August 22nd, 2013

Faith Without Works is Dead: Do We Believe It?

Almost any Sunday School class covering the topic of faith will make reference to a teaching authored by James, Jesus Christ’s brother, regarding faith being dead without corresponding works. The pertinent verses read:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

We Latter-day Saints use such scriptures to highlight the importance of religious worship, ordinances, and service. We contrast ourselves from other religions whose adherents feel, in many cases, that mere faith is sufficient to be saved. We note that the gospel of Jesus Christ is, as Spencer W. Kimball said, a “gospel of work.”

As with many other things, however, too many Saints have a myopic view of this scripture’s application. They narrowly define the parameters to which topics this counsel applies, and therefore remain only superficially compliant.

Most members of the LDS Church believe, as they have long been taught, that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired. In part to create a political environment in which God’s restored Church could thrive (just barely, at first), the Lord cultivated men and circumstances to foster enough freedom to bring about His great and marvelous work.

Unfortunately, millions of members of the Church placing faith in the Constitution’s inspired origin and nature has not produced any substantial degree of “work” associated with it. Latter-day Saints generally vote for and support politicians, policies, and government programs that violate even the most basic and easily understood constitutional provisions. This alleged faith in the Constitution’s importance and necessity, then, is dead—meaningless, void, and perhaps even hypocritical.

Whether we’re talking about the NSA, war, social welfare, subsidies, government funded research, torture, assassinations, marriage, gun control, or a number of other longstanding and consistent constitutional violations, Latter-day Saints have collectively failed in every case to be at the forefront of any movement to uphold the document they claim to revere.

The purpose of this is not to make Mormons (of which I am one—ardently so) into the worst offenders in this regard. Americans at large are in the same boat, but those not of our faith are not held to the same standard. Those who have been given more knowledge of the Constitution’s origins and intent are accountable to a greater degree; to whom much is given, much is required. Latter-day Saints should therefore be different—peculiarly so—and if we have faith in the importance of any political principle, then our actions should be in line with that claim.

As of now, the political faith of most Latter-day Saints is dead—briefly resuscitated every few years when there’s an interesting election worth voting in. The path forward requires sincere repentance, bringing one’s actions into line with one’s stated beliefs. Because of the counsel, commandments, and revelatory insights given, we Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to be among the world’s leading advocates of liberty. We’ve fallen far too short for far too long.

5 Responses to “Faith Without Works is Dead: Do We Believe It?”

  1. Robert Douberley
    August 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Apathy ! The kids have sports,dance,or some other fourm
    of self apeasment. Oh I forgot the Football season starts
    this week . My church callings? I fulfill them all. I have a check list.
    What is the true meaning of Love. I was in the
    St George temple yesterday. Maybe all temples should
    have the portriat of the founders of the constitution on
    the wall as you enter .
    Can you find an honest polictition ? One who can get elected? Maybe one who would run for President of the
    United States and then His party change the platform
    at the convention ?
    I’m beaten down, I will put my faith in doing the Lord’s
    Work. He will deliver. The hard times are a coming.

  2. James g
    August 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Amen to that. We generally fail to see that we worship at the feet of false idols. Tv, fun, vacations, big fancy houses, plastic surgery, sports, video games, nice cars, important titles at work or church, comparing our kids, getting into deep debt to finance it all and then complaining that we do enough and are too busy. We may do what is expected of us at the appointed hour on the rameumptom to keep up appearances. But we arent magnifying for the right reasons or putting the building of zion at the forefront of our choices. We spend most of our time remodeling the summer cottage babylon.

  3. Mighty Mike
    August 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    To the above calls for apathy, I completely understand.

    I am reminded, however, of an earlier blog post from Connor, suggesting that the good we do by defending principles finds nobility in the individuals we influence along the way. This idea brings me peace.

    It builds upon the truth that we shouldn’t fight for right to save the world, solve every political problem, etc., but rather that we might “bring some soul unto repentance.” (Alma 29) SOME soul. ONE soul. ONE by ONE.

    It isn’t about results. God’s got the whole world in His hands. It’s about the process. We “become” through the process of living by principles, no matter the cost, no matter the outcome because we leave outcomes up to Jesus Christ.

    Glad to be in the trenches with each of you, and am at peace with trying my best to become, to be an example, love my neighbor, do what is right, one personal interaction at a time, giving all the rest to our one true Result.

  4. iimx
    August 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Robert, Your comment brought up a question I have always wondered about. What do LDS people in other countries think of the US constitution, and other USA centric aspects of the LDS faith? Have you met many LDS in other countries? I went to Korea, and celebrated the 4th of July on a military base there, which was great, but there was a part of me that felt a little ackward celebrating at that location. Korean nationals seemed to enjoy the fireworks, but I never asked them what they thought.

  5. outside the corridor
    August 26, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Connor, I would claim that one of the greatest kinds of ‘work’ LDS can do is to be informed–

    AFTER turning off the television–

    I do believe that, while there are many who are doing things that are not profitable in any eternal sense–

    many people are overcommitted and overworked.

    It has to be the ‘right’ kind of work. It starts with each individual stating, “I will be free” and doing whatever it takes–

    growing gardens, learning to be less dependence upon energy grids, being well read on all things philosophical and political that have to do with liberty–

    by the time a person does that and also does something to provide a living for a family–

    there’s not much left–

    the ‘group think’ that motivates most LDS is the mainstream media and pundits like _________ (won’t say it)–

    who tell LDS what to believe about what is happening in the world and neutralize them into being incapable of turning things around, whether in federal or state elections or even on a local level.

    So, it’s not lack of work, I don’t think. It’s lack of intelligent, inspired work–

    Plenty of men who are LDS work overtime so that their children can have the latest i-toys–

    Plenty of LDS men (and women) put tremendous amounts of time into their church callings.

    But do they really know what is going on in the world or where their food comes from or what is the source of the energy that keeps their homes going?


    Work without intelligent direction is fruitless.

    And I fear many Americans are trapped there.

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