Faith Without Works is Dead: Do We Believe It?

Almost any Sunday School class covering the topic of faith will make reference to a teaching authored by James, Jesus Christ’s brother, regarding faith being dead without corresponding works. The pertinent verses read:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

We Latter-day Saints use such scriptures to highlight the importance of religious worship, ordinances, and service. We contrast ourselves from other religions whose adherents feel, in many cases, that mere faith is sufficient to be saved. We note that the gospel of Jesus Christ is, as Spencer W. Kimball said, a “gospel of work.”

As with many other things, however, too many Saints have a myopic view of this scripture’s application. They narrowly define the parameters to which topics this counsel applies, and therefore remain only superficially compliant.

Most members of the LDS Church believe, as they have long been taught, that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired. In part to create a political environment in which God’s restored Church could thrive (just barely, at first), the Lord cultivated men and circumstances to foster enough freedom to bring about His great and marvelous work.

Unfortunately, millions of members of the Church placing faith in the Constitution’s inspired origin and nature has not produced any substantial degree of “work” associated with it. Latter-day Saints generally vote for and support politicians, policies, and government programs that violate even the most basic and easily understood constitutional provisions. This alleged faith in the Constitution’s importance and necessity, then, is dead—meaningless, void, and perhaps even hypocritical.

Whether we’re talking about the NSA, war, social welfare, subsidies, government funded research, torture, assassinations, marriage, gun control, or a number of other longstanding and consistent constitutional violations, Latter-day Saints have collectively failed in every case to be at the forefront of any movement to uphold the document they claim to revere.

The purpose of this is not to make Mormons (of which I am one—ardently so) into the worst offenders in this regard. Americans at large are in the same boat, but those not of our faith are not held to the same standard. Those who have been given more knowledge of the Constitution’s origins and intent are accountable to a greater degree; to whom much is given, much is required. Latter-day Saints should therefore be different—peculiarly so—and if we have faith in the importance of any political principle, then our actions should be in line with that claim.

As of now, the political faith of most Latter-day Saints is dead—briefly resuscitated every few years when there’s an interesting election worth voting in. The path forward requires sincere repentance, bringing one’s actions into line with one’s stated beliefs. Because of the counsel, commandments, and revelatory insights given, we Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to be among the world’s leading advocates of liberty. We’ve fallen far too short for far too long.


  1. Joseph F. Smith said:

    “The Church is provided with so many priesthood organizations that only these can be recognized therein. No outside organization is necessary. There is no call for individuals to organize clubs, or special gatherings in social, educational, or national capacity, in order to express wishes or desires for reforms that can always be expressed in the organizations that already exist in the Church. There is enough to do in the general ward organizations, under Church control, to fill requirements, to satisfy all righteous ambitions, and to develop the latent talent of the people. It is neither proper nor necessary to establish further public organizations under individual leadership, unsanctioned by the Church authorities. If further public organizations are required, they will be founded by proper authority, when it can be proved that there is indeed any need for them. Such separate action leads to clannishness, conflict and disunion, and is not pleasing in the sight of God.” (Improvement Era, Vol. 6, Dec., 1902, p. 150, Gospel Doctrine, p.353)

    Statements like this tend to dissuade latter-day saints from being activists for secular causes, regardless of how worthy they might be. The Lord claims our best efforts and rightly places our focus on our personal spirituality, our family’s well-being, and then our professions. That leaves little time left over for political activism.

    Pointing fingers at busy, “anxiously-engaged” latter-day saints who don’t support our pet political priorities is counter-productive to the unity that is necessary to build Zion.

  2. Since we a supposed to be the “salt of the earth”; why then a there only a few LDS members in politics – leading the way?

Comments are closed.