Christian Mormon Grace

The Difference Between Christian Grace and Mormon Grace

Words matter. Ideas have consequences. In the years that I have been engaging Mormons about matters of faith, I’ve learned to define terms very carefully. Christians and Mormons use many of the same terms: “grace”, “heaven”, “Jesus”, “God”, “salvation” and many more. But when the definitions of these terms are examined, it’s apparent that we are talking about extremely different ideas. These differences matter. They separate Mormons and Christians and demonstrate that we are not worshipping the same God.

Christian Mormon Grace

As an example, I’ve been in conversations with Mormons and have talked about the nature of grace and salvation. Maybe you’ve had similar conversations:

You: “As a Christian, I believe that we are saved by faith alone.”

Your Mormon Friend: “As a Mormon, I agree!”

You: “Huh?”

Your Mormon Friend: “Mormons know that ‘salvation’ as you put it, is a gift from God.”

You: “OK, but we believe that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and that He alone saves us.”

Your Mormon Friend: “We agree! We believe that Jesus died for us and that without His gift of salvation, none of us would be ‘saved’ as you are calling it.

You: “OK, but Christians believe that Jesus’ work ALONE saves us; we don’t believe that our own efforts can save us at all.”

Your Mormon Friend: “We feel the same way! We know that Jesus alone makes it possible for us to be reunited with Heavenly Father; we don’t believe that ‘salvation’, can be achieved with our good works.”

Wow, it sure sounds like your Mormon friend holds a Christian view of salvation through faith alone, doesn’t it? I’ve had many conversations that are very similar to this one. The Mormon doctrine of salvation is NOT the same as the Christian doctrine, but unless you take the time to ask good questions and sift through the answers, you may not see the distinctions clearly.

What Do We Mean When We Use the Term, “Heaven”?
Let me try to describe the difference between “Christian grace” and “Mormon grace” with an illustration that I’ve used hundreds of times training Christians to discuss their faith with Mormons. Before we begin, however, we need to define a foundational term: “heaven”. Christians sometimes ask their Mormon friends, “If you died today, would you be in heaven?” or “What do you have to do to go to heaven?” Unless we define the term “heaven” this approach will not help us understand the differences between the two faith systems. I never use the term “heaven” when talking to my Mormon friends and family. Instead, I focus on “the greatest gift that God can offer us after death”. For Christians, this is, in fact, heaven; the realm of god we will share for all eternity. But the Mormon heaven is divided into three levels and virtually everyone is going to get into one of these levels. Any of these heavenly “ranks” could accurately be called “heaven”. So we need to be more specific with our Mormon friends; for them, the “the greatest gift that God can offer us after death” is not just “heaven”, it’s exaltation in Celestial Kingdom. This exaltation results in deity for the Mormon believer. They become Gods just like Heavenly Father.

Is Grace A Ladder or a Lifeline?
So, the real question is, “What must you do to be exalted in Celestial Kingdom with Heavenly Father?” Now, with this question clarified, we can talk about grace and the contribution that Jesus makes to this process. So, here is the illustration that I typically use: imagine that you are a Mormon who wants “the greatest gift that God can offer after death” (heaven). How can you achieve exaltation in Celestial Kingdom? For the Mormon, Jesus makes this journey possible because he visits us here on earth and, in essence, provides us with a ladder we can climb to heaven. This ladder is a free gift. It is given as an act of “grace” according to our Mormon friends. But here is the problem: the Mormon has to climb the ladder on his or her own. This climbing is done through a lifelong series of good works. Jesus may give you the ladder, but he doesn’t climb it for you.

This is an important distinction to understand. Mormons will tell us that they cannot get to “Celestial Kingdom” without the free gift offered by Jesus. That’s true. Without the free ladder, you can’t begin to climb. Mormons will also say that Jesus alone makes it possible for them to attain the “greatest gift that God offers us after death”. That’s true. Only Jesus has the ladder. Mormons will also say that they could never ascend to Celestial Kingdom on the basis of their own good works. That’s also true; “climbing” isn’t possible unless there’s a ladder to climb. Mormons can’t get to Celestial Kingdom with their own good works alone; they need that ladder.

So, What’s the Difference Between Mormon Grace and Christian Grace?
The Christian view of grace doesn’t involve a ladder of any kind; in Christian theology, Jesus doesn’t bring us a ladder to climb. Instead, Jesus drops us a lifeline, a rope He climbs down and ties to each of us. Jesus then pulls us up on his own, in spite of our own inability. It doesn’t matter how heavy we are or where we are in our journey toward sanctification. We simply have to trust him to tie the lifeline. Mormonism is a works based religion, like many other world religions. In fact, in this one regard, Mormonism is like every other world religion. Christianity stands alone as the only religion that offers true “grace” to its adherents. Salvation is not the result of anything we do. God offers it as a free gift; not a free opportunity to work hard for our salvation, but a truly free gift that needs no additional contribution on our part. This distinction is critical and it separates Mormonism from Christianity, not as a separate denomination, but as a completely separate notion about the nature and saving work of God.


J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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70 replies
  1. Sheila Schoonover says:

    Jesus first of all is not just an example of love or pure Deity in His acceptance of Who He Is as God Alone Savior. He is just God Alone First. Once people understand ALL that is not with God which is this; He cannot be with us at all WITHOUT His time in us to help us to understand He Is God with God Jehovah & God The Holy Spirit. Once I have written this for God Jesus I will be tweeting on my tweet site for Gods Words Alone from Him to me through The Holy Spirit. So get onto; twitter.com/ministrywithgod and set the example straight with ALL that you give encouragement to about grace & the difference with mormons & Christian’s. We are with God ALMIGHTY FIRST Then we are with Him as God Creator Savior Alone Jesus. The Holy Spirit & God Jehovah are in this also. Don’t EVER FORGET God’s Heart is with many but many are not with God in His Heart. Mine is as yours but not the same. Get going to these sites NOW.

    Reply
  2. Ed Vaessen says:

    “Salvation is not the result of anything we do. God offers it as a free gift; not a free opportunity to work hard for our salvation, but a truly free gift that needs no additional contribution on our part.”

    Sounds as if every human being will go to Heaven.

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      I wish, but for whatever reason, some people (while unable to deny that they have sinned) refuse to receive free pardon, forgiveness, and eternal life with the Source of all goodness, love, mercy, grace and joy forever. The sacrifice that was made on the cross means nothing to them, and they would rather spend their eternity paying for their own sin than bend the knee to the One Who would rather die than live without them.

      Go figure.

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      • TGM says:

        Or, Mark… perhaps MY morals and values refuse to allow me to accept someone suffering hideous torture on my behalf. No, I’m afraid the price to my conscience is too great to accept this “gratuity”. What I wonder is… why some people ARE willing to accept this gift. To embrace it. To exult in it, even. That the allegedly most painful moments ever experienced are the source of glory to so many is the real sin.

        Reply
        • KDH says:

          If there is no need, then there is no warrant. Upon what are one’s morals, and thereby one’s conscience, built? If upon one’s own reasoning, then there will be no need and no warrant to accept the gift. Why accept a gift from God if one has decided to be god themselves?

          Reply
        • Mark says:

          False pride, my friend. Someone MUST PAY for your sin against God (and mine). That’s the bad news. The GOOD NEWS is that Someone has paid. Only when we appreciate the depth of our sin can we appreciate the greatness of the sacrifice and the LOVE that it took to save us. “He who is forgiven much, loves much.”

          Reply
          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:

            “False pride, my friend. Someone MUST PAY for your sin against God (and mine). That’s the bad news. The GOOD NEWS is that Someone has paid. Only when we appreciate the depth of our sin can we appreciate the greatness of the sacrifice and the LOVE that it took to save us. “He who is forgiven much, loves much.”

            I can remember the time when I could have given such blunt answers. I took it for granted then that we were sinful and Jesus saved us. I was certainly not the only one to do so. A person does not need to be thoroughly brainwashed to be so sure. Most people simply accept certainties because everyone agrees on them and no one is encouraged to investigate whether or not they are certainties at all.

            The words ‘false pride’ convey no other message than the inability to come with a sensible response and the subsequent sentences show it all too clearly. One might as well claim that stabbing a person with a knife is good because that person then will appreciate the state in which he is not stabbed. At this stage, any silly reason seems to be good enough.

            There is not much difference with that claim about trust and faith. Take one glimpse at the religious world of today and you see that people do have trust and faith. It is only their upbringing that decides in which god they believe with whole their heart. Certainly when they are brainwashed into it.
            The whole enterprise of converting people to Christianity is dumb because at best it is still offering objective proof to others, so trust and faith become meaningless.

          • Mark says:

            To anyone reading this, look at the words Ed uses in his response to my post: “blunt”, “thoroughly brainwashed “, “inability to [be] sensible “, “silly “, “dumb.”
            The Apostle Paul certainly was on to something when he wrote to the believers in Corinth:
            “For the preaching of the cross is to them that are perishing foolishness, but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18).

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:

            “To anyone reading this, look at the words Ed uses in his response to my post: “blunt”, “thoroughly brainwashed “, “inability to [be] sensible “, “silly “, “dumb.”

            It was a fitting response to your accusation of ‘False pride’ at the address of KDH, which was clearly meant to insult him.
            Perhaps you should first accept that a person with a different opinion can have that opinion for very honest reasons and is not lead by pride or whatever other flaw in his moral fabric.

          • toby says:

            Mark,

            “People will say what we say is stupid, but really, they’re stupid,” said every group ever.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            toby says:
            “Mark,
            “People will say what we say is stupid, but really, they’re stupid,” said every group ever.”

            Not to forget those groups that say “You only disagree with us because you want to follow your LUSTS and DESIRES.”

  3. TGM says:

    “Saved by faith alone” BUT “it’s a free gift”

    I’ve been told that I need faith in Jesus to be saved. So, faith is the currency one uses to purchase salvation. There is nothing free about this. This is a transaction. In fact, it’s an ongoing transaction, as faith must be repeatedly cultivated against doubt. If this gift is free, it’s the most expensive free gift I’ve ever heard of!

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      “…faith is the currency one uses to purchase salvation.”

      No. Our salvation was purchased by Christ on the cross. When we put our TRUST (faith) in Him and what He HAS DONE for us and not what we do for Him, He saves us. We are born into His family, and once born, one cannot be unborn. “Even if we (Christians) are faithless AND NO LONGER BELIEVE, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (His finished work on the cross).” 2 Tim. 2:13.

      Reply
          • toby says:

            So a person need not go to church or do anything after being saved? And I mean they genuinely enter into being saved, not as a hell dodge. So I guess the truly awful people of history could now be enjoying heaven.

          • Kyle says:

            Toby, that is a point I try to make whenever Christians trot out their eternal justice argument. They like to say that the murderer or rapist has not been brought to justice when they elude arrest or conviction, but that their god can provide that justice on account of being eternal. I’ve yet to hear a good response to the justice served should that murderer or rapist ask their god for forgiveness and repent for their sins. There was a comic I saw on the matter showing a young boy in heaven meeting the man who molested him as a child simply because the molester asked for forgiveness. Somehow the notion that the world just might not be fair can’t sit well with some people. Wrongs will go unpunished and good deeds will go unnoticed. That’s just life.

          • Mark says:

            Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” (Matt. 7:16). C.S. Lewis said, “If a man claims to have become a Christian, but goes on being just as mean, spiteful and snobbish as before, then we may safely conclude that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary.”
            It has been well said that when truly born again, “the things that were loved are now hated, and the things that were once hated are now loved.” But these things (church, Bible study, fellowship, etc.) are not done to get/stay saved, BUT BECAUSE THE BELIEVER IS SAVED ALREADY. It is a LOVE RESPONSE to Him saving and forgiving us.
            As for Kyle’s posts about justice and “what about those who have never heard” (all legitimate questions), I point you to Abraham’s question to God: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).

          • Kyle says:

            I’m sorry Mark, but that just comes off like a dodge. It amounts to “for the bible tells me so”. Ignoring biblical in/errancy the implication behind that means anyone spreading the word to those untouched are actually doing significant damage. If, as it seems like you are implying, those who have not heard the word will not be judged negatively for that because it was no fault of their own. Then those who bring the word to those who might not understand are potentially damning those to hell who would otherwise have gone to heaven.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark:
            “As for Kyle’s posts about justice and “what about those who have never heard” (all legitimate questions), I point you to Abraham’s question to God: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).”

            Well? What will happen to them? You are not very specific about it. It could be anything.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:

            “Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” (Matt. 7:16). C.S. Lewis said, “If a man claims to have become a Christian, but goes on being just as mean, spiteful and snobbish as before, then we may safely conclude that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary.”

            Well, as far as I can judge you, you are constantly dodging here. Looks as if your great Christian nature is largely imaginary. Or must we conclude that Christian nature simply is nothing but lying?

  4. Ed Vaessen says:

    I wonder exactly is meant with faith and trust.
    Does it mean that one must simply believe that the sacrifice of Christ was the most important act of love ever? In that case, proof is needed. It is not enough that one likes the story because there are many stories that one can like.

    Reply
    • TGM says:

      Meaning “trust” where the book says “faith” appears to be a linguistic dodge. If the bible really intended to mean “trust”, the English translators have had 500 years to fix the error. Frank & company need to use “truth” because “faith” is so poisonous to evidential apologetics… if you have evidence, you don’t need faith.

      …not that that answered your question. To do so is above my faith-level.

      Reply
  5. David says:

    You have to have the right cognitive works to be saved. This whole free gift, unconditional love, salvation by grace thing is bunk. Otherwise like Ed said, everyone would automatically be saved. If I have to do anything, cognitive or otherwise, free gift grace is off the table. It’s works.

    Reply
  6. Sew says:

    If someone leaves you an inheritance and you know about it but live your whole life leaving it in the bank, it never becomes yours, does it? It is yours but you haven’t actually “received ” it.
    The love and grace of God is like that inheritance. Once you receive it you become aware of how much it is truly worth and how it can change your life. All you have to do is receive and accept what has already been given to you. If Jesus has given you this precious gift, why not just receive it? It is free, but, like any gift, it becomes yours when you receive it.

    Reply
    • Ed Vaessen says:

      Suppose that Christianity is true, what happens after death with all those people that were not Christians and lived their life in an honest belief in some other religion?

      Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        Still didn’t read any answer to this question.
        Perhaps the answer “Well, bad luck for them!”, is not so very flattering for Christianity?

        Reply
    • Kyle says:

      What about those who never learn of the inheritance? Are they doomed to never know about it and never receive it? Seems an awfully harsh penalty for those aboriginal tribes that have no contact with modern civilization. Never heard of nor seen anything with respect to some Jesus character or a Bible? Sorry but you go to hell.

      Reply
    • Ed Vaessen says:

      Research has been done concerning the mental development of children. Very young children cannot yet make a good distinction between what they know and that what someone else knows.
      Very young children were made to watch a man putting an object into a box. Then he left.
      Another appeared, opened the box, took out the object and put it in another box. Then that man left.
      The first man came back again.
      When children were asked where he now would look for the object, they pointed to the box in which the object was. They knew it was there, so they expected him also to know it.

      That the man would naturally look in the box where he had put the object before he left was something that only older children realized.

      I had to think about this when reading the response of Sew as well as that of some other Christians here. They ‘know’ Christ is their Savior and cannot imagine anything than that all other people ‘know’ it too.

      Reply
    • David says:

      Ok Sew, I receive and accept it. Is that it? Can I go do whatever I want now? After all it’s a free gift, right? Nothing else I have to do, right? Whoopi, I’m saved. Let’s party!!! In your inheritance analogy all I do is go to the bank, sign on the dotted line and walk out with my money. Do I have to be a good guy after I received the “inheritance” to keep it. Do I have to have “works” in keeping with receiving the “free gift”? I don’t think so. I can go out and blow the money on drugs, alcohol, women, whatever. It’s still mine. So how is your analogy an accurate reflection of the “free gift of eternal life”? It’s really not.

      Reply
      • TGM says:

        Excellent. The only rejoinder to that I’ve ever heard is that anyone who has truly accepted ‘the gift’ could never behave the way you describe. That, to me, is confirmation that no human has ever been saved. It might have been Ray Comfort. Sounds like the sort of thing he’d say.

        Reply
        • Ed Vaessen says:

          I see that Mark cannot give us answers.
          He cannot tell if people that in all honesty never believed in Jesus (for example for not knowing) are going to be saved.

          Reply
          • Mark says:

            Well, Ed, I really don’t know about them. What I am concerned about is those who do know about Jesus. They won’t have any excuse.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:

            “Well, Ed, I really don’t know about them. What I am concerned about is those who do know about Jesus. They won’t have any excuse.”

            What exactly is ‘knowing’ Jesus? Being raised in Christian tradition I certainly know the story and honestly think it lacks any sense and credibility. Is that the ‘knowing’ you talk about?

          • Mark says:

            Ed, if you honestly think the story of Jesus lacks all sense and credibility (and that’s OK), then what are you doing frequenting a Christian website? I don’t waste my time with websites about UFOs, alien abductions, fake moon landing claims or JFK conspiracies, for precisely the same reasons. But I don’t care if others believe all that. Why exactly are you here?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Ed, if you honestly think the story of Jesus lacks all sense and credibility (and that’s OK), then what are you doing frequenting a Christian website? I don’t waste my time with websites about UFOs”

            People don’t form public policy based on UFO conspiracy theories etc. There’s little comparison with those other beliefs and Christianity when it comes to their effect on the world.

  7. Ed Vaessen says:

    Mark says:
    “Ed, if you honestly think the story of Jesus lacks all sense and credibility (and that’s OK), then what are you doing frequenting a Christian website? I don’t waste my time with websites about UFOs, alien abductions, fake moon landing claims or JFK conspiracies, for precisely the same reasons. But I don’t care if others believe all that. Why exactly are you here?”

    I don’t see you answering my simple question.
    So I will repeat it here, in case it escaped your notion:
    What exactly is ‘knowing’ Jesus? Being raised in Christian tradition I certainly know the story and honestly think it lacks any sense and credibility. Is that the ‘knowing’ you talk about?

    Reply
    • Ed Vaessen says:

      It is easy to corner a Christian that never really thought his belief through. In all the 16 years that I have visited internet fora, I never encountered a Christian (or a Muslim) that actually realized what he/she believed. Never I spoke to one that saw the horrible consequences of that belief. At best I encountered one that acknowledged that he/she had to think about it (and remained silent after that). Mostly I encountered those that hate the obligation to think for themselves and even more hate anyone hat urges him/her to do so.

      Reply
    • Mark C says:

      A couple of points and a question. First, I never said knowing Jesus, I said knowing about Jesus: His birth, life, miracles, claims to Deity, (supposed ) resurrection, etc. You say you know the story, well, good! Second point, I have already admitted that I don’t know about those who have never heard. So you see Ed, if I don’t know the answer to a question, I simply will say so.. Now my question: what are the “horrible consequences” of my faith in Christ that you seem so desperate to save me from? And is that why you frequent websites like these?

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      • Ed Vaessen says:

        Well, I indeed know about Jesus and do not buy the story. So I go to hell?

        The horrible consequence is that (if it were true), people simply go to hell for having a different opinion about God. Of course I do not believe in heaven or hell, but the fact that a religion can make people think in terms of ‘doomed’ and ‘elected’ is horrible.

        Reply
        • Mark says:

          Suppose someone is told by his physician that he has cancer and it will kill him in six months, but that with treatment he can be completely cured. His reply: “Sorry, doctor, but I have a different opinion and I’m not buying your story.” Six months later, he’s dead.
          Did he die because of his “different opinion”, or “not buying the story,” or did he die because he had cancer and refused treatment?
          We all have a cancer. It’s called sin. And the Great Physician is the only One with the cure: His own blood. If we refuse treatment, we condemn OURSELVES to a Christ less eternity, AND THAT IS HELL.

          Reply
          • Kyle says:

            But if that doctor that diagnoses you with cancer turns out to be some drunk hobo and you live past 6 months, then what? But some other person claiming to be a doctor that the other doctor says is a drunk hobo says you have a different cancer and it requires a different treatment but that the first doctor is wrong and he also has this cancer or he’ll die. And according to each side of the argument everyone has the exact cancer they believe in and there is only one treatment yet these are mutually exclusive cancers with mutually exclusive treatments and they present the exact same evidence with slight variations and wildly different interpretations and conclusions, it might give the lone person being bombarded with this stuff a moment’s pause to consider what is going on.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Also, we seem to have gone from ‘The important part is just to know about the doctor’s diagnosis, whether you believe he’s right or not’ to ‘The cancer will kill you if you don’t believe in the diagnosis, but actually it’s the cancer that will kill you, not the lack of belief’.

            “Did he die because of his “different opinion”, or “not buying the story,” or did he die because he had cancer and refused treatment?”

            But here the ‘treatment’ seems to be just “knowing”. You said:
            “First, I never said knowing Jesus, I said knowing about Jesus: His birth, life, miracles, claims to Deity, (supposed ) resurrection, etc.”

            You’ve increased the stuff needed to know, but it still just comes down to “knowing”. Now is THAT the “treatment”, or is something else required?

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:
            “Suppose someone is told by his physician that he has cancer and it will kill him in six months, but that with treatment he can be completely cured. His reply: “Sorry, doctor, but I have a different opinion and I’m not buying your story.” Six months later, he’s dead.”

            This is wrong reasoning. You are playing the physician now, but where are your credentials?
            I do not buy the story of Jesus because I have good reasons to think that the inventor of that story is unreliable. He will not get reliable by you claiming his opinion to that of an expert.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            In other words, dear Mark, the question is this: what proof do you have that the Christian story about Christ is true?

          • Mark says:

            Ed, you seem to have missed the point I was trying to make. No one goes to hell merely for having a “wrong opinion” about God, so there are no “horrible consequences” there. Rather, Christianity teaches that everyone has a completely curable cancer called sin, that will yet kill them unless they go to the only One with the cure. And the only horrible consequence, the one thing in all creation that EVEN GOD can’t fix, is that because of pride, stubbornness, unbelief or WHATEVER, many simply will not go to Him for the cure. For He is a gentleman; He will not force anyone to live with Him forever, although He loves those who ultimately say no to Him as much as He loves those who say yes.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “that will yet kill them unless they go to the only One with the cure”

            You’re dancing around what the cure is. It’s not just ‘knowing about Jesus: His birth, life, miracles, claims to Deity, (supposed ) resurrection, etc” – right?

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Mark says:

            “Ed, you seem to have missed the point I was trying to make. No one goes to hell merely for having a “wrong opinion” about God, so there are no “horrible consequences” there. Rather, Christianity teaches that everyone has a completely curable cancer called sin, that will yet kill them unless they go to the only One with the cure. And the only horrible consequence, the one thing in all creation that EVEN GOD can’t fix, is that because of pride, stubbornness, unbelief or WHATEVER, many simply will not go to Him for the cure. For He is a gentleman; He will not force anyone to live with Him forever, although He loves those who ultimately say no to Him as much as He loves those who say yes.”

            Let’s see what this means.
            According to you I have some curable cancer called sin.
            I honestly do not believe in God, so I won’t go to him.
            Therefor, according to you, I most likely won’t get cured.
            What will be the consequences for my soul after my death? Will I be worse off than a believing Christian or does it make no difference as, according to you, God simply loves us all and all to the same degree?
            Suppose after death I find out the truth and it is exactly as you think it is. Understanding how much love God actually feels for us and how great his sacrifice was, I will feel as grateful as every other soul. It is only that I realize it after my death. But what is the difference then with someone who realized it already by life? What is actually the point of realizing it by life?

  8. David says:

    Mark, you said, “He loves those who ultimately say no to Him as much as He loves those who say yes.” But he will still torture them forever for making the wrong choice. So does he stop loving them when they die? Does he then hate them forever? Seems like you would really have to hate someone to torture them forever.

    Reply
    • Ed Vaessen says:

      The question is if Mark sees hell (an eternity without Christ) as a punishment.
      Next question then is if this punishment makes sense. It would make sense, at least to some degree, if the soul in hell had willfully committed crime when it was still on earth. But then what was the crime? Is being convinced that the story about Christ is not true a crime?

      Reply
      • Mark says:

        No, Ed, the sin is every time we break the Golden Rule, in word or deed, by omission or comission. How many times today has my conscience accused me of wrongdoing? Did you know that Jesus in Matthew says that calling names puts one in danger of hellfire? Sounds like an infinitely holy God takes our sin a lot more seriously than we do.

        Reply
    • Mark says:

      David, God does not “torture” anyone in hell. He isolates them, or, more accurately, He lets them isolate themselves. C.S. Lewis said it best: “All who are in hell choose it. Without that free choice there would be no hell. The gates of hell are locked on the inside.”
      Someone reading this may say, “So what! I can handle isolation from God. I’ve been living like He doesn’t exist all my life anyway.”
      What we fail to realize is that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). Think about everything we enjoy every day by God’s free grace: friends, family, sunshine, food, books, love, health, pleasure (physical, mental, emotional and yes, sexual), etc. etc. etc.
      The list is practically endless. And in hell, none of that. By our own free choice. No friends, no family, never to hear a human voice, no health, no end of pain, FOREVER. This is about as far from God torturing us as one can get. God has ordained that in the end, people shall be governed by WHAT THEY WANT, and some people just don’t want to come to the Source of all that is good for forgiveness, be reconciled to Him, and glorify and enjoy Him forever. As I said before, go figure.

      Reply
      • David says:

        Mark, you are either ignorant of the scriptures or you are dishonest. The bible says “god will deal out” retribution and that people will suffer conscious, eternal torment in the lake of fire. If that’s not torture what is? The fact that you try to soften it is evidence that you don’t think it’s moral any more than I do. And if god created the torture he is the torturer. Any way Mark, I don’t believe any of it. I used to with everything in me. I was a conservative, evangelical for 45 years. The deeper into it I delved the more irrational it became. De-converting was an amazing, freeing experience.

        Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        Mark:
        “David, God does not “torture” anyone in hell. He isolates them, or, more accurately, He lets them isolate themselves. C.S. Lewis said it best: “All who are in hell choose it. Without that free choice there would be no hell. The gates of hell are locked on the inside.”

        I never knew that Lewis interviewed souls in hell. Since he most likely did not do that, may we know from where he got this certainty that people in hell chose to be there?

        Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        David says:
        “Mark, you are either ignorant of the scriptures or you are dishonest. The bible says “god will deal out” retribution and that people will suffer conscious, eternal torment in the lake of fire. If that’s not torture what is? The fact that you try to soften it is evidence that you don’t think it’s moral any more than I do. And if god created the torture he is the torturer. Any way Mark, I don’t believe any of it. I used to with everything in me. I was a conservative, evangelical for 45 years. The deeper into it I delved the more irrational it became. De-converting was an amazing, freeing experience.”

        Judging by Marks dodging and dancing, I fear his de-conversion will be a traumatic experience.
        I wonder, by the way, why it took you 45 years.

        Reply
        • David says:

          Ed, no idea why it took 45 years. I’m surprised it happened at all. When you are born into the home of a baptist minister, raised as a conservative, evangelical Christian, go to Christian college and stay in church all your life you are isolated from reality. I have a degree in biology for god’s sake and haven’t really accepted evolution as more than just a theory until the last few years. My biology professor at Christian college (circa 1981) shockingly taught evolution but I just thought he was a crazy liberal that administration had let slip through the cracks. Conservative Christianity dictates a very anti-intellectual approach. They like to pretend that they fairly interpret data related to their faith but nothing could be further from the truth. All confirming evidence is celebrated, all disconfirming evidence ignored. I understand why people not raised in the faith don’t get it. Every day outside the faith I find it more and more ridiculous. But when it is all you know it seems perfectly normal. It’s a form of brainwashing. And when I say brainwashing I in no way intend to demonize my parents or teachers. They didn’t know they were brainwashing me because they too were brainwashed.

          Reply
    • Mark says:

      And no, David, God doesn’t hate anyone in hell. I have three adult children that I love with all my heart. But if one of them committed murder and I was the only one who knew about it and could turn them in, then with my heart broken and in mortal agony, I would turn them in. Why? BECAUSE JUSTICE MUST BE DONE. And am I more just or loving than God? This is the dilemma: God loves us, but we have rebelled against Him and cannot live in His presence, for He cannot abide sin. The Cross is the solution. Jesus took the punishment I deserved, and gave me His righteousness in exchange, so now I will live with Him, both now and forever. That’s why it’s called Good News.

      Reply
      • David says:

        I would turn them in too but I wouldn’t torture them forever for committing murder? Because that would be disproportionate to the crime. That’s how I feel about hell. It’s disproportionate to any imaginable crime. Why doesn’t god just eradicate sin and take everyone to heaven? That would be an option. Mark, men made up the bible. It has man’s fingerprints all over it.

        Reply
        • Mark says:

          “Why doesn’t God just eradicate sin and take everyone to heaven?”
          Again, C.S.Lewis: “I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, ‘All will be saved’. But my reason retorts, ‘Without their will or with it?’ If I say, ‘Without their will,’ I at once perceive a contradiction: how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say, ‘With their will,’ my reason replies, ‘How if they WILL NOT give in?’ “

          Reply
          • Kyle says:

            And yet there is no difference from your supposed benevolent god and an evil malevolent one. Maybe he seeks to subjugate people in this afterlife you all buy into by tricking you into thinking he is doing good. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.” You could be worshiping an evil god for all you know.

          • David says:

            What’s so special about free will? If your 2 year old child was running out in traffic would you let him because you didn’t want to violate his will? If you did you would be a monster.

      • Ed Vaessen says:

        Mark says:
        “And no, David, God doesn’t hate anyone in hell. I have three adult children that I love with all my heart. But if one of them committed murder and I was the only one who knew about it and could turn them in, then with my heart broken and in mortal agony, I would turn them in. Why? BECAUSE JUSTICE MUST BE DONE. And am I more just or loving than God? This is the dilemma: God loves us, but we have rebelled against Him and cannot live in His presence, for He cannot abide sin. The Cross is the solution. Jesus took the punishment I deserved, and gave me His righteousness in exchange, so now I will live with Him, both now and forever. That’s why it’s called Good News.”

        Well, this is perfect news, isn’t it? God sees we are sinners and forgives us. Also the Hindu, who of course cannot not possibly believe in the God of Abraham because of his upbringing. Personal quality or virtue will not change that. The Hindu dies believing in the Hindu gods.
        God also forgives the Christian, who does believe in Him but only does that because of his upbringing and not due to some personal quality or virtue.
        God forgives all people, knowing that they could not possibly believe anything else than what they believed.

        Reply

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