Continuing from part one (You’re Apostate—Nothing Compares to the Original)…
When the scoring changed in football, the game naturally changed with it. For example, the game valued things differently. Kickers were not prized as much as quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs because new skill sets were needed to advance the ball over the goal line, not kick from far out.
Like the game of football, if the true doctrine of Christ is corrupted and righteous leaders are missing in a religious institution centered on priestcrafts, then there will naturally be a corrupt culture. Going forward, a monarchy culture also changes what is valued. It could be said that, “As the doctrine, structure, and leadership go, naturally so goes the membership and the culture.”
The true, scriptural doctrine of Christ was once the pure natural spring at the top of the mountain flowing down to those that would willingly partake. But along the way, the spring water was hijacked and tainted. Leadership and church structure were naturally affected downstream. And generations later, it flows into a relatively large lake of modern Mormon monarchy culture. Some members are dipping their toes in while others are demonstrating their own strength by faithfully swimming or getting fully immersed in the deeper parts. Because it’s so big, the lake is unnoticeably drying up. The lake is also contaminated but the members don’t realize it because it doesn’t look or feel any different than it always has—”It’s just the way it is,” they would tell you. Despite it all, they would still even say, “It’s the only pure lake on the face of the earth.”
Coaches Build Culture
Like any corporation, its uniqueness is in its culture, which is one reason why people leave one job for another. “The corporate culture guides how the employees of the company act, feel, and think. The corporate culture is also the social and psychological environment of an organization. It symbolizes the unique personality of a company and expresses the core values, ethics, behaviors, and beliefs of an organization.” (Source)
Team sports are rarely won or lost on the back of an individual player; even the most talented athletes need their teammates. Ever wonder why some sports teams are just able to win consistently—and even build dynasties—while others, regardless of high draft pick each year, can just never really seem to pull themselves out of the cellar? One of the primary reasons is culture.
Great teams have a great culture, and coaches are the primary source of building it. Culture becomes their vision or philosophy for the team put into action—the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that shape interaction among team members to share a common goal or mission as they work together toward achieving shared objectives.
If a person were to build a culture focused on achieving personal salvation, the coach would be the Lord. After all, He and His doctrine are the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the gatekeeper (2 Ne 9:41) and no man comes unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6). However, in the priestcraft monarchy, because of the corruption to the doctrine upstream, the Lord has been replaced with a church president and his supporting cast of leaders (Q15).
Building culture starts with answering the question, “What do you value?”
In the original, restored doctrine of Christ culture, the value is in the individual person where the Lord mentors and guides (coaches) each soul to receive everything they need. The worth of each soul is immeasurable to the Lord, not just in hopes that one more soul is added to the Lord’s kingdom as a number, but treasured as a unique, irreplaceable friend (Isaiah 41:8). A parent-child relationship is a symbolic reminder of how the Lord sees each of us. Like a fingerprint, we are all unique to the Lord.
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.Doctrine & Covenants 18
Remember that the restoration kicked off with an individual (Joseph Smith) searching for his own salvation from the Lord with great concern for the welfare of his eternal soul. (See also False Traditions: Joseph & The First Vision) That was followed by him translating an ascension text (Book of Mormon) that contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel, depicting many individuals receiving their own spiritual salvation from the Lord, and even containing an account of the Lord Himself inviting all individuals to come into Him to receive their own salvation. When we realize the individuality of it all, it’s ridiculous to think that our membership or association in any church or religious community (including the LDS church) is what saves a person.
Although, in the modern Mormon monarchy with the Q15 taking over the role of team coach, the group collective is valued most. The focus seems to be on trying to develop celestial widgets through policies, procedures, and programs. (Programs, after all, are for programming.)
Yes, the kingdom of God is about the team and the group, but not at the expense of our own unique, eternal identity. This is one of the mysteries—eventually discovering our eternal identity (name) through our relationship with the Lord.
Wait, but we’re forgetting prophets! No, actually they have a role, which is to profess/prophesy the words of God (prophecy), which includes “teaching people correct principles and allowing them to govern [their personal relationship with the Lord] themselves” (Joseph Smith). Their role is not to govern over people.
So every word that a so-called (sustained) prophet professes is from God? No, absolutely not. We’re supposed to work that out with the Lord, too. Using gifts of the spirit like discernment, each person and the Lord determine together if that person is speaking on the Lord’s behalf or if His words are relevant specifically to us. (see also False Traditions: Prophets, Seers and Revelators)
Despite the Lord’s definition of His church (D&C 10:67; Mosiah 26:20-24), the monarchy has developed an institutional culture of submissiveness—giving deference to those in leadership—females submissive to males, wives submissive to husbands, and husbands submissive to the church and its leaders. Why? Well, ironically, despite Christ’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon, in the monarchy culture the church and its leadership position themselves as an intermediary for salvation (LDS exaltation). Members are left constantly striving to be good enough for the celestial kingdom.
The Strive Doctrine
But what is “good enough?” How do we each know? In this monarchy system, unfortunately, you don’t ever really know because you’re left seemingly chasing the wind. Contrast that with the true doctrine of Christ, where you can actually know exactly where you stand with the Lord spiritually and on the path of ascension.
The monarchy has adopted something I would call “the strive doctrine.” It’s an ideology promoted as the way to self-respect and personal happiness.
“If we are no better tomorrow than we are today, we are not very useful.”David O. McKay, Pathways to Happiness [Bookcraft, 1957], p. 292.
The strive doctrine convinces people that they can simply do better tomorrow than they did today and eventually be good enough to inherit the celestial kingdom. It is a doctrine based on persistence, effort, work, and never quitting despite the discouragement of never feeling like we’re actually arriving at a better station. One LDS woman put it like this:
“It’s like, just drink harder from the dry cup. Good people are striving their way to burnout.”LDS Woman
My response to that is, unfortunately, yes. We are reaping what has been sown. And every six months they try to revive everyone from burnout with a general conference pep rally—”You are all doing so well. Keep going! You sisters are so amazing. Brethren, repent and recommit to being better, more honorable men. Live up to your office. All of you, lose more of yourself in the cause of service to others. You can do it. Be faithful. Do more family history work. Go to the temple more often. Follow the prophet. Stay on the covenant path.”
The members of the church do acknowledge the burnout though. But because they don’t acknowledge anything wrong with the culture, they instead feed the culture with practical, self-help solutions to keep everyone striving.
In this monarchy culture, we have to earn it and prove to God we really are good enough. It’s done primarily through demonstrating obedience, sacrifice, and loyalty to the monarchy and its modern-day program.
“Be persistent, brothers and sisters, but never be discouraged. We will have to go beyond the grave before we actually reach perfection, but here in mortality, we can lay the foundation. ‘It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.’Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 2:18.)” (Source: What Lack I Yet? Elder Larry Lawrence, 2015 Semi-Annual General Conference)
The programming for the strive doctrine runs deep. It starts very young in the church and we pass it on to our generational posterity. It seems there is no end to the striving. For example, when things don’t go the way we want or expect or when we have personal challenges, we are often counseled by leaders to simply do more service to others. Also, ironically, when life is difficult, especially financially, or we are trying to overcome temptation or sin, we are often counseled by leaders to increase our personal sacrifices, increase our temple attendance (where the prayers seemingly count more) and remain faithful in paying a full tithe (fire insurance) or increase fast offerings to earn more blessings. (See also the path to indulgences)
Members are left to only take great pride in their individual, relentless striving effort as a badge of honor. But instead of acknowledging the cultural problems, members instead bury their inner emotions and questions as weakness and then recommit to strive further only this time to do it with a smile and a heart full of song:
1. The world has need of willing men Who wear the worker’s seal. Come, help the good work move along; Put your shoulder to the wheel. [Chorus] Put your shoulder to the wheel; push along, Do your duty with a heart full of song, We all have work; let no one shirk. Put your shoulder to the wheel. 2. The Church has need of helping hands, And hearts that know and feel. The work to do is here for you; Put your shoulder to the wheel. 3. Then don’t stand idly looking on; The fight with sin is real. It will be long but must go on; Put your shoulder to the wheel. 4. Then work and watch and fight and pray With all your might and zeal. Push ev’ry worthy work along; Put your shoulder to the wheel. Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847–1909
Unfortunately, even doing your “duty to God” is misunderstood in today’s modern Mormon monarchy culture. (See Awakening to Your Duty to God)
To perpetuate the striving, the culture values three special statuses to help each member know whether they are quality material and “on track” for the celestial afterlife. These are the “celestial statuses.”
- Membership status
- Activity status
- Temple recommend status
1. Our membership status is an indicator of our elite position or hierarchical rung on the temporal social ladder. Not exactly like the perks and privileges from your Costco club membership, but maybe not too far off either. Think of it like a door that when opened offers automatic and immediate access to new social circles; education programs with discounted tuition; adult, youth, and children social programs; welfare programs; and much, much more.
This elite status also includes the satisfaction and comfort of being part of the only true church on the face of the earth. With this membership confirmation, we are told we have the gift of the Holy Ghost which enables a greater capacity to learn and even discern good and evil. Truly, our membership status opens the door to at least the lowest degree of the celestial kingdom. Meanwhile, non-members can only qualify for the terrestrial kingdom—which we are told is still incomprehensibly amazing, but just not quite as incomprehensibly amazing as the celestial. Not a member of the church? Too bad, so sad.
Unfortunately, as members of the church we find it really hard to see the warnings in the Book of Mormon about adoring our membership:
12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; 13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person. 14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying: 15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. 16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. 17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen. 19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure. 20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers. 21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. 22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about. 23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner. 24 Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods. 25 Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.Alma 31
2. Our activity status is a measurement of our personal faithfulness and willingness to sacrifice. Of course, the expectation is that we “sacrifice all that we have including our time, talents and everything in which the Lord has blessed us to building up the church” (which is incorrectly taught as the Kingdom of God).
If we’re feeling down or struggling, we’re told that the antidote is to simply forget ourselves and just sacrifice more of ourselves by giving more service to others—to callings, temple work, volunteer church programs, and infinite other ways including just being willing to put up and take down more chairs. The symbol of the beehive is probably appropriate here. Forget that the real meaning of becoming Christlike and adhering to the Savior’s invitation to “come unto Christ” has everything to do with fulfilling the doctrine of Christ. No matter. Instead, be a busy bee—and more busyness is being your best self and also the secret to buffing the shine in your activity status.
3. Our temple recommend status is a measurement of one’s personal worthiness or righteousness. If our activity status is about quantity, our temple recommend status would be about quality.
Forget for a moment that Christ’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon teaches that only the Lord has the power to sanctify and justify one’s soul. Instead, this status seems to be a more convenient measurement of righteousness. Just answer some interview test questions with the right answers with your local church leaders and…Badda-bing, you’re gold. (In this test, you even know the questions and answers ahead of time.)
This is a global institution after all, and we have to have some way to efficiently micromanage the righteousness of millions of people. The monarchy’s more efficient modern method is like conveniently going through the fast-food drive-thru and paying a cheap sum for a questionably healthy combo meal, as opposed to establishing a homestead, planting seeds, nurturing them to harvest, preparing the food, pouring out your heart in gratitude to God for everything provided, and then savoring every bite.
Unfortunately, the value placed on the temple recommend is not about your individual journey. It’s deeply rooted in the collective group (family in this case)—”don’t disappoint because we don’t want empty chairs.”
“God intended the family to be eternal,” President Benson has said. “With all my soul, I testify to the truth of that declaration. May He bless us to strengthen our homes and lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there – father, mother, sister, brother. . . . Each chair is filled. We are all back home.”The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, page 493.
Playbooks are used in a variety of ways. In sports, a playbook provides practical guidance in areas that directly impact performance such as aligning individuals with a clear team plan, resolving conflicts proactively, and learning from every game and every season to develop a smarter and more consistent culture of success.
To be successful, a company needs to have a clear plan for how it is going to operate and get things done. A business playbook is one tool organizations can use to document this plan. It provides teams with guidance and helps them stay focused, organized, and accountable.
The modern monarchy also has a playbook. Like in sports and business, their playbook provides guidance and helps them stay focused, organized, and accountable in order to accomplish their objectives. In times past, we might have considered the scriptures the playbook—specifically the Book of Mormon. However, today we have the General Handbook of Instruction for how to govern the church and its culture.
It’s eerily similar to the Jewish Torah—613 oral and written laws to govern the practice of Judaism. Think “Jewish leaders at the time of Christ” where they used the Torah to micromanage the people’s spiritual lives, act as judges of the people’s righteousness, exercise priestcrafts by being a light to the people, and more. Their culture taught them to not only love the law instead of the Lawgiver, but they saw the leadership as the lawgiver instead of the Savior. The fruit of their culture was that they didn’t recognize their Savior when He arrived on the scene. And it goes without saying that in that culture they did not tolerate anyone that threatened their leadership, their laws, and their judgments. Jesus truly was a rebel and a beautiful outlaw of His time.
Ever attended ward council or been part of a Bishopric? It’s the ultimate in local micromanagement granted by the monarchy powers-that-be in Salt Lake City. What do we discuss there? Well, there’s a handbook, magazine articles, and endless training for that very thing. And as you would expect from the culture we focus on the celestial statuses of each member.
In general, we talk about missionary efforts related to non-members and part-member families. It’s essentially an attempt to improve their membership status. Non-members might think they are happy, but they just don’t know how happy they really could be as a member of the church and have full participation (blessings) inside the church.
We counsel about the needs of inactive or less-active youth or adults. Potential callings, dutiful ministers, ward events, and even assigned friends are discussed in an attempt to help improve a member’s status to “active.” People will sympathize with the sister whose husband is a non-member or inactive, or sympathize with the active, faithful parents whose kids have gone astray. Our most active members are envied—or at least viewed as the models to follow.
And while the Bishop works with individuals privately on their worthiness, in these same ward council meetings we discuss how to help get individuals and their families to the temple or simply to get them there more often (temple recommend status). It’s one thing to have a temple recommend, but to go as often as a person can (elite-level activity) is evidence of elite faithfulness—simultaneously adding celestial bonus points to our activity status. You’re seeing how this modern Mormon monarchy system works now, I’m sure.
The naysayers would probably jump in here, defend the system and say that the system is divinely inspired. I’m not saying that nothing good can come from associations with good individuals. But remember, it all starts with the doctrine. So if the doctrine is wrong, the leaders are not righteous and the structure is priestcraft, then the system will never really achieve the spiritual objective that the Lord had originally intended for each soul—to receive salvation, personal redemption. In the proverbial words of our own church leaders, this is “missing the mark.”
There is also a dangerous self-governing echo chamber baked into the monarchy culture. While local leadership is busy administrating each member’s celestial statuses, members (either naturally or by encouragement) are conditioned to monitor one another—what they are doing, what they are not doing, how often, and so forth.
The echo chamber encourages us to promote our success in each of our celestial statuses. We share heartfelt stories of ministering or helping to reactivate people. Once a month is open-mic-Sunday (testimony meeting) when members-only have the privilege of sharing their inner-most thoughts and emotions related to personal challenges and successes in recent events like attending the temple, family history work, missionary work, attending a temple wedding, blessing an infant, and more.
This constant echo reinforces the importance of acquiring and maintaining each of our celestial statuses (membership, activity, temple recommend.) It’s dangerously genius—you convince people of what righteousness is, then provide them with a framework of policies, procedures, and programs to operate within, and then you provide a reinforcing culture that validates to everyone that they are in fact achieving righteousness.
Why does the monarchy do it this way? I mean, why not just do what the Book of Mormon suggests and “work out your own salvation (LDS exaltation) with the Lord?” (Mormon 9:27; Alma 34:37) Maybe it’s like the philosophy of big government—we just can’t give the people that much power. Do they think the members are not smart enough or capable enough? Do they think it would be the inmates running the prison? Do they think that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God is not capable of personal relationships and offering salvation to each soul? Do they think He doesn’t have the bandwidth? Maybe. But I believe the real reason is that the modern Mormon monarchy thrives on control. Control is unfortunately built into the monarchy’s leadership and structure through church hierarchy, administration, and management.
Do you know what you can’t measure though? The eternal, divine nature (light) of a person’s soul. And for the church and its leadership, if you can’t measure it, it is difficult to control it. So, instead, the church and its leadership set up policies, procedures, and programs to help control the spirituality of members worldwide.
Fear feeds control. It is the opposite of empowering individuals to exercise faith in the Lord. Unfortunately, fear is leveraged to help leaders maintain control and is woven into each of the celestial statuses—fear of losing your membership and all of its perks; fear of not being faithful enough (activity); fear of dying without a current temple recommend and leaving empty chairs at the family table in heaven.
If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now.Elder M. Russell Ballard, General Conference 2016, To Whom Shall We Go?
The Cultural Divide
It should be getting more clear how founding an institutional religion on a corrupt doctrine upstream has very serious consequences downstream:
|Culture Elements||Original, Restored Church of Christ||Post-Martyrdom, Modern Mormon Monarchy|
|Values||Individual relationship with the Lord||The collective, institutional group|
|Beliefs||The Doctrine of Christ: Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (personal relationship, divine guidance, revelation), we can be spiritually transformed, born again, saved, justified, and sanctified by divine power (BOFHG) becoming part of the kingdom of God and enabled to enter the literal presence of the Lord to receive the promise of eternal life.||The Covenant Path: The LDS church is the kingdom of God and the only true church on the face of the earth because there is an unbroken line of authority (so-called keys) from Joseph Smith to today’s church president and whereby we can be exalted into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom by receiving all the ritualistic ordinances from other people and enduring (striving) until your mortal death.|
|Attitudes||Broken heart, contrite spirit to the Lord; Dependence upon the Lord; Eye single to the glory of God; Personal empowerment to work out own salvation with the Lord||Submission, obedience, loyalty to the church and brethren; Leaders (at all levels) take on personal accountability of members’ salvation; Dependence upon the arm of flesh; Eye single to the men in leadership offices; Fear of judgment from leaders (and other members) as intermediaries to salvation|
|Behaviors (Generally)||• Teach the Doctrine of Christ|
• Point people to the Lord
• Exercise and develop gifts of the spirit (discernment, revelation, etc.)
• Meet often with common believers (the church) to sustain one another on their own unique journeys through blessings, prayers, exercising gifts of the spirit, feeding and clothing the poor among them
|• Teach The Covenant Path—teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. (JSH 1:19)|
• Counsel with councils to build policy, procedures, and programs
• Control the narratives with correlated curriculum, censor church history because it weakens trust in the arm of flesh leaders and line of authority“
• Follow the prophets”—Point people to the arm of flesh leaders; Default to their counsel if your personal revelation differs from theirs; Adopt leaders as our life coaches; Discredit, label (apostate) or remove anyone that questions leadership or threatens their control
• Minimize scripture, promote modern leaders’ words as the most important living oracles
• Member conformity—tune into and adopt the regurgitated words, and platitudes of leaders; Maintain activity in church programs
• Focus on celestial statuses to inform members of their success in The Covenant Path
• Try to increase acceptance from the world; Promote the collective church and leaders as influencers of a global institution
|Common goal||Come unto Christ—Receive the divine transformational experience of the baptism of fire and Holy Ghost (BOFHG) and receive eternal life from the Lord.||Complete a checklist in order to receive a temple recommend, temple rituals, and remain positively aligned with the temple recommend questions in order to be considered as elect, worthy, faithful, and righteous.|
|Results||Freedom, liberty; spiritual ascension; “… the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (3 Ne 11:39)||Control, fear; spiritual damnation; “… the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.” (3 Ne 11:40)|
Remember, because of the changes in doctrine, the modern Mormon monarchy culture is programmed for group salvation—meaning, your salvation comes through membership, activity, conformity, loyalty, and obedience to the collective institution, but most importantly to the monarchy. (Not to a personal relationship with the Lord or even exercising faith in His personal commandments.)
The loyalty required to the monarchy is one of the most profound examples of how far we have strayed from the original, restored doctrine upstream to the negative consequences downstream. To reinforce that, I want to point out a few realities.
Amazingly, a person can be a member of the church, fully active, and get a temple recommend and still:
- Show public support of the LGBTQ agenda (including participating in public protests)
- Publicly come out as transgender and be baptized (see image right)
- Show public support for women’s rights to abortion (pro-choice)
- Show public support for Agenda 2030
- Show public opposition to the church’s vaccine narrative (Godsend, safe, effective)
- Go into online forums and express your opinion on doctrinal matters or mysteries that conflict with official church leaders’ comments
And yet, yet, if you are publicly not supportive and even critical of President Russell M. Nelson and the other members of the Q15 or publicly question them as prophets, seers, or revelators, you will be considered “apostate,” or at least “on the high road to apostasy” as they say, and also subject to any type of church discipline.
“It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.”Dallin H. Oaks
Yes, of all the public dissent, speaking out against the leadership will earn you the scarlet letter—except “A” is for “Apostate.” But it might as well be for “adultery,” because people will defame you and claim you are not loyal or faithful to your covenants. Coincidentally, Brigham Young built a clause into the temple rituals—”to not speak evil of the Lord’s anointed”—as a forewarning.
The point here is not whether you are supportive or critical of the brethren (Q15), per se—it is the fact that whether you are loyal to them determines whether you are apostate or not. Not whether you are loyal to Jesus, and not even whether you are loyal to the restored gospel (doctrine of Christ), but to them.
This idolatry could not be more clear than when it comes to your temple recommend interview. Brace yourself. The reality is that you can be a devout follower of Jesus Christ, a believer in the restoration through Joseph Smith, and a lover of the Book of Mormon, and you can answer each one of the 20+ temple recommend questions with the correct answer, but… yes but, if you can’t answer at least questions #4 and possibly #5 in the affirmative, the person doing the interview has the discretion to withhold your temple recommend and depending on how you answer those same questions, you could be subject to church discipline:
- #4 Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
- #5 Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?
Since the church views your temple recommend as essentially the status of your personal worthiness and righteousness, they have created a direct correlation between idolatry—loyalty to church leaders—and your personal righteousness.
It’s Real. It’s Palpable.
One woman recently posted on Facebook (May, 2022) her personal opinions about being careful to believe that “prophets cannot lead us astray.” She believes Joseph Smith is a true prophet and even referenced his comments about discerning imposters: “If any man preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an imposter…Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches” (Times & Seasons, vol 5, pg 490.) Her point was to be discerning and to judge every person’s words (church leader or otherwise) based on whether they align with the principles and doctrine contained in the scriptures, no matter their title or office.
In that same post, she stated she personally believes Brigham Young was not teaching the same principles and doctrines as Joseph Smith including “blood atonement, Adam was God, and the racist teaching that blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence and would never be able to hold the priesthood.” Note these are all things the modern church no longer espouses so it’s not like she’s lying or being overly critical—just factual. She goes on to cite scripture mostly from the Book of Mormon that the fruits of true servants are those that point people to come unto Christ.
Naturally, because of the monitoring of others within our culture, she was reported to the Bishop. (It’s important to note that she was in her ward YW presidency and her husband was Elders Quorum President.) She explains that ultimately they had to meet with the Stake President and the outcome went like this:
We were considered the ideal Mormon family. 8 kids, I stay home and homeschool, and then I started hearing the voice of the lord call to me to awake and arise. It’s been kind of a painful awakening. When I was being counseled, they mentioned that we were a gold, rockstar family. Then all of a sudden I started making anti polygamy comments [for months prior to this incident online] and then this one post in particular that called out the brethren. [Note while her previous posts on polygamy were known by her local leaders for months, this additional post about church leadership was the trigger to take action]
In the meeting, my stake president had all the signs of being angry. When I asked him why, he denied he was but I could see the anger and he was almost shaking and clenching his hands. When I would try to explain, they would cut me off and tell me I was wrong. I asked them if they have read what the prophets have to say about our leaders, they responded, “Yeah! Have you been studying come follow me?” They asked if I thought the leaders were leading us astray and I said, yes. They “asked” me to keep my mouth shut in church and online. They said everyone respects me and my family and they don’t want me hurting the tender faith of other members who look up to us… The stake president went back into the bishop’s office for about 15 minutes after we left. And the whole [ward YW] presidency was released the next week.
A few weeks later, my husband pulled the Bishop aside and wanted to be forthright. He told him he was choosing not to renew his temple recommend “at this time.” My bishop then asked [my husband] what I was reading to turn me so fast. My husband told the bishop it wasn’t anything in particular, but instead that I had been given dreams. I was then given revelations to understand why I was shown things and was trying to find out if it was true. My husband said that if he [the Bishop] wanted to know that he needed to talk to me. The Bishop then told my husband he is the patriarch, he has the power to fix this, to go out into our property and pray for the Lord to fix this and put me back in my place.
I tried to send my bishop a message that I wasn’t reading anti-mormon stuff, but I had dreams that were making things more difficult. He has completely ignored us every since. His wife (we were friends), she too has ghosted me and wants nothing to do with me.
The week after my husband told the Bishop he was choosing not to renew “at this time,” he was called in by a member of the stake presidency to thank him for his “2 years of service” and that they were releasing him and calling a new presidency. He had only served 7 months, but it’s really weird, like they are trying desperately to pretend this was a long held calling and time for another. Totally trying to sidestep that, he was being released for not renewing. When my husband corrected him [about the length of service], he just played it off like he didn’t know what my husband was talking about.A sister who is trying to seek the Lord’s will
A Different Kind of Love
There are very few reasons for ex-communication in the Church.
- Gross iniquity (murder, adultery, sexual perversion, or serious civil court conviction such as a felony)
- Involved in or advocating plural marriage
It’s worth noting the difference between being excommunicated for apostasy and for something else like serious immorality. In the event of serious immorality, yes, there is a repentance process, but leaders and other members are encouraged to express love and support for the offender’s repentance process and encourage them to return to the church through rebaptism.
Where serious transgression requires a court hearing, may I promise you that the procedure is kind and gentle. The Church court system is just; and as has been stated on many occasions, these are courts of love with the singular objective of helping Church members to get back on a proper course.Elder Robert L. Simpson
However, in the event of apostasy, the attitude is very different toward the offender. Instead, the reactions are more extreme including being shunned by members. Leaders will vocally warn members to steer clear of the offender. I know of friends who experienced first-hand ward and stake leaders coming into a special second-hour meeting to warn all the adults in the ward to distance themselves from a brother that vocally loved the Lord, believed in the restoration, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but didn’t believe the leaders of the church were teaching the correct doctrine of Christ.
It should also be made clear that an apostate is not an indifferent or an inactive member of the Church, but rather one who flatly denies the divine nature of the Church or one who is antagonistic against or unresponsive to his priesthood authority.Elder Robert L. Simpson
Notice that the offender was not denying the divine nature of Jesus Christ, but rather denying “the divine nature of the church” and the doctrine they adopted. As far as church discipline goes, the Church authorities will say, “the purposes of disciplinary councils are to save the souls of transgressors, protect the innocent, and safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.” Understanding the distance between the original and the modern monarchy and its culture, I will leave that to you to decide.
Again, the monarchy values the collective group and protects it and its leadership at all costs. I will contest though, shouldn’t the church and its leaders be able to stand on their own? Shouldn’t their fruits be self-evident? There is a false tradition that the leaders of the church have to defend the church at all costs—that “Those who are humble and faithful sustain and defend the Lord’s servants” (Teachings of George Albert Smith). If church leaders were able to demonstrate divine fruits (gifts of the spirit), shouldn’t that be a sufficient witness? Why the fear, extreme sensitivity, or hyper-defensiveness toward someone that disagrees? Why diminish the sincere efforts of some to return to the true doctrine of Christ? Where is humility, broken heart, and a contrite spirit? I realize that Korihor was struck dumb through Alma’s sealing power, but Korihor was also preaching against Christ altogether while Alma was actually teaching the true doctrine of Christ. Besides, if someone is actually teaching false doctrine and it is really offensive, one could wonder why they don’t use their sealing power to strike them dumb?
The doctrine is absolutely foundational. It cannot be over-simplified. If the doctrine has been corrupted, leaders are not righteous, the institutional structure is priestcraft, and the culture is the manifestation of the corrupt fruit, it would be very appropriate to ask:
Who or what is really apostate?
Christ’s true doctrine has the power to lead each soul to Christ and receive personal salvation and eternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.2 Nephi 31
Unfortunately, any deviation from the true doctrine of Christ can so easily lead generations and millions of souls away from the Lord. Without the true doctrine, even good-intentioned men and women are left to their own knowledge and devices. Like Lehi and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life, without the true doctrine we are people walking in the mists of darkness that ultimately lead to the great and spacious building:
17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost. 18 And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations [we believe and tell others we have something yet we don’t] and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever.1 Nephi 12
I have highlighted only a fraction of the scriptures that describe our individual lost and fallen state in the last days. That includes those who have the Book of Mormon. The doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon is plain and precious. I would like to invite you to learn the true doctrine of Christ so you don’t believe that your personal worthiness or righteousness is rooted in the creations and false traditions of the arm of flesh.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult when we are immersed in the downstream culture. The culture teaches us everything we know and is constantly reinforcing it. It can seem like boiling a frog in water. This is why it is so important to identify the true doctrine. Do not walk in the mists of darkness any longer. If you are in that situation, have the courage (hope in the divine nature of God) to break the generational chains that keep us and our posterity from the Lord and eternal life.
Stay focused on the Savior and your personal relationship with Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life and He most certainly can lead you every step of the way in your unique journey. Our God is a great God.
To increase your understanding of the doctrine of Christ you are invited to study the Book of Mormon more carefully and more intimately with the Lord’s guiding Holy Spirit. For additional help, The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide is available for free. As a supplement to the study guide, you can also study alongside a couple of blog series that unveils the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon (ASSIGNMENT SERIES: The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon) and another that celebrates the bicentennial anniversary of the First Vision (2020—The Bicentennial Anniversary Celebration). See also The Doctrine of Christ, A Proclamation to the World
JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org is based on free, online study guides to help you learn, believe, live, and teach the Doctrine of Christ. The Study Guides invite any and all to see and know this truth for themselves that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has, in fact, introduced His doctrine and He personally invites all to receive personal redemption and to even literally receive Him while in the flesh (mortality).
Blog posts are only intended to supplement the Study Guides. Per all blog posts, seek the understanding and confirmations from the Lord in your own personal revelation. Study guides are intended to point you to both the Lord’s written word and His voice (personal revelation). These study guides will help you uncover what the Doctrine of Christ is and other essential topics that will help you in your journey to literally “come unto Christ” while in mortality. All study guides are available at JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org.