NOTE: This is another post from our newest author – Faithful Dissident.
Whether we’re Mormon, Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim, we all believe that God is on our side and that we are doing His will. Could it be that God really is on all our sides, as long as we are doing what is “good” and “praiseworthy?” For the Catholic nun who is visited by The Virgin Mary; for the Baptist who receives the miracle he asks for; for the atheist who one day has a spiritual epiphany and becomes a born again Christian; if God is a Mormon, then why doesn’t He lead all of those He is apparently talking to, to the Mormons? With the Church being worldwide and so many meetinghouses and missionaries spread throughout the globe, the Mormons are only a few steps away for many.
If there was ever a person in this world that I admired, it was Mother Teresa. A while back I read “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light“ by Brian Kolodiejchuk. It was an interesting read and it left me with a lot of questions about how her experiences relate to Mormon doctrine.
I will first say that Mother Teresa’s utter and complete devotion to Christ is mind-blowing and it is something that perhaps no other human being has accomplished. Now, before you say that all the Christian martyrs have outdone her by sacrificing their lives for Christ, may I remind you that she did indeed sacrifice her life for Christ — virtually her entire life. She was blessed with a long mortal life, but the poverty, hard work and hardships that she willingly sought and endured would have made her life unbearable for most. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most people would have preferred death to living her life in the squalour of Calcutta’s miserable slums.
While reading Mother Teresa’s personal letters and accounts of the visions and conversations she claimed to have with Christ, which were the catalyst for her humanitarian work in Calcutta, I have to shamefully admit that I questioned her state of mind. Not only was she willing to endure extreme hardship, she seemingly took pleasure in it and constantly sought more in order to come closer to Christ, to an extent that I’ve maybe never seen before. In all honesty, it’s possible to see why her faithless critics would accuse her of being deluded or fanatical. Even her superiors questioned for a time whether her “inspiration” truly came from God.
We have been taught how to distinguish between good and evil by the scripture that says:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7: 15-18)
I’m sure that most of us would agree that Mother Teresa fell into the “good” category, which is evident by the good “fruits” that she produced during her lifetime. I personally believe that she was truly inspired by God to do His work, but if this is so, then it poses a problem for me. If good, God-fearing people seeking His inspiration really receive it, then why doesn’t He always give them inspiration that is in accordance with LDS teachings? Why are they sometimes even contrary to what we proclaim to be correct? Why doesn’t He inspire them to join the LDS Church if it’s the only true Church?
During her visions and conversations with Christ, Mother Teresa was given visions of the Crucifixion. The Blessed Virgin has a central role in these visions and is of significant importance in an unmistakably traditional Catholic manner, even speaking to Mother Teresa herself. Jesus also speaks to her personally, often referring to her as “My little Spouse,” an recognition of her “marriage” to Christ in the Catholic nun sense. He says to her:
“Little one, give Me souls — Give Me the souls of the poor little street children. — How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin. — I long for the purity of their love. — If you would only answer and bring Me these souls — draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day.”
Mother Teresa goes on to tell of a vision where she encounters Mary:
“Again that great crowd — I could see great sorrow and suffering in their faces — I was kneeling near Our Lady, who was facing them. — I did not see her face but I heard her say “Take care of them — they are mine. — Bring them to Jesus — carry Jesus to them. — Fear not. Teach them to say the Rosary — the family Rosary and all will be well. — Fear not — Jesus and I will be with you and your children.”
So while I personally reject the idea that Mother Teresa was simply deluded or made all this stuff up, I feel conflicted as to why Jesus would speak to her and seemingly confirm children being “soiled with sin,” a doctrine that we are taught is wrong and even an “abomination,” in regards to infant baptism. As well, why would The Virgin Mary tell her to teach them the Catholic Rosary if it’s incorrect doctrine?
I am left with two possibilities:
a) Mother Teresa was divinely inspired.
b) She was simply deluded or the inspiration was not from God.
If a) is true, then there is the doctrinal conflict that I mentioned above. If b) is true, then it is in conflict with the scripture from Matthew 7 that I quoted earlier. And on top of that, if b) is true, I cannot help but feel discouraged that God didn’t or couldn’t lead someone, who was completely willing and able to give her all, to “The Truth.” Makes it seem all the more hopeless for the rest of us.
I once had an online debate with a Mormon who found it presumptuous of me to say that God had never told Mother Teresa to become a Mormon. How did I know He hadn’t? I replied that I was confident in my assumption because I knew that Mother Teresa had never denied God anything that He asked of her. As a young nun, she made a vow to never hold back anything that He required of her. I also believe that she had a closer and more personal relationship to Christ than most of us — perhaps even all of us, for that matter. If God had said to her, “Find the Mormons and become one of them,” then I’m confident she would have done so.
I don’t think that too many Mormons would say that God only speaks to us. To say so would go against some very fundamental Mormon beliefs. At the same time, I have to admit that I have often been skeptical of stories and accounts from people not of my faith, who claim various miracles, visions, revelations, etc. Although we believe in all of the above, I think we are very quick to question such occurrences when they don’t come from “one of our own.”
Questions for discussion:
- Is God a Mormon?
- Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the “Mormon way?”
- Are they really from God if they conflict with LDS doctrine, such as in the case of Mother Teresa’s visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary?
- If God really is talking to people like Mother Teresa, who in all humility are seeking his instruction, then why doesn’t He direct them to “the only true Church?”
why does the atheist have a spiritual epiphany and become a born-again Christian?! huh!?
I kid, I kid.
Really, it seems that for reasons that Bruce, on this very site, has elaborated, it doesn’t make sense if God is everything to everyone (or even just something different to some and something else to some else). While the church allows for some truth to be commonly shared throughout religions, cultures, groups, etc., I doubt this would extend to vastly differing and contradictory truth claims all being manifest from the same guy.
I guess I don’t have to deal with this kind of issue, but I won’t go on about that…
Hitting the last bullet point question:
Remember too that Mother Teresa had periods where she felt the presence of God/Christ/Holy Ghost/whatever leave her. I thought that Come Be Might Light talked about it…maybe not…but I thought that Mother Teresa’s tremendous faith crises were, well, tremendous.
I guess wikipedia is useless because although it attributes this quotation to the book, it has no page number so you can check:
So I’m not trying to knock Mother Teresa or faith (honestly!), but it seems that as an individual driven by that faith, her life is a whole lot more complex than assuming that the Lord would tell her, “oh yeah, go to this Mormon church thing and things will rock out loud.”
I think two points will help illuminate these questions:
1) God is no respecter of persons.
2) God has divinely inspired people, even through the great apostasy.
So, in response to your questions:
1) I think so. God is the inventor (so to speak) of our faith. He is also the inventor of everything good as well. God being a Mormon does not mean that Mormons have a monopoly on God.
2) I can only speak for myself in this question, but I’m generally not. I believe we can pray to gain a testimony of these experiences and ask God if they are true in the same way we ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Just because revelation comes in a different form doesn’t mean we have to judge it by different criteria.
3) Hm… this is tricky. Perhaps the inspiration did come from God, but Mother Teresa interpreted it using her own religious viewpoint. I’m not saying that she saw it wrong, just looked at it from a different angle than we do, under a different culture and background.
4) Perhaps it is not His will. I don’t think we can ever know the answer to this question for certain.
Thanks for the provocative post. My response may ramble a little bit but here goes:
Is God a Mormon? I don’t think so. I believe He has transcended Mormonism. This is for me the “true and living” church which is organic and must of necessity continue to evolve and absorb further light and knowledge (remember Pres. Benson said we are under condemnation and as far as I know that condemnation has not been lifted). We see in part, we know in part and yet our covenant is to seek and obtain more and be perfected in Christ. I love my faith and I believe we can dive in as far as we want and never bump our head—it is that deep but it is not yet complete. If it was we would be able to discard the 9th article of faith.
For me receiving saving ordinances are relatively easy whether now or proxy or however it is accomplished in different probations, but being “perfected in Christ” —that is the miracle. God restored all these covenants to facilitate the process of being born again and perfected in Christ, but if we do not allow that miracle to occur in our life than it is in vain. Through faith I believe we can be born again and perfected in Christ (examples in BOM). For me a person perfected in Christ can easily obtain in one setting or another the ordinances but one having received the ordinances/covenants and having a premature sense of salvation without being perfected in Christ is in my opinion in a far less enviable position. Remember the Pharisees properly held the priesthood and were the proper authorized church and priesthood of their day and yet that alone became a stumbling block if considered the end in and of itself
Miracles outside the church? They are abundant and real and thank God that the Lord is not as sectarian as we are. I was a counselor to two mission presidents and have served several missions and found that miracles occur through faith—even faith of a Buddhist. The older I get the less and less I worry about whether my “team” has more acts of faith and miracles than some other team/faith.
I can accept that Mother Theresa and others have had direct revelation and I use the term prophet or prophetess far more liberally than we use it in our faith. I can be a properly ordained legal administrator of Christ’s “legally” recognized church and yet have less of the spirit of prophecy then a someone of another faith.
My faith in Christ and his restored church stands independent of whether God does or does not liberally allow faith and miracles to all of any faith that seek virtue. I would hope that God would not have the same limitations that our insecurities to have neat lines and barriers to how He functions.
Andrew S, Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith, the spiritual “darkness” that she called it, is described in detail, by herself, in Come Be My Light. It started soon after she established The Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta and although she was given a few spiritual “glimpses” every now and again, one lasting as long as 5 weeks, it pretty much lasted until her death. That’s what makes the book so fascinating. It’s comprised of personal letters she exhchanged with her superiors during her lifetime, which go into detail about her thoughts and crisis of faith.
For those interested, Time magazine did a good article a while back about Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith and Kolodiejchuk’s book.
There is a third option that you didn’t mention: that Mother Teresa was divinely inspired within her own frame of reference. With that, your first question is rather meaningless. To your second and fourth, I think the answers are as varied as the people answering. And for the the third, if the acts are of God, than God can confirm it through the Spirit.
I don’t, however, believe that all seemingly good acts come from God. I don’t think that Matthew 7 means that if the fruits are good, the person is of God. I think it means that if the person is seeming to do good things out of evil motivations, the fruits are not good, even if they seem to be. He mentions in the verse that wolves come in sheeps’ clothing. As anyone who has harvested from a tree knows, bad fruit can look awfully pretty on the outside.
That being said, I also believe that God will bring about what good He can in whoever is willing to do good. Mortal labels don’t have as much meaning in the eternities, I think.
To me, it is never a question of top whom God speaks to. He speaks to everyone. The really issue is: Who listens?
This reflects a conundrum I have felt for some time. Why would God allow some people in the world no chance at hearing the Gospel in this life now that it is on the earth and restored? I realize that we have the great commission to go and preach the gospel throughout the world. But we still have a long way to go. And some areas are completely shut off to us and the prospects of entering (i.e. the Muslim world) are bleak.
SilverRain said: “There is a third option that you didn’t mention: that Mother Teresa was divinely inspired within her own frame of reference.”
This is something that I have thought of also.
Some other questions that have come to mind:
Is it a limitation of sorts? Was Mother Teresa cutting herself short by limiting herself to spiritual experiences that fit “her own frame of reference” (i.e. Catholicism)?
Could we do the same with Mormonism?
Will God give an honest, humble seeker like Mother Teresa everything he/she needs spiritually, or will that person always be somehow “incomplete” so long as he/she either never encounters Mormonism or does not embrace it?
Jeff Spector, I agree that the prospects of the Gospel entering the Muslim world look pretty darn bleak. And yet when my parents were my age, they could have never imagined that missionaries would be spread throughout eastern Europe — especially the former USSR — within a relatively short timespan.
Interesting questions. I believe that our too cut-and-dried approach to revelation can get us into trouble. Sometimes we understand it, sometimes we do not. In our missionary lessons, we teach it as something very simple (which is fine for an introduction), but I don’t think we appreciate its complexity. Personally, I think we don’t give enough weight to our psychological/temperamental differences, to our childhood training, or a hundred other factors that could affect the way we experience and interpret encounters (however tenuous) with the divine.
I would argue that she filtered the inspiration she received through the lens of her own understanding. So in this passage:
“Little one, give Me souls — Give Me the souls of the poor little street children. — How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin. — I long for the purity of their love. — If you would only answer and bring Me these souls — draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day.”
what we are seeing is a divinely inspired utterance, filtered through the lens of understanding of someone who believes that little children are soiled with sin (in terms of the original sin), but that could JUST as easily be reinterpreted to mean ‘whose lives are ruined by the sins of others’, which would fit the text, and is a fitting description of the situation of many children in many places. But she was filtering things through her understanding of God.
Here’s what I really believe–regardless of whether or not SHE was ever inspired to join the church, or whatever, she will be okay in the next life. That’s all that I care about, really.
There are *definitely* more than two possibilities on MOther Theresa.
Elder Orson Whitney even said that God kept the glorious truths of the gospel veiled from vast parts of the earth’s populations just so he could accomplish the work he needed. The Mormons, even if we have the truth, are only able to do so much physically.
I believe that God knows that we, being human, can only function within our own frame of reference, and so that’s what he works within. I don’t see God as “Mormon”. I think God is beyond our human, limited view of religion. I think God is Truth, and humans -including Mormons, of which I am one- can really only partially fathom that Truth. Our minds are too finite. (I think everyone is going to be surprised by the afterlife.) I don’t think God is as worried about “religion” as we are.
Just a thought: I’m not sure that teaching/believing infant baptism and a godlike intercessory position of Mary can count as “good fruits.” It *might be* that relieving the suffering of the poor is the sheep’s clothing that disguises doctrinal ravenous wolves. At best, it makes her an honorable woman of the world, blinded by the craftiness of men.
I guess I just think that using Matthew 7 as a litmus test is more complex than it first appears.
Interesting Post. I enjoyed it. However, there seems to be a lopsided interest in “difficult questions” in the bloggernacle–looking beyond the mark kind of thing.
I think asking difficult questions is part of being in a fallen world. What I have trouble understanding is why so many of us don’t realize the “easiness of the way” and embrace those things the Lord has given us with all our hearts. For example, obtaining the gifts of the Spirit. They are readily available, but most of us ignore the invitation the Lord has extended. Seeking after office and looking beyond the mark are more attractive to our fallen natures. When we’re baptized we’re commanded to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. How many of us are really interested in acquiring this gift?
With that said, I’ll share a few thoughts on the questions asked in this post:
1. Is God a Mormon? Not now, because he is an exalted being. At one time he was, on whatever planet He had mortal birth on. He progressed and eventually became a member of the Church of the First Born (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Church_of_the_Firstborn)
2. * Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the “Mormon way?”
* Are they really from God if they conflict with LDS doctrine, such as in the case of Mother Teresa’s visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary?
* If God really is talking to people like Mother Teresa, who in all humility are seeking his instruction, then why doesn’t He direct them to “the only true Church?”
These three question are basically redundant and ask: Does God only work through His restored Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
The answer to this question is NO!!, in my opinion. However, we need to understand that the birth and life we have here didn’t happen by chance (this is true for all mankind). God is our Father and each of us are given life for a reason–to progress. We are all at different stages of development. That is why we see such diversity.
The Lord hasn’t revealed everything. There is much we don’t know. But he has given us enough to fulfill are purpose in life. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Article of Faith #9.
One day all the difficult question we can ask will be answered, just as stated in the 9th AoF.
We all have imaginations, why not have faithful imagination as opposed to critical ones. For example, I image that a person like mother Teresa was given a call to come to earth to be who she was in this life-a special help and light to those in a culture like India (and to the whole world for her example). She was told that when life was over the Lord would see to it that she would have all the ordinances for exaltation done for her by the Mormons–from His restored church.
Until then when she needed help He would be near to her an provide manifestation to her based on the traditions of the church she was associated with.
I like Jeff’s observation:
To me, it is never a question of whom God speaks to. He speaks to everyone. The real issue is: Who listens?
I think all revelation and inspiration is filtered through the lens of the person receiving it. The language used by the Lord through Joseph Smith is similar but distinctly different than the language spoken by the same Lord in the OT and NT. The message of the Book of Mormon is similar in overall trajectory (come unto Christ) as the D&C, but with some glaringly obvious doctrinal and church organizational differences. Is one better than the other? I don’t think so. But the person receiving revelation will hear it in the voice he or she is most accustomed to hearing, and may remember parts of revelation better if they are personally applicable to his or her own circumstances. Also, its possible that we may indiscriminately intermingle our own surmissions and inferences with the “pure” revelation, so that the two can be conflated. Could this be what happens when Mother Theresa receives a revelation to help the children, and one rationale for it is their Original Sin?
I’m also inclined to believe that Mother Theresa’s mission in life may not have been to be a member of the LDS church, regardless of whether the LDS church has the fulness of the gospel. She was able to do much good as a Catholic nun–work she wouldn’t have been capable of doing as a member of our church in India–and perhaps the Lord works upon the net good we all can accomplish in our own existence, and let the question of ordinances of salvation play out later. Maybe the point is to do the best with what you’ve got, and to honestly follow the inspiration you feel you receive that encourages you to lift yourself and others up.
SteveS, I wholeheartedly agree with your second paragraph.
“it doesn’t make sense if God is everything to everyone”
Does it have to make sense to us (humans) for it to be the order of the universe?
We ridicule those who for so long believed the earth was the center of the universe. Maybe we are doing the same thing in our ideas of God.
“Perhaps the Lord needs  men on the outside of His Church to help it along. They . . . can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. … Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the truth; while others remain unconverted . . . the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose.” Elder Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Elder Ezra Taft Benson
There is no doubt in my mind that Mother Theresa was one of the most divinely inspired people to ever walk the face of the Earth. And I don’t feel that belief causes me to believe her conversations with Christ were completely untainted by at least some self-generated dialogue. Mother Theresa doesn’t have to be 100% deluded or 100% accurate in her revelations. It can be a mixture of both. God can be inspiring her to help others, and she may interpret those promptings to do good by putting them into words in her mind that make sense according to her Catholic upbringing. Moreover, I’m inclined to believe that when we are told God speaks to all nations in their own language, that includes the “spiritual language” they have been taught in their various churches, temples, synagogues, etc. So for me it’s not outside the realm of possibility that God would give a Catholic a vision of the Virgin Mary for the purpose of communicating something important, because God will know that the Catholic will interpret a message from Mary as being divinely inspired.
The bottom line is that I think God will communicate with his children by any means necessary. He is our father; we are his children. What loving Father would withhold communication from sincere seeking souls because they commit technical errors in their beliefs, mode of prayer, conception of deity, etc. etc. etc. As a father of four children, I know I would communicate with them in whatever means possible, even at the risk of possibly reinforcing some false notions about me. After all, what’s the alternative?
good point, but at a certain problem, it’s kinda like, “Why did you give me reason if you intended its use to be foregone?” At some point, we do take a stand on certain contradictions. Obviously, people pick which churches are true (or…”most” true, so to speak).
Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the “Mormon way?”
Apologies if I am repeating someone elses remarks.
I think many mormons think that if God heals someone from another religion its either of Satan (because the don’t have the priesthood which has been restored back to the earth) or its a public show. I actually do agree a bit with the later for some religions.
But there are aproximatly 6.7 Billion people on the earth and 3 4 million active mormons its hard to graph how miniscule that dot or mormons would be on a 7 billion graph. So either God allows others to be healed or he is terribly inefficient with the rest of his children or the ones that are being healed are being healed under Satans power 🙂
Sorry the above should say 3 to 4 million active mormons
long reply, sorry…
“* Is God a Mormon?”
No. I don’t believe he is a Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, or whatever else either. God is God, it is His children that are counted in the various churches that worship Him.
“* Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the “Mormon way?””
I am not uncomfortable though sometimes I have doubts. I take each one individually. For example the old lady that sees Jesus on her toast is going to get a scoff from me every time. “Angels” appearing in hospital hallways? Maybe if it wasn’t so obvious that it was sun glare from a window around the corner. However other things like the United State’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution I consider very much to be divinely inspired though I don’t think they occurred in the “Mormon way”.
“* Are they really from God if they conflict with LDS doctrine, such as in the case of Mother Teresa’s visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary?”
Let’s take the quote about “How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin.” We teach that small children are sinless. That we accept as Truth. However the chances that these children in those slums, once reaching an age of accountability will remain thus is very very slim. If this conversation did occur I believe it’s more concerning to teach the children and rescuing them from their futures then it is to nit pick about how old they are when they are baptized or saved. You can bring someone to Christ, or even Christ to them without the act of baptism. Baptism is one of the steps towards salvation of course, but not required before knowing Christ.
I believe in baptism at accountability, but I also believe that age can be different for each person. The LDS Church says eight and that’s a good general number for most. However I’ve known younger that probably were past the age of accountability, and some older that weren’t (usually special-needs) and may never be.
Back to the slums. Some of these children have seen and experienced more then many adults in first world countries ever will. Their age of accountability might be lower then we accept because of this, course on the other hand given their survival situations might be higher. We don’t know and probably never will.
That said though infants and toddlers I would still consider baptizing them wrong as they wouldn’t be making any choices. Not sure I would condemn the baptizer for it though, especially if they thought they were doing the right thing.
“* If God really is talking to people like Mother Teresa, who in all humility are seeking his instruction, then why doesn’t He direct them to “the only true Church?””
I think God directs people who listen to him to where they are needed most. In some cases that may not be to “the only true Church”. Had Mother Teresa been direct to be a member of the LDS Church would she have been able to accomplish her work? I’m not sure she would have been able to.
Some time ago I read about a Catholic priest who has his own testimony about the truth of The Book of Mormon but he has not been baptized into the LDS Church nor is he a member. He converses with the missionaries often. He simply says something like “I feel I am still needed here” when asked why he hasn’t converted.
I think that God has many in his flock that are not members of the physical “true Church”. I say “physical” because I believe there are two “churches”. The true physical church (The LDS Church) and the true spiritual church. The true spiritual church can and does include individuals of other faiths (ie Mother Teresa) and can and does exclude individuals of our faith. Where your body goes is the physical church, where your spirit and heart dwells is the spiritual church.
Trevor, I love your idea about two “churches,” a true physical and a true spiritual. Makes a lot of sense, I think. Thanks for sharing that.
The idea of two churches (i.e., the physical Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the more general, spiritual “Church of the Lamb”) is supported by the Book of Mormon and has been spoken of in Ensign magazine:
“[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.” Stephen E. Robinson (Ensign magazine)
The idea of two churches sounds like what Valentinian Gnostics tried to purport in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. They were denounced as heretics and eventually destroyed by the Catholics who believed in the direct authority of the bishop/priest/deacon system built on the backbone of the apostolic church of the late 1st century.
Maybe the gnostics were onto something…..
“Is it a limitation of sorts? Was Mother Teresa cutting herself short by limiting herself to spiritual experiences that fit “her own frame of reference” (i.e. Catholicism)?”
Yes, it is a limitation, but one that no mortal can help. It is part of the veil, part of the price of agency. All we can do is pray for the veil to be lifted when and how the Lord wills.
I agree with Steve’s second paragraph, as well.
About a year ago, I wrote down some inspiration I had about the Church of the Devil and the Church of the Lamb here.
I don’t think the LDS Church is true because it’s completely accurate; I believe it is true because it is led by God. That makes a profound difference to me, and resolves many of the conflicts people have with the Church.
1 – “Is God a Mormon?” God transcends sects. Maybe he even transcends the church of the first born.
2 – “Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the Mormon way?” I’m not. I don’t think most people are, except for some of the more dramatic things (like snake handling or Virgin Mary image on toast). I think the key is that I don’t see these as “signs” or evidence of why we should believe. It seems to me that sign-seeking is bad whether it’s used to confirm or deny. We aren’t here to prove God, but ourselves.
3 – “Are they really from God if they conflict with LDS doctrine, such as in the case of Mother Teresa’s visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary?” I agree with the comments that people experience things in their own frame of reference. When Jesus prayed, it is said that what he said couldn’t be uttered or written down. But still we try.
4 – “If God really is talking to people like Mother Teresa, who in all humility are seeking his instruction, then why doesn’t He direct them to “the only true Church”?” That’s a fair question. I don’t have a better theory than those posed by others above.
“Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the Mormon way?”
I’m not and certainly the General Authorities aren’t well maybe I shouldn’t speak for them, BUT they quote C.S. Lewis all the time and he wasn’t Mormon.
“Maybe the gnostics were onto something…..”
or they were onto a lot of things.
1 – “Is God a Mormon?”
No, neither the Father, Son nor Holy Ghost is Mormon – or even Christian.
2 – “Are we uncomfortable or have doubts about miracles and spiritual encounters that don’t occur in the Mormon way?”
I don’t think there is a “Mormon way”, but even if there were, “No, I’m not.” However, I know too many members who are.
3 – “Are they really from God if they conflict with LDS doctrine, such as in the case of Mother Teresa’s visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary?”
That is a question for each and every case (just as it is for those that do NOT conflict with LDS doctrine), but I believe many of them certainly are.
4 – “If God really is talking to people like Mother Teresa, who in all humility are seeking his instruction, then why doesn’t He direct them to “the only true Church”?”
Because He knows best how to carry out His will and isn’t confined the way we are.
The Book of Mormon teaches something of interest that helps answer the questions posed by this post.
…to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have. Alma 29:8.
And of course, we know that they then will be judged, according to that which they have received.
The scripture that came to my mind is, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.” Does God want salvation for all people? Yes. Do you have to follow certain doctrines and ordinances to attain salvation? Yes. Are those doctrines and ordinances found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Yes. Will God make these available to all His children on His timetable? Yes. Perhaps we are too focused on earth life and think that all people must come to the LDS church in this life in order to be saved. God works on a much bigger and different timetable. Maybe death doesn’t mean all that much to Him. Just my opinion, and in no way do I think this is for sure the right answer, but a possibility. Maybe God knew Mother T. could do great things in this life as a Catholic. Honestly she had access to resources that she may not have had as a Mormon. So he goes with it knowing that she will be taught the truth at some point in her eternal journey. Just because it didn’t happen here on earth, perhaps he is ok with that.
My personal thoughts on this subject are that we really don’t have a clue what God is like and all we have is our religious and cultural upbringing. God will give anyone an answer to prayer and does, as many here have said answer our prayers “liberally” to all who seek.
If Mormonism is the one true way not everyone is willing to recieve it. That’s the beauty of LDS theology is that it shows the mercy of God and the love of God in that he’ll answer and bless us to the extent we are willing to be blessed.
I wrote a post a few months ago titled “Is God Denominational?” that discusses a lot of my views on how people from many faiths and cultures can be blessed. You can view it below:
#31 Jason This is exactly how I see it. Thanks for stating it concisely.
Alma 29:8 clearly states that the Lord gives varying degrees of “light and knowledge” to mankind. I would suppose the reason this is done is based on pre-mortal progress. I think there are other things besides just the issue of pre-mortal worthiness (Alma 13) that accounts for this. We know that the Savior is the first-born, so we can deduce that “age” and experience are part of the equation.
I don’t get it. So God was Jewish in the days of the Old Testament? But converted to Christianity around 0 AD?
We’re using two-dimensional metaphors to describe a four-dimensional being. God created Mormonism, it doesn’t mean He’s Mormon.
“Religion is just our way of repeating patterns from a higher fractal level.” – Daniel Gildenlow
Your post implies big things. If we *really* cannot understand what God is like, then you’re 1) saying Jesus was wrong (John 17:3), 2) saying that Joseph Smith was wrong (Lectures on Faith–in order to have faith in God, we must have a correct understanding of his character), and 3) by extension, that Mormon theology is deluded in thinking that it *can* understand God.
Delusion, to me, is hardly beautiful.
I have been LDS my entire life and have truly sought to always do all those things that we are asked to do to be considered worthy in God’s eyes. Several years ago, I experienced something that began to open my eyes to the way the Lord deals with His children. I understand more fully now that He is a much more liberal and loving Father than we can imagine, especially with our human minds. When He opens our minds to see as He does, even in the smallest of ways, it is unexplainably magnificent. Just as the Lord will answer the prayer of the man or woman in the language they understand, He answered the prayer of Mother Teresa in the language she understands and speaks….the Catholic language. He meets us wherever we are at and teaches us. Mother Teresa never would have fulfilled her promises to Him and likewise His to her if she would not have been placed where she was by the Lord. Being Catholic was the only way that she could fulfill her mission, otherwise her purpose would have been frustrated. Had she had the implications of having to be married and raise a family as women are expected to do in the LDS church she would not have been able to accomplish the work of the Lord.
Can it be possible that the Lord allows us to believe things that aren’t necessarily true in order to fulfill His purposes? Does He allow us to believe things according to the mission we are to fulfill? It is not that He is lying to us, He is just not allowing us to remember the fullness or the complete truth, other wise we would be unable to fulfill the work that we need to do at that time. Just like everyone did not accept the fullness of the gospel before we came here, they won’t accept it here. Is it possible that the Lord wants all of His children to be reached and given hope at the level they are willing to accept? Remember that we still have scriptures (revelations) that have been kept from us because of unbelief. Would we be able to handle what more the Lord has to tell us or would we not? Just like Ghandi never could have accomplished all he did being a Mormon, neither could Mother Teresa. I believe they were sent to reach a part of the Lord’s children that Mormons would never have been able to get to. Is God Mormon? He is just God. People need religion to be organized and reminded about their covenants and what they should be focused on. God doesn’t need reminders like we do, it all comes naturally to Him.
I have learned that the Lord may allow us to be placed in a situation that keeps us from the truth in order to help others or to come to understand others and have compassion on them. I am a seeker and I ask a lot of questions. Because of this I have come to understand that there is a lot more involved in the purposes of the Lord than we could ever understand. I have found out things I never would have thought or even considered.
We just assume that the answers Mother Teresa received mean what we understand them to mean and cannot have a different meaning. Answers I have received and assumed I have understood where explained to me in a different way and new understanding came. This only happened through the Spirit opening my mind. When it comes to the Lord everything is according to His timing. His timing for Mother Teresa to learn of the true nature of marriage, the true nature of children and their innocence, etc. was after this life. Maybe part of the reason she was so determined and able to stay where she did and do what she was able to do was because of her false belief that children were sinners. If she assumed they were innocent is it possible she would have lost the will or capacity to stay her course? We cannot know for sure, but one thing I do know is the Lord is much more liberal than we tend to believe. He is not as uptight as we tend to think and I truly believe one of the reason He does not give the full truth to others is because they might more fully condemn themselves by rejecting it and/or they have a mission to complete and would not be able to do so having all the truth given to them assuming they would accept it.