The new book has hardly become available to anyone. However, I did receive some feedback from a friend who has not attended church for many years. He was one of the more conscientious saints. He learned and studied and reflected for several decades as an active member. He served in several bishoprics, high priest group leaderships and as a gospel doctrine teacher. His study led him to a number of unfavorable conclusions about the church and its history. He read the new book, Passing the Heavenly Gift
, and called to tell me he had returned to sacrament meeting a week ago, and for the first time in nearly a decade took the Sacrament.
I’ve already been called “apostate,” as well as “on the road to apostasy” from some who have not read the book and have no intention to do so. I suppose there will be a great deal of that. But it is a small thing. The truth is that this book, as all I’ve written, testifies to the truth as I understand it. It has already done some good in one reader’s life. If the only price to be paid for reclaiming another’s faith is to endure some evil speaking about myself, it is truly only a small thing.
Another person’s ignorance can never define your own faith. Some people do not study our faith, but claim to practice it. If Mormonism truly is of God (as I believe), then it is important enough to warrant the closest of study. When any matter is studied with great care, issues will surface. Quandaries will arise. There will be gaps, problems and failings. Human weaknesses will be exposed. Some things will get quite messy.
The underlying truth, however, deserves a fair and full hearing. Study of Mormonism which goes only far enough to discover the quandaries has not proceeded far enough. It should search into it deeply enough, prayerfully enough, and searchingly enough to find the answers.
When one person has sought deeply and another has not, there is a gap between the understanding of the two which makes a common understanding problematic. The one in possession of less is really not in a position to correctly judge the one in possession of more. Oddly, however, the one who has less is altogether more likely to judge the one with more, while the one with more is equipped to look more kindly upon the other. After all, the one with more has struggled from the lesser position.
I understand the criticism I’ve received. I expected it. No one needs to defend me. No one needs to argue the point, get angry or deal unkindly with people who have not yet studied enough to form an appropriate conclusion. Only a fool judges a matter before they hear it. Such souls warrant our kindly efforts to persuade, not our censure or condemnation. We all carry foolishness, learning year by year, struggling to overcome the many things we’ve neglected in our study, prayers and contemplation. God does not grade on a curve. Therefore, when you begin to think you’ve outshone your fellow man, you should reflect again on Moses’ reaction to seeing the Man of Holiness: “Now for this cause I know man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” (Moses 1: 10
.) None of us have anything to boast of, even if you know more than your fellow man. We all know less than He who is “more intelligent than them all.” (Abr. 3: 19
Whenever I contemplate the gulf between He who is Holiness and myself, and the great charity required from Him to condescend for me, I can hardly bear the thought of feeling triumph because of the ignorance of my fellow saints. How unkind. How foolish. How uncharitable. More than that, how very unlike the Lord whom we all claim to serve.
I teach the Priests in my Ward. I love the calling and love their openness, their eagerness and desire to learn. The last lesson I taught was about sex, based in the scriptures, and candidly covered the topic in a way which I hoped would both inform and edify. I was genuinely thanked by these 16 to 18 year old young men afterwards. I hope their lives will be better for the lesson.
So, also, I hope any who read Passing the Heavenly Gift
will find their lives better for having read it. If you find yourself upset by it, I’d hope you would realize at least one person has returned to church after many years of absence because it restored in him a desire to fellowship with the saints, and again partake of the Sacrament. That one soul’s renewal was to me, worth any petty or foolish reactions that may now come from others.