Zelophehad’s Daughters

The “Only True” Church: Does “True” Necessitate “Only”?

Posted by Lynnette

For a project I’m working on, I’ve recently been re-reading the writings of Paul Knitter, a theologian known for his pluralist outlook. Knitter is skeptical of the notion that salvation can be found only through Christ. He observes that Christians frequently have some kind of encounter with Christ in which they experience his saving power, leading to a conviction that Christ is genuinely saving. However, he points out, the question of whether Christ truly has the power to save is a different question from whether he’s the only savior, and he thinks that too often the terms get conflated.

Knitter is not, it is worth pointing out, an advocate of privatizing religious truth (i.e., “you have your truth, and I have mine, and our personal truths don’t have any significance for each other.”) He maintains that Christ has universal significance, that Christianity has something valuable to offer all people. However, he also argues that there is no reason to think that Christianity is the only faith with a universally relevant message, and therefore wants to stay open to the possibility that there exist other religious figures and messages which also have significance for all people. Christians, he says, have an important message to share, but they also need to be able to listen to the important messages of others. He is particularly concerned about the possibility of dialogue; if you go into a conversation convinced that you already possess the definitive and ultimate truth, it is difficult if not impossible to genuinely listen to what the other person has to offer.

A common concern raised about this approach is that it undermines commitment. In other words, if you don’t believe that Christianity is the One True Faith, can you be committed to it in the same way? Again, Knitter argues that what is necessary for the commitment of discipleship is not a witness of the exclusivity of Christ, but of the reality of his power. He comments:

If asked to look into the inner workings and feelings of their faith-life, most people, I have discovered, have to admit that the reason they are committed to Jesus is not because he is the ‘one and only.’ If we take a pew count, or a religious education classroom count, I suspect we will find that the majority of Christians will admit that their ability to pray to or to worship Jesus, or to stand up for what he is all about, need not be jeopardized just because there may be others like him. They are committed because of what they have found in him, not because they are certain that they can find it only in him. (Jesus and the Other Names, 107)

I have to admit that I’m still on the fence when it comes to questions of pluralism; I haven’t quite sorted out what I think. But Knitter raises some provocative questions, and I’m particularly interested in this relationship between “true” and “only.” As Latter-day Saints, we often use the words together, as many members testify that we’re the “only true church.” But does a witness that one has genuinely found truth in the LDS church necessarily imply that that this is the one-and-only true church? Or alternatively, since many frame the church’s exclusivity claims in terms of authority, if God has in fact truly authorized the priesthood-bearers of the LDS faith to act in his name, does it follow that this is the only faith with divine endorsement? In other words, I’m trying to figure out to what extent LDS claims about truth and/or authority require some kind of exclusivity. And I’m curious about people’s experiences. Do you think the above quote would apply to the relationship of Mormons to the LDS church? How do you frame your belief in the church? And how does a belief that this (or is not) the only true church affect your commitment to it?

27 Responses to “The “Only True” Church: Does “True” Necessitate “Only”?”

  1. 1.

    Certainly, if you believe that truth can be found in many places outside the church, there remains little reason to remain exclusively in the church. Putting myself in this category, I have little motivation to, say, convert others to mormonism or complete home teaching in a home where the family would rather attend a different church (or no church).

  2. 2.

    if God has in fact truly authorized the priesthood-bearers of the LDS faith to act in his name, does it follow that this is the only faith with divine endorsement

    It would believe it does, unless you can make a case for the Lord authorizing separate groups of people to both act officially in his name (LDS and RLDS/CoC, perhaps?). The LDS Church has rejected the option of another group, so don’t count us as part of the mix.

    If there is no one official Church with proper authority, then things like sealing power and authority have little meaning. Where is the alternate Church that claims a line of priesthood authority extending directly to Jesus Christ? (CoC, perhaps). And do those Churches profess a pluralistic approach?

    I tend to frame this in the context of one gospel, one truth, which is generally administered by the one official Church. Certainly, the Church programs and leaders may run into an occasional error, but the gospel truths are not considered to be in error.

  3. 3.

    Lynnette,
    What good questions. I always love your posts. You have such great sources and compelling questions.
    As far as how the quote applies to Mormons, I would say probably not. In my experience with testimony meetings or missionaries, the “only true church” rhetoric seems to hinge on both the only and the true. Perhaps there is a level, subconscious or otherwise, where people would admit that their salvation isn’t tied to Christ being the only savior, but I doubt it. My take on Mormon faith (as a member who questions the exclusivity claims) is that members have to believe that it is the “only true church” to justify how much of their lives they devote to it. If there were other, easier means to salvation, why not choose those?

  4. 4.

    (Maybe to make it more clear – I tend to say things like, “one official church” as opposed to “one true church”, because again, I separate our gospel theology from our execution and deployment. We may cringe at elements of our history and execution, but you cannot have a fulness of authority and blessings without it. As in, baptism and temple sealings cannot be provided by any other party. That’s the entire basis of our membership in the Church, whether we agree with some of the programs and interpretations.)

  5. 5.

    SingleSpeed and Jessawhy, I think you both raise a really good point about the high demands the church makes. It does seem like exclusivity claims make it easier to ask for that kind of commitment–otherwise, people can go find another true church that they like better.

    Though I have observed that for some people, their commitment to the LDS church rests not so much on a conviction that it’s the only true one, but on a conviction that God wants them there, or that they’ve found something worthwhile in it regardless of whether it’s exclusively true–and I think those things can also inspire dedication. One possible analogy is to a marriage commitment; do you have to believe that you’ve found the “only true” spouse, the only one you could have married, to be committed to the relationship?

    queuno, I agree that this question of authority is a crucial one for Latter-day Saints. But I’m not sure I entirely follow this:

    If there is no one official Church with proper authority, then things like sealing power and authority have little meaning.

    If there were some other church out there which also had some kind of divine authority, why would it make the sealing power (for example) any less meaningful? This is total speculation, but what if they were authorized to do something else? I’m not asking because I necessarily believe this is the case, by the way–I’m just trying to tease out what it is that makes our ordinances meaningful.

  6. 6.

    The interesting thing is that D&C 1:30 does not say “only true church.” Rather than that three word phrase, we have thirty words. And rather than assuming the way to interpret the verse is to remove anything that doesn’t say “only true church,” I’ve found it an interesting exercise to read the key verse, and D&C 1 as coherent, meaningful whole, very carefully to see what it actually does say.

    Notice that if D&C 1:30 said the “only blue and shining church upon the face of the whole earth which which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually,” we would realize that there may be other blue and/or shining churches on earth, and that with respect to them, the Lord might be sort of pleased, if not well pleased, speaking collectively, of course.

    So the “only” is modified by the phrase “with which I, the Lord am well pleased.”

    So the next question (and the one that got me going on this topic) is, “What is that “and living” doing there? Is is a mere rhetorical flourish? Or does it actually mean something? I looked up all the places in the Bible that use “true” or “living”, such as “true vine,” “living bread,” truth and life,” living waters,” tree of life”, living way,” etc. Eventually I noticed that the themes of these passages mirror the themes of D&C 1 verse for verse, point for point. For example, Jer. 10:10 is a voice of warning passage, as is the opening of D&C 1. The discourse on “the true vine” has to do with priesthood authority. Living waters implies both ordinances and revelation. The “living way” in Hebrews 10:20 is temple imagery. The ideas associated with these images also turn out to describe the things that in actual fact and practice, to one degree or another, distinguish the LDS church from other faiths.

    So, in my reading, “true and living” is a merism that embodies the themes of D&C 1 as a whole.

    It is also evident, if we read carefully, that D&C 1 as a whole expressly rules out the conventional “only true church” reading. That is, revelation is expressly “non-exclusive” to LDS (verses 2, 18, 34-35) and of LDS leaders we are told “inasmuch as they erred it shall be made manifest; inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed,” etc.

    Notice too that “church” refers to the gathering of people, and not to a static book of what to thing into which we are baptized, or to a hierarchy to which we submit. It is just a bunch of people, gathered together.

    Back in 1993, I presented on the topic at a Sunstone West. I’ve posted periodically over the past several years. Perhaps I need to publish, and save some typing.

    The actually meaning and intent of D&C 1 is far more tolerant and robust than “only true church.”

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

  7. 7.

    Kevin, there’s another comma in “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased…” That one extra comma makes it so “with which” modifies the whole phrase, not just “only”, and would seem to solidify the exclusivity argument, although I cannot personally vouch for the choices of punctuation by Joseph and his minions.

    I personally think the exclusivity claims can be damaging to individuals in the church, where they are intolerant of others’ belief systems because they don’t belong to the “only true church.”

  8. 8.

    I know that for me, when I started looking at things from a more pluralistic viewpoint, the church did lose the level of authority that I had previously imbued it with. As I got to wondering about what kind of god would make it so difficult for his children to find truth, looking at all the people who felt that their other faiths were true and had received their own witness for those faiths, I began to wonder who I was to question their relationship with god. However, I also don’t slide into complete relativism. I think that most people’s truth claims have relevancy for me. I enjoy hearing good things from most religious persuasions as long as I’m not expected to adhere completely to one.

  9. 9.

    lynette,

    what do you think of mark heim’s claim about “salvations”?

  10. 10.

    No matter when the comma goes, the kind of exclusivity relative to what specific claims are what matters.

    D&C 1 overall expressly rules out any notion that the only well pleasingness distinction has anything to do with exclusive, truth, revelation or human virtue.

    Hoffer’s The True Believer made the case that no mass movement can succeed without exclusive thinking, because only such believers will make the necessary sacrifices. The LDS church, I think, has succeeded to the point that we can move to the more tolerant and robust picture expressly offered in D&C 1, if we bother to read it carefully.

    D&C 1:30 is not a florid and emphatic way of saying “only true church,” but is rather, a careful and precise description of an alternative claim.

    I think so anyway. FWIW

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  11. 11.

    I’ll buy that. I’d love to believe that the original intention was to describe the church as “a” good and pleasing church, rather than “the” good and pleasing church. Is that what you’re saying? Or is it more like, “Of all the true and living churches on the earth today, this is the one that is the most pleasing.”

  12. 12.

    That”s getting close.. But with the caveat that the reference to the collective gathering (ekklesia) does not apply to individuals. Membership offers opportunity and accountability and nothing more.

    A careful reading od D&C 1 can make all fhe difference in the expectations we have. And in turn, what strikes us as anomalies, what we notice, and what we value in being LDS. It makes a difference in whether something shakes us or, or whether we can take it in stride.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  13. 13.

    Interesting questions, Lynnette. Regarding the uniqueness of Christ, I know in Mormonism we have scriptures that tell us explicitly that Christ is the only savior, for example, “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17) and “there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ” (Helaman 5:9). But are there similar scriptures in the New Testament that are that explicit about not just Christ’s ability to save, but his uniqueness? I’m just wondering if our scriptures are more limiting to such a pluralistic approach to salvation than is the NT for other Christians.

    Sorry, I should know the Bible better.

  14. 14.

    Great post. One thing that I was thinking about is that when Mormons talk about other churches we often talk about them having “pieces of the truth” while we have the whole truth. However, this idea implies that those pieces look exactly the same as pieces that we already have. I don’t think that this is true. Different religions emphasize different things and have different perspectives on life’s big questions. I have learned a lot from having discussions with people from different perspectives (which range from highly religious to agnostic). We shouldn’t assume that other religious have nothing to offer us because they don’t have the “truth.” Rather, I think that an open minded approach helps us gain different perspectives on religious questions and helps us better understand and evaluate our own personal beliefs.

  15. 15.

    Kevin Christensen, thanks for sharing your take on D&C 1. I agree with you that the “only true and living church” phrase doesn’t necessarily imply the kind of narrow “this is the only true church” read that it’s sometimes given, and I enjoyed your thoughts on it.

    Thinking about this more, I’m wondering to what extent the “only true church” idea is based specifically on that verse, and to what extent it’s based on other texts–the First Vision account, for example, which contains some of the harsher language we have about other faiths.

    woundedhart, I very much share your concern about the effects of exclusivity claims. I’m conflicted about this issue partly because on the one hand, there’s a way in which I appreciate the boldness of such claims. But on the other hand, I keep coming back to the question of whether such claims inevitably undermine the possibility of respectful, non-condescending dialogue in which both parties are genuinely open to learning from each other. If in practice, our truth claims seem to result in less charitable behavior, what should we make of that?

    Lessie, I’ve wondered about similar questions. Why would a God who was concerned with the well-being of all his children limit his involvement (or even his “official” or “authorized” involvement) with them to a fraction of a percent of the world’s population? And like you, I’ve found that an appreciation for the truths of others doesn’t necessarily entail a slide into complete relativism.

    SmallAxe, I only know a little about Heim, but I like his point (if I’m remembering him correctly) that other religions aren’t necessarily preaching what Christians mean by salvation, and it’s a mistake to makes sense of their ends in Christian terms, rather than looking at them and what they have to offer on their own terms.

    In maybe a similar vein, I’ve sometimes wondered–would it be possible in the context of LDS theology to speculate that ultimately everyone needs not only something uniquely offered by the LDS church (ordinances?), but also something uniquely available from, say, Buddhism?

    I have more to say, but I have to run. Thanks for the interesting comments, all!

  16. 16.

    Thanks, Lynette.

    I agree that the “only true” notion derives to an extent from our reading of the First Vision accounts. But those accounts are Joseph’s personal reflections on its meaning to him at various times, whereas D&C 1 is the Lord’s formal reflection on Joseph Smith’s meaning to us from His perspective.

    And I think our reading of the the First Vision is colored to a large extent by developmental issues, both cultural and personal. Veda Hale introduced me to the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth. The first stage begins like this:

    POSITION 1 – Basic Duality. (Garden of Eden Position: All will be well.)
    The person perceives meaning divided into two realms-Good/Bad, Right/wrong, We/They, Success/Failure, etc. They believe that knowledge and goodness are quantitative, that there are absolute answers for every problem and authorities know them and will teach them to those who will work hard and memorize them.

    That stage is particularly susceptible to “only true” thinking. Reading Hoffer showed me why such a misreading might be permitted, just as D&C 19 explains why certain misreadings might be permitted, and Isaiah 55 explains a general principle involved (“my word shall accomplish that which I intend…”)

    Regarding pluralistic views (which indicate growing maturity in the Perry Scheme), Joseph Smith often taught that all religions have truth, and that Mormons should gather up all the good and true out there, or they will not be true Mormons. Alma 29 says that God gives to all peoples all that he sees fit for them to have. Nephi and Moses say that all things which have been given of God are the typifying of Christ.

    The criticisms of other faiths in the first vision is repeated in D&C 1 and the Bible. All need to repent. All need Christ. Joseph later explained that the problem with creeds is not their contents, but their function as creeds to “set up stakes and bounds to the work of the almighty.” “Creeds say, hitherto thou shalt come and no further, which I cannot subscribe to.” Creeds as such are a problem. They place bounds on knowledge and restrict inquiry. They replace the fountain of living waters with cisterns, broken cisterns.

    While there are many valuable things to be learned from other faith traditions, (and I have published essays on this topic elsewhere,) I’ve found insights from Eliade (Cosmos and History: The Myth of Eternal Return) and more recently, Rene Girard (I Beheld Satan as Lightning Fall From Heaven) provocative in considering just what is unique and distinctive about Christianity. And I like the story about C. S. Lewis walking with Tolkien, and learning to see, but the end of the walk, Jesus as not just another dying and rising god, but as the one that all the others pointed towards.

    And Givens and Nibley and Ostler, for example, have been good at pointing to some unique and distinctive aspects of Mormonism. Inclusivity is a good thing.

    Best,

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  17. 17.

    I asked this question on-line once and one friend spoke of it in terms of being God’s official church on earth, but of course other churches have much truth.

    In fact, I believe most Christian religions are more alike than they are different. I did a comparative study on how religions handle the topic of near death experiences once and read tons of books and realized that we really believe the same things at our core. Things like Love your neighbor, serve God, etc.

    I think we complicate the issue way too much. I believe that we have the authority, the truth, and the permissionto call ourselves “true” but that it’s less important than we think it is. Ultimately, everybody on this earth is God’s child and He’s going to work it out individually with each person.

    I love Marian D. Hanks saying, “To know there is a God is to know that all the rules will be fair and that there will be wonderful surprises.”

    Fair. That’s a good word to consider when considering “only true.”

  18. 18.

    Joseph Smith said provocative things like: If there is truth in hell, we must embrace it as well. He was not saying there was truth in hell, but was emphasizing the importance of embracing all truth. Without embracing all truth, he said, we will not be found “true Mormons” (TPJS 316).

    We have no monopoly on truth. But, we have the right to certain things no one else does because of the gift of the Holy Ghost. That is where the word “living” comes in to D&C 1:30. “Living” implies continuous revelation. Everyone on the planet has a right to the Light of Christ, but the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost makes the church alive.

  19. 19.

    Ziff, I’ve wondered about that question, too–would LDS teachings on Christ make something like Knitter’s approach more difficult? The New Testament does have some scriptures similar to the passages in the BoM you mentioned –an oft-cited one is Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” And in John 14:6, you have Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Knitter’s take is that this kind of language shouldn’t be read as an objective statement, but as early Christians expressing their commitment to and profound appreciation of Jesus–kind of like a man saying about his wife, “she’s the most beautiful woman in the world” or “she’s the only one for me.”

    I’m probably not persuaded by this approach to Jesus, though I am intrigued by it. I’m thinking that whether it’s tenable might depend to some extent on what exactly about Jesus you see as salvific. Is it the incarnation itself? Is it his suffering and death? Is it the resurrection? I’m just speculating, but I suspect that if your focus is on the first, there’s more potential room for this sort of approach than if your emphasis on the second or the third.

    However, what really fascinates me is the question Knitter raises about the nature of truth claims, and whether allowing for the possible existence of other truth or revelation inevitably undermines commitment to the truth and revelation that you have, or makes it seem less meaningful or significant. From a social science perspective, I’m familiar with the argument about strict churches being strong. And going back to an issue raised earlier in the thread, is this also the case for churches or religious movements with strongly exclusivist claims–do they inspire a higher level of commitment?

  20. 20.

    Beatrice, I have a hard time too with the “pieces of truth” approach. The take on it I’ve often heard is that we have all the pieces of truth (all the pieces of the puzzle, or all the keys on the piano), while other faiths only have some of them, which means that we can acknowledge that they have some truth while encouraging them to come to us to get the rest of the picture. However, I’m not sure about the idea that we have all the pieces of truth–I think the Ninth Article of Faith, with its assertion that there is stuff for God yet to reveal, casts some doubt on that. And I think one danger in looking for pieces of our truth in other faiths is that we can get so caught up in trying to see parallels that we fail to engage them on their own terms, and instead just see them as less developed versions of ourselves. So I’m very much on board with your suggestion that the pieces that others have might not be the same ones that we do.

    Though having said that, I should probably mention that I’ve also had experiences like annegb’s in which I have been struck by similarities. I’ve more than once had the experience of thinking something was unique to Mormonism, only to encounter something like it elsewhere. (For example, Mike Huckabee advocating chicken patriarchy. ;) ) David Tracy proposes that we make use of an “analogical imagination,” that we see possible points of connection between different faiths as analogous, as similarity-in-difference, without losing hold of either the similarity or the difference. I like that approach.

    Kevin, thanks for bringing up some of the more pluralist strands in the tradition. I really like that scripture in Alma 29 you mention, that says that “the 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.” That kind of thing gives me hope that my pluralist leanings don’t have to be at odds with my Mormonism.

    This is something I’m still sorting out, but I’m not convinced that creeds themselves are inherently problematic. I don’t see that they really do anything that doctrinal formulations in the scriptures (particularly something like the Articles of Faith) don’t do as well. And if the problem is that they get used as a litmus test of orthodoxy and exclude people who don’t subscribe to them, is that any different from the doctrinal questions in the TR interview?

    Tony, I really like that Joseph Smith quote. And I like the image of the “living” church being somehow tied to the Holy Ghost. But I still have some reservations about the idea that the gift of the Holy Ghost is what’s unique about the church. There is certainly no shortage of people outside the church reporting spiritual manifestations of all kinds. The standard explanation I hear is that we have the “gift”, whereas other people only have intermittent, unpredictable access. That would maybe be more plausible to me if my own experience with the Holy Ghost (and that of at least some other Mormons, as far as I can tell) didn’t seem rather . . . unpredictable and intermittent. It also raises the question for me, again, of God not being in communication (or regular communication) with over 99 percent of his children on earth. But bringing this back to some of the questions I’m wondering about in this post, here’s the kind of thing I’m trying to untangle: is what’s crucial to our beliefs the notion that we genuinely have access to the Holy Ghost, or that we have unique access to it? (Or is it both?) And would that gift be cheapened somehow, become less meaningful, if it weren’t exclusive to us?

  21. 21.

    Interesting post. I found this post from another that was titled, “The Middle Way.” I thought that it was going to be a post on Buddhism, i.e. Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) espoused that the path for truth couldn’t be found in the extremes, but on the middle path.

    Anyway, I’m LDS, and see a lot of “truth” in other religions, including Buddhism. Even though many Buddhists themselves don’t consider Buddhism a religion per se.

    Focusing on the thoughts, Only True Church. D&C 1:30 has the Lord’s views on the subject. I don’t think that just because I believe this to be the only true church on the earth, that I believe it currently has all truth, readily available to anyone that wants to look at it.

    2/3rd’s of the Book of Mormon hasn’t even been translated yet, and scriptures (both the Bible and Book of Mormon) speak of other scriptures not currently in our possession.

    I suspect that has something to do with, I’m not really ready to understand everything that Heavenly Father understands. Also, the Holy Ghost is supposed to guide us to all truth, which means that there must be some truths that I still don’t know.

    However, I do believe that God is a God of order. I believe that the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only authority on earth at the moment whereby ordinances that are necessary to receive all of the blessings that our Heavenly Father wants to give us, can be found.

    Ultimately, if I want to know and understand all truth, I will have to go to the source, and if I do so humbly, He will lead me along the path of truth just as fast as I’m ready to travel it.

  22. 22.

    Dan touches on many important points.
    Some of the earlier posts I find funny because they hang on the interpretation of “only true Church,” focusing on “only” and “true,” but not disecting the word “Church” or looking at multiple meanings of “Church.”

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a dynamic, evolving organization inextricably tied to the eternal truths revealed through the Bible and latter-day revelations, as well as priesthood and basic authority infrastructure. The Articles of Faith clearly state dynamic nature of this “church.” Clearly there are many truths yet to be revealed, many that may be present on Earth (and held by those of other faiths) but not yet clearly tied to core Gospel of Salvation principles.

  23. 23.

    I consider myself an Emancipated Mormon. That said (and I’m sure will either qualify or disqualify my opinions and thoughts depending on those judging the responses), I found myself wondering about the bold declarations of nearly every devout LDS person I’ve ever met about the exclusionary TRUTHFULNESS of their one and only true church.

    When I was in the 3rd grade I saw my first globe and had a wonderful teacher that told me that there were (at that time) about 3.5 billion people on earth. I couldn’t comprehend that number so she showed me her hand and said, that the people in the U.S. represented the tip of the littlest finger. If I chewed my fingernail off and cut the clipping into about 10 pieces, that would represent the percentage of Mormons in the world.

    At eight years old this really hit me. If Jesus loves us all how could he possibly exclude such a huge percentage of his brothers and sisters?

    Now the population of the world is nearing 6.5 billion human beings. There’s over 1 billion Muslims, most of those in Indonesia and other Asian countries. According to latest counts (hopefully they’re not trying to count the dead they baptize) the LDS church has about 13 million members.

    In even the grandest schemes of missionary work, opening borders, language unification, etc. the likelihood that the 13 million present mormons (with about a 30% inactivity rate) would have to personally preach to 5,000 , and that’s if they could even get in the door in the next 20 years before the population is predicted to exceed 12 billion people and up the odds even more.

    Even if they could convince them to change their cultural traditions and religious beliefs in order to comply with the LDS lifestyle and doctrine, they’d have a hard time getting them to stick with it. The statistics in S. America and other places are sort of daunting when comparing actual long term conversion rates.

    If the LDS (and you ladies should be on board for this) could out produce the Muslims in offspring they might have a chance to make a dent in the number of heathens and unbelievers out there, but while I’m typing this, the chinese have just added 240 little brown babies to their minnions. They seem even less likely to take on a Western Christian sect, especially one as odd as Mormonism.

    I suppose if you only ever lived in Utah, and only ever went to the LDS church, and only talked to other Mormons you could hang tight onto the belief that the LDS church is the ONLY TRUE church and the only one sanctioned by a loving God, and that God loves Mormons best. Anyone outside that tight little dark box sees the amazing diversity, the beauty in cultural identity, the value of other religions and their legends, their beliefs, and the variety that the world offers and would embrace the many ways human beings seek and create spirituality.

    I for one could never be so arrogant, so short sighted, so exclusive and cold as to suggest that the other 6,498,700,000 children of one or more loving God’s created.

  24. 24.

    whoops, submitted before finishing:
    I was saying that
    I for one could never be so arrogant, so short sighted, so exclusive and cold as to suggest that the other 6,498,700,000 children of one or more loving God’s created would be doomed to the Telestial or Surrealestial or any other kingdom less glorified than the one Mormons will inhabit. That would be like killing myself because I have a hang nail. I clipped the hang nail and the rest got better!!!

  25. 25.

    Dixie,
    You’re amazing! You could see truth at only eight years of age.

  26. 26.

    Reviled, Are you “funnin” me? Few call me amazing till they’ve known my posts for a while, and then it’s a reference to “the length and tedium of your posts are amazing!!!”.

    At eight I was a borderline rebel, bored-er-out-a-line Mcmormon child, and by the time I was 12 I was pretty sure I’d heard everything there was to hear in the Morg.. After that it was the same meal over and over with slightly different spices and new names for the same dishes, but pretty much the same diet over and over. Yes, it got old.

    Jesus seems like a perfectly respectable person and for his various teachings, I revere him. As a personal savior I look in the mirror because that’s where my responsiblity lies, but on those occasions where divine intervention is required, I’d be thrilled if Jesus or someone else stepped up to the plate.

    Unfortunately he’d probably look a lot like Osama Bin Laden and would be stopped at the U.S. borders and waterboarded till he gave up the locations of the bones of the 12 diciples or something. He’d be rotting in Guantanamo while I was waiting for his help, so I guess I’ll have to figure it out for myself till he gets released.

    Thanks for the compliment (if you weren’t being sarcastic).

  27. 27.

    Dixie,
    Wasn’t being sarcastic. The eight year old Dixie seemed to have pretty good eyesight. (And I’ve seen a enough of your posts to speculate……. at eight, you seemed to have a lot of wisdom.)

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