Thursday, April 02, 2015

The "only true church" thing

B. brought up that slide-off your-tongue phrase that's so often glibly borrowed from the Doctrine and Covenants and tossed at the end of declarations of belief.

I must say that I am bothered by the way it's used and really bothered by the way it's often translated by whoever hears it.  Generally, in my opinion, by rank and file members it is often (though not always) used as an expression of

a. I'm not sure how to end my remarks, so I'll end with this. It's familiar..
b. I'm subconsciously feeling insecure on some level, so affiliating myself with something that is exclusive in it's goodness makes me feel more confident or safe.
c. I think this church is a good place for me to be and it's a good place for you to be too.
d. I've felt a spiritual confirmation as I've followed or prayed over this church, so it must be right.

And of course the other problem is that it's almost always generally interpreted by others as "other churches are wrong".  And that is ALWAYS counterproductive.

So I decided to do some research on what other people have written about what that phrase means.  I realize that I cannot get everyone else to stop and think about what they say or how they are perceived when they slide that phrase into a talk, testimony or discussion.  But I can learn better what it means so that I can articulate in more accurately in order to increase my own precision in communication and for increased comprehension by those who hear me.

So one article HERE, states that the phrase simply refers to three things about the church:

1. The church contains the "fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ", 
which:, in essence and by definition  includes three things: a) our unique understanding of "the plan of salvation" which includes a) assurance that we lived as spirits before we came to this earth, b) the affirmation that this mortal life has a purpose and c) the teaching that our highest aspiration is to become like our heavenly parents.

And I believe those three things.

2.  The church includes the power of the priesthood. We often think that's just talking about who has received God's authority to do what, but it's far more than that.  I wrote more about that HERE.  In a nutshell, priesthood power, the power of God to do his work, given to his children,  is real.

And I believe that it is real and working in the lives of women and men of God in this church.  I have seen it, felt it, watched it, and been humbled to be a vehicle for its healing (both physical and spiritual) and enlightening effect in the lives of my brothers and sisters in ways that I feel are too profound to articulate.  And I have been aided, healed, enlightened and comforted by that same power of God conducted via the words, actions and ordinances of brothers and sisters who served as conduits of priesthood power as well.

That does not mean I have not seen the power of God work through people of other faiths.  I have.  It just means I have seen it play out powerfully in this one. 

(I've also seen people horribly fail at this in the church, but that's fodder for another conversation.)

3. It contains revealed truth about the nature of God and our relationship to Him.
And, frankly our belief in the nature of God does distinguish us from the formal creeds of most Christian denominations. Our understanding of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though incomplete (as are all understandings of Deity) are different in our understanding of their relationship and distinctiveness when compared with other faiths.

That difference in our understanding strengthens our beliefs about God ( many of which coincide with those of various of our Christian friends); that Jesus Christ is the begotten son of God, the Eternal Father, that he is the creator of this world, that his life and words are to be our pattern for living, and that because of His Resurrection, all who have ever lived will be raised from the dead. And, with that, we believe that it is Jesus whose atoning sacrifice paid for the sin of Adam.  And that sacrifice also opened the door for us to be forgiven of our personal sins, cleansed by God and changed by God's grace and work in our lives, and able to abide in God's presence.

And those are things I believe as well.

So...The church's teachings and practices contain divinely inspired insights into premortal existence, purpose of life and eternal life, include the power of God as it works through his disciples who seek to walk according to His will,  and contain truthful teachings about the reality and nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and the way they have worked and still work so divinely in our lives to bring us into harmony and unity with them.   ---  That is the meaning of the phrase.

You are free to use that instead of the phrase any time.  Maybe that will help.

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