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”?