August 29, 2008

Liken With Care

Recently an online critic of the Church named "cksalmon" described the perspective of a person who leaves the LDS Church to become a Christian of a different tradition. He argued that the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith actually did restore beliefs and practices seemingly lost from ancient Christianity as discovered by examining various ancient texts and traditions that have fallen by the wayside during what LDS call the apostasy. He made a graphic representing the LDS Church as claiming to be original Christianity (the tan pill) with the restoration of these lost truths (the colorful tiles):

He explained that converts from Mormonism to another traditional Christian belief system no longer believe the "restored truths" really are representative of beliefs and practices lost during an Apostasy they no longer believe occurred. "Thus, for such folks," he explained, "the 'restored truths' have become false additions:"

He concluded: "And that's why, when they talk of their conversion to traditional Christianity, they put it in terms of Mormonism's being false."1

I believe the underlying mentality cksalmon describes falls short in several ways and by examining it we will derive insight on how the LDS Church views doctrine, the apostasy and the restoration in general.

First, the models appear to assume that all that is taught in the LDS Church now, or is being revealed through the continuing restoration of the gospel must be contingent upon or equal to something in "Original Christianity," represented by a solid block of truth. "Original Christianity" is a very precarious term, however, and remains imperfectly defined.2 These assumptions can result in proof-texting the Bible and various other early Christian writings to find evidence of truth; if it matches the old texts, it must be true, Joseph Smith got it right. Such an approach can easily miss what the original writers intended.

This is a practice of which both LDS and non-LDS are guilty. I believe part of what lends into this tendency of presentism among LDS is the scriptural concept of "likening," as Nephi described in the Book of Mormon:
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning (1 Nephi 19:23; see also 2 Nephi 6:5; 2 Nephi 11:2, 8).
Hence, in gospel doctrine class a teacher might say (perhaps in jest) "The Church was really wicked so Alma decided to go around to all the different wards and straighten them up." This conflates cultures and can easily obscure otherwise important points of the text in its original context. Liken with care.3

In regards to the restoration, then, it won't do for LDS to attempt "proving" Joseph Smith was a prophet based on his revealing certain doctrines unknown to the rest of his contemporary Christian community by searching through "original Christianity," whatever that may be. Certain facts in and of themselves (such as the doctrine of premortality or a notion of gods) do not constitute proof, though they can be (and to me, often are) interesting and enlightening. Still, care should be taken when quoting early texts regarding various doctrines similar to current Latter-day Saint understanding. It is important to understand texts in their own context, which is not always the same as what LDS today believe.4

Further, Latter-day Saints should expect some differences between their understanding of the gospel and Saints of former days, even from certain Biblical5 and Book of Mormon texts, because the "truth" is being revealed in the context of a continuously and contemporaneously-restored gospel. The "Restoration" as taught by the LDS Church in this view is not the case of simply "re-instituting" a full and complete thing called "Christianity" from the past; but rather it is the general concept of God covenanting with His children in their own times and situations, continuing revelation and authority; the Bible, the Book of Mormon- scripture is still being acted out today.6 Specifics could be termed or understood differently as in the Bible wherein different time periods and cultural milieus are not univocal. When the sixth article of faith says "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth," it does not mean that the Church on earth in Christ's day exactly paralleled the current organization complete with Young Men/Young Women advisers. In D&C 1:24 the Lord explained:
Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
Joseph Smith explained:
This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God commands is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.7
Finally, on September 6, 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote a letter to the Church describing the restoration not only in terms of bringing back the former truths, but in going even beyond that:
It is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times (D&C 128:18).
I believe part of the truths "never having been revealed" can include things not having been revealed in the same way, or to the same extent, or even that they are now revealed publicly.


Next week I will begin a short series "Likening With Care" with Book of Mormon scholar Brant Gardner as my guest. Gardner, who holds an M.A. in Anthropology, describes himself as a "slightly used Anthropologist," who enjoys studying the ethnohistory of Mesoamerica. Last year his 6-volume Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, was published by Kofford Books. I am currently reading vol. 3, and have found Gardner's series to be capable of intelligently bringing the Book of Mormon to life without avoiding difficult issues or attempting to subordinate faith to scholarship alone. I believe the series is the most important full-scale commentary on the Book of Mormon to be published in decades. Drawing on his own understanding of Mesoamerica and utilyzing hundreds of other studies, books and articles on the Book of Mormon, Second Witness is the touchstone for all contemporary scholarship on the Book of Mormon. What Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling is to Joseph Smith, Gardner's Second Witness is to the Book of Mormon; a watershed event in scholarly LDS publication history.

More next week.

See the discussion thread on, "Adam's Road, Christian band composed of ex-Mormons," and cksalmon's post here.

For example, see Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) and Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform (InterVarsity Press, 1999).

An example of the misuse of texts among LDS is proof-texting evidence for the doctrine of premortal life by using verses in the Bible which don't actually affirm exactly what LDS think they affirm. See Kevin Barney's excellent "Preexistence in the Bible." This also happens in the way some Saints view the Book of Mormon. Consider the concept of Nephi's "Great and Abominable Church." Nephi said there are "two churches only" (1 Nephi 14:10) and LDS may be quick to identify the current Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the true, all others, false. Some have gone so far as to equate specific churches with the church of the devil. The Catholic Church, typically fills the role. Stephen Robinson decried that notion in "Warring Against the Saints of God," Ensign, Jan. 1988. This view is clearly problematic, as the current LDS Church did not exist when Nephi gave his explanation.   

Non-LDS Christians can also be guilty of reading their current interpretations back into the Bible. Compare the notion of grace in Paul to that found in James and see what you find contextually; the grace versus works debate continues. For example, see Ostler, opt. cit. Chapter 8: "Honor, Shame, and the Righteousness of God" where he examines the "New Paul Perspective." 

Non-LDS Christians who affirm the Bible is complete and perfect believe Smith's revelations must conform to the Bible precisely as they understand it, else he was a false prophet. The Bible itself is the Achilles heel in arguments for scriptural inerrancy as it is not univocal on a number of important issues.

This is essentially what was expressed by Jesus in the New Testament:
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:17; cf. Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37-38).
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.256-257.

August 27, 2008

"Train up a child, and away it goes, as it pleases."

Brigham Young
April 20, 1856

Mormons view life as a probation where children of God learn and grow to become like their Father. Life is like a school in this view, but this school can seem almost too repetitious at times. One might find themselves asking in a moment of weakness "haven't I already learned this principle enough?"1 Brigham Young noted the same thing:

Sometimes I think it quite strange that the children of men are so constituted as to need to be taught one lesson all the time, and again it is not so marvelous to me, when I reflect upon and understand their organization, and the designed effect thereupon of this state of probation. Men are organized to be independent in their sphere, are organized for an independent being, yet they have to- as soldiers term it- run the gauntlet all the time. They are organized to be just as independent as any being in eternity, but that independency, in order for them to occupy a position in the sphere of an independent being having control over all things, must be proved and tried while in this state of existence, must be operated upon by the good and the evil.
In the LDS view, agency is fundamental to the purpose of life; the theater of mortality where we play an active role. It isn't a puppet show, it's a living production done with some improvisation. Brigham compared our situation to our concept of family. God as a loving parent watching over often foolish children with the freedom to make choices. With that in mind, it shouldn't be surprising that lessons bear repeating:
It is not so strange to me that the people should continually need talking to, that they should continually need instructing, when I take this view of the matter.
Mothers when bringing up their children, if they will observe and reflect, can see and understand the feelings of the whole human family. The mother says to the child, “Don't do that; you must not handle those things;” but the little child thinks itself just as capable of handling a teacup, or a tumbler, as are father and mother. The little girl takes up a broom to sweep the hearth, but if mother is not watching her she may let the broom take fire and set it by the bed, and thereby the bed and then the building be set in a blaze. In the actions of their children parents can detect the course of all, from the king upon his throne to the humblest peasant, they are all performing their part on the theater of the earth.
All participants have the principle of agency within them; to act and not only be acted upon. This freedom can be abused or forfeited, it can be increased and used to benefit others. Latter-day Saints have a unique approach to "original sin" which avoids viewing humankind as culpable for the sin of one individual (Adam) thus being born into the world as utterly depraved. LDS scripture emphasizes the spirit of man as a child of God, the mortal physical body as an addition thereto. Citing D&C 93:38-39 Blake Ostler described the LDS view of the nature of man:
The soul is neither merely a spirit nor merely a body, but rather a synthesis that presents a new type of reality. However, the soul is subject to the challenge of experiencing reality through the body and taming and controlling the passions of the mortal body. A new "nature" arises out of the united spirit/body complex as persons grow- the "natural man." That is, with the challenges that arise from the sensuous experiences of the body and the traditions and behavioral patterns that already exist n the world...original sin conceives in the human heart as persons grow from childhood young adulthood [see Moses 6:54-55].2
In the LDS view Everyone has weaknesses they need to overcome. Each person can become "enslaved" by sin "to the extent we perpetuate dysfunctional behaviors, continue cycles of abuse and unloving conduct, and fail to change the ways we act [creating] pain."3 Brigham describes and prescribes a practical method:
People may be advanced far in life, and yet be surrounded by weaknesses comparatively like those of children. The man or woman of eighty, sixty, forty, twenty, or the child of two or five years of age, have something ahead of them to attain to, and which they are striving to accomplish. There is a principle in the feelings of people which is implanted in their organization expressly for them to become independent, to become gods, and it is continually urging them to reach forward and to wish to do and perform that which they do not understand. These weaknesses are in the organization, irrespective of age. True, persons can do many things at twenty-five years of age which they could not do when but five years old, and men may know much more at fifty than at twenty, yet the same common weakness is apparent which you can see exhibited in the little child. 
There is one rule to adopt, one course to pursue, one lesson to be learned, and it is applicable alike to all ages, from the child of one or two years old to the grey-haired veteran, and which, if they would learn, would prove highly beneficial, and that is to do those things which they know they can do, and when required by a superior to do a thing they never have done, to take the advice of those who have successfully performed the same act, and then with the best skill they can command, do as they are told, and thus further their education in life and be satisfied.
The atonement of Christ provides the absolutely essential empowering ability for us to repent and improve. In LDS soteriology, this process of being sanctified is participative; it is made possible and advanced by the grace of God, and chosen by us individually in order to create a true relationship of love which Ostler argues, and I agree, depends on the free choice of each participant.4 It's simple: rely on God, and obey Him, giving close attention to counsel from the Spirit and from His servants.5 Is this blind obedience to authority?
If the child could understand and be satisfied that the mother knows better than it does, when it is told to let the dishes alone, the broom, or the pincushion, or not to swing on the table lest it be turned over and break the dishes, or not to do this or that, and that such and such things it might do, it would be a great aid to it to take the course laid down by a judicious parent, and would save it much trouble while passing through its mortal career. 
I ask myself why it is that people do not learn to be satisfied and contented with what they do know, until they are instructed and learn more, and practice this principle in their lives. We are taught here all the time to be passive and contented, to do the things we know how to do.
Passive and contended? Should we turn our brains off and walk in line? This underlines the paradox between our inherent freedom versus obedience to authority. Brigham admonishes the Saints to be active in choosing good, rather than passively accepting counsel.6 We should not be forced to believe anything, as Hugh B. Brown said: cannot be forced to believe. Religion is a matter of the inner man. Conviction is of the heart. Forced conformity breeds hypocrisy.7
It becomes us to think about what we are taught because there is always the possibility that we are being taught an opinion, rather than a pronounced and true doctrine. It also becomes us to avoid projecting false doctrine:
We are taught here all the time to be passive and contented, to do the things we know how to do. Still I have no question, but what, if I could unobserved and unknown to them listen to the remarks of many of the Elders, or of brethren and sisters, I should hear doctrines taught and suggestions made which God never designed to have His servants teach. 
At the same time remarks such as these might be dropped: “I am impressed and the Spirit leads me thus and so; true I believe all that is written and taught, but I tell you that brother Brigham does not tell us all of it; he says he does not, but that he tells us as fast as we can understand and practice what he does teach.”8
Now that is true; but all do not stop and reflect, neither do they fully understand the principles of the gospel, the principles of the holy Priesthood; and from this cause many imbibe the idea that they are capable of leading out in teaching principles that never have been taught. They are not aware that the moment they give way to this hallucination the devil has power over them to lead them on to unholy ground; though this is a lesson which they ought to have learned long ago, yet it is one that was learned by but few in the days of Joseph.
Brigham is speaking of people who felt Joseph was a fallen prophet, or that they had the right to counsel him. Latter-day Saints believe God's house is one of order, though all parts are needed, each has specific stewardships to attend to without seeking to rise above others, including proclaiming doctrine in behalf of the Church contrary to the living prophet. This doesn't mean the prophet knows more than anyone, or that  knowledge is limited to what the living prophet publicly pronounces. Saints can learn mysteries, indeed, but typically these mysteries would sacredly be kept secret.9

Still, Saints receive counsel from the leaders, and sometimes it seems they are always saying the same things. Perhaps there is reason for that, if we look closer. Some hindrances to our growth include stubbornness, relying on traditions, feeling like we don't need to change, apathy, desiring the wrong things, and discouragement:
I will now return to where I began, and again ask, why do you require to be talked to so much? 
You know right from wrong; there is hardly a person here, but what knows right from wrong, then why do you not all do right? 
Because of your filthy traditions and dispositions. I have often sincerely and absolutely thought that the doctrine and practice of a certain lawyer was in the end strictly worldly wise; he first studied divinity and preached to the people for the salvation of their souls until he learned that they did not care so much for their spiritual as for their temporal salvation, when he studied and practiced medicine, but soon discovered that the poor miserable wills of men were more to them than the salvation of their bodies, and he finally studied law and indulged all his clients in the expensive gratification of their wills, which was dearer to them than the salvation of soul and body... 
In every nation, community, and family, there are peculiar traditions, and the child is trained in them. If the law of Christ becomes the tradition of this people, the children will be brought up according to the law of the celestial kingdom, else they are not brought up in the way they should go. Children will then be brought up, under the traditions of their fathers, to do just right, and to refrain from all evil, and when old they will not depart from a righteous course... The old Indian adage is rather the most applicable to the present practice of many, viz.: “Train up a child, and away it goes, as it pleases” (JD 3:316-327).10


Is this reflection fairly called a "moment of weakness?" Such introspection can come if we take the time to ponder our situation. Perhaps it is even prompted by the Holy Ghost. This moment of weakness can actually be a strength; it shows self-awareness and self evaluation depending on how we react to it.

Blake Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought Vol 2: The Problems of Theism and the Love of God, p.148.

ibid. 156.

Much of Ostler's vol. 2 is undergirded by this concept of a true loving relationship, becoming one as Christ prayed for in John 17.

See Matt.10:40-41. The concept of receiving God by also receiving those he sends is discussed in the post "He That Receiveth You Receiveth Me."

Brigham Young made this often cited and crucial statement regarding blind obedience, among others:
What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually (JD 9:150).
Hugh B. Brown, a counselor in the First Presidency under David O. McKay, discouraged blind obedience:
Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed, there seems to be little time for meditation. Dissatisfaction with what is around us is not a bad thing if it prompts us to seek betterment, but the best sort of dissatisfaction in the long run is self-dissatisfaction, which leads us to improve ourselves.
See "An Eternal Quest--Freedom of the Mind," by Hugh B. Brown. This address was given to the BYU student body on May 13, 1969.

Hugh B. Brown, "Mormonism," an address delivered Monday, Feb. 26, 1962, to the students at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pa.

This would refer to the principle of milk before meat.

This phenomenon has other precedents, as well, as discussed in "Showing You Things to Come." A fuller excerpt of Brigham's remarks is given there. When such revelation is given: "...he must rarely divulge it to a second person on the face of the earth, until God reveals it through the proper source to become the property of the people at large. ...the same power that revealed to them would have shown them that they must keep the things revealed in their own bosoms, and they seldom would have a desire to disclose them to the second person. That is a general rule, but will it apply in every case, and to the people called the kingdom of God at all times? No, not in the strictest sense, but the Spirit which reveals will impart the proper discretion. All the people have not learned this lesson, they should have learned it long ago." Some examples: Nephi was instructed not to write certain things (1 Nephi 14:25), Joseph wasn't to translate the portion of the plates Moroni had been commanded to seal which were written by the brother of Jared (Ether 4:4-7), Paul hints at doctrines he has not fully divulged (2 Corinthians 12:2).

See "Traditions: True and False." This topic revised and expanded from 12/17/07.

August 25, 2008

They leave the Church but can't leave it alone

Seth R. Payne's 2008 Sunstone paper on the ex-Mormon narrative discusses three general "exit roles" and the types of organizations from which they spring. He places these roles in the context of people who leave the LDS Church. The "Defector," an inactive member uninterested in attacking, just uninterested in general, the "Whistleblower," a generally dissatisfied defector who makes some noise upon leaving, and the "Apostate," who "undertake[s] a total change of loyalties by allying with one or more elements of an oppositional coalition...[the narrative serving to document] the quintessentially evil essence of the apostate's former organization."1 It should be noted there are former members of the Church who are capable of "leaving it alone" who fill the "defector" role. Still, it seems there are others who cannot jettison their former faith. I believe some may have more difficulty due to family or friend relationships, or because of where they live. There is a very vocal group who would fill the "apostate" role, though I don't intend to use the word as a pejorative, but in the same way Payne uses it in his paper.2

I believe the statement regarding people leaving the Church and not being able to leave it alone is not universal, though I believe it does represent some former members with accuracy so I decided to discover where the statement originated. With help from Reed Russell, I believe the exact phrase itself originated with Elder Neal A. Maxwell, though the thought goes back to the early days of the restoration. From his 1979 book All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience:

The Prophet Joseph spoke of how apostates often bring severe persecutions upon their former friends and associates. "When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors." (HC 2:23.)

Strange, how often defectors leave the Church, but they cannot leave it alone!3

That same year the statement was made by Hugh Nibley in an essay he wrote for Dialogue:
Apostates become sometimes feverishly active, determined to prove to the world and themselves that it is a fraud after all. What is that to them? Apparently it is everything--it will not let them alone. At the other end of the scale are those who hold no rancor and even retain a sentimental affection for the Church- -they just don't believe the Gospel. I know quite a few of them. But how many of them can leave it alone? It haunts them all the days of their life. No one who has ever had a testimony ever forgets or denies that he once did have it--that it was something that really happened to him. Even for such people who do not have it any more, a testimony cannot be reduced to an illusion.4
It's possible that Nibley or Maxwell coined the phrase, though it seems that Maxwell was the first to publish it, and it seems very Maxwellian. He used it in a conference address in October 1980:
Newcomers, you may even see a few leave the Church who cannot then leave the Church alone. Let these few departees take their brief bows in the secular spotlight; someday they will bow deeply before the throne of the Almighty, confessing that Jesus is the Christ and that this is his work. Meanwhile, be unsurprised if, as the little stone seen by Daniel rolls relentlessly forth, some seek to chip away at it. 5
Two other examples from Maxwell's conference addresses:
[There are a] few eager individuals who lecture the rest of us about Church doctrines in which they no longer believe. They criticize the use of Church resources to which they no longer contribute. They condescendingly seek to counsel the Brethren whom they no longer sustain. Confrontive, except of themselves, of course, they leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone.6
In 2004 he coupled some instances of seemingly intellectual apostasy with behavioral lapses:
In later years, I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses...7
I reiterate: I believe there are some who leave the Church over "behavioral lapses" which can lend into intellectual issues, etc.

Several Conference addresses by others have touched on the subject, for example, James E. Faust:
Among the assaults on families are the attacks on our faith, for which parents should prepare their children. Some of it is coming from apostates who had testimonies and now seem unable to leave the Church alone. One, complaining of Church policy, was heard to say: “I am so mad: if I had been paying my tithing I would quit.” Persecution is not new to the devoted followers of Christ. More recently, however, the anger and venom of our enemies seems to be increasing.8
Glen L. Pace:
It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.9

Pace discussed apostasy more in-depth than most of the addresses I found. Because of the extra detail, his address seemed more expressly aware of nuances.10

There is also some precedence in LDS scripture for the idea that "apostates" have sinned, though I believe taking the verses too literally is problematic (see Luke 11:24-26; Alma 24:30; D&C 93:38-39).

Maxwell's phrase is very similar in meaning to an 1892 account by Daniel Tyler on Joseph Smith:
When the Prophet [Joseph Smith] had ended telling how he had been treated [by apostates], Brother Behunnin 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 Behunnin, 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."

He emphasized the fact that a man or woman who had not taken sides either with Christ or belial could maintain a neutral position, but when they enlisted under either the one or the other they left the neutral ground forever.11
This account was included in Pres. Mary Ellen Smoot's 2001 Relief Society meeting address:
Even though we were instructed regarding the difficulties we would encounter on earth [in our premortal state], I doubt we understood or could have known how demanding and trying, how tiring and even sorrowful at times this mortal existence would be. We have no doubt all, at some point, felt that what we were experiencing was just too hard to bear. Yet the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When [we] joined this Church [we] enlisted to serve God. When [we] did that [we] left … neutral ground, and [we] never can get back on to it. Should [we] forsake the Master [we] enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and [we] will follow his dictation and be his servant."12
Finally, the story has received a fair amount of notice in various LDS publications. For example, see Hyrum and Helen Andrus, ed., They Knew the Prophet, (1976) pp. 53-55; Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, (1991) pp. 52-53; Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, (1996), p.95.


Seth R. Payne, "Purposeful strangers - A Study of the Ex-Mormon Narrative," Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 9, 2008. See p. 6.

Payne, pp. 3-4:
Recent ex-Mormon narratives...focus on the description of a fundamental shift away from what is perceived as rigid literalism to an unbounded scientific rationality. In this sense, members of the emerging ex-Mormon movement should be sociologically considered apostates although I hesitate to employ this label due to the extremely negative connotations this word has within the LDS community...I use this word purely in a technical sense and in no way intend to attach inherent negative connotations to its meaning.
Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979, 108.

Hugh Nibley, "How Firm a Foundation! What Makes It So," Dialogue, Vol. 12, No. 4, p.33 (Winter 1979).
Neal A. Maxwell, “The Net Gathers of Every Kind,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 14. Maxwell was then in the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy. As Reed Russell discovered, the statement would appear in at least three more Maxwell books:
Newcomers may even see a few leave the Church who cannot then leave the Church alone. Let these few departees take their brief bows in the secular spotlight; someday they will bow deeply before the throne of the Almighty, confessing that Jesus is the Christ and that this is His work. (Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 84.)

Willful dissent ages ago produced yet other symptoms that are worthy of our pondering today as life confronts us with determined dissenters who leave the Church—but who then cannot leave the Church alone: [cites Alma 47:36] (Plain and Precious Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 72).

Then there are the dissenters who leave the Church, either formally or informally, but who cannot leave it alone. Usually anxious to please worldly galleries, they are critical or at least condescending towards the Brethren. They not only seek to steady the ark but also on occasion give it a hard shove! Often having been taught the same true doctrines as the faithful, they have nevertheless moved in the direction of dissent (see Alma 47:36). They have minds hardened by pride (see Daniel 5:20) (Men and Women of Christ [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 4.)

Maxwell, "‘Becometh As a Child’,” Ensign, May 1996, 68.

Maxwell, “Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Ensign, May 2004, 44).

James E. Faust, “Enriching Family Life,” Ensign, May 1983, 40.

Glenn L. Pace, “Follow the Prophet,” Ensign, May 1989, 25

Pace, ibid. For example, he said:
Criticism always hurts most when we deserve it...We would eliminate the most painful criticism from responsible nonmembers by simply internalizing and living what the Church teaches. The second category of critics is former members who have become disenchanted with the Church but who are obsessed with making vicious and vile attacks upon it. Most members and nonmembers alike see these attacks for what they really are...Hopefully, however, they make us more sensitive and extra careful not to make light of the sacred beliefs of other denominations.
Daniel Tyler, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, p. 492.

Mary Ellen W. Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 91.