Sunday, August 12, 2012


Every once in a while my thoughts drift into that marvelous idealistic land of ‘what if.’ This morning at breakfast Kathleen reported that while walking yesterday the question came up, whether Mohamed was a prophet or not. We had a short discussion on the subject, but the ‘what if’ portion of my mind went into gear and I knew I had to put what was going on in my brain down on paper.

The great Nephite prophet recorded some 2560 years ago that God had declared:

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? (2 Nephi 29:7)

‘What if’ – there is a Universal Father of all mankind? ‘What if’ – He has given His word unto all His children regardless of the spot on this small planet where they might have been born? And the big ‘what if.’ ‘What if’ – His children would adhere to and live lives in accordance to his word?

As the number of times I was privileged to teach the course on World Religions multiplied the more cemented the concept of a Universal Heavenly Father of all mankind became in my soul. The more I learned, the more I came to know that the fundamental teachings of the world’s religions contained more harmonious doctrines than conflicting ideologies.

BUDDHISM: If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me” – in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease, - in those who do not harbor such thought hatred will cease. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love – this is an old rule. (Man’s Religions page 136)

TAOISM: To those who are good to me I am good’ and to those who are not good to me, I am good; - and thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere with me, I am sincere; and to those who are not sincere with me, I am also sincere; - and thus all get to be sincere. (Man’s Religions page 256)

CONFUCIANISM: Tzu-Kung asked, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (Man’s Religions Page 278)

ISLAM: There was a time, when I blamed my companion if his religion did not conform to mine; Now, however, my heart accepts every form; it is a pasture ground for gazelles, a cloister for monks, A Temple for idols and a Ka’bah for the pilgrim, that tables of the Torah and the sacred books of the Koran. Love alone is my religion. (Man’s Religion page 538)

CHRISTIANITY: “You must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind.” That is the great and first command. There is a second like it: “You must love your neighbor as you do yourself.” These two commands sum up the whole of the Law and the Prophet.

Although this sampling is small I hope it will give an idea of why I have come to believe in a Universal Father who has given his word to all his children. Although the dust of ages may have dimmed the original brightness of word, the messages to all nations continue to burn in the embers left from their foundational blaze.

For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true. (Alma 29:8)

The big ‘what if’ – What if the universal brotherhood on this earth would live in accordance with the passages quoted in this Thought? Would the relationships of the earth not be improved? Would weapons of war finally be turned into plowshares? Would the lamb finally lie down by the lion?

I know that most of my ‘what if’ moments fade in the face of reality, but forevermore I will continue to have my heart set on the fulfillment of such ‘what ifs.’

I know that as long as my personal ‘what ifs’ fall short of being ‘what is’ – the universal adherence to the word of our Heavenly Father cannot be brought to pass.


  1. I love your "thoughts"

    Charlene Daniels

  2. love it. i have often thought about this. something rings true about these universal truths coming from the one source no?

  3. Dear Bill and Kathy,
    I was sorry to learn of your recent surgery (laminectomy). I did have to look that one up.
    I do hope that you will take good care of each other. Life is short and fragile.
    I do not have a lot more time for you to be sick! I do enjoy your thoughts and sermons. Please keep them coming
    I am well and learning how to be happy without my sweetheart here. Can't get away with much with my kids watching over me.

    Sharron Hansen

  4. Brother Riley,

    Do you believe that Gabriel appeared to instruct Mohammed? While I do think the teachings of world religions are rather harmonious, don't we need to still hold the position that Mohammed did not hold the Priesthood in light of the universal apostasy? Thanks for the thoughts I like how you think about things, and best of luck with your health challenges!


    Stephen Hill

    p.s. let me know if you are ever able to gather the strength to have a gospel discussion, I will pray for you

  5. Thank you so much for all you do to build us up. I love your thoughts.

    Valerie Keele

  6. Bill,
    What if we are asking the wrong question?
    What if instead of who; we were to ask what?
    What if the words spoken, inspired or reveled by God are more important than the person who uttered them?
    What if those words which led us to believe that God is not a respecter of persons were to be a guide for us rather than simply another somewhat inapplicable attribute of God?
    What if those words were meant to apply to all persons?

    What if?

    Suppose for a moment, that the focus were to be on The Word of God, and not on the messenger of God.
    Would anything be different?

    We winnow The Word:

    Some winnowing is as that of Ruth; we work hard to gather a little food from God among much chaff.
    Some is like that of early Christians, or early Mormons, an abundance from God with little chaff.
    Yet always where men participate, there is chaff. To remove all chaff would be to remove all agency and prophesy would be transformed into puppetry.

    How are some able to embrace both a prophet's agency and his infallibility of delivery (I avoid the now defamed word inerrancy). You must explain once again how that seeming dilemma is resolved. Is agency along with all other of the prophet's functional requirements temporarily suspended? He temporarily pupitized for the Lord's service? Greater miracles have happened! :-)

    Who does God speak to? Who should they tell? And who should "hearken"?
    (Some religions have this nicely defined and delegated, right? God's house is one of order, and his prophets have put it so.)

    Dare we trust inspiring words or may we be deceived? Do we ask who and give "who based" credibility to words we hear, no matter how our still small voice recoils? Is there a compromise? Can we give any credibility whatsoever to that great author, "Author",surely one of the greatest and most prolific; full name Author Unknown?

    As we ponder these "what ifs, we the members flocks, of herds, each belonging to some herd, allow ourselves to think, to fancy ourselves to be rogues. OK, independents, thinking and considering outside the box in which we dwell. I find such independence of though so rare in others that I seriously doubt it in myself.
    Paul Maddox

  7. hola hermano que buen mensaje que pasaría si, bueno la invitación es que podamos hacerlo nosotros no importa que seamos pocos al final es solo nuestro padre celestial el que hace cambiar el corazón y la mente de los hombres cuando? no lo se pero lo que si tengo claro es que yo debo hacer que las cosas sucedan. Que pasaría si? abro mi boca para compartir el evangelio. Que pasaría si? obedezco los mandamientos. Que pasaría si? presto servicio desinteresado. sonrrie


    gilberto antonio valencia Quiceno

  8. This thought is one of my favorites of yours. Although, it is a simple concept it seems to be one most of us struggle with understanding and putting into practice. At the beginning of the year I adopted a motto that I wanted to live by "just love", I liked the simplicity of it. Those two small words summed up everything. How to treat people, how to be patient, how to react, how to have peace, pretty how to anything. So thank you for the reminder of that pure and simple truth. I needed it!

    Kristie Norman

  9. I'd like to have both the English and Spanish version

    "Miguel Angel Garcia Lòpez"

  10. Excellent! I love "what if's"

    Marilyn Curtis

  11. Thanks once again. Since being privileged to be able to take your World Religions class, many such thoughts have come to mind, wondering at the perceptions of sameness and differences. The "what if" principle sure applies. You just keep pondering and thinking, and sharing.

    We appreciate you.

    Jean Seavey

  12. Really enjoyed this weeks blog! When I see all the hatred for Muslims at this time, it breaks my heart for they truly are a peace loving people.

    Cheri Scott

  13. I am saving this e mail, with all the religions that you have written about. thanks---- Bill Riley

    Delores Lesueur

  14. Dear Brother Riley, I love reading and re-reading this most inspirational message. Indeed, we are all Heavenly Father's children and have much more in common with one another than differences, at least when we are looking for the divinity in each other.
    Bless you for your optimism and love to all.

    Con amor,
    Bonnie Lynn