Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is Criticizing Church Leaders Apostasy?

The Lord told Ezekiel:
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (Ezekiel 3:18)

In chapter 8, Ezekiel is shown the wickedness of the leaders and the people:
1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
 2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
 3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
 4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
 5 ¶Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
 6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
 7 ¶And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
 8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
 9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
 10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
 12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
 13 ¶He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
 14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
 15 ¶Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
 16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
 17 ¶Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezekiel 8)

Ezekiel is shown the wickedness of these people by the Lord. What, however, is more important? That the Lord was the one who showed him, or that these actions were actually being committed? In other words, suppose these sins were brought to Ezekiel's attention in some other way. Perhaps, like Jesus, he saw them with his own eyes. Perhaps, like Lehi, he heard about them from others who were proclaiming them in public. Would Ezekiel's responsibility to help others see the error in the leaders' ways be reduced in any way as a result of how he came to learn of their wickedness? Or, rather, is the only thing that matters whether or not the observations of sin are true? My reading of Ezekiel's charge to help others recognize otherwise unrecognized sin does not mention how he comes to recognize their sin, only whether or not the sins are real (see Ezekiel 3:18).

Now we have to deal with the knee-jerk reaction that will come from most who read this: "but Ezekiel was a prophet. He had a specific commission from the Lord to do this. It is not our responsibility. As Elder Oaks says, it is wrong to criticize leaders, even if it is true. Handbook 1 says you have to be tried for apostasy if you criticize leaders."

We continue to Ezekiel 9.

 1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
 2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
 3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
 4 And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
 5 ¶And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
 6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
 7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
 8 ¶And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
 9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.
 10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
 11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. (Ezekiel 9)

The Lord charges his angels to destroy every man, woman, and child who does not posses the mark. And to whom is the mark given? Those who "sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." What abominations was he talking about? Who was committing them? Re-read the preceding chapter: Ezekiel 8. These are abominations committed by the church leaders. Ezekiel may have been a prophet, but those who the angel marked were not. EVERY PERSON, even those who are not prophets, HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO WARN THEIR NEIGHBORS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHAT IS TO COME.

Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. (D&C 88:81)

The same thing that happened in Ezekiel's day is happening right now. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the Lord has proclaimed the folly of the Latter-day Saints. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that there will be a complete division of the righteous from the wicked. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that those who do not "sigh and...cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" will be numbered among the wicked, and will be destroyed in what is coming.

Current church policy stipulates that you are allowed to believe that church leaders are in error as long as you do not tell anyone what you believe or why you believe it. One who is aware of the problems could stay in the church without any discipline indefinitely. The Lord's standards are not the church's standards. The time has come where it is no longer appropriate to stay silent. The Lord expects you, like Ezekiel, to speak up about what is going on, and to stand as a witness of Christ at all times and in all places by standing for what is right and against what is wrong. If you stay silent, you are not helping those around you. The Lord will hold you responsible for their sins.

Write a blog. Post on social media. Hand out books. When at church, speak up, preach true doctrine, refute false doctrine, bear true witness. Persuade those around you to repent and seek Christ.

Those who believe that it is wrong to point out the sins of leaders either do not read their scriptures, do not understand what they read, or do not believe what they read.