An Answer To An Anti-Mormon’s Statement That Christians Have No Need To Repent Of Their Sins To Be Saved
By Ronnie Bray
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!” By Jesus Christ … and he was not joking!
An Anti-Mormon, DP, insists that no one need repent of their sins to be saved because the Sacrifice of Jesus takes care of everything. The case of someone saying that they accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but their not repenting of their sins, is the condition that led to the penning of the Country Gospel classic, 'Almost Persuaded.' Almost Persuaded now to believe; Almost persuaded Christ to receive. Almost doth not avail. Almost is but to fail. Some More convenient day On Thee I'll call. You ask why anyone would or would not do a particular thing, such as accept the Atonement without repenting. That is an empty question because it addresses subjectivity, and there could be, and likely are, as many proper answers as there are individuals of whom the question is asked. Jesus warned his hearers, “Except you repent, you will all perish!” The problem of evil as a classical subject is answered by the fact that we are free moral agents - 'thou mayest choose for thyself.'
The classical Problem of Evil considers that if God created everything, then that would include his creation of evil, and the creation of an adversary. However, those objections are fully answered by the existence of man's moral agency to choose for himself. God did not create evil, per se, but we choose to do evil when we rebel against God's wishes. Similarly, we choose to be in the dark when we opt to abandon the light. God provided Israel with a religious code that it was constrained to observe. Yet each individual Israelite had a concomitant freedom of choice to comply or to rebel. This moral agency as a God-given gift is fundamental to Mormonism. If it were absent, then the alternative would either be divine predetermination or insouciance. Since God is involved in human history it is known that he is not insouciant. Since he gave men freedom to choose between good and evil he is not a predestinationist. Therefore, it is God's will that humanity comply with his divine will in order to be saved, but he will force no man to heaven. Evil, therefore, exists only when men deliberately choose to rebel against the will of God and please themselves and spur his salvation. Following the example of the Lord's Prayer, sincere Christians pray that God will 'deliver us from evil.' It is the
LDS conviction that since creation, God has acted to help mankind overcome the risk of falling into evil by following God's code, and thereby bring to fruition humanity's inherent potential to do good and grow to become like God. To facilitate this work, God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life, or salvation. The New Testament books variously describe the purpose of God's Son's ministry and sacrifice as salvation, rescue, redemption, deliverance, freeing, reconciliation, reuniting, new birth, new life, life, light, life eternal, etc, all wrapped up in the single word 'salvation,' and all wrought or made possible through the Atonement, because by his act of Atonement Jesus made it possible for humanity to escape the natural consequences of his sinful acts. This doctrine of the Atonement has been called God's primary response to the problem of evil, by the unification of the world with God's plan for it, as embracing God's plan will eventually lead those that embrace it out of evil, sin, and suffering, and if not in this world, then assuredly in the next world. Sceptics on the whole, tend abandon even the hope or anticipation of the conquest of evil, but then they do not have the benefit of God's perspective on the subject. They conclude that if there is a God at all, then he is too weak, or maybe too evil, to be served and adored. This
point of view can only be held by knocking down a strawman God, of which there is none. Abandoning one's faith leads to this kind of scepticism and cynicism and away from the faith that trusts in God and believe he will keep his promises. To be of this persuasion is to occupy the wasteland of the spiritual world, and that is their tragedy, alas! It is possible that the majority of the evils in the world, such as suffering, poverty, hunger, and disease could be overcome or largely ameliorated if people of good will were to combine their efforts to eradicate them. Dom Helder Camaro explained the difficulty of this kind of enterprise, saying, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. “When I ask why the poor have no food, they call be a Communist!” Balking at nomenclature while the world’s problems fester is the curse of sectarianism whether in religion or in politics. ‘DP,’ an Anti-Mormon, complains: "If I do not repent, and the LDS is correct about the nature of the universe, I will suffer as horribly as Christ did." This statement is false. It assumes that the ‘I’ of the question has committed all the sins that the universe has ever witnessed. I would say that would be impossible for
some practical reasons that do not even merit discussion. Like most Christian theologies and Christologies, Latterday Saint Christians believe that separation from God for eternity – a condition resolved once and for all by the infinite Atonement of Christ – will be suffering enough to the sensate being capable of identifying how his intransigence to obey God has cost him dear and forever. I can elaborate on this, but it seems hardly necessary to do so as the facts are plainly evident. But, if not, you can ask anyone that has ever missed the last bus home how they felt about their failure to be at the bus depôt in sufficient time to get home. The only difference in anguish is degree and duration, otherwise the example is adequate illustration. If the foundation of religious knowledge is other than divine revelation, then someone has rested their burden on shifting sands, thereby, when it removed, as shifting sand so, whatever knowledge they thought they had shifted with the sandbar. The knowledge or testimony of Latter-day Saints is so frequently expressed as belonging in the realm of the operation of the Divine Communicator known throughout the Christian world as the Holy Ghost or Spirit. To consider God’s divine messenger pliable or uncertain would appear to indicate lack of familiarity with the Holy Spirit and the message he bears, namely, that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. If someone has not obtained spiritual knowledge from that exclusive source, the Holy Spirit, then their ‘opportunity’ to have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ is properly brought into question., and they would be a candidate for having a bona fide opportunity to do so at some later date, either here or in the next world. Only those that view God as an inanimate monolithic object can be surprised that divine revelation will change to accommodate the needs of whatever times, conditions, and circumstances the saints of God in the world face. We could ask whether God ought to have instructed Adam on the method of ark building so that when Noah’s time came there could be sufficient arks to save those that would be saved, or consider whether God was of sufficient sagacity to save those details until the world came under threat because of the wickedness of men. We should consider – or not – what purpose God could have had by having Adam and Eve be strictly vegetarian, but later change the diet for Noah after the flood, and then to change the diet again for the Children of Israel through the Levitical kashrut or Kosher Laws, and then sweeping aside the Levitical Diet when the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles, and that which was once ‘unclean’ is now ‘clean.’ What an example of the very kind of thing of which DP
complain of: a pliable, unreliable source that has led to many contradictory truth claims … Latter-day Saints, along with all true Bible Christians, know that God does not stand still. He did not make the world and all that in it is and then take to his arm chair to watch the world go by. He has been and yet is actively engaged in the work of human salvation. The Living God should be expected to move and do this, then do that, and then do something else, or how is such a being really living and how does he demonstrate his livingness? The only god that changeth not is that god made of stone or iron or gold, that is made and does not shift himself to lift one of his fingers to help humanity. Such gods are the creation of magicians, and have no power to save. Consider Elijah and the priests of Baal. Had not the mighty Jehovah the power to move and act he could not have answered with fire. That he did is evidence that he is not a creation of man’s fancy, but is a vital, responsive, intelligent entity. The ultimate disposition of your soul, DP, is not something that any mortal can answer definitively, because it is a matter for God alone to judge. That much should be evident to all that claim to believe Jesus no matter in which Creed they place their trust.
© 2012 – Ronnie Bray – MORMON-QUILL