Archive for November, 2011


Fully converted

At the last General Conference, in one of his talks, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, talked about meeting an elderly man.  After describing the meeting he remarks:  “He was an example of the fully converted Latter-day Saints I meet often after they have given a life of dedicated service.  They press on.  President Marion G. Romney described it this way: ‘In one who is wholly converted, desire for things [contrary] to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died, and substituted therefor is a love of God with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.’” (Ensign, Nov, 2011, p. 70, emphasis added)

Note the two things I emphasized in that quote.  First he says he meets such people often.  In other words, according to him, a fully converted person is not that rare.  And secondly, one of the main characteristics of who is wholly converted is that the “desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died”.

Really?  Such a person never again has a sinful desire?  Not one sniff of sinful anger or revenge?  Not one self-centered or selfish yearning?  Not one twinge of lust or greed?  Not one moment of doubt or worry?  No trace of apathy?

This is a condition not even claimed by biblical prophets.  When the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord he exclaimed:  “Woe is me!  for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5)  This is something not even claimed by the Lord’s apostles.  Paul lamented:  “For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  (Romans 7:19).  But President Eyring says he meets such people often!

There has been only one person who, at the time of his death, had no sinful desires.  That person was Jesus.  That is why his death was an acceptable sacrifice for sin.  And that is why his death was a necessary sacrifice for sin.  For absolutely everybody else continues to have sinful desires until the day of his or her death.  And that is why whoever is saved is saved entirely on what Jesus has done and not, in any way, in what they do.  To Jesus, and to Jesus alone, be the glory.


True Happiness

In his General Conference address, Elder Jose L. Alonso of the Seventy said:  “The prophets have declared that true happiness is found in following the example and teachings of Christ.  He is our Savior, He is our teacher, and He is the perfect example.  His was a life of service.”  He then proceeds in the rest of his talk to extol the happiness of serving others.

Often it is not so much what LDS leaders say, but what they don’t say, that is so troubling.  Putting the above quote in its context, it is apparent that the teachings of Christ that he is referring to is are his teachings on service.  Service is what he talks about in the rest of his talk.  I am stressing this so that nobody thinks I’m taking his comments out of context.

So what’s so troubling?  Ask most any biblical Christian where true happiness is to be found and they won’t talk about a life of service.  Rather they will talk about the free and full forgiveness they have received from God.  They will talk about the happiness of being richly blessed by God – even though they aren’t worthy of such blessings.  In other words, they will see that true happiness is found not in what they do – but in what God has done for them. True happiness is found in seeing Jesus serving, not as my Example, but as my Substitute – doing it all for me.

But Elder Alonso mentions none of that.  Not one mention of forgiveness.  It’s often the things that are left unsaid that speak volumes.


After all we can do

A passage that many Christians and Mormons have gone round and round on is from the Book of Mormon:  “For we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) I can’t count how many different ways Mormons have interpreted it.  Recently one interpretation I read said “all we can do” means we can’t do anything!  It doesn’t take a whole lot of research to discover that there is a wide variety of interpretations of this passage among Mormons.

But that is not the case with the official representatives of Mormonism.  In the latest General Conference, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, an LDS apostle, stated:  “It would mock the Savior’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for us to expect that He should transform us into angelic beings with no real effort on our part.  Rather, we seek His grace to complement and reward our most diligent efforts (see 2 Nephi 25:23).” (my emphasis) (Ensign, Nov. 2011, p.39)

This is consistent with what the LDS manual True to the Faith says:  “The phrase ‘after all we can’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him.” (p. 77) This is consistent with the LDS Bible Dictionary.  “However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.  Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.’ (2 Ne 25:23).” (p.697)  Those are just two of many examples.  Official Mormonism is consistent in its explanation of 2 Nephi 25:23.

Why then isn’t there consistency among Mormons?  And if you were in my position, as someone who is sincerely trying to represent Mormonism, who should I listen to as telling me what Mormonism teaches?  A regular LDS member or LDS apostles and church manuals?

Mormonism teaches that it takes effort – “total effort on the part of the recipient” to be saved.  If that is so, what should we conclude about anybody who doesn’t give “total effort”?

November 2011

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