Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Moralistic Gospel-E. Campbell

The Mormon speaker in this video advocates a gospel based on works. He believes that people will be saved by the good that they do for others. He uses example after example of how doing good for others will benefit the recipient as well as the doer. At the beginning of his sermon, he talks about a world-renown doctor who claims that he was benefited more than his patients were from his service; later in his message he shares a note he received from little children who had a lot of fun surprising their mom by cleaning out the toy closet. He uses these examples to support his agenda to spur on his listeners to good deeds; in fact, he says that the purpose of the church is to help others according to their needs. The climax of the sermon, indeed, is when the Mormon leader makes a claim regarding salvation. He says that those who don’t serve others have no purpose in life, but those who lose themselves in service for others “save their life.” Here he claims that salvation can be gained through acts of service.
The Mormon Moralistic gospel presented in this message can be condensed into one statement: live a good life by helping others and, thereby, save yourself. This Moralistic gospel misses the mark because it focuses on something other than Christ and His life, death, and resurrection. Approaching this video from the perspective of Trevin Wax’s book Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the good news in a world of false hope, this gospel message distorts the nature of the gospel in all three areas: the story, the announcement, and the community. First, this Mormon message of salvation gets the story of salvation wrong because it denies the gift of grace offered by God and instead relies upon human effort to earn God’s favor. Second, this Moralistic gospel gets the gospel announcement wrong because the message of salvation is nothing more than good advice for how to live a good life by serving others and, thus, earn your way to paradise. Finally, the Mormon version of moralism presented in this video misunderstands the role of the church; in other words, this message fails in Trevin Wax’s third area because the community is seen as an assembly with no other purpose than to stir one another onto good deeds. While this is indeed a noble cause, it does not represent the full role of the church in the gospel. Clearly, this sermon fails in all three of the areas outlined by Trevin Wax, namely: the story, announcement, and community.

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