Peggy Fletcher Stack, has an article here about the “Not Even Once” controversy.
I’m not going to comment on the article as a whole (though it’s interesting that in the last few year, Ms. Stack seems to be using the more liberal wing of the bloggernacle for unpaid R&D). I do want to comment on one theologically ignorant statement:
Mormons “give constant lip service to Christ’s atonement, but our highest aspiration is never to come within a hundred feet of it,” Jones writes. “If only we can prevent people from performing wrong actions, we think, they can return safely to heaven, untouched by the world and I would add, untouched by Christ’s grace.”
This is wrong on many, many levels – but I’ll focus on just one.
Alma 7:11 – And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
The grace of Christ covers more than our sins. We could go through life sinless and still have the grace of Christ touch us as we suffer pains and afflictions.
While we will all fall short of the Glory of God, we shouldn’t have the attitude that “nevertheless God will justify in committing a little sin.” The truly repentant will wish they had never committed the sin in the first place (while still recognizing that the atonement washes away the sin as though it had never happened, at least in the eyes of God).
I think the “Not even once” idea is a great one. Of course we should teach that the atonement is available and infinite, but sin should still be seen as something bad, not something to be expected.
The Gospel has paradoxes: To save ourselves, we must first lose ourselves. The greatest of all must first serve all. Salvation is individual, but we cannot be saved in isolation. We will sin and thus need the atonement, yet at the same time it actually is possible to live a sinless life.
The grace of Christ covers more than sin. It’s a narrow view that would limit it to only covering for our sins. I’ve seen people cruelly abandoned, and the grace of Christ covered them even though there was no sin on their parts.