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Misunderstanding Grace


bluebell

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I'm currently reading Stephen Robinson's 'Believing Christ'. It's really an excellent books, as many LDS here already know, i'm sure.

In chapter 5 of the book, Robinson speaks of 'misunderstanding grace' and discusses a couple of what are, in his opinion, the biggest misunderstandings of it.

He says-

"Perhaps the most serious distortion is to argue that since in the covenant relationship Christ makes up what i lack, i don't need to work as hard anymore. I can relax and let Jesus do everything for me; i can just coast along with a token effort, clinging tenaciously to my favorite sins, and still expect to be 'saved by grace'."

He calls this the idea of salvation by grace without the need for commitment or loyalty to Christ or the Gospel Covenant.

He explains it as-

"Though God may accept righteous intnetions and desires in place of perfect performance, he takes no wooden nickels. He will not accept in place of righteous intentions and desires mere 'wishes' that we had some.... For in these cases the individuals don't really hunger and thirst after righteousness bu after sin, and they expect Jesus to tolerate it or even subsidize it."

He goes on to say that we can tell whether we are guilty of this kind of thinking by seeing whether we view our sins as enemies from which we are trying with difficulty to escape or viewing them as comfortable old friends we are reluctant to leave behind.

The next 'common' distortion of the doctrine of grace he says is less sinister than 'easy' grace but more widespread among LDS-

"it is the view that the Savior extends His grace to us only after we've done all we possibly can do."

That we must first overcome our weaknesses and imperfections ourselves and THEN we can be worthy of the grace of Christ.

He speaks of how illogical that is and how it goes against the Gospel Covenant because it requires us to perfect ourselves rather than recognize and rely on the merits of Christ to save us.

Reading this chapter lead me to wonder whether LDS and non-LDS Christians on this board would agree with Robinson here, on the biggest misunderstandings of grace and why or why not.

Grace and it's role in salvation is one of the great dividing lines between LDS and mainstream Christianity-does Robinson say anything that shortens that gap, or do his statements on the LDS doctrine of grace here widen it?

thoughts and comments?

:P

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bluebell:

I don't believe that is possible, nor desirable, to narrow the divide of what is Grace. Nearly all of the Parables that Jesus taught were about what we were to DO.

My question more has to do with 'is the divide what we think it is' and not 'how can we get rid of divide that exists'.

I want to know what non-lds think of robinson's view of the biggest misunderstanding of grace. Do they agree that such a belief IS a misunderstanding of the doctrine, or do they disagree?

And for LDS-do they agree that we most often distort the doctrine of grace by believing that we can't have access to it until after we have become righteous.

I would imagine that most LDS would accuse most mainstream Christians of believing in a form of Grace that is a distortion of what Christ taught-and that most mainstream Christians would accuse LDS of the same thing.

Do our accusations accurately reflect those people's beliefs (if so, the divide between us is very wide) or not (if not then the divide is not very wide at all)?

I think we talk past each other a lot with this issue and i'm trying to use robinson's words as a way to better understand each other instead.

:P

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"Perhaps the most serious distortion is to argue that since in the covenant relationship Christ makes up what i lack, i don't need to work as hard anymore. I can relax and let Jesus do everything for me; i can just coast along with a token effort, clinging tenaciously to my favorite sins, and still expect to be 'saved by grace'."

He calls this the idea of salvation by grace without the need for commitment or loyalty to Christ or the Gospel Covenant.

...

The next 'common' distortion of the doctrine of grace he says is less sinister than 'easy' grace but more widespread among LDS-

"it is the view that the Savior extends His grace to us only after we've done all we possibly can do."

...

Reading this chapter lead me to wonder whether LDS and non-LDS Christians on this board would agree with Robinson here, on the biggest misunderstandings of grace and why or why not.

I agree that those are the biggest misunderstandings of grace. I see them as the two extreme ends.

We shouldn't think the grace of God allows us to sin without repentance, and we also shouldn't think we must first be perfect before the grace of God can have an effect in our lives.

We just need to keep doing the best we can do to be like Jesus until we are actually perfect, and even then. :P

Grace and it's role in salvation is one of the great dividing lines between LDS and mainstream Christianity-does Robinson say anything that shortens that gap, or do his statements on the LDS doctrine of grace here widen it?

I think most Christians agree with our (LDS) concept of grace while thinking that we should agree with them.

<_<

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I think most Christians agree with our (LDS) concept of grace while thinking that we should agree with them.

This is a bit of what i'm wondering as well.

DO LDS and mainstream Christians actually agree on the role of grace and works, much more than we realize, but don't realize it because we fail to explain our beliefs in a language that each other can understand and because we have preconceived notions of what each other is already saying and thus don't really listen to what is being said?

:P

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Both believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Both define what faith is a little differently.

Today in my blog I discussed the issue a little.

To me, belief in Christ signifies a mental deduction, an acceptance, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He suffered and died in behalf of us, satisfying the demands of justice so that we can be forgiven and return to live with God again.

I think belief gets confused for faith sometimes. In a conversation with an Evangelical Christian, I was informed that I'm not a Christian because I believe works are necessary in order for us to receive salvation. He informed me we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

Because I would also say I believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ, I realized the real disagreement dealt with our definition of "faith." His definition of faith would correspond more with what I defined above as "belief," and according to him, is separate from works. You're either saved by faith or by works. For the Latter-day Saints, faith includes works. For the Evangelical, it also includes works; they simply don't acknowledge their actions as works.

The rest of the post explains more here.

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I'm currently reading Stephen Robinson's 'Believing Christ'. It's really an excellent books, as many LDS here already know, i'm sure.

In chapter 5 of the book, Robinson speaks of 'misunderstanding grace' and discusses a couple of what are, in his opinion, the biggest misunderstandings of it.

He says-

"Perhaps the most serious distortion is to argue that since in the covenant relationship Christ makes up what i lack, i don't need to work as hard anymore. I can relax and let Jesus do everything for me; i can just coast along with a token effort, clinging tenaciously to my favorite sins, and still expect to be 'saved by grace'."

He calls this the idea of salvation by grace without the need for commitment or loyalty to Christ or the Gospel Covenant.

He explains it as-

"Though God may accept righteous intnetions and desires in place of perfect performance, he takes no wooden nickels. He will not accept in place of righteous intentions and desires mere 'wishes' that we had some.... For in these cases the individuals don't really hunger and thirst after righteousness bu after sin, and they expect Jesus to tolerate it or even subsidize it."

He goes on to say that we can tell whether we are guilty of this kind of thinking by seeing whether we view our sins as enemies from which we are trying with difficulty to escape or viewing them as comfortable old friends we are reluctant to leave behind.

The next 'common' distortion of the doctrine of grace he says is less sinister than 'easy' grace but more widespread among LDS-

"it is the view that the Savior extends His grace to us only after we've done all we possibly can do."

That we must first overcome our weaknesses and imperfections ourselves and THEN we can be worthy of the grace of Christ.

He speaks of how illogical that is and how it goes against the Gospel Covenant because it requires us to perfect ourselves rather than recognize and rely on the merits of Christ to save us.

Reading this chapter lead me to wonder whether LDS and non-LDS Christians on this board would agree with Robinson here, on the biggest misunderstandings of grace and why or why not.

Grace and it's role in salvation is one of the great dividing lines between LDS and mainstream Christianity-does Robinson say anything that shortens that gap, or do his statements on the LDS doctrine of grace here widen it?

thoughts and comments?

:P

He is right on. There must be a preparatory work we must do, but it isn't by far ALL we can do....before He gives us His hand. HE WALKS WITH US MOST OF THE WAY.

It has disturbed me the imbalanced understanding many have. On the one side we have those who lean too much upon Christ's love for us and do little for their own salvation, while others believe they must use Him as last resorts and it mostly depends upon themselves. They seek brownie points and pats on the back and they are resting in their own works to save them.

The balance is this: We must come to Him and repent. But at that time when He opens His arms and accepts us as spiritually begotten sons and daughters, we then walk with Him and He bares us up in our continual efforts to become like Him.

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1) A misunderstanding of grace is that it is limited. Ironically, Robinson's book does just that in the Parable of the Bicycle. It places a price of the bicycle as analogous to the grace of Christ. But the price of the bicycle is obviously limited, whereas the grace of Christ is infinite. It takes an infinite price to save a soul, and comparing it to a bicycle is not a good comparison. Actually, it seems like there was a thread about this somewhere on here, and maybe the author realizes this.

2) Since the grace and saving power of Christ and therefore the price to save a soul is infinite, we really are nothing, as King Benjamin's speech says. Meaning, any finite amount compared to infinity is always zero, or nothing. Obedience and good works are required and puts one in a position for salvation, however, if one's good works could be measured, they would still be nothing and zero as compared to the grace of Christ, or infinite price to save a soul. Therefore, we really are "saved by grace, not of works" no matter how much good works one has done.

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This is a bit of what i'm wondering as well.

DO LDS and mainstream Christians actually agree on the role of grace and works, much more than we realize, but don't realize it because we fail to explain our beliefs in a language that each other can understand and because we have preconceived notions of what each other is already saying and thus don't really listen to what is being said?

:P

Just for clarification, Yes, that is what I was thinking.

... and I am someone that came from an "evangelical mainstream Christian" perspective.

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Since the grace and saving power of Christ and therefore the price to save a soul is infinite, we really are nothing, as King Benjamin's speech says. Meaning, any finite amount compared to infinity is always zero, or nothing. Obedience and good works are required and puts one in a position for salvation, however, if one's good works could be measured, they would still be nothing and zero as compared to the grace of Christ, or infinite price to save a soul. Therefore, we really are "saved by grace, not of works" no matter how much good works one has done.

King Benjamin=awesome.

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I'm currently reading Stephen Robinson's 'Believing Christ'. It's really an excellent books, as many LDS here already know, i'm sure.

The next 'common' distortion of the doctrine of grace he says is less sinister than 'easy' grace but more widespread among LDS-

"it is the view that the Savior extends His grace to us only after we've done all we possibly can do."

That we must first overcome our weaknesses and imperfections ourselves and THEN we can be worthy of the grace of Christ.

He speaks of how illogical that is and how it goes against the Gospel Covenant because it requires us to perfect ourselves rather than recognize and rely on the merits of Christ to save us.

Reading this chapter lead me to wonder whether LDS and non-LDS Christians on this board would agree with Robinson here, on the biggest misunderstandings of grace and why or why not.

Grace and it's role in salvation is one of the great dividing lines between LDS and mainstream Christianity-does Robinson say anything that shortens that gap, or do his statements on the LDS doctrine of grace here widen it?

thoughts and comments?

:P

I cannot speak for others but I have never understood the doctrine of grace that way (the way that Robinson says that LDS commonly mistake.) In fact the scriptures teach otherwise. The First Principle of the Gospel is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the second is repentance, then the covenant of baptism and then the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is true that we (LDS) do emphasize works as being essential to our salvation but that is only after we have faith in the atonement of Christ. We must endure to the end (meaning keeping the commandments) after baptism. We are different from mainstream Christianity in the doctrine of grace in that we believe that salvation is a process not a one time event. That is the reason the Savior instituted the Sacrament, to renew the covenant as we continue the repentance process. In fact we cannot overcome our weaknesses without the Savior's help.
(Ether 12:27) "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
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We are different from mainstream Christianity in the doctrine of grace in that we believe that salvation is a process not a one time event. That is the reason the Savior instituted the Sacrament, to renew the covenant as we continue the repentance process. In fact we cannot overcome our weaknesses without the Savior's help.

We (LDS) also believe salvation is a one time event, from a certain perspective.

Some people seem to confuse salvation with exaltation.

Those who inherit Terrestrial and Telestial degrees of glory will also be saved, and even those who will be cast out will be saved for a moment, but those who will be cast out will be cast out because they will reject their salvation.

... and our Lord won't force anyone to accept it.

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I cannot speak for others but I have never understood the doctrine of grace that way (the way that Robinson says that LDS commonly mistake.) In fact the scriptures teach otherwise. The First Principle of the Gospel is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the second is repentance, then the covenant of baptism and then the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is true that we (LDS) do emphasize works as being essential to our salvation but that is only after we have faith in the atonement of Christ. We must endure to the end (meaning keeping the commandments) after baptism. We are different from mainstream Christianity in the doctrine of grace in that we believe that salvation is a process not a one time event. That is the reason the Savior instituted the Sacrament, to renew the covenant as we continue the repentance process. In fact we cannot overcome our weaknesses without the Savior's help.

If it is a process, then grace is available now as well as at the end. That is what process means doesn't it? Also, by partaking of the sacrament worthily, we may have the spirit to always be with us. Even though I may be worthy and doing all that the covenants require, I am still an "unworthy creature" according to King Benjamin:

Mosiah 4: 11

11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

From that scripture, if you "have received a remission of your sins", you are still "nothing" and an "unworthy creature". How can I have the "spirit to be with me always" (from the Sacrament) if I am an "unworthy creature"? Because of grace. Now. Today. We are made worthy for that Spirit today because of my repentance and especially because of the grace and mercy of Christ, otherwise He would not allow His Spirit to be with me always. So, even with my repentance, I am still an "unworthy creature" by myself. With Christ, I become worthy.

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We are different from mainstream Christianity in the doctrine of grace in that we believe that salvation is a process not a one time event.

Actually, we believe that exaltation is a process. Salvation is instantaneous once we are within the Gospel Covenant.

The second we enter it, we are saved and we remain saved as long as we remain in it.

To often, as LDS, we don't explain that very well to those who have questions about it, precisely because we use exaltation and salvation interchangably sometimes (which you were probably doing).

:P

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It is an excellent book and very well written. LDS and nonmember can be educated from this book. I agree with it 100%. Before I read it I misunderstood grace and was the guy who said "after all we can do" But seriously how many of us do all that we can do? Even then we fall short. Grace is an awesome thing and both member and non can learn from this book. Just my opinion (a TBM).

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It is an excellent book and very well written. LDS and nonmember can be educated from this book. I agree with it 100%. Before I read it I misunderstood grace and was the guy who said "after all we can do" But seriously how many of us do all that we can do? Even then we fall short. Grace is an awesome thing and both member and non can learn from this book. Just my opinion (a TBM).

Yes, i really liked how he pointed out that LDS all to often misunderstand the term 'after all we can do' as spoken by Nephi.

I know when i was younger that i really misunderstood the role of Grace in my life and my salvation. I wish i had read this book then. I'm getting it for Christmas (on CD) for most of my family because i think almost all LDS would benefit from reading it.

:P

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I think the biggest misunderstanding is the need to literally ask for mercy. It's in some of the BoM's greatest moments, and is even part of the main theme of the BoM, but I haven't met many people where it seemed to be a part of their lives. It should be between the repentance-baptism part, but I know many get baptized without really doing it, and don't do so afterwards as part of repentance, either. Maybe I'm being a little hard or am off on my comments, but that's where I see the biggest LDS problem.

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For the best explaination of salvation and grace I refer to this quote by Elder Oaks in a General Conference talk:

(Dallin H. Oaks, â??Have You Been Saved?,â? Ensign, May 1998,
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I'm currently reading Stephen Robinson's 'Believing Christ'. It's really an excellent books, as many LDS here already know, i'm sure.

In chapter 5 of the book, Robinson speaks of 'misunderstanding grace' and discusses a couple of what are, in his opinion, the biggest misunderstandings of it.

He says-

"Perhaps the most serious distortion is to argue that since in the covenant relationship Christ makes up what i lack, i don't need to work as hard anymore. I can relax and let Jesus do everything for me; i can just coast along with a token effort, clinging tenaciously to my favorite sins, and still expect to be 'saved by grace'."

He calls this the idea of salvation by grace without the need for commitment or loyalty to Christ or the Gospel Covenant.

He explains it as-

"Though God may accept righteous intnetions and desires in place of perfect performance, he takes no wooden nickels. He will not accept in place of righteous intentions and desires mere 'wishes' that we had some.... For in these cases the individuals don't really hunger and thirst after righteousness bu after sin, and they expect Jesus to tolerate it or even subsidize it."

He goes on to say that we can tell whether we are guilty of this kind of thinking by seeing whether we view our sins as enemies from which we are trying with difficulty to escape or viewing them as comfortable old friends we are reluctant to leave behind.

The next 'common' distortion of the doctrine of grace he says is less sinister than 'easy' grace but more widespread among LDS-

"it is the view that the Savior extends His grace to us only after we've done all we possibly can do."

That we must first overcome our weaknesses and imperfections ourselves and THEN we can be worthy of the grace of Christ.

He speaks of how illogical that is and how it goes against the Gospel Covenant because it requires us to perfect ourselves rather than recognize and rely on the merits of Christ to save us.

Reading this chapter lead me to wonder whether LDS and non-LDS Christians on this board would agree with Robinson here, on the biggest misunderstandings of grace and why or why not.

Grace and it's role in salvation is one of the great dividing lines between LDS and mainstream Christianity-does Robinson say anything that shortens that gap, or do his statements on the LDS doctrine of grace here widen it?

thoughts and comments?

<_<

From the way i read this, it he first states we need to do more than wish, then he says we dont need

to do anything to receive grace? So what does he beleive, do we or dont we? :P

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From the way i read this, it he first states we need to do more than wish, then he says we dont need

to do anything to receive grace? So what does he beleive, do we or dont we? :P

I say read it again. I didn't get that impression when I read it in its entirety.

But he is also right on both counts, grace is free and we still need to do more...

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From the way i read this, it he first states we need to do more than wish, then he says we dont need

to do anything to receive grace? So what does he beleive, do we or dont we? :P

He states that we have to hunger and thirst after righteousness, not just wish that we did.

Someone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is not someone who has righteousness already (if they had it, they wouldn't be hungering for it, right? The only people who hunger and thirst are those who are lacking for such things.)

A sinful man can, in the depths of his sins, still hunger and thirst for righteousness and he must, if he is to remain in the Gospel Covenant.

On the other hand-some people do not WANT to be righteous or like Christ at all. They wish they did want to, but they don't wish it enough to do anything about it.

It's the difference between someone wanting to overcome their sins and someone who only wishes they wanted to overcome them.

<_<

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He states that we have to hunger and thirst after righteousness, not just wish that we did.

Someone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is not someone who has righteousness already (if they had it, they wouldn't be hungering for it, right? The only people who hunger and thirst are those who are lacking for such things.)

A sinful man can, in the depths of his sins, still hunger and thirst for righteousness and he must, if he is to remain in the Gospel Covenant.

On the other hand-some people do not WANT to be righteous or like Christ at all. They wish they did want to, but they don't wish it enough to do anything about it.

It's the difference between someone wanting to overcome their sins and someone who only wishes they wanted to overcome them.

<_<

:P

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