Thursday, April 2, 2015

Abuse, Favor, and All Things

“And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith.  Amen.” 
—D&C 26:2

“For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.” 
—D&C 28:13


My friend Jared wrote the following, which got me thinking:
In the church we indicate our sustaining by verbal affirmation in private interviews and by raising the right hand in affirmation in conferences and meetings. Interestingly, most members who do not feel inclined to sustain or grant consent commonly vote with their feet.  
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints boasts a total tally of members to be above 15 million strong. What is not commonly discussed is the fact that more than 10 million of these members of record do not attend Sunday services or participate in church activities or pay tithing. In essence, a clear two-thirds majority of members are voting with their feet; these two-thirds do NOT sustain the church leaders in word or in deed. So by this indication, those claiming the keys and the right to lead are not sustained by, nor do they have the common consent of, a clear two-thirds majority of the church. If the leaders would have it otherwise, than they should excommunicate inactive members as prescribed in holy writ; otherwise, the numbers stand and are binding.
Excommunications and "Church Discipline"

The word “discipline” shares its root with the word “disciple” which, from a gospel perspective, means one who follows Jesus Christ. The point of discipline is to make disciples of us. Or at least it should be.

Here are some recent attempts to make disciples of LDS members through discipline. How would you approach these issues? What if you found yourself in such a situation?

  • A wife and husband lose their temple recommends because of gossip about them in the ward. There is no interview and they are informed days later that their recommends were revoked. The Stake President admits he revoked their recommends solely on the basis of rumor, without even speaking to them. Are you in favor?
  • A man teaches his own children, in his own home, his scripture-based view of the gospel. He is told that his only hope of remaining a member is to stop teaching his children the gospel, which he will not do. He is therefore excommunicated. Are you in favor? When the man's children support their father, they are threatened with excommunication as well. Are you in favor?
  • A man and his wife are both living exemplary lives, free of serious sin, active in the church, paying tithing and serving in their callings. But they have private concerns about the "living prophet," which they confide in their bishop. They are given an ultimatum to testify that Thomas Monson is a prophet or be excommunicated. They cannot honestly state the required testimony, so they are excommunicated. Are you in favor?
  • A man feels the need to re-commit to Christ, so he follows the scriptural mandate to be re-baptized. He does not use a church facility, does not invoke the church priesthood, and is baptized in private as an act of devotion to the Savior. Signs follow, evidencing the Savior’s approval. Eight days later he is a excommunicated. Are you in favor?
  • Children of excommunicated parents are called in for interviews by church leaders who inform them that if they share the same beliefs as their parents, they will be excommunicated as well. Are you in favor?
  • A husband and wife, faithful and active in their ward, have some doubts and questions, so they talk to their bishop. He refers them to the Stake President, who gives them the ultimatum to resign their membership or be excommunicated. They opt to resign. They are shunned in their tight-knit Mormon community, lose many of their customers and consequently almost lose their business. They lose their home. Are you in favor?
  • After excommunicating a husband and wife on charges of apostasy, a stake president then proceeds to contact the stake presidents of the couple’s children and extended family members in other states. Several other family members are called in, interviewed, and threatened with excommunication if they agree with the couple. Are you in favor?
  • A woman is excommunicated not because of anything she’s done, but rather because of what her bishop thinks she might do, even though she pledges not to do it. Are you in favor?
  • A husband and wife face a disciplinary council to be tried for their membership. Before the council begins, and in direct defiance of the secret handbook, the stake president informs them that if they attempt to teach doctrine or quote scripture during the council, he will have them removed from the room, by force if necessary. Are you in favor?
  • A husband and wife are called up on trumped-up charges that are not listed in the handbook as grounds for excommunication. They are excommunicated anyway, and told after the fact that the real charge was something else. Are you in favor?
  • A husband and wife are summoned to a disciplinary council to be tried for apostasy. When they ask the stake president what evidence he intends to present, he tells them he will present the contents of their private interviews with him and their bishop, as well as personal emails they sent to family members. When they point out that the handbook and state law both prohibit him from presenting these private communications to the council, he replies that he doesn’t see that as a problem. In violation of state law and church procedures, he presents the information anyway and excommunicates them. Are you in favor?

Before you shake your head too much, I need to tell you that none of these are hypotheticals. Every one of these cases is real, and all have happened within the last 6 months. I have personal knowledge of them from the actual parties involved.

All of these cases have some common themes. In EVERY case, each of the people so “disciplined” have fervent testimonies of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Latter-day restoration, and the Book of Mormon. In EVERY case, there was no sin worthy of church discipline. NONE of these people were doing anything to publicly oppose the church or its leaders. In EVERY case, these members were doing their level best to follow Christ and obey His words found in scripture, even at tremendous personal cost. NONE of these were high-profile members, and many were among the “least” in their wards. They represented no threat and were doing no harm. 

All have paid a heavy personal price, in terms of persecution, shunning, gossip, social stigmatization, loss of reputation, and even economic loss.

Thought Crime

Do you believe such people ought to be “disciplined” by the church for what amounts to thought crime? Do you believe that such measures will make those so “disciplined” into better disciples? Do you believe that by making examples of these few, the many will be easier to control? Is this what your religion has become? Is this what you support with your time, talents, means and devotion? 

Given all you know about Jesus Christ, does this sound like His work and His glory?

Joseph Smith once commented, in relation to a church member who was disciplined by a high council for erring in doctrine:
Elder Peteliah Brown...one of the wisest old heads we have among us, has been called up before the High Council on account of [his teachings about the book of Revelation.] I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be trammeled. It doesn't prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 183-184) 
Disciplining the Disciples

As I’ve covered before, church discipline now appears to be mostly about expelling or punishing those who don't think the "right" way, rather than inviting sinners to turn and follow Christ. Indeed, those who follow Christ most rigorously are often the ones most targeted for “discipline,” which almost always consists of an ultimatum to either stop following Christ, or be thrown out of the LDS church.

If your loyalty to men and your loyalty to Christ conflict, you will be forced to choose. Nobody can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) It has always been so for Christ's true followers. Every person I know who has publicly testified of seeing Jesus Christ (and there are quite a few) has faced church “discipline” and been cast out or resigned. And yet they know the Lord personally, and He finds them worthy of His company.

Now in fairness, I must also tell you I’ve heard of some few local leaders who are content to allow people to believe as they wish. In the absence of serious sin, they gladly let individual members worship as they choose in private. I applaud such men; they are a rare breed. Too rare.

The Ongoing Purge

When I was excommunicated for apostasy last October, I closed my blog post with the following: 
I believe my wife and I are just the tip of the spear. There will be many more excommunications in the coming purge. 
And indeed there have been many. Excommunication used to be a big deal. Now, I hear about another one nearly every week. I know of 6 coming up this month. As more people awaken and arise, more church leaders become hell-bent (pun intended) on throwing them out.

And we're not talking about the high-profile, public cases like John Dehlin or Kate Kelly. We're talking about your children's primary teacher, the young mens' president in your ward, that nice, older couple that sits in the back—your friend, your neighbor, your sister, your brother. It could easily be you.

Someone could misinterpret a comment you make in Sunday School, and you could find your recommend revoked without anybody even speaking to you.

Someone could forward to your Bishop a personal email to a family member containing doubts or questions, and you could find yourself being tried for your membership. 

Someone could eavesdrop on your private conversation in a restaurant and turn you in to the authorities, and you find yourself walking the plank off the "Old Ship Zion."

I know, it wouldn't be you, because you're so darn righteous. Tell that to the people I listed above.

I don’t think this is good for the LDS church. I don’t believe Christ is pleased when His humble followers are persecuted, cast out, mocked and scorned. But this has always been the fate of his true followers. (Matthew 5:11-12) How sad it is that those who inflict these punishments and persecution pretend to do so in the name of Jesus Christ, and thus take His name in vain. How tragic for the church that, stake by stake around the world, presidencies and high councils are being systematically stripped of their priesthood by their own abuse of it, and left to kick against the pricks, persecute their fellow saints, and fight against God. (D&C 121:36-38)

How tragic it is that some Mormons pour out vials of wrath, anger, and white-hot hatred against those they view as "traitors" to the church. Christ is NOT the author of such behavior. 

Raising your Hand vs. Staying His Hand

Just as even 10 righteous can spare a whole city, the Lord’s hand is stayed for the sake of His humble followers. As they are increasingly cast out, the separation will become complete, and what remains will be worthy of destruction. (D&C 112:24-26Its a very, very bad idea to cast out those who care enough about following Christ to actually suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:40-41) Once the wheat has been separated from the tares, all that remains is the burning. (D&C 86:7) That day of burning is coming. (JSH 1:37)

As I’ve covered before, the LDS church has a public definition of apostasy used for PR, and a private definition used in the secret handbook that none but certain leaders are allowed to read. If you’re LDS, whether you realize this fact or not, whether you’ve read it or not, you are bound by this secret manual. If you run afoul of its rules, or your local leader's good graces, you may find yourself facing a disciplinary council without having committed any serious sin. Are you in favor?

And sadly, the scriptures won't protect you. When the scriptures and the manual disagree, the words of the manual are counted more precious than the words of Christ. Are you in favor?

Perhaps most importantly, the single, most effective way to ensure you face "discipline" is to question church leadership. A variety of sins will be tolerated; questions will be considered; ignorance, apathy, and neglect of your duties will only get you the hand of fellowship. But question the leadership, and it's over for you. No matter how faithful, obedient and devoted you are to the gospel, scriptures and Lord of us all, questioning the men in the red velvet chairs will not be tolerated under any circumstances. There truly is only one doctrine left.

When the common consent vote is called for, you are free to vote any way you like, as long as it's in favor. Is it any wonder the voting is "unanimous in the affirmative?" Is it even a vote?

Invoking Common Consent

And this brings us back to where we began. According to our scripture, all things are to be done in the church by common consent. You are free to choose, and you are free to oppose. If you raise your hand to sustain the leadership, you are sustaining and assenting to whatever actions they take. 

Similarly, all things are done with the implied common consent of the church members, unless they specifically oppose. Silence is consent. 

Elder Nelson informed you last conference that your vote binds you to those men. Therefore, you will be accountable for their actions because of your consent. 

Common consent is the last check against religious abuse, and a responsibility the Lord expects us all to take seriously. In Joseph Smith's day it was an actual vote. In our day it has become a sham and a threat. 

Are you in favor?

One more thought: This post and the last one are NOT about sour grapes or trying to score points by encouraging opposing votes. They are not about me being "right" or the church being "wrong." This has nothing to do with me. 

Rather, this has everything to do with you.


If I can do anything to protect you from what is coming by raising the voice of warning, I hope to do so. Your soul is precious, and idolatry will damn you. Please don't raise your hand without thinking carefully. Are you ready to be held personally responsible for what you support? Even if you aren't in a public meeting, you should manifest your allegiance. For reasons I can't fully go into here, angels will be recording this vote. 

I've done my very best to point out truth as clearly as I know how. I've offered the most pointed warning I can, and I've done it at the Lord's request. If you've read what I've written and still choose to make an oath-like vow, binding you to a man and an increasingly abusive system of religious punishment, you will not do so in ignorance. Please don't make that mistake.

I started with the Lord's statement that all things must be done by common consent in the church. I'll close with how to judge the matter correctly:

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
—2 Nephi 32:3


35 comments:

  1. My son was sent home 2 days ago from his mission. It was for apostasy. We are dumbfounded. It happened so fast. He was only out 6 months. He made the mistake of trying to explain his beliefs to his president. His President told him that he was in apostasy and had much to repent of. I told him that my son was on the right path and I couldn't be prouder of him. And when he came home, six months after leaving, his whole extended family was at the airport, cheering for him as he came down the escalators. He broke into tears. I am so proud of strength he's displaying. To stick to his guns. Because he was given an ultimatum of repenting and then he would be able to stay. But he said, in my heart, I knew I was square with the Lord and that it was okay to come home. And now he plans to go on a service mission so that he can finish this time as the Lord's missionary.

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    1. Clearly the church has lost authority and the Lord is moving forward. What an awesome family to not judge him for serving the Lord and not man. It's the young courageous people like him who, I believe, will be an important asset to the coming of Zion.

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  2. Thank you, Adrian, for your timely instruction and warning, a message I take to heart. As I read through the list of excommunications, many of which I know of personally as well, I felt disgust. The stark contrast between Joseph's view and modern Mormonism's view of people who don't think the same is alarming, even disgusting.
    In all fairness, I feel that i need to put in my personal experience in this area. I went in to my bishop (a close friend gave me an ultimatum to do this or he would have for me) and expressed all my concerns, doubts, and problems with the church and it's leaders both past and present. I also explained my rebaptism and my partaking of the sacrament in the way that Christ taught. I was received with love and concern. I met with my bishop a few times in total to discuss and for him to counsel. In the end, my calling in the elders quorum presidency remained intact, my temple recommend was not revoked (although he said to not use it unless I talk with him first, and this because I couldn't answer all of the questions in the recommend interview the way the church handbook says), and I was essentially unscathed.
    Since then I have baptized a convert into the church who requested that I perform his baptism. I have been teaching elders quorum once a month and have been teaching truth from scripture that is no longer taught by the institution. This seems to have been received well by the elders quorum. I have not spoken against church leaders, but only taught the doctrine of Christ, true tenants, and even some true church history that would never have been taught otherwise. I am surprised at all of this. I expected to be disciplined. I expected the elders in my ward to have problems with what I teach. But thus far things have been going well, almost to my disappointment because I really dislike the wasted effort on frivolous institutional meetings and I was and am willing to be done with the church when the time is right. But the Lord has asked that I do this, has told me what to teach in each lesson, and prepared the way for me so I will continue on until I am kicked out or until the Lord calls me elsewhere.
    I don't know why my experience has been so different from the majority and I do not want to detract from the abuse suffered by the majority. I simply want to say that we can occasionally find some leaders who do not abuse. God bless all who have been abused, they need comfort and healing. And God bless the abusers, they too need repentance and healing from the Lord. I hope they repent, but I don't expect them to. I expect this sad trend of expelling true followers of Christ to continue as this is the fruit of institutional apostasy. By their fruits ye shall know them.

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    1. Nathan, my personal experience has been almost exactly the same as your's. I am blessed with a Bishop who shows compassion, wisdom, and great understanding. I empathize with those who have been dealt with unjustly, and know that the Savior recognizes their sacrifices.

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    2. I serve in a bishopric and have shared my concerns with the bishop I serve with. He simply said to me, I have always felt you teach by the Spirit, and as long as you teach truth from the scriptures, we will keep your concerns between the two of us. He has been so very gracious and loving.

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    3. Nathan, I'm guessing SLC monitors this blog. I wonder if your signed post might change things. You'll have to let us know.

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  3. Adrian

    Love your messages. I have to second what you are saying, in that there are increased tensions, pressure against anyone who is questioning or having "doubts". There are some critical things going on in the church, and you've stated them as clearly as I think anyone could have. I thought my ward was too small, and too far from the spotlight to do anything that would make me raise my eyebrows too much.

    However I was wrong. Just last week our bishop held a special meeting 3rd hour. He canceled nursery, primary, and RS and priesthood meetings. The entire ward met in the chapel to have a meeting about "doubters" and "questioners". I found this very unusual. It ended with being asked to wear an outward pin each Sunday on our clothes.

    Rather than recite it all, here's the link to it.

    http://lamplightjournal.blogspot.com/2015/03/button-button-whos-wearing-their-button.html

    My own ward is changing before my eyes.

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    1. Taylor, that's an amazing story. So if I don't wear the button, I'm not holding the rod of iron? Seeking Christ has been reduced to wearing a button?

      I don't fault your leaders' intent. Clearly they are trying to help. But it's amazing that the solution proposed is groupthink conformity. Stick with the many. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

      Will those who show up without their buttons be shunned, viewed with suspicion, or judged? It's the new white shirt and tie!

      I'm heartbroken that the shepherds have no idea how to feed the starving sheep.

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    2. Who knows what will happen to those who don't wear the button. I"m curious to find out. A few ward members I talked with said they thought it would divide the ward even more.

      Adrian, your last sentience hit the nail on the head. It's heartbreaking.

      It's not lack of sincerity, it's not lack of trying. I like my ward leaders. They are good folks. When I ask myself why starving sheep go unfed by sincere people my mind goes to all of 2 Nephi 28 but specifically these words: "they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men."

      You can only teach what you know. And if all you know is either correlated, or comes from the hand book of instructions, and General Conference, you may not have any food to give a fellow sheep no mater how much you would like to.

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  4. Isaiah 9:16 " for the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed."

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  5. I just wanted to comment, for the benefit of those who might read this and be inclined to dismiss what's happening, and say that I also am personally acquainted with some of the those in the list of those disciplined early in this post. Those stories are real. They are happening. My husband and I were stripped of our recommends for being unwilling to vow to obey whatever our priesthood leaders (at any level) say. Our answer that we would follow any instructions that we received personal confirmation on wasn't enough. It had to be total allegiance, an oath, as Elder Nelson declared in last October's conference.

    This trend is real, is growing, and my heart breaks for the church I have loved and served my entire life.

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  6. Adrian, again another important post. It makes you wonder how many they will cast out of the Church before they realize that they are only hurting themselves. We do not have common consent in the Church and as Denver Snuffer said, there is really only one doctrine left.:(

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  7. Guys, church disciplinary courts are about LOVE! If you don't believe me, watch this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPczNoUmmys

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  8. I have been a member all my life, “Born in the Covenant.” I understand the point in the article and I know many feel the same way. I am not going to apologize for them or the way the Church has dealt with some of the excommunications that have gone on. I am not going to apologize for polygamy or Brigham Young or those involved in the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith. All I will say is, each is accountable for themselves only.

    I will share another opinion or the way I see and view the “common consent” and “sustaining’s” or “oath-like vow” that are done in the Church, even if “unrighteous men” rule.

    As an active member and temple recommend holder and temple goer… I have many personal beliefs and had dreams/visions that if I proclaimed at the pulpit would put me out of the Church yesterday. Hence the Lord said to me:

    Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
    17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
    (New Testament | Matthew 10:16 - 17)

    The “office” is always greater than the man!

    When I sustain in an “oath-like vow” a person, (be it political or religious) I always sustain the “office of righteousness and holiness” and I let “God” judge the man. “Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 121:40) “Man” can “sustain” “Man” and vote in “Man” … and “God” will call His “chosen,” and that is what I am more concerned about. So I don’t worry about the “sustaining” or the “vote” of man … the “office” is really what I choose to “sustain in righteousness and holiness.” As long as “God” knows this is my heart and my covenant with Him, I know I am doing the right thing. Hence, I am accountable for my own sins and not for Adams transgressions. The “Church” or “Churches” are instruments used to “awaken” those who are hungering and thirsting “after righteousness” and holiness of character… “for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

    And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.
    (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 12:6)

    Leave judgment with God and do your part in righteousness and holiness, which God sees and not man.

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  9. Using information discussed in private interviews against us (as we have been told) in a disciplinary council, practicing privately, not trying to persuade others or preach to others or lead them away from the church, being a part of 6 that might be included in this list within the next month.... these all ring very close to home for me right now. It is happening!

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  10. In this piece, I said, "If your loyalty to men and your loyalty to Christ conflict, you will be forced to choose. Nobody can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)"

    I'll add this corollary: If you're not being forced to choose between loyalty to Christ and loyalty to men, you may rest assured you have already made the decision, and you have chosen men, not Christ.

    Choosing Christ WILL put you at odds with the men who demand your loyalty.

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  11. I'm pretty sure saying "go see your SP" is against the rules... Not that those matter all that much anymore. But even the handbook requires that the person presiding at the meeting confer personally, or perhaps designate someone to confer with them afterward to hear and address the objection. Assuming that practice is appropriate (rather dubious, but a topic for another day...) I'm pretty sure we're all supposed to be on equal ground. Therefore the more appropriate thing to do would be to designate someone who's there, in the meeting, to hear the objections. In 1980 Elder Hinckley met with those casting dissenting votes. "Go see your SP [for a hasty excommunication by a totally unbiased and completely fair disciplinary council]" strikes me as reinforcing their bureaucratic control, and expressing that the central command isn't at all interested in what you little people have to say, beyond "noting" it in some file that will go in a drawer somewhere. We've got some middle managers a few levels down from us you can talk to, who will see to it you are stripped of any membership privileges. Can you imagine if some corporation did that at their annual shareholders meeting? I recently listened to Disney's annual meeting, and found that any shareholder, great or small, had an opportunity to ask questions of the guys at the top. Bob Iger would have been run out of town if he had said "any of you who don't like everything I'm doing, go see your local Disney Store Manager and tell him about it, so he can revoke your shares and void your annual pass" Rather sad that the Church of Jesus Christ isn't even measuring up to the same standard as the Walt Disney Company.

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    1. The thing is, none of us are true shareholders. Legally, it's a corporation with only one member: the president of the Church - A few "no" votes probably does not matter to them. The fact that we are told to pay the dues don't seem to make us part of the common consent premise that existed in Joseph's day. They could kick us all out and have only the 15 men and their families be LDS, and it wouldn't legally change anything.

      The only rules seem to be, "Obey us. Ignore the scriptures if they don't follow our policies and rules." Very sad.

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  12. Thanks, Adrian, for being at the point of the spear on this matter.

    There is a "purge" underway in the Church. Those who stand firm in following Christ (and not men) have been, are, and will be cast out of the LDS Church.

    What's not clear to many, however, is that faithful, obedient, even compliant Latter-day Saints are being excommunicated for merely suggesting (or affirming) that they would follow a Church leader as long as that leader's leadership (words, instructions, commands) are given by the Holy Ghost or otherwise inspired of God. No, no! That caveat is not allowed! It is "all or nothing"! We are commanded to follow men as if they are God! They have received His authority by virtue of their calling in the Church, apparently. And if they should err, we are told, or should lead us astray, no worries! All will be well with us anyway so long as we follow them in faith, believing. And, besides, they can't lead us astray, don't you know? God won't allow it!

    This agency-crushing, sin-denying doctrine of devils is calculated to turn people away from following Christ (or listening to the Holy Ghost) and toward following a prophet, a man, an authority figure -- anyone other than Jesus. As one high priest (who excommunicated me) told me afterward: "Why do we even need the Holy Ghost? We have a living prophet!"

    Wrap your mind around that idiocy and heresy. (And they wondered why I was angry when they excommunicated me!)

    Unfortunately, those in the throes of this deception do not see their plight. I can understand why they don't. They think that following their file leader is following God.

    They miss the whole point of what it means to know and follow God. They have been deceived. They don't really believe the scripture that states He employs no servant there. (2 Nephi 9:41.)

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  13. This is such a disconnect for me. I have not sought rebaptism, but have been a Denver reader for many, many years. I need more than just the word of a man, and as of yet, i haven't received my answer.

    I was really hoping to be able to "test the spirits" in the 2 General Conferences since Denver's final lecture, to be able to see and know for myself if God had really pulled his endorsement, but I cannot discern any real change.

    Sure, there is still a lot of the "follow the prophet" dogma, but that existed before in the same quantities.

    On the other hand, these excommunications being documented bother me greatly. I cannot see such things as being in harmony with what I understand of the gospel.

    I do not seek to follow man, but I stay in the LDS Church because that is consistent with the last clear answers I've received.

    I wish I had more clarity. I wish that more of a stark contrast was evident to me in these meetings. I find fruits of the spirit in Denver and in the Church.

    I assume admitting that to anyone in authority over me would land me in the same hot water as you who have been cast out. Perhaps I do fear man.

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  14. I've got a question for Ben and Anonymous April 4, 2015 at 9:03 AM and others who might read this - should one necessarily tell the one in authority over you about concerns as the ones adressed on this blog or brought up by Denver? I too serve in a bishopric, but haven't come fully clean with my bishop. He knows I see things differently, but I haven't raised all my thoughts and (non-)beliefs. Should I, and if yes, why?

    I understand that this question, ultimately, is something between me and the Lord. But, being at the start of the wake-up process, I don't get the clear revelation I would like to receive.

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    1. I don't volunteer information, and I am comfortable with my own understanding of the temple recommend questions to be able to have a recommend.

      I'm not looking for a fight, and my gospel doctrine class is getting more of the scriptures, more of Christ, and more of the restoration than they would be getting with just about any other teacher in the ward, so in my estimation I'm where I'm supposed to be.

      Sad situation we find ourselves in, isn't it?

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    2. I resonate to your teaching more of Jesus Christ and the scriptures in gospel doctrine class, Ben. I'm doing the same thing. I feel no need to raise doubts about the leaders In public but I've simply stopped using quotes from them in class. I'm inclined to stay as long as they'll let me and sow seeds of truth where I can. I've even felt prompted to teach D&C 10:67-68 a couple of times, although the first time there was stunned silence and some confused looks!

      As a gospel doctrine teacher I've become increasingly aware that what we're seeing unfolding from the top leadership downwards is the same self-righteous pride and error that we've clucked our tongues over when we read about it in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. I am astonished at the faith and courage shown by Adrian and Tausha and others in the same position. This too, has precedents in the scriptures that ring true for me. Growing up a multi-generational member of the church I couldn't have dreamed that I would live to see humble followers of Christ hounded out of their congregations. May God have mercy on us all.

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  15. Christian,
    I suspect there are as many possible answers to this question as there are people. I can tell you I've been directed, even persuaded by the Lord to renew a temple recommend, against the objections I raised to Him about sustaining & such. If asked directly about my private religious practices, I will of course tell the truth; but I don't feel inclined to volunteer information or "kick the hornets next."

    Like you, I'm known by my some of my leaders to "see some things differently," but so far have only been promoted to the level of my incompetence. In my discussions with the Lord, He has indicated to me that my ward and stake leaders yet retain priesthood, and that I am to serve within the church until given the boot. I generally agree with what Adrian has described - it seems the Lord is taking the church apart one stake at a time (though the Lord hasn't actually said that to me...). At the moment any priesthood remaining in the church is with the humble, good hearted individuals who have not abused, coerced, or compelled those they are responsible for. That describes the leaders in my ward and stake. In trainings, they talk about loving, not condemning our brothers. There's no talk of disciplining 'wayward individuals' (we have some OW people who are now "less-active" ever since KK got the big X). They give priority to prayer and scriptures over the handbook. Sure the handbook is mentioned more than I'd like; but the amount I'd like is 0. I like the way it was presented recently though -- your sources of direction are 1) personal revelation, 2) scriptures, and 3) the handbook (and damn, I never seem to make it to door #3). It's incredibly distressing to me to find that I'm likely to be the means by which these individuals will forfeit priesthood, and I pray constantly that they can be awakened or otherwise spared condemnation over little old me. But I don't know what the future holds. I could go on, but I'll stop. For now, I'd say be prayerful and enjoy the ride, I guess.

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  16. Thank you all for you Comments...Ben, Christian, Anonymous, Adrian.
    BTW...sounds like this is partially a Bishopric support group, as I also serve in one. I am like Ben, for now I am OK, not comfortable with how I answer questions. I felt I needed to stay where I am at as I have seen more than 5 families from the Ward awaken to this situation, and several others at various stages. If I had jumped ship years ago none of this would be possible.
    Second, my good friend who I serve with (the Bishop) has changed a lot, and still is.
    Finally (actually first and for most) Christ has told me to stay until they come after me. I Love and pray for the ward, and even for the Stake Pres. Few years ago I felt very angry at times towards the SP, but now with Prayer I have gained a greater love for them and for Christ than I had before.

    So, for now I must stay. Its confusing and painful. But timing is everything...and it must be in the Lords timing...and Not Mine.

    Thanks again for all of your comments, they do touch me.

    Joseph

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  17. ¶Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.
    Isa 66:5

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  18. Has anyone looked into possibly joining the Community of Christ church? It seems like the Lord is taking us into that direction, which was totally surprising to me. Perhaps that is a place where we can make a difference and have the freedom to really pursue the Gospel without reprimand. They actually disclose how tithes are spent, actually help the poor and truly try to be peacemakers. They invite discussion and one's voice is actually heard there.

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    1. I don't think finding another church is the answer. Coming unto Christ, each of us, personally and individually, is what's most important now. We don't need a church to do that.

      Similarly, helping the poor, pursuing the gospel, loving and serving, this can all be done in families, or among fellowship groups of like-minded people. I see no reason to join any other formal organization.

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  19. Wow, great post.

    Out of curiosity, where are these excommunications occurring? Is it local to one area or are these all over the place? (I am in northern Utah, for the record).

    It sure seems that the LDS church has become far less tolerant of any kind of questioning that it was in the past. These days it seems to be: "conform, get out, or be thrown out".

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    1. They're mostly concentrated in the west, where the LDS people are more concentrated, though they are happening elsewhere as well, including other countries. And they seem to be accelerating.

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    2. My husband and I live in Idaho. We were excommunicated a week ago Sunday (Palm Sunday). The reason? "Every man in this room has a deep and abiding testimony that Thomas Monson is a prophet, seer, and revelator. And you don't." Our trial lasted 4.5 hours, in which we testified of our Lord and Savior, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood, and the need for living prophets. And yet our "beliefs are fundamentally different than the mainstream beliefs of the church", according to our bishop and SP. If those things are NOT the fundamental beliefs of the church, then whose church is this anyway? Clearly it is the church of Thomas Monson, not of Jesus Christ.

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  20. Excellent article.

    A year ago, in April, I was watching conference online with a friend. Both of us raised our hands in opposition. My reasoning was that if I voted to sustain them, I would be taking upon me their consequences for casting out a true messenger of God the year before. I wanted no such condemnation on my head.

    Since that time, I have refrained from voting. I have cast my vote and heaven has taken notice. I have distanced myself from the Church, though I don't desire to be ex'd. To me, it is dangerous to alliance myself with an organization that cannot recognize the Lord's voice and that fights against Him and those who seek to do His will.

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  21. I am sorry, but after reading all the stories about the people being excomunicated and losing their recommends, and the reasons given, I just don't believe it . Anyone who has spent any time in the church knows that it doesn't work that way. Christs true church doesn't work in half truths, and this post is full of them.

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  22. One glaring problem with all of these "true stories." I've learned over the years that there is always two sides. I have yet to meet one church leader who is anxious to excommunicate. Who wants to do that? The thought that someone who is struggling with their testimony or has questions about doctrine is grounds for excommunication makes for some fantastic stories, but simply not the case. Everyone has struggles, everyone has questions.
    What this likely boils down to is "recruiting" other members, teaching false doctrine, speaking against the church or it's leaders. I'll bet in every case one of those instances prevailed.
    In the end, if you don't believe in the church, you don't believe in the leadership, you don't believe in the doctrine - then why would you stick around? Why would you care if you are excommunicated? You should be excited to leave - you should ask to have your name removed - you should be anxious to be on your way. Simply leave and then leave the church alone....oh wait you can't!

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    1. Hi Dan,

      You're free to assume what you will about these situations, and about those who are cast out. But you are only assuming. Many of these people are not guilty of the sins you suppose. Few, if any, met the church handbook's definition of apostasy. I know a fair bit more about these situations then I've written here. But by all means, if you find this information uncomfortable, feel free to make whatever assumptions you find comforting.

      For myself, I was repeatedly asked to resign, but I didn't want to. The church gave me opportunities to serve, love, forgive, socialize, teach and learn. It gave me a community, a foundation in the gospel, and a way to raise my children with believing peers. You have no idea how difficult it is to be cast out; what it does to your children, your reputation, your business. You don't understand the sneers at the supermarket, the prohibition from family functions, the heart wrenching loss of community and identity. You don't know what it's like to attempt to explain to your young child why her friends won't come over any more.

      Do you think these people wanted that? Sought it? Deserved it? Are you in a position to cast stones and heap further persecution upon them?

      You've missed the point about these excommunications and persecutions. The loss of membership is a tragedy. Most of these members wanted to simply, quietly go about their lives, serve if allowed to do so, attend their meetings, and otherwise be left to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. They were not opposing the leadership, "recruiting" or teaching false doctrine. But the church authorities wouldn't leave them alone.

      One other thought: In every case, it was not a LACK of belief that cost these members so much, but rather a FERVENT belief. If they didn't care, it would be so very simple to apologize, "repent," make whatever gestures of contrition were required, and forget the whole thing. You have no idea what kind of courage it takes to make such a stand for Christ in the face of this persecution.

      These were not sinners, no matter how much you might like to accuse them. Would Christ cast them out?

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