Category: popularity

3 Nephi 21: 19-20

3 Nephi 21: 19-20:

“And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.  For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;”
Notice that the first four defects that are to end, include “lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes.” These are somewhat different than the next two. These first four are character flaws that lead to the next two.
The character flaws should not be thought of as defects in our ability to do business or conduct commerce. These are flaws leading to the failures of our redemption. Therefore, think of them as flaws in our beliefs, leading us to have what the Book of Mormon terms unbelief.
What lying goes on among us leads to priestcraft? How is our lying keeping us from knowing the Lord? What is it about our peculiar form of false belief that leads us to believe in, and spread about lying as part of the fallen, false faith we entertain?
What deceivings are part of our culture of unbelief? How is it we can celebrate the great priesthood “authority” we possess while acknowledging that it lacks any “power?” Are we deceiving ourselves? Are we alienated from God while thinking ourselves His peculiar people?

What envy is there among us? Has envy become a tool for church governance? If so, how does it become a tool for church governance? Have we built it right into our system at present?

Are we filled with strife? Is strife among us suppressing healthy exchange of ideas by labeling such discussion as “contention?” Is strife different from contention? Is uniformity of ideas and suppression of dissent something that will remove strife? If not, then why not?
These character flaws in turn lead to “priestcrafts” where people seek approval of the world but not the best interest of Zion. (2 Ne. 26: 29.) Do we want popularity from the “world?”  What is the “world?” Why would someone practicing priestcraft seek in particular to have approval and lead the world? Why is the distinction made between the interests of Zion and the interests of the world? Is public relations always focused on approval from the world? If so, why are we seeking such approval? Does the world’s opinion of us matter? Why? When have the followers of Jesus been popular? What have they suffered for His name? (Heb. 11: 36-40.)
Then we see “whoredoms” which we have discussed earlier. David Christensen’s comment on the meaning of false religion is worth returning to read again in this post.
Then Christ sounds the alarm, attributing it to the Father.  Repent. Come unto Christ. Otherwise you will be cut off. What does it mean to come to Christ? Read the short statement in D&C 93: 1. There is a succinct description of the process. You haven’t come to Him until you have “seen His face and know that He is,” or, in other words, until you hear from His own voice that He has atoned for your sins and He promises you a place in His kingdom.
All of these warnings are being given to orient you to what is important. The important thing is to come to Him. As Christ put it to Martha, “but one thing is needful.” (Luke 10: 38-42.) Until we have come to Him, all our concerns about other matters must remain secondary. Of what good is it to know all mysteries, if we have not come to Him? This is why, in the middle of this warning of calamities to come, the Lord places this invitation to come to Him. He can help. He can restore and protect. But only if you are His.

Obeying God, Not Fearing Man

As the voice of the Lord conferred the sealing power upon Nephi in Chapter 10 of Helaman, this statement was made:
“And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.” (Hel. 10: 5.)

This is not a commandment, but a statement.  It is a description of what kind of person Nephi was.  The Lord knew that even endowed with that power he “shall not ask that which is contrary to [the Lord’s own] will.”

How did the Lord know this about Nephi?  Because of what Nephi had done with such unwearyingness:  “for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.”
Nephi’s prior assignments from the Lord had been done consistently, without letting criticism or threats deter him.  He said what the Lord asked him to say, without fear of those who opposed, threatened, or belittled him.  He had been “proven” and found worthy.  (Abr. 3: 25.)  Therefore, even though he may have been misunderstood or resented by his peers, he was approved and trusted by the Lord.
 How much better is it to be trusted by the Lord than to be popular with mankind! (Proverbs 29: 25.)  What a remarkable relationship this man Nephi must have had.  It makes one think that such a thing can only happen when a person is willing to follow in those exact steps.  (D&C 121: 20-21)

Obeying God and not fearing man is so rare a thing that when we do encounter it, we’re likely to either misunderstand such a person or be offended by him.

Popularity or Persecution?

A recent trend with Latter-day Saint scholars has been the publishing of several books that try to make Mormonism seem like Protestant Evangelicalism.  I do not believe the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is much akin to anything in Historic Christianity, and thankfully very different from Protestant Evangelicals.  It is instead a return of Primitive Christianity as found in the New Testament.  That is quite a different thing than what Historic Christianity has become, and almost altogether alien to Evangelicalism.  

I believe the Church will advance only by acknowledging the differences, explaining them and showing what great things Historic Christianity has lost.  Unless we have something different and important to offer, there is no reason for anyone to become a Latter-day Saint. 



The opening statement of Christ to Joseph Smith in the First Vision ought to be the point we most emphasize.  It was the many defects with Historic Christianity and its creeds which provoked the Lord to open the heavens again and start this great, final work.  When we neglect that message, and try to seem like another brand of Protestantism we are neglecting the only reason for our Church’s existence.

I know it is not up to me.  And I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.  

I suppose this post is nothing more than proof of my tendency to err in judgment.  But it is an honest and well meaning error which isn’t being tried by the Church at present.  When it was tried, in the early years, the newspapers railed against us, editorial cartoons mocked us, mobs persecuted us, and in turn the Church grew in numbers so dramatic that a single set of missionaries sent to England baptized nearly 7,000 converts.  The distinction caused by the persecution was valuable. Certainly not in a public relations sense, but very much in a “harvesting of souls” sense.

Sharp distinctions give the disinterested a reason to consider our message.  Persecution attracts the honest who want to know why the persecution is happening.  Joseph believed, and history has proven that persecution is the heritage of the righteous.  Its absence may not really be a good thing.  The cost of trying to avoid it is at the expense of forward progress. This is evidenced by the decrease in convert baptisms we see at present.



I have never seen any statement in scripture affirming that becoming popular in the eyes of the world was good or desirable.  On the contrary, I see the Book of Mormon listing that as one of the great evils.  (See e.g., 1 Ne. 22: 23.)