Only one path to God

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

Post by Roy » 04 Nov 2014, 17:16

There is a quote that I believe is pertinent here.
"All roads do not lead to heaven. But our Father will traverse any road to find his children and bring them home."
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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cwald
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by cwald » 04 Nov 2014, 19:12

The concept that the church has a monopoly on the "one true pathway" is the biggest stumbling block holding back the church today.

I believe if the church could get away from this ONE concept, they would grow in leaps and bounds. I believe people would flock to church.
  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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SunbeltRed
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by SunbeltRed » 05 Nov 2014, 07:12

cwald wrote:The concept that the church has a monopoly on the "one true pathway" is the biggest stumbling block holding back the church today.

I believe if the church could get away from this ONE concept, they would grow in leaps and bounds. I believe people would flock to church.
Theoretically I feel this is true (I like the idea of a big big tent), but I just wonder how it would play out in practical terms. I don't think you could move from the claim of having the only authorized power to act in God's name on the earth (I still remember often hearing the story of one of the past apostles on being ordained a Deacon, "I have more power in my pinky than all other religions combined" or something to that effect) to saying, we have some of it, and other religions can get you there as well. There would be a huge stampede to the exits I think. In addition, the amount of time, money, resources given is because people are true believers, if you open up the idea that you don't need to do all those things (or you could go somewhere else less demanding and be ok) I think the church would have a big problem (not to mention the missionary program).

As John Dehlin likes to ask, if anyone can propose anything that won't decrease membership and tithing let's hear it.

Cwald, I hope you don't see me as being dismissive of your idea. I personally would like things to be the way you suggest, but I just wonder how that would play out from a top of the house view. It would require a huge cultural change that might span a few generations.

-SBRed

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Heber13
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 05 Nov 2014, 10:43

SunbeltRed wrote:...I just wonder how it would play out in practical terms. I don't think you could move from the claim of having the only authorized power to act in God's name on the earth... to saying, we have some of it, and other religions can get you there as well.
Don't we kind of, in different ways, teach this message, though?

We have authority...so if people have temple work done for them...other religions can get them there, and they will have all blessings available if they accept them?

And to add to that, we also teach continuous revelation...meaning we have "some of it" but not yet all because more revelation can reveal more at any time. The heavens aren't closed, we have greater light and knowledge to further correct teachings and principles?

With those two things...we kind of teach that message, just framed carefully so there aren't the mass exits. But the principles are there.
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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SunbeltRed
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by SunbeltRed » 05 Nov 2014, 12:24

Heber13 wrote:
SunbeltRed wrote:...I just wonder how it would play out in practical terms. I don't think you could move from the claim of having the only authorized power to act in God's name on the earth... to saying, we have some of it, and other religions can get you there as well.
Don't we kind of, in different ways, teach this message, though?

We have authority...so if people have temple work done for them...other religions can get them there, and they will have all blessings available if they accept them?

And to add to that, we also teach continuous revelation...meaning we have "some of it" but not yet all because more revelation can reveal more at any time. The heavens aren't closed, we have greater light and knowledge to further correct teachings and principles?

With those two things...we kind of teach that message, just framed carefully so there aren't the mass exits. But the principles are there.
I get your point, but we certainly don't frame it in that way. Oh we say that if someone is a good person in another faith and in the next life they accept OUR baptism with OUR authority then they could receive exaltation. But if you had a chance to hear it in this life and you rejected it, your chance at exaltation is gone. If you were a part of the church and no longer a part of it you better repent and come back to our church or you are done.

Perhaps that is more a cultural norm than a doctrinal one? As an overzealous missionary I know we felt like we wanted to dust our feet on everybody who rejected our glad message (how glad can it be when you want to damn everybody?).

It is a cultural and doctrinal idea that I can no longer have faith in. If it is doctrinal that anyone who has an opportunity to hear the gospel and rejects it has forgone their chance, I see it as my moral duty to keep my mouth shut. I'm more than happy to take the heat post-mortality.

-SBRed

dash1730
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by dash1730 » 05 Nov 2014, 13:00

The metaphor I best like when discussing the one path vs. many, is that of the Liahona. I like thinking it worked much like a compass that points to where you need to go, regardless of where you might be at any given time. That allows you to walk around a mountain, desert or lake rather than following some undeviating path. If traveling by boat or airplane you may be blown far off course, but as soon as the storm has passed you can continue safely. There is no need to weather a hurricane or tornado.

IMO, this perspective allows hope for every man, woman and child whether Mormon, Christian, Muslim, or atheist to each make whatever progress they can. Until they have the opportunity for the "fullness" of the gospel, with all the essential ordinances, they can worship the God or at least the good as best they can, and serve their fellow man. I believe in a singular goal, to be more like God. As for a straight jacket of narrow dogmas and performances, not so much

BH Roberts concluded
The prophetic mantle guarantees no consistent success
The Church has no monopoly on divine license
Mormonism has no exclusive ability to save
Organized religion is insufficient to save. We must work out our own salvation.
Mortality is for us to freely and without fetters choose our values.

James E. Faust:
The First Presidency stated in 1978, we believe that “the great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

Joseph Smith commented about peoples of various world cultures. He said:
(God) will judge them, "not according to what they have not, but according to what they have."

J. Reuben Clark
I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can; and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come (J. Reuben Clark, Church News, week ending 23 April 1960, p. 3)
I may not walk the straight and narrow, but I try to cross it as often as I can.
---J Golden Kimball

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Heber13
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 05 Nov 2014, 14:25

SunbeltRed wrote:Perhaps that is more a cultural norm than a doctrinal one?
That is exactly how I see it SBR. And by trying to filter through cultural and doctrinal definitions, I find it is less limiting. I can disagree with a tradition of our fathers, or a wide-held belief, or a unpopular stance. When I see things are not doctrinal in nature, I allow myself to stay in confidence that I'm not going against my religion. I'm just understanding it better, from my point of view.

I agree with many of your statements as those are how I will mostly hear it from people at church on Sunday, or missionaries like I was at age 19. That doesn't make it right. And that doesn't mean I have to believe it. And that doesn't mean I have to leave the church.

You made a great point...
SunbeltRed wrote: Oh we say that if someone is a good person in another faith and in the next life they accept OUR baptism with OUR authority then they could receive exaltation.
That is exactly been my experience when I push faithful members to explain "our good neighbors outside the church". Or if I have an intimate one on one discussion with a church leader, most loving members would feel this is the fair doctrine our church teaches.

But they feel a need to emphasize the urgency to be a mormon now through baptism, and do not take a more enlightened inclusive approach of all people will have their chance.

I don't know how anyone but God could make this judgment:
SunbeltRed wrote:But if you had a chance to hear it in this life and you rejected it, your chance at exaltation is gone.
So, I leave that to God, and I focus on my path. It doesn't matter to me if others think others are on a wrong path. It doesn't make it right or wrong, it is just how they see it. And it impacts me none. So, I continue to believe in many paths, as I define it. I believe that is doctrinal, even if difficult to express to others, and frankly, I don't find a need to express it, unless others are struggling with the idea and I can share what I believe to help them feel less angst.

But the doctrines have opened the door for me to believe how I do...there are multiple paths, and proxy work and things that "get worked out in the next life" are accepted by faithful members of the church. Even if they are scared of saying it.
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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Heber13
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Heber13 » 05 Nov 2014, 14:33

dash1730 wrote:The metaphor I best like when discussing the one path vs. many, is that of the Liahona.
I agree, dash.

And if anyone hasn't read Richard Pollman's talk on "What the Church Means to People Like Me", I highly suggest the read.

Link: What the Church Means to People Like Me
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."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Nov 2014, 16:17

I get your point, but we certainly don't frame it in that way. Oh we say that if someone is a good person in another faith and in the next life they accept OUR baptism with OUR authority then they could receive exaltation. But if you had a chance to hear it in this life and you rejected it, your chance at exaltation is gone. If you were a part of the church and no longer a part of it you better repent and come back to our church or you are done.


If "we" is the general church membership, you are correct - and I understand completely why that is and don't condemn or ridicule anyone for seeing it that way. However, it simply isn't part of our actual theology (framed as you worded it), and I also simply leave that in the hands of the only person / being in our theology who will make that final judgment. (and I see the final judgment very differently than most members, anyway) Our Article of Faith about worship and conscience is my basic standard, and I believe deeply it applies to ALL (wo)men EVERYWHERE, including those who are active in the LDS Church, those who are inactive, those who don't listen to members and missionaries, those who leave the LDS Church, etc. just as much as to those who never hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have no freaking clue how anyone's actions will be judged in the end, since we have no freaking clue exactly why they made those decisions. Leaving it to God to take care of his children is one of my core beliefs, and I am convinced it is solidly within our theology - even if many members see it differently.
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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LookingHard
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Re: Only one path to God

Post by LookingHard » 05 Nov 2014, 17:02

Heber13 wrote:And if anyone hasn't read Richard Pollman's talk on "What the Church Means to People Like Me", I highly suggest the read.
Link: What the Church Means to People Like Me
I love that talk. When it came on the mormondiscussion podcast, it was perfect timing for me and really helped me quite a bit.

Then I got pissed again when I heard that some conference talks took a near direct dig at the whole metaphor. But I have calmed down again ;)

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