One of the things I love about the Bible is that it pictures God’s love for us in so many different ways.  One way that brings comfort to many people who have felt estranged from God is the idea of reconciliation.  A most comforting passage in that regard is 2 Corinthians 5: 19.  “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

     Note the past tense:  “God was in Christ, reconciling”.  Paul clearly is talking about something that happened in the past.  Otherwise he would have had to write, “God is in Christ”.  Secondly, note whom God reconciled unto himself.  Strikingly, Paul wrote, “the world.”  Not just believers, but the world.  That’s significant.

     I have often used the following little illustration to explain this concept.  Stephanie, a teenager, had done something so bad against her parents that it caused her to run away from home.  Her parents didn’t know where she was, but one of her best friends did.  Therefore Stephanie’s parents sent a message to Stephanie through her friend.  “We love you.  We have forgiven you.  Come home.”  When Stephanie gets the message, she can’t believe it.  So she doesn’t come home.  As a result of her unbelief, she receives no benefits of reconciliation.  She still lives estranged from her parents.  But does that mean that her parents hadn’t already forgiven her – that her parents hadn’t already reconciled with Stephanie?  No it doesn’t.  In fact, it would be totally unfair to say that the parents had not forgiven her.

     All illustrations and analogies limp. For example, God knows where we are at unlike Stephanie’s parents.  But, hopefully, the point I am trying to make from that illustration is clear.  In the same way, God has already reconciled the world to himself in Christ – “not imputing their trespasses unto them”.  Christians are now in the position of Stephanie’s friend.  We are God’s message bringing this wonderful message.  “and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation”.  And what a wonderful message it is.  Instead of peppering it with “ifs” – “if you do this” – even “if you believe” – instead I can say that God has already reconciled you to himself.  God has already imputed your trespasses – all because of Jesus – believe it!

     Before someone replies by saying that, “See, we have to do something – we have to believe”, I would ask them to read previous posts where I explain 1) that the Bible describes even the faith to believe as one of his gifts to us; and 2) this is brought out by passages that describe faith and works (in the realm of salvation) like oil and water. They don’t mix.

     The point of this post is that when we view reconciliation from God’s side, it is a done deal.  He doesn’t wait to reconcile himself to us until we repent, improve, or even believe.  No.  “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”  That, my friends, is the awesome good news of the Bible.  Believe it!

75 Responses to “Reconciliation”

  1. 1 ADB
    March 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    What a great post to wake up to! Thanks, Mark.

  2. 2 ladonnamorrell
    March 18, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    When I started reading this blog it never occured to me that Christians (protestant, denominational Christians and LDS folks) who love the Lord could differ so much in their beliefs. Then it dawned on me that this is the VERY reason that Joseph Smith went into that grove of trees to pray for divine guidance about which Church to join.

    The protestant Church of my youth DID NOT teach what I read about here. This kind of doctrine was reserved for the “holy rollers” as my grandma called them. I have also seen other changes….but as long as I have been a “Mormon” things have stayed the same.

    I may or may not keep posting here. It is becoming a little boring to keep trying to talk some sense into you all! :)

    So, good luck to everyone. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hope that you all find it someday!


  3. 3 markcares
    March 18, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    What is being written here has been believed for many centuries. It isn’t new. More importantly, it is what the Bible teaches.
    I totally agree that there is a huge difference between what the Bible teaches and what Mormonism teaches. That is why it is frustating to Christians when Mormons claim to be Christians. By making that claim they are identifying with the teachings on this blog. I thought it was a more honest stance when Mormons regularly stood on the official claim of the LDS church, that it is the only true and living church and did not want to be identified in any way with Christian churches.
    The thing that sincerely frightens me is that this is not just a debate with the more clever person winning. No the stakes are much higher. People’s eternity are at stake. The Bible says that anyone who thinks that their salvation relies, in any part of what they do, is under a curse. (Galatians 3:10). That is not a fate I wish on anybody. That is why I urge everyone to rely solely on Jesus and his work.

  4. 4 ladonnamorrell
    March 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm


    The members of the LDS Church worships Christ. Those who follow Christ are called Christians. We do not claim to be another Christian CHURCH, just Christian people.

    I don’t see how that threatens anyone. I also think it is funny that ANYONE wants to represent someone else’s views. If you (or anyone, of course) want to know what a Mormon believes, ask one!

    I do not “rely” on my works to get to heaven. I rely solely on the Savior. I just obey Him in the meantime!…as He has commanded. I think obedience is a good thing, don’t you?

    I am happily staking my eternal life on my faith in Jesus Christ.



  5. 5 germit
    March 19, 2009 at 12:06 am

    LaddonnaM: I understand if you feel like your “season” at Markcares has drawn to a close. There is a time and a place for everything. Thanks for your honesty and passion for truth. Check back from time to time, or at Heart Issues, or I Love Mormons.

    God’s kindness to you and yours
    your green friend

  6. March 19, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

  7. 7 ADB
    March 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm


    Of course Christians believe in obedience–we just differ from the LDS in what role it plays.

    LDS: God grants people his grace IF they do good works.

    Christians: God grants people his grace SO they do good works.

    Works and obedience do not lead to God’s grace; rather, they flow from it. I am every bit obedient as the most devout Mormon, but for a very different reason, and a reason which has eternal implications if misunderstood. Please stop implying that Christians are somehow against good works and obedience. We are very much for them, but for a completely different reason. God doesn’t need them to satisfy himself, but in response to all that he has unconditionally done for us in Christ Jesus (reconciliation), we can’t help but do good.

    To your previous post regarding Christians who love their Lord differing so much in their beliefs, correct me if I’m wrong, but if Joseph Smith set out to straighten that out by finding the TRUE church, then why are their so many different branches of Mormonism today?

    Know Jesus … no guilt.

  8. 8 GB
    March 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm


    Actually I think it is safe to say that LDS believe that

    1) God grants people His grace SO they can do good works, AND

    2) God grants His people more of His grace IF they do good works.

    We fully believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the world was reconciled to God the Eternal Father.

    Jesus said to the Nephites that (3 Ne. 11:)11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me THE SINS OF THE WORLD, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
    • • •
    14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for THE SINS OF THE WORLD.

    Now that Jesus has paid the price for the sins of the world, He owns it lock, stock and barrel. Some now deceive themselves into believing that He has no requirements for salvation.

    But let’s not neglect the other things that Jesus said.

    Matt 21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven.
    22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that WORK INIQUITY.
    24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

    Now why would one say to Him “Lord, Lord” if they didn’t believe (or at least claim to believe) in Him? So even the believer isn’t exempt from DOING the will of the Father.

    And what is the will of God?
    Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

  9. 9 GB
    March 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    And lets not forget,

    1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.


    1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

    Thanks be to God for sending His Son, for (Acts 5:31) Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

  10. 10 ladonnamorrell
    March 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm


    you said:

    “if Joseph Smith set out to straighten that out by finding the TRUE church, then why are their so many different branches of Mormonism today? ”

    There is only ONE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I guess people can claim some connection…ANYONE can claim whatever they want…what difference does that make? (incidently that all have very small, declining memberships)

    Also, Joseph never thought that NONE of the Churches were on the right path with the correct authority and doctrine….he was asking “WHICH one should I join”? they all differed in their beliefs and even contended against each other. THE LORD told him they were all corrupt (not the people, just the teachings). How could they be anything BUT corrupt when they broke away from a “dead tree”, the Catholic church?

    I went through this myself. Even Christians today differ greatly in their beliefs according to their denomination.


  11. 11 faithoffathers
    March 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm


    To follow your analogy, if the daughter had done something illegal or some horribly wrong for which she needed to make restitution, a loving parent would want the child to do everything in her power to do just that. For example, if she had stolen a neighbors car and wrecked it, it is a stupid parent who would not require the girl to make it up to the neighbor. For her own welfare, she needs to do all she can to make things right. Just saying “we forgive you” doesn’t make every consequence of her action dissappear.

    God rewards those who obey Him and follow Him. This is as basic as it gets. And a person who does not get this message from the Bible is reading something fantastical into the text. The most fundamental of all laws to which we are subject is “as a man soweth, so shall he reap.”

    This does not mean we save ourselves, or do the work of saving. But it means that we must obey God to be saved. He does the saving, but we must follow Him as He asks.

    ADB- you are right that “God doesn’t need [our works] to satisfy himself.” He doesn’t need my measely little effort. Rather, I NEED THAT OBEDIENCE. Would you pour out unlimited blessings upon a son or daughter who made no effort to obey you and honor your will? Only if you were an unwise parent. Same thing here. Your son or daughter needs to obey you to really grow into a well-adjusted and grateful human being.

    Also, you said that “we can’t help but do good” in response to His great offering. Well, truth is we can help doing good and, unfortunately, often do. We are reconciled as we continually repent and come unto Christ. It is not just a one time event, but a lifelong process. It is how we demonstrate and develop faith.

    I recognize and appreciate that your desire to reject the idea that our works contribute to our salvation ultimately comes from your desire to give God all the credit. And He certainly does deserve all the credit for everything good in our lives and 100% of our salvation. But again, we must do our part or we will not develop and grow as He wants us to.


  12. 12 markcares
    March 19, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Jesus paid the restitution for us on the cross. i don’t consider that an act of a “stupid parent”, I consdier that an act of a gracous Lord.

    Plerase address the past tense in connection with the world. How do you understand that God was in Christ, reconciling world, not imputing sins.

  13. 13 ADB
    March 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm


    Thanks for your comments.

    It’s hard for me to struggle with what I see as a blatant contradiction coming from the LDS view. To me it is such an obvious and clear contradiction, but none in the LDS seem to recognize it. Your closing thoughts expressed it again: “And He certainly does deserve all the credit for everything good in our lives and 100% of our salvation. But again, we must do our part …” I just don’t see how God can get 100% of the credit when his 100% credit is dependent on us “doing our part.” If we’re “doing our part,” then how can God still be doing 100%? I can’t seem to reconcile it.

    Know Jesus … no guilt.

  14. 14 GB
    March 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I can give God credit for my breathing. Who does the breathing for me, me or God?

    I can give God credit for the food on my table. Who put the food on my table, me or God? Did He do it all? Did I have a part in the process? Did I use the resource/talents He gave me to do my part? Did I have a choice in doing my part or was I forced (predestined?) to do my part?

    Did God build my house? Can I give Him credit for providing it to me? Did He just give it to me or did He provide me with the opportunity to do part?

    Did God build my car? Can I give Him credit for providing it to me?

    If I just sit back and do NOTHING will God put food on my table?

    If no food shows up on my table, whose fault is it, mine or Gods?

  15. 15 faithoffathers
    March 19, 2009 at 6:44 pm


    Two different types of work to be done. We must do our part- obeying God. The actual work of saving- we cannot perform. Only Christ does- we cannot do even a particle of this kind of work.

    I don’t think this is all that difficult to see or understand. We see it everywhere in nature. Consider a farmer- he must plant the seed, pick the weeds, and where appropriate, water the crop. But what of that miracle inside the seed, the miracle of the sunlight, and the rain that waters the crop? Those come from God. But without the effort of the farmer, there would be no harvest.

    Ever seen the movie “The Ultimate Gift?” Great movie from 2 years ago. In it, an old billionaire is dying and must decide what to do with his fortune. Of all in his family, only one grandchild is considered a candidate as heir by the man. But the grandson has made foolish decisions and rebelled from family. The rich grandfather approaches the grandson and presents him with 10 tasks which he must perform to obtain an undisclosed gift. Each task is unpleasant and demanding, but ultimately results in the young man overcoming selfishness and learning to serve others. Through the process of completing the tasks, the grandson changes from a self-absorbed punk into a selfless, thoughtful, and grateful human being. The gift he obtains from the grandfather is the entire empire the old man has created.

    Sorry for the long story- but the analogy is perfect. In no way did the boy deserve the vast riches and empire of the grandfather. In no way did he earn it. But he was faithful in obeying the grandfather and developed into a beautiful person- one who could be entrusted with everything the grandfather possessed.

    We do not earn salvation or eternal life. But we must obey Christ in order to receive such gifts. This is very Biblical and it is reflected everywhere in nature and our own relationships with our parents and children.


  16. 16 faithoffathers
    March 19, 2009 at 6:54 pm


    I really don’t see the problem you see with the verse in 2 Corinthians. Could it be that it was in past tense simply because Christ was no longer on the earth? When Christ was here, God was in Him. It is, in my opinion, a huge jump in reason, logic, and textproofing to suggest this means we don’t have any work to perform in order to be reconciled to God. It just ain’t there.

    In your analogy of parents and daugher, an expression of love and acceptance from the parents in no way implies reconciliation is complete for all of her decisions. She may very well need to perform works to restore her good status in her community or family. But her parents still love her and will never give up on her.

    If nothing is required of us, then our salvation is completely out of our hands and will. We are not free. He blesses whom He chooses with the blessing of faith. God will save whom He will save. He then bares full responsibility for our actions if those actions reflect whether or not He has decided to save us. God is then a respector of persons, and all men are not created equal. There is no way around this if your position is maintained.

    Thanks for the response.


  17. March 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    LaddonnaM; you wrote

    There is only ONE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I guess people can claim some connection…ANYONE can claim whatever they want…what difference does that make?

    thank you for proving our point….yes, anyone CAN claim whatever they want, and that explains a lot of blatantly non-christian diversity among those who (all of them) claim to follow Jesus..just as there are perhaps dozens of groups who all claim the title of “rightful followers of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” If you allow that this diversity happens among many “mormon” groups, then how is it any different with orthodox historical chistianity ??

    Secondly, much of the diversity is over matters that are important, but not (as seen by many) essential to salvation. If you want a small taste of that , visit internetmonk.com and stay awhile….or ask a friend about a Promise Keepers event, or something like it. It’s amazing what Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, ev’s , and mainliners AGREE on. Quite a lot, really.

    Blessings on your zealous head
    the germster

  18. 18 ladonnamorrell
    March 19, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    ok, germster, the gloves are off.

    here is the answer:

    we are right, you are wrong. just because.



  19. 19 ladonnamorrell
    March 19, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    now, lets count the number of people who flip out at that answer!

  20. 20 ladonnamorrell
    March 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    PS: FOF and GB…each of you did an awesome job explaining what we believe!

  21. 21 germit
    March 20, 2009 at 2:44 am

    LaddonnaM: gloves off….eh??? that explains the welt….you gave GERMIT a red-eye

    you win

  22. 22 ADB
    March 20, 2009 at 4:42 am


    While this blog is most certainly not a “we’re right, you’re wrong” thing, let’s just run with that idea for a second. If the LDS are “right,” then the Christians have lost nothing. We do good works. God fills in the rest. We win even if we’re “wrong.”

    On the other hand, if Christianity is “right,” then the LDS have lost everything. By tying obedience/effort to salvation, Christ is robbed of his free and full and unconditional forgiveness. Anyone, as John’s Gospel says, who doesn’t believe, will perish. Outer darkness awaits every Mormon if Christianity is right. Pretty high stakes.

    Know Jesus, no guilt.

  23. 23 ADB
    March 20, 2009 at 4:49 am


    Salvation is completely out of our hands. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t free. We do have freedom. Unfortunately, because of our sinful nature that freedom always chooses to reject God’s free salvation. So when anyone is saved, God gets the credit. When anyone goes to hell, that burden is on the one who rejected God’s free gift. He CHOSE to refuse it.

    God has made it clear he wants ALL MEN to be saved and none to perish. The ONLY way he could ensure that would happen is by taking care of EVERYTHING, which he did by reconciling EVERYONE to himself in Christ Jesus without strings attached. He has essentially freely stuffed salvation in our front pockets without any of our own doing. But sadly, many will CHOOSE to take it out and toss it away (or think they’re better off on their own required efforts than to take God’s free gift as it truly is–free). Is God to blame for those who do so to their own eternal judgment?

    Know Jesus … no guilt.

  24. 24 Geoff456
    March 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    just a thought:

    If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why would He require SO much of His people for thousands of years, (the Law of Moses) and so little from us now. (Just “believe”)?


  25. March 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Geoff: do you think the ancients fulfilled the law by their obedience to the law ?? did they do what was required of them ???


  26. 26 ladonnamorrell
    March 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm


    you said:

    On the other hand, if Christianity is “right,” then the LDS have lost everything. By tying obedience/effort to salvation, Christ is robbed of his free and full and unconditional forgiveness. Anyone, as John’s Gospel says, who doesn’t believe, will perish. Outer darkness awaits every Mormon if Christianity is right. Pretty high stakes.

    I say:

    JESUS ties salvation to obedience and effort!! Over and over again we are admonished to DO SOMETHING!! KEEP the commandments, LOVE one another, BELEIVE, SERVE, DO, BE, TAKE, CHOOSE, OBEY…. If it was all so easy, just confess his name (and EVEN the devils can do that) then why all the ACTION verbs???? Why COMMAND us to do things if they will happen anyway???

    Justice is a law of heaven. So is mercy. By applying the atonement in our lives, we open ourselves up to His mercy. To apply the atonement we must OBEY him….”write His law on our hearts!!” Jesus has asked ALOT of us. I can’t for the life of me understand how all Christendom misses that when it is in the Bible OVER AND OVER!! You must give equal weight to all the scripturs, not pick and choose.

    Also, IF the Mormons are “right” then there is an “escape clause” for the Christians (temple work). If the Christians are “right” then WE (LDS) all go to HELL? What kind of God would do that? What kind of loving God, who willingly sacrificed His Son for all our sins, would send good, God-fearing people to Hell?? not only that, but what about all the people born and dead before they had a chance to hear about Jesus? are they consigned to hell because of the luck of the draw? Muslims, Chinese, Aboriginals, millions of people who JUST DIDN’T get the chance to run into a Christian missionary. WOW!! NOT the God of the Bible and certainly NOT my God!!


  27. March 20, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    LaddonnaM: good morning my friend

    you wrote:

    By applying the atonement in our lives, we open ourselves up to His mercy.

    I think I may have put a webbed finger (or is it a toe?) on a difference between us, we define MERCY differently…..because if MERCY worked the way you suggest, I’d say it no longer is MERCY, but something that is due us.

    WE agree quite a bit on the need for effort, obedience, etc. what one christian author called “Holy sweat….”.

    Is this a week’s reprieve….are you still on the way out ?? ( of MarkCares…not LDS. :-)


  28. 28 Sarah
    March 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I’ve been reading the recent posts from LaDonna, ADB, and Germie. Very interesting conversations! Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Unfortunately, the LDS have defined grace as the power Heavenly Father gives people to save themselves, which he grants only after they have done everything they can do. I say that because Joseph Smith wrote in 2 Nephi 25:23, “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” That’s a huge difference. Christians do good works out of love for Heavenly Father for giving us Jesus who died on the cross. His death was not JUST for conquering physical death; rather with his death, Jesus bought us back from the curse of sin. I know that I will be exalted because of what Jesus did for me, not what I do for Heavenly Father. Look at Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Heavenly Father is very clear here – we will not be exalted for trying to be good or working towards perfection.

  29. 29 GB
    March 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm


    How is Christ robbed of His “free and full and unconditional forgiveness”, when He is the one who set the conditions for His forgiveness? He is the one who demands obedience, not us. Does He lose His “free and full” will when He fulfills His promise that He made of His own free will and choice?

    If He reneges on HIS promise wouldn’t that make Him a liar? Wouldn’t that be a change in His nature?

    You really are confusing, first you say “Outer darkness awaits every Mormon if Christianity is right.”

    And then you say “God has made it clear he wants ALL MEN to be saved and none to perish. The ONLY way he could ensure that would happen is by taking care of EVERYTHING, which he did by reconciling EVERYONE to himself in Christ Jesus without strings attached.”

    If “Salvation is completely out of our hands” and if no strings (requirements) are attached, and if God “wants ALL MEN to be saved and none to perish” then it is clear that ALL MEN WILL BE SAVED!!!!!

    Soooo No worries mate!!! Eat, drink, and be merry, for when we die and all will be well with us. Party on dude.

    So if you are right, and I am wrong, then I will be saved!!! Yepee!!!!!

    Not sure it works the other way around though.

  30. March 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    GB wrote

    Soooo No worries mate!!! Eat, drink, and be merry, for when we die and all will be well with us. Party on dude.

    THANK YOU…..this being Friday…I’m going to buy some steaks on the way home and tell my wife we are under MORMON LAW this weekend to party like it’s 1999…. GB, i like the way you think dawg….if you were in the hood, I’d have you over.

    Reminding myself that GOSPEL means Good News

    GB: how do you want your steak ????

  31. 31 GB
    March 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm


    I think you missed something in my post.

    But smile on and have a good weekend.

  32. March 20, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    You know ADB,

    If God is the sort of being who is going to throw me into eternal torment just because I didn’t pass the theology exam or hold up to your little theological boondoggles, then frankly, I’m not sure I give a flying leap what he thinks.

    Such a being isn’t worthy of being worshiped, even if he is “all-powerful.”

    Stop threatening me with hell. It doesn’t work. Focus instead on why your idea of God is even worth worship in the first place.

  33. March 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    And I do find the Calvinist God to be, frankly, contemptible and monstrous. I would happily go to hell before bending a knee to such a being.

    I find the Arminian God, on the other hand, to be merely confusing, but it’s progress anyway.

  34. March 20, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Seth: well said about hell…. I don’t think you see our brand of Good News as “Good” or maybe “Not THAT Good” so a tag line to hell wouldn’t mean much.

    While we’re talking about finding our god(s) my take on finding the LDS GOD is that it would be just my luck to find HIM/HER…only to have them fail a celectial test or two or three and next thing you know , we’re both pushing a broom. Of course I could just look for Loser’s Better Brother…..but what guarantee do I have that loser-ship doesn’t run in their family ??

    Of course you’ll think my sketch is far fetched.

    Trying to keep my gospel Good News,

    PS to LaddonnaM: have a righteous party this weekend

  35. March 21, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Seth R,

    I do not beleive that you need to pass the theology exam in order to enter heaven. I do beleive that you need to have a correct understanding of yourself and the God that created you. John Calvin teaches, “unless you first grasp what your relationship to God is, and the nature of His judgment concerning you, you have neither a foundation on which to establish your salvation nor one on which to build piety toward God.” (3.11.1)

  36. 36 ladonnamorrell
    March 21, 2009 at 5:29 am


    I guess i am just addicted to y’all! can’t leave this blog alone!

    as for your question/comment on mercy:

    Jesus Christ is full of mercy AND truth. “Mercy” meaning His tenderness and love for us and “truth” meaning His adherence to justice, the law and truth. BOTH can be satisfied through HIS atonement. Jesus voluntarily gave His life for us. He was not compelled to do it. He wants us to be successful,to gain our salvation! He gave us commandments to help us on our way to perfection, but knowing how humans are, he gave us repentance and mercy and grace to help us over the rough spots. It has already been mentioned on this blog by GB, I think, that our repentance and efforts to become like Our Father MAKE us better, stronger, more faithful people. It gives us power and peace! As we grow and learn, He blesses us with more faith and peace. Just like the refining process purifies gold, the work we do purifies us and brings us closer to God. (This is “sanctification”) AND believe me, WE DON’T THINK THAT WE ARE “EARNING” OUR WAY TO HEAVEN WITH OUR EFFORT. We are simply doing what we have been commanded to do by a wise, loving Father in Heaven who wants us to MAKE something of ourselves. It is a law of nature that something you work on becomes much more precious to you than something that is handed over to you without any effort. So it is with our Spiritual growth. It will mean much more to us if we are engaged in the work!

    I can just imagine how many of you will pick this apart and tell me that salvation is a free gift and if we EVEN think about contributing to it we will be cursed. But once again, you all need to GIVE all the scriptures equal weight. There are MANY, MANY scriptures that back me up…..try the book James and Hebrews for starters.

    thanks for the good wishes, germie! hope your steak is delish! say hi to mrs. germie..what a lucky girl!


  37. 37 germit
    March 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

    LaddonnaM; thanks for the post, hooked, huh ?? Let’s hope this is “hooked on life” type of a thing…in which case we can say “Just say YES”.

    I like your positions ON PAPER…but the more an LDS expands this template, the more works as justification start to pop up on the edges. I mean, my somewhat nuerotic Roman Catholic Mom would say EXACTLY the same thing about not working her way to heaven…and then look my in the eye, rub her hands, and ask (again) “are you SURE you don’t somthing to eat….” Is that just moms being moms ?? maybe.

    we went GREEK instead of steaks, fewer calories, and no one had to cook. thanks for asking.

    GB: the offer still stands, I can grill a mean steak, and even Hugh Nibley had to eat once in awhile.

  38. 38 ADB
    March 22, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Does hell exist? Is anyone going there? What did Jesus save us from? Why do we need grace if hell is really nothing to worry about? I’m confused by just about every LDS post. Apparently you all have no problem stating that God makes demands of obedience from us, but you don’t like being faced with the very harsh reality (hell) of not being able to perfectly meet that obedience. Hell/outer darkness is real. Right now people are suffering there. I don’t want the LDS or anyone else to be among them.

    GB, Would you disagree that God wants all men to be saved? I don’t think you can, since he clearly states that in the Bible (1 Timothy 2:4). If God really wants all men to be saved, is he going to sit back and twiddle his thumbs and hope that is the case? NO. He took action. He provided salvation, yes, with no strings attached. Does that mean all will automatically be saved? NO, because many reject his gift as being a free gift.

    I’m not sure how you mistook what I said. Make no mistake, if Christianity is right, then no LDS will be in heaven. Attaching anything to grace means it is no longer grace. Doing something for a gift means it’s no longer a gift, but has become a payment for services rendered.

  39. 39 ADB
    March 22, 2009 at 5:47 am


    With all due respect, aren’t you treading dangerous ground calling the shots about what God should or shouldn’t be (especially since he’s revealed who he is in his Word)?

    Is that how it works with the LDS–they worship God because he’s “worth their worship?” I didn’t realize we were free to make God whatever we’d like him to be. For all the passages quoted by LDS about obedience, the many passages that clearly speak about hell as the consequence of lacking that perfect obedience sure do seem to be ignored. Is hell going to be empty or what?

    Seth, I am by no means trying to scare anyone with the threat of hell. However, when a neighbor’s house is burning down, I’m not going to keep my mouth shut and pretend there’s no danger. Hell is the real danger of being led astray by the LDS. Consider it an act of love when someone warns you about it. Don’t just sweep it under the rug and pretend God isn’t a just God. He is a God who will damn anyone who rejects his free gift of salvation.

    As for the Calvinist or Arminian god, I’m not a big fan of either. I prefer the One who revealed himself so clearly as the God of free and full salvation–the God who wants only to give, not to take. He did give. Know Jesus … no guilt.

  40. March 23, 2009 at 1:32 am


    Your problem is you remove the human element from the relationship. It’s all Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and no room for anyone else. Covenants are TWO-WAY. So are relationships. Mormon statements about obedience have one purpose, and one purpose only – to facilitate people entering into loving relationships with their Father by their own free will. The obedience never “earns” anything in Mormon theology. If you’d read King Benjamin’s address in Mosiah (Book of Mormon) you’d understand this. Despite all our works, we are eternally in His debt. You cannot “pay off the balance” in any sense in Mormon theology. What is required is “works meet for repentance.” The whole point of works is repentance, not merit.

    God cannot be chosen unless we are the ones who do it. There is a HUMAN element to the equation. Evangelicals who witness to Mormons tend to overcompensate in my view. They are so anxious to correct a perceived Mormon lack of regard for Jesus (a perception that has little grounding in reality, I would add) that they basically remove the human element from the equation entirely.

    The results, to the Mormon observer are both repulsive and incoherent.

    Now ADB, you said that you don’t believe in either “Calvinism” or “Arminianism” but rather “just the Bible.”

    Somehow I don’t believe you. You may read from the Bible, but you read it with a lens provided by others. This is apparent from your writing. You talk like a Calvinist, frankly.

    You can put on all the pretensions to “pure Bible” objectivity you want. I don’t believe you, to put it bluntly. So let’s drop the pretense. What are you? Arminian? Calvinist? Open Theist? What?

  41. March 23, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Does God have to be “worthy of our worship?”


    You miss the heart of Mormonism ADB – human agency.

    Our interface with God must be of our own free choice, and it must be made out of love (not fear). As Mormons, our whole point in being on this earth is so that we can freely choose to love God. This is paramount for Mormons. You start talking in any way that threatens that capacity for a free and loving choice, and you’ll lose us. We are not going to give up our loving relationship with God just because you threaten us with hell.

    This isn’t about the Bible. We both believe in the Bible. This isn’t about hell – we both believe in hell. This isn’t about Jesus – we both believe in Jesus. This is about our underlying assumptions about the universe, human nature, and what kind of being God is. Here, I imagine we differ – and it alters how you read the Bible, view hell, and relate to Jesus.

    I will never worship a Calvinist God. Such a being is a mere cosmic puppet-master. You cannot freely choose the Calvinist God, because He’s already controlling everything anyway. In fact, He is deliberately causing me to write what I’m writing right now. Even if I did worship such a being, it would only be under force anyway. That isn’t any sort of worship that need mean anything to anyone.

    I’m also at a total loss in how to worship an Arminian God. The Arminian God does not obsessively micro-manage His human creations. Under this model, free will is hopefully preserved by according God “simple foreknowledge.” He doesn’t cause human action, but He does know beforehand what everyone is going to do. He timelessly knows the end from the beginning.

    The problem is that this essentially renders God irrelevant. What good does God’s omniscient foreknowledge do Him? Can He choose to act differently because of it? He cannot. If God perfectly foreknows the end from the beginning, He is no more capable of changing course than we are. The entire universe is predetermined, and the present-day LIVING God is rendered an irrelevant afterthought. He is as much a slave of fate as His human creations. You might as well worship Thomas Jefferson’s “Divine Clockmaker” who set the universe perfectly in motion in one moment, and then decided to take a nap. A LIVING God is extraneous and irrelevant under the Arminian model.

    Neither Calvinism nor Arminianism leave any room for truly free choices. Both are cosmic catch-22s. You are the way you are, because you simply are the way you are. That’s not a religion. That’s a tautology.

    ADB, your analogy is flawed. You aren’t calling me out of a burning house.

    You are standing in a burning house calling me out of a burning ship. “Come on, jump!”

    Sorry, but it doesn’t look very inviting over there.

  42. 42 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 4:55 am


    Thanks for the thorough response. Boy, I must not be representing myself well if you’re detecting a Calvinist or Arminian influence … I’ll try to keep you guessing to see if you can nail it on the head the more I post:) I will say this: sola gratia, sola fide, sola Scriptura (I fear that one may be too easy:)

    “Your problem is you remove the human element from the relationship. It’s all Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and no room for anyone else. Covenants are TWO-WAY.”

    Guilty as charged. Why do I remove the human element? Because starting at the Garden of Eden the human element has shown itself to be unable to keep its end of any “two-way” covenant. The people of Israel continued to demonstrate that as well as God established any covenant with them. The human element is incapable of holding up any end of a covenant with a righteous God demanding 100% perfection right this instant. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:7,8). Now before you point to the context and presume Paul to be making a distinction between unbelievers and believers, which I will even grant you he is in fact doing, I would ask you this: at one point, before coming to faith, weren’t all believers sinners? If so, then how could such a hostile, sinful mind submit to God’s law when Paul clearly says it’s impossible?

    “God cannot be chosen unless we are the ones who do it.”

    I will never agree with that statement as long as John 14:16 is included in the Bible: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” Enough said.

    “You miss the heart of Mormonism ADB – human agency.”

    That’s the problem I have with Mormonism: it has human agency at its heart. I don’t discount that a relationship with God is a two-way thing, but I believe the Bible is very clear in its proclamation of the law that my sinful nature wants no part in a relationship with God (nor could it establish such a relationship if it so desired–see the Romans passage above, for example). Therefore any relationship with God is one that can only be established and maintained by God working for us and in us.

    “This isn’t about the Bible. We both believe in the Bible. This isn’t about hell – we both believe in hell. This isn’t about Jesus – we both believe in Jesus.” (First off, I couldn’t help but notice how you used the word “believe” in each of these cases. As I read it in this context, it doesn’t seem to include any idea of obedience or effort, but simply, well, believing. Yet anytime a Christian tries to point out the plethra of Scripture passages that state that “believing” is all that is required for salvation, why in those instances to the LDS have a different understanding of the word “believe?” Why can’t they simply understand it in the sense that you are using it here?)

    More specifically:

    “This isn’t about the Bible. We both believe in the Bible.”

    Not quite. I believe the Bible alone is sufficient for salvation. I understand the LDS have some other books that they equate with Scripture. Furthermore, it doesn’t really mean much to say one believes in the Bible … believes what? It’s a nice story with some fun fables? It’s a good book of moral teachings? I believe the Bible was given to clearly spell out God’s plan of salvation so that humans could know what he did to make them close to him (reconciliation).

    “This isn’t about hell – we both believe in hell.”

    From your posts, and general LDS teachings, I would say, “kinda.” I actually believe there are going to be people there, just as Jesus said. Many of them. And it tears me apart. Do you believe that?

    “This isn’t about Jesus – we both believe in Jesus.”

    Again, believe what? You believe he is essentially the second coming of Moses, someone who came to give us more laws to follow (which, just like the Israelites in the Old Testament, we are incapable of keeping). I, on the other hand, believe he came to keep the law for me, to give me his righteous, perfect life, and to pay the penalty my own sins earned me: death and separation from God. I believe that he says that if I believe that, then I will be with him forever (John 3:16, 17). Quite a difference.

  43. 43 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 5:11 am


    I just wanted to break up my post a bit, as it was becoming quite lengthy–I apologize. Probably should have done it a little sooner.

    One more thing:

    “Sorry, but it doesn’t look very inviting over there.”

    What on earth is not inviting about a free gift??? God cherished me so much that he fully secured my salvation by taking on human flesh in Jesus Christ and living the way I could not and dying the death I deserved. He has freed me to live a life of thankful obedience in every way possible, leading me to want to be what he wants me to be (not out of fear, but out of love, as you said above). I do this because I know salvation is mine, not because I hope it will be. What is not inviting about a God who couldn’t bear to be without me for eternity, so he brought me to faith and continues living in me as I walk as a child of the light? What’s not inviting about having a life absolutely free of any guilt or uncertainty? What’s not inviting about being perfect in Christ Jesus, just the way God demands me to be?

    Seth, I’ll be honest, it doesn’t get any better than it is “over here.” It’s just perfect, and so am I, thanks to the reconciliation of Christ.

    Know Jesus … no guilt.

  44. March 23, 2009 at 6:01 am

    ““You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” Enough said.”

    No, not enough said.

    You can’t just throw out a scripture cite, assume it says what you want, and fold your arms as if the discussion is over. Even if I did accept that the scripture means what you think it means – which I do not – do you think that simply quoting a Bible verse at me is enough to make me magically OK with a concept I find theologically and morally disgusting? You’re going to have to get over using the Bible as a crutch here. Number 1, it is open to more interpretations than you are acknowledging. Number 2, Mormons believe that all scripture is subject to addition, further clarification, and added context with passage of time. We are not impressed with your attempts to decipher all the “cheat codes” of life from a single text.

    “What on earth is not inviting about a free gift???”

    Nothing if your only motivations in life are greed, laziness, and a feeling of personal impotence. I’m not looking forward to the possibility of Alzheimer’s and having my diapers changed in my old age. I’m not sure why you think I’d look forward to the same theolgical condition for eternity in the afterlife.

    I think I really am starting to see clearly, via my interactions on this blog and elsewhere, why I’ve always been so uncomfortable with a lot of Evangelical theology. Certain strains of it really are an insidiously dehumanizing and ugly package. It posits a universe where humans merely play make-believe at being free, but are in reality, slaves to forces that were never their own fault to begin with, and which they stand powerless against. The only upside is that it offers some twisted, alien Being pulling all the strings, and if you win the theological lottery – He might choose you!

    It’s like lining up at the starting line on a track meet, when suddenly the referee walks up and crushes everyone’s kneecaps with hammer. Then when you are writhing there on the ground in pain, he announces with all the air of Father Christmas, that since you are unable to win this race on your own merits, HE is willing to carry you to the finish line as a FREE GIFT!

    Oh goody. How absolutely spiffing of him!

    After all, who doesn’t like getting free stuff?

  45. March 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Seth: two questions , both related

    are you sure THIS

    What on earth is not inviting about a free gift???”

    Nothing if your only motivations in life are greed, laziness, and a feeling of personal impotence

    is an accurate reflection of ADB’s position??

    Are you sure this is an accurate portrayal of EV.’s in general ??


  46. March 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Nope. I don’t claim all Evangelicals think this way. I tried to be careful about that. I actually like the new Open Theist positions being advocated in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, for instance. I also like the new Social Trinitarian work being done among certain strains of Evangelical scholar. Both are highly complimentary to Mormon thought I think (though not entirely without problems).

    Evangelicalism is an incredibly diverse movement. The strain of Evangelicalism that interacts with Mormonism is far less diverse in my opinion.

    Now, why did I paint this as ADB’s position? Does he really believe in the caricatures I’ve portrayed?

    Possibly not. But his overreaching attempt to remove humanity from the theological equation entirely seems to me, a good indicator that he adheres to one of the traditional assumption sets common among Evangelicals: the Calvinist idea of “meticulous sovereignty,” or the Arminian idea of “simple foreknowledge.” He might also mix the Calvinist meticulous sovereignty with Molinist qualifications. The Evangelical quest to dismiss the human element in spiritual life and make the entirety of Christianity a ONE-WAY proposition only makes coherent sense if accept the underlying Calvinist or Arminian assumptions about God’s sovereignty. Both are radically deterministic in their viewpoint, and I think both are utterly incompatible with a notion of human free will that means anything more than a game of make-believe.

    Do I think all Evangelicals are motivated by “greed, laziness, and impotence?” No. Do I really think ADB is? I have no idea. But I think the caricature is every bit as accurate and fair as Evangelical caricatures of Mormons as “prideful, rebellious, and arrogant” in their views on grace. I also think that one of the most tragic things about Evangelical theological strains that appear in the counter-cult community, is its dehumanizing and debilitating affect on human moral character. It’s the insecure and domineering parent who never allows his son to grow up, but insists that he’s too incompetent and never lets him leave the house.

    Worst of all, I think that a BIG swath of Evangelical thought denies the gift of repentance to the sinner. Guilt is a gift ADB. It is a bitter, but precious and very sweet gift. It is a necessary step on the road to a loving reconciliation with our Father. God loves us so much, that He is willing to let us FREELY choose to return to Him. He will not pluck us out of the pigsty. Rather, he waits for us to “come to ourselves,” realize who we are, and return to Him in love. THEN He will run out, embrace us, and welcome us home as His children.

    Know guilt, ADB. Treasure it. And know Jesus.

  47. 47 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm


    Just quickly to your point about guilt. More later.

    “Know guilt, ADB. Treasure it. And know Jesus.”

    The Bible doesn’t seem to ever imply any such thing as treasuring guilt. In fact, I think it pretty clearly associates guilt with punishment. Can you even point to ONE passage that speaks of guilt in favorable terms?

    “The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished” (Nahum 1:3). “When [Jesus] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). What is to treasure about guilt when it is tied directly to punishment and condemnation? Jesus came to remove guilt, not applaud us for our failed attempts at removing it by repentance or obedience.

    Know JESUS … no guilt:)

  48. 48 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm


    Very good discussion my friend.


    Christ came to give repentance and forgiveness (Acts 5:31) to us.

    Sorrow is sometimes used to describe the feelings of guilt. Paul describes the sorrow that impels one to repent as “godly sorrow”

    2 Cor 7:8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
    9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye SORROWED TO REPENTANCE: for ye were made SORRY after a GODLY manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
    10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

    That is worth repeating.

    “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation”.

    That clearly indicates that repentance is essential for salvation and that feelings of guilt can be beneficial in the process.

    So know guilt, repent and come to know Jesus of the Bible.

  49. 49 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm


    And all that to church members. Apparently even they needed “repentance to salvation”.

  50. 50 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm


    Your post was excellent. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    I especially liked your first part, “CHRIST came to give repentance and forgiveness (Acts 5:31) to us.” (emphasis added).

    You acknowledge that repentance and forgiveness are Christ’s work, not ours. I’ve been trying to make the same point for a while now. Thank you for giving credit where credit is due–to Jesus, and him alone. That is very much the Jesus described in the Bible.

    Perhaps I should refine my tag: Know guilt … know Jesus … no guilt. Is that better?

    It sounds like you guys are starting to understand the balance between the law and gospel. Through the law God works guilt in our hearts, which leads us to the gospel (the good news of Jesus), who removes our guilt.

  51. 51 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm


    I make no such acknowledgment. Repentance is the work that Christ gives to US!!! It is our part of the covenant.

    He was sinless and has/had no need of repentance for Himself.

    Repentance is the work that He requires us to do, to receive His forgiveness. That is how repentance brings salvation.

    Your misrepresentation of what I said is unfortunate.

    Apparently I need to repeat it.

    The Jesus of the Bible gives us the gift of repentance because we need to do it not Him.

    Know guilt/sorrow, repent and come to know Jesus of the Bible.

  52. March 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Christ facilitates repentance. He also makes repentance effectual. Without him, repentance would truly avail nothing.

    BUT, that said, repentance is still a human work. It is something WE do. God will force repentance on no one. I utterly reject the notion of unconditional election.

  53. March 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Seth wrote:

    But I think the caricature is every bit as accurate and fair as Evangelical caricatures of Mormons as “prideful, rebellious, and arrogant” in their views on grace.

    so now are you into the “shock effect” kind of posts ?? I thought that wasn’t so much your thing ?? Does one caricature deserve another ? I know you’ve read many a grotesque stereotype of your faith, some of them probably mine, but this kind of “payback”, if that’s what it is, puts you in the same category that you’ve commented against.

    Also, I think you’ve seen enough of ADB (I know I have) to be pretty sure he’s not lazy. Demoon possessed, maybe, lazy, no.

    Have a green, springish week

  54. 54 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm


    If it’s not unconditional, then it’s not election, is it? I would reject the notion of UNIVERSAL unconditional election, but not unconditional election. Too many passages in Scripture make it clear that God DID elect some to be saved. I’m glad to have the assurance that I’m one of them.


    Couldn’t sorrow/repentance in the passages you quoted (as well as not a few others) be taken as a genitive of source, in other words, “Godly sorrow/repentance” is something that comes from God?

  55. March 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    ADB: interesting topic , you wrote

    The Bible doesn’t seem to ever imply any such thing as treasuring guilt. In fact, I think it pretty clearly associates guilt with punishment. Can you even point to ONE passage that speaks of guilt in favorable terms?

    I think the
    verses in 2cdCor7 that GB used are (can’t believe I’m typing this) pretty much used to describe a kind of guilt (sorrow) that leads to life. So on this one, I’m with Seth and GB (is this some kind of weird movement of the planets…..a sign of the end times…..??

    I welcome your reply and added insight on this ADB, but you might have fallen into an evangelical excess in your (‘our’ as evangelicals) view about guilt. I’d say the “condemnation” of “there is therefore no condemnation” is a different cat altogether….guilt that leads to that is uncalled for and not of GOD.

  56. 56 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm


    “You’re going to have to get over using the Bible as a crutch here.”

    This is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve heard from you. Here I was at least appreciating that some LDS (GB and occasionally you) are at least quoting from Scripture, (which in my experience with the LDS is very rare–most hardly know their Bibles) but then you make this statement that seems to undermine all of Scripture’s authority. I will never apologize for quoting the Bible to explain where my views stem from.

    Furthermore, if anyone wants to talk about a crutch, how about Mormonism with all its additional writings/prophesies? Doesn’t that sound a bit like a crutch? It sure makes it easy to explain away some previous false teaching (by even the likes of Joseph Smith, mind you) by saying that additional truths have been revealed to the church in our day and age. I think that’s why Christians struggle to keep up with LDS–it seems to be constantly changing. Give me Scripture alone, which will stand forever. Give me Scripture alone, which comforts me with the knowledge that in Christ I have been fully reconciled to God.

  57. March 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    ADB: even if “godly sorrow” comes from god, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least because EVERY good thing comes from the Father of lights, it seems to have its habitation in the heart of the believer. Maybe we’re talking past each other and talking about two different things. 2cd Cor 7 seems to be talking about a recognition of wrongdoing, a recogntion of sin and offense to GOD….. mixed with the FAITH that ALSO allows GOD HIMSELF to pay the penalty for those RECOGNIZED and grieved over offenses, this guilt could be BOTH GOD inspired and generated, and humanly accepted and used for our repentance and GOD”s glory.

    does this add anything ??


  58. March 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Seth: I’m hoping your bible has Ps 119 in it…..” crutch” just doesn’t do the Word of GOD justice…it’s actually (when combined with the working of the Holy Spirit) much much more. At least that’s the ev. take on it.

  59. 59 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 8:24 pm


    “(can’t believe I’m typing this)”

    (In a whisper) I won’t tell anyone.

  60. 60 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Can’t believe I’m typing this (just kidding), I have to agree with Germit on this one.

    If it ONLY (not that you phrased it that way) comes from God (and the individual has no part) then would He not give it to all (because He wants all to be saved) and then all would repent.

    The fact that many don’t repent certainly is prima facie evidence that the individual has choice in the matter.

    According to Paul we choose whether or not to resist sin (1 Cor. 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.)

    Certainly we are also free to act upon the guilt/sorrow and repent or not.

  61. March 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    GB: STOP IT…..i’m liking your posts more and more…..take a day off, or I’ll have to give the blogsite a rest for a week or two…..you’re ruining everything….

    ecumenical and unhappy

  62. 62 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    My apologies for not always being clear in my terminology and how I speak. I guess I would see a distinction between guilt and sorrow/repentance (even if I myself have not always reflected that in my posts). A criminal can stand before a judge and be found guilty of a crime. That doesn’t mean he’s sorry for it.

  63. March 23, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    ADB; to use your same analogy, if this criminal were sincerelly VERY sorry, I’d say that’s a good sign that he or she is aware of their guilt. To pursue that analogy, this sadness could even be there if the judge…wonder of wonders….COMMUTES the sentence, and the penalty has been paid by another (therefore no GUILT in the punishment sense of the word)

    this is my understanding of 2Cor7….so I think there IS a legitimate place for what some in the ev. world call “true guilt” (I think Lew Smedes of Fuller wrote a pretty good little book about this)

    Peace and rejoicing to all who believe “it is finished !!!”

  64. 64 ADB
    March 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm


    Perhaps further clarification is needed in the realm of repentance. When I speak of man being unable to “choose” to repent, I am referring only to the unregenerate. A spiritually dead person can do nothing on his own. That is what everyone is by nature.

    I would agree with you that the “new man” who has been made alive in Christ by faith through God’s grace absolutely can repent (because Christ dwells in him) and is in fact called on to do so regularly. Incidentally, it was also to such believers that Paul was speaking when writing about being able to resist sin or not. But prior to being a believer, there is nothing in man that even desires to come to God, or could even do so if it did desire.

    “The fact that many don’t repent certainly is prima facie evidence that the individual has choice in the matter.”

    I would disagree if this statement is made in reference to the unregenerate for the reason above (dead is dead is dead). I don’t suppose you’ve ever read Martin Luther’s “Bondage of the Will?” Essentially he emphasizes that the sinful nature allows man only to choose to oppose God. Only after one is brought to faith by God’s grace can he choose to please God, not before.

  65. 65 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm


    When we commit sin we are guilty of sin and are due punishment for that sin, this is justice.

    Jesus (in His mercy and love) took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of the world and thus satisfied the demands of justice and so reconciled the world to God.

    However, (according to His word) to receive His forgiveness for our sins (and avoid the punishing demands of justice) we must repent from our sins according to His command, having faith in Him according to His command, that He will forgive us and cleanse us with His Holy Spirit and “go and sin no more” (John 8:11) according to His command.

    Striving to free ourselves from sin, through the miracle of repentance and forgiveness and becoming clean is the good news of Christ.

    Without the gift of repentance, made available through the atonement of Christ, we would be condemned forever. Never being able to free ourselves from sin, never being able to cleanse ourselves from sin.

    The criminal you speak of is sorry only in that he got caught and is going to be punished. This is the “sorrow of the world” that Paul spoke of. Sometimes it is called the “sorrow of the damned”.

  66. 66 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm


    King Benjamin put what you are talking about this way.

    Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

    I would say the he is only “unable” in that he is unwilling.

  67. 67 GB
    March 23, 2009 at 10:52 pm


    I have not been able to find “unregenerate” in my Bible(KJV). Could you give me a clue as to where it is in yours?


  68. 68 germit
    March 24, 2009 at 12:43 am


    Only after one is brought to faith by God’s grace can he choose to please God, not before.

    WHILE a person is being “brought to faith….” aren’t they making choices of some kind ?? I’m not suggesting any kind of purely human effort apart from GOD’s gracious enablement, but don’t unsaved people make choices that matter to the outcome of their souls, for good or for ill ??
    The preaching of the NT, particularly in ACTS doesn’t seem to make much sense if this is not the case. Unless you think that faith just descends on people irrespective of their involvment, or lack thereof. I welcome your comments.


  69. March 24, 2009 at 12:53 am

    First off, germit, I acknowledged a range of Evangelical belief in my statements and that there is an element of caricature in my descriptions. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe them. I actually do see a good deal of what Evangelicals offer this way. Some of it making a point, but a good deal of it is sincerely held. And if you think I’m bad, you haven’t met some other Mormons I know. They’re even more vehement on these issues.

    This is a website about Evangelicals trying to witness to Mormons. All of my comments are made with that reality in mind. ADB was attempting to witness to Mormons. I was pointing out why his approach doesn’t work with a large swath of the target audience. No Evangelical is going to get very far with Mormons is he is unable to see how important the free will issue is to Mormons, how important the divine human nature is, and how ugly certain aspects of what they are offering sound to many Mormons.

    I am not in the least bit tempted by the offer of “free stuff.” In fact, I sometimes get a bit irritated with Evangelicals that they think I’m that shallow. Or that they think I’m so spineless that a mere “hell threat” is going to do anything (when I’ve been raised from my toddler years to believe that fear is one of the worst reasons to serve God). Seriously, does ADB think I don’t have an ounce of moral fiber in my being? Maybe he does, I don’t know. But “carrots and sticks” is NOT what my worship life is about, and I find attempts by him and other Evangelicals to alternatively threaten and bribe me into their church to be contemptible. Any God I choose will be for love and admiration. Period.

    So can the talk of hell. It doesn’t work. Other things actually do work on me, but hell-threats aren’t one of them. Bribes don’t work either.

    That’s putting it bluntly and not too diplomatically. But I absolutely believe it germit.

    Now, am I being fair to ADB. I don’t think I am actually. He’s not one of the more obnoxious Evangelicals I’ve ran into. There are certainly Evangelicals out there who probably deserve this blunt talk more than he does. But I’m afraid he just happened to be on the receiving end of a lot of resentments I’ve had building up towards Evangelical online ministries over the past year. Shoot, he’s probably a nice guy and wondering “what did I do to deserve this?”

    Sorry ADB, but you happen to be the latest installment in a long chain of interactions I’ve been having. It really isn’t anything personal and I’m sorry if you’ve taken anything from me that you didn’t really deserve.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m backing away from the beliefs I’ve expressed on this thread one jot. I really do think certain strains of Evangelicals have some serious explaining to do for the theologically degrading view they’ve taken of God precious creations – His own beloved children. It is unhelpful, it is Biblically unnecessary, and it is ugly. And I am not backing down on what I said about it.

  70. March 24, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Now ADB, what did that “crutch” comment mean?

    First off, I think you are misreading its intent. I never meant to suggest your use of the Bible is a “crutch” in your personal spiritual life. It is not – no more than my reliance on prophets is. That was not my meaning.

    My meaning, again, has to be taken in the context of witnessing, and interfaith relations.

    You are talking to MORMONS. Simply quoting the Bible doesn’t work and never will work. Two reasons for this:

    1. We’ve usually come up with equally plausible alternative reads on the verses you quote

    2. We don’t consider the Bible the last word. We supplement it.

    For both of these reasons, Biblical proof-texting is a rather fruitless exercise when witnessing to Mormons. I know Darrell and others still think this is the way to rattle Mormons. I disagree.

    You want to know how to reach Mormons?

    Try explaining how your beliefs are good ON THEIR OWN MERITS.

    No appeals to authority (“it’s in the Bible – so there!”). No threats (“I love you too much to let you go to hell”). No bribes (“Jesus did it all, so you don’t have to”).

    Just plain and simple explanation of why what you believe is praiseworthy. Why are your beliefs attractive? No Bible please. Why are your beliefs worth anything to me?

  71. 71 germit
    March 24, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Seth: you wrote

    So can the talk of hell. It doesn’t work. Other things actually do work on me, but hell-threats aren’t one of them. Bribes don’t work either.

    Actually, I don’t mind this a bit (though I do believe in hell). And since treating GOD as some kind of celestial sugar daddy makes me gag, the bribe thing is even better.

    My beef, maybe a burger shot (without the babes), was you seemed to make a caricature of ADB’s position, and that of ev.’s in general. Emphasizing grace as GOD”s free gift does not have to produce lazy, greedy, Jabba the Hut pretend-disciples. It’s possible to hold to a GOD”s initiative emphasis, and still maintain free agency. Maybe not the Mormon flavor, but you guys are not the only ones championing man’s ability , and honor, to choose. I’ve said this a time or two, I’m starting to back away from most of the works/faith discussions that go on because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between the LDS position and orthodoxy. I know some would strongly disagree with that….fine, they can throw another log on the next 100 post thread.

    Your points are well taken about knowing what your audience considers motivational, and worth having. This might well be a case where ev. baggage (and the blind spots that produced them) makes cross cultural evangelism a tough job. But possible.

    I’ll have to think on the “no bible”; but in the meantime, I’ll continue to work my way thru the D and C and the BofM. Fair is fair.


  72. March 24, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Thanks for the “soft answer” germit.

    My wife just pointed out to me that my post 44 was just plain mean and took up “mocking other people’s beliefs.” And dang it if she ain’t right… again.

    Like I said, I have found some cool stuff among Evangelicalism. One of my Evangelical friends sent me a free NIV Bible a few months ago, and I’ve been reading through it for the first time. I’ve only ever read the KJV before, so it’s a refreshing change. Love the formatting too.

    So I guess I dig “free stuff” too, after all.

  73. March 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Seth: man I hate it when the wife is right…unless they’re right but they haven’t noticed yet….then , maybe we just sneak out….nah….that won’t work either

    glad to hear about the NIV….I lean toward the NASB but I also love reading the Phillips paraphrase now and again. I never could get into the KJV, though I own one to use when the other party is reading from it.

    Have a stimulus filled week.

  74. 74 ladonnamorrell
    March 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Seth….wow,I am a wife and I didn’t think post 44 was too mean. but then again, i might be one of those mormons that is more “vehement” than the rest.

  75. March 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    LaddonnaM: “…..might be…..” ???


    your little green friend

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