Peterson writes;The New Testament plainly states that, besides Jesus Christ, "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). And yet hundreds of millions of souls, probably most who have ever lived, have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Are they lost forever? If so, can God be considered just, let alone merciful?…..
Ephphatha; This doesn't strike me as being a well-argued article. I have several issues with it.
First, justice and fairness do not require God to make sure everybody gets to hear the gospel. The reason is because God doesn't owe anybody a pardon for their sins. Since everybody knows right from wrong, and everybody does wrong, God would be perfectly just to punish everybody for their sins, whether they have heard the gospel or not.
Second, the Bible never says that God shows the same mercy to everybody. In fact, it says just the opposite. "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden" (Romans 9:18). But he DOES have mercy on everyone in some sense. Even those who are doomed to hell because of their sins, every moment that God does not immediately punish them for their sins and rather allows them to live on earth in relative comfort, he is showing mercy toward them, giving them an opportunity to repent. Showing mercy means NOT giving somebody what they deserves, so by its very definition, mercy cannot be anybody's right, and God isn't unjust for refusing to show the same mercy to everybody.
Third, the fact that Joseph Smith offered a more optimistic gospel does not make it true. Things are not true or false just because we want them to be. In fact, Jesus was explicit that most people will not enjoy eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14).
Fourth, it's questionable whether Joseph Smith's gospel really IS more optimistic than the Biblical gospel. Whereas Paul said, "But where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20), the Book of Mormon said, "and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you" (Moroni 10:32). In Paul's view, God was in the business of saving sinners. The worse of a sinner you were, the more grace you needed to be saved. Grace was a free pardon for your sins. But under Joseph Smith's gospel, you have to earn grace by NOT sinning. You have to deny yourself of ALL ungodliness before God's grace will be sufficient for you. This is a hopeless gospel because nobody ever meets that standard. It's BECAUSE we are incapable of meeting that standard that we can only be saved by the grace and mercy of God. That is Paul's gospel. It's very different than Joseph Smith's gospel.
I wrote more on the subject of Grace and Mormonism on my blog here: philochristos.blogspot.com/2009/07/book-...
Judging from your blog you have been exposed to a great deal of Mormonism but at the same time you have this little twist which misses the point. I’ll try and go point by point here;
Ephphatha said; “First, justice and fairness do not require God to make sure everybody gets to hear the gospel.”
Yes it does.
“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law…”Rom 2
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4
“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12
The underling principle there is that one must know God’s will before they can act. And God will only punish those who know his will and don’t do it.
Now here’s an example; I have the gospel of Christ and I have made a covenant to not commit adultery, if I break that covenant then it is sin to me. You have the Bible and have studied it you know God’s will and are a committed Christian for you to break it would be a sin.
But if there is a young girl who has been molested as a child and pulled into prostitution there is no sin upon her but upon those who have abused her.
*Now to the heart of Peterson’s article;
If the person does not know the law which says he must turn to Christ in order to be saved then God cannot judge nor condemn on that point of law.
Yet he cannot change the law or principle of coming unto Christ. He must be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow for everyone.
Speaking of our temple work Peterson writes;“….vicarious service in Latter-day Saint temples seeks to bring the love of God and the hope of salvation to every human who ever lived. The power of the Atonement of Christ extends even to those who did not hear: Everybody who has ever lived is to be individually remembered, labored for and valued, thus vindicating the justice of God and illustrating the breadth of his redemptive grace.”
He must give everyone a chance to hear and accept his message of salvation or he is not a just and loving God.
Ephphatha said; The reason is because God doesn't owe anybody a pardon for their sins.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” John 3
It’s not a matter of owing anyone it’s a matter of loving all of his children and wanting to grant them a pardon. We are all in a fallen state and separated from the presence of God, he wishes that all can return to him.
Ephphatha; Second, the Bible never says that God shows the same mercy to everybody. In fact, it says just the opposite. "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden" (Romans 9:18).
God does not give all men the same light and knowledge and therefore does not hold each up to the same strict set of judgments.
Your passage in Rom 9 is out of context. Paul’s point was that some are called to positions of importance as Jacob was before his birth. Jeremiah was also called and ordained before his birth. There are those who are called to be what the Bible calls watchmen and if they do not fulfill their appointment there is a dire warning “… his blood will I require at thine hand”
And once again, where much is given much is expected.
There are those who were chosen for some reason to be put in places of opposition like the Pharaoh. Paul asks is God unrighteous? And then he quotes Moses in Ex 9
“Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
Did the Lord actually harden Pharaoh’s heart on purpose or is there a miss understanding here as to the real intent? I believe it wasn’t that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart but that he exposed Pharaoh’s heart for what it was. Let’s go back to John 3
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God”
Pharaoh was given every opportunity to hear of and then worship the only true and living God but his heart loved darkness more than light and so rejected the light.
Ephphatha Said; But he DOES have mercy on everyone in some sense. Even those who are doomed to hell because of their sins, every moment that God does not immediately punish …
There is something wrong at the heart of your theory. God created everything from nothing which means he must have created hell. God also knows the end from the beginning and if God starts with nothing and creates a man he knows before he starts if this man is doomed to hell, in fact he must design him doomed. By letting him even exist for a moment your God becomes a monster enjoying the suffering he himself has created.
I hope you can see the fallacy of your argument here.
Ephphatha; Showing mercy means NOT giving somebody what they deserves, so by its very definition, mercy cannot be anybody's right, and God isn't unjust for refusing to show the same mercy to everybody.
God would be unloving not to show the same mercy to everyone!
Eph quoted “Mormon said, "and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you" (Moroni 10:32).”
Moroni is only paraphrasing the first of the Ten Commandments
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Christ quoted this commandment in Matt 22 calling this the greatest commandment. Are we no longer suppose to obey it ??
Let’s look at Moroni’s whole statement and then compare it to the Bible.
32Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. 33And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
Now a few Bible passages; 1 John 2: 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness”
Titus 2 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”
John 17 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word….Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Are you supposing that you can not keep the word of God and still be sanctified??
Eph wrote; It's BECAUSE we are incapable of meeting that standard that we can only be saved by the grace and mercy of God.
Yes on one hand you are right we can not be perfect in this life. But he gave us a commandment “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He wants us to become as God is.
God gives us no commandments which we can not keep, Nephi gave us this knowledge of truth;
“…I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them….”
Now Moroni says the way which has been prepared is through Christ. By coming unto him by loving him with all your might, mind and strength you will be sanctified through his atonement and thus be made perfect.
I love my husband and because I love him I fix him dinner, I wash his clothes and I don’t run out and bust the budget. In other words I serve him, I know his needs and wants and I try to fulfill them.
How do we love the Savior but in the same way. We are in the service of Christ when we feed his sheep, when we visit the fatherless and care for the widow. We show our love for the Savior by keeping his word.
I would like to turn to 2 Nephi 25: 23 “….we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” I find that many anti Mormons take this passage out of context so let’s look at the whole chapter.
Nephi is writing 600 years before Christ and he is under the law of Moses but he is looking forward to the coming of the Messiah
….there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved. …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. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
And 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.
Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given….
…And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses…”
Nephi understood perfectly will the deadness of the law of Moses but because of his love of God he kept the commands of God that was all he could do until the coming of Christ.
Now if I apply this to myself I understand that being baptized or attending church every week, abstaining from adultery or trying to live every jot and title will not save me or make perfect. But I have received commandments or the word of God so I can say like Paul;
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded…” Phi 3
Hello With Wandering Awe! Thank you for responding to my post! Now we can have a conversation, and I won’t have to worry that I’m on the right board.
I’m having a difficult time responding to you because it seemed like your responses had little to do with what I argued. It’s like I would say, “Crows are black!” And you would respond with something like, “No, they’re not! Carrots are vegetables!” I don’t know what to do with responses like that.
I claimed that God’s justice does not demand that everybody get to hear the gospel. You denied my claim, but nothing that came afterward seemed to negate what I said. In fact, some of what you said seemed to support my claim. You gave three scripture references in order to show that God punishes those who know the good they ought to do but don’t do it. That supports my claim that God is perfectly just in punishing people even if they haven’t heard the gospel. After all, even people who haven’t heard the gospel know right from wrong. You don’t have to know that Jesus atoned for sins before you can know that you sinned.
Nothing in what you said supported your view that God owes people a pardon, or that it would be unjust if God didn’t offer everybody a pardon. In fact, what you said supports just the opposite conclusion. If somebody does wrong, and they know they’re doing wrong, justice demands punishment, not a pardon. It can never be unjust for God to give people what they deserve.
You go on to say that nobody can be judged for not embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ if they haven’t heard it. I totally agree with that, but it doesn’t negate my view or support yours. I’m not arguing that God is just in punishing people for what they don’t know. I’m arguing that God is just in punishing people for what they DO know. And you don’t have to know about the gospel to know right from wrong. There isn’t a sane person in the world who doesn’t know that it’s wrong to lie, cheat, murder, and steal.
You said, “He must give everyone a chance to hear and accept his message of salvation or he is not a just and loving God,” but nothing you said supported this claim.
I said that God doesn’t owe anybody a pardon for their sins, and you quoted John 3:16 in response. But John 3:16 doesn’t say anything about God owing anybody a pardon for their sins. In fact, you admitted as much when you said it’s not a matter of owing, but a matter of loving. If God doesn’t owe anybody a pardon, then he’s not unjust if he doesn’t offer everybody a pardon.
Justice is giving people what they deserve. Everybody deserves to be punished for their sins. So it would not be unjust for God to punish everybody for their sins. He doesn’t owe anybody a pardon because nobody deserves a pardon. Rather, everybody deserves punishment. If they didn’t, then Christ died for nothing.
But God shows mercy to some. Mercy is when you don’t give people what they deserve, but you spare them. By its very nature, mercy cannot be something that is owed. We don’t deserve mercy; we deserve punishment.
I quoted Romans 9:18 as evidence that God does not show the same mercy to everybody. Your response what that I took it out of context. But nothing in your discussion about the context negated what I claimed. I would argue with your interpretation of Romans 9 if it were relevant, but I don’t see that it is.
You said, “I believe it wasn’t that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart but that he exposed Pharaoh’s heart for what it was.” This explicitly contradicts what the Scriptures actually say. God DID harden Pharaoh’s heart. The scriptures say so very plainly.
I made the claim that God DOES show mercy to everybody in some sense—namely that he doesn’t immediately punish them for their sins, but allows them to live in relative comfort on earth, giving them an opportunity to repent.
Your response was an irrelevant argument against God predestining people to hell. What has that got to do with my point?
In response to my claim that God’s mercy cannot be owed and that therefore God’s justice does not demand that he show mercy to everyone, you said, “God would be unloving not to show the same mercy to everyone!” It seems to me at this point that you are no longer disagreeing with me that God’s JUSTICE does not demand that he show mercy to everyone and are, instead, saying that God’s LOVE demands that he show mercy to everyone.
I see no reason to think it does. You need to show that God loves everybody the same, but the Bible does not support that view. In fact, it supports just the opposite conclusion. God chooses some people over other people, not because of any merit on the part of the people, but simply because of his purpose in election. He chose Jacob over Esau before either of them had done anything right or wrong. He chose Israel over all other nations to be his special people. Likewise, God saves everybody he intends to save. As Jesus put it, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me” (John 6:37). If somebody doesn’t embrace the gospel, then obviously, those people were not given to Jesus by God. In John 10, Jesus explains why some don’t believe by saying, “The reason you don’t believe is because you are not my sheep” (John 10:26). So you have to be Jesus’ sheep before you can believe in Jesus. And how do you become his sheep? Jesus answers that, too, in verse 29 where he says the Father gives them to him. So it all depends on the Father. The Father gives people to Jesus, and as a result, those people come to Jesus for salvation. If somebody doesn’t come to Jesus for salvation, it’s because the Father didn’t give them to Jesus. Again, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37). Clearly, the Father shows love and mercy to some that he does not show to others.
Your interpretation of John 3:16 is inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching in John 6 and John 10. If “the world” in John 3:16 was meant to refer to every individual, it would follow that God meant for Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for the sins of every individual. But clearly that is not the case, because the Father does not draw every individual to Jesus. Jesus explains the unbelief of some on the basis that they were not given to Jesus by the Father. So “the world” in John 3:16 cannot possibly refer to every single person. It would rather appear to refer to people from all over the world. Or, as John put it in Revelation 7:9, the great crowd before the throne of the lamb are made of people “from every nation, tribe, people and language.”
Your claim that “God would be unloving not to show the same mercy to everyone!” seems obviously false. Is a father unloving because he loves his own children more than other children? It seems to me that if a father loves his own children, then that father is loving, regardless of how he feels about other children. In the same way, God is loving if he shows mercy to some but not others.
You claim that Moroni 10:32 is a paraphrase of the first commandment, and various other passages. But none of the passages you cited made the same claim that Moroni 10:32 made—namely, that God’s grace is sufficient for you ONLY after you have denied yourself all ungodliness. In fact, as I have already argued, it is BECAUSE nobody can live up to those impossible standards that we NEED God’s grace. Nobody keeps the first commandment. Nobody denies themselves all ungodliness. Romans 1:18 condemns every one of us when it says the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness. Obviously, we have an obligation to rid ourselves of all ungodliness, but if that is a requirement for salvation, then we are all doomed. Moroni 10:32 is inconsistent with the gospel of grace as revealed in the Bible. It essentially entails that grace is not sufficient for anybody. Honestly, Withwanderingawe, have you denied yourself of ALL ungodliness? If you have, that means you don’t sin, ever, because all sin is ungodly. If you haven’t, that means God’s grace is not sufficient for you according to Moroni 10:32. But Paul disagrees. Jesus died BECAUSE of ungodliness.
You asked, “Are you supposing that you can not keep the word of God and still be sanctified??” I do believe that God can sanctify us, but we never deny ourselves all ungodliness. Only Jesus was without sin, and when we embrace the gospel, his perfect righteousness is imputed to us. But that is an act of God’s grace, not a requirement for God’s grace, as Moroni 10:32 says.
You said that God commands us to be perfect. But you also said we can never be perfect in this life. It follows from these two statements that we can never obey God’s command in this life. But you contradicted yourself by arguing that God gives us no commands that we can’t keep. Clearly he does. God demands perfection, but none of us are capable of perfection. That’s why we can only be saved by God’s grace.
You said, “By coming unto him by loving him with all your might, mind and strength you will be sanctified through his atonement and thus be made perfect.” But nobody loves God with all their might, mind, and strength. None of us gives total effort 24/7. John 5:3 says, “This is love for God: to keep his commands.” If you break any of God’s commands, you are not loving him. Since everybody sins, everybody breaks the command to love God. If loving God were necessary before we could be sanctified, then nobody could be sanctified.
You claimed that 2 Nephi 25:22 is often taken out of context by anti-Mormons, but since I didn’t bring it up as an argument against the Mormon gospel, it is not relevant to our discussion.
That’s twice now that you have played with my name in a disrespectful way. I have been very kind and respectful to you. It is hard for me to take you seriously if you can not return the kindness. WWA will do just find.
Eph; I’m having a difficult time responding to you because it seemed like your responses had little to do with what I argued.
That really isn’t the problem it is that we look at reality from different points of view. We understand where we came from, what we are doing here and where we are going from different perspective. What is the purpose of God, why did he create mankind and why did he allow the fall to occur? Our assumptions and then answers to those questions are so far apart that we have a problem communicating.
I also think you are trying to twist our doctrine just enough to change it to fit what you want to believe about us.
Eph; I claimed that God’s justice does not demand that everybody get to hear the gospel. You denied my claim, but nothing that came afterward seemed to negate what I said.
I gave you several passage which show that God only brings wrath upon those know to do his Lord’s will. Here are several more;
“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Rom 4 “….. but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Rom 5
Now in response I would like to you to give some passages which would show; “God’s justice does not demand that everybody get to hear the gospel.” Just you claiming it to be true does not make it so.
Eph; After all, even people who haven’t heard the gospel know right from wrong.
How does someone keep the first and greatest commandment if one does not know who God is?
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? … So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10
Eph; If somebody does wrong, and they know they’re doing wrong, justice demands punishment, not a pardon.
Yes indeed it does but there is a loophole in the Law of Justice called mercy. Christ because of his great loved paid the debt vicariously for us. The Bible says sin is not imputed when there is no law yet there is still sin there and the deed must be paid for, once again mercy comes into play and Christ blood pays for the sin.
Now there is another point in the law of justice which I believe is unique to Mormonism and it comes from Jacob 3
"….also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day….”
If we as parents are such a bad example or reject Christ and teach our children to do like wise then their sins will be held on our heads and we must pay the price while the child is forgiven.
Eph; it is BECAUSE nobody can live up to those impossible standards that we NEED God’s grace. Nobody keeps the first commandment. Nobody denies themselves all ungodliness. ….None of us gives total effort 24/7.
I love God with all my heart, soul and might, don’t you? Are you the one setting up the immposible standarded as to what that means?
Yes it is impossible to keep ourselves totally free from sin and that is why there is the atonement. When I sin I am able to ask the Lord’s forgiveness.
If I am a gossip and I want to repent of that sin there is a path for me to follow. I confess my sin and I ask the Lord’s help in overcoming it. His Holy Spirit will prompt me every time the temptation is placed before me until I become strong enough to overcome the fault. John wrote ‘he that overcometh shall inherit all things’ Rev 21. We overcome our sins through the blood of the lamb and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Christ does not save us in our sins but from our sins
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Ether 12
We can cross reference this to Mal 3
“..who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…”
A refiner sits by his fire purging out the bad elements until he has pure silver, the Lord does that for us.
Eph; …have you denied yourself of ALL ungodliness?
Not as ye but I know that through the blood of the atonement and with the help of the Holy Spirit one day all ungodliness will be purged from me. I have a few eons to work on the humbling and purging process.
We have this major difference in how we see God’s time line. Your reality is wrapped up around heaven and hell with God standing there with an ax just waiting to cut us off at the moment of death.
I see a loving parent with his hand reaching out eternally. We are his spirit children and like all parents he wants us to be made in his image and likeness. He loves us and to lose even one brings sorrow to his soul.
In Hebrews 12 we read; “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; …My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?….For they (earthly fathers) verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness…”