In April 1977, Elder Delbert L. Stapley bemoaned what he saw as a tide of relativism with regard to the notion of a true church:
“My brothers and sisters and friends, the following statement is sometimes voiced by well-intentioned and sincere individuals: “You go to your church; I’ll go to mine; but let us walk together.” However, can people really walk together if they don’t agree on the basic teachings of the doctrines of Christ? Do all Christian churches teach the true gospel and its principles and also have the authority to administer the saving ordinances which will guide and exalt their members in God’s heavenly kingdom?
Elder Stapley rejected the teaching that remains in vogue today that “all roads lead to God.” He emphasized that “it is a philosophy inconsistent with the teachings of our Lord,” and that [t]here is no logic or reason to the proposition that inconsistent teachings and differing doctrines can bring about the same results. If truth comes from one source—God—how can it be so diversely taught? We know that all truth does emanate from God and is therefore unchangeable, consistent, and unified. Consequently, not all Christian churches with their dissimilar teachings can provide a fulness of truth.”
The restoration ultimately began because of a sincere desire to find out where a young seeker could turn for truth. God did not provide the popular modern answer that all churches lead back to him. Instead, he emphasized the need for a restoration of his Church and proclaimed that all other churches lacked the fullness of truth.
That is a hard truth for modern ears to hear. But in our justifiable and praiseworthy efforts to be inclusive, we risk loosing sight of the very question that took Joseph Smith to his knees in the sacred grove. We risk becoming complacent.
Today a multiplicity of churches and doctrines abound, all claiming one source. Such a claim, of course, defies reason and contradicts the teachings and pattern established by Jesus Christ. A sincere seeker for truth must ask: “Which, if any, of the varying Christian groups is right?” For guidance, the apostle James gave this counsel: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5.) If you sincerely put this promise to the test in seeking light and truth, you will be rewarded.
In Joseph’s day there was great confusion and tumult, but at least people were asking the right questions. In our day, the relationship between various faiths has improved and ecumenicism is on the rise, but so many are put off from ever asking one of the most important questions that they will ever ask. How tragic