Ep34-Soteriology in LDS Thought (Pt 3)- The Problems of Theism & The Love of God Ch 5

Part three of Ch 5. We discuss:
• Prevenient Grace in LDS Scripture
• The Grace of Life and Light
• Ritual Expression of Atonement
• Transferring the Pain of our Sins to Christ

Show Notes:

“Prevenient Grace in LDS Scripture”

“Prevenient grace is that grace which is given prior to any act of human will. The Book of Mormon teaches a robust sense of prevenient grace.”

“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good and evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon . . . .
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given unto them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Ne. 2:26–27; emphasis mine)

This passage makes four important points regarding the gifts that result from the Atonement.

 First, the Atonement is a gift which “redeems” or restores human agency (which entails the self-determination to choose either life or death). In the absence of atonement, we are captive to the devil and the desires of our flesh. Thus, free will is a gift. We are freed from bondage to our self-absorbed alienation and passions “of the flesh” when we are able to choose to share life “with God.

 Second, the knowledge of good and evil is both necessary to the exercise of such freedom and also a gift.

Third, freedom consists of being able to act for ourselves rather than being acted upon.”

“Finally, redeeming grace is necessary prior to any act of human will precisely because there is no free will in the absence of such grace.”

Talk about the misconceptions of the 'after all we can do' scripture.

“There is, however, another type of grace that works in us after having been freed to choose for ourselves by prevenient grace. In the second stage of grace, God grants operative grace to all to be saved if we choose to accept it. All persons may choose to accept the gracious offer of covenant relationship if they so desire.”

“The Grace of Life and Light”

“In June 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation which inauspiciously heralded the development of a new expression of divine grace. The revelation adopted the concept of “light” from the gospel of John to elucidate this new way of speaking of God’s grace: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more “light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).”

Explain grace as a process vs a state

“The key to this model of grace is that every person is given as a gift that degree of light that they are willing to accept. The Vision is an expression of this model of grace. A revelation received by Joseph Smith on December 27, 1832, known as the “Olive Leaf,” recognized that the light given is a sheer gift:
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy [that degree of light] which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the giver of the gift. (D&C 88:32–33)”

“we are free to decide how we will use the energy of life that is given to us, but we are not the sole source of that energy. God’s concurring grace is a necessary condition to the exercise of agency.”

“The model of grace based upon the gift of divine light became the foundation upon which the LDS doctrine of deification is built.”

“the person who accepts the light that God offers as a gift grows in the light “until the perfect day” when he shares fully in the divine attributes, including a complete comprehension of all things.”

“The Vision revealed that when we share “a fulness” of light and glory, we are “gods, even the sons of God—Wherefore, all things are theirs” (D&C 76:58–59). “Godhood” in LDS thought means that we share with God all that God has and is. We are heirs of all things because, as his sons and daughters, all things are bequeathed to us. Moreover, as sons and daughters we grow to be what our parents are as we mature in the light, life, spirit, truth, knowledge, and power of God: “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them” (D&C 132:20).”

“However, we cannot ever become gods on our own or in our own right or by virtue of our uncreated ontological status. Deification is not about self-reliance and becoming self-sufficient. It is about the attributes that arise when divine persons share their lives so completely that what one knows, all know, what one does, all do, what one wills, all will.”

Talk about the Orthodox similarities and differences on this idea

“Ritual Expression of Atonement”

“I will not discuss a theology of ordinances at great length here. However, the way in which these ordinances reflect, symbolize, and effect union with Christ is not difficult to see. In baptism, we are buried with Christ in his death (D&C 76:51; Rom. 6:3–5). When we arise from the water, we are resurrected with him. In so doing, we die as to things of the flesh and live in the spirit in Christ. We take the sacrament to represent taking Christ’s life into us. The bread we eat represents taking his body into us that we may be his body on earth. The wine (water) represents taking his life’s blood into us to live in us. Through anointing we are made “messiahs” or anointed ones and honored with Christ. When we are clothed in robes of righteousness, we are clothed in Christ and his priesthood. When we join in a prayer circle, we are joined as one body in Christ. Virtually all ordinances in LDS orthopraxis are a means of symbolizing and effecting the union with Christ that is accomplished through atonement.”

“Transferring the Pain of our Sins to Christ”

“Christ shares in our sufferings in the sense that the pain of our sinfulness and alienation is transferred to him. This dimension of atonement is ritually portrayed for Christians in the sacrificial system of the Law of Moses that played a central role in the New Testament expression of the meaning of Christ’s suffering and death”

“experiencing our suffering because God is omniscient will not suffice to explain the Atonement because Christ suffers the pain instead of us.”

“the LDS scriptures are clear that Christ suffers excruciating pain as a result of our sins so that we don’t have to suffer what we would otherwise suffer if he had not. Moreover, the focus of this expiatory suffering is not limited to the cross but begins in Gethsemane and is completed in his death on the cross.”

“The Atonement is effected by an indwelling unity of shared life. The pain for sins of the world are transferred to Christ because he is one with us. Atonement results in release from pain and sin for us; it results in pain and suffering for Christ. Atonement results in salvation from sin and begins the process of sanctification in which we become partakers of the divine nature because God’s very life is shared with us.”


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