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February 27, 2012

More on The Mormon Conversion - Rabbi Barry Gelman

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/more_on_the_mormon_conversion_-_rabbi_barry_gelman_20120227/

I have received numerous responses to my previous post on the Mormon conversions of dead Jews. For the most part, they were polite and sincerely interested in dialogue and explaining to my why I was wrong when I wrote: ” “For the Mormons, salvation is simply a matter of Divine Grace. Without any effort, sinners are excused for a lifetime of sins.”

The following is an explanation that is representative of the emails I received. “The Latter-day Saints believe that without Grace, we have nothing.  However, it is because of Grace, that we have the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins.  However, this forgiveness is only possible “after all we can do”.  We believe that “faith without works is dead”. 

I was happy to receive the comments and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to dialogue with some Mormons.

I accept this to be the official doctrine of The Church of LDS and I am grateful to those who pointed it out to me.

Being that this is the case, the presence of Hitler on list of those who were or who were to be baptized is puzzling. His presence of the list seems to indicate that a person can live a completely abhorrent life and still be in line for God’s grace after Baptism. If salvation is about works and grace, why put Hitler on the list?

Here is one response that I received to this question.  ” It is our belief that people like Hitler have been cast into outer darkness upon their deaths.  If there is a bottom to hell, Hitler is there…irregardless of whether or not his name is on a “list”. Again, I ask, if this is so, then why is he on the list.

Some explained the presence of Hitler on the list as well as other dead Jews as the work of rouge Mormons who have been disciplined by the Church. I applaud the Church for their action.

There was one that was was a bit more bold in terms of fate of those of other faiths. “Mormons understand that all will be rewarded according to their works. No kind, good person will ever suffer in the next life, regardless of religious affiliation. All are in Paradise and will go to Heaven.  God is just, and good people will not suffer punishment in the next life.”
I wonder, however, if this refers to even the unbaptized?

Finally, I was surprised by two things. I was surprised at how many Mormon’s read this blog….

I was most upset by the fact that the Mormon responders were unable to accept the fact that even without the theological issue I raised, that posthumous baptisms of Jews, many of whom lost their life specifically because they were Jewish, is utterly upsetting to Jews. Some explained that only Jews who were family members of current LDS church members are allowed to be put on the list. I am not sure why this should be considered any less offensive.

In any case, the dialogue has been productive from my standpoint and I have learned a great deal.

One of the most impressive notes was from a Mormon who noted that their personal feeling was the the Church of LDS is not perfect and that there is room for improvement.

I think this is a good approach for all organizations representing organized religion.

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