My friend Martin Tanner and I substituted tonight on the Interpreter Radio Show for the usual first-Sunday hosts, who couldn’t be there for this episode. As always, I enjoyed it.
I’ve been thinking about this statement from my friend Don Bradley, who gave me permission to use it here some time ago:
I want to share part of my faith here with those who aren’t familiar with it, and to testify of it to them, to my co-religionists, and to my children.
The prophet-founder of my faith declared one of its foundational principles to be gathering up truth, wherever it may be found:
“It is one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”
He taught that we must embrace the truths of all religions and “get all the good in the world” in order to “come out a pure Mormon.”
He also taught that “Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism,” and that Mormonism was designed to “revolutionize and civilize the world” by making us all friends and brothers and sisters.
“We,” he said speaking of various religions, “do not differ so far in our religious views but that we could all drink into one principle of love”: religions are animated by the same principle of love as the parts of the body all (as Paul said) “drink into one spirit” and are animated by the same spirit. Animated by the same spirit of love, all religions are thus part of the same body.
Joseph taught that people of different faiths “should cultivate the friendship of each other.” And he lived this principle. He advocated for the rights of all religions. And when a minister of another faith came to Nauvoo, Joseph would lend him his pulpit and let him preach. He sought to “weld” together people of all religions in bonds of love and friendship.
These are foundations of my religion. My religion not only _allows_ me to gather truth from other religions and to build bonds of friendship and brotherhood and sisterhood with their adherents and worship with them; it REQUIRES me to do so.
If you ever find me reading devotionally in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Bhagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching, or Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah; studying what sciences like positive psychology reveal to us about living a good life; practicing loving-kindness meditation developed by Buddhists; or worshipping with Christians of all denominations, and with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs..; that may look like religious and philosophical eclecticism. It will actually be me endeavoring to live _my_ religion.
Far from contaminating Mormonism, such a universal search for truth, goodness, and unity is the only way, in our founding prophet’s definition, to “come out a *pure* Mormon.”
When I have most fully remembered and enacted the expansive vision Joseph Smith gave us for Mormonism, my faith has been the strongest, my life the happiest and most exciting, my heart the most open, and my searches for truth of all kinds–moral, spiritual, scientific, practical–the most fruitful and the most harmonious.
Of that I am God’s witness.