Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Greater The Reward, The Greater The Risk: Mormonism Offers Maximum Reward And Maximum Risk

A post entitled "The Genius Of Mormonism" on Things Of My Soul got me thinking about this issue. In this post, Papa D suggests that the "genius" of Mormonism may also be its greatest challenge - it provides the most amazing opportunities for growth but also for failure. Specifically, he cites Mormonism's lay clergy as an example; while the greatest joys are experienced within the structure of the lay clergy (including women in that description), the deepest disappointments and devastation are ALSO experienced within that same structure.

But there's more to it than that. Mormonism offers what no other religious faith or Christian denomination offers - to put people on the fast track to godhood. This simply means becoming an heir of the Father and a joint heir with His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; if one becomes an heir of the Father, one inherits His powers as well, which means becoming a god at some point in the distant eternal future. We are the only denomination that builds temples worldwide so we can offer the most advanced and exalted ordinances to further sanctify our faith. While faith alone justifies, works are also required to sanctify. The relationship between faith and works is symbiotic; faith without works is dead.

Nevertheless, the relationship between reward and risk is also symbiotic; the greater the prospective reward, the greater the risk attendant to failure. Perhaps this is why in his book entitled "Life Everlasting", prolific LDS author Duane Crowther suggests that only Mormon men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and have accomplished all necessary ordinances could ever be sufficiently eligible to become "sons of perdition"; that is, those who, in the Second Resurrection (Resurrection of the Unjust), will be found to be "filthy still", and sent off into eternal exile with Satan and his cohorts (commonly referred to as "outer darkness", but described by Eric Skousen in "Earth In The Beginning" as the unorganized universe). Crowther suggests that the "Unpardonable Sin" which can lead to one becoming a son of perdition is not a single act which one can commit accidentally, but a series of component sins that, once one commits all of them, one has then committed the Unpardonable Sin. It should be noted that leaving the LDS Church, either by resignation or excommunication, does NOT by itself make one eligible to become a son of perdition.

The bottom line: Mormonism can either put you on the fast track to godhood, or, if you mishandle it, devilhood. Maximum reward, maximum risk.

Perhaps this is why a significant number of people who leave the LDS Church cannot leave it alone and will mount public crusades against it. It requires such a significant level of emotional involvement that if the individual becomes alienated, the individual also feels a sense of personal betrayal. In addition, Mormonism isn't merely just a religion, but a lifestyle; consequently, when one leaves Mormonism, one leave an entire social infrastructure behind. The ex-Mormon suddenly feels "psychologically naked", so it is normal for the ex-Mormon to lash out from time to time as part of the transition process.

It is only when the ex-Mormon takes the next step by insisting that his family and friends follow him out of the Church as the price of continued fellowship, and launches public defamation and misrepresentation campaigns against the Church, that the ex-Mormon actually becomes apostate and embarks upon the "unpardonable" phase. While we have an obligation to respect those who leave our Church, we incur no obligation to follow them out of the Church.

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