Return to About Mormons home
Why Do Things Work This Way?
by W. John Walsh
Why is the Church needed? Can't we be saved without a Church? Why is the Priesthood needed to invoke God's power? Can't we just pray for blessings? Why do we have to be baptized? Can't God just magically clean us from our sins? Why do we need a Savior? Why didn't God just forgive us instead of killing his own Son? Why is a successful mortal experience a prerequisite for eternal life? Couldn't God just create us from the beginning as perfect beings?
The concise answer to to these and similar questions is rather simple: (1) Because it is part of God's plan (i.e., the plan of salvation). Our Heavenly Father has devised a mortal experience which will prepare us to return to his presence, fit to live in his company, and enjoy a lifestyle similar to his own. (2) God can't do anything unholy or un-Godlike. Our Heavenly Father is bound by the same eternal laws that he gives his children. His absolute faithfulness to eternal law is the reason that we can have faith and trust in him.
While we may not understand all of the reasons for every aspect of the plan of salvation, we know some of the reasons for some of the most important parts. Here are some more specific answers to some of the questions listed above:
Why do we need the Church? In order for us to enter the Celestial Kingdom, it is important that we live our lives in conformity to the commandments of God (See D/C 76:52). Where and how shall we learn these commandments? If everyone simply believed according to their own desires, then mass confusion would result. All one has to do is simply look at the Protestant and Catholic worlds to see what I mean. Is homosexual marriage acceptable? Are ordinances required for salvation? What are the correct books of the Bible? It all depends upon what church you attend, doesn't it? The Lord has said: "Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion." (D&C 132:8) The Lord has established one true Church to ensure that people learn the true principles and behaviors which are prerequisites for life in the Celestial Kingdom.
Why is the Priesthood needed to invoke God's power? Why is a successful mortal experience a prerequisite for eternal life? Eternal life is obtained one choice at a time. According to the plan, as we make correct choices and follow the Spirit of the Lord, we grow and become more like God. By giving his sons the priesthood and allowing them to exercise its powers, he gives them the opportunity to make the choices and give the service which will slowly transform them into beings capable of doing his work. They become "gods, even the sons of God." (D&C 76:58) (See Work and Glory of God; Godhood)
Occasionally, we may be tempted to say "Well, I don't like that part of the plan!", but if we desire God's blessings, it is incumbent upon us to conform ourselves to it anyway. We may not like the fact that God has chosen to express his power in a certain way, but if we refuse, we should not expect God to bless us in an alternative method. For example, let's say we want God to bless us directly instead of using the priesthood as a channel. We say, "God I want you to heal my child through a prayer of faith, not a priesthood blessing from my husband!" Well, since God has told you the preferred method is a priesthood blessing from the child's father, why would you expect him to answer your prayer when you have rebelled against his instructions? Of course, if your husband were not available to give a blessing, an entirely different set of circumstances presents himself. In this case, the Lord may indeed answer your prayer. The key to righteousness is to follow the prescribed pattern that our Heavenly Father has laid out.
I have offered the above comments to show that while we may not understand the reasons behind every aspect of the plan of salvation, we do have insights into many of them. I also believe that every person can gain additional insights into why certain aspects of the plan are the way they are by showing obedience to its principles: "for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6)
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page; Following the Prophets home page;
All About Mormons