hebrews 10:10). My sins have been forgiven and no longer remembered (Hebrews 10:17-18).

    I read the Book of Mormon (1830 & 1981 versions) with an open heart and mind and found that it doesn’t line up with modern Mormmon revelation on what constitutes eternal life. There are contradictions and that means that it cannot be true because the real God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). What does the Book of Mormon say:

    1. Salvation/eternal life is through repentance and faith: Mosiah 3:12
    2. Salvation/eternal life is through belief: Mosiah 4:8-10; 28:7; Alma 11:40; 22:16; 34:15; Helaman 14:8
    3. Salvation/eternal life is not through the law alone: Mosiah 13:28
    4. Alma is assured of eternal life: Mosiah 26:20
    5. Eternal life is already given to those that died: Helaman 5:8
    6. Salvation is free: 2 Nephi 2:4
    7. By the law nobody will be justified: 2 Nephi 2:5

    We flip over to Doctrines and Covenants and now the “goal line” is moved for modern-day Mormons. Now baptism for the dead ordinances are required for Mormons today if they want salvation and eternal life (D&C 128:15). Now there is the requirement for eternal/celestial marriage (D&C 131:1-3). Plural marriage is also required (D&C 132:1-4). That’s just a short list. If I were a Mormon I’d be upset that the requirements for my salvation/eternal life is different than what was required for those Nephites that supposedly lived so long ago. They “got over” – big time.

    No, praise God that the Mormon system is a false system and is not of the true God as described in the Bible instead of an exalted man who became a god living near a star called Kolob. Mormons would be well served to start looking at their Bibles with an open mind and heart and see what it says so they can have the joy that Christians today do in knowing that they have eternal life, are not guilty before God and are declared perfect through the imputed work of Christ – now. Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He meant what He said. All we have to do now is believe on Him (John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:47) and receive the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). Our good works will naturally follow because of that belief – not by itself or in front of the belief. We obey and do good works out of gratitude for what Christ did completely for us apart from ourselves in which we can do nothing. Christ did it all. We obey and serve from the heart (Romans 6:17) because no flesh will be justified with the law (Romans 3:20).

  3. January 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Berean, allow me to offer some observations of your comment. It would appear from your writings that you believe in a universal salvation for all men and women, including Latter-day Saints. Thus, Evangelicals as well as Latter-day Saints are both saved. The only difference, it would appear from your comment, is that Evangelicals possess the joy of knowing they are saved while Latter-day Saints do not possess the joy of knowing they are saved. However, in either event, both groups of people shall have salvation. While there are some Evangelicals who argue that Mormons, so long as they continue to hold to heretical theology, are not saved, your position by contrast seems to be that heretical theology has no bearing on salvation, and that Mormons too are saved as are Evangelicals, and that the only difference is in the joy that comes with the knowledge of knowing what is saved or not. This leads to the situation where you are not motivated by the fear that Mormons will not be saved, since everyone is saved, but rather because you desire that Mormons possess a joy that comes through knowledge. Is this a correct statement of your position?

  4. 4 Berean
    January 30, 2009 at 3:30 am


    What? Universal salvation? How you got me favoring or supporting universal salvation is beyond me. I’m scratching my head. It’s really the other way around. Once again, we have to define our terms. Mormons believe all mankind is saved. Mormons hear the word “saved” and they think universal resurrection for all mankind. Evangelicals think “eternal life” for those few that have put their faith and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Mormons believe that all mankind is saved because the Mormon jesus gave all mankind the gift of immortality and all will have a resurrection. Christians think “saved” as being faith in Christ apart from our works (Ephesians 2:8-9) which gives us the gift of eternal life (see reference verses in my earlier post).

    My last paragraph above clearly states the differences between Christianity and Mormonism when it comes to salvation. Read again what I wrote. I think you have me confused with somebody else. Universal salvation is heresy and I denounce it along with Mormonism in total for the false religion that it is. Mormonism and those that practice it are “anathema” (Galatians 1:6-9).

  5. January 30, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Berean, thanks for your reply and clarifications. Again, part of my inquiry is to come to an understanding of your position so I appreciate the clarification.

    First, I’d like to clarify my understanding of your position on the gift of eternal life which God gives to “those few that have put their faith and trust in Christ alone for their salvation.” When a person “puts their faith and trust in Christ alone for their salvation” are they doing this ultimately based on human free will? In other words, is the decision to put “faith and trust in Christ alone” a decision that anyone can make and theoretically that all mankind has the capacity to make if they chose to do it? Or, does God decide who is going to have the capacity to make this decision?

  6. 6 Berean
    January 30, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I don’t think Mark Cares wants to turn this discussion into a Calvin/Armenian off topic “rabbit trail”. Both camps agree that salvation in Christ is based on faith alone – not works. Both camps agree that Mormonism and its heretical teachings are “another gospel” (2 Cor 11:4) and thus should be rejected. Both camps would agree that the believer is made perfect through Christ (Hebrews 10:14). Both camps are going to be in heaven with Christ if they look to Christ for their total and complete salvation apart from themselves and their works. Both camps can then discuss for all eternity on who had it right, but I imagine then it probably won’t matter. Both camps will be too busy giving praise to the One that did it all for us to be there with Him because of our faith and trust in Him alone for our redemption.

  7. January 30, 2009 at 5:57 am

    It’s unfortunate that this topic isn’t being discussed or that it is viewed as tangential. The question isn’t faith or works, the question running throughout all the comments on this blog where salvation is concerned, the very key underlying heart of the issue as to why Latter-day Saints simply find many Evangelical presentations unpalatable is this very idea of human free will. It simply cannot be separated from discussions of salvation. The two are connected at a fundamental level.

    As an illustration, take the first comment on this thread by a Latter-day Saint. The commenter used such language as “we must do our part” which signaled that this person’s understanding of Mark’s post is that human beings do not have any part or any role to play on this earth. It would clearly behoove Evangelicals who desire to reach a Latter-day Saint audience to listen to that response. Underneath this language is the core idea that humans have actual decisions to make and that they make them. It’s in the best interest of Evangelicals who hold an opposing view to present such a view in an intelligible and winsome way or otherwise Latter-day Saints visiting the blog will continue to completely reject what is being presented.

    Another example, Mark wrote a post back in August titled “Does Everybody Have Agency?” but even in this appropriately named topic, with several subsequent comments, was there no little discussion of this view and no effort to explain it, and as a result, little understanding was advanced.

    As yet another example of this being the foundation for Latter-day Saint hesitancy with the notion that human free will doesn’t exist, some have suggested many Latter-day Saints say they do not know whether they are saved. Why do they say this? It has nothing to do with a lack of faith in Christ or God, it represents at the foundational paradigm, the belief, that human beings need to make choices and that some choices in the future are unknown until they are made. For many Latter-day Saints, to say that one is saved immediately today and furthermore that the rest of their life has absolutely no bearing on salvation is to say that life has no meaning and that human choices are irrelevant. This is the perception. Many Evangelicals may not realize this or may think this is an odd way to understand this issue, or they may be shocked to realize that many Latter-day Saints are responding to the message in this way, but in my experience this is the reaction. It is not good news to be told that your life has no meaning and none of your decisions amount to anything. No matter how many times Evangelicals tell Latter-day Saints that this really is good news, it won’t be regarded as such until and unless someone comes along who actually wants to present this message specifically for the purpose of reaching Latter-day Saints. For many Latter-day Saints this is seen as depressing. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who would like to do that, but if there are it would be greatly welcomed, and it is a very important topic.

  8. January 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve pointed this same thing out numerous times. The free will thing is everything if you want to talk to Mormons. And telling them to quit being “arrogant” and surrender to the inevitable reality of what they consider to be giant cosmic joke played by a sadistic and alien God is hardly helpful.

    And often, Evangelical attempts to entice us into desiring their version of heaven are no better. Berean, your comment about heaven reminded me of this quote from early Mormon scholar Nels L. Nelson quoting a Protestant description of heaven:

    “What shall we do when we get to heaven? Wherein shall consist our happiness? I shall answer this question for myself. When I get to heaven, I shall spend the first five million years of my life in gazing upon the face of God; then if my wife is near I shall turn and look at her for five minutes. Then I shall gaze upon the glory of God again for a million million years; and when the longing of my eyes shall have been satisfied, and my soul is suffused with the beatific vision, I shall snatch up my harp and begin playing.”

    Comments Nelson scornfully, “What kind of being must God be, if we suppose him to get pleasure from having a billion billion… eyes glued upon Him from all sides for millions of years at a stretch? And then to have a certain quadrant of the enraptured gazers suddenly seized with harp-madness for other millions of years! Surely he will need the full measure of his infinite patience and longsuffering!”
    (Nels L. Nelson, The Scientific Aspects of Mormonism (1904))

    Maybe that’s not a fair description, but you guys have got to realize that this is exactly how many Mormons view your heaven. Vacuous and pointless.

    It’s no good trying to coax the family dog with a treat, when the dog finds the treat repulsive. Evangelicals are always talking to me about how God is going to obliterate my will and identity and assure me a place in heaven – if I’m one of the lucky predestined ones – with all the air of Father Christmas presenting a boy with a new puppy.

    I don’t think they realize how their statements look from my end.

    Wonderful! If only I assimilate into the Borg collective and quit trying to be good, I can find out if I’m the lucky winner in God’s great cosmic lottery and whether I will escape from the impossible catch-22 He created out of nothing because He happened to be bored one day.

    Where do I sign up?

  9. 9 ladonna.morrell
    January 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    hey berean,

    i am still chuckling about your awkward “mormonese”, i.e. “being educated AT THE WARD”. so funny….. but anyway, you totally misunderstand the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants…which makes it difficult to get you to understand the truth. if you were to carefully read the Bible, you would discover many, many passages that tell us we must DO SOMEthing! I believe the Bible to be the word of God and i do not take ONE or two passages and try to build my whole case on it.

    i would like to add to what Aquinas said: Christians like you, say that you do good works as a “sign of faith”, and not because it is required. but, i know plenty of Christians who claim to “be saved” who are phony, aren’t very honest, dress like tramps and pick and choose the commandments they live, but who every once in a while show a few good works….but still are “saved”! now, in your opinion, are they saved? or did their poor choices nullify their salvation? or would you say that they weren’t really saved to begin with?
    or, does it not matter what WE think, but rather what the Lord knows is in their heart and HE WILL BE THE JUDGE? hey, that is a novel idea, let’s let the LORD be the JUDGE!! oh wait, i think that IS in the bible, something called judgement day….and wait, that must mean that the Mormons are right!
    thanks, berean, for helping me make that point!

  10. January 30, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I’d like to second Aquinas’ invitation “to present this message specifically for the purpose of reaching Latter-day Saints”, because so far nothing has made think better of the Evangelical paradigm or appealed to my senses. We need someone who can understand and speak our language in order to reach us…

  11. 11 markcares
    January 30, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Help me understand by answering the question I raised in the post: “How long is that great while that Joseph Smith said it would take?”

  12. January 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I think discipleship is a lifelong process. The possibility of rejecting God and losing your reward remains at all stages of mortality. It is always, ALWAYS possible to fall from grace.

  13. 13 Berean
    January 31, 2009 at 12:57 am


    I gave you scripture references from the Book of Mormon, D&C and the Bible that showed your point to be in error. You told me I was in error but gave me nothing. All you gave me was youthful sarcasm. This is the big leagues here. Work on your Mormon “apologetics”. You aren’t living up to 2 Nephi 25:23 – you aren’t doing your best.

  14. 14 Berean
    January 31, 2009 at 1:48 am


    I don’t know who Nars Nelson is referencing, but that isn’t mine or any other Christian’s view of heaven. No, we don’t believe in the three degrees of glory as presented in D&C 76 because it contradicts the Word of God: the Bible. This means that it cannot be from God because God cannot lie.

    I have heard before from other Mormons the mocking about “playing the harp” for all eternity. You might be interested to note that the Satanits say the exact same words in the Satanic Bible. They have many beliefs that the Mormons do ironically. Here are two more:

    1. God is a man
    2. Eternal progression

    There are 14 more and I would be happy to reference them in the appropriate blog thread or would be happy to give you the exact quote about the harp playing from the Satanic Bible if Mark allows it to be written on his blog. Yes, I have read the Satanic Bible – twice. The reasons? To search their beliefs and see if there are any Mormon “ring tones” in which I found out that there are. Second, to understand what Satanists believe in order to witness to them. Third, Mormons state that we are to pray about the Book of Mormon and see if it’s true (Moroni 10:3-5). I’ve asked Mormons if that applies to other books as well. My question is usually met with silence. When I am presented this challenge I hand them the Satanic Bible and ask them if they want to pray about that and see if it’s true. The same could be said about the New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses), the Quran (Koran), Buddhist scriptures, etc. I didn’t pray about the Satanic Bible or any of the others and the Mormons won’t either, but they want me to pray about the Book of Mormon – goofy logic and the ultimate in hypocrisy.

    So, you are welcome to continue with the harp mocking all you like. You’re in good company with the Satanists who think the same thing. Christians don’t believe in eternal harp playing. We also don’t believe that we will be spending eternity having celestial sex on our owh planet with our celestial, polygamous wives creating spirit kids who will in turn worship us on their planet. That’s called paganism and non-Christian.

  15. 15 Berean
    January 31, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Mormon poster Clean Cut said: “We need someone who can understand and speak our language in order to reach us”. I’d like to volunteer for this “calling”. Our Mormon friends don’t like the term “free will”. Okay, let’s talk about “agency”. I’d like to begin this discussion by talking about this very issue that was discussed last week at the Mormon stake that I attended down the street. I’d also like to ask the same questions here that I asked there at the Gospel Essentials class that nobody could answer. The majority of the class were life-long Mormons including the former bishop and his wife of that very ward. Mormon language? Let’s group them here:

    Grand Council
    First Estate
    Mother in heaven
    Spirit children
    Spirit of revelation

    The lesson was from the Gospel Essentials book page 21 “Freedom to Choose” (Agency). The teacher had drawn out the complete illustration with circles and blocks starting with the first estate, grand council, premortal world all the way to where we are now. However, there was one large square he drew on the board that got my attention that divided the first estate/premortal world with mortal world/earth as we know it today. It was called the “VEIL OF FORGETFULNESS”. I had never heard this term or read of it before in Mormon Doctrine or any of the other institute manuals. I had just finished reading “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual” and it wasn’t there either.

    The teacher said that all mankind on earth was at the Grand Council and agreed to the plan and used proper agency that proves that they are here on earth. All mankind passed through this veil before coming to earth and thus have forgotten everything from the preexistence. I was familiar with the teaching of forgetting, but had never seen a title put to it. The teacher said that veil was very thin. It sounded a lot like what the Mormons believe about spirit prison and paradise after death – not before coming to earth to get a body so they can become a god one day.

    When the time was appropriate for questions I asked the teacher if he could supply me with a Bible reference to support this teaching of the “veil of forgetfulness”. He smiled and said that he would be happy to do that. He looked down at his book and started flipping pages. We just sat there in silence. He looked up and asked for help. Most people started flipping through their Bibles and came up with nothing. He finally concluded that it isn’t there after telling me and the others that it was. The former bishop couldn’t come up with nothing either along with other Mormons who had been in the Church their entire lives. One Mormon in the back begin getting angry in the back and started attacking the reliability of the Bible. I asked, “Would that term be in my LDS KJV Bible that has the Church stamp on it?” No answer was given – only silence. Finally, one gentleman yelled out “John 18:38!” I responded, “Jesus standing before Pilate before the Crucifixion? What does that have to do with the ‘veil of forgetfulness’?” At that point the teacher seemed embarrased and said, “I guess we need to study.”

    I also asked why I had never heard or read of that term (veil of forgetfulness) before in any institute manual or otherwise? I pulled out of my bag the book “Mormon Doctrine” and asked them why there was no listing for this term in the “V” section? A comedian in the back said, “I guess McConkie forgot” to which everyone laughed except me. I was obviously slow to the joke. I was then told that it’s all about the spirit of revelation. Was the teacher just given revelation or new doctrine that affected billions of people that supposedly passed through this veil?

    I asked a few more questions:

    “So let me make sure I understand this. Everyone that has ever lived and is living now has passed through this veil and was at the grand council and used agency by accepting the plan? (The teacher nodded his head “yes”). If that be the case, what about those people that will be born 1,000 years from now? Were they present at that grand council? (The teacher didn’t want to answer). Is heavenly father and mother in heaven still procreating and creating spirit children today – now? (The teacher nodded his head “yes”). If that be the case, then how can these spirit children being conceived and born now could have been at this grand council with us back then and accepted the plan thereby using proper agency? They weren’t there, right? If they weren’t there to accept this plan then they really don’t have agency to accept this plan because it’s already in affect now, correct?” The room went silent again.

    Finally, one Church faithful said that it was all about the spirit of revelation and knowing that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I figured this was just “bearing testimony” because of a difficult situation presenting itself. When an answer can’t be given or contradictions present itself it all goes back to Joseph. I agreed when I was approached after the class by several of the men including the missionaries. Joseph Fielding Smith said that the “Church stands or falls with Joseph Smith” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, page 188). Those standing there said that the questions were great and wanted to know if I was an inactive becoming active again. I was also asked what my affiliation with the Church was. Of course, I answered honestly their questions and told them who I was and why I was there. The ward bishop intercepted me as soon as I walked in the door for sacrament meeting by coming up to me and saying, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” I told him why I was there (to learn about Mormonism because Mormons on the blogs and Church missionaries keep telling me that what I am reading in the institute books is “not what we believe”). I asked if I was welcome to come back next week for the next Sunday school class from the Gospel Principles book. All agreed that I was so. So I will be there this Sunday for the next lesson.

    So, this is where we are with agency from the Sunday school class from last week. It appears that some had agency and the future Mormons (spirit children being sexually procreated by Mormon god and his wives) came after the plan was already enacted and agreed to by Mormons living in the past or presently now. We also have a new term (veil of forgetfulness) that was given to this class by the spirit of revelation that has no scriptural reference from the Bible or otherwise. It appears that the Mormon god also likes predestination as well:

    “With all this in mind, can we account in any other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born here in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, rewarding all according to their deeds” (Mark Peterson, Race Problems as they Affect the Church, August 27, 1954, p,11)

    I look forward to reading the answers to these questions. I also look forward to the excuse making to stop by our Mormon posters and friends. See you on Monday night. Have a nice weekend.


  16. January 31, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Berean, I do not personally think Nels Nelson was correct in his caricature of the Protestant heaven. I merely brought him up so you could better understand why your overtures may not be perceived positively among Mormons.

    By the way, I have actually heard modern Evangelicals whose views of heaven are every bit as inane, sappy and vacuous as Nelson’s caricature. Maybe you aren’t one of them, but I don’t think you speak for the entire religion. Popular notions of religion are often rather embarrassing to we who have studied a bit.

    As for your rant about the Satanist Bible…


    Not sure where that came from, but let’s respond to your logic here.

    Mormons say some things that sound like what they say in the Satanist Bible.

    Therefore what? We are Satanists? We have the same spirit as the Satanists? What are you implying here Berean?

    And lets turn it around.

    The Pharisees rejected Christ’s miracles by saying “he hath a devil” and “by the power of Beelzebub doth he cast out devils.”

    I have repeatedly heard Evangelicals dismiss Mormon claims to miracles by saying they were from Satan.


    Evangelicals must be Pharisees!

    Does that work for you Berean?

  17. 17 ladonnamorrell
    January 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm


    this is the big leagues? that is too funny. i could show you point by point how you misunderstand the Book of Mormon, but it would be a colossal waste of time….you just don’t WANT to get it! it would be like explaining rocket science to a kindergartner! as far as i can see you misquote, quote out of context and generally topical guide surf to try to make your lame points. every scripture you listed was misinterpreted by you! EVERY ONE!
    because you have an agenda, the spirit will not guide you. period.
    and hey mark, when i have a spare minute i will take a stab at your latest question….or your latest re-interration of your question.

  18. January 31, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Mark, perhaps then you might address the question I raise in your next post. For now, let me offer a few observations of your treatment of perfection in this post.

    First, of all, I think Latter-day Saints can agree with you that perfection is only in Christ. The Book of Mormon states “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” (Moroni 10:32). Even the 1978 manual you cite begins “Perfection is an ultimate goal that can be achieved, as we draw upon the power of Christ.

    Second, the quote by Joseph Smith that you are referring to, doesn’t include the the term perfection. The focus of the analogy is learning. He writes:

    When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel–you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.348).

    He is referring to learning the principles of the Gospel. This is also highlighted in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (published in 2007). Joseph’s analogy between learning the principles of the Gospel and climbing a ladder is placed under the heading “We gain knowledge of eternal truths a little at a time; we can learn all things as fast as we are able to bear them.” (p. 269).

    In addition, the lesson includes the following discussion question: “What can we learn from comparing our learning of gospel principles to climbing a ladder? What have you done to continually increase in your knowledge of the gospel?” (p. 269).

    I realize that the 1978 manual used Joseph’s analogy in this context of becoming perfect but I think the 2007 manual is more consistent with Joseph’s own views, and here is why. Consider other verses in the Doctrine and Covenants. For example, in speaking of those who reside in celestial glory, Joseph Smith wrote in 1832: “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” (D&C 76:69). These are already just men made perfect. Joseph doesn’t write, “these are just men who will only be made perfect after a great while.” Again, the ladder analogy relates specifically to learning and this is again intimately tied to the notion that learning and growth is something that will continue beyond the grave.

    I should add that this verse in the D&C does not state that men are only made perfect when they have died and entered into celestial glory with a resurrected body, but that those who are in celestial glory are just men made perfect. However, even if one understood perfection to be something occurring after the resurrection I don’t think this would be unreasonable, or I don’t think it is unreasonable to speak of perfection (in some respects) as something that occurs when mankind is resurrected with an incorruptible body. For example, John Wesley wrote in his sermon On Perfection:

    Neither can any man, while he is in a corruptible body, attain to Adamic perfection. Adam, before his fall, was undoubtedly as pure, as free from sin, as even the holy angels. . . Therefore man, in his present state, can no more attain Adamic than angelic perfection. (On Perfection, Sermon 76, 1784).

    Even your own language seems to suggest some sort of distinction. You write: Therefore, right now, God sees me as perfect. And then, the moment I die, I will be taken into his presence where I will no longer be confirmed in righteousness and no longer even be able to sin.” This language suggests that there is some difference in state between perfection in a corruptible body and perfection in an incorruptible body, that presently you are able to sin, but then you will not be able to sin.

    Nevertheless, the scriptures do speak of men who are perfect in this life. James says: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” (James 3:2). Paul writes that the scriptures are given so “That the man of God may be perfect.” (2 Tim 3:17). Paul further encourages his readers to “Go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1). Even the unique LDS scriptures speak in these terms. For example, consider texts such as the Book of Moses: “And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Moses 8:27). Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon uses salvation language in the past tense. “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.” (Mosiah 27:24). Thus, various thinkers have considered perfection in various ways, with some distinctions to perfection in this life and after this life, and there are scriptures in both the Bible and the unique LDS canon that support such views.

  19. 19 royaltonmd
    January 31, 2009 at 5:25 pm


    Good questions. While we believe God is eternally creating, including organizing the spirits of His children, I think you misunderstand something. He has created countless worlds. I don’t know how long it takes to organize a spirit and for that spirit to develop to the point of being ready for mortality. But all those who would be sent to this world were at the counsel and chose to accept the plan. Those spirits that are being organized now won’t come to this earth as I understand it. I suppose they will be sent to other, future worlds after they are given the choice.

    You seem to enjoy your experience in gospel essentials. Do you expect a teacher there to be able to answer all questions at a moments notice? I think that would be a little much to expect of anybody.

    I think evangelicals who spend time criticizing the LDS church find the amount of doctrinal material appealing. You have to admit, there is a lot of stuff in our belief system- doctrine, scripture, etc. to contemplate. I have often wondered if they grow tired or bored of what they have.

    Just some thoughts.


  20. 20 ladonnamorrell
    February 1, 2009 at 12:21 am


    re: The Gospel Doctrine Teacher not answering the questions.

    i would bet (having been a teacher for many years) that the Teacher was getting by an uncomfortable situation by bypassing the question of a critical, belligerent non-beleiver. he/she was probably embarrassed and at a loss for a polite (because we are ALWAYS polite) way to shut you up.

  21. February 1, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Sunday services for many LDS, are a refuge to get away from the criticisms of outsiders and the world and simply enjoy fellowship in the Gospel.

    If I was a Gospel Doctrine teacher, I probably would not welcome a hostile outsider either. Part of being a gentleman is the art of making others comfortable. It is not gentlemanly to go into someone else’s religious services and wrest the entire proceeding for your own agenda. If you made a habit of such behavior as you exhibited in that Gospel Doctrine class Berean and I were the Bishop, I would ask you to leave. It’s not quite on the level of rudeness exhibited by street preachers who shout through bullhorns at LDS wedding parties, but it’s a softer form of the same concept. You are disrupting someone else’s party.

    You’d probably do better not to share your experiences harassing your local LDS services Berean. They do not reflect well on you.

    I imagine I could find a local Evangelical congregation to “lay the smackdown” on in my community as well. But I don’t pretend that winning an argument against the unprepared means that my position is right. Nor do I think that interrupting other people’s worship services is a sign of spiritual manhood.

    You’ll note that Paul, Peter, and Jesus himself – spoke truth to power in public arenas. They didn’t go and break up pagan worship services with the “sharp word of God.”

    Really Berean, I’ll thank you to keep these little experiences to yourself. I don’t really want to hear them. It just lowers my opinion of you.

  22. 22 Berean
    February 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm


    I’m not really worried what your opinion is about me. I never believed you thought much of me to begin with. You clued me in earlier last year with derogatory comments that were personal and “below the belt” when I pointed direct questions of you that dealt with Mormon doctrine that you couldn’t answer. I’ve learned to expect this from Mormons when they are challenged about their beliefs that don’t square up with scripture.

    I went to the Gospel Essentials class which is for new converts and investigators – not the Gospel Doctrines class for die-hards like yourself that have given over their souls to the exalted man near Kolob. I asked very clearly if this venue is set up for questions and an open forum. I was told that it was. You weren’t there so you have no clue to what my behavior was. I’m not a fool. What may have seemed like a long ordeal in my post that took place actually was only about five minutes. The rest of the time I just sat there and listened. I was invited to the priesthood meeting like I have many times before where I just sat there and listened. I asked several times if I was welcomed back for the next class so I could learn more about Mormonism since I have grown weary of Mormon bloggers crying the blues and whining to me that what I am reading in the institute manuals is “not what we believe”. The former bishop and other church leaders were in that class. If they wanted me to leave all they had to do was say so instead of coming up to me and shaking my hand and telling me that those were great questions that challenged them to study more.

    Seth, it appears that you need to do some studying. Jesus nor the disciples Peter and Paul didn’t go into pagan worship services and “slice and dice” with the Word of God? Open up your Bible to Acts 17 and see the example that Paul gave. I model my evangelism style after him.

    Acts 17:2 – “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”

    Acts 17:10-11 – Here we have the account of Paul going to Berea. Paul went into the synagogues of the Jews. The Bereans “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”. Thus, this is where I get my screen name. Mormons would be well served to start following the example of the Bereans by checking what the Mormon leadership says by what the Bible says.

    Acts 17:16-17 – Paul once again goes into the synagogues and “disputed” with them.

    Acts 17:22 – Paul witnessed to the pagans on Mars Hill.

    Acts 19:8 – “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

    Acts 19:9 – “…disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus”

    I guess this last verse will be the next venue. There is an institute near me and it appears that the classes are open to non-members. Maybe there they can answer the hard questions that I have that come from those manuals.

    We’ve had Mormons come to our church. Missionaries have walked right in the door and tried to proselytize the pastor. That’s pretty bold. We had a husband and wife walk into our Sunday school class and announce that they were temple Mormons and wanted to ask questions. The class was cancelled and their questions were answered. Christians love questions. The Bible tells us what our attitude should be in regards to answering questions in 1 Peter 3:15.

    I have no respect for Mormons that cry and whine when the slightest bit of “heat” is put on them that makes them have to think about what they believe. Mormons live isolated lives and frolic in each other’s coziness and don’t want any outsiders to “disturb the nest”. They create blogs and when an outsider comes there and asks questions backed up with scriptures and LDS quotes they are banned from the blog and their posts are deleted because they don’t want to have to face the reality of it all. Anything that makes them uncomfortable brings forth the accusation that the person has the “spirit of contention” which was Joseph Smith’s way of innoculating the Mormon brethren to bail out of anything that doesn’t make them feel good.

    I have no respect and a complete lack of understanding for a Mormon who doesn’t have the guts to even state what he believes or won’t bear his testimony. I was at some friends house yesterday whose 18 year-old son recently converted to Mormonism. His parents have asked him to tell them what he believes. He won’t tell them. They have no clue about Mormonism. While I was there he came home but wouldn’t come inside because he saw a truck parked outside of his house that he didn’t recognize. He sits out in the driveway and texts message back and forth with his mother wanting to know who was there, etc. I said that I would like to hear his testimony and how he came to convert to Mormonism. He wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He just sat outside in the driveway and wouldn’t come in and did text messaging like a gutless wimp. He finally drove off.

    Why the shame? Why the embarrassment? Where is the boldness? Where are the fruits of the Spirit? His parents said all he has done since converting has been demonstrating and attitude of defiance, rebellion, back-talking and breaking the commandment of honoring father and mother. His younger brothers have started acting out recently after watching his behavior and it’s causing huge discipline problems for the paretns. I told them to just call the bishop and ask him what is going on. Maybe this kid needs to read Romans 1:16. I have nothing to be ashamed about.

    I don’t care if Mormons hate me for challenging them about their faith which is a damnable heresy. To sit on my rear and say or do nothing while Mormons put the “petal to the metal” on the way to outer darkness isn’t the loving thing to do. Seth, there are a lot of Mormons like yourself. They don’t care if the teachings of Mormonism fly in the face of biblical scripture because they believe in Joseph Smith’s story. As one Mormon told me, “If the prophet told me to rob banks and kill people I would do it!” So, what do you do with that? Let them go on their way. There are other Mormons out there that do have real questions and are struggling with the teachings of Mormonism. Those people are not openly blogging like you and the others. They are the silent lurkers. The Mormons on the blogs like yourself are the ones engaging in damage control of the church. You play this back and forth game with Mark Cares on his blog and others merely for your own amusement but have no real desire to search anything out. You have a testimony of Joseph Smith so that is the end of it. You offer nothing of substance from the scriptures and pose no real answers to the tough questions. When it gets tough you turn to open mocking. Those Mormons out there that have the real questions will seek them out. Playing spiritual “patty-cake” with Mormons who would kill and rob banks if the prophet told them to is a waste of time. Mark Cares has witnessed to you. I have as well. You are free to reject it. You’ve been warned. Your blood is not on my hands (Ezekial 3:18-19).

  23. February 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Yup, your original comment did say Gospel Essentials and not Gospel Doctrine. My mistake there.

    I won’t pretend that I like your approach of going to LDS services with ulterior motives Berean. I don’t consider it all that appropriate, and it’s not something I would do to Evangelicals. But the venue in this example does mitigate things somewhat. You are correct that the LDS should be prepared to answer something more than the “standard Sunday School answers” when they are presenting a class that is designed to reach out to outsiders.

    As for your example of the 18 year old. I’m not sure what you think this anecdote proves, if anything. I’ve seen teenagers on their way OUT of Mormonism exhibit exactly the same behavior when they saw their local Bishop – run the other way. Sounds more like a teenage thing than a Mormon thing to me. In fact, it’s hard not to sympathize with the kid. Knowing what I know about you from here Berean, if I were that unformed teenager, I wouldn’t come inside to get doctrinally annihilated by you either.

  24. February 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Berean, your one-sided rants make me wonder if I should be amused or annoyed. Do you really expect us to take you seriously? It’s like you live in your own world and have you’re own version of biblical interpretation, your own version of respectful and civil dialogue, and your own version of Mormons not being able to take the “heat”. I, or one, only deleted your comments on my blog after you completely lost any sense of rationality and went off on these rants that do nothing but make yourself feel good and justified about your approach. You won’t accept any answers to your questions even when they’re given because you find Mormonism so reprehensible and obviously we’re the ones who are wrong–you just seem to keeping wanting to find the way to point this out to us. It gets to be quite intolerable. I, at least, try to explore questions and enjoy having interfaith dialogue, but not with someone who can only have it their way.

    “Why–really, why–do the disbelievers who line that spacious building watch so intently what the believers are doing? Surely there must be other things for the scorners to do–unless, deep within their seeming disinterest, there is interest.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today”)

  25. February 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Berean, I went back and read over the (two) comments I deleted on my post http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-you-believe-all-this-then-why-are.html. I only deleted the last two comments after you lost all sense of propriety and tried to threadjack a post on “repentance” into wild discussion on how Jesus was conceived and other far out topics not relevant to the post. When I invited you to send me an email where I could attempt to answer your questions without having to change the whole tone of that thread, you posted again trying to threadjack (very disrespectfully I might add) on other irrelevant topics. It became clear to me, as I’m sure it is clear to the Gospel Principles teacher whose class you’ve attended, that you’re real motivation is not to seek out answers and truth but to disrupt, puff yourself up, tear others down, and be seen in public. A sincere question via email would have been just as effective as on a blog post, but, alas, you’re real motive was not as innocent as you claim.

  26. February 1, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Mark is out of town and not around to police the civility level here. So I’m going to back-off on this particular confrontation before it gets any more heated on my end.

Comments are currently closed.

January 2009

Blog Stats

  • 184,289 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 997 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: