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Sunday, February 6, 2022

Part 1 of a 3 part series -- Does “the one true church” have a membership recruitment/convert baptism problem?

(As you read this post, I'd like you to imagine that you're a manager, and you have a team of people who are assigned to work on a specific project. How is your team doing? If they're struggling, why? For how long? Finally, what can be done to straighten out your team (with at least a modest sense of urgency)? I look forward to reading your observations in the comments).

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." [1] 

"preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it" [2] 

If ever there was a charge given to the church, it's to go into the world and take the gospel to every creature. Pres. Oaks said, "To proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a fundamental principle of the Christian faith." [3]  

It's also a responsibility which squarely rests upon the shoulders of the Twelve:

"I give unto you my servant Brigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council; Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom upon the four corners of the earth, and after that to send my word to every creature." [4] 

"The responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world is explicitly given to those who were called and ordained Apostles of the Lord." [5] 

In implementing this directive, the Lord charged His servants to "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God." [6] That means whatever pertains to this world - no matter what it is - doesn't hold a candle to building God's kingdom. That's why Pres. Benson said, "Preaching the saving principles of the gospel has ever been a great responsibility of first importance." [7] 

So, how is that "Go ye into all the world," "Preach the gospel to every creature" and baptize directive going?

1990: Apostle Russell M. Nelson prophesied the following at a January 7, 1990 BYU devotional:

"Church membership has just passed the seven million mark. Conservative projections indicate that by the year 2000, the Church will have doubled in size. Its membership will then number at least fourteen million. While we now have 1,730 stakes, by the end of the decade there will be more than 3,600 stakes and many more temples. We will be precisely on course in fulfillment of scriptural prophecy that this work will eventually and literally fill the earth (see D&C 65:2)." [8] 

Reality check: By the end of the year 2000 church membership stood at 11,068,861 -- three million short of Nelson's "prophecy". The number of stakes was 2,581, over 1,000 fewer than Nelson's prediction/prophecy. [9]  

1999: Pres. Gordon B Hinckley laid down an audacious goal for the church in the April 1999 General Conference:

"Last year there were approximately 300,000 convert baptisms throughout the Church. This is tremendously significant. But it is not enough. I am not being unrealistic when I say that with concerted effort, with recognition of the duty which falls upon each of us as members of the Church, and with sincere prayer to the Lord for help, we could double that number." [10] 

Reality check: The 600,000 convert baptisms in a year never happened. In fact, 2020 posted a convert baptism rate of less than half that 300k number, which is also less than a quarter of his 600,000 expectation. [11]  

2015: Prophet-seer-revelator Elder Holland said in an interview that:

"But we're greatly blessed, and they [the full-time missionaries] continue to come. They continue to serve. And those numbers will increase. We're projecting out probably within four years, the baseline number for the missionary force will be something around 100,000." [12]  

Reality check: In 2019, there were 67,021 full-time missionaries - a miss by around 1/3.

2015: Elder Quentin L. Cook (Remember: "Prophets of God always speak the truth.") [13] stated in the April 2015 General Conference that:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past." [14] 

Reality check: In 2015, the 2014 stats were showing a 1.9% membership growth rate. Is that what the Lord expects of his "one true church"? Of those who supposedly hold the priesthood of God? Of the pre-existence's "chosen" and "valiant" ones? Of prophets/seers/revelators?

2015: A 2015 Deseret News article quoted Seventy Joseph W. Sitati as saying, "The rate of growth [in Africa] has been close to exponential." [15]  

Reality check: Matt Martinich (founder of the LDS Church Growth blog Cumorah.com, which tracks Mormon growth and retention internationally) said, "LDS growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be extremely limited. Overall growth trends have appeared much more modest than the 'exponential' growth claims in the recent LDS news release." [16] 

2016: Elder Holland (who also always speaks the truth) told folks at a Young Single Adult Conference in Dallas, TX that:

"We're in the midst of incredible growth, staggering growth in the church. It's the single biggest problem we have. It's the best problem we have, but it's the biggest. We are reeling under the implications of the growth we have in this church. Last Thursday, I've been out here this Thursday, I've been with Elder and Sister Holland and I've been with Elder and Sister Robbins, this week, so I missed the temple meeting this Thursday, but a week ago Thursday we created 15 stakes, and we are doing that más o menos every week, more or less. It might not be 15, but its… the week before it was 12, sometimes it's 8 or whatever and it'll be a little uneven, but the point is, I mean, we are talking double digit stakes every week. Every week of our lives." [17]  

Reality check: That year, the church created 92 new stakes - not even two a week. In 2020, it was exactly one every two weeks. So much for "double digit stakes every week. Every week of our lives." How is the number of missions in 2020 and 2013 being the same considered "staggering growth"? How is a 0.6% growth rate "staggering growth"? How is going from 85,147 to 51,819 (a 39% decrease) in full-time missionaries "staggering growth"?

(By the way, since the apostles are responsible (per scripture) for the church's missionary efforts, I would be interested in reading how many people each of them directly bring into the church each year. You know, some of that "accountability / return and report / lead by example" stuff we're fond of drilling into the heads of the church's local leaders).

Here's what can't be distorted: The church's own reported statistics (the sources are hyperlinked in the year):

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Stakes

3,005

3,050

3,114

3,174

3,266

3,341

3,383

3,437

3,463

     Stakes count change

 

+45

+64

+60

+92

+75

+42

+54

+26

     % change

 

1.4%

2.0%

1.9%

2.8%

2.2%

1.2%

1.5%

0.7%

Missions

347

405

406

418

421

421

413

399

405

Districts

591

571

561

558

556

553

547

542

537

Wards/Branches

29,014

29,253

29,621

30,016

30,304

30,506

30,536

30,940

31,136

     Wards count change

 

+239

+368

+395

+288

+202

+30

+404

+196

Total Mems

14,782,473

15,082,028

15,372,337

15,634,199

15,882,417

16,118,169

16,313,735

16,565,036

16,663,663

    Membership change

 

+299,555

+290,309

+261,862

+248,218

+235,752

+195,566

+251,301

+98,627

    % change

 

2.0%

1.9%

1.7%

1.58%

1.4%

1.21%

1.54%

0.6%

New Children of Record

122,273

115,486

116,409

114,550

109,246

106,771

102,102

94,266

65,440

    New CoR change

 

-6,787

+923

-1,859

-5,304

-2,475

-4,669

7,836

-28,826

    Percent growth

 

-5.5%

0.7%

-1.5%

-4.6%

-2.2%

-4.3%

-7.6%

-30%

Convert baptisms

272,330

282,945

296,803

257,402

240,131

233,729

234,332

248,835

125,930

    Convert baptisms change

 

10,615

13,858

-39,401

-17,271

-6,402

+603

+14,503

-122,905

    Percent growth

 

3.8%

1.92%

1.70%

1.59%

1.47%

0.2%

6.19%

-49.3%

Full-Time Missionaries

58,990

83,035

85,147

74,079

70,946

67,049

65,137

67,021

51,819

    Percent growth

 

40.7%

2.5%

-12.9%

-4.2%

-5.4%

-2.8%

2.8%

-22.6%

Temples in Operation

140

141

144

149

155

159

161

167

168

    New temples change

 

+1

+3

+5

+6

+4

+2

+6

+1

The facts - as published by the church - paint a much different picture than what the Brethren are publicly saying. 

Back in 2018, Martinich called the multiple downward trajectories of church growth "pretty significant." [18]  He also said that U.S. growth has not been this low "in approximately 100 years or longer" (and that was before the even steeper declines within the last four years).

The Big Reality Check

In Russell M. Nelson's aforementioned 1990 BYU devotional, he said that by the year 2000, 

"We will be precisely on course in fulfillment of scriptural prophecy that this work will eventually and literally fill the earth (see D&C 65:2)."

Perhaps we are precisely on course for something all right: a setting in order of the house of God, [19]  because it's so diametrically out of order.

As we read near the top of this post, we are to "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God."

How is the church doing in seeking not the things of this world? With all its real estate purchases, land and agricultural holdings, stocks/other funds as well as befriending/partnering with organizations which espouse man-made, not god-centered world initiatives, I think it could be said without too much argumentation that the church is awash in the things of this world.

Contrast this with how the church is doing relative to taking the gospel to the world - an almost non-existent membership growth rate, double-digit decreases in new children of record, convert baptisms and full-time missionaries as well as an insignificant amount of humanitarian aid - and it's easy to see that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." [20] 

We are told, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." [21] 

What kinds of fruits do they have to show for their labors? If the fruit - that is, the above statistics - are bad, what does the savior say of the tree? That the apostles have primary responsibility over missionary work is indisputable. 

It's also indisputable that the Lord would never give the church an unrealistic goal (like filling the whole earth with the gospel). 

I say it's high time the apostles do what they expect us to do at the local level: Return and Report. Show some accountability. Show some new results.

That should be pretty easy to do for 15 men who are prophets, seers and revelators.

Then again, maybe not...

The November Surprise

With everything we know at the top of the post about the Lord's passion for taking his gospel to the world and baptizing people, it's shocking that Pres. Nelson said in November 2019,


"I don't think the Lord's interested really in how many members of the church we have. What he's interested in is how many of my children choose to come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence." [22] 

If that's the case, then:

  • Why was God so hot on people being baptized (and therefore, joining the church), but now he's not?
  • If the Lord doesn't care, why keep count?
  • How does this quote further motivate the full-time missionary force?
  • Why have a missionary program at all? 
  • Shouldn't the number of members and the number who choose to come back and enjoy eternal life be the same?
  • How can people "come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence" without baptism? 
  • Or is there a new way to "come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence" without joining the church?

The longer we stay in this situation, the crazier it gets.

"by their works ye shall know them,
for if their works be good, then
they are good also." (Moroni 7:5)

(OK, manager: How's your team doing? Are they struggling? For how long? Finally, what can be done to straighten out your team (with at least a modest sense of urgency?) I look forward to reading your observations in the comments).


Covid Updates
"Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective."
"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"
"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population."
(First Presidency message of Thursday, August 12, 2021)
"by their works ye shall know them, for if their works be good, then they are good also." (Moroni 7:5)
"That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually." (Moroni 7:13)
"Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him,
and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil." (Moroni 7:17)


Sources

 1.   Mark 16:14-16; Matthew 28:19
 2.   D&C 112:28
 3.   "Sharing the Gospel," October 2001 General Conference.
 4.   D&C 124:127-128
 5.   Pres. David O. McKay, "Present Responsibility of the Church in Missionary Work," April 1954 General Conference.
 6.   JST Matthew 6:38.
 7.   "A World Message," April 1970 General Conference.
12.   Jeffrey R Holland interview with Hugh Hewitt, February 27, 2015; https://www.hughhewitt.com/a-conversation-with-lds-elder-jeffrey-holland
17.   Jeffrey R. Holland, Young Single Adult Conference, Dallas, TX, April 24, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrYpRzi6xtY&feature=youtu.be&t=53m35s 
19.   D&C 85:7.
20.   Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34; 3 Nephi 13:21.
21.   Matthew 7:20

Monday, January 31, 2022

How King Noah's Administration and today's church Brethren are reading off the same exact script

In May 2016, a blogger named "James" wrote a fascinating, well-written post. Entitled "kingnoahsnewsroom.org," this fictional/satire piece is a mock translation of a recently discovered Nephite metalwork containing the non-scriptural, yet officially sanctioned, writings of a spokesman for King Noah's court named Grima, carbon-dated to ~150 BC. I've tried reaching James to see if I can re-post this here, but there's no way to reach him, and the blog has lain dormant for almost two years. 

What's interesting is that it brings a modern-day perspective into the story of Amulek and Alma. 

One of our weaknesses as a species is that we frequently fail to learn from the lessons of the past. Here's a story which will help you learn those lessons, and more importantly, help you spot their repetition in our day...

(I have kept James' original text -- found here -- intact without change, except that I have broken up his paragraphs to make them a bit more readable):

------------------------


"Brothers and sisters, we live in a day of confusion and tribulation. There are wolves in sheep's clothing among us, even false prophets, who have caused doubts to spread among the flock concerning the favored status of our kingdom and the righteousness of our leaders, including our beloved King Noah. 

Look around you. Tell me you cannot witness God's providence and blessings upon us. For He has empowered us to prevail over our enemies the Lamanites! Yea, He has caused our vast vineyards to flourish abundantly and to excess! And lo, He has advanced our expansive and luxurious Zarahemla Creek redevelopment project! Indeed, He has poured out the riches of the earth upon us without measure! 

How blessed are we to live under the reign of such a righteous and wonderful king! A king that loves life and has taught us to do the same, who has protected our freedoms so that we may do as we wish with our free agency, who serves as our example, and whose words guide us in our daily lives! King Noah is the living embodiment of the legacy established by his great predecessor, even King Benjamin, for King Noah is a righteous leader of both the spiritual and the political affairs of our magnificent kingdom. 

How wonderful it is to have a king selected for us through the divine and simple process of birthright leadership! Rest assured, "the Lord will never permit...any...man who stands as [king] of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God...the Lord would remove...any...man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." [1] Trust in this, our leaders are the inheritors of an unbroken priesthood line of authority stretching back to father Lehi. All is well!

Now, most recently, this Abinadi fellow, and our former brother in the faith, Alma, have disrupted the peace in our kingdom and the church. For we have been taught that "we can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood" [2]. 

And remember, "the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil;...and are on dangerous ground." [2] Oh yes! "whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter!" [2] 

And never forget, "salvation comes through the Church. It does not come through any separate organization or splinter group nor to any private party as an individual. It comes only through the Church itself as the Lord established it!" [3] 

On the contrary, this man Abinadi came out of nowhere, judging the church leaders, preaching that they had fallen into sin and error, pleading with them to repent, and speaking as if he knew how to better conduct the affairs of the church and direct its course. We know our leaders are righteous men who follow the revelations of God while this Abinadi was nothing more than an imposter, an interloper!...claiming that God had spoken to him, yet he possessed no authority to do any such thing in the Church.

Abinadi came among us preaching a different Gospel of Christ. His message was filled with anger, criticism, negativity, and hate. We know that true prophets only speak positive, kind words, and bring peace. True prophets do not say things that will hurt people's feelings, or cause them to question their course or traditions. And they certainly do not criticize the current, righteous leaders of our kingdom or church for that is the very definition of apostasy! 

We warned him once, but he returned two years later bearing the same message. He was in clear violation of the holy principles inscribed on leaf 6.7.3. of our sacred handbook of instructions [4]. Apostate! Yes, Abinadi had "repeatedly act[ed] in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or[and] its leaders". In very deed, he had "persist[ed] in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after [he had] been corrected by a higher authority" and obviously "continue[d] to follow the teachings of apostate sects after being corrected by a higher authority" to the point that he had obviously "formally join[ed] another church and advocate[d] its teachings." We are fairly sure he was not "in a same-gender marriage", otherwise this would have been a slam dunk case!

Brothers and sisters, our leaders represent some of the best minds in the kingdom. You could not possibly find a more well-informed, in-touch, and educated group of leaders....there are former lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and scholars among their ranks. So imagine, this Abinadi, from completely outside the inner circle of church leadership, with zero ecclesiastical training and certainly no priesthood keys to speak of, had the gall to read to our beloved leaders from scriptures as basic as Isaiah. He went on for hours about concepts as simple as the 10 commandments, the prophecies of the coming Messiah and His atonement, and the nature of God. As if our priests don't know those things already? How insulting and condescending he was towards them! 

Not only that, but when he was in their presence, Abinadi had some sort of power over our leaders, which stopped their speech and caused them to listen to his words, which he claimed was the power of God. We know, however, that his gift in speech, his powers of reasoning and discernment, his mastery of the scriptures and ability to connect them so eloquently, and his abilities in persuasion were only given to him by the adversary, who inspired him in such delusional wickedness. 

Think about it, our leaders don't need some outsider like Abinadi telling them what the scriptures mean for they are prophets, seers, and revelators. In fact, one of our wisest scriptorians asked Abinadi what he thought Isaiah meant by saying that peacemakers would be blessed. Abinadi could not give a simple answer. Instead, he turned the question upside-down and tried to apply it to the leaders! And Alma, we know that he had a weak testimony of the current leadership of the church to begin with. He was easily duped by Abinadi's deceit and then went off repeating only what he heard that false prophet Abinadi say before his demise....Alma is just a copycat Abinadi. 

Look at how few people have believed in these imposters and their supposed "message". Look at their lives, these "Abinadians"! Their lives are in ruins! 

  • Family members have disowned or disavowed them, they have lost friends, they have lost the social support of the church, some have been divorced over these false beliefs, and some have lost their jobs and are now verging on destitution. 
  • They sneak around in these so-called "fellowships", secret meetings in people's homes, performing unsanctioned ordinances, and reading from the scriptures. 
  • They distribute sacred tithing funds to assist the poor and needy among them instead of supporting the ever growing kingdom, even Zion on earth! 
  • They study apostate literature written by Alma, based on the words of Abinadi, which they claim is based on the scriptures, some of which we rejected long ago because those scriptures did not conform to our current belief system. All we need are the writings of current church leaders anyway. 

Are these the fruits? It's chaos...where is the peace? These people are not peacemakers, they are trouble-makers! 

All of these things need not be. If only they would repent of their criticism of the Brethren and return to the fold of God, all would be well. For we are the Lord's people. We are blessed. We are secure. We are happy. You see, God does not support those who criticize the leaders of our kingdom or who believe in these false prophets! 

Did God spare Abinadi when he was tortured and killed for his apostasy? Alma barely made it out of the city alive with only a few hundred of his "followers". 

In any case, these were people that we really did not want among us anyway, for they doubted and disrespected the sacred unwritten order of things and did not unquestioningly follow the counsel of their wise and chosen leaders. Good riddance to them all, for we shall again have peace! 

  • We know that God only works in ways that everyone can clearly see. God is a God of love and fairness and wants to make sure all His children are exalted. He will give them all a fair chance and would never send some obscure old man -- in a costume no less! -- to preach the scriptures and tell us we are off course. 
  • Certainly God would not desire us to believe in the words of some disaffected high priest who is preaching the gospel of Christ outside the boundaries of the church's superstructure and commences to perform baptisms among them as a sign of their commitment to Christ. 
  • Nor would God would require us to take the Holy Spirit as our Guide, which is not tangible and can lead to confusion, when we have church leaders to receive revelation and do the thinking for us. If anything, God would inspire someone on the inside of the church hierarchy, within the priesthood lines of authority, who would help us to lovingly understand that we are off course if that were to be the case. 

These apostates will probably say in the future, to justify their claims, that the Lord always sends outsiders to bring a message of repentance when the church or its people go astray. 

They will probably even go so far as to say that the promised Messiah Himself will be an outsider, when we know that it is prophesied that He will be a great King, a King of Kings, descended from royalty and will be recognized, well-received, and accepted by everyone! 

We know that He will  bring peace! How will those people in that future day not be able to see His light? How will they not be able to hear the words of truth fall from His lips? How will they not be able to feel His love and witness of the miracles He will perform? How will they not see the fulfillment of prophecy and have a burning testimony within them that He is the very Son of God!?!? It's ludicrous! 

No, the people of Christ's time will accept Him, they will love Him, they will all follow Him and treat Him like the King that He shall be! It will be clear for all to see! So, always remember, my brothers and sisters, that God will never use outside means to do His work...He will only work through His chosen and appointed servants....in them you can trust!

Now it is time to make "an oath-like indication that we recognize" [5] the legitimacy of the reign of King Noah, blessed be his high and holy name, which is "binding upon us." All in favor, please raise your right hand....any opposed by the same sign? 

Thank you. King Noah, the voting has been unanimous in the affirmative. We encourage those who voted to the contrary to please meet with their local high priest to discuss the matter further." 

~ Grima, Church Spokesman under the Most Holy and Righteous Reign of Beloved King Noah, 150 BC."

Abinadi and Alma's stories are multi-millennia old lessons for you and me. These men weren't created by Stan Lee and they weren't Marvel superheroes. They were ordinary guys who covenanted not to some mortal, but to God, that they would devote everything they have been, are and would be to the building up of God's Kingdom. That whatever they would be asked to do, they would do it.

You may not be asked to form a new church, as Alma was. Nor to confront the Brethren directly, like Abinadi. But you're certainly asked to embrace the truth, and to not be silent. For "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." (Martin Luther King Jr.)

I join my voice along with Abinadi's and Alma's in encouraging you to not sit idly by, but to raise your voice in bringing to light these hidden things of darkness, and shouting them from your rooftop. 

You don't need to declare your name; I'm not. I'm completely anonymous. 

You may not be a good writer; that's OK, because Jesus will make up for that deficiency. 

You may not think you have time. Not a problem; God will get you the time. 

You may think that speaking out is something better left to others. But the truth of the matter is, many are thinking this. That's why hardly anyone is doing it. Such is the case today.

I encourage you to create a new, anonymous Google account. Then create a free BlogSpot account under it. Consult YouTube how to develop a BlogSpot blog, then start sharing your testimony. Declare the truth as Abinadi and Alma did. Then leave it to our co-workers on the other side of the veil to whisper to others here in mortality the words which will lead them to your blog.

Don't let Abinadi and Alma's examples go to waste.

"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor." [6]

Sources

1. "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)
2. "We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. … And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 41–42).
3. "...salvation comes through the Church. It does not come through any separate organization or splinter group nor to any private party as an individual. It comes only through the Church itself as the Lord established it." (Mark E. Petersen)
4. LDS Church's Handbook of Instructions, Section 6.7.3
5. Elder Russell M. Nelson (Oct. 2014). Sustaining the Prophets.
6. D&C 88:81

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Jan. 2022: When the Church of Russell M. Nelson of Latter-day Saints became more emboldened in its worship: Four examples in one month alone.


January continues to be a month in which church members are celebrating the transcendence that is Russell M Nelson. Here are a few examples:

Following Pres. Nelson = increased discernment

In a Europe-area devotional earlier this month, Wendy Nelson asked,

"What would happen in only 30 days if you chose to follow the prophets with exactness?"

She then went on to say,

"Your love for your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will grow, as will your desire to keep your covenants with them. Your ability to discern between what is true and what is not will increase." [1] 

Which is just the opposite of what Joseph Smith said:

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel [see, for example, verses 9-10: 'If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing...the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.']...said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church -- that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls -- applied it to the present state [1842] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall -- that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves..."  [2]


Whenever Elder Bednar hears President Nelson speak, he hears Jesus Christ.

During a Stake Youth Fireside at Fort Mill South Carolina Stake in 2022, newly called mission President Thaddeus Brown spoke about his family's meeting with Elder David Bednar, who set him and his wife apart for the calling. 

During that encounter, President Brown's 9 year-old son asked Bednar if he had ever seen Jesus. Elder Bednar responded by saying whenever he hears President Nelson speak, he hears the voice of the Savior.


"Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!" [3] 

Sister Rasband feels the power of God emanating from Pres. Nelson's finger.

At a January 9, 2022 Young Adult English Area Devotional, Melanie Rasband recounted an incident in which she was late to a church meeting where she was required to sit behind the podium. But as she was looking for a seat near the back, she caught the eye of President Nelson, who was seated on the stand.

"He smiled. I smiled back, despite my embarrassment for being late," Sister Rasband said. Then President Nelson held her gaze as he motioned with his finger for her to come take a seat on the front row. Not wanting to draw attention to her late arrival, Sister Rasband indicated that maybe instead she could stay and sit near the back. But President Nelson continued to smile and again beckoned, with his index finger, for her to come and take the front-row seat that had been reserved with her name on it.

"There was power in that pointing finger," Sister Rasband said.

"Come follow me," the mortal said.

The New Testament is filled with the Savior's invitations to follow him. Here are a few:

  • "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." [4] 
  • "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." [5] 
  • "come, take up the cross, and follow me." [6] 
  • "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" [7] 
  • "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." [8] 

Nowhere, in any of the scriptures, are we invited to follow a mortal. In fact, we are told quite the opposite: that those who follow mortals are destined for Telestial, not celestial, glory:

"And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;

For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.

These are they who say they are some of one and some of another-some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;

But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant." [9] 

Yet, as often happens these days, there is an exception. Although it has not been canonized in the scriptures (yet), you will be blessed if you follow one and only one mortal: Russell Marion Nelson. Here is his wife again, from the same teleconference, telling us how we can follow President Nelson (Note that never once in her talk does she mention following the Savior. Not. Once.):


"And now how will your life be blessed as you choose to follow President Russell M. Nelson, THE prophet of god on the earth today, who for four years has led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under the direction of Jesus Christ himself. I'm grateful that my husband is the kind of man who many years before he was called to be an apostle said quote, 'I never ask myself when does the prophet speak as a prophet and when does he not. My interest has been how can I be more like him?' As his wife, may I offer you several examples of President Nelson's life that you may want to emulate."

Idol Worshippers. All of them.

As I wondered in my last post, why is it that the Church isn't mentioning God, his gifts, powers and promises, in any of their mentions regarding Covid? Now you know: We have "a prophet" (which, parenthetically, has not prophesied one thing that I'm aware of). A prophet whose words outrank those of Joseph Smith's. When he points, it's with power. When he speaks, it's as if you are hearing Jesus Christ. And as long as he lives, you should follow him, not God.

It's clear to me that President Nelson wants to be positioned to a status that's on-par with Jesus Christ. Otherwise, he would be condemning such exalted descriptions and examples of him. 

Here's what the Lord said about such people:

"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [10]  

And what about those who follow -- and encourage others to follow -- such man-made gods? Here's the Lord again:

"They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall." [11] 

And Nephi:

"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." [12] 

And Pres. Kimball:

"Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry." [13] 

Forget Nelson. Get to know the real Jesus Christ.

A friend recently asked me how I thought one could better know Jesus Christ (beyond prayer, scripture study and serving others).

I said that was a good question, because you first need to know what you're listening for in your prayers and dialogues with God, and if you don't, you're likely to miss what they're saying.

Author John Eldredge said,

"For to come to know Jesus intimately, as he is, as he wants to be known, is to release a redemptive landslide in your life. There will be no stopping the goodness. The first purpose of your existence will be resolved, and from there you are set to fulfill all of God's other purposes for you.

Consider this one piece of evidence: millions of people who have spent years attending church, and yet they don't know God. Their heads are filled with stuffing about Jesus, but they do not experience him.

The records of Christ are written so you can experience him as they [his disciples] did, this intimate connection with the Father and the Son. John says that you can enjoy the same friendship with Jesus that he knew. For this Jesus came.

So, if you do not know Jesus as a person, know his remarkable personality-playful, cunning, fierce, impatient with all that is religious, kind, creative, irreverent, funny-you have been cheated.

If you do not experience Jesus intimately, daily, in these very ways, if you do not know the comfort of his actual presence, do not hear his voice speaking to you personally-you have been robbed.

If you do not know the power of his indwelling life in you, shaping your personality, healing your brokenness, enabling you to live as he did-you have been plundered.

This is why we pray,

Jesus, show me who you really are. I pray for the true you. I want the real you. I ask you for you. Spirit of God, free me in every way to know Jesus as he really is. Open my eyes to see him. Deliver me from everything false about Jesus and bring me what is true."

The author of that quote -- John Eldredge -- wrote a beautiful book which is (in my opinion) the best book ever written about Jesus. Called "Beautiful Outlaw," its contents provide the best description of Jesus I've ever found. Go here to order it and see what others have said about the book (you can also watch the YouTubes of the book, found here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmUK0-mwMsk)

The second thing you can do is to watch The Chosen. It's a powerful portrayal of Jesus and his original associates. The actor who plays Jesus, Jonathan Roumie, nails it. Here's the climax of Season 1, Episode 1:


Between those two resources, you should be off to a solid start in getting to know and develop a vibrant, thriving relationship with Jesus.

Because it's time to stop playing with the big kids who think they're cool, and start dialoguing with a God instead.


Sources

 1.   https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-europe-devotional-january-2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKzTucXZLk8&t=44s
 2.   Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 237-38.
 3.   Ezekiel 13:3
 4.   Matthew 4:19
 5.   Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23
 6.   Mark 10:21
 7.   John 10:27
 8.   John 12:26
 9.   D&C 76:98-101
10.   Luke 14:11; D&C 101:42
11.   D&C 1:16; italics added
12.   2 Nephi 28:31-32; italics added
13.   "The False Gods We Worship", June 1976 Ensign, https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/06/the-false-gods-we-worship

Sunday, January 23, 2022

VIDEO PROOF: "Salvation Comes ONLY through the Church" -- An Official Church Doctrine


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Since last August (when the First Presidency released its (in)famous message to the world about available "vaccines" having been "proven to be both safe and effective" and that we should "follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"), [1] I've been wondering why the church has never once referenced the Savior, his power, his mercy and more in their public pronouncements regarding Covid. 

Despite ample scriptural justifications and examples, the church has never tied the ongoing pandemic to mankind's lack of repentance. Nor has it ever referenced in its messages the gifts of the Spirit nor the Word of Wisdom and its wonderful promises. 

So, I concluded in my last post that church leaders have instead chosen to deny God.  

This has, in turn, led me to ask God for answers. Why no Jesus? Why no Savior? Why no Master Healer? Why no Gift of Healing? Why no divine hope? 

Why is the church ignoring you? Why do they deny you? Why is it - when we need you the most - you're mentioned the least?

And then, the other day, in a social media post stray comment, someone led me to the answer:

The church doesn't need Jesus anymore.

In fact, if you want to be saved in the kingdom of God, you need look no further than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That's because…

"Salvation is in the Church, and of the Church, and is obtained only through the Church."

Did you catch that last part - "only through the Church"? As one person who read that phrase said, "I have never heard or was taught this message. It would seem that what is being taught here is not correct. If salvation only comes through a church, then why have a savior? Why not only have a church??"

My thoughts exactly. Now here's the kicker:

This doctrine was pronounced over the pulpit by an apostle in General Conference, published in the Ensign magazine and is currently "Suggested Lesson Material" in a current Institute class ("The Restored Gospel and World Religions").

If you think I'm making this up, here's Elder Mark E. Petersen's April 1973 General Conference talk, "Salvation Comes through the Church":

To me, the main portion of the talk is right at the front:

"When the Savior established his church during his mortal ministry, and as it was further developed by the twelve apostles of that day, one important fact became conspicuously clear, which is: that salvation comes through the Church. It does not come through any separate organization or splinter group nor to any private party as an individual. It comes only through the Church itself as the Lord established it. It was the Church that was organized for the perfecting of the Saints. It was the Church that was given for the work of the ministry. It was the Church that was provided to edify the body of Christ, as Paul explained to the Ephesians. Therefore, it was made clearly manifest that salvation is in the Church, and of the Church, and is obtained only through the Church." (italics added). 

In the intervening 49 years since Petersen gave his talk, only one General Authority has dared expound upon the distinction between the church and the Kingdom of God. 

The Poelman Modifications Reinforce the Primacy of the Church

In the October 1984 general conference of the LDS Church, Elder Ronald E. Poelman [2] delivered a sermon entitled "The Gospel and the Church". Controversy ensued when the version of his sermon that was published in the November 1984 Ensign magazine differed from the sermon Poelman had delivered orally.

According to Poelman's brother, after Poelman had delivered his sermon, it had been pointed out to him by apostles that the text of his talk might support claims that people do not need the LDS Church. In response, Poelman revised the text of the sermon for publication in the Ensign [3] and re-delivered the edited sermon on film. A "cough track" was included in the re-taping to make it appear that the revised sermon was delivered in front of an audience. [4] 

Here are a few of the revisions Poelman "voluntarily" made to his talk:




As you can see, the revisions Poelman "voluntarily" made are so far removed from his original, that I cannot believe for a second that they were "voluntary" "clarifications". All of the revisions turned the "distinctions" between the gospel and church into "harmonies" - a 180-degree turn intended to create greater reliance upon, and fealty to, the church.

Here are more resources re: Poelman's talk:

Side-by-Side textual comparisons: 

Analysis

Oaks: Even your personal spiritual growth Is dependent upon the church

Most recently, Dallin H. Oaks not only reinforced the necessity of the church, but also its role in your personal, individual spiritual development. In his March 2020 Ensign article "The Lord Leads His Church through Prophets and Apostles", he stated:

"Only through an organization can the individual members of what the Apostle Paul called "the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27) receive the opportunities they need to achieve the spiritual growth that is the purpose of their creation. And only an organization with different talents and a variety of efforts can achieve what is necessary to accomplish the Lord's work." (italics added)

Did you catch that? Only organizations can accomplish the Lord's work. It's as if Oaks is saying, "[1] Your individual efforts are insufficient to the Lord. And [2] the Lord is incapable of unilaterally gathering people with different talents to accomplish his work. 'ONLY' an organization can do that."

Also, your ability to be sufficiently charitable and be an emissary of the gospel are also dependent upon the church:

"Things that can be accomplished only through organized groups of believers include major efforts to help the poor, to proclaim the gospel in all the world, and to build and maintain temples." (italics added)

Do you also need to be "reproved or chastened for sin and error"? That's right - "Only" a religious organization can pull that off (sorry, God - looks like you're not good enough at this job):

"Individual believers also need to experience religion through a religious organization because only in this way can we be authoritatively reproved or chastened for sin and error. That chastisement is essential for our spiritual growth (see Doctrine and Covenants 136:31; 101:4-5; see also Mosiah 23:21-22)." (italics added)

He went on to quote Neal A. Maxwell, who apparently 

"gave another reason for religious or spiritual persons to be organized: 'because random, individual goodness is not enough in the fight against evil.'"

(Hmmm, I thought that was one of the two purposes of mortality - to (individually) gain a body and to (individually) overcome sin).

To summarize: We have almost 50 years of unrelenting teachings, by general authorities, that say your salvation is dependent "only" upon the church.

Now it all makes sense: God isn't mentioned because God isn't needed.

God wasn't mentioned in the August, 2021 Covid message because he wasn't needed.

Repentance hasn't been mentioned in conjunction with Covid because God's forgiveness isn't needed either.

God's Word of Wisdom hasn't been mentioned regarding Covid because we have "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" instead.

The Gift of Healing isn't needed because we have "vaccines" which have been "proven to be both safe and effective.".

The Gift of Discernment isn't needed because we have "vax passports."

God's direct intervention isn't needed because we have real priesthood leaders with real keys (who are not known to have healed even one person during the Covid crisis).

This is all fascinating because (as we read in Oaks' talk),

"President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said: "In today's world, where 24 hours a day television and radio commentators spew forth conflicting opinions, where marketers compete for everything from your money to your vote, there is one clear, unpolluted, unbiased voice that you can always count on. And that is the voice of the living prophet and the apostles. Their only motive is 'the everlasting welfare of your souls' (2 Nephi 2:30)."

And Moroni also said, 

"by their works ye shall know them, for if their works be good, then they are good also." [5] 

When you combine these two concepts, we see that "the living prophet and the apostles" (the leaders of the aforementioned church upon which your salvation is dependent) ought to be displaying good "works" - especially the work of "the everlasting welfare of your souls."

How's that going?

As I mentioned in my last post, the church is facing some awfully big challenges these days. One of the biggest: a 0.6% growth rate - the worst in both the 20th AND 21st centuries: [6]

If these men can't even reverse a nose-diving growth rate, what makes you think that they have the wherewithal to help manage something as important as your eternal salvation?

If you're shaking your head like I am, then strap in your seatbelt and "eat your vitamin pills".

Coming up: An inside scoop (that is, something that's not been mentioned on the internet yet) into the church's plans to reverse equally declining membership attrition rates. 


Covid Updates
"Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective."
"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"
"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population."
(First Presidency message of Thursday, August 12, 2021)
"by their works ye shall know them, for if their works be good, then they are good also." (Moroni 7:5)
"That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually." (Moroni 7:13)
"Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him,
and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil." (Moroni 7:17)


Sources

3.   Peggy Fletcher, "Poelman Revises Conference Speech" Sunstone, January 1985, p. 44
4.   Lavina Fielding Anderson, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V26N01_23.pdf
5.   Moroni 7:5

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Jan. 2022: When the Church Doubled Down on Advising Members to "Trust in the Arm of Flesh"

SUMMARY: 

  • In the last two weeks, Elder Ballard and BYU-I President Henry Eyring both doubled down on the church's advocacy of following the "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" 
  • Both leaders said we would win the "war" against Covid by following said recommendations, whereas there was no mention whatsoever of Jesus Christ, who has offered to win the war for us. 
  •  Both leaders presented statements with significant errors which do not square with facts and could easily mislead others. 
  • This has set up a situation where the church's leaders are clearly "Denying the Lord." 
  • One could even say that by the actions and statements of the Brethren, a new church has formed at "the Altar of Covid," complete with saviors, gospel, temple recommends and more. 
  • In turning to man instead of God for solutions, leaders have effectively become idolatrous, which always has and always will result in a cursing. 
  • Contrary to popular belief that the Brethren are simply "urging" members to take the jab, they are allowing local-level leaders to coerce members to get the jab or not allowed to worship inside church buildings (video proof included in blog post).

(Note: Since my last post, I've been wanting to publish something other than the Church and its responses to the Covid issue. However, the situation is such that if I don't address this issue now, this post will lose its timeliness. Maybe we should pray that there's a brief respite in Covid so I can get on to some other juicy insights).


This last week, the church doubled down in encouraging members to trust in the arm of flesh.

First Up: Elder Ballard

In referencing the First Presidency's August 12, 2021 announcement to the world, [1] Ballard said on January 6th:

"Following the guidelines of the federal and state medical advisers has proven to be a wise thing for members of the Church to do. The Church invites its members to be wise and prudent and do the wise thing for their families."  [2]

(While it is true that church leaders "invite" members to get the jab, as we'll see below, it's doing more than inviting; it's constraining (forcing "by imposed stricture, restriction, or limitation") [3]  -- which is a synonym of compelling or compulsion (see D&C 121:37) - members to take the jab).

The rest of the article on Ballard raises more questions:

  • Ballard tells readers to "Just keep smiling" and that "things will be OK." 
    • How can he pronounce these reassurances when prophecies of the future found in 1 Nephi, 3 Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, Jeremiah, Daniel and Revelations paint a diametrically opposite (a very frightening and violent) picture of the future?
  • "We've been dealing with it [the pandemic] wisely." 
    • Is trusting in the arm of flesh - and encouraging members to do the same - a wise course of action? 
    • Where in the scriptures do we read that it's OK to trust in the arm of flesh (which includes medical experts and government leaders)?
    • Are those scriptures (which instruct us not to truth in the arm of flesh) now invalidated? If so, what else has been invalidated?
  • "The Church has not stopped; the Church has gone forward. We've used wisdom and good judgment" and "The Restoration has not stopped. Missionary service has not stopped. The Church hasn't stopped. We're moving forward - all in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." 
    • If the Church really has "gone forward" and is "moving forward", then why does the church's own 2020 statistical report [4] show that in April 2020, the convert baptismal rate was 0.6% -- the lowest in recorded recent history?

    • If the Brethren truly have "keys" of the priesthood, then where are their fruits with respect to the church's first mission - "to proclaim the gospel"? [5] 
    • How is this "moving forward"? 
    • How does this decline in convert baptisms reflect "wisdom and good judgment"? 
    • Is this what the Savior wants - nearly zero convert baptisms?
  • "President Ballard pointed to state and national statistics that indicate vaccines are helping to quell the spread of the virus." How can this be said when:
    • Hospital databases show a huge increase in "vaccine"-related injuries. [6] 
    • The U.K. is reporting that 4x more "vaxxed" than "unvaxxed" people are dying. [7] 
    • Fully "vaccinated" surpass "unvaccinated" in Australian hospitals. [8] 
    • Australia now admits Covid "vaccines" are harming people, offers up to $600,000 in compensation for the seriously injured. [9] 
  • "All of the Church's general authorities and their wives have chosen to be vaccinated, not only to protect themselves but to protect others."
    • This establishes a dichotomy within the church's membership: The "vaxxed" (who "protect themselves" and "protect others") and the "unvaxxed" (who do not). This has been a prime source of frustration to many members, as evidenced in many social media groups. 

Ballard's statements may sound optimistic and encouraging, but with a miniscule amount of digging, they don't hold up in light of true facts. What kind of leader encourages others with statements based on outright lies?

Second Up: Pres. Eyring (the other one)

Five days later, BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring doubled down on the "trust in the arm of flesh" rhetoric:

"COVID, it appears, is testing our resolve to follow the guidance of governmental and Church authorities. But, rather than seeing an unfair and perhaps even needless intrusion on our freedom, we can embrace the trials, tests and potential victories to be had." [10] 

He then quoted the First Presidency's August 2021 letter, which states:

"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population ... We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders."

Three points regarding Eyring's address:

  1. "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" - I have yet to see any recommendations which have been wise, because many of them have changed or been proven wrong during the Covid crisis. If they were truly thoughtful, they would not be unjustifiably shunning alternative treatments (which has led to many lawsuits and even more deaths). Instead, they would be emphasizing boosting the body's God-given natural immune system (which they have publicly neglected and rejected).
  2. Church leaders have often equated battling the Covid pandemic with a war. Yet in Pres. Kimball's famous June, 1976 Ensign article, "The False Gods We Worship," he states,

"We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us-and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Nephi 1:7)-or he will fight our battles for us (Exodus 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53.)

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him?" 

  1. Eyring quoted the First Presidency's announcement:

"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population." 

"Immunization" is the "only" way? The same immunization that's proven ineffective even to those who have received the jab? The same immunization that's caused catastrophic adverse effects among those who received the jab?

The church has never mentioned Matthew 26:53 during the entirety of this pandemic. Nor has it mentioned the power of prayer, the Word of Wisdom and/or the role of faith in healing and preventing disease. In fact, Jesus has been found nowhere in the church's public pronouncements.

Instead, it is now proven that the Church is relying on the mistaken notion that "we can win this war" if "everyone" follows "the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" (who themselves have never quoted the Lord in their public pronouncements. Ever.) and endorse turning only to what? "Immunizing."

This is called "Denying the Lord" (see the 2 Nephi 28 quote below).

"The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh." [11] 

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." [12] 

In fact, not any ordinary men. According to the church, the wars that are to be won over Covid rely not only on mortal men, but men who (as is agreed upon by both sides of the political aisles, and as history amply demonstrates) are very likely prone to self-aggrandizement and corruption (hence the statement "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" in the Word of Wisdom). [13] 

Because of this wholesale (and now very deliberate) denial of the Lord, and because there is no mention by the Brethren whatsoever of the power of faith or in the scriptures, I'm concerned - as is Dr. Scott Bradley of freedomsrisingsun.com - of the following (found in the video below, at the 8:25 mark):

"I'm so worried about so many other things one is that central to everything that's happening nowadays is a new god. I'm sorry to say that it's an altar that people have come to worship at called "The Altar of Covid," and the saviors in this new religion have become the physicians, the scientists, the researchers, the politicians and the big pharma companies." 

Carried further, I would also add that in this new religion: 

  • Fear has replaced faith.
  • Youth suicides have replaced youth activities.
  • Adverse reactions (like death) have replaced healings.
  • Loyalty to men has replaced trust in God.
  • Cover-ups and redacted public documents have replaced transparency.
  • "Vaccine" stations could be considered this new religion's temple.
  • "Vaccine" passports are the recommend cards.
  • Booster shots the new sacrament.
  • The guidance of the CDC as the new gospel and, 
  • The new garment to prove your devotion? You guessed it: masks. 

The Church is Now Worshipping Idols

Pres. Kimball continues in his article, "The False Gods We Worship":

"in all ages when men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the 'arm of flesh' and in 'gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know' (Dan. 5:23)-that is, in idols."

"Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry."

"In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had-in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people-a condition most repugnant to the Lord."

Pres. Kimball said that in 1976. Here we are 44 years later. Do you think that "we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people" statement still applies? In speaking of our time - right now -- the Lord said in D&C 1:16 (italics added):

"They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall."

The Result of all this Idolatry? Cursing.

There should be nothing safe nor reassuring about trusting in the arm of flesh to "win this war." Without the Lord of Hosts as the church's battle cry, a disastrous outcome is assured.

I find it interesting that the August 19, 2021 letter was only sent out by the First Presidency and not the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which would have been even more powerful and convincing to church members). This may be because not all of the Twelve concur with the First Presidency's message. One of those may be Elder D. Todd Christofferson. Although I'm not a big fan of his October 2020 General Conference talk "Sustainable Societies", he did have this to say:

"I think it safe to say that when people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the 'arm of flesh,' disaster lurks. Trusting in the arm of flesh is to ignore the divine Author of human rights and human dignity and to give highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world (while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard)."

Pres. Kimball also said,

"We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the 'arm of flesh,' for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, 'I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.' (D&C 64:24.)"

Are they right? Without question. The scriptures contain a curse on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm. In 2 Nephi 28, Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord. 

"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.

Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts." [14] 

"Oh Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yes, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." [15] 

How this affects the local levels of the church

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson once said,

"Sometimes from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our Council meetings and in our church publications, we hear, read or witness things that do not square with the truth. This is especially true where freedom is involved. Now do not let this serve as an excuse for your own wrong-doing. The Lord is letting the wheat and the tares mature before he fully purges the Church. He is also testing you to see if you will be misled. The devil is trying to deceive the very elect." [16] 

These days, what are we hearing or witnessing that does not square with the truth?

  1. Members saying, "I know that taking the jab is wrong, but it's a 'Spiritual Obedience Test,' so I'll take it."

    Many members equate taking the jab with the Israelites' looking at the brass serpent on a pole. The serpent represented Jesus Christ -- the very same Jesus Christ who is never mentioned by medical experts, government leaders nor church brethren regarding Covid. Looking to Jesus should heal you. Instead, the jab has accumulated more adverse events than all other "vaccines" combined over the last 20 years, and many more who have taken it have still contracted Covid. Those aren't the same results as those who looked to the brass serpent and lived.
  1. "Those who don't take the jab/wear a mask shouldn't attend church with those who have."

When Alma and Amulek visited the Zoramites, they observed that the people were not included in their services: 

"Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness." [17] 

Later, Jesus instructed the Nephite disciples, 

"And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;" [18] 

And also warned his disciples, 

"They shall put you out of the synagogues" [19]  

In encouraging members to get the jab and wear masks, The First Presidency's usage of the word "urge" should not be considered as a simple recommendation or advice. Since the announcement's release, many wards and stakes have adopted it as an actual policy governing members' attendance to temples and local church meetings. I have received reports that non-adherence to these local policies has denied some members’ ability to worship alongside other church members. 

Because Church Headquarters has not clamped down on these restrictive actions, but has instead let them perpetuate, its silence and inactivity is a tacit approval of these local measures. Indeed, while the church's worldwide leaders hide behind the word "urge," many local leaders aren't. And the Brethren just let it continue.

One communication I have received was from a member who lives in a ward and stake whose leaders make it abundantly clear that people are not welcome at church if they don't mask up.

Other wards and stakes have taken things a step further.  Here is one church member's report:

"This is New Zealand, This is MY Stake .. Yes, we have mandates but other Stakes and Wards have found ways around it, so this segregation and exclusion doesn't happen,  for example; getting smaller groups of people in different parts of the chapel , holding meetings outdoors or even continue Zoom meetings for everyone until everyone can meet face to face. (It doesn't have to be this way) 

Yes, these are the NZ government mandates and rules but no the majority of people are accepting these, we have signed petitions, we have being protesting on the streets ( all religious and non religious denominations) but nobody is listening, the Main Stream Media ignore us.. nobody shows what is really happening. We are loosing our jobs (especially health workers and teachers) lots of businesses have been force to close and we are being excluded from services and some retail shops.

No, This is not the Church doings!! These are some local leaders who have chosen this way.  The Church has to abide by the law of the land. Some other leaders have chosen to find ways to abide by the law and still don't add or promote the segregation and discrimination. 

I thought to show this, so we don't "normalise" or accept this as a norm! I want to make this clear "This is not the Church" just some leaders."

Here's the video proof:


When church members feel they can no longer worship God at church/their "synagogue", and/or feel shamed into having to wear a mask or get the jab, then they will often choose to worship God at home. [20] 


"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." [21] 

Sources

 1.   https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presidency-message-covid-19-august-2021
 2.   https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2022-01-06/covid-19-pandemic-two-years-president-ballard-message-of-optimism-238887
 3.   https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/constrain
 4.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_history
 5.   https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1982/04/remember-the-mission-of-the-church
 6.   https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/internal-hospital-data-confirm-a
 7.   https://dailyexpose.uk/2021/11/17/covid-deaths-ratio-vaxxed-to-unvaxxed-41-corporate-media-should-be-censored-for-spreading-disinformation
 8.   https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/fully-vaccinated-australians-in-hospital-with-covid-19-surpass-unvaccinated_4207135.html
 9.   https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/human-body/pfizer-boss-says-two-doses-provides-limited-protection-if-any-against-omicron/news-story/9d76126d080e2010f05eb0b4ae5e0c45
10.   https://www.byui.edu/radio/interview-with-president-henry-j-eyring-and-kelly-c-eyring-about-their-devotional-address; https://www.rexburgstandardjournal.com/news/the-eyrings-welcome-byu-idaho-students-back-to-campus/article_6a2773f6-b598-526b-8060-07882394a0a4.html
11.   D&C 1:19.
12.   Psalm 118:8.
13.   D&C 89:4.
14.   2 Nephi 28:31-32; italics added.
15.   2 Nephi 4 :34; italics added.
16.   "Our Immediate Responsibility", BYU Speeches, October 25, 1966.
17.   Alma 32:3.
18.   3 Nephi 18:22.
19.   John 16:2.
20.   Alma 32:5-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16
21.   2 Nephi 31:20. Italics added.