Outsider Test for Faith
CES Letter Core Question
How do church members reconcile other testimonies?
Outsider Test for Faith
Just as it would be arrogant for a FLDS member, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Catholic, a Seventh-day Adventist, or a Muslim to deny a Latter-day Saint’s spiritual experience and testimony of the truthfulness of Mormonism, it would likewise be arrogant for a Latter- day Saint to deny others’ spiritual experiences and testimonies of the truthfulness of their own religion. Yet, every religion cannot be right and true together.
Next Relevant Quote
Praying about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon does not follow that the LDS Church is true. The FLDS also believe in the Book of Mormon. So do dozens of Mormon splinter groups. They all believe in the divinity of the Book of Mormon as well. Praying about the first vision: Which account is true? They can’t all be correct together as they conflict with one another. (First Vision accounts align well. Addressed elsewhere.)
CES Letter, Page 75
Joseph Smith taught that, ”One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”
Truth is found in other belief systems, whether they are theological, philosophical, scientific, or literary. The author of The CES Letter apparently believes that "spiritual experiences" are all from God or they all are not from God but it is not an all-or-none phenomenon.
Most religions contain significant and profound truths which the Holy Spirit can confirm.
The First Presidency acknowledged in 1978:
"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. . . We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation." ("God's Love for All Mankind.")
The observation that other religions and philosophies contain important and valuable truths in no way negates the importance of the Restoration, the particular mission that the Lord has given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the authority that the Lord has placed in the Church in order to accomplish that purpose.
Latter-day Saints don’t typically feel a need to deny other’s spiritual experiences. The missionary program is based upon the premise that those not of our faith can receive revelation from God confirming truths. Building on whatever truths they’ve had confirmed to them whether through revelation or life experience, is part of approaching God.
That other peoples, nations, and religions should be endowed with a measure of light and knowledge to accompany them through this life is a manifestation of the love of God, and as we identify truth, it is our duty to embrace it whether it is initially to be found through scientific examination, or in history, or even in the traditions of another vein of religious thought.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said in an interview with Larry King ”I say this to other people: you develop all the good you can. We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches. We say to people: you bring all the good that you have, and let us see if we can add to it. ”
Elder Oaks’s related in April 2010 General Conference:
“A Texas newspaperman described such a miracle. When a five-year-old girl breathed with difficulty and became feverish, her parents rushed her to the hospital. By the time she arrived there, her kidneys and lungs had shut down, her fever was 107 degrees, and her body was bright red and covered with purple lesions. The doctors said she was dying of toxic shock syndrome, cause unknown. As word spread to family and friends, God-fearing people began praying for her, and a special prayer service was held in their Protestant congregation in Waco, Texas. Miraculously, she suddenly returned from the brink of death and was released from the hospital in a little over a week. Her grandfather wrote, “She is living proof that God does answer prayers and work miracles.”
The Book of Mormon teaches that God, “manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:13).