As a missionary, I taught a man that had converted to my faith from another church to which he still had strong ties through friends, family, and tradition. These ties made it difficult for him to pursue full activity in his new faith because he felt he was abandoning and even insulting his old one.
One time he asked my companion and me, “You don’t really think Mormons are going to be the only ones in heaven, do you?”
At this point in our conversation, I was starting to get a bit frustrated and I was about to answer, without love and understanding, with an explanation of Priesthood. The Spirit stopped me, however, and I pictured in my mind a group of people with labels glowing on their foreheads. They read, “Baptist,” “Catholic,” “Church of God,” etc.
The Spirit asked me, What about Father Abraham?
I knew that Abraham would not have “Mormon” on his forehead. It might read “Jew,” but the Abrahamic Covenant is often claimed by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and Abraham is certainly in heaven. It wouldn’t matter what label he had, I thought, he performed all he did with proper Priesthood, so Priesthood is the answer, right?
What about C.S. Lewis? The Spirit then asked.
I have no idea what particular label C.S. Lewis went by other than “Mere Christianity,” his faith and understanding of God, however, led me to believe that he would be in heaven. He knew the scriptures so well and had such faith, surely, he would do anything that still needed to be done.
I felt confirmation that yes, baptism and all covenants with proper Priesthood Authority are offered multiple times throughout our lives and in the Spirit World. Thus, it is not the largest determining factor, nor is it any great barrier.
What is the difference, the Spirit asked, between someone willing to accept the covenant and someone who is not?
Then I answered the original question from this man struggling with his faith, “I believe as it says in John 17:3, ’This is Life Eternal, to know thee the One True God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,’ and I have come to know God better through this Church than I could through any other.”
This answer, that came through the Spirit, changed the way I view all aspects of our Church. We accept covenants with Him when we know Him and love Him. He blesses us with covenants so we can know Him better. To know God is the purpose of all we have and all we do. It is why He gave us Prophets, Apostles, and Priesthood. It is why we have scriptures, temples, callings, families, even this Earth and our bodies.
I love my faith because the unique doctrines and practices have helped me such that I can now say I know God. If I ever lose Him, I absolutely know where to find Him again. I have a support system that will help me get to know Him better.
When my husband first started doubting in God and religion, we would talk about some of the things that frustrated and confused him. I remember one particular time, after I explained my view of things, he said, “That’s nice, but that’s not what Mormon’s teach. You’re really not that Mormon.”
I don’t know how else to describe my view, however. I learned it from God by reading the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants—in other words, by participating in and being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How can what I learned not be “Mormon” enough?
My husband’s faith crisis did not make sense to me until he told me that he believed that the Mormon God was mean and vindictive, watching and waiting for you to fail so He could punish you. I do not believe that is the God of my faith and it is certainly not the God I worship, but since he told me this right after my own anger at God, it was understandable. When we lose sight of God, confuse His characteristics with those that are in fact foreign to Him, we lose our faith. When we can see God and know Him as He truly is, then we have found our spiritual home.
I told my husband that if he could not find God in this church, then to go look in another. Just don’t give up on God. God is not mean or vindictive. He is kind, patient, and encouraging. If I gain nothing else from my faith after I die, I will still have the confidence and strength that I have learned from God in this life. You’ll know you’ve found God and are getting to know Him when you can conquer your fears and feel surrounded by love and peace even in difficulties.
I absolutely believe that people of other faiths and religions are able to know God, because we are all His children and He abandons no one. He reaches out and speaks to all people regardless of creed. Each church and religion has its own set of tools, its own ways to come to know God personally and meaningfully.
I know God—His character, attributes, and voice—because I have spent time with Him via the tools and instructions given to me through my church. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because the tools unique to this Church—the Book of Mormon, Temples, etc.—are among my most valuable and favorite tools in my tool box. I also believe God has particularly told me to be in this church and I have promised Him that I will always stay here.
I hope everyone would be able to say likewise for their own decision on where they find their spiritual home. We all deserve a place filled with people and aids that will help us know God. As my husband and I learn of other religions and the different tools, rituals, and traditions people use to invite the Spirit into their lives, I find so much beauty.
Ultimately, we are all on the same quest—to know God and have Eternal Life.