5 things we can learn from our Christian cousins

Sunday Sermon

Learning from each other

We Latter-day Saints never claimed to have a monopoly on truth. There is much we can learn from our Christian cousins, and there is much they can learn from us. (See: “20 Distinctive Beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” londonedition.net, Oct 3, 2021)

We also owe the early Christians a great debt. Instead of condemning them for perpetrating the “Great Apostasy” and perpetuating the “Church of the Devil,” we should thank them. They strived to preserve the church, the gospel, and the scriptures. They sacrificed everything, even their very lives, to keep the Christian church alive. Most important, they painstakingly hand copied the books of the Holy Bible, over and over, and translated them for our benefit.

Early Christians hearing the Word of God

Ezra Taft Benson:
 “God, the Father of us all, uses the good people of the earth … to accomplish his purposes.  It has been true in the past, and it is truth today, it will be true in the future. (“Civic Standards for Faithful Saints,” Ensign, July 1972, p. 59)

Brigham Young:
“It is our duty and calling … to gather every item of truth and reject every error.  Whether a truth be found with … the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of which have more or less truth. It is the business of …  this Church to gather all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation … wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and bring it to Zion.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 382)

The First Presidency:
The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers … received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.” (First Presidency statement, Feb. 15, 1978.)

1. Emphasizing Holy Week and Easter

I seldom hear references to “Holy Week” in church. Easter Sunday, the celebration of the most important event in all human history, wasn’t nearly as special as Christmas.

During the 2023 April General Conference, there were/was a plethora of references to “Holy Week.” 

Furthermore, in 2023, the First Presidency canceled all meetings on Easter Sunday, except sacrament meeting, where the members renew the covenants they have made with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ  “We may appropriately invite friends and family to join us that day to receive messages of hope, peace, the reality of immortality and the possibility of eternal life through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice.” 

We can enhance our worship of the Savior by improving our celebration of Holy Week and Easter in our homes, wards, and families.

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2. Focusing on the Fundamental Importance of Grace

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I rarely heard the “Doctrine of Grace.”

BYU Religion Professor Robert Millet recalled that, before leaving from Louisiana on his mission, he asked his LDS father, ‘Dad, what does it mean to be saved by grace?

He answered quickly, ‘We don’t believe in that.

We don’t?‘ I said. ‘Why not?

Without any hesitation, he replied, ‘Because the Baptists do!‘”

The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants place great emphasis on the fundamental doctrine of grace. (See: 2 Nephi 10:24; 2 Nephi 25:23; Jacob 4:7; Moroni 10:32 -34; Mosiah 2:20 – 25; D&C 17; D&C 76:94; D&C 84:99; D&C 138:12 – )

Latter-day scriptures teach:

  • We are saved by grace. 
  • We are reconciled to God through grace.
  • God’s grace allows us to overcome sin.
  • God’s grace redeems us.
  • The Creation was a gift of grace.
  • The Atonement was a gift of grace.
  • We are preserved daily through God’s grace.
  • We are blessed though His grace.
  • We are “perfected” through grace.
  • His grace empowers us

The first principle of the gospel always has been, is, and always will be faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Grace. We accept Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer.  It is only by and through his name and his grace that we can be saved and return to our heavenly home.  

3. Praising the Lord

I scarcely hear “Praise the Lord” in church.  Yet, to “Praise the Lord” is a commandment.

Praise the Lord” is mentioned 33 times in the Bible. “Let everything that hath breath Praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalms 150:1-6) “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.” (Psalm 147:12) “Praise ye the Lord.  Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.” (Psalm 148:1)

Praise the Lord” is found in latter-day scriptures. “He did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.” (Ether 6:9) “And in that day shall ye say: Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.” (1 Nephi 22:4) “Praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” (D&C 136:28)

We should continually “Praise the Lord” in our hearts, minds, AND words. He deserves our praise, and we need to praise him. It’s the least we can do.

4. Restoring the Cross as a Symbol of our Christianity

The Cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. We justify our lack of using the Cross because it is a “symbol of his death.” We imply that, unlike “other” Christians, we worship the “living Christ.” This is an insult to all Christians, who also worship the living Christ. 

The Cross is the supreme symbol of Christ’s Atonement.  For Christians, the Cross symbolizes not only his death, but his entire mortal ministry and his suffering, death, AND resurrection.  Ultimately, the Cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin.

The Cross also represents Christ himself and the faith of his believers.

The scriptures, ancient and modern, repeatedly proclaim that Christ died on the Cross for our Sins. (See: 1 Ne 11:33; D&C 53:2; Hel. 14:15; D&C 46:13; D&C 18:11; Alma 21:9; 3 Ne 27:14; D&C 138:35; 3 Ne 27:14; 2 Ne 26:24; Is 53:5; D&C 76:41; Al 22:14; Is. 53:5.)

The symbol of the Cross also reminds us to take up our cross daily and follow Him.  (Lk 9:23)

I look forward to the day when the Cross is “resurrected” as a symbol of Latter-day Saint Christianity.  

5. Keeping “Jesus Christ” in our Name

Mormon Church” is a pejorative, insulting name, like: “Quaker,” “Shaker,” and “Methodist.” It removes the name of Jesus Christ.

In 2018, President Russell M. Nelson reminded Latter-day Saints that the Lord “commanded:” “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 115:4) Since then, the church has also discouraged its members, journalists, and scholars from using “Mormon Church” and referring to its adherents as “Mormons.”

The new church logo, featuring Jesus Christ above the true name of his church, is another step in the right direction.  

Hand Copied Bible

(See: http://www.londonedition.net)

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