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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:27 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:
On a side note, and to reintegrate this detour back into the main discussion, I think Mormonism is much more individually-focused than Buddhism or Hinduism. One of the main problems I have with Mormonism, one of the key reasons I can't consider it Christian, is that it has basically no theology of grace; it makes Pelagianism look downright orthodox.
Well, that's completely inaccurate. The theology of grace is in the Bible and Book of Mormon and Mormons use both.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:40 am 
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Well, that's completely inaccurate. The theology of grace is in the Bible and Book of Mormon and Mormons use both.


I don't see how the fact that Mormons "use" the Bible in any way vindicates the notion of Mormons having an orthodox theology of grace.

Perhaps we should more clearly define our terms. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

CCC wrote:
1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

"Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself."

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God's call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God's interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"

"Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing."

2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

"If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life."

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.

2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord's words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 - reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'"


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:56 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:
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Well, that's completely inaccurate. The theology of grace is in the Bible and Book of Mormon and Mormons use both.


I don't see how the fact that Mormons "use" the Bible in any way vindicates the notion of Mormons having an orthodox theology of grace.

...
Would you not agree all those definitions ought to come from what Christ and the apostles taught in the Bible? If not, they are not scriptural in basis. If Mormons believe in salvation by grace, which I fully do, then we believe the same thing. It is patently absurd to state otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:25 am 
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Tobin wrote:
Would you not agree all those definitions ought to come from what Christ and the apostles taught in the Bible?


Ultimately, yes.

Quote:
If not, they are not scriptural in basis.


True. However, I think it is important to remember that Scripture is not self-interpreting. That is one of the most important reasons why we look to the Apostolic lineage of blessings for guidance. This is also scriptural in basis.

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If Mormons believe in salvation by grace, which I fully do, then we believe the same thing.


Sure but that's a huge "if" and I dispute the veracity of the conditional. What evidence do you have that LDS teaches salvation by grace?

My sense is that Mormonism teaches salvation through individual worthiness. That is the complete opposite of salvation through grace.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:39 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:
So I have a hard time accepting the idea that they are any more "Christian" than my "heathen" Hindu friend.
There's no quote marks in classical Christian theology. That would be PR. Your friend's a heathen. Nice religion, eh?

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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:03 am 
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There's no quote marks in classical Christian theology. That would be PR. Your friend's a heathen. Nice religion, eh?


One of my dearest mentors, the Jesuit priest who taught me Latin as a young adolescent, said that he was sure the arms of Christ were stretched out wide enough on the cross for everyone, whether baptized or unbaptized. I like to think he's right.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:14 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:
Quote:
There's no quote marks in classical Christian theology. That would be PR. Your friend's a heathen. Nice religion, eh?


One of my dearest mentors, the Jesuit priest who taught me Latin as a young adolescent, said that he was sure the arms of Christ were stretched out wide enough on the cross for everyone, whether baptized or unbaptized. I like to think he's right.

Was he a heretic?

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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:19 am 
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Was he a heretic?
No. God's (heavenly) justice is beyond any humanly ordained justice.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:51 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:
Quote:
If Mormons believe in salvation by grace, which I fully do, then we believe the same thing.


Sure but that's a huge "if" and I dispute the veracity of the conditional. What evidence do you have that LDS teaches salvation by grace?

My sense is that Mormonism teaches salvation through individual worthiness. That is the complete opposite of salvation through grace.
I can only live the gospel according the the scriptures, on that basis alone I would think any understanding of grace should be more than sufficient. If other Mormons wish to teach other than what Jesus and the apostles taught, then I can only offer that they are wrong. I certainly do not believe man can be saved through his works.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:06 am 
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If it is perceived that by saying, "Mormons are not Christian", that there is a belief they are going to hell in a hand basket...that perception is wrong. I know there are people, coming from various Christian religions that are loud in voicing this opinion, but they are by far, in the minority.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:43 am 
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Samantabhadra wrote:

It's interesting for me because, in my life, my contact with Buddhism was basically the way out of nihilism and atheism. I was so negatively disposed to the Church for various personal reasons, but once I had had my eyes opened a bit by spending time in Nepal I began to see my baptism in a new light.


Interesting where the same paths lead for different people. :smile:

Quote:
You also raise a very good point here:

Quote:
The final break for me was the realization that Hindu and Buddhist belief is that we save ourselves, and spend many, many lifetimes trying to get to that point. Where, the Christian message is clear, we cannot save ourselves, it is Jesus Christ who is our Salvation.


There is definitely something to this, but I'm not sure that it's so clear-cut. To an extent it really depends on the kind of Buddhism you're talking about; in Tibet, for example, even though it is definitely stressed that we are responsible for our own decisions, at the same time there is a very heavy emphasis on the idea of the lama or teacher as someone who has the power to "save" or "rescue" you from the depths of cyclic existence.


Yet, my understanding is the inability to let go of this type of reliance would be an inhibitor to enlightenment. Similar to the paradox of holding on to letting go.

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And even though, in Christianity, Pelagianism is and always was heretical, it is still very much the case that we have to decide to open ourselves up to the possibility of receiving God's grace--yes we couldn't make that decision on our own, yes we need to be baptised, but there is still some facet of our own agency required.


God created us as rational creatures, with free will. Mormonism defines free will differently than mainstream Christianity. Where, Mormonism views free will as having as many choices as possible, with the more choices one has, the more free one is. Christianity understand free will as a gift given by God, in order that we can love Him freely. So the choice is stated simply, to love God, or not. The "or not" is defined as acting in sin. While stated simply, it is the difficulty of living the love of God in which we struggle. We aren't left to struggle alone. God has not abandoned us in our sin, as made clearly evident by the Cross. So love of God is not only a choice, but also a grace. Not something we are able to do without Him. We are created by God to love God.

Quote:
So as I mentioned, I'm not sure it's so cut-and-dried. On the other hand, in Buddhist Studies (and Religious Studies more generally) there is widespread and uncritical use of the term "soteriology" applied to things like achieving enlightenment. One of the subsidiary points I'm trying to make in my own scholarship is that we should probably reserve the term "soteriology" for religions with a soteros.


Yes, I agree with this, and should clarify that when I say "saved" in the context of Buddhism, I'm not using it in the same context as Christian "saved". The two believe in different "endings" to this mortal life (Buddhism a cycle of mortal lives), and what constitutes achieving that ending. It is the individual Buddhist who ends his/her own cycle. (Strictly speaking, Buddhism has no God. So, my perception is that you have built a syncretic religion of your own.)

There is also the question of suffering, which Buddhism and Christianity approach in radically different ways, especially Catholic Christianity.

Quote:
I coined the term eleutheriology (from eleutheria, freedom) for the study of the goal of Buddhist praxis, the rhetoric surrounding which much more heavily emphasizes the idea of casting off or cutting through the chains that bind oneself to cyclic existence. I think the terminology nicely reflects the difference (such as it is), although your mileage may vary... I'm curious to hear what you think.


Yes, but freedom and salvation are pretty much the same thing for a Christian.

Quote:
On a side note, and to reintegrate this detour back into the main discussion, I think Mormonism is much more individually-focused than Buddhism or Hinduism. One of the main problems I have with Mormonism, one of the key reasons I can't consider it Christian, is that it has basically no theology of grace; it makes Pelagianism look downright orthodox.


Individualism is an attribute of Mormonism, which is inevitable (I'd say) seeing that it arose from the prevalent individualism of 19th century American. But I don't view it as distinct. From a Catholic POV, individualism has crept into most of Christianity. The Catholic view, and Jewish view as well, is that we are saved as a people. Christ died for all. (Not saying Jews are Christian, just that the OT is always about a people being saved. "I will be your God and you will be my People.") I don't see this in Hinduism or Buddhism. There is a not a "people saved", enlightenment is still an individual endeavor, without belief in a universal Savior.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:36 am 
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Just so we are clear, what are we understanding by the term salvation. Are we talking of the "partial" salvation of Mormonism, which really only means resurrection and a place in the fictional two lesser kingdoms, or are we talking Biblical Christian resurrection which is full eternal life with God in heaven? I think there are major differences between Christians and Mormons on even the simplest terms.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormonism not Christian...
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Albion wrote:
Just so we are clear, what are we understanding by the term salvation. Are we talking of the "partial" salvation of Mormonism, which really only means resurrection and a place in the fictional two lesser kingdoms, or are we talking Biblical Christian resurrection which is full eternal life with God in heaven? I think there are major differences between Christians and Mormons on even the simplest terms.


Agreed. When comparing to Buddhism, I was thinking of Christian Salvation.

In a philosophy course I had, we compared Eastern philosophy of eternal reward to Christian philosophy. The professor made clear with this:

Buddhism: ∞ beginning and a cycle of mortal lives ----> end the infinite cycle
Christianity: one mortal life ----> ∞ eternal life

Mormonism is something different than either, but also combines the two: ∞ beginning and one mortal life -----> continue the ∞ existence

------

When discussing salvation in these three paradigms, the Eastern form of "salvation" is freedom from oneself (ego). Christian salvation is the resurrection, all who are judged by God to be with God, will be as one, in one heaven and eternal life with God. Mormon salvation is resurrection and eternal life, with a caveat that is borrowed from Eastern philosophy, that of a caste system, and a previous life (this one) determining which heaven (caste) one will spend eternity in.

I can see Mormonism developing an idea, similar to Eastern philosophy, that an individual can free themselves from a caste, making it not so ∞ of a station, but can be left by good works and right belief. (I've seen this expressed by Mormons on Mormon forums.) More like levels of salvation; some are saved more than others.

For Christians, it isn't good works or right belief that saves, it is Jesus Christ. All are equally saved. We all will find God's Mercy and Justice at Judgement, in and through, Jesus Christ.

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