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Overcoming theological dogmas: Difference between unforgivable and unpardonable

Many, if not most, attribute the idea of an unpardonable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Ghost) as being the only unforgivable sin and thus equating unforgivable and unpardonable. There is an important difference between the two. The idea is hinted at in this quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

"There are sins for which there is no forgiveness, neither in this world nor in the world to come. There are sins which utterly and completely preclude the sinner from gaining eternal life. Hence there are sins for which repentance does not operate, sins that the atoning blood of Christ will not wash away, sins for which the sinner must suffer and pay the full penalty personally" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 231)

Note the plural use of the word "sins" when speaking of those "sins" in which there is no forgiveness. Note how these "sins" are to be paid by the sinner personally and are therefore still pardonable. They are unforgivable in that the atonement of Jesus Christ will not wash them away, but they are pardonable in that the price can still be paid. A good example of this distinction is the sin of murder.

"After paying the last farthing, murderers will reside in the Telestial Kingdom and thus be saved in the kingdom of God. Although the sin of murder is unforgivable as far as the atonement of Christ is concerned, the repentant murderer can still qualify for salvation in the Telestial Kingdom. Thus the sin of murder is different from the sin against the Holy Ghost and sexual sin." - Dean H. Garrett (The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of the Word, Chapter 10: The Three Most Abominable Sins)

This lends itself to several more questions, but it ought to correct our understanding as we read the scriptures. It makes prophetic statements, for example, as found in Alma 20:17 more understandable. As we purify our speech when we speak of gospel truths (even the negative kind) we come to have tongues more like our Father in Heaven.

For clarification purposes here is a list of the three big sins and their distinction in light of what is written above:

Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost - Unpardonable and Unforgivable

Murder (there are degrees of Murder as a comparison between Alma 34:6 and D&C 42:18 show. For purposes here, a murder here only applies to those who have made covenants with the Lord through restored ordinances) - Unforgivable and pardonable

Sexual Sin - Pardonable and Forgivable


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