Recently, a veritable Icon of the Bloggernacle, who for purposes of anonymity we shall call “Aloysius Miller”, published a post stating: “I don’t see the church as an exclusive conduit to God,” and “I reject the claims that the church is a sole avenue to God.” Aloysius further stated: “I realize that those claims are a standard part of Mormon theology, and so my rejection of them makes me heterodox in that sense.”
Aloysius’ proclamation of self-declared hetrodoxy made me ask myself: Is he really at odds with Church doctrine in rejecting the notion that the LDS Church is “an exclusive conduit to God”? In other words, does the LDS Church even claim to be “an exclusive conduit to God”?
But first, what exactly does it mean to say the LDS Church claims to be “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God”? Does it mean you have to be a member of the LDS Church to receive divine inspiration? Or to have your prayers answered? Or to receive a divine calling or mission in life? Or to be worthy of being considered a servant of God? Or to develop a relationship of discipleship with Christ? Or to receive peace, joy, and glory in the hereafter? What does it mean to say the LDS Church claims to be an exclusive conduit to God?
After giving this matter much thought, I’m still not sure of Aloysius’ exact intended meaning when he says the LDS Church claims to be “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God”, but of one thing I am sure: numerous statements from LDS leaders and publications over the years create wide enough latitude in LDS doctrine for any active and faithful member of the LDS Church to comfortably reject the notion that the Church is “an exclusive conduit to God” or a “sole avenue to God”, and to feel completely in harmony with Church leaders in doing so.
For example, LDS leaders and publications have made the following statements about God’s communication and relationship with mankind in general, and with non-Mormons in particular:
1. “[W]e claim that God’s inspiration is not limited to the Latter-day Saints.” -Elder James E. Faust 
2. “All men share an inheritance of divine light. God operates among his children in all nations, and those who seek God are entitled to further light and knowledge, regardless of their race, nationality, or cultural traditions.” -Elder Howard W. Hunter 
3. “[T]he Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have.” -Book of Mormon 
4. “The idea that with the Crucifixion of Christ the heavens were closed and that they opened in the First Vision is not true. The Light of Christ would be everywhere present to attend the children of God; the Holy Ghost would visit seeking souls. The prayers of the righteous would not go unanswered.”-Elder Boyd K. Packer 
5. “God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous for any one people. . . . We have no quarrel with the Gentiles. They are our partners in a certain sense.” -Elder Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Elder Ezra Taft Benson 
6. “We believe that most religious leaders and followers are sincere believers who love God and understand and serve him to the best of their abilities. We are indebted to the men and women who kept the light of faith and learning alive through the centuries to the present day. . . . We honor them as servants of God.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks 
7. “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. … We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation.” Elder James E. Faust 
8. [I]ndividual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not by membership but by loyalty. Just as there Latter-day Saints who belong to the great and abominable church because of their loyalty to Satan and his life-style, so there are members of other churches who belong to the Lamb because of their loyalty to him and his life-style. Membership is based more on who has your heart than on who has your records.” 
The quotes above make clear that the LDS Church teaches and claims:
- that God’s inspiration is not limited to the Latter-day Saints;
- that “all men” receive “divine light” and that “God operates among his children in all nations“;
- that the Lord grants to “all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his [i.e., God’s] word“;
- that the Light of Christ and the Holy Spirit were present, and that the prayers of the righteous were answered, even during the period of time referred to by Latter-day Saints as “the Apostasy”;
- that Latter-day Saints are not the only people in the world accomplishing God’s “great and marvelous work“;
- that non-Mormon religious leaders are “servants of God”;
- that “the great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others,” have had moral truths “given to them by God“;
- that “God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way toeternal salvation“; and
- that “there are members of other churches who belong to the Lamb [i.e., Jesus Christ] because of their loyalty to him and his life-style”.
What, then, could somebody possibly be referring to when he says the LDS Church claims to be “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God”? It seems likely that such a statement would be based on statements by LDS leaders like the one quoted below, which are made frequently:
This is the true Church, the only true Church, because in it are the keys of the priesthood. Only in this Church has the Lord lodged the power to seal on earth and to seal in heaven as He did in the time of the Apostle Peter. Those keys were restored to Joseph Smith, who then was authorized to confer them upon the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. 
Based on the quote above, and numerous statements like it, there is no doubt that the LDS Church claims to be the exclusive holder of priesthood keys necessary to authoritatively perform priesthood ordinances (and therefore the “only true Church“).
Which brings us to the $10,000 question: is the LDS Church’s claim to exclusive possession of priesthood keys the same as a claim to be “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God”?
Interestingly, the quotes that appear below, which were published in recent Church curriculum, seem to indicate that at least one of Mormonism’s founding prophets, Brigham Young, would have rejected the notion that the LDS Church is “an exclusive conduit to God”:
It has appeared to me, from my childhood to this day, as a piece of complete nonsense, to talk about the inhabitants of the earth being thus irretrievably lost—to talk of my father and mother, and yours, or our ancestors, who have lived faithfully according to the best light they had; but because they had not the everlasting covenant and the holy Priesthood in their midst, that they should go to hell and roast there to all eternity. It is nonsense to me; it always was, and is yet (DBY, 384).
So far as mortality is concerned, millions of the inhabitants of the earth live according to the best light they have—according to the best knowledge they possess. I have told you frequently that they will receive according to their works; and all, who live according to the best principles in their possession, or that they can understand, will receive peace, glory, comfort, joy and a crown that will be far beyond what they are anticipating. They will not be lost (DBY, 384).
If [people] have a law, no matter who made it, and do the best they know how, they will have a glory which is beyond your imagination, by any description I might give; you cannot conceive of the least portion of the glory of God prepared for his beings, the workmanship of his hands (DBY, 385).
I say to every priest on the face of the earth, I do not care whether they be Christian, Pagan or [Muslim], you should live according to the best light you have; and if you do you will receive all the glory you ever anticipated (DBY, 384–85). 
The LDS Church’s claim to exclusively possess priesthood keys — and the relevance of that claim to the eternal salvation of mankind, particularly to the 99.99% of humanity who are not, were not, and will not be Mormons — is a complex and nuanced claim. That exclusive claim to priesthood keys is inextricably intertwined with the Church’s universal doctrines about God’s universal love, concern, inspiration, and operation among all mankind, as well as the Church’s universal doctrines that all persons who lived by whatever moral law or light they received in their mortal lifetime — “no matter who made it,” “whether they be Christian [or] Pagan” — “will will receive peace, glory, comfort, joy and a crown that will be far beyond what they are anticipating.”
Bearing in mind these complex, nuanced, and intertwining exclusive-yet-universal LDS doctrines, if we say the LDS Church claims to be “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God,” I think we risk stating an innocent-but-careless half-truth at best, or an intentional deception at worst. Furthermore, based on the numerous quotes from LDS leaders above, I feel perfectly comfortable rejecting the notion that the LDS Church is “an exclusive conduit to God” or “a sole avenue to God”, because I do not believe the LDS Church makes such a claim in the first place.
To be clear, my purpose in writing this post is not to engage in semantic nit-picking in attempt to make Aloysius “an offender for a word”. (For the record, Aloysius and I are official Facebook friends; a bond stronger than the cords of death.) Rather, my purpose is to illustrate the complexities and nuances of LDS doctrine on this topic, which make it extremely difficult to accurately summarize the Church’s claims, or stated conversely, make it very easy to unintentionally mischaracterize or overstate LDS claims by making them sound more exclusivist than they really are.
SOURCES: Elder James E. Faust, “Communion with the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, May 1980, 12 (emphasis added).  Howard W. Hunter, “The Gospel-A Global Faith,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 18 (emphasis added).  Alma 29:8 (emphasis added).  Boyd K. Packer, “The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 11 (quoted on Church website at: http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/) (emphasis added).  Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1928, p. 59 [quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints,” Ensign, Jul 1972, 59] (emphasis added).  Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 84 (emphasis added).  Elder James E. Faust, “Communion with the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, May 1980, 12 (emphasis added).  Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 61 (quoted on Church website at http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/) (emphasis added).  Henry B. Eyring, “The True and Living Church,” Ensign, May 2008, 20–24 (emphasis added).  “Chapter 39: Eternal Judgment,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 285 (emphasis added).