Murder: As Bad As We Think?

I’ve always been under the impression that premeditated murder is an unforgivable sin. Is it?

The Bible is full of great examples of people who did really bad things — the type of things that we shouldn’t even think of doing, with the biggest no-no being murder. So that’s why I have problems with a couple of important Bible figures.

The first one is King David and his arranging the murder of Uriah in order to score with Bathsheba. In the Bible Dictionary it says:

“Like Saul he was guilty of grave crimes; but unlike Saul, he was capable of true contrition and was therefore able to find forgiveness, except in the murder of Uriah. As a consequence David is still unforgiven, but he received a promise that the Lord would not leave his soul in hell. He will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium. Because of his transgressions, he has fallen from his exaltation (D&C 132: 39).

In D&C 132: 39 it says:

“David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”

I would say that Uriah’s murder should fall into the category of “premeditated murder” because David certainly had time to think it over and come up with a plan to get rid of him. It doesn’t get much more evil than that. David has apparently not found “forgiveness,” but did he receive a special “promise” from the Lord about not leaving his soul in hell? Did he do something special to get a “get of out jail card,” or will all murderers have a chance at that same “promise?”

Perhaps more troubling to me is the Apostle Paul (aka Saul — but not the same Saul mentioned above in the story of David) and his involvement in the stoning of Stephen. As we all know, Paul was once the ancient equivalent of an anti-Mormon, but took it to the extreme. Some of his actions against Christians would have done the Taliban proud. In the Book of Acts, we read:

And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:58-59)

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:1-3)

The Bible doesn’t say that Saul (Paul) was the one who personally hurled the stones at Stephen. However, it appears that he played pretty much the same role in Stephen’s murder as David played in Uriah’s. Paul “consented” unto Stephen’s death, on top of throwing men and women in the slammer (for all we know, they could have been executed as well). The fact that “the witnesses laid down their clothes” at Saul’s feet indicates to me that he was probably the leader who had the power to make sure that this execution was either carried out or stopped. Even if he didn’t cast any stones himself, is he any less guilty than David or any other murderer?

So Paul repented and was converted to Christianity. If anyone ever turned their life around for the better, it was him. Although not confirmed, evidence suggests that Paul was martyred himself, when he was beheaded under the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. But these are the things I’m wondering about Paul:

  • Was he not guilty of murder in the stoning of Stephen? And worse yet, premeditated murder?
  • Even though he became an apostle, was turning his life around enough to erase his past?
  • Why does King David remain unforgiven and fallen from exaltation, while Paul went on to become a revered apostle of Christ?
  • How does this apply to modern-day murderers in society? Should they have any hope of forgiveness or is premeditated murder unforgivable?

Comments

comments

88 comments for “Murder: As Bad As We Think?

  1. adam e.
    March 25, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Paul wasn’t guilty of murder. He was guilty of faithfully killing Christians according to the Jews’ interpretation of the law of Moses. He sinned in ignorance. As soon as he learned that he was not doing God’s will, he repented.

    David knew that what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway.

    Takeaway rule: we can kill in ignorance and be forgiven.

  2. Laura
    March 25, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Interesting that you should post on this subject because I’ve been wondering the same thing. My husband and I were reading the BOM when the Anti-Nephi Lehi’s convert and vow to bury their weapons of war. I had always assumed that murder was “the unpardonable sin,” but I suppose the Lord does forgive those who murder if they do so without knowing the Lord’s law concerning it – and if they truly repent.

  3. March 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I suppose the Lord does forgive those who murder if they do so without knowing the Lord’s law concerning it – and if they truly repent.

    How, though, does this relate to the concept of the Light of Christ? Shouldn’t every human being “know” that murder is bad (assuming that they are in their right mind, not mentally ill or brainwashed, etc.), even if they don’t believe in God?

    Also, a common reason I’ve heard from Christians supporting the death penalty is that shedding your own blood is the only way to possibly be forgiven for murder. However, many murderers that are executed have probably never had a religious upbringing or been taught right from wrong. Is “common sense” or “conscience” of knowing that murder is bad not sufficient? Why should Paul have been forgiven and been made an apostle, while disturbed and depraved individuals in society today are simply executed — often with the support of Christians?

  4. ep
    March 25, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I don’t think it’s a question of knowledge prior to an act. Someone can know murder is wrong and still be forgiven later. The atonement is infinite. That means it covers everything. Everything. However, though forgiveness is possible, that doesn’t mean it’s likely. The murderer has to want to repent.

    If someone does not find forgiveness for a particular act, including murder, maybe it’s because forgiveness was not sought. Perhaps David wasn’t truly repentant for the murder of Uriah, while Paul was repentant for his acts. God seems to have made a judgment about David and I’m sure He had his reasons…

    Murder is as bad as we think. But the atonement is more powerful than we sometimes give it credit for.

  5. J.Ro
    March 25, 2009 at 9:35 am

    ‘Why should Paul have been forgiven and been made an apostle, while disturbed and depraved individuals in society today are simply executed — often with the support of Christians?”

    Well, first off, in a great deal of these cases, the person isn’t truly repentant. Were the Lord to be the ultimate ruler in our government, the whole death penalty thing would probably be a lot different.

    “Is ‘common sense’ or ‘conscience’ of knowing that murder is bad not sufficient?”

    Sit down for a chat with some of these hard-core killers you’re talking about and you may realize that some of them are lacking common sense or conscience. The death penalty isn’t handed out casually, nothing law-of-Moses-style. The Anti-Nephi-Lehis hadn’t been taught correct beliefs on murder. They made a pretty serious compromise in their repentance process. Paul made a huge turn too, as mentioned. David made all the recompense he could, but it’s made clear throughout the scriptures that once we have a full knowledge of the gospel (at least the portion of it available in our time), we are held responsible for that knowledge. Plain and simple, David obviously knew he was wrong.

  6. adam e.
    March 25, 2009 at 9:57 am

    #3 The “Light of Christ” can be silenced, whether by nurture or nature, life’s experiences or mental impairment.

    #4 The infinite atonement may cover murderers who murder in cold blood, but God determines who will benefit from the atonement, and He has excluded some.

    D&C 42:18 reads: “And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.”

    While this scripture is open to interpretation as to what God means by “kill,” it is pretty clear (to me, at least) that even though the Atonement could cover someone, it will not because that’s the rule God put in place.

  7. hawkgrrrl
    March 25, 2009 at 10:07 am

    “However, many murderers that are executed have probably never had a religious upbringing or been taught right from wrong.” Execution for murder isn’t an issue of moral right or wrong, regardless of what vocal Christians or others may say. All citizens are subject to the rule of law, regardless of morality. You could be raised by people who break the laws, who even commit crimes against you personally, and you are still beholden to society through the rule of law.

    The death penalty has nothing to do with moral justification or repentance. The law allows “the people” (via the courts) to punish and prevent crimes. The death penalty’s morality is a valid question for “the people” to determine, which is why it’s illegal in CA but legal in TX.

  8. ep
    March 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

    #6 makes sense. But… Murderers can be baptized with First Presidency approval. Which means they can be forgiven. I found this quote from Joseph F. Smith and am trying to figure out how it applies:

    “John says there are two kinds of sins [see 1 John 5:16–17]. One kind that can be forgiven; the other kind a sin unto death, for which there is no forgiveness. Murder is one of the latter class. That is where one deliberately sheds innocent blood. . . . There is a forgiveness for all those who truly repent and forsake their sins and show their sincerity by their continued repentance to the end of their mortal lives. The mercy of the Almighty, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, reaches out and embraces every soul who will forsake his sins, except those who have wilfully sinned, as John says, ‘unto death.’”

    I think John’s talking about spiritual death, not physical death. A person who sins “unto death” has purposefully (“wilfully”) placed himself in that state and does not desire to leave. So no forgiveness in this life or the next, through the sinner’s choice.

  9. FireTag
    March 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

    God’s judgement is not “act” based; it is “character-based” — look at the early writings of the Book of Mormon and how they point out the overall philosophy that the great plan of salvation is about deciding whether our natures will be carnal or we will listen to the Spirit of Christ. Premeditated murder is a highly determinative sign of a soul’s character IF the murderer already is choosing between carnal desires and what he/she knows to be the will of Christ. It is “not easy” for a murderer to gain repentence (usually because we do have at least an inkling from our own human cultural morality that murder is wrong) but if there are exceptions, God will know where they apply and won’t be asking our permission.

  10. March 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I don’t believe in unforgivable sins.

  11. DavidH
    March 25, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Jesus said the only unforgiveable sin was the sin against the Holy Ghost. President Boyd K. Packer has said, “I repeat, save for the exception of the very few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the Atonement of Christ.” Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” New Era, Apr 2005, 4

    I realize that some Church leaders have taught that murder is either unforgiveable or unpardonable or both. But, when the Book of Mormon refers to the Atonement as infinite, I believe infinite means without limits.

    “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.” Alma 24:10.

  12. Holden Caulfield
    March 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Does anyone know what other Christian churches believe is David’s fate/destiny? The few that I have come across believe he is completely forgiven.

    I realize what was in David’s heart, as the story goes, but didn’t someone have to be sent where Uriah was anyway? Hope that is not a dumb question, but I have never liked the D&C scripture re: David and exaltation. He was a person unlike the rest of us.

  13. FireTag
    March 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Community of Christ has never taken a position on David because it does not regard LDS D&C 132 as Scripture. (The two denominations’ D&C’s separate after about 1835.)

  14. MH
    March 25, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I agree with Jacob–there are no unforgivable sins, but murder is a pretty tough one to be forgiven of. Holden, Uriah did need to go to battle. But the message he carried from David to his commander was to put Uriah at the front of the battle, and then withdraw from Uriah so he could be killed. Nobody else was to be killed except Uriah. It was simply a way to appear as if Uriah had been killed “accidentally.”

    I do know the Jews find the mormon position on David as strange. They view David as a hero.

    I know of a documentary that states that Orthodox Jews believe that David did nothing wrong in relation to Uriah. Uriah disobeyed a direct order from David to sleep with his wife. Therefore, Uriah was subject to capital punishment for disobeying the commander in chief in a time of war. (I can find the quote if needed.)

  15. Last Lemming
    March 25, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    There is forgiveness in the sense that you don’t have to suffer for your sins at all once you have repented (per D&C 19:16), and there is forgiveness in the sense that you don’t have to suffer for your sins forever (per D&C 19:6). In the first case, you land in paradise after your death and eventually inherit one of the higher kingdoms. In the second case, you land in hell after your death, but eventually inherit a kingdom of glory, albeit the lowest one. My understanding is that premeditated murder can be forgiven in the second sense, but not the first. (Note that Psalms 16:10 implies that David will go to hell, but not be left there forever.) Both forms of forgiveness are possible only because of the atonement. Without it, we would all end up in hell with no hope of deliverance (2 Nephi 9:7-10).

  16. Aboz
    March 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    In the case of Paul, you have to remember, that in the days of the Old and New Testament, it was common for people to stone and do other things to people when they were clearly guilty of blasphemy. To Paul, Stephen was clearly guilty of blasphemy, according to the amount of light that Paul had before his conversion. So really, this is not pre-meditated murder. Its a case of agreeing with the execution of someone who was guilty of something according to the definition in the law of Moses. Surely after Paul’s conversion, he knew better, and was certainly repentant. But you certainly would have not found Paul just going around and killing people. He assented to the death of Stephen, therefore, only inasmuch as he thought Stephen needed to be executed.

    This is certainly a much different case than when David got it on with another man’s wife and murdered her husband so he could steal his wife and cover up his sin of adultery.

  17. Cowboy
    March 25, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I believe that the ever popular (particularly here) Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated in the Official Mormon Handbook, Mormon Doctrine, that while pre-meditated murder is not an unforgivable sin per se

  18. SteveS
    March 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    In reading the OT recently (1 Samuel), I gained insight from some footnotes about possible perceptions of sin in the ancient world. Essentially, the Hebrews could have broken sin into two categories: sins against men and sins against God. From sins of the first category men could receive forgiveness through atonement: sacrificial offerings made on their behalf by priesthood authority. Sins against God were harder (impossible?) to repent of: for who could sacrifice to cover those sins? Thus, Saul’s sins of making offerings himself before Samuel and the priests could arrive at a battle was a sin against God that brought condemnation upon his head. Other sins against God include Saul’s decision to consult a “witch” (a diviner operating in spiritual matters outside the authorized priesthood channels), Eli’s sons’ eating meat meant for offerings before the holocaust instead of after, and touching the Ark of the Covenant by someone not authorized to carry it. These offenses were offenses to God, for which no forgiveness was offered, and destruction was the consequence. David himself twice had opportunity to kill Saul (who sought David’s life to end it), but didn’t because he knew that God had appointed Saul king, and that removing him by his own will instead of letting God execute judgment in His own time would bring a cursing upon David’s own head.

    So David, in sinning by killing Uriah, sinned against another man, but possibly not also against God(?). Using royalty to make statements about sin is problematic, however, because it seems clear that they live by a different set of rules than the rest of the community. God’s edict “Thou shalt not kill” was certainly God’s Law, but it didn’t stop Samuel from demanding Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites (1 Sam 15), leaving no man, woman, child, or animal alive. Samuel claimed it was God’s will (Saul didn’t comply completely and was given a cursing in return). The average person living in one of the towns in Saul’s kingdom, however, having been found murdering another person, would almost certainly have been put to death.

    So where does that leave us? I have no idea. I believe murder is wrong. I believe adultery is wrong. Why should it be more wrong for a commoner than for a king? I don’t think it should. But I’m not sure ancient Israel saw it that way. Did God hold kings to a different standard than regular people (commanding them to kill mercilessly, allowing/commanding them to take wives and concubines, etc.)?

  19. Cowboy
    March 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I believe that the ultimate authority on matters (particularly in this forum), Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated in The Mormon Handbook for Dummies, Mormon Doctrine, that while pre-meditated murder is not an unpardonable sin per se`, it is not fully forgivable unto exaltation. In other words murder is not necessarily that sin which will ultimately and eternally consign a person into outer darkness “where their is weeping and wailing and nashing of teeth”, or “to be cast into hell fire where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Still, forgiveness in these cases can not extend completely as to restore eligibility for exaltation. To Elder McConkies credit, section 132 is sited regarding The Lords comments with respect to David and Uriah.

    Even with the above consideration, I have had trouble understanding these doctrines fully. For example, a case that has always puzzled me was King Lamoni from The Book of Mormon. Prior to his exposure with Ammon it seems that Lamoni had a penchant for torchuring and murdering his helpless servants sent to care for and defend his livestock. Even when Ammon approaches him after having succesfully defending his sheep from the Lamanites, Lamoni assumes that Ammon must be an immortal emmissary from “that great spirit” sent to exact justice for the countless murders against said servants. Lamoni, though not yet a Mormon, still appears to have understood the seriousness of Murder was guilty. Even so this is hardly adressed, and three day’s letter he is redeemed and given the contingent promises of the “blessed and happy state”. I am not sure I understand.

  20. March 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Two comments. If John D. Lee could have his blessings restored after the MMM, I guess anything is possible. Secondly I’d like to see a post some time about the “light of Christ”. It’s not mentioned in the bible and I’ve only seen maybe one or two passing references to it elsewhere. It’s like it’s being made out to be a fourth member of the Godhead or it’s there to make up for no one else having the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Why doesn’t the Holy Ghost fulfill the function that seems to be ascribed to the LOC? Just curious.

  21. Cowboy
    March 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I think The Holy Ghost is the signal, and The Light of Christ is the antenna.

  22. HunterEd
    March 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    According to D&C section 42 there are two unforgivable sins. Apparently the blood of Jesus is insufficient for these?

    The first being Murder: 8 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come. 19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

    The second is adultery (on the second occurance): 24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. 25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it ano more, thou shalt forgive; 26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out. I find it troubling that Jesus said if you look with lust you have committed adultery. According to the D&C Section 42 if we do that twice we are cast out?

  23. WMP
    March 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I’m pretty sure we don’t comprehend the bounds of the atonement, even as it relates to the most wretched of sinners.

    That said, I would be hesitant to test any theories.

  24. MH
    March 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    HunterEd,

    Jesus also says to cut off our hands, and poke out our eyes if they offend. The JST says clarifies this and says that jesus is speaking to us as a parable (ie symbolically.) My guess is the same reasoning applies.

  25. Ray
    March 25, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Haven’t read all of the comments, but I just want to plead with everyone to not let Doug G. think murder is OK. I don’t want to have to walk around looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. 🙂

  26. CB
    March 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” In some cases, this needs to apply to murderers as well. What about the killer who is found psychologically or mentally incompetent, who may be totally delusional, or who may have thought he was destroying an evil spirit, etc. What about the abused child who kills his abusive relative without truly realizing what he or she is doing?

    We know that only God can truly see the intent of the heart, and since we cannot, both scriptually and otherwise, we may want to leave judgment to God (and to the fallible judicial systems of our countries). Since no judge or jury is perfect, we will see some people wrongly convicted of murder while other murderers go unpunished, but in the eternal nature of things, all must one day stand before the Eternal Judge and receive punishment and/or forgiveness for their sins, according to their repentance or lack thereof and to the truth of God’s justice and mercy.

  27. Cowboy
    March 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    It seems that there is a slight level of defensiveness taking place here. I think all would agree that final Judgement rests with the Lord, that is not being disputed. Concerns over “judge not” in the context of this post are bit out of order, we are not laying judgements against a single person here. Rather the questions is, “is pre-meditated murder in the class of being an unpardonable sin?”. While it is generally believed that each person will be uniquely judged by The Perfect Judge, it should also be remembered that the scriptures are replete with several prescriptions and proscriptions, each associated with rewards and punishments.

  28. CB
    March 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I was recently reading Romans 1: 29-32, in which Paul describes a variety of sins, including “unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness,… envy, murder, debate (strife), deceit,…backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud,….covenantbreakers, without natural affective, implacable, unmerciful.”

    Then Paul warns in verse 32, “Who knowing the judment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in doing that do them.”

    The footnote tothe term “death” is “Capital Punishment” (32a), which confuses me. Are gossips and the unmerciful worthy of death along with murderers? Is Paul really suggesting that anyone in these catagories be sentenced to death after he has received such mercy? Could Paul have been referring to losing the spirit, which could lead to spiritual death rather than stoning the sinner?

    In the Book of Mormon, the people were practicing the Law of Moses when murderers were sentenced to death (ie. 2 Ne. 9:35, Alma 1:14). When Jesus came to fulfill that law, he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I would suggest that only one who is perfect and omniscient could take the life of another, including a killer.

    Because recently a number of murderers have been executed and then been exonerated by DNA evidence, I cannot support capital punishment. I believe that a life sentence without possibility of parole is a perferable punishment for premeditated murder.

  29. March 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    In the case of the death penalty, I realize that it’s the law of the land in some places and we are subject to the laws of the land. Man-made laws do not equal God’s laws and so I don’t think that man is always just. Personally, I oppose the death penalty in all cases — especially for the reason that man’s justice is not perfect — although I have no problem with rapists and murderers rotting in jail all their lives. My point was that I’ve heard/read some Christians (specifically Mormons) justify the death penalty as a sort of “blood atonement,” that God wants murderers executed (I remember hearing one Mormon say that the murderer’s blood literally has to be spilled, so execution should be carried out by a firing squad instead of the electric chair or gas chamber) in order to be eligible for forgiveness. In other words, murderers cannot be forgiven unless they give up their own lives and shed their own blood.

    But personally, I believe what CB just said. My home ward in Canada produced two murderers (not directly, but you get what I mean 🙂 ). One was a young man who had it all. He had only been active for a short time as a kid and never really had anything to do with the Church later in his life, but he destroyed an extremely promising boxing career by getting involved with drugs and then litereally butchering his girlfriend while high on coke. The other was perhaps more tragic, just a young man who came from a troubled home and had been bullied at school. He and his family moved out west and he brought a shotgun to class one day and killed a fellow student. There are certainly many similar, tragic stories in this world and I believe that God will be merciful where His mercy is justified. As terrible as their crimes are, I can’t imagine sentencing any of these people to death — especially those who come from a troubled background. And yet I’m sure many who have never really had a break in life have ended their days strapped to the electric chair.

  30. Doug G.
    March 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Ray, come on, I wouldn’t kill you my brother. Make you suffer for the next 30 years with my comments maybe! But I wouldn’t want to get rid of my favorite JS worshipping, BY ignoring, polygamy squirming, garment wearing, church attending, priesthood holding, missionary training, gospel doctrine teaching, prop 8 supporting, middle-aged overweight white guy! …At least not all at once… 🙂

    Do I need to be looking over my shoulder now??? (BIG SMILES)

  31. Aboz
    March 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Mr. Smith, you say, “If John D. Lee could have his blessings restored after the MMM, I guess anything is possible.”

    I agree to some point, as far as what can happen with one’s membership status. But having one’s blessings restored, or even a murderer being baptized after clearance from a general authority is only judgment done by someone in mortality. What actually happens to a murderer in the afterlife is not guaranteed by one’s membership status. As Elder Faust said, Exaltation is a case by case basis, even for people who aren’t murderers. And he was speaking in the context of children who are “sheep who have wandered” not many of which are murderers, certainly.

  32. Aboz
    March 25, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    HunterEd, you say, “I find it troubling that Jesus said if you look with lust you have committed adultery. According to the D&C Section 42 if we do that twice we are cast out?” Lust and adultery are two separate sins intimately tied, and only differ by degree, not kind. Murder and anger are similar. You are not a murderer by virtue of being angry, nor are you an adulterer by virtue of lust. If you use common sense you can come to the conclusion that the Lord knows full well the difference in degree here, but cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. You can pray to the Lord for forgiveness for lust, certainly, as well as anger, and don’t even have to go to your bishop. Certainly a bishop, as would a Stake President, be involved in either adultery or murder. This one is a common sense thing. Murder is pretty much automatic excommunication, as is adultery in many cases, but not all, as I understand it.

  33. Clark
    March 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I agree with #4 that it’s a matter of “greater light, greater condemnation” (D&C 82:3). That’s why in D&C 42:8 it specifically begins “speaking unto the church” because its unforgivable to those who have the Gift of the HG. That’s the difference. Alma 39:6 also highlights the difference, but leaves some crucial wiggle room: “whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness.” (Note that this is Alma Jr. speaking of his past life, so the forgiveness may refer to “spiritual murder,” that is, the testimony destroying that he was guilty of.)

    FOr those non-members who have no light, forgiveness is clearly possible (Anti-Lehi-Nephis, for one, or those in recent years requiring FP permission.) At what degree of light the sin becomes unforgivable is something the Lord will decide.

    Likewise, the difference between killing (occassionally justified) and cold-blooded murder (i.e. shedding of innocent blood) is a gray area that isn’t clear in the Bibical record (esp the OT).

  34. March 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Mormon morality — or at least Mormon morality as it concerns murder — seems to be a morality of intentionality. As John Kessel put it in his critique of Ender’s Game, “the rightness or wrongness of an act inheres in the actor’s motives, not in the act itself, or in its results.”

  35. Paul Manning
    March 25, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I havent read all the responses so if I repeat anything…

    the difference between Saul & David is purely INTENT

    David’s intent was to get another man’s wife
    Saul’s intent was to obey god’s law (even though it was erroneous beleif)

    So God judges us all on two things

    what we do
    what was our intention when we did it

  36. FireTag
    March 25, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I think in general the Book of Mormom support an approach close to what the broader Christian community calls Christian realism (albeit with situation-specific prophetic insight governing) in almost all life-and-death situations in civil society. It is “intent of the heart” that matters, but it is really only an overall principle like Christian realism that can make sense of actions as diverse as slaughtering Laban, the Anti-Lehi-Nephites self sacrifica, the execution of Korihor, or the sons of Helaman. You can also apply the same principle to both New and Old Testaments (which is why it is “Christian” realism) even if we don’t have to defend everyone’s judgement of what was realistically required.

  37. Ray
    March 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Doug wins this one by TKO in the 1st round. I’m down for the count.

  38. GBSmith
    March 25, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    RE#22

    “According to D&C section 42 there are two unforgivable sins. Apparently the blood of Jesus is insufficient for these?”

    Since the revelation is from Jesus to Joseph Smith, it appears that that’s what He’s saying.

  39. CarlosJC
    March 25, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    “Was he not guilty of murder in the stoning of Stephen? And worse yet, premeditated murder?”

    My understanding is that Paul was applying then current Jewish law.

    But Book of Mormon does suggest that forgiveness is possible but not easily obtained. I always understood this to mean that we can’t (if we murder) resort to the atonement for the ‘forgiveness’ meaning that we can’t rely on Jesus for forgiveness because murder was not covered by Jesus’ atonement, but we need to do our own atonement and pay for the sin ourselves by going to hell for a time and then probably, like David, to the Telestial kingdom. There we will actually reach forgiveness for our sin, since we atoned for it ourselves. This is, I was taught, also the reason why the church is OK with capital punishment for murderers, as the first step to atone for the sin.

    (Also maybe something little know is that a person who admits pre-meditated murder isn’t baptized until the first presidency approves it and whether they will or not is a complete mystery. I had a few -well paperwork during my mission- and I thought “Yes, this person will be accepted since it was self defense, another no since they killed hundreds during the dirty war” but then the answer from the first presidency was completely opposite! I never worked out how they decide on this matter but can only guess that it’s all inspiration since they allowed a retired marine who admitted to torturing and killing hundreds be baptized! )

    I’m at work now but if anyone wants it I’ll chase up the references and quotes from Mormon books like doctrine of salvation, from memory its all in one of those volumes.

  40. Cowboy
    March 26, 2009 at 9:28 am

    “There we will actually reach forgiveness for our sin, since we atoned for it ourselves.”

    This is probably, in my estimation, one of Brigham Youngs most damaging contributions to Mormon theology. I have a hard time reconciling it with need’s of an infinite and eternal atonement. Doesn’t this entirely refute the purpose of Christ’s atonement, if we are able to atone for sins ourselves. Theoretically speaking, if it were possible that we could 1) atone for our own sins, 2) progress in kingdoms; would it not behoove each of us to take our own lives as a means of insuring our salvation. This line of rhetoric is highly problematic, and the first clue should be the fact that in this day in age you will never hear the Church hierarchy preach these principles. It is very simple, Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the father, but by him. I would be cautious of any teachings, even from a Prophet, which suggest otherwise.

  41. HunterEd
    March 26, 2009 at 9:34 am

    RE #38:

    GBSmith,

    “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

    “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

    The bible seems to contradict D&C Section 42.

  42. Cowboy
    March 26, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Not to mention that it sort of faux pas to label the Atonement of Jesus Christ “insufficient” in any regards. Particularly when that leads to the assumption the we in and of ourselves are somehow capable of absolution in our own behalf.

  43. Ray
    March 26, 2009 at 9:47 am

    “Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the father, but by him.”

    Cowboy, I agree that the way members say “we atone for it ourselves” is highly problematic, but I think when you strip away the words and focus on the actual belief being stated, much of the problem fades away.

    By that I mean that those who say that we atone for it ourselves aren’t using “atone” in the same way as “Atonement”. When you go back and read the END RESULT of “atoning for it ourselves”, they are talking about not ending up in Hell (subject to the devil in outer darkness, in Mormon terms). That’s a far cry from “coming unto the Father” – which, in Mormon terms would be limited to the Celestial Kingdom.

    I read D&C 19, and I prefer to limit my description to something like, “Our sins are going to have to be paid for somehow by someone. If we accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can have that debt removed and be freed to live with and like our Father, or we can pay the consequences of rejecting his Atonement and lose the chance to live with and like our Father.” Iow, he will free (nearly) ALL of us from physical death, but we have to accept him as our intermediary to “come unto the Father”. We really don’t “atone” (become at one with anyone else) on our own, so I agree with your concern over that terminology.

  44. Cowboy
    March 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Ray:

    Your clarification is helpful, and I don’t oppose the notion that just because Christ paved the way of Salvation, we are exempt from any level of punishment, even capital punishment.

  45. Holden Caulfield
    March 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

    “As John Kessel put it in his critique of Ender’s Game, “the rightness or wrongness of an act inheres in the actor’s motives, not in the act itself, or in its results.””

    A local talk radio host, who was against capital punishment, would always wonder aloud why the punishment for shooting to murder someone and missing didn’t carry the same punishment as shooting to murder someone and killing them. He said society seems to be reward someone for being a bad shot.

  46. Ray
    March 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Holden, what bothers me even more is the concept behind hate crimes. Why should someone who commits a crime against someone of his own race be treated less harshly than someone who commits the exact same crime against someone of a different race? I don’t give a rat’s nether region about what someone thinks of me; I do care, however, about what someone does to me. If someone assaults me because he thinks I’m a “Mormon tool of Satan”, I want them treated exactly like someone who assaults me thinking I am carrying lots of cash (although the latter might be a good sign of fundamental stupidity).

    Hate crime, schmate crime: I just want crime punished equally. We have enough legitimate differentiators in our system already.

  47. March 26, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    RE: HunterEd #41

    “The bible seems to contradict D&C Section 42.”

    Yes, it seems to though I think it’s more one of semantics. Saying that Christ can’t do something is pretty risky. It makes more sense to assume that there are things for which he may chose not to extend his forgiveness or that in a practical sense we’ve put ourself in a place where we can’t accept his grace and forgiveness.

  48. Ray
    March 26, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    #47 – I agree, GB.

    There isn’t really ANY practical difference in outcome, but it’s important to draw the distinction between “he can’t (because of some external constraints or lack of ability)” and “he can’t (because that’s just not how he operates or chooses to act)”. From a purely linguistic viewpoint, one really says “can’t”; the other really says “doesn’t” or “won’t”. Therefore, we probably should use “doesn’t” or “won’t” instead of “can’t”.

  49. March 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    As John Kessel put it in his critique of Ender’s Game, “the rightness or wrongness of an act inheres in the actor’s motives, not in the act itself, or in its results.

    I think John Kessel is way off here. The rightness or wrongness of a person doing an act inheres in the actor’s motives, not in the act itself, or in its results. However, the rightness or wrongness of the act itself inheres in its results. Kessel’s formulation would have us believe that if someone does something out of a good motive, whatever they did is necessarily right, but this is obviously wrong. Hence, a distinction must be made between judging the rightness of an act as opposed to the rightness of the actor.

  50. March 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Jacob,

    Kessel is not arguing in favor of that morality. The point of his essay is that that is Card’s morality in Ender and Speaker, and that it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

    “The rightness or wrongness of a person doing an act inheres in the actor’s motives, not in the act itself, or in its results.”

    I don’t think I can agree with that. People who do bad things almost never think of themselves as the bad guy. They’re always motivated — or at least think they’re motivated — by “good reasons.”

  51. Cowboy
    March 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    #47 –

    That is certainly a better way of looking at it.

  52. March 26, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Kuri,

    I don’t think I can agree with that. People who do bad things almost never think of themselves as the bad guy. They’re always motivated — or at least think they’re motivated — by “good reasons.”

    But since I said “the actor’s motives” rather than “what the actor thinks his motives are” your objection is not to my formulation but an alternate one of your own making. The word “motives” was in the original quote so I went with it, but if I were starting from scratch I would have used “intentions” rather than “motives.” I do maintain that if the person is acting in good faith to do what she thinks is right then even if the action is terrible it is counted to her as righteousness.

  53. March 26, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Jacob,

    I don’t think that the difference between “motive” and “intention” is significant in this context. I could just as easily have said “People who do bad things almost never think of themselves as the bad guy. They always intend to do “good.”

    “I do maintain that if the person is acting in good faith to do what she thinks is right then even if the action is terrible it is counted to her as righteousness.”

    By that formulation, what action is so heinous that the actor can be condemned? Say I beat my child with my fists every day; are those beatings counted to me as righteousness if I thought they were “for his own good”? If I kill someone, is that counted to me as righteousness if I do it because I think “he deserves it”? If I commit genocide because I believe the people I’m killing are a threat of some sort to my own people, is that counted to me as righteousness?

    So no, I can’t buy it the way you put it. Maybe I could buy “it can slightly mitigate the evil of the action.” But I think “it is counted as righteousness” goes way too far.

  54. March 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Kuri,

    I could just as easily have said “People who do bad things almost never think of themselves as the bad guy. They always intend to do “good.”

    You could say that, but you would be wrong. I simply reject your assertion that people always intend to do good. I think people routinely realize that what they are doing is wrong. If you think the typical person beating their child thinks they are doing what is right and good, you have a very different view of the world than I do. You seem to insist on the idea that people’s rationalizations represent their true intentions, which I reject. I think that the things people say to justify their actions are a totally unreliable indicator of what they know and feel is right in their hearts. Thus, whether a person “thinks of himself as the bad guy” is not generally relevant to my analysis.

    However, if you strip away the bogus conflation of justifications with true intentions I fully stand behind my statement. If you commit genocide because you think this is what is right and good, then yes, I think it is counted to you as righteousness. The act itself may simultaneously be judged to be terrible. I would add that if the person has a totally screwed up sense of right and wrong due to prior wrong actions which they could sense were wrong at the time, then they are by no means off the hook. But a person can only be reasonably judged in the context of their own knowledge and beliefs. If a person is crazy and unable to distinguish between right and wrong, then I don’t hold them morally accountable even if they commit genocide. Likewise, if they think they are doing what is right and good, no matter of the actual situation, I count that specific act as righteousness since righteousness is simply doing what we think is right.

  55. CarlosJC
    March 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Cowboy (et al)

    “Brigham Youngs most damaging contributions to Mormon theology. I have a hard time reconciling it with need’s of an infinite and eternal atonement. Doesn’t this entirely refute the purpose of Christ’s atonement, if we are able to atone for sins ourselves”

    I’d say you missed the point here. The key is that Jesus atonement didn’t reach or extend to cover the sin of murder (premeditated etc). That’s what Young and JFieldingSimth were pointing out, repeatedly. So then only the murderer can pay for his sins -all others can be ‘paid’ for by Jesus.

  56. EJ
    March 26, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Regarding sinning in ignorance. We understand that our Father and His Son are fundamentally interested in one thing: our immortality and eternal life. To drill down on the latter, the primary question in His mind regarding his sharing of His kingdom with us (ie of eternal life or living a life like His)is His answer to the following questions regarding us:

    “Can I trust you? Can I trust you with unlimited power? Can I trust you with these souls, who have placed their trust in me? Can I trust you to align your will with ours after we’ve given you enough power and authority to present a serious challenge to this kingdom and the good that we are doing if you were use that agency to rebel against it?”

    With this perspective, He observes our lives, our choices, our heart, our intentions. Hoping we will make good choices. Hoping he can bless us. And as we prove that we are worthy to be trusted, we are added upon. Line upon line.

    From this perspective, ignorant sin is FAR less of a concern than pre-meditated sin.

  57. March 26, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Jacob,

    If you think the typical person beating their child thinks they are doing what is right and good, you have a very different view of the world than I do.

    I’ve known any number of people who were emotionally abused by harsh, authoritarian, unreasonable parents. Probably every one of those parents believed they were doing the right thing at the time (although some of them eventually learned otherwise).

    You seem to insist on the idea that people’s rationalizations represent their true intentions, which I reject. I think that the things people say to justify their actions are a totally unreliable indicator of what they know and feel is right in their hearts.

    No, I think the reasons people give for their actions are quite often very reliable indicators of what they genuinely believe their own motivations or intent to be. OTOH, I think those reasons are unreliable indicators of actual motivation or intent. I think it’s quite difficult for human beings to fully understand their own motivations.

    If you commit genocide because you think this is what is right and good, then yes, I think it is counted to you as righteousness.

    I reject that utterly. Again, I can understand “mitigation” — any system of morality that takes no account at all of intention is unreasonable and cruel — but “righteousness”? No. No way.

    …righteousness is simply doing what we think is right.

    Wow. I see we have very different ideas about what “righteousness” is then.

  58. GBSmith
    March 26, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    CarlosJC

    “I’d say you missed the point here. The key is that Jesus atonement didn’t reach or extend to cover the sin of murder (premeditated etc). That’s what Young and JFieldingSimth were pointing out, repeatedly. So then only the murderer can pay for his sins -all others can be ‘paid’ for by Jesus.”

    To quote HunterEd quoting I John

    “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

    So how do you reconcile these two? Secondly how does the murderer pay for his/her sins? Dying, suicide, dying at someone else’s hand (blood atonement)? Just curious.

  59. Ray
    March 26, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    fwiw, I agree with kuri in #57. There’s a HUGE difference in my mind between “sincere” and “righteous”. I think sincerity can absolve people of many things associated with judgment, but I don’t believe it makes anyone righteous. “Righteous” (at its religious root) means “right with God” – and I don’t see someone who is sinning in ignorant sincerity as being right with God.

    The Atonement can make that person righteous in the end (can “justify” saving the sinner who sins unknowingly in sincerity), but that person is not righteous until his sins are absolved. I think it’s extremely important to make that distinction.

  60. Cowboy
    March 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    CarlosJC:

    It is possible that we are misunderstanding one another, and in that case Ray’s explanation in #43 may go along way to resolving our disagreement. If you are suggesting that somehow the laws of justice require that “he who sheds mans blood, by man his blood shall be shed”, then I can live with that. On the contrary, if you are suggesting that somehow the murders blood can be redemptive in the same way that Christs blood is redemptive, then what more can be said other than we completely disagree. What need would there be for an infinite and eternal sacrifice if we could meet the eternal demands of justice and mercy independent from the Savior. Again, if I am misunderstanding you then forgive my objection, but if I am not I would just call your attention to absence of this line of teaching for nearly sixty years or more. I would venture that none of today’s leading Church officers would be willing to endorse anything teaching that suggests we can fully satisfy the Eternal demands of justice and mercy without the Savior.

  61. March 27, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Ray,

    and I don’t see someone who is sinning in ignorant sincerity as being right with God.

    Fascinating. Why not? Do you think that mentally handicapped people who’s actions would otherwise be considered immoral are not right with God? If we don’t consider people morally accountable if they are unable to understand right from wrong, then how can we possibly turn around and hold people accountable for doing something wrong if they are (through no fault of their own) mistaken about right and wrong?

    The simple fact is that most difficult moral decisions involve weighing various possible futures against each other. Either we don’t know how a person will react to the different things we might do/say, or we don’t know if one attempt vs. another will succeed, or whatever. We do the best we can do, even though our best efforts and intentions may lead to a bad outcome. The idea that a person carefully weighs the options, does what they think is right given the knowledge available, and then gets to heaven only to find out that God counted that decision against them as immoral because they assessed the situation incorrectly is just untenable to me. No, I think God judges each of our actions in the context in which they were made.

    I usually find when I discuss this with people in person (where we have more time to hash things out) that people are not accustomed to separating the goodness/badness of the event itself from the goodness/badness of the person acting. However, I find that distinction to be crucial. That distinction makes me comfortable counting someone as righteous for doing what they thought was right, while counting the action as being terrible based on its actual consequences.

  62. Ray
    March 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Jacob,

    I think it might be semantics in our case – that we simply are defining “righteous” slightly differently. I say that because I pretty much agree with everything else you say about responsibility and judgment.

    I’ll give you a specific example:

    I have no problem believing that one or more of the men involved in the suicide missions of 9/11 will not be held accountable for their actions, since I can imagine a scenario where at least one or more of them were taught from their earliest youth to hate America and “trained” for that mission. If that is the case, the idea of the sin being imputed to the parents would fit perfectly. However, there is no way I could classify them as “righteous”. Since I use the definition “right with God” as the generic for “something” that is righteous, I use the definition “acting in a manner that is right with God” or “being right with God” as the generic for “someone” who is righteous. In that sense, I believe ALL are righteous only to degrees – that the object of life is to “be ye therefore perfect (“complete, whole, fully developed”) – or, iow, fully “right with God” (fully “at-one” with Him).

    I think there is a BIG difference between being able to be forgiven and able to BECOME righteous and actually BEING righteous – and I think BOTH are critical to Mormonism’s full theology.

  63. March 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Ray, thanks for the explanation. As you suggested, it appears we have a semantic difference in our use of the word righteous, but we generally agree about the nuts and bolts of the situation. Just as I separate the goodness of an act from the goodness of an actor, I usually extend this distinction through the full semantic range and separate the righteousness of an act from the righteousness of an action, but this is not a sticking point for me. I would be happy to have separate words if it makes the meaning more clear, and your suggestion seems reasonable to me.

  64. CarlosJC
    March 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Cowboy,

    “What need would there be for an infinite and eternal sacrifice if we could meet the eternal demands of justice and mercy independent from the Savior.”

    Difference is that the mercy and the meeting of eternal demands of justice through Jesus will allow you to entre the Celestial Kingdom -the murderer, the type like King David, can’t do that. They meet the demands of justice by paying themselves for their sin, not Jesus paying for it, and then since time has run out, they end up in the Telestial having performed their own atonement or rather at the point of leaving hell, having then found forgiveness for their sin. Remember that all people including those in the telestial will bend the knee and repent of all sins etc etc.

    I think you are reading in this that I’m equating Jesus atonement with the murderer’s own atonement. But no that isn’t the case. I’m using here the word ‘atonement’ as the dictionary uses it: “Amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong;”. In all sins, except murder, Jesus can make amends and pay the price for our sins but the murderer has to do so himself by descending to hell etc etc. Jesus made that descent in Gethsemane but He could then continue on to the highest kingdom as a clean and worthy person. The murderer runs out of time to do this, to do his own atonement, plus then all the rest that is needed to entre the highest kingdom.

    Oh and, off course, the sons of perdition simply don’t want to find repentance at all and hence are like Lucifer and his people.

    But I agree that church leaders don’t speak of this anymore. The last I know of was Joseph Fielding Smith in his various writings. Today the emphasis and the needs are different so the message stays on this “turn to Jesus” thing. Even though they will continue to reject some who admit to first degree murder and then seek baptism. There are cases around, although few.

  65. Ray
    March 28, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Fwiw, I don’t think time has anything to do with it – one way or the other.

  66. CarlosJC
    March 28, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Ray,

    What do you think is the answer then?

  67. Ray
    March 28, 2009 at 2:35 am

    #43.

    As to the question of time, Alma 40:8 says:

    all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.

  68. CarlosJC
    March 28, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Well me, as a man, see a start and exit date to hell.

    By the way, McCondie explains this better than I even could:

    “Murder is a sin for which there is “no forgiveness” (D&C 42:79), meaning that a murderer can never gain salvation. “No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15) He cannot join the Church by baptism; he is outside the pale of redeeming grace.”

    Redeeming grace can only involve Jesus. This ‘no forgiveness’ specifically means gaining salvation. The ‘forgiveness’ of those who will go to the Telestial Kingdom is different and relating to bending the knee and confessing that Jesus is the Christ etc etc

  69. Mormon Heretic
    March 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

    So are you saying David is going to the Telestial Kingdom, CarlosJC?

  70. HunterEd
    March 30, 2009 at 8:54 am

    The bible clearly teaches that all sin is forgivable.

    Micah 7:18-19, which says: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

    Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

    If God doesn’t change (is eternal) how can the bible say that all sin is forgiven, but the prophets say otherwise? Does anyone else find this troubling?

  71. Cowboy
    March 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

    CarlosJC:

    It sounds like we were misunderstanding one another, though I agree with Ray – I don’t know that time is the matter. That sounds like you are saying Jesus and his infinite and Eternal (God’s name according Mormon Doctrine – not necessarily a reference to time. Moses 7) sacrifice would not be necessary if only we had enough time.

    I am not ignorant to the fact that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, and a host of others have taught principles in this regard. Nevertheless the modern hierarchy has drastically strayed from, and appears to have abandoned this line of teaching.

  72. March 30, 2009 at 10:54 am

    HunterEd,

    The Bible also clearly teaches that one sin is not forgivable:

    Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:31)

    So it’s not just latter-day prophets who contradict (your particular interpretation of) Micah.

  73. SteveS
    March 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

    To add to what kuri said, I mentioned earlier the OT seems also to confirm that there’s more than one way to commit the unforgivable offense. These offenses toward God include desecration of holy objects, performing priestly ordinances without authority, and not obeying the word of God given through a prophet. Undoubtedly, there are more, but they all have one thing in common: the sinners act in direct opposition to God’s commands. Translated into NT-speak, that sounds a lot like sinning against the Holy Ghost, for which there is no forgiveness extended. I agree, of course, that this entails something greater than not acting upon a spiritual “prompting”, or choosing to sin despite a spiritual warning.

    But reading about these spiritual offenses in the OT and NT, it begs at least two lines of thought: 1) are there limits to the efficacy of Christ’s atonement (in that it doesn’t or cannot cover direct sins against Deity), or, 2) has the concept of sin, atonement, and post-mortal reward/punishment evolved since the days of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, and others? I don’t have any answers, but I suspect that OT and even NT authors understood all those doctrinal concepts differently than did JS, or than we do in the current Church.

  74. HunterEd
    March 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Response to #72 and #73

    Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:31)

    Doesn’t that directly say that all sin is forgivable (excluding blasphemy against the Holy Ghost)?

    Steve S: It would take a pretty limited God to take the punishment for just some of our sins (rather than all). Jesus is much more than that. Perhaps JS and the “current church” have this doctinal concept totally wrong? Maybe its more of the opinions of the church’s prophet(s) rather than actual doctorine?

  75. Ray
    March 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    HunterEd, I’m just a bit confused. Are you disagreeing with kuri by agreeing with him?

  76. HunterEd
    March 31, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Ray,

    If you would read my earlier posts my point was that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, D&C 42, and the modern church say that murder and adultery (after the second offense) are not forgivable. I have given multiple verses from the bible that contradict this teaching. Including the following:

    “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

    Micah 7:18-19, which says: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

    Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

    “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

    And the latest in the conversation with Kuri: Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:31)

    You are confused? Sounds like this subject is very confusing (especially to the leaders of the church), and the LDS doctrine on this particular matter is flawed. Murder and adultery appear entirely forgivable. If all sins are cast to the bottom of the sea, removed, tread underfoot, and forgiven then why does the LDS church teach otherwise?

    This is a very damaging doctrine. What hope does the adulterer and murderer have? If they are not forgiven why don’t they just continue committing adultery and murder? Jesus died on the cross for all sin contrary to what the LDS church teaches.

  77. March 31, 2009 at 9:52 am

    HunterEd,

    If you would read my earlier posts my point was that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, D&C 42, and the modern church say that murder and adultery (after the second offense) are not forgivable.

    That’s not what they say. D&C 42 says that adulterers who repeat their offense after claiming to repent are to be “cast out” of the Church, IOW, they are to be excommunicated. That is not the same as (repeated) adultery being an unforgivable sin.

    Murder is not unforgivable in the same way that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is unforgivable. In the end, blasphemers against the Holy Ghost will be cast into Outer Darkness; murderers will be saved at least in the lowest kingdom of glory. Murder is therefore forgivable in an important sense.

    You are confused?

    I also am confused. You keep contradicting yourself. You keep saying that “Jesus died on the cross for all sin,” but you also keep admitting that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (BATHG) cannot be forgiven. But those two things cannot both be true. If Jesus took care of all sin, and BATHG is a sin, then Jesus took care of BATHG. Phrased differently, if BATHG is a sin, and Jesus did not take care of BATHG, then Jesus did not take care of all sin.

  78. FireTag
    March 31, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Humans have law; God has justice. Many seem to think that the judgement of God is a matter of trials, verdicts, and procedures for paying penalties. I think it would be more helpful to think of the operation of the moral law the same way we think of the operation of the Law of Gravity (since we know God built that one!)

    Christ saves us from our sins, not in our sins. That is said repeatedly in the BoM (though, since I use the RLDS version, I can’t translate my chapter and verse numbers to yours – so you’ll have to look it up on your own). If our hearts are changed, we are saved. If our hearts don’t change even in full knowledge of His love and sacrifice for us and full knowledge of our sins so that we still desire the wrong, we are unsavable.

  79. HunterEd
    March 31, 2009 at 10:41 am

    kuri,

    In order for our sins to be forgiven we have to accept Christ’s sacrafice. This is why BATHG can not be forgiven, it is the denial of the belief in Jesus. You are lumping the sin of unbelief with the sins of murder and adultery. In order to be saved we must have faith.

    Also… Its pretty clear to me that D&C 42 says repeated adultery is not forgivable (and Jesus said if you look with lust you’ve committed adultery). It only make sense if it isn’t forgiveable in the eyes of the church why would it be forgivable in the eyes of God? “24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. 25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it ano more, thou shalt forgive; 26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.

    Why must the church twist the teachings of the bible, rather than admit some of their doctrine is in error?

  80. HunterEd
    March 31, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Firetag said, “Christ saves us from our sins, not in our sins. That is said repeatedly in the BoM”…

    So have you stopped sinning? Do you keep all of the ten commandments?

  81. March 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Ed,

    In order for our sins to be forgiven we have to accept Christ’s sacrafice. This is why BATHG can not be forgiven, it is the denial of the belief in Jesus.

    Wouldn’t that be denial of Christ?

    You are lumping the sin of unbelief with the sins of murder and adultery.

    No I’m not. I explicitly addressed how murder and adultery differ from BATHG. You seem not to have read what I wrote.

    As for D&C 42, it says “thou [meaning the Church] shalt forgive,” not “God shalt forgive.” Thus, “shall not be forgiven” and “cast out” also refer to the sinner’s relationship[ with the Church rather than with God, and in this context mean only excommunication from the Church. It is possible (though difficult) for people who have been excommunicated for adultery to repent and rejoin the Church, so adultery is forgivable not only by God but also by the Church.

    Why must the church twist the teachings of the bible, rather than admit some of their doctrine is in error?

    As I’ve explained, the Church doesn’t teach that murder is unforgivable in the sense that BATHG is and it doesn’t teach that adultery is unforgivable. In what way, then, is it twisting the teachings of the Bible?

  82. Ray
    March 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    There really isn’t anything I can add to what kuri has said – other than to restate that Ed’s criticism of D&C 42 simply is based on a ridiculous interpretation of that passage.

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya:

    I do not think it means what you think it means.

  83. CarlosJC
    March 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    #77 Kuri,

    “Murder is not unforgivable in the same way that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is unforgivable. In the end, blasphemers against the Holy Ghost will be cast into Outer Darkness; murderers will be saved at least in the lowest kingdom of glory. Murder is therefore forgivable in an important sense.”

    True. What I was trying to say but couldn’t articulate it clearly and as briefly as this. Thanks.

    I’d ad that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is unforgivable probably because the person who reaches that stage of iniquity simply doesn’t want to be forgiven at all; they constantly fight against God and want to kill Him.

  84. CarlosJC
    March 31, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    #80 Hunter: “So have you stopped sinning? Do you keep all of the ten commandments?”

    Doh! say what??? …….

    Maybe an Evangelical board is more to your liking, but you can stay here if you wish to of course.

  85. Ray
    March 31, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    In direct response to Ed’s questions in #80:

    No. Yes.

    Just thought I’d let you know.

  86. HunterEd
    March 31, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    RE: #85

    I’m going to be extremely blunt… I don’t mean this against you personally, but against mankind as a whole (including myself). Nobody keeps the 10 commandments continually. Be honest with yourself.

  87. Ray
    March 31, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    #86 – Be as blunt as you want to be; I am being honest with myself and you. It’s the more nuanced commandments I don’t keep nearly as well – you know, the additions Jesus articulated as the evidence of true discipleship. I struggle with those much more than the 10 commandments. It’s really not all that hard to keep the 10 commandments, if you are concerned only with the letter of the law. Frankly, I think that’s why Jesus taught the higher law he did – because reliance on obedience to more black-and-white commands without true conversion of the heart and personal direction from the Holy Ghost is what Paul condemned as “dead works”.

    I’m not saying I keep all of the ten commandments “perfectly” or “continually”. That condition (“continually”) was not part of your original question. I feel comfortable saying I keep the 10 commandments, in the same way I feel comfortable answering the Mormon temple recommend questions with a simple, “Yes,” or “No.” For example, there are times when a reasonable person could conclude that I don’t keep the Sabbath day holy based on a more expansive interpretation, but I always do so based solely on the OT words themselves. I believe I can say the same about each of the 10 commandments – and I don’t think I’m unique in that regard.

    I stumble all the time, but I am keeping the 10 commandments very closely and consciously and “religiously”.

  88. Eric
    January 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    As a lifelong member of the LDS faith I have never heard it said that any person including those consigned to outer darkness would not be resurrected and reunited with physical bodies. The resurrection applies to all who have, are, or will live upon the earth regardless of their degree of righteousness or wickedness.

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