Katie Langston discusses her discovery of the mainline Protestant Christian perspective on Grace and the healing and growth it has brought into her life. She concludes with a reading of her beautiful essay The Perfect Space: Exploring the Promise of God’s Expansive Redemption.
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Loved the discussion! “Grace” is a very important concept to get in to the spiritual vocabulary of Mormons, as they use it to view people of other faiths – including Christian denominations.
When I married into the LDS church-culture I had a different take on Christianity in general and to grace/work specifically. Trying to explain the core differences to my “true believing Mormon” in-laws I wrote them an eight page long letter. Below is the paragraph in which I tried to describe the concept of grace to them.
“Like the thief on the cross, we are saved through grace (a free gift) and not through our works (something we earn). Christ already did all the works for us with his atonement. The veil in the Temple ripped when Jesus, by love for us, died for us; all work became “complete” and “the law” was “fulfilled”. Then God’s Holy Ghost came out to dwell in us instead, so we can live with God again, free from sin – since there is no law to break. As we live with God, we no longer need works to fulfill a law – instead we do works because of love! We cannot do anything in order to save ourselves. Jesus Christ already did it! With grace, like in a healthy marriage, each person operates out of love – not a list of ethical principles. Likewise, we do not need to “fix” people in order to embrace them as friends. Loving each other, as we love God and God loves us, is ALL we have to do! Love includes all the commandments; love replaces the whole law. It is clean and pure, free from legalism and judgement, and it includes everyone!”
To summarize: Are you saved because you do good OR do good because you are saved?
Katie, your story really resonated with me. I, too, tend to find the LDS culture’s focus on perfectionism and works toxic to one who has scrupulosity OCD. Thinking that your eternal salvation is contingent on your worthiness in the smallest things feeds the mental illness. Especially when the leaders can’t understand the level that you aware of your unworthiness.
I, too, have found wholeness and comfort in the idea of protestant grace. After going through all of the “hoops” of Mormonism and appearing to have it all together, I decided to leave when my first child was born because I couldn’t put those expectations that I was born into on my daughter who I loved unconditionally.
Luckily, my husband was open to leaving the church and we have now become members of the local Baptist church. I don’t have to worry about it being the one true church because that doesn’t matter to them. They just care about being changed through Christ’s love and showing that love to other’s. I can now accept me and others as they are because God does. I identify as a Mormon Baptist.