Yesterday, Tuesday February 10, 2015, a Press Release announced that John Dehlin, a controversial figure with his own podcasting program and devoted followers, was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The reason we know this is because John had organized the press release announcement to make sure that everybody saw what happened to him. He claimed that he was being excommunicated because of being a free thinker and questioning some of the things about the church.
The LDS Church Authorities thereby put out its own press release to make sure that everybody understood the truth regarding this issue (something rarely done, but necessary in this case). He was not excommunicated for being a freethinker or for questioning some of the things about the church (this isn’t North Korea you know), he was excommunicated for apostasy and trying to lead others away from Church teachings.
From some of John’s own writings it is apparent that he no longer believes in God, he doesn’t believe in the Book of Mormon being true scripture, he doesn’t believe in the authority of the church or the leadership and priesthood, he doesn’t believe in many of the things that Mormons or even Christians believe in. He has fallen in with the same-sex marriage and the ordain women crowds, trying to force the church to change his stance upon these basic tenets of the church.
There was a group of about 200 people standing outside the Stake Center which held the meeting on Sunday night. They held up signs saying, “We Stand With John”. Many of them commented about how well John was liked and that he had, “saved them”. The Stake President told John he would send him a letter because he wanted to take some time to think and pray about it before reaching his final decision. Yesterday the letter was received resulting in the aforementioned press release.
There are several disturbing issues with this whole episode that bring up all sorts of questions. First of all, Who’s church is this anyway? Allen Wyatt has written a nice article regarding this issue and I would encourage you to read it. The fact of the matter is that it isn’t John’s Church, my church, the Stake President’s church, or even President Monson’s church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ, it is His church.
The Book of Mormon warns against people setting up priestcrafts whereby they set themselves up to be a light into the world and to get gain in praise of the world, yet they seek not for the welfare of Zion. A priest who earns his money through the craft of being a priest would fall into this category. Someone who sets themselves up as an example to follow, as someone to pay heed to and to honor and to give money to in the name of “religion” is committing priestcraft (this is probably one of the biggest reasons preachers of other religions don’t like the LDS Church because they would have to give up their “job” in order to join it, but they will rarely tell you that).
So all those people to claim that John “saved them”, in reality they are attending the Church of John Dehlin. If they stand with him then they should follow in his footsteps. I’m not exactly sure what kind of church he believes in since he does not believe in God and questions all manner of basic doctrines of apparently any church. In reality this is very similar to someone else in the Book of Mormon: Korihor, the bold Antichrist. He also went about preaching that there should be no God, that everyone could do as they please, that there was no sin, that the dependence upon church authority and scriptures was a derangement of their minds, that people prospered according to their genius and conquered according to their strengths, etc., etc., etc.
In other words, he taught the same things being taught all over the world today and people claim it is so “progressive” and “rational”, yet it was taught from Korihor in 75 BC and is nothing new. Even if you don’t believe in the origin of The Book of Mormon and claim it was all made up by Joseph Smith, this was written in 1829, a long time before any of this “progressivism” got going, thus proving he was a prophet in the process.
I tried to spend a little time on the comments sections of a couple of online newspapers that were interested in this situation, and on Twitter defending the church. I was viciously, angrily, horrifically attacked and if I had been physically near them, I am certain I would have been beheaded, or at least shot for my stance. It is astonishing to me to see what has happened to our society, a society where everything goes and there are no rules (sounds like an ad for your favorite new car or an Australian Steak House!).
Is that what we have become? Is that what real freedom means? We can do whatever we want and not suffer any consequences, not have to obey any commandments, not follow any traditions or need to reverence any authority? That isn’t a society, that is anarchy. That is chaos. God’s house is a house of order yet Satan’s plan has always been to disrupt any kind of order. Chaos and disruption might as well be his middle names.
The LDS Church has every right to remove from the membership rolls those who preach against the church. John Dehlin is certainly not the first apostate excommunicated from the church. He also certainly won’t be the last as it seems like the world is becoming more and more vocal and demanding everything in the name of “tolerance” yet contributing nothing in return.
This was all prophesied of years ago in the Book of Mormon in the vision of Lehi’s dream of the tree of life. There would be many who fell away from the path by letting go of the rod of iron and falling into forbidden paths. There were many who made their way to the great and spacious building joining those who were dressed in all manner of fine clothing, driving fancy cars (if the vision were shown today, all sorts of exotics would be lined up in the Valet parking area) and attending raucous parties (with DJ’s, full screen TV’s and laser light shows to boot), yet pointing the finger of scorn at the humble followers of Jesus who were taking part of the fruit of the tree of life, or at least trying to make their way towards it.
John Dehlin is also certainly not the first person who set himself up as some sort of authority and trying to give directions to the church in which way to go. This is far more than “steadying the ark”, and if his “plan” was followed (still not sure what that would consist of) it is a complete change of direction, tradition, doctrine and authority.
I for one was very happy to see that the church still stands for something in a world gone completely mad. I wish John all the best and pray that this experience will help him realize just how far off the path he has fallen. Having participated in some of these “church courts” I can tell you that he has a hard road ahead, but its length and difficulty are entirely up to him. I have seen people who have come back and say they were so grateful for the entire experience of being excommunicated as they finally realized what they had done.
There will come a time when the most valuable thing a person could ever possibly own is a membership card in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the future when the entire world will be at war with itself, the only people who will not be at war are those who are of Zion, most of them being members of the church. Each dwelling place of Zion will have the protection of the Lord upon it and the Scriptures tell us it is like having a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They also tell us that as the world is burned with fire the Saints are saved by fire.
If anyone thinks the membership in the Church of John Dehlin (or any of the hundreds of others who have set themselves up as preachers or leaders of the world [ahem, paging Joel Olsteen]) is going to offer such protections and security, they are welcome to join it.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.