Truth can ONLY be found within the Mormon Church.
—Said no one, ever
Yes, we believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides access to the fulness of the gospel of Christ, and the countless truths that come along with that. But we Mormons do not have a monopoly on truth.
If members of the Church consider those of other religions to be completely ignorant of all truths, frankly, we’re wrong. If non-Mormons assume that we claim to be the sole purveyors of truth in the world, they’re wrong too.
The Great Apostasy and the pattern of truth
The pattern of truth and apostasy should be familiar to most Christians (including Mormons) as the Bible is replete with it. God calls a prophet (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.) to guide and instruct the masses. Over time, people reject/kill/ignore/generally dislike the prophet and fall into a state of wickedness (see dozens of scriptural examples here).
The God-given authority that prophet has to preach the gospel and establish Christ’s church (which we call the priesthood) is rejected by the masses, and therefore removed from the playing field. Without that prophetic emissary, over time many (but not all) doctrines of the gospel become misunderstood, misinterpreted, warped, and lost.
When the people are once again open and prepared for truths to be restored, God calls and sends another prophet who once again starts preaching the basics (i.e. repentance) and restores doctrines that were lost.
Within LDS jargon, “The Great Apostasy” refers to the fracturing of truth that occurred after the death of Jesus Christ, who, in addition to being our Savior and the Son of God himself, was also a prophet.
Remnants of truth
Imagine Christ’s teachings and doctrine as if it were a mirror. When Christ and his apostles were killed by those that rejected their teachings, that mirror fell off the wall and shattered into thousands of pieces (that apostasy thing we were talking about).
Whatever faithful believers were left scrambled to salvage as many pieces of truth as they could—truly a noble effort. But again, priesthood authority and prophetic guidance were lost. Well-meaning individuals did the best they could with the truths that remained. One group of like-minded believers took their shards of truth and established a church. Thousands of other groups did the same thing with the truth they had access to. A plethora of churches and belief systems emerged, setting the stage for our day.
Following the pattern of prophets previously outlined, Mormons believe that in the early 1800s a boy named Joseph Smith was called to be the next restorative prophet after the massive apostasy that followed Christ’s death. Through Joseph, Christ restored priesthood authority and the fulness of His gospel—the entire mirror.
Each shard is important
Surely it sounds presumptuous of us to claim that we have the entire “mirror of truth,” but the whole point of this article is to remind both Mormons and non-Mormons that though we believe to have access to the whole mirror, that should not by any means negate the importance of the truth everyone else has access to.
Gospel truth is gospel truth, no matter where it comes from.
For example, the hallmark of Christianity is a firm belief in Jesus Christ and His role as the Redeemer. THAT IS A HUGE CHUNK OF MIRROR. Combine that with the belief that God is our Heavenly Father, loving our neighbor, the Holy Bible, the gifts of the Spirit; that’s a ton of truth. And Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on truth either. I’d argue that every religion in the world has shards of truth.
Back in 2006 President James E. Faust affirmed that “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.” Amen to that!
What missionary work is all about
Let’s appreciate truth from whichever direction it’s coming from. And as we Mormons share our beliefs with others, remember that mirror. Most everyone is already grasping to precious truths. Our job is to show them how those shards fit with the rest of the mirror—how their pieces of the puzzle fit with ours. And even if a certain belief is flat out wrong, I bet it’s still based on a true principle. Maybe that shard just needs a little Windex.
We’re not here to trash their mirror. We’re here to recognize their truths, buff out the scratches, and reorient them a bit if necessary. As President Gordon B. Hinckley invited, “Bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it.”