Mormonism has long recognized that there is truth to be found in other religions. Joseph Smith declared:
Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316).When Latter-day Saints speak of the "Church" being the only true Church, they mean that it is the only religious organization today which is authorized by God to administer the ordinances he deems necessary for salvation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is synonymous with "Christ's church," hence the declaration that if one is not a member of Christ's church, there is no salvation.
Even the most militant anti-Mormon Christian agrees that there is no salvation outside of Christ. Since Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25- 27), the real question is not just where salvation is found, but which is the Church the Savior established and died for?
The point critics seem to be making is, "Wouldn't it be unjust of God to save only those belonging to this small, unpopular church?" But while we declare that salvation is a narrow path, the scope of this work is broad, encompassing all who will ever live on earth. An official statement from the First Presidency regarding the salvation of those who did not belong to Christ's Church, reads in part:
We also declare that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fullness of joy forever. For those who have not received the gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life (Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 48).It may be that there are members of our Church that give the impression they are members of an exclusive religious society. This is not representative of the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We soberly testify that the church Jesus established in the meridian of time fell away, and that he has re-established it in preparation for his Second Coming. He commands all mankind to believe in him and extends membership in his earthly kingdom to all people willing to take upon themselves his name and be baptized by those who have authority from him. No one will be denied the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ and receive his ordinances through those he has authorized. We invite all to partake of the blessings of salvation and become members of God's earthly kingdom.