Merit and grace: Mormon, Book of Mormon, and Christian

Theo1689

Well-known member
One of the reasons Mormonism is based on a "bait and switch" between the Book of Mormon and Mormonism proper, is because the BoM seems a benign theology to Christians, and IMO contradicts what Mormons proclaim about their beliefs.

For instance, a particular Mormon here claims that we have to do works, and those works allow us to obtain "grace" that saves us. I have seen other Mormon writers refer to "meriting grace", which is an oxymoron, since grace is UNMERITED favour. I also note that his "salvation" cannot be merely resurrection, since Mormonism teaches that everyone gets that REGARDLESS of what they do. This is one of the many places I see inconsistency in Mormonism.

I found the following entry in the "Index to the Triple Combination", and it is VERY friendly to "faith alone" theology, yet anathema to Mormonism:

Merit

  • See also Grace; Jesus Christ, Atonement through; Mercy; Virtue; Worth
  • no flesh can dwell in God’s presence, save through merits of the Messiah, 2 Ne. 2:8.
  • rely wholly upon merits of him who is mighty to save, 2 Ne. 31:19.
  • since man had fallen, he could not merit anything of himself, Alma 22:14.
  • God has taken away guilt from hearts through merits of his Son, Alma 24:10.
  • have remission of sins through Christ’s merits, Hel. 14:13.
  • rely alone upon merits of Christ, Moro. 6:4.
  • rely upon merits of Christ, D&C 3:20.

The two recurring these we see here are:
1) fallen man cannot merit anything of himself (Alma 22:14)
2) We must rely WHOLLY (not merely "partly") on the merits of Christ.


I also found a paper written by Robert Millet,
"The Doctrine of Merit: The Book of Mormon on the Work of Grace (2003)"

"If I rely wholly upon the merits of Christ, how much do I rely upon myself to be saved? If I rely alone upon the merits of Christ, how much do I rely upon myself to be saved? The answer to both questions is a resounding "NONE." This is not a matter of self-confidence; it is a matter of confidence in Christ. I have a role in my own salvation, but peace and assurance and hopecome because of what Jesus the Redeemer has done and will do to qualify me for life with Him one day. Thus, the grace of God, pro- vided through the intercession of the Savior, is free yet expensive; it is costly grace, 'costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. . . . Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son, . . . and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.'23"

Here is Millet saying that we "rely WHOLLY upon the merits of Christ".
Here is Millet saying that wee do NOT rely on ourselves at ALL.

The purple font is Millet actually quoting Evangelical Christian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from "The Cost of Discipleship", and appears that he agrees with him. This is important, because in the quote Bonhoeffer is addressing why "faith alone" is NOT "cheap grace", but was very COSTLY grace, as it cost the Saviour His life.


Millet also writes:

"Because we are human—because we are weak and mortal and tired—we will probably never reach the point in this life when we have done "all we can do." Too many of us misread 2 Nephi 25:23 and conclude that the Lord can assist us only after, meaning following the time that, we have done "all we can do." In fact, the Lord can and does help us all along the way. I think Nephi is trying to emphasize that no matter how much we do, it simply will not be enough to guarantee salvation without Christ's intervention. Restating Nephi, "Above and beyond all we can do, notwithstand- ing all we can do, it is by the grace of Christ that we are saved." And what is true of our ultimate salvation is true of our daily walk and talk, of our personality and our passions. Above and beyond all efforts at self-control, behavior modification, or reducing our sins to manageable categories, 'everything which really needs to be done in our souls can only be done by God.'24 "

Here Millet is quoting C.S. Lewis, and basically confirms "total depravity' and "faith alone".



Just to conclude, this is one of my favourite quotes of J.I. Packer:

“The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners,
contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit.
It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity
and who had no reason to expect anything but severity."

(see Packer, Knowing God, 120).


Relevant Biblical passages (which Mormons will never address):


Is. 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;
and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Rom. 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Rom. 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Rom. 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom. 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Rom. 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Col. 2:13
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
 

Bonnie

Super Member
Good post, Theo. I disagree with Millet's assessment of what "after all we can do" means, since the Mormon online Bible dictionary says it is only after we expend our best efforts that we get this grace--I forget the exact wording. Ah, here it is:

Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the Fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23).

My new tablet won't let me cut and paste the address in the browser, but this quote is from the LDS's online Bible dictionary. It seems to disagree with Millet's explanation.
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
Good post, Theo. I disagree with Millet's assessment of what "after all we can do" means, since the Mormon online Bible dictionary says it is only after we expend our best efforts that we get this grace--I forget the exact wording. Ah, here it is:

My new tablet won't let me cut and paste the address in the browser, but this quote is from the LDS's online Bible dictionary. It seems to disagree with Millet's explanation.

Yeah...

About a couple of decades ago, on another Mormonism forum, I asked Mormons about the phrase, "after all we can do". A number of people interpreted (or argued) it to mean:

"We are saved by grace, after all we can do."
"We are saved by grace [when all is said and done]".
"[After everything we do, we realize that instead] we are saved by grace".

There was a fairly even split, with about 1/3 to 2/5 Mormons holding this unorthodox (IMO) view of the verse.

But I don't expect Mormonism to be consistent.

It's like I told you a few months ago, when my friend Aaron celebrates Aug. 18 (8/18) every year by sharing Moroni 8:18 with Mormons:

Moro. 8:18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from ball eternity to all eternity.

It's quite clear that the author of the BoM had a poor understanding of, but based his theology on, orthodox evangelical Christianity, and Joseph Smith came along later trying to make it the foundation of Mormonism, even though Mormonism knows NOTHING about an "unchangeable god", or "relying wholly on the merits of Christ".
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
My new tablet won't let me cut and paste the address in the browser, but this quote is from the LDS's online Bible dictionary. It seems to disagree with Millet's explanation.


Well, I'm sure some Mormons would argue that the Bible dictionary isn't "inspired", and is simply the opinions of the writers, since in the past decade or so Mormons have started to go "sola Scriptura".

Some can say "Millet was not inspired".
Others can say, "The BD was not inspired".

So Mormonism ends up being a "free for all", a banquet presentation, for Mormons to pick whatever they want, and reject what they want.
 

Bonnie

Super Member

Well, I'm sure some Mormons would argue that the Bible dictionary isn't "inspired", and is simply the opinions of the writers, since in the past decade or so Mormons have started to go "sola Scriptura".

Some can say "Millet was not inspired".
Others can say, "The BD was not inspired".

So Mormonism ends up being a "free for all", a banquet presentation, for Mormons to pick whatever they want, and reject what they want.
Banquet? More like a cafeteria!
 

Bonnie

Super Member
Yeah...

About a couple of decades ago, on another Mormonism forum, I asked Mormons about the phrase, "after all we can do". A number of people interpreted (or argued) it to mean:

"We are saved by grace, after all we can do."
"We are saved by grace [when all is said and done]".
"[After everything we do, we realize that instead] we are saved by grace".

There was a fairly even split, with about 1/3 to 2/5 Mormons holding this unorthodox (IMO) view of the verse.

But I don't expect Mormonism to be consistent.

It's like I told you a few months ago, when my friend Aaron celebrates Aug. 18 (8/18) every year by sharing Moroni 8:18 with Mormons:

Moro. 8:18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from ball eternity to all eternity.

It's quite clear that the author of the BoM had a poor understanding of, but based his theology on, orthodox evangelical Christianity, and Joseph Smith came along later trying to make it the foundation of Mormonism, even though Mormonism knows NOTHING about an "unchangeable god", or "relying wholly on the merits of Christ".
That happened on here, last year...a couple of Mormons tried to sugar-coat the quote, by saying it really means "After all, we are saved by grace." Pfau!
 
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