Sep 26, 2013

Coexistence (AKA Articles of Faith Part 2)

By Ramona Siddoway

Last month I wrote about the first two articles of Mormon faith, with the intention of removing stereotypes and misunderstandings. While these articles are not complete in explaining all the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they are a good summary of LDS scripture and principles taught and understood by the members of our faith.

Part of my reasons for wanting to write about our articles of faith is to address questions I have been asked in the past. They are direct and good questions. This is how I feel we can co-exist and learn so much from each other in an interfaith community with different theological beliefs. As a continuation of last month’s post, here is the third article of faith and my take on how it holds value in an interfaith community:

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." That's pretty self-explanatory, don't you think? It also often causes misunderstandings between Christians and people of other faiths.

In an interfaith community we explore and celebrate our similarities. We don’t ignore our differences, but we don’t use them as an excuse or as our focus. In an interfaith community we all have a belief in a God, a Higher Power, a Great Creator. In the end it will be God that will be the final judge who, I believe, will take into account the complex world of cultures and our deepest desires and sincere efforts to live a life according to the light we are given while we lived on this earth (I sure hope I have a merciful God reviewing my life).

In an interfaith community I find that we have several things we have in common:

• a love for family

• a deep desire to refine our own spiritual practices

• a sense of responsibility for our part in promoting peace

• a desire to understand one another as well as to be understood

• a concern over our liberty and our continuing ability and right to practice our religions fully 

These similarities are what will ultimately draw us closer together and act as a beacon to those around us who are still unsure about interfaith relationships. 

So . . . having said all this, do I become concerned if another religion or faith does not accept Jesus Christ as their savior? No. While I enjoy sharing what I believe, it is not my responsibility to change, coerce, or to judge anyone else. That is not my job. That is not my assignment. And that certainly is not my burden. When I dialogue with someone of another faith I don’t look at them and secretly think, “You poor sap. You are going to hell.” (Remember, not everyone has the same belief about what hell is or if it exists. But for those of us who do it is very hurtful to be “sentenced” there by those who claim to know the heart and mind of God.)
How will someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ as a savior be “saved”? (Once again, the idea of what “saved” differs from faith to faith.) My favorite line from the movie Rudy is from the priest who says to him, “There are only two things in life I’m certain of: there is a God and I am not Him.” We believe God has prepared a way in all things. I trust in living my life to the best of my ability and to the light I believe God has given me. I also trust in the light and peace I feel when I participate in interfaith discussions, when I serve my fellow man, and when I have been guided to relationships that bring me clarity and rejuvenation in my own spiritual practice. 

I encourage you to find out more about other faiths and learn about each of their articles of faith; it makes for a more enriching and satisfying experience.
Ramona Siddoway is a freelance writer and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons) where she volunteers in the Public Affairs department. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Interfaith Houston.

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