My friend Randy brought up a good point in our discussion of faith and works in our online discussion.
It would not be good to have such great feelings of self-loathing that our only worth comes from a sense of “grace.” Such feelings could easily enslave us to the whims of others. In contrast if we claim we are without defect and never in need of understanding and forgiveness we might eventually find ourselves rather lonely. While whatever we call “faith” could embrace some forms of ritual that may give us a sense of structure and comfort – it probably is better if our faith prompts us to practical works that help others.I agree that we need to avoid self-loathing as well as the claim that we have some sort of special privilege that whatever we do is OK. I like the balance King Benjamin describes in his last address to his people coupled with the promises God has made us.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.Why are we less than the dust? Because the dust will always yield to the will of God. We are always going to be indebted to God because of the reasons King Benjamin outlines. In spite of this, God promises to give us all that he has.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.
26 And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth. (Mosiah 2:22-26)
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;What is required to receive such an infinite gift? The same as what is offered, all that we have, all that we will ever receive.
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. (D&C 84:33-40)
From a humanistic or atheistic point of view, we can recognize that everything we have comes from those before us. That we have inherited the results of eons of evolution. We are the result of someone caring for us when we were an infant and child. How do you repay such a gift? By paying it forward.