It seems everybody and their dog has offered commentary and opinion on the excommunication of John Dehlin. It was even in the national news. I want to focus on this one statement from his stake president: “…you do not have the right to remain a member of the Church in good standing while openly and publicly trying to convince others that [LDS] Church teachings are in error.”
It probably won’t surprise you to learn I agree with President King’s statement. That’s why I resigned my membership. I no longer believed certain things the LDS Church was teaching. I was and remain convinced some things are being taught in the LDS Church that are not true. Since I no longer met the requirements for membership, we had an amicable parting of ways.
How I Differ From John Dehlin
Although no longer a member of the LDS Church, I differ from John in at least three areas: 1) I believe I am a theomorphic man. In other words, I believe I am made in the image of God. I am His son. He is my Father. I do not believe in an anthropomorphic God or a divine being to whom we ascribe human characteristics. Nor do I believe God is some unseen being. He has been seen.
2) I believe the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price to be the word of God. They are not fiction to me. Too many evidences of the fulfillment of Moroni 10:4 from the time I first learned to read have been burned into my soul. Both books answer so many questions for me. They are unique in fulfilling their purpose of testing our faith in the idea of modern revelation.
3) I do not reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as having been established with power and authority from God. It was so established and remained authorized to pass on that authority until recently. Of course, this is the crux of the matter for me and why I resigned. Even in its present state the Lord works through the LDS Church. But He also works in other ways.
Everyone Has A Religion
The LDS Church is full of good people. They are some of the best in the world. But it is not the only place we will find people who believe in God and Christ. There are good people in every faith and religion, including the fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church. There are good people who have no religion at all, or so they claim. I am of the opinion everyone has a religion.
I agree with Dr. Scott Peck: “As human beings grow in discipline and love and life experience, their understanding of the world and their place in it naturally grows apace. Conversely, as people fail to grow in discipline, love and life experience, so does their understanding fail to grow. Consequently, among the members of the human race there exists an extraordinary variability in the breadth and sophistication of our understanding of what life is all about.
“This understanding is our religion. Since everyone has some understanding-some world view, no matter how limited or primitive or inaccurate-everyone has a religion. This fact, not widely recognized, is of the utmost importance: everyone has a religion.” (Dr. M. Scott Peck, M.D. – The Road Less Traveled, Section III – Growth and Religion, p. 185) Even the atheist or agnostic has a religion. It may not include a belief in a divine being, but it encompasses their life view.
Legal Demand to Stay Off LDS Property
Five months after my resignation, I still attend LDS services. I enjoy the expressions of faith and worship. I enjoy the community. I am grateful they have not restricted me from attending as they have some of my fellow bloggers. If you criticize the LDS Church, look out for that letter from Kirton McConkie. Yes, the LDS Church can and will demand that you stay off their property.
The Church will have you arrested for trespassing. So keep it civil, folks. I know some who leave the Church do not ever want to set foot back in the building again. I have no desire to hurt the missionary efforts of the Church or to discourage anyone from joining the LDS Church if they so desire. The instruction and ordinances found in the LDS Temples are good reason to be baptized.
However, the day will come when that will change. Temple instruction and ordinances will be available in temples other than those built by the LDS Church. The knowledge is fundamental and the ordinances are required. That’s why I still tell my non-LDS friends who communicate with me about getting baptized they should do so. Prepare yourself to enter into the LDS temple.
Don’t Be Afraid of Excommunication
If you are a member of the Church today with questions, doubts or reservations about what is taught in the correlated curriculum, work them out. God works with each of us one on one. He will answer your prayers. He will help you know which path is best for you – to remain active, to resign, to keep quiet or to be vocal about your concerns. Don’t be afraid of excommunication.
If you have children of missionary age, encourage them to serve missions. Teach them to focus on bringing souls to Christ. What greater work is there? What greater joy can one experience than knowing their efforts have been instrumental in helping a fellow traveler in this world find hope in Jesus Christ? Proclaiming the message of the restoration is still a current commandment.
In my letter from the bishop confirming my name had been removed from the records of the church, he pointed out I could be re-baptized after meeting with a General Authority. I had to chuckle to myself. I resigned specifically because I wanted to get re-baptized and knew that would cause disciplinary proceedings to be conducted on my behalf in very short order.
Let God Direct Your Path
One of the reasons for baptism is to record your name on the records of the Church. When I was re-baptized, I sent my name in to an individual who had volunteered to be a central recorder. The last report I read from her a few months ago indicated the rebaptisms are now in the thousands. A large, large percentage of those individuals also remain members of record in the LDS Church.
If you have come to a change of beliefs about the LDS Church, meaning you no longer believe it is authorized of God, or is no longer teaching the pure doctrine of Christ, ask God what he would have you do with that newfound understanding. Ask Him how He can use you. He will answer. We each have individual gifts and talents. We each have something to offer others in this work.
Faith is Mental Exertion – Through Words
And work it is. I thought I understood faith. I had read this statement from Joseph before, but have lately come to a newfound appreciation that faith is work: “…when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith.” (Lectures on Faith 7:3)
I am exercising faith as I write this post. I have pondered and prayed about it all week. I knew I wanted to write it after John’s news conference Tuesday. I knew I wanted to post it this evening. I knew I wouldn’t have time to do so until now. I therefore asked the Lord to bless and inspire me as to what He would have me share here. Thoughts and ideas have come to me all this week.
A New Website To Find A Community
When people would ask me where they could find a local community with whom they could worship or wanted to find someone nearby who could baptize then, I used to refer them to a site setup specifically for that purpose. It no longer exists. Instead, there is a new site that will help you find local communities and those who have been sustained as authorized to baptize you.
I know the individuals who created the site and who will respond to queries. Obviously there are those who wish to remain members of the LDS Church but also wish to be re-baptized as a sign to God they accept His messenger and His message. My own moral compass would not allow me to do that, but you may be directed otherwise. You can trust the individuals behind this new site.
Leave a comment along with your contact information on the web page and they will help you find the community or an authorized and sustained priesthood holder. I am not currently authorized or sustained to perform baptisms. I do not meet one of the requirements. That day will come. In the meantime, rejoice. The work of the Lord goes forward. Unite yourself to these communities.
Zion Will NOT Come Through An Institution
It will be hard work. You may find it difficult at first if you are used to the rigid and structured format of LDS worship. The purpose of these communities is to partake of the sacrament, to instruct and encourage each other in the gospel of Jesus Christ and to learn to be of one heart and one mind. In other words, to establish Zion – which does NOT come through a large institution.
If you recognize as I did that the principles of truth taught by Joseph have been altered, changed, denigrated, forgotten, or simply replaced by precepts of men, then you owe it to yourself to look into these new communities that are springing up all over the Intermountain West. For those who live outside the Mormon corridor, it may take some time to build up substantial communities.
Act Without Being Deceived
I am continually asked by readers, usually in private emails, “Why do you believe this movement is going to be different from any other offshoot of the LDS Church?” A valid corollary is often, “How do you know you haven’t been deceived in what you have done and are doing?” So many have extended love and compassion in their emails, while others are downright mean and nasty.
The answer remains the same. I worked by faith. I did as we have been taught in the LDS faith. I searched, pondered and prayed. Then I asked God if what I felt in my heart was true. Anybody who has read my blog knows this was not a spur of the moment decision. It took me two years of intense effort in study and prayer to come to the conclusion as to what I should do before I acted.
You Need to Take Action
I want to be a part of this opportunity to reach as many people as possible. My blog is small, has a limited audience, but I offered it to the Lord with all my heart. I consecrated it to His purposes. I believe the falling away of the institutional church was prophesied in the Book of Mormon. I also believe the Lord when He said He would do nothing without revealing it through a prophet.
If you’re new here, go back and read my story. It starts in January of 2012. I documented it here every step of the way. If you’ve been following and have completed your own investigation, then you know it’s time to act. You need to take action. You need to be baptized and offer it to others. The commandment of the Lord to be baptized has been renewed again by Him, today, to you.
To find communities for fellowship, visit: http://fellowshipwith.us/
To find someone to baptize you, visit: http://returntotherestoration.com