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I have a good friend who shared with me, today, a letter. It was a form letter describing the correct process to have one’s name removed from the records of the church, sent by the Member and Statistical Records Division of the Church. This person was informed that “the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees.” The recipient of the letter was urged to “reconsider your request and to prayerfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency.”

The enclosed glossy pamphlet is as follows:

Pamphlet from Church Membership Divsion

As viewed from the inside, there are several reasons that are generally attributed to one who leaves the church:

  • Can’t live the standards of the church
  • Sin has removed our ability to partake of the spirit
  • Offended by others in the church.

As you can see, this myth is propagated in this message from the First Presidency. The call is for those who are offended, or for any other reason, “outside the embrace of the Church” to come back. What are the reasons so many people are leaving the church today? I would suggest that, based on my anecdotal analysis, these are the primary reasons:

  • The sanitized history as taught by the church does not accurately represent the  historical facts. (How can the church be true, when it doesn’t accurately represent its history?)
  • The rituals of the church offer no spiritual edification. (The rigors of the Sunday schedule and the demands of the true blue Mormon do not fulfill the innate spiritual needs of the members.)
  • The church has taken positions that are considered contrary to the love and acceptance imbued in the teachings of Christ. (Yesterday, it was the color of one’s skin; today it is the likely genetic disposition toward homosexuality.)

I would suggest that the traditional reasons (sin, smoking, and offense) for leaving the church are more likely to cause one to become inactive. The rationale as to why a person would take the active steps to remove their name from the records of the church are likely more deep seated and motivating (implied deceit, lack of spiritual gifts, and participation on politics.)

Each of us must choose our own path. Jeremiah and Lehi lived under the same circumstances but were led to different roles.  Jeremiah stayed in the midst of an apostate Jewish nation. Lehi became an apparent apostate and left. They were both following the word of God – personal revelation.

In our circumstances today, there may be those who are led to stay within the ‘embrace’ of the Church. There may also be those who are led to flee and appear as apostates. While I may have looked with sadness upon those who left the ‘true’ church a decade ago, today I look upon those same people differently. I see them as willing to ‘sacrifice’ their comfort for their conviction. The Church has, in this case, pitted father against son and brother against brother.

But I also believe, that there are those who, as Lehi, are led by their reliance on the word of God to take a different path. There are those believe that there will be a remnant that will come out of this church to carry the true gospel forward. I have posted numerous times about the rejection of the gospel by the modern day Gentile church. (3 Nephi, chapter 16).

To stay in the church regardless of the cognitive dissonance requires patience and long suffering. To leave the church likely means a nearly complete dismantling of your social environment. Neither is easy but either may await those who have come to see the reality gap that exists in today’s church.

The statement here is that the responsibility of the church to each individual is to ensure that all are “remembered and nourished by the good word of God.” Not to beat a dead horse but… how is the construction of a multi-billion dollar mall supporting this responsibility? Will Christ, upon his return, look favorably on the ‘mutual compatibility’ of temple square and Nordstroms?

Finally, I must take issue with the idea that one be in the embrace of the Church and apparently not Christ. The invitation above seems to only, in passing, strike at the core message of the gospel. The church, as has the federal government, gone well beyond that original charter. For the bloated autocracy that is represented in the COB, I would suggest that the original message is found in D&C 19:31

And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

Another key reference is found in D&C 10:

67  Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

68  Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

69  And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

I would gladly give up the ‘embrace of the church’ for coming unto Christ. Unfortunately, I can’t see how one can do both at the same time under the current circumstances.

What think ye?

 

7 Responses to “An Invitation”

  • Great! I was waiting for your next post. When I read those last two paragraphs I read it this way:

    “To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the [Corporation], we say come back. We invite you to return and partake of the happiness you once knew. You will find many with outstretched arms to welcome you, assist you, and give you comfort.

    The [Corporation] needs your strength, love, loyalty, and devotion. the course is fixed and certain by which a person may return to the full blessings of [Corporate] membership, and we stand ready to receive all who wish to do so.”

    You make an excellent point about Lehi and Jeremiah. Alma was also considered an apostate. Christ was considered an apostate. I think we have some very good examples of people going apostate from corrupt teachings while at the same time coming out of apostasy into true teachings.

    As a side not I think you’re missing a word or to in your post. there’s a part that reads like this: “were led to different Jeremiah stayed” It might just be me but it seems like there is a word missing between “different” and “Jeremiah.”

  • Spektator:

    Zo-ma-rah,
    Thanks for waiting. I have started several blogs but never could bring myself to finish them.

    The substitution of ‘Corporation’ certainly brings the message home that I was attempting to highlight. It seems so obvious to me that the care and feeding of the corporate Church is most important to these people.

    I blogged on great apostates a while ago and had included Alma. I feel strongly that the current church needs a similar restart.

    Typo corrected, thanks for the ID.

  • Steve:

    I and many others have faced this situation. After learning of/realizing the many changes to doctrine, covenants, commandments and ordinances and seeing that there were related groups which sought to maintain their purity, I had at least subconsciously considered joining one of them. For me, however, I did not receive a confirmation to do so.

    I have also considered the different missions of Jeremiah and Lehi (and Daniel). One stayed back, even when his people left. One left prior to the captivity. And Daniel was swept up in the captivity and dispersion. As you point out, each of them did so (apparently) because of revelation. At least the first 2. The Lord had different missions for these men and they sought to fulfill them, even though others had different tasks set before them.

    One thing that has affected my thinking in the last few years is Denver Snuffer. Here you have a faithful member of the Church, who is fully cognizant of our apostasy, who nevertheless testfies that he has received his calling and election made sure even while remaining a member of the Church. He has published a number of books with the first one being specifically on the process of making one’s calling and election made sure. All of them to date have focused on the Savior, typically relying heavily on the Book of Mormon. There are few people from whom I have learned more about that sacred text than him.

    His newest book is about the history of the Church and the situation we find ourselves in and what to do about it. His description of it is here: http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-will-have-new-book-out-soon-and-want.html . Perhaps that can be of some use to you.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Steve

    • Spektator:

      Steve,
      I have followed Denver Snuffer for several years and agree with much that he says. I don’t hold that leadership as blameless as he does. But I am not, at this time, willing to use my real identity. In that sense, Denver is a lot more brave than I am.

      I believe we all are guided on our paths and have the ability to receive revelation. While the Church claims to have exclusive ‘rights’ to ordinances, I can only point to Alma who received his authority directly from God. In a similar vein, I believe we can each achieve the desired relationship with God irrespective of our membership in any man-made organization.

      • Different Steve:

        There has recently been much controversy over whether or not Denver believes that the church has the sealing power. There has been much misunderstanding as well, and I don’t believe it is on Denver’s part.

        The crux of the misunderstanding is that most critics simply do not understand the difference between keys and actual power given from God. Simply put, there is a difference between keys authorizing one to perform an ordinance, and the power in the Priesthood required to make that ordinance binding in its intended purpose.

        There is no question that the church and the brethren hold the keys necessary to rightly perform our sealings, baptisms and layings on of hands. Anyone who has felt the witness of the Holy Ghost after their confirmation in the church knows this with absolute, personal proof. The keys are there, and the president has them in their fulness when it comes to administering the ordinances and leading the church.

        However, ordinances are not checklists to get into heaven. Once received, they require obedience and faith by sacrifice to come into effect. An endowment must be lived in faith and power if it is to bring one literally through the veil and into the presence of the Lord. It requires power that comes only through righteousness in the individual, if not in the one giving the ordinance. This power to bind and seal and add to the family of the Father can only come from the Father. We do not see it often in the Church today, though all the keys are present.

        Denver does not deny the Church’s claim to keys, or the power to provide ordinances that can potentially be accepted of the Lord through righteousness. However, he knows that the high priesthood power in connection to these keys only comes in one way: from God Himself.

        President Monson truly holds the keys, but has said nothing about the sacred nature of a personal receipt of binding power from the Father, given in His presence. I would not dare assume it is appropriate to mention such sacred things. I do not know whether or not this has happened to him, and I probably never will. I do know that he claims such power, and I have no reason to doubt his word.

        All that matters is my own personal faithfulness to the ordinances given by rightful keys held by the church today. If we have indeed lost the power behind those keys, I will make up for that lack of power through my own faith, obedience and sacrifice.

  • zack:

    The Lord knows the situation in the Church and is temporarily allowing it to happen. I was driven out for expressing things I felt to be true which didn’t quite measure up to accepted discussions in the chuch. I never did this in a public forum but tried to educate individuals. Apparently a few took exception to these things.

    If this had never happened to me, I suppose I would go on trying to warn my neighbor until they threw me out again. I wouldn’t know what else to do. I personally never felt it was right for me to leave because I had done nothing wrong. I guess I felt the need to speak what I felt was true and let the chips fall where they may.

    I wanted my excommunication to stand for two things…1. A testiment of my willingness to undergo the humilliation and sadness that I was subjected to for the cause of trying my best to warn members of the Truth. And 2. So that My willingness to go through all that I have & my Family has been subjected to, would be a testimony AGAINST those who refused the Truth.

    It seemed to me that having to go through the humilliation was a reqirement with regard to the Cause of Truth being upheld on my part as required by God. I’m a Retired Marine of two wars and it doesn’t feel right to back off when you know you are called to fight a just cause of defending the TRUTH.

    • Spektator:

      Zack,
      I also believe that the Lord is in control of the situation. When I was faced with the disconnect, I was led to understand that the scriptures predicted the apostasy of the latter day church. I also believe that there will be a group that will carry forward with the gospel.

      A question for you: What is Truth?

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