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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Apostasy » Apostasy

Apostasy

MCQ - February 23, 2009

I dislike the word “apostasy,” at least as it is applied to individuals (I have special distaste for “apostate”).  It seems an unnecesarily harsh way to describe a person who loses faith, for whatever reason, and it seems to have far too much finality.  We hope for such persons to return to faith and fellowship.  We continue to love and hope for them, mourn their absence while they are gone, and rejoice with them if and when they return. 

So, today’s priesthood lesson was both interesting and difficult to hear, because it applied this negative term widely and indiscriminately to members who left the Church at various times in its history and to the concept of those who leave the Church generally.  Most of you, like Brother Kirby, had this lesson last week.  We were a week behind because of ward conference.

I have a couple of problems with the use of the word “apostasy” in our terminology.  The first I have already explained above.  The second is that the term, in its most negative connotation at least,  is just not accurate in many cases.  Apostasy is generally defined as “a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.”  In some cases, however, those who fall away from the Church may feel more that the Church has deserted them, rather than the reverse, or they may feel an inability or reluctance (because of a lack of faith or a surfeit of offense or embarrasment or pride or just stubborness) to fellowship and worship with us.  To say such people are in a state of “apostasy” seems overly dramatic at least and potentially offensive at worst.

And yet here we are having a lesson where we toss that word around like a beach ball and examine why it happens and how to avoid it.  Whatever term we use to describe the situation though, the discussion is worthwhile and some of the quotes from the manual are fascinating:

Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.

This quote is one possible explanation (offered by Joseph Smith) for why those who leave the Church sometimes seem to be compelled to try to tear it down.  I’m not going to quibble with the Prophet Joseph here (cause, you know, I don’t want to be accused of apostasy) but it seems to me that accusing those who leave the Church of being servants of the devil is not an ideal way to invite them to come back.  And yet some did come back, even then, and of those who did not, it would be hard not to argue that some few of them then (and now) could indeed be described as serving someone other than the Prince of Peace.

For myself, I have found that my friends who have left the Church have had reasons that, to my ears at least, seem honest and not at all like a person who is a servant of evil, but of someone who wants to discover the truth and has been unable to find it.  I worry for them, even as I wish them well and continue to love them.  Some of them have lectured me for my continued faith, which they seem to find simple minded, insufficiently rational, or just ignorant.  I try to be understanding (and forgiving of an attitude that is easy to dismiss as arrogance), but I find myself every time in these discussions returning to one thing: the Holy Spirit.  Having felt it testify to me on multiple occasions, I’m not in a position to deny it, but only try to follow it in whatever imperfect way I am able.

Which is why I always ask them whether they have felt the same thing.  While their answers vary, it always appears to me that they have not, or that they have not felt it in the same way.  My feeling in these conversations is generally one of resignation.  God is in charge of his Church and the Holy Spirit.  I can only try to hold my friends and family close to me and hope they feel what I feel at some point along the way.

32 Comments »

  1. “Having felt it testify to me on multiple occasions, I’m not in a position to deny it, but only try to follow it in whatever imperfect way I am able.”

    I thought of this same thing last night while watching the Academy Awards when Bill Maher presented an award for best documentary. While I am of the same political ilk as Maher, I am generally disgusted by his arrogant nature and his continued claims that those who are religious are foolish at best and simply stupid at worst for believing “a fairytale.” I wondered how I might handle a conversation with him, should that unlikely situation ever occur, in stating my beliefs and, like MCQ, trying to describe my experiences with the Holy Spirit. Would it be a worthwhile endeavor or would I just be “casting my pearls…”?

    I agree with MCQ that many folks who have lost their faith, temporarily at least, should not be given the harsh label of apostate and then I remember a young man I met in college who was at one time a great inspiration to me and then eventually turned against the church. As a first generation Mormon I sometimes struggled with my testimony and then I heard “George’s” story of how he was the son of a local Methodist minister who had left his chruch and faced the hostility of his own family when he joined our church. George would stand and bear his testimony every chance he got. I gained much strenght from his testimony. Then as we were about to graduate George did a 180 and was not only not going to church but was actively working against the church by distributing anti-Mormon literature. I felt betrayed by George because I had put so much faith in his testimony. I think I would put George in the “apostate” category but I still hope for his return.

    Comment by lamonte — February 23, 2009 @ 6:20 am

  2. I think there is a big difference between a lost sheep and an apostate. I would only label someone who is actively fighting against the church an apostate.

    The word “apostasy” literally means “falling away,” so anyone who falls away from the church could be apostate in that sense. I would be careful with the label though. Relatively few people deserve it.

    Comment by rk — February 23, 2009 @ 7:02 am

  3. As a first generation Latter-day Saint myself with no family support to speak of, I find the stories I hear of “falling away” to be very telling.

    I joined in 1981 and was ex’ed in 1995 on spurious charges (coming out of the closet with no sexual encounters). I returned to the Church in 2004 after the death of my younger sister.

    I have found the quote in the manual concerning leaving neutral ground to be very true in real life. I do think we cannot return to neutral ground. However, I also think that Satan does not waste precious resources and if you are already disaffected with the Church or have taken offense and left the Church, he does not waste much time on you so it seems like you have returned to neutral ground.

    I also agree with RK who speaks of lost sheep versus apostasy. There is a difference between the two. Losing a testimony based on social compatibility with the predominate lifestyle in the Church is way different than losing a testimony built on a more firm intellectual and spiritual witness. Reneging on a deep, mature testimony is not the same as falling away from a socially compatible attraction to certain beliefs concerning the family.

    I know that such a distinction requires a judgement on the depth of a person’s testimony (and that seems to be an LDS blog PC item no-no) but, I believe, any serious discussion of personal apostasy versus falling away requires such a judgement.

    Comment by Shawn — February 23, 2009 @ 7:39 am

  4. MCQ,

    I seriously doubt if Joseph Smith ever pronounced a more dubious doctrine that that statement you have quoted. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris on the devil’s errand?

    It is one of those things that leads members to conclude that Church policies and practices don’t have to be right on the merits, they are right by definition.

    Comment by Mark D. — February 23, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  5. agreeing with rk, apostate = anti and fighting against
    falling away = those who struggle but don’t necessarily lose complete faith.

    Comment by s'mee — February 23, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  6. I’ve seen plenty of discussions among Latter-day Saints on why people leave the church, and it has always amazed me how many people think apostasy only happens “because of sin.”

    I get that unbelief is technically a sin, so I guess that statement is true in that sense, but usually they seem to be implying that people only leave the LDS church because of unwillingness to live the principles of the restored gospel. Nobody actually leaves because of intellectual issues with polygamy or Adam-God or the Book of Abraham or women and the priesthood.

    I have a date in a few hours to catch up with an old friend who joined the church years ago due to social pressures & a guy she really liked. She was an active member of the church for less than a year and probably never really had what you all call a testimony of it. When I mentioned my plans to my LDS husband today, saying “I’m going to go catch up with Sarah,” he replied, “The ex-Mormon chick?”

    That’s rather sad to me, that in his mind she’s defined by her ex-Mormon status even though that constituted such a small and troubled portion of her life, but that’s not a slam on my husband in particular. I think his attitude is pretty typical when it comes to Mormons and those who leave the church. Mormons have a peculiarly bad attitude towards their own defectors, even the ones who aren’t attacking the church or causing any trouble and just want to be left alone, and I’ve never really understood it.

    I don’t know what my point is other than that I do notice it, and I wish things would change.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — February 23, 2009 @ 11:26 am

  7. The harshness or Joseph’s rhetoric on this score may have had something to do with his unique perspective. How positively do we think of people who knew the Holocaust was going on and just stood on the sidelines? Joseph knew the seriousness of the work we are engaged in like no other could. If not doing the work and letting souls go un-saved really has the consequences we think it does…

    The way I’ve come to see things, for every person who fails to participate fully in the church, there is some vital service that is not being provided, or at least as well as it could be–so many of the people I know well who have left the church are precisely the people whose skills would fill the holes in our organizations. And ironically, they often seem like just the right people to have fixed whatever problem it was that drove them away. That’s not a perspective many people are capable of though, whether in the church or any organization. It’s so much easier to jump ship and go looking for greener grass (I prefer my metaphors shaken, not stirred) than to be the change you want to see.

    Comment by Owen — February 23, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  8. I should probably add that the JS quote in my post is attributed to him, but comes to us second-hand, so there’s no way to know if it’s 100% accurate, but it rings true to me. The context of the quote is important:

    Daniel Tyler recalled: “Soon after the Prophet’s arrival in Commerce (afterwards Nauvoo) from Missouri prison, Brother Isaac Behunin and myself made him a visit at his residence. His persecutions were the topic of conversation. He repeated many false, inconsistent and contradictory statements made by apostates, frightened members of the Church and outsiders. He also told how most of the officials who would fain have taken his life, when he was arrested, turned in his favor on forming his acquaintance. He laid the burden of the blame on false brethren. …

    “When the Prophet had ended telling how he had been treated, Brother Behunin remarked: ‘If I should leave this Church I would not do as those men have done: I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it.’

    “The great Seer immediately replied: ‘Brother Behunin, you don’t know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.’ ”

    I think Owen is right that Joseph’s perspective is different than anyone else’s on this point and certainly could be the reason for the seeming harshness of this quote.

    Lamonte: it’s funny that you mention Bill Maher. I often think of him as well, because he is so obviously a person that appears to have no inclination at all toward the Holy Spirit. It’s effects would be negligible for him, I suspect, because his mind does not admit of any possibility of such things existing. It’s all about rationality with such people. They consider themselves educated and have convinced themselves that if it can’t be seen or touched or proved in a lab then it’s bunk. Faith is not possible in that environment.

    Jack: I’m with you on that attitude, but it seems to me to change as soon as you know someone personally who has left. We are much more likely to attribute “sin” as a motive to relative strangers than to close friends or family.

    I think sin would be my only motivation for leaving, because none of the rational reasons hold any power for me. I can disagree all I want with doctrinal positions or the perceived mistakes of church leaders, but it doesn’t make any difference. I’m still bound by the witness I have received.

    Comment by MCQ — February 23, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  9. BTW, I also think that the only real sin that most people (that I know) exhibit in leaving the Church is pride. The Lord requires the heart and a contrite spirit. He doesn’t promise that everything will always make rational sense (in fact, if the scriptures are any guide, quite the reverse). Those who leave because of intellectual differences are really just saying that they can’t give what is required. The leap of faith that you need to make is by definition irrational. It’s hard for some people to make that leap.

    Comment by MCQ — February 23, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  10. Did anyone in the lesson say anything about the extremely misleading story about the Kirtland Safety Society bank failure, found in the introductory section?

    Comment by kodos — February 23, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  11. kodos, the lesson does not purport to tell the story of the bank failure, merely that it happened and that many saints fell away from the Church because of it. Here’s the relevant section:

    As that year wore on, a spirit of apostasy grew among some of the Saints in Kirtland. Some members became proud, greedy, and disobedient to the commandments. Some blamed Church leaders for economic problems caused by the failure of a Kirtland financial institution established by Church members. This failure occurred in 1837, the same year that a banking panic swept across the United States, compounding the Saints’ economic problems. As many as two or three hundred members fell away from the Church in Kirtland, sometimes joining with those who opposed the Church to torment and even physically threaten the Saints.

    I don’t find anything misleading about that. If you want to add that the bank failure was Joseph’s fault, I think that’s highly debatable, but even if it was, so what? The lesson says that many people blamed the Church leaders. You are free to do so as well. That has nothing to do with the point of the lesson, however.

    Comment by MCQ — February 23, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  12. Oh geez, my mother is an ex-Mormon that never was, too, and it never occurred to me that she apostasized. Even when she was a member, she was really just a good Catholic girl trying to be something else. She loves the Lord and he loves her, and I’ll just manage her paperwork later.

    Comment by David T. — February 23, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  13. MCQ, I can agree with you that people who personally know apostates probably have gentler feelings towards said people than complete strangers. I can’t at all agree with your assessment of pride being the reason for apostasy. How do you know it’s the people who leave that are proud, and not the leaders who refuse to acknowledge and recant serious mistakes the church and its leaders have made in the past? I’ve read some statements from LDS leaders which struck me as horribly arrogant.

    BTW, I was a bit surprised that Kirby’s column on apostasy did not mention the defection of any of his own family members. Anyone who follows his columns closely know if he’s ever written on that?

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — February 23, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

  14. Bridget,

    MCQ’s argument still holds regardless of the arrogance of the church leaders. Church leaders are human and make mistakes, a LOT and may never apologize for it. Sure they may be acting prideful, but by leaving the church, are not people basically just being prideful back? Nobody’s gonna insult me out of this church accept myself.

    Comment by Bret — February 23, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  15. Both could be proud, as far as I know, Jack. My point was that I don’t personally know anyone who left the Church because of sin, except for what might be called the sin of pride. In my discussions with the friends and family I have who have left, pride has been a common observation. I don’t condemn them for that, just as I don’t condemn the leaders of the Church for making statements that offend and alienate people. It’s not my place.

    But I do think that if you truly want to find the truth, you need to be humble enough for the Spirit of God to speak to you. That doesn’t happen when you think you already know what the Lord’s Church can and can’t do.
    You need to be willing to let the Lord tell you that.

    Comment by MCQ — February 23, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  16. I think Joseph wanted to drive a wedge between anyone that had left or was asked to leave and those that might follow them away. This happens today and the church still tries to separate the two groups.

    I think many that leave the church relied heavily on others testimonies and family ties to the church. Tthey never really had their own. They leave because they never did really believe it.

    Comment by Jerry — February 23, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  17. And when the Lord did whisper to me that withholding the the priesthood from the blacks was wrong and the church then later decided it was. Or when the whisperings tell a person that other current pronoucements are wrong? What about when the Lord does tell you that? The common rhetoric is that those whisperings come from Satan, not God. This or that, yes or no, up or down, hot or cold, in or out. Reality seems like a continuum and not a dichotomy. And a continuum includes the so-called neutral ground.

    Comment by we — February 23, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

  18. The lesson says that many people blamed the Church leaders. You are free to do so as well. That has nothing to do with the point of the lesson, however.

    I reckon it has everything to do with the point of the lesson: finding fault with church leaders is a leading cause of apostasy.

    That said, why shouldn’t the residents of Kirtland blame the officers of a failed bank for their financial troubles? The fact that the same people also happened to constitute the First Presidency is hardly the investors’ fault, thought that might have been a selling point at the get-go.

    Comment by Peter LLC — February 24, 2009 @ 5:18 am

  19. Peter, I reckon maybe you missed the point. My statement was simply that the cause of the failed bank was not an issue that the lesson was concerned with.

    A spirit of finding fault with and blaming Church leaders generally was identified as a cause of apostasy, then and now, and was warned against. But that’s not what I was talking about.

    Comment by MCQ — February 24, 2009 @ 6:31 am

  20. Here is an interesting take on apostasy, or what sometimes is seen as such:

    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2008/08/bushmans-introduction-to-joseph-smith.html

    Comment by Cherylem — February 24, 2009 @ 9:32 am

  21. Fair enough; the deictic clues provided by your “that” must have led me astray as I expected it would refer to the sentence or two that preceded it.

    Comment by Peter LLC — February 24, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  22. I’ve never been apostate, but I am the only member in my family, and from that perspective I find the word “apostasy” to be perfectly appropriate in its negative connotations.

    Sometimes people have to get their feelings hurt because what they’re doing is THAT selfish and stupid. Think about it–by deciding to be apostate, we influence not just OUR salvation, which Christ paid for with His blood, we are influencing the ability of our posterity to find their way out of that neutral ground and into the covenant. What right do we have to do this? What makes us think such a choice should be honored with tolerance?

    I’m not saying go out and beat apostates with a stick. But if apostates expect people to be all warm and fuzzy with their decision to walk away from God, they need to understand that disciples with ANY kind of foresight into what is coming for such an apostate will act out of genuine Christian love and tell them the truth. Do we honestly think that Christ is going to look on an apostate and a lost sheep and see a difference in the last day?

    If you do, I suggest that you realize that distance from God isn’t measured by feel-good semantics; it’s a distance measured by love and honoring of covenants that might as well be physical distance for how much it matters to Him who sent us here. If we want to go home, we have to walk in that direction.

    Comment by Paradox — February 24, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  23. Well stated, Paradox. We want so much to be accepting and loving, we often make gray matter out of things God has made clearly black and white.

    This could also open up the can of worms regarding separating the wheat from the tares. I mention this but don’t think I’d know how to properly extrapolate.

    Comment by Bret — February 24, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  24. The question, it seems to me, Paradox, is how to get them back. Warm and fuzzy might be exactly what is required.

    Comment by MCQ — February 24, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

  25. I’d like to present a story of two people. I come from the dark side of the moon, so now, you guys no longer need to discuss apostates/exmormons/whatever as if they are some far-away specimen…you can get a 1st person story.

    OK, the first person is my mother. She has been inactive for a while, wasn’t a strong believer, but is definitely a believer. She’s probably just going along with my dad (because he’s more of the religious person in the family). Why did she become inactive? Well, it’s like that stereotype: someone said something rude to her and she decided she didn’t need that. (It doesn’t help that the person who said this comment is the bishop’s wife — oops!)

    Now, there are those who would say that my mother is apostate or her reason for becoming inactive is one of the reasons for becoming inactive (and being offended would be right up there with pride and some sin).

    But I’d like to hope that this isn’t the idea of an apostate. After all, my mother still believes (I guess).

    Instead, I guess you can take a look at me. I was active in the church (I didn’t really believe, but I sure was active), and then over time, I realized that I didn’t have to follow things so tooth-and-nail. I still recognize that I am culturally a Mormon through and through, but there is no going to belief unless and until some sign comes.

    How would you respond to someone who doesn’t believe because they simply don’t have it in them and have never had it in them? They haven’t had spiritual experiences, they don’t feel anything like the scriptures or leaders will say (and when there is a feeling, it’s *not* a good one). They aren’t turning away from the Holy Ghost because to them, the Holy Ghost doesn’t is doing a miraculous game of hide and seek.

    I don’t know how you answer this. But some answers that probably *won’t* help are suggesting pride (regardless of whether that’s the case or not), suggesting they have some unresolved sin (whether that’s the case or not), etc.,

    Comment by Andrew S. — February 25, 2009 @ 1:05 am

  26. “I’ve never been apostate.” Now that is a paradox. So there you go. It’s this or that. Never or always. No sometimes? There is no gradation in apostacy? Or in faithfulness? You either are or are not. “Wheat or tares.” Can I be tares today and wheat tomorrow if I repent and come back? And then back to tares when I fall short?

    As long as we don’t see reality in grayscale or color and continue to see it in dichotomies of this or that and black and white, we have imho little chance of reaching those whose thinking is more complex than that. If God is not more nuanced than that, He isn’t my God.

    As long as whisperings of the Spirit of those who differ are ignored, there is no chance.

    Comment by we — February 25, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  27. Andrew, I think those are excellent questions, and really illustrate what I was trying to say to Paradox. How can it possibly matter what label we apply to people who have left, or whether we “tell them the truth” (presumably this means something like telling them they and all their posterity are going to be damned or some awful thing like that) if we don’t do everything we possibly can to get them back? I think that’s what Christ expects of us. Not labelling, not “truth telling” (which in this case really just means judging) just loving and serving and testifying of the gospel.

    I still recognize that I am culturally a Mormon through and through, but there is no going to belief unless and until some sign comes.

    The problem with this is that no sign will come. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. It would sure be nice if we could all just wait for a sign and then, when we finally see that burning bush, say “alright, alright, you got me, I’m in.” But that’s not faith, and yes, faith is still required. It’s not going to be easy, but if you make a place for just a little bit of faith, or just a desire to believe, you will be rewarded (not necessarily with a sign, but something that increases your faith). Every step of faith which is, by definition, made into the unknown is rewarded spiritually. But you do have to take the first step. God’s not going to do it for you.

    How would you respond to someone who doesn’t believe because they simply don’t have it in them and have never had it in them? They haven’t had spiritual experiences, they don’t feel anything like the scriptures or leaders will say (and when there is a feeling, it’s *not* a good one). They aren’t turning away from the Holy Ghost because to them, the Holy Ghost doesn’t is doing a miraculous game of hide and seek.

    I would say that you do have it in you. Believing might be difficult for you but there are not many people who find that to be easy. Some people are more spiritually inclined and that is a great gift, but most find it to be a struggle. As I said before, though, if you make the effort, I think you will find it to be very worthwhile.

    I also think there is a real difficulty with recognizing the spirit for most people. If you think you have never felt the spirit, then you don’t have enough experience with it and don’t know what it feels like. The more effort you make to feel it, the more you will learn to recognize it. The key element here is desire.

    Comment by MCQ — February 25, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  28. Re 27: Right, MCQ. I don’t think anyone would be opposed if any group moved away from labeling and truth telling to loving and serving (because we all face these things from some group so we feel the sting).

    You’re right that no sign will come. But, I don’t think things are so “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” as you seem to think. The “place for just a little bit of faith,” or…better yet, the “desire to believe,” I think, is set apart by faith itself. So if you don’t have faith (which I think is more of an unchosen inclination to believe), then you won’t truly desire to believe. You can force yourself to fit under that model, but you’ll just find yourself inadequate under that model and wreck your life or mind or both.

    I mean, you say people just have to have that bit of faith to jump into the spiritually unknown, but there is no reason to have this kind of faith unless someone is already inclined to believe in things like the spiritually unknown.

    But for someone who has lived by the “rules” and not seen anything to “increase faith” — for someone to suggest that this is impossible and really, that faith will have its rewards and that’s how things are is not very convincing.

    I’ll make a hypothetical scenario (that I guess isn’t too far away from how things actually affect people). The church has very specific “rules” about homosexuality/same sex attraction as it relates to chastity, eternal gender, eternal family, etc., So, essentially, the church is telling gay people to just “have a bit of faith” and endure the incredible challenges of this life, because it’ll all be better in the future. But…the problem is…just having this bit of faith doesn’t come from nowhere. The person already has to have an inclination to believe in “better times for the future” (such as an afterlife or whatever), and this inclination *isn’t* chosen. That’s the problem. This foundational inclination isn’t chosen. Someone who doesn’t believe can say “I believe” or “I desire to believe” or “I have faith,” but unless it’s already there, it’s a lie to himself and everyone else.

    So what are the visible consequences of this? Well, for someone who has the inclination to faith, it will not be hard to endure to the end, regardless of if his enduring will lead to anything or not. Even if there is no heaven, his life will be justified because, in this life, he was searching for a personally justified puprose.

    But for someone without the inclination? For them, they are lying to themselves, rejecting themselves, utterly inadequate and unfit for a system that claims that if you desire to believe, things should *eventually* get better. They degrade themselves because of their poor fit to this paradigm, when really things might just be better for them if they abandoned the paradigm.

    Comment by Andrew S. — February 26, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

  29. Sorry for the long comment; I’ll try to summarize.

    the church presents a paradigm of how things should be. If you desire to believe, if you yearn to hear the still small voice of the spirit, then you will be rewarded. If you follow the commandments in faith, you will be rewarded. BUT, if it seems you aren’t being rewarded, remember to endure to the end because your reward only comes at the end of the trial of your faith.

    This paradigm is rock solid if you can accept it, but the problem is your acceptance of this paradigm is something you don’t really choose. When you hear it and understand, it either seems intuitive to you (because you have that inclination to faith) or it brings you nothing but misery and pain (because you do not have that inclination to faith in a paradigm that actually requires it but claims that it doesn’t need it.)

    But I mean, we can’t really communicate because of the different paradigms anymore. And I think that’s how you get apostates who stay out.

    Comment by Andrew S. — February 26, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  30. I have been on both sides of the fence, you might say. I usually don’t speak of it, but I was excommunicated previously (now in full fellowship). From where I stood, I saw it as necessary in order to be forgiven fully. I had indeed apotatized (according to the thesaurus, there is no better word–deserter? renegade? equivocator? weasel? abandoner?)

    I was treated still with love and respect until I could come back into the fold. There was justice, yes; but there was mercy and love, also. I thank God for all of it. Apostates are people we should love. Some fall into so much shame and embarrassment they cast blame for their fate on the church. This is Satan in their minds, as I know from experience.

    One can leave the church, but they seldom seem able to leave it alone. How many sites do you see that announce the owners are ‘ex-mormons’? Why is that needed? It is a thinly-veiled jab at the faith and the faithful. If this isn’t apostasy, I don’t know what is.

    Comment by Steven O'Dell — March 13, 2009 @ 3:45 am

  31. I think most ex-mos would embrace the terms “apostsy” or “apostate” Steven, and their jabs are rarely thinly-veiled, or veiled in any way.

    I’m glad you came back from excommunication. Some are just not able to do so, and I think it shows real spiritual maturity and a rock-solid testimony to do that. In some ways, however, apostasy is different from excommunication. There are those who are excommunicated because of apostasy, and there are those who remain believers and never remove themselves in any way from the church, but who are excommunicated because of a particular sin. Those in the latter group probably should not be referred to as apostates.

    Comment by MCQ — March 13, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  32. I believe that before we can truly begin to exercise faith in Jesus Christ we must examine in our hearts what we Hope for. We are so familiar with the concepts of faith, hope and charity, but HOPE is probably the least spoken of. If our hoped for desires are in line with God’s desires then I think we reach out in faith to make our hopes a reality. We cannot obtain God’s desires without faith in Jesus Christ who is the center of the Plan of Happiness. It is my feeling that we exhibited some of our greatest faith in Jesus Christ while we were yet in our pre-mortal existance. Our HOPE and desire to receive a mortal body was so great that we placed all of our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement to insure that we had away back home. Our HOPE to return to God and be more like Him was a driving force. Those who came to earth exhibited profound faith in Jesus Christ because we knew that most of us would never even hear the gospel while in our mortal state. Our faith was that Christ’s Atonement would some how work for all of us no matter our circumstances; No matter where were were born, what parent’s we came to, what opportunities were ours.

    I believe that hope begins all things. Hope based on absolute eternal truths (truths that do not change) leads us to faith in our Savior, which brings a witness of the Spirit of things which are true, which leads us to feel of the Saviors great love (charity) for us which brings us more hope, which leads us to greater faith in the Savior, which brings us love for the Savior (charity) and so it continues until we see things as we have never seen them before.

    Comment by Wendy — May 31, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

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