Only one path to God

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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Orson
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Only one path to God

Post by Orson » 08 Aug 2014, 13:49

An accusation has come to my attention that we (staylds among other "liberal" LDS forums) teach or promote the idea that there are many paths to God, so I wanted to give my own opinion on the topic - but first the disclaimer that what I think we really focus on here is an attitude of "discover God for yourself." It doesn't do any good to say "this is the way I've been taught to seek and see God, this is also what you need to do and if you can't open a clear line of communication then you need to keep trying harder but don't change any part of the method." I think we all here take very seriously the counsel to "find out for yourself" and maybe even add "in the way that works for yourself."

As we all have individual opinions and personal interpretations/understandings of gospel topics, it is to be expected that we may see things our own way in some respects. While I would agree that everyone needs to discover the path to God that resonates with the most power in their souls, I don't believe all those individual paths are necessarily "different" paths. I absolutely don't believe ALL paths lead to God, at least not directly. I don't believe the path of a tyrant or serial killer is leading anywhere close to God. I don't believe self-absorption leads to God, I don't believe fanaticism leads to God. I do believe there is basically one path to God (even if 100 people will call the path 100 different names), and that path is defined in our scriptures, with some the most notable sections being:

Moroni 7
Matthew 5
D&C 121 (emphasis on v. 36 to end)

The path to God is to become intimately familiar with the nature and power of God. To know God is to love God, to love God is to come to know him. There is ultimately only one path to God, and I believe even my atheist friends can grasp it to some degree:
If ye love me keep my commandments
The greatest commandment: Love God, Love your fellow men
By this shall men know ye are my disciples
Love even your enemies that ye may be the children of your Father...
I believe agency is absolutely essential to the Father's plan, and through our exercise of agency we may come to know of our own experience that Love is the law, and Love is the way. I wouldn't say "all you need is love" because I don't believe true Godly love is that simple. To truly love is to impart your soul, the deepest sense of the word is a profoundly divine act which encompasses all righteousness.

I disagree with the statement: "All paths lead to God" ...and when we feel the desire to simplify the views of our brothers we are not loving them.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Aug 2014, 14:12

Our temple theology validates the idea that (almost) everyone will be saved in a kingdom of glory and that there are NO objective ways for us to determine who will be exalted and who won't be. We do vicarious ordinances to prove that we believe God can save and exalt anyone, since God alone knows the human heart perfectly (completely, wholly).

Thus, while I do NOT believe that all roads lead to Heaven, I DO believe that human life leads almost everyone to divine glory and that people can walk innumerable paths in this life and be exalted. I believe deeply that anything else is in opposition to the Plan of Salvation as contained within our theology and that our current understanding of the temple teaches that concept unequivocally.

I also believe that anyone who thinks we here at StayLDS.com, collectively, believe anything other than the pure Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ when it comes to this issue simply doesn't understand what we believe and is assuming things we don't believe. There are exceptions among us (those who are atheistic in nature, for example), but, as a whole, I believe we are solidly in line with the official theology of the LDS Church in this case.
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

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cwald
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by cwald » 08 Aug 2014, 14:13

I absolutely believe, teach and promote that there are many pathways to the gods.

I do not believe, teach or promote that all pathways lead to God.

I also agree with your (Orson) atheists' concept of the gospel principles/nature of God.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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mercyngrace
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by mercyngrace » 08 Aug 2014, 15:15

MnG: Do not try and find the right path. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
MnG: There is only one path.
Neo: There is only one path?
MnG: Then you'll see, that it is never the path that is wrong, it is only one's direction.
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by bridget_night » 09 Aug 2014, 09:02

I was taught to believe: John 14:6New King James Version (NKJV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
This said, I was also taught in the lds church that people of all faiths can recieve salvation through Christ, but exhaltation to the highest degree in the celestial kingdom only comes through temple ordiances (and living righteously to the best of your ability and the atonement takes care of the rest.) In the lds church I was taught that the goal was to become like God and eternal life is to know Him.

When I was on my mission, I met some investigators who believed in reincarnation. They told me that they too believed that the goal was to become like God and that you would be reincarnated as many times as necessary until you achieve godhood. This meant that accepting Jesus Christ was not necessary, nor His atonement for man. It actually reminded me of the plan Lucifer presented in the pre-existance; that he would make sure all would be saved by taking away man's free-agency. Non-Christian religions show other paths to their gods.

I have no perfect knowledge which path is absolutely correct, but I do know where my hope lies: 1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". I hope and try to follow Christ and hope that it will lead me to becoming like God. 1 John 3:2 KJV
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

I was reading a discussion between Billy Graham and Robert Schuller not too long ago. Schuller was asking Graham about the future of Chrisitianity. Graham said that he had met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations who have never seen a Bible or heard about Jesus, but they believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they tried to live a life quite apart from the surrounding coummunity in which they lived. He also said that he believed that God was calling people out of the world to do His work, whether they come from the Muslim or Buddist or Christian or nonbelieving world. That God considers them members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light that they have and I think they are saved and going to be in heaven with us. Schuller then says: What I hear you saying is that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and souls and lives, even if they 've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible.

This reinforces in me that people want to believe in a just and merciful God who wants to save all His children, no matter what path they are on right now. That is how any earthly good parent would be.

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Rsbenson » 03 Nov 2014, 10:28

Ray:
You said, “We do vicarious ordinances to prove that we believe God can save and exalt anyone”.
Yes God can do that but who doesn’t believe that? Many people have been baptized and still leave the Church. For people who are outside the Church, to them, many babies have gone to hell for all eternity because they weren’t baptized. Those people are baptized because Jesus said that ordinance is absolutely essential. Mormons need to be aware of that truth:

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. (3Nephi 27:19)
And remember that ‘his kingdom’ (referring to the Father) in that verse refers to Telestial through Exaltation in the Celestial kingdom. (see D&C 76:40-44)

40 And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—
41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;
42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;
43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.
44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—

Consider the 4th article of faith. The first ordinance of the Church is baptism:

“baptism by immersion for the remission of sins”. Without this object called ‘the remission of sins’ you can’t be cleansed from your sins. You will be ‘filthy still’ when coming before the judgement

“they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels” (2Nephi 9:16)

I told this to a high priests group once and they said that there must be another way to cleanse them. I think of two words for that one – sacrilege and blasphemy. I would think that the Father has made it clear that there is one name associated with our salvation and no other ordinance is ever mentioned in connection with it.

You said:
“Thus, while I do NOT believe that all roads lead to Heaven, I DO believe that human life leads almost everyone to divine glory and that people can walk innumerable paths in this life and be exalted.”

OK, as long as those people walking all those other paths finally end up on the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life, I can go along with that.

33 And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he said unto his disciples: Enter the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work. (3Nephi 27)

All the other ways are dangerous. According to what Nephi saw, getting more than an arms length from the iron rod is significantly dangerous. All the other ways you seem to be referring to sound like those other people could be using them as excuses to get off the narrow path. Don’t fall for it.

I hope your final paragraph is, indeed, true.

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Nov 2014, 12:25

Thanks for bringing up the topic, Orson. At times I am reluctant to mention StayLDS because I realize some people have misperceptions of what we do here. I can understand why that it is, but in the end they are misperceptions. A common misperception is that we teach people to make the church or gospel the way they want it to be as opposed to the way it is. The fact is we encourage people to come to their own understandings, which may or may not be different from the mainstream of Mormonism. I think you bring up a good example.

That said, my two cents worth is that I perceive that most of us here understand that the path is strait (difficult) as opposed to straight (direct). It is a journey we all take together while alone, each of us is of necessity in a different place (no two can occupy exactly the same space). I believe God understands our individual differences and allows them - but that doesn't mean we can't be on the same path. I believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, but like a lighthouse this light of mercy can be seen from many directions and from great distances. Not all paths lead there, but many do.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Nov 2014, 16:44

Rsbenson, just to say it very clearly, you don't need to lecture people here about the scriptures or assume for some reason we don't understand the Church's teachings. Not to boast in any way, seriously, but just to make the point, I've served in just about every local calling imaginable and taught both Seminary and Institute. I also have taken Divinity School Comparative Religion classes. I have a pretty good understanding of the scriptures and Mormon theology.

I understand, to a degree, based on your comments, your motivation for being here, and I wold love to have you continue to add your perspective (and I mean that sincerely), but please don't do so from the position of trying to teach us. Do it simply as an expression of your own view. That is how we operate here - sharing views, not trying to teach or establish an orthodoxy. We all know the orthodox positions; this forum is to share struggles and perspectives in an attempt to "stayLDS".
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

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 03 Nov 2014, 17:38

Roads, paths, gates, iron rods, mists of darkness, "only through Christ" ... what do any of these really mean? They're all allegorical to try to teach us. Finding what they mean in our journey is what it is all about.

"There is only one path" - could be true...if you explain what path you're talking about.
"All paths lead to God" could be true if you explain what you're talking about.
"There is no path that leads to God" could be true if you explain what you're talking about (for example, the literal interpreter that is looking for a mountain path to climb to heaven...there is no literal path that goes to God).

That is why it is good to listen to what others are saying before starting to determine what is gospel and what is false.

I like Elder Oaks lessons:
Referring to the “state” of the wicked in the Final Judgment, Alma explains that if we are condemned by our words, our works, and our thoughts, “we shall not be found spotless; … and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God” (Alma 12:14).

From such teachings we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.
...
We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ.
- Elder Dallin H Oaks, The Challenge to Become, General Conference Oct 2000
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Rsbenson » 03 Nov 2014, 17:56

I’ll try but that will be difficult. I’ve fought Mormons for forty years now. Sometimes I think they’ve never seen a verse of scripture. The ones I’ve dealt might have read them but it’s like they have never invoked a thought process. I think I’ll deal a little more with your doctrine section. That's mainly church, though. Blogging can be challenging.

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