I’ve been having a heated discussion over at Christian Forums. Someone there linked to my article on Theosis. I was a bit nervous, as these types of forums can be not only heated, but strongly biased against our church. I decided to jump into the fray, and while there are some people there with some strong knowledge of ancient church history and the Bible, there are quite a few that seem intent on distorting and misrepresenting LDS theology. So, I don’t really recommend participating there.
I did learn that it’s not just the LDS that are picked on, so at least they have that going for them. When I complained that another person by the handle of Pheobe Ann posted a distorted view of LDS theology, another person there by the handle Skylark said,
If you think that this title is sensational, you should check out some of the headlines in General Theology. There is one titled “I can have sex with the pastor’s wife and still go to heaven.” (The original poster was not actually claiming this!) So far, it has 935 posts, and 7946 views!I responded
I find that title heinous. I agree with you that Phoebe’s title is relatively benign compared to your example. If such sensationalism is considered normal here, perhaps I am in the wrong place. I thought this was supposed to be a place of discussion, not a place where Tabloid headlines dominate.
On the flip side, some of the threads that I [Skylark] have started about a specific passage of scripture with only a straight forward title has received few views or posts.
I hear you, and sympathize. However, I would much rather have a more scholarly discussion, than waste times with tabloid discussions.
So, Phoebe Ann’s post quoted D&C 84:74-95, along with Pheobe’s commentary that “Those who reject the LDS message here on earth seem to be in a lot of trouble.” Phoebe believes that the LDS believe that only LDS will obtain salvation (or in Mormon parlance, Celestial glory.) Phoebe is a former Mormon, but apparently her grasp of Mormon theology is quote distorted. Currently, she is not a member of any denomination. She believes that faith in Christ is all that is needed to get into Heaven; she believes all works are unnecessary, and she believes that true Christians are in and outside of many denominations. I thought you might enjoy a few of our exchanges. She asked me,
Is faith in Christ not so important after all?
Faith in Christ is very important, but it is not the “end-all” that New Dawn made it sound at first. New Dawn made a clarification, and I understand the position better now. I am glad that New Dawn doesn’t think that someone can profess in Christ and then commit murder in a Crusade and be saved. I agree with that position. I am still trying to understand New Dawn and your position on Hindus, and I still haven’t received an answer saying “Hindus are all damned”, or “some Hindus will get into heaven.” I am sure you understand that Mormons don’t simply believe in only heaven and hell; we believe that honorable men (Hindu or not) will receive some sort of glory, perhaps more than a “faithful” Crusader who engaged in war crimes. I’d like to get a clearer understanding of New Dawn and Phoebe’s position, but it seems like neither of you answer the question directly and make your position clear. I hope I have made my position clear.
Why do LDS send missionaries to Hindu homes?
I’m surprised by the question, because I think you know the answer: to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Christ, and help them obtain salvation and eternal life.
I’m getting confused about why you think Christ died on the cross. What did He actually accomplish by that? Does His blood save individuals who come to Him or does it save all people regardless of what god they serve?
As a former member, I am surprised that you are asking this question. Christ’s resurrection is freely given to all men–Christian, Non-Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. All receive this gift that Christ gave us by dying on the Cross and being resurrected the 3rd day.
The gift of Eternal life is another matter. Christ’s blood grants eternal life only to those who have accepted him as a true believer. This gift is not available to Hindus or believers of another god.
Would God welcome only LDS into the Celestial Kingdom and relegate all non-LDS to other kingdoms?
This seems to be the point of your very first post here. I can’t find it now, but I remember you said something to the effect that God does not care about denominations. I agree. Certainly Jesus, Peter, Paul, Moses, Adam, Noah, and Abraham were not LDS, so NO, God does not welcome only LDS into the Celestial Kingdom. I feel assured that all of these men will be in the Celestial Kingdom, and I believe that Esther, Ruth, Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Abish will be in the Celestial Kingdom as well.
“And then be saved” is not the problem. The question is, “Would a saved person go out and murder someone?” The answer is, “No.”
I like this, and agree with it whole-heartedly.
And I’m still trying to understand why LDS believe that accepting Christ isn’t a requirement for salvation.
Well, the LDS believe that accepting Christ is a requirement for salvation, so there’s your problem. You believe something incorrect. Hopefully I have corrected your incorrect belief.
1. Does God punish sinners?
Yes, but he doesn’t always do it in this life.
2. Does He have that right?
3. Which humans haven’t sinned?
None. Romans 3:23″for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
4. Did Jesus die for sinners or only for the righteous?
Jesus died for both.
5. Who is condemned?
I’m not sure I understand the point of the question. I think you are referring to Romans 14:23 “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” If this is what you are referring to, then all sinners are condemned.
However, those that partake of Jesus atonement are not condemned. As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery in John 8:10-11,
“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Okay, is that why LDS send missionaries to my doorstep and my Mennonite neighbor’s doorstep?
Maybe they thought you looked nice and wanted to talk to you! I think you know the answer to that question, but I’ll oblige. They would like to help you become a better Christian. (It appears you think your version of Christianity is superior to the Missionaries version–am I wrong? “yes” or “no” please.)
It is God who changes a person’s heart and guides His adopted child in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Just because someone professes faith in Christ does not mean he has been born again. Works are not a requirement for salvation. They are a result of salvation. My faith and works are not pulling the cart. The faith is pulling me to do good works.
I have no qualms with what you just said. This whole grace/works argument is much ado about nothing. It seems to be a heated argument of which came first–the chicken or the egg, and I think the whole argument is silly and pointless. A person with true faith naturally wants to do the works of God. Too many Mormons argue this point and it is silly.
If you knew that faith in Christ is a requirement for salvation, you certainly would not ask the question. Remember the above question and answer?
Yes, I remember the above question and answer, and I hope I have answered clearly. I hope you will answer “yes” or “no” as well to my questions.
First of all, the Bible doesn’t talk about partially or fully accepting Christ. See John 3:18. Second, glory is not promised to those who have not been justified and justification comes only through faith in Christ. See Romans 5:1. Third, a Christian would not murder. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9
John 3:18 says that sinners are damned until they come to Christ, the Light. Christ came to save sinners; the requirement for salvation is faith in Christ. So we cannot single out Hindus. It is unbelievers who don’t receive salvation. My family of origin are unbelievers. They have never been and are not Hindus. You, yourself, said that LDS missionaries visit Hindus “to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Christ, and help them obtain salvation and eternal life.” You say, “Christ’s blood grants eternal life only to those who have accepted him as a true believer. This gift is not available to Hindus or believers of another god.”
Gosh, I feel like you’ve almost made it clear here, and I think I agree with everything you just said. Am I correct that you believe Hindus are damned?
As you know, Mormons believe that there are 3 degrees of Glory. Those who accept Christ fully will inherit the highest glory, but a good Hindu who does not fully accept Christ will not obtain the highest glory. This means the person who fully accepts Christ is in the Celestial Kingdom. To be in the Celestial Kingdom means salvation. See D&C 76:50-70 for more information. The Hindu will be in either the Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdom. Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms do not equal salvation. See D&C 76:71-119–it is much too long to quote here.
Now you may be wondering about what I said when I said “Hindu who does not fully accept Christ“.
Following Jesus death on the cross, many have wondered where he went, because he did not ascend to the Father. For example, we know that Jesus appeared to Mary after she discovered the empty tomb. Apparently Mary tried to embrace Jesus. (Who wouldn’t?) The Gospel of John chapter 20 verse 17 records, Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.
So if Jesus didn’t go to the Father after he died, many have wondered where he went during this 3 day period? Paul in his Epistle to Peter tells us that Jesus visited those who were disobedient in the days of Noah. 1 Peter 3:18-20 says,
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,)
Furthermore, 1 Peter 4:6 expands on this topic further:
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
Paul discusses this topic again in 1 Cor 15:22-31. I find verses 22 and 29 most interesting.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?
31 I die every dayâ€“I mean that, brothersâ€“just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Christ taught the dead who were disobedient in the days of Noah. Since Christianity didn’t exist in Noah’s day, these people were certainly non-Christians. More than likely, they were polytheistic. There is a good chance that they had some beliefs in common with our hypothetical Hindu. If a Hindu never hears of Christ in this life, would a loving god damn the Hindu who never heard of Christ? Mormon theology says no. If I understand your theology correctly, the Hindu is damned to Hell, because only true, faithful Christians will be saved.
Your quiz says all men are sinners, including Hindus. God condemns all sinners. Only those who accept Christ will not be condemned. If a Hindu does not accept Christ, the Hindu is condemned to damnation. Therefore, all Hindus are damned, because by definition they worship a different god, and have no faith in Christ. Does this accurately represent your beliefs? (“yes” or “no” would be very helpful here.)
Mormons, on the other hand, believe that Christ will teach to the Hindu as it says in 1 Peter chapter 3 and 4. If this Hindu accepts Christ, he will be baptized as it says in 1 Cor 15. Therefore, Mormons do not believe all Hindus will be damned to Hell.
So, the Celestial Kingdom will be full of people of MANY denominations, and it is not limited to LDS only. This belief fully refutes your erroneous point in your opening post that makes the assumption that non-LDS will obtain “wo” and damnation. It also answers your question,
I remind you that even if a Hindu chooses not to accept Christ, then the Hindu will not obtain the Celestial Kingdom. We believe that the same sociality exists in the next life as it does here. If people rejected Christ in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, they have the opportunity to reject him in the spirit prison as well. It is not a slam dunk that someone will accept Christ in spirit prison.
Even if the Hindu rejects Christ in spirit prison, the good Hindu does have an opportunity to receive a higher glory than a Christian that murders in God’s name. This means that a good Hindu could potentially be in the Terrestrial Kingdom, while the Christian guilty of war crimes enters the lower glory Telestial Kingdom.
If I understand your position correctly, you don’t have this “gradient” scale. Either man goes to Heaven or Hell. Hindus have no shot at Heaven, because they do not believe in Christ. Plundering Christian Crusaders probably will go to Hell because they are not “true believers.” If my understanding of your position is correct, then all Hindus are damned. Is this correct?
As a former member, I am surprised that you are asking this question. (Perhaps you do not understand LDS theology as good as you think you do.) Christ’s resurrection is freely given to all men–Christian, Non-Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. All receive this gift that Christ gave us by dying on the Cross and being resurrected the 3rd day. (This gift of resurrection is given to all, but is not considered salvation. Hindus will be resurrected, along with Christians.)
The gift of Eternal life is another matter. Christ’s blood grants eternal life only to those who have accepted him as a true believer. This gift is not available to Hindus or believers of another god. (Eternal life means salvation in the Celestial Kingdom.)
I hope that answers your question. Apostle Russell M Nelson gave an address on salvation and exaltation in April 2008 if you would like more information. See his talk titled Salvation and Exaltation.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9
If a person does not have the Spirit of Christ/has not been born again of the Spirit, he is not a Christian. If a person belongs to Christ, he/she is being led by the Holy Spirit. Churches don’t save. Christ saves.
I agree. Churches don’t save. Christ saves.
So, what about the rest of you. Did I preach false doctrine? Can non-LDS enter the Celestial Kingdom? Do churches save?