My Challenge to Mormons, Protestants, Catholics, and Everyone Else
January 16, 1999
James 1:5-8. This New Testament passage testifies that if anyone lacks wisdom they can ask God and He will answer. Notice it says anyone. It doesn't single out believers, saints, Christians, Catholics, Protestants or Latter Day Saints. God is the source of all truth. If anyone asks God a question, He will confirm whether or not it is true by revelation, inspiration or scripture study. If a Buddhist prays to know whether fasting is a true principle, God isn't going to deny it just because it's a Buddhist asking. If anyone prays to Heavenly Father to know if Jesus is His Son and our Saviour, God will answer that it is true. If a Christian prays to know if reincarnation is true, God will confirm that it is not. There is a stipulation, though. God will only answer if the question is asked in faith -- Nothing Wavering. If you don't believe He'll answer, or you've already made up your mind, then you won't recognize it. "For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." Predetermined answers can spiritually blinding.
The verse also speaks of a double minded man being unstable. When we appeal to God but are fixed on a specific answer and a different answer comes, we either won't recognize it or won't accept it. We have to be humble to receive His counsel, and trust His judgment. The apostle, Neal A. Maxwell wrote,
"There are many people who wish to know some but not all of the truth. The Lord has said, 'Behold, I say unto you, that they desire to know the truth in part, but not all, for they are not right before me and must needs repent.' (Doctrine & Covenants 49:2) He has also said, 'And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.' (Doctrine & Covenants 56:15.) Sometimes we don't want to know all the truth because then we could not continue to have pleasure in unrighteousness, and the Lord will not suffer us 'to take happiness in sin.' (Mormon 2:13.) If we are double-minded, the straight and narrow way will be a special navigational challenge." (From his book "Things As They Really Are" [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978])
The only way we can get answers is if we ask questions. God has invited us to ask Him directly. He does not want us to be fooled by false beliefs, or errant doctrines. He gives us the way to receive guidance directly from Him. When we pray in faith and humility He answers, sometimes directly or indirectly through scriptures, the Holy Ghost, prophets or teachers.
Faith is an integral part. Faith is the dividing line between believers and vain sign seekers. Sign Seekers base their faith, assuming they have any, on God proving Himself beyond a shadow of a doubt. They want the grand miracles. There could be signs all around them if they would open their eyes. The reality is they don't want to know. They don't want to believe God exists, because it's easier to not believe. Like the scripture reads, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;". People with faith ask questions wanting to know truth, not to discredit it. They see signs all around them because they know they are there. Both believers and nonbelievers saw Jesus Christ performing miracles during His mortal ministry. The miracles reinforced those that already had a foundation laid, but those who didn't just rationalized them all away. They wouldn't believe even though they saw the miracles with their own eyes. All signs and miracles are for the benefit of those who already believe. Like President Spencer Kimball said, "Faith precedes the miracle."
Then there are the other seekers. These people don't pray for truth, but spend their time trying to disprove, discredit, or expose other beliefs and teachings as false. They have every right to do this. However, what they are really doing is trying to justify their religion is right, by proving others are wrong. It's faith by elimination. The rationale is "if I can prove you wrong, I must be right". People that are too busy crying fire might not notice the inferno they are in the middle of.
I think the Savior gave the best solution to this problem when He said:
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
In other words, examine your own beliefs before you criticize others.
When seeking truth, people often cut themselves off prematurely, either by ignorance or convenience. I've heard a lot of people say, "I prayed to Jesus to ask Him for forgiveness, and I was forgiven", or "I prayed and asked Jesus if He really is the Son of God". They have these truths confirmed, and then they stop. Their search for truth ends there. They take that single confirmation of truth and use it as a blanket for everything. The assumption is that if Jesus is the Son of God, which He is, and that He forgave their sins, then their current religious beliefs or affiliation must be true too. This conclusion is a fallacy because God neither endorsed nor denied their religion. He only answered the question that was asked. Jesus said:
"But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils."
We must ask God if all things are true, or it would be too easy for the devil to deceive us. If your bishop, Pastor, Priest, Sunday School Teacher, Rabbi, etc, teach you something, don't just take his word for it, ask God. We shouldn't be afraid to ask God to confirm His truths. Especially, when He is inviting us to ask.
This is my challenge to everyone who reads this. Ask God about your own church. Pray to Him and ask whether He approves of your religion or not. Ask Him about everything your church teaches. Don't cut yourself short, and be prepared for some of the answers you might get. My challenge is the same as Moroni's Challenge, which is:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4)
Since I'm using his name as my alias on the internet, I'm referring to this as my challenge too.
Beware of anyone that tries to convince you not to pray about religious matters. Don't trust them. They are hiding something. Only the devil doesn't want you to pray to your Father in Heaven. Each time you communicate with God, you strengthen those bonds, and lessen the influence of the adversary. What person who claims to believe in God would persuade anyone against communing with Him? Such a person is not of God and is being blinded by the devil. Don't be deceived.
Sometimes it can be hard to discern the answer. My recommendation is to go somewhere quiet, and ponder your thoughts for awhile. Focus on what you want to know, and minimize distractions. Begin your prayer; thank your Father in Heaven for all your blessings. Then inquire about a couple of issues you already know are true, like the reality of Jesus, or the authenticity of the Bible. See how you feel in your heart; let the Holy Ghost impress that feeling of peace and calm. After that, pray about issues you know are false, such as "Jesus did not die for my sins", "there is no atonement", or "there is no God". Reflect inward and feel the empty, chaotic, and anxious impressions you receive. This way you can discern the difference. Then you can move on to the desires of your heart, to know what is true and what is false. The answers may not come immediately; they may not come how you expect; they may not come for quite some time. Or if your wavering then the answer may not come at all. It's very hard to overcome our own biases and turn our hearts over to the gentle promptings of the Spirit.
Some people read the Bible, or other scripture, but their hearts are not in it, and they never believe. Then they spend all their efforts trying to invalidate the scriptures and those who profess them. If you discern some truth, build on that truth. If you discern something to be false, discard it. If you are not sure, give it time and eventually you will know. Remember, not being sure or not receiving a prompt answer IS NOT the same as disproving something. Sometimes God will wait and test us, to find if we really want to know. God will not cast his pearls before swine, and God will not be mocked. He teaches line upon line, precept on precept, giving here a little there a little. It comes down to faith and trust in God, and not necessarily the teachings of wise and prudent men.
I feel confident in teaching this because this is how I received my testimony. I've studied the writings and teachings of my church. I've read the Book of Mormon, and have received my answers concerning it. I've studied the beliefs and doctrines of other churches and compared them to those things that have been revealed to me as being true, and I have always come back to the conclusion that I am where God wants me to be. I am confident that if people take my challenge, with a soft and prepared heart, putting their trust directly in God's hands; testing the contents of every book, writing, and philosophy, against any truth God reveals to them that they too will know where God wants them to be. They will find peace in knowing that they are on the path God has set for them.
And I write these things in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.