MORMONISM UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
The real problem with Mormonism
March 7, 2013
Stephen Stone, RenewAmerica President

The single most disconcerting problem with the Mormon church is not its extreme authoritarianism, unsurpassed among modern religious cultures; or any of its unscriptural traditions, particularly those that defy its own professed canon.

The problem is not even the subtle, but genuine threat posed by the church's un-American, overly-defensive, anti-social tendencies, for which Mormonism might validly be considered a "menace" to civilized institutions* — just as it was viewed over a century ago, when polygamy was the most distinguishing feature of the church; when a wagon train of more than a hundred non-Mormon men, women, and children passing through Utah was mercilessly massacred by the locals, led by church leaders; or when the church behaved as a monolithic voting bloc that undercut representative democracy wherever it settled, precipitating a history of early conflict with outsiders.

You can also rule out...

Nor is the problem with Mormonism that, in the modern world, it sees itself as both a powerful public relations firm on the one hand (as some accurately perceive), and a political lobby on the other (as only the ill-informed misperceive) — intent on attaining far-reaching influence by whatever means, the most blatant being the recent presidential candidacy of its best-known member, Mitt Romney.

The problem with the church is not its well-known rejection of mainstream Christianity in favor of modern "prophets, seers, and revelators" — high officials chosen by the lay leadership and revered by today's 14 million Mormons as virtual demigods whose words trump not only the church's adopted canon, but the Bible itself.

The problem with the church is not its refusal to allow valid, informed criticism from within its ranks that might embarrass church leaders or expose the church's errors or weaknesses — an almost paranoid obstacle to introspection that has no doctrinal grounds, and serves ultimately to insulate church leaders from any accountability to the membership, making the church an obvious tyranny.

The problem is not that the church claims to be grounded in a scriptural "Law of Common Consent" that guarantees members the right to vote for or against any church leader, yet in reality punishes those who might oppose a leader — ostracizing them, barring them from the church's highly-esteemed "temples" — and ultimately excluding them from the church itself if they persist, as I can personally attest.

The problem is not that the church professes to value marriage and family above all other human institutions, yet allows vindictive leaders to heartlessly exclude family members from "temple weddings" of their own children and siblings solely for refusing to vote for these errant leaders, as again I can personally attest.

The problem with the church is not, as I claim in other writings, that it has singled out a politically-active, conservative homeschooling family of ten and harassed them incessantly for their refusal to obey church leaders' demands that they "quit working" for national pro-life spokesman Alan Keyes or his candidacies — in violation of state and local laws protecting the family's political and employment rights, as well as IRS rules forbidding such interference by tax-exempt organizations with America's political process, harassment that continues to the present day.

Nor is the problem that the church has, as a result of such trends and actions, demonstrably damaged America's political system itself — in my judgment — depriving voters of their rightful choice in a number of important political campaigns (see here), by continually intruding into the work of RenewAmerica, the Stone family which oversees it, and those candidates and causes they've assisted during the past twelve years at the national, state, and local level.

No, the biggest problem with the LDS church is not any of these very serious lapses or legal violations.

Then what's the problem?

The problem with the Mormon church is that it has done these sorts of things while professing to be "the only true and living church of God upon the face of whole the earth, with which...the Lord [is] well pleased." (See D&C 1:30.)

This claim by the church changes everything, magnifying and exacerbating the above trends beyond anything acceptable.

Among other things, it requires those sympathetic to the church to accept the proposition that Jesus Himself — whom the LDS leadership boldly testify is the real "head of the church," and the source of all their important decisions — is a law-breaking, controlling, manipulative, dishonest, moral-conservative-despising, mean-spirited demagogue like those who are actually behind the mischief the church routinely engages in.

If you believe Jesus is so mischievous and derelict, you need ecclesiastical "counseling," of course, as some of those who profess to represent Him in the church would do well themselves to look into. (Note, by the way, that I was told by two separate officials in charge of LDS Social Services' counseling centers that the stake president who has obsessively tormented me and my family for several years over our political work "might consider paying them a visit.")

But it also means the church — not its public caricature — demands the light of day, once and for all, something that has never happened.

The church needs to open itself up to objective examination by all interested persons, media, agencies of government, law enforcement, other churches and institutions, and similar entities, in the interest of establishing the truth — so there can be no question about the nature and legitimacy of the church in the face of suspicions that it is indeed lawless and disrespectful of American principle (as I and numerous others can attest), in ways that contradict its professed mission.

Since the church has in fact verifiably done what I claim, that fact alone militates against any claim by the church that it is exclusively God's vehicle for everyone's salvation.

We're not talking about the inherent need for all persons to hear God's truths of salvation in a way they can understand — or to give people the truth "line upon line" as they are ready for it, as the church emphasizes. We're talking about deliberately misrepresenting the truth, particularly the truth about the collective "body of Christ" — His church. Scripture doesn't sanction misrepresenting basic facts about that collective body.

We're also talking about replacing the truth with obvious untruth.

As things stand, there is no question the church is unduly secretive, less than honest, prone to mind control, and deeply engaged in creating a grossly-exaggerated image of itself, behaving more as a sophisticated propagandist than as God's "exclusive source of salvation." (See here, here, and here.)

Unfortunately, for the church to claim, on the one hand, to be God's only acceptable church, while withholding information needed for sincere, objective minds to assess that claim on the other hand, as it in fact does, nullifies the claim on its face, raising a red flag as big as the claim itself. In the Bible, we find no scriptural justification for withholding the truth about Christ's church from anyone, especially from sincere seekers of truth. Jesus is a God of truth.

"Need to know" basis

With that in mind, all genuine truth-seekers have a divine right to access — and then assess — everything of fundamental interest regarding the LDS church as a direct consequence of the church's claim to be "God's only true church."

Any such objective examination of the LDS church would reasonably include all relevant facts of its history; official policies (including its landmark 1907 "Address to the World," which it violates with impunity as though it didn't exist); internal rules (such as its "handbook" for leaders, a document withheld from the membership generally, even though members are asked to judge leaders' current performance during routine voting); political influence and activism; basic finances; significant holdings; reliable official doctrine; etc. — things any "true" church of God must make freely accessible to inquiring minds, since no person can expect to be saved "in ignorance," as the LDS canon emphasizes.

Any self-serving attempt to hide the truth from the membership or from the world — as the church notoriously did a century ago regarding its clandestine continuation of polygamy, and as we see occasionally today regarding various issues — cannot continue. God does not favor the leadership of the church, who are supposed to be servants of the people, above those they are meant to serve. (See Matt. 20:25-28.)

As a matter of fact, according to the LDS canon, God declares that any and all leaders of the church who "undertake to cover [their] sins" — or otherwise "gratify [their] pride, [their] vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness" — have no authority to represent Him, for as He says in the verse immediately after the one purportedly declaring the church to be His "only true and living church": "I the Lord cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance." (See D&C 121:37 and D&C 1:31.)

To the extent the church refuses to cooperate in reasonably transparent examination of its history, policies, bureaucratic rules, authentic doctrine, or other essentials, it forfeits its right to be taken seriously.

If the LDS church is indeed God's sole church, all mankind has a stake in examining what the church is, and how it operates.

Should the world be denied access to the "unvarnished" facts regarding the above things, as the world is now denied, and continues to be denied, the church must be taken as a fraud.

(For a detailed discussion of these issues, see here, here, and here.)

Get with the program

Contrast the longstanding incongruity between the church's claims and actions with the fact that the church's bold assertion that it is exclusively God's church means all persons must join the church to be saved.

Despite the verifiable institutional mischief we've described, mischief that undermines the church's claim to exclusivity as God's church, the fact remains, you and all your family and friends should plan to become Mormons if you want to go to heaven. Let's see what such exclusivity on the part of the church means in actuality.

As the only "true" church of Christ, Mormons believe that not only must all persons in today's world convert to "Mormonism" to gain salvation, but all persons in the history of the world must do so as well. For this reason, the church performs proxy "baptisms for the dead" in behalf of all deceased persons on record, so they might be part of the church and have salvation (should they choose to accept the baptism).

Persons still living, of course, can avoid this formality (and genealogical exercise) by joining the LDS church before they die, which requires confessing belief in the church's current "modern prophet," appointed by the church's ruling hierarchy to serve as its president.

Specifically —

After baptism, members are "under covenant" (church leaders teach) to "follow the prophet" in all things he may ask of them — including obeying local leaders; voting only to sustain local and general church authorities (and not oppose them); paying a ten-percent tithe of all income to the church (for use in teaching atheistic evolution and behaviorism in its universities, among other designated purposes); going on a church "mission" (usually two years of rigorous training in leader-dependent obedience); accepting any "calling" given them to labor in the church's highly organized, carefully orchestrated structure; abstaining from all beverages and substances outlawed by the church culture's "Word of Wisdom," including some not even specified by the scriptural canon; and on the basis of conforming to such expectations, going to the temple and covenanting to give all their time and talents to building up the church, thereafter dutifully wearing the church's temple underwear "night and day" as a constant reminder of all the above obligations.

That's what membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entails, in a nutshell.

Lack of Christ-centered emphasis

Absent from the above obligations or lifestyle is any mention of the all-importance of relying alone on Jesus Christ in all things, as taught throughout the church's canon, including the Bible.

Supplanting such personal reliance on Christ, as though the scriptural formula for salvation were irrelevant, is dependence on the church itself, and its leaders, for salvation.

Just think — as an aside: if Mitt had won, people would be flocking to the church in droves to imitate his ill-advised choice of religion, in consequence of his role as America's foremost citizen and the most influential person on the planet.

Characteristics of the true church of God: What it isn't

As we examine the Mormon church, let's consider in broad terms what God's "only church" must necessarily be — beginning with what it must avoid.

So there can be no question what's acceptable, we'll be blunt: any institution that professes to be God's true church does none of the errant things we described at the outset, at least not without timely correction, for they are obviously contrary to His mind and will, and thus "displeasing" to Him.

It's fair to say, in view of the premises and precepts of scripture, including the LDS canon, that God clearly abhors any —
  • Disrespect for the laws of the American Constitution by any entity, including "His" church. (See D&C 98:5-6.)

  • Cruel persecution of those who sacrifice selflessly for the good of others — as my family, by the way, has undertaken to do for many years.

  • Violation — especially with impunity — of any of His scriptural laws and statutes, by those who presume to represent Him.

  • Belittling of the institutions of marriage and family, in ways unjustifiable under divine law (and under the church's Law of Common Consent).

  • Punishing those who vote their conscience in any setting, in ways contrary to the divine principle of "common consent" that guarantees all mankind that right.

  • Allowing those who abuse power or authority to avoid fundamental accountability by disallowing valid criticism or honest dissent (particularly with no basis in scripture for such mind control).

  • Rejection of the scriptural, saving "doctrine of Christ" (which requires reliance alone on Jesus Christ) by anyone, especially an institution that calls itself the true church of Christ.

  • Inordinate preoccupation with conjured "image" above actuality, in pursuit of power and influence.
Above all, God abhors any semblance of man-made, soul-destroying, idolatrous authoritarianism that exalts one person above another, or that supplants reliance on Him with subservience to human beings — thus keeping the ignorant enslaved and lacking any hope of salvation. (See D&C 121:34-40.)

What God's church is

Instead of such anti-Christian presumptions and tendencies, a "true" church of God, according to scripture (including, again, the Mormon canon), meets the following criteria:
  • The church of Christ is centered in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, which is defined by scripture as submitting our whole souls to Jesus Christ and inviting Him to baptize us "with fire and the Holy Ghost" if He accepts the offering of our will (see Acts 1:4-8, 2:1-4 and 3 Nephi 9:13-14, 20-22), so we might thereby become "converted as a "little child," "reconciled to Christ," and regenerated into a "new creature" who is no longer at enmity with God.

    Thereafter — as biblically-consistent teachings from the Mormons' own canon stress — we are admonished to rely "alone upon the merits of Christ, who is the author and the finisher of [our] faith" (see Moroni 6:4, 2 Nephi 31:19, and Heb. 12:2), as summarized by this simple prescription for pleasing God:

      For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.

      Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ.... (2 Nephi 32:5-6, emphasis added)

    That is the essence of the gospel of Christ, and thus the way to salvation, as corroborated by the preponderance of scripture. In any true church of God, it is therefore the conspicuous, all-important centerpiece.

  • The church of Christ vigilantly shuns any teaching that is antithetical to the true, saving doctrine of Christ.

    In Galations, we read Paul's familiar, earnest words condemning apostasy from the saving gospel of Christ:

      I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

      Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

      For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

      But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

      For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
      (Gal. 1:6-12, emphasis added)

    Thus, everything taught as fundamental by a self-professing "true church of God" will reflect the saving gospel of Jesus Christ found with clarity in the Bible. To the extent other teachings, prerequisites, or presumptions enter in, and especially if they predominate, the church can readily be dismissed as non-saving, non-essential, and non-Christian.

  • Those who profess to lead the church of Christ will see themselves as the servants of the flock of God, and not as their overseers — and certainly not as agents through whom salvation comes, for that alone is the prerogative of Christ, the Savior of all willing to "come unto Him."

    This is plainly taught in both the New Testament and the Mormon canon, parts of which we have already quoted. Other references include the following.

    In Matthew 20, Jesus definitively taught,

      But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

      But it shall not be so among you:
      but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

      And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

      Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-28, emphasis mine)

    Regarding His own role as Savior, Jesus taught in the Book of John —

      Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)

      I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)

      Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

      And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:28-29, emphasis added)

    Then Jesus declared, in these oft-cited words,

      ...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

    Having thus established the pattern for our salvation — which requires us to rely directly on Him as He relies directly on the Father — Christ then teaches the utter need for us to be dependent upon Him and not on any man, if we would please Him and the Father:

      I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

      Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit....

      Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

      I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

      If a man abide not in me,
      he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

      If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

      Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:1—2, 4-8, emphasis added)

    Therein is the pattern not only for individual salvation, but for all leadership by those who profess to be Christ's disciples and representatives. Any thought that God's "shepherds" are to do anything but lead their flock to Christ Himself, and thereby to eternal life with the Father, is damnable heresy.

    All this is summed up by a passage from the Mormon canon that, properly understood, would absolutely prohibit Mormons from acting as self-serious "authorities" over others:

      For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.

      He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:23-24, emphasis added)

    Except as LDS leaders are willing — and worthy — to die on a cross in public disgrace for the sins of mankind, they have no business funneling salvation through themselves. Jesus alone is Lord and Savior — not self-important Mormon officials.

    Such words are seconded by a plain-spoken caution not many pages away from the above verses in the Book of Mormon:

      Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Nephi 28:31, emphasis mine)

    End of argument, one would think — unless we're arguing with minds that have been trained for years in unChristlike dependency on other human beings for knowing God's will and word.

  • The church of God obeys constitutional law.

    Not only will a "true church of God" respect constitutional, legitimate secular government, but just as importantly, if a professing church of God has clear words in its accepted canon that require it to obey the laws of the United States of America, as the LDS church does, that adherence to American law and principle should be evident in everything the church undertakes.

    There can be no pretense by a professing church of God that it follows the constitutional "laws of the land" while at the same time it blatantly violates them.

    Among the statutes we could cite from the Mormon canon that require this kind of good citizenship of the church is one in the church's official "Articles of Faith," which proclaims,

      We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. (Twelfth Article of Faith, emphasis added)

    More specifically, the LDS canon directs the church and its officers to adhere to the following:

      And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

      And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

      Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land.
      (D&C 98:4-6, emphasis added)

    Similarly, the Mormon church, in 1835, unanimously adopted an official political code, published as God's word in the Doctrine & Covenants, as follows —

      We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

      We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life....

      We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments.... (D&C 134:1-2, 5, emphasis added)

    On the basis of such internal documents, held as scripture, the Mormon church has no excuse for violating our nation's laws, or for interfering with the political rights of others, as it has repeatedly done in America's political arena.

    There is more we could add in fleshing out what God's "true church" must necessarily be, but let's look at the very essence of what scripture calls "the church of Christ."
The essence of Christ's church

Of all the things we could say that describe the biblical church of God, among the most important is this one doctrinal fact: the true church of God is simple, non-hierarchical, even largely "non-institutional" — if the Bible is to be our yardstick.

Based on the model in the New Testament, the original "body of Christ" was equated with those who were truly converted, born again, and spiritually accepted of Christ as "members of His church," from the day of Pentecost onward. All others professing to be members were imposters, or what Paul called "babes" (Heb. 5:12-14), not "fellowcitizens with the saints" (Eph. 2:19).

It follows that any notion that a corporate, systematized, institutional entity — one with man-made rules, elite bureaucracy, costly and powerful infrastructure, and layers upon layers of elaborate programs that subordinate people — constitutes the true church of God is, in the very least, undoctrinal. The New Testament church "had all things common," we read in Acts 2 — meaning all members of the body of Christ, and their needs, were considered of equal importance, and no one was above another in any real manner that mattered to God; no one exerted "power" or "influence" to manage or otherwise control or oversee the collective society of Christians in the early church. **

There's certainly no scriptural evidence to the contrary.

Very clearly, the family — not a hierarchical institution — was the central feature of the early Christian church, much as historically has been the basis of Judaism for millennia; and those authorized to lead the church were immersed in preaching the saving gospel, teaching dependency directly on Jesus Christ, and offering sacramental rites and ordinances, not subjugating the people.

Interestingly, the church of God described in the Book of Mormon was much like the New Testament church: simple, non-institutional, lacking a bureaucratic elite, focused directly on Christ Himself, and centered in equally-important individuals — not self-important "leaders." (See, for example, Mosiah chapters 2-5.)

Here's how the Book of Mormon describes the true church of God:
    And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

    Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.

    And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

    And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

    And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.

    And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.


    And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ.

    But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

    And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done. (Moroni 6:1-9, emphasis added)
Nowhere in such words (or anywhere else in the Book of Mormon) do we see anything resembling an "institution" or "programmed church." It was all quite simple in its description — because the church was seen as the collective society of believers, not an elaborate or leader-dependent, highly-structured, elite religious club.

Even the occasional "temples" in the Book of Mormon were incidental. They were just a throwback to the Law of Moses — never emphasized as essential to salvation, or to believers in Christ. This illustrates the sheer simplicity of the recorded church.

Inherent in the Book of Mormon is the obvious conclusion, consistent with the Bible: The true church of Christ is those individuals who have truly "come unto Christ," been baptized by the Holy Spirit (in actuality, not mere formality), become "redeemed" from their fallen condition by the blood of Jesus Christ, and committed to relying wholly upon the merits of Jesus Christ in all they attempt to do — fundamentally and irreversibly transformed as a result into the spiritual "children of Christ" (see Mosiah 27:24-26.)

This being the case, according to the Bible and the Book of Mormon, no institution can rightfully or logically claim to be the "true church of God," in reality. If the scriptures are the standard, there is no such thing as God's church in an institutional sense — nor does the Mormon canon use the term in such a way; it's always the collective or the individuals.

We are left to understand that, in actuality, God has no "institution," nor is He inclined to claim ownership of any managerial system overseen by imperfect human beings. He only has individual disciples who are part of the "collective body" of converted believers.

This is clearly taught in the LDS Doctrine & Covenants, Section 10, where we read,
    Behold, this is my doctrine — whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

    Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. (D&C 10:67-68, emphasis mine; see also verses 53-56, and 62-66.)
No matter how this passage is interpreted, it at least means this: only those who have truly become converted to Christ, through "coming unto Him" in the manner prescribed by scripture, are "members" of Christ's church, in God's estimation.

Such requisite conversion — above all — according to the Bible and Book of Mormon, means to be "born again," for real, not in some limited sense: it means to be "baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost," and thus to become a "new creature" in Christ, someone who has taken on the "divine nature" and "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:2-4) — or in Book of Mormon language, experienced a "mighty change of heart," and as a result, has "no more disposition to do evil, but to good continually" (Mosiah 5:2), at least in general desire.

One who has "come unto Christ" has been changed by Christ, permanently and indelibly. The Book of Momon describes such a person as "redeemed of God," "changed from their carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness" (Mosiah 27:24-26), consistent with the teachings of the New Testament (see Rom. 6:3-23 and 8:1-8).

The above passage from D&C 10 also clearly includes another important meaning: the "church of Christ" consists ONLY of such persons. Being a member of Christ's true church is thus entirely a personal matter — not an institutional matter. We cannot, in reality, "join" Christ's church by perfunctory ritual or outward compliance. We are numbered among the true members of Christ's church only by our individual conversion TO CHRIST, not conversion to some organization, no matter how elaborate in structure, institutional in nature, or conscientiously managed by its governing leadership. (For more on this subject, click here.)

It's important to note that the verse Mormons proudly cite from their canon to justify their belief that the institutional LDS church is God's "only true and living church on earth" contains a qualifier that indicates the verse is not talking about an institutional church at all — but a collective body of believers.

After reputedly declaring the LDS church His "only true and living church," God adds the critical words "speaking unto the church collectively and not individually." Not only were individual Mormons, therefore, not necessarily considered by God to be part of His church, but the verse is clearly not talking about an institutional entity of the sort the LDS church quickly became, in the first place.

The "corporate LDS church" is not what's being described as "God's exclusive church" in the verse at issue.

A change for the worse

It's instructive, in closing, to see what God ostensibly said in the Mormon canon in the years immediately following His purported assessment — proudly cited by Mormons to elevate themselves above other professing Christians — that they alone belong to "God's church."

Ten months after D&C 1 was "received" by Joseph Smith in November 1831, God was recorded as saying "the whole church [was] under condemnation" for "treating lightly" the gospel of Jesus Christ (the "new covenant"), as taught in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. This follow-up passage says the church will "remain under this condemnation" until the church as a whole "repents and remember[s]" the biblical gospel — "not only to say, but to do." (See D&C 84: 54-60.)

So much for claiming that the institutional LDS church as we know it today constitutes "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased" (D&C 1:30). Even if this one verse were seen as endorsing the institutional church — and not the "collective" believers — which it clearly isn't, God's purported favor with the LDS church lasted less than a year!

After that, the "whole church" — everybody — fell from God's good graces into "condemnation," a condition in which they have remained ever since, according to 1980's church president Ezra Taft Benson, who repeatedly called upon LDS members to re-discover the saving message of the Book of Mormon, which reflected the Christ-centered "new covenant" emphasized in the Bible.

Less than two years after this condemnation was recorded, God pronounced another curse upon Mormonism in the LDS canon, this time in Section 105 of the D&C.

The passage says,
    Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.

    But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;

    And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom [the gospel itself];

    And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

    And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. (D&C 105:2-6, emphasis added)
We might point out that it was during this time that the Mormons in Missouri were being pushed out of the state by angry mobs, and were even subject to an "extermination order" by Missouri's governor. LDS members generally attribute this violence one-sidedly to early persecutors, but the passage above suggests the persecuted were at least in part to blame — for not being united in their commitment to the biblical gospel ("celestial principles"), and for their contempt toward the poor, due to their own transgressions and evil.

The passage then adds these words,
    I speak not concerning those who are appointed to lead my people, who are the first elders of my church, for they are not all under this condemnation;

    But I speak concerning my churches abroad.... (D&C 105:7-8, emphasis added)
Similar to D&C 1, where God is reputed to declare that the "collective" members of the Mormon church were at one time "pleasing" to Him, this passage is a condemnation of the church membership in general ("my churches abroad," who are "full of all manner of evil"), as well as most of the leadership ("not all" of whom are "under this condemnation").

So there you have it.

If, during the first ten months of its existence, the LDS church's collective membership might have been able to claim God's providential favor — even exclusivity — for "pleasing" Him, that divine favor waned quickly, leaving the church today in a problematic "tight spot."

Whereas the early membership might have had cause to think they were more righteous, or more accepted of God, than their fellow Americans, the veil of approval soon fell — within just a few years — and the church has been a curious collection of disfavored, even divinely-condemned, overly defensive, inordinately prideful people ever since.

I know firsthand whereof I speak. The elitism and condescending pride that characterize countless Mormons are palpable and pronounced. Such superiority lifts church members above the religious riff-raff, and makes them feel they have an inside track to the "celestial kingdom" (heaven).

Of course, if the scriptures are to be believed — including both the Bible and the church's own professed canon — the inside track to heaven is reserved for the humble, simple, and faithful who know God's grace personally, from their own biblically-sound conversion to Christ, and from the sacrifices they make daily to please Him in their individual (not "institutional") lives.

Heaven is not something that resembles the harem-populated echelons of Mormon imagination.
____________________
*The term menace is the church's own term, not ours. In its landmark 1907 "Address to the World," adopted by a unanimous vote of the membership and published at the height of the controversial Reed Smoot U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, the church made the connection between being considered a "menace to free institutions," as it was then widely viewed, and the things the church verifiably engaged in.

In its own defense, the church specifically said that as long as it allowed members to vote freely for or against their leaders, and as long as the church respected members' right to choose their own employment and political pursuits, without church interference, the church could not be considered either "a tyranny," or "a menace" to society. (See here, here, and here.)

It is our contention that the church has blatantly and repeatedly violated these self-imposed conditions for its public acceptance, without regard for members' freedoms and rights, and can therefore — by its own logic — be considered the very detriment to society it claims it isn't.
**The "practical" basis of the early church of Christ was the shared "charity" or "love" possessed by all those truly converted to Christ. (See 1 Cor. 13:1-8; see also John 13:35, 1 John 4:7, Enos 1:1-9, Moroni 7:46-48, and Moroni 8:25-26.)

One of the clearest evidences of "spiritual rebirth" in someone professing to be "born again" is the convert's receipt of the God-given gift of charity, which the Book of Mormon defines as the "pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47), meaning the love He exhibited.

All persons born of God are filled naturally with a desire to teach, bless, help, and save — and even sacrifice for — others, just as Christ exemplified (see Acts 10:38). In a community of true Christians, there is no need for prodding, coercion, regimentation, arbitrary deadlines, undue structure, or other common practices of any man-made institution. As with the Mormon concept of "Zion" found in the LDS canon (see Moses 7:18), all true converts to Christ share the same mind and heart, and willingly serve, uplift, and care for one another in ways God inspires and accepts, taking initiative to follow the Holy Ghost on their own (see 2 Nephi 32:5-6, and D&C 58:26-29).

Hence the meaning of the Mormon canon's D&C 97:12: "[T]his is Zion — THE PURE IN HEART."

Because truly converted persons tend to be open to inspiration from God's Spirit to know how to be a blessing to others, they need little significant oversight (if any) from overbearing, overanxious, worldly-minded managers and bureaucrats. In a pure-hearted society of genuine Christians, in fact, any man-made "institutionalization" is out of place, and hinders godly living and service.

Without being told to or made to, the truly converted are inclined to produce the "fruit" Christ repeatedly defined as the dividing line between the slothful and the faithful. The substance of that fruit was summed up by James in these words,
    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
Such Christ-centered virtue and spontaneous kindness were the heart and soul of the scriptural church of Christ.

(See "What does it mean to be 'converted' to Jesus Christ?")


STEPHEN STONE, RA PRESIDENT — As the gay agenda rolls forth unchecked in fulfillment of its published goals and tactics — dragging Western Civilization down more predictably than the Muslim Brotherhood is likely ever to do — rational Americans need to come to grips with one of the most damnable frauds in the world's history: the belief that there is such a thing as "being gay."... (more)
© Stephen Stone

 


They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31