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Warren Aston
Monday, July 01 2013

God Uses More than One People

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“God is using more than one people...the Latter-day Saints cannot do it all.”

Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Twelve.

April 1928 General Conference

Sometimes it is good to pause a moment, step back from the immediate present and look at the Big Picture. Most of us lead busy lives. It is easy to become preoccupied with our life and our work and distracted by the trappings of our culture. In this probationary Telestial world many things are happening around us, good, bad and indifferent, often trivial but sometimes significant, both seen and unseen.

Often too, there is much value in returning to what has been said by inspired, perceptive minds. Long before most of us were born, Orson F Whitney of the Council of the Twelve left us some reflections that often seem to me years ahead of his time. They are good to re-visit.

To its devotees, he said…

Mormonism” is the most glorious thing in existence – the sublimest poem that was ever written, the profoundest system of philosophy that the world has ever known. But the “wise” and the “prudent” pass it by as a thing of naught, or stand at a distance, sneering at it...why is it?

Why couldn’t Abraham Lincoln, that good and great man, see in “Mormonism” what we see in it, and what it really is – the Everlasting Gospel? He and Joseph Smith lived almost within a stone’s throw of each other in Illinois. Why did not the future president recognize in the prophet of God what the Latter-day Saints recognize in him?

Elder Whitney then commented on Horace Greeley, a great commentator in his day who had visited Brigham Young and wrote favorably about much of what he saw in early Utah. But in a religious sense, “Mormonism” remained a sealed book to him. Elder Whitney suggested one possible reason why this might be:

Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of his Church, to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else...some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the Truth; while others remain unconverted...the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view…

God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.

Elder Whitney concluded:

Again I say, the Lord’s Work has need of auxiliaries outside as well as inside, to help it along...many are kept where they are, where the Lord has placed them, and can best use them for the good of all.”

So yes, as Latter-day Saints our part in the Lord’s work is that we have the priesthood, the ordinances and the commission to bless others with these things, but many others outside the membership of the Church also have great responsibilities in that work. The first time that I read Elder Whitney’s words two images immediately came to mind: the Salvation Army, feeding and clothing the poor worldwide, and Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun famously known for selflessly dedicating her life to serving the poorest of the poor in India. I thought too of the United Nations which, for all its faults, remains the only world body that represents all nations and has made an immeasurable contribution to world peace. Then come a host of others, individuals and organizations, often doing what we cannot.

The implications for members of the Church are profound and far-reaching.

Firstly, we need to move beyond the “us/them” mentality where non-members are concerned and the unrighteous pride often accompanying such distinctions. The perspectives of the Gospel should make us more mindful that we are all truly - literally - brothers and sisters, all having the same Heavenly origin and often separated by only a few hours of instructions and ordinances. Of all people on earth we should be the most broad-minded and generous of people in our attitudes toward “others.” There is no room in Mormonism for parochial, insular attitudes.

We must recognize that others love God, and others may know Christ, sometimes profoundly so.

All peoples and cultures have been given truth and light by God to the degree that they can accept (Alma 29:8). Furthermore, as Section 123:12 reminds us, many people now living are only kept from joining us because they know not where the truth can be found. Indeed, millions on earth today still have no access to the Gospel. There are no grounds for anything that smacks of superiority or arrogance simply because we have been given much, or given more sooner than others.

Opportunities to recognize the contributions being made by others - and to join them - will come frequently if we seek them. Indeed, Meridian Magazine has promoted some of these from time to time. Many opportunities close to home will emerge if we look. As in so many areas, however, we must beware the pitfall of ulterior motives when doing good. Our example in this is Jesus. He moved easily among the full spectrum of society in his day - rulers, clergy, lepers, beggars and adulterers - respecting all, working without drawing attention to himself and with no requirement for conversion. We must do likewise.

All these are among the reasons for the Church becoming increasingly involved with a multitude of organizations in many parts of the world. Often they are faith-based - such as Catholic and Moslem charities - and the Red Cross and its Islamic equivalent, the Red Crescent. To date, this involvement has extended to 179 countries and covers a wide spectrum; eye clinics in India, medical equipment delivered to Yemen, assisting a rehabilitation association in the Dominican Republic and so on. 185 collaborative projects have been carried out in Mongolia alone. Scanning through the list of countries the Church has worked in brings some surprises; for example, Iran appears twice. As marvelous as the growth of the Church is, however, the world’s population is growing even faster, so partnering with others of similar values and intent allows us to reach many more than we could alone.

Lastly, at another level altogether, we should also be grateful for those other churches who teach high moral standards and who practice the essence of true religion, caring for others. While they do not have the Fullness in a doctrinal sense, many are still anchors of stability in society and provide a home for those who seek a better life. Increasingly, the Church is becoming involved in such efforts as the great international congresses of world faiths seeking to facilitate peace among nations.

Therefore, while we are rightly grateful for being able to help in times of need around the world, others do also. Many of them offer stability and the moral high-ground. They deserve our appreciation, not our condescension.

As Elder Whitney reminds us, they are part of God’s work also. Many of them have been “placed” where they are by God.

None of this means that we are diluting our core teachings and doctrine in any sense; on the contrary, it demonstrates that we are learning to live them in the real world, more than ever.


16 Comments

  1. I very much liked this article! Thank you so much! Eva Stegeby Sweden
  2. Well said! I have long felt the same thing. I know many people of other religions who are just as righteous (and some more so) than a lot of us Mormons. Mother Teresa could not have done what she did had she not been a Catholic nun. And look at all the televangelists (the good ones, not the ones in it for show and for all the money they can make) who bring Christ to many, One example I can think of is Robert Schuller, whose "Hour of Power" I used to watch. I never heard him teach one thing that was in conflict with our doctrines. I heard a great sermon on tithing one time. He told his listeners they should tithe to their churches (he did NOT say it should be to his church). There are a great many non-LDS people who are helping to bring people to Christ and we should be grateful to them. Thank you for this article.
  3. Excellent perspective Warren. I have a dear friend, the Rev Wes Hartley, former General Secretary of the West Australian Conference or Churches, who has been a positive commentator of the Church's outreach as "fellow" Christians wherever he goes or serves. Yet he hasn't joined the Church for one reason or another. I personally have felt strongly that Wes Hartley was placed where he is by God. Anyone who wishes to share his 2 reports of his visits to Salt Lake City are more than welcome to drop me a line at bakerpa@bigpond.com - thank you again for your article. PHIL BAKER , Perth WA.
  4. Amen! Wonderful and timely article. We are being taught to share the gospel from a feeling of love and compassion for our fellowmen. It is very apparent that our church leaders understand the principles outlined in this article and want us all to benefit individually and grow in our own faith and love for God as we share the gospel and trust Him to bring forth the"fruit" in His time and way!
  5. What an incredibly eye-opening, thought-provoking and LOGICAL article!!! It ties in perfectly with our entire belief system of respecting others' religious beliefs and recognizing the good in them. Thank you for this enlightening article! I am going to print and save it for discussion.
  6. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For saying what I have been saying for years. Too many of our LDS fail to see this. When the newest Pope was selected, I watched the procedure. I found it interesting and my thought was that although I am not Catholic, I think they have chosen the right man to lead 80 Million people. Their selection seemed to be based on prayer and a sincere heart. God answers sincere prayers. An LDS friend could not understand what I was saying. I told her that God would not want them to have an unrighteous man leading 80 million people and thus he answered their prayers by directing them to the man who could meet the challenges of today. It opens the door for many more to have a firm foundation for the day they encounter the missionaries or have the opportunity to hear the gospel. Take the good from each church. Bring it with you when you find the fullness of the gospel.
  7. Yes, this is true. The LDS Church is closely associated with the Catholic Church, for instance, and partners with them in many ventures relating to marriage, abortion, the poor and needy, and religious freedom. We need our friends of other faiths.
  8. Thank you for this wonderful viewpoint. Too often I hear and feel an undercurrent of the "us vs them" mentality--that the LDS, alone, hold the only truth that matters. The blending of the many different efforts of the earth's inhabitants to serve one another will truly bring about a world the Lord will be pleased with.
  9. Excellent article. It is true there are so many good people in the world doing so many good things. I met a group of nuns who set up schools for deaf children all over Paraguay. They were teaching them to become self sufficient for adulthood. Wonderful experience to witness this kind of goodness. Thanks for your insights.
  10. A refreshing reminder to all members of the Church. We need to consider these truths, especially as we endeavor to do member-missionary work. We might also consider them in the context of our wayward children who while sealed to us have chosen a different path for now, but are good people and are contributing to society.
  11. Thank you Brother Aston! I have often contemplated this very subject and shared this same view with members. Unfortunately, so many seem to think that unless a person is a member of the church, they are "less". It saddens me a great deal. Thank you for your inspired insights!
  12. I simply cannot believe that mine is the first, and so far only, comment on this remarkable article. I have sent the link to dozens of friends and family. My daughter reminded me of an embarrassing experience she had in high school when she blurted out to a new acquaintance "You are so good, I thought you were LDS!" We simply cannot assume that because we have the fulness of the Gospel, and the Priesthood, that we have a monopoly on truth, or goodness, and that we are God's favorites. If anything the restored Gospel should make us all the more humble and grateful and ready to learn from the goodness of others. We do need one another, and we do need to help our brothers and sisters come unto Christ, while realizing that there are so many others of other faiths, or maybe even no faith at all, who can do the same for us.
  13. awsome and timely artical,now we are heading down the right road brothers and sisters all.
  14. Sorry Bro Ashton, but the United Nations has NOT made even one "contribution to world peace!" Please itemize even one...can't be done. Their bloated gazillion-billions budget (supplied mainly by USA taxpayers) is SO wasteful & they're no longer relevant --as they need to move their HQs to Europe, & USA get out of it. We witnessed first-hand in Africa, that the LDS Church could give malaria shots for $1 each, but the UN (useless nations) was way over TEN dollars per!...as they're riddled with graft and corruption too. The humanitarian work by churches and private charities far exceed the UN. Your article was accurate on the points of so much truth / correct doctrine, faith, and goodness in other religions and good people out in the world. Just look at the many good people who voted for Prop 8 in California, but if you believe the news media, the minor LDS percentage was touted as the majority movers and shakers. Pres Hinckley also re-phrased a saying from years before, that should guide us: "Bring the good and truth that you have and allow us to add to it." (roughly, but close). We can all do better if we keep in mind Elder Whitney's teachings on this.
  15. My mother passed on a aphorism, Some people need to bloom where they have been planted.
  16. All people are God's use, work , and glory! He gives us all page and pen and waits to read our story!

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