Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Gospel, Pure and Simple

I have been messing around on Pinterest lately. Instead of quickly repining something and moving on like I used to, I have been taking the time to go to the original website and explore a little. This has been interesting and I often find more cool ideas and information.

Earlier today I was doing just this when I found myself on a homemaking/mothering blog written by a "pastor's wife" as she described herself. (I am sorry I don't remember the name of the blog or even what brought me to it!) Anyway, as I scrolled through the posts and looked over the blog I noticed a tab at the top that said "I believe". Being fairly interested in what people believe and why I clicked it and found myself reading a very disturbing account.

The author begins by explaining that she knew at the age of 4 that if she died she would go to hell. She goes on to explain how her mother used several verses from the Bible to explain to her how sinful and evil she was and begged her to become saved. She said she believed her mother and "became a child of God". She ends by saying if she can recognize her wickedness at age 4 so can anyone reading her post and invites them to ask her how to become a child of God like her.

I have to say that I was surprised with my own reaction to this. I was horrified, disgusted, and saddened. This, to me, showed the corruption of the gospel in it's simplest form. And I really couldn't imagine ever telling my sweet, innocent child that they were going to hell!

I have long pondered the differences between Latter-Day Saints and...well,  everyone else. I realize we have much in common with people of faith. One trait stands out to me. Today this characteristic became much more significant to me.

The gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a message of hope and happiness. We focus on what we can become. We invite others to learn what we have learned. We focus on the positive instead of the negative, the reward instead of the punishment. Even when a church leader is reprimanding or calling to repentance it is in a spirit of love and concern.

For example: many in the Mainstream Christian community might say "You are evil and you are going to hell if you don't accept Jesus." Mormons would say "You have great worth and your Heavenly Father loves you. Accept the atonement of Jesus Christ so you can live with him again."

It isn't that we don't believe in punishment for the wicked. We do. It's just a different attitude. I attribute this to the Book of Mormon and the knowledge that came through the restoration of the gospel. With this understanding and perspective the Bible often takes on a more uplifting and encouraging tone. I know there are some that share our positive perspective. There are many who do not. This focus on the punishment strikes me as depressing and distructive. There can also be pride and arrogance from thinking that we are better than others because of our understanding of God.

I know that every person ever born is a beloved child of God. It doesn't matter if they are wicked or obedient, Mormon, Christian, Muslim, or Athiest. He loves and blesses ALL of his children. He also grants us the freedom to choose what we will believe. He wants us to love him and obey him. He wants us to love one another. He is disappointed when we do not do these things. But he loves us still.


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Ms. Tami said...

Hi! Thank you for your thoughtful words today.

Kristi said...

You say that he gives us the freedom to choose. i think that Romans 9:10-20 would disprove that statement.

Unknown said...

Okay, Kristi, just to clarify, are you reading those verses as "God makes some people bad and some good and we have no choice"? I don't read it that way at all. God grants us each the freedom to choose for ourselves. He ALLOWS some to remain hardened for his purposes. Or, in other words, he uses the choices of man to further his purposes, whether good or bad. The Bible gives plenty of references to choice, including the commandments themselves. If we had no freedom why give us commandments?

Latter-Day Saints do not believe in predestination (that we were chosen for a certain role and must fulfill it without choice.) We DO believe in foreordination. That means we might have been given a role but we have the choice to fulfill it. Jesus is the prime example of this (I realize this shows more of our doctrinal differences!) Jesus was chosen to be the Savior before the world was even created. He still had the choice. Matthew 26:39 shows that he didn't want to go through with it but he CHOSE to obey.

Kristi said...

I read the verse as we are all born sinful. It is our nature inherited from Adam and earned by our own actions. Because it is our nature we have no power to choose right apart from God's intervention. we are dead in our sins. Eph 2:1-8, Col 2:12-13, Rom 8:10, 1 cor 15:21 A corpse cannot choose to be made alive again. And again a doctrinal difference, But Jesus IS God and yet fully man. He had no sin nature but that's going off on another issue.

Kristi said...

And why give us commandments? To show us our inability to follow it and our inability to choose what is right. Galatians 3 (especially 3:21) and Romans 6 and 7 but especially 7:7 We did not receive the commandments so that we would realize our sin and stop but so that we would realize our inability to stop apart from Christ.

Kristi said...

I've been thinking about your post more. Yes God loves us and yes Hell is not a pleasant thought but unless you are aware of it where is the value in salvation? What are we saved from if not hell and our own sinfulness? You said you were horrified at the idea of telling your child that they were going to hell. If they were in a house that was burning down wouldn't you tell them about it? "the house is burning down but here's the way out! I love you come with me." You see it as a matter of emphasis but you say that you wouldn't tell someone about hell? I'm not sure that it's just a matter of emphasis if you hesitate to share the WHOLE truth.

Unknown said...

Okay here is the link to the blog I was talking about. It took some effort but I finally found it!


As I said, it isn't exactly the "what" as much as the Way it's presented.

After rereading it and thinking of your comments I realize that I should add this explaination. We believe that children are not accountable until they are 8 years old. At this age they can be baptized. Before that age they are considered innocent. This comes from the Book of Mormon. Moroni 8:12 "But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!" Most of this chapter explains this teaching.

This passage further explains this.

Kristi said...

Well I guess that's one place that I would say that the BofM contradicts the Bible. Psalm 51:5, Prov 22:15, Gen 8:21, Psalm 14:2, Eph 2:3 as well as the others which I mentioned in earlier comments. Although these previously referenced verses do not specifically mention children, it is clearly a description of all of humanity as sinful. Children are a part of humanity. They do not become human at a certain age.

A later verse in your book says "Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness." This sounds like children who are guilty to me.

And this one just blows me away! "little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me," So do your children never sin?! Never lie?! Never speak in anger?! Never take something that is not theirs?! What are these actions if not sin? I'm dumbfounded! I have NEVER met ANY innocent child. I love my children DEARLY but I understand that they sin and I am eager to show them the God who would forgive it!

You said that they are considered "innocent". I say that what you mean is "unaccountable". And either way I would still say that it is CLEARLY unscriptural.

Kristi said...

A few more... Rom 3:10 and 3:23 and 5:19. Some say that Jesus command to accept Him like little children is evidence that children are not sinful. Matt 19:14 makes it sound like children have something the rest of us don't but it's not goodness. Look at verse 17. Or they use Luke 18:16,17 but they miss verse 19. No one is good. It's clear that he is talking about a childlike faith and trust. NOT a childlike goodness.

Unknown said...

I am working on a follow-up post to this that will address many of the points you have brought up here. hopefully I will have tiome to finish it today.

Thanks for your comments!