‘Elder Pelatiah Brown, one of the wisest old heads we have among us… was hauled up for trial before the High Council. I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine; it looks too much like the Methodists, and not like the Latter Day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please; it feels so good not to be trammeled.” Joseph Smith Jr. History, 1838–1856 pg. 1522
As a nondenominational movement, our focus is on the divinity of Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. We believe that God meets us where we are and, being infinite, reveals that divine nature to us, finite beings, in a way we can understand on a personal level. This means that each individual will define the nature of God in their own way. What unites us in the Fellowship of Christ is our love and discipleship in Jesus.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that we may be saved, if we accept the Grace of Christ and are born again. Salvation is a free gift given to all those who accept Jesus, forsake their sins, and advance in Christ in teshuvah/repentance, growing in Grace. Each of us must build our own relationship with God, a personal relationship. Once we have that relationship, the Holy Spirit prompts us to desire the Sacraments that show the world that we are saved.
Salvation and Exaltation
Salvation and exaltation are our eternal life with God. Beyond this, there is a lot of speculation. I believe that our goal here on the earth is to be a light to the world by our example. The Book of Mormon declares that “now is the time and the day of your salvation” (Alma 16:227b- RAV, 34:31b OPV). We obtain salvation in this life and that extends to exaltation in the next. We know that there is a resurrection, this is a universal gift given to everyone. Again the Book of Mormon teaches, “all men are redeemed because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection” (Mormon 4:72b RAV, 9:13b OPV).
Salvation then is a shift from our carnal mind to gaining that eternal, Christlike perspective. Exaltation is the physical expression of our salvation, the type of bodies we receive as mentioned by Paul, Joseph Smith Jr., and Sidney Rigdon (see 1 Corinthians 15: 22-49, Doctrine of Saints 42/Doctrine and Covenants 76). In other words, salvation is gaining the godly perspective and building a personal relationship with God, and the exaltation we receive after we die is the eternal physical blessing of that perspective. I am sure there is much more to it than this, but we don’t know exactly what will be.
With this understanding comes the joy of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. This means that we may judge ourselves but not others. What many may not realize is that when we accuse other churches of apostasy we accuse them of being Satan worshipers by our very actions.
“Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil; take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness, and as many as repent, and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” -Doctrines of the Saints 12a:35-36
Bible bashing and theological finger pointing are not the love of God. Only Satan wins when we fight amongst ourselves. In the New Testament we find Jesus telling us to love one another, regardless of theology or denomination:
“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me, for he that is not against us is on our part; for whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” -Mark 9:38-41
Love and Kindness
Just because a sect isn’t right for us, that doesn’t mean they are apostates, or in apostasy, or that their keys are worthless. As Christian, we want to treat others with the same respect we desire for ourselves. We must love and accept others where they are, as that is the very Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Go forth and do my works and worry not what other men do; yea, preach mine gospel in my name, and bring those that would come unto me; this shall suffice. Condemn not other branches of the Church of Christ, for contention is not of me; but build bridges that all may come and worship the Father in my name; and this ye shall do, for it is my work, and ye shall do it in my name; So mote it be, Amen.” -Doctrines of the Saints 14d:17-19
Let us be about our Father’s business by loving all those who have found Christ in their own way, loving and respecting our fellow Christians, and our Fellow Latter Day Saints where they are. We can embrace the doctrines we have have in common and learn from our different theologies, growing together in Jesus Christ. In this way we can be a light and an example of the living Gospel of Jesus Christ.