A couple months ago I wrote about how my profile submission for the "I'm a Mormon" public relations campaign on Mormon.org was rejected for my answer to the question, "What do Mormons believe about “eternal life?” They claimed that it wasn't scriptural, so I rewrote it to include scriptural support. You can read about it here.
Here was my new answer:
After waiting for two months, I was notified again that my submission "contains Church doctrine that could be misunderstood or may not be correct." The full response reads:The scriptures teach us that eternal life is something that can and should be achieved now in the present. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught in the final verses of his writings that “to believe in [Jesus], and to endure to the end, . . . is life eternal” (2 Ne. 33:4). Nephi here does not say simply that faith in Christ and enduring to the end eventually result in eternal life, but rather that faith in Christ and the act of enduring is itself eternal life. Eternal life is to live and love others as God does. For Nephi, eternal life is something experienced in the present, and is not just a result of righteous living. It is righteous living. This equation of righteous living with eternal life by Nephi correlates with his own father’s (and brother Jacob’s) teachings that we are free to choose between eternal death and eternal life (2 Nephi 2:27-29; 10:23).
Too often we are confused in thinking that eternal life is something we must wait for, or that it is something that can only be found in another life after this. Rather,it is by following Christ's example and learning to love as He did that we find ourselves with eternal life in the present. Eternal life is not a reward for keeping God’s commandments and serving others in love, but to have eternal life is to do those things and live that kind of life.
Thank you for the efforts you made in responding to this important question. Part of your submission contains Church doctrine that could be misunderstood or may not be correct. In the first paragraph you state that we should "achieve" eternal life" now in this life. If you replaced the word "achieve" with the words "working toward" it would be much more clear. You misunderstand Nephi's writings, no one achieves eternal life in morality. We strive to live a celestial life now, but means living a quality of life. That is not the same thing as eternal life. In your second paragraph you say, "Eternal life is not a reward for keeping God’s commandments and serving others in love, but to have eternal life is to do those things and live that kind of life." The last half of you comment is correct, but eternal life is also a reward for keeping God's commandments as well, see D&C 14:7. You may need to rethink some of your ideas here. If you would like, you could re-write these portions and re-submit. Thank you.Several things bug me about this. First, is their assumption that they have a better interpretation of scripture and their claim that I am misunderstanding Nephi's writings. Second, is that the scriptures they are appealing to do not back up their claim any more than they support mine. Third, I have no idea what CES instructor, volunteer missionary, or theologically shallow person it is who is moderating these submissions. Fourth, the person accidentally used "morality" instead of "mortality."
Fifth, however, is the big one. This rejection shows how much of a sham this Mormon.org website is. This public relations campaign wants to present Mormonism as covering a wide spectrum of persons and allow Mormons to present themselves as they are. What this moderation shows is that they don't want Mormons to actually express themselves and their faith as they understand it, but rather to only do so within the confines of a predetermined script/narrative.
I understand having limited moderation to ensure that profiles do not contain pornographic or graphic material, or to make sure that profiles are not being used to propagate obvious anti-Mormonism. However, if they are going to ask Mormons to submit their own profiles and describe our own beliefs, then they need to let us describe our own beliefs and answer the questions in the way that we want to answer them. To prevent and block Mormons from doing that very thing is to construct the whole campaign as a fictive lie.
Anyways, here is my last attempt to see if they will let a Mormon actually answer the question they are pretending they want me to honestly answer:
The scriptures teach us that eternal life is something that can and should be achieved now in the present. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught in the final verses of his writings that “to believe in Jesus, and to endure to the end, . . . is life eternal” (2 Ne. 33:4). Nephi here does not say simply that faith in Christ and enduring to the end eventually result in eternal life, but rather that faith in Christ and the act of enduring is itself eternal life. Eternal life is to live and love others as God does. For Nephi, eternal life is something experienced in the present, and is not just a result of righteous living. It is righteous living. This is affirmed again in modern revelation, which says that by keeping God's commandments to love and to endure to the end, we "shall have eternal life" (D&C 14:7), it doesn't say we have to wait until we are dead to share in God's life and love.Yes, it is way too long winded, redundant, and much more than I ever wanted to write for such a small question. If this doesn't pass, then I am going to write about celestial polygamy, deification, creating worlds, God once being a man, and Kolob.
Our scriptures makes it clear that the experience of the eternal is not something that can only be lived in a post-mortal life. For example the Book of Mormon prophet Alma says that for three days and nights he “was racked with eternal torment” for the sins which he had committed (Alma 36:12). If we take this into account with a revelation to Joseph Smith where God taught about eternal damnation, we can see that the "eternal" is not something that is only experienced after death, and is not meant to refer to an endless period of time, but is descriptive of the type of life we can life today: "Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again, it is written eternal damnation; . . . For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—Eternal punishment is God's punishment. Endless punishment is God's punishment" (D&C 19:6-12). These scriptures show that the eternal (in this case eternal torment) could be experienced both in mortality and in a finite amount of time. Furthermore, far from being a punishment rewarded him for his actions, Alma describes this torment as self-inflicted upon his realization of the type of life he was living.
The prophet Nephi's father, Lehi, and brother, Jacob, both taught that we are free to choose between eternal death/damnation and eternal life (2 Nephi 2:27-29; 10:23). Just as we can choose to eternal death and experience it in the present, we can choose eternal life and live the life of God's love in the present.
This is not to say that eternal life is only found in the present. Throughout the scriptures, we are taught that because of Christ's love and sacrifice for us, we can be resurrected and that our eternal life can continue after death. As the Book of Moses teaches, God's work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). As a modern day apostle, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, taught: "Immortality is about quantity. Eternal life is about quality. To use a metaphor, immortality is how long the dinner lasts. Eternal life is what is on the menu and who is with us at the table.” With this view, the former describes the temporal quantity of that life while the latter describes the quality of that life. The end goal then for God is for us to possess both immortality and eternal life.
According to the teachings of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma to his son Corianton, in the resurrection we are raised permanently unto the same type of life we currently live. Alma says, “Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption.” He continues: "And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful" (Alma 41:12-3). If we are raised into the same type or state of life into immortality, then it would not make sense to say that one who does not live with eternal life in the present is restored to eternal life. On the contrary, it would be those who live and have eternal life—in this mortal life—who are also raised to that life. Because of this it would make no sense to pursue eternal life as an end goal, as doing so would be to not understand what living eternally entails.
Too often we are confused in thinking that eternal life is something we must wait for, or that it is something that can only be found after death. Rather the scriptures repeatedly show that by following Christ's example and learning to love as He did that we find ourselves with eternal life in the present, in our mortality. Eternal life is not a reward for keeping God’s commandments and serving others in love, but to have eternal life is to do those things and live that kind of life. I am thankful for the scriptures that give me hope and have helped me discover that I can find eternal life today, and that it is not something I have to wait for. It is because I can experience it today, that I have a hope and faith in Christ that it is something that I will continually be able to experience, and something that death will not end.
To be continued...