In swelling words this member of the Quorum of Twelve declared “you can’t argue with the evidence.” A special stake conference had been called some weeks back because he was in town. The stake center was overflowing with those who wanted to see in person a real apostle and I have a sneaking suspicion that there were many members from other stakes crashing our party.
In oratory eloquence unmatched by many speakers he told the story of the lame man who begged alms at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem following Christ’s resurrection and ascension. As we know from Acts chapter 3, Peter and John appear and the lame man is healed when Peter declares these inspiring words:
“Silver and gold have I none: but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
The way the story was told you could have been there yourself in the temple as witness to this very miracle. Following the healing the man goes his way, leaping and rejoicing because his body has just been freed from 40 years of infirmity. He is now whole again. It was truly an inspiring story which became the backdrop for a forceful sermon about the fruits of the gospel, and how you cannot argue with the evidence when it comes to the fruits.
As I sat pondering, listening and taking notes I had to agree with the basic premise of the talk. The fruits of the gospel are real. Lives can be transformed and changed for the better through Jesus Christ. At one point he stated:
“I don’t care about the imperfections in the Book of Mormon or how it was translated. I only care that it changed my life.”
Things started going south, however, when referring to the modern Mormon church he stated:
“You can’t kill this. You can’t stop this. This is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands.”
“We are 15 million now. Someday we will be 25 million, then 50 million, and at some point the Savior will return.”
The problem with this line of reasoning is that he, and most other members, conflate the church with the gospel. We think that the church equals the gospel–that they are one and the same. We think that the church is as true as the gospel, and if you are not a member of the church in good standing then you are not living the gospel, and by extension you are not experiencing the fruits of the gospel.
I don’t know about you, but I know many people who are much better Christians than I am who are not members of my father’s tribe, the Mormon church.
If you have read any of my other posts you will see that there is more than ample evidence to document the apostasy of modern Israel following the rejection of Zion by the early saints.
Despite having the fulness of the Priesthood revealed at the Morley Farm in June 1831, it was withdrawn by the Lord as documented in D&C 124:28:
“For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.”
And from 3 Nephi 16:10:
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.
I wanted to point out to the good Elder that if we had the fulness of the gospel, as claimed by the Mormon hierarchy, then we would experience the fruits of that fulness.
We would have apostles who are true witnesses to the resurrected Lord and would boldly testify as such;
We would have apostles and high priests who have been endowed with power such that they could perform miracles like Peter and John did in healing the lame man;
We would have priesthood power to actually confer the gift of the holy ghost as opposed to provide an injunction to receive the holy ghost; and
We would have pentecostal experiences similar to what the New Testament saints and early modern saints experienced.
These are some of the fruits of the fulness testified of in the scriptures. Where are they today?
In all my years as a Mormon I have rarely heard a leader, high or low, talk about the condemnations that the saints are under. Ezra Taft Benson came the closest when he called the saints to repentance for taking the Book of Mormon lightly. Nowhere have I ever heard someone refer to the following scripture which talks about how the Lord will send one mighty and strong to clean up our act:
And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God… D&C 85:7
What need have we of someone to set in order the house of God if all is well in Zion?
At times I wonder if the leaders of the LDS church actually understand their own scriptures. If they did, they would understand that we haven’t had a prophet in the land since Joseph and Hyrum were murdered, and Sydney was run out of the church because he wouldn’t brook the abominations practiced by some of the Twelve at the time. They would understand that we only have the preparatory gospel to take to the world and that we live in the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham. They would understand that Zion will be redeemed with power and that the first laborers in the last kingdom will return to complete their prophetic missions. They would understand that the marvelous work and wonder is a future event, yet to occur.
Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction. Alma 13:20
I am convinced that the Lord is working with his scattered people wherever they are, but that he has hidden his face from us for a little season as testified in the scriptures. He is merciful, kind, patient and forgiving. But can you not imagine how he feels when he looks down upon this people in their prophet worship and pride–believing we are the “one true church,” imparting only parsimoniously of our tithes to relieve suffering in the world while building spacious buildings and investing in shopping malls? Can you not imagine how he feels when his people believe that they will attain celestial glory by knowing passwords and handshakes instead of focusing on receiving the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost necessary to return to the presence of the Father (See D&C 76).
Yes, the fruits of receiving the gospel and living it are real. The preparatory gospel is a necessary first step, like the work John the Baptist performed as a forerunner to Christ. But let’s not conflate the church with the gospel. Doing so points people toward leaders who demand obeisance as prophets, seers and revelators, when it is clear from history and the scriptures that they possess no such authority. Christ is our king and leader. To the extent we are pointed in that direction, I applaud you and your compatriots in the Twelve. But when it comes to the current status of the church as being in a state of hidden darkeness and apostasy, bereft of the fruits of the fulness — Elder Holland, you can’t argue with the evidence.