Friday, June 10, 2011

The Hidden Grace of Mormonism

This is one of a series of posts that examines the topic of Mormon spirituality, or how we respond to the Divine in personal living. Readers can find the first here, the second here, the third here and the forth here. The purpose of the series is to explain why Mormons are the way they are and what that has to do with religion and doctrine. It was inspired by critics who seem to misunderstand or question the inner spirituality of Mormons as materialists or shallow.

When people think of Mormons, among the perceptions are a group of people who are mindlessly obedient to whatever they are told. Critics of a particular Evangelical Christian perspective believe that Mormonism teaches that we save ourselves. They often reject any idea that Jesus Christ is the center of all the Latter-day Saints do in their lives. Some of what they say is valid without understanding the contexts of those teachings. It can often seem that the Savior takes a limited role in the lives of Latter-day Saints where the emphasis is on obedience, Priesthood, tithing, Temple work, and families. Since the word "Grace" is not a word that has permeated the religious lexicon of Mormonism, it is assumed that it has little value. There becomes a war about "faith" or "works" saving the soul. Sadly, some Mormons are drawn into that argument needlessly. They don't realize that Grace makes possible the individual salvation in those teachings.

Over the years the concept of Grace has become more prominent in church lessons than in the past. However, it has always been there as a package that Mormons call The Gospel. It is only one part of the whole that is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. To concentrate on that one word is to lose greater blessings possible to those with Faith. The life of a Latte-day Saint is, if done in the right religious spirit, the activation of Grace for the believer. Obedience to the Commandments and teachings of Apostles and Prophets is not and should not be about faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but faith in the saving power of Christ.

Brigham Young had this belief in mind when he stated:

The moment the atonement of the Savior is done away, that moment, at one sweep, the hopes of salvation entertained by the Christian world are destroyed, the foundation of their faith is taken away, and there is nothing left for them to stand upon. When it is gone all the revelations God ever gave to the Jewish nation, to the Gentiles, and to us are rendered valueless, and all hope is taken from us at one sweep. (Young, Brigham. Discourses of Brigham Young. Selected by John A. Widtsoe. 1941. Pg. 27. Emphasis mine.)