Hi, I'm Francis Bezooyen
I am a father, husband, and vfx artist. I love thinking about and discussing a wide variety of topics. I also love all the usual stuff like art, music, movies, food, reading, writing, hiking, cycling, and much more. I was a Mormon.
I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a home with 8 siblings.
Much of my experience growing up in the church was fairly standard. While being raised as a member of the church I passed through all the usual stages of progression within it. Growing up, I regularly attended church meetings, was baptized and ordained to the priesthood at the usual ages, engaged in church activities, received a patriarchal blessing, went to EFY, attended Institute classes, served as a missionary, married in the temple, did home teaching, served as an Elder’s Quorum President, and fulfilled various counselor and teaching positions.
None of that is to say that I was always a model member, but merely to indicate that I am deeply familiar with this church’s culture and teachings on account of having participated in it throughout the whole of my life until around the age of 30 when I started changing how I participated (I didn't fully cut myself off from participation until about 5 years later). And, I fully and honestly embraced the church and its teachings in my heart and mind for some of the most significant years of my life. For all of the others - I took the question of its validity very seriously.
On my shelf
On the Mormon Spectrum
My reasons for leaving the church are most succinctly explained this way: I finally concluded that it was not what it claimed to be, and that the nature of its teachings and their consequences was such that it would require a deep betrayal of my own conscience, given my personally held values, to continue affiliating myself with it.
What led me to that conclusion? Many, many observations throughout my life that can be summarized as fitting into one of the following categories:
1. The manner in which the church promotes its message is deeply inconsistent with one of the most important tenants that it claims to care so much about - truth. This is evident in the way it obfuscates facts about its history. It is evident in the fact that it so heavily and consistently encourages people to actively avoid both critics of the church and their criticisms. It is evident in the intellectually dishonest ways of thinking that it encourages its members to use when they do encounter facts that shine a poor light on the church's claims (The book of Abraham is a standout case). It is evident in the fact that the methods that it urges people to use to determine whether the church is true are ones that leave them extremely vulnerable to the cognitive biases and blind-spots that human beings are prone to, placing them in a mindset wherein they can be easily manipulated or mislead by bad evidence and emotional appeals. It is evident in the dishonest way that the motives, character, intellectual and spiritual capacities, and the condition of life enjoyed by those who leave the church, and especially those who criticize it, are portrayed within the church. It is evident in the fear that plays such a large, though unacknowledged, part in encouraging people to not doubt, to not question, and to never, ever, leave.
Ironically, the manner in which the church promotes its message strikes me as remarkably consistent with the manner in which it says that Lucifer intended to ensure, should he be chosen to represent God on the earth (in place of Jesus) that not one soul would be lost (The Pearl of Great Price: Moses 4:1), namely by suppressing a person's ability to exercise their free will. The church does this by using misinformation, bad philosophy passed as wisdom, and inappropriate, coercive psychological pressures, to control the membership's exposure to and interpretation of any information relevant to the question of the church's truthfulness, and it rationalizes doing so in the same way - that it is necessary to save them.
2. The church's claims about the world and its place in it are not consistent with the facts. Many of the teachings of the church amount to claims such as these - that thanks to things like the "Gift of the Holy Ghost" and the priesthood authority of God one should find (indeed - it has been explicitly claimed that one does find) that the teachings of this church, and its leaders and members, are more moral, more discerning, and more prescient, and that the membership enjoys more success in its endeavors and more miracles, in short - that within this church one should and does see more of the "hand of God" than one can find anywhere else in the world. Many members will claim that they do see precisely more of such things within the church than without, while others will insist that the church makes no such claims in the first place. To the latter I stand ready to reply with many examples, to the former I must simply explain that when I contrast the teachings and experiences found within this church with those to be found without it, I find no substantial difference in manifestations of the "hand of God". Rather, I find evidence that in many ways it has lagged behind the curve of positive changes in societal views and standards on some very important matters (homosexuality and the equality of blacks for example), both comparatively to some other religions and those devils - "atheists". Furthermore, I do not find adequate evidence of the "hand of God" more generally, in the sense of some otherworldly power and source of knowledge, and this despite the fact that I have had many of the kinds of spiritual experiences that form the pillars of faith for most other people, including seeming miracles. The difference between they and I being, in my view, that I have been willing to really consider alternative explanations for those experiences, which brings us to the next point.
3. All that I have learned, experienced, and observed throughout my life makes far more sense when explained by a vision of our (humanities) origin, destiny, and purpose, that only becomes available when one rejects, not only the claim that this church is true, but the claim that there is a God. It's a better fit with everything we know about the history and mechanisms of the universe and life on this planet. It's a better fit with everything we know about the religious history of Humanity, including how this and so many other religions speak about themselves and each other, including their claims to miracles and their conflicting claims on truth. It's a better fit with the way that these religions promote faith within their ranks (Mormon's certainly aren't the only one's who do those things I spoke about in item 1). It's a better fit with what we have learned about the deficiencies in peoples perceptions and intuitions. It's a better fit with everything we know about how credulous human beings are. It's even a better fit with the demands of rigorous philosophy.
Of all the above points, the most important to my personal journey are captured in item 1 for the simple reason that most of those things were observable from within the bubble of the church and were my first clues that something was amiss. They are also the source of those ways in which myself and many others have been personally harmed by our time under the church's influence. To believe an incorrect idea will not always result in harm, and not all who embrace an incorrect idea, like the claim that this church is true, will experience an internal conflict in doing so, but I and many others have experienced the “persuasions” of the church as what they are revealed to fundamentally be when viewed through a lense that encompasses a much wider view of the world and all that is in it - coercive manipulations that caused us to do psychological harm to ourselves in order to conform to the church’s picture of how a “good” person should act, think, and feel, and in my case at least it caused me to do psychological harm to myself in order to believe against the dictates of a truer voice inside.
When I first came out to my family about my decision to leave it was on the heals of having spent a great deal of time writing out my thoughts and observations, both for the purpose of sorting them out and examining them, and for the purpose of creating a document whith which I could explain those thoughts to others. In the end, it was a book-length endeavor. Here is one sample from that document which conveys something of what the experience was like for me on an emotional level:
"The question of belief is one which I always took very seriously. I struggled to attain it earlier in my life, and doing so was its own journey involving deep introspection, questioning, and courage, but when I did, finally kneeling down and asking to be laden with the heaviest burdens (a reference to the parable “The Three Metamorphosis”, in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", by Friedrich Nietzsche), taking from them an assurance that I might be found worthy, those efforts, and my expressions of belief were all sincerely meant, for they were expressions of my deep desires to do good and conform myself to whatever is most true.
I have likewise struggled to depart from belief, fearing and trembling as I went – fearing that I was betraying my deepest desire to be on the side of Truth, fearing to put off my camel's burden and chance being found unworthy. My journey out of belief has required as much faith and courage from me as my previous journey into it. Whereas before I needed to learn to trust another’s guidance, with this journey I have had to learn to trust – to have faith – in myself; to have faith in both my whole heart and my whole mind.
In the Bible we read this oft expressed notion in religion: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). There is a worthwhile idea that is trying to find expression in this verse, but a common consequence of this teaching, in its many forms, is that it tends to lead the believer to not trust their own mind on certain subjects. They trust the “Book”, and their preacher, but not truly themselves, which is a problem – because our own mind and heart are the one portal through which one _must_ pass to see “God” however one defines that word. Our ability to have faith in God, or any other concept, rests first with our ability to have faith in ourselves – in our ability to correctly understand whatever experience could lead us to such belief… or away from it. Though my former faith in the LDS church was a sincere expression of my deepest desires to find “God”, maintaining that belief was something that required me to blind my own eyes, ignoring a whole category of impressions from both my mind and heart, and to contort my soul into unnatural postures within a mold set before me, not by my own choosing, but someone else’s. I can no longer do it. The light that my eyes see is too bright for me to ignore any longer, and my soul aches."
There is, of course, much more that I could say. But, this does a fairly good job of capturing a birds-eye view of at least the character of my intellectual, spiritual, and emotional journey. The details would take far too long to explain here.
Questions I've answered
Were you offended? Is that why you left? More was mormon answers about 'Were you offended? Is that why you left?'
Absolutely not. I can, perhaps, best demonstrate that by sharing something I wrote at the time:
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A natural conclusion for many who read my criticisms of the LDS church will be that it is lead by wicked and deceitful men. It may be hard for some to believe, but I truly don’t think that this is the case. Quite the contrary. The positive examples of many of the members of the church whom I have known personally and, otherwise, observed, including its highest ranking priesthood leaders, are one of the main things that encouraged me to believe in the church when I was young. It always seemed to me that these were intelligent people of admirable character. All these people, along with many of the teachings of the church, inspired in me a desire to likewise be a person of character, intelligence and compassion, and to seek after the good things in life and shun the bad traits within myself. Since my teens I have continued to be inspired by the examples of my fellow church members, and many of these individuals continue to inspire me now. I regard them as among the best of people.
Also, remember that I have myself been a leader in the church. One of low, local rank, yes, but, a legitimate leader nonetheless. The point is, that all the church leadership is taken from the general populous of the church; each generally trying their best to live in a way that they believe God would approve of, to fulfill the commitments that they have made, and to promote a message that they honestly believe. This was certainly the case for me, so how could I presume to think that it is not the case for everyone else?
You’ll recall my earlier statement that, “what the church’s methods accomplish is the creation of “true believers” who regulate themselves out of personally motivated desire or belief.” This truly is the case. While it is true that I am not the only member of the church who has, does or will seriously doubt the validity of this church, even while they occupy a leadership role within it, I am confident that no one, at any level of this church is “[laying] in wait to deceive”.[ A reference to Ephesians 4:14] As critical as I am of the church [in my writings], my criticisms are not meant as attacks on any person in the church, but rather as an effort to expose fundamental flaws in the doctrine and culture by which all within the church are deceived and unintentional participants in a process that amounts to one of deception.
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When I first left, my opinion of the church, its leaders and its members was that they were misguided and engaging in practices that were harmful, but I took them to be essentially honest and well intended. I attributed the dishonesty that I saw at work in the church to the effect of Meme's - in the original Dawkinsion sense of the word - subconscious biases and learned strategies that the membership had become aculturated to and whose consequences they were irresistably insentivised to not notice. Any anger I felt was not over how I had ever been personally treated.
However, that picture has changed since leaving the church due to how I have been treated by members of the church as a result of my departure, and new information that I have acquired that makes it much harder to give both leaders and members a pass on the ways that they twist facts to suite their purposes and demean those who decide to speak their criticisms.
Are you happy? More was mormon answers about 'Are you happy?'
This is one of the most absurd questions that we who leave the church get asked. You'd think the answer would be obvious. If they who ask this question simply asked it of themselves they'd come up with the right answer: It depends - on when you are being asked and what you are being asked about.
For example - I am not happy about the progress of my career and my financial situation. I had expected to be in a much better place by now on both counts. Then again, by another set of measures I'm actually doing quite well and have a great deal to be grateful for on both counts, considering that we are in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak (June 2020), and the fact that, unlike many other people, I still have a job in which I often get to do things I enjoy and one that doesn't pay too badly either. So, in light of those considerations, despite the points in which I am disappointed - I think many people would agree that at this moment I ought to be pretty happy with my career and financial situation, and - in light of those considersations - I am.
Most of my life is like that - a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. Part satisfaction, part disappointment, Just like everyone else's - drifting from happiness to sadness to anger, depending on the topic and current state of affairs.
Of course, what's behind this question is the myth spread within the church that "it's all down hill from here" for those who leave.
Here is one example of this message from a talk by N. Eldon Tanner:
“There is a sad ending to nearly every story I have heard about those who drift away from the straight and narrow path. Such a tragedy ended the life of the young man to whom I refer. Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and motorcycling with his companions late one night, he plunged through the rails of a bridge over a murky river and was killed. In agreement with some facetious pact he had supposedly made with his friends, they, without consulting his parents, conducted his funeral service, cremated the body, and strewed the ashes over the spot where he died.
... Punishment and remorse, one way or another, will come to all who wander from the path of truth and righteousness, while obedience to God’s laws brings blessings and happiness. It is that simple: as we sow, so shall we reap. (See Gal. 6:7.)"(N. Eldon Tanner, "Why Is My Boy Wandering Tonight?", October 1974 General Conference)
That narrative - that those who leave the church are destined for calamity and misery of one kind or another - has been drilled into most member's heads from the time they were babes in arms. Consequently, when they encounter a person who has left the church, they often pull out this question - “are you happy?” - as though it were some silver-bullet way of revealing the apostates "true" state, even if, as in one case from my own life, they had just spent the day complaining to you about their life and the world while you were obviously feeling optimistic and hopeful. It would be just funny if it weren't so pernicious and annoying… no - that’s not strong enough - it would be just funny if our normal human emotions weren’t being hypocritically used as weapons with which to slander and discredit us.
Of course, this idea that apostate’s are unhappy, though severely misguided, isn't entirely baseless. The simplistic version of what many members of the church encounter in those who have left the church is a person who they formerly knew to be generally happy, seemingly out of the blue, becoming depressed and angry.
What they fail to grasp, of course, is just what the person leaving the church is actually going through. Namely, a complete upturning of their entire world view, coupled with the feeling that they've been lied to their entire lives, that sacrifices that they had made for their faith had all been for naught, and so much more. The feelings of betrayal and injustice that afflict the person who is in the midst of leaving the church, or has recently done so are quite sharp. They are exactly the sort of thing that would make anyone angry. And the believer's in their lives usually make things worse with their ignorance and insensitivity.
I wrote something that really speaks to this point in answering the question “Do ex Mormons ever feel guilty for leaving the church?” on Quora:
“The conversion from a Mormon to an ex-Mormon is a process that takes time. During that process, people typically experience a great deal of emotional and cognitive turmoil that can include anger, fear, sadness, regret, uncertainty and yes - guilt, which should come as no surprise if you honestly consider what they are actually going through.
A person who experiences a conversion from Mormonism to what you might call ex-Mormonism, has typically had their world-view turned upside down by some new information, and/or ways of looking at things. Consequently there is a period in which they are trying to figure out which way is up and one of the questions they have to contend with is whether - as they have typically been told their entire lives - their crisis of faith is a symptom of some failing of their own. At such times, many members will begin to scrutinize every little way in which they might fail to measure up to expectations, and wonder if it had either caused, or was a symptom of some other failing or flaw which caused them to be that much less receptive to the promptings of the Spirit, which would otherwise clear away all their doubts, or help them find the answers they need, or simply have strong enough faith in the face of all that presently assails their belief. At such times, a person can feel a great deal of guilt as they take upon themselves the assumption that it - their unbelief - is their fault.
Even after a person has intellectually accepted that the church is not True, stopped attending and so forth, some may find that the reflexive responses which have been ingrained in them via the church program continue to affect them, perhaps occasionally showing up as brief spikes of guilt or panic, or a feeling that someone is watching them, say when they drink their first cup of coffee, or shop on a Sunday, or are reprimanded for letting down their family by a supposedly well-meaning person.
Again, it shouldn't take much insight into the nature of the human mind to understand these sort of responses without resort to explanations such as that they are experiencing an actual prompting from the Spirit of God (After-all, you will find that people experience these things no matter what religion they leave behind). To suggest otherwise should be viewed as on par with explaining mental illnesses and physical ailments as the workings of disembodied evil spirits that are attacking or have taken possession of the person in question.
I have gone through that period of turmoil. But since then, while I have frequently found myself confronted with cause to feel anger and frustration toward the church and its membership (for reasons I wont outline here), I have never once felt guilt. Instead, when I am asked to consider whether my change of belief was right, I feel a warm glow inside me - a sense of peace and certainty that it was.”
In time, most people who leave the church do begin to heal and find peace again. To expound on that point more fully I will end with part of my answer to another question on Quora - "How has stopping being a Mormon bettered your life (for ex-Mormons)?"
"I now continue to face challenges on account of unbroken ties to the church through friends and family, but when I'm able to just be by myself with my new set of beliefs, if I reflect on that change, the predominant feeling is one of RELIEF. For me, the primary benefit of leaving the church has been a general rolling away of tensions that have bound me up for most of my life. This, combined with the sort of spiritual-like science-oriented view of the universe - its grandeur and immensity, my actual, much more humble, place within it, the precious gift that my fleeting life is, my view of the road before me on my "spiritual" journey, and the simple fact that I am now FREE to be HONEST - with myself most of all - about what really makes sense to me - all of this settles on my mind and heart like the gentle rays of a setting sun, imbuing me with a feeling of real peace and happiness.
Like many others, I am so excited to be able to learn new things without having to engage in the mental gymnastics that are so often necessary to fit new information into the little box of ideas, trains of thought, and conclusions that do not pose a threat to the church's claims to authority. The freedom to just follow a line of inquiry to its natural conclusion, to accept or reject ideas purely on the basis of their merits as I personally see them, is a balm to my soul.
I have also felt much more free to be myself socially. This has especially benefited my ability to engage with non-Mormon's (it might be worth pointing out that I still don't drink alcohol, so this difference is not due to such things), but not only with non-Mormons - with active Mormon's too I am, in many ways, more authentic and at ease. Though there are the new tensions related to my apostate status that sometimes get in the way, when those aren't in play I now feel better equipped to build genuine relationships, because I am being the more genuine me."
Does the church encourage leader worship? More was mormon answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
That depends on how you define "worship".
If you are expecting Hindu style altars to president’s of the church in the member’s homes where they burn incense and make sacrificial offerings and pray to the Quorum of the twelve - no, you won’t find that here.
However, if you define worship as "inappropriate obeisance to the dictates of church leaders", I would say yes - the church does encourage this. Though, here too we must ask what constitutes "inappropriate". In my view, it basically boils down to whether the teachings of the church encourages its members to abdicate the throne of their own mind. That is - whether it encourages them to think and act, in relation to questions and circumstances that weigh on the question of the church's validity, its leader's authority, and any subject of special interest to the church, differently than they would when facing analogous questions and circumstances that do not pose such a threat.
Elsewhere, I've written the following in relation to this topic:
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One of the oldest accusations that has been leveled against the LDS church is that it “brainwashes” its members. This accusation is both annoying and perplexing to most members of the church, who, in contrast, feel that the church is a strong advocate for education, intelligent inquiry, and free-thinking… I believe that the church does _both_ of these things, and the fact that it does both is a big part of why this can be a frustrating, even confusing, debate.
But, _how?_ - If the church’s teachings, policies and so on are, actually, _both_ promoting free thinking _and_ controlling the thoughts of its members, how is this taking place?
Consider the mind of a human being - are all of the thoughts that run through your mind consistent? Most people can readily identify with the internal battle of one voice crying out for ice-cream while another cries out for a flat stomach, or of one voice advising you to go to bed while another says “just one more episode”. The reality is that our minds are full of competing voices, and sometimes the call of one voice overpowers or undermines the efforts of another, better voice. In a similar manner do I find that, while there is a set of voices within the church that promote intelligence and the pursuit of “truth”, there is another set of voices within its teachings and practices that promotes quite the opposite message but they are delivered in a manner that makes it difficult for most members to notice their true character and influence.
The effect of these anti-truth-seeking voices goes unnoticed for several reasons. One of the most important is that they are only deployed against a particular set of topics - namely, anything that might threaten the professed validity and authority of this church and its leaders. Consequently, we find that church leaders will sincerely promote free-thinking, education, intelligence and the value of truth in regard to matters that don’t threaten its validity and authority, while in more-or-less the same breath undermining those same principles in relation to topics that do threaten the church. The result is that along with the message to educate yourself and think freely, there comes, as a whisper, the subliminal message **“... just not about** ___this___**”**.
The character of what goes on the church is perfectly captured in this quote by Noam Chomsky:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” (The Common Good, 1998)
Of course, all that I’ve said so far only conveys my conclusions about what is happening in the church. To prove my claims, we’ll have to look at specific examples.
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The above quote is taken from a much larger work where, among other things, I address an article from a church magazine that was at one time a flash point for this debate, looking first at rebuttals of it as a valid proof of the claim that the church engages in "brainwashing", and finally show that, contrary to the claims made in those rebuttals, these messages really are common within the church.
The article that I examine, titled, “Sustaining the General Authorities of the church”, was published in the June, 1945 edition of the Improvement Era magazine [ This document can be found at: ia802804.us.archive.org/27/items/improvementera4806unse/… ] (pg 354), and has been dubbed by some as an “old favorite” of those who accuse the church of mind control policies.
The sum and substance of this brief article can be gleaned from these excerpts:
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"No Latter-day Saint is compelled to sustain the General Authorities of the Church... There is no element of coercion or force in this or any other Church procedure.
However... When a person raises his hand to sustain Church leaders as "prophets, seers, and revelators," it is the same as a promise and a covenant to follow their leadership and to abide by their counsel as the living oracles of God. Consequently, any subsequent act or word of mouth which is at variance with the will of the Lord as taught by the leaders of the Church places the sincerity of such person in serious doubt…
Any Latter–day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord’s anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart… [Satan] wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking."… When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.”
==== End Excerpts
I won't include here all else that I wrote in the essay that this is taken from but I will finish by including a sampling of the many quotes I include in it which demonstrate that indeed, the objectionable messages contained in the article above really are taught. I assert that many of the specific quotes listed below, and certainly all of the concepts, should be familiar to most Mormons because they are regularly referenced in every venue of the church. From General Conference talks, to Sunday School lessons, to Family Home Evening sessions - all of these messages are in circulation _today_. Consequently, it is my opinion that the only reason this article raised eyebrows was because it gathered together in _one place_ - where their cumulative meaning could not be mistaken - the sum and substance of several teachings that together constrain the membership’s thinking in ways that violate the spirit of genuine free thought and truth seeking and, indeed, encourage leader worship within the church:
==== Start Quotes
“No true Latter-day Saint will ever take a stand that is in opposition to what the Lord has revealed to those who direct the affairs of his earthly kingdom. No Latter-day Saint who is true and faithful in all things will ever pursue a course, or espouse a cause, or publish an article or book that weakens or destroys faith.” (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, October 1984, p. 104)
"while a man might honestly differ in opinion from the authorities through a want of understanding, he had to be exceedingly careful how he acted in relation to such differences, or the adversary would take advantage of him and he would soon become imbued with the spirit of apostasy, and be found fighting against God and the authority which He had placed here to govern His Church.’ ” (Deseret News Weekly, 3 Nov. 1869, p. 457. As found in Enrichment F "As If from Mine Own Mouth": The Role of Prophets in the Church, Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002), 389–392)
"No man, however strong he may be in the faith, however high in the Priesthood, can speak evil of the Lord’s anointed and find fault with God’s authority on the earth without incurring His displeasure. The Holy Spirit will withdraw itself from such a man, and he will go into darkness.” (Gospel Truth, ed. Jerrald L. Newquist (Salt Lake City: Zion’s Book Store, 1957), p. 278.; As quoted in: "Follow the Brethren", By Alma P. Burton; Ensign, October, 1972)
"One of the first steps to apostasy is to find fault with your Bishop; and when that is done, unless repented of a second step is soon taken, and by and by the person is cut off from the Church, and that is the end of it. Will you allow yourselves to find fault with your Bishop? (Discourses of Brigham Young, 86)."(As found in: Teachings of Brigham Young Student Manual; Chapter 12; Preventing Personal Apostasy)
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”(D&C 1:38)
“The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture.
Sometimes there are those who argue about words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obliged to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, ‘Thou shalt give heed unto all his _words_ and _commandments_ which he shall give unto you.’ (D&C 21:4.)
… Said Brigham Young, 'I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.' (Journal of Discourses, 13:95.)” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Of the Quorum of the Twelve, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet", First Presidency Message, Liahona Magazine, June 1981)
"Recently, at the Churchwide fireside meeting held for the women of the Church, Young Women President Elaine Cannon made the following statement:
“When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 108).
I was impressed by that simple statement, which carries such deep spiritual meaning for all of us. Wherever I go, my message to the people is: Follow the prophet... Latter-day Saints should be able to accept the words of the prophets without having to wait for science to prove the validity of their words. We are most fortunate to have a living prophet at the head of the Church to guide us, and all who heed his counsel will be partakers of the promised blessings which will not be enjoyed by those who fail to accept his messages... We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over."(“The Debate Is Over”; The First Presidency Message, by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency)
"There are the so-called learned people who have let their intellect undermine their spiritual moorings and who would also attempt to lead the faithful away from those who are appointed by the Lord to lead. There are those who feel that our leaders are out of touch with the realities of the day. They would attempt to lead members by substituting their own knowledge for the revelations from God to His prophets... When the prophets speak, let us listen and obey." ("Keep the Faith", by Bishop Richard C. Edgley, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric; General Conference, April 1993)
"Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.
Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: “I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.
May you ever frame your life with faith."("The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church"; First Presidency Message, by President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Ensign, February 2001)
"Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6)"(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee; Chapter 9: Heeding the True Messenger of Jesus Christ)
Why do people apostatize? You know we are on the "Old Ship Zion." We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. "I am not going to stay here," says one;"I don’t believe this is the ’Ship Zion.’" "But we are in the midst of the ocean." "I don’t care, I am not going to stay here." Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the "Old Ship Zion," let us stay in it. (Discourses of Brigham Young, Chapter 6 The Power of Evil contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/JournalOfDiscourses3/id/…)
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (President Wilford Woodruff, As found in Official Declaration 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants; Original source: Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)
“The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth.”(Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 9, p. 289)
“Follow your leaders who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray.”(Apostle Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, Oct. 1992, as quoted in Ensign, Nov. 1992)
“We don't have to question anything on the church. Don’t get off into that. Just stay in the Book of Mormon. Just stay in the Doctrine and Covenants. Just listen to the prophets. Just listen to the apostles. We won't lead you astray. We cannot lead you astray.” (M. Russell Ballard, Provo YSA Devotional, October 24, 2015)[Full transcript: mormonthink.com/files/…
"I sat in this tabernacle some years ago as President Joseph Fielding Smith stood at this pulpit. It was the general priesthood meeting of April 1972, the last general conference before President Smith passed away. He said: 'There is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, or the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the lord'." (L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventies; Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 63)
"I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'" (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78, as quoted by President Ezra Taft Benson Of the Quorum of the Twelve, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet", First Presidency Message, June 1981)
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