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Is Universalism Biblical?

Universalism states that sooner or later all people will be saved. This position holds that the concepts of hell and punishment are inconsistent with a loving God. The older form of universalism, originating in the second century, taught that salvation would come after a temporary period of punishment. The newer form of universalism declares that all men are now saved, though all do not realize it. Therefore the job of the preacher and the missionary is to tell people they are already saved. Certain passages – John 12:32, Philippians 2:11, and 1 Timothy 2:4 – are typically twisted out of context in support of universalism.

Such passages, interpreted properly, do not support universalism:

  • John 12:32 says that Christ’s work on the cross makes possible the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Notice, however, that the Lord – in the same passage – warned of judgment of those who reject Christ (v. 48).
  • Philippians 2:10-11 assures us that someday all people will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but not necessarily as Savior. (Even those in hell will have to acknowledge Christ’s Lordship.)
  • First Timothy 2:4 expresses God’s desire that all be saved, but does not promise that all will be. This divine desire is only realized in those who exercise faith in Christ.

The Scriptures consistently categorize people into one of two classes (saved/unsaved, also called believers/unbelievers), and portray the final destiny of every person as being one of two realities (heaven or hell).

  • In Matthew 13:30 Jesus in a parable said, “Let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Here unbelievers and believers are spoken of as tares and wheat. Two classes!
  • In Matthew 13:49 Jesus said, “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.” Again, two classes are mentioned – unbelievers and believers spoken of as the wicked and the righteous.
  • In Matthew 25:32 Jesus said that following His second coming, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Here believers and unbelievers are differentiated by the terms “sheep” and “goats.” The sheep will enter into God’s kingdom (vs. 34) and inherit eternal life (vs. 46). The goats go into eternal punishment (vs. 46).
  • In Luke 16:26 we find Abraham in the afterlife telling the unsaved rich man: “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” Hades apparently had two compartments: “paradise” for the saved, and “torments” for the unsaved – and these compartments were separated by a great chasm or gulf.

Clearly, then, the Scriptures speak of two classes of people (the saved and the unsaved) and two possible destinies (heaven for the saved; hell for the unsaved). And each respective person ends up in one of these places based upon whether or not he or she placed saving faith in Christ during his or her time on earth (Acts 16:31).

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Mormonism, Original Sin, and the ancient heresy of Pelagianism

Introduction


The Mormon denial of the traditional Christian doctrine of original sin is one of the more distinctive aspects of this group, who claim to be Christian, but whose denial of so many central Christian doctrines indicate that they as a group cannot be considered Christian. The traditional doctrine of Original Sin is held in common by all Christian denominations. The denial of this doctrine by the Mormons puts this group in a position which is contrary to Scripture, Tradition and unsupported by reality.

The Mormon denial of original sin is based on a few flimsy assumptions which will be discussed here and in a second paper.

First, however, this paper will look at the true teaching on Original Sin, continue with a discussion of some of the errors of the LDS position, and lastly examine a heresy of the early centuries, (Pelagianism) to show that the erroneous Mormon view on original sin has much in common with an old heresy.

A subsequent paper will refute the specific points of the LDS position.

What is Original Sin?
First, here is a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia article Original Sin :

 

“Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, as may be seen by St. Augustine’s statement: “the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin” (De nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43). It is the hereditary stain that is dealt with here. As to the sin of Adam we have not to examine the circumstances in which it was committed nor make the exegesis of the third chapter of Genesis.”

It is important to note that the common meaning of “original sin” is the second one given above, i.e. the stain or consequence of Adam’s sin for the rest of humanity. This is how the term will also be used in this paper. Admittedly, the term can be confusing since it does not refer to a personal sin we have committed, but rather to a state of deprivation due to the effect of Adam’s sin. However, once this is clear, then confusion can be avoided. Original sin is contracted by babies when they are conceived in the womb; it is not something committed by them. Hence it is not valid for Mormons to deny original sin by saying �how can a baby commit sin?� This is because original sin refers to a contracted loss of inheritance of grace, not a committed personal sin on the baby�s part.

Original sin refers to a lost inheritance. God gave Adam supernatural grace before the Fall when he lived in the Garden of Eden. Adam could eat from the tree of life, and so remain immortal. He was not allowed, however, to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Charge of Unfairness

The Mormons make a number of false assumptions about the story of the Fall of Adam.One such assumption is the idea that original sin means that God is unfair, punishing us all for something Adam did.

The reply to this is as follows. God bestowed on Adam all his natural faculties. Adam did not have any entitlement to supernatural grace, to immortality, to fellowship with God. It was only because God in His graciousness gave these to Adam that Adam had them at all. Adam did not have any natural right to them. This is a critical point. If my boss, who pays me every week, comes to me on Monday and says “here are some tickets to a show or the theatre for Friday night; take your family along.” But on Tuesday I get caught wasting time on the job. The boss then says “I’ll take those tickets back.” Now, is the boss being unfair to my family? Of course not. The relationship between me and my boss is broken and so I must pay the punishment. If my family suffer as a result, it is my fault, not the boss’s.

Similarly with original sin. Adam sinned, and by doing so broke the relationship between himself and God. It is Adam who is the cause of original sin in the rest of the human race. We have lost the inheritance of supernatural grace, but Adam is to blame for this loss, not God. So when we are born, we are without this supernatural grace which was our inheritance until Adam blew it. This is what original sin means: we are born without our inheritance.

The whole idea of the test was to see if man would freely submit himself to the will of God. And he failed.

‘The Fall was necessary’ argument.

Another flimsy assumption of Mormonism is to suggest that without the Fall Adam and the rest of the human race would be stuck forever in the garden of Eden, and never make it to heaven. Thus they say the Fall was necessary, and even worse, they claim that God willed the Fall. Mormons make the mistake of thinking man was not made in a state of holiness, but had to “progress” to holiness. On the contrary, man was created in a state of holiness, destined to be “divinized” in glory in heaven but his disobedience lost this inheritance.

As proof of this destiny to glory (with or without the Fall), Romans 8:29-30 reads:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (NIV)

God predestined us to glory, to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”. He did not predestine the Fall. He predestined us to be conformed to His Son in glory, with or without the Fall. The Fall made it necessary for the Son of God to become man.

God never predestined the Fall. God permitted the Fall; he did not require it; such an idea makes God to be the author of sin and suffering, which He is not. Mormonism here fails to distinguish between God’s permissive will, and God’s ordaining will. God permitted the Fall, He did not ordain that it must happen.

The Fall was entirely up to Adam’s free will, and he failed. Adam was deceived into thinking God was not being totally honest with him, in other words, that God did not really want what was best for Adam. Adam called God’s integrity into question, an act which led to his disobedience. If this is not sin, what is?

In the Catholic Encyclopedia article : Divine Providence we read how the Fathers of the Church treated of sin and its nature:

 

‘The question of Providence in the Fathers is almost invariably connected with the problem of evil. How can evil and suffering be compatible with the beneficent providence of an all-powerful God? And why especially should the just be allowed to suffer while the wicked are apparently prosperous and happy? Patristic solutions to these problems may be summed up under the following heads: ·

  • Sin is not ordained by the will of God, though it happens with His permission. It can be ascribed to Providence only as a secondary result (Origen, “Contra Celsum”, IV, lxviii in “P.G.”, XI, 1516-7; St. John Damascene, “De fid. orth.”, ii, 21 in “P.G.”, XCIV, 95 sq.).
  • Sin is due to the abuse of free will; an abuse which was certainly foreseen by God, but could have been prevented only by depriving man of his most noble attribute (Tertullian, “Adv. Marcion.”, II, v-vii in “P.L.”, II, 317-20; St. Cyril of Alexandria “In Julian.”, IX, xiii, 10, 11, 18 in “P.G.”, LXXIV, 120-1, 127-32; Theodoret, “De prov. orat.”, IX, vi in “P.G.”, LXXXIII, 662). ·
  • Had there been no sin, physical evil would have been inconsistent with the Divine goodness (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, LX, 98, 99); nor would God permit evil at all, unless He could draw good out of evil (St. Augustine, “Enchir.”, xi in “P.L.”, LX, 236; “Serm.”, ccxiv, 3 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 1067; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VI, xxxii, XVIII, xlvi in “P.L.”, LXXV, 747; LXXVI, 61-2). · · <[SFW Comment : This point proves that God could not have willed the Fall, and that Adam’s sin wa sindeed a sin, not merely a ‘transgression’, a distinction Mormonism tries to make; see later).]

All physical evil, therefore, is the consequence of sin, the inevitable result of the Fall (St. John Chrysostom, “Ad Stagir.”, I, ii in “P.G.”, LXVII, 428, 429; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VIII, li, lii in “P.L.”, LXXV, 833, 834), and regarded in this light is seen to be at once a medicine (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, XL, 98, 99; “Serm.”, xvii, 4, 5 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 126-8), a discipline (“Serm.”, xv, 4-9 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 118-21; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., V, xxxv; VII, xxix; XIV, xl in “P.L.”, LXXV, 698, 818, 1060), and an occasion of charity (St. Gregory the Great, VII, xxix)�.

(Note: Mormons may try to claim a distincion between ‘transgression’ and ‘sin’, saying that Adam transgressed , but did not sin. We shall see in the next paper that this is a false distinction.)

Summary of points so far

 

  • i) The traditional Christian doctrine of Original Sin is in no way ‘unfair’ as the supernatural graces of which man is deprived as its result, are graces to which he has no natural claim. God freely bestows graces,man does not earn a claim.
  • ii) The Fall was certainly not “necessary”. To maintain the Fall was necessary makes God out to be the author of sin, which He cannot be. It also means Adam did not really have free will, if God had intended him to eat the fruit. But we know Adam did have free will: God had told him to be obedient and Adam disobeyed. If Adam did not really have free will before the Fall, then it casts a question on God’s integrity. The truth is: Adam has free will before the Fall, and he freely chose to sin by disobeying God. But Mormonism denies free will in order to deny the reality of Adam’s sin, instead pretending it was merely a ‘transgression’.
  • iii) God predestined certain persons to eternal beatitude, with or without the Fall. Mormonism fails to explain Romans 8:29-30 which proves the predestination of the elect. Instead they try to claim the human race would be stuck in Eden for ever if it had not been for the Fall.

Next we shall have a look at the Effects of Original Sin. These are:

  • death and suffering (physical evils, not sin)
  • Concupiscence (baptism removes original sin, but not concupiscence, so concupiscence cannot be sin)
  • Absence of sanctifying grace. Since this is in the moral order, it can be called sin.

 

The following extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Original Sin: expands on the above points:

 

“St. Anselm: “the sin of Adam was one thing but the sin of children at their birth is quite another, the former was the cause, the latter is the effect” (De conceptu virginali, xxvi). In a child original sin is distinct from the fault of Adam, it is one of its effects. But which of these effects is it? We shall examine the several effects of Adam’s fault and reject those which cannot be original sin:

  • 1. Death and Suffering.– These are purely physical evils and cannot be called sin. Moreover St. Paul, and after him the councils, regarded death and original sin as two distinct things transmitted by Adam.
  • 2. Concupiscence.- This rebellion of the lower appetite transmitted to us by Adam is an occasion of sin and in that sense comes nearer to moral evil. However, the occasion of a fault is not necessarily a fault, and whilst original sin is effaced by baptism concupiscence still remains in the person baptized; therefore original sin and concupiscence cannot be one and the same thing, as was held by the early Protestants (see Council of Trent, Sess. V, can. v).
  • 3. The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us (loc. cit., can. ii). If he has lost it for us we were to have received it from him at our birth with the other prerogatives of our race. Therefore the absence of sanctifying grace in a child is a real privation, it is the want of something that should have been in him according to the Divine plan. If this favour is not merely something physical but is something in the moral order, if it is holiness, its privation may be called a sin. But sanctifying grace is holiness and is so called by the Council of Trent, because holiness consists in union with God, and grace unites us intimately with God. Moral goodness consists in this that our action is according to the moral law, but grace is a deification, as the Fathers say, a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality. Sanctifying grace therefore enters into the moral order, not as an act that passes but as a permanent tendency which exists even when the subject who possesses it does not act; it is a turning towards God, conversio ad Deum. Consequently the privation of this grace, even without any other act, would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God, aversio a Deo, and this character is not found in any other effect of the fault of Adam. This privation, therefore, is the hereditary stain.”

Note that the Fathers say ‘grace is a deification.. a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality’. It is grace which was to be the instrument of the ‘divinization’ of Adam and his descendants. Mormons do not understand grace or divinization and hence think the Fall was necessary to enable man to ‘progress’ to their idea of ‘divinization’. But the Fathers meant by ‘divinization’ a transformation in glory and not in any sense ‘becoming God’ or becoming ‘a god’. This is, again, a failure of Mormonism to understand the nature of supernatural grace as the agent which glorifies and leads to union with God.

Be sure to check out what the Catechism says about the Fall of Adam and original sin.
Final Section: The heresy of Pelagianism and its similarity to Mormon teaching on original sin

This final section is included as the ancient heresy of Pelagianism also denied Original Sin, and had some similarities with Mormonism’s teaching on this subject

In summary:

Pelagianism (extracted from Catholic Encyclopedia: Pelagius and Pelagianism )

 

  • 1. Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.
  • 2. Adam’s sin harmed only himself, not the human race.
  • 3. Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.
  • 4. The whole human race neither dies through Adam’s sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.

Pelagianism also taught that the Mosaic Law was as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.

The teachings of Pelagius changed somewhat.These can be summarized as follows: (again, this is an extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Pelagius and Pelagianism )

 

  • The first position which Pelagius held was that Adam would have died anyway, regardless if the Fall had happened or not, and his sin injured himself, not the whole human race. It was condemned at the Council of Carthage (see Romans 5:12 Adam transmits death with sin) 
  • Pelagian second position: parents transmit diesase to children, so parents transmit death. But they do not transmit sin. This was condemned at the Council of Orange, and again at Trent.This position is similar to the Mormon position. 
  • Pelagians then gave up equating sin with death so said Adam CAUSED sin in us, not, however, by hereditary transmission, but (they said), the sin of Adam in imitation of Adam. Again, condemned by Trent.

How Mormon doctrine resembles Pelagianism (with differences):

 

  • Similarities: Mormons, like Pelagians, say Adam’s sin hurt himself, but not others. Mormons go so far as to say Adam’s transgression was necessary in order to avoid being stuck forever in Eden. Mormons, like Pelagians, say that death, not sin, is transmitted from parent to child. Mormons, like Pelagians, cannot say how a loving God who is all good could introduce death and suffering into the world if Adam was not really guilty of sin. The traditional Christian view, of course, is that Adam did really sin and lost his inheritance for himself and his children. See also Wisdom 2:24 

    “But by the envy of the devil death came into the world”.

    Death came into the world, not by the will of God, to get people to “progress” but by the ‘envy of the devil’.

     

  • Differences: Mormons say Adam’s sin was a not a sin, but a transgression, which was necessary for ‘progression’. Pelagius said Adam would have died anyway; Mormons do not say this.

How Romans 5:12,18-19 opposes the three Pelagian positions:

  • Against position 1. The sin of Adam has introduced physical death. See also 1 Cor. 15:21, which refers to physical resurrection, so must refer to physical death. 
  • Against Position 2. Romans 5:19 says ‘all men were made sinners’ not ‘all men were made mortal’. So Pelagians cannot get away with speaking only of death.
    This serves also as a refutation of the Mormon position on original sin. 
  • Against Position 3. Adam transmits death to his children by generation of them mortal, so too he transmits sin to them, by generation (this is not to say Adam generates the soul). Paul says both death and sin come at the same time, from the same cause. Pelagians say (position 3) that the child sins later in imitation of Adam. But then Adam’s causality of sin would differ from his causality of death; also Romans 5:18,19 includes all men, not just those who knew of his bad example.

 

Summary of this page:

 

  • 1. The traditional Christian doctrine of original sin teaches that, as a result of Adam’s sin, man has lost his inheritance of supernatural grace, and has instead inherited death and suffering, concupiscence, and a state of sin. Without the aid of grace, provided by baptism, man cannot come into a right relationship with God. 
  • 2. Mormonism makes numerous false assumptions regarding the Fall: that original sin is an ‘unfair’ doctrine; that Adam did not sin, but merely ‘transgressed’; that Adam did not know right from wrong; that man would be stuck in Eden and never get to heaven without the Fall; that God willed the Fall. 
  • 3. Mormonism’s doctrine of the denial of Original Sin is a partial revival of Pelagianism.

The next paper will refute specific objections and alleged evidence for the Mormon doctrine in the early Church.
© Copyright Sean Hyland 2002

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The video below is a short video testimony of Watchman Fellowship’s James K. Walker. James is a former fourth-generation Mormon. Visit us online at http://www.watchman.org for great resources on sharing the Real Jesus with Mormons and others deceived by cults and false teachers.

Basics of Mormonism: Falling Upward Timothy Oliver

In his book, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, (NWAF) one of Mormonism’s foremost modern apostles, Bruce R. McConkie, expends three chapters explaining the meaning of the Mormon church’s second Article of Faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” This Mormon Article of Faith presupposes sin and the fall of Adam. To properly understand it, or the third Article which follows it, requires an understanding of the Mormon concept of Adam’s fall. Says McConkie, “It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall” (NWAF, p. 82). 

Humanity’s Pre-Mortal Existence

To understand the Mormon concept of the Fall, however, requires still prior understanding of the Mormon concepts of a pre-mortal existence, and the purpose of this earth life. Mormonism teaches that mankind is of the same species as God. Our origin is supposed to have been as procreated children of God, born as spirits in some other realm. In this spirit world existence we progressed as far as was possible. But to become truly like our Heavenly Father we needed to obtain physical bodies. We also needed to learn the difference between good and evil, truth and error, and to love and choose the former over the latter. Since our Heavenly Father has progressed so far that He cannot allow evil into His presence, it was necessary for us to leave Him for some place where we could encounter and overcome evil ourselves. 

 

Earth Life A Test

So, this world was prepared as a school, where we have been sent to obtain physical bodies and to learn the lessons of mortality. In his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, (MF), Mormon church President and Prophet Spencer W. Kimball described our mission for this life. “We would be expected to gain knowledge, educate ourselves, train ourselves. We were to control our urges and desires, master and control our passions, and overcome our weaknesses, small and large. We were to eliminate sins of omission and of commission, and to follow the laws and commandments given us by our Father” (p. 5; emphasis added).

This is in accord with Mormon scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, (PGP). While laying their plans for our earth life, the Gods are supposed to have said, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” (PGP, Abraham 3:25; emphasis added).

 

Conflicting Commandments

Of course for this whole plan to work, physical bodies had to be prepared in which Heavenly Father’s spirit children could dwell. Thus, the first commandment on record is the commandment to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. Mormonism teaches this was a greater and more important commandment than the commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 64-5).

 
In fact, according to Mormon doctrine, the two commandments stood in opposition to each other (McConkie, NWAF, p. 91). Notwithstanding the great importance of procreation to the purpose of earth life, when God made Adam and Eve, He supposedly made them in a condition where they could not procreate. “There was as yet neither procreation nor death. These would enter the scheme of things only after the fall” (Ibid., p. 84). Adam and Eve had to break the lesser commandment, and incur the Fall, in order to fulfill the greater commandment (Ibid., p. 91). 

According to Mormon scripture, Eve is supposed to have exclaimed, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (PGP, Moses 5:11). 

The Book of Mormon (BM) says the same: “…if Adam had not transgressed…. they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin….Adam fell that men might be;” (BM, 2 Nephi 2:22-23).

 

A Fall in the Right Direction?

From the foregoing one can see how important it was for man to “fall” – why, in Mormonism, “the Fall” is seen as a good thing, a great blessing. This has led some Mormon leaders to say things which may sound a little odd or even bizarre to Christians familiar with the Bible. 

For example: Under the heading, “‘TRANSGRESSION’ NOT ‘SIN’ OF ADAM,” Mormon apostle and prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. wrote, “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin” (Doctrines of Salvation, (DS), vol. 1, p. 114). Again, “This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin in the strict sense, for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” (Ibid., p. 115). “The ‘fall’ of Adam and Eve was not a sin but an essential act upon which mortality depends” (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, p. 15). 

Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “We do not know how the fall was accomplished…” (NWAF, p. 85; emphasis added). He goes so far as to cast the Fall in terms of obedience rather than transgression: “After they had thus complied with whatever the law was that brought mortality into being,…” and “He [Adam] chose the Lord’s way;” (Ibid., pp. 86, 91; emphasis added). Assistant to the Twelve Apostles Sterling W. Sill spoke of Adam’s fall: “Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction. He fell toward the goal…. Adam fell, but he fell upward” (Deseret News, Church Section, 31 July 1965, p. 7). 

Since the mortal condition was essential to the Mormon plan of salvation, the act which introduced mortality of necessity becomes a great blessing. “We can hardly look upon anything resulting in such benefits as being a sin, in the sense in which we consider sin” (Smith, DS, vol. 1, p. 115). “Properly understood, it becomes apparent that the fall of Adam is one of the greatest blessings ever given of God to mankind” (McConkie, NWAF, p. 87).

Mormonism says we will not be punished for Adam’s transgression because all mankind will be redeemed from the effects of the “Fall.” That is, the consequences of Adam’s action – physical, or temporal death, and spiritual death – are both overcome through the Atonement of Christ (Ensign, January, 1990, pp. 25-6). “Temporal death is the natural death; it occurs when body and spirit separate, thus leaving the body to return to the dust whence it came. Spiritual death is to be cast out of the presence of the Lord and to die as pertaining to the things of righteousness” (McConkie, NWAF, pp. 86-7). Since it was not our fault that either of these were introduced, they will both be removed by God’s free grace. All mankind will be resurrected with immortal physical bodies, and all will be brought back into the presence of God, for judgment (BM, 2 Nephi 2:10). Those who are subsequently cast out are ejected for their own unrepented sin (BM, 2 Nephi 9:38, 45-6).

 

Questions for Mormons

With all the above as background, it is easy to see why Mormonism’s second Article of Faith says mankind will not be punished for Adam’s transgression. One wonders, in fact, why Adam was ever punished for it himself – why he and his descendants were ever placed under a curse in the first place.

If death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), and Adam’s and Eve’s action was not actually sin, then why did it introduce death into the world (Romans 5:12)? Indeed, how did it introduce sin into the world (Romans 5:12)? Just how and why were the “wonderful blessing” of mortality and a sinful world introduced, if it was not actually sin they committed? 

And if this was such a blessing, then when they heard God walking in the Garden, why did they not go running to Him clapping their hands, breathless with excitement over fulfilling His plan, acquiring new knowledge, and initiating mortality? “Oh, Father! We have complied with Your greater commandment and are ready for procreation. Now the rest of Your children, our brothers and sisters, will have opportunity to enjoy the same wonderful benefits as us!” 

Why, instead, did they suddenly feel guilty and afraid, and try to hide from God? Previous to that time they had no more idea of guilt than they did of right and wrong, so it could not have been a false, self-imposed guilt. It had to have been consciousness of the actual guilt of doing wrong. If their action was not sin, how did they acquire their sudden awareness of right and wrong (Genesis 3:7, 22)? Why did they seek to put blame on others and excuse themselves for their action if it was no sin? 

In another vein, if the original (non)-sin of Adam and Eve brought both physical and spiritual death, why is it that our own sins, if unrepented of, incur only spiritual and not also physical death for eternity? Adam knew no evil prior to sinning, knew no real difference between right and wrong. But of all men after Adam, the Book of Mormon says they “are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil” (2 Nephi 2:5). On the principle of “where much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:47-8), our personal sins being committed with a knowledge of right and wrong would seem to be more serious than Adam’s first transgression. Yet they incur a lesser penalty in eternity than Adam’s (non)-sin. Why? 

Last, but not least, remember that Adam and Eve were to eliminate sins of omission as well as commission (MF, p. 5). If the two commandments, one to multiply and fill the earth, and the other not to eat of the forbidden fruit, were in opposition so that they could not both be obeyed at the same time, and if the former was a greater commandment than the latter, then why were they not counted transgressors before eating the forbidden fruit, for failing to multiply? Why did that not incur the Fall? Indeed, why were they counted transgressors for breaking the lesser of the two commandments when, up to that time, they were failing to live up to the greater of the two, and had not even taken the first, most elemental step toward compliance? 

As noted earlier, Mr. McConkie wrote, “It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall” (NWAF, p. 82). If that is the case, Mormonism certainly owes the world coherent answers to these questions raised by its doctrines. Without such answers, their doctrine of the “fall” is, quite simply, utterly unbelievable. 

Individual Mormons ought to be held accountable to their Church’s doctrine, by constantly encountering such questions, lovingly but relentlessly posed by their Christian friends. Christians should let their Mormon friends know that if they expect to carry their “gospel” to us in a believable way so we can “gain salvation,” then they must answer these questions. Christians should express profound surprise, even shock, to their Mormon friends, that they would believe in such things, or in a church – or in a spirit which teaches such things. Such a spirit cannot be the Holy Spirit. Such a church cannot be the Church of Jesus Christ. 

http://www.watchman.org/lds/falling.htm

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