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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?
By Five Solas
From time-to-time, LDS on the forum unleash the charge of “cheap grace” directed at Christians of the Evangelical persuasion. My alias (“Five Solas”) seems to be a lightning rod for this kind of thing. No worries, the misunderstanding doesn’t personally offend. But I would take an opportunity to clear it up.
Yesterday my oldest (age 8 ) was performing in Northwest Girlchoir in a large Lutheran Church in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. We arrived early and while she was getting ready, I found myself with a few extra minutes in their library. I’ve read some of Bonhoeffer’s work as well as a biography of his life, but wasn’t familiar with Eric Metaxas’s BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy which was prominently displayed on a shelf. So I picked it up and scanned the first pages and discovered Tim Keller’s introduction that I’m about to share here. Fit for purpose, as you’ll soon see.
I’m delighted that my friend Eric Metaxas has penned this volume on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The English-speaking public needs to know far more than it does about his thought as well as his life. When I became a Christian in college, Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship was one of the first books I read, followed not long afterwards by Life Together. I still think the second book is perhaps the finest single volume I have ever read on the character of Christian community, but it was the first book that set me on a life-long journey to understand the meaning of grace.
I now realize how impossible it is to understand Bonhoeffer’s Nachfolge without becoming acquainted with the shocking capitulation of the German church to Hitler in the 1930s. How could the “church of Luther,” that great teacher of the gospel, have come to this? The answer was that the gospel, summed up by Bonhoeffer as costly grace, had been lost. On the one hand, the church had become marked by formalism. Formalism meant going to church, hearing that God just loves and forgives everyone, so it didn’t really matter much how you lived. Bonhoeffer’s name for this was cheap grace. On the other hand, you had legalism, or salvation by law and good works. Legalism meant God loves you because you have pulled yourself together and lived a good, disciplined life. Both of these impulses made it possible for Hitler to come to power. Formalists may have seen things in Germany that bothered them, but they did not see any need to sacrifice their safety to stand up to them. Legalists were more likely to have the Pharisaical attitudes toward other nations and races that approved of Hitler’s policies.
Germany had lost hold of the brilliant balance of the gospel that Luther so persistently expounded: “we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith which is alone.” That is, we are saved by grace, not by anything we do, but if we have truly understood and believed the gospel, it will change what we do and how we live. Much of the German church understood ‘grace’ as abstract acceptance — “God forgives; that’s his job.” But the grace comes to us by costly sacrifice. And if God was willing to go to the cross and endure such pain and absorb such a cost in order to save us, then we must live sacrificially as we serve others. So anyone who truly understands how God’s grace comes to us will have a changed life. That’s the gospel, not salvation by law, or by cheap grace, but by costly grace. Costly grace changes you from the inside out. Neither law nor cheap grace can do that.
This lapse couldn’t happen to us, today, surely? Certainly it could. We still have a lot of legalism and moralism in our churches. In reaction to that, many Christians want to talk only about God’s love and acceptance. Many of them don’t like talking about Jesus’ death on the cross to take divine wrath and justice. Some even call this “divine child abuse.” All this might run the risk of falling into the belief in “cheap grace” — a non-costly love from a non-holy God who just loves and accepts us. That will never change anyone’s life. So it looks like we still need to listen to Bonhoeffer and others who go deep in discussing the nature of the gospel.
- See more at: http://ericmetaxas.com/writing/essays/tim-kellers-foreword-bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy/#sthash.BhuAGNC9.dpuf
I’d be interested if any LDS would be willing to offer a critique of Keller’s introduction and/or of Bonhoeffer’s life and work.
Yes, I realize LDS have their own hero in the German story of Nazi resistance (albeit a controversial one, since leadership excommunicated him for his opposition to the Third Reich) Helmuth Hubener. And LDS back then were served by a president & prophet (Heber J. Grant) who wasn’t persuaded America should have gotten involved in WWII and pretty much hated everything President Franklin D. Roosevelt thought was worth pursuing. Wrong side of history, Grant was. Repeatedly. And all the many LDS who sustained him. If there's a more glaring example in the 20th century history of the LDS Church--I'm not aware of it. But I digress...
Going forward I’m going to link back to this thread each & every time someone here types, “cheap grace.” So if you still think the shoe fits & you want to go there--give it your best shot right here, right now.
Now, if you find yourself falling apart
Well I am sure I could steer
The great salt lake
--Band of Horses "The Great Salt Lake"
Since King David had his general set up to be murdered, is he limited in is eternal destiny to the Telestial Kingdom? I've heard this suggested, based on the LDS teaching that murderers can only receive grace sufficient for entry into the lowest heavenly kingdom. I find the idea troubling.
I was unaware that the church newsroom had doctrinal tidbits in there (thanks CV75 for pointing in that direction) and as I was browsing I came upon the entry for Grace. I was interested in (and happy with) their use of 2 Ne. 25:23 at the end. Thoughts? Is that the official way on how to read the end of that verse?
I was listening this morning to a radio program called Unbelievable in which N.T. Wright, preeminent New Testament scholar, prolific writer, and Bishop of Durham was debating American Evangelical Theologian James White. Dr. White acknowledged partway through that if Wright's interpretation of Pauline scripture is accurate then, the reformers didn't quite have everything correct and there would be a need for more word from God (as opposed to White's sola scriptura approach).... Why yes, James. We Mormons call that "Apostasy and Restoration." It's a few months old but it's a good listen for anyone interested.