TMTP: Grace vs. Works

Your Tuesday Morning Theological Poll:
Two enter, One Leaves: Grace vs. Works

I know you don’t want to choose. Stop whining and do it anyway!

Also, comment below, you whining whiner!


  1. Grace, because if there’s no grace, works get you nowhere. At least with grace alone, there is salvation, if not exaltation.

  2. This will be a blowout John. Who choosing working over grace?

  3. Seriously, are you intentionally designing these polls to be meaningless?

  4. errr… “chooses”

  5. Grace,

    You cannot get anywhere without. Works only go so far.

  6. Yes, Jacob, yes he is.

  7. The Right Trousers says:

    I’d like to see this given to the general membership, the broken down by race, gender, socioeconomic staus, activity rate, temple attendance rate, scripture study rate, highest leadership position, etc., etc., etc. I bet we’d see some interesting statistics.

  8. I’m looking for how members see themselves, basically. This is kinda in response to Steve Evans’ post and kinda in response to 1,000 discussions with Evangelicals. Also, in response to the notion of orthopraxy being more important than orthodoxy.

    If that helps you orient a response, there you go.

  9. Jacob and Geoff,
    They’re not all meaningless. Only mostly.

  10. Martin Willey says:

    Grace. Rom 3:20-24.

  11. Grace, of course. Still, Works is doing better than I would have predicted (although not in the comments).

  12. John,

    The problem is that this question won’t tell you how members see themselves because the way you have worded the poll makes it essentially gibberish. (Not that there is anything wrong with gibberish questions of course…)

  13. I said works. I like pulling for the underdog and it looked like it was loosing badly. Most of my theology works like this.

  14. I disagree, Geoff. People tend to think of themselves as valuing one or the other more while acknowledging that both are essential.

    I think that, for instance, this poll would have gotten dramatically different results in the 70s. In fact, I think that the results we are getting have as much to do with demographics as they do with theology. Of course, I usually think that.

  15. I want to say grace. I WANT to. But…. grace without works is dead.

  16. #15, aren’t works without grace also dead?

    Go grace!

  17. Works gets most of my time and effort, even though I rank it behind grace in essentials. I can’t do much about grace beyond passive gratitude, maybe the occasional song, but works is something I can throw myself into.

    So if there were any direction to how we should be reading your poll, the outcome could easily be different.

  18. It is not grace vs. works, it is surrender and acceptance.

    I was teaching a lesson on the plan of salvation and Kevin Hinckley made the point that the phrase “who overcome by faith” [50–70] is a matter of surrender, not accomplishment.

  19. Your next poll should be

    Breathing: In or Out?

  20. MadChemist says:

    John C.
    Do you have any statistical evidence for this belief?

    Some anti-Mormons I know believe, Mormons don’t believe in grace, as an article of faith. Maybe they’ve screeched so loud and frequent you had started to believe it?

    Should we remind ourselves of Bruce R. McConkies talk back before I was born about it being a heresy that people could think they could save themselves or work their way to heaven?

  21. Grace.

  22. I voted for “grace.”

    But no one’s addressing Ardis’ point (that I think she’s making): we speak of grace in connection with the concept of “salvation,” but maybe grace fits in differently when we’re talking about “exaltation.”

    Lest you think I’m a heretic for making this point, let me remind you that I voted for “grace.” Did I mention that I voted for “grace”?

  23. MadChemist,

  24. John C: People tend to think of themselves as valuing one or the other more while acknowledging that both are essential.

    If you had set the poll up with that explanantion the results might have been more useful. As it is people can read it to mean “which are you most grateful for” or “Which do you hope will have more effect in the end” or “if you had to get rid of one of these which would you prefer to keep” etc. etc.

    You may have had something in mind but since we cant’t read you mind there is little reason to choose “works” except for things like #13

  25. LOL at #19


  26. Geoff,
    We’ve long established that I don’t do much to steer the polls. They are what they are.

  27. Last Lemming says:

    At least with grace alone, there is salvation, if not exaltation.

    With Satan’s plan alone, there is salvation, if not exaltation. So voted for works (understanding that the poll is deliberately meaningless–a more nuanced question might evoke a different response.)

  28. I’m choosing Grace, too. Mostly because my nephew is getting married Thursday to a wonderful girl named Grace, so it’s almost a family obligation now.

  29. Thomas Parkin says:

    I voted works just because grace is getting so much air time lately. ~

  30. I chose Grace over works.

  31. I find it interesting that now that the poll has been acknowledged as meaningless works is getting more play.

  32. I voted for grace.

    Yet, grace is the given of the two. It is there whether you take advantage of it or not. Works are the question – the test.

  33. Well, grace for sure.

    What I’d like to see is Justice v. Mercy.

  34. I joined in 1975 at the age of 16. By the time I was off on my mission, I was convinced by Elder McConkie and others’ writings and teachings that Christ’s grace was essentially the free resurrection, and we were working out our own salvation.

    I was convinced that the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdoms were terrible places, where people would mourn over not accepting the fulness of the gospel.

    Guess what? Since then I’ve read the scriptures a few times, and realized that their over-emphasis on works was probably a knee jerk reaction to the Evangelical view of grace, and their insistence that salvation and exaltation are equal terms was incorrect.

    We are saved by grace. Works only come in if we want a higher kingdom of glory.

  35. I picked Works. I think what I did/do with my life…matters. I will however need Grace and Mercy for those ‘off’ days.

  36. Or are we choosing based on God’s grace versus God’s works? I might change my vote then….

  37. I chose Grace, assuming it is produces what Ray calls Fruits.

  38. “With Satan’s plan alone, there is salvation, if not exaltation.” Well, that’s what Satan claimed. I’m not sure I believe(d) him.

  39. I think also that D&C 88 has something to say about works, at least inasmuch as “abiding” a law counts as work.

  40. Yikes! I hate to admit my pea brain. I voted “works”. I didn’t really understand what this question was about — common problem for me sometimes on this blog — but decided that “grace” is eternal. Like charity it will endure forever. Certainly, after all we can do, it is grace that remains in the room and blesses our lives. Guess I just misunderstood the higher level thinking going on here.

  41. Is it a work to choose grace?

  42. Wow, Grace Kelly is hot.

  43. This is almost as good as Rusty’s Unicorns vs. Princesses poll.

  44. Dang! I chose Grace because I thought it was a poll for Grace Kelly. :-(

  45. We cannot make it ourselves, no matter what our works are, so grace wins.

  46. Camels.

  47. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64,6

    A little strong, but basically this is why we need grace. This earth is like working mucking out a barn, we need to clean up by grace.

  48. mehzzdup says:

    Things got messy when I sang “Amazing Grace” at the Institute back in the 90’s. Heads kept exploding.

  49. It depends on how you define “works,” but…

    You don’t get any grace without a certain variety of works.

    And yes, I voted works. Mostly just to torque people off.

    Next survey – “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”

  50. This is a false dichotomy based on the Santa Clause theory of the atonement. The PGofP says “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”.

    In other words, if God doesn’t do his work, he cannot offer any grace. There is no grace without work. One certainly cannot be saved by his own works alone, but without both his work and God’s work and the work of others, he or she cannot be saved at all. Grace is just another name for God’s work, and occasionally for the gracious contributions of others. Doing work for yourself is never grace. A gift to yourself is not a gift.

  51. Please excuse me – that should be “Santa Claus”, no reference to the recent films intended…

  52. Works ftw! Grace makes it possible, grace opens up the path, but one still has to walk the path to arrive at the destination. Works are my job, so I try to focus on them. Grace is God’s gift, so that part is up to him and not so much my concern.

  53. Grace. There is no scripture that says that we are saved by works, but even the Book of Mormon agrees we are saved by grace. Grace is amazing.

    Our effort is part of the deal, but no amount of effort on our part can save us without it.

    Not the labor of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.

    Failing to acknowledge the supremacy of grace is a failure of humility (IMO), and humility is a requirement for making use of grace. Ether 12:27.

    Ardis, Tatiana and others are correct that our focus needs to be on our own efforts, because it is certain that God will be there to take care of his part. However, it is certainly possible to be overly focused on our part, and to lose faith that God’s grace can be sufficient for us if we are less than perfect.

  54. Grace makes my day, everyday.

  55. Mark A. Clifford says:

    Because, salvation is not vested in human character, but in Jesus’ character. He is full of grace, right? And, I hear that there is only one name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, and guess what? It is not my name.

  56. Why is it that when Todd Wood shows up to comment on a thread, this isn’t the thread?

  57. Grace. The scripture says that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do. That phrase is almost exclusively interpreted (by my friends and family, at least) as requiring all I can do, and then (and only then) will grace save me. Okay, valid interpretation, but not the only valid interpretation. It is also legitimate to read the scripture as being a warning that, no matter how much you are able to accomplish, it will still be grace that saves you.

    An additional consideration is that, if we believe in the Grace of Christ, don’t we also have to believe that it is only through Grace that we can achieve the works that will be used as partial qualification for exaltation? If so, perhaps the two terms are precisely equivalent, and the choice is more meaningless than we imagine.

  58. psychochemiker says:

    John C.

    Maybe it’s better he’s not here. We’ll just link to it in the future in a “neener neener neener” sort of way.

  59. Antonio Parr says:

    This is a threadjack. Please give me points, at least, for carefully screening prior posts to try to find a topic that is at least close to my question, which deals with “gifts of the Spirit”.

    In Gospel Doctrine, someone stated that gifts of the Spirit (which include, among other things, a testimony of Jesus Christ; the capacity to believe in the testimony of others; and the gift of healing) are reserved solely and uniquely to members of the Church, i.e., people who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Is this the teaching of the Church? To what do we attribute the faith of a Billy Graham or a Pope John Paul or a Mother Theresa? To what do we attribute healings that take place outside of the Church?

    Can anyone point me to a resource that discusses “gifts of the spirit”-like expressions outside of the Church?

    Sorry for the threadjack, but this is the only way I know to present my question to such an erudite bunch of Saints.

  60. Antonio Parr says:

    (Sorry for the double threadjack — I am very interested in any insight on the issue of whether the Church teaches that individuals outside of the Church do not have spiritual gifts. Can anyone point me to any articles, etc.?)