Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What is the difference between conversion and salvation?

I've started a correspondence with one of my new friends at He is a prison chaplain (a great one probably) in the Northwest. This posting, and the one entitled “How does one attain Salvation?” are responses to some of his questions. Yes, he gave me permission to post them; he actually encouraged it.

What does it mean to be converted vs. achieving salvation? You are likely aware that evangelicals focus on conversion, whereas LDS tend to see salvation as having endured to the end (thus all the debates about where good works fit in).

Extrapolating from our previous correspondence and the context of this question, I’m assuming you’re saying “evangelicals focus on conversion” is “getting/being saved.” Hence, evangelicals generally teach being saved now, and Mormons generally refer to salvation as an end result.

I’m glad that I have the opportunity to address this subject. The truth is that LDS doctrine does teach a doctrine similar to being saved. It’s called entering the “rest of the Lord.” As far as I know, it is very similar to “being saved” for an evangelical. Joseph F. Smith gave one of my favorite definitions of the “rest of the Lord.” It is a little lengthy, so I’ll paraphrase: “Entering the rest of the Lord is entering into the knowledge and Love of God to such an extant, that we know we are right and are not swayed from it in the slightest by anything anyone does or says against the truth” (the quote is found in a great book called Gospel Doctrine, which contains some writings and sermons of Joseph F Smith -Joseph Smith’s nephew- pg.58). It basically means becoming 100%, fully converted. When we are truly converted, our souls rest even in the turmoil of daily life.

Christ put it this way:
“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” –Matt. 11:28-29

The term “Rest of the Lord” is generally used in two main contexts, with others that are debatable (I’m actually doing a study right now on the topic of “Rest of the Lord” and will post it when I’m through). First, entering his rest now, and second, in the nest life.
One of my favorite versus that shows both is found in the Book of Moroni (in the Book of Mormon). Mormon (Moroni’s father) addresses the modern (latter-day) church:
“Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from THIS time henceforth until ye shall rest with him IN HEAVEN.”
–Moroni 7:3

We could call this “rest of the Lord,” we enter in this life, a temporal salvation (being saved-evangelical). And if we continue on this path, we will land our souls in his eternal rest (eternal salvation). Enduring is crucial. Christ taught: “he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” -Matt 10:22, 24:13

“4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [entered into rest, or “got saved”]
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” –Hebrews 6:4-6

Semantically, they're different; but we can't have one with out the other.

Best Wishes,


Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed reading your comments about the Rest of the Lord. The idea seems similar to what is sometimes called "assurance of salvation." We can walk in spiritual confidence, while remaining mindful that we, who have been given much, have much expected of us. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

That difference never occurred to don't realise how your concepts of things can be really different sometimes. Thanks for the explanation.

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