Historical Collapse, Mormons, and Original Sin
Recently, I read some of the differences between the septuagint and the masoretic text from Job re: original sin. Furthermore, there have been some comments at some blogs that have perplexed and worried me. Jack wrote that it appears that Mormons have the viewpoint that children are ” born innocent with a free ride to heaven should they die young.” I’m not sure how accurate this is in describing Mormonism scripturally. While this viewpoint may describe mainstream Mormon understandings or Original Sin, I think THIS understanding, is incorrect, at least when compared to the LDS standard works and historical readings.
The canonical basis for the LDS understanding of the lack of original sin is synthesized from several places.
Article of Faith #2.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
The baptism of little children is a gross error, a solemn mockery that should not be had among the people of God. Christ himself declares to the Book of Mormon prophets that “little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin.” That doesn’t mean they can do no wrong, for they obviously do wrong, but Paul obviously taught that “where there is no law, there is no sin”, yet wrongs can still be committed. Therefore, God’s servants are to teach repentance and baptism for those who are accountable, and therefore capable of committing sin. But as children need no repentance nor baptism, and adults need to repent and baptized so they can be saved with their children! (Moroni 8:5-10)
Mosiah 3:18 specifically teaches that infants who die in their infancy are NOT lost, but only men who are humble in believe in the “atoning blood of Christ” are saved.
Now here comes the problem. Most Mormons have extracted and committed to memory the end effect, where we currently are. Not that I can blame them, I mean, how often do I like to learn about incomplete models of the atom that were described in the very early 1900’s? No, I’d rather read about the statistical probability of a wavefunction developed some decades later. I’m suggesting, however, that this is a historical collapse, one that requires us to neglect scriptural data in building our understanding of “original sin” or the lack thereof.
I continue with the historical record of a meeting in the early restored church.
AMASA LYMAN, Prest. James C. Snow, Clerk.
Minutes of a conference held in Pleasant Garden, Putnam county, Ia., June 1844.
The house was called to order, and on motion of elder Richard Anderson, elder G. P. Dykes was called to the chair, and Alfred Hall chosen secretary.
After the conference was duly opened by singing and prayer, by brother Anderson, the chairman arose and in a conclusive manner set forth the necessity of order in the house of God; after which he addressed the assembly from the 5th chapter and 18th verse of Romans; and in an able and elegant manner set forth the atonement through Jesus Christ, and universal salvation from original sin, and a full and complete salvation from actual sins, by an obedience to the principles of the gospel; after which meeting adjourned till 2 o’clock, P. M.
Whoa, did you all see that? A Mormon leader taught how Jesus had brought about a universal salvation from original sin, and a full and complete salvation from actual sins. This is different than saying “original sin never existed” which is the stereotypical extraction of the doctrine, which isn’t in line with some scriptural data:
Let’s look at Jacob 7:12.
And this is not all—it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost. I am willing to interpret all mankind as all men, women and children in this verse.
Further in Mosiah 8:3 and 8:12.
wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me,
But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!
That is, if there had been a fall, and there hadn’t been an atonement, all mankind, every man, women, and child would have been lost. But there was an atonement, an infinite atonement of our Very God, such that the curse of Adam is taken away IN CHRIST, and therefore, children are alive in Christ, and He planned this from the very foundation of the world!
Finally, and most convincingly for my argument, is Moses 5:54. After the Father explains the Gospel of repentance and baptism to Adam, the narrorator concludes: “Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.”
So I hope instead of just saying, “children are innocent and pure” I would hope Mormons would start to say, “Children are innocent and pure because of Christ and His atonement.” Then we can further explain to our Evangelical friends that we understand the phrase “conceived in sin” to mean that as soon as they begin to grow up, they conceive sins in their hearts and they taste the bitter so that they know to prize the good (Moses 5:55-56).
This explains why Jack’s daughter (inappropriately) spanked her father, as she grew up, she learned to sin (from her DEPRAVED MOTHER no less). They (children under 8 ) may do wrong, but they still do wrong innocently because of God’s grace. They are not damned, and will receive a celestial glory as long as they are not so arrogant as to reject the gift. I don’t have any scripture to back me up on this next point, but I believe it anyway. Although I believe all children who die before the age of accountability would naturally be saved, I still think they could deny it, if they were arrogant enough to do so. I just think that practically, that’ll never happen.
Finally, I think it’s just stupid to assume that just because children start to scream, tear, grab, or act possessively when they learn to talk, grab, or move that they are depraved sinners the day they’re born. Especially since it doesn’t matter because Christ redeems all from Adams transgression.
So, it comes down to, I think the statement needs a little more nuance, coming both from Mormons, and from Evangelicals trying to understand Mormons. While the statement isn’t incorrect, I think it could mislead Evangelicals into believing that Mormons don’t think that even little children are saved by Christ’s atonement, and that’s why it needed more nuance.