09
Feb
11

“The only true and living church”

 

This is a claim that the LDS Church makes about itself in numerous places.  For example, D&C 1:30 talks about “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” Years ago, when I first started talking with Mormons, this was something many stressed.  They didn’t want to be identified with non-Mormons.  Many reflected the thoughts of Bruce R. McConkie who wrote:  “a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 132) Note how in this brief statement he has three quite strong negative characteristics of Christianity and Christians:  “perverted”, “so-called”, and “apostate”.

In recent years, however, most members of the LDS Church have used much milder terms.  I can’t count how many have told me that, yes, I have the gospel, but I don’t have “the fulness of the gospel”.  Instead of characterizing me as belonging to a perverted and apostate Christianity and describing me as a ‘so-called” Christian, they see me as someone just lacking.  I just need a little something more.

But what approach is more faithful to LDS Scripture and its repeated statement that the LDS Church is the only true and living church?  The word “only” in that statement is very exclusive.  It rules out every other church.  No other church is true.  No other church is living.

If I say I am the only living person in the family, would it be appropriate for you to think that I have some family members who are sick, who just are lacking some medicine to get better?  That would be ridiculous.  The only way to take my statement is to think that the rest of my family is dead.

In the same way, by saying that the LDS Church is the only true and living church, LDS Scripture is saying that every other church is dead.  Therefore McConkie seems to be the one who is more faithful to LDS Scripture.

Here’s a question for my LDS readers.  I am a pastor in a conservative Lutheran church.  Am I a pastor of a false and dead church?  If not, please reconcile your statement with D&C 1:30.

 

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13 Responses to ““The only true and living church””


  1. 1 Ralph Peterson
    February 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    The statement “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” doesn’t mean that there can only be one true and living church, but that there is only one “with which I, the Lord, am well pleased”. According to the statement as you have quoted it, there can be other “true and living” churches, but that “the Lord” is not pleased with them.

    Also, something that is NOT in that statement, is any exclusiveness of truth. Other churches may very well have principles, and doctrines that are true.

    Let’s add some context to the statement.

    D&C 1:17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
    18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
    19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
    20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
    21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
    22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
    23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
    24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
    25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
    26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
    27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
    28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.
    29 And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.
    30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
    31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;
    32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;
    33 And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts.


    Referring to apostate Christendom, Bruce R. McConkie wrote a rather self evident statement: “a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom.”

    The saying goes “If the shoe fits wear it.”

    Here you not only put on the shoe of “apostate Christendom”, but willingly do so.

    You are not a pastor of the true and living church with which the Lord is pleased.

  2. 2 markcares
    February 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    So there are some true and living churches with whom the Lord is not pleased?

  3. February 10, 2011 at 12:37 am

    If the Lord…”gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
    The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh.”

    and then have “every man speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world?”
    Isn’t that just setting us all up to “trust again in the arm of the flesh” by having the weakest teach the strong?

    It seems to me as though Hebrews 8:10-11 makes more sense, “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will ALL know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”

    It seems as though our Lord stated that He would put His laws on everyone’s heart (weak and strong) so that when anyone sees or hears the truth, the Spirit will witness it to them.

  4. 4 Ralph Peterson
    February 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
    15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
    17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

  5. 5 cindy
    February 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t witness to each other, only that we shouldn’t trust in the arm of the flesh when God has placed His word on our hearts.

  6. 6 Ralph Peterson
    February 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    One must initially hear the word of God from an authorized servant of God (except they be sent), before it can take root in ones heart. It is through the authorized servants that the Lord “will put (His) laws into (our) mind, and write them in (our) hearts”. Once everyone has His law in their hearts, then “they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”

  7. 7 Joe
    February 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Ralph, the idea of an “authorized” person, is a man made idea. There is no way to know what is truly in a person’s heart. It’s not up to us to judge whether a person is a Christian or not, you can look at their beliefs and actions and make a pretty good guess but nothing is certain when it comes to judgements of others. So, to say that someone is authorized is just asinine. I listen to my pastor and try to learn things from him, but by no means is what he says the word of God. We can check him against the Bible, that is our way to ensure we are not following a man.

    The only man worthy of following is Jesus. No need for a modern day prophet because Jesus is alive.

  8. 8 markcares
    February 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Ralph:
    You still haven’t answered my question. Are there any true and living churches with which the Lord is not pleased? This is in response to your first comment.

  9. 9 Ralph Peterson
    February 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    You will have to ask the Lord.

  10. 10 Ralph Peterson
    February 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Authority is a Biblical principle.

    The only people I know that are acting as judges and denying the Christianity of others are anti-Mormons.

    Authority is separate from beliefs or theology. Some people mistakenly believe that the Bible gives authority. It doesn’t. Some people claim that no authority is needed, because they don’t have it. Some claim authority, and erroneously so.

    The Bible has numerous examples of people being condemned or chastised for doing something without authority or unrighteously desiring it.

    The fact that there are numerous churches with varying and conflicting doctrines all derived from the Bible certainly indicates the need for modern prophets.

    After all, Jesus told us that He sends them.
    Matt. 23:34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

    Luke 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

    I believe Jesus, do you?

  11. 11 markcares
    February 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Was McKonkie an anti-Mormon?

  12. 12 jbr
    February 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Pastor Mark,

    So why is it expected from Ralph that you need to inquire more multiple times to get a answer (because I’m sure you’ve done it before) yet no such expectation was required of Joseph Smith?

    And if the Lord were to answer you again in the way Ralph imagines he does……and get told the same answer, would he believe it anyway?

  13. 13 jcroz1
    February 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I just have a question or two about how one would be “authorized” to speak on behalf of the Almighty: Is there certain schooling required? Physical training? Good speaking skills? An appealing appearance? Who would be considered “authorities”? Pope Benedict? Jack van Impe? The Dalai Lama? Ahmedinejad? I guess I’m just confused about who would be identified as someone with the authority to interpret the Will & Mind of God.


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