Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why Do Mormons Say They Have the Only True Church?

If you've ever attended a meeting with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you probably heard a few of them say, "I know this Church is True," or "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only True Church on the Earth." I'd like to explain what it means when we Mormons say we have the only True Church. First, I'll discuss what it doesn't mean, and then I'll discuss what it does mean.
What It Doesn't Mean
When Mormons say The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only True Church, it doesn't mean that we have a monopoly on Truth. All those who believe in God, that Jesus Christ is His Son and our Savior, and that the Bible is the word of God know the Truth. Further, God has revealed other Truths through religious leaders, theologians, philosophers, historians, scientists, etc . . . throughout history.
It also doesn't mean that we are the only good people on the Earth. Some of the best people I have ever met are Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, members of other Christian Denominations, Muslims, Agnostics, and even a few Atheists. They do their best to create a good life for themselves and others and end up leaving the world a better place.
It doesn't mean that we have sole access to God. We believe God is the Father of all our spirits. He is literally our Heavenly Father, and we are all His children. Because we are, He loves us. He loves us and hears our prayers regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality, and color.
It doesn't mean we are the only ones who receive miracles. I have seen miracles wrought through the power of prayer. I have seen them come to Mormons and members of other faiths. They come because God loves us all and wants to bless all His children.
It doesn't mean that we are spiritually superior to anyone. Nor is it grounds for arrogance.
What It Does Mean
When we say The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only True Church, it means it is the only Church authorized to act in God's name. In the law, one of the most basic doctrines is that of agency. Agency allows people to act in our name and bind us legally even though we are not present. An agent must receive authority from a principal. Without authority, his actions cannot bind the principal. Neither can he bind the principal if he exceeds his authority.
The same is true with God. He is not here. But He, from time to time, has sent agents, His Prophets and Apostles, to act in His name, thus binding Him to His children. Anciently, Jesus gave Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever [he would] bind on earth [would] be bound in heaven: and whatsoever [he would] loose on earth [would] be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19). And those keys, or authority, were lost when the original Apostles were martyred.
But God has restored the keys of the kingdom of heaven today to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors. Joseph received them from Peter, James, and John, three of Christ's original Apostles who appeared as angels.
Thus, being duly authorized, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands alone in its ability to represent God as His agent on Earth.
Further, saying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is True also means that we have the fulness of Truth. If there is Truth in the world, we claim it as our own regardless of its source. And God has revealed and "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to [His] Kingdom." (Articles of Faith 1:9). We have additional scripture, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, which confirm that the Bible is True. And we continue to receive revelation upon revelation through living Prophets and Apostles.
I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only duly authorized Church to represent God on Earth. It is True. And it contains the fulness of the Truth.
To invite Mormon missionaries to come to your home for more information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, click here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spiritual Thought August 22, 2008

Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life.

My additional testimony regarding this resplendent doctrine is that in preparation for His millennial latter-day reign, Jesus has already come, more than once, in embodied majestic glory. In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy, confused by many of these very doctrines that still confuse much of Christendom, went into a grove of trees to pray. In answer to that earnest prayer offered at such a tender age, the Father and the Son appeared as embodied, glorified beings to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. That day marked the beginning of the return of the true, New Testament gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of other prophetic truths offered from Adam down to the present day.
-Jeffrey R. Holland

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spiritual Thought August 21, 2008

The Humanitarian theory wants simply to abolish Justice and substitute Mercy for it. … Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.

-C.S. Lewis
(God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics [1970], 294).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spiritual Thought August 20, 2008

"To underscore further the dimensions of discipleship in our mortal experience, one way of looking at the 'thou shalt not' commandments is that these prohibitions help us to avoid misery by turning us away from that which is enticing but harmful and wrong. However, once we are settled in terms of the direction of our discipleship and the gross sins are left firmly behind—'misery prevention' it might be called—then the major focus falls upon the 'thou shalt' commandments. It is the keeping of the 'thou shalt' commandments which brings even greater happiness. True, as the scripture says, 'wickedness never was happiness' (Alma 41:10), but neither is lukewarmness full happiness. Failing to be valiant in Christian discipleship will leave us without significant happiness. Therefore, our active avoidance of wickedness must be followed by our active engagement in righteousness. Then we can come to know true joy—after all, man is that he might have joy (see 2 Ne. 2:25)."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On Being the Best

Like millions, if not billions, of others, I have watched Michael Phelps' performance at the Bejing Olympics with awe. No one else has done what he has, and yet he remains humble. During an interview after he won his eighth gold meld in his last 4x100 relay, Phelps acknowledged that he wouldn't have been able to win eight golds without his team. He is truly the best swimmer in the world.
I've got to confess, though, that I feel a little jealous of him. I doubt that I'll ever be the best in the world at something. I just haven't been blessed with the necessary physical or mental capabilities. And from time to time my frailties harrow up my mind to such distress that I beat up on myself. Just once in my life, I would like to be the best at something.
But a little more than six years ago, I learned there was one thing I could be the best at, and everyone else could also be the best at it. We could all tie for the gold medal:
I had two months left before I returned home from my mission in Ecuador. My last area of service was a difficult place to be. We received little support from the members of the Church there, and consequently, those who we brought to church would refuse to come back again.
I was tired.
Every six weeks, I had the opportunity to have an interview with my mission president, Owen Call. And the time for our interview arrived again. As we spoke, I told him a little of my challenges, and then I said, "President Call I promised the Lord that I would give him a full two years, and I want to finish strong. Would you give me a blessing?"
President Call expressed his joy that one of his missionaries would be so concerned with fulfilling his assignment and laid his hands on my head. During the blessing, he said, "I would remind you of the poet who saw an angel with a book. He asked the angel what was in the book. The angel replied that it contained the names of those who loved the Lord. The poet asked that his name would be included in the book of those who loved the Lord. Years passed, and the poet again saw the angel with the same book. He asked to see if his name was still there. The angel opened the book, and the poet's name came before all others."
I want to be like that poet. And thankfully, we all can equally be like him in loving the Lord.
How do we love the Love the Lord? By keeping His commandments. John 14:15.
May we all strive to be the best at loving the Lord.