Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The three books I consider to have done the most harm to members

I firmly believe that the books Believing Christ, The Continuous Atonement, and Rough Stone Rolling have done the most harm among members in our day. Anti-mormon books rarely have a significant impact within the church. It is the incorrect books that we take and start teaching in Sunday School and quoting in sacrament talks that do the most harm.

The first two books have very successfully convinced members that the protestant version of the atonement is the real atonement. The third book has convinced many members that Joseph Smith's being called as a prophet was just proof that God can use anybody, even someone who is involved in all sorts of immorality. In reality Joseph Smith was not involved in immorality, and in reality it was his faith that the preceded the miracles, it was his righteousness that opened the doors to him for revelation.

All three books erode one of the chief doctrines of the gospel: We must work out our salvation by fear and trembling. They deny that a celestial reward requires being valiant in the testimony of Jesus, and instead portray a gospel in which the atonement exists specifically to grant us exaltation for being nothing more than an honorable man of the earth. They replace the atonement with one which is nothing more than Protestantism adapted for Mormons. They teach that the atonement gets rid of our sins by making us clean even of the things we are still not doing right. They teach that the atonement grants us 100% perfection by nature of our covenant at baptism, because our imperfection added to Christs perfection adds up to 100% perfection. That is not how it works. Christ forgives us through his atonement as we change. His forgiveness is always on condition of repentance. We are never cleaner through the atonement than our actual behavior.

In reality, just as faith precedes the miracle it is repentance and change that precedes forgiveness. Consider baptism as a perfect example. We don't tell Christ that if he will forgive us of our sins first, then we will subsequently repent and be baptized. Instead we repent, and then manifest our commitment to keep his commandments by baptism. In that baptismal act he grants us remission of our sins. But that doesn't mean we are clean and pure every whit yet. After all, as we continue past baptism even as we avoid the serious sins there are still many small matters that we do wrong. We know that and we are not clean of those matters every whit until we change them every whit. When we do something wrong, the former sins return, i.e. what that means is that you aren't cleansed through the atonement of some little misbehavior or other that you are still indulging in.

We will not be perfect, and thus also not perfectly clean, until we have learned to submit our will perfectly as Christ did. When we do then Christ can make us perfectly clean. That is a work that isn't going to be completed during our mortal probation. So it is not surprise that Christ preached repentance and forgiveness of sins through his atonement even when addressing the righteous in the spirit world. Thus continually pressing forward diligently is not something that ends with mortality.

The protestant view in Believing Christ and the Continuous Atonement is that Christ came to save us in our sins, and in reality he came to save us from our sins. We have not been saved of them until we have stopped doing them. And whatever we have stopped doing wrong, we can be cleansed of through his atonement.

We must press forward diligently that we might obtain the prize. All three books teach that the opposite is true one way or another, and all three have had an horrible effect on whether or not members think that they must prove valiant in the testimony of Jesus, or just prove that they are at least an honorable man of the earth that happens to belong to the true church. The first two books, Believing Christ, and The Continuous Atonement both portray pressing forward diligently as the INTENTION, but not as the REQUIREMENT. Intention and requirement are very different things. Those two books have effectively convinced a generation of members that the atonement of Christ is almost a sort of credit card for misbehavior as long as it isn't anything too bad along with a side note that if the misbehavior IS too bad there is a relatively easy fix. They teach a doctrine of being being saved IN ones sins, instead of being saved FROM them. Or maybe, they teach that being saved from our sins is the intention, but not the requirement.

The third book I mentioned, Rough Stone Rolling, has a similar effect on members to the other two. Fundamentally it teaches that a man can be an instrument in the hands of God while still doing all sorts of wicked things.

And Rough Stone Rolling teaches the falsehood that morality isn't even required, that one can be the great head of a dispensation without it.

Basically the two books on the atonement I cited, while very popular, really teach in effect that the atonement makes it so that we will be exalted if we can manage to be honorable men of the earth. They teach that being Valiant in the testimony of Jesus is good, but that because of the atonement, it isn't necessary for exaltation. They teach that is actually the whole point of the atonement. The authors have the sense not to use that language, but that is their doctrine.

And Rough Stone Rolling takes it a step further and makes its point clearly enough without ever coming out and saying it. It preaches loud and clear that being a good member doesn't even require chastity, while avoiding ever making a statement it can be pinned down on.

These three books, Believing Christ, The Continuous Atonement, and Rough Stone Rolling, have supplanted good Mormon truth far too long. We need to turn back to our scriptures where we can find the correct doctrine of the atonement taught, and the way to eternal life laid out before us.

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