Absolute Truth

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in absolute truth--universal moralism, if you will. That is, we believe that to every question in the universe (excepting those that are personal opinion, such as favorite colors etc) there is precisely one correct answer. For example, to the question "Does God exist?" there is exactly one correct answer, and the answer is "Yes." I would like to clarify what absolute truth is and what it isn't.

While it may be the case that every question has an answer, that does not necessarily imply that the answer to the question is known. From the example above, we see that there are questions that we have answers to, such as the fact that God exists. However, there are clearly questions that we do not have answers to, such as "How tall is God?" or "How much does God weigh?" These questions have answers--each has exactly one true answer--and yet I cannot answer them because I do not know the answer. Lack of knowledge on any one particular person's part does not imply falsehood. The Earth revolved around the sun and spun on its axis long before any of this was understood by mankind. There was always an answer to the question "Why does the sun rise in the East and set in the West?" although the answer was not known for possibly thousands of years of human existence.

Another thing to point out is that while our church asserts that there is absolute truth, that we can know it, and that the church is the most correct of all churches on the Earth, it does not claim to know the answer to every question. One evidence that the current teachings of the church may not reflect a precisely accurate depiction of the absolute truth that exists is that certain teachings of the church have changed over the years. For example, there was a point in time when it was taught that some men would be allowed to have multiple wives. However, at this point in time any member of the church that marries multiple women (simultaneously) is excommunicated. So, this begs the question "What is God's view on polygamy?" It is clear from the Bible that there are times when God allows, or even encourages, polygamy. And there are also times when He condemns it. So, the best we can answer that question with the knowledge we have is "Sometimes polygamy is ok, but usually it isn't."

There are also interesting doctrinal questions that the church has given different answers to over the years. For example, there was a point in time when certain leaders of the church taught that Mary was impregnated with Jesus by having actual sexual intercourse with Heavenly Father. This was referred to, euphemistically, as the ascension of Mary into Heaven. At the current point in time, to the best of my knowledge, the church does not assert that this is true. Personally, I do not believe it myself. In fact, I feel that it contradicts the teaching that Mary was virgin. All I mean to say is that there is an actual answer to the question "How did Mary conceive Jesus?" and that the church has given at least two different answers over the years.

So, do we, as members of the church, accept every word that is spoken by any one of its leaders as absolute and eternal truth? No. That would lead to logical paradoxes, such as "Why, then, does church policy and doctrine change?" We do believe that the prophet (the president of the church) speaks for God--that he actually converses with God to discern His will. But, we believe that God reveals His truth to us line upon line, here a little and there a little. Therefore, we believe that the doctrines and teachings of the church will continue to be refined over the years until we finally do know all of God's truth, and then at that perfect day we will be able to answer every question. But we do not believe that perfect day has yet arrived. We merely accept the truth we have been given and look forward with faith and hope that we will receive more.

I end by bearing witness of the things that I know are absolutely true. I know that God exists, and that He is the Father of our spirits. I know that His Son Jesus Christ came down to this Earth to suffer and die for us. That through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, if they will repent and turn to their God. I know that God loves us all very much and wants all of us to return to live with Him in the next life. I know that the Holy Spirit is sent to each one of us to help us find the truth and know the path that we must follow in order to be exalted. I know that God established His church here on the Earth to bless our lives, and to help us all to find the truth, to support each other, and together strive to return to Heaven. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that by reading it and following its teachings we can grow closer to God and feel His Spirit.