Monday, 21 March 2011

Self-Help Mormonism

The Mormon missionaries’ “Questions of the Soul” are  meant to demonstrate that the Book of Mormon “answers the great questions of the soul.” These are not presented in any particular order but their order is interesting nonetheless. We have looked at them in this order: God, obedience, faith, eternity, life’s purpose and the problem of evil, infant baptism and the question, “Does God know me?”

The list goes on to address questions about finding peace and joy, having a happy and united family, balance in family and career, our relationship with our spouse and guarding the individual and the family from sin and evil.

There is a strong risk of my being dubbed cynical here but I have been called worse. Its just that as I look through the list I can’t help but see, as a former Mormon who once taught this material, what goes through a Mormon’s mind that would perhaps be missed by a Christian reading this list.

Let me take you through the list and demonstrate:

Is there a God? – Yes and he is an exalted man with a body, your Heavenly Father who sent you here to see if you will pass muster and prove worthy to be like him. [You are to work your way towards godhood]

What does Jesus Christ expect of me? – That you should prove obedient in all things in order to gain celestial glory.

How can a belief in Jesus Christ help me? – Jesus’ atonement makes it possible for you to earn celestial glory by giving you a fresh start so you can work the Mormon plan to achieve godhood.

Is there life after death? – Yes, and where we spend it depends on how worthy you prove to be.

What is the purpose of life? – To work for our salvation and exaltation by following God’s great plan of happiness.

Why does God allow evil and suffering to occur? – To test our determination to follow God’s great plan of happiness and show ourselves worthy in the face of opposition.

Does my infant need to be baptized? – No, because he/she is born innocent but he/she will need to be baptised later as a work of obedience, the first step in obeying God’s great plan of happiness.

Does God know me? – He watches your every move to see if you are worthy.

Does God answer prayers? – Yes, provided you are worthy of an answer.

How can I find peace and joy? – By being sure to be obedient to God’s great plan of happiness and proving worthy.

How can my family be happier and more united? – By going to church, having Family Home Evening, being worthy to faithfully hold callings in the church, going to the temple, paying tithing….

How can I balance my family and career? – By striving to build a forever family through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and dedicating everything that you produce in work to the building of the Mormon Church as you promised in the temple.

How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse? – By attending to your patriarchal duty thereby proving worthy of being head of your family.

How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? – By teaching them to take on the yoke of Mormonism and strive for worthiness as you have done all your life.

This is what the Bible tells us about being a Christian:

A Christian is one who trusts fully in the finished work of Christ on the Cross (Ro.10:9-13), depending wholly on him and not on anything in themselves for salvation (Ro.3:21-28). Someone who has been Born Again (John 3:5-6), who has crossed over from death to life and no longer fears judgement (John 5:24), who has peace with God through faith in Christ and stands in a place of grace and assurance (Ro.5:1-2) and knows free and open access to the Father because of Christ our great high priest, approaching God with confidence (Heb.4:14-16). Someone for whom the journey of faith is a walk of service and sacrifice and who, because of God’s grace, abounds in good work but these works are the fruit of salvation and not the root from which salvation springs (2 Co.9:8).

The difference is profound with consequences that reach into eternity. Mormonism is a self-help religion in which Mormons expect to prove worthy of blessings by their own efforts. Christianity is a self-denying religion in which the Christian knows he/she will never be worthy and depends entirely on Christ for new life and eternal hope.

The “old, old story” rejected by Mormons as apostate turns out to be the true, old story that offers the only way to have peace with God and assurance for eternity; salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9) It isn’t a game of words – it never was.

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic post! One of the best posts that so explicitly demonstrates the vast differences between LDS and Biblical Christianity. The battle, since the fall has always been [and always will be]: Self-help vs. His-help.

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  2. I love that phrase - Self-Help v His-Help. Sums it up really, Thanks for commenting.

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