03
Apr
09

WHAT IS FAITH?

 A fundamental difference between Mormonism and Christianity is the definition of the word “faith. Mormonism defines faith as power. “So simply put, faith is the power of God, and only this power of God can justify a person.” (Life and Teachings. . .p.319) “Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward a worthy goal you exercise faith.” (True to the Faith, p. 54) Many Mormons think that Christianity defines faith simply as giving lip service to Jesus or describing it solely as head knowledge. That is not accurate. The heart of Christian faith is trust – relying on what Jesus has done for us. Faith, to a Christian, is resting his entire hopes on living eternally with heavenly Father on the salvation Jesus has already achieved for him. There is a tremendous difference between these two definitions. Mormonism’s definition points a person to a person’s works. So much so that Joseph Smith added works to the translation of Romans 4:16. The King James Version says: “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” The JST (Joseph Smith Translation) says: “Therefore ye are justified of faith and works, through grace.” In striking contrast, Christianity keeps the focus on Christ. It’s all about what he has done. A Christian confidently trusts that Jesus has done everything for him – that salvation is truly a free gift. What a joy and relief that is!

Advertisements

58 Responses to “WHAT IS FAITH?”


  1. 1 GB
    April 3, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Warning !!! Fallacy approaching!!!

    “Many Mormons think that Christianity defines faith simply as giving lip service to Jesus or describing it solely as head knowledge.”

    Strawman!!!

    ——-

    Warning !!! Fallacy approaching!!!

    Mormonism’s definition points a person to a person’s works.

    Strawman!!!

    ——-

    Thanks for playing FIND THE FALLACY. 

  2. April 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Heh, wow, I never realized that simply through a conversation you can corrupt a persons view of a word. Why would you want to sow discord in such a way? It makes NO sense!!! Well, I guess it does for people who want to convert people to a false religion, change the definition of a word, and then teach them how that fits into the context of their “religious system”, and BAM, you got a convert. Unfortunately, it’s not about works, or a system of rules and regulations, but rather it’s about a relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, God’s whole personage as they relate to the Christian.
    God bless,
    Michie D.

  3. 3 Brad
    April 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Well, we’ve now had our non-intelligent post for the day…

    Anything CONSTRUCTIVE to actually add to the conversation, since Mark used Mormon materials from which to base his comments, as well as the JST of the Bible?

  4. April 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I think that Clvin gives us a wonderful deffinition of faith, ““A firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence towards us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.2.7.)

  5. April 3, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Good post. My husband, who remains LDS is always making a “pun” about Chrisitans and their “savlation prayers”… he thinks it’s just lip service. Oh my if he only understood. Faith is completey trusting Jesus as our king or leader our head and the ONLY means of our salvation.

    God bless,
    gloria

  6. 6 faithoffathers
    April 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    The old adage that “talk is cheap” is very true.

    What do you mean, Mark, when you say that “the heart of Christian faith is trust – relying on what Jesus has done for us?” If that trust has nothing to do with what we actually do, then with what does it correlate? How do we trust Christ? Is it simply believing that what He did for us is the only thing that can save us? I know plenty of people who believe this but would openly acknowledge that they are not following Him, instead partying their tails off and sowin’ their oats. The “devils also believe and tremble.” In your view, what does it mean to “trust Christ” if not to follow Him in action?

    To me, faith is the power or motivation to repent. What keeps people from repenting? (And by repenting I mean changing one’s life to obey Christ’s commandments and accept His atonement) Ultimately, I think fear is the most common obstacle- fear of exposure, fear of rejection, fear of what others think about you. Fear of letting go of behaviors or addictions. But faith is what is required to overcome those fears, leading a person to give up those behaviors to follow Christ. Faith is ultimately the fire that drives a person to actually take a step, to forsake selfishness, to confess sin, to swallow pride and give up self. This is faith to me.

    I cannot understand how a person can perceive this as focusing on self. It is anything but that. It is choosing to follow Christ in deed, thought, and action when we are weighing our options on the perpetual scale of our lives.

    If you have two children- one who obeys what you say and one who does not- which one trusts or has faith in you as a parent? (Please answer from real life perspective, I dont’ really want to argue about the prodigal son). Which one trusts in what you have done for them? It really doesn’t matter what the disobedient child does or says if he/she does not follow you.

    fof

  7. April 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    FoF,

    I have heard repentance described as the twin sister of Faith, but I think sin is what drives people from both faith and repentance.

  8. 8 GERMIT
    April 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Gunny: thanks for the def. from calvin, it sounds “wordy” to modern ears used to sound bites and tag lines, but i like it, esp. the “mind AND hearts” part….

    healing and rest to all who approach HIM in faith
    GERMIT

  9. April 3, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Germit,

    One of the reasons I like it so much is that it is a very Trinitarian definition. With that in mind it is concise and to the point. But I guess I am a little wordy too.

  10. 10 JesusLover
    April 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I define Faith as the bible does in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Some may ask how we can incorporate this in a practical way into our lives. This is an example from my own life: my ex-husband is taking me back to court – thru no fault of my own – to try and stop paying child support since he took early retirement. At the same time my job will because redundant in a few months and I will be unemployed. I am believing with all my heart that God – my Loving Father – is taking care of us – I believe this without question. What am I “doing”? I am getting a lawyer and looking for a job. How is this faith but not works (my own efforts)? Because I am resting in all the promises that God made to us in His word the bible and so have the peaceful assurance He won’t let us starve. I am daily praying and asking Him for wisdom to make the best decisions and to show me what I should be doing.

    I am doing the right things such as holding my ex-husband accountable to care at least financially for his children and I am looking for a job but when it is all done and over – I will give all praise and glory to God for sustaining me through this difficult time. I will not be telling everyone how I managed to get him to pay or how my skills and talents got me a great job.

    To God be the glory not me.In like fashion – I trust my Heavenly Father and His finished work on the cross to save me. I do not rely on the good works I do for others to even count in this regard. I do them because He loved me and died for me even while I was a sinner and that love compels me to live out my life in thanks to Him by showing His love to others.

  11. 11 JesusLover
    April 3, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    faithoffathers you wrote: “If you have two children- one who obeys what you say and one who does not- which one trusts or has faith in you as a parent? (Please answer from real life perspective, I dont’ really want to argue about the prodigal son). Which one trusts in what you have done for them? It really doesn’t matter what the disobedient child does or says if he/she does not follow you.”

    Children don’t always obey parents out of faith or trust in you as a parent. Sometimes they obey out of fear of punishment, wanting something from you, feeling like they have no choice. It takes a relationship with a loving parent to change the heart of a child to want to obey that parent. Likewise with God. Some follow/obey God not out of faith but because they are fearful of being punished by Him, some want something from God and others feel they have no choice.Some have been so hurt by humans that they cannot easily trust in God as a loving Father and so appear rebellious when they are really deeply wounded and need inner healing from God.

    Since my salvation is based only on Jesus being my subsitute for sin on the cross – none of those things I listed above are the reason I follow Him or so good works. I choose to obey Him out of love and gratitude. It has been a process of learning His true nature as a loving Father and not a harsh father or a god who was once a man. And I am changed inside from the Holy Spirit not from going through the motions of good works.

    I have a close friend who is a mormon and altho he says he talks to God and loves God – alot of his life is spent around trying to “pay penance” for his sins to somehow appease God and let him enter into the Celestial Kingdom. To me – this is a selfish motive for following God – he wants the highest kingdom and to be a god himself and learn to make a planet out of dirt and all manner of things that he names to me. He does not understand that my motivation for following God is love while his is selfish gain and self glory. I realize this will sound offensive to some but that is my perception of the difference between my friend and I in regards to following God.

  12. April 4, 2009 at 12:08 am

    So Mark, you don’t think faith is power? You don’t think it has impact on a person’s life? You don’t think it’s good for anything?

  13. 13 Stephanie
    April 4, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Jesuslover touched on something about which I have been thinking a lot lately; motivation. What motivates children to obey a parent? With some, it is fear. Certainly my oldest son cleans his room with plenty of complaining and feet-dragging most of the time (he’s 5). And I have to make threats to keep him on task. With other kids, it is because they want something. This is also a source of motivation for my 5-year old boy. He likes to earn stickers and when he reaches a certain number, he gets a trip to the dollar store to pick out something. And sometimes, I’m sure my son feels quite frustrated about following my seemingly pointless rules (in his eyes).

    But as Jesuslover said, it takes a loving relationship for a child to obey a parent out of love and faith (trust).

    I’ve been thinking about what motivates Mormons and what motivates Christians. Isn’t it nice to receive a gift that is given without any thought of getting something in return? Isn’t there a term for an employee who does everything the boss asks, but always with the hope of a promotion? Isn’t there something intangible, yet very real, and of great value, in doing a good deed without the thought of self-gain? Yet with Mormonism, and I’m sure I will offend and I apologize, I do not see any of this type of selfless giving.

    In Mormonism, I see people who do good things so that they can become worthy and receive things, such as forgiveness, temple-worthiness, eternal life with Heavenly Father (etc. the list is endless). Mormons give with the unspoken intent of receiving something in return. Isn’t this the very thing that we humans find repugnant among ourselves? Don’t we all find the employee who carries out every task given him with the secret (or flagrant) hope of promotion to be shallow and selfish?

    A Christian does good things without any thought of receiving certain blessings in return, although those blessing might come. More often, Christians make sacrifices of their own money, time, and talents without ever receiving anything in return. We have already received the gift of eternal life with Heavenly Father, and like the child, we have a loving relationship with God. This loving relationship is the source of our motivation for obedience. Just as it is a parent’s greatest hope to have a loving relationship with a child, based on trust, such is the relationship between a Christian and God the Father (through Christ the Lord.) This relationship enables Christians to obey from a motivation of faith (trust).

    But this isn’t the case for Mormons. Mormons do not have an assurance of a loving relationship with Heavenly Father unless they obey. I know I will offend, but I see the obedience of a Mormon as motivated from a position of wanting something in return (forgiveness, life in the celestial kingdom, for example). This is how I see the difference between Mormons and Christians, and also in how Mormons define faith. Faith is truly trust in a relationship. Like the child who obeys his parent because he trusts that his parent knows best, so the Christian obeys Heavenly Father because we trust he knows what is best for us also. Not because we want something in return…

  14. April 4, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Stephanie,

    If you compare a random sampling of Evangelicals, and a random sampling of Mormons, I’ll bet you dimes to dollars that the proportion of Mormons motivated by fear will be equal to the proportion of Evangelicals motivated by fear. And the proportion of Mormons motivated by love will be the same as the proportion of Evangelicals motivated by love.

    My experience is that Evangelicals tend to quickly forget the Mormons they encounter who are motivated by love. But they remember the Mormons motivated by fear for a long time, and always use THEM as an example of what all Mormons are like. It usually helps if they can dig up an Evangelical ex-Mormon who had guilt issues while in the LDS Church and projected his own feelings of inadequacy onto the doctrines of the restored gospel.

    Nice thing about anecdotes – you can find one to support whatever fool claim you want to make.

    I myself was taught from age 6 that fear of punishment was the worst motive for serving God. Desire of reward was slightly better, but still not a great reason for serving. Love was always taught as the best motivation for serving God. I heard this repeatedly throughout my youth.

    Your tendency to think that Evangelicals have somehow been blessed with a monopoly on loving God is rather obnoxious. How stupid do you think we are?

  15. 15 JesusLover
    April 4, 2009 at 3:13 am

    SethR: What I see as a major difference between mormons and traditional Christians is that mormons appear – at least to me – to be always striving for something – keeping alot of rules – constantly in a process of working their way to spend eternity with Heavenly Father and never really knowing where they are at with God.

    I think it must be a terribly stressful belief system to be in.

    The bible teaches “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4,5 Basically what this teaches is that it is God who is at work in us and that we truly cannot do anything without Him and so the Christian view of letting God work thru us rather than the constant effort of trying to please God is not only correct but far less stressful.

    One thing I would ask any mormon here – why do you get so angry when someone disagrees with what you believe? As a traditional Christian I get that all the time – many don’t belief what I say including my best friend who is a mormon and even mocks me for “having” to use the bible to prove my faith and for being “too smart” to get the simple restoration. I do not get angry at any of this because I know what I belief 100% and am secure in my relationship with Jesus. If you are also – why the anger? I would only get angry if someone mocked God – mock away with me I do not care because I know the truth. Just wondering because I see alot of angry people responding on this blog to gentle posts…

  16. April 4, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Seth R,

    Can you explain what you mean by power in post 12? Jesus Christ as our Savciour, the object of our faith has power, belief in him and in the promises of God, given to us in the Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit, will by nesisity bring about change in the beleiver, the term Paul uses is sanctification.

  17. April 4, 2009 at 4:25 am

    How long have you been following this blog JesusLover?

  18. 18 JesusLover
    April 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    SethR. – several months – why do you ask?

  19. April 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Just curious. I can’t speak for the other Mormon commenters. For myself, if I’ve been getting short with Mark at all, I would imagine it’s due to a pattern of what I consider to be misrepresentation of Mormon doctrine and a distortion of our beliefs. I’m really tired of this whole grace vs. works debate. Especially since the more I’ve learned about Evangelicals, the more I’ve learned that they – as a population – believe pretty-much the same things Mormons do on the subject, and most of the supposed differences are more rhetorical than anything.

    I also get tired of what I perceive to be Mark overcompensating doctrinally for imagined Mormon deficiencies.

    Take this post for instance. I find it ludicrous to think that Mark doesn’t believe that faith is actually power in at least some sense. I mean, look at Matt 17:20 and try to tell me that faith isn’t power. I can only conclude that Mark is trying to score rhetorical points and trying to manufacture differences between us out of thin air.

    The idea of human worth and how it relates to reverence for God can be discussed without trying to invent differences where there aren’t any – such as attacking the Mormon concept of faith. I just get weary of the rhetorical grandstanding, and if I sounded a little irritated, that’s probably why.

  20. 20 JesusLover
    April 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    SethR. – you wrote “most of the supposed differences are more rhetorical than anything.”

    Four years ago I was dating a mormon man. All I knew about Mormons was that they had an extra book – the BOM. He used the same words as I did and spoke the same way so I thought we believed the same things. One day he started talking to me about taking me to the temple to be sealed for time and eternity etc. and I realized whoa there! I’d better look into this. I read the LDS website, FAIRS, BYU archives and some books and I realized that NOTHING was the same between our two beliefs. The words were the same such as grace, saved, atonement, even Jesus but NONE of those meanings were the same as biblical ones. NONE. THe words used all the same but the meanings are totally different.

    I would not call these rhetorical differences at all – I would say that they are complete opposites to one another and I would say that this blog is doing a great service in educating people to those differences. The phrase “informed consent” comes to mind.

  21. 21 markcares
    April 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Seth:
    As we have discussed a few months ago, one of the problems Christians have with Mormonism is on knowing what sources Christians should look to as the authoritative sources on Mormonism. The LDS Church tells us to look at LDS Scripture AND also the pronouncements of their living prophets and apostles. (This is pertinent again with another General Conference this weekend.) But when we do that, many Mormons brush off such leaders’ statements that they don’t agree with or give them a twist that goes against the clear meaning of what they say. That is extremely frustrating. Who should I listen to as representative of Mormonism? The church leaders or individual members? Mormonism tells me to look to the church leaders. That’s why the opinions of individual Mormons on what Mormonism teaches, when those opinions are not in line with Church pronouncements, don’t carry much weight with me.
    You say that many Evangelicals and Mormons basically believe the same thing on faith and works. I wonder how many Evangelicals have no problems with the JST translation of Romans 4:16.

  22. 22 JesusLover
    April 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    “I wonder how many Evangelicals have no problems with the JST translation of Romans 4:16.”

    I have a HUGE problem with the JST of this passage because it is completely unsubstantiated by any other passage of scripture in the bible. It stands out glaringly to me as something someone inserted to try and prove that their doctrines are true. It goes completely against all other doctrines of grace and faith. One cannot do that – one has to look at texts in context to understand their meaning.

    That is another thing I have found in speaking with my mormon friend – he gives me a verse to prove his views but when I write back with the whole passage surrounding that verse and frame it correctly to show the intended meaning – he taunts me for being “too smart” to see the “simple gospel”. I would think that someone being shown the truth would be grateful – I know I would – but most mormons I see just get angry. One thing I notice with my friend tho – he never rebuts what I say with evidence – just alot of emotional talk about how “he knows it’s all true”. That kind of response says nothing to me except that he is not wanting to see what is true.

  23. 23 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    To all: I’ll throw out a quick plug for a “both” in regards to the “who do we listen to” question. As far as “what do the LDS teach” question, lean to the leaders (GA’s or Robert Millet, hmmmm….) but as to what an INDIVIDUAL Mormon believes, ASK THEM.

    Where I might differ with Mark is how important this last , individual , approach might be. I’m beginning to think it’s a big deal. Seth doesn’t speak for other LDS ,but he sure speaks for Seth. No use pounding away on what Orson Pratt held to 180 yrs ago if Seth thinks that was just bad beef jerky and a prophet’s off night.

    Is it useful to come to terms with “what MORMONS believe??” Probably, but this is going to be very hard to arrive at, and when applying that conclusion to INDIVIDUALS, I’m thinking problematic. The range of what they believe is just too broad.

    comments welcome…..corrections, maybe :-)

    GERMIT

  24. 24 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    PS to Seth; check out some of my back and forth with Geoff and Jacob recently at New Cool Thang; this door swings both ways

    blessings and mercy on all who love the LAMB
    GERMIT

  25. 25 JesusLover
    April 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    All this leads me to ask – why would anyone want to join a religion that has no constant beliefs and is open to such interpretation and change over the years that nothing seems stable? There is no security in something like that – just alot of stress as I posted earlier. And how is all that constant state of flux reconciled with the bible passage about “God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow”?

  26. April 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    And I think you’re utterly kidding yourself if you think that Evangelicals have a better self-assurance than Mormons do.

    I’ve already pondered the differences in terminology and theology between us. I’m well aware of it. And I repeat – I have found that Evangelicals and Mormons tend to view grace and works very, very similarly – when we aren’t obsessing about scoring debate points anyway.

    I think there are JUST AS MANY works-obsessed people in Evangelical ranks as in Mormon ranks.

    So don’t try to tell me the “lack of assurance” or the “obsession with works” or “not submitting to Jesus” is a uniquely Mormon thing. It’s just as much an Evangelical thing as it is a Mormon thing.

    I’ve seen how you people talk when you don’t think Mormons are listening. I am fully convinced that I would have no more grounds for feeling assured of salvation in your church than I would in my own.

  27. 27 Stephanie
    April 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    The LDS church places a lot of emphasis on personal feelings. Everyone, whether Mormon or Evangelical, has feelings. Perhaps this is where the confusion between “feeling assured” comes into play.

    I agree with Seth that there are many works-obsessed Evangelicals, as well as Mormons. There are many evangelicals who, on their bad days, don’t feel assured of their salvation. Feelings are subjective. Feelings can be fickle. Feelings can even deceive us. Feelings are not a reliable basis for knowledge.

    The trap of works-righteousness is not unique to Mormons, although it does infiltrate most of the LDS literature and causes tragic results. Works-righteousness also plagues Evangelicals. Contrary to the LDS church, however, works-righteousness does not have an official, sanctioned place in the literature of the Evangelical churches, nor is it found in the Bible. Those individuals, evangelical or Mormon, who struggle with assurance of salvation, and works-righteousness, need to hear the loving promises of God that their sins are as far as the east is from the west.

    But more importantly… God does not lie! God tells us that our sins have been forgiven, irrespective of our feelings. Will we not believe God? As Christians, we have a loving relationship with our Father through Christ the Son. We believe and trust His every word from the Bible. So even on our bad days, when we have doubts and don’t feel God’s assurance of salvation, we know that God’s words are more important than our fleeting, unreliable feelings. Should we trust our feelings, which come and go from day to day, or should we trust the unchanging word of God?

    Psalm 103:10-12 “He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Hallelujah!

  28. 28 markcares
    April 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Germit:
    I agree that often there is a gap (how large depends on the individual) between what Mormonism teaches and what individuals Mormons believe. What I was addressing is the situation when individual Mormons say that their individual beliefs is what Mormonism teaches. For example, I have had numerous LDS tell me that Mormoinsm doesn’t teach that they can become gods. That might be their belief, but it is clear that Mormonism does teach that people can becomge gods. If they would identify their indiviual beliefs as such, without going further and saying that this is what Mormonims teaches, I would have no problem. But that is something I found many Mormons don’t want to do because then they have to deal with the fact that their beliefs aren’t lining up with Mormonism.
    Obviously I can’t say that is how all LDS respond. But I can say that that has been my experience numerous times with individual Mormons.

  29. April 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    “Contrary to the LDS church, however, works-righteousness does not have an official, sanctioned place in the literature of the Evangelical churches, nor is it found in the Bible.”

    That’s because there is no such thing as “official Evangelicalism.” Because there is not official voice for the movement, any problems among Evangelicals can be easily denied and dodged. Believe me, if you guys had a central governing body, we’d have no problem finding problems there either.

    I mean really, don’t try to tell me there aren’t an awful LOT of Evangelicals who believe homosexuals are “going to hell” for no other discernible reason than the fact they are homosexuals. Not to mention that orthodoxy is typically ADDED to Christ’s grace as a requirement for salvation (at least when there’s a Mormon in the room anyway).

    Grace-only my foot!

  30. 30 faithoffathers
    April 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Wow! So sad something so wonderful as the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God can be the source of so much ill will. Ironic that the supposed source of peace to all of us on this site gets morphed into the topic of debate and avenue of strife.

    I would be more than just a little afraid to claim the power to see into people’s hearts. But many seem to claim this power when observing others- “they say the right words and maybe even do the right things- but it is all for the wrong reasons” seems to be the argument. I am grateful the judge of us all has a perfect perspective and knowledge of our desires and circumstances.

    The faith vs. works debate never seems to work for this reason. No matter what is offered in the way of personal experience, faith, and belief or church doctrine, others seem to feel better positioned to judge the hearts of LDS.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we assumed the best when seeing another person or group do or say something good? We can argue all day about the devil deceiving through people doing good. But Christ’s message was overwhelmingly in favor of extending mercy to others and giving others the benefit of the doubt. He took this idea so far that he extended it not only to those who are doing good, but also to those who appear sinful.

    I am afraid that we so often reduce and diminish the gospel with juvenile bickering. It is so counter to the heart of Christ.

    In a world so filled with sin and darkness, I am grateful to know evangelicals that reverence God and love Him. Despite our differences, I do feel a significant degree of brotherhood with them. I hope this is mutual.

    fof

  31. 31 faithoffathers
    April 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    P.S. Mark- I sincerely am interested to know how you feel about my questions. What does it mean to trust Christ? What does that look like? Is it something limited to the heart (i.e. independent of outward action)?

    Thanks

    fof

  32. 32 Stephanie
    April 4, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Exactly, Seth. Works righteousness is not found in the Bible, nor in any official publications from any evangelical denomination. There are many small, doctrinal differences between the evangelical denominations, yes, you are correct. But we all agree on the principle of grace alone, foot or no foot.

    As humans, we apply God’s perfect Word imperfectly, because we are imperfect creatures. As a civil society, we have the rule of law, although it is imperfectly applied. Despite being imperfectly applied, the law remains our standard for our day to day actions. We don’t simply throw out the laws because we are unable to apply it perfectly. You know this.

    Your argument about dodging problems in the evangelical church makes little sense to me. I am trying to explain what the Bible does say, not the imperfect application of the Bible that occurs among individuals. The important thing to grasp is the truth of the Bible. The important thing is to realize that we are already forgiven, in the past tense! It doesn’t matter that some, or many, individuals in the evangelical movement are confused about the works-grace doctrine. The fact is that those individuals are confused and applying imperfectly the truths of the Bible to their lives. They are mistaken. Why are we discussing the mistakes instead of the truth?

    Yes, there are many evangelicals who believe that homosexuals are going to hell because they are homosexual. Again, this is another mistaken application of God’s perfect Word. Homosexuals are going to hell because they are sinners like the rest of us. The homosexual part is irrelevant. It is silly to search out a specific sin and cast judgement on that person. We ALL are sinners. All sins, great and small, are capitol crimes, deserving eternal death in outer darkness. I am no different than anyone else, homosexual or otherwise, as far as my eternal status was concerned. I also deserve eternal death in outer darkness for my sins, just as does everyone else on the face of this earth, homosexual or otherwise. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to God (or to me) whether anyone is a homosexual or not, because we are all damned from the get-go. You could say that I’m going to hell because I thought a hateful thought toward my neighbor yesterday. We could start a campaign against hateful-thoughts, make signs, stage protests, whatever. We all need God’s forgiveness. This is yet another tangent.

    If you can imagine the greatest sinner, his sins have already been forgiven. It still comes back to the real question: What does the Bible say? (Not, how is the Bible incorrectly applied by flawed humans.) God does not lie. God tells us, in Ps 103, “12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” That is worth celebrating!

  33. 33 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Stephanie: I’m not trying to be a fly in the ointment, but rewind the post above and insert TEENS and PARENTS in the scenario you talked about

    in other words, “it doesn’t matter, Bobby, what mom and dad DO, what’s important are the RULES that we should follow, but many times don’t. I’m not arguing for OUR perfection as a necessary platform to say what’s right and wrong, but isn’t our behavior a key part of our message ?? Aren’t tons of people tired of hearing ev.’s go on and on about “the love of GOD” by folks who wouldn’t don’t know (or want to know) the suffering, poor, and hungry in their neighborhoods ?? I know this comes off as “works oriented”, and I’m not making a case for salvation by social action, but I AM making a push for more sweat, less yap…ironic that I should be doing so on a blog-site…:-)

    the “right Bible” divorced from that WORD incarnated is sending people to look elsewhere;

    end of rant
    hope this isn’t too confrontational
    GERMIT

  34. 34 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Stephanie: I’m not trying to be a fly in the ointment, but rewind the post above and insert TEENS and PARENTS in the scenario you talked about

    in other words, “it doesn’t matter, Bobby, what mom and dad DO, what’s important are the RULES that we should follow, but many times don’t. I’m not arguing for OUR perfection as a necessary platform to say what’s right and wrong, but isn’t our behavior a key part of our message ?? Aren’t tons of people tired of hearing ev.’s go on and on about “the love of GOD” by folks who wouldn’t don’t know (or want to know) the suffering, poor, and hungry in their neighborhoods ?? I know this comes off as “works oriented”, and I’m not making a case for salvation by social action, but I AM making a push for more sweat, less yap…ironic that I should be doing so on a blog-site…:-)

    the “right Bible” divorced from that WORD incarnated is sending people to look elsewhere;

    end of rant
    hope this isn’t too confrontational, but the blindspots that we ev.’s have gotten used to are shouting to the “others”

    GERMIT

  35. 35 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Mark: thanks for the post and I’ve encountered exactly what you’ve written repeatedly; what I am starting to do more and more is deal with what THAT individual LDS believes, and approach this thing one LDS at a time (in general) . It’s very hard to come up with what is MORMON TODAY, in a clear package that even most LDS would sign off on. Maybe that’s a little overstated, but I’m starting to just say “OK, the 1800’s stuff doesn’t fly far today….what DO you believe and why….and go from there..”

    appreciate you labors and prayers
    GERMIT

  36. 36 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    post above should have read WHAT MORMONS TODAY BELIEVE…..sorry

  37. 37 germit
    April 4, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Seth wrote:

    So don’t try to tell me the “lack of assurance” or the “obsession with works” or “not submitting to Jesus” is a uniquely Mormon thing. It’s just as much an Evangelical thing as it is a Mormon thing.

    I won’t quibble with numbers, but I can’t argue with the above; and this is one of the biggest ironies within evangelicanlism: we preach a lot about GRACE ALONE, but GOD HELP the single mom who shows up to hear this sermon wearing pants , and sporting a little too much make up and a tattoo….. and just paint a target on her if she has bi-racial kids in tow….

    question to myself: how impressed with my knowledge of the Bible will the SON of MAN be on that great and terrible day ??

    I doubt if Jesus and I will be talking about which is my favorite study bible….
    GERMIT

  38. April 5, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Seth,

    While I don’t think the internet is the best forum for a substantive discussion on Faith and Works I do think that we can hash out particular definitions and examine what Bible verses are telling us. I am not sure what the LDS definition of the power that faith gives is and I certainly am not going to tell you what you believe. Matt 17:20 and its parallels Mark 9:28-29; Luke 17:5-6 do not place the power to heal the boy with a demon in the disciples faith, instead they show that a lack of faith prevents the disciples from exercising a power given to them by Jesus Christ. The source of power in this case is not the disciples belief but Jesus Christ.

    It is interesting that you say there is no “official Evangelicalism”, I tend to agree. There is on the other hand historic confessional Protestantism. My own confession the Westminster Confession and Catechisms have this to say about assurance in Question 81 “Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?” The answer “Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain; and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions; yet they are never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.

  39. 39 markcares
    April 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Faith of Fathers:
    What does it mean to trust in Jesus? Maybe the follwoing will clarify it. When people ask me why I am so confident that I am going to live with Heavenly Fahter, I say, “Because Jesus has done everything for me. He lived a perfect life and gave me the credit for it. He died a consuming death to pay the full price for all my sins. That’s why I’m going to leave eternally with Heavenly Father.” That to me is what I mean when I asy I trust in Jesus.

  40. 40 markcares
    April 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Faith of Fathers:
    I found it interesting that you wrote: “I would be more than just a little afraid to claim the power to see into people’s hearts.” I found that interesting because that is the exact thing Mormonism teaches bishops can do.
    “The gift of discernment enables a bishop or branch president to know truth, to understand the differences between good and evil, and even know what is in a person’s heart.” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood A, p. 60)

  41. 41 faithoffathers
    April 6, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Mark,

    Thanks for the response. But the explanation you provided doesn’t move beyond the counter argument that the “devils believe also, and tremble.” Again, I know plenty of people who know that Jesus “lived a perfect life and ….died a consuming death to pay the full price for all [our] sins,” but who live in complete rebellion against God. How is the trust and faith you are describing different from those who fully believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, but live rebellious, riotous lives? From my perspective, your definition is left with a large, unbridged gap.

    Your observation about bishops is true, but I think a little off in our discussion. I was talking about evangelical people seeing LDS say and do the right things, but attribute those things to unrighteous intentions or motivations. The same could work in the opposite direction of course. Yes, bishops do have a certain power of discernment that comes with the calling and authority that does enhance their natural ability when needed to perceive how to help those in his ward. This doesn’t mean bishops walk around and can see into everybody’s hearts and desires. To me, the situations are a little different.

    Germit and Gundeck- I believe LDS are quite consistent on a great many beliefs- the more basic the belief, the more in agreement we are generally. As you get further out on tangents and doctrines that we have fewer revelations on, we see more diversity of belief, and understandably so. But I would disagree that we are all over the map in our “standard” basic beliefs. There are certainly people who have not analyzed as deeply some doctrines, but the great majority of people I have known in the church have beliefs that very closely resemble mine.

    Thanks,

    fof

  42. April 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    FOF; I’ll keep the following in mind as I interact with LDS

    the great majority of people I have known in the church have beliefs that very closely resemble mine.

    I hve a feeling the situation is more diverse than you describe, but maybe I’m wrong on this

    Grace and Hope to you and yours
    GERMIT

  43. 43 GB
    April 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    It is strange that so many “evangelicals” will insist that the prerequisites to salvation are simply to accept Christ as one’s savior and (maybe) be baptized by anybody, without any requirement for study of the Bible or living any of the commandments of the Old or New Testaments (e.g. the Sermon on the Mount), and yet claim that Mormons, who do all of that AND MORE, are somehow outside the zone of salvation. When you insist the threshold for entering heaven is so low, HOW can you claim to exclude other people from heaven based on the very things that you proclaim are NOT essential to salvation?

    No person who insists on “cheap grace” (absolutely no role for works in salvation) can, without hypocrisy, exclude ANYONE who shows by both word and deed they accepted Christ.

  44. April 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    GB: you SEEM to make a good point, but I’d maintain that

    No person who insists on “cheap grace” (absolutely no role for works in salvation….

    these two things are unrelated (in my mind); I very much recognize, and loathe , cheap grace, and MARK is on record as saying that real faith is NEVER ALONE…. so I’m not sure who your comment applies to…. Joel Osteen maybe ??? To say that works are not required to BE (become) saved is NOT to say that they are unimportant, or irrelevant; I haven’t heard any ev’s say this on this blog….

    GERmIT

    PS: ev’s in general could stand to hear a LOT more preaching from JAMES and the sermon on the mount….point taken….asking the question: Is my faith ALIVE ??? that’s what James is all about…

  45. 45 GB
    April 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Germit,

    There seems to have been a lot of talk against “works-righteousness” (which was left undefined but implied towards LDS) on this blog.

    Some CLAIM “We believe and trust His every word from the Bible.”

    But they take the easily misunderstood words of Paul over the actual words of Jesus.

    Must I post the words of Jesus?

    Matt. 7:21 ¶ 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.
    • • •
    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:

    John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    Matt. 16:27
    27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

    Rev. 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

    I will take the words of Jesus over the misunderstood words of Paul any day.

  46. April 6, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    GB: and the ev. position (in general) would be that anyone who makes LIGHT of any or all of those pure words of GOD has DEAD FAITH and they will DIE IN THEIR SINS…. I’m not sure how we could be any more serious about them….. we’re every bit the “meanie” in this scenario, so I’ll repeat: I don’t know who you are addressing in your comments. To say that works verses are not the necessary requirement to BECOME a born again person is NOT to say that 1)we don’t believe them or 2)hold them to be true on a lower level than the epistles of Paul. WE are rather fond of BOTH… any “christian” who is not (fond of both) will be in for the rudest of awakenings… in that , maybe we agree…..

    peace and light on you and yours

    GERmIT

  47. 47 GB
    April 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Germit,

    I do agree with YOU!

    BUT, I find statements like yours and “A Christian confidently trusts that Jesus has done everything for him – that salvation is truly a free gift” to be in conflict.

    Salvation is a gift to be sure, but free (no works/obedience/deeds/effort required)? I don’t think so!

  48. 48 JesusLover
    April 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    GB you wrote “Salvation is a gift to be sure, but free (no works/obedience/deeds/effort required)? I don’t think so!”

    But yes it IS correct and is what the bible teaches most definately! Those things are evidence of a new birth but they are not required for salvation. Evidence not a requirement – a huge difference which surely you can see? Many scriptures have already been posted to this truth.

    This is a fundamental difference between mormons and traditional Christians.We do the good works to say thankyou for the gift. Period. We don’t need to earn anything and I am not sure how you or others even get “earn” from these passages.

    Any works-gospel disrespects and downgrades Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and renders Him merely a Spiritual Loans Officer not our Subsitute for sin. My praise goes to Him Who died for me – not to all the good things I do for Him lest I should boast.

  49. 49 GB
    April 6, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    JL: “. . . they are not required for salvation.”

    GB: Apparently, you don’t believe what JESUS said.

    One more time.

    Matt. 7:21 ¶ 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.
    • • •
    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:

    John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    21 But he that DOETH truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    Matt. 16:27
    27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his WORKS.

    Rev. 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his WORK shall be.

    I will take the words of JESUS, over what you say!!!!

    SORRY, but I haven’t used the word “earn”. So to quote you “I am not sure how you or others even get “earn” from these passages.”

    Salvation can NOT be EARNED!!!! Get it?

    It is a gift to the obedient!! It is a gift that is NOT given to the disobedient.

    No amount of obedience “EARNS” it. We are incapable of “EARNING” it.

  50. April 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Jesuslover,

    If you had a correct understanding of Mormon doctrine, you would realize that we do not do “earn” salvation either.

  51. 51 JesusLover
    April 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    SethR.

    Perhaps we need to define what each mean by salvation – this is my understanding of the difference and you may correct me of course someone sent them to me:

    Mormonism: This could refer either to (1) Immortality, which is also called “general salvation” or everlasting life which everyone receives automatically whether they believe or not; or (2) Eternal life, which is also called exaltation, or celestial glory with Elohim. The latter is earned by “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” in a step-by-step eternal progression towards perfection. (3rd Article of Faith) Mormons will sometimes bounce back and forth between these concepts when discussing “salvation.”

    Christian: To be saved from the certain condemnation that would otherwise result from man’s sinful nature. The very word implies rescue motivated by concern rather than by way of reward for deeds performed. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Salvation includes the gift of reconciliation, sonship, and eternal life with God the Father forever in heaven.

    My mormon friend certainly thinks one can earn salvation – he feels that the over 600 temple ordinances that he has performed for other are restitution for his sins, that every sin must have a penance attached to it to try to earn god’s forgiveness. He has a constant worry that he will not be acceptable in the next life to God.

    Maybe you don’t believe in earned salvation but everything I’ve read of mormonism certainly teaches that this is so. If you can show me opposite from your LDS scriptures I’d be interested to read them.

  52. April 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    We do “earn” the Celestial Kingdom either.

  53. 53 JesusLover
    April 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Based on what I have read of LDS doctrine – I would respectfully say that you do indeed have to “earn” your way into the celestial kingdom. Don’t you require a temple recommend, paying tithes, keeping the word of wisdom, taking out your endowments, having a sealed marriage for time and eternity…am I leaving anything out? These things – as far as I can see – are not optional for ANY mormon wanting the highest level of heaven (in your belief system) – from what I have read they are requirements.

  54. April 7, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Just because we have requirements doesn’t mean we are earning or meriting anything.

  55. 55 JesusLover
    April 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

    SethR.: Requirement ” something required: a: something wanted or needed : necessity b: something essential to the existence or occurrence of something else : condition <failed to meet the school’s requirements for graduation” (Merriam-Webster).”

    Your use of the word “requirement” says exactly what I have been trying to say and what indeed your doctrines appear (to me) to teach. I wonder why so many mormons don’t like to hear this? I mean if you believe it – you believe it – why deny it if you feel it is the truth?

  56. April 7, 2009 at 2:34 am

    What’s your point?

    Like I said, just because God has requirements does not mean we earn salvation, exaltation, whatever you want to call it.

    We don’t earn anything. We don’t deserve anything. Nothing in Mormon scripture says otherwise.

    You can fill a requirement, but that doesn’t mean you earned anything.

    I don’t care if you want to say Mormonism has requirements. We do. So does your religion, actually, though I doubt you’ll admit it.

    But that doesn’t have anything to do with earning or deserving. I’m criticizing your use of the word “earn” in conjunction with Mormon belief. It’s a false notion on your part.

  57. 57 faithoffathers
    April 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    JesusLover,

    I have used this movie as an analogy before, but it fits our beliefs quite well.

    The movie is The Ultimate Gift. A billionaire oil tycoon is dying and is considering to whom he should leave his fortune. All his children are spoiled brats. The only person he feels is a candidate as an heir is his youngest grandson. The grandson is twenty something and has rebelled against the family and is living a self-centered life. The grandfather leaves a video message for the grandson before he dies. In the video, grandpa lays out a deal in which the young man will inherit an undisclosed gift if he will fulfill a list of 10 assignments. The assignments involve things like service to others, giving away all his money to the poor, physical labor on a farm, etc. In short, through fulfilling the taks, the grandson becomes a selfless, humble, and dependable guy. The grandfather has arranged for the grandson to be given the entire fortune as a result of his successful completion of the assignments.

    So did the grandson “earn” the billions? Of course not. Did he deserve it? No. He was made heir by a loving grandfather. Without becoming the dependable and humble person he did through his work and completing the assignments, he would not have been given the inheritance.

    I think this demonstrates our belief. We do not earn, or deserve eternal life. But we must obey God and repent to receive that inheritence. This is all very biblical.

    Thanks,

    fof

  58. April 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    To all,

    Here is a discussion from R.C. Sproul on the second half of James where he talks about faith and works from a Protestant perspective.

    https://store.ligonier.org/product.asp?idDept=M&idCategory=BS&idProduct=THE06MC

    There are three lectures in all that are $2.00 a piece

    “Faith and Works (2 Parts)”
    “A Justified Faith”


Comments are currently closed.

April 2009
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Blog Stats

  • 182,224 hits

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

Join 998 other followers


%d bloggers like this: