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By Bernard Gui
Alma chapter 5 contains one of the most extraordinary sermons in all scripture. Faced with an alarming rise of sin and apostasy in the church, he left his secular duties in order to concentrate his time and effort into reclaiming his people and restoring righteousness. He began his ministry in Zarahemla with this oration which he asks 34 questions of the members and invites non-members also to consider them.
After these queries, he issues this call to repentance with a blessing and a cursing:
These questions form a comprehensive syllabus of the Christian religion. What better way to examine our own relationship with God than to ask them of ourselves?
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 to 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.
Our recent primary program included the popular song by Melanie Hoffman entitled "Gethsemane" and when I have substituted in primary to help with piano and music direction I have noticed that the kids really like the song. the primary president loves the song, and the music leader holds the song out as a reward if they are well behaved through the rest of the music training then they will get to sing their favorite song, "Gethsemane".
I mentioned to my kids that gethsemane, gath + shemen refers to a wine or oil press, #1660 + #8081 so they could substitute "wi -eyne ne press!, "wi, ine press!" as they sing the song.
At first I thought this was a popular song, but was not doctrine officially reviewed for addition to our music canon for teaching children about the atonement. However, I was wrong. It is officially on the website and promoted for use. Hoffman retains copyright.
Many times on the mission in the south, people would say that we did not believe in the power of the cross 1 Cor 1:18 and had substituted the cross with gethsemane. https://www.mrm.org/gethsemane
A helpful FAIR article released countering the idea that we believe only in gethsemane has a number of quotes by Hinckley and others emphasizing the cross and resurrection. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Jesus_Christ/Atonement/The_garden_and_the_cross
Also included is an extensive list of hymns which include lyrics referring to the cross
"It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. " Ensign (December 1997) Emphasis in the original post by fair.
The most recent 2018 Preach my gospel teaches under Lesson2, Plan of Salvation "The Savior’s Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection."
1) What is the best approach to teach the atonement doctrine to our children through music? How can we balance out the music which emphasizes one aspect of the atonement over all others?
2) Does the restoration or LDS Christianity require emphasis on gethsemane? “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” Joseph refers to the death of Christ first not the suffering in the garden as a fundamental principle.
3) Luke 22:43-44 is not found in most of the earliest and best greek manuscripts of the NT. One of the problems with our use of the KJV as noted by Wayment is that we lose the insight gained from the best scholarship on the new testament in our English bibles. For example most modern translations such as ESV and NRSV based on NA ver27, 28 will bracket and footnote the spurious John 7:53 - 8:11 story of the woman taken in adultery and the bloody sweat passages of Luke 22:43-44.
4) How should LDS Christians engage with the latest NT scholarship when it comes in conflict with Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:7/D&Cov 19:18 NT intertextual dependencies?
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?