Sunday, September 23, 2012

Guest at Mormon Matters podcast 127: Grace

I was one of the guests in a new edition of Mormon Matters podcast 127: Grace.
Grace is one of the central concepts in all of Christianity, yet also one of its most contested. What is it? How does it work? Do we as human beings have to do something first for it to perform its healing work? Can we even turn from sin without Grace first being extended to us? What, exactly happened in the Garden of Eden (literally or metaphorically) that caused separation from God (a Fall), and what are its effects on (or the state of) our souls that requires the transformative action of Grace?
Certainly, the concept of Grace is no less debated in Mormonism–or at least, as is suggested in this podcast, it is beginning to now enjoy more focused attention. Is Grace a substance/thing that fills in the “gap” between a standard of perfection that God sets forth and everything we can do on our own in showing our desires and faith? Is it the suffering in the Garden and on the Cross that satisfies the demands of an eternal law of Justice? Is it more like an event–our “getting it” regarding God’s love and our worth that leads us to transformation and a new life in Christ, one in which we yield ever and ever more fully to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, becoming godlike in our compassion for all?

And what about all the Grace vs. Works passages we find in both in the Bible and Mormon scriptures? Is Paul’s meditations in Romans about his own sinful nature and the need for Grace the key text for viewing Grace and our own human abilities to respond to God? What are alternative readings of those passages or others within wider Christianity? And, for Mormons, how might one read what seems to be the key passage in the Book of Mormon that declares we are saved by grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23) in different ways? Is it really a temporal “after” (feeding into the God filling the “gaps” model)? Is this really what Nephi is saying? And does this interpretation even jive with other Book of Mormon passages on Grace?

All these ideas and many more are discussed in this terrific discussion among Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists John Morehead, Katie Langston, and Joe Spencer. We hope you’ll listen and then join in the discussion.


Russell said...

Hi John! Thank you for clarifying the different narrative between Mormonism and Christianity. I found this podcast to be in someways encouraging yet ever so heartbreaking. Is it absurd to fight over Christ though? Is there heresy today? Did Christ break down all barriers? Was that the point of the God-Man Jesus coming down?

God Bless!
Susanne Case

John W. Morehead said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susanne. As I look at your comments hopefully you didn't hear this podcast as a fight over Christ. I try to model civil discussion of important religious differences. Jesus has indeed broken down barriers, but that does not mean we will not disagree over issues. I hope you found our discussion in this podcast a healthy example of good conversation over the issues.