In the Book of Mormon we read of an incident where Nephi, the son of Lehi, is shown a panoramic vision of the future beginning with the birth of the Savior and going all the way to the millennial rule of Christ. In that vision, Nephi was shown that after the death of the apostles in Jerusalem there was the formation of a great and abominable church "which is most abominable above all other churches" that inhabited all the nations of the earth. Furthermore, Nephi was shown that the devil was the founder of it. (1 Nephi 13:5,6).
As the vision continued, Nephi was also shown that the twelve apostles of the Lamb had written many things but after their death the great and abominable church took away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which were plain and most precious and because of this the gentiles stumble exceedingly. (1 Nephi 13:26-34).
The question has been asked, "Who or what is this abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil?" The angel who showed this vision to Nephi gave the answer when he said, "Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (1 Nephi 14:9,10).
In our day the Lord Himself has again reiterated this same doctrine. When Joseph Smith went to a grove of trees on his father's farm in the spring of 1820 to ask God which of all the different churches he should join, he later wrote, "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.' " (JS 1:19)
Eleven and a half years later, in November of 1831 the Lord told Joseph Smith that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually" (D&C 1:30).
From these and other verses of holy scripture we can rightly conclude that all churches, except the LDS Church as a whole, God considers to be abominable and that their ministers are being lead of the devil.
However, there are many people of other Christian and non-Christian faiths who exhibit many spiritual qualities such as kindness, compassion, patience, temperance and who live virtuous lives. Many of these people have a real and deep love for Jesus Christ as their Savior and seek to live as He wants them to. There are many people, of all faiths who have felt the presence of God's spirit in their life and have heard God speaking to their heart, giving them comfort and guidance in their life. While there are exceptions to every rule, most Christian ministers honestly and genuinely seek to serve God with their whole heart, mind, and soul and earnestly strive to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ.
But, if this is so, then how do we reconcile their spirituality with the scriptures which indicates that if they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then they are members of Satan's great and abominable church?
The answer is that there is nothing to reconcile because both assertions are correct.
Although this may seem like a contradictory statement, it is the same answer given to the question: "Does a coin have a head on it or does it have a tail?" We clearly understand that it has both and the same is true of the question "Are all churches except the LDS Church abominable in the sight of God or does God bless all churches with His Spirit?"
In reality, those are two different questions just like there are two different sides of a coin. Since, when looking at a coin we can only see one side at a time, therefore let's examine each side of this question separately. For the sake of using this illustration, we could say that God is the "heads" side while Satan is the "tails" side.
As members of the LDS Church we believe that all men everywhere during every period of time are children of our Father in heaven. That is to say, we were each born as spirit sons and daughters of God before this earth was ever created. We further believe that every person who has or will live on this earth voluntarily agreed to come here as part of their desire to become more like God. As part of the plan of salvation we believe that Christ's atonement will save all but the sons of perdition into one of three great degrees of glory - the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial.
What determines who goes where depends on what each person desires for themselves. The Lord has revealed that those who inherit the telestial kingdom "are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus" (D&C 76:82). In other words, those who go to this kingdom of glory are those who don't want to accept the gospel of Christ. Instead, they chose, of their own free will, to reject living the commandments of God, even when it is plainly taught to them.
And the same is true of the other two kingdoms. Those who inherit the celestial kingdom are those who willingly "received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given-That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power" (D&C 76:51, 52). Those who inherit the terrestrial kingdom are those who were honorable men of the earth but who were not willing to submit themselves to keeping the fullness of the gospel.
What this tells us is that our Father in heaven loves all of His children and seeks to give each of them that which they are willing to receive. Those who want to live the fullness of the gospel, God gives them a place where they will find joy and happiness in doing just that. Those who are only willing to receive and live according to a portion of the gospel, God provides them another place where they can find joy and happiness living as they desire, while those who don't want to live any part of the gospel, God provides them with yet another place where they can feel comfortable living according to lesser eternal laws Our Father in heaven will not force anyone into any kingdom but rather allows each of us the freedom of choice to make that determination for ourselves.
However, what God will do is to help us become the best we can in whatever kingdom we aspire to. Therefore, He gives to each person that portion of His Spirit which they are willing to receive. To those who are not willing to accept the revelations God gave to Joseph Smith, He strives to at least help them receive the testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Those who are not willing to receive even that much of the gospel, God strives to help them accept the moral values of right and wrong, of caring and compassion for others, of honesty and integrity, as well as patience and temperance in all things.
As a result of God's spirit working in the lives of His children what we find is that all churches, everywhere, whether they are Christian or non-Christian, have some portion of the gospel contained in them. It may only be one or two truths but usually there is something in their teachings that we, as LDS members, also believe. The Lord has revealed to us that "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessing are predicated - And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (D&C 130:20,21). When people obey any truth, regardless of where it is found, they are entitled to receive the blessings which comes with obedience to that truth, and that includes spiritual blessings as well.
Those who keep God's law of health, whether they believe in Jesus or not, will experience the temporal blessings of wellbeing. Those who treat others kindly will have kindness shown them whether they are Christians or not. Those who call upon God our Father in faith, regardless of what they call Him or even if their concept of Him is not correct, are promised to have their prayers answered and will see miracles in their life. Those who hearken to the whisperings of the Spirit, knowingly or unknowingly, are entitled to its guiding influence, even if they are atheists.
However, there are some blessings that can only be obtained by obeying truths found exclusively in the LDS Church. For example, there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world that in order to enter into the celestial kingdom a person must be baptized by someone who has been properly ordained to this power. If a person refuses to be obedient to that law then they are denying themselves the blessings associated with it.
Yet, having said that, we must never forget that since we are all God's children, He loves each and everyone of us individually and not only seeks to bless each of us in our individual lives but delights in doing so. Therefore, it should not be surprising to find people of other faiths having the same kind of spiritual blessings that LDS members enjoy and that is because they are being obedient to the truths upon which those blessings are predicated.
That is the view from the "heads" side of the coin, but there is a totally different view of the same coin when we look at the "tails" side.
Whereas God loves all of His children and seeks to bless them, Satan hates each of us and seeks to make us as miserable as he is (2 Nephi 2:27), therefore, he looks for every and any opportunity to do just that and he has found fertile ground in accomplishing this goal even among those who believe in God. And one way he does that is by taking away parts of the truth.
We can liken this to someone who wants to take a trip to some place they've never been. Usually, before beginning their journey they will consult a road map first so they know how to get to where they want to go. If they follow the map exactly as it is drawn they will arrive at their chosen destination. But the same cannot be said if parts of the map are missing. If we know where we want to go but we don't know where our starting point is on the map because that piece is not available to us then we are lost right from the beginning. If we know where our starting point is on the map but we can't find the place we want to get to then we don't know which road will take us where we want to go. If all we have is just the center portion of the road map then we don't know where we are starting from or where we are going.
The plan of salvation was clearly taught to Adam and Eve and, over the course of human history, God has sent prophets to teach the correct plan of how to become saved. But, if Satan can remove that portion of the plan which reveals who we are, where we came from, and why we are here, then we have an incorrect idea of where we are starting out from in our journey back to God. If Satan can remove the last part of the plan so that we have an incorrect idea of heaven then we will find ourselves striving to get to some place other than where we really want to go. In most cases, what Satan has successfully done is leave most faiths with just the middle of the road map and then convinces those who seeking to follow Christ that this is all that God intends for us to have and that nothing more is to added to it.
Even though that portion of the map is true and accurate yet it isn't enough to lead people to exaltation. Therefore the lack of truth causes people to stumble exceedingly and lose their way. That in itself is bad enough but what it also does is creates confusion and dissention among the followers of Christ. The apostle Paul taught that there is to be "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5) but because Satan has removed parts of the road map to the celestial kingdom we see the Christian community splintering into thousands of different faiths, with each one claiming that they alone are correctly interpreting the Bible, which is God's road map to salvation.
As stated earlier, Satan's goal is to make all men miserable like himself and one way he does that is by getting people to argue over religious beliefs. When Christ visited the Nephites He chastised them because they were disputing one with another about the doctrine of baptism. He told them, "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away" (3 Nephi 29,30).
In Nephi's vision the angel explained that the great and abominable church is that which "slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down and yoketh them with a yoke of iron and bringeth them down into captivity" (1 Nephi 13:5).
From the very beginning of time to our present day Satan has inspired believers in God to rise up in anger against those who hold a different belief. Cain slew his brother Able over the religious act of offering sacrifices. The Pharisees were angered by the teachings of Jesus and successfully plotted to have him put to death. Afterwards, they sought to do the same to His followers. Later, the Catholic church likewise persecuted those who taught any doctrine they didn't fully agree with. In the founding of America, Protestant churches often had bitter disputes with one another. In fact, it was the churches of his day that inspired people to persecute, torment, and kill Joseph Smith and his followers. Even today we see the same kind of attitude in those who still oppose the LDS church as they diligently seek to destroy or thwart its progress through the use of slander, false innuendo, and out-right lies. And they do this in the name of God, thinking He is pleased with their behavior! All of this hatred does not come from God but comes from God's arch enemy.
Those "Christians" who engage in such behavior in the name of religion are acting under the influence of Satan, and, as far as God is concerned, this is an abominable situation. God loves all of His children and wishes to provide them with the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Instead, by removing certain truths about God's plan for the salvation of His children, Satan has successfully inspired men to teach for doctrine the commandments of men, mingled with a little truth here and there. That means, while every church may contain certain truths, it also contains certain false teachings as well. Therefore, it cannot be said they teach nothing but the truth.
As far as God is concerned, this is not acceptable. God delights in truth and abhors deceit therefore He is not pleased with those churches that teach false doctrine. On the other hand, although the LDS Church may not contain all truth (we believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God) what it does have is completely true.
But that is not to say that all Christians are being lead of the devil. There are many people who are sincerely striving to live as God has commanded and, as such, are entitled to the blessings of God's guiding Spirit. To those people we say, "Keep all the truth you now believe in and let us show you even more truth so that you can receive even more blessings." But what God does find abominable are those teachers of righteousness who "draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." These are not the sincere seekers of God but are wolves in sheep's clothing. It is they whom God considers to be "corrupt" and the reason is because they are not interested in truth, nor are they honest in their worship of God. Rather, they are more interested in teaching their own ideas of truth as they see it. Even if these people are sincere in their beliefs, that doesn't lessen the falseness of their teachings. As such, they are corrupting God's message of salvation and are assisting Satan to fulfill his plan, even if they are doing so unwittingly.
If this is true, then the question can be asked: Why does God permit this situation to exist? Or, asked another way: Why doesn't God put a stop to this spiritual corruption of His salvation for mankind?
The answer is because God allows men the freedom to decide for themselves how they want to behave. If they choose to do evil and deliberately ignore the promptings of His Spirit, He grants them that right. At the same time, all men also have the choice of following the promptings of God and to do good. In this way, whatever consequence each of us face in life is a result of our own decisions rather than of God's choosing.
However, it must be recognized that God's plan is not dependant on man for its success. Whatever failings men might have doesn't hinder God from accomplishing His purposes. In fact, God actually uses our weaknesses to His advantage. This is not so hard to understand because it's the same principle used in martial arts. Judo, for example, is based on the concept of using an opponent's movement to get them off balance in order to defeat them. God works much the same way. Rather than stopping evil, God uses it to teach His children important lessons.
For example, during times of persecution miracles happen to believers more often than during times of prosperity and peace. In this way God is actually able to strengthen people's faith by using Satan's own efforts to cause people to lose faith in God. When Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat that which God had forbid them, rather than causing man to become eternally separated from God as Satan had intended, God used Satan's deception to help man become more like God. When Satan tried to foil God's plan by killing the Savior, He actually helped bring about Christ's atoning sacrifice.
There is a saying that goes, "If life hands you a lemon then make lemonade out of it." In the same way, whatever Satan does God can still make something positive happen because of it. Therefore, He has no problem allowing Satan to lead us into doing evil. On the other hand, if Satan didn't exist, God could still accomplish His purposes for us, except He would chose a different way to do it.
Yet, at the same time God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Even though God can use evil to further His purposes, He is still displeased with those churches who teach false doctrine. In fact, some of His harshest criticisms have been directed towards those who profess a belief in Him. As such, it should not be surprising that God would condemn any false doctrine wherever it is found, nor should it surprise anyone that Satan is at work within all churches seeking to undermine and disrupt God's plan for man anyway he can.
However, while it is true that Satan has successfully corrupted the doctrines of all religions except one, that doesn't mean God is working His will in only one Church. People everywhere are children of God and, as such, God blesses them with His Spirit as much as they are willing to receive it regardless of which church or faith they belong to. Therefore, to tell someone that their church is corrupt and inspired by Satan actually conveys a false impression because it only tells half the story. And neither is it conducive to a spirit of brotherly love nor to persuading people to come to Christ to tell them that they belong to the great abominable church.
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