I know a man in Christ above 3 days ago who was excommunicated from The Lord’s Only True ChurchTM for “apostasy”. He could appropriately answer each of the temple recommend questions without hypocrisy and without guile – except that he agreed, in principle, with someone else who had been previously excommunicated, who likewise answered those same questions appropriately, and he could not deny that. So they found fault with him and took away his membership.
With his wife of 14 years, also a convert to the LDS Church, whom he persuaded to enter the fold, he has raised seven children in the gospel, served a full-time mission, been a faithful hometeacher, attended all his meetings, diligently fulfilled every calling given him, and served in the temple. Yet they found him “unworthy” to bear the title of “Latter-day Saint”.
What did he do wrong? Well, he wasn’t exactly sure. Many confusing, contradictory allegations were made against him. He couldn’t coherently answer them all. The presiding high priest couldn’t remember them all and the stake clerk couldn’t recite them all when asked. But everyone agreed, from the least to the greatest, that he was surely “guilty” and they consented to his forfeiture of all of the rights and blessings of a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including his temple sealing – blessings otherwise afforded only to the “faithful”.
What did he teach that was so wrong as to be deemed “apostasy”, worthy of excommunication?
· He taught that a man must be saved by grace, not by works, in this life, and this by Christ, personally, if he is to be saved at all. (He could also be saved in the next life, but under the same conditions.) He taught that this power to save is not vested in any man or organization; that He employeth no servant there; and that when a man is saved, Christ and His Father come and dwell with him, this being a personal appearance in the flesh and not a metaphorical one. The presiding high priest declared this to be “false doctrine”; however, he offered no evidence to support his claim.
· He taught that the saving ordinances of the gospel are purely symbolic and that real power and authority are realized and received only from God, priesthood ordinances merely pointing the way. This the presiding high priest declared to be “false doctrine”; however, he offered no evidence to support his claim.
· This man taught that one must receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost in order to be saved, by which one will receive revelation, may speak with the tongue of angels, be filled with unspeakable joy, perchance meet God and be purged of all desire to do sin and wrong. This the presiding high priest said was “false doctrine”; but he offered no evidence to support his claim.
· He taught his belief that the saints in Nauvoo, 170 years ago, failed to build a temple to the Lord in the prescribed time allotted wherein the Lord promised to restore “the fulness of the priesthood”; consequently, they were “moved out of their place”, as the Lord had promised, because of their disobedience; they were cursed, smitten and afflicted, and driven into the wilderness rather than blessed. The fullness of the priesthood was taken from among them even as it had been taken from among the children of Israel in the days of Moses, on account of their rebellion. The early Saints had rejected Joseph Smith and his teachings. Apostasy, dissensions and rebellions among the ranks were largely responsible for his martyrdom. When he was taken, with him departed the fullness of the priesthood whereby the saints could have been invited back into the presence of the Lord and Zion could have been established. We have “wandered in the wilderness” ever since. This, the presiding high priest said, was “not ‘official’ Church history or doctrine”. (And the man conceded that it was not. However, he believed it anyway because it explained everything that has happened since.) The presiding high priest offered no evidence to support his claim that the man was mistaken.
· He taught the Book of Mormon is absolutely true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Lord, and our God. The presiding high priest didn’t seem to take issue with that.
· He taught that the LDS Church today is the Lord’s designated vehicle to carry the Lord’s saving ordinances and fullness of the gospel, including the Book of Mormon, to the world. The presiding high priest suggested the man was insincere or confused about the Church, “emotionally unstable”, “searching for something”, and privately inquired whether he was taking prescription medication for depression or “masturbating and watching pornography” (that was a good one!) – all of which would allow the high council to dismiss his claims without further argument. But the man said “no” and claimed he had a clear conscience and a pure heart, free of lust toward anyone (except his wife).
· He taught that the Book of Mormon is written to us – the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – and that we, as Gentiles, are the ones who have misinterpreted it and ultimately will be condemned for rejecting it.
· He taught that men and women may work miracles by faith in Jesus Christ; that the Lord consented to organize His modern church with priesthood, after the pattern of the exalted family of Abraham, with three High Priests (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), twelve Apostles (the sons of Israel) and Seventy (the seventy grandsons of Abraham), but that He gave this organization to the Church in modern times only because they demanded it, and would not have another, they seeking a “restoration” of the “primitive” Church, not understanding that God intended to restore Zion, not some ecclesiastical organization or structure. Rather, God would build His kingdom around families, working together in love, according to the Patriarchal Order. But neither the presiding high priest, nor any member of his court, believed the man or cared about his teaching. They were moved, instead, to defend the very organization God intends to destroy when He withdraws the fullness of His gospel from among them, once they have fully rejected, as prophesied they will, the Book of Mormon and the gospel it contains.
· He taught that he has seen the Savior and knows that He lives, by the power of the Holy Ghost, having received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.
· He bore testimony of all this and many more personal experiences by which the power of God has been demonstrated in his life, having convinced him that he must remain in the Church and teach the truth, that some might be led to Christ and be saved.
But, obviously, this was unacceptable to the presiding high priest or those sitting on the high council. This poor Zoramite confessed he was unable to ascend his sanctuary’s Rameumptom and offer the self-same, prescribed, predetermined, and vain recital. He was unable to don the “proper apparel” of a “testimony glove” and experience the “real power” of bearing witness to the “five pillars of Mormonism”. He could no longer boast that he belonged to the “one and only true Church on the face of the earth” and that everyone else, by God’s good grace and decree, was damned to hell unless they became and believed even as these Zoramites do.
So they kicked him out. Of the sanctuary and of the temple. Which he labored all his life to build.
When it was finished, one of those who consented to his excommunication asked the man how he was doing. The man thought to tell his friend to go home and pray and ask Jesus how He felt when they excommunicated Him from the Church He served and loved.
Then the man thought to tell his friend to ask himself if he was really willing to follow the Savior wherever He had gone and do everything He had done.
But he didn’t want to insult his friend. So he just said “Fine.”
But he didn’t want to insult his friend. So he just said “Fine.”