Does the leadership in the church determine salvation and eternal life, or does your personal relationship with God and Christ determine salvation and eternal life? Knowing God and Christ is the only way to obtain salvation and eternal life. The only role leadership has is to point to Christ.
Since the big push in general conference about sustaining the prophet of the church, I have decided to write a blog concerning the sustaining of leadership. It is my opinion that offices should only matter in the administrative roles of the handling of the finances of the church, decisions to build, use the proceeds given in tithes and offerings, to eliminate the poor.
When it comes to doctrine, some might know doctrine better than others. Our only concern about doctrine ought to be, “Does it align me with the mind and will of God?” Ranks are reduced to nothing, really fast, when it comes to knowing the mind and will of God. God is no respecter of persons. It’s the words of Christ that matters, not rank. Your control over the words of Christ neither puts you in a position of power over the next, nor does it require others to follow you (preserving agency). The quality of a prophet was never in the obedience of the people, but the purity of the message.
Agency must be protected at all costs, or God would cease to be God. But just because agency must be protected, those who choose wickedly must suffer the consequences of the loss of light. Every man who hears a messenger with a pure message, have the choice to listen and obey, or to reject the truth and suffer in the darkness. Sin is easily forgiven. But the loss of light requires a lot of work to replace what was lost.
A prophet, apostle, or any authoritative figure only has the ability to talk about the words of Christ. It is the responsibility of the individual to do the work to regain the light that they lost, or to gain more light. It doesn’t matter what authority the truth came from. It only matters if it adds or takes away light. Institutional shunning, disciplinary councils, etc are focused on penalties and have little ability to restore lost light.
So what’s the whole fuss about sustaining your leaders? The idea of leadership sustaining, and a person speaking as though he were the mouthpiece of God, comes from the absence of the words of Christ in the individual members. If the individual knew Christ, then no man need say, “know ye the Lord.” For all would know Him. The problem is we have rested the words of Christ, and few, if any, know Him.
The whole church has been under this condemnation for over 182 years (D&C 84:55). It’s no wonder why we protect and defend the authorities, as if they were themselves gods. The ancient Christians suffered the same problem. Since the saints had none of the words of Christ within them, they relied upon someone else’s understanding of the words of Christ. The common saint became ignorant to scripture. Eventually Church offices held more value than the words of Christ. The result is that saints sacrifice the words of Christ for the words of the sustained leaders. Thus sustaining has greater importance than scripture study, and your personal connection to Christ and God.
Christ Saves: Remember, we are taught, “This is life eternal to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Knowing God and Christ is life eternal, …It wasn’t knowing authorities. In Christ’s ministry the Jews claimed their salvation because they were descendants of Abraham. They had their genealogical records to prove it too. But Christ said that He could make of these stones, children unto Abraham. Others claimed that they had cast out devils in Christ’s name, done many miracles, etc. But Christ told them, “Depart from me. I never knew thee.” We don’t find our salvation in sustaining leaders, creating miracles, or any other means. Salvation was always based upon a personal relationship with God and Christ.
The problem in every fallen generation, who once had obtained an eternal covenant with Christ, is that they have strayed from the word, the ordinances, and the light. The natural consequences are that they become worshippers of graven images. Making a man untouchable, unable to lead men astray, etc. turns men into graven images to be worshipped. Soon we look to men, since we have lost our connection to the heavens, for our salvation. We praise prophets. We perform for them. We celebrate their birthdays. We stand when they walk in the room. We turn them into rockstars, want to shake their hands, hope that they wink in our direction, wish for some message from God through the prophet, etc. Thus we engrave them into idols. When we pray, our prayers turn more to gratitude for the prophet than they do to God and Christ.
Those who hold such high offices turn themselves into self-appointed gatekeepers and require the confession of loyalty to office holding men, as a right of passage into temples dedicated to God. That is what we do when we require people to state their loyalty to authorities in order to gain entrance into the temple, while disregarding the individuals understanding of the words of Christ, and their relationship with Christ and God. Christ is the only keeper of the gate. We would be better off getting to know Christ through the study of His words, than concerning ourselves with defending and sustaining the position of church leaders.
Conclusion: In order to be obedient to the words of Christ, when I am asked if I sustain the authorities of the church, I will claim only what I know: I am not concerned with their offices. If they claim to be something, then let them claim it. I’ll have no objection to their claims. But my salvation is not dependent upon their claims or their approval, only the approval and acceptance of Christ. If church leaders and authorities have something to say about Christ, I want to hear it. If they want to talk about the specialness of their offices, I’ll not care much, and will probably filter that stuff out; because that has little to do with my salvation.
I will follow no man, no flesh, no office. I will take the council of Moses to look to Christ and live. If I were a follower of Moses, I would seek out a church that belonged to Moses. If I followed Apollos, then I’d look for a church of Apollos. I only want to look to Christ and live, so it is Christ’s words that will always take precedence over the words of man. Knowing the words of Christ is the only way to become a disciple of Christ. Failure to obtain it, will identify you as some other disciple, …even if it is a disciple of Monson, Eyring, Nelson, McConkie, or Ballard. So, feast upon the words of Christ, it will tell you all things what a disciple of Christ should do.