I’ve been studying about why members of the Church apostatize. As I’ve thought about the reasons I feel it boils down to a formula I was taught by my mission president:
- Study the scriptures
- Say personal prayers
- Keep the commandments
- Serve others
This is the Formula for Happiness. This is also the formula for not leaving the Church, or, in other words – holding to the rod of iron.
Yep, it’s the primary answers – the “small and simple things”.
As I think about those I know who have left the Church for one reason or another, I’m pretty sure it started with them not doing these things. Whether they stopped doing them or just never did them, I’m not sure; they may have even been doing them to simply be “seen of men” but inwardly they may have had no intention to really follow their feelings.
There are a couple perfect scriptures that back up this theory of why people leave the LDS Church:
6 Now ye may suppose that this is afoolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by bsmall and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by ameans to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very bsmall means the Lord doth cconfound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (Alma 37:6-7)
I think it’s interesting how it says “…and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” Confound means “GR shame, frustrate.”
Who are “the wise”?
25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
In Jeremiah 8:8-9 it says the following about the “wise”:
8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
9 The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?
2 Nephi 9:28 talks about the “wise” too:
28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
1st Corinthians talks about the “natural man” too, how they don’t receive the things of the Spirit.
What are some of the characteristics of the “learned” and “wise”?
2 Nephi 26:20:
20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.
2 Nephi 28:4,15
15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
So to me it seems as if the “wise” and “learned” are characterized in the scriptures as follows:
- justify themselves and their behavior
- are highly esteemed among men
- are lifted up in the pride of their eyes (narcissism)
- have stumbled (or sinned in some way)
- build up many churches
- put down the power and miracles of God and say they can do all things because of their wisdom and learning
- get gain for this wisdom and learning
- grind upon the face of the poor
- contend one with another
- teach with their learning and deny the Holy Ghost (or feelings of the heart)
- preach false doctrines (or the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture)
- commit whoredoms
- pervert the right way of the Lord
Now I need to ask myself, “Do I fall into any of these characteristics?” “How can I avoid falling into these pits?”
It’s interesting to read these scriptures and think about what M’s been telling us about what she now believes (or is being taught). Some things that come to mind are that you shouldn’t rely on your feelings.
In an effort to understand this concept of “not relying on feelings” – or “teach with their learning and deny the Holy Ghost” – I Googled do evangelicals teach not to rely on feelings. I found the exact answer I’m sure M has been taught:
But feelings cannot be our ultimate authority because, as we all know, they are so changeable, and unreliable. They come and they go, and you never know what they may be. ‘I dare not trust the sweetest frame’, says a hymn-writer, because it may have gone by tomorrow. If I am to be governed by my feelings I shall find myself constantly changing—sometimes happy, sometimes miserable, sometimes feeling that all is well, sometimes that everything is going wrong, sometimes thrilled by reading the Bible, at other times having to force myself to get something out of it, feeling dry, arid, dull, stupid! Is not that your experience? If so, how can you rely on feelings as your authority?
Then remember, too, that feelings can be so easily counterfeited. If what is nice is of necessity good, if what gives me a pleasant, comfortable feeling must be right, then I have no answer whatsoever to the cults. I would just have to say: ‘Well, go to them. Anything that makes you feel better, anything that gives you a kind of release and relief is good; follow it. Anything that makes you a better man must be right, go after it.’ If we rely merely upon the pragmatic test of what makes me feel better we have no standard at all. I cannot criticize any teaching. It is so entirely subjective that I have no standard whatsoever.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier : An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 202-03.
And here’s another example:
The promise of God’s Word, the Bible – not our feelings – is our authority. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word. This train diagram illustrates the relationship among fact (God and His Word), faith (our trust in God and His Word), and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience) (John 14:21).
The train will run with or without a caboose. However, it would be useless to attempt to pull the train by the caboose. In the same way, as Christians we do not depend on feelings or emotions, but we place our faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the promises of His Word.
Where is this coming from?
How do these believers feel the influence of the Holy Ghost if they say that feelings are irrelevant?
What is fact really and how do they know it’s fact?
Can’t fact be interpreted in a variety of ways as to confuse the concept completely?
What is the scripture in 1st Corinthians saying then if we shouldn’t rely on the feelings given to us by the Holy Ghost? (“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”)
My initial impression after reading some of these ideas on not following our feelings is “Wow! What are they thinking?” I know that the scriptures tell the truth; I also know that the scriptures can and are interpreted in so many different ways. The “yeah, it says that but it really means this…” concept. I’m grateful for modern-day revelation and second testimony of the Gospel, written by people in another part of the world who also sought God and Christ in their lives and were directed via His prophets.
I’ve also confirmed my beliefs in the following things:
- Doing the small and simple things will keep me on the straight and narrow path.
- I need to be careful not to rely on my own knowledge.
- It’s ok to question things and search the scriptures; but I must be careful not to rely on the “philosophies of men”.
- The Holy Ghost can and does cause me to “feel” what is right and true.
- I’m grateful for the restoration of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: it is so clear, so simple, and yet for all of us, so easy to forget and set aside as a thing of not.
- Following the formula – the small and simple things – really does bring true happiness and conversion.
I am grateful for today’s study.