I normally don’t share private email dialogs. They should remain private unless the Lord tells me otherwise. This is one of those cases where the Lord has asked me to share this publicly. The individual involved should not be reading my blog anyway. I had a missionary write me to ask if he should stay on his mission. I gave him an emphatic yes. Here is the dialog and a few thoughts:
He first wrote:
“…could you share your thoughts on the topic of missionary work for the church right now? I feel like I need to gain as much information as possible as I take this to the Lord. I respect all that you have done, and most important your humble search for the truth. I do not have the studies you have put into this, I just started right before the mission, but as I preach the church every day you can probably see that this it has come upon me more pressingly.
“Given your viewpoint and opinion, what does it mean to serve a full time mission now? How do you compare scriptures like D&C 4 (all are called to the work, field is white) with one like D&C 105:35 (…the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy)? What of the good and service that I can still give to people? I can do so much more giving my whole time to the service of others, and the church gives so much good to people’s lives…”
“I do not advocate anyone leave their mission. My mission was a defining point of my life. I recommend all missionaries in the field fulfill honorable missions. There are people who can benefit from the message of the restoration. The missionaries are doing a wonderful service in spreading the news that a prophet was sent to restore truths that had been lost.
“Joseph was and is a prophet. The Book of Mormon contains the word of God. It is true a man can get closer to the Lord by reading and supping from its pages than from any other book. The best thing a missionary can do is testify of Jesus Christ, that He lives and loves us and that He has spoken from the dust through the Book of Mormon. Love and serve. I hope this helps.”
He wrote back:
“With what you write on your [blog] it seems so out of place to then give that advice to me. I guess I didn’t know what I was expecting. As you can imagine I’m going through a lot with my family and this stuff [you write]. Thank you for your support. I will be taking a break from your site and what you are preaching for the duration of my mission.”
Good choice Elder. You answered your own question. You made a commitment to the Lord. Honor it. I think I now understand a little of what Denver has expressed. I don’t want followers. I want readers. I want people who will study and learn the gospel of Jesus Christ and then share that. I want to engage with people who are willing to study LDS Church history, warts and all.
I would still be a member of the LDS Church if I hadn’t asked the Lord what to do about the promptings I felt to be baptized after Denver said in Phoenix, “This day is this commandment renewed in your ears.” I could not get that thought out of my mind all the way home. I knew I had to be baptized. I knew the Lord wanted me to make a public record of it. That’s my calling.
Serve Where the Lord Calls You
I am concerned by the phrase I have highlighted in the missionary’s response. He wrote he preaches the church every day. Maybe that was a typo or a slip of the thought process, but surely that can’t be what you believe the Lord sent you forth to do. Missionaries are to declare the message of the restoration and that includes the Book of Mormon and Joseph as a prophet.
There is nothing wrong with leading people unto Christ and into the waters of baptism, in spite of my personal view that the LDS Church no longer has the sanction of heaven in the ordinances performed. People need to get to the temple. The endowment needs to be taught and received. The true order of prayer needs to be practiced and memorized. Today, that’s in the LDS temples.
A Little Prophecy and Revelation
The day will come soon enough when a temple is constructed, ordinances are performed and a record of the names of those who have been baptized is presented to the Lord. There are now many hundreds who have been baptized as part of this movement. It is not a new church. It is a community of followers of Jesus Christ, preparing for Zion. There is so much work to be done.
The majority of those who have been baptized are still members of the LDS Church. They feel, and rightly so, they can do more good offering their service within the existing LDS hierarchical organization, even if it is difficult for those who are called to teach. Teach under inspiration. There are many who need the basics of the gospel and fellowship of a LDS local congregation.
Do What the Lord Directs
I know this sounds strange, given that I do advocate finding and participating with a fellowship outside of the controls of the LDS Church. Yes, I believe the LDS Church does not control either the priesthood or the Holy Ghost. No earthly organization can control those powers of God. You do what the Lord inspires and direct you to do. If he tells you to stay in the LDS Church, do so.
I meant what I said about my mission. It was and remains a foundation for my life. I learned work, discipline, perseverance, tolerance, kindness, work, patience, love and long-suffering. Oh, and did I mention work? We are here to work. It takes effort to read, study and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of salvation. If nothing else, let us be engaged in that.
Preach the Gospel, not the Church
A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. Ignorance is the enemy of righteousness and truth. God will not distill the doctrine of the priesthood upon our souls as the dews from heaven unless we are full of charity to all men and fill ourselves with virtue. That takes time and effort. The promise is priesthood shall then flow unto us forever and ever without compulsory means.
I’ll say it again. In spite of what I have done in resigning from the LDS Church, I did so because it fit my circumstances. It was the right thing to do for me. I consulted with the Lord over and over. I did as He directed in being baptized. I felt the approbation of heaven. It is the Lord who saves us, not the Church. We are to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring souls unto Him.