A Latter-day Saint Perspective on

excerpts from article by James A. Toronto - LDS Ensign Magazine: p.50-58, August 2000

James Toronto writes: "Recently I received a phone call from two Church members in Los Angeles who had become acquainted with a Muslim neighbor from Pakistan. When they shared with him the story of Joseph Smith's First Vision, his response surprised them. After stating that Muslims accept no prophets after Muhammad, he said that Joseph Smith's story shared similarities with Muhammad's. He said, "We believe Muhammad encountered a divine messenger who informed him of his new calling as prophet. He received revelations of new scripture that contains God's word to mankind, and he established a community of believers that developed into a major world religion." Knowing little about Muslims and Islam [Muslims are followers of the religion (meaning "submission to God"). Islamic scripture is contained in the Qur'an (Koran)] or about Muhammad, the members were unsure in their responses."

"The issues raised by this experience imply a broader question that is relevant for all Latter-day Saints in view of the Church's global presence and increasingly pluralistic societies in which we all live: What is an appropriate Latter-day Saint attitude toward other religions' claims of divinely inspired prophets, scriptures, visions, and miracles?.. "


"President Gordon B. Hinckley has consistently advocated dialogue and mutual respect in interfaith relations. He has admonished members of the Church to cultivate "a spirit of affirmative gratitude" for those of differing religions, political, and philosophical persuasions, adding that "we do not in any way have to compromise our theology" in the process. He gave this counsel: "Be respectful of the opinions and feelings of other people. Recognize their virtues; don't look for faults [Editor's Note: in other words don't discuss sin!]. Look for their strengths and their virtues, and you will find strength and virtues that will be helpful in your own life.[Editor's Note: strength and virtues come from Jesus Christ if Mormons count themselves Christians]"

The above graphic is a page LDS Ensign Magazine: p.50-58, August 2000

"President Hinckley's emphasis on building interfaith understanding is rooted in fundamental gospel principles - humility, charity, respect for eternal truth and recognition of God's love for all mankind - taught by Jesus Christ and by ancient and modern prophets. The Savior repeatedly affirmed Heavenly Father's boundless concern for the well-being of each of His sons and daughters, as in the parable of the lost sheep (see Luke 15)" [Editor's Note see Galatians 1:6-10 KJV 'The One True Gospel': "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."] The author referred to the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 who was left half dead. Notice that the good Samaritan gave the innkeeper money to take care of the wounded man. He did not have a spiritual relationship with him. He took care of his momentary physical need. This Scripture does not apply to accepting another doctrine as being equal to one's fundamental belief in Christ Jesus' sacrifice for our sins. The good Samaritan incidence has nothing to with religious tolerance or rivalry.

The writer goes on: "The Book of Mormon teaches that Heavenly Father "is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; .. and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth" (Alma 26:37; see also 1 Nephi 1:14)." The bowels of mercy relate to the following Scriptures KJV "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil consupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.." (Colossians 3:1-12 KJV) The explanation for verse 3:5 "Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry" states that this verse combats the teachings of Gnosticism which state that the physical body is evil. Since it is evil in itself and cannot be redeemed from its evil ways, it might as well do whatever it wants. This is the reason why Paul says, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth [meaning 'bring them under control and treat them as though they were dead'". Do these verses, referring to the bowels of mercy, in any way imply that we should become one with people who do not believe in Christ Jesus? The Apostle Paul addresses the saints and faithful brethren in Christ in those Scriptures.

The writer is trying convince Mormons next that Muslims are equal to Mormons in that ".. All the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God's children according to the conditions in midst of which he finds them. (Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. (1907), 1:512-13.) The Prophet Joseph Smith, in one of his most eloquent pronouncements on tolerance and compassion, encouraged the Saints to expand their vision of the human family, to view people of other faiths and cultures as our Heavenly Father does and not according to the "narrow, contracted notions of men." He taught that the Father will take complex personal, political, and social circumstances into account at the last day and render final judgment based on a divine, merciful perspective that surpasses our limited human understanding... He will judge them, 'not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,' those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have the law, will be judged by that law."

Jesus stated in Matthew 5:20 "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Refers to Romans 10:3,4 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9,10) This Scripture does not allow for ignorance, social circumstances or political persuasion.

The author continues: "One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism,'" he said, "is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may." The Prophet exhorted Church members to "gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them... Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this theme .. "every truth found in every church in all the world we believe... " Likewise, Elder Russell M. Nelson quoted a public statement issued by the First Presidency of the Twelve Apostles in October 1992, calling upon all people everywhere to re-commit themselves to the time-honored idelas and tolerance and mutual respect.... Our brothers and sisters throughout the world are all children of God." (Ensign, May 1994)

I wonder why Jesus said in John 6:70,71 KJV "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."

Describing Latter-day Saint Interest in Muhammad, the writer refers to "Elder Smith [who] observed that Muhammad was "descended from Abraham and was no doubt raised up by God on purpose" to preach against idolatry. He sympathized with the plight of Muslims, who like Latter-day Saints, found it difficult "to get an honest history" written about them... Upon the whole,.. [Muslims] have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations... in the 1978 First Presidency statement regarding God's love for all mankind. This declaration specifically mentions that Muhammad as one of "the great religious leaders of the world" who received "a portion of God's light" and affirms that "moral truths were given to [these leaders] by God to enlighten whole nations and bring a higher level of understanding to individuals... The church has sought to respect Islamic laws and traditions that conversion of Muslims to other faiths.. Muslim use of Church canning facilities to produce halal (ritual clean) food products... Latter-day Saints .. witness an emerging role for the Church in helping to bridge the gap that has existed historically between Muslims and Christians...

".. Muslims number more than one billion.." the writer continued and proceeds to describe the history of the Muslims beginning with 570 A.D. He summarizes with the fact that "in a recent meeting with Muslim dignitaries, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles focused on the common spiritual heritage of Mormons and Muslims. After quoting a verse from the Qur'an, he observed: "God is the source of light in heaven and on earth. We share the belief with you. We resist the secular world. We believe with you that life has meaning and purpose.. We revere the institution of the family.. We salute you for your concern for the institution of the family.. Mutual respect, friendship, and love are precious things in today's world for our Islamic brothers and sisters... In response to the interfaith dilemma raised by the Church membes in Los Angeles, I was grateful to state that we belong to a church that affirms the truths taught by Muhammad and other great teachers, reformers, and relgious founders... James A. Toronto is associate professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Brigham Young University.

Speaking of the law: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith... This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." (Galatians 5:1-5,8-10)