Idea that righteous parents can save wayward children a consistent doctrine in Mormon history

Although doctrines and decrees change in the LDS Church — think polygamy and blacks — one consistent teaching from the time of Joseph Smith to today is that the righteousness of parents can provide salvation to wayward (read: unrighteous) children.  This is a big deal to many LDS parents ( I can think of a score or more, who worry about children who have moved away from church activity.) It’s important to understand that because Mormonism teaches that its church is the only true church, the definition of “wayward” extends far beyond a child that may have picked up criminal habits, lax moral standards or a particular vice. For example, the child of devout Mormon parents who becomes the devout follower of another religion, can often be tagged as “wayward.”

Anyway, one of the more recent pronouncements on wayward children being saved due to their parents’ earthly exertions came from LDS Apostle James E. Faust in the April 2003 General Conference. In his talk, “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” Faust quoted the early 20th century LDS Apostle Orson F. Whitney, who was himself quoting LDS founder Joseph Smith: “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”

Here’s another quote from LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer, in the April 1992 General Conference: “Who are these straying sheep — these wayward sons and daughters? They are the children of the covenant, heirs to the promise, and have received, if baptized, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which makes manifest the things of God. Could all of that go for naught?

LDS doctrine differs from many churches in that it associates works, as well as faith, as criteria for judgment and ultimate reward from God. In that sense, the promise of salvation for wayward children is less an act of “grace” as a declaration that something can be accomplished for them in the afterlife. In his talk, Faust, who died in 2007, adds this caveat: “Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy.”

In Mormon doctrine, there is a difference between salvation, which is available to virtually all members of humanity, and exaltation, a higher, divine afterlife status. In fact, the Mormon view of human salvation is far more liberal than many churches, which sometimes draw a line separating humanity into a traditional heaven and traditional hell. It may be that the promise to concerned LDS parents that wayward children will belong to them in the afterlife — if the parents are righteous — is simply a consequence of a parent achieving exaltation and having the ability to interact with others, including children, who have been resurrected into a lower kingdom? The late LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith seems to say exactly that in this excerpt from the LDS tome “Doctrines of Salvation”: “Children born under the covenant, who drift away, are still the children of the parents; and the parents have a claim upon them; and if the children have not sinned away all their rights, the parents may be able to bring them through repentance, into the celestial kingdom, but not to receive the exaltation.”

Also in the “Doctrines of Salvation,” Fielding Smith quoted LDS Prophet Brigham Young, who says: “Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang.” Several other quotes from LDS leaders on this topic is compiled in the September 2002 LDS magazine The Ensign.

In the early days of the LDS Church, huge importance was placed on how numerous a family a righteous Mormon priesthood holder could accumulate. The example of patriarchs, such as Abraham, was heavily emphasized. This was one reason, I believe, for the polygamy doctrine. However, the early LDS church also sanctioned “adoptions,” in which groups and families of church members became “children” of church leaders. John D. Lee, for example, was an “adopted” son of Brigham Young. This quote from Joseph Smith seems to underscore how the sealing process of children to parents provided an advantage in the next world:

When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother.

“Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.” (For more quotes on this topic, go here.)

As I have mentioned, salvation for wayward children is a doctrine that likely scores of thousands of active LDS parents fervently cling to. The LDS Church’s belief that family ties are eternal is not public relations. It is frankly regarded as a promise tied to strict theological obedience. As a result, parents are serving as proxies for countless children, battling for their status in the afterlife even as many of these children have long put Mormonism out of their minds.




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18 Responses to Idea that righteous parents can save wayward children a consistent doctrine in Mormon history

  1. Zen Wordsmith says:

    Our Savior [Jesus the Christ], while in ministry was a two-
    edge sword, in thought and in prose. …”I have not arrived
    to bring harmony and comfort, but to “rise” brother against
    sister, husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor”…
    {See 1 John-12-13} [KJV 1611 Study Guide]
    Though if, on the surface, we take this admonition literally, we
    miss, the point. A “prodigal-son” resembles a “sea-gull”, named
    [Johnathan Livingston Seagull]-{a photo essay} {circa’ 1973}
    With Voices by [James Franciscus]
    Music and Lyrics by [Neil Diamond]
    May we strive to “climb above” preconceived notion’s.
    Moving ahead, with “Love in Our Hearts”.
    Also Read:
    “The Man Who Loved Seagulls” ™Seagull Book

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  3. HarryStamper says:

    You say..” doctrines and decrees change in the LDS Church — think polygamy and blacks” I disagree. The doctrine never changes, especially polygamy, blacks or priesthood. You confuse procedure or practice versus a principle or doctrine. The doctrine for celestial marriage or exaltation is a man and woman need to be sealed in a temple. The practice of plural marriage is a practice of this principle but as history shows, the commandment to live this procedure comes and goes at the Lord’s discretion.

    • Common Sense says:

      Further on Mr. Stamper’s thought… polygamy is still practiced by the Church today, just not concurrently in mortality. A man may be sealed—for time and eternity—to more than one woman even today… just not more than one living woman at a time.

      The policy toward blacks and the priesthood was always cited by the Church as just that: a policy. No official doctrinal reason for it was ever stated by the Church. Doctrinal speculations by general authorities of the church were privately stated and privately published. None ever carried the imprimatur of the Church as doctrine or was published in any official Church publication.

      There are some interesting insights in this article, but overall I find the tone somewhat careless with facts and speculative about doctrinal points that the Church has intentionally left undefined and indistinct… probably for the very good reason that the Lord’s mind and will have not been fully revealed on this subject.

      That the faithfulness of a parent can have salutary effects on the eternal welfare of a child seems to me the most self-evident of truths. This knowledge alone constitutes light enough for our footsteps in life without needing to see the distant scene. If the words of the prophets here cited give us hopes that make an anchor to our souls and lead us to increased diligence in living the Gospel, then I think that is probably all they were intended to give us. Trying to fill in the gaps in the landscape of that distant scene may be a good campfire activity among friends, but in my own humble opinion not a good topic for published theological speculation and public consumption.

    • Dwight Rogers says:

      The history of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, is one of ongoing revelations to prophets and Apostles. God directed His work and some things were changed over time according to God’s will.

      Noah (but no other prophet) was to build an Ark (Genesis 6:14)

      Moses implemented the Passover, which was hitherto unknown (Exodus 3:12-28)

      Jesus revoked the celebration of Passover, and modified the ordinance and its performance at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19)

      Hosea was commanded to marry a prostitute as a sign to Israel (Hosea 1-3)

      First the Higher law was given in the bible.

      Then the Law of Moses: It was added to the higher laws of God because of the stubbornness of the children of Israel. The scriptures say “…ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39); and “For the law made nothing perfect…” (Heb 7:19); and that the law “…was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3:24).

      Later, the law of Moses was fulfilled by Christ and no longer observed and the higher law was reinstated. (See Acts 13:39; Heb. 7:19; Ga. 3:24).

      He gave “a better covenant” (Heb. 7:6), and spoke of “the first covenant” (Heb. 7:7), and “a new covenant” (Heb 7:8,13). And we also read where the God instituted “a change also of the law” (Heb 7:12), and He said: “For verily there is a disannulling of the commandment going before” (Heb. 7:18). It is clear that God can change his laws, or the way his gospel is administered, as he pleases.

      The Priesthood

      God gave the Aaronic Priesthood to only one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exo. 28:1-4; Num, 23:5-13; Num 8:5-26’ Num ch 17; Num. 18:6-8; Num. 27: 18-23).

      Uzza was severely punished for exercising a priesthood function when he did not hold the priesthood (1 Chr. 13:9-10).

      God destroyed Korah, Dathan, Abiram and 250 rebel leaders for seeking priestly offices when they were not authorized to do so (See Numbers chapter 16).

      The Aaronic Priesthood was given to the tribe of Levi as “an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations” (Ex. 40:15) and those who could not prove their Levitical lineage were “polluted, put from the priesthood.” (Ezra 2:6-26).

      God changed this later when priests from tribes other than the tribe of Levi were allowed to have the priesthood. Two examples are given: Christ himself, and Melchizedek who would “not be called after the order of Aaron. (Heb. 7:11-12). This shows that God can withhold priesthood from some groups and then change that policy and give the priesthood to them later. God did this in the bible. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is false for the priesthood issue then so is God for doing the same thing and the Bible is therefore false.

      Gospel taken Only to Jew – Later to Gentiles
      Jesus commanded that the gospel be taken only to the Jews. (Matthew 10:5-6) Later God revealed to Peter that the time had come to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10) This came by revelation to the man who was the prophet at the time – Peter. It does not come by the will or reasoning of men. This shows that God has his purposes and his time table. It is not revealed why the gospel was denied to the gentiles at first but it was God’s will that it be so.

      The central truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, that He is God incarnate, and that only through Him can we be washed clean – none of those central truths change. But, clearly, God does change some of the things he requires of his people over time. He did so throughout the Bible and it was always done through a prophet or Apostle of God.

  4. E B says:

    I agree with Harry Stamper. The doctrine is the gospel of Jesus Christ encompassing all divine unchanging truth and love.
    The Church, on the other hand, is the organization responsible for teaching the doctrine, and at times they change policies to best meet that objective, and as always when humans are in the picture, we sometimes make mistakes.
    The third related entity is Mormon culture which doesn’t always have much to do with the doctrine or Church. It is here that these ideas of “wayward” meaning all that it does to most Mormons originates, at least in my estimation.

  5. E B says:

    Not that I think the blacks being denied the priesthood is doctrinal as Harry Stamper seems to. I needed to make that clarification. They were always promised the same eternal blessings as everyone else which would tell me it is NOT doctrinal.

  6. robert bridgstock says:

    As always, Church doctrines and fraudulent prophets promise jam tomorrow. Recent announcements surrounding revised scriptural changes, inform us that the Black issue under Brigham Young and subsequent prophets, was a cultural mistake or prejudice. Oh good, we can now forget all about thousands of GA quotations over the decades, in support of the priesthood denial for blacks, plus supporting scriptures, because President Kimball sorted out the embarrassment! Wonderful… what an absolute joke! Back to salvation for wayward children in the next life, (jam for obedient parents)… Joseph first started this tendency, when he wanted sexual gratification and ‘promised’ eternal life for the victim, as well as all her family — what arrogance and blasphemy!

    • Dwight Rogers says:

      There is no historic indication that Joseph Smith was a pedophile, licentious, or a sexual predator – except in the minds of critics. There is little historic evidence that Joseph was sexually intimate with anyone other than Emma Smith. Credible historians and researchers say that this argument (that Joseph Smith was lustful) is a week anti-Mormon argument without historic support. It is not what non-Mormon historians say:

      Non-Mormon George Bernard Shaw declared:

      “Now nothing can be more idle, nothing more frivolous, than to imagine that this polygamy had anything to do with personal licentiousness. If Joseph Smith had proposed to the Latter-day Saints that they should live licentious lives, they would have rushed on him and probably anticipated their pious neighbors who presently shot him.” (Bernard Shaw, The Future of Political Science in America; an Address by Mr. Bernard Shaw to the Academy of Political Science, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on the 11th. April, 1933 (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1933) as cited in Richard Vetterli, Mormonism, Americanism and Politics (Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing, 1961),

      Historians show that, as Richard Van Wagoner put it: “Contrary to popular nineteenth-century notions about polygamy, the Mormon harem, dominated by lascivious males with hyperactive libidos, did not exist.” (See these historians: Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986); Kathryn Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001); Lola Van Wagenen, Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage, 1870-1896 (Provo, Utah: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, 2003); Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997); Sarah Barrigner Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); see also J. Max Anderson, The Polygamy Story: Fiction and Fact (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1979).)

      The images of lustful Mormons was an invention of early propagandists or, simply the invention of journalists and authors trying to sell a book. As Van Wagoner puts it:“the image of unlimited lust was largely the creation of travelers to Salt Lake City more interested in titillating audiences back home than in accurately portraying plural marriage.” (Van Wagoner, 89.) Because polygamy was dedicated to “propagating the species righteously and dispassionately,” plural marriage “proved to be a rather drab lifestyle compared to the imaginative tales dripping with sensationalism, demanded by a scandal-hungry eastern media market.”

      Historian Richard Bushman shows that Joseph’s relationship with his plural wives was a matter of obeying commandment. There is little if any evidence of licentiousness. Bushaman says:

      “Joseph did not marry women to form a warm, human companionship but to create a network of related wives, children, and kinsmen that would endure into the eternities.”( Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 440.)

      As non-Mormon church historian Ernst Benz wrote:

      “Mormon polygamy has nothing to do with sexual debauchery but is tied to a strict patriarchal system of family order and demonstrates in the relationship of the husband to his individual wives all the ethical traits of a Christian, monogamous marriage. It is completely focused on bearing children and rearing them in the bosom of the family and the Mormon community. Actually, it exhibits a very great measure of selflessness, a willingness to sacrifice, and a sense of duty.” (Ernst Benz, “Imago dei: Man as the Image of God,” FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 223–254.)

      All this talk about Joseph Smith having sex with a 14 year old girl! Have any of you looked into the other side of the story from credible first hand accounts? Helen Kimball wrote a retrospective poem about this marriage from which we learn that it was “for eternity alone,” that is, unconsummated. Whatever such a marriage promised for the next world, it brought her no immediate earthly happiness. She saw herself as a “fetter’d bird” without youthful friends and a subject of slander. This poem also reveals that Joseph Smith’s several pro forma marriages to the daughters of his friends were anything but sexual romps. Furthermore, the poem reinforces the idea that, despite the trials of plurality in mortality, a “glorious crown” awaited the faithful and obedient in heaven. (Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 98.

    • Dwight Rogers says:

      “Thousands of GA quotations” is quite an exaggeration.

  7. LaVerl 09 says:

    Thanks for your excellent and comprehensive research.
    As an LDS counselor to mostly LDS clients, I have been a little confused by the quotes that are generally assembled, but when you put them ALL into one document, it makes the subject much easier to discuss–especially those of Joseph Fielding Smith (Doc of Sal Vol II p91).
    Parents will have “some” influence over their chidren’s status in the judgment, but as always, which kingdom of glory we inherit is based mostly on our own individual faith in the atonement of the Savior as shown by our own subsequent behavior.

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  9. Dwight Rogers says:

    It is important to understand the distinction between the text of LDS scripture as contrasted with the supplemental study aids, chapter headings, and other supplementary material added by editors. In other words, chapter headings and other supplementary material added by modern editors is subject to the understanding held by the editors at the time of publication. This information is correction as new research and scholarship sheds more light on various issues. Additionally, almost all books have typographical, spelling, and punctuation errors which are corrected in subsequent editions. Even if the Spelling and punctuation is correct at the time of publication, the way the English language changes over time and the spelling and punctuation can be updated in subsequent editions to reflect current usage.

    The changes to the 2013 edition of the scriptures, available in print in August, fall into 4 key categories:
    1. Spelling and typographical adjustments
    2. Changes in layout
    3. Updates and changes in study aids
    4. Modifications and additions to the introductions to sections of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price

    None of these change any doctrine or teaching of the LDS Church. Some changes, in chapter headings for instance, may reflect current scholarship and historical research that is somewhat different from the understanding of prior editors.

    For example: When writing the headings to the chapters in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon, Elder Bruce R. McConkie used the description “Nephite coinage set forth” in t he heading to Alma chapter 11. This was a chapter heading added in modern times. However, coinage is not actually mentioned in the translated text made by Joseph Smith.

    Raised in the economic system of the 19th and 20th centuries, modern editors interpreted the description of these values through the lens of their own experiences. As such, they wrote the “coinage” heading in error because the actual text does not describe coinage but rather an exchange system based on weights and measures.

    The heading to Chapter 11 of the Book of Mormon has since been changed to remove the error written by modern editors, but which does not appear in the text itself. The introduction now reads:

    The Nephite monetary system is set forth—Amulek contends with Zeezrom—Christ will not save people in their sins—Only those who inherit the kingdom of heaven are saved—All men will rise in immortality—There is no death after the Resurrection. About 82 B.C.

    This is considered a “boomerang hit” by many. One should expect a fabricated story by Joseph to include a detail of coins in the ancient Americas, and yet he does not include such an erroneous detail. This indicates that Joseph was not, in fact, creating a story from his own life experience, but that he was working form a different paradigm – an ancient one. Given that he would almost certainly be expected to include such an error, but instead accurately described a system of exchange based on weights and measures as authentically used anciently, you end up with a criticism intended to kill faith becoming an evidence of authenticity.

  10. Dwight Rogers says:

    The article states “LDS doctrine differs from many churches in that it associates works, as well as faith, as criteria for judgment and ultimate reward from God. ”

    No more so than does the Bible. In the Bible we find both the teaching of salvation by Grace and the teaching of repentance and obedience to the commandments. They are both true. They are both Biblical. Some Christians cherry pick the teachings of the Bible, focusing on one thing that they like and ignore the other parts. Mormons try to understand and believe ALL of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace and Works are two sides to the same coin and are both taught in the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes a lot about salvation by grace. This was to combat the tenancy in many early Jews who converted to Christianity to fall back on obeying the works oriented law of Moses. People who think they can work their way to salvation have missed the grace side of the coin. However, in Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, and other places, Paul also stresses the necessity to obey the commandments. He gives lists of sinful behavior such as adultery, fornication, lying, and so forth, and says that people who do these will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For instance see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. And let’s not forget about James 2:14-20,24. Clearly, the teachings of Paul and James on works are also Biblical doctrines. Clearly repentance and obedience are necessary else Paul is lying when he says that people who continue to live a lifestyle of sin will not enter into the Kingdom of God.

    The Apostle Peter tells us that even after accepting Christ one must turn from sin and obey lest he fall from grace:

    2 Peter 2:20-22
    20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
    21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
    22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

    Peter said clearly that he was talking about people who had been evil (see prior verses) but “have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:20) and about people who “have known the way of righteousness.”(2 Peter 2:21). Peter says that even the angels can sin and be cast out of Heaven and down to hell (2 Peter 2:4)

    Obeying God is clearly the other side of the coin to the teachings of grace in the Bible. It is incomplete to stress only Grace or only Works. They are both part of the gospel as taught in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Even confessing that Jesus is our savior is a work that we must actually do. If we were saved from sin solely on grace alone than salvation would be automatic regardless of what we do. There would be no need to even confess Jesus as our Savior let alone try to live a good Christian life.

    The specific teaching “once saved always saved” is not in the Bible and must be derived by placing specific interpretation on several Bible verses. Then there’s the problem that it contradicts Peter. Jesus taught that we will abide in His love “If ye keep my commandments.” (John 15:10; see also John 14:15,21,23; See also John’s teaching: 1 John 2;3-4.).

    In other words, we abide in his love (grace) after we have done our best to keep his commandments. Granted, that we cannot keep his commandments on our own, we fall short, and we desperately need His help, and His Grace, to be able to do so. And even after our best effort we fall short which means that we desperately need His Grace. We can’t earn our way to Heaven! See also John’s teaching: 1 John 2;3-4.

    We read the teaching of the Savior where He lists some of the commandments we must keep to “have treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:20-22). Again, we can’t keep those commandments without His grace. We can’t do it on our own. Nevertheless, we can’t deny Jesus’ words that we must do it.

    Jesus taught that whoso breaks the commandments, even “the least of these” and “teach men so” will be “the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). Here, Jesus is saying the same thing that Mormons say, or more accurately, Mormons teach what Jesus taught. Mormons are following the teaching of Jesus concerning keeping the commandments when we “do and teach them.” Those are the words of Jesus: “do and teach them.”

    “…For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works…” (Mt. 16:27)

    “…and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…” (1 Cor. 3:8)

    “…But because of thy hardness and impenitence of heart, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the Day of Wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by patient continuance in welldoing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;..” (Rom. 2:5-7)

    “…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad…” (2 Cor. 5:10)

    Mormons are often accused of ignoring Christ’s grace and of trying to work their way to salvation. However, an accurate look at what Mormons actually teach shows a very balanced approach which mirrors the balanced teaching of Grace and Works found in the Bible.

    One Evangelical Christian author wrote of his sudden discovery that his previous beliefs about salvation were very different from those held by the early Christians:

    “If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. After all, that is the cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians…

    “Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there’s an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience. They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the “false dilemma,” by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it’s either (1) a gift from God or (2) it’s something we earn by our works.
    “The early Christians [and Latter-day Saints!] would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it’s conditioned on obedience….

    “The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses. And He chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.” (David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999[1989]), 57, 61–62)

    Dependence on the grace of Jesus Christ is one of the central beliefs of Mormons. It is the critics of Mormonism who say that Mormons believe they are going to earn their way to heaven by their works. Mormon’s don’t teach that. Mormons don’t teach that we can earn our way to heaven without the grace of Christ. You see, the critics are so determined to make Mormonism look non-Biblical that they have to invent straw-man Mormon doctrines.

    Note what Mormons believe taken from their own sources:

    Alma 22:14 (from the Book of Mormon)
    14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

    2 Nephi 25:23 (from the Book of Mormon)
    23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

    2 Nephi 24:26 (from the Book of Mormon)
    “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

    2 Nephi 10:24-25 (From the Book of Mormon):
    24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.
    25 Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen.

    D&C 20 30-32
    30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;
    31 And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.
    32 But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God;

  11. CuriousGIS says:

    Here’s another quote from LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer, in the April 1992 General Conference: “Who are these straying sheep — these wayward sons and daughters? They are the children of the covenant, heirs to the promise, and have received, if baptized, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which makes manifest the things of God. Could all of that go for naught?”

    Actually that is from the same conference report that Faust quoted from, Apr. 1929, 110.

    Sounds like many of you commenting on this blog post aren’t even talking about the same article.

    • Zen Wordsmith says:

      …”You are the Promise of all the Ages,
      You are the Prodigal Son…
      You are the Vision of Prophet’s and Sage’s…
      You are the Only One”…

      “The Gift You Are” [John Denver]
      {The Flower that Shattered the Stone}
      GOLDSTONE TRADING LTD.(TM)Windstar Records

  12. My question is this. Er, not this but these…
    If all our human responses, in thought and word and deed, are due to our perceptions, e.g., what we presume to be true, why do we continually consider these perceptions as objective reality? What explanation can be ordained to elucidate how each of us becomes selective and restrictive in belief and value? I mean without involving molecular biology and neuroscience.
    Are we just so damn slow to evolve?
    Jesus said be kind to each other, don’t take more than the last person receives. Who follows that one!
    Jesus must have told a couple of good jokes, as he was so human. Maybe too, it’s god enjoying a good joke much better than a prayer repeated a countless times. Huckleberry Finn could be god’s bible.
    And then there’s the Old Testament. It’s a re-write of the Torah. Besides, it’s a very mysterious storybook, but basically about one’s table manners in life. Keeping those manners relevant, or the mystery intact, seems to take a whole religion.
    So why, oh why, does almost every religion in the world have to be perceived in-itself as the one true religion? That’s not being very kind at all.
    One more thing, i was told by a Biblical scholar who was a night watchman (no pun intended) that Jesus said “Do not worship me.” The source was in the reconstituted text. From what can be understood as fact, all things considered, is this true?
    And don’t you think it’s odd that desert religions have to have one god. And it’s HE. Not SHE. Nor HE and SHE. Nor ETC. Okay, i think that’s it.

  13. E.J.W. says:

    “…sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return.”
    Putting my squeemishness at the thought of tentacles dragging me back into “the fold” aside…I can not understand why some, apparently L.D.S. people here, want to debunk the theory that parents can raise their wayward children to exhaultation through their own righteousness. All the pontification and endless scriptural references I’ve seen in the comments here just make the writers appear insane to me.
    So, I really don’t have anything new to say, and, as per usual, I enjoyed reading your article and gawking at the crazies!

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