25
May
10

Human Potential

    Here and elsewhere there is a lot of debate about the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.  One thing causing these differences is that they often start in different places – they begin with different presuppositions.  When that happens, most of the time, you are going to end up in drastically different places. 

     One example of that is how each views the human race.  That in itself is a broad topic so I would like to narrow it down to human potential after Adam and Eve’s Fall into sin.  The Bible does not paint a very pretty picture.  Immediately after their Fall, the Bible describes Abel’s murder at the hands of his brother Cain.  Already in the sixth chapter of the Bible we hear this damming indictment of the human race:  “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  (Gen. 6:5) The phrases “every imagination” and “only evil continually” don’t leave any wiggle room.  That clearly states that man was totally depraved.

     Therefore God sent the Flood.  It would seem that we could breathe a sigh of relief because now mankind can start all over.  But not so fast.  Immediately after the Flood,  before Noah and his family did anything but sacrifice to God, we read:  “And the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  (Gen. 6:21) Although the Flood changed the physical world it didn’t do anything to man’s heart.  Both before and after the Flood it is described as “evil”. 

     This theme carries throughout the rest of the Bible.  One of the more common descriptions of man’s spiritual condition is that of being spiritually dead.  Other descriptions include being spiritually blind and hostile to God.  Taking these passages at face value, the only potential that the Bible ascribes to man after the Flood is the potential to act on the evil that resides in his heart.  That is the force of “every imagination” and “only evil continually”.

     Mormonism, however, begins at a different point.  It teaches that man has a lot of good in them.  It stresses its doctrine of agency – everybody’s ability to choose the right.  (How is that reconciled with being spiritually dead and blind?)  In short, Mormonism has a much more positive view of mankind.  This fits well with American optimism but it doesn’t fit well with biblical teaching.

     As I said before, when you start at different places, you usually end up in different places.  So also here.  Because of its dim outlook on man’s potential, the Bible turns people away from thinking they contribute anything to their living with God for all eternity.  Salvation, according to the Bible, relies entirely on Jesus’ saving work.  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans3:24-25)  According to the Bible, salvation, including living for all eternity in the Father’s mansion, is entirely God’s gift.

     This even includes conversion.  According to the Bible, man doesn’t need to be spiritually rehabilitated he needs to be spiritually resurrected.  That is why it speaks of conversion in terms of rebirth and creation.  That is why it talks about God enlightening the spiritually blind, reconciling to himself the spiritually hostile.  From first to last, in the context of salvation, the Bible has God doing the work.

     Because Mormonism teaches that man has much more potential, it naturally demands that people contribute to their living with heavenly Father.  Salvation, according to Mormonism, is a combination of God’s grace and man’s works.  Where people spend eternity is conditioned on their keeping the commandments.  All of this is a logical outgrowth of where it starts – of its presupposition that there remains a lot of good in people.

     You start in different places you are going to end up in different places.  Many of the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity exist because they start in different places when it comes to their view of man after the Fall.

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36 Responses to “Human Potential”


  1. 1 faithoffathers
    May 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Mark,

    You correctly recognize a huge difference between LDS doctrine on the nature of man and the philosophy and doctrine of apostate Christianity.

    A few questions:

    What does man contribute, if anything, to his salvation?

    Is man free to choose good or evil?

    If man is not free to choose, how do you not conclude that God is the author of our sins? If we are created by God out of nothing, and are born in a sinful state, and have no choice in the matter nor in our nature to choose sin, how is our behavior not God’s responsibility?

    Consider Christ’s words to the woman taken in adultery: “neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”

    What about the young, wealthy man who asked what was required to obtain eternal life? Christ’s response was to keep all the commandments. After the man said that he had pretty much kept all the commandments listed by Christ all his life, Christ said: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” Mark 10:21

    How do you explain away the very clear commandments to “sin no more” and to “take up the cross, and follow me?”

    The gospel you advocate very much contradicts Christ’s teachings. He commands us to repent and keep the commandments. There is no magic trick or mystery.

    The Bible could not be clearer in proclaiming that man is created “in the image of God.” The New Testament calls us the “offspring” of God.

    I do not deny the natural man nor his influence on humanity. But the presence of the natural man does not preclude there being also a dual nature, a piece of divinity within man with the potential for great good.

    Methinks you are reading things from the verses you cite that are not there. First off- Cain’s murder of Abel wasn’t “immediately” after the fall- we don’t know how long it was after. And the statement that man had become corrupt doesn’t mean that no man could do good.

    Anyway- can you answer my first questions above first?

    Thanks,

    fof

  2. 2 markcares
    May 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    FoF:
    Thanks for honestly saying that you consider my position “apostate Christianity”. Many LDS members shy away from doing that. Many times the discussion centers on whether Mormons are Christians. I have often told Christians to ask Mormons if the Mormons think they are Christian. And if so, what kind? I have asked that very question of many Mormons. Most say, of course, I am Christian. Very few have said that I was part of apostate Christianity. The reason I pursue that is for the very point you make: there is a huge difference between Mormonism and Christianity – something that is greatly obscured today. But that is another topic.
    Man contributes nothing to salvation. I think I have made my position abundantly clear on that point over the past months. As I stated in the post, the Bible has God working conversion. That is why salvation is a gift – not of works.
    No, man is not free to choose good and evil. I find it interesting that you didn’t speak to the passage that I focused on – namely “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Where does that live room for the ability to choose evil?
    You ask about the rich young man. He asked what he had to DO to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered his question. You have to keep all the commandments. That doesn’t mean, however, that that young man, or anybody for that matter, can do that. I say the same thing to you: If you want to know what to do to inherit eternal life, be perfect by keeping all the commandments. And if you break just one, you are damned because “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10)
    I can’t come close to keeping all the commandments. That is why I’m putting all my trust in Jesus having kept them perfectly for me. An old Christian hymn put it well:
    Jesus, your blood and righteousness
    My beauty are, my glorious dress.
    Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
    With joy shall I lift up my head.

    Bold shall I stand in that great day
    Who can a word against me say?
    Fully through you absolved I am
    From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

  3. 3 faithoffathers
    May 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Mark,

    What of the woman taken in adultery? Did she have the capacity to obstain from adultery? Was Christ simply playing with her or teasing her?

    You are seeing this from an all or nothing viewpoint, I think.

    Of course, the only thing a person could do to obtain eternal life without the help of the Savior is to live perfectly obediently from the cradle to grave. And of course nobody has done that.

    But that does not mean that Christ does not mean what he says- repent and keep the commandments. At some point in my life, I hope to be able to be truly obedient in almost all ways. And yes, I will never be perfectly obedient in this life. But Christ commands me to be obedient and repent when I am not. He never taught anything different.

    You are qualifying Christ’s words. You are adding meaning that is extra-textual. And I believe that is a dangerous thing.

    By the way- my reference to apostate Christianity does not mean I do not think you are Christian. I mean that you subscribe to a set of teachings that include pieces of truth as well as error. It is not a judgement of malice or motive.

    The verse “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” I think can have an interpretation that is not 100% literal. In other words, I do not believe that a man has no ability to do anything but evil outside of God. The verse points out that the TENDANCY of man in general is to seek his own carnal pleasures and pursuits.

    Before your conversion to Christ, did you ever do anything that was not evil? I doubt there is a person alive who would have to answer no to that question.

    What about my point that your theology makes God the author of evil? There is no logical way out of that.

    fof

  4. 4 Echo
    May 25, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    FOF said: “Before your conversion to Christ, did you ever do anything that was not evil? I doubt there is a person alive who would have to answer no to that question.”

    I agree with you that before anyone’s conversion to Christ that most all would say that they did something good. But you have to remember that mankind before conversion is blind to truth.
    He doesn’t see himself as God really see’s him. God has to first Get Man to accept by faith through God’s own word, that the life he lived before faith never pleased God. That includes the “good” that man thought he was doing.

    Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God”

    Read that verse. It’s hard for man to accept this as true, but it is true nonetheless. Man thinks to himself: “well it isn’t impossible to please God because I have done some good things so this can’t be what God means” But the truth is, this is exactly what he means. He means what he says.

  5. 5 markcares
    May 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    FOF:
    My dictionary defines apostasy as renunciation, abandonment and defection. Lttle bit different than what you said.
    You say I qualify Jesus words but what are you doing with God’s Word when you say that you don’t have to take his indictment of the human race literally? As Echo has pointed out, before faith everything is a sin. I suppose when Jesus says “be perfect” that is not to be taken literally either. How do you determine what is to be taken literally and what isn’t?

  6. 6 Echo
    May 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    FOF said: “What about my point that your theology makes God the author of evil? There is no logical way out of that.”

    Adam and Eve were born sinless which is made evident in scripture by their access to the tree of life. They chose to sin. Their access to the tree of life was barred. Man is the author of his own evil.

  7. May 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I have 1 questions Mormons believe that they can become Gods; yet they also believe that Satan id a liar?

    So when Satan told Eve in Genesis 3 that she would become “like god” was he telling the truth?
    http://nathanaelsblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/questions-pt2-12/

  8. 8 faithoffathers
    May 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Mark,

    I see your point. It has been said many times that the difference between evangelicals and LDS is which verses they take literally.

    But do you really think that man can absolutely do nothing that is not evil? What of my question about your life before conversion? Did you do nothing but evil?

    When Jesus is asked a direct question about what is required for salvation, I take His answer quite literally.

    An editorial comment about man’s nature and his tendancy to do evil I think needs some perspective before concluding that without exception, every instinct and desire of man is evil. If it is said that a city is corrupt and evil, does that mean that there is not one good person in that city?

    What about the question about God being the author of sin?

    Echo- so we must all answer for Adam and Eve’s sin? They were the only free mortals. According to you, I had no say in whether I would be born and created in sin. And I have no say in my nature after my birth- an evil and deprived nature. And I have no influence on my salvation. God is the author of my sins according to this doctrine. There can be no other conclusion.

    fof

  9. May 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Mark,

    I think you have hit on a key point here: when your starting points are different, you are very likely going to arrive at different positions. All to often we discuss the different positions rather than discussing the root cause of those different positions. This should be a great discussion.

    Mormonism takes a much higher view of man and a much lower view of God than Christianity. It elevates man and brings God down – something that has been going on since the beginning of mankind.

    Darrell

  10. May 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    When Jesus is asked a direct question about what is required for salvation, I take His answer quite literally.

    Has anyone ever done what Jesus said though? Has anyone EVER kept all the commandments? Do you honestly think that Christ was saying, “You can do this… go keep all the commandments… that is the way to salvation man… go for it.”

    Darrell

  11. 11 faithoffathers
    May 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Darrell,

    I know some folks who have come pretty darn close. Most of them are in the sunset of their lives.

    Needing repentence and grace does not negate Christ’s commandments.

    I absolutely think Christ meant what He said. Is God a God of truth and honesty?

    He isn’t trying to trick us.

    With His constant help, we can become better and better at keeping all the commandments. It takes a lifetime of effort. Hey- wait a minute, maybe that is why we are given life.

    With such effort, repentence, and perserverence, and with God’s help, a person can make great strides in improving their obedience. Will we be perfect in this life- no. But without trying, we will never be as obedient as we can.

    fof

  12. 12 adb
    May 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    FOF, the problem is, God doesn’t say, “Go be perfect … and I’ll help whenever you stumble.” He says, “Go be perfect, and when you’ve hit that mark, then we can talk.” Without perfection, we can’t even have an audience with God. Our sin separates us from him. Any relationship/conversation with God can only happen AFTER sin no longer separates us from him. No one (save Jesus) can, or ever will hit that mark of perfection on his own. And yet, that is very clearly what God demands.

  13. May 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    FOF,

    I know some folks who have come pretty darn close. Most of them are in the sunset of their lives.

    I am not sure we are talking about the same thing here. Progressing and becoming better at keeping the commandments is not the same things as keeping ALL the commandments. If someone breaks even one commandment at any point in their life, then they have not followed what Christ was saying. In addition, coming close does not work.

    You said earlier that you take what Christ said literally. Well, when asked about salvation, He said absolutely nothing about the atonement. As a result, you must think that what He literally meant is that the pathway to salvation is keeping all the commandments. Using your reasoning, if you throw the atonement in there then you are reading into what He was saying.

    Darrell

  14. 14 faithoffathers
    May 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    ADB,

    When did Christ say “Go be perfect, and when you’ve hit that mark, then we can talk” as you claim? We cannot exist in the presence of God as unclean beings. But that is different than approaching God in our imperfections while on this earth.

    You also said “Without perfection, we can’t even have an audience with God.” Says who?

    Did the woman taken in adultery “have an audience with God?” I would say yes. And what did Christ tell her?

    1. He didn’t condemn her- I interpret this to mean her story was not completed. Her sins would not necessarily keep her from heaven and wholeness.

    2. Go and sin no more. Hard to confuse His meaning.

    Darrell,

    This discussion really highlights the fundamental philosophical differences between our religions. The LDS philosophy regarding our relationship with God holds that His intent is for us to become something great. We cannot do this without His mercy, love, patience, or without the atonement. But individual effort, sacrifice, repentence, and deciding not to give up in approaching difficult tasks in absolutely essential in any worthwhile endeavors. Our salvation is absolutely no different.

    It is possible to become perfect in this life through Christ. Does that mean a person has never sinned? No.

    If a person spends their life striving to obey Christ’s commandments, repenting humbly, consider their state, say at age 85. If they have repented of their sins, those sins are forgiven and are no longer on that person’s “record.” At age 85, a diligent person has had a lot of practice at keeping the law of chastity, tithing, loving his/her neighbor, honesty, etc. etc. I have honestly known people in whom I could see no flaws.

    Are they perfect? If they are continuing to repent of their sins and having the blood of Christ applied to them, yes they can be perfect.

    With all their effort and practice, and with the grace and mercy of Christ- they become something different, something a lot more like God. Without their personal effort, that would be impossible. As Christ told the Pharisees- “God is able to make of these stones children of Abraham,” so He too could change everybody into saints if the plan were not a function of personal effort in addition to the atonement.

    You seem to be arguing that if a person makes any degree of mistake or sin, they are guilty of “all sins.” I do not subscribe to this doctrine. I know many interpret verses in the NT as meaning such a thing, but I disagree. To me, it means that if we make any mistake, we fail to completely meet the demands of law and justice. It does not mean we are no different than murderers and rapists. I suppose you could say a murderer and an imperfect person who strives their whole life to obey and serve are similar in that neither of them meet up to the law. But the person who claims God sees no difference between those two is smoking something, IMO.

    Again, I take Christ’s words literally. I believe it is only in striving for perfection that we become what it is He wants us to become.

    The alternative is a socialist gospel.

    Some have called mormonism the American religion. I see a lot of reasons for this, not just because it started here, but because our philosophy is so in line with the concepts upon which the country was established.

    fof

  15. 15 adb
    May 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    FOF: “I suppose you could say a murderer and an imperfect person who strives their whole life to obey and serve are similar in that neither of them meet up to the law. But the person who claims God sees no difference between those two is smoking something, IMO.”

    If Christ is not in the picture for either of them, then yes, both the murderer and imperfect person are exactly alike in God’s eyes: they both missed the mark of perfection. Hell awaits. And no, I’m not smoking anything.

    However, I would assume that the person who strives to obey and serve does so for the right reason: because he has the confidence that Christ has obtained his salvation freely and fully.

  16. 16 adb
    May 26, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Regarding your response to my comments, you assume the adulterer had an audience with God. Am I to take that to mean that you understand Jesus = the one true God? If so, that’s a step in the right direction:)

    As to my comments, I should have clarified. Jesus most certainly gave imperfect people an audience. But I would point out that in the case of Christ, God is coming to man, not the other way around. God took on human flesh to come to sinners and direct them to him alone for salvation. But only those who believe it have any relationship with him, for they are no longer imperfect, but have been made holy by Christ’s blood the instant they believed in him.

  17. May 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    The LDS philosophy regarding our relationship with God holds that His intent is for us to become something great. We cannot do this without His mercy, love, patience, or without the atonement.

    This is not a unique LDS philosophy. Christians believe God has great things in store and plan for us as well. The difference between LDS and Christian doctrine is mainly in how we get there and the state of man without God.

    If a person spends their life striving to obey Christ’s commandments, repenting humbly, consider their state, say at age 85. If they have repented of their sins, those sins are forgiven and are no longer on that person’s “record.”

    Do you get this understanding – the idea that God forgives sins due to the atonement – from Christ’s words? Remember, this conversation is about you taking Christ’s words literally. You can’t bring Paul’s words and teachings into this, for that would be:

    …qualifying Christ’s words. . . . adding meaning that is extra-textual. And I believe that is a dangerous thing.

    You alluded to this over on Jessica’s blog as well… how it is wrong to interpret Christ through Pauline writings. So, based upon Christ’s words alone, how do you come to this position. Remember, He said in order to be saved we need to “keep all the commandments.” Since, as you admit, no one can do this without the atonement, how do you achieve this given the fact that in this conversation with the rich man, Christ never said anything about the atonement.

    Darrell

  18. May 26, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Repost due to formatting error:

    The LDS philosophy regarding our relationship with God holds that His intent is for us to become something great. We cannot do this without His mercy, love, patience, or without the atonement.

    This is not a unique LDS philosophy. Christians believe God has great things in store and plan for us as well. The difference between LDS and Christian doctrine is mainly in how we get there and the state of man without God.

    If a person spends their life striving to obey Christ’s commandments, repenting humbly, consider their state, say at age 85. If they have repented of their sins, those sins are forgiven and are no longer on that person’s “record.”

    Do you get this understanding – the idea that God forgives sins due to the atonement – from Christ’s words? Remember, this conversation is about you taking Christ’s words literally. You can’t bring Paul’s words and teachings into this, for that would be:

    . . .qualifying Christ’s words. . . . adding meaning that is extra-textual. And I believe that is a dangerous thing.

    You alluded to this over on Jessica’s blog as well… how it is wrong to interpret Christ through Pauline writings. So, based upon Christ’s words alone, how do you come to this position. Remember, He said in order to be saved we need to “keep all the commandments.” Since, as you admit, no one can do this without the atonement, how do you achieve this given the fact that in this conversation with the rich man, Christ never said anything about the atonement.

    Darrell

  19. 19 faithoffathers
    May 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    adb,

    I will agree with you that without the atonement, all are in the same boat of being unable to return (or dwell) to live with God. All are lost.

    But I would argue that everybody’s debt to justice is a little different. After all, the Bible is very clear that we will be judged according to our works.

    Therefore, the greater the sins one commits in this life, the greater the debt to justice. The more faithful and obedient one is, the smaller their debt. Make sense?

    But you are correct that all are lost without the atonement, and must pay their own debts.

    And ideally, yes, a person obeys out of faith.

    And yes, Christ very clearly taught the gospel of repentence and the forgiveness of sins due to the atonement.

    fof

    And no, I do not believe Jesus and the Father are one person. I merely tried to simplify the discussion- interesting- wonder if any Biblical writers ever did the same thing.

    As to your statement that “only those who believe it have any relationship with him, for they are no longer imperfect, but have been made holy by Christ’s blood the instant they believed in him,” I could not disagree more.

    Christ is the creator. To say a person has no relationship with Him is simply incorrect.

    And the idea that a person is perfect “the instant they believe in Christ” is absolutely false doctrine. Its truth-value approaches that of a fairy-tale.

    Darrell- yes you are right, non-LDS Christians do believe God can make something good our of mankind. The difference I see is that many EVs seem to make a huge disconnect in the logic of that process when compared to every other endeavor that results in growth and achieving potential. The “believe-only” folks argue that God does absolutely everything involved in making a person whatever it is God wants them to be.

    My argument is that that concept and belief in no way mirrors the manner in which a person becomes anything good in this life. The typical response is that “God’s ways are not man’s ways.” And I think that is a huge cop-out and flies in the face of all reason, logic, and the teachings of Jesus.

  20. 21 Echo
    May 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    We have inherited Adam and Eve’s sin. They sold themselves and us to the devil in the Fall. You have no say in whether you would be created in sin and can only blame Adam and Eve, our first parents, for that. We are all born with an evil and depraved nature and without faith, it is impossible to please God. You have no influence on your salvation. God IS NOT the author of your sins. Man is the author of his own sins.

    The good news is that Christ justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5), his blood purchased us back from the devil and restored us to the perfection that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. God gives us a NEW BIRTH, a new nature and a new heart. Through faith, we REMAIN in a state of perfect innocence and righteousness imputed to us because of what Christ alone has done. All of this is forfeited by unbelief.

  21. 22 Echo
    May 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    FOF said: “Therefore, the greater the sins one commits in this life, the greater the debt to justice. The more faithful and obedient one is, the smaller their debt. Make sense?”

    If you commit one little tiny sin, you have broken God’s entire law (All the commandments). We break God’s entire law every time we sin, our debt just keeps getting bigger and bigger! It never gets smaller. And since “without faith it is impossible to please God” everything an unbeliever does on a daily basis, whether they consider it good or bad, is increasing the debt at alarming rates because God considers it all bad!

    James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

    God’s law always has and always will demand perfection from us, something that is impossible for any of us to do. Jesus didn’t change this teaching. He promoted it:

    Mathew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”

    In fact, we can’t even begin to follow him until we are perfect first:

    Mathew 19:21 “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Perfection is what is expected of any of us if we want to depend on paying any or all of the debt ourselves. The problem is that since it is impossible to be perfect, we will end up totally flat broke in the judgement.

    However, those who come to Jesus totally flat broke with not a penny to his name and trust that Jesus has paid the debt for them as a free gift, no strings attached, are saved through faith alone. They have now become rich!

  22. May 27, 2010 at 4:22 am

    FOF,

    Thanks for responding, but I didn’t see a response to my questions. I asked:

    So, based upon Christ’s words alone, how do you come to this position? Remember, He said in order to be saved we need to “keep all the commandments.” Since, as you admit, no one can do this without the atonement, how do you achieve this given the fact that in this conversation with the rich man, Christ never said anything about the atonement.

    Thanks!

    Darrell

  23. May 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    FOF, by your pleasure

    Christ says “no man comes to the father but through me” John 14:6
    still peter in in second book chap 2 verse 24 says “that by his stripes we are healed”
    it is with the admission and belief in Christ that we may see God’ with that admission I can more easily obey the “commandments” if we then lose sight of LOVE that is bestowed we then become legalistic in the was we follow the commands of God.

  24. May 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    we can go round about the fact that we MUST obey the law yet starting in the OT and finishing with revelation gods message is that His love for us is WHY we must obey the Laws

  25. May 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    the thing is FOF

    I can do everything insofar that man may consider good works but if I do not believe in Christ as the Son and 3rd yet full person of the Living God I am going to hell

    The opposite is also true I can do nothing akin to a “good work” yet I can profess christ and perhaps go to heaven

    I can do nothing to earn heaven the Bible makes this clear yet as for His given Grace

  26. 27 Echo
    May 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    To all the LDS reading this thread.

    Human beings don’t have the whole picture, the whole perspective that God has. We therefore can’t take verses like Mark has given and interpret them in light of our own human perspective(human reason). Even from one human to the next, our perspectives are different. Our human perspective is fatally flawed. Therefore when we use our human perspective to interpret what God is saying, the chances are overwhelming that we are interpreting his word wrong!

    If God says that man is by nature dead. We have to take him at his word whether at present it makes sense to us or not. Obviously over time God will fill in the holes or gaps in our thinking so that at some point it will make sense to us. But in order to interpret scripture correctly we must begin by being students under the direction of God’s word rather than dictating to God what he is saying through our fatally flawed perspectives.

    When God says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” He means what he says. This is the solid truth and is not a lie. Most humans think that surely they can do something good and so right away, human perspective stands in judgement over God’s word dictating to God what God is saying and changing what he is saying to something entirely different than what he is actually saying!

    We must first begin to accept God’s word by faith at face value even when it makes no sense to our human perspective. It’s only then that God can begin to bring our human perspective up to par with his or carry us in that direction at least.

    When God says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” he means exactly that! Every human that ever lived that didn’t have faith simply could not and cannot please God! Nothing they do pleases God whether or not they consider it good or bad.

    Believe it, take God’s word for it, and he will begin to open up your perspective on it and help you to see the truth in it. The perspective that he has that we may be presently blind to.

  27. 28 faithoffathers
    May 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Echo,

    I believe the truth is that breaking one commandment categorically makes a person a law-breaker and incapable of dwelling with God. I really do not believe that breaking one commandment is equivalent to breaking every single commandment- I don’t think that is the point of that verse.

    I agree that our perspectives are flawed. And I do believe all scripture. But which of our interpretations of scripture and salvation are correct? Or are they both wrong? I agree that without faith it is impossible to please God. That statement does not say that man can do absolutely nothing good of his own choosing.

    Again I ask if every decision and action a person makes before conversion is evil? Of course not.

    Darrell,

    After Christ’s exchange with the young, rich man, He goes on to tell the apostles that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. He then says “but with God, all things are possible.”

    So although he doesn’t describe the atonement in detail, He is including in His teaching the miraculous work of God- made possible through the atonement.

    Massey,

    I agree that love inspires our obedience to God, and it also results from our obedience.

    “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

    You will get no disagreement from me that Christ is the only means of salvation. We are lost no matter how much good we do, unless we accept and follow Christ.

    fof

  28. May 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    So although he doesn’t describe the atonement in detail, He is including in His teaching the miraculous work of God- made possible through the atonement.

    I agree with you. What you are saying here is that we should interpret Christ’s words through the light of God’s specific revalation in other areas. Taking Christ’s words literally, you cannot come to the conclusion that He is talking about the atonement. He doesn’t even use the word(s) sacrifice, atonement, grace, or anything else in this exchange.

    Bottom line, while you say you take Christ literally, you are actually still interpreting Him through a lens provided by what you consider to be “other revelation.” As such, it is improper of you to criticise us for:

    . . .qualifying Christ’s words. . . . adding meaning that is extra-textual.

    For you are doing the same thing.

    Instead, we need to discuss which interpretation of Christ’s words are correct (if either).

    In my opinion, taking Christ’s decleration that the only way to heaven is to “keep all the commandments” literally is completely illogical, for it contradicts the testimony of scripture in a multitude of other places, and we know that God will not contradict Himself. In this exchange, Christ was speaking to a legalist. Therefore, we need to interpret the exchange with that view in mind. The rich man saw salvation entirely through the lens of what “he needed to do.” Christ was trying to make a point, “No matter what you do, you will never be perfect.” – Go, keep all the commandements, see if you can do it. – It was obvious that the rich man realized how impossible the task was going to be. We do not know whether he ever got Christ’s point that salvation will never come through what you do… it can only come through God’s unnmerited grace. I pray he did.

    Darrell

  29. 30 Echo
    May 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    FOF said: “I agree that without faith it is impossible to please God. That statement does not say that man can do absolutely nothing good of his own choosing. Again I ask if every decision and action a person makes before conversion is evil? Of course not.”

    If you believe that man can do something “good” of his own choosing and that not every action and decision a person makes before conversion is evil, then your saying that without faith it is possible to please God God aren’t you? Can you explain what you believe about this more clearly to me?

  30. 31 JTSmith
    May 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Couple of questions FOF…

    The differences between these basic questions is how different Mormons are to Christians and why Christians do not regard them as Christians.

    1) Do you believe Christ and satan are spirit brothers and Christ is your brother?
    2) Do you believe God was man and do you think you will one day be a God to go create your own Kingdoms?
    3) Do you believe God, Christ, and the holy spirit are the same?
    4) Do you believe in the Bible and is it the word of God? Why do Mormons have to have 3 extra books?
    5) Do you believe in your “prophets?”
    6) Do you believe you will given a second chance when you die?

  31. 32 faithoffathers
    June 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Darrell,

    So Christ’s meaning was exactly opposite what He stated. Wow, I suppose I will never understand the scriptures- neither will the bulk of humanity.

    And by the way, I wasn’t using “another revelation” to interpret Christ’s exchange with the rich young man. I used the very next statement from Christ after the young man walked away to show that He actually did reference the intervention of God in the young mans salvation- not exactly using other revelations or people to interpret His words.

    JTSmith:

    1. Christ and Satan are “spiritual brothers” in the same sense that the worlds most priceless diamond is carbon. The “brothers” part of their relationship is about as trivial as is possible. They are polar opposites. Satan fell from heaven after having occupied a prominent seat among the sons of God.

    2. I believe God had a mortal experience in the same way Christ had a mortal experience. I believe I may become like Heavenly Father, but He will always be my God, Supreme creator, and Superior. Whether I will ever create “kingdoms” I do not know. I doubt any of us know what that means.

    3. I believe God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one in purpose and spirit- the same sense that Christ prayed His apostles would be one in John 17.

    4. I believe the Bible is the word of God. We believe in other books of scripture because we believe God has more to say. The Bible does not contain everything uttered by God to man. Nor does it contain everything God wants man to have- the Bible never makes such claims. We believe more will be eventually be given.

    5. I believe in all of God’s prophets.

    6. I do not believe I will be given a “second chance” after this life. I believe those who had no chance in this life will be given a “first chance” after this life.

    fof

  32. June 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    So Christ’s meaning was exactly opposite what He stated. Wow, I suppose I will never understand the scriptures- neither will the bulk of humanity. And by the way, I wasn’t using “another revelation” to interpret Christ’s exchange with the rich young man.

    FOF,

    You are referencing other revelation because you are bringing the atonement into it. No where does He reference the atonement specifically. How do you define exactly what the “intervention of God” is? Via other revelation at other spots in the Bible.

    Now, consider this point. If you think Christ was being absolutely literal in His meaning, i.e., that you must keep ALL the commandments to get to heaven, how will ANYBODY get to heaven. Have you broken any commandments since you joined the LDS Church? If so, how are you going to get to heaven? Because if you have, you have not followed Christ’s command to keep ALL the commandments? The second you start giving yourself an “out” due to the atonement, you are qualifying Christ’s words by saying that you really don’t have to keep them “all.” You are then saying that He just expects you to try and He will forgive you where you fall short… problem is, using your reasoning, that must make Christ a liar for what He told the rich young ruler.

    If you really stop and think about it, you are not taking Christ’s words as literally as you think you are. Otherwise, your thinking that you will make it to Heaven is not all that logical.

    Darrell

  33. 34 Echo
    June 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    FOF

    If you believe that man can do something “good” of his own choosing and that not every action and decision a person makes before conversion is evil, then your saying that without faith it is possible to please God aren’t you? Can you explain what you believe about this more clearly to me?

  34. 35 James
    June 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    “If a person spends their life striving to obey Christ’s commandments, repenting humbly, consider their state, say at age 85. If they have repented of their sins, those sins are forgiven and are no longer on that person’s “record.” At age 85, a diligent person has had a lot of practice at keeping the law of chastity, tithing, loving his/her neighbor, honesty, etc. etc. I have honestly known people in whom I could see no flaws.

    Are they perfect? If they are continuing to repent of their sins and having the blood of Christ applied to them, yes they can be perfect.”

    People sin even at 85. I guarantee that if you hold up a picture of an attractive woman in a, say, bikini, and show it to an 85 year old man and a 25 year old man, they are both thinking the same thing. Jesus said that if you look at another with lust, you commit adultery with them in your heart. Just because YOU do not see flaws in someone does not mean they do not exist. You do not see with God’s eyes. You certainly do not see their hearts.

    As for the end of this quote, if they are continually repenting they are continually sinning. Someone who does not sin does not need to repent.


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