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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mormon Grace

I've seen references elsewhere to the fact or idea that Mormons aren't Christian because they don't define grace in the same way that other Christians do. I don't know how every other Christian defines grace, but I do know its meaning within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I will explain that to you.

First of all, Mormons refer to Jesus Christ's great sacrifice as the Atonement. This Atonement includes his suffering for all our sins and pains and weaknesses in the Garden of Gethsamane, up through his glorious Resurrection. Jesus Christ's Resurrection allows all mankind (us) to be resurrected. His prayers and suffering in the Garden allow us the miracle of repentence: that through an intercessor we can be forgiven the great debt we owe to God for our sins and weaknesses. This can be further broken down.

Justice would require that each man would punished for his own sins. Mercy allows us to avoid the demands of justice by having someone else satisfy our debts by being punished for our sins: this is only possible for us because Christ is perfect, offering himself a perfect yet willing sacrifice for us. Thus we can be redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance through His name. Now, even after all we can do (our faith, repentance and good works) we still fall short in comparison with God and Jesus Christ. Grace makes up that difference. Grace is part of the Atonement of Christ: a gift to each of us. We access grace by both faith and works (including repentance). We need faith, works, and grace to be saved. Without our faith and works, grace is not extended to us. Without grace, faith and works are not enough for salvation. All of this is made possible through Christ; the author and the finisher of our faith.


If I understand correctly, some Christians think that Mormons emphasis on the Atonement (which includes grace) rather than grace itself marks an insurmountable difference between the LDS Church and other Christian churches. Some Christians quote LDS Church leaders from the past about grace and think Mormons dismiss grace entirely. I remind each of you that not everything that any Church leader (or other Mormon) has ever said constitutes an authority. Prophets' counsel is prophetic and for all people only when acting in that capacity. For absolute authority in words rely first on the scriptures (including the Book of Mormon for members of the LDS Church) and then the words spoken by Church leaders in General Conference. And remember: the most fundamental belief and teaching in the LDS Church is to follow Jesus Christ.

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