It’s a beginning of another year. That means that members of the LDS Church will be studying the teachings of another one of their presidents. In 2013 the spotlight is on Lorenzo Snow, who served as president of the LDS Church for three years from 1898 to 1901. They will devote time the second and third Sundays of each month to study a compilation of his teachings which has been assembled in a brand new manual.
This coming Sunday they will be looking at chapter one entitled “Learning by Faith”. Towards the beginning of that chapter, President Snow says: “The whole idea of Mormonism is improvement—mentally, physically, morally and spiritually. No half-way education suffices for the Latter-day Saint.” Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Does that sound like something you would read in the Bible? No, both would say that the whole idea is about what Jesus has done for us, not about how we are to improve ourselves.
Immediately following that quote, is this one: “It is profitable to live long upon the earth and to gain the experience and knowledge incident thereto: for the Lord has told us that whatever intelligence we attain to in this life will rise with us in the resurrection, and the more knowledge and intelligence a person gains in this life the greater advantage he will have in the world to come [see D&C 130:18–19].””
Again note the emphasis on what the person does. The more knowledge they gain now, the greater advantage they will have in the world to come.
Again the question begs to be asked. Did Jesus ever talk that way? Is such an idea found in the Bible? On the contrary, Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12 said: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The contrast is obvious: now our knowledge is incomplete but in heaven it will be complete. And this statement applies to all believers. In heaven, some will not have greater knowledge than others – because it doesn’t depend on our attainment but on God’s blessing.
These are just two examples of a major difference between Mormonism and the Bible. Mormonism consistently centers people on themselves: on what they have to do, on what they have to attain, on what they have earned. But the Bible puts God in the spotlight and centers on his works for us and his blessings to us – even in the face of our sinfulness and unworthiness.
As I begin a new year, I pray that I can concentrate even more on God and his incredible works for me – especially his absolute forgiveness of me because of Jesus’ complete sacrifice for me. I pray that I think more and more of heaven and exude confidence that I will be there – not because of anything I have done but because Jesus has done everything for me. And I pray that more and more LDS people see that and experience the great joy of being worthy before God clothed completely in Christ’s righteousness.