Archive for June, 2013

13
Jun
13

A Different Perspective

Sometimes it’s easy to show the difference between Mormonism and Christianity.  But sometimes the difference is more subtle.  Sometimes it’s not so much what is said but more the perspective taken and the emphasis made.

An example of what I’m talking about is in the talk given by President Henry B. Eyring at the last General Conference.  In his talk entitled, “Come unto Me” he states:  “I experienced the joy of coming closer to the Savior and of His coming closer to me most often through simple acts of obedience to the commandments.”  That statement serves as a good summary of his entire talk.  It is all about our being obedient and devoted.

Now it’s true that we can feel closer to Jesus through obedience.  We all know how sin separates us from God.  But look again at President Eyring’s statement.  He says that he most often feels closer to Jesus through obedience. I don’t know how many Christians identify with that.  I know I don’t.

What makes me feel close to Jesus?  It’s when I am overwhelmed once again by his love for me – a love that I don’t deserve or merit.  When I think about what he all did for me – all his blood, sweat, and tears that he expended to save me, that is what makes me feel closer to him.  Or when I once again experience my loving Father blessing me even though I didn’t merit it – that’s when I feel close to God.  In short, what makes me feel close to God is seeing what he has done and continues to do for me – not what I do for him.

But President Eyring mentions none of that.  For me, his silence speaks volumes about the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.

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03
Jun
13

What did the Atonement do?

At the recent General Conference of the LDS Church, Elder Craig A. Cardon gave a talk entitled, “The Savior Wants to Forgive.” In it, more than once, he talked about “the enabling power of the Atonement”.  Especially enlightening was this comment:  “Rather, after all we can do, His compassion and grace are the means whereby ‘in process of time’ we overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement.  As we humbly seek this precious gift, ‘weak things become strong unto (us),’ and by His strength, we are made able to do that which we could never do alone” (Ensign, May 2013, p. 16).

As this comment illustrates, Mormonism teaches that one of the greatest benefits of the Atonement is the power it can instill in people.  This agrees with how it defines grace.  “The word grace, as used in the scriptures refers primarily to the divine help and strength we receive through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (True to the Faith, p. 77)  Therefore, as the above comment with its reference to 2 Nephi 25:23 (we are saved by grace after all we can do) makes clear, Mormonism teaches that, to be saved, a person must do all they can do, and then the Lord will give them more power (grace) “to do that which we could never do alone”.  The result is that even when Mormonism talks about grace, the focus is on what a person does.

The biblical message is so different. The most striking biblical picture of atonement is found in the Day of Atonement as it is recorded in Leviticus 16.  The emphasis there is not on people rendering obedience – it is on blood – the blood of animals sacrificed in place of the sinning people.  It’s that blood – not any obedience on the part of people – that atones for their sins.  St. Paul picks up on that picture in the New Testament’s only use of the word “atonement” in Romans 5.  In verse 9 he talks about how we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ.  How Jesus’ death reconciled us to God (v.10).  And then in v. 11 he continues by saying:  “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”   We have joy because Jesus made complete atonement for all our sins.  We are now worthy and acceptable to God, not if we now do a lot of things, but because Jesus has already done everything for us.

We are saved not after all we can do, but because Jesus has done all things for us.  That, my friends, is the source of all true joy.




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