The 11th article of faith touches on a very important aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Specifically one of liberty and freedom that I have come to love and embrace. The idea of allowing men to worship God according to the dictates of there own conscience is a wonderful principle and one of liberty and freedom.
Different churches around the world worship God via different means, styles and methods. Much of them can seem quite different from ours with traditions and rituals that seem bizarre and strange to the outside observer. When thinking that however we must also remember that we too as Latter Day Saints are unusual and different from them as well.
I have been to church services in the catholic church, Baptist and united respectively as well as some non denominational community church services. I have found there services to be everything from different to strange to what I felt was not reverent and respectful at all.
One church service I went to was loud and involved live band music which was very different from the traditional organ and hymns of a LDS service. The friend I went with ask what I thought of his church services. I told him that I honestly found it be irreverent and not conducive to the spirit of worship I felt that should be present in a worship service.
The catholic services I went to I found to be long, boring and while certainly more reverent it was not the kind of service that I could see my self attending regularly Perhaps it was my LDS faith that turned me off these ceremonies but it still did not feel right to me.
The United church I felt just did not have the right authority and felt off to me in a way I cannot describe.
The Baptist were highly energetic and certainly had the spirit as part of there worship services.
All of these churches have different practices and styles of worship Just as the Muslims and Jews do, or the Hindi or any number of other religious faiths that worship God even if by a different name. All these faiths must be respected in there styles of worship.
All must have the right to worship God according to the dictates of there own heart. This belief is essentiall in order to maintain religious freedom and liberty. Without it the church could not have come to be.
Ann M Madsen said in the Ensign, jun 1984
“How should we respond in these troubled times as we are faced with daily criticism and hostility in the world? And how should we respond to the everyday frictions and failings in our own lives?
I would like to suggest that part of the answer can be found in two phrases in our own Articles of Faith. The 11th article of faith [A of F 1:11] reads: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (italics added).
“Allow all men the same privilege” expresses, of course, the idea of religious tolerance. And I like to think that this is a gospel principle that can be extended to include tolerance in all its forms, which is what my father wanted me to understand.”
This religious tolerance is important to understanding others so that we might share and express our faith with them in a way that is non-confrontational.
As an example I recently met a gentleman while getting off of the train who certainly practice his religious faith quite differently from how most people do in the modern world. It was new years eve and I had said to him happy new year.
I soon learned that he does not practice new years because as he said it is not biblical nor is the year 2015 as the Jewish or biblical calendar is currently in the year 5775. The biblical new year wont happen till march according to this gentleman I met. He believes that animal sacrifice will continue and that while Christ did come to atone for man kind the fulfillment of the law was for him to keep the law of Moses not the ending of animal sacrifice. Shaking hands is also against his religious feelings due to it not being biblical.
I must admit that I was confused on how someone could be a christian while still practice what appeared to be a Jewish lifestyle. How does one believe Christ to be our redeemer and that he did atone for our sins while not believing that he ended sacrifice by his atoning sacrifice and Crucifixion yet here I was talking to someone who believed what he said and worshiped God in what to me seemed to be a contradictory state. However tolerance essentiall to opening up understanding.
I myself got off with a warning that if I continue to be Mormon and don’t start living as per the biblical text in his opinion then I would never get to heaven. I did not get the chance to tell him that he was wrong.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew