On June 28, 2014, The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued the following statement concerning apostasy:
The two paragraphs below are included in the statement of the First Presidency:
“Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.”
According to the First Presidency, it appears that LDS Church members are always free to ask questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice and to earnestly seek greater understanding. So, what is apostasy? Does believing differently than the LDS Church or its faithful leaders constitute apostasy? When a Church member disagrees with the teachings of religious leaders or is at variance with current official Church doctrine, is he/she in apostasy? If a father teaches his family his personal views, even if they are contrary to current Church doctrine, is that considered apostasy? If he shares his beliefs and asks questions to his neighbors, is that apostasy?
If a Church member is earnestly seeking greater understanding, is it “OK” and “safe” to ask questions in the Gospel Doctrine class on Sunday? What if the questions are sincere, yet become disturbing to some Church members because their “religious bubble” is pierced? Does that constitute apostasy? Is it appropriate to ask LDS friends why Church doctrine has so radically changed since the time of Joseph Smith and the restoration? In view of the fact that numerous past prophets have lead their followers astray, is it reasonable to question the doctrine taught by the current LDS prophets or apostles? Where did the notion come from that an LDS prophet today could never lead us astray? Is there any scripture or word of God that instructs us to follow a prophet? If there is, I would really appreciate being shown. What makes us think that our LDS generation is invulnerable to being lead astray and uniquely protected from apostasy?
Is it “OK” to make an inquiry as to why the official LDS Church position on Polygamy and Race & Priesthood has so drastically vacillated back and forth since the LDS Church began? Does Diety fluctuate and vary over time or is it simply mankind that modifies religious views and alters group perceptions? When do questions cross the line from being in the “safe” religious area into the threatening and dangerous radar detected zone and the territory of apostasy?
Is it correct to assign the label of apostasy to a man, who claims the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of his own conscience? Is it accurate, appropriate, or fitting to condemn an individual to apostasy when he allows all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may? Article of Faith #11 Should a person, who holds a thought-provoking perspective and simply sees things differently than others, be viewed as one in peril and be labeled as a traitor and apostate?
If a person is labeled as “an apostate” or “on the high road to apostasy”, from what has he/she apostatized? Is it apostasy from persons, leaders, or organizations? Could it be apostasy from false beliefs of the past? Would it be good or proper to apostatize from proud and foolish philosophies of men? Would it be wrong to apostatize from the silly, misled, and unwise religious majority? Would it be wise to identify false doctrines and apostatize from errors? If the truth were to be found, free from false traditions, fault and error, would it be reasonable, sensible, and intelligent to live according to absolute truth? Would it really make any sense at all to apostatize from God Himself by defying the actual, undiluted, and never-changing truth?
If religious institutions or men apostatize from God and His Word, would there be any wisdom or logic to follow them? What if our religious peers and Church members were following Church leaders, would that make a difference to you or me? Why or Why not? If men, religion, and God fail to agree with exactness, how is it possible for anyone to avoid apostasy in some manner from at least one of the three?
Who is apostatizing from what? Who is it that contradicts whom? Is there a difference between being at variance with men and apostatizing from God? Is there a difference between apostatizing from the traditions of men and living contrary to the teachings and instructions from God? Is there a difference between rejecting and abandoning the false and vain and foolish doctrines promoted by men 2 Nephi 28:9 and disregarding God by apostatizing from His Word? Is there a difference between following men and coming unto the Lord, the Holy One? How so? Does any church on earth have the power to save mankind? Is there any doorman, assigned to act as the keeper of the gate? Is there any servant, who cannot be deceived? Does the Holy One of Israel employ anyone else in that position? Is there any other way? 2 Nephi 9:41 Therefore, is there a difference between failing or refusing to walk in lock step with the brethren of religious rank and being unwilling to come unto Christ, the Holy One of Israel? Does it matter?
Is there a difference between being pacified and lulled into carnal security and actually finding the way, the truth, and the life? John 14:6 Is there a difference between repeatedly asserting “all is well in Zion; yea Zion prospereth, all is well” 2 Nephi 28:21 and literally coming to know Christ and be redeemed from the fall? Remembering that no man cometh unto the Father, but by me, John 14:6 is there a difference between associating with men and associating with God? Is there a difference between discarding the philosophies of men mingled with scripture and contradicting God Himself and rejecting His ways?
Could it be possible that leaders of religious rank, who are practicing priestcraft by “preaching and setting themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion”, are in fact the real apostates, leading their followers astray, and hiding truth in plain sight?
Do LDS church leaders deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel and fail to commune with Jehovah? Do they say unto the people, “Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men”? The words of modern religious leaders may be, “You do NOT need to find Christ yourself. You can be saved through our inspired words, temple ceremonies, saving ordinances, priesthood keys that only we possess, and the power He has given to men (us)”. Can Mormon Church hierarchy be the modern day scribes and Pharisees Jesus was talking about when He said, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in”? Matthew 23:13
Leaders of Mormonism repeatedly teach with increasing frequency the notion that individuals need not be concerned about “knowing the Lord”. Members of the LDS Church are expected to follow the prophet, “know the brethren”, carry a current temple recommend, and participate in the “saving temple ordinances”. After all, do you not find it of utmost importance to carry your “passport to heaven”?
This vain and foolish notion is indeed false doctrine mingled with scripture and has been advanced as being necessary and sufficient for salvation. The “brethren” are claiming and promoting a position and power between God and man. They sponsor, encourage, endorse, and advance the idea that individual testimonies of the Savior are framed by the testimonies of men and are based on Church doctrines and the teachings of religious leaders. In the recent April 2014 General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf declared, “You do not need to see the Savior, as the Apostles did, to experience the same transformation.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2014 GeneralConference
Are you really serious? Do you actually mean that we do not need to see the Savior anymore, converse with Him through the veil, or receive His ministry to be redeemed? Are you truly saying that the same redeeming transformation will occur to Church members by circumventing the Lord and Savior Himself?
Amazing! Astonishing! Awesome! Yet in reality it is AWFUL! It seems much easier to sustain the LDS Church authorities, embrace their claims of priesthood power and blindly trust in their possession of keys to heaven than to pierce the veil of unbelief and actually embrace the Lord. It tends to require less effort being religiously and ceremonially clean than actually repenting, literally coming to Christ, and hearing His voice declaring me clean. Wouldn't it be more valuable to converse with the Lord through the veil, be covered with His robe of righteousness and, in His presence, be redeemed from the fall than to merely spend a portion of an afternoon to receive temple ordinances, which simply teach of and point to the real thing?
But wait a minute...... President Uchtdorf, are you, in fact, clearly teaching that I can bypass “knowing Him” and obtain the same saving transformation through “apostles and prophets”, who claim to possess the power of God? I do not believe your words. A true apostle wouldn't teach such a thing. They do not ring true and contradict the Word of God. This false and vain and foolish doctrine that you are teaching runs polar opposite to what Joseph Smith, the holy scriptures, and God Himself teach about personally coming to Christ, “knowing Him”, and “receiving further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil”. (See Temple Endowment; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Pages 149-150; D&C 88:3-5; D&C 132:20-25; and many more)
Are LDS Church leaders among the many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark? Shall the blood of the saints cry from the ground against them? Yea, have they all gone out of the way? Have church leaders become impure and debased? Because of pride and false teachers and untrue doctrine, have their churches become corrupted? Are their churches lifted up? Because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, have they all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men? 2 Nephi 28:5-14
According to Holy Writ, history, and other records of the past, how many religious institutions have fallen into apostasy? In the past, have churches, religious leaders, or prophets gone astray, criticized God, changed His ordinances, and replaced His commandments with the traditions of men? Is the enormous evidence found in the scriptures enough and sufficient to conclude that there have been spiritual leaders of the past, who have royally apostatized from God, yet sustained one another, maintained religious rank, claimed power and authority, preached false and foolish doctrines, convinced and deceived many, lead people astray into deep rooted apostasy, and did it all in the name of God? Can this kind of deception and trickery actually happen in religion? Any religion? Has it been repeated over and over again? Is it happening today? Among us? Based on actual history, the odds are that religious leaders and churches will continue apostatizing from God and will surely lead people astray.
Here is part of an LDS Church statement concerning apostasy: “When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy. One example is the Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth. This apostasy lasted until Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and initiated the restoration of the fulness of the gospel.” LDS website
This insightful LDS description of apostasy caused me to reflect and ask some serious questions about religious institutions of the past. At the time of Christ, were the Scribes and Pharisees actually apostates and acting in apostasy to the truth restored through Moses? The Scribes and Pharisees, who were in authority and sat in Moses' seat, Matthew23:2 claimed power, controlled the temple, performed “saving ordinances”, and led the church all in the name of God. Between the time of Moses and Christ, did men corrupt the principles of the gospel and make unauthorized changes in church organization and priesthood ordinances? Was the priesthood withdrawn from them? Why? D&C 84:23-25 Were the church leaders (Scribes and Pharisees) growing in apostasy until Christ established His church and restore truth again?
If it happened with those who sat in Moses' seat and if, as the LDS Church teaches, the great apostasy occurred among religious organizations after Christ, is it possible to happen again today, in the latter days? Is it possible for a religious organization today, like the LDS Church, which abandons past beliefs or denounces doctrines previously practiced, to be in apostasy, and therefore be positioned and viewed to be a modern apostate group? Could it be happening to those, who sit in Joseph Smith's seat, claiming power, controlling the temple, performing “saving ordinances”, and leading the church all in the name of God? Could that really be happening today? Why or Why not?
In the latter days, has the LDS Church hierarchy apostatized from the truth restored through Joseph Smith? Between the time of Joseph and present time (2014), have men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in church organization and priesthood ordinances? Have temple ordinances been changed since the restoration? Isaiah 24:5 Was the fullness of the priesthood withdrawn from among them? When? D&C 124:28 Is there record or evidence showing that the fullness of the priesthood has been restored since January 1841? Have the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, LDS leaders, and Church members been growing in apostasy? Will they continue until Christ restores truth again? I find history and the patterns of apostasy and restoration to be increasingly interesting while I presently witness yet another cycle unfold.
The LDS article continues, “During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches were established, but they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Parts of the holy scriptures were corrupted or lost, and no one had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or perform other priesthood ordinances.”
“We now live in a time when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. But unlike the Church in times past, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not be overcome by general apostasy. The scriptures teach that the Church will never again be destroyed (see D&C 138:44; see also Daniel 2:44).”
Here are the two scriptures cited in the LDS article claiming that the Church is invulnerable and immune to apostasy and that the Church will never again be destroyed.
D&C 138:44 “Daniel, who foresaw and foretold the establishment of the kingdom of God in the latter days, never again to be destroyed nor given to other people;”
Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
If we take these scriptures at face value, what did Daniel actually foresee being established in the latter days? Was it a church? A religion? Or was it the kingdom of God? What does the kingdom of God look like? Would God be present? Would those, who are part of the kingdom of God, necessarily be required to endure the presence of God? Would it be necessary to KNOW God to be part of His kingdom? What kind of people would be included in His kingdom? Could any church presently on earth today be linked, connected, or equated to the kingdom of God? Is the kingdom of God and the LDS Church the same thing? Or are they different and separate entities? Why or why not?
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.” What kings? Who are these kings? What characteristics do they possess? Have they communed with angels and associated with the powers of heaven? Are they redeemed from the fall, forgiven, and covered by Christ? Are they found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb? Are they prepared and able to stand in the presence of God or would they be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of their filthiness before Him, than they would to dwell with the damned souls in hell? Mormon 9:3-5 What do you think? Are these kings referred to here simply rulers of nations and empires of the world or are these kings actually reckoned from heaven? Are they kings and priests of the most high God? (Hebrews 7:1, Genesis 14:18, JST Genesis 14:25-40) By His own voice, has God instructed and covenanted with these kings?
Who will set up this kingdom of God? Will it be men or God Himself? Who will receive it? Will it be destroyed? Will it be given to other people after God sets it up in the latter days? Has the kingdom of God already been established in the latter days or is it yet to be set up in the future? If the kingdom has already been set up by the God of heaven, who has received it? If the kingdom has already been established among people, is it possible to be given to other people now? Once the kingdom of God is set up among His people are some “windows” or “doors” closed? Have individuals, who failed to become His people, lost an opportunity to rise?
If the kingdom of God has been established and the kingdom shall not be left to other people and if I am not found to be part of the kingdom of God, does that mean that I am among the kingdoms that shall be broken in pieces and consumed by the kingdom of God? If God has not yet set up His Kingdom in the latter days, what preparation is required to qualify to be among His people who receive the kingdom of God, which shall never be destroyed and shall not be left to other people?
With real intent, have we ever seriously asked God about prophets, their validity, and who actually speaks the Word of God with power and authority? Are there any prophets among us today who commune with Jehovah, as did Joseph Smith? Is there any mortal today that comes from the presence of God with a message? Is there anyone among us for whom the Lord vouches? Is there a servant of God on earth, who correctly speaks the word of God with power so that ”my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”? If such a servant with a message from God were here, would it be worth hearing the message, seriously considering it, and asking God to confirm it? If so, you may want to consider becoming familiar with the messages of God delivered through Denver Snuffer. TheSecond Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil