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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?
Pope Francis assures sceptics: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
This article explains that Pope Francis emphasized that all people when they do good come closerto Christ and may find eternal redemption.
Pope Francis says atheists can do good and go to heaven too!
So, we have that and just to be clear, reverend Thomas Rosica is NOT a spokesperson for the Catholic Church as news outlets have reported:
Catholic Church confirms atheists still go to hell, after Pope Francis suggests they might go to heaven
With all this said, my thoughts turn to LDS doctrines of "hell". If I'm not mistaken "hell" which is Sheol in Hebrew was understood as a place where souls are temporarily held and then released for God's final judgment. Under Joseph Smith and the restored gospel, it was taught and it is understood today that the souls will be released because Christ overcame death and thus unlocked the gates of hell and allowed all persons to be resurrected. The resurrection of the body, ergo, the reunification of the body and spirit is, according to Doctrine and Covenants, a redemption of the soul. That this redemption is for all unconditionally. It is pure mercy that Jesus did this for all mankind.
But then there is the redemption from sin. That is, unmistakably, from the blood of the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ taught that all *must* believe in Him to be saved and under LDS theology, the gospel of Jesus Christ will be taught to all those who did not accept it in mortality. This way, literally all who have lived or are alive all will be taught about Jesus Christ and after accepting Him, how to come unto Him under covenant. As Peter declared, the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached unto those who are dead. With this understanding, all individuals, even atheists, will be taught about Jesus Christ, have a choice to receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior, and be shown how to fully and completely come unto Him through the priesthood authority.
I actually see lots of commonalities between what Pope Francis and Reverend Thomas Rosica said regarding "believers" and "non believers" and eternal salvation as taught by the LDS Church. What are your thoughts?
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
I recently have been asking my friends and even my pastor, who are many are who are being referred to here. Kinda scary to think that many people will come to stand before God expecting to spend eternity with God to find out otherwise. I do not want to be one of them. That is why I eagerly seek to understand this verse better and would value your thoughts.
I have heard a variety of answers. Mostly along the lines of people who are religious and do "good things" but do not truly have faith. Also, Paul's letter in Galations,
Faith or Works of the Law
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] 4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
How important is the Church in our salvation? Consider the salvation allegory of the Good Samaritan.
We (the man/sinner) are taken to the Church to be cared for *until Christ returns*. To me this indicates that we will always need the Church. And it is an integral part of the support structure required for us to look to Christ for our salvation.
Christ uses the Church as his surrogate when He is not physically present. The Prophet is his appointed representative on this Earth. So, will we ever NOT need the Church prior to death or the Second Coming?
(Such a question during the millenial era has a different set of variables. Please don't go there).
Here's where I'm coming from.
1) It seems obvious that Christ wants the Church to exist. Why else would he have organized it TWICE?
2) If we go along with the allegory (which really makes a lot of sense to me) then it appears that the Church is the tool of choice for Christ's mortal ministry on earth.
3) Too many born-agains use the old "We have a Bible! There cannot be any more Bible." to make me think we simply don't need an earthly organization or prophets. (If you need an explanation of that correlation, I'd be happy to provide it. But right now, I'm going to bed.)