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By Bernard Gui
In sacrament meeting today, a brother announced that he had been asked to give a talk about President Oaks’ April Conference address. Most of the time, this type of talk is like a book report “Elder Oaks said this....,” “then Elder Oaks said that.....” I prefer to read the book myself rather than hear someone’s rehash of it.
Today, however, was not one of those days. Today was transformational. Taking this quote as his starting point
our speaker gave perhaps the best sermon I have ever heard and felt on repentance. He said at first he worried that his words might not be appropriate, but then he came to the conclusion that what he had to say was what the Lord wanted him to say. He told his story...
A life-long member, seminary graduate, returned missionary young man who had made some very poor choices and ended up in many years of inactivity, moral degradation, addiction, depression, homelessness, self-loathing, and despondency. At a point when he was making the decision whether or not to live any longer, he thought of his father. He called him and asked if they could meet. They agreed and at that visit in their home, his father gave him a blessing during which the slate was wiped clean. Embraced by his parents, from that moment he began to take the steps that would restore his spirit, mind, and body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now three years later, he is sealed to a sister from our ward who had earlier suffered at the hands of an abusive ex-husband. They and their little baby boy are now a healthy and whole loving family. God be praised!
There were many tearful eyes in the congregation, and some wept openly. We did not know of his journey, only that he had come as a great blessing into the life of our friend. I am sure many were thinking of loved ones they fear have slipped forever away from the path into forbidden areas from which there will be no return. Or perhaps there were those who are having similar feelings of uselessness and despair themselves. As the Spirit bore witness, we were given the hope that “Where will this lead?” does not necessarily have be to tragedy, but rather to deliverance, and redemption, and joy. It is possible for all of us.
Thanks to this good brother for sharing his story of repentance, and thanks be to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
I have not thought this through much yet, so help me out here.
First a preface.
I have a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, that he was a real person who came to earth, suffered in Gethsemane and in the crucifixion, and through his atonement and death we are made "square" with God, and that we are "saved by grace after all that we can do" and that, as a 40 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple worker, I don't think any aspect of these ideas can or should be altered in any way. We are talking about "salvation" here, in the sense of being forgiven from sin, and we are NOT talking about exaltation- which is a whole different level of "salvation" which is often confused with "being saved" as other Christians use the terminology. This IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church has the best paradigm I think, for mankind to follow. That means I consider that we are the church with the most truth about these matters than any other on earth today, and are most importantly a LIVING church because we can all receive personal revelation on a daily basis, and our leaders are inspired men, as shown by all the changes we are making which I highly endorse. In other words, I have a testimony that we are the most "true and living church" on the earth today.
On the other hand, I am personally interested in reaching out to the secular world and drawing parallels between our beliefs and the way the world sees things to help explain the gospel to secular people. We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.
But I think we need all the help we can get in converting people who are now "secular" to see us as normal people who have a church which is spiritual but also rational rather than seeing us as kooks or cultists, or people who "just believe" what they are told.
Now the question.
How does the notion of "being saved by grace after all that we can do" differ- except for the word "grace" which is a spiritual term- differ from the secular notion that, say a criminal, is forgiven by the law, after he has done all he can do by serving his sentence in prison, paid his fine, or, in short, doing whatever society feels is "all he can do" to go free and be forgiven?
The philosophy of Pragmatism eschews philosophical distinctions which make no practical "difference" in practice. In laymen's terms, one might say "it's six of one, half dozen of the other"- meaning it is virtually the "same thing"
Remember again we are talking only about our theology of forgiveness here, not exaltation, not even being "saved" technically- JUST the idea of what it takes for God to forgive us of our sins.
How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"?
Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?
We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?
I hesitate, somewhat (though probably not enough), to do this. (Fools rush in ... ) Though names, locales, other identifying details, and surrounding circumstances have been changed for dramatic purposes, real-life, flesh-and-blood people are involved, and perhaps this cuts through the flesh to the muscle, and through the muscle to the bone. Some time ago, I wrote a piece of "faction" ... factual fiction ... about a relationship in which I was involved once, and about the metamorphosis of a young lady for whom I once cared a great deal. Though we're no longer as young as we once were, and though she long since has moved on, on some level, I care for her still. I've tried hard to move on, too, and I'm not really very big on "pining" for anyone. Hopefully no one gets the idea that that's what this is about. I'm posting this in General Discussions in hopes that it attracts broader attention and wider traffic before the Mods decide to move it to Social Hall.
Love and marriage figure somewhere in here, of course. It is a romance, after all. I'm not necessarily interested in focusing more than in passing on those topics. Hopefully, we can also avoid turning this into yet another thread about gay marriage. I'm more interested in exploring broader themes of repentance, of forgiveness, of change, of metamorphosis, of what it means to recognize our identity as Children of God with a divine heritage and potential, and so on. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the first chapter/installment of Deanna: A Story of Love and Change.
How pliable is reality? And scripture? Can it shift like the Liahona to meet emerging needs?
Merging/dueling realities. Things that make you go hmm.
After spending years focusing on the East (Europe) and on the West (Asia) It would appear that a shift to include peoples in the southern hemisphere has come due.
For most of my earlier research on Nephites, I was focused on the northern hemisphere...because it contained my family heritage. And I distinctly recall (and remember writing about) Mormon claiming that he was a pure descendant of Nephi. (Just as I [and many others] recall Isaiah foretelling a lion laying down with a lamb.) Am I alone in such distinct recollections?
Then, within the last few days, the wording changed in scripture. (Cue prideful Laman/Lemuel and shifting Liahona). And Mormon's claim now states that although descending from Nephi (Mormon 1:5) he was rather a pure descendant of *Lehi* (3 Nephi 5:20), suggesting he might also have Lamanite/Ammonite heritage - or that such a distinction didn't even matter.
And when I saw that shift, I was immediately reminded that generations before the conquistadors, many of the peoples I deem to have Nephite/Ammonite heritage left northern Europe and migrated south to Spain/Portugal...and thereby became ancestors of the vast majority of Latin Americans today.
Years ago, I cautioned forum members to give Latin American immigrants due respect, in the specific context/warning of how Goths were mistreated by the Roman Empire. Romans first tried to keep Goths out of the Empire, and then after they entered, starved and mistreated them so badly...that decades later, they finally arose and toppled Rome.
It appears that caution has come full circle. About two weeks ago, I was holding a history of the Goths in my hand and entered conversation with a very nice young man with Latin American heritage...who was just sustained as a new elder two days ago.
Moving forward, I need to shift/expand my myopic view of heritage and adoption to benefit more/all of mankind.