Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

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intothelight
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Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by intothelight » 17 Jul 2014, 23:56

I've wondered this a lot lately. I guess the fundamental premise behind most religions is that they can bring us to God. And most religions use ordinances or something else to attempt to assert their authority that they are the one and only end. That they are the only one that can mediate between you and God.

Certainly, the church indicates very audibly that it is the one and only way to God. I guess it acknowledges you can get part of the way there, but that you'll never really be at one with God until you let it bring you to it. But, the church isn't unique in this regard. Pretty much every religion is that way.

I've thought for some time now that in the end, what religion you are in and what church you go to will not really matter in the end. I mean, maybe it will matter, but it won't be one of the most important things. That what will matter is what kind of person we've become by following our religion.

I'd be interested in getting everyone's thoughts regarding this. Does God prefer a man to be a charitable mormon vs a charitable catholic? Or is the only thing He is concerned with that we be charitable and kind and follow the first 2 great commandments? Or am I dancing too close to the cliff of defining all good or bad as relative?

I'm sure when this thread dies, we'll not be any closer to really answer the question..... but your insights are just so good!

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 18 Jul 2014, 02:19

I've often wondered that myself. I agree with you that basically all religions claim to be mediators between us and God. And they teach their own methods of interpreting truth and bringing people closer to God. Religions do give their own reasons why those religions are the only way to God. All teach that love is the important thing in life. Would God have us be a charitable Mormon or a charitable Catholic? I'm not sure. I think he would just have be charitable people.

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by SunbeltRed » 18 Jul 2014, 05:34

This, for me, has been at the root of my doubts. When you think about all those who have lived on the Earth and then think about all those who have been a member of the LDS Church, the #'s are so miniscule that it seems like an absurd idea that the LDS Church path is the only path. I love the theology of the work for the dead as it mitigates against this, but that work is a pretty inefficient way to ensure the whole of human history has an opportunity to accept "The One True Way." Not to mention, that then means that someone who wasn't a member their whole life and could have done whatever in mortality, then accepts "The One True Way" in the next life, gets a free pass, and those of us "luckily" enough to be born in the church will be condemned because we didn't live every jot and tittle of the law?

Clearly I don't know anything for sure, but based on reason and faith in an expansive Creator, I lean heavily towards the Means to an End. More important to have charity and a relationship w/God, IMHO, than what religion you are. Makes me a tough sell to the increased missionary efforts. :D

-SBRed

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nibbler
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by nibbler » 18 Jul 2014, 06:59

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Somewhere along the way people either equated Jesus with the church or an interpretation got a bit twisted. There are many ways to follow Jesus, a church can help guide someone but the church isn't the way.
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
― Joel Osteen

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Orson
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by Orson » 18 Jul 2014, 09:10

intothelight wrote:Or am I dancing too close to the cliff of defining all good or bad as relative?
I would say anything that has personal meaning to us has to be relative. Our definition of up and down is relative to our position on the earth. I don't know how anyone can disagree unless they lack a broader understanding.

This is a key to my framing what I hear in church. "The church is true" must be a relative statement. (With it's deepest meaning being purely personal.) Even if you don't accept it is relative for earthlings then consider from a broader perspective - as we believe there are other planets with "God's children" is our one earthly organization the only true organization with the only true prophet? Of course not. It's relative.
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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.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Jul 2014, 10:32

a means to an end - and the absolute best means to an end for a lot of people - but not for a lot of other people

It's important to recognize and accept each component of that answer.

Finally, I believe our current temple theology answers the question definitively, since it posits the possibility of exaltation for almost every person who has lived at any point throughout the history of the world. Some interpretations of the details (like the practice of vicarious confirmations and the idea that all who are exalted will accept Jesus as their Savior and Redeemer) can keep glasses dark to a degree, but, at its core, the temple theology unequivocally says that mortal religious affiliation does not guarantee anything - that it's more about living according to the dictates of conscience ("the light of Christ") than about religious affiliation.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Jul 2014, 11:01

I think this is one of the reasons it's important to separate the gospel and the church. Even so, the whole idea of the gospel doesn't work for some, either.
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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SilentDawning
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by SilentDawning » 18 Jul 2014, 19:13

intothelight wrote:I've wondered this a lot lately.
I've thought for some time now that in the end, what religion you are in and what church you go to will not really matter in the end. I mean, maybe it will matter, but it won't be one of the most important things. That what will matter is what kind of person we've become by following our religion.
That is what I believe. , with the exception of the "by following our religion" part. I see religion as a way of enabling our character, and when it stops doing that, it serves very little purpose. And I think the quality of our character is what will matter on judgment day -- (that process, that I think is more of an ongoign process than an event).
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

intothelight
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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by intothelight » 18 Jul 2014, 23:44

Thanks for the insights as always. I guess were I to be completely honest, I'd have to admit that me posting this infers that written between the lines is my deep down dislike of the church - basically I try to trivialize it and make sure it really isn't true to make me feel better about disliking it. I don't think anyone else's comments illustrate they have this problem quite as much as I do, but c'est la vie. I talk about other churches being as good as ours, but never about ours being as good as others - if that makes any sense. I like one of the recent posts about trying to find good in the church - because there honestly is a lot of good that goes on in the church, despite any flaws it has.

I've tried to explain my feeling that whether or not the church is true is of far less significance than many other things to my parents. Yeah, that's not working. :) For them, there simply isn't separation between the importance of God and the mormon church. They are equally important. They can't accept anything other than a member as being good enough. And, if they are right that the church is true and that it is of utmost importance that it is true and you are a member, that is a price that must be paid. But oh, how many slight variations of good they are prevented from accepting totally. I am trying to avoid conveying the idea that all truth can be sacrificed to keep the sinner feeling good about themselves, but I also think we all should be aware of the effect all of our actions have. It may be true that homosexuality is bad and that we have to stomp it out, but if it's really required that we use that as grounds not to accept a person as they are, we should realize the price in pain the other side is going to pay. Obviously, that may be a bad example - I guess you can substitute the home teaching or tithing, or whatever.

What I think is tragic is that many (myself included, unfortunately), seem to focus on our differences. Rather than focus on what's common between the religions we fixate on the differences - and perhaps blow their importance way out of proportion. We are all desperately crying out to be accepted for who we are, and at the same time simply won't allow ourselves to rest until all the non-mormons are mormons, or for the hard-core haters for all mormons to be ex-mormons, or for the catholics until all mormons have become catholics. I've read a lot of near death experiences, and the universal feelings that most people seem to have are love (no surprise there) - but also total acceptance - for exactly who we are. Got to a be a reason God chose those two specifically.

Again, thanks for everyone's thoughts. They provide a balance and confirmation that seems like it's lacking otherwise.

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Re: Is The Church The End, Or A Means To A End?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Jul 2014, 12:49

I would suggest reading every talk Elder/Pres. Uchtdorf (serious man-crush) has given since he was called as an apostle and, when talking with your parents (if you talk with them about religion), referencing things from his talks - not to preach at them, but simply as a way to ease their minds and give them the comfort of hearing you quote from an apostle. It's a little thing, but little things are important to parents - and almost everyone else.
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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