Mormonism and Christianity/Grace and works/Impossible Gospel

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Evangelicals use quotes from Mormon sources to try and paint a picture of an "impossible gospel"

Question: Do Mormon scriptures portray an "impossible gospel" in which nobody can be saved?

A recent approach that Evangelicals have taken in preaching to Mormons is to use quotes from LDS sources to try and paint a picture of an "impossible gospel" that doesn't save anyone from their sins

A recent popular approach that Evangelicals have taken in preaching to Mormons is to use quotes from LDS sources to try and paint a picture of an "impossible gospel" that doesn't save anyone from their sins. They argue that various passages in LDS scriptures and comments from LDS leaders indicate that salvation is only attainable if we keep all of the commandments and forsake all sin. Since nobody does that, the argument goes, Mormonism is a gospel in which nobody can logically be saved.

Latter-day Saint leaders make it clear that we cannot achieve perfection in this life

Neal A. Maxwell:

In a kingdom where perfection is an eventual expectation, our feelings of anxiety and inadequacy should not surprise us. Just as earlier disciples were anxious and even "astonished" as Jesus taught certain demanding doctrines (Mark 10:28), so today there is really no way present prophets can describe where we must yet go without creating a sense of distance. We are not merely journeying next door or even across town. - Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 1

Neal A. Maxwell:

Some may still say, "I know I am not doing all I could, so how could what I am doing be enough?" Ah, but that is not the real question. The real question is, "Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?" (Alma 29:6.) That is the question—for a mother, son, home teacher, Young Woman's leader, elders quorum president, or neighbor. The task is, therefore, to perform in one's callings. On that score each of us should seek to do more. But it is not another task we should seek! [ Neal A. Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1982), 53.


Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb: Joseph Smith does not reject the efficacy or necessity of grace

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[1]

Two corrections of common misrepresentations of Smith’s theology need to be made at this point. First, Mormons are often charged with denying the efficacy of grace and thus making salvation dependent upon the exercise of the individual’s free will. All theologians use the language of effort, reform, and growth, so this is not a fair charge.... In any case, Smith describes the process of sanctification as being “from grace to grace.” Rather than replicating Pelagianism, Smith is siding with that aspect of the Christian tradition best represented by Thomas Aquinas, which says we can and must cooperate with divine grace in order to permit it to actualize our potential for divinization. [2]:96–97


Index to criticisms about the "Impossible Gospel" of Mormonism

Criticisms about the "impossible gospel" of Mormonism stem from their reading of the following passages. Click on them to find the page that discusses them.

Alma 11:37

(Click here for full article)
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Moroni 10:32

(Click here for full article)
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D&C 25:15-16

(Click here for full article)
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Notes

  1. "Webb is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He is a graduate of Wabash College and earned his PhD at the University of Chicago before returning to his alma mater to teach. Born in 1961 he grew up at Englewood Christian Church, an evangelical church. He joined the Disciples of Christ during He was briefly a Lutheran, and on Easter Sunday, 2007, he officially came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church."
  2. Stephen H. Webb, "Godbodied: The Matter of the Latter-day Saints (reprint from his book Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (Oxford University Press, 2012)," Brigham Young University Studies 50 no. 3 (2011).
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