Today in church our bishop and some of his family members shared experiences they had while visiting Uganda, Africa. It impressed me how he shared his testimony of how the love of God is shown in all people throughout the world and how he was so grateful for his relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
His experiences and testimony reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads:
…for he (the Lord) doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
This scripture reminded me of another statement made by the Baptist Preacher who believes in the Book of Mormon, John Ridenour. In this statement, he submits that God is non-denomonational and that God doesn’t really care about doctrine as much as he cares about how we treat each other. A part of his statement is included below:
How does God think?
When He looks down over my city, Kansas City, Missouri, He doesn’t see Baptist churches or Lutheran churches or Catholic churches or Pentecostal churches or Mormon churches. He sees His children. That’s it. God is not “denominational.” We have over 100 denominations in our city but I submit-the Lord recognizes none of them. That is, His Church is built upon the rock of revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 13). I submit-when the Lord looks down upon any city, He sees His Church-and all who have had a personal revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, are members of His Church. I’m saying–I want to view His church as the Lord sees His church–based upon a revelation of His Lordship, not doctrinal agreement. Why wait ‘till we all get to heaven to think like God thinks?
I’m also saying-too often we’re divided by doctrine. That ought not be. He who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior is my brother in the faith. Fellowship is centered around His Lordship, not doctrine. Again–all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, regardless of creed, color, or class, are my brothers and sisters. I like the way C.S. Lewis said it in his classic book “Mere Christianity.” Lewis says, “…it’s not that we Christians disagree; it’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements…” How true! Example…
For some of the brethren, it’s very important that we believe in baptismal regeneration before we will fellowship; for others it’s very important that we believe in irresistible grace (the Calvinist point of view of Salvation) before we can fellowship; with others, the will of man (Armenian point of view) plays a crucial role in one’s salvation. With some of us, we embrace the “second blessing” typically known as “the deeper life experience.” Methodists call it sanctification. Others of us do not believe in the second blessing experience. Some of us believe in the “baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit” with the evidence of glossalalia; others of us don’t. Some of us are pre-millennial regarding our views on the Second Coming; some of us are post-millennial; a few of us are amillennial. A few of us think esoteric temple rites have a role to play in the afterlife.
See what I mean? Fellowship too often is based upon doctrine.
We as mortals will never come close to seeing things the way that God does, but I think that the Book of Mormon scripture along with this statement by John Ridenour are very positive steps in starting to see things the way God does. One of the beauties and magnificence of God is that he sees all people the same whether they believe or not. He loves unconditionally in a way that we will never comprehend and His arms are always stretched out ready to receive us. I believe that God blesses all people, and those who take steps of faith towards Him come to know and love Him. As a result, we come to love and appreciate all people and see them as God sees them.
Now, I’m sure most people will agree that God loves everyone and is not partial towards one group of people, as the Bible teaches, but it leaves the questions: which doctrines and religions are recognized by God? Which ones are not? Does it even matter?
All I can speak from is personal experience, and I firmly believe the path I’m on is the correct path. I believe that God appeared to Joseph Smith and re-established the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe this as a result of personal study and sincere prayer and many experiences. However, I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on truth and there are many things which haven’t been revealed to us as to how heaven works.
I know many people in other faiths who say they’ve had just as personal of experiences and a witness from God that their path is the correct path. I don’t doubt that God has just as close of a relationship with them as He does with me. But if we believe there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, etc. how can we say that God is not denominational?