Every other Thursday night our ministry conducts an ex-Mormon Bible study. At this last meeting one of the former Mormons gave me a print out of a post from a Mormon blog. It is titled, “Drops of Awesome” and can be read here.
It is about how a Mormon Mom does a good deed and then immediately beats herself up for all of the other times she has neglected to do the right thing. She comes up with the idea of mentally putting “drops of awesome” into a bucket as a way to help her remember the good things and not focus on the bad. The first half of the blog is an encouragement to those who are continually faced with their own inadequacies. I understand why she wrote it, why this issue is so important to her and why she wanted to share her thoughts with other Latter–day Saints. Mormonism certainly stirs up these kinds of emotions with members who are honest about their sin and take seriously the Mormon idea of repentance.
That is where the focus of the blog post changes. The writer of the blog tells a story of teaching this principle to her class of teenage girls while at Church. She writes,
“As an object lesson when I was teaching this to the teenage girls at church, I gave them each a small dropper and I put a 2-quart bowl on the table. I told them that throughout the lesson they would get the chance to put drops in the bucket for every Drop of Awesome they could think of that they’d done. I promised them that we would fill the bowl to overflowing by the end of the lesson.
With about 5 minutes to go, we had barely begun to fill the bowl and the girls were looking around at each other nervously. The promised overflow did not look likely. Were they not awesome enough?
At that point, I pulled out a large pitcher labeled ATONEMENT and poured water into the glass bowl until it was spilling out all over the table and the towel the bowl was resting on. The class went silent.
When we are in a relationship with Christ, striving as God’s sons and daughters to do His will, He pours more into our buckets than we can ever hope to imagine. He can fill us to overflowing with peace, with joy, with perfection, with Awesome.”
That is a very powerful object lesson, but unfortunately it isn’t true on two counts. One, it certainly isn’t Biblical and two, it isn’t even accurate according to what Mormonism teaches in its official teaching manuals. Our Mormon blogger forgot one very important principle in Mormonism. The atonement of Christ is not applicable unless and until a person repents.
The Book of Mormon states, “Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:13)
The key phrases in this passage being, “only on conditions of repentance… for except it were for these conditions,mercy could not take effect.” (emphasis added).
This idea is repeated in a Mormon Church manual with which our Mormon blogger should be familiar. The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, states in chapter two, “Through repentance we can become free from the burden of sin. Because of the great love Jesus Christ has for us, He suffered, bled, and died for our sins so that we will not have to suffer fully ourselves if we repent. (See Gospel Principles chapter 12, “The Atonement.”)
•Display visual 2-c, “Christ atoned for our sins on the condition that we will repent.”
When you go to the above mentioned reference to Gospel Principles we find the following.
“President Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve gave the following illustration to show how Christ’s Atonement makes it possible to be saved from sin if we do our part (emphasis in the original).
If we do our part? What is that all about? For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Mormon concept of repentance, the Mormon Church officially teaches that repentance includes never repeating a sin. Lesson 24 of the Aaronic Priesthood 1 teaches, “Put up the wordstrip, ‘Abandon our sins.’ Ask the young men what it means to abandon our sins. Help the young men understand that a truly repentant person will not repeat his sin.”
Did you catch that? Truly repentant people do not repeat sin. If that is true, then how does the large pitcher makes sense in the Mormon scheme of things? Simply put, the only way that the atonement of Jesus is ever applied to someone’s “bucket of awesome drops” is if they meet the condition of repentance. If a Mormon repeats a sin, any sin, then that must mean that they are not truly repentant and will not receive the benefit of the atonement.
I am so glad that the Biblical Jesus doesn’t wait for me to stop sinning before He applies His blood to cover my sin. The Bible says,
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:8-11)
Take a good look at that passage. Let’s look at the end of it and then work our way backwards. I have received the atonement even while I was an enemy of God. I was reconciled to God, am justified by the blood of Jesus and saved from wrath. While I was still a sinner (enemies of God could rightly be called sinners), Jesus died for us and God gave me His love.
WOW! That sure beats any little drop of awesome I could possibly muster.