FAIR Questions features a question that was submitted to FAIR volunteers through the FAIR website at fairlds.org. The answer in each episode is compiled from the various responses provided by the volunteers.
And now for the question:
I am a life-long member of the Church currently preparing to serve my mission. I have studied other religions, mostly those that originate in India, and as I have read many of their texts and learned about their beliefs, I felt what I think was the Spirit telling me that what they were saying was true. Now it wasn’t on everything, it was more on a line by line basis. Like when I was reading the Bahagavad Gita, there would be passages that I found spiritually uplifting. The Church states that we are God’s Church and that only we have the proper authority to fulfill His mission. So how do I rectify this? On one side I have my testimony of the restored gospel, but then I read other material and I feel many of the same things. Now I’m not saying that I have a testimony of reincarnation or something, just that a lot of what I see in other faiths is good and pure. And I guess kind of a sub question, what am I to think of people of other faiths talking about their spiritual experiences?
And now for the answer:
We accept truth where ever it is found. Others having truth is not a problem as we make no claim to be the sole repository or source of truth. What we do claim is that only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can you find priesthood keys through which you can properly covenant with Heavenly Father so as to affect your return to His presence as a joint heir with Christ. We also claim to have that portion of light and knowledge necessary to affect the same, but this is NOT an exclusionary claim. So, do not be surprised to feel spiritual confirmations of truth from sources outside the Church, such as the Bhagavad Gita, as such confirmations in no way diminish the power of the priesthood keys you can only find here. There is nothing that says that God cannot speak to and influence peoples of all cultures. Nephi knew this. In 2 Nephi 29:12, he quotes the Lord in saying:
“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites 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.”
On February 15, 1978, the First Presidency released a statement titled “God’s Love for All Mankind” that says “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.”
There is also an excellent article in the August 2000 Ensign that could give you insight on truth from other faiths, that is entitled, A Latter-day Saint Perspective on Muhammad.
God wants us all to have a rich existence. In order to accomplish His purposes he gives each of us gifts and it makes it so, in certain important senses, we need one another in order to be complete. He has given pieces of truth to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and He has given to this people the keys of the priesthood and the responsibility to serve and bless the whole earth. But that is something that should fill us with humility rather than cause us to think that because we have been given such a weighty gift and responsibility we have no need of our brothers and sisters of other faiths and their insight and inspiration.
In short, God does not reveal his word to just a small minority. Remember what President Hinckley said a few years ago: “We, in effect, simply say to others, ‘Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it’” (“The BYU Experience,” BYU devotional address, 4 Nov. 1997). That would be your task as a missionary. Not to denigrate other people’s beliefs and cultures, but to add to the good that they already have.
Good luck on your mission preparation, and let us know if you have any other questions.
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Music for this episode was provided courtesy of Lawrence Green.
The opinions expressed in this podcast are not necessarily the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FAIR.