Does the LDS Church claim to be “an exclusive conduit to God”?

Andrew apologetics, apostasy, Bloggernacle, church, God, Happiness, LDS, Mormon, mormon, plan of salvation, Priesthood, prophets, questioning, spiritual progression, theology 141 Comments

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 [1]

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 [2]

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 [3]

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 [4]

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 [5]

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 [6]

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 [9]

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.” [8]

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. [9]

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). [10]

CONCLUSION:

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:

[1] Elder James E. Faust, “Communion with the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, May 1980, 12 (emphasis added).

[2] Howard W. Hunter, “The Gospel-A Global Faith,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 18 (emphasis added).

[3] Alma 29:8 (emphasis added).

[4] Boyd K. Packer, “The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 11 (quoted on Church website at: http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/) (emphasis added).

[5] 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).

[6] Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 84 (emphasis added).

[7] Elder James E. Faust, “Communion with the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, May 1980, 12 (emphasis added).

[8] 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).

[9] Henry B. Eyring, “The True and Living Church,” Ensign, May 2008, 20–24 (emphasis added).

[10] “Chapter 39: Eternal Judgment,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 285 (emphasis added).

Comments

comments

Comments 141

  1. This is surely a semantical debate. The church is very clear that only its ordinances are valid. At some point all those desiring the celestial kingdom have to get baptized into our church, along with the other necessary ordinances. In that respect, everyone goes through this church to be exalted.

    The church would not say it monopolizes truth, but it would say it monopolizes the priesthood. Discussions like this, to me, attempt to show how open-minded we are in our close-mindedness.

  2. Good post, Andrew. I agree with it completely. I also point our that we also know that good people will inherit a great reward in the hereafter from D&C 76. That is also not exclusive to Latter-day Saints.

  3. I agree with the post and comments above.
    The CJCLDS is only the exclusive conduit to God in the sense that only the CJCLDS has the priesthood keys and ordinances humans need to be saved.
    The CJCLDS is not the only source of revelation or inspiration on the earth, although faithful members may be given a more steady stream of revelation or inspiration if they follow promptings from the Holy Ghost than those who do not have the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  4. 1. Joseph Smith stated that it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exalation even beyond the grave. Hence, we cannot judge the progress of others by the works they have accomplished in this life, especially when severe mental illness, addiction, or abuse prevented them from achieving a level of obedience that they might otherwise have reached. In the King Follet discourse, Joseph Smith said, “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”

    2. Outward appearance does not always indicate the status of the heart, and we know that the Lord will judge us not only by our deeds but also by the thoughts and intents of our hearts (see D&C 6: 16, Alma 21:6, Heb. 4:12). I Corinthians 13 shows that those who honor the letter of the law without living the spirit of the law–which is pure love for our Father and His children, or charity, the pure love of Christ–will not be exalted. Since only God can judge the thoughts and intents of our hearts, and since many less active and non-member brothers and sisters live the law of love on a very high level, ie. Mother Teresa, we would be wise to leave judgment to God.

    3. God warns us that we will be judged as we judge others. The brethren have counselled us not to pretend to know what our brother’s or sister’s final judgment is, since only God knows the heart. Dallin Oaks wrote, “First, I speak of the final judgment. This is that future occasion in which all of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to our works (see 1 Ne. 15:33; 3 Ne. 27:15; Morm. 3:20; D&C 19:3). Some Christians look on this as the time when individuals are assigned to heaven or hell. With the increased understanding we have received from the Restoration, Latter-day Saints understand the final judgment as the time when all mankind will receive their personal dominions in the mansions prepared for them in the various kingdoms of glory (see D&C 76:111; John 14:2; 1 Cor. 15:40–44). I believe that the scriptural command to ‘judge not’ refers most clearly to this final judgment, as in the Book of Mormon declaration that ‘man shall not … judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord’ (Morm. 8:20)” [Dallin H. Oaks, “‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug 1999, 7].

    Elder Oaks further explains that even Jesus Christ refused to make final judgments while on earth. He writes, “Even the Savior, during His mortal ministry, refrained from making final judgments. We see this in the account of the woman taken in adultery. After the crowd who intended to stone her had departed, Jesus asked her about her accusers. ‘Hath no man condemned thee?’ (John 8:10). When she answered no, Jesus declared, ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more’ (John 8:11). In this context the word condemn apparently refers to the final judgment (see John 3:17)” [Dallin H. Oaks, “‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug 1999, 7].

    We would be wise to refuse to make final judgments of others, for not only will we be judged as we judge others but also we limit our spiritual growth when we live in a spirit of unforgiveness, contempt, and contention. I can’t find the quote, but I remember hearing President Hugh B. Brown say that some will be surprised at who they see in heaven. Perhaps the opposite will be true as well. As we come unto Christ and experience His infinite love for all mankind, we are more inclined to reach out with love and compassion to all mankind, recognizing that God prepares a way for His children who may not have a fulness of the truth right now.

  5. LDS ecumenism has steadily grown since Mr. Monson was called to the first presidency. I recall the shock among many LDS members when Monson’s early outreach efforts were made to rebuild other church buildings, cooperate in humanitarian efforts, etc. At the same time, LDS leaders are somewhat obsessed with being recognized as “christian” by other denominations. We’ve seen many distinctive doctrines of Mormonism de-emphasized, or denied altogether as “speculations” among “a few” early leaders (not noting that those leaders were presidents and apostles). These emphases would seem to contribute to at least a vocal recognition of other faiths as “conduits to deity.”

    At the same time, however, the leadership of the LDS church has continued to emphasize their claim to exclusive divine authority. In fact, I would predict that this is the one distinctively Mormon doctrine that the LDS church will never let fall by the wayside. It’s an enormously powerful control mechanism, whether in terms of influencing behavior of faithful members, or in terms of threatening potential dissenters. It’s the “trump card” that makes any action or statement “righteous” beyond challenge. Without the emphasis on exclusive divine authority, the LDS church would collapse under its own weight.

  6. I agree with Holden. No how many ways you try to spin it only someone baptized, confirmed, blessed, set apart, ordained or sealed by an LDS priesthood holder has those ordinances recognized by God. I see posts on this topic every so often and I wonder about the motivation. Is it that we’re trying to fit in with everyone else (in which case it won’t work because we’ll always be a cult to protestants and not big enough to worry about to Catholics)or just to show that we aren’t all that special (which also doesn’t fly given your typical F&T meeting comments). BY’s quotes are interesting but don’t speak to the main point that you acknowlege, i.e. who’s got the power. Assimilation is a bit of a slippery slope especially when everyone else doesn’t want us in the neighborhood, marrying their daughter much less telling them that we think they’re really ok with God.

  7. It’s extremely important to make the distinctions Andrew makes in this post, even if only to highlight one of the great lies told about Mormonism by others. A common charge is that we believe only Mormons will be saved – with the direct implication that this must happen in this life, it will be “forced” through vicarious baptisms OR being “Mormon” is more important than being “Christian”. Those are serious charges, and every one of them is wrong.

    We need to explain our beliefs about this general topic specifically because it is misunderstood so badly by those outside the Church – and, unfortunately, by too many members inside it.

  8. #1 and 6:

    Notice how quickly and easily God’s priesthood gets converted to “our” or “LDS” priesthood in our minds. I wonder if that isn’t part of what happened to the early Christians who your orthodox history and mine says used to have the full authority of the priesthood?

    To really throw the canary among the cats, notice that the early portions of the Book of Mormon indicate that the restoration of gospel leadership to the remnants of the Lamanites (as the seed of the Jews) is guaranteed. We latter day “gentiles” who scatter them get grafted into the true heritage, by contrast, conditionally. Even the words of Jesus himself to the Nephites have an “if…then…otherwise” quality. Indeed, the Book of Mormon has repeated apostasy and restoration cycles: Lehi, Mosiah, Alma, etc.

    The triumph of the Divine will is assured. Triumph of denominational incarnations isn’t.

  9. 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

    Precisely. We simply anticipate greater glory than anyone else, and our ordinances reflect that.

  10. First of all, missionary work would be fruitless if we couldn’t receive revelation from God prior to being baptized. Surely God can and does speak to all His children, depending on their faith.

    Secondly, I believe the reason we have faith Christ will be our judge is because only He can mercifully and with justice, determine our salvation, since it is only through Him that we have hope of salvation.

    It is not a simple checklist of items (get baptized Mormon, receive Holy Ghost, receive endowments, celestial marriage in the temple, and endure … check check check, I’m saved!)

    We will prove ourselves to our Savior by actions and faith in this life and the next life, whether we be Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, or whatever. We’ll be judged by our hearts and what we did with opportunities we had. Any other requirements for salvation can be taken care of by the Lord.

  11. Lemming,

    We don’t think we will get higher glory than anyone else. Anyone that goes through those ordinances by proxy or whenever they go through them gets to the highest glory. So your use of the “we” in your statement is questionable, and makes it sound like “we” are exclusivist. Paradoxically, though, when “they” go through the ordinances, they become “us.”

  12. It is certainly good policy to make friends of our religious neighbors. It is also good policy to try and see the good in others, and not let our inter-faith relations mirror to controversy which led Joseph Smith to question “which of them is right, or are they all wrong together”. That being said, it is also important not to let our public relations campaign completely dillute our message. We teach that a total apostasy occured, or a falling away from the truth and Priesthood authority. During that time there was the formation of an abominable church, and Satan was at it’s head, even the “mother of harlots”. Downstream from this event by about 1800 years Joseph Smith claims to have been met by God, who in no uncertain terms declared

    “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof. He again forbade me to join with any of them;”

    He did not say, “Oh Joseph, those other Church’s are led by my other servants. Their Church’s are good and mostly correct, most of all their pastors and leaders are really interested in my cause, they teach the Truth but unfortunately just don’t have it all.” He clearly expressed his contempt for the Church’s of the day including their leaders. The unfortunate trend I see within the Church however is that Nick is right. As time moves on the uniqueness of the LDS Church is being widdled down to authority only. Many of the former teachings are treated as “speculation”, or one man’s opinion. Even the role of Prophets have been relegated to “President”, and they come across more like managers and CEO’s than as “active” agents of the Divine. Eventually the Church’s message will lose it’s import if we continue on this ultra PR campaign, to the point where there would be no more of a compelling reason to be Mormon than to be “Christian, Pagan or [Muslim]”.

  13. Cowboy,

    The Lord told Joseph the other churches are abominations, not His children who follow those churches with a pure heart in trying to seek Him, not knowing where to find the truth.

    The compelling reason to be Mormon would be for light and truth that cannot be found in any other religion, because the power and authority of the Priesthood has been restored by the will of the Lord.

    However, until others have seen it and accepted it, they can still be drawing close to the Lord by other means until one time they are given a chance to accept the Lord’s will. Therefore, the claim that the church is an exclusive conduit to God cannot be supported by any church documentation. It seems to me there are other paths to the Lord and the Lord has provided a plan for such with proxy work in temples, and other branches can be grafted in. Why does getting closer to God need to be exclusive to any group? Claiming to have the truth and the power to perform ordinances is not mutually exclusive with the power to get closer to God.

  14. KG McB
    The Lord told Joseph that the other churches WERE abominations. Perhaps things have changed over the past 200 years, now that the spirit of the Lord has been poured out upon all flesh…like Joel, Moroni, and Joseph said.

  15. Yes, the other churches WERE abominations, trying to do things or claim truths without having authority from God to do them.

    So, does that mean all people in those churches were abominations to the Lord?

    Weren’t Joseph’s father and mother methodists?

    Definition of Abomination:
    ▸ noun: an action that is vicious or vile; an action that arouses disgust or abhorence
    ▸ noun: a person who is loathsome or disgusting
    ▸ noun: hate coupled with disgust

    My point is the Lord is offended when people try to setup a church and perform his ordinances without his authority to do so. That is an action that arouses abhorence to the Lord. The churches are disgusting to Him if they mock His authority. That does not mean all those who went to church that day seeking God were hated by God for doing so. It does not mean there aren’t parts of the bible still teaching truth.

    I would argue the Founding Fathers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring truth and pave the way for the restoration of the gospel, even though they did not hold the Priesthood of God and weren’t baptized mormons. They could perform God’s will before the church was restored. Therefore, muslims or catholics can perform His will too, if asked to until one day they are led to His gospel. I don’t think that is contradictory.

  16. I have a lot of other responses I’d like to make to other commenters, but on this last point about the “abominations” language, it’s interesting to me that really the only other place you find that popping up from something related to JS is in Moroni 8, where it refers to infant baptism and the idea of little innocent children being stained with sin as being an “abomination.” My understanding has always been that what God found “abominable” about the existing Christian creeds of the day was that they endorsed the idea of Original Sin, thereby portraying God as an arbitrary, cruel, unjust, and unloving God who damns little babies and children to eternal torment and misery in Hell if they are not baptized before they die.

    Such mischaracterizations and falsehoods about God qualify as “abominations” in my book anyway.

    So it’s ironic that a condemnation of Original Sin creeds, which rejection actually expands and amplifies our understanding of God’s love for his children, is now misinterpreted as being some sort of exclusivist limitation on God’s love. Quite the opposite is true. The denunciation of Original Sin creeds as “abominations” broadened the concept of God’s love.

  17. Andrew,
    Would you agree, it is the church preaching those abominable practices that the Lord condemns, not the people who are believing it in some ignorance due to lack of access to truth?

    My daughter came home from school and was taught things in sex ed class that made me really upset at the school for teaching it, not upset at my daughter for hearing it.

    I would think that is how our loving Heavenly Father views things and His “99.99%” children who are not mormon. He wants them to return to His presence, not make it exclusive to a lucky few.

  18. KG McB, I think it’s even narrower than than a condemnation of a whole church. I think it’s the creeds that are condemned as abominations. See the language quoted by Cowboy in comment 12 above.

  19. He clearly expressed his contempt for the Church’s of the day including their leaders.

    Sorry, Cowboy, but he also didn’t express contempt for the leaders of other churches. That simply isn’t what he said. He spoke ONLY of those who “profess” the “creeds” – and said that they were tainted by those creeds. That’s very different than contempt for all leaders.

    Please, read the post I linked in comment#17. I took great care to parse the actual words carefully.

  20. #7:
    A common charge is that we believe only Mormons will be saved…

    Ray, are you quibbling over what it means to be “saved?” Mormonism clearly teaches that a fulness of salvation is only available via the priesthood intervention of the Mormon priesthood.

    #15:
    Weren’t Joseph’s father and mother methodists?

    No. Lucy Mack Smith, Hyrum Smith, and one or two of the other children became presbyterians in Palmyra, but Joseph Smith Sr. did not join them in that effort. The Smith family were early congregationalists, then converted to (unitarian) universalists. When Lucy Mack Smith tried in Vermont to get Joseph Sr. to accompany her to a more traditional protestant church, Asael Smith had a huge fit–to the point of throwing a copy of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason at Joseph Sr., “bidding him to read it until he believed it.

  21. No, Nick, I’m not quibbling. We believe ALL eternal rewards are available to ALL regardless of religious affiliation in this life. We can go back and forth about whether one has to be “Mormon” or “LDS” at some point in the eternities (which I don’t believe, since I believe the concept of “church” as we know it in mortality will disappear in the hereafter), but anyone who says we believe we are an exclusive conduit to God without any qualification or explanation as to what that means and doesn’t mean is wrong, imo. There just are too many differing statements to say such a thing and let it stand on its own.

  22. 11) but don’t you see, Aboz. Those ordinances by proxy are delivered by….guess who? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As you point out, “Paradoxically, though, when “they” go through the ordinances, they become “us.”” We are the only way to get into the ‘best place.’

    I have to ultimately agree with those like Holden (1). He definitely stated it more succinctly than I would have

  23. 1 Nephi 13:26, great and abominable church.

    Joseph Smith History 1:26 “I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further adirected. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be bupbraided.”

    Ray, I read your post and will concede to the rational behind your interpretation, but I am still not convinced that the Lord was not talking about the then current state of Christianity. Joseph was, as you mention, in the grove to know which of the current Protestant church’s was correct. The Book of Mormon makes clear that those creedal church’s are the mother of harlots. Few, if any, of the protestant church’s then extant were incarnations separate from creedal origins, Annabaptists, mabey? If that is the case, then which of the Protestant “professors” would not be preaching some form of creedal doctrine, that God exist’s as a being without “body, parts, or passions” for example.

    “The Lord told Joseph the other churches are abominations, not His children who follow those churches with a pure heart in trying to seek Him, not knowing where to find the truth.”

    For the record, I was not saying this at all. The way I read Joseph Smiths comments, The Lord was painting Christianity with some broad brush strokes. This does not mean unequivocally in all cases, but it does come across as a current state of affairs with regards to Christianity, and it is consistent with what is taught in The Book of Mormon, and what has been taught about the Apostasy.

  24. My interpretation of the Brigham Young quote I repeated in #9 is that they will receive the glory they anticipate regardless of what ordinances are performed for them. If, in the spirit world, they find themselves anticipating exaltation (a concept no living Christian outside of the LDS Church would anticipate), then they would have to accept proxy ordinances performed by the proper authority.

  25. #25 – Cowboy, I agree with that. I just don’t like being criticized for things I don’t say or believe, so I try to defend others from overly broad statements. Call it a protection complex or a parsing tendency. That’s all it was in this case, but I think it’s really important in the context of this topic.

  26. I have always enjoyed Roger Keller, former Presbyterian minister’s, presentation on the Apostacy (see link). He felt that when he was performing baptisms, the Spirit confirmed the act as following Christ’s Biblical injunction.

  27. Wyoming, to clarify, Roger Keller was talking about when he performed baptisms OUTSIDE the LDS Church as a Presbyterian, correct? I think you recommended that presentation before and I watched it in full. Well worth it.

  28. While I do see the argument that is Andrew is trying to make. I can’t see any room for this when Salt Lake starts talking missionary work. “We must save our friends or they will be lost.” How many times have we heard that. While the church has taken a softer stance on the abomination term in regard to other churches. I have heard that so frequently and often it is clearly an accepted mantra of our church for most members.

    This seems like another topic where we look at ourselves and realize our obnoxious pride and see that we need to change. The tone here is certainly different that I get at church.

  29. Wyoming, I think ANYONE who performs baptisms sincerely is following Christ’s Biblical injunction – and I think the performer and the receiver will be blessed for it in some way, just as I believe we are blessed in some way for all our sincere efforts to follow Jesus to the best of our understanding. I think this is a perfect example of having to be careful to not judge good to be evil.

  30. For what it’s worth, when I was around 10 or 11 I attended a YMCA camp where they held a Revival without my knowing that’s what it was called. At the end of the preaching they encouraged us all to say a prayer confessing our sins, asking Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior, to invite Jesus into our heart, etc. I didn’t see any problem with what they were asking us to do, so I did it. I had a great feeling of spiritual peace for several days afterwards. Other boys at the camp who did the same (and who were not LDS) reported the same to me.

    The lesson I draw from this is that God responds to sincerity. If someone approaches God with sincerity, no matter the religion or church or no church at all, no matter the imperfections in their understandings or doctrine, etc., if a child of God sincerely seeks God, God will reach out and touch that person’s heart. How could any loving Father ever do anything less?

  31. I would be really snarky about now, Andrew A (33), but…I won’t. The last three lines are really calling out for snark. Are atheists just 1) lying or 2) insincere?

    …but NO–instead, I’ll be proactive and respond to

    re 31:

    Jerry, this raises questions about the primacy of baptisms by proxy in the LDS consciousness. I mean, do we tend to view them as a “second-best” for people who just haven’t been saved in life, or are we supposed to view them as equal to baptisms in life, just for those who have passed away.

    We’ll have a *funtastic* article on Saturday about our expectations about when someone can be saved or when they are “lost.”

  32. Fwiw, I agree with Andrew S on this one. I really do think there are people who, for whatever reason, are sincere but simply don’t experience God as you or I do, Andrew A (or any other “believer”). That’s why the foundation is faith – the substance of things hoped for. If God always answered every sincere supplication in a way that was undeniable . . .

    Given that, I also understand and respect agnosticism.

  33. Ray, I’ve been reading your comments and remembered your earlier post and I think you’ve spun or “parsed” this a little too fine.

    JS 1
    “18 My object in going to ainquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
    19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.”
    20 He again forbade me to join with any of them…”

    He’s told by God to join none because they are all “wrong”, their creeds an abomination and their professors corrupt. That to me pretty well covers the bases. I agree with the comments above about members of those churches. For the life of me I don’t understand why this is such a big thing for you. Are you afraid the LDS church is going to offend some other denomination while the focus of the missionary effort to take their members away. You consistently avoid the subject of authority to perform the saving ordinances. That’s what the missionaries preach. Their baptisms aren’t recognized by God, their priests have no authority to do anything but preach, teach, exhort, and expound, they will never be exalted unless they are re baptized into the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that or are you afraid it will offend someone to just come out and say it?

  34. KG McB: “My point is the Lord is offended when people try to setup a church and perform his ordinances without his authority to do so. That is an action that arouses abhorence to the Lord. The churches are disgusting to Him if they mock His authority.” That’s adding to what the Lord is quoted by JS as having said. He said 1) not to join any of the churches, 2) that their creeds were an abomination, and 3) that their professors were corrupt. That doesn’t say he’s offended when someone mocks his authority. Is God so proud? Does he sit around wishing people would worship him, ticked off when they don’t? I just can’t picture a God I would look up to acting like that, with such base human emotions as his motives.

    Well-meaning individuals create churches because they want to make a difference in the world, or sometimes to build themselves or their own ideas up, but I can’t think of many who would do it deliberately to mock God. Building a church to God without authority is in fact the most common way to do it in Christianity. Many protestant sects consider the Biblical injunction to “feed my sheep” as all the authority required. If they are sincere in that belief, how is that mockery?

    OTOH, “creeds” make it sound as though the statements made about God (that might lead people to misunderstand their own nature and the nature of God) are what is an abomination. But even there we should be careful. The Lord is not quoted as specifying which churches not to join (presumably those JS asked about?), or which creeds were an abomination (Apostles Creed? Nicean Creed? all creeds?) or which professors were corrupt (some probably are, some not).

    As to missionary work, we rely on the fact that the church isn’t an exclusive conduit to God in those efforts. Individual revelation is one of our basic beliefs and is not restricted to those who are members or no one would become a member.

  35. You consistently avoid the subject of authority to perform the saving ordinances.

    No, I don’t. In fact, I’ve said in other places that this is the one thing I believe is the absolute core to the Restoration – along with a reintroduction of a Father like whom we can become. Nothing I just said invalidates Mormon Priesthood ordinances. I said people baptized outside the LDS Church as a sign of their faith are blessed “in some way”. I have NEVER said they won’t need to accept vicarious baptism at some point. I believe that deeply and to the core.

    are you afraid it will offend someone to just come out and say it?

    My first thought, GB, was a truly offensive reaction, but I have tried for years to not let myself react in anger or frustration. I don’t always succeed, but I try. I nearly failed a minute ago, fwiw.

    You asked why I parse so finely, and the answer is simple:

    I really dislike statements that attribute to the LDS Church, Mormonism and/or God (or anyone else, for that matter) what it or He hasn’t said or done. I parse because I want to be judged charitably, and I don’t want to be accused unfairly. I took that verse apart word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase intentionally – and my final conclusion was exactly like yours EXCEPT for the sweeping condemnation of individuals that simply isn’t in the verse itself. So, take your “are you afraid” question and stuff it in a drawer somewhere. I take a stand constantly for the Church and its leaders and its ordinances and its teachings; I simply try to understand everything in as charitable a light as possible.

    If that’s a weakness, then I am a weakling. I am fine with that. Just don’t ever accuse me of being a cowardly weakling. That simply is insulting and incorrect.

  36. Just a quick point of perspective. The vast majority of vicarious work will not be performed by “Mormons” – it will occur during the millenium, at which time “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” must technically cease to exist as an organization. After all, by that time the “Latter Days” will be over and done with.

  37. I watched the Keller video and think it is a very good exposition of Mormon uniqueness without dismissing the work and faith of Christians over the centuries. In short, he maintains the exclusive claims of the LDS in a way that doesn’t insult and belittle others. I think most people would therefore be happy to talk with him and learn more of his faith.

    By contrast, the use of the word “abomination” with reference to other folks’ beliefs is just asking for a fight. You might just as well call their mother a tramp. If you’re going to use such language, you can hardly get bent out of shape when an Evangelical labels your church quasi Christian or cultish. As Rabbi Hillel put it, “What is hateful to yourself do not do to others.”

    Personally, I find the Mormon position very similar to that of Roman Catholicism. In both cases there is a claim to be the one true authoritative church. Yet in the small world that we live in, that claim needs to be made in such a way as to not give undue offense to the beliefs of other Christians and people of other faiths. It is not an easy balancing act by any stretch of the imagination, but if one is convinced of such a claim to authority, then one is pretty much obliged to try and achieve that balance. I think humility and vocabulary are two vital elements in that task and commend Mr. Keller for his wise use of both.

  38. While I have never belonged to any faith tradition other than Latter-day Saint, I have many close friends (including ministers, priests and other religious leaders) of other faiths who have shared with me some of their spiritual experiences, and I with them. Based on those conversations and my observations (and reading of history and theology) I believe that God is just as pleased that those individuals are following the faith path that they are, and that God is blessing them just as fully with the spirit, as much as God is pleased with Latter-day Saints and blesses LDS fully with the spirit.

    That is what my experience and observation tell me. I am glad there are readings of Church teachings with which my observations and experience are consistent. Thanks Andrew.

    In my opinion, these friends, and most, if not all, others laboring in other faith traditions meet the following description by Elder Oaks:

    “Many who come in the eleventh hour have been refined and prepared by the Lord in ways other than formal employment in the vineyard. These workers are like the prepared dry mix to which it is only necessary to ‘add water’—the perfecting ordinance of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that addition—even in the eleventh hour—these workers are in the same state of development and qualified to receive the same reward as those who have labored long in the vineyard.”

    Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 32–34.

  39. Andrew S (34) If you go back and read my comment in the context of my original post and other comments, I think you’ll see you are responding to something I neither stated nor implied. But even though I didn’t even have atheists in mind when I made my comment, the unintended offense you’ve apparently taken is a bit puzzling to me.

    An atheist is someone who has already made up his mind that God does not exist. An agnostic is someone who is at least still open to the possibility that God exists, but typically lacks faith in human perception and reason to the point that he does not have confidence in ever arriving at a certain conclusion either way.

    So . . . I’m not quite sure I understand what you have in mind when you put words in my mouth and say: “so atheists are either insincere or lying”? Again, bearing in mind that an atheist is someone who has already made up his mind that God doesn’t exist, I’m not quite sure I can envision someone who has already made up his mind God does not exist [i.e., an atheist] simultaneously sincerely seeking a being who he has already decided does not exist. I wouldn’t call it insincere. I wouldn’t call it lying. But perhaps sincerely seeking God at a minimum requires that someone at least have their mind open to the possibility that God exists.

    So as for those who have already made up their minds that God exists [i.e., atheists], I don’t see much likelihood of their perceiving the influence of a being they have already decided doesn’t exist, but it’s not impossible. There have been many notable atheists who have, C.S. Lewis being one such example.

    But of course, all of this is far afield from the original topic of the post . . .

  40. “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.”

    Many Mormons that fall away do so after they do the maths. They become conscious that 13.5 million isn’t a huge number and its even smaller if you consider the world wide activity rate is around 33%, which gives the church about 4.6 million active members. The world’s population is 6.7 billion now and approximately 106 billion people have live on the earth before us.

    http://mormonmatters.org/2008/09/26/funnelling-us-all-through/

  41. Re 42,

    nope. Even after I reread, I just don’t see it. But this is an irreconcilable difference, because your post and all of your comments embed God into the mix in a way that intrinsically alienates one group of people in particular.

  42. Ray 45

    I guess its not to some! They have a hard time believing that god would design this world for his gospel plan where only one grain of sand that ever lived would hear the plan and then funnel the billions through at the end.

  43. Why?

    If that is not the case, it’s not an indictment of Mormonism; it’s an indictment of God – or, at the very least, all organized religion. That basic concept (that millions upon billions of people will not hear “the Truth” in this lifetime) is central to pretty much every religion that has specific beliefs; in Mormonism, at least, those who miss out in this life are accounted for in a plan. That’s not true in many other religions.

    Oh, and you said it was a math problem. My response was that it isn’t a math problem – not that it isn’t a philosophical issue. If Mormonism is right, the math is flat-out irrelevant, since there will be plenty of time and plenty of people to get the job done.

  44. Matthew Chapman said:

    “Just a quick point of perspective. The vast majority of vicarious work will not be performed by “Mormons” – it will occur during the millenium, at which time “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” must technically cease to exist as an organization. After all, by that time the “Latter Days” will be over and done with.”

    Growing up in the church I was never taught the church as an organization would go away during the millennium but that Christ would rule his kingdom/church personally on the earth.

    “Brigham Young taught that there will be nonmembers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living on earth as well as members. There will be two great works for members of the Church during the Millennium: temple work and missionary work” (Gospel Principles, Unit Nine: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, 44: The Millennium, 282)

    Why do Mormons bristle when Evangelicals say that LDS believe that you have to be baptized a Mormon to get into heaven? The prayer for the proxy confirmation following vicarious baptism specifically confirms the dead as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  45. This has been an extremely frustrating discussion to follow So many of those commenting seem to be unwilling to accept the truth. The Church has always taught and continues to teach above all that it alone meets with God’s full approval and that it alone has priesthood and God’s authority. I am certain that Ray’s son will be teaching nothing less on his mission. Talk of nuance and complexity is merely avoidance of the overarching claim to exclusivity. I am teaching High Priests Group on Sunday There will be about 35 men there I will pose Andrew’s question to them and let you know if they agree with Aloysius. I certainly do.

  46. Hawkgrrrl #37

    “The Lord is not quoted as specifying which churches not to join (presumably those JS asked about?), or which creeds were an abomination (Apostles Creed? Nicean Creed? all creeds?) or which professors were corrupt (some probably are, some not).”

    Actually that’s what He does say. He says “19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt;” All wrong, all an abomination, all corrupt.

    Ray, the problem I have with your analysis is that in taking the passage word by word your lose the effect of it’s meaning in toto and to me add meaning to what Joseph Smith is reporting that I do not believe was intended. And going back to what I said earlier, I’m concerned it’s part of an effort to make up more acceptable to the Christian world and to help us assimilate which I believe is a big mistake.

    Sorry that I caused so much anger but am grateful that you suggested I stuff my comments in a drawer rather than what I usually get and that to put it where the “sun don’t shine”.

    Lastly I’ll pass on a comment from Pres. Toronto who as president of the Czech Mission was the longest serving mission president. He happened on a missionary who was about to say a bad word after hitting his thumb with a hammer and his advice was “Brother Mel, it’s better to say it than let it cancre your soul.” FWIW

  47. #49 – “So many of those commenting seem to be unwilling to accept the truth. The Church has always taught and continues to teach above all that it alone meets with God’s full approval and that it alone has priesthood and God’s authority… Talk of nuance and complexity is merely avoidance of the overarching claim to exclusivity.”

    Wade, you find disagreement where there is none (or not much). It’s as though you believe there is only one way to understand the question, and if “many of those commenting” disagree with your understanding, they must be unwilling to accept “the truth.”

    Being the only church with God’s priesthood and authority is not the same as being the only “conduit to God,” (which is the original question in the post)

    First, many churches act as conduits to God by bringing their members closer to Christ by teaching and practicing Christian truths. The LDS Church is not the only Church that allows us to feel the Holy Ghost and grow closer to God. It is not the only church to build, uplift, and inspire. It is not the only church with faith, healing, and miracles. Many churches act as “conduits to God” in this general sense that they bring people closer to Heavenly Father by teaching truths and uplifting their members and others.

    Second, among those who belong to other churches, their experiences may make them more like Christ, so when the time comes to make covenants, whether in this life or the next, their experiences in a non-LDS Church have prepared them to do so. In this sense, other churches may be “conduits to God.”

    Finally, if by “conduit to God” you mean, the only church by which we can gain exaltation by performing ordinances and keeping the associated covenants, then you would be right. Everyone who seeks exaltation will have to make and keep covenants via ordinances by those who have the authority. But how many people understand “conduit to God” in this sense? Most people on the earth would not, because most people do not believe in “exaltation” in the same sense that Mormons do.

    So if by “unwilling to accept the truth” you mean “recognizing the ambiguity of the English language and trying to be perfectly clear regarding what we are discussing” then I agree, I am unwilling to accept the truth.

  48. Interesting conversation y’all have going here. 🙂

    (I’m not really Aloysius, that intro part was a weird joke of Adam’s. The rest of my statement, I stand by.)

  49. Welcome Kaimi. Aloysius Unveiled!!!

    So it sounds like Aloysius Miller is to you what Big Tuna is to Jim (he who hath ears to hear, let him hear).

  50. #35:
    If God always answered every sincere supplication in a way that was undeniable . . .

    …then believers wouldn’t have to resolve their own cognitive dissonance by coming up with rationalizations about how deity is being vague or unresponsive “for their own good.”

    #37:
    OTOH, “creeds” make it sound as though the statements made about God (that might lead people to misunderstand their own nature and the nature of God) are what is an abomination.

    We get awfully hung up on that word, “abomination.” Moses said it was an “abomination” to eat shellfish, too. Either our modern usage of the word doesn’t align with how deity allegedly used it in earlier times, or else the deity of Moses is one hell of a drama queen!

  51. Adam #51

    “Finally, if by “conduit to God” you mean, the only church by which we can gain exaltation by performing ordinances and keeping the associated covenants, then you would be right”

    If we agree that God has requirements in the form of ordinances for exaltation, and the priesthood is required to perform ordiances, then only through the ordinances can we receive exaltation. However, since the plan allows temple work to accomodate anyone to receive these, then there can be many conduits to God, which all will eventually lead to ordinances. Like a funnel, we all eventually go through the same gate. That is why God is the judge, people living good lives but not mormon will eventually be taught (missionary work happens on the other side) and have a chance to accept or not.

    It is not so black and white, Mormon or church of the devil.

    I agree with you, the priesthood or authority is not the same as the only conduit. This all is evidence of God’s love for all His children, not an elect few.

  52. “It is not so black and white, Mormon or church of the devil.”

    So I think we need to identify, Church of the Devil, Church of the Firstborn, and “in the middles”, because according to the Scriptures I am only aware of the first two. That is not to say that all clergy and membership are therefore wicked and/or Satanic, for we know that there are:

    “…many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are ablinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
    Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven— These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed”. (Doctrine & Covenants 123: 12-17)

    I don’t know that the doctrines and scriptures leave much room for an in-the-middle group.

  53. Cowboy, you’re right that Nephi’s vision sums it up as being two churches only. But the point of quote #8 above, if you consider carefully what’s being said, is that Mormons believe that members of other churches are part of the great, over-arching Church of the Lamb (Jesus) because they live a Christlike life. Your lifestyle dictates who you belong to (i.e., God or Satan) more than your formal ecclesiastical records. That being the case, the LDS Church recognizes that anyone who lives a Christlike life (i.e., humble, patient, kind, generous, forgiving, not judgmental, caring for the poor, etc.) “belongs” to God, whether he or she be Buddhist, Muslim, Pagan, Christian, etc.

    That being the case, all these other religions and churches are conduits to God in leading people to a Godly way of life.

  54. The Church has always taught and continues to teach above all that it alone meets with God’s full approval and that it alone has priesthood and God’s authority.

    #49 – Wade, I’ve never claimed that the Church alone does NOT have the Priesthood and God’s authority to perform ordinances of salvation and exaltation. However, our scriptures also are crystal clear that the LDS Church does not meet with God’s “full approval” – even though He is “well-pleased” with the Church collectively. I think it is a stretch to say He “fully approves” of the Church, when Jacob 5 says directly that the bitter fruit will continue to be pruned from the Church itself until the Church is fully purified. All is not well in Zion, so I can’t accept the idea that the Church “meets with God’s FULL approval”.

  55. Andrew:

    Where I think we agree is that membership in another Church does not preclude one from eligibility to the light of Christ, or from divine influence (personal revelation), or from being considered anything less than a child of God. Where I think we disagree is on the purpose and place of all other Church’s as viewed by the LDS Church. The current PR position is much different than the longstanding doctrinal position, particularly as taught in The Book of Mormon. The phrase we keep repeating is “conduit to God”. You even take note in the original post that this could have different meanings. I also realize that I am taking a fairly strict interpretation of scripture with most of my comments. To try and clear some things up let’s first makes sure we know what we are saying.

    1) The Book of Mormon teaches that all people are born with The Light of Christ, and that this gift is not conditional upon any ordinance, or vestige of Priesthood associated with membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If this is to be a conduit to God, and I think it could be reasonably argued so, then the Church is not the exclusive conduit to God.

    2) The Book of Mormon, as well as other foundational doctrines of the Church teach that following the Crucifixion and Resurrection of The Savior a great apostasy occured. In fact, if we are to use the book of Revelation as a source, the Woman with Child was chased into the wilderness by The Dragon, popularly interpreted as Satan. Make what you will of the symbolism. This apostasy entailed;

    a) A loss of Priesthood authority, at least as a presiding force over The Church;
    b) A loss of many plain and precious parts of the Gospel, the Covenants, and the Bible. The Book of Mormon suggests that this loss was an intentional perverting of the right way of the Lord (1 Nephi 13:28);
    c) Finally it contributed to the formations of many false Church’s

    If by conduit we mean that these other Church’s can teach people about Christ, enough to provide faith, then okay. If by Conduit we mean that these Church’s have the means to bring soul’s to him, I question that. When I hear that, it almost sounds as if we are suggesting that other Church’s somehow have the authority to mediate between their parishoners and The Savior. Or that The Savior is using these Church’s to bring souls to him. Is Jesus using the false Church’s founded by Satan no less, to bring souls unto him? That has never been the message, and if it ever was that would be the end of The Mormon Church (in a manner of speaking). The Church message is, has been, and will (should) be, that with respect, all other Church’s are not true. The Lord has even told us that our Church is the only one with which he is “well pleased” (D&C section 1). So in short, I have no problem with the theological argument that there are many of the pure in heart outside of the LDS Church who are kept from the truth because of those lying in wait to decieve. But if we are to suggest that other Church’s (institutions) are being used as righteous agents of the Lord, I would argue that we are now more concerned about public relations than preparing for the Second Coming.

  56. Ray your point is well taken.

    I guess I was just trying say that the bulk of TBmembers who do not live here believe that the Church and its ordinances are the only way to heaven in this or the next life. I know my RM son believes that without nuance or complexity

  57. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.” (JSH 19)

    In the Lord’s Church, if there are more than one creed, then the most important one of them all would be this one: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord’s church. There are no others that belong to Him. Ray, I agree that there are well meaning pastors, preachers, priests, etc, in other churches that do not preach the creeds but they are far and few in between. It is not uncommon here (in Minnesota) to hear the stories members of the church, who were brought up in those churches, to be huddled in some corner of their house when the missionaries came knocking – to remain as quiet as they could till the missionaries left. Then their parents would call their neighbors to warn them. My wife’s children of a former marriage were all brought up in a school of her former church which has an annual section of one the religion classes, that dealt with Mormonism. I remember one of her daughters years ago crying her eyes out because her mother was going to hell. That daughter is now a very staunch Latter-Day Saint. Just a few days ago, a daughter of my wife’s former husband, who attends that school was telling us of one of many incidences of recently correcting the teacher right in class in front of the students that the things he was teaching about the Mormon Church were wrong. Some of the things she tells us are unbelievable. The only reason she doesn’t wear her CTR ring to that school anymore is because it is broken and not because he said that ring would cause her to apostatize. (Maybe that wouldn’t be half bad.)

    My parents were very diligent to make sure that I and my brothers were baptized as an infants so in case anything happened we wouldn’t go to hell. When one of my brothers was born he had a complication that came close to taking his life. When my father went to the church building to get the pastor, he wouldn’t come because he was in the middle of a choir rehearsal. My mother told me, years later, that when my father got back to the hospital, without the minister, he said to her that if Mark died he was going to stab that minister. I’ve never known my dad to be violent. I had a cousin who died in infancy before the family had him baptized. Their church wouldn’t bury him. In my wife‘s work place she used to talk religion a lot with a guy who was a member of another church. Then one day he came to work and told her that he had read about the Mormon Church in his church‘s library and as a result he couldn‘t be friends with her anymore. (and on and on) Once again, there are good leaders in other churches. If it just weren’t for the awful poison of the creeds in the foundations of those religions. Sure. They have the Light of Christ – if they dare use it! The poison seems to end up infecting everybody in those churches. Those creeds are killing their membership. They will never really be servants of God because they will never be in His Church and they will teach their children to never be in His Church. Why will they never be His servants? Because when they are given a chance to be in His Church they reject it and will reject by the millions. I have little good to say about those churches and I don’t think the Lord gives them much credit either.

    I like your post on JSH 1:19. May be I just got the feeling it might have had a tendency to, unwittingly, dilute the poison of the creeds they teach.

  58. “I like your post on JSH 1:19. May be I just got the feeling it might have had a tendency to, unwittingly, dilute the poison of the creeds they teach.”

    Thanks, Rich. The irony is that I meant to highlight that poison and be charitable to the people.

  59. Cowboy, I can’t figure out whether you’re being sincere in what you say or if you are a disaffected Mormon pretending to play the role of the over-the-top, over-zealous, ultra-orthodox Mormon. Several of your statements are just unfounded, and are in fact contradicted by numerous GA statements over the years, to the point where it seems you could only be intending to create a tongue-in-cheek caricature of LDS doctrines and claims. The more you say, the more I’m convinced you’re pretending to play the role of an ultra-orthodox Mormon in attempt to make Mormons look bad. Kudos to you for pulling it off so well for so long without my realizing what you were doing.

  60. So Rich what is your answer? Does the Church claim to be an exclusive conduit to God? Do you agree with Aloysius?

    Are a cafeteria or buffet Mormon like so many who contribute to LDS blogs?

  61. Andrew:

    I have clearly offended you, that was not my intention, nor was it my intention to come across as duplicitous in any way. I have been regular on this board for a short while, and to be honest I thought most people had a pretty good idea for where I ultimately stand – I haven’t exactly been subtle about that. I really don’t want to focus too much on me so let me give you the readers digest version. I am active Utah County Mormon, and have been my entire life. I have been disenchanted with the Church now for about five years, I find the history perplexing and in many cases irreconcilable with what it acutally claims to be. I am not a believer per se`, though I am not 100% convinced that the Church is not true. I still remain interested in Mormon issues, and try to be sincere in all of my comments – except in places where humor is the obvious order.

    As my comments relate to this topic, I am aware the GA’s have contradicted my comments. My comments are founded on scripture and traditional interpretation. Part of the reason I am a skeptic is because Church history is loaded with expamples of GA contradictions, nearly everbody knows that. My concern here is that the Church message is evolving towards ecumenicalism. I don’t believe it will ever totally reach that point, but that is where it is headed, and to be honest that dissapoints me. Of course we need to maintain a modicum of respect and civility in our religious interactions, but I like the message of the restoration. I am afraid however that in an effort to be nice, we have confused the message – and yes, even though it is a message I am skeptical of.

  62. This seems to be off the subject, at first, but it’s really not.
    There is only one reason ever given for being baptized and that is to receive the remission of sins. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4) Without this no one who is accountable before God for his or her actions would be able to be made spiritually clean through repentance. No one would be saved. All would be in hell forever.

    Because of the Atonement, that all got changed. Now, outside of the sons of Perdition, all will be saved. (see D&C 76:40-44) How often have you heard that baptism is the gateway to the Celestial Kingdom? True. But that narrows the scope of what baptism down very much. The Book of Mormon tells us that “ no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:26). Well if that’s the rule for the kingdom of God than it must be the rule for all the kingdoms of God – including the terrestrial kingdom and the telestial kingdom. They are also kingdoms of God. He created them. This is how He saves all people regardless of how they live while they are here on earth. (except the sons of perdition)

    Now, again, if a person who is on earth who is also accountable before God for his or her actions becomes spiritually unclean they will require the cleansing power of the atonement to be freed of that uncleanness. There is only one way to do that – baptism. How often have I heard that when we do the work in the temples for the dead, it will only apply to those who accept those ordinances? Question. For all those names we will do who will encompass everybody, who’s not going to accept them. Answer. No one. That’s the only way they can be cleansed by the power of the atonement. They must first have the baptismal ordinance done for them.

    “But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
    And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;” (D&C 76:109-110)

    After the telestial (v.109) have suffered for their sins (not PAID for them – Christ did that) and confessed Him as their Savior (v. 110) then they will have completed the first and second principles of the Church. Because of the work in the temple done for them they now have ‘the remission of sins’ and the Savior can cleanse them. If you now look at verse 111 what do you see happening? The judgment. They will now find out where they will live in eternity in their saved condition which for these will be the telestial kingdom. Why? Because the Judgment will judge ‘according to men in the flesh’- and their works in mortality were telestial. The same will apply to the other kingdoms.

    This is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, because of it’s priesthood authority, the only church on the face of the earth through which man can gain access to the saving power of the atonement. Baptism is the gateway to a glorious resurrection. Only Mormons get into the Celestial Kingdom, only Mormons get into the Terrestrial Kingdom, and only Mormons get into the Telestial Kingdom because only Mormons can be cleansed of sin (that will eventually be everyone). The trouble is, is that most people will wait too long to get themselves into the Mormon Church to be able to get into the Celestial Kingdom. ‘Now is the time to prepare’. Not later. To get into the Lord’s Church after this life will be, in many instances, to late for a celestial glory.

    The kind of talk I hear when the subjects of salvation and the atonement come up tell me that what I have just said is not understood. I hope this helps.

  63. Cowboy, I’m not offended, and when it finally donned on my what you were doing, I thought it was pretty clever. So no worries there.

    I respectfully disagree with you and others, however, in your perception that somehow acknowledging other religions’ and churches’ roles in God’s plan is somehow something NEW that the Church is only now beginning to adopt in an effort to be PC. These universalist aspects of LDS doctrine go all the way back to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The truth is that LDS doctrine on this issue has been multi-faceted, it has been exclusivist-yet-universalist, from Day One.

    I think the misperception arises that LDS doctrine on this issue is narrow and exclusivist and closed-minded because, admittedly, we hear the exclusivist side of the equation trumpeted at least 10x as often as we hear all the universalist accompanying doctrines. But what you and others apparently see as a brand new approach toward ecumenism is, in my view, simply an attempt to achieve a greater balance between what has always been an exclusivist-yet-universalist host of doctrines and claims. This effort to achieve balance comes by way of emphasizing more often than in recent decades the universalist doctrines that Joseph Smith and others restored as part of the Restoration. I think if you go back and read GA statements on these issues, you’ll find the first prophets like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young talking about these universalist doctrines quite often, and the de-emphasis on those universalist aspects of LDS doctrines was actually a departure from JS and BY’s original theology.

    In short, I think today’s increasing emphasis on the universalist aspects of LDS doctrine is actually moving us back closer to what JS and BY and others originally taught.

    For reference, you might be interested in Armand Mauss’ “The Angel and the Beehive,” which chronicles the Church’s conservative/fundamentalist turn in the 1950’s – 80’s. You’1l find that the hardline exclusivist mindset, which overlooked the universalist aspects of LDS doctrine laid down by JS, and which you and I probably grew up with, was a departure from the more balanced exclusivist-yet-universalist theology that JS originally provided.

  64. I’m finding this to be a most interesting post. As a new convert to the church, I had a missionary tell me that the church I had belonged to before, the Lutheran church was the church of the devil. You can just imagine how that went over.

    To be honest, when I first joined the church I did believe it was “our way” or the highway. That thinking led to a lot of fear as to what would become of my loved ones which also led to some over zealous (to put it mildly…hysterical is closer to the truth) missionary efforts. You can also imagine how that went over. It put me at odds with family members and even cost me a few friends. It was my misunderstanding, along with elitist comments made from time to time by a few members of the church that caused the confusion.

    I had a wise home teacher. He told me that the only thing wrong with Mormons is that they make them out of people. It didn’t take long to understand what he meant.

    Over the years since joining the church, I’ve seen many devout members of the CJCLDS. I’ve also seen some that make me wonder how they ended up LDS to begin with and why they’ve stayed once they did. Along with that I’ve seen many good people of other faiths living their beliefs to the best of their ability…often better than I’m able to live the principals I’ve espoused. Still others manage to live very Christlike lives without belonging to any particular denomination. Does that make them “less than?” It’s inconceivable to ME…and I’m a mere mortal.

    I’m just glad I don’t have to worry and be afraid for those people anymore. Someone much greater than I is lovingly watching and taking notes.

  65. P.S. I should add that I find that it’s more the members of the church in my experience that give the impression that we have a direct and exclusive conduit from our mouths to God’s ear (and back again) than anything I’ve seen put forth officially by the church.

  66. Andrew:

    You seem to think that I was trying to come in under the radar, I wasn’t, and many of my comments in the last few days reflect that. I will search the Armand Mauss reference you provided and see if it changes my views. The three compelling places for me are that 1) The Book of Mormon does not advocate Universalism in any inter-faith kind of way; 2) Joseph Smith’s comments in JS History, said to have come from the Lord, do not warrant that conclusion; 2) When asked why we are different from other faiths, Joseph responded “We are different because we have the Holy Ghost”. Given this, I have a hard, again, reconcilling how/why God would use Church formed from Apostasy as agents to his will. Your right, I guess we disagree.

  67. Cowboy, read 2 Nephi chapter 29 and I think you’ll find a ton of universalist/ecumenical doctrine in there.

  68. Andrew:

    Unless you are arguing that Protestant Christianity is somehow representative of the lost tribes of Israel, I’m not seeing it.

  69. Andrew–Excellent article and discussion. Thanks for the hard work you put into it.

    Members of the LDS church have been given a pearl of great price. I hope we will be found to be wise stewards individually and collectively in the eyes of the Lord.

  70. Regarding the impact of creeds and the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

    I sat on the plane with an older lady a few years ago. She was a wonderful Christian lady and loved temple square. We had a great conversation about the apostacy, plan of salvation and the Book of Mormon. There was a quiet moment and I felt a distinct impression to tell her about babies not needing baptims – one of the revelations from Moroni. She looked a little surprised and said, “I was about to ask you about that. We had a baby die and our priest told us that our baby would never be with God and that we would never see her again”.

    I think there are a number of abominable doctrines resulting from the apostacy that are very offensive to God. We may feel we have to soften the message so not to offend non-members, but I believe there was a reason for His direct respose to Joseph Smith’s question.

  71. Wyoming, I have no idea if the last sentence is directed at me and Andrew A. in any way, but I just want to make the following crystal clear, given GB’s previous comment:

    We may feel we have to soften the message so not to offend non-members

    I don’t believe we should “soften the message (ANY of it) so not to offend non-members”. I simply believe we shouldn’t “harden the message (ANY of it) so not to offend members”. I believe we need to try to see the big picture and find a way to understand the often contradictory statements we have in the way that makes the most sense to us – even if we end up disagreeing about what that is.

    I try hard to parse words for what they actually say, no matter who that might offend. Frankly, that’s why I get blasted as too liberal on some blogs and too conservative on others. I refuse to word my comments based what I think of the outlook of other bloggers on a blog, but I’m neither stereotypically liberal nor conservative – so I end up writing things with which pretty much everybody disagrees at one point or another.

    I believe there was a reason for His direct response to Joseph Smith’s question.

    AMEN!! The post I wrote parsing JSH 1:19 actually does end up criticizing the creeds of the day as abominable and those who profess them as corrupted by them. One of my favorite lessons to teach is the Great Christian Apostasy, and I don’t pull any punches in it. I simply don’t condemn everything about the churches, their members and their leaders – since I don’t read that kind of condemnation in JSH 1:19 or any of our other scriptures.

    I teach “the only true and living church” – but I also parse that verse and don’t see the kind of condemnation in it that often gets perpetuated. If you are interested in that post, it is here:

    Common Scriptures in Review: The Only True and Living Church

  72. Ray,

    The last sentence wasn’t directed at you. I struggle with this apparent dichotomy when communicating the apostacy in a straight-forward manner (not apologizing for the Lord) and being sensitive to the feelings of really fine, Christian people. I have found that those most sensative to attacks on the creeds, are professional clergy. General membership seems to be taught directly by the Spirit. I noticed this last night when Anne Coulter was eulogizing her mother. She expressed joy that her mother and father were together again – and I don’t believe she was refering to some amorphous, communal sense.

    (I read Anne’s post after the Huffington Post – I am an ‘equal opportunity’ extremist).

  73. Yeah, Wyoming, that is ironic – and I think it points to something that I call “reverse mainstreaming”. I see so many areas where mainstream Christianity actually is adopting Mormon positions and beliefs (generally without admitting it or even understanding they are doing so) that I laughingly say that Christians are trying to become more Mormon – but just in a way that won’t land them in Hell with us.

  74. It would be interesting to post a list of ‘reverse mainstreaming’ trends in Christian thought such as:

    * rejections of infant baptisms
    * eternal families (the film Knowing addressed this)
    * the state of non-Christians and salvation
    * inerrancy of the Bible
    * pre-existence

  75. Wyoming/Ray

    Are you suggesting that the belief that people will reunite in the afterlife with their loved ones originated with Mormonism? Because I’m pretty sure thats a standard with pretty much every religion that has an afterlife.

    Heck, I thought that was the entire point of the afterlife.

  76. Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
    Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. (D&C 8:2-3)

    Revelation is receiving information from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It kind of looks like the scriptures equate inspiration with revelation for the most part. I am going to make one important difference. Revelation confirms truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. It confirms the truthfulness of information received by divine power. I can’t document this but for now just let me say that when a person needs revelation what he needs is knowledge from God and he also needs to know that it comes from God – beyond the power of deception. A person needing inspiration needs to feel close to God. He wants to feel the presence of God. When he receives inspiration he receives knowledge perhaps to do a particular thing with the assurance that he is doing the will of God without any knowledge of gospel principles. (‘I know not save the Lord has commanded me.’)

    I suppose either one of them can be conduits to God. But Adam, I think it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. Now let’s see. What was that you said?

    “…many churches act as conduits to God by bringing their members closer to Christ by teaching and practicing Christian truths.”

    How can any of these churches construct a pathway to God when those pathways they construct lead away from His church? How many times have missionaries constructed such a pathway for an investigator only to have that pathway destroyed by poisons ingested by those people from the creeds professed in those churches? Yes, I believe they have inspirational experiences, but I would almost be willing to bet that those experiences come, for the greater part, when they are, physically, not with those churches – at least, not spiritually. I remember once listening to a preacher on TV and being amazed at the truths he was telling. I’ll have to say that it was uplifting (an inspirational) experience listening to him. Was I being brought closer to God by listening to this preacher? No. The conduit from me to God has all ready been constructed by my Church – by the Gift of the Holy Ghost. If I enter into that conduit, I will get to God. But what about the other people who were listening to that preacher? Were they getting closer to God? I can’t see how. With any mention of Mormonism in the crowd, the creeds would have come down like hail in a whirl wind. Before his conversion to Christianity, I’m sure Saul, the apostle, thought he was a servant of God, but everything he did was against God. The first thing the Savior said to him was, basically, why are you fighting against me? The only way I can see these churches bringing a man closer to God is to be in the Church of God to begin with. Such a concept would be considered by them as near blasphemous. They will be there someday (of course they will be saved). I feel, however, that day will come to late for them to ever be able to live in the His presence (see D&C 76:71-80).

    I feel that the only real conduits to God are found in His Church. They lead to exaltation. They are revelatory in nature. Once in them you will be given much. And in return, of you, much will be required.

    “Being the only church with God’s priesthood and authority is not the same as being the only “conduit to God,” Nope. —- So much for that!

    “Second, among those who belong to other churches, their experiences may make them more like Christ,” OK. But like I said, I’ll bet the very great majority of those experiences, if not all of them, will come at times when they are not with those churches. I do wish I could fortify that with scripture and something tells me there are ample such references. — You find them!

    “Finally, if by “conduit to God” you mean, the only church by which we can gain exaltation by performing ordinances and keeping the associated covenants, then you would be right.” BINGO.

    Wade? I’m not sure about this, but have I answered your question?

  77. Slim, many Christians talk of the actual marriage lasting after death – not just a reuniting of people generically, but an actual continuation of existence together as a couple – not ’til death do you part. That trend has been happening for a while now, to such an extent that many Christian weddings no longer even use that terminology.

    James Dobson has espoused Family Home Evening on Focus on the Family. He just doesn’t dare call it that, since his listeners wouldn’t accept it if they knew it was a Mormon program. (I’ve mentioned this to an evangelical friend who was raving about it, and she actually told me I didn’t know what I was talking about – that the Mormons must have stolen it from Dr. Dobson.)

  78. Rich (81) “How can any of these churches construct a pathway to God when those pathways they construct lead away from His church?”

    Have you ever considered the possibility that the Church would not be received as well as it is in Central and South America were it not for the Catholic Church converting entire continents to Christ? Also, did the Lutheran Church not prepare Elder Uchtdorf’s family to join the LDS Church? See his recent “Faith of Our Fathers” talk from two conferences ago. I have known many, many people who feel their membership in other churches prepared them and ultimately led them to join the LDS Church. Watch the Roger Keller presentation that Wyoming provided a link for above. You’ll get it.

    I feel sad when I hear people say things like “I feel that the only real conduits to God are found in His Church.” It’s probably people saying such things that makes people get the impressions that Mormons actually believe they’re an exclusive conduit to God. If we’re ever going to help people outside the Church understand our doctrine on this, the people inside the Church need to figure it out first.

  79. Elder Uchtdorf’s “Faith of Our Fathers” talk is awesome. How anyone can read it and think God doesn’t work to some degree through good people in other churches and the reformers who established those churches . . . I really don’t understand that conclusion.

  80. Ray,

    Just so you know, the line between God and James Dobson is a bit blurry in certain corners of the Evangelical world and Focus on the Family sometimes carries more functional weight than the Bible. I advise extreme caution. 🙂

  81. #81 Rich

    yes you have answered my question thank you for taking the time. Although I may be a buffet Mormon these days myself I still dine in the Church because its menu remains more pleasing than any fare I have found elsewhere. As for the main course and some of the waiters…

  82. #71:
    1) The Book of Mormon does not advocate Universalism in any inter-faith kind of way;…

    Several passages directly criticize Universalism, or at least a caricature thereof. This has lead some to suggest that The Book of Mormon is (among other things) a response to the family conflict between the Universalism of Joseph Smith Sr., vs. the traditional protestantism of Lucy Mack Smith. It’s little wonder that Alexander Campbell complained that the book addressed “every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years” and “decides all the great controversies.”

  83. “a bit blurry”

    Yeah, I know, David. That’s an awesome description! (There was a Mormon teacher in Alabama at the school where I taught who was almost revered. One of my students put it this way: “We worship God, Mama and Mr. J – and it’s not always in that order.”) 🙂

    That’s one reason why I find it so ironic that a man who will pull an interview with Glenn Beck because his listeners don’t want to listen to a Mormon (who, btw, is not the best role model I would site for those not of our faith) in the same breath will preach a program he knows is Mormon and simply hide that fact from his listeners.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad he will teach Family Home Evening. The irony just is a bit over-whelming at times.

  84. Ray:

    “eternal marriage” might be unique to mormons within christianity, but other religions call it “soul mates” (granted, not quite the same concept, but pretty close I’d say)

    So, Mormons are “mainstreaming” in some concepts (like, for example, a larger emphasis on Grace) and other christians are (perhaps unwittingly) adopting mormon concepts.

    Perhaps the point is you all need to meet somewhere in the middle? if “all religions have some truth” are these just where they agree with the LDS, or could it be that there are pieces you are missing that they have?

    Anyway, I’m not christian, so I don’t have a dog in the race (so to speak) but it’s been interesting to watch from the outside.

  85. if “all religions have some truth” are these just where they agree with the LDS, or could it be that there are pieces you are missing that they have?

    Great question, Slim.

    I think it’s clear from our scriptures (and our Articles of Faith) that there’s still plenty of things that we don’t possess and know in the Church, and we are told to search “the best books” for enlightenment. I include religious texts in that admonition, since I believe God has inspired religious people (and probably atheists unawares) throughout time. I don’t want “ecumenism” to change our core doctrines, but I also think inter-faith discussions and exploration can help clarify things we really do share (but often in different terms), areas where we really do disagree (both subtly and radically) and areas where we just don’t know yet.

    I think the key is being “open” to further light and knowledge (on-going revelation AND modifying inspiration) – not falling into a “creedal” mindset that posits we have all truth and understanding and don’t need to try to understand anything new.

    Fwiw, there is a LOT in Buddhism that I find enlightening and powerful – that isn’t really part of “The Church” in any official way. There often are similarities, but I have found great worth in studying that particular religion. Also, some authors here have done a few interesting posts on other religions, and they occasionally still get comments from members of those religions who find the posts.

  86. The New Testament quotes Jesus as saying both “Everyone who is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30) and “Everyone who is not against me is with me” (Mark 9:40). I think the Church of the Lamb/Church of the Devil dichotomy can be seen the same way. All other churches are bad in the sense that they can keep people from joining the “one true church.” OTOH, all other churches (well, almost all) are good because they “bring people closer to God.” It all depends on the context, as we translators are fond of saying.

    The Church tends to emphasize one side of that more than the other at a given time. When the Church was subject to institutional persecution, it strongly emphasized the “all other churches are bad” aspect. Today, obviously, it prefers to emphasize the “all other churches are good” aspect. I think that’s a positive development, but at the same time, I think that if one completely ignores or dismisses the “bad” element, one will miss a genuine facet of Mormon theology.

  87. Andrew – 83
    “Have you ever considered the possibility that the Church would not be received as well as it is in Central and South America were it not for the Catholic Church converting entire continents to Christ?”

    Not in the least. Wasn’t it the appearance of Cortez and his cohorts that brought the Central/South Americans to their knees in a frenzied plague? Cortez was supported by a country which supported the Catholic Church. So guess which Church they’re going to join? The Catholic Church can’t convert anyone. There are, however, honest in heart members of that church and others whom God can use for His purposes but don’t feel the need to credit their churches with anything. And Ray, that includes Elder Uchtdorf’s former Church. And in my estimation, especially that one. I agree with you and Elder Uchtdorf.

    Ray – 84
    “Elder Uchtdorf’s “Faith of Our Fathers” talk is awesome. How anyone can read it and think God doesn’t work to some degree through good people in other churches and the reformers who established those churches . . . I really don’t understand that conclusion.”

    It’s the good people in those churches (NOT those churches – no church creates good hearts) including the reformers who accomplished good works. I don’t think Luther even tried to establish another church did he? That’s where he shines above the other reformers. The others made the mistake of trying to create other churches and ended up with creeds that weren’t any good if not worse than what they had. Why am I thinking of the Puritans?

    Let’s say Cortez had fallen off a cliff before he made the voyage to the Americas and nobody else tried till the Lord’s Church came along. What would have been the difference? The missionaries would not have had a government backing them up the way Cortez did. Yes, the Latter-Day Saint missionaries, like the Catholic missionaries, would make it clear, forthwith, that they were not gods except the Latter-Day Saint missionaries would have had a much better understanding of what was going on. In the end the measure of success the LDS missionaries would have had would have been the measure of the honest in heart that would have greeted them at the door. The same measure that Abinadi and his brothers had – and maybe that’s the same measure we’ve had today among those people. One very possible disadvantage we face and have faced in this day is that many of those people might have been DOA by the time we arrived. Cause of death – the Creeds.

    I sincerely thought this was going to be short. I keep trying (It’s shorter than usual). I’ll read Elder Uchtdorf’s Conference address and if what he says sways me, I’ll let you know.

  88. Andrew – 83
    “Have you ever considered the possibility that the Church would not be received as well as it is in Central and South America were it not for the Catholic Church converting entire continents to Christ?”

    Not in the least.

    Maybe you should consider the possibility. Or maybe you should at least consider this question: is there any country in the world where the Church is flourishing that wasn’t already substantially Christianized before LDS missionaries came there? IOW, has the latter-day Gospel ever flourished in a non-Christian country?

  89. Kuri (92), I think that’s a good way of looking at things, and I might add just one modification to that. I think we need to be careful of using good – bad labels and instead stick with correct or incorrect, or authoritative or non-authoritative, because those are the most accurate way to summarize LDS claims and doctrines re other Churches. I don’t know that the LDS church has ever said other churches are “bad” in any sense. LDS leaders have said they believe other churches lack priesthood authority, or have incorrect doctrines. But to me those are very different things than saying that other churches, their leaders, or their members are “bad” in any way. In fact, most often adherents of other faiths are characterized in LDS scripture as being sincere seekers who haven’t found what they’re looking for, or at worst, are misguided. But misguided is a far cry from bad.

    Also, interestingly enough, as we’ve been having this discussion about whether the LDS Church claims to be an exclusive conduit to God, an Orthodox Christian commented on an old post of mine regarding the Greek Orthodox church. Read comment #36 on that post and you’ll see there are people outside the LDS Church who are very adamant about theirs being the only one true church. http://mormonmatters.org/2008/12/02/my-visit-to-an-orthodox-christian-church/

  90. Andrew,

    I agree that “correct” and “incorrect” are better expressions of current Church teachings, but I think that back in the day when the government was persecuting the Church, with cheerleading from Christian ministers, its leaders had plenty to say about how “bad” other churches were. For that matter, until 1990 the temple endowment presentation implied that Christian ministers are mere servants of Satan.

    I think the Roman Catholic Church used to teach its own exclusivity too, and only stopped during the 20th century.

  91. How people can belong to a Christian religion (church) and not believe that church to be the one and only true church is beyond me. They might very well be very good people but they sure have a mushy streak in them.

    Kuri. Regardless of the circumstances, if a people’s hearts are right the truth will flourish. God does not need the help of another church in the work of conversion. Telling me that another church is flourishing in an area does little for me. If the Lord’s Church does not flourish than the people’s hearts aren’t right or the Lord’s servants aren’t right or both.

  92. Rich,

    You don’t seem to have considered my question. So let me ask another. If sectarian Christianity is utterly irrelevant to preparing people to receive the Gospel, why is it that the latter-day Church throughout its history has flourished mainly (perhaps only) in Christian countries?

  93. Rich, kind of sounds like saying people need to believe theirs is the one and only true family in order to feel good about belonging to their family.

    Rich, if you want to consult an authoritative source on the subject, check out the Church-published book “Church History in the Fullness of Times,” which is used as an authoritative Church history book for Institute and Religion classes. The very first chapter is entitled “Prelude to the Restoration.” After chronicling the work and progress of the Reformers, the book states:

    “The Latter-day Saints believe the work of all these reformers was in preparation for the restoration of the gospel. President Joseph Fielding Smith has written:

    “‘In preparation for this restoration the Lord raised up noble men, such as Luther, Calvin, Knox and others whom we call reformers, and gave them power to break the shackles which bound the people and denied them the sacred right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience . . . . Latter-day Saints pay all honor to these great and fearless reformers, who shattered the fetters which bound the religious world. The Lord was their Protector in this mission, which was fraught with many perils.”

    Thus, according to this official Church publication, the reformers were “noble men,” where “raised up” by the Lord “in preparation for this restoration” and that we “pay all honor to these great” reformers and that “the Lord was their Protector in this mission”.

  94. Rich, I know plenty of people whose lives improved dramatically because of their association with other churches. I know people who were mired in incredibly destructive habits and perspectives who literally had their lives and souls saved from destruction in this life by “finding Christ” through another religion. In those cases, I can’t deny the good the other church did (not just some people, but the church organization and teachings, as well). For those people, they moved from a telestial life to a terrestrial life – and that move is a move to God in a very real and powerful way.

    Sure, I believe those people still need to find The Father once they have found The Son, but I’m not about to belittle or ignore or reject the FACT that those other churches do much good and bring or keep many people closer to God than they would be without those churches. I understand completely that others are driven away and kept from the LDS Church because of the influence of those same churches, so I’m NOT saying those churches are “all good”. I just believe 99% of them aren’t either extreme – that they are a mixture of good and bad, right and wrong.

    I believe in the Restoration, but I also believe the LDS Church could be described that same way – with just a different ratio.

  95. “…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.”

    Even though the term ‘the Light of Christ’ was only used two times, that’s really what this whole thing was about. I’m just now coming onto that. I tend to speed read the post and react to the comments. I’ll read the posts more carefully after this. If your conduit to God is the Light of Christ than OK all homo sapiens have it. So all people populated organizations will have it and it will be as effective as the people in them are sensitive to the inspirations that come through it. It’s kind of a misnomenclature though.

    A conduit is a structure built for transport. Interestingly enough, it, physically, transports what it’s designed to carry (electricity, water, etc.). The main use for the conduit of the Lord’s Church is revelation was necessitates the presence of the Holy Ghost. The other churches don’t have that and never will. Now, of course, I’m not talking about a physical structure. The conduits in or out of the Church, metamorphically, describe God’s dealings with man. Outside the Church its mainly, if not totally, inspiration and inside the Church it’s a combination inspiration and revelation.

    Now don’t rule out physical transport as a function of the conduit of the Lord’s Church. Jesus, Elijah, Moses, Enoch, his those in his city, etc., were taken up into heaven by the power (through this conduit) of God used for the purpose of physical transport. This conduit cannot by used by any other church. Why? Because only members of the Lord’s can be made clean (remember, you’re going into a kingdom of God). The accountable people outside the Lord’s Church will never be that way. They could not be taken into any of the three degrees of glory: Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial.

    The generic conduit? Well, that’s nice. Just don’t lose the vision of what is unique about us. And Andrew, your post did mention our uniqueness. I just had the feeling a lot of the comments got kind of blurred.

  96. “Rich, kind of sounds like saying people need to believe theirs is the one and only true family in order to feel good about belonging to their family.”

    huh….

    If we are to use the Lectures on faith as a basis for Rich’s comments then consider Joseph Smiths statement:

    “Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God, unto life and salvation: First, the idea that he actually exists. Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his [God’s]† will”. (Lectures on Faith 3: 2 – 5)

  97. Rich, you stated, “The main use for the conduit of the Lord’s Church is revelation was necessitates the presence of the Holy Ghost. The other churches don’t have that and never will.”

    Are you sure other churches don’t have the presence of the Holy Ghost?

    I think maybe there are 3 distinctions:
    1) Light of Christ – all homo-sapiens have it
    2) Influence of the Holy Ghost – any person seeking truth with sincere heart can feel this, which often leads to faith in obeying God or accepting his teachings
    3) Companionship of the Holy Ghost – One worthy, baptized, and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost can have enduring companionship, and allows for revelations and gifts of the spirit.

    I think other churches can have type 2 if they are teaching truth. That presence of the Spirit is a conduit that leads people to God.

    Therefore, the LDS church has exclusivity to #3, but not #2. Would you agree?

  98. Rich – thx for the clarity as i dont see how anyone can make the argument that there is any other “conduit” other than what is presented in the true and living church. No other church/religion has the saving ordinances or the gift of the holy ghost as restored by Joseph Smith and, in my mind, all other religions detract from the truths we have in the restored church. Are we not taught that satan mimics truths in order to mislead? Anyone can be led by the spirit, but if it leads them away from the LDS church, I have towonder what spirit they are following as JS made Gods thoughts on other religions clear.

  99. Just a clarification, I am GBSmith, not bsmith and have serious problems with #104 notwithstanding what Joseph Smith (no relation) may have meant and or said. Ascribing people’s/church’s good works to satan and his attempts to mislead people is narrow minded, short sighted, bigoted and unscriptural. I have felt more love and caring from some episcopalian friends at a very bad time in my life than I ever did from God’s true church and to ascribe any of their actions to satan is something I take serious issue with. Good works, Christian service, love of neighbor, and trying to live what Christ taught are results of the influence of the Holy Spirit and are decidedly ecumenical. And another thing, what Ray said.

  100. I am not sure what your definition of conduit is and I too have met lovely people of all religions but the LDS church has made it clear that we are the only path, conduit, etc. that can lead to salvation and exultation. If someone rejects mormonism for another religion, dont we teach that they cant enter the celestial kingdom? Its like you guys are afraid to actually admit that other religions are wrong and leading people down the wrong path regardless of their good works – they cant lead to salvation so what benefit are they? I have known atheists with just as strong a moral foundation as any christian/buddist/muslim but, again, how does this help them if they reject mormonism in the end? Our leaders have made it clear that Mormonism is the ONLY “conduit” to salvation. Our leaders have also made numerous statements that support what i posted above about satan mimicking truth to mislead.:

    “This is not just another Church. This is not just one of a family of Christian churches. This is the Church and kingdom of God, the only true Church upon the face of the earth -” Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson

    “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” – Mormon Doctrine, p.670

    “every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are” Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses – seems pretty clear that Joseph Smith is the conduit to salvation.

    “Myself and hundreds of the Elders around me have seen its [Christianity] pomp, parade, and glory; and what is it? It is a sounding brass and a tinkling symbol – it is as corrupt as hell… and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.” John Taylor – Journal of Discourses – this seems pretty clear to me and he agrees with what i stated above – notice he didnt say the followers were evil, just the organizations…

    And finally – “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
    – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith

    I never said the members of other churches were evil but our leaders have made it pretty clear that other religions are nothing more than satans attempt to mislead otherwise good people and draw them away from the restored gospel.

  101. bsmith, PLEASE read the actual post and the comments – not just the title. When you do that, PLEASE address the actual post and the comments – not just what you incorrectly charge us with saying. We can’t respond to things that totally misrepresent what we actually say.

  102. bsmith, the Holy Spirit speaks to everyone who will listen and will transmit to that person the will of the Father and the answer to that person’s prayers. That person if he/she has ears to hear will be influenced for good and hopefully will do good as a result. I do not believe that there’s much argument on that point. And this can and will occur regardless of the denomination of the person who prays. This post was not about authority but about who God speaks with through the Holy Spirit and to me that isn’t through the LDS church but directly from God’s mouth to our ears if we’re willing to clean out the spiritual wax. Jesus said that He is the resurrection and the life and that he that believes in him though her were dead, yet shall he live and he that lives and believes in Him shall never die. His next question in the passage was if the hearer believed it and that’s the decision we all have to make. That belief alone may not be sufficient for exaltation in the LDS theology but that wasn’t the point of this discussion.

    bsmith, I want to thank you because, heathen that I am, you’ve re awakened a side of me that I thought was long since dead. Bless you my son/daughter/other.

  103. The context of the term “conduit” as discussed in the initial post and ensuing comments has been a dichotomy between the “LDS Church” and “something else”. I don’t know that anyone is arguing whether LDS “Members” have exclusive access to God, The Holy Ghost, etc. The underlying themes that have come through on the comments seem to be two fold:

    1) Can Member of other Church’s be every bit as good, and have equally matched testimonies of the Savior as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

    2) Does God use other Church’s to bring souls to him, or at least approve of them as entities as mostly good organizations?

    With regards to 1), I can accept that LDS members have no personally exclusive claim on God or his influence. I would particularly not support the notion that those outside of the Church must be somehow composed of an apostate “spirit”, short of the inclination towards the natural man which is no respector of persons.

    As for point 2), I’ll be short except to say, The Book of Mormon does not support the notion, and I find the logic troublesome that God would drive souls to the apostate Church’s, founded through the apostasy, at the time when he restored his Gospel and is gathering his Elect through the restored Church.

  104. Cowboy, I respect that distinction. I just believe (as I stated in #100) that other churches really do bring some people to Christ in a real way.

    Otoh, if we are defining “God” as “God, the Father” (as He is understood within Mormonism), I agree with you. However, that distinction is a bit too much like mainstream Christians saying we aren’t Christian because we view Jesus a bit differently than they do. If we don’t like it when they use that argument on us, I think it’s a bit of a double standard if we use that exact same argument on them.

  105. “Rich, kind of sounds like saying people need to believe theirs is the one and only true family in order to feel good about belonging to their family.”

    Without what the Lord’s church has to offer, their will be no family. No ‘Light of Christ’ conduit can make that happen. It can only lead to the one conduit that has that power.

    Cowboy. I didn’t realize I was standing on Lecture 3; but I’m happy to be there.

    KG McB. “Are you sure other churches don’t have the presence of the Holy Ghost?”

    Positive! And you should be that way too.

    Other churches will never have the presence of the Holy Ghost. Individuals in those churches may have experiences with the Holy Ghost, but only at certain times and probably those times are even well defined – when the missionaries are teaching them and when they are reading and praying about things the missionaries have assigned them.

    Let’s reference an old missionary standby – Moroni chapter ten.

    “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
    And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Mor.10:3-4)

    Remember, when it deals with the investigator, these verses are the parameters of their experiences with Him. For that brief period of time the Holy Ghost bears witness that what the missionaries are teaching is true and that the Book of Mormon is true. The Light of Christ does not do these things. With the Light of Christ they can judge righteously and can know right from wrong. Without the Light of Christ, agency – the freedom and ability to choose between good and evil – would be severely crippled if not utterly destroyed – at least for non-members. But the Light of Christ is not a witness of truth – a promise only to the member, potentially, without interruption and to the sincere investigator at certain times. (and, for the investigator those times will come to an end) The Light of Christ might make a married couple feel good watching the minister baptize their baby because they love their child and he/she looks so cute. They’re focused on the child. The witness of the Holy Ghost, however, would totally obliterate their focus on their love for and the cuteness of their child and center it powerfully on the abomination of the act being done. After all, why would God bother them the abomination of the act, when they had no witness of the truths concerning it.

    One of my wife’s daughters, who was not a member, married a non-member and than, later, she joined the Church. It was repulsive to me to hear that the baby was going to be baptized but that was nothing to what I felt when I heard that the priest had exorcised him ‘just in case there were any devils in him‘.

    Mark my words. The Holy Ghost is not in those churches. Ever! By the same principles that caused Jesus to silence the devils who were bearing witness of His divinity, (Matt. 8:29: Luke 4: 33-36) Heavenly Father does not want the Holy Ghost bearing witness of truths taught by churches that are not His churches. That only puts the focuses on the other churches – that other churches ALSO teach good things and all that tra la la mush.

    bssmith. Ditto.

    Ray. GBSmith. That’s fine. Just remember to talk about individuals. Not their churches.

    GBSmith. “the Holy Spirit speaks to everyone who will listen and will transmit to that person the will of the Father and the answer to that person’s prayers.” Sure thing. And it’s easy to tell those people. They’re being taught by the missionaries. Otherwise it is just the Light of Christ. They have no promise to the witness.

    Cowboy. “I can accept that LDS members have no personally exclusive claim on God or his influence.” About the ‘personally exclusive claim’ item, remember, though, that even a sinful, unworthy to take the sacrament, unworthy to use his priesthood, member of the Church has a potential that the honorable non-member can’t touch.

    Long Posts. How do I say what I say without writing a book?

  106. Ray – i have read the entire thread and i feel like my posts are completely on target and justified. Unless you define “conduit” in a different way than the rest of the world, your views dont match those of the LDS church and its past leaders regardless of the quotes presented in the OP. Even Joseph Smith made it clear that other religions are Satans attempt to distract good and well intentioned people from the restored gospel. I can provide dozens of quotes from prophets and apostles that validate my posts and the fact that there is only one “conduit” to God and salvation, everything else is a distraction. I am not sure what you think i missed. Anyone can pray for guidance but, if that guidance leads them away from the restored gospel….? Again, i NEVER said good people cant be mislead…

    Rich – thx. I have no idea why we need to walk on eggshells to accommodate other beliefs…its clear to me that there is the church of Christ and then there is everything else and LDS leaders have made that distinction clear.

  107. The Holy Ghost is not in those churches. Ever!

    even a sinful, unworthy to take the sacrament, unworthy to use his priesthood, member of the Church has a potential that the honorable non-member can’t touch.

    So, if I am reading you correctly, Rich:

    1) The Holy Ghost will never testify of truth that is taught elsewhere.

    2) A wicked Mormon has better access to the Holy Ghost than a dedicated, sincere Christian somewhere else. Iow, Gary Gilmore (as a serial killer Mormon) was better off in his sinful state (or, at least, had better access to the Holy Ghost) than Mother Teresa (an honorable Catholic) and my neighbor (a good, honorable Protestant).

    If that’s what you are saying, let’s just agree to disagree on this issue and let it drop, ok?

  108. ray – are saying moral atheists also “have access to the spirit” that they openly reject? NOBODY is saying that good people dont exist outside mormonism. I think its YOU that needs to reread the thread and OP. Mormonism is the ONLY religion that claims the gift of the holy ghost regardless of the number of “good”/”sincere” people that choose other religions. There is ONE “conduit” – if you believe there are others, you are not in line with the teachings of the LDS church.

  109. “are (you) saying moral atheists also “have access to the spirit” that they openly reject?”

    *SIGH* I never said they do.

    “Mormonism is the ONLY religion that claims the gift of the holy ghost”

    *SIGH* I never said it isn’t.

    “you are not in line with the teachings of the LDS church.”

    *BIGGEST SIGH* All this over what? That I asked for a clarification to make sure I understood what Rich was saying?

    Good heavens, bsmith! I’m not arguing that the “Gift of the Holy Ghost” exists anywhere else – and I never have. I quoted Rich directly and asked if my reading of what he meant is accurate. How in the world did you get from that to your comment #116? Seriously, how did you get to me denying the Gift of the Holy Ghost as an exclusively Mormon ordinance?

    We are defining “conduit to God” differently – and that’s about it. Andrew discussed definition issues, admitting the answer depends largely on those definitions. That’s the issue, not that you or I or anyone else is “denying the Gift of the Holy Ghost” within Mormonism.

    Fine, we are defining “conduit to God” differently. Fine, we disagree about what that phrase means. Fine. You win. You are saying what I’ve been saying consistently throughout the entire thread – that we are disagreeing about how to define a word. I’m wrong when I say it; you’re right when you say it. Fine. I give up.

  110. Rich:

    While I recognize that we all are apt to speculate and at times assert our views, I would not be comfortable taking this license to the extremes you have. I am aware of no scripture or doctrine that supports the total exclusivity of The Holy Ghost, such as what you have taught here. Rutger Clawson, former member of the Twelve, taught that the exclusive claim that Mormons have on The Holy Ghost is not in the influence or powers of revelation, but rather lie in the ratifying power of The Holy Ghost to be sealed upon the righteous as the Holy Spirit of Promise. The baptismal injunction to “recieve the Holy Ghost” has no bearing on personal revelatory implications conditioned upon righteousness, but is rather a commandment to walk uprightly and honor the baptismal covenants, so that again, the contigent promises from God for our salvation may be recognized by that sealing power.

    I agree with you, that I do not see God leading other’s into Church’s born of apostasy, but I would be cautious about putting limits on The Holy Ghost. Furthermore, I would be very cautious about setting parameters on qualifying for The Holy Ghost, when such parameters cannot be thoroughly confirmed through scripture.

  111. Ray – we are obviously at an impasse as i dont understand what you are saying when you are trying to defend the idea that all religions can serve as a “conduit” to God. Several of you have tried to defend the notion that all other religions serve as “conduits” to God and his truths and i have demonstrated that mormon doctrine does not support that notion…How do you define “conduit”? maybe that is the issue as you seem to want to acknowledge that the LDS church is the only path to salvation while trying to defend the beliefs of other faiths. It makes no sense…you cant have it both ways. Giving up doesnt lend any validity to your position – in fact, it makes me feel like you havent actually thought this through enough to actually defend your beliefs.

  112. Rich, regarding #114, I would have to disagree. I attended an Episcopal church recently and heard a powerful sermon on Mark chapter 2, how we must have faith to bring our brothers to Christ like these 4 men did to break the roof and lower a sick friend to be healed by the savior.

    Truth was taught. The spirit testified to me that Christ is the source of life and we are to have faith and bring others to Him.

    Afterwards, there was a lot of other things in the service that I didn’t care for, but I felt the spirit briefly during that sermon on Mark 2. I’m not suggesting that specific church was true, only that the Spirit testifies of truth, wherever it is taught.

    Jacob 4:13 reads:
    13 Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

    In reading President Faust, President Packer, and other General Authorities, I am confident the 3 differences between Light of Christ, Influence of the Holy Ghost, and Gift of the Holy Ghost is the doctrine the church teaches. Only the third is exclusive to the LDS Church, but the other two can be conduits to God.

  113. BSmith #119

    Earlier posts included points about work in the spirit world and temple work. Because God’s plan allows for this, then one can argue that the LDS church only has the authority for saving ordinances for salvation, however, other churches bring people closer to God, and whether in this life or the life after, they will have a chance to receive saving ordinances with the correct authority.

    Therefore, that opens my mind to the fact that other churches have a lot of good people, and a lot of good things that help people live righteous lives. This does not have to water down the importance of the true church on the earth. For those given more light and knowledge through church membership, more is expected of them. However, being exclusive in thinking all other churches are empty and have no value in bringing people closer to God is narrow minded.

    Read post 51 and those around in that range.

  114. Rich and bsmith, it seems from your comments that you’re denying the good done by other churches and religions and that in fact their actions are satanically inspired. Given the short life span of the LDS church and it’s relative insignificance in terms of size, I think you’d be hard pressed to say that much of their efforts are directed at keeping other’s from the “truth”. When I donate to the rector’s discretionary fund of the local episcopal church I know it will be used to help those in need as she’s directed by the Spirit. You may be upset by differences in theology but if an organized church through it’s members can clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, strive to lift people up through education and medical care, how can that not be seen as the influence of God through the Holy Spirit. Some years ago during one of the Ethiopian famines six million dollars was raised by the LDS church during a single special fast. Nearly all of that money was turned over to Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, and other faith based organizations with proven records in doing things the LDS Church was not able at that point to do. I cannot believe that money would have been entrusted to them if the LDS Church leadership saw them as tools of satan and not led by the Spirit in caring for those in need.

    To me your views are so extreme as to further isolate the LDS Church from what it has been striving so hard to be. Respected and appreciated as a partner in trying to make the world a better place. As regards salvation or to use a better term, exaltation, that’s something we’ll just have to wait and see about. The Savior said disappearingly little about the afterlife preferring that we try and take care of each other in the here and now, a position I can support. To me any person or group that encourages others to do that qualifies as a conduit to God.

  115. I provided direct quotes from our prophets and apostles that demonstrate their thoughts on other religions, specifically, other christian churches – i can provide dozens more from my library if you still dont believe me. You guys seem to want to completely ignore the fact that OUR leaders have actually said other religions are nothing more than satans attempt to mislead good people. You can believe what you want, but, unfortunately, LDS leaders have made their views clear regardless of what YOU believe will happen in the afterlife.

    Why do we need to walk on eggshells to accommodate other religions when they all pull people away from the restored gospel? WHY? What, in the afterlife, would persuade a devout evangelical to join the mormon church? I have already demonstrated that the LDS church is the ONLY conduit to salvation – again, what is your definition of “conduit”? How, exactly, does devoting one’s life to another church improve your situation in the afterlife…you may as well be an atheist.

    If we are going to claim the “ONE true church title” that would mean that all other churches are UNTRUE and WRONG. This really is a black and white issue regardless of the number of “good” people in other faiths – if we really believed they were going to be fine, then why send out missionaries to convert these “good” people to the LDS faith in THIS life?

  116. bsmith, let me say it this way – as one last attempt to explain what you appear to not be understanding about my comments. I think there is more than a little misunderstanding going on, but if we still disagree after this comment, then we simply disagree. I will take time to word this carefully and slowly, so please read it the same way:

    I agree 100% with Pres. Uchtdorf’s message during last April’s General Conference in his talk entitled, “Faith of Our Fathers” – and every other talk that has emphasized how grateful they are to the Protestant reformers who created the atmosphere in which the LDS Church could be restored in America in 1830. There are numerous references to this idea – that the Restoration would have been practically impossible without the Reformation – that the establishment of churches by sincere Christians opened the way for the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that the belief in Christ those churches taught (and which even the Catholic Church taught), and the access to the Bible inspired by those reformers, created, built or deepened the faith of many people who then were and are capable of hearing the Restored Gospel and accepting it. The Reformation made the Restoration possible, and, thus, brought the world closer to God in a real way.

    I have never said that any other church can bring someone to the Father (since I’ve said the other Christian churches don’t even teach of Him as we believe Him to be), but our own theology explicitly states that good, sincere people from any religion will qualify AT LEAST for the Terrestrial Kingdom and the presence of the Son. As I said in an earlier comment that you might have missed (since you never responded to it), I personally know of multiple people who were living Telestial Kingdom lives before gaining a basic belief in Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer, turning their lives around and living a Terrestrial Kingdom life. That change, again according to our own doctrine, moved them from a telestial existence to a terrestrial existence – and that is movement toward and to “God” in a very real way, even if it isn’t a full movement to the Father. That is true of ANY religion that keeps someone from wallowing in their full natural man and encourages them to strive to be true to some kind of higher standard.

    Again, I’ve never denied the unique Mormon claim to be a separate conduit to the Celestial Kingdom – ever. I’ve never denied the power of the sealing ordinances – for the living or the dead – ever. I attend the temple as often as I can, and my oldest son went with me recently for the first time – in preparation for his mission soon. I’m not denying ANY ultimate claim of the Church or the modern Prophets.

    All I have said is that we do NOT teach now that Satan leads all other churches – that all leaders and members of other churches are following Lucifer in what they do – that attending and believing in other faiths will land people in Hell. I read that result in your comments (that all non-Mormons ultimately are followers of Lucifer, since they are affiliated with organizations established by Lucifer), and I believe strongly that every single apostle of our day would disagree with that wording. I believe every one of them would agree that no other church leads its members to the Father, as we understand Him, giving them the opportunity to become like God and gods in their own right – since the other churches don’t even teach that. However, that doesn’t mean those churches don’t help people gain a basic testimony of Jesus – and it doesn’t mean someone who spends his entire life as a member of another church automatically loses any chance to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom. I believe every apostle would agree that many other churches serve a basic human need to keep Christ and “God” in people’s minds and blunt the natural man tendency to reject God completely. I also believe there isn’t one apostle who would say that an unrepentant, sinful Mormon is better off than a repentant, sinning non-Mormon. (If any of that is a misreading of what you or Rich has said, I apologize – seriously. That’s how I read it, but I could be wrong.)

    If I take the strictest, most narrow definitions possible, I am left to say that other churches can and often do provide a conduit “toward” God and “toward” the full Gospel of Jesus Christ – and that many people would be unable to accept the fullness without partaking of the “partness” first – that many people will become or remain good, sincere people as a direct result of the good things they learn in other churches, which will prepare them in a very real way for the full vision taught in Mormon theology – or, at the very least, lead them from a telestial existence to a terrestrial existance. I see that as being a conduit to God, even if it isn’t a conduit all the way to God – and I think our modern prophets and apostles would be totally fine with that distinction and what I’ve said in this thread. At least, that’s the message I get when I listen to them and read their words.

  117. One point on the reformers worth mentioning is that many of them never set out to establish a church, but rather to protest some prevailing aspect of the dominant church of their time. So, in a sense they were paving the way for the restoration by protesting the church’s of their day, not necessarily by founding religions.

  118. Bssmith – “Even Joseph Smith made it clear that other religions are Satan’s attempt to distract good and well intentioned people from the restored gospel.”

    Two points. First, I have no problem seeing that’s just what Satan is doing. Second, section 76 describes the reason why those ‘good and well intentioned people’ will end up in the Terrestrial Kingdom – deception. That used to bother me. They were fooled. They didn’t know. It seemed like a pretty harsh statement. The thing I didn’t see is that those people in that Kingdom were given the chance to understand at one time or another. When the missionaries taught them they were given the unique chance to experience the witness of the Holy Ghost and they rejected it. And when that experience came it would certainly not have been in the context (the presence) of another church.

    Cowboy. That would have made God the deceiver. Those people would have associated that experience with the other church. If the Holy Ghost witnesses truths taught when a minister in another church is teaching them, they will conclude that that church is the Lord’s Church. That’s why I say the witness of the Holy Ghost will only come from the Lord’s Church. The Light of Christ will be the non-members guide in the matters of truth.

    Ray. “A wicked Mormon has better access to the Holy Ghost than a dedicated, sincere Christian somewhere else.” This quote restates something I said earlier that you, apparently want clarified.

    A wicked Mormon has the Gift of the Holy Ghost even though he may have to do some serious repenting to access it. The non-member doesn’t have it at all. If the wicked Mormon sincerely repents, he has the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The non-member, regardless of his righteousness will never have that. Who do you think has the advantage? Of the wicked Mormon, it can be said what Paul of the Jew: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:1-2) The wicked Mormon also inherits the greater condemnation (D&C 82:3). As for Mother Teresa and your good Protestant neighbor, if they never change their ways they will also never have that companionship. They will live out there lives never having been cleansed of their sins, will go into the spirit world where an immediate judgment will be made. Did they have a chance to receive the gospel, if yes, what was the outcome? And were their works in their lives celestial or sub-celestial? If they did not have a chance to receive the gospel and their works in mortality were celestial, I believe they go into Paradise, even though no ordinance work has been done for them. They are taught the gospel, they accept it, and are sent on missions into spirit prison. If you have a problem with that, write a post on it and I will certainly comment. As for Gary Gilmore, well Ray, you work on that one and see what you can come up with.

    Cowboy. “…the exclusive claim that Mormons have on The Holy Ghost is not in the influence or powers of revelation…”. Yes it is. I don’t feel comfortable Brother Clawson’s statement. I have an idea that very, very many members of the Church, including me, have never really experienced the witness of the Holy Ghost. Very many of us have not yet been reborn. Very many of us live our lives much like the non-member in one way. The Light of Christ is our guide – not the Holy Ghost near as much as He should because of our actions. We’ve all talked ourselves into the false notion that conversion is a life long process even though in the scriptures it is likened unto the birth process or called rebirth. Any birth of a baby taking a life time to accomplish would kill both the mother and the child. Somebody write a post on conversion. I will certainly comment.

    Brother Clawson goes on:
    “The baptismal injunction to “receive the Holy Ghost” has no bearing on personal revelatory implications conditioned upon righteousness, but is rather a commandment to walk uprightly and honor the baptismal covenants, so that again, the contingent promises from God for our salvation may be recognized by that sealing power.”

    What is this? Am I on a mission to disagree? —– Hey, I know. Let’s convert Brother Clawson’s statement to a ‘Rich’ statement:

    “The baptismal injunction to “receive the Holy Ghost” has every bearing on personal revelatory implications conditioned upon righteousness, and is a commandment to walk uprightly and honor the baptismal covenants, so that you will have a clean heart in which He may dwell and be with you constantly, bringing about the contingent promises from God for our salvation in the use of His sealing power.”

    Enough said on that.

    We have two different conduits going here. The one is, largely the Light of Christ, the other is largely the priesthood and the Holy Ghost. And a point of contention I’m seeing is that some want to extend the influence of the Holy Ghost in with the Light of Christ and I’m saying – ‘No way, if it is with the other churches but, possibly, with individuals in those churches!’. If you say the Light of Christ conduit is associated other churches and individuals, I say yes. If you say the Holy Ghost/ priesthood conduit is associated with the Lord’s church only, I say yes.

    KG McB. I don’t know what your reference to Jacob was all about? Jacob lived his life in a one church environment.
    I am not confident of the influence of the Holy Ghost in other Churches for the reasons I have stated. But remember that I have no problem with the influence of the Holy Ghost with individuals.
    And KG McB, what is all this ‘you felt good about some of the things the minister said’ stuff? Why shouldn’t you have felt good. The Holy Ghost bore record to you. You are a worthy citizen. You have that right. And because of the gift you have and that you live worthily, you cannot be deceived into thinking that the church of that minister is the Lord’s church. The other people in that church could easily be deceived and for that reason received no such witness. They might have liked what they heard by the Light of Christ but that was it.

    GBSmith. “Rich and bsmith, it seems from your comments that you’re denying the good done by other churches and religions and that in fact their actions are satanically inspired.”

    God didn’t create them so who is their foundation? Yes, they (the individuals in those churches) still have the Light of Christ. The individuals are the membership. The churches are the cornerstones and the foundations. The cornerstones are the adversary (my interpretation of the great and spacious building). The foundations are the authorized positions held by members of those churches who, by the way, have the Light of Christ. How strongly they feel that light will vary from a lot to a little depending on circumstances that might be the same as for all the rest of us. What I have much trouble accepting is that the Holy Ghost would bear witness to a truth taught, even rightly, to the members of those churches by the teachers in those churches. By the same principle that Jesus didn’t want the evil spirits bearing record of His divinity (Mark 1:23-26), Heavenly Father will not have the truth taught by these other churches. And the only way you can teach is by the Holy Ghost. “…if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” (D&C 42:13)

    The reason everybody does good things in their lives is because of the presence of the Light of Christ. They are influenced to those good things by that light. They will produce good things all their lives but that is not to be confused with the Holy Ghost. We need to have a post on the Holy Ghost – what He does and what He doesn’t do.

    GBSmith. “As regards salvation or to use a better term, exaltation, that’s something we’ll just have to wait and see about.” No don’t wait, Understand it now. That’s what the exclusive priesthood/Holy Ghost conduit is all about.

    Ray – 124. Nice comment . My biggest sensitivity in this whole thing has been to how the witness of the Holy Ghost was used. At times it was difficult not to get too philosophical. I’m used to scripture, verse kind of talk. And I agree that on some things we may have to agree to disagree.

    Cowboy – 125. Bravo! Hip hip hurray!

  119. As I read Rich’s comment above it occurred to me that one of the biggest issue I have with it is the repeated use of the term, “the Light of Christ”. It’s not mentioned in the bible and there’s only a passing reference to it in the BoM, I think, but it’s been turned into almost a 4th member of the godhead. It seems like it’s being used in an extreme way to justify God’s with holding of the influence of the Holy Ghost from all but those that are LDS. It’s almost as though you’re saying that the Holy Ghost was inactive for all history other that for brief moments in the primitive church and in the restoration. I’m sorry if this is a threadjack but as I mentioned in another post I hope some one would go into this in detail.

    It just seems to me that the denial of the Holy Spirit and God’s hand in other churches and religions is carrying a narrow interpretation of scripture to an extreme that I find very disturbing and sad. It reminds me of the people that stand on street corners and shout a people attending conference telling them that they’re wrong, satanically inspired and hell bound. Except it us doing the shouting and the rest of the world just ignores us and goes on it’s way trying to do good in the best way they see to do. I’m sorry Rich, but regardless of how many GAs you quote, I just don’t see the world that way. I just don’t see the people that I know doing good as committed Christians being tools of satan. I think God is influencing them by the Holy Ghost to do good and serve him and not some made up substitute, “the Light of Christ”.

  120. I just don’t see the people that I know doing good as committed Christians being tools of satan.

    Thank you, GB. That is precisely the interpretation I took from a couple of comments (especially bsmith’s), and that is precisely my feeling, as well. I simply believe we don’t need to paint someone else with an extreme brush when there are more benign and charitable views that do not deny our ultimate doctrines in any way.

  121. GBSmiith. I’ll have to research what you said about the Light of Christ. I didn’t realize thtat. Although most of it is going to be found in the D&C. I’ve never heard it talked about outside the church and I think we lean heavily on that subject inside the church becuase of the D&C. I guess I was surprised to hear you downsize the Light of Christ the way you did. Not that it was a big deal – just different.

    I was also surprised to hear that I was quoting GAs. Do I do that? I always thought that I seemed to end up disagreeing with them – probably too much for comfort. Oh well, whatever. Boy this has been a thread and a half.

  122. Rich:

    I agree with you in that I have a hard time reconciling how/why God would drive members towards apostate Christian churchs. I can find scriptures which speak pretty emphatically about the apostate nature of those churchs. I also have found that as far as the scriptures are concerned, the buck stops there. I do not know of any scriptures which support the absolute position you have taken on accessing the Holy Ghost. It sounds to me like a lot of false assumption. I am aware of no scripture that says people are converted to the Church by the Light of Christ, rather Moroni makes it fairly clear that the truth of it will be made known unto you by the power of The Holy Ghost, and by the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things. I know of no scripture that teaches that people are devoid of the Holy Ghost until the missionaries teach them a discussion, and then it comes one time, witnesses to them, and then leaves. I do know of scriptures that teach Christopher Columbus was wrought upon by the Spirit, as were the pilgrims. You may argue your distinction between the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ, but such an argument will be unfounded and unsupportable.

    So I guess I am issuing you a friendly challenge Rich, don’t just say it, support your conclusion with scripture.

  123. Pingback: Who do we want to keep in the church? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  124. Cowboy. I think we thought of Columbus at the same time. For some reason I don’t seem to be able to communicate the word ‘individual’ and convey the thought I want to get across. Please allow me the vanity of quoting myself:

    “I am not confident of the influence of the Holy Ghost in other Churches for the reasons I have stated. But remember that I have no problem with the influence of the Holy Ghost with individuals.”

    If a non-member is in a situation, (whether religious or not, as long as it is conducive to the presence of God), to be taught truth by an authorized servant (mortal or otherwise), I don’t have trouble with the Holy Ghost being there. But mark my words, an official gospel teaching experience, will be imminent in that person’s life. Look at the story of priest in Italy who found the Book of Mormon without the cover page in a garbage can. Even though he was a priest in another church, his church had nothing to do with that experience. And yes, I believe in the years he was without the Church, the Holy Ghost was with him a lot and bearing record to him.

    The promise in Moroni chapter ten is to those people who are investigating the Lord’s Church and not some other one. In that chapter, verse three ‘after you have read those things’ and than after you have ‘pondered them in your hearts‘, and then after you have asked the Father in the name of Christ, it will be revealed to you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Cowboy. That experience will not come to the non-member while he is being taught in his church. His church will not teach him to do that. I have even talked to people in other churches who don’t even believe you should listen to feelings. They say that’s how you get deceived (not that that matters). If you’re talking about individuals separated from their churches long enough for an effective, authorized teaching experience to take place (whether from the missionaries or the Holy Ghost himself) and I have no problem with the Holy Ghost in that persons life even though it will not be a constant companionship.

    Back to Columbus. He’s a perfect example of what I have been saying – not what you guys have been saying. Ya know, out in the middle of that ocean I don’t suppose he saw many church buildings. I don’t suppose there were many priests, ministers and the like either. And he sure didn’t get the idea from any of them to make that voyage. In principle what happened to Columbus is what needs to happen to every non-member. They need to get out of the environment they’re in and create and environment wherein they can be taught by the power of the Holy Ghost. If Columbus had stayed with his church this world would still be on the back of a turtle.

    “I know of no scripture that teaches that people are devoid of the Holy Ghost until the missionaries teach them a discussion, and then it comes one time, witnesses to them, and then leaves.”

    Neither do I. I went to the computerized scriptures (which I wouldn’t be without) and clicked on ‘topic search’ on the Holy Ghost. What I got was a tidal wave of scriptures on the Holy Ghost. But they all looked to me to be about the work of the Holy Ghost and his influence inside the Lord’s Church. I have a tendency towards laziness so check them out for yourself. By chance I found one that kind of talked about the work of the Holy Ghost among the gentiles:

    “And it came to pass after my father had spoken these words he spake unto my brethren concerning the gospel which should be preached among the Jews, and also concerning the dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah, who should come, and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.” (1 Ne. 10:11)

    ‘and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles’

    But look at what that phrase says; Jesus (an authorized teacher) would make himself manifest by the Holy Ghost (essentially create a teaching environment among the gentiles) in which he would bear witness of himself to the gentiles. Once a teaching situation is established, it’s hard telling how much the Holy Ghost will be involved. But once the teaching experience is completed the witness is ended. He is not a constant companion.

    The Comforter is sent only to the Lord’s people (Church) (D&C 88: 3-4). Stop trying to share him with other people. He’s not your gift to give.

  125. Rich, Columbus sailed as a dedicated Catholic, and his drive to explore was motivated deeply by his Catholic beliefs – LONG before the Restoration. How do you get around that? It just seems . . . cherry-picked to claim that the Holy Ghost influenced a deeply religious man, but it had nothing to do with his religion.

    It also seems you are contradicting yourself with that example (and the cases of the Protestant reformers), when you say nobody now can feel the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost unless it’s prompted as a reaction to the Restored Gospel through “authorized” (Melchizedek Priesthood) representatives. If that were true, nobody for approximately 1500 years could have been moved upon by the Holy Ghost – including Columbus and the reformers.

    Can you clarify that for me, please?

  126. “The Comforter is sent only to the Lord’s people (Church) (D&C 88: 3-4). Stop trying to share him with other people. He’s not your gift to give.”

    Sorry Rich, that’s not what it says. It doesn’t say only, it just says that he, Jesus, is going to send the Comforter that “it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise:” and then goes on to say it’s the same comforter that was promised to Christ’s disciples as recorded in John. He does go on in verse 4 to say that this Comforter is the promise of eternal life/the celestial kingdom. What you seem to be doing is taking a specific action or function of the Holy Ghost and generalizing it.

    I agree that the Holy Spirit isn’t my gift to give but it’s not yours to restrict either.

  127. Rich,

    Columbus was a devout, almost fanatical, Catholic. This is a well-established fact. And the verse in 1 Nephi 13 says that the Spirit wrought upon Columbus, and then he went sailing. It doesn’t say that he went sailing, and then the Spirit wrought upon him. So unless one insists on wresting the text of the Book of Mormon to add something to its plain meaning, the Spirit must have worked on Columbus smack dab in the middle of his nearly fanatical Catholic belief and practice.

  128. Rich:

    It will take some time to research this, but I seem to recall reading several years ago that Christopher Columbus was shipwrecked, prior to 1492, and among the only survivors – I think during a naval battle of some sort. In any case, according to this source, he washed upon the shore in either Portugal or Italy, but there he claimed to have had a vision of The Virgin Mary. I don’t recall the details, but it seems that the vision gave him assurance of his place before God and then served as the catalyst for his efforts in pursuing his epoch voyage. In any case he remained staunchly catholic his entire life as far as I am aware.

    I am also aware that recently there has been a surge of research on Columbus that attempts to de-Christianize him, or make him out as a sinister figure in history. Either way, it doesn’t make a case for limited domain of influence for The Holy Ghost.

    For what it is worth I have already said that I agree, TO AN EXTENT, with your comments regarding whether The Holy Ghost would operate in another Church, that would seem to send too many mixed signals to me. But the influence of The Holy Ghost is not limited to just certifying church’s, Moroni rather states that his domain is with “all things”. As for your “Mark my words” remark, it is your challenge to mark them and then make a supportable case.

  129. All right! Everybody! Columbus was a devout Catholic. Paul, the apostle was a Jew. But both Churches were in a state of utter apostasy. And Christ was the cornerstone of the religion of the Jews. (I hope no Jews are listening) Had the Lord’s Church been around at the time of Columbus, would God have had to beat up on him the way He did to Paul? I suppose we’ll never know. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. They both finally did what it was they were supposed to do. And if God had beat up on Columbus, where would He have sent him to get his act together.

    Now back to the Holy Ghost and your wanting Him to be in those stale churches. By the way – thanks all of you for the information. I didn’t know a lot of that about Columbus. Especially yours Cowboy. As a result, I have changed my tune. Now I can see why God led him out into the middle of the ocean. I mean like what was there at home (well, maybe it wasn‘t quite that way).

    Ray. Columbus (and maybe you, for that matter) might have thought his ‘drive’ for exploration was coming from that thing he called his church. If that’s true both of you should stop thinking that way. In spite of all his hang ups, (his religion being the biggest one) Columbus is the ‘man’ in 1Nephi 13:12. And it was the Holy Ghost who inspired him.

    Ray. “It just seems . . . cherry-picked to claim that the Holy Ghost influenced a deeply religious man, but it had nothing to do with his religion.”

    Well then let’s start picking cherries because that’s the way it was. For both Columbus and Paul it was the same. There hearts were right but their churches were the kings of bogus.

    Ray. You quote me – “you say nobody now can feel the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost unless it’s prompted as a reaction to the Restored Gospel through “authorized” (Melchizedek Priesthood) representatives.”

    If I put the ‘(Melchizedek Priesthood)’ in there, I shouldn’t have. That would seem to tie the ‘representatives’ to mortality. I don’t want to take it that far. I suppose representatives could come in different ways. For that matter maybe Baalim’s mule was a representative.

    How much did the Holy Ghost influence that peoples of the dark ages? I don’t know, but the criteria for his influence would have been the same as it is today. How many hearts were there that were right before God? I tend to think there were very few but who knows? In Alma 19, the Lamanitish woman was alone for many years in her conversion (the work of the Holy Ghost). Another person alone in an apostate world.

    Kuri – “the Spirit must have worked on Columbus smack dab in the middle of his nearly fanatical Catholic belief and practice.”

    Not a problem. But remember, the Spirit worked on Columbus to perform his mission, not his church (and that includes ‘this virgin Mary thing‘).

    GBSmith. “What you seem to be doing is taking a specific action or function of the Holy Ghost and generalizing it.”

    No. I’m taking a specific action, the comforting action of the Holy Ghost, and applying it to Jesus’ friends and disciples, specifically. Why are you taking that action applying it to the world, generally? D&C 88:3-4 doesn’t do that. Got any scriptures on the ‘generalization theory’?

    Cowboy. Yes, His domain is ‘all things, but what is he doing with that domain? Certainly not being a constant companion to all of them. I’m still working on your ‘mark my words’ challenge.

  130. Rich, let’s let this drop – at least the two of us. We obviously see this topic differently, and now we’re going in circles.

  131. What you have added as an interpretation to Doctrine and Covenants 88:3-4 is the word “only” which does not appear. I agree that Jesus was speaking to his friends and disciples but are those friends and disciples only those that have been baptized into the LDS Church? Are you saying the Comforter didn’t do any comforting from the apostasy until Joseph Smith and the restoration?

    I agree with Ray that this has gone on long enough so I cede you the last word. This whole thread is sounding suspiciously like the troll last year that insisted that white shirts were mandatory for Sunday wear if we were to follow the prophet. As I’ve said before, come judgement we’ll all find out and if you’re right and on your way to Glory and the creation of worlds unnumbered and I’m on my way to a sports bar in the telestial kingdom, you can say I told you so.

  132. I teach early morning seminary to a group of high-school kids. Some of the lessons are problematic for me as they show a very one-sided view of LDS thought. I’m a bit late to this topic, but just came across this section from my teaching prep last night.

    All the following quote sections are directly out of the seminary manual. I’m not going to include the direct links as they would not work as the material is behind a username/password.

    What follows is some material in the book of Galatians. The opening page of the lesson material contains this quote:

    Quote:
    Theme: Paul was alarmed when he learned that false teachings were creeping into the lives of his Galatian converts. Many had rejected the teachings of the Atonement and reverted to following the law of Moses. Paul wrote to urge the Saints to return to the higher law of the gospel. He taught that works alone are not sufficient for salvation, but that we must rely on our Savior Jesus Christ. End quote

    This is followed in the material by this:
    Quote:
    Paul was amazed that the Galatian converts were turning away from the living Christ in favor of a dead law. Could they really prefer the bondage of the old law of Moses over the liberty of the new law of Christ? end quote

    Then, in the actual text of Galatians are the following versus:

    Quote:
    6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
    7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
    8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any bother gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. end quote

    So… In my opinion, it is fairly easy to understand this. Paul had done a mission to these people and converted them from Judaism to Christianity. After he left them, many of the people were reverting to the teaching of the Law of Moses as the “other gospel”. At this time, there were clearly 2 gospels (or churches in today’s terms).

    Ok. Everything fine so far, right. No controversy.

    Quote:
    Read this explanation by Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

    “A few weeks ago I was returning from the East with President [Gordon B.] Hinckley. We conversed with a passenger who said something to the effect that all churches lead to heaven. How often have you heard that—the parallel path to heaven philosophy?

    “They claim one church is not really better than another, just different. Eventually the paths will converge. One is, therefore, quite as safe in any church as in any other.

    “While this seems to be very generous, it just cannot be true.

    “. . . Suppose schools were operated on that philosophy, with each discipline a separate path leading to the same diploma. No matter whether you study or not, pass the tests or not, all would be given the same diploma—the one of their choice.

    “Without qualifying, one could choose the diploma of an attorney, an engineer, a medical doctor.

    “Surely you would not submit yourself to surgery under the hands of a graduate of that kind of school!”

    “But it does not work that way. It cannot work that way—not in education, not in spiritual matters. There are essential ordinances just as there are required courses. There are prescribed standards of worthiness. If we resist them, avoid them, or fail them, we will not enter in with those who complete the course” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 82 ).

    Testify to your students that there is only one true gospel on the earth that has all the teachings, ordinances, and covenants we need to return to Heavenly Father and live like Him in His kingdom. Tell students that the Apostle Paul understood this doctrine and tried to explain it to the Saints
    end quote

    I just don’t see at all that Paul understood that there was one true gospel with all the teachings. He was NOT talking about a Christian church with certain teachings, ordinances, and covenants…. he was talking about CHRIST!!! Simple as that.

    What I taught was just the Jewish Law vs Christian Law and stopped there. I also taught that whenever a person converts from one background to any other, you can’t just teach them the new way and then leave them alone.

  133. GeorgeGT – that is fascinating insight. Thanks for sharing that. Most scholars tend to think that Christianity is Paul’s invention, not Christ’s, and that is their interpretation of his efforts to define orthodoxy. I don’t expect that it’s a view we’ll find in seminary manuals, but it is an interesting perspective for adult students of the NT at least.

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