Mormonism, Islam, and the Question of Other Religions
On one level, Joseph Smith was very much a product of the early nineteenth century United States.1 Not surprisingly, perhaps, since the nation was young and since many veterans of the American Revolution were still alive during the years of his childhood, he shared the idealism and the passion for freedom and human rights that were motivating principles of that Revolution. This is evident in his attitude toward other religious faiths. In this paper, I shall quote extensively from Joseph Smith, and occasionally from some of his prominent followers, in an attempt to let him speak for himself.
“Meddle not with any man for his religion,” Joseph taught.
All governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet.2
In a declaration adopted by a general assembly of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 August 1835, and now contained in one of the canonical scriptural texts of Mormonism, Joseph and his followers affirmed:
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.3
The eleventh Article of Faith, formulated by Joseph Smith and now also part of canonical Latter-day Saint scripture, declares that “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”4
However, very early on, as Joseph’s doctrinal understanding grew and developed, his commitment to freedom of religious choice deepened into a theological principle. In a portion of the Book of Moses that was revealed in December 1830, only a few months after the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was explained that Lucifer, or Satan, had attempted to suppress human freedom before the foundation of the world, and that this was a principal cause for his expulsion from heaven.5 Thus, freedom of choice, in religion and beyond, is an eternal principle and not merely a matter of varying political regime.
Joseph was furious at the unjust persecutions to which his followers were subjected in their various settlements, which he viewed as motivated solely by religious prejudice:
And now, sir, this is the sole cause of the persecution against the Mormon people, and now, if they had been Mohammedans, Hottentots, or Pagans, or in fine sir, if their religion was as false as hell, what right would men have to drive them from their homes, and their country, or to exterminate them, so long as their religion did not interfere with the civil rights of men, according to the laws of our country? None at all….
I have the most liberal sentiments and feelings of charity towards all sects, parties, and denominations; and the rights and liberties of conscience I hold most sacred and dear, and despise no man for differing with me in matters of opinion.6
However, he wasn’t upset only by injustice against his own people. He was plainly indignant at the 1834 burning of the convent of Ursuline Catholic nuns in Charleston, Massachusetts:
The early settlers of Boston… who had fled from their mother country to avoid persecution and death, soon became so lost to principles of justice and religious liberty as to whip and hang the Baptist and the Quaker, who like themselves, had fled from tyranny to a land of freedom; and the fathers of Salem from 1692 to 1693, whipped, imprisoned, tortured, and hung many of their citizens for supposed witchcraft; and quite recently, — while boasting of her light and knowledge, of her laws and religion, as surpassed by none on earth, — has New England been guilty of burning a Catholic convent in the vicinity of Charleston, and of scattering the inmates to the four winds; yes, in sight of the very spot where the fire of American Independence was first kindled, where a monument is now erecting in memory of the battle of Bunker Hill, and the fate of immortal Warren, who bled, who died, on those sacred heights, to purchase religious liberty for his country — in sight of this very spot, have the religionists of the nineteenth century, demolished a noble brick edifice, hurling its inhabitants forth upon a cold, unfeeling world for protection and subsistence.
Well did the Savior say concerning such, “by their fruits you shall know them.” And if the wicked mob who destroyed the Charleston convent, and the cool, calculating religious
lookers on, who inspired their hearts with deeds of infamy, do not arise, and redress the wrong, and restore the injured four-fold, they in turn, will receive of the measure they have meted out till the just indignation of a righteous God is satisfied. When will man cease to war with man, and wrest from him his sacred rights of worshiping his God according as his conscience dictates? Holy Father, hasten the day.7
In 1844, Joseph Smith ran for the presidency of the United States, presumably in an effort to better the political situation of his oppressed people. Writing on his behalf on 24 May of that year—slightly more than a month prior to his assassination by an anti-Mormon mob—Willard Richards, John M. Bernhisel, W. W. Phelps, and Lucian R. Foster referred to the Nativist anti-Catholic riots that had recently occurred in and around Philadelphia, resulting in the burning of several Catholic churches. They spoke of
our sympathies for a people who are now being mobbed in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia) as we have been for many years in Missouri; and for what? For our religion, although called by another name.
The Mormons and the Catholics are the most obnoxious to the sectarian world of any people, and are the only two who have not persecuted each other and others in these the United States, and the only two who have suffered from the cruel hand of mobocracy for their religion under the name of foreigners.
As a consequence of observing such injustices, they explained,
we have nominated General Joseph Smith for the next president of the nation—a man with whom we are thoroughly acquainted, and have no fear in pledging our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, that, if elected, he will give and secure these inestimable blessings to every individual and society of men, no matter what their religious faith.8
Joseph lived in a heavily Protestant America. Catholics were a minority, and, on the American frontier and in rural areas, relatively rare. Jews were not uncommon, particularly in the larger cities, but other non-Christian faiths were largely unrepresented at this early period. Still, disagreements between Protestant denominations were serious and often passionate, so I think we’re reasonably safe in extrapolating from Joseph Smith’s attitude toward other denominations of his day what his attitude might have been toward an America — and a world — in which Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and others live as neighbors with each other as well as with Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians. “”Any man who will betray the Catholics,” he said, “will betray you; and if he will betray me, he will betray you.”9
In the late 1830s and early 1840s, Joseph had an opportunity to demonstrate how sincere his commitment to religious liberty was, as he and his followers began to build the new town of Nauvoo, which would eventually become the second largest city in the state of Illinois.
“We wish it… to be distinctly understood,” he remarked,
that we claim no privilege but what we feel cheerfully disposed to share with our fellow citizens of every denomination, and every sentiment of religion; and therefore say, that so far from being restricted to our own faith, let all those who desire to locate themselves in this place, or the vicinity, come, and we will hail them as citizens and friends, and shall feel it not only a duty, but a privilege, to reciprocate the kindness we have received from the benevolent and kind-hearted citizens of the state of Illinois.10
And those sentiments were embodied in the city’s legal system. William Law, a leader of the Church in the early Nauvoo period, reported that
As to the city ordinances we have passed all such as we deemed necessary for the peace, welfare and happiness of the inhabitants, whether Jew or Greek, Mohammedan, Roman Catholic, Latter-day Saint or any other; that they all worship God according to their own conscience, and enjoy the rights of American freemen.11
In 1842 or 1843, a Methodist preacher by the name of Prior visited Nauvoo and, on the Sabbath day, attended religious services for the purpose of hearing a sermon by the Prophet. He subsequently published the following description of Joseph’s remarks and demeanor:
I will not attempt to describe the various feelings of my bosom as I took my seat in a conspicuous place in the congregation, who were waiting in breathless silence for his appearance. While he tarried, I had plenty of time to revolve in my mind the character and common report of that truly singular personage. I fancied that I should behold a countenance sad and sorrowful, yet containing the fiery marks of rage and exasperation. I supposed that I should be enabled to discover in him some of those thoughtful and reserved features, those mystic and sarcastic glances, which I had fancied the ancient sages to possess. I expected to see that fearful, faltering look of conscious shame which, from what I had heard of him, he might be expected to evince. He appeared at last; but how was I disappointed when instead of the head and horns of the beast and false prophet, I beheld only the appearance of a common man, of tolerably large proportions. I was sadly disappointed, and thought that, although his appearance could not be wrested to indicate anything against him, yet he would manifest all I had heard of him when he began to preach. I sat uneasily, and watched him closely. He commenced preaching, not from the Book of Mormon, however, but from the Bible; the first chapter of the first of Peter was his text. He commenced calmly, and continued dispassionately to pursue his subject, while I sat in breathless silence, waiting to hear that foul aspersion of the other sect, that diabolical disposition of revenge, and to hear rancorous denunciation of every individual but a Mormon; I waited in vain; I listened with surprise; I sat uneasy in my seat, and could hardly persuade myself but that he had been apprised of my presence, and so ordered his discourse on my account, that I might not be able to find fault with it; for instead of a jumbled jargon of half-connected sentences, and a volley of imprecations, and diabolical and malignant denunciations, heaped upon the heads of all who differed from him, and the dreadful twisting and wresting of the Scriptures to suit his own peculiar views, and attempt to weave a web of dark and mystic sophistry around the gospel truths, which I had anticipated, he glided along through a very interesting and elaborate discourse with all the care and happy facility of one who was well aware of his important station, and his duty to God and man.12
Joseph even invited non-Mormon ministers to speak from Mormon pulpits in the city, a practice that continued under Brigham Young in the Latter-day Saint settlement of Salt Lake City.13 “President Young,” reported George Q. Cannon,
said he wanted the people to hear these men and their views. For years this was done. Prominent ministers were invited to speak to us. I remember Methodist bishops and others preaching to us… Why? Because we were willing to extend liberty to everybody.
And Moses Thatcher, a member of the Twelve in the period following Brigham Young, commented in 1882 that
The inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit have prompted the Presidency and Apostles of this Church to open meeting-houses and Tabernacles for ministers of various religious denominations to preach in; while our Elders were being persecuted, hunted and sometimes whipped by members of these same denominations.14
A Church leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, B.H. Roberts, referred in 1907 to the close personal friendship that had existed between the late Erastus Snow, a member of the Church’s governing Council of the Twelve Apostles, and Bishop Lawrence Scanlon of the Catholic Church. Said Roberts:
That friendship should be an object lesson to all the people of our state, that it is possible, notwithstanding we hold different views…in relation to religion…to dwell together as fellow citizens of our common country, without enmity or bitterness.15
All of this, and more, was a direct legacy of the teaching and example of Joseph Smith. “Friendship,” he taught,
is one of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism”; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers.16
“The Saints can testify,” Joseph said,
whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a “Mormon,” I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.17
Joseph Smith remarked that
he had no enmity against any one; and as the prayer of Jesus, or his pattern, so prayed Joseph — Father, forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me, for I freely forgive all men. If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends.18
“When we see virtuous qualities in men,” he said,
we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be free, possessing inalienable rights… to think, and act, and say as they please, while they maintain a due respect to the rights and privileges of all other creatures, infringing upon none.19
Moreover, although it is a topic far beyond the scope of this paper, Joseph could afford to be tolerant of religious diversity because he believed that growth in spiritual and religious matters would continue after death for all (or virtually all) humans. The characteristically Mormon work of the redemption of the dead, which he inaugurated in the last years of his life and which continues today in Latter-day Saint temples around the world, provided for the potential ultimate salvation of all good people of whatever creed and culture. “The sectarians have no Charity for me,” he said with more than a touch of humor,
but I have for them. I intend to send men to prison to preach to them, and this is all on the Principle of entering in by Water and Spirit.20
As B.H. Roberts summarized it,
The LDS/ hold that in any age…when an intelligence, a man, shall learn…that it profiteth everything to yield obedience to that law of God, and repentance takes hold of him, and he stretches out his hands toward God –through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the hand of God will find the man’s hand and bring him unto salvation.”21
Such concepts reinforced Joseph Smith’s strong sense of the transcendent love and fairness of God, to whom Joseph referred with entire seriousness as the Heavenly Father of all men, women, and children. “The Mussulman,” he taught,
condemns the heathen, the Jew, and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran, as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition. The Jew believes that the whole world that rejects his faith and are not circumcised, are Gentile dogs, and will be damned. The heathen is equally as tenacious about his principles, and the Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed, and submit to his ipse dixit.
But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, “according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil,” or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, “not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,” those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts [sic], their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.22
What I wish to demonstrate, however, more than Joseph Smith’s commitment to religious tolerance (which might have been expected of any reasonably ethical American in his day), is the positive appreciation of other faiths that he and his successors have encouraged. Appreciation, high esteem, is greater than tolerance.
At first, this might seem an impossible task, for the history of Mormonism and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begins with Joseph Smith’s 1820 First Vision, in which he is told that the churches then on the earth were in a state of apostasy and not pleasing to God. But the situation is much more complex and interesting than one might guess at first exposure. Mormonism is an exclusivist faith that sends missionaries around the world to invite others to accept the doctrines and authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is undeniable. But it is equally true, though far less widely known and understood, that Mormonism is also an inclusivist faith that not only sees and appreciates goodness and truth in other religious traditions but is willing to acknowledge divine action in those other traditions.
Trying to make their view seem merely a minor logical extension of Mormonism, several atheistic acquaintances have insisted that there is little difference between the Latter-day Saint position and theirs: They just happen to disbelieve in one more god than I faithful Mormons do.
They seem to imagine that being a Latter-day Saint entails rejecting all non-Mormon religious experiences and disbelieving every doctrine of every other faith. This, however, is not true.
When Joseph Smith learned that the then-existing Christian churches were corrupt, that didn’t mean that they were totally wrong. To say that something is “corrupt” means that it has been damaged. We speak of “corrupted texts” or “corrupted files,” intending to say that they have been infected or tainted—not that their original content has been replaced by something completely different. A corrupt senator is still a senator.
In fact, many mainstream Christian doctrines were and are substantially correct. There is indeed a God. He has a divine Son who came to earth, atoned for our sins, rose again on the third day, and now sits at the right hand of his Father. Those who taught prayer, preached of the Savior, and translated the New Testament during the centuries between the early apostles and the Restoration preserved and transmitted many central Gospel truths.
But what about non-Christians? Do they worship false gods?
Jews certainly don’t. Believing Jews accept the Old Testament, venerating the God who brought Israel out of Egypt, spoke through the prophet Isaiah, and was proclaimed by Jesus (a Palestinian Jew). But what of Islam? Isn’t “Allah” a false god? No. According to the Qur’an, Allah created the earth in six days, placed Adam and Eve in Eden, and then inspired prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Sound familiar?
Allah is simply the Arabic equivalent of English God, related to the Hebrew Elohim. Moreover, Allah is the God not only of Muslims but of all Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews. “In the beginning, [Allah] created the heavens and the earth,” reads Arabic Genesis. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with [Allah], and the Word was [Allah],” says the Arabic version of John 1:1. “We believe in [Allah], the Eternal Father,” says the first Article of Faith in Arabic, “and in his Son, Jesus Christ.”
Muslims, Christians, and Jews disagree about God, but that doesn’t create numerically different gods. My neighbor regards Senator Foghorn as the greatest orator since Daniel Webster; I think he’s a noxious windbag. But there is, mercifully, only one Senator Foghorn. Our different opinions don’t spawn multiple senators.
But what of the non-Abrahamic religions? Are they too far wrong? I think not; it seems presumptuous to declare that mistaken but sincere devotion means nothing to our loving Father in Heaven.
In fact, Christians been quite willing over the centuries to equate Zeus, the supreme ruler and father of the Greek Gods (the Romans’ Jupiter or Jove), with the God of Christian belief. Shakespeare’s Juliet chides Romeo from her balcony with a close paraphrase of the pagan Roman poet Ovid: “At lovers’ perjuries, they say, Jove laughs.” The great medieval Christian poet Dante says that it was Jove who died on the cross.23
According to Acts 17:24-28, when the apostle Paul, preaching on Mars Hill, sought to connect with the pagan Athenians, he identified Zeus with Israel’s God: “For in him we live and move and have our being,” he taught, quoting the words about Zeus of a sixth-century B.C. Cretan philosopher and poet named Epimenides of Knossos. “As some of your own poets have said,” he continued, citing a verse by the third-century B.C. philosopher/poet Aratus of Cilicia—Paul’s native province—about Zeus, “‘We are his offspring.'” (The same phrase occurs in the Hymn to Zeus of Cleanthes, the third-century B.C. head of the Stoic school at Athens.)
In the final volume of C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia,” a Calormene soldier named Emeth (= Hebrew “truth”) has been a sincere worshiper of the false god Tash all of his life. When, at the end, he meets Aslan and recognizes the true God, he expects severe punishment. But Aslan graciously reassures him that “all the service thou hast done to Tash, I accept as service done to me,” explaining that, although Emeth had been unaware of it, his honest devotion was actually to Aslan, rather than to Tash. “No service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.”
God’s sheep recognize his voice, even when it’s in a different language or imperfectly heard. They follow him as best they can, and, in the Latter-day Saint view, will not lose their reward.
In fact, critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometimes object to what they see as its eclectic character, pointing to its alleged resemblances to different denominations and traditions.24 On at least one historical occasion, it was difficult for outsiders who did not know that they were listening to Latter-day Saints to identify the religious affiliation of Mormon preachers because of the parallels in the preachers’ doctrines to a wide range of other groups.25
A simple but early example will serve to begin the discussion: In December 1830, Sidney Rigdon, a Campbellite minister who had just been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the previous month and who would go on to become a leader in early Mormonism, was told in a revelation given to Joseph Smith that the Lord had “prepared [him] for a greater work” — clearly implying that his dedicated service as a non-Mormon clergyman had already been a great work.26
With regard to the Church of Rome, Joseph implicitly rebuked Protestant anti-Catholicism when he commented that
The old Catholic church traditions are worth more than all you have said. Here is a principle of logic… I will illustrate it by an old apple tree. Here jumps off a branch and says, I am the true tree, and you are corrupt. If the whole tree is corrupt, are not its branches corrupt? If the Catholic religion is a false religion, how can any true religion come out of it? If the Catholic church is bad, how can any good thing come out of it? The character of the old churches have always been slandered by all apostates since the world began.27
Hugh B. Brown, who served in the First Presidency of the Church until 1970, expressed a venerable facet of Mormonism in a 1965 book when he advised his readers:
Let us not think because we feel and know we have the truth that we have all the truth for there is truth yet to be revealed. Let not our knowledge that we have the truth stifle our search for more truth. Let us build into our characters the kind of faith that will accept the truth when it comes and by its coming perhaps modify some of our ideas about the truth.28
According to the prophet Alma, in the Book of Mormon, “the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have.”29 (One is reminded, of the Qur’an’s insistence that it is an Arabic revelation.) For, as the Book of Mormon prophet Ammon testified, “God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.”30
In his famous farewell sermon, the Prophet Muhammad advised Muslims as follows:
O people! Your Lord is one and your father is one. All of you belong to Adam, and Adam is from the dust. Truly the most noble of you with God is the most devout of you. God is knowing and aware. The Arab is not preferred over the non-Arab unless it be for piety.
A strikingly similar concept appears in the Book of Mormon: “Behold,” said the prophet Nephi, “the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.”
Accordingly, it not surprising that one of the official, canonical Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, formulated by Joseph Smith, states that “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.”31 “I have no desire,” said Joseph Smith,
but to do all men good. I feel to pray for all men. We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more.32
“Know ye not,” says the Book of Mormon,
that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?… For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it… and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.33
The early twentieth century Latter-day Saint leader, historian, and intellectual B. H. Roberts, commenting on this passage, justly observed that
The doctrine unites in one splendid brotherhood all the Seekers after God, all those who received inspiration from the Most High and were sent forth from the Divine Presence to instruct their fellow men. Joseph Smith, I say, unites their hands in a splendid brotherhood of the God-inspired men of this world….How noble is this view of God’s hand dealings with the children of men in respect of revelation, as compared with that narrow, bigoted view prevailing at the beginning of the 19th century, which held that the Hebrew Scriptures contained all the word of God delivered to the inhabitants of the earth!34
In a revelation given through Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in late September 1832, the Lord told Joseph that
the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.35
With that understanding in mind, it is understandable that Brigham Young, the successor to Joseph Smith in the presidency of the Church, could say that
In reality, the inhabitants of the earth do not vary so much in their sentiments as they do in the explaining of them to each other….. When feelings and ideas are explained, people vary more in language than in sentiment.36
“Many people,” said Brigham Young,
believe that the Spirit of the Lord has not been upon the earth when the Gospel was not among men in its purity; they believe the Spirit of the Lord has been entirely taken from the earth since the apostacy of the Church. I do not believe for one moment that there has been a man or woman upon the face of the earth, from the days of Adam to this day, who has not been enlightened, instructed, and taught by the revelations of Jesus Christ. “What! the ignorant heathen?” Yes, every human being who has possessed a sane mind.. I am far from believing that the children of men have been deprived of the privilege of receiving the Spirit of the Lord to teach them right from wrong. No matter what the traditions of their fathers were, those who were honest before the Lord, and acted uprightly, according to the best knowledge they had, will have an opportunity to go into the kingdom of God. I believe this privilege belonged to the sons and daughters of Adam, and descended from him, and his children who were contemporary with him, throughout all generations.
Men who are under the influence of their traditions and former notions, will desire to ask scores of questions upon this subject, but I think I can relieve your minds.
The Spirit of the Lord, in teaching the people, in opening their minds to the principles of truth, does not infringe upon the laws God has given to mankind for their government; consequently, when the Lord made man, He made him an agent accountable to his God, with liberty to act and to do as he pleases, to a certain extent, in order to prove himself. There is a law that governs man thus far; but the law `of the celestial kingdom, as I have frequently told you, is, and always will be, the same to all the children of Adam. When we talk of the celestial law which is revealed from heaven, that is, the Priesthood, we are talking about the principle of salvation, a perfect system of government, of laws and ordinances, by which we can be prepared to pass from one gate to another, and from one sentinel to another, until we go into the presence of our Father and God. This law has not always been upon the earth; and in its absence, other laws have been given to the children of men for their improvement, for their education, for their government, and to prove what they would do when left to control themselves; and what we now call tradition has grown out of these circumstances.37
“The Lord deals with this people,” said Joseph Smith, “as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it.”38
I should like now to descend somewhat from the realm of theory and to illustrate some of the ways in which this general attitude toward other faiths, taught by Joseph Smith and his successors, has manifested itself with regard to specific religious traditions.
It is probably not surprising to encounter the philo-Semitism, the pro-Jewishness, of early nineteenth century Mormonism, given the roots of the religion in the Bible, including the Old Testament. Still, it is important to note that the Book of Mormon itself expressly forbade Latter-day Saints to indulge themselves in the anti-Semitism that had marred and would continue to mar the broader Christian tradition.39 But it is nothing short of remarkable that Joseph Smith launched an effort to learn Hebrew himself and to have it taught to the working class leaders of his new church on the frontier of Ohio’s Western Reserve in the mid-1830s. He hired Joshua Seixas and later learned much of Hebrew and Judaism from a Jewish convert to Mormonism named Alexander Neibaur. Moreover, Church magazines published articles from Jews in other parts of the world, without editorial comment.40
Other expressions of Latter-day Saint sympathy for various religions, however, may be more surprising.
In 1855, Jules Remy, a French newspaper correspondent, traveled across the United States. In September, he stopped in Salt Lake City, where he attended services in the Bowery, the predecessor building to the Tabernacle, during which two speakers spoke “from the sacred pulpit” in favor of “Mohammedanism.” Remy went on to ask “who could have seen a person educated in Protestantism become the apologist of Mohammadanism in the 19th century?” The two speakers were most likely apostles George A. Smith and Parley P. Pratt, whose comments about Islam and Muhammad—strikingly favorable by the standards of the day—were subsequently printed in the so-called Journal of Discourses.41
Speaking on 23 September 1855, Elder Smith, who had plainly been reading several then-important authors on Islamic history, said of Muhammad that
there was nothing in his religion to license iniquity or corruption; he preached the moral doctrines which the Savior taught; viz., to do as they would be done by; and not to do violence to any man, nor to render evil for evil; and to worship one God.42
Continuing, he declared of Muhammad that “this man descended from Abraham and was no doubt raised up by God on purpose to scourge the world for their idolatry.”43 Then, expanding his focus from Muhammad to the Arabs and Muslims as a whole, he told his audience that
this Mahometan race, this dominant power of the 7th and 8th centuries, were the descendants of Abraham, which Mahometan records show in a straight-forward genealogy, from the family of Mahomet direct to that of Abraham, through the loins of Ishmael, the son of Abraham; and in this dominion there certainly was a recognition of the dominion of the sons of Abraham, and just as long as they abode in the teachings which Mahomet gave them, and walked in strict accordance with them, they were united, and prospered; but when they ceased to do this, they lost their power and influence, to a very great extent.44
Now, one could easily quibble with elements of Elder Smith’s remarks. There is, for example, no “Muhammadan” race. Islam is not a race, but a religion, and, although the Arabs are its principal carriers—Muhammad was an Arab, and the Qur’an and the hadith are in Arabic—most of the world’s Muslims are, in fact, not Arabs at all. And I’m not entirely comfortable with portraying Muhammad as a kind of proto-Gandhi, a seventh-century Arabic flower child who sought only peace and love. But Elder Smith’s sympathy is unmistakable, and very many serious Muslims would strongly agree with his moral diagnosis of their historical decline.
“It is a difficult matter,” he went on, no doubt thinking not only of Muslims but of Mormons, “to get an honest history of Mahometanism translated into any of the Christian languages…. It is a hard matter. . . to get an honest history of any nation or people by their enemies.”45
Elder Smith was rather apologetic about having taken his audience’s time with a history lesson, confessing that “history is a natural theme with me.”46 But his fellow apostle, Parley Pratt, was enthused about the subject that Elder Smith had treated, and jumped immediately up to continue speaking about it:
My brother, George A. Smith, has wished us to excuse his Mahometan narration, but I would feel more like giving a vote of thanks to the Almighty and to His servant for so highly entertaining and instructing us.
I am aware it is not without a great deal of prejudice that we, as Europeans, and Americans, and Christians in religion and in our education, so called, have looked upon the history of Mahomet, or even the name; and even now we may think that: Mahometanism, compared with Christianity as it exists in the world, is a kind of heathenism, or something dreadful, and the other we look upon as something very pretty, only a little crippled; and for my part, I hardly know which to call the idolatrous side of the question, unless we consider Mahometanism Christianity, in one sense, and that which has been called Christianity, heathenism.
Mahometanism included the doctrine that there was one God—that He was great, even the creator of all things, and that the people by right should worship Him. History abundantly shows the followers of Mahomet did not take the sword, either to enforce their religion or to defend themselves, until compelled to do so by the persecutions of their enemies, and then it was the only alternative that presented itself, to take up the sword and put down idolatry, and establish the worship of the one God; or, on the other hand, be crushed and cease to be, on account of the idolatrous nations around them; they seemed to act on the defensive, although it might legally be considered aggression.
Once again, although I reject attempts to paint Islam as irredeemably violent, Elder Pratt’s view may err a bit on the rosy side. Still, his sympathetic approach to Islam is striking, and especially so given his era, his location, and his cultural background.
“The Greek and Roman Churches,” said Elder Pratt,
which have been called Christian, and which take the name of Christians as a cloak, have worshipped innumerable idols. On this account, on the simple subject of the Deity and His worship, if nothing more, I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, education, and prejudices, to the side of Mahomet, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism.47
I suspect that Elder Pratt had in mind the statues that he had seen in Catholic churches, and perhaps the icons that he had heard about in Orthodox churches.
Now, if we take Mahometanism during those dark ages, and the corruptions that are so universally prevalent over the earth, and the idolatrous systems of religion, falsely called Christianity, and weigh them in a balance; with all my education in favor of Christian nations and Christian powers, and Christian institutions, so called, with all my prejudices of early youth, and habits of thought and reading, my rational faculties would compel me to admit that the Mahometan history and Mahometan doctrine was a standard raised against the most corrupt and abominable idolatry that ever perverted our earth, found in the creeds and worship of Christians, falsely so named….
Though Mahometan institutions are corrupt enough, and need reforming by the Gospel, I am inclined to think, upon the whole, leaving out the corruptions of men in high places among them, that they have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations; and in many localities there have been high standards of morals….
So far as that one point is concerned, of worshipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war only acting on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity.48
The significance of these comments from Elders Smith and Pratt comments can perhaps be seen through a statement of the eminent twentieth-century historian of Islam W. Montgomery Watt, commenting on one of the premier intellectuals of mid-nineteenth century England:
On Friday, 8 May 1840, Thomas Carlyle delivered a public lecture in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Muhammad and Islam…. Here for the first time in a prominent way was it asserted that Muhammad was sincere and the religion of Islam basically true.49
Only fifteen years later, from the pulpit of a Christian house of worship in the isolated and remote Great Basin desert of the United States, a pair of high-ranking Mormon leaders, drawn not from the intellectual elite but from the working class of the American frontier, were saying something rather far along similar lines.
In 1921, Elder Orson F. Whitney, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, having quoted one of the relevant passages from the Book of Mormon, remarked that
It tells me that Providence is over all, and that he holds the nations in the hollow of his hand; that he is using not only his covenant people, but other peoples as well, to consummate a work…. God is using men as his instruments. Nor is he limited in the choice of instruments to his own people…. Outside the pale of their activities [referring to men bearing the priesthood] other good and great men, not bearing the Priesthood but possessing profundity of thought, great wisdom, and a desire to uplift their fellows, have been sent by the Almighty into many nations, to give them, not the fulness of the Gospel, but that portion of truth that they were able to receive and wisely use. Such men as Confucius, the Chinese philosopher; Zoroaster, the Persian sage; Gautama or Buddha, of the Hindus; Socrates and Plato, of the Greeks…. They were servants of the Lord in a lesser sense, and were sent to those pagan or heathen nations to give them the measure of truth that a wise Providence had allotted to them.50
At the conclusion of the conference in which Elder Whitney made those remarks, President Heber J. Grant, the seventh president of the Church—who had presided over the Church’s mission in Japan at the opening of the twentieth century—rose to the pulpit and said,
I commend to all Latter-day Saints when the conference pamphlet is published, to read what Elder Orson F. Whitney said about the inspiration of God being given to men in all parts of the world. We endorse his remarks.51
Earlier, Elder George Q. Cannon, an apostle who would also serve as a counselor to four presidents of the Church, expressed a similar sentiment:
In every nation men have been raised up and been called of the Lord to effect reforms among their fellow men and to teach important truths…. Other nations and races have not been forgotten by the Lord. They have had great truths taught to them; and in many instances, they have profited by them. There have been millions of pagans whose lives have been as acceptable to the true God as the lives of the same number of so called Christians. The reason for this is plain: they lived up to the light which God had given them, and this is all that He could require of them.52
Elsewhere, Elder Cannon identified some of these people by name: Zoroaster, Muhammad, the Buddha, and Confucius, as well as certain religious leaders of the western traditions.53 Another nineteenth century apostle, Moses Thatcher, referred to the writings of Confucius as “divinely inspired, far reaching, and containing heavenly doctrines.”54
Once again, B. H. Roberts laid out the Latter-day Saint view in clarity and some detail:
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established for the instruction of man and is one of God’s instrumentalities for making known the truth, yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men and prophets here and there… speaking to them through means that they can comprehend; not always giving a fulness of truth such as may be found in the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but always giving that measure of truth that the people are prepared to receive. “Mormonism” holds, then, that all the great teachers among all nations and in all ages are servants of God. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God’s children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them. Hence it is not obnoxious to “Mormonism” to regard Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher and moralist, as a servant of God, inspired to a certain degree by him to teach those great moral maxims which have governed those millions of God’s children for lo! these many centuries. It is willing to regard Gautama, Buddha, as an inspired servant of God, teaching a measure of the truth, at least giving to these people that twilight of truth by which they may somewhat see their way. So with the Arabian prophet, that wild spirit that turned the Arabians from worshipping idols to a conception of the Creator of Heaven and earth that was more excellent than their previous conceptions of Deity. And so the sages of Greece and of Rome. So the reformers of early Protestant times. Wherever God finds a soul sufficiently enlightened and pure; one with whom his Spirit can communicate, he makes of him a teacher of men. While the path of sensuality and darkness may be that which most men tread, a few, to paraphrase the word of a moral philosopher of high standing, have been led along the upward path; a few in all countries and generations have been wisdom seekers, or seekers of God. They have been so because the Divine Word of Wisdom has looked upon them, choosing them for the knowledge and service of himself.55
“Members of the Church,” wrote its ninth president, David O. McKay,
are admonished to acquire learning by study, and also by faith and prayer, and to seek after everything that is virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. In this seeking after truth they are not confined to narrow limits of dogma or creed, but are free to launch into the realm of the infinite, for they know that
“truth is truth where ere ’tis found,
Whether on Christian or on heathen ground.”56
John Taylor, who would succeed Brigham Young as the third president of the Church, advocated a position that was similarly open to truth, whatever its source: “A man in search of truth,” he said
has no peculiar system to sustain, no peculiar dogma to defend or theory to uphold. He embraces all truth, and that truth, like the sun in the firmament, shines forth and spreads its effulgent rays over all creation. If men will divest themselves of bias and prejudice, and prayerfully and conscientiously search after truth, they will find it wherever they turn their attention.57
Likewise, Hugh B. Brown, counselor to David O. McKay in the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told a group of Protestant seminarians that
In this divided and imperiled world of chaos and confusion it is incumbent upon the various and differing churches to seek a better understanding of one another. Frank and friendly discussion should increase our sympathetic appreciation of the religious beliefs and practices of our neighbors and cause us to review and clarify our own. We might perchance find kernels of truth in what we considered to be nothing but chaff. The world needs understanding and friendship.58
Undoubtedly the most significant declaration on our topic came on 15 February 1978, when the First Presidency of the Church, consisting at the time of President Spencer W. Kimball and his counselors President Marion G. Romney and President N. Eldon Tanner, issued an official statement regarding the Church’s position toward other religions. The statement reads:
Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from mortal progenitors, but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.
The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.
The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel.
Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all people sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.
We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to his Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fullness of joy forever. For those who have not received this gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life.
Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are the sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father.59
The great historian of Islam Marshall G. S. Hodgson, in his magisterial three-volume work The Venture of Islam, announced that any religious movement that has earned the allegiance of large numbers of people over lengthy periods of time must contain soul-satisfying truths. And surely this is true of the world’s great religious traditions.
In a revelation given to Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, on 27 December 1832, he and his followers were admonished to
seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.60
In another revelation that he received on 8 March 1833, Joseph was commanded, among other things, to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.”61 “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy,” he said in the thirteenth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we seek after these things.”62
I like to think that the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, which I have the privilege to have founded and to edit, is, in its way, at least a minor fulfillment of such directives. It also accords with the hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, to “seek learning, even unto China.”
“Have the Presbyterians any truth?” asked Joseph Smith.
Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.”63
I close with a story, familiar but always worth repeating, about the prominent New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl, the former dean of Harvard Divinity School. While he was serving as Lutheran bishop of his native Stockholm, Sweden, in the early 1980s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to construct a temple just outside of the city.
As commonly happens when Mormons build a temple, there was complaining, puzzlement, and some opposition among the local people. The now deceased Bishop Stendahl, who had Latter-day Saint friends and had visited Brigham Young University, reacted dramatically and quite unexpectedly.
He called a press conference, and he held it in a Latter-day Saint stake center. There, among other things, he outlined to the Swedish press three principles that, he thought, should govern our discussions of the religious beliefs of other people.
(1) If you want to know what others believe, ask them. Don’t ask their critics or their enemies.
(2) When looking at the religious faith of others, compare your best with their best, not their worst with your best.
(3) Always leave room for “holy envy.”
Some explanation and examples will make these three principles clearer.
The first should be fairly obvious. Enemies of a religious faith are unlikely to present it as its believers would. They are, in fact, quite likely to distort it and caricature it — unwittingly if they are honest, deliberately if (as all too often happens) they are unscrupulous and seek only a cheap and easy victory. This does not necessarily mean that there is no place for critics, or for listening to them. But if we really want to understand another religion, they should not be our first resource.
The second principle is “When looking at the religious faith of others, compare your best with their best, not their worst with your best.” We commonly hear Christians contrast the loving ethics taught by Jesus in the New Testament with the acts of self-proclaimed Islamic terrorists. But it is not at all fair to compare the seldom-achieved Christian moral ideal with horrid crimes that are, despite their prominence in the newspapers and on television, still relatively rare among the world’s hundreds of millions of Muslims. The butchery of the “Christian” crusades would be a more appropriate comparison to Islamic terrorism. And the death decree against Salman Rushdie should not be compared to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but to the Inquisition and the burnings of heretics that punctuated the history of the West and lack real parallel in the Islamic East.
Stendahl reminded his Swedish audience of the human element that unavoidably affects even the most pure beliefs. If a religion is revealed, it is nonetheless revealed through fallible mortals. Alluding to the explanation on the title page of the Book of Mormon that “if there are faults they are the mistakes of men,” this eminent Lutheran theologian commented that such frankness increased his confidence in the book, rather than decreasing it.
Finally, Stendahl counseled his audience to leave room for what he termed “holy envy.” We can learn greatly from faithful practitioners and believers of other faiths. The loving, joyous reverence of Orthodox Jews for the Sabbath — far from the cold, mechanical legalism of the stereotype — challenges us whose observance of the Lord’s day is often routine and perfunctory. Likewise, we can profit by reflecting upon the Jewish passion for religious learning, the simplicity and service of the Mennonites, the heroism of Protestant missionaries under terribly difficult conditions, and the social idealism of Dorothy Day and her Catholic Worker movement.
Regarding Mormons and their temples, Stendahl suggested baptism for the dead as an object of “holy envy.” We Lutherans do nothing for our dead, he said. It is as if we have forgotten them. In contrast, he observed, the Latter-day Saints seek to bring the blessings of Christ’s atonement even to the dead.
At a minimum, observing Krister Stendahl’s three principles would eliminate much of the religious strife in a world that is growing ever smaller and more interdependent and that can no longer afford such conflict.
Krister Stendahl’s advice on dealing with other religious traditions is fully consistent with the teaching and example of Joseph Smith, a truly remarkable figure of the early nineteenth century.
1Much of this paper was originally presented in slightly different form at a symposium marking the bicentennial of the birth of Joseph Smith that was held at the National University of Taiwan in Taipei, Republic of China, in August 2005.
And that includes his vocabulary. Some of the quoted passages in this paper, from Joseph Smith and others, will use terms that are out of fashion today, politically incorrect. Readers may occasionally need to look beyond the words to the sentiments expressed.
2 HC 6:304.
3 Doctrine and Covenants 134:4.
4 Articles of Faith 11, in the Pearl of Great Price.
5 See Moses 4:1-4.
6 PWJS, 419, 423-424.
7 HC 2:464-465.
8 HC 6:404. The pledge of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor represents an unmistakable allusion to the closing line of the American Declaration of Independence.
9 TPJS 313.
10 HC 4:273.
11 Quoted in HC 5:34.
12 Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, 353-354.
13 See TPJS, 329; George Q. Cannon, Conference Report (October 1899): 53.
14 JD 23:212.
15 B. H. Roberts, Conference Report (October 1907): 116-117.
16 TPJS, 316. Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have repeatedly urged Church members to seek to understand and develop friendly relationships with non-members. See, for example, the counsel given by then Church president David O. McKay in a book entitled Secrets of a Happy Life (Salt Lake City: University of Utah), 49; compare Levi Edgar Young, The Improvement Era 11 (1908): 202.
17 TPJS, 313.
18 TPJS, 312-313.
19 HC 5:156.
20 Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, p.371
21 In his Response to the Ministers Reply.
22 TPJS, 217-218.
23 Dante, Purgatorio, 6.118-119.
24 See, for example, the comments of Rollin Lynde Hartt, cited in the The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 62/16 (1900): 247 from the Atlantic Monthly of February 1900.
25 See The Instructor 81:182-183 for an amusing illustration of this phenomenon. During the so-called “Zion’s Camp” march of 1834, Mormon preachers were taken for liberals, Methodists, Baptists of various kinds, Presbyterians, and other types of Protestants. They were trying to travel incognito.
26 See Doctrine and Covenants 35:3. I am indebted to Dr. Gilbert Scharffs for calling my attention to the significance of this passage.
27 TPJS 375. Compare his comments at HC 6:410.
28 Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 221.
29 Alma 29:8.
30 Alma 26:37.
31 Articles of Faith 13, in the Pearl of Great Price.
32 TPJS, 275.
33 2 Nephi 29:7, 11-12.
34 B. H. Roberts, Joseph Smith the Prophet-Teacher (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1908): 22. Compare Orson Pratt’s comments at Journal of Discourses 16:58; Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages (Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallace, 1945), 80.
35 Doctrine and Covenants 84:46-48.
36 Journal of Discourses 1:74 (emphasis in the original).
37 JD 2:139.
38 HC 5:402.
39 See the explicit denunciation of anti-Semitism at 2 Nephi 29:4-6.
40 Steven Epperson, Mormons and Jews: Early Mormon Theologies of Israel (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992), although problematic in many regards, offers many illustrations of early Latter-day Saint philo-Semitism.
41 Another, much later but still notably favorable, treatment of Islam, published in the official magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is James B. Mayfield, “Ishmael, Our Brother,” Ensign (June 1979).
42 JD 3:31.
43 JD 3:32.
44 JD 3:34-35.
45 JD 3:35.
46 JD 3:34.
47 JD 3:38.
48 JD 3:40-41.
49 W. Montgomery Watt, What is Islam? (New York, 1968), 1.
50 Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report 91 (April 1921): 32-3.
51 Heber J. Grant, Conference Report 91 (April 1921): 203; also quoted in James R. Clark (ed.), Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 5 (Salt Lake City: 1971), 197.
52 George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 21:248.
53 JD 21:74-77; cf. JD 12:30.
54 Moses Thatcher, in The Contributor 8:301; cf. The Contributor 9 (1888): 59-61, where Elder Thatcher discusses the Chinese sage Mencius (Meng-tzu).
55 B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Saints I: 512-3; also quoted in B. H. Roberts, The Seventy’s Course in Theology, first year (1907): 125-6 (reprinted by Grandin Books, Orem, Utah, 1994).
56 David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998), 440. The couplet had been quoted frequently by Elder Orson F. Whitneyófor example, in his pamplet “The Strength of the Mormon Position” (1917): 33.
57 John Taylor, JD 16 (1874): 369.
58 Hugh B. Brown, Mormonism, 1.
59 Cited in R. Lanier Britsch, “I Have a Question: What is the relationship of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the non-Christian religions of the world?” Ensign, (Jan., 1988): 48.
60 Doctrine and Covenants 88:118.
61 Doctrine and Covenants 90:15.
62 Articles of Faith 13, in the Pearl of Great Price.
63 TPJS, 316.