Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Universalism and exclusivity

We seem to have an interesting tension in Mormonism (and traditional Christianity, too) between universalism and exclusivism. On the one hand, we have a very inclusivist soteriology, in which all except a very few sons of perdition will be saved in a kingdom of glory. On the other hand, there are exclusive ordinances that must be performed by an exclusive priesthood authority in order to receive the highest salvation.

This tendency manifests itself in a variety of ways, scripturally and in the practice and teachings of the Church. A brief list might include:


The story of the City of Enoch seems to epitomize this tension: The scriptures tell us that “there were no poor among them (emphasis mine). Does this mean there were no poor on the whole face of the earth? I don't think so. It seems that there was some exclusion going on, but that this did not prevent the city from being taken up to God. But we tend to view exclusion as a bad thing today. Are we justified in believing that?

This tension is also manifest in the seeming contradiction of Christ's words in the gospels: on the one hand, he is recorded as saying, “he that is not against us is on our part,” but on the other, he is recorded as saying, “He that is not with me is against me.”

What are we to make of this tension? How far should our desire to be inclusive go? When is exclusion desirable, necessary, ethical?


  1. Just in case you didn't notice on your browser, your tables are really messed up on non-IE browsers. (Like Safari)

      [Comment originally posted by: Clark | Homepage | 05.06.04 - 3:20 am]

  2. Thanks, Clark. It should be fixed now. I typically test only on PC browsers (IE, Mozilla, Opera). Luckily, there's iCapture, which I need to add to my standard testing routine.

      [Comment originally posted by: Grasshopper | Homepage | 05.06.04 - 8:43 am]

  3. I find that generally the Mozilla class of browsers are the pickiest. Generally if it passes it, it passes all the others. Safari usually renders more "errors" better than Mozilla. For instance Times and Seasons still has numerous bugs that keep it from working right with Mozilla.

      [Comment originally posted by: clark | Homepage | 05.06.04 - 1:52 pm]

  4. So Mozilla is more exclusive...

      [Comment originally posted by: BDemosthenes | Homepage | 05.08.04 - 11:38 pm]