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.
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1 comment:

Sean said...

One of the great things about Priesthood authority is that this awful power---the power to authoritatively act in the stead of God---is not some exclusive club. While there is only ever one at a time on the Earth who holds all of the keys to act, as Peter did, all who will join themselves unto the body of Christ will receive spheres of authority within which they may act authoritatively. Considering how tremendous it is that God entrusts any of His power at all to mere mortals, it is nothing less than magnificent that He will give it to all who will humbly accept it.