Is the Gospel really good news?

I receive a daily mailing from a fundie Protestant pastor that details every story that day that he feels is important for Christians to know about.  Today’s mailing included such items as: Earthquake Shakes Chile’s Capital, Dengue outbreak in Argentina now ‘epidemic’, Mother kills son with a bullet to back of head at Florida shooting range, and, to my surprise, Gay marriage’ in Iowa more damaging than a 500-year flood!  Pretty grim stuff.  The pastor calls his daily post All The Good News OF Bible Prophecy. Huh???  Why is any of this stuff good news?

I guess, from the point of view of a pre-millenialist believer, it’s all good news.  Things are getting really bad, and only the return of Jesus Christ can fix all of it.  The worse things get, the closer we are to the eschaton.  Fabulous!  Bring it on!

Mormonism, I think, takes a different view.  It avoids changing bad news into good news.  Instead, it presents the Gospel as life-affirming and an eminently practical way to live one’s life.

My question: Are there aspects of Mormonism that aren’t, in the end, “good news”?  Are there some aspects you’d change, not because you just don’t like them, but because they contribute nothing toward the ultimate message of good news for all people?

Comments

comments

11 comments for “Is the Gospel really good news?

  1. April 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I think it depends, really. I remember when I was a missionary, there was a lot of information I brought to people that I realized was “bad news,” including:

    1) Your baptism didn’t count.
    2) Smoking and drinking aren’t just bad for you, you’ve been sinning against God your whole life.
    3) Oh yeah, God hates your coffee and tea, too.
    4) You must move out of your boyfriend’s house if you want to get baptized.

    Mostly “you’ve been breaking God’s commandments without knowing it” type things. Among others. I never liked telling people that stuff. But there is so much Good News in our message:

    1) Christ’s Atonement saved YOU from death, no matter what you do.
    2) You will attain a Degree of Glory after this life.
    3) You can be cleansed of Sin and be sealed to your family…

    etc. etc.

    I wonder how we can achieve a balance… not being so positive that we all get complacent, but understanding that we really DO get some freebies with this Gospel, and if we work hard we can get even more blessings.

  2. April 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I always thought it would be cool for the Elders Quorum to have one night per year where everyone got to smoke one cigar. It always looks cool in those movies where guys are playing poker while puffing away on those big ol Cubans.

  3. Cowboy
    April 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    The glass is half empty vs. Half full.

    Elder: Mr. Jones the Good News is that through the Gospel families can be sealed together forever. In other words you can be with your wife and children and function in the family unit for Eternity.

    Mr. Jones: That sounds wonderful Elder, what a great perspective. To be honest though, I already expect to be with my wife when I go to heaven, so what does your Church offer that mine doesn’t.

    Elder: Mr. Jones, the only way to be with your wife for eternity is to be sealed to her in one of our Temples by proper Priesthood authority. If you don’t join our Church and get sealed in our Temple then your marriage is for time only and you may not have an Eternal family. Your wife will not be with you in the afterlife.

    What started out as Good News, by necessity becomes a takeaway all too often.

  4. Tatiana
    April 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Yes, to me it was wonderful news, when I became a convert. You see, I had thought everything in the world was dirty and corrupt. I thought nobody was honorable, and me the lowest most despicable person of all. I had tried and tried to become the person I wanted to be, the person who lived up to all my ideals, and time and again I had fallen short, to the point that I had lost all hope. I was mired in disappointment and sorrow, seeing everything as bleak and cheerless in all the corridors of human discourse. I despaired of my species, and of myself. I wished for nothing so much as black nothingness forevermore. Anything to blot out this gray dreary horror of living. I collected up, like Vanya Karamazov, tales of the most brutal, evil, despicable deeds done against the innocent. I knew there could be no God, for how could he allow such things to happen? And if he did somehow allow them, then I cared nothing for any secret plan. No conceivable plan could be worth such horrors. If God allowed them then he was an evil God, and I wanted nothing to do with him.

    But then I met some people who seemed unlike the rest of humanity. People who spread light wherever they went. Religious people. I had always thought people like that were rather simple minded or ignorant. Good people, but not very intelligent, maybe. I had always dismissed their fantastic tales, the wild theories with no hard evidence to back them. That was not a direction I had ever thought to consider seriously. I wasn’t like that, all pie-in-the-sky hopeful and willfully blind. I saw the truth, I thought. I faced grim reality, rather than making up pleasant fairy tales with which to comfort myself.

    But the people of the light finally opened a tiny chink in my armor of cold rationality. I finally realized that I was hopeless and didn’t have a clue how to live. They seemed so happy and good, though humble and not pushy. They always had something to share, some joke or happy story of something that happened in their strong and loving families. My own family had been rather bitter and harsh, at times, and still was. Put-downs were the way it operated, with force and dominance games, and lots of mutual contempt. Not so these families of the light people. Everyone seemed to respect each other in their families and indeed loved each other, showing it constantly in numerous ways.

    I was struggling, and they were praying for me. I was charmed by that, though I felt sure they were deluded. Deluded that anyone was listening to their prayers, and surely deluded that there was any hope for a sad case such as myself.

    Finally at my darkest hour, I cried out for divine assistance, desperate enough and crazy enough to try, feeling silly and childish, but still calling with all my strength. Somehow it had dawned on me that it was just barely possible the those people were telling the simple truth about where all that power and joy they had was coming from. Somehow I hoped without hoping, believed without believing, enough to cry out for succor with all the energy of my soul.

    An answer came instantly. I was calmed, and peace enveloped me. My mind eased. The situation suddenly became not so intolerable after all. I felt unaccountably sleepy. Drying my tears, I went to sleep. Since then the divine presence has never completely left me. I feel it more powerfully at some times than at others. It eventually led me to the church, and into the waters of baptism. From the day of my confirmation, my baptism by fire, the Holy Spirit has not left me entirely. If I ever start to stray or slack off, I know exactly what I need to do to get it back. I pray with my whole heart, read scriptures, strive to follow the commandments to the best of my ability, and I’m again made whole. I’m renewed. I’m healed in spirit and feel peace and that infinite love.

    I’m a child again, and the whole world is bright and new, innocent and sweet as a newborn kitten, with all the promise of joy and beauty and solid contentment as that first day of summer back when we were small, when the days and weeks of careless play stretched into the future as far as we could imagine.

    So yes, absolutely the gospel was and is unalloyed good news to me. I’m so lucky that I can never forget that truth now. I’m so blessed with this limitless faith. It’s a marvelous gift of life. A well that never goes dry. It’s all the metaphors in the bible, and more. It’s beautiful, plentiful, plain and precious good news.

  5. April 9, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    And Ray, you can put that on your blog of conversion stories, if you want to, if you think it’s good enough. It’s the simple truth.

  6. Ray
    April 9, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Tatiana, I was going to ask you as I read. Thanks for thinking of that – and for sharing such a wonderful story.

    If it’s good enough? I promise that kind of thought simply doesn’t cross my mind.

  7. April 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Okay, let me read over it and fix any typos or whatever. Then I’ll email it to you. There are some wonderful stories on there. I read them all the other night. My little tale will be proud to be in such company. =)

  8. James
    April 10, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Are there aspects of Mormonism that aren’t, in the end, “good news”?

    I think many of our decisions in the Church based on fear? I would like to see the teaching be based on why its practical and meaningful to still live the principles even if you were an atheist.

    I would like to see books like Stand for Something/Pres Hinckley used in the curriculum

  9. James
    April 10, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Are there aspects of Mormonism that aren’t, in the end, “good news”?

    TREATMENT OF DISILLUSIONED MEMBERS

    “It is necessary that the church not only shows more support and openness to these ‘apostates’ but also teaches and advises all members, bishops, stake presidents etc., who usually don’t know how to deal with such a situation in terms of organizational and ecclesiastical questions and – out of insecurity – fail to treat the critical member with the necessary love and respect that even a normal stranger would receive.”
    http://mormonmatters.org/2009/04/09/is-the-gospel-really-good-news/#comments

  10. wyoming
    April 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Tataina – thanks for the moving testimony. The good news is all about the power of God to change us.

    The bad news is about some difficulties of taking up our cross and becoming yoked with the saints. Historically, it meant periods of persecution and physical deprivation. In modern times, it means a different type of conflict. I spent the weekend listening to Air America and was surprised at the vitriole used when describing us. I believe as America’s core values change at an amazing rate, we will be less and less accepted.

    I am inspired by an ancestor who went to Nauvoo to meet Joseph Smith. Based on the interaction, he chose to join with the saints. Hyrum Dayton was driven from his home 5 times but later stated in his personal history, “I have never felt to murmur”.

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