Only one path to God

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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LookingHard
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by LookingHard » 04 Nov 2014, 09:48

Nice analogy Dark. And a lighthouse that is on a very small island is seen for 360 degrees (lets just stay in 2 dimensions or the math gets more complex :-) ).

And it there is 1 path for everyone, how do we explain that each of us have to overcome different obstacles? I think we each have our OWN path that was made for us. I struggle a bit with reconciling "narrow is the way" in that analogy. Maybe that we each have weaknesses that if we indulge in we are at risk of falling off our path.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Nov 2014, 10:16

LookingHard wrote:Nice analogy Dark. And a lighthouse that is on a very small island is seen for 360 degrees (lets just stay in 2 dimensions or the math gets more complex :-) ).

And it there is 1 path for everyone, how do we explain that each of us have to overcome different obstacles? I think we each have our OWN path that was made for us. I struggle a bit with reconciling "narrow is the way" in that analogy. Maybe that we each have weaknesses that if we indulge in we are at risk of falling off our path.
If we don't follow the path or we're off course, we're not going to reach the harbor. In that way it is narrow. I think that's where the lower lights come in. It could well be that as we get closer the path allows for less leeway.

This same analogy can be made with aircraft approaching an airport.
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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Heber13
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 04 Nov 2014, 10:51

I like both your responses, DJ and LH.

Yes, the lighthouse works as an analogy, even if we know there is literally no lighthouse we're discussing. We may be coming from different places in this world, and the Utah perspective may or may not be the perfect fit for us to model our lives from. If not, the principles should be right and we adapt it slightly to our situation, our own personal path, while trying to live the straight and narrow.

I frequently sense a tension between two sides on this topic. The one side is that there is one true church, one path, it is narrow and there is safety by holding on to the iron rod, flexibility is weakness and justification. Obedience is stalwart and honorable. This feels inconsistent to some who have experienced life and are not feeling safe on the path, and sometimes disappointed greatly, sometimes by others pushing and shoving on the path.

The other is personal, there is no one path, but we all can decide what is right for us. The Liahona directs our path, not a path that directs our feet, and it values personal experience to guide us, wherever those currents take us, we just need the right currents and let ourselves be led. Strict guidelines might work for the majority, but what about those on the fringes? This feels inconsistent to some who have experienced the safety of obedience to avoid pitfalls others (prophets and wise leaders) know generally happen to people who stray from a program (the one path) designed to lead to best results. From their perspective, to say there is not "one way" is to say nothing matters at all.

Perhaps the discussion on the lighthouse can be taken to the next level...to suggest that there are rocks under the water, or reefs, that we can't see. While you can see the lighthouse from all directions...some paths are safe, some are perilous.

The Church is like a map, letting you know that wherever you are, once you see the lighthouse and know where you are...then you can look on the map to find where the rocks are, and which paths are safe to get to the destination and which are not. Those who trust that map that shows one way, they won't want to risk checking for other paths, it is too risky. Better to change our course and get in line with the other boats following the safe passage rather than discover for ourselves where the rocks are, which, when we hit them...it is too late.

I guess before I share how i think through this...I'd rather hear how others respond. If the person sitting next to me in church believes literally in one path or one map, and that is safe for them, can I understand them and what they are saying from their point of view? Why do I feel different?

...my questions has been...Is it me, or the map, that's creating my problems I'm having?
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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nibbler
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by nibbler » 04 Nov 2014, 11:17

Perhaps your keel sits further down into the water than the keels of most other boats. Perhaps it sits down far enough to run aground when navigating the path that is delineated on the map. Perhaps your boat is wider than the average boat and is is too wide to thread the needle between two reefs as indicated by the map. Perhaps the map is out of date and sandbars have shifted locations.

Let's say you know the depth of the water at each stage of the path and you know the depth of your keel. Let's say you know the distance between the two reefs along the path and you know the width of your boat. Let's say it becomes clear to you that your boat cannot safely travel the path. In that scenario the risk of blazing your own trail is less than the risk of following the path.

The map may be accurate and it may be useful for most boats but your boat is unique.
It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better.
– Tony Stark

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nibbler
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by nibbler » 04 Nov 2014, 11:22

Heber13 wrote:If the person sitting next to me in church believes literally in one path or one map, and that is safe for them, can I understand them and what they are saying from their point of view? Why do I feel different?
Their unique path may need to be "the one path" if only to give them the requisite amount of confidence to move forward. It's still their path.
It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better.
– Tony Stark

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Heber13
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 04 Nov 2014, 11:23

nibbler wrote:The map may be accurate and it may be useful for most boats but your boat is unique.
:clap:

Who else has thoughts on this? especially how it relates to how others at church may respond or how they would react to your response?
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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nibbler
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by nibbler » 04 Nov 2014, 11:43

The reaction? And maybe I need to be reeled back into the boat based on earlier comments...

What is the one path? How would most define it?
1) Faith in Jesus Christ
2) Repentance
3) Baptism by immersion
4) Receive the gift of the holy ghost
5) Endure to the end

Maybe some additional allowances for other required ordinances. The argument is that everyone must go through this process but it's interesting that some of the things mentioned in that list don't really get into too many specifics, especially that last one. Everyone has to endure to the end in their own unique way. Is enduring to the end the one path we are talking about or is it the other things on the list? Or is it something else entirely?
It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better.
– Tony Stark

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DarkJedi
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by DarkJedi » 04 Nov 2014, 12:22

This is of course all symbolic. I like the idea of a ship with a deeper keel, and the rocks and sandbars, etc. Also, a large container ship or tanker is bigger and harder to maneuver than a lobster boat. Some of us could be tankers while some of us are fishing boats. The course we take could be narrower or wider depending on our vessel. While the fishing boat may be able to go one way - narrow to it - the tanker must take another route which is relatively narrow to it. We may be using the same map (another possibility for a path or way) but have to use a slightly different route because of our uniqueness.

I guess I reconcile the difference in the "hold to the rod" types the same way I reconcile all differences in belief at church - they just believe differently than I do, it doesn't mean either of us are wrong. They may, for whatever reason, need to believe in a narrow, strict, unbending course, sort of like those that need to believe God helps them find their car keys. My faith, such as it is, is not dependent on God finding car keys for me.

I do agree with Nibbler - in the end the one way is Jesus the Christ, but I think that can be very broadly interpreted and includes generous grace and mercy.

Finally, we tend to be the ones that create problems for ourselves - almost universally.
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."

My Introduction

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by SunbeltRed » 04 Nov 2014, 15:05

Interesting timing,

I have been thinking about this a lot over the last week. I like all the analogies, and I really believe that there are many paths. There is a fair amount of data which suggests that the religion people grew up in is the religion people stay with. If we truly believe in a loving Heavenly Father, and people are born into all kinds of different religions and belief systems, there must be many paths. Perhaps, as DJ suggests it will narrow at the end (I have no idea what will happen post-mortality), but what if we are wrong and the true religion is Buddhism (would we be willing to accept that)?

But on the topic of what Nibbler posted:
nibbler wrote:The reaction? And maybe I need to be reeled back into the boat based on earlier comments...

What is the one path? How would most define it?
1) Faith in Jesus Christ
2) Repentance
3) Baptism by immersion
4) Receive the gift of the holy ghost
5) Endure to the end

Maybe some additional allowances for other required ordinances. The argument is that everyone must go through this process but it's interesting that some of the things mentioned in that list don't really get into too many specifics, especially that last one. Everyone has to endure to the end in their own unique way. Is enduring to the end the one path we are talking about or is it the other things on the list? Or is it something else entirely?
I have thought about this list, and I have come to a different view of endure to the end. In the past I have interpreted this as obeying all the commandments; never drink, do everything perfect until the last day of mortality, etc.... But all those steps outlined above are about having faith, and I have to come to think of enduring to the end as having faith (hope) that you are doing what you can to progress and that your efforts will be rewarded in the next life (whatever that might be like).

IMHO, I don't think it has anything to do with following any rules or creeds or going to church. I think it has to do with our faith and our belief enduring to the end.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by SilentDawning » 04 Nov 2014, 15:57

Ray DeGraw wrote: 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 had a similar thought when I saw orson's post. With the diversity of humanity, if there is only one path to God, it's going to have to be wider than the Mississippi to touch everybody. The straight gate doesn't work for me anymore.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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