One of the most difficult things for many who have begun to think deeply about religion—their own as well as others and the relationship between them—and want to maintain a positive relationship with the idea of religion is the specter of exclusivism: claims that one’s views or one’s church is “the” Truth, or the “best,” while others are not or are lesser. Many religions make this claim either explicitly or tacitly, with Mormonism belonging to the first category, boldly declaring its special place as the possessor of priesthood keys and being the only church authorized by God to perform certain saving ordinances. One hears it quite often in LDS services and classes, and frequently in conjunction with language found in a particular scriptural passage, D&C 1:30: “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually…”
But do LDS scriptures really support a position of exclusivity? Does this passage really refer to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “the only true and living church” with which God is pleased and through which Deity works to save people, or does LDS scripture actually point to something much more broad?
In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Kristine Haglund and Charles Randall Paul complicate the idea of LDS exclusivity as even being scriptural (for so much else in Mormon holy writ suggests God has a much broader project in the works than what can be accomplished through just one organization) and challenge such a straightforward reading of the “only true and living . . . well pleased” passage.
It’s an episode full of wonderful alternatives that reveal Mormon scripture to be much broader and LDS doctrines to be much more expansive and beautiful than we sometimes think they are. It’s definitely worth a close listen.After you do, please add your comments in the section below!