Saturday, August 16, 2008
"If you believe all this, then why are you a Mormon?"
Because of my gratitude and understanding for the merciful blessing of repentance, I could speak about it all day and night, and never get tired of it. It's always at the forefront of my thoughts and my teaching. (I teach Sunday School.) It's not only a key to my gospel study, but gospel living. It's such an essential principle of the gospel, along with faith in Christ—fundamental--especially if our faith in Christ leads us unto repentance.
I like how the Bible Dictionary in the LDS scriptures talk about repentance. (The Bible dictionary is not scripture itself, but it's a great study help). It states: "The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin, and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God."
I would venture to say that it's also one of the most positive aspects of the gospel, or "good news", of Jesus Christ. This is how we lay claim to Christ's mercy!
Obviously, our repentance, or whatever other works we manage to do out of love for God and our fellow man, is not what saves us. Christ saves us. That’s why we call Him the Savior. No knowledgeable Mormon will ever tell you that Mormons believe they can save themselves. That is a myth.
It is clear in the Bible, and even in The Book of Mormon, that "redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else". (2 Nephi 2:6-7)
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is so core, central, and fundamental in our faith and in our scriptures. This is why Joseph Smith declared: “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.”
Ultimately, I believe that none but the penitent, who have a broken heart and contrite spirit, are saved. This is how the great Plan of Salvation (also referred to by the Latter-day Saints as the great Plan of Mercy, the Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Redemption) is brought to pass, through exercising "faith unto repentance." (see Alma 34:13-17 in the Book of Mormon). Naturally, Jesus Christ is central and key to the Plan.
I made the above comment on another blog run by a Christian not of our faith. She had written some excellent thoughts about sin, daily repentance, and forgiveness. I sensed that she thought she was sharing something that would be strange to me, as a Mormon. She then asked my thoughts, and I told her that what she had said was not only beautiful, but true. And then I took some time to share my above thoughts about repentance, Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation. But the line that seemed to sum up the fact that Mormons are still misunderstood by so many people of other faiths was what she said in response to my comment:
"I really appreciate your kind words about my writing and explanation of continual repentance. If you believe all this, then why are you a Mormon? I know you say you know what Mormons believe, and surely you do, but you ignore what the Mormon church has taught and what the leaders believe and have believed in the past."
Why is this a common misconception by evangelicals? The doctrine hasn't changed. The scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, have always said this. Any thoughts?