I have been called, among other choice words, “apostate” by some LDS folks in their indiscriminate, anonymous on-line rants. Name-calling by Latter-day Saints is a complete role reversal from where the Restoration began. When Joseph Smith was being abused by the religionists of his day, he observed “they treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil. That there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things [were confined to and the sole right of] the apostles.” (JS-H 1: 21.) The people who rejected Joseph’s beliefs were rejecting the Bible itself, which they pretended was the basis for their faith. Joseph did what James 1: 5instructed him to do, and got an answer. That is the faith he restored: A living faith in which God will speak to all who, like me, lack wisdom, liberally. I lack wisdom. I go to God with questions. So long as any of us ask in faith, He will answer. I know. He has answered me. Now Latter-day Saints think it is their right to denounce others who have asked God, and have been answered. If Latter-day Saints do possess the truth, then for those they think in error should be met with kindness, not reviling. (See JS-H 1: 25.) “If they suppose me to be deluded they ought to endeavor in a proper and affectionate manner to reclaim me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) Instead I read the accusation I am “apostate” by these smug Latter-day Saints. It must put a smile on the faces of authority and the devil. These disciples pretend to follow Joseph’s restored religion while acting the part of his persecutors. The saints have come full circle indeed.
Where exactly do you draw the line and begin to denounce others as “apostate?”
If we both believe in the Book of Mormon, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the Gospel, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both accept the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we both believe in continuing revelation and that God has yet to reveal a great deal as part of the Restoration of all, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If we have all of the foregoing in common, is that enough to respect one another as fellow-believers? Or do you require much more of me than I can give in order to avoid being denounced by you? How much do you want to micromanage my beliefs? Do you ever feel any twinge of concern about not permitting others to worship “according to the dictates of their conscience, and allow others the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may?” (Paraphrase of 11th Article of Faith)
If I believe priesthood has no authority over me, and you believe as Elder Oaks declared from general conference that the “keys” are the right to exercise authority, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” What if my belief is based on the scripture “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” which I hold in higher regard than a declaration from a church official to the contrary? (See D&C121: 41)
If I believe the Lectures on Faith are still scripture, but you do not, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the LDS Church has changed dramatically in my lifetime, and even more since Joseph Smith died, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?”
If I believe the scriptures were given to control and govern the faith, and you believe whatever comes from living church officials can contradict or disregard the words of scripture, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I can tolerate your view in this regard, even if I do not share it, are we of the same faith or is one of us “apostate?” If I use the scriptures and you use the scriptures, why are your views correct and mine incorrect? How did we arrive at the odd position that you get to call me “apostate” for believing the scriptures differently than you do? If you trust that “keys” are the thing that guarantees you salvation, what exactly are the “keys,” allowed by scripture, that bear that out?
If I will let you go in peace, why cannot you let me go likewise in peace. The LDS church is an institution of this world, not of the next. We should care less for the things of this world than we do. I am very content with my faith in God, and very much in harmony with everything He has asked of me. If you believe the same about yourself, then let that be your assurance and have the confidence to leave me to go my way in peace. Practice your beliefs in the way you think God wants, and I will do the same.
I will never again submit to another man’s priestly claim to dominion, control, judgment or oppression. It was denounced in scripture, and I reject such things. (D&C 121: 36-42.) If you think there is a priest who has the right to demand things of you in exchange for saving you using some “key,” I do not share your belief, but I am perfectly willing to respect you if that is yours. Happy is the man who serves his God in faith and conviction. Happier still is the man whose God is Christ and therefore respects his right to voluntarily act for himself, accepting full accountability for his beliefs, and not expecting man to save him using authority to do so.
If, by your definition, I am “apostate,” then let me assure you I am content to be so. I am fully willing to accept whatever Christ’s judgment is for being so. More importantly, I am entirely satisfied I remain in harmony with what God expects of me, and I wish the same for you.