Way back when I used to be on Mormon Matters, one very common complaint from Practicing-but-Not-Believing Mormons was that the LDS Church was ‘arrogant’ or ‘hurtful’ because they believed they were the ‘one true’ (or at least ‘most true’) religion. (Specifically, the claim of being the only currently existing Church organization started by Jesus Christ via a prophet was a particular sticking point.)
So I wrote a short post asking for some additional dialogue on this point. But I never posted it, so here it is now a few years too late:
- Yes, the LDS Church believes it is the one true Church. And they do not apologize for that fact.
- Personally, I (and most Mormons) am willing to put that fact into any legitimate and truthful interpretation available. One common approach is to interpret it as not meaning other churches or bad or even ineffective. In fact, it’s common to see other Church as, for the most part, doing God’s will. In fact, most Mormons are quite comfortable with the idea that other religions are truly “saving people” in precisely the way they think they are. (i.e. Terrestrial kingdom seems rather like the Evangelical heaven.)
- However, even a ‘positive spin’ like this is probably cold comfort if you happen to believe in some other religion. Even if Mormons believe everything some one else believes is basically right yet they still claim that there is more available, their claims will likely rub you wrong. (Of course other religions claims will too… but I’m getting to that.)
- I have met many Practicing-But-Not-Believing Mormons (i.e. NOMs, Third Pathers, etc.) as well as many out right Disaffected Mormons (i.e. DAMUs) that feel this is arrogant and/or evil of the LDS Church to teach it has unique truth claims for the world.
- However, in making such a statement these Practicing-But-Not-Believing Mormons are, of course, taking everything near and dear to Believing Mormons and saying it’s meaningless. Thus they are doing to Mormons exactly what they are accusing the LDS Church of doing to others. And, yes, it is hurtful for many Mormons, I’d imagine. Who likes to be told that everything they live for if false and meaningless?
- And, just like out attempts to blunt the edges of our beliefs by putting on a positive spin, many (well, some anyhow) of them do the same by saying our beliefs. For examle, they might claim Mormon beliefs, though false, are still good and much good comes from it, etc.
- And of course this is cold comfort for Mormons.
So here is my questions for honest consideration:
Is it legitimate for a Praciting-But-Not-Believing Mormon (or DAMU) invalidsting all beliefs near and dear to my heart as a Mormon to be upset just because they feel Mormon beliefs invalidate theirs or other people’s beliefs? Or does this whole line of argument rationally self-destruct upon meeting itself?
In other words, aren’t they just doing the same thing to Mormons that they dislike about Mormons? And doesn’t that in some sense legitimize the LDS Church having unique truth claims in the first place?
And, while we are at it, wouldn’t it make more sense to have all religions teach their adherents to stop getting their nickers in a wad just because there are competing religions out there? Shouldn’t those that feel hurt take responsiblity for themselves by not expecting those that disagree with them to convert or be declared ‘arrogant’? Wouldn’t that be a more obvious, and far easier, solution to the problem?
And here is a second problem worthy of discussion. Can religions exist accept upon the existence of some ‘fatal flaw’ of ‘missing truth’ of all other competing ways?
For example, could the LDS Church have existed on any principle other than a ‘missing piece(s)’ or ‘fatal flaw’ of all other religions? Why have a Restoration if there was nothing to restore?
Come to think of it, could the desire to place oneself as a Mormon Reformer exist on any principle other than a fatal flaws in Mormonism that needs to be fixed/changed/corrected/restored?
If the LDS Church gave up belief in their unique revelations, could they be a vibrant religion or would they simply become a non-factor?
And while we are at it, there is one other thing to consider: is it really true that LDS Doctrine invalidates all other religions? Do Mormons, for example, really claim that the most important beliefs of other Christian religions are all false? Do they for any religion? Might we not say that there is some legitimate sense in which Mormons more more accepting of other religions than other religions are accept of them?