Several years ago, my colleague Brent Top and I sat with two Protestant ministers for a few hours in what proved to be a delightful and extremely enlightening conversation. Absent was any sense of defensiveness or any effort to argue and debate; we were earnestly trying to understand one another better. Toward the end of the discussion, one of the ministers turned to me and said: “Bob, it bothers you a great deal, doesn’t it, when people suggest that Latter-day Saints are not Christian?” I responded: “It doesn’t just bother me. It hurts me, for I know how deeply as a Latter-day Saint I love the Lord and how completely I trust in Him.”
My Protestant friend then made a rather simple observation, one that should have been obvious to me long before that particular moment. He said: “How do you think it makes us feel when we know of your belief in what you call the Apostasy, of the fact that Christ presumably said to the young Joseph Smith that the churches on earth at that time ‘were all wrong,’ that ‘all their creeds [are] an abomination in [my] sight,’ that ‘those professors were all corrupt’ (Joseph Smith—History 1:19), and that in your Doctrine and Covenants your church is identified as ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth’ (D&C 1:30)?” I can still remember the collage of feelings that washed over me at that moment: it was a quiet epiphany, coupled with feelings of empathy, sudden realization, and a deep sense of love for my friends. For a brief time I found myself, mentally speaking, walking in their moccasins, seeing things through their eyes. It was sobering, and it has affected the way I seek to reach out to men and women of other faiths.