Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Left Behind and the Book of Mormon

I have started to read the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye to get a better understanding of the Evangelical belief in what constitutes true Christian discipleship. Overlooking that the Bible teaches a post-trib rapture, I was interested in what LaHaye had to say regarding what set apart those who were taken vs. those left behing. It seems from the prequels and the first book that the author establishes what he thinks constitutes true faith in Christ vs. the "lukewarmers" and "unwise virgins".

Ray Steele, the protagonist 747 pilot, husband and father, was left behind because although he occasionally attended church, he only did it for social reasons. He thought he was a "good person" never accepted his sinfulness and never truly accepted the grace of Christ and gave his soul completely over to Christ. Ray Steele was never took his discipleship seriously and never was truly spiritually born again.

LeHaye spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting the New Hope non-denominational church and pastor from Ray Steele's denominational church and preacher. New Hope only taught "salvation" and "grace". Steele's church was large but sermons were more focuses on feelgood stories and not scripture and doctrine.

The reason Bruce Barnes, the assistant pastor at New Hope, was left behind was more interesting from an LDS viewpoint. Bruce comments that he was very active at New Hope and knew he was a sinner, and knew he needed Christ, but he cheated on his tithing? LeHaye explains that good works are necessary not because they contribute your salvation but they are a manifestation that Christ is working through you and in you. LDS would agree with this 100%. I find it interesting that Bruce says his failure to repent of the tithing issue kept him from true acceptance of Christ.
I also find it interesting that all little children, including the unborn, were automatically covered and saved by Christ's atonement. LDS would agree with this as well.

What are the differences between LeHaye's views and LDS Doctrine? The LDS church also teaches "salvation and justification by grace" but we also spend time talking about sanctification and maintaining a godly walk. Some people say, if you just love more then everything will fall into place, you will be a better father, husband, employee, and disciple of Christ. LDS believe that love is a verb, and must be learned. Therefore, LDS messages go from initial grace and rescue and salvation and justification, to the message of sanctification and how to be a true disciple and a good neighbor. LDS talk about skills needed to learn how to love and be a true disciple such as how to share our testimony of Christ with others. Although all aspects of Christian discipleship are ultimately everyone's responsibility. LDS are given "callings" and responsibilities in the church to, work on, practice, and strenghten specific aspects of Christian service.

The Book of Mormon would agree that works are a manifestation of the power and love of God working in the believer. But What the Book of Momron teaches is the Law of Moses brought death because it brought immediate punishment. Christ brought grace or a "grace period" or a time to prepare and learn how to obey. LaHaye would believe that God gave commandments knowing that it was impossible for men to obey them. Nephi in the Book of Mormon says that God gives no commandments that He will not empower us to obey. The Book of Mormon says that we are given this "grace period" to be empowered by Christ to learn to obey. It might take till the end of the Millennium, but the Book of Mormon says that CHrist will overcome our flesh, make it incorruptible, turn us from sin and purify us like silver and not just white wash us like "whited sepulchers" while were are still filled with dead man's bones. The atonement of Christ is both grace and power to empower us to eventually deny all ungodliness, to make the weak things become strong and make us perfect even as Our Father in Heaven is perfect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your comparisons. I found the left behind series interesting, but one thing that stood out to me like a sore thumb was the 'tribulation saints' reliance on espionage to obtain information. There was almost no reliance on the Holy Ghost for guidance.

Anyway, thanks for the insightful post!