Jan 7, 2010

"I know the Church is true and therefore I know the others aren't."

One of the challenges that comes to a Mormon who encounters different people, cultures, and faiths, can be that the LDS Church's exclusivity claims can become very problematic for the individual. This is not true for everyone, though, as I know of Mormons who are well-travelled and well-versed in religion outside of Mormonism and yet remain staunch in their faith that the LDS Church is what it claims: the only true Church of God on the face of the earth. Others experience a total shift after examining the history of Mormonism or gaining life experience, and they start to look at Mormonism as being as flawed as any other religion out there.

Have you ever read the story of Mohammed? It certainly has some similarities to the Joseph Smith story (i.e. visitations, revelation of scripture, etc.). Assuming that people have prayed to God and felt they got an answer that Islam (or any other religion) is "true" -- in much the same way that you have perhaps experienced yourself in Mormonism -- how do you "know" that your "truth" overrides theirs? Why is yours or mine "better?"

Do you believe that Mohammed and the Koran were inspired by God? Why or why not?

Do you believe that God talks to the Pope in the same way that he does to Thomas S. Monson? Why or why not?

Do you believe that the Blessed Virgin appeared to the children of Fatima, Portugal? Why or why not?

Do you believe that God would intentionally direct someone to Hinduism or Judaism instead of Christianity? Why or why not?

I know that most Mormons will say that all religions have some "good" and "truth" to them. But if you haven't studied the other religions of the world and walked in the shoes of someone who practices another faith, how can you "know" that yours is the "only" true religion -- either intellectually or spiritually? What if someone of another faith told you that he had been told by God that his faith was the only true one? On what grounds do we reject the faith claims of others?

I'm curious as to why we all believe the things that we do, why we reject the things that we do, and I'd like to hear your perspectives.

30 comments:

EvolvingLesbian said...

I am increasingly coming to believe that God answers prayers in the way we, personally, need to have them answered at that moment in time. Therefore, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that people are told, by God, that other religions are true because for them, at that moment, that is the best answer.

I would even posit that God occasionally encourages once-faithful Mormons to leave the Church because that is the best thing for them at that time. If we believe God knows us perfectly as individuals, why wouldn't he tailor his communication and guidance accordingly?

Ooh - radical thought. Regarding the oft-repeated idea that God will never let a prophet lead the Church astray: does that necessarily apply to the individual? The prophet is leading an institution, an organization, consisting of literally millions of individuals. I don't think it unreasonable to suppose that what is right and correct for the institution might just not be right for an individual. Which simply reinforces the need for each person to develop a close relationship with God, that they may gain the individual and tailored guidance they need.

Along these same lines, I think it's the height of arrogance to think that the Spirit is not witnessing of truth in all its forms, or that God is not arranging faith-promoting miracles around the world. Does God not love all his children equally? And does he not want each to look to him, whatever form they think he takes?

The Faithful Dissident said...

EL, excellent thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

"Along these same lines, I think it's the height of arrogance to think that the Spirit is not witnessing of truth in all its forms, or that God is not arranging faith-promoting miracles around the world."

I agree. To me, God is like a puzzle and the various faiths across the globe can have a piece of that puzzle -- some maybe even more pieces of that puzzle. I know that would sound too "trendy" or "new agey" to an orthodox TBM, but for all the goodness in Mormonism and modern-day Christianity, I think that we're still lacking certain elements that can be found elsewhere. I think that we arrogantly assume that they should be looking to us to supplement their "inferior" beliefs, but to me that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm no expert on the eastern religions, but the little that I've read about Buddhism and Jainism, for example, seems to have such value that is lacking in Mormonism -- or even Christianity for that matter.

thefirestillburning said...

EV: Very good points on the differences between leading an institution in the right direction while leading individuals astray.

I actually had the experience as a young priest of visiting one of our "active members" who had actually been an ordained Methodist minister for the prior 20 years. He had created a retreat center and performed ministry it would have been impossible for him to perform in our church BECAUSE he had asked God what he should do next IMMEDIATELY after being confirmed into our church.

FD: I think we can eliminate some of the candidates you name on the grounds that they do not make such claims for themselves.

I would pay no attention to the claims of the Restoration of I did not feel their "truth". But I am much more comfortable with the notions of "a true church" than the notion of the "one and only true church".

And I don't want to imitate the story of the Indian maiden who went unfed because she walked to the end of the cornfield always looking for a better ear. I think ultimately we have to trust that we will all be led where we need to be led by being open to the Spirit.

FireTag

The Faithful Dissident said...

"I would pay no attention to the claims of the Restoration of I did not feel their "truth". But I am much more comfortable with the notions of "a true church" than the notion of the "one and only true church".

Agreed.

"I think ultimately we have to trust that we will all be led where we need to be led by being open to the Spirit."

I guess the problem is recognizing that "Spirit" and trusting that it may take our loved ones on a different route than we had planned/hoped for them. It can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Also, what are the specific criteria to being led by the Spirit? TBM's would give you "The List," but would assume that anything that deviates from that could not possibly be of the Spirit.

Madam Curie said...

Yay! A new post from FD!

I don't buy into the "one true" claim, from any church. I think God enlightens and works upon people of many different religions and creeds in the way that works for them and their culture. I don't necessarily believe Joseph Smith's experience was intended to call him as the only prophet on earth... but I do think God worked through the man.

To answer your specific questions: Yes, I think that each of the individuals mentioned has had specific mystical or other experiences with God. But that doesn't necessarily lend itself to an objective conclusion from their individual experience.

I think that just because someone receives a testimony for themselves of the Gospel, that doesn't make that testimony objectively True, True for all people, or even True for that individual over the course of their entire life. People change, and as they do so, the things that they need from religion and from humankind change with them. When I joined the LDS church in 1999, I did so because it fit a need in my life. I changed and in many ways the Church changed me for better. When the relationship between myself and the Church became strained, it wasn't because God had ever lied to me. In point of fact, I don't believe my prayer was ever, "God, is this Church 100% True and the only church on the face of the earth with which You are pleased; and will this church always be True and right for me in every situation that I am in from now until my death?"

I don't believe that God is standing by with the host of lawyers examining the nuanced meaning of every prayer. I think He is a loving God who gives us when we each need individually, when we need it. I think when we start thinking that we have something better than the next pilgrim on the Earth, its then that we run into problems.

Madam Curie said...

Also, what are the specific criteria to being led by the Spirit? TBM's would give you "The List," but would assume that anything that deviates from that could not possibly be of the Spirit.

I see the Spirit as somewhat interconnected with my internal moral compass. I don't think the Spirit can "witness" of objective Truth, per se, if that objective Truth is something you are going to try to apply to change the lives of others.

If I were to say I was "lead by the Spirit," I think I would mean that some thought or emotion came over me that helped me to gain better appreciation for or subjective understanding of a situation, with the end result that I felt more at peace and more inclined to do good and help others. Sometimes that "Spirit" may "prompt" me to say certain things for a family member or friend, but I don't think the things I feel inspired to say in those moments are words straight from God, or that they even contain objective Truth. I think they more likely are things that either I or the person near me would benefit from hearing at that time, that which will do both of us the most good.

David Baker-@DB389 said...

FD, I love your writing! I was thinking about this earlier today actually as I was reading a new book "Everything is Miscellaneous." THere is a quote in the book (an excellent read BTW) that states "If two people have contradictory ideas about something factual, we think they can't both be right. This is because we've assumed knowledge is an accurate representation of reality, and the real world cannot be self-contradictory. We treat ideas that dispute this view of knowledge with disdain."
He goes on to describe how that mindset is wrong, how an idea can be true for one person and completely wrong for another. It is a great read (not about religion at all) and I recommend it.
The best analogy that I can think of is light. For some, light is a particle, for others a wave. When in actuality it is both! Who is to say religion isn't?

thefirestillburning said...

DB389:

I LOVE duality and think it's a key to understanding a lot about life we as a speciaes have not understood.

FD: I think it's great to discover that grace can overcome theological error. We can be wrong about hearing the Spirit and not be cast off. The only way to be cast off is to hear the Spirit correctly and no longer care. (Sort of like diving off the island instead of being voted off.)

Of course, I still didn't encourage my kid to stick her fingers on hot burners.

FireTag

FireTag

Good to be Free said...

So glad to see you posting again FD.

I've given this a lot of thought, beginning with an experience I had on my mission. I was teaching a guy about 25, a faithful Christian, and a very sincere man. We of course invited him to read the BOM and pray. On our follow-up visit he said that he had done what we asked and that God had directed him, through the spirit, to give the book back and not to meet with us again.

I was in shock. So what did I do? Like any good missionary, I bore the most heartfelt testimony I could. It was, as my companion later described, "a blow the windows out with the spirit" moment. Yet he felt nothing. Gave the book back and we never saw him again.

The missionaries we spoke with afterward chalked it up to a deceptive spirit, or a willful ignoring of the spirit. I was struck though, that God would give such an answer. How could he tell someone to turn his back on the "truth?"

As I've thought more about it, I've come to the same conclusion that most of the other commenters have. God will give individuals experience and circumstance to best suit their needs at that time.

It is difficult to me to be intellectually and spiritually honest with myself and not accept the sincerity and reality of faith experiences that may seem to contradict my own. How can I demand that others view my faith with any amount of respect if I cannot recognize theirs?

I've heard of Mormons being described as arrogant, and I think I know why. We ask that others respect our faith while dismissing those of others as "flawed" or "lacking." We chalk up the concern of parents when their child joins the church to "opposition," while mourning the loss of those who leave the church.

I think I'm rambling now and I guess I've just addressed your last question, so I'll just leave it there.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Wow, I'm so glad I did this post because I find all of your thoughts fascinating.

"I think it's great to discover that grace can overcome theological error."

I hope so, Fire Tag. Really, it's all about sincerity and honesty for me. Are we really sincere about wanting to do what is right? Are we honest with ourselves about the answers we feel that we're getting? I guess only we can answer those questions for ourselves as individuals.

GoodtobeFree, thanks for sharing that story from your mission. It demonstrates the complexity of faith beautifully.

"We chalk up the concern of parents when their child joins the church to "opposition," while mourning the loss of those who leave the church."

So, so true!

C.J. said...

To me, there are two issues: first, why am I a Christian, and second, if a Christian, why a Mormon? As to the first question, my belief is, ultimately, utilitarian in nature: I believe, because when I follow Jesus' teachings, my life is better. It's more than self interest, though; following Jesus has given me a very strong testimony of His presence in my life. I've tried to explain this to non believer (mostly atheist) friends, and it's frustrating, because they tend to see this as pure emotion and, therefore, proof of nothing. But Jesus is as real to me as any other force of nature; I experience Him just as honestly, and openly, as I experience gravity.

As to why I'm a Mormon, my belief has gone through several stages, and I haven't always been sure that I was, in fact, a Mormon. I stepped back from the church, and organized religion altogether, and spent several years studying the Bible--actually for a book I wrote--and re-met Jesus that way. I developed very strong opinions, much stronger than I'd had before, about who and what He actually was. For a variety of reasons, I decided that (for me, at least) the church, while not perfect, gave me the best opportunity to practice the teachings Jesus outlined in the Bible--at least, as I understood them.

Sure, some other people in the church suck. Sure, leaders have made mistakes. But ultimately, it isn't between you and them; it's between you and God.

As to your other questions, I have a background in Islam, and anti-terrorism, that gives me a different perspective than I think, if I may flatter myself, many westerners have. Westerners, generally, tend to patronize Islam by neutering it; it was just this happy little religion until "evil" fundamentalists came along and hijacked it. That vision of events might make us feel better, but it's not based in anything remotely approaching historical fact. I've personally witnessed atrocities committed in the name of Islam--in the name of forcing people to convert to Islam--that sickened me. I've heard about many more--from ritual female mutilation, to death by torture. No religion that inspires these kinds of actions is true, in my book.

The fact of the matter is, all major religions do NOT condone atrocity, or commit it, or inspire fringe groups to commit it. Buddhism is a missionary religion, remember.

I reject the Catholic Church for much the same reasons: although far removed, now, from the days of the Inquisition, and other, similar events, it's a church that, for the most part, teaches obedience over understanding. I value my free agency far, far too much to support this--and, as I understand the Bible, Jesus urges us to use that free agency, and to come to the truth for ourselves. Just following the rules, in the hope of being "righteous", is, He explains in Matthew, as empty as a tomb.

I don't doubt that many people, over the years, have had religious experiences--and it's not for me to judge their veracity. Do I think the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima? I think probably something appeared, which the viewers interpreted as the Virgin Mary--much the way that Moses interpreted God's presence as a burning bush. We're told that God's countenance is too much for any one person to behold; why is it so far-fetched to suppose that God takes many forms?

The Faithful Dissident said...

"Westerners, generally, tend to patronize Islam by neutering it; it was just this happy little religion until "evil" fundamentalists came along and hijacked it. That vision of events might make us feel better, but it's not based in anything remotely approaching historical fact. I've personally witnessed atrocities committed in the name of Islam--in the name of forcing people to convert to Islam--that sickened me. I've heard about many more--from ritual female mutilation, to death by torture. No religion that inspires these kinds of actions is true, in my book."

I don't know. I think that Islam can be just as much a "cafeteria" religion as Mormonism. Although I know all of the things you mention are true (i.e. genital mutilation, torture, killing, etc.), there are so many different interpretations and so many ways of living it. Islam, obviously, has some extreme examples, but if we are to conclude it's not true based on these things, I wonder how/why the LDS Church is all that different, though in a less-extreme form (unless one believes the stories of Mormon blood atonement), stuff like the Danites, Mountain Meadows, and polygamist marriages with minors. All these things were inspired by the Mormon religion -- even by the leaders themselves -- and yet most of us here believe Mormonism to be "true" to at least a certain degree.

It's interesting how some things that are acceptable to us, aren't to others. And vice versa.

C.J. said...

It's an unfortunate irony that we've done so well protecting people from terrorism that they tend to disbelieve the extent of its consequences. At the risk of being disagreeable--this is an issue I feel very strongly about, so forgive me--nothing the earliest Mormons did holds a candle to what's going on now. This isn't to say, of course, that what our pioneer forebears did was OK--clearly it wasn't. But I worry that sometimes, we apply moral relativism where it really isn't appropriate.

I'm sure some people are reading this comment and concluding that I'm a bigoted idiot; I promise you all, I'm not. Nor am I anti-Islam. My opinions on the relative truth in all religions was very different before I experienced this stuff firsthand. I believe in personal freedom, and think everybody absolutely has the right to practice whatever religion they want. The sole question, however, was whether or not Islam--or any other religion--is true, in the sense of whether it's divinely inspired and accurate.

There are certainly cafeteria Muslims, just as there are people of all shapes, colors, and creeds who place free agency over blind obedience to a set of rules; they choose to do what's right for them. But, taking the actual doctrine of any religion as separate from how certain people are inspired to inspired to practice it (Timothy McVeigh was a Roman Catholic), the actual religion of Islam does, in fact, preach violence against nonbelievers (and yes, I do know what I'm talking about).

One can be a practicing Muslim and a wonderful, decent human being, of course--but to do this, one has to forge an interpretation of Islam separate from any of the 3 mainstream denominations (and many American Muslims, for example, have with great success). In a sense, they're "protestant" Muslims.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

FD, I just came across your blog and must say that I'm enthralled by the questions you raise.

This particular one (of a single true church) takes me back to my mission days. Even in a foreign language, the testimony I bore was constructed to avoid that one detail because of my uncertainties. It seemed good and all, but as a student in the humanities, I grasped early on the idea that life, history, etc. should never be bound to black and white characterizations.

However, a world in gray, really threw of the whole religion thing from an early age. To resolve that psychological discomfort and serve a mission, I rationalized that the Church was good and perhaps the best, so I was doing good.

My life's been lived in trial and error. My beliefs, practices, and goals have evolved over the years as I've tested the beliefs I was taught against the beliefs of 'the world,' esp. once I'd come to the realization I was gay and the lifestyle prescribed to me seemed not only unfair but un-Christian.

My beliefs are still in flux, but I am happy to say that seeing the world in gray and 'trying out' other beliefs has only brought me happiness.

Mormon Bachelor Pad said...

I'll admit, I generally avoid situations where I actually have to be serious... However this was a very well written and fascination post which I have thought about most of the day.

It does seem to me that if we are using the word "true" that something is true. I mean, regardless of what anyone of us thinks or feels there is an actual "truth".

Right?

If 1+1=2 is true, then never ever, no matter what, can 1+1=4. A good argument could be made that 1+1=3 is "more true" than 1+1=4... but they're both not true. In matters of truth, when two things are put together the only way one thing can be "more true" or "better than" is if both are in fact not true.

Why move past the first question, does God exist? "Knowing" that must be discovered under the same parameters that "knowing" one Church or religion is true, or for that matter "knowing the answers to any of the other questions posed here.

Having said all that. I don't have an answer as to the "how".

However, I do like this point especially, "But if you haven't studied the other religions of the world and walked in the shoes of someone who practices another faith, how can you "know" that yours is the "only" true religion -- either intellectually or spiritually?"

It has convinced me that I must date (and hopefully kiss) every single girl in the world before I decide on one to marry... otherwise how could I know that any one girl was the right one for me. Brilliant.

-j

Andrew S said...

@Mormon Bachelor Pad

That's a good line of reasoning for rejecting "one true pairing" or "one true love" or "the one" in dating as it is in rejecting the "one true church" idea.

Mormon Heretic said...

FD, you ask too many hard questions. :) Good to see you posting again!

The Faithful Dissident said...

I've enjoyed all of your comments. This has been a really good discussion and I hope it continues.

LOL, Mormon Bachelor, your comment made me laugh. Actually, you make a really good point. Eventually you just have to "take the plunge" with the assumption that it's "true" and "right" for you, whether it's choosing a marriage partner or a religion.

"FD, you ask too many hard questions."

Bad, bad habit of mine that I have no intention of breaking, MH. :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

A Gay Mormon Boy, thanks for sharing that. Good to have you here, I'm glad you found me. :)

"But I worry that sometimes, we apply moral relativism where it really isn't appropriate."

Good point, CJ.

J G-W said...

I think of faith as a "way" of doing things. It's not as much about the external/outward beliefs as it is how faith trains the soul to relate to God and to other human beings.

A couple of months ago I had a series of intense discussions with a gay man who was raised in the Jewish faith and who is now a practicing Buddhist.

We shared with each other aspects of our respective spiritual journeys -- his as a Jewish Buddhist and mine as a Mormon. What was most moving to me was the way in which we often seemed to be using different language to describe the same kinds of experiences and insights. It definitely was a blind men and the elephant kind of experience... realizing that we both were in the face of some powerful truth that neither of us fully comprehended. But it was/is objectively real, it is true.

Paul said...

Great question and discussion.

I've softened my own view on this subject over the years -- not on the church's being true, but on the falsehood of the others.

Key in the restoration was the restoration of priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances. It's in the ordiances that God manifests himself to man.

God himself reported that the true authority was not on the earth, and that a restoration was required.

I know, I know. I'm assuming that what Joseph reported of his experience was true.

Personally I refrain from declaring other churches wrong or untrue. I'm happy to label actions as wrong, however (even our own, such as Mountain Meadows, cited by another commenter). I recognize that my own personal comfort at not declaring the falseness of other churches puts me at odds with particularly conservative points of view.

Here's an experience I've had in the last two years, however. Working a 12-step program (as a family member of an addict), I had to reconcile my "program's" discussion of a higher power without reference to religion to my own strong religious views.

I concluded that God is far more powerful than I am. And if people sincerely seek him, he will help them to find him in his time and on his terms. Of course I have a need to share the good news that I know when that's appropriate. But in my 12-step meeting where we all agree to leave religious discussion at the door isn't the place.

It's been interesting to encounter evangelical Christians in this context; many have recognized that I'm a person of faith (without knowing my faith) and sought my counsel on how to set religious views apart from spiritual development (which is what a 12-step program is all about). I've wondered (without asking) how they would respond if they only knew they were talking to a Mormon about such things!

Paul

velska said...

Mohammad & Koran: Inspired, yes. I think Mohammad was one of those, who were given genuine revelation. How Islam emerged from that is a different story, but it did a world of good in Middle East in 7th to 10th centuries; the militarist Khalifate notwithstanding.

I am sure that the Pope — or rather, Joseph Ratzinger — has his prayers heard and answered. I must suppose that TSM has a different relationship with the Lord, but I do not honestly know. I suppose that everybody has a little different way of receiving answers?

About the Blessed Virgin: I think that these apparitions may be genuine, but what it is exactly, I can't say.

I also think, that we have no monopoly on virtue, truth or anything else like that.

But I would say, that the LDS Church is the only true one. Note the difference in emphasis. I studied all religions as a young man, before becoming LDS. My "clincher" was the priesthood keys. Some other church can teach all basic principles that are important to us — and do all the important things, and even be spiritually guided, but without the priesthood keys you are a couple of blocks short or a full building. We have those blocks.

I could imagine that someone would at some point be spiritually guided away from the LDS Church. I don't know; if they're not ready, they're not ready. Membership does not save us, anyway. The combination of Priesthood ordinances and faithfulness can, because of the Atonement.

Faithfulness does not mean, that I'm the most obsessive caffeine abstainer; it means that I do what I do with sincere faith that I'm doing the right thing, and dedicating myself to God daily. It means I get on my knees even when I don't much feel like it, and cry, "Lord, I believe help — thou mine unbelief." Then continue from that.

Oh, one more thing: We should have a relationship with the Lord that is independent of our relationship with the Church. When I went to the Bishop that one time with a problem that could have jeopardized my membership, I knew that the Bishop is not the one who decides about my salvation.

It doesn't mean that every day is a spiritual feast, either...

The Faithful Dissident said...

"Mohammad & Koran: Inspired, yes. I think Mohammad was one of those, who were given genuine revelation. How Islam emerged from that is a different story, but it did a world of good in Middle East in 7th to 10th centuries; the militarist Khalifate notwithstanding."

Velska, that's an interesting point of view. I've sometimes wondered whether it's not the same thing with Mormonism. Could Joseph Smith have initially been inspired (First Vision, etc.), but later veered off in a wrong direction (polygamy, etc.), meaning that what was initially of God has been changed and perverted (even unintentionally) by leaders of the Church, who may have had the best of intentions but were nonetheless wrong in their actions and interpretations in regards to certain aspects of the faith?

Just a thought.

thefirestillburning said...

Apostasy and restoration are constant principles in each of our lives, or we'd only need an ordinance once.

FireTag

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog upon researching Ezra Taft Benson and Socialism. I thought what you had to say for that was brilliant. Your blog is interesting because it's provocative and I believe intentionally presenting the popular and controversial topics of the LDS church perhaps to shake some testimonies or reaffirm those who have opposing viewpoints?
I feel like oversimplifying the answer to this question as many of us probably do in the church, but I believe the church is true- like discussed earlier- because I have seen a personal witness from the power of the Holy Ghost. Whether members of other faiths do not receive these same personal spiritual confirmations I do not doubt. I simply know I am happy as a member of this church. I know what it teaches is good and while the church as a whole is made up of a body of imperfect people I see it as a wonderful organization that lives to inspire, teach, and bring hope to many. Whether it is the "one true church" is definitely a hard thing to swallow- I choose not to focus on that because I feel it is irrelevant to my happiness and contentment. That might sound ignorant or arrogant- but I hope too much that of course we explore these controversial topics of our faith but do not dwell on them as the fundamental principles we believe in.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing that. (And the Ezra Taft Benson socialism post is still probably draws the most hits on this blog even after all this time. LOL.)

Your answer was "basic," and yet I liked it. It was heartfelt, lacking arrogance, and it was honest. How could I expect any more?

I was listening to the Mormon Stories podcasts with Anne Wilde, fundamentalist Mormon polygamist. She's not an FLDS, but considers herself a fundamentalist Mormon, meaning that she lives the doctrine that Joseph Smith taught, Celestial plural marriage being "the big one." It was fascinating and I highly recommend it, as it will dispell many of the stereotypes that we have about Mormon fundamentalists and why they live the faith that they do.

I find it ironic that if you throw out the question to Mormons on all sides of the political and faith spectrum about whether they think Joseph Smith would be happy with the way the LDS Church is being run today, the ones that have most in common are the fundamentalists and the very unorthodox liberals -- just for different reasons, of course. (They both believe that the Church isn't exactly what it should be.) One thing that has struck me in my studies of Church history has been that the Church that was started by Joseph Smith and the Church that I know today seem very different. To me, that's mostly a good thing (because I don't want to be a polygamist, etc.), but it's also troubling in a way that things that were once considered "eternal laws" and essential for salvation have been abandoned by the modern Church. The fundamentalists really have a strong argument of what Mormonism was really supposed to be, as taught by Joseph Smith.

So as I listened to Anne's testimony about why she felt compelled to leave the mainstream LDS Church (she was born and raised in it and believed in it) and enter into a polygamist marriage in order to live the "Celestial law," I have to admit that I was touched. Not because I believe what she does, or that I think God wants us all to be polygamists, but because she received what she believes was a strong, undeniable witness that it was what God wanted HER to do. I know it's easy to dismiss these people as nutjobs, apostates, fanatics, or whatever, but I found her to be an incredibly well-educated, well-spoken,open-minded, respectful, rational, intelligent woman who is living peacefully and following Christ as she sees fit. So, while I can personally dimiss her religion as something that I want to believe in/live myself, how can I dismiss her testimony as being from God for HER?

And so it only adds to the mystery of who God is, what he wants from us, and who is "right." If the LDS Church really is "the only true Church" and Anne is guilty of "apostasy" and the "moral sin of polygamy," how can God hold against her what she is convinced is of him?

Something to wrap our brains around.

Kaylanamars said...

Yes, that´s those are big questions! I´ve been off of the blogosphere for a month or so...it´s good to see your posts again!

More and more I find that we have to find God for ourselves and listen to what he wants us to with our lives...I´m definitely not there by any means...still trying to gain any kind of relationship with God right now. But I have to believe that. It´s one of the reasons I have a hard time with missionary work in a way...there are so many who are so happy and fulfilled and have their own relationships with God in their own religions...I really don´t feel like I have anything more to offer them so to speak. That also is part of my own confusion in Mormonism...like with some of its doctrines and practices.

Ok, rambled on enough! Great post and discussion.

Anonymous said...

I have lived the Gospel according to the LDS Church for over 30 years. In all that time, I have studied a number of different religions and their sacred texts. I have prayed about all of them. At one point, after sincere, heartfelt prayer and long fasting, that certain something that many call the "Holy Spirit" spoke to me so clearly I cannot deny it. It said "There is no God. You don't need one. You know what is good and what is evil. Do good and fight evil and all will be well."

DPC said...

There's an interesting article related to this on Pure Mormonism, where it talks about a General conference talk given in the 1980s where the speaker differentiated between the gospel and the Church. Viewed in that light, it could argued that the Mormon church is the best vehicle for delivering the truth, but other vehicles for delivery do exist.

Here is the link to the article

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/02/best-conference-talk-you-never-read_13.html

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...
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