Saturday, April 9, 2016

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Editor's note: This is number 15 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne, sharing quotes from his book, Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. You can read the introductory post here. The first part of each post is a new introduction, placing the quotes in context with contemporary issues. The quotes that then follow are from the Determining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

            Although the counsel given below by Church leaders was given long before the advent of the internet, it applies equally well today, perhaps more so. It becomes quickly apparent that many (though by no means all) of the bloggers in the so-called Mormon bloggernacle-blogosphere is made up of such wolves (sometimes wearing the best fine-twined sheep’s linen). This was proven when some seventy of these bloggers signed a petition asking the Church not to keep the inner vessel clean (not to excommunicate vociferous apostates and unrepentant homosexual sinners). Or, as many other bloggers did and yet do, raise their blogging voices to oppose and criticize prophets and apostles and local church leaders. They claim that there is room in the Church for all (what some call “big-tent Mormonism”). Of course, making room in the Church for those who would fill it with sin or the vain philosophies of men or their own extremist causes, is how the New Testament church fell into apostasy and was taken from the earth. Such will not happen in our day. One might say that promoting vain philosophy is done in vain with Jesus’ church.

If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints let Satan’s spokespeople have free reign to influence members as they pleased, the Church might well someday simply become another organization of men and women of the world; good for nothing (in matters of salvation) except to be cast aside as dross. If people want that, they can find any number of other churches they can join that will have theology and practices that match their personal desires and views. In the meantime, let us be evermore wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

President Russell M. Nelson taught: “The somber reality is that there are ‘servants of Satan’ embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.” Echoing and in unity with him is this warning from Elder M. Russell Ballard: “Many [members] are already exposed through the Internet to corrosive forces of an increasingly secular world that is hostile to faith, family, and gospel standards. The Internet is expanding its reach across the world into almost every home. . . .” These apostolic warnings are perfect illustrations of them acting as watchmen on the tower.

J. Reuben Clark:

            No man or woman is a true member of the Church who does not fully accept the First Vision, just as no man is a Christian who does not accept, first, the Fall of Adam, and second, the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Any titular Church member who does not accept the First Vision but who continues to pose as a Church member, lacks not only moral courage but intellectual integrity and honor if he does not avow himself an apostate and discontinue going about the Church, and among the youth particularly, as a Churchman, teaching not only lack-faith but faith-destroying doctrines. He is a true wolf in sheep's clothing. ("When Are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?" second part of an address delivered 7 July 1954 at Brigham Young University; cited in David H. Yarn, ed., J. Reuben Clark: Selected Papers, vol. 3 [Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1984], 106.)

Boyd K. Packer:

            Several publications are now being circulated about the Church which defend and promote gay or lesbian conduct. They wrest the scriptures, attempting to prove that these impulses are inborn, cannot be overcome, and should not be resisted, and that therefore such conduct has a morality of its own. They quote scriptures to justify perverted acts between consenting adults. That same logic would justify incest or the molesting of little children of either gender. Neither the letter nor the spirit of moral law condones any such conduct.

            I hope none of our young people will be foolish enough to accept those sources as authority for what the scriptures mean….

            Some choose to reject the scriptures out of hand and forsake their covenants. But they cannot choose to avoid the consequences. That choice is not theirs or ours or anybody’s. (The Things of the Soul [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 84-85.)

Harold B. Lee:

            The greatest and worst enemies we have of the Church are those within our ranks whom we haven’t caught up with yet.

            I sat in with one of our teachers who was rebelling. He’d written a text to be used in the institutes and when it was turned down and was not acceptable because it was not correct, he just campaigned. He now has such a rank apostate attitude that he declares that he doesn’t believe the Church was organized as section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants says it was. He doesn’t believe that Joseph Smith had the Vision as he testified he had. He thinks the Book of Mormon was written by somebody, but he doesn’t know who. He is irritated by things that go on in the temple and the temple endowments and so on. Now all the spleen and the ugliness of his soul come out when he’s no longer retained as a teacher, but while he was there, how many minds he poisoned. (“Loyalty,” Address to religious educators, 8 July 1966, in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: The Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], 65.)

Harold B. Lee:

            May I speak boldly of a few of the dangers of today. There have been some institute teachers in the past who have sometimes been allowed to go too long unchallenged in their unorthodox teachings. We should have retired them long before they were released from service. We have today in the Church, some students who were under some of these teachers of that particular time who have lost the faith; and parents in tears have lamented the day they ever allowed their child to be under the influence of a teacher who had no testimony. It reminded me of what President Karl G. Maeser used to say. “I would rather a child of mine be in a den of serpents than under the influence of a teacher who has no faith in God.” And we have had some. (“Viewpoint of a Giant,” Summer School Devotional Address, Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, Brigham Young University, July 18, 1968, 5.)

Stephen L Richards:

            One more item and I shall conclude. There is a worldly threat to our theological teaching and to the faith of youth. Sporadically it has always been so, but in recent years it is more pronounced. This is not a frontal attack by the foe. We have never had too much difficulty in meeting open charges or criticisms. The foe is striking from ambush, with snipers and fifth columnists, with traps for the unwary.

A part of the propaganda is that there is no warrant for official interpretation of the doctrines and standards of the Church, that everyone may read and interpret for himself, and adopt only so much of the doctrine as he chooses, and that he may classify the revelations as essential or non-essential. These propagandists are either ignorant of or ignore the Lord's declaration that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20.) They disparage orthodoxy as such and pride themselves on liberal thinking. Many of them maintain their loyalty to the Church, and some may honestly believe they are doing the Church a favor and a service in advocating their so-called broad-minded concepts.

Unfortunately, some people within the Church subscribing to these views do not realize that they are falling into a trap themselves. They are giving aid and comfort to the foe; they are undermining their own testimonies and those of others, I warn the Church against them, and I warn them against themselves; and I plead with them to desist, to abandon their agnostic discussions, and to join with the faithful in promoting the cause which in their hearts they once loved, and I think they still love. (Conference Report, October 1951, 116.)

The First Presidency:

            October 29, 1945

            To Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics:

            Dear Brethren:

            It has come to our notice that dissentient members of the Church, as well as apostates and excommunicants, come into the wards of the Church and by dissembling and oft-times by actual misrepresentation as to their real status and beliefs, work themselves into the good graces of the ward members, the officers of ward organizations, and of priesthood quorums, and even of the bishopric. These persons having so deceived the people, are sometimes called into active service in the ward as officers or teachers or both. Having secured this recognition, they immediately set about to spread their false doctrines which, because of the positions to which they have been called, are given consideration and credence by unsuspecting and partially informed adults but particularly by the youth who are sometimes thereby led astray. These people are the tools of the father of lies. They are wolves in sheep's clothing.

            To destroy as far as possible the power of these emissaries for evil, we desire that presidents of stakes and bishops of wards, use no person in any Church activity whatever, whose membership is not formally recorded in the ward in which the person is to be used, or in some ward of the stake in which such person is to work. It is in effect from this date.

            Furthermore, these same persons are known sometimes to visit classes in Sunday Schools, in Mutual Improvement Associations, and even in priesthood quorum meetings. Presiding officers of the auxiliary organizations and of priesthood quorums, will, if alert, readily detect these persons. They should immediately report them to the bishop, who will thereupon investigate their standing and membership, with a view to curtailing as to such individuals the privileges of class membership.

            We should like presidents of stakes and bishoprics to regard the foregoing requests as mandatory and immediately effective.

            Faithfully yours,

GEO. ALBERT SMITH, J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., DAVID O. MCKAY, First Presidency. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75], 6:227-28.)

Joseph F. Smith:

            Among the Latter-day Saints, the preaching of false doctrines disguised as truths of the gospel, may be expected from people of two classes, and practically from these only; they are:

            First—The hopelessly ignorant, whose lack of intelligence is due to their indolence and sloth, who make but feeble effort, if indeed any at all, to better themselves by reading and study; those who are afflicted with a dread disease that may develop into an incurable malady—laziness.

            Second—The proud and self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamp of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings. More dangerously ignorant than the first.

            Beware of the lazy and the proud; their infection in each case is contagious; better for them and for all when they are compelled to display the yellow flag of warning, that the clean and uninfected may be protected.—Juvenile Instructor, vol. 41, p. 178. (Gospel Doctrine, comp. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939], 373.)

Joseph Fielding McConkie:

            There have always been those who claim membership in the Church while seeking to change its doctrines for one purpose or another. Such people generally like labels and refer to themselves as intellectuals or liberals. (Here We Stand [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995], 134.)

Kent P. Jackson:

            In a revolution or rebellion, the objective is to remove the leaders and replace them with others whose views are more compatible with one's own. This results not only in new leadership but also in new policies of state and new national objectives. Similarly, in a mutiny the mutineers throw the captain and his loyal crew overboard, take control of the steering of the ship, and set course in a new direction for a new destination. (“Foretelling the Apostasy,” Church News, 25 November 1995.)

Hugh Nibley:

In the earliest Christian writings we often come across the prediction regarding the future of the church that the sheep would turn to wolves. What would they be in that case—a new breed of sheep? Not a bit of it: the sheep as such would cease to exist, however loudly the wolves might continue to call themselves sheep and parade their Christian background and tradition and name. The Lord and the Apostles use the examples of the salt that is spoiled, the tares that destroy the wheatfield until they can be burned, the wolves that destroy the flock, and the sheep that turn into wolves, precisely because weeds and wolves, briers, and salt that has lost its savor are things that can never be reformed: they are beyond saving. (Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd ed. [Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book & FARMS, 1987], 120-21.)

The First Presidency:

Be not be led by any spirit or influence that discredits established authority . . . or leads away from the direct revelations of God for the government of the Church. The Holy Ghost does not contradict its own revealings. Truth is always harmonious with itself. Piety is often the cloak of error. The counsels of the Lord through the channel he has appointed will be followed with safety. (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, “A Warning Voice,” Improvement Era, September 1913, 1149.)

1 comment:

  1. Love this, funny though I am afraid to share it because it might alienate loved ones.