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100: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Pt. 1 (Things Mormons Hate Series)

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November 21, 2021 12:30 pm

100: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Pt. 1 (Things Mormons Hate Series)

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November 21, 2021 12:30 pm

This is our 100th episode, and we have a special treat for you, fireflies! This episode, we kick off our short, “Things Mormons Hate” series. Matthew the Nuclear Calvinist and the Apostate Paul discuss Jonathan Edwards’ important sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” There are two parts to our discussion. In this first part, we talk about our understanding of God’s wrath when we were LDS, passages in LDS canon that reference the wrath of God, how we understand the wrath of God juxtaposed with the love of God, the danger of a theology that focuses solely on the love of God, people in church history who have attempted to create theologies that separate the love of God from the justice of God, and whether or not there are people today who seek to do the same. We hope you enjoy this conversation.

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You're entering outer brightness. Hey, fireflies. Welcome back to this episode of outer brightness. I'm the apostate Paul and I'm here with my cohost, Matthew, the nuclear Calvinist.

Thanks, Matthew. And today we're going to start a short series that we're calling Things Mormons Hate and we think it'll be a fun series of episodes. So what we're going to dive into today is kind of like this concept of the wrath of God. As we discussed with Latter-day Saints online, a lot of times the idea that God would be angry at his children is something that Latter-day Saints kind of recoil from. I think that kind of comes a little bit naturally from some of their teachings, but it's something I've noticed.

So we're going to dive in and talk about that today. We'll be sharing a reading of Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which is a sermon that I've often seen Latter-day Saints also recoil from. They don't like the implication of an angry God. So Matthew and I are going to have a quick conversation and then we'll share that sermon with you. So Jonathan Edwards was a Congregationalist minister, and this sermon was kind of like the spark that lit the first great awakening in the United States between 1730 and 1750. So when he gave this sermon, I believe it was in 1743, it really kind of lit New England afire for the gospel. And it's a sermon that, as Matthew noted, is quite well regarded among Reformed Christians. Correct, Matthew?

Right. So Jonathan Edwards gave this sermon. Now, my first introduction to the sermon was in a college textbook. It's basically the American literary tradition. And so there are sermons in there from Cotton Mather and also this one from Jonathan Edwards.

And I remember reading it and reading kind of like the scholarly literary approach to what Edwards puts forth in this sermon. But then I've also mentioned in previous episodes that I used to deliver pizzas when Angela and I were first married and we were struggling for funds to raise our children. I used to work two jobs. I drove pizza. And so I would be driving around my little white Ford Escort station wagon, slinging pizza to people. And that gave me a lot of time in the car to listen to radio. And often I would listen to Christian radio. And one of the nights that I was delivering pizza, the local Christian radio station was doing a reading of Jonathan Edwards' sermon. And I remember having had a conversation with another Latter-day Saint online about how much he disliked the taste that this sermon left in his mouth when he read it as part of a college course because didn't like the idea of God being angry.

So we're going to talk about that tonight. But I remember that night driving pizza that it had a kind of a profound impact on me listening to the sermon and as it did Jonathan Edwards' listeners when he first gave the sermon. It was reported that as he was preaching the sermon that many in the congregation were crying out, what must I do to be saved?

So it definitely had an impact in reaching people for the gospel and in turning hearts towards Christ. So Matthew, let's talk about, let's just have a conversation though about this idea of an angry God. When you were an LDS still, did you think of God as angry? And I thought of him as angry in a sense. We see, and we'll talk about, I think probably specific passages in the LDS canon about God pouring out his wrath either on sinners or on Christ. And so, yeah, there was some at some level where I saw he was angry in a sense, but the LDS focused much more on how God loves everybody equally, how everybody is his child.

And so how could he, you know, he only punishes his children because it's beneficial for them. And so that's kind of how I viewed it. So I didn't think of him as like an angry, wrathful God and more so like a father that's a very strict, very strict father who sometimes maybe punishes someone very, very harshly, but it's only because he's trying to help them. That's kind of how I saw it. And do you think that's, do you think that's similar to how Christians view God's wrath or is it different?

Do you think? Well, similar in the sense that God does punish, you know, people for their sins, if they are outside of Christ, but, but he's not the father. And since in the sense of being our literal father for everybody in humankind, so we can't really tell somebody like God, you know, God is your, is your father in the sense of being your literal father, either through spirit, you know, creating your spirit or, you know, because you're a child of God can't really say that we can say he's a creator and he's the father in the sense of that created all things, but that's it. And so when he punishes sin when he punishes sinners, it's not because it's as a, you know, as a very strict parent, but it's because he's the creator who's endowed us with capacities, moral capacities and responsibilities. And when we sin against God, that merits just, you know, the just punishment of his wrath. And there is in the book of Mormon that does talk about like, you know God's justice cannot, you know, God's mercy cannot rob his justice.

And so I would agree with that part. It's just that LDS don't really believe that people will actually be punished eternally, you know, everlastingly for their, their sins. They talk about how people go to spirit prison and then those who are refused to accept the gospel will be released and go to the Telestial kingdom. But that's, you know, after their thousand year term, their prison sentence or whatever is up after the millennium, they'll get out. But there's, there's nothing like that in the Bible that says that. So there's, you know, it's a, it's a lake of fire and brimstone where the flame quench is not according to the Bible.

So there's really no indication in the Bible that their, their suffering will ever end. So there are similarities, but it is quite a bit different. Yeah.

Good. All good points. One of the things you noted about the difference between how Latter-day Saints view God as father and how Christians view themselves as being adopted into God's family through Christ. Do you think that that difference in how we view God in that Latter-day Saints say, you know, all humans are literally God's spirit children. Do you think that plays a part in their aversion to this idea of the wrath of God? Yeah, I think that does play a part because, uh, we, I mean, we believe that God is not going to cast out his adopted children into hell. Um, so, I mean, it kind of makes sense on that level to where, well, if he's our father, then how could he really push us that, you know, to that extreme. But, uh, but yeah, it's, it's, I just don't know how you get around the entire witness of scripture, even the book of Mormon and doctrine and covenants where, um, God just promises that he, he's just going to pour his wrath upon people who don't recognize him or don't keep his commandments.

And that would be, but it's only a temporary, it's only a temporary wrath, I guess, at the most. So it's, there's, there's just a lot of difficult things to reconcile for LDS theology as to, you know, the entire of the biblical witness as to God's wrath. It just seems like they focus on the portions where God says that he loves them and kind of ignore the rest, to be honest.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Um, I was, I was kind of surprised, uh, in preparing for our conversation tonight that, you know, I looked up, uh, the number of instances, instances of the phrase wrath of God that are found in the LDS canon. And so that's inclusive of, uh, the Bible, the book of Mormon, the doctrine and covenants and the Pearl of great price. Um, interestingly enough, uh, the new Testament uses that, that phrase wrath of God, uh, at least in the King James version as used by the Latter-day saints, uh, seven times, whereas the book of Mormon uses the phrase, wrath of God, 10 times, uh, the doctrine and covenants seven times, and the Pearl of great price one time. So, you know, as you were saying, the whole, the whole of LDS canon, um, talks pretty, pretty plainly about, uh, the wrath of God and that God is wrathful towards sinners. Um, and you know, one of the, one of the places where it, uh, it uses this phrase kind of in proximity to a really popular LDS passage of scripture is, is Mosiah three 19, um, which you, as a seminary student in, in the LDS faith, you, you memorize that at least you did when I was younger.

I don't know if they still do, but you memorize that as a scripture mastery passage. Um, and it says, you know, for the natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the time of Adam and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy spirit and become at the Saint. Um, and so, you know, there's this idea that when you're even within the book of Mormon, that when you're outside of Christ, you are an enemy to God and you will be forever. Um, but then if you kind of like fast forward to, um, doctrine coming to 76 and you think about what's taught there about, uh, the, uh, eternal fate of, of all of humanity, um, the, the, the number of those who will be experiencing God's wrath, uh, with Satan and his demons, um, according to LDS views of the afterlife is very small. Um, the sons of prediction are said to be very small, a very small group of, of individuals. Whereas the vast majority of, of humanity will be saved to some level of heaven.

Um, which, which doesn't really make sense, right? Because if you think about who, who is said to be in the telestial kingdom, which is the lowest tier of the LDS three tiered view of heaven, um, it's murderers, it's liars, right? It's, it's the, it's the people, um, whom the Bible says will be cast into hell. And yet Joseph Smith said that the telestial kingdom, if we, if we could experience it as so much better than this life, that we would kill ourselves to, to go there. Right. And so Latter-day Saint view, the view of heaven and Latter-day Saint theology is that, um, even, you know, the, the murderers and, and those who would be considered outside of Christ, those who would be considered enemies to God are going to be, uh, in a place that is, uh, better and more enjoyable than this life. And so it's an interesting thing that, that happens within LDS theology, uh, between the writing of the book of Mormon and then, then later on, right, Matthew.

Yeah. And going back to what you said about them seeing God as the father of everybody. I think they don't want to deal with the idea that there is an eternal torment. And so to kind of solve that issue, they say, well, it's not eternal. You know, Joseph Smith redefined it to say God's punishment is eternal punishment. God's or eternal life is God's life and eternal punishment is God's punishment. So they redefined it to mean that it doesn't mean it's without end. It just means that it comes from God. And so I think they don't, I mean, like I understand, you know, Christians struggle with the idea of like, okay, my friends and family that don't accept Christ, if they die in their state of sin, they're going to be punished eternally in hell for their sins. Like it's just kind of a mind blowing concept, but, uh, I don't think the solution to getting around that is to say, well, let's redefine the terms and say, well, God's given us new revelation. That's not actually how it is.

The Bible says it that way, but that's not how actually it's going to be. Um, so I just don't think that's the way to get around it, but that seems, that seems kind of like what LDS theology does. Yeah.

Yeah, for sure. Um, so when you were LDS, what, what did you think about those passages in LDS Canon that, that spoke to the wrath of God? How did you, how did you understand that? It's kind of hard to, I'm trying to dig back into my memory, but it seemed kind of like, you know, when your parents are really upset at you, when you do something really bad, or if you don't do your homework, you know, they kind of, they kind of give these really strong threats. Like, Oh, if you don't do that, I'm going to beat you senseless kind of a thing, you know, even though they know in their minds, they have no intention of actually doing that.

It's kind of just like something to like shock you and get you into a state of like, Oh, you know, I don't, if I don't do this, I'm in deep trouble. That's why I think that's kind of how I understood it. When God threatened his wrath against people, um, who wouldn't be an eternal wrath, even though if it said it was eternal, it would just feel like such a really long time that, you know, that essentially would be eternal, you know, every moment in that suffering would be very painful.

Um, so even though it doesn't last forever, it, it was still feel like it. Um, and also, like I said, it was more to just kind of like scare you into, you know, OBE obeying God and repenting and that kind of thing rather than being an actual threat. At least that's, maybe that's kind of how I saw it because yeah, the, when you read the book of Mormon straight through, it does warn you that like, you know, if you die, you know, in your sin, you know, you'll be thrust down to hell and all these, there's statements like that all throughout. And it's like, well, you know, if you, if you really take that literally, that kind of juts up against doctrine, covenant 76, which, um, I mean, technically, yes, they, they call hell spirit, spirit prison, but in the book of Mormon, there's no indication that that hell is temporary. So it does seem kind of like they conflict a little bit. So yeah. Yeah, definitely. There, um, there's the passage in the book of Mormon that, um, Oh, what, which passage is it?

It's in Alma. And, um, the gist of it is that, you know, now is, now is the time for men to prepare to meet God, right. As the idea that this life, um, because once you're out of this life, uh, the same spirit, which possesses you now will possess you then those, those, those ideas that are, that are within Mormonism, uh, within the book of Mormon. Um, it, it, those really kind of buck up against the later teachings that, that there's this second chance after someone dies. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

So yeah, those are, those are my main thoughts, but, but, uh, and yeah, it's like, I'll just give an example of like, why I kind of had that view is one of my companions on my mission. He was on the older end of the spectrum. Like, I think he was like right before the cutoff.

I think the cutoff was like 26 or something like that. And so he put in his papers, like pretty soon before he had that cutoff, he grew up LDS and like, you know, he wasn't really, he wasn't really interested in being in the church, but I think he described his experience of reading the book of Mormon and just feeling like shocked and stunned, you know, like all the sins that he had committed and, you know, the book of Mormon kind of woke him up to that. And so that's kind of what it made him become active in the church.

So that's kind of, you know, just an example, a practical example of kind of what I was trying to explain. So, yeah, like, um, so the, the idea that the book of Mormon, uh, could, uh, for some people, uh, awaken them to an understanding of, of their guilt before God. Right. Yeah. Even though, even though maybe not necessarily how it was like an eternal place, it's still, yeah.

Serves us to kind of awaken them to their, the gravity of their sins. How about you? How did you, uh, how did you think of those passages in the book of Mormon? Um, similar to you?

Yeah. So I grew up with a view of God, uh, as, as angry and, um, you know, I, I think I picked some of that up from popular culture, right. Cartoons that, that kind of portray God as, you know, casting lightning bolts at somebody when they do something wrong, that kind of thing. I think I picked some of that up from popular culture, uh, if I'm to be honest, but, uh, but also from my Mormon upbringing, I mean, um, you know, my mom would say things like, you know, uh, God is always watching. So you, you know, he sees everything, there's nothing you can hide from him. Um, which are very biblical, uh, teachings, right.

Uh, God knows everything and, and, uh, we can't hide anything from him. Um, but, but because of kind of Mormonism's unique, uh, teachings about, uh, repentance that are a bit different from biblical teachings about repentance, um, I kind of grew up with this feeling that, um, I constantly had to keep myself, uh, out of the wrath of God and daily I was moving between, uh, the state of, uh, in wrath, in the wrath of God and the state of safe from the wrath of God, depending on, uh, how I did that day. And, um, you know, it kind of felt like there was no, you know, what, what hope did I have if it would, if it totally relied on me to make sure that I'm doing the best that I can, I'm living the best that I can and, uh, and constantly asking for forgiveness where I, where I failed, um, I didn't feel like there was any hope. Um, so yeah, the wrath of God was something that I felt was upon me, uh, at all times, which, um, is different than, uh, you know, the teaching of the Bible that when you are in Christ, there is no more condemnation, uh, for you. Uh, but if you're not in Christ, the wrath of God is still upon you.

Right. Um, but there, there is this state in which you're in Christ and, um, you know, my, my upbringing upbringing and Mormonism didn't give me a sense that, um, I was in Christ as a Latter-day Saint. Uh, it was, that was something I was always striving to try to be, try to be in Christ. And, um, yeah, so that's, I guess that's how I saw things.

Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I think we've shared our stories and we kind of have the same, similar situation where it's like, sometimes you'd have good moments and bad moments, and you're always kind of like trying to get on God's good side. And it's, there's such a focus on keeping the commandments and the LDS church, which isn't a bad thing if kept in the right context. But that's the problem is the LDS church doesn't have this concept of justification, which I think we'll talk about. And I just want to bring up one of the verses that is problematic, at least that I, that, you know, hung over my head as a LDS is, uh, Dr. And covenants 59 verse 21, where it says, and in nothing death, man, offend God or against none is his wrath, kindled save those who confess not his hand in all things and obey not his commandments. And so, you know, it's, it's like, okay, if you're not obeying his commandments, God's wrath is on you basically. And it doesn't say trying really hard to keep his commandments and failing. It says you either obey or you don't either obey and confess that God is, you know, less, you know, doing all things or you're under his wrath.

Like there's no second direction. And so if you really take that literally and like how the text really sounds, it does sound like basically everybody's under God's wrath, even Latter-day Saints, it doesn't matter how quote unquote righteous you are. You're still under his wrath. Yeah. And kind of to speak to that a little bit, um, if you're, you know, you see sometimes, uh, man on the street type interviews with Latter-day Saints where, uh, someone like Jeff Durbin will ask, ask them, you know, are you, are you doing everything that you're supposed to be doing? Right. Um, or even like the, the, um, the Lutheran satire, uh, the, the, what is it? The, uh, Connell, what are they, what are those, those little cartoons?

What are their names? Yeah. I forget, I forget the two guys names, the two Lutheran monks. Yeah. And they talked to, uh, they talked to two Latter-day Saint missionaries and they asked them, you know, what, what's better, uh, to pray or to go to a movie, you know, and they answered to pray and, you know, what's better, you know, give them different scenarios. And it's like, it kind of keys up the point that, um, no matter how good you think you're doing, there's always something that you could be doing better to serve God.

Right. And so as a Latter-day Saint, that's, that's kind of the way you feel. There's, there's always something that you could have done better, uh, in, in your attempts at serving God. And, and so if you're, if you're trusting in your efforts to please God and, and, uh, serve him and, uh, uh, and to, uh, abate his wrath by, uh, serving him, then you're, you're always going to be left feeling that you just didn't measure up.

Um, cause like I said, there's, there's always something you could have done better. So, um, but, you know, the other thing is that within Latter-day Saint theology, there's, there's no concept of, and Latter-day Saints, you know, have even, uh, told, I think both you and I and, and, and others on online, you know, that the idea of imputation of Christ's righteousness to our account is heresy. They, they, it's not something that's part of their theology.

And, um, I was listening to a podcast episode recently, and I apologize to whoever it was I was listening to. I can't, I've listened to so many recently, but, um, they made the point that if you are not willing to accept the imputation of the first Adam, then you can't expect to receive the imputation of the second Adam, which I think is really interesting, a really, really interesting way to point out that, you know, um, all have sinned, right. Um, and Latter-day Saints don't accept that idea that all have, uh, all have sinned, uh, that they would say, you know, that, that infants are, are innocent and, you know, that they were, were, um, not going to be held accountable for Adam's transgression, but for our own sins. Um, but all have sinned and all are in Adam, right.

You're, you're either in the first Adam or you're in the second Adam Christ. Right. And so this idea of imputation isn't part of their theology. Um, but that's what gives the hope, right. Of, of an escape from the wrath of God. Yeah.

Amen. It's, uh, this, I, I kind of imagine it as like the, the imagery that Dr. White uses a lot of times in terms of imputation is like wearing a cloak, you know, similar to the prodigal son, you know, the, the prodigal son came back and the father gave him a cloak, you know, he gave him a coat to put on and it's kind of like that. Jesus gives us his cloak of perfect righteousness, but it seemed like as an LDS, you're constantly trying to patch up your own cloak, you know, like you're basically like given all the tools.

So given all the materials, all the fabrics, all the instruments, the sewing machines and needles of thread. And it's up to you to like thread that thing together and like, Jesus will help you and he'll encourage you and give you tips on how to do it. But ultimately it's up to you to put that cloak together, um, rather than just be given it completely by him. And so, yeah, it always just felt like it was, my cloak was never complete, like my righteousness was just never good enough.

And yeah, your honor. And, and it reminds me, discussion reminds me a lot of Martin Luther's experience somewhere Luther King, Martin Luther, uh, because he was a Catholic priest and he just felt like terrified the first time he went to, you know, to perform a mass, uh, cause he just felt he didn't feel holy enough. He didn't feel worthy enough to, you know, bless the Eucharist to bless the Lord's supper. And he would spend hours and hours in confessions, constantly confessing his sins.

And he felt like he'd been, he didn't confess enough. And it wasn't until he was reading the scriptures that he understood that, you know, that this there's this imputation of Christ's righteousness through faith alone and not by your works or any combination of your works in faith. And so it was only then where he kind of understood the gospel and he said, that's the, that's the core of the gospel. And if you don't understand this concept of imputation or, or, you know, of being gifted with Christ's righteousness and you really don't have the good news, or maybe you have a watered down version of the good news. And so it's, it's just so key that we're, you know, we want our LDS friends to understand this because we feel like they're, you know, as LDS ourselves, we were just constantly burdened by our sins and trying to work and trying to keep our keeps the commandments and do our, you know, do our, uh, what are they called? Keeping our, uh, keeping our covenants and, uh, magnifying our calling. That's the phrase I was looking for.

And, uh, but it's, you just never feel good enough and it's because you're not good enough. And that's the point. That's why Jesus alone is, is the answer.

Yep. Amen. You were listening to outer brightness, a podcast for post Mormons who are drawn by God to walk with Jesus rather than turn away outer brightness, outer brightness, outer brightness.

There's no weeping and wailing and mashing of teeth here. We were all born and raised in the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints headquartered in salt Lake city, Utah, more commonly referred to as the Mormon faith. All of us have left that religion and have been drawn to faith in Jesus Christ based on biblical teachings. The name of our podcast, outer brightness reflects John one nine, which calls Jesus the true light, which gives light to everyone. We have found life beyond Mormonism to be brighter than we were told it would be. And the light we have is not our own.

It comes to us from without, thus outer brightness. Our purpose is to share our journeys of faith and what God has done in drawing us to his son. We have conversations about all aspects of that transition, the fears, challenges, joys, and everything in between.

We're glad you found us and we hope you'll stick around. Yeah. And I remembered, uh, which podcast I was listening to, uh, when I heard that, that statement, it was, uh, the cultish podcast, which is kind of like a, a spinoff of, uh, the, um, what's Jeff.

Apologia studios. Yeah. So, um, they were talking with, uh, uh, Christian who had been born and raised in the church of Christ, which is, uh, another branch of the American restoration movement, um, to which I belong, but, um, that it's kind of like the more, uh, more conservative, more, um, kind of fundamentalist, uh, branch of, of the American restorationist movement. So, um, you know, they, they were talking to him and I don't remember which one of them made the statement, but it was a really, a really, uh, cool way to put it, you know, that if you're not, uh, if you're not, if you, if you don't accept the, uh, imputation of the first Adam, you can't expect to, to receive the imputation of the second Adam. Um, and so that was, that was an interesting way to, to kind of juxtapose those two and, and, and have it come clear, uh, right. That, that we're all under, uh, the imputation of, of original sin, uh, and therefore, uh, the only hope we have of, of righteousness and attaining, uh, good standing with God is by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us.

Um, okay. So as a, as a Christian now, how do you, how do you understand the, the, this concept of the wrath of God juxtaposed with the love of God? So I was looking for a passage in camera fizz Ephesians. Um, but, uh, yeah, when, yeah, I think it's just Ephesians two. So when Paul is talking about, uh, talking to fellow believers in Ephesus, he goes and he starts off by talking about all the blessings that are in Christ in chapter one, all the spiritual blessings in heaven.

And, you know, they're all, they're all given to us in Christ. And, um, and then he contrasts that with chapter two, where he was basically talking about their previous life before they were saved. And so he says, and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. And we're by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. So, yeah, going back to what you said earlier, LDS only really think of the really, really sinful people as kind of like sons of wrath or sons of disobedience, you know, most of the time, it seems like because sin is a necessity to progressing to become my God that it's like, well, sin on its own is not that bad. It's, you know, especially the Adam sin, you know, it's like, well, he was, he didn't know what he was doing. So it was only a transgression.

There was no, you know, it was, it was part of the plan. And so he did it because he knew he had to, and there's no, there's, there's kind of a watering down at some level of what sin actually is and like how even the smallest of sins is can bring God's wrath upon us. And so just reading the Bible that way and understanding that everybody who's outside of Christ is under God's wrath to one level or another, it's just a, it's a lot different because the gospel, the gospel is that, you know, we're children of wrath, but God's made a way to save us, you know, to rescue us from that. Whereas like in the LDS church, it's kind of like, it's kind of like God already loves you as you are right now. And he just wants to make you a better you sort of thing. That's kind of the goal of the LDS gospel.

It's not like trying to rescue you from this, from the flames of hell or from this, you know, this threat that just weighs over you. It's just like, well, you know, you make some boo-boos here and there, and we're going to show you how Jesus is going to help you become a better person. And they often focus on how the church makes you a better father and a better husband. And, and, you know, it'll help you with your career and like, maybe that's true with the gospel, but that's not the point of the gospel. That's just kind of like a side benefit, you know, but they kind of make that more of a primary focus of the gospel. So that's, that's kind of how in a not so brief explanation of how I would kind of see it now versus before. So how about you? Yeah. I it was one of the things that I really had to key in on and focus on as I was studying through my theological courses at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, because it's something I really wanted to understand.

Okay. How, how should we understand that God is love but God is also just, right. And you know, as I think I've mentioned before, as I came out of the LDS church, I kind of took a detour through the more progressive type of Mormonism. And I think that it was important to my journey, but it was, you know, it led me into all kinds of paths that, that were to my mind now dangerous theologically, right. Because it, it's kind of the brand of Mormonism that says okay, maybe, maybe traditional Mormonism places too high an emphasis on an angry God, right, towards sin and, and, and those who allow sin to beset them. And it, and therefore it, you know, results in Latter-day Saints feeling the way that you and I have discussed, right.

And, but progressive Mormonism instead of kind of marrying the, the two concepts of God as love and God as just within a theological worldview, rather it, it, it goes the other direction and says, God is just love, right. And, and, and more like you were saying, he just wants to make a better version of you. So don't freak out about your sin so much. It's not that big a deal to God. He's, he's just going to make out all things right anyway.

So just, you know, just keep trying as hard as you can. So as I, as I was studying through my theology courses though, my, my professor, Dr. Jack Cottrell, had a really interesting way of, of kind of describing how the, how the concept of God's love and God's justice fit together. And he points out that it had been in, in, in the Bible, God is described as love. God is love. And also that God is described as just, he is just, and that those attributes are not something that he has attained, right.

Through some long process of, of self-fulfillment, but they are, they are attributes of his very nature, right. And so it's similar to the idea presented in the Book of Mormon, that God's justice cannot rob God's mercy, but the whole idea is that yes, God loves his creatures, right. He loves his creatures, right.

He loves, when he created, he said, you know, it's, it's very good, right, when he created humans. And so he loves his creatures, but he is just, and so he cannot, because of his nature as a just being, he cannot look lightly upon sin. Sin must be punished. And so when, when God's justness, when, when his, the fact that he is just confronts human sin, it results in wrath, right. God is angry towards sin. But when God's love confronts human sin, it results in mercy.

And so how does God give mercy to us as humans without going against his very nature as a just being to punish sin? And that, that's where Christ and the atonement comes into play. But the interesting thing to note here, if I don't lose my train of thought, is that, and I did lose my train of thought, I'll have to come back to it. Where was I going with that?

I don't have it. We'll go on to the next question. I'll see if I come back to it.

Let's see. So what is the danger of a theology that focuses, focuses exclusively on the love of God and doesn't warn sinners of the wrath of God? Well, I think there might be kind of a tendency, especially for, you know, former LDS to, you know, focus so much on, well, I guess it depends on how you experience Mormonism, because if you experience Mormonism as like, kind of like a social club that really doesn't have any threat of punishment for your sins, then you might have a reaction to say, well, we really need to focus on the justice of God.

That's what matters. Or if you found like in Mormonism, where you were constantly under judgment, just never good enough, you might have a tendency to want to go far away from that direction towards the love of God and just, you know, avoid the idea of punishment for sins altogether. And so that's kind of a weird thing is, you know, people in Mormonism have very different experiences, you know, between men, between women, between generations, where they grew up, you know, so I guess it just depends. But in general, the problem of just focusing on God's love is that it's an incomplete picture. When we look at the, like you said, starting from the very beginning, the punishment for Adam's sin, you know, God threatened, he says, if you sin, then you know, the punishment for sin is death. But we don't see we don't see them immediately being sentenced to death. But we do see them starting the process of mortality and, you know, gradually, eventually they would die. But God did not immediately end their lives there.

So God did show mercy there. But there is still that threat of death, you know, for sin. And so that's why, you know, we do, we are mortal, because, because of the fall, that's one of the consequences. And in LDS theology, they call that the first physical death, I think, is the fall, where they, you know, they went from an un-mortal state, I think is what I've heard, because they weren't immortal in the sense of living forever, but they were not yet mortal. So they went from an un-mortal state to a mortal state, which is what we're at now.

And I would agree with that. But, and then now we're in a state where we eventually will die. And that's a consequence of the fall. But not only that, but there's also the states of spiritual death, you know, like being separated from God's presence is a kind of spiritual death. And for those who are cut off from God's presence, eternally, that's, that's, you know, the second death, I guess, is, is what the Bible calls it, but LDS is called specifically the second spiritual death. And so there's always this looming threat of death for, for just, you know, for our sins. And if we just kind of like completely swipe that under the table, and just focus entirely on how God is a creator and a father, and how he loves us, he wants to help us, then it just, it, I think it cheapens the gospel a little bit, you know, it undermines what Jesus actually had to come and do, because I think it's in Galatians where it says, you know, it quotes the Old Testament where it says, you know, cursed is he who dies on a tree. And so it's a reference to Jesus, how he had to die on the cross for sinners on behalf of sinners. And so Jesus's death was a demonstration of God's mercy, yes, showing his love for all for mankind. But it was also a demonstration of God pouring out his wrath upon his son.

And so I think we have to recognize both attributes of God were on display there fully. I do know people personally that find that very distasteful, this idea that God poured out his wrath on his son. And so they completely reject any kind of notion of penal substitution or penalty given to Jesus. But I just don't know how you can reconcile so many biblical passages like John 17, where Jesus is pleading for the father to remove the cup of wrath that he had given him to drink. But nonetheless, Jesus was submitting to the to the will of the Father. And so that that cup that he was drinking is God's wrath. And he knew that's why he was praying and pleading and, and, you know, sweating bloody sweat in the garden is not to suffer for sins in the garden, but because he knew what he was going to go through, you know, on the cross, he was going to descend into the depths of misery and hell and death, you know, for God's people. So it just, I think you need a you need to understand both sides, or else you don't really understand who God is.

And you don't really understand what the gospel is. Yeah, yeah, really great stuff. Thank you for that.

You brought me back to where I was going with your comments. Particularly when you pointed out that, you know, both of God's attributes love and justice are at play at the cross, right? And that the wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus. And that's what it means when, when the Bible says he, he was a propitiation for our sins, right? He, his death fulfilled the justice of God against sin, right? And Latter-day Saint theology, because it places an emphasis on, in the way that this often plays out in conversations with Latter-day Saints, is they'll ask the question, you don't think that it's important as a Christian to obey God, to follow the commandments?

And of course, that's not true. Christians do believe that Christ is Lord and we follow him and we submit to his will and his commandments, right? But what, what Latter-day Saint theology does is it places your level of righteousness as what will determine whether or not you are saved and exalted. Jesus, his, his life and death, his life is an example to you as a Latter-day Saint. That, you know, that, that they'll say he's the great exemplar, meaning that, that they should follow him and be perfect as he is perfect, perfect as he is perfect, right? That's the goal.

But that's a goal that they can't live up to. But they'll often balk at Christians if we say that we believe that Christ's death on the cross, when an individual becomes a saved individual by placing trust and faith in Jesus Christ and receives that imputation of Christ's righteousness, that there is now therefore no condemnation for that individual. They're in Christ and their past, present and future sins will be forgiven by the father because that person is in Christ. The Latter-day Saint doesn't have that hope.

They will often point out that they believe that when they're baptized, their past sins are forgiven, but then it is up to them to live a new life. And so without this idea of Christ being a propitiation for the wrath of God, you are as a Latter-day Saint left always feeling like you're not measuring up, you're not doing enough. So yeah, that's, that's kind of where I was going. What's interesting is that you have to have that idea of propitiation when you're talking about the two attributes of God, love and justice.

And thank you for sharing that. And it reminds me of Michael's article, which, or I think he was writing or in the process of writing, I forget, we've had discussions about it where where the gospel, according to Mormonism is kind of like, it's not really paying off the debts. It's just like applying for a much longer loan.

You know, he extended it. It's like, okay, instead of having to pay all of your debts off by Monday, you get a thousand years to pay it off, but eventually you have to pay it all off yourself. You know, Jesus kind of just, you know, he, he, he paid, he gives you like a down payment or, you know, he, he pays, he pays the creditor and then you've got to pay him back instead of just accepting the gift. And yeah, so it's, it's yeah, it's kind of sad when you think about all that, how they don't really think that there's a satisfaction for their sins, satisfaction, meaning like, you know, the wrath of, you know, the, the requirement of justice is not appeased, you know, it's, I think they'll, they'll say that, but then but then they'll at the same time, they'll also say, well, it's up to me to do this X, Y, and Z, you know, you can't just, you can't just expect Jesus to do it all for you kind of thing. So it's like they, it's like they want to have their cake in the two where they want to have this, this gospel of faith plus works, but then, you know, claim that they're, they believe they're saved by grace. But then as soon as you agree with them and say, Hey, yeah, it's just God's grace to save us.

And they say, well, you need works too. You know, it's, it's like a constant battle back and forth of trying to understand what exactly does they, they believe or what they say. And I think they struggle within themselves. Maybe that's why, because when they realize their works don't live up enough, then they go back to the grace side of their brain. And then when they realize, Oh, my leaders are telling me I got to do better than they go back to the work side. So I don't know.

I think it's like an internal struggle, an internal tug of war for most all the us. Yeah. And that's, that's exactly the, the conversation that the guys from cultish were having with with the guy from the church of Christ who had grown up church of Christ. And so I'll, I'll post a link to that podcast episode in the notes for this episode, cause I think it's it'll be instructive as well for Latter-day Saints or former Latter-day Saints to listen to that and hear that conversation.

All right. So can you think of people in church history who have sought to separate God's justice from his mercy? Yeah, I didn't really research just as deeply as I should have, but I mean, I know more recently you've got there's something called the hyper grace movement. I'm sure you've probably heard of that.

Like Joseph Prince is one of the really big people in that. And it's this idea. It goes, it almost is like what the LDS think that evangelicals believe, or it's like, God just forgives you.

You don't have to do anything, you know, like you don't even have to ask. And he says, he said in his book, Joseph Prince, that you don't even have to ask for forgiveness, like God already gives it to you. So it's this kind of like universal idea of like, well, it doesn't matter what you do.

God just forgives because he's a loving, forgiving God and there's no requirements, nothing attached to it. And so there's, that's, that's kind of the most recently, but there's been groups like that throughout history, antinomian groups. So antinomian, anti meaning obviously against, and namos from the Greek means law.

So they put that together. Antinomian is someone who's against law and specifically God's law. So there's been antinomians since the beginning who have tried to undermine this idea that, that you need to, that you need to follow Christ and you obey Christ. And, you know, that goes back all the way to the Gnostics, like the Manichaeans where they would, they would say that they were spiritual beings by virtue of being spiritual beings. That's why they're saved.

And so they would kind of avoid doing any really works of charity whatsoever, you know, helping people or, you know, serving people. They said that you don't really need to do any of that because if you're saved, you're saved and that's it. And that's kind of like a, that goes even farther back. If you go back to the Epistle of James, I think James was probably writing against these kind of early Gnostic type groups that were trying to say that, that, you know, that you don't need works at all, that, you know, I just believe that's all I need. So, yeah. Other than that, I didn't really have any specific people in mind in church history, unless hopefully, hopefully your seminary education has enlightened you more than, than what I know.

You can fill in the gaps. Yeah. There's, there's plenty of the one, the one in particular I was thinking of was, was Marcion early on, you know, sought to reject the God of the Old Testament as, as an evil and wicked God. And so rejected the Old Testament as a whole and had a, had a stripped down collection of New Testament books that, that the Marcionites accepted as, as their Canon. And, you know, it may very well be that the Mars, the development of the Marcionite Canon led to the kind of the more official formulation of, of a broader Christian Canon where the churches came together and said, you know, what, what is it that we accept as, as authoritative throughout all the church. But Marcion's view in particular of, of, of, you know, the, the God of the Old Testament as evil and wicked, it tends towards some Gnostic views. And, you know, that's, that's kind of a very early in Christian, in church history, example of someone who was, who was trying to separate the, you know, this idea of the justice of God from the love of God or, or, you know, and it's, you know, it raises the question, you know, is God's, is God's revelation of himself true, you know?

And if, and if it is, then, then you have to accept the whole council of God, which includes God's justice and God's love. Yeah. It's, yeah. I'd forgotten about Marcion. Thank you for bringing that up. Like I, I always focused on how he changed the canon, but yeah, you're right.

But he did it for various reasons. I think. I was trying to remember if the, not the Donatists, but the Montanists, were they kind of like, I know that they believe there's just received new prophecies and things like that, but I can't remember much else about the Montanists.

I'll have to go back and look at them again. Yeah. Yeah.

Someone, someone more recently that is, is kind of, I don't know how, how influential he is now, but if you go back 10, 15 years, he was very influential as Rob Bell. And, you know, he, he wrote a book called Love Wins and, you know, he, he very much tries to push against the idea that there, that, that the New Testament in particular teaches, eternal conscious torment and hell. And so, his, you know, his idea is very much a, a, a very universalist idea in the same sense that of the Latter-day Saint view of heaven, like everyone, everyone will be swept up in the love of God, eventually. And, yeah, so more recent example of, of someone who, is not, holding true to God's own self-revelation. Right. Yeah. And there's the whole, there's a whole universalist movement, which kind of intertwined with Unitarianism. I'm not sure history of how that got, that got started, but Joseph Smith's dad also, of course, was a universalist. So there's a long line of universalism in the past, but yeah, it seems like they, they, a lot of them believe that God does, you know, he does have wrath, you know, that he does pour out his wrath, but eventually, like you said, you know, that wrath will be a peace and everybody will, you know, come to him.

So it's kind of just like, the gospel is just like shortening your prison sentence, I guess, considerably by accepting Christ. Yeah. You can also send us an email at outerbrightness at We hope to hear from you soon. You can subscribe to Outer Brightness wherever you listen to podcasts. If you're benefiting from our content, please write a review to help us spread the word. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that notification bell. Music for Outer Brightness is graciously provided by the talented Brianna Flournoy and Adams Road.

You can learn more about Adams Road by visiting their ministry page at Compared with Jesus' lonely death on the cross where he bore sin. And now I have the righteousness that is my faith in Jesus' name. I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus.

For who's sake, I have lost all things. Oh, because of the cross. On the cross, Jesus took away the written code, the law of words that stood opposed, and nailed it there for me.

Through the cross, he put to death hostility, and did his body reconcile us to God and brought us peace. And I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but he lives in me. I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus.

For who's sake, I have lost all things. Oh, but when I gained Jesus, it was worth the cost. On my righteousness, I count as a loss because of the cross.

Some demand a sign and some seek to be wise, but we preach Christ crucified. A stumbling pot of the Son, the foolishness of God, but wiser than the wisest man, the power of the cross. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord, through which the world has been crucified to me. And I tell the world, so I take up my cross, and follow where Jesus leads. Oh, I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus. For who's sake, I have lost all things. Oh, but when I gained Jesus, it was worth the cost. On my righteousness, I count as a loss because of the cross. Because of the cross.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-20 01:04:24 / 2023-07-20 01:26:30 / 22

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