Religious Universalism is a view arguing that all persons will ultimately be reconciled to God. It stands in contrast to Christian exceptionalism or religious exclusivity– which is the fundamentalist idea that only the members of one particular faith, religion or sect will be saved. As such, mainstream Mormon theology is essentially universalist. Certainly more so than most Christian religions. However, the Mormon Universalism Movement takes this argument a few steps further by attempting to show that LDS scripture was originally designed to teach that Christ’s “only true church”, is a spiritual movement composed of all the good people on earth who are making themselves worthy of the heavenly church. And that the “trueness” of an earthly sect corresponds to how well they exemplify or align themselves with the heavenly church. This is opposed to many LDS exclusivists teachings which suggest that all people must be Mormon to be saved, or that the mortal Mormon church is the “only true church” mentioned in scripture (see “reexamining the ‘only true church’ doctrine“). LDS universalists believe in ONE incomprehensible God who is Father to all, and has allowed mediators to create revealed religion (including Mormonism) as a SYMBOL or metaphor (type, shadow, ensign, light, archetype, or example) of how divinity deals with EVERYBODY, regardless of which religion they follow. It seems to us that the Highest Heaven (or “Christ’s” heavenly Church) is composed of ALL those which have achieved (through their self-sacrificing characters) the greatest level of deserved respect, group harmony, balance, love and felicity. We suggest that LDS and Christian scripture teaches that selfless unity in wisdom is the key to Eternal Exaltation or progression. We reject any creed, dogma, sect, idol or belief that unjustly divides people. We believe that LDS scripture supports the idea that Christ (like the Church and other great religious leaders) were chosen in order to be examples or archetypes of the Heavenly Church (which is composed of a body of totally equal and unified individuals) — but that Christian followers and well meaning leaders have all too often turned God and Christ into idols, carved from their own faulty conceptions.
Despite some claims to the contrary, Mormonism IS a reformation. It was founded by people open to inspiration from outside the box. Individuals seeking for things outside the traditional status quo of their 19th century cultures and divisive religions. I’m trying to carry on that torch… trying to follow the spirit leading me to reconcile people. I’m trying to do my part to unify people and their beliefs. Its actually a task I’ve been undertaking in my own worldview for the last decade or so and now I am sharing my journey. I want to bring unity. I want to bring peace. Maybe its impossible? Maybe in my quest for unity, I’m going to cause more division than I remediate? Maybe… But if you want to help out drop me a line and write a guest article.
In my worldview I don’t see a lot of difference between an atheist and a theist. Between a Mormon and a Christian. Between a Christian and a Muslim or Confucian. The differences seem rather trite really. Like different leaves on the same tree. When I was younger it seemed all my religion did was highlight the differences between my ‘true’ religion and the world’s ‘false’ religion. I could say the same of my family’s traditional political leanings. And I certainly put in my hours marching to that tune. But somewhere in the last decade I stepped through a veil. I found the real Jesus in the Book of Mormon. I found Muhammad in the LDS Doctrine & Covenants. I found Confucian enlightenment hidden in the Masonic symbology of the LDS temple ceremony. I found angels and spirits to escort me through the maze-like hallways of a religion founded by heaven but built by human hands.
I gained this vision of a tree of life with love filled fruit; a diverging river flowing down a mountain with living waters. And despite thinking that my Mormon orthodoxy had brought me closer to Christ, I found I was actually on a branch far from the trunk; a tributary far from the source. But with unity as my goal I struggled up the current toward the source… and the craziest thing happened. As long as I headed upstream with my eyes fixed on the unity of the source, all these other branches and tributaries started joining with my mine. Our beliefs merged. The current grew stronger as the waters combined, but they also grew purer, more blissful and loving. It was like backtracking through time by traversing up a branching genealogical tree. Turning one’s “heart to the fathers” of division; from Joseph Smith to Luther, to Pope Leo to Peter to Rehoboam to Abraham to the biblical patriarchs and back to Christ/Adam & Atman/Manu through myths of Brahma, Fu Xi and Shem.
My articles may often do a crappy job of achieving my purpose. So I apologize in advance. But if you share similar goals, write an article for us! Attempt to reconcile estranged beliefs. Promote pluralism. If these ideas do not resonate with you, and you believe your way is the only true way, or other’s beliefs are full of crap.. we wish you well and certainly can’t blame you–because I saw the world that way once too.
But I hope in this blog, we can show through Mormon and Christian scripture that unity is actually the goal of these traditions. We hope to show that hidden in Christian revelation are the keys to understanding the fundamental unity of all global religion, philosophy and people. That most theological controversies begin and end in paradox; and in the end people believe what they choose to believe, based on their goals of unity or division, control or acceptance–love or pride.
My ideal approach is to start by identifying the opposing views, if possible highlighting the continuum between the extreme views. Then focusing on the commonalities. All the while breaking through the differences by identifying what leads to unity and what leads to division. Showing the differences of language and the commonalities in symbols. And reinterpreting scripture and cultural views in new ways. The foundation of the discussion must be love through respect, unattached to outcome. I believe this is the common theme of both the scientific method and the building of a “testimony” or belief system outlined in Mormonism’s Hel 5:12. That Christ, not so much as a human historical figure or institutionally defined idol, but as a incarnate divine principle of love and unity must be the foundation of our belief systems and our search for knowledge. Those who do not believe in God or Christ may call the ideals they embody by different names. But if we really want to come together in respect, we won’t fight so much over our choosing of words or naming of archetypes.
Check out some of our key articles in achieving pluralism within the Mormon worldview: … A comparative, cosmology, The only true church? Religious idolatry, Reconciling Mormonism and Atheism, The relevance of religion.