Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

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Beefster
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Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by Beefster » 14 Jan 2018, 12:29

I guess this is sort of a sequel to "Can God really hold us accountable for anything?"

I have been struggling lately with reconciling my feelings on the "one true church" mentality. There are hundreds of thousands of churches/faiths/congregations in this world right now. There are so many conflicting messages with no reliable way of telling which of them are true. Yet D&C describes the TerK as a place for those who lived good lives but were "blinded by the craftiness of men" or they were "not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" and so forth. The CK is basically reserved for those who were active LDS or who converted in the Spirit World after not having had a chance in this life. But what about those who slammed the door on the missionaries? Does that count against them? Where that line gets drawn is something that has bothered me for a very long time. It has led me to believe in near-universalism.

I really don't think God expects us to get it right. But he loves us very dearly and will give us far better than we truly deserve. If you need to do an ordinance, it will be done. If you still need to make a covenant, you'll have the chance. I personally believe that the only people who will be in the TelK are those who refuse to accept Christ's Atonement and those who go to the TerK are simply the ones who were not willing to accept every covenant needed for entry into the CK. I don't think it's about checking the right boxes. Much like how the endowment has things not done anywhere else in the church, I suspect some of the "real" covenants we will make for CK entry will be foreign to us, but God will give us that chance to do those things. There will be people there to help us. It may very well be that all earthly ordinances are just symbolic practice for what really matters in the end.

In the words of Joseph Smith Sr (at least according to Prophet of the Restoration), "I reckon God intends to save more than just a few of us."
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

Roy
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by Roy » 14 Jan 2018, 14:02

Beefster wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 12:29
Where that line gets drawn is something that has bothered me for a very long time. It has led me to believe in near-universalism.
Yes, there are certainly some LDS teachings that can make the case for near universalism.

It seems that the LDS church has a really good message for those that believe that picking the right church will get them into heaven. The days of the "burned over district" of JS's youth where each church said that their parishioners would be saved and all others damned. I believe that in many ways the religious "battlefield" has changed and we are some of the last few fighting the old war.

I mostly now hear phrases from pastors such as, "we do not have a monopoly on truth" or "we may be wrong about [insert doctrinal position about the rapture] and it is ok to be wrong, but that is our doctrinal position." There seems to be a general feeling that Christians attending other denominations are no less saved.

I also hear disparaging comments about "religion" or "doing church" - the hypocrisy, dogmatism, and judgment. I believe that the rising generation is increasingly tired with the old disputes.

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nibbler
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by nibbler » 14 Jan 2018, 14:49

First you've got to convince me that there's a celestial kingdom, terrestrial kingdom, and telestial kingdom and why it's important. Good luck. ;)

My point is that the whole thing kinda falls flat if there's none of these kingdoms. Are we taking all the kingdoms as a given? Why (or why not)? Because Paul or Joseph Smith said so?

I see a lot of this as coming down to cause and effect. Basic religion, if you create a good place for people to go after this life you're creating a bad place in the same thought. If you create the two places you have to come up with all sorts of rules that govern where people end up.

Mormons just believe in a few more places people can go but it produces roughly the same effect, rules governing why people will end up going where they go. Once one of the rules for going to the best good place became membership in the church it had the effect of making people worry about all their loved ones that weren't members of the church. It created endless "what if" scenarios for people that were troubled by the black and white rule that barred otherwise good people from the best good place. Enter more rules. ...well if they weren't members but would have been members, if the spirit proved to them the church was true but they never joined, etc.

It's all Calvinball. Question is... do you feel comfortable enough to make up the rules as you go, just like the people you revere, or are you more comfortable with following other people's rules? It doesn't have to be either or, I'll follow someone else's rule if it's good. It's Calvinball.

Does God really expect us to pick the right church?
Can God really hold us accountable for anything?

Starting to second guess yourself? Like you're at a stage where you're worried that you're making the wrong decision?
The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass.
― Stanisław Lem

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dande48
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by dande48 » 14 Jan 2018, 14:55

I'm leaning towards your line of thinking, Beefster. A few reasons for this:
1. Plenty of people, with the noblest desires to follow God/the gods/what is good, have come to very different conclusions as to what is right. Examples include those who convert from Christianity to Islam, after thoughtful prayer, for example. Also, the evidence seems strongly against any two long-term isolated populations coming to the same religious conclusions. Ancient civilizations have often arrived at very different conclusions as to how "all of existance" came to be, and the will of the gods.

2. Historically, all religions have arrived at some VERY wrong beliefs. We often dismiss those VERY wrong beliefs as "personal opinion", when they were taught as doctrine. Rejection of such teachings for an alternative was met with steep persecution, ranging from exile to death by torture. This includes:
-Earth not being the center of the universe.
-The earth being round.
-Stars being their own suns with their own planets.
-The fact that some animals in "God's Perfect Creation" could go extinct
-The earth being older than 6,000 years
-Evolution
-Lightning
-The origins of disease
-The reality of mental illness
-The divine authority of whatever King rules over you

I really disagree with the assertion that you must "believe the right thing" in order to be saved and get into heaven. Historically, religion has seemed very unreliable as a source of true. Were this true, I think we'd all be damned. Proper religion, I believe, is recognizing you may be wrong, and then being willing to adjust your beliefs as facts unfold.
Last edited by dande48 on 15 Jan 2018, 09:51, edited 1 time in total.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Jan 2018, 18:57

It's complex. I think God is in a bit of a hard place. He obviously has problems telling everyone there is 1 true church. he lets the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhits, the Baptists, the Catholics teach people, develop doctrine and expand. He sends his Spirit to all of them. Some of them claim the only true church concept....which can't all be right, but he blesses them anyway with spiritual experiences. I had a powerful one in a Catholic church in Quebec, Canada years ago. To this day I don't know what it meant. I was investigating the church at the time too (Mormon).

My philosophy is that he sends his spirit to people about general goodness and then let's them decide. I think he'll honor the good in our lives, regardless of which church we are in. Whether you get a massive dose of the spirit depends on whether a particular church is right for you at a given time, or its sum total in your life is good. And of course, there is room for people to screw it up by turning terrorist or fanatic if they want. And He lets them interpret their spiritual experiences as they see fit.

I think it was right for me to join the LDS church for the first couple decades of it. it landed me in a good profession, kept me from fathering illegitimate children, helped me raise a daughter who loves the church, and provided stability for my children. But it's stopped working for me about six years ago. But even then, it sort of keeps me from infidelity, alcohol and other things I seem to want to turn to at different times in my life. The net is a positive so far, so, knowing this 30 years ago, he said "sure, you keep bugging me about whether this is all true, so I'll give you the go-ahead spiritually". And so I went.

In the end, I expect it to matter much less than the die-hards at church lead us to believe.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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AmyJ
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by AmyJ » 15 Jan 2018, 09:02

SilentDawning wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 18:57
It's complex. I think God is in a bit of a hard place. He obviously has problems telling everyone there is 1 true church. he lets the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhits, the Baptists, the Catholics teach people, develop doctrine and expand. He sends his Spirit to all of them. Some of them claim the only true church concept....which can't all be right, but he blesses them anyway with spiritual experiences. I had a powerful one in a Catholic church in Quebec, Canada years ago. To this day I don't know what it meant. I was investigating the church at the time too (Mormon).

My philosophy is that he sends his spirit to people about general goodness and then let's them decide. I think he'll honor the good in our lives, regardless of which church we are in. Whether you get a massive dose of the spirit depends on whether a particular church is right for you at a given time, or its sum total in your life is good. And of course, there is room for people to screw it up by turning terrorist or fanatic if they want. And He lets them interpret their spiritual experiences as they see fit.

I think it was right for me to join the LDS church for the first couple decades of it. it landed me in a good profession, kept me from fathering illegitimate children, helped me raise a daughter who loves the church, and provided stability for my children. But it's stopped working for me about six years ago. But even then, it sort of keeps me from infidelity, alcohol and other things I seem to want to turn to at different times in my life. The net is a positive so far, so, knowing this 30 years ago, he said "sure, you keep bugging me about whether this is all true, so I'll give you the go-ahead spiritually". And so I went.

In the end, I expect it to matter much less than the die-hards at church lead us to believe.
My current thinking is it matters more why you follow principles of the religion, and how you choose to reach out to God rather than the institutions and it's rules/customs/culture. I think a spiritual developmental step is learning to identify when rules/customs/culture of a specific religion do not work for you and managing the compromises/choices to "trade up" or "trade sideways" with that knowledge.
This season my life theme is "Loving God" and "Loving Others" - the 2 great commandments. I don't know how to show God love authentically right now - but I do know I can listen for promptings from Him. I can think about how I define God and why - and see if there are indications/inspiration within my life that my narrative is ready for updating. Since I believe there is a spirit of God within me, I can learn to identify how that interacts in my life and try to make the best personal choices possible. I have lots of work to do in loving others - my husband and my daughter are giving me lots of practice in loving them when their actions do not make it easy for me to do so. I can help others more than I do without by accident contaminate them with my divergent beliefs.

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SamBee
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by SamBee » 15 Jan 2018, 09:18

For the record, I don't think all paths lead to God or that all religions are true, but I certainly find bits of truth in Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism etc

You can see my thoughts on this by the quote in my signature.

I say not all religions because there are some which are blatantly abusive in ways more cynical than ours. Some like Westboro Baptist Church have clearly fallen into false doctrine or unhealthy fixations.

I like other churches, but I've found a lot of the bigger ones are either too bound up in unnecessary tradition (Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Copts etc), becoming too vague and hemmorhaging younger membership (Methodists, Anglicans, many Presbyterians), are too frivolous & money grubbing (Pentecostal, televangelists etc)... in some Protestant churches, the meeting can sink or swim on the quality of the clergy.

But what do I miss from other churches? The peace and radicalism of the Quakers. The meditation of the Buddhists. The Christian service of the Salvation Army. The principled stand of the JWs against militarism and statism. The music & art of the RCs and Orthodox (minus the gory stuff). The beauty of Sufism. The relaxed nature of certain churches on clothing. And I could go on...
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Jan 2018, 18:30

Yes, I think God does - for each of us to find whatever religious/spiritual path works best for us, including churches/ religions.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Rebel
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by Rebel » 26 Jan 2018, 08:05

:| I for one do not worry about picking the right or "true church" no such thing I believe God speaks to his children in a way they will hear I.e. catholic, Baptist, Mormon. With some minor tweaks when we arrive in heaven so long as we live a good life try to follow Jesus , serve and be served we will have done our best !!! Just my take and its much easier to swallow for me.

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LookingHard
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Re: Does God really expect us to pick the right church?

Post by LookingHard » 26 Jan 2018, 08:07

Rebel wrote:
26 Jan 2018, 08:05
:| I for one do not worry about picking the right or "true church" no such thing I believe God speaks to his children in a way they will hear I.e. catholic, Baptist, Mormon. With some minor tweaks when we arrive in heaven so long as we live a good life try to follow Jesus , serve and be served we will have done our best !!! Just my take and its much easier to swallow for me.
I think many people feel this way and that is why they are not even looking for "the ONE true church". Since my faith crisis I too am just not that obsessed about it and feel like I know if there is a God and he can read my mind - he will know what kind of person I am and I don't have to worry.

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