“The Only True and Living Church”
It is a shame we shorten this phrase to “The only true Church”, because I think “living” is a very important part of the statement. What does it mean to say the LDS Church is the “only true and living Church”? How do our Heavenly Parents interact with their children? What is the relationship between the different religions of the world? Why does it matter if we are a member of one religion rather than another?
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Student Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 20:1–36, 68–69, 75–79; 21; 27; 115:1–4; Our Heritage, pages 14–16, Isaiah 29:14, Daniel 2:44, Revelation 14:6–7, D&C 65:2
Additional Teacher Reading: Isaiah 11:11–12; 29:13–14; Jeremiah 31:31–33; Daniel 2:44–45 D&C 20, heading to D&C 20, 3 Nephi 27:8, D&C 1:38 Luke 22:19–20; 3 Nephi 18:7, 10–11, Heading to D&C 27
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Continue the conversation by posting your comments and questions here, in the facebook group, or email them to MormonSundaySchool at gmail.
You can access my Lesson Notes here.
You can access my Reading Notes here.
- A Church-produced podcast on the topic.
- Mormon Matters episode on the One True Church
- Don Bradley, The Grand Fundamental Principles of Mormonism
- 1978 First Presidency Message, God’s Love for All Mankind
- Terry and Fiona Givens, The God Who Weeps (see Chapter 4, “None of them is lost”)
- Mormonism as the Most True Church
- Usage of “only true Church”
Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic!
Thanks to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio who once again got this episode edited crazy fast! (I think he pulled another all-nighter)
Here is one of my favorite quotes on the subject from Joseph Smith:
“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, 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.”
Love it! Do you have a reference?
It is from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith compliled by Joseph Fielding Smith pg. 218 in my copy. The previous paragraph is really good too.
Allie Harris says:
As a parent of a child who has resigned from the LDS church and Chistianity the doctrine of universal redemption is very comforting. I think you handled well how the atonement eventually works for everyone. I too have become aware of the positive tone of GA ‘s talks with the message that it’s never too late to repent, and the distance we have made from talks that condemn and resign one to a hopeless state. You know James Talmadge in the first edition of The Articles of Faith openly taught the advancement from kingdom to kingdom. Great quotes, excellent broadcast, thanks so very much!
Glen T. Hale says:
I’ve enjoyed listening to the Sunday School podcast. The lessons are great and the discussions very interesting. Thank you Jared!
I have two points I would like to express:
1. One of the discussion participants raised a critical issue that was not thoroughly answered: Why does membership in the Mormon Church (the only true and living church) even matter if, in the end, God intends to exalt all of his children? Or, put another way, is God interested in having all of his children become members of his kingdom via baptism (currently the Mormon Church?) The missionary effort suggests the answer is that God does want all humanity to be members of the Mormon Church; temple work for the dead suggests the same thing; Jesus’ example suggests baptism into a single “kingdom” (a church?) of some sort.
So, this Sunday School lesson and other podcasts in this Mormon Stories world have left me wondering why, if I have a friend, would I want to persuade him/her to join our church. Why would it matter, if his/her religion or way of life was good and moral, to make such a significant change?
In the end, if it does matter that humanity is part of God’s kingdom then there must be one and only one church that is recognized by God as the place where he wants his children to be.
My point is not that all other religions are not good. I agree with the idea often made that other religions have truths and whatever those truths are we should include them within Mormonism. Rather, I’m trying to push through to the point that, for God, he couldn’t be content with religions that believe in reincarnation (if this is a false doctrine) as a religious doctrine he wants his children to practice. Rather, he would want his children to know the true doctrine and associate with a religion who taught the truth in that respect.
I’m having a hard time letting go of the idea that there must be on true church. How could it logically be any different unless there are not any religions that God would want his children to practice.
2. The second point is that when one reads about other religious doctrine, what is it that we are reading? I have an opinion…you have an opinion…and another person might have an opinion. One of those people might be a very powerful, persuasive speaker who is able to create a following of people. Another might do the same based on his or her own ideas. Are any of those people different from any other person with a good idea? Many of those people have really good ideas, even truthful ideas, but in the end each of them are merely expressing their own ideas.
If a person wanted more (looking to get the straight scoop from a messenger from God, if not God himself) where does one look in this world? Is there any such messenger? In my mind, if there is such a messenger, then his message must be consistent. If there is not such a messenger, then we are really free to simply pick and choose between the religions created by men with good ideas.
My conclusion is that “the only true and living church” cannot escape from the requirement that God’s organization cannot be many organizations. And, if we want to be part of God’s organization, then there must be a way to determine which organization is the one God recognizes.
Wow…the idea of the Mormon church being the only true church doesn’t make sense to me but I still feel defensive of the church because I love it. I was expecting this episode to have a negative tone and it was the exact opposite. I came away feeling like I wanted to be more true to my covenants and my living church. Thanks!
Jared Anderson says:
Thanks for commenting Laura! I was pleased by how this discussion turned out, especially Geoff’s idea of being a “true and living member”