Having grown up in the Church, it is astounding to me the murmurs I’ve seen and heard more and more the last few years from other members. “I don’t think it is okay to say we are the only true church,” they say in some variation or another – louder and louder. I have been meaning to write about this topic for some time more in-depth, having already touched on it in one of my first posts last year. Then a popular employee at BYU composed a tweet this week:
I like Hank, and I don’t believe he is using the same tone I’ve seen from more progressive members and others who are more antagonistic toward the Church. However, in my opinion, it displays the same misunderstandings the majority have regarding the Plan of Salvation. Over 2000 people liking the tweet (a viral amount in Latter-day Saint twitter) is proof of the wide swaths of members who have little clue as to our own doctrine.
I’ll never forget listening to President Hinckley teach over and over the wonderful words, “bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.” He said it to a national audience on Larry King Live and repeated it on numerous occasions at devotionals all over the world. My friend had the same exact thought when he replied to Hank’s tweet. President Hinckley’s words were inspiring and they built bridges with other faiths as ours entered a time of substantial growth. But his words were even more profound than I think most of us realize.
What if I were to tell you that every Christian Church was true? You’d probably think I was now a believer in Hippie Jesus. Now, I don’t like it when people tell me what I believe, but here are some generalizations:
If you a practicing Baptist or Methodist, Lutheran or Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist, what is your ultimate goal? Let’s pair it down and cut to the chase: they want to live with Jesus, tarry during the Millennium, and avoid hell, if all possible. According to Latter-day Saint doctrine, a person who faithfully practices their beliefs will accomplish all these things. Hell is reserved for those who live a Telestial Law; in other words, for those who don’t follow the lowest law: the Ten Commandments. Every Christian denomination helps souls obey the precepts of the Terrestrial law.
Will persons of other denominations tarry during the Millennium? Yes. From Gospel Principles:
Will those of other faiths be with Jesus? The answer, again, is yes. He presides over the Terrestrial Kingdom, the same glory the Earth will transform into during the Millennium.
We can find common ground with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have yet to accept the fullness of the Gospel. They are on the path to the glory they currently seek, the only glory they know about. We all as Christians believe in the grace of our Savior, and only through Him can we be redeemed. “Bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.”
From their faithful obedience to the commandments and a willingness to repent, all they need to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom is to make covenants and receive baptism through Priesthood authority. They would qualify for the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom by making and keeping temple covenants, with the promise of an eternal family. This is something they can’t even imagine with their current doctrine. “Bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.”
It is possible, with a correct understanding of the Plan of Salvation, to share common ground with fellow Christians while not undermining the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does, in fact, have the fullness of the Gospel. Through living oracles, we have access to the complete truth. Jesus taught,
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.John 17:3
We know through the restoration that eternal life refers to the Celestial Kingdom. One of the profound truths we have access to is the ability to know the one true God. When Joseph saw God the Father in the grove of trees and heard Him utter, “Hear Him!” the opportunity for us to know Him was forever unlocked for us, if we but earnestly seek Him out. “Bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.”
Interestingly enough, many of those who cringe at the ultimate truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same who dismiss the teachings of the Old Testament as “outdated.” It’s ironic because they’re allowing those in other faiths to continue keeping a lower law while the Church of Christ is here teaching the higher law with the promise of greater blessings. These people would have rejected Christ, stating they already had enough with the law by itself. “Bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.”
Last April, President Russell M. Nelson spoke forcefully to those resistant to making baptismal covenants, “In this life, you have never settled for second best in anything. Yet, as you resist fully embracing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you are choosing to settle for second best.” The prophet’s words stand as a strong repudiation to any who disparage in any way the ultimate truth the Church holds. “Bring all the good that you have and let us add to it.”
The Church of Jesus Christ is restored. We have living prophets. The priesthood resides with us. The ability to know God, His Son, Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Plan of Salvation is at our disposal. It is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”