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The Church of Anything Goes: Tolerance of the Saints, Fallibility of Prophets, and Salvation by Grace Alone – These Three

Not long ago I wrote a post about Big Tent Mormonism being like a Church of Anything Goes.  After reading several blog posts and interacting a little bit, it seems like a church of anything goes may be just what many want.  Perhaps the only doctrine of such a church might be that one must accept all beliefs and behaviors as equally valid, and that to say anything otherwise is to hate.

I have begun to put together what appears to be the common characteristics of those who put forward such a culture.  And I thought I would introduce them.

Tolerance of the Saints

Tolerance can be a great thing.  And a church of anything goes will need tolerance as a core value.  For such a church culture to exist there must be extreme tolerance for everything – except a lack of tolerance.  Fellow members will need to fully embrace all beliefs and behaviors whatever they might be.

Fallibility of Prophets

The difficult thing about prophets and apostles is that they have a tendency to teach people what they ought to believe and how they ought to behave.  So to forward an anything goes culture the idea of fallible prophets must be kept in mind constantly.  One must bring up things like Mountain Meadows or the priesthood ban at nearly every turn.  Only when the idea that church leaders might all be wrong about everything will a church of anything goes get any real traction.

Salvation by Grace Alone

Yep, God needs to get in on the act as well.  Eventually only a salvation by grace alone will do in such a church.  There must be no conditions whatsoever, except maybe love (i.e. tolerance for any kind of behavior).  The closer one can push grace alone salvation the better.

It is easy to see why such a church would be attractive to many – not a soul would be lost.

The Logic of Rejecting The Idea of Salvation by Grace Alone

I will start out by stating a few things to diffuse possible objections.  One thing to keep in mind is that there is an infinite difference between a grace based salvation, and salvation by grace ALONE.  When we reject the idea of salvation by grace alone, we are not rejecting grace altogether.

I also wish to short-circuit accusations of creating a straw man argument that is easy to defeat.  There are a significant number of conservative / fundamental / Calvinist / Evangelical type Christians who explicitly proclaim a salvation that is by grace alone, and will question the Christianity of anyone who believes otherwise.

Further, I will state that my motivation here is to clear the way for reasonable discussion about salvation with fellow Christians.  Once we get beyond a claim of salvation by grace alone, it is then a matter of discussing what criteria there is for salvation, rather than whether there is any criteria whatsoever.

So with that, I would like to present my simple attempt at a logical argument against salvation by grace alone:

P1:  Salvation is not Universal (there will be some souls who are not saved).
P2:  Salvation is not entirely random.
C:  Salvation by Grace Alone must be rejected.

It is likely that someone will say that there is a better way to formulate the above, but I hope it will communicate the argument sufficiently.  If there is anyone who is not saved, and if this is not random, then there must be some criteria for salvation, which is not grace alone.  Or put another way, for those who claim salvation is by grace alone, they must either accept that salvation is universal, or that salvation is random.  I see no way out of this.  Let me know if you feel I am missing something here.

If You Don’t Like The Church, Why Not Just __________?

How one fills in the blank in the title of this post will likely identify you as either a conservative or liberal member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Continue reading ‘If You Don’t Like The Church, Why Not Just __________?’

The Perfect College Football Playoff System – 2014 Version

Long ago I came up with the Perfect College Football Playoff System.  Actual college football has since taken a baby step towards this system, but as was shown today, it is still very flawed.  Ohio State was given a pass on what I believe to be reputation over teams just as, if not more, deserving of a spot in the playoff.

So let me briefly review the Perfect College Football Playoff System yet again:

A 16 team playoff.
Champion from each conference gets a spot.
At large teams chosen from top teams on AP poll after conference champions are removed.
Teams are ranked 1-16 by a committee and paired 1 vs. 16, etc.
Higher Ranked Team is home team in first round.
Subsequent rounds are played at neutral sites and paired by committee as bowl games.

This is the perfect system.  How would this system look this year (with some assumptions)?

(16) Georgia So. at (1) Alabama
(15) Northern Ill. at (2) Florida St.
(14) Memphis at (3) Oregon
(13) Marshall at (4) Baylor
(12) Boise St. at (5) Ohio St.
(11) Kansas St. at (6) TCU
(10) Georgia Tech at (7) Michigan St.
(9) Mississippi at (8) Mississippi St.

This year deserving teams like TCU and Baylor get their shot.  We would also get to see just how good teams like Memphis or Marshall are against more traditionally powerful schools.  No teams would be protesting since they did not even win their own conference.  Teams like BYU and Notre Dame would need to be ranked in the top 6 after conference champs are removed which would not be hard for a championship level team.

On the downside teams like Mississippi and Georgia Tech get second (or third) chances they do not really deserve, but they serve as a measuring stick for teams from smaller conferences.  The NCAA should adopt this system at once.

There is No Future In It – Nor Past

For some reason I feel like expressing my goofball opinion which influences my perception of both God and man.  That opinion is that the only thing that exists is the present.

If my opinion is correct then there simply is no past.  At all.  The past is only our memory of it.  But the past itself is gone.  One cannot even hypothetically travel to the past, because there is no destination.  It is literally gone.

Further, there is no future either – at all.  The future is only our anticipation, speculation or goal.  One can also not travel to any future because there is none.  It literally does not exist.  Even for God.

This opinion opens the way for mankind to have robust, libertarian free will due to an open future.  And it is no sign of weakness in God to not have absolute knowledge of the future because it simply does not exist to be absolutely known.

God’s prophecies about the future are certain enough to have faith in, because He is a remarkable predictor of it.  This would be due to His thorough knowledge of the present, His thorough memory of the past, and the fact that in spite of mankind’s libertarian free will, we remain highly predictable due to our reluctance to change.

Additionally God’s prophesies regarding the future are something of a promise.  I believe God is an active participant in this exclusive and absolute present, and He will bring about His intended outcome by His patient and persistent influence.  Other prophesies are the predictions of mankind’s future state given their current behavior and their reluctance to change in spite of God’s positive influence.

Big Tent Mormonism -or- The Church of Anything Goes

In the wake of the Kate Kelly excommunication, there have been many posts about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should be big enough for … whatever.  Fill in the blank.  Basically the point is that a few people feel that the church should be more tolerant.

As I have thought of this, it strikes me that one definition that could be given of a church is that it is a religious organization that tells people what they ought to believe and how they ought to behave.  If a church were to cease teaching such things, it seems it would stop being a church in a meaningful way.  It may be a good social club, or a service organization, but not really a church.

Taken to an extreme, ‘big tent’ Mormonism would include any beliefs or behavior, and would cease to be much of a church at all.  A church of anything goes.

It is easy to see how this might appeal to some people.  Believe and act as you please, and continue in a hope for a fullness of salvation.  And not a soul shall be lost.  I hope you can see the source and force of my concern.

Boundary maintenance in not new or unique to this church.  Almost everyone does it.  Companies fire people for not behaving as the company feels they should.  You can get kicked out of a swimming pool for running, or asked to leave a library for being noisy.  Many examples of enforcing beliefs or behaviors could be cited.  To me the only reasonable question is not if the church should maintain some level of required behavior, but was this specific case sufficient cause for such an action.

I have read commentary on both sides of this event.  It seems that opinions often come down to whether or not one feels that Kate Kelly was just asking questions, or if she is an activist, recruiting followers to organize demonstrations to protest and pressure the church to change in the way she wants.

To me, I think the church did the right thing, and must continue to teach what one ought to believe and how one ought to behave in order to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints instead of the church of anything goes.

Church Discipline as a Shepherd Rescuing Lost Sheep

We are all familiar with the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the 99 and rescues the one who was lost.  But I do not view this lost sheep as kicking and screaming the whole way back to the flock.  I also do not view this sheep as waiting for the shepherd to turn his back so they can make a break for it and get themselves lost again.  To me the only way this rescue works is if the sheep comes back voluntarily.

Continue reading ‘Church Discipline as a Shepherd Rescuing Lost Sheep’


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