Trusting Christ’s Atonement

I recently observed an Evangelical Calvinist (ignore that contradiction in terms for the moment) state that Latter-day Saints were incapable of works that “come from a heart freely and fully forgiven for all sins” which, the claim was made, were the only works God wants.

The reason for this was as follows:

Because no Mormon I know will admit that he has been “freely and fully forgiven for all sins”, nor does Mormon theology allow for such a person without moral perfection as a prerequisite.

Regarding the definition of faith: Faith is trusting in the person, work, and promises of Christ. It comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2,5).

The response to this is easy. Stated succinctly, every person baptized as a Latter-day Saint believes this.

Latter-day Saints believe that only the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and not any work any individual does, cleanses them from sin. The difference between Latter-day Saints and creedal Christians on this point is that, correctly understanding the Bible, Latter-day Saints believe that a person must choose to accept the cleansing power of the Atonement. The only way to accept the cleansing power of the Atonement, as clearly taught by Jesus and the New Testament Apostles, is through accepting Christ and being baptized for the remission of sins. Once that has been done, the baptized person can trust that he or she is “freely and fully forgiven for all sins”. The difference on this point is that Latter-day Saints believe that, despite being freely and fully forgiven for all sins that have been committed up until the day of baptism, Latter-day Saints, once again correctly understanding the Bible, believe that no one is perfect after baptism and people continue to sin. Christ’s Atonement also covers all sin after baptism as the individual goes through the repentance process, i.e. expresses to God that he or she is aware of their imperfection and is sorry to have fallen short of full compliance with God’s commands and commits to do better. Repentance for sin is entirely Biblical, and no proof-texted verse from Paul can change the fact that God expects the humility required for repentance of His followers.

The term creedal Christian is used here to distinguish between people who define themselves as Christians because they hold to one or more Trinitarian creeds and Latter-day Saints who consider themselves Christians because they believe in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

7 Responses to Trusting Christ’s Atonement

  1. Jordan F. says:

    Thanks for posting this. I once told an evangelical missionary who tracted at my door something similar. He was amazed to hear it.

  2. Eric Nielson says:

    Is it also accurate to say that creedal Christians tend to believe in an atonement that is a single event that either has occurred or has not, and that Mormons tend to view the atonement as a continuing process. Didn’t Elder Faust speak to this at the last conference (or was it the conference before?)

  3. Todd Wood says:

    I don’t know if the people in my church family know the creeds.

    Is this a creed for the Bible?

    1. Jesus is God
    2. Jesus is distinct from the Father
    3. There is one God

    Or is one of these propositions just a Bible error?

  4. john f. says:

    Todd, are you saying that you and your congregation do not hold to either the Nicene Creed or one of its trinitarian progeny? If that is true, then I believe that you and your congregation are likely to face the same denigration as being not Christians that Latter-day Saints face. At least, until now, that is the reason that creedal Christians typically give when decrying the Church as un-Christian — because Latter-day Saints do not recite or hold to trinitarian creeds but have a distinct and entirely Biblical understanding of the Godhead, which is also a Trinity, slightly differently understood.

  5. Todd Wood says:

    Perhaps maybe two within our whole church assembly know anything about the first seven ecumenical councils held in Turkey. I took a trip to Turkey this early spring to receive a refresher course myself. (g)

    I think any of my church family would believe phrases of the Nicene Creed if they recognized Scripture association.

    John, sometime you ought to post the Nicene Creed and mention what you think is unbiblical. I would be interested.

  6. john f. says:

    Todd, are you saying that you believe Latter-day Saints are Christians after all, despite the fact that they do not interpret the New Testament through the creeds?

  7. Adam Greenwood says:

    Your formulation seems modalist, Todd W.

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