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Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children??

01 Jan

planofsalvation

The above is a depiction of the Plan of Salvation according to the LDS Church. To the far right it depicts three different kingdoms of heaven: the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom. It is into one of these three kingdom that most will go after final judgment. Then, of course, there is Outer Darkness which awaits Satan and his angels… and the most vile of men.

I think this is actually the primary appeal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is addressed in this speech from 2009 which I was just listening to earlier this morning:

Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children

To borrow the words of Elder Cook’s great-great-grandfather Phineas Wolcott Cook, the LDS Church teaches “a more liberal salvation for the family of man”. And in this respect, and this respect only, do I believe that the LDS Church approaches the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that Joseph Smith doesn’t even come close to being the person through whom this gospel truth has been restored in recent times. In fact, I believe that Joseph Smith borrowed a great deal from those men who lived in his day who were already believing in and preaching Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men, some of whom joined the LDS Church, including Joseph Smith Sr.

For more on that you can read this article from BYU’s website:

Universalism and the Revelations of Joseph Smith

Where I believe the LDS Church fails in this regard is that while it embraces a more liberal view of salvation it still DENIES the salvation of ALL MEN. It also teaches DIVISION in the kingdom of God. And it teaches its members to cling to a very legalistic view of salvation very reminiscent of Old Covenant Law. This is not surprising since this is exactly what the Church claims needed to be “restored” – a very Old Covenant view of the gospel with all of it’s touch not, taste not laws.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches a very high mixture of law and grace. And many of the things which they claim needed to be “restored” are the very things that Christ came to destroy in order that a New (or Renewed) Covenant might be established, one in which Jesus Christ is our one and only High Priest.

So despite their more liberal view of salvation, their view of salvation is not completely universal in scope. While they believe that the gospel will be preached to all men – to many after their death – giving all men the opportunity to accept the gospel and inherit all of the blessing associated with it, they are also quick to point out that there is a hell, a place of eternal torment to which some men will go and from which there is no escape. As one member put it recently: “It’s [that is, Hell is] described all through the Bible too.” This was said in response to someone else pointing out to them that the Book of Mormon cannot be used to support the doctrine of Universal Salvation because it speaks of “eternal torment” and does so in a way which speaks explicitly of the fact that such torment has “no end” to it, despite the claim made in D&C 19 that: “It is not written that there shall be no end to this torment.

Doctrine & Covenant 19 is clearly an attempt to borrow a Christian Universalist argument against the teachings of “eternal torment”, an argument that is absolutely true when applied to the Bible but which fails miserably when applied to the Book of Mormon. This is because the torment of the wicked is written exactly in this way in the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon speaks of those whose “final state” will be one of “endless misery”, from which there is “no redemption”.

So while the salvation of all men can be argued from a correct translation/interpretation of the Bible (which NOWHERE contains those types of assertions with regard to the lost), the same cannot be argued from the Book of Mormon. In fact, the same LDS person who said the above also said: “I don’t know what a “Universalist” is…, but there is plenty of hell in Mormon belief.” And while he does go on to point out that he sees hell not as a place but as a state or condition of the human soul, he clearly believes that such a state, for some, will never end.

So, on this count, I say the LDS Church comes close to the truth but it still falls short of the whole truth.

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17 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Eternal Torment, Hell, Mormonism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

17 responses to “Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children??

  1. shematwater

    January 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Matthew 5: 17-18
    “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

    Christ destroyed nothing of the Old Covenant. He fulfilled certain portions, but here he clearly states that not all were fulfilled, and until such time as they are the law of God is still in full effect.

    Matthew 12: 31-32
    “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

    Hebrews 10: 26-27
    “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

    It seems to me that the Bible is clear that there are some that will not gain forgiveness and thus will not be saved. This is made clear in Revelation 20. After the final judgement “whosoever [is] not found written in the book of life [is] cast into the lake of fire.” (verse 15)

    Universal salvation is only true when speaking of salvation from physical death. That is made clear in the Bible (For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15: 22). But salvation from sin, and thus spiritual death, is not universal, and the Bible also makes this clear.

    As to the Book of Mormon, I think you misunderstand the meaning of the passages. The torment, while it can be for all eternity, does not have to be. There are many who will be cast out for a time, and later redeemed. Even those who will be cast out for eternity will be brought back into God’s presence for a time to be judged, and thus will receive a brief reprieve from their suffering.

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  2. mormondoctrinefails

    January 4, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Shem, no one has denied that Christ came to fulfill the law. I’m not sure you understand what that means if you, somehow, believe that nothing in the Old Covenant was destroyed. Paul says, very clearly, that those who were under the law were under the law no longer. Heaven and earth passing away is not meant to be taken literally, as even Peter points out in his epistles when he speaks of “the world that now is”. Please note that scripture speaks of God creating the heavens, the earth and the seas. Then it speaks of new heavens and a new earth and no more sea. Then Paul speaks of a third heaven, which is the New Jerusalem, the city of God. If you are waiting for that city to come down from heaven then maybe you do not understand that we, as believers, are that city. And if you read the book of the revelation of Jesus Christ you will see that her gates are never closed and the Spirit and the Bride say: COME!!

    You say that universal salvation only applies to physical death. You say that is made clear in 1Cor 15:22. But you seem to fail to understand just exactly how men “died” in Adam. The “death” that men suffer due to sin is “spiritual death” and that is exactly the same death that is overcome “in Christ”. And that means the destruction of death and if there is “no more death” then no longer can any man “abide in death”. Period.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while more liberal in its teachings about the scope of salvation, does not go nearly far enough. And even for those who do ‘make it to heaven’ in LDS theology there is division. Yet there can be no division in the body of Christ, Shem, for there is only one body. And those who have the Son have the Father also. Mormonism is full of errors, beginning with the very nature of God. And I assure you that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world and He did accomplish that which He was sent to accomplish, which is the salvation of all men. Paul write: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.” (1Ti 4:9-11) These things are not being taught by the LDS Church, who claims to be Christ’s “only true Church”. These things, while supported by the Bible cannot be supported by The Book of Mormon, which the LDS Church claims to be “the most perfect book” and that which was supposed to restore many things “plain and precious” that were lost from the Bible by an apostate Christian world. Truth was lost, yes. Who today teaches that Jesus Christ actually is “the Saviour of the world”? They do so in lip service only. Not many actually believe those words, nor the many written words of God that they quote. And that is just as true of the LDS Church, who has not only failed to restored that most plain and precious truth, but had added many more error of their own.

    The word in Mat 12:32-32 for “world” is not “kosmos”, but “aiōni” and it means “an age”. Jesus Christ came “at the end of the world” (at the end of an age – Heb 9:26). And there was no forgiveness for the sin of blasphemy in that age, nor in the age to come (the age we are now in). This has nothing whatsoever to do with any man’s “final state”. As to judgment, now is the judgment of the world and the wrath of God does indeed abide upon them that believe not.(John 3:36), just as they continue to abide in death. Let it not be so with us. (1Jn 3:14)

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  3. shematwater

    January 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    So, when Christ says He did not destroy the law He actually did?
    Paul is speaking of the Law of Moses, which was added to the Covenant (or law) of Abraham 430 years later. (Galatians 3: 17) That law was done away; not destroyed, but fulfilled. However, the law of God that was given to Abraham as part of that Covenant remains in effect. And, yes, this was a law, as it states in 1 Chronicles 16: 15-17, as well as in Psalms 105: 8-10.

    Just like all this, you have proven nothing. Your interpretation is just that, and you have nothing to make your interpretation any more valid than I do.
    Who cares if Christ used the term age or cosmos? You can claim He was speaking of an age of mortality, and I will believe Him to mean an age of Eternity (mortality being one age, and thus what comes next being the next age).

    Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, but He will not force anyone to accept that salvation. Those who reject it will not receive it, because they don’t want it. There is no contradiction here with anything written in the Bible.

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  4. mormondoctrinefails

    January 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Shem, you are the one who used the word destroyed. Not me. When I said it I was quoting you. So I am glad to see that we agree that “the law was done away; not destroyed, but fulfilled”. Amen!

    As to your question “who cares” what words Jesus used…. I care! I am very sorry if you do not. His words mean something. In fact, His words are life!

    And, for the record, I never even suggested that Jesus forces anyone to do anything. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance! And scripture says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (something that can only be done by the Holy Spirit), to the glory of God, the Father.

    “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Ti 2:12-15)

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  5. shematwater

    January 8, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Actually, you did use that word, and I quote “And many of the things which they claim needed to be “restored” are the very things that Christ came to destroy in order that a New (or Renewed) Covenant might be established, one in which Jesus Christ is our one and only High Priest.”

    This is the very reason I said what I did. You said Christ came to destroy parts of the Old Covenant so that He could establish the New. I pointed out that He did not come to destroy anything, but to fulfill it, and that He stated that not all of it had yet been fulfilled.

    Now, I care about the words of Christ. What I don’t care about is what synonym He uses. If three different words can all mean the exact same thing than it doesn’t matter which one he uses.
    Actually, in this particular instance I would have been very surprised if He had used the term Cosmos, because that more commonly refers to the physical world, and not to a state of being or period of time. Thus the word used would be the appropriate one from the LDS perspective.

    As to your last point, it sure sounds like we are being forced. If everyone will be saved than there is no option of not being saved, and thus there is no choice. For salvation to be our choice we must be able to choose not to be saved, and if we make that choice than we aren’t saved. It is as simple as that.
    I do not deny that every knee will bow and every tongue confess. But that does not mean that every person will accept salvation. That only means they will acknowledge the authority and power of God, yet some will still reject what He offers and will not be saved.

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  6. mormondoctrinefails

    January 10, 2015 at 4:43 am

    So, by your logic, if all make the same choice then they were forced to make that choice?

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  7. shematwater

    January 10, 2015 at 10:46 am

    No. By my logic the only way to guarantee that all make the same choice is to present only one option, which effectively nullifies any real choosing.
    As long as there is a choice one must acknowledge the possibility that some may choose differently. If there is a choice to being saved or not being saved, than there has to be a possibility that some will choose not to be saved. If this possibility does not exist then there is no real choice.

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  8. mormondoctrinefails

    January 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    That may be the only way to guarantee that all make the same choice. But I never said we only have one choice. I also know what Jesus said when it comes to salvation and he said: “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” And we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Salvation is of the Lord, it is His work, not ours. We can either believe and LIVE or we can not believe and continue to have the wrath of God abiding upon us as we continue in a state of DEATH/SLEEP. Our way out of death/sleep is Jesus Christ. And, indeed, even those who are “dead” are “in Christ” for Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (while we were dead in sin). And when He died we were baptized into His death that we might also become partakers of His resurrection (of which Paul clearly says we were). In this way He was made “Lord both of the dead and living.”

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  9. shematwater

    January 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    You still have not shown how any of this is a choice. We may have a choice in this life, but by your words we have none after this life.

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  10. mormondoctrinefails

    January 16, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Salvation is not a choice! We were chosen in him BEFORE the foundation of the world. Seems to me that this is something that even the LDS believe. Only the LDS define (general) salvation as nothing more than salvation from death (in other words, “immortality”). which is something altogether distinct from that which is called “exaltation” (aka “full salvation”), which only those who attain to the highest degree of Celestial Glory receive (aka “eternal life”). The choices we make in this life impact our relationship to God NOW! And though we do make choices in this life not a single one of those choices is “free” from those things by which we are influenced – like “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”, which are those things that are “of this world” (and not of God). It is those things that we need to “overcome”, if we are to have “eternal life” and they can only be overcome through Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life!

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  11. shematwater

    January 17, 2015 at 10:41 am

    “But I never said we only have one choice.”

    So now you are saying that we don’t even have one choice, but are being forced into salvation. Which would contradict your earlier statement that you “never even suggested that Jesus forces anyone to do anything.”

    Now, I have no problem with you believing that we are going to be forced into salvation, but to say it is the only correct interpretation of the Bible is wrong. It isn’t even the most logical.

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  12. mormondoctrinefails

    January 17, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Shem, what do you think you “did” to obtain salvation? Are you saved because of something you did or because of that which Jesus did?

    Why do you want to take my words and twist them and apply them to things to which I never applied them? We do make choices. And those choices are our own, though they are not free from influence. Do those choices impact our relationship to God and Jesus Christ? Yes, they do! But do any of those choices have any bearing at all on salvation? NO! Because salvation is of the Lord!

    The gospel which we preach is the gospel of our salvation, a salvation which was wrought in Jesus Christ at the cross when He tasted death once for all men. We can choose NOT TO BELIEVE the message of the gospel of our salvation and continue to wander around in darkness in the valley of the shadow of death or we can choose TO BELIEVE and grow in faith and in the knowledge of the truth, etc.

    The salvation of all men, should not be a concept that is foreign to you, as it is not foreign to LDS teachings (as it relates to general salvation).

    In a General Conference in 1972, Theodore M. Burton spoke on “Salvation and Exaltation”. In his speech, he said:

    “What does it mean when people say, “I am saved”? Generally it means they are saved from death. This type of general salvation comes to all people by the grace of God alone. General salvation comes regardless of obedience to gospel principles or laws and results solely in resurrection from the dead. In this respect, salvation is synonymous with immortality, in that the resurrected person will live forever. Resurrection comes to every person born into this world through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, whether one confesses Christ or not. Whether a person is wicked or righteous, each person will receive the gift of immortality through Jesus Christ.”

    [Ref: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1972/04/salvation-and-exaltation?lang=eng ]

    Is this something that you, as a Mormon, do NOT believe?

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  13. shematwater

    January 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Where have I ever twisted your words?
    Yes, you have spoken of choices and there consequences, but you have maintained that there is no actual choice in being saved. How is that twisting your words? How is it applying them to anything that you have not applied them to?

    Now, I understand our doctrine very well, and I believe it fully, but there is no part of it that forces anyone to accept anything they don’t want. If you are attempting to say that men are forced to be resurrected than you don’t know our doctrine. Resurrection is our choice, or was. Before this world was created we all chose the Father’s plan and accept Christ as our savior. As part of that plan we all understood that resurrection and immortality would result for all men. We made the choice to accept that then, and we will be held to that choice.
    No one is ever forced into anything, for any reason.

    “Are you saved because of something you did or because of that which Jesus did? ”
    Yes.

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  14. mormondoctrinefails

    January 18, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    You twisted my words when you said: “So now you are saying that we don’t even have one choice, but are being forced into salvation. Which would contradict your earlier statement that you “never even suggested that Jesus forces anyone to do anything.””

    I have not changed anything I have said. But you don’t seem to have any real clarity about any of it, because now you say: “…you have maintained that there is no actual choice in being saved…”

    So which is it? Have I “maintained” that? Or am I “now saying” something different?

    I never applied “choice” to “salvation”. But neither am I going to sit here and argue about whether or not we “chose to be resurrected” before we were ever born. I don’t believe in the pre-existence, so I certainly do not believe we ever made such a choice. And scriptures says we were “chosen in him” before the foundation of the world, not that we “chose him”. And to claim that we will be “held to that choice” and then claim “no one ever forced into anything, for any reason” is an outright contradiction. to be “held to” that decision is to be “forced” to abide by it, even you no longer “want to”.

    As to your final “Yes”. You’ll have to forgive me. I almost forgot that Mormons believe “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” though there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in what that means, since some Mormons insist that we do nothing to earn salvation, that it “by grace alone.” But maybe that’s just the Mormons who are tying to hang out with (and sound more like) those who are not Mormon.

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  15. shematwater

    January 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Again, I twisted nothing.

    You say that you never applied the word choice to salvation. If it is not a choice than it is something we are being forced to except. That is the clear implication.
    Yet you also claimed that you never suggested that we are forced to do anything.

    You can’t have it both ways, nor is there a third option. Either we are forced or we have a choice. If you are trying to claim that we neither have a choice nor are forced than you are claiming something this is logically impossible.

    Now, I say you have maintained that we have no actual choice because you have, even though you tried to also claim we are not forced. That second claim was made only once and only in an attempt to deny that what I had said was accurate. Even in the same post you basically made the claim that there is no choice. This is precisely why I pointed out the contradiction.

    I find it interesting that you want to use our doctrine against us, but when you are proven wrong you dismiss the entire point as irrelevant. You are the one that brought our doctrine into the discussion, not me. As to being forced into anything, the consequences of are actions are not something that we have a choice about, and I never claimed we did. They provide us with new choices, but they are not in themselves choices.

    And finally, just so that you understand, if is by grace alone that Salvation and Exaltation are made possible, and it is by grace alone that we are given the power to attain them. We still must do what is required, but since it is through the grace of God that we can do it we have nothing wherein to boast.
    In other words, the gates of the city are now open to receive us. All we have to do is get to the city before they close. We have also been provided with cars, boats, and other vehicles to make the journey possible. But if we do not drive those vehicles to the city we will never enter into it.

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  16. mormondoctrinefails

    January 22, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Shem, the only thing you have proven is that you like to talk. So do I. Maybe I should start commenting as feverishly on your blogs. 🙂

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  17. shematwater

    January 24, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Please do. I would enjoy the discussion.

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