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William Schryver

"… He Did Go About Secretly … Seeking To Destroy The Church …"

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We are informed that these apostates among the Nephites went about "secretly … seeking to destroy the church." Are there such people among us today? And, if so, in what manner are they "seeking to destroy the church" and "to lead astray the people of the Lord"? How can we recognize such people? What are their methods and techniques? Once we recognize them, what should we do to combat the things they are doing?

I'm sure that there are many different ways one could go about destroying the Church. One way could be leveling accusations at people and taking on the role of deciding who should and shouldn't be in the Church.

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I'm sure that there are many different ways one could go about destroying the Church. One way could be leveling accusations at people and taking on the role of deciding who should and shouldn't be in the Church.

Spot on.

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I'm sure that there are many different ways one could go about destroying the Church. One way could be leveling accusations at people and taking on the role of deciding who should and shouldn't be in the Church.

One of the great things about the church is that we have Bishops who have been called as judges and who can make such determinations when it comes to those who seek to undermine and destroy the church.

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Those who go about secretly to destroy the church do not like their deeds brought into the light.

Ironically, there are few things the critics dislike more than them being critiqued and criticized.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Ironically, there are few things the critics dislike more than them being critiqued and criticized.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

I know precious few people at all who enjoy being criticized.

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I see this in the attitude of those who would endeavor to remake the Church into their own (to them) ideal image, perhaps restructuring it along the lines of Protestant denominations, de-emphasizing or eliminating temple teachings, vilifying Joseph Smith, disparaging Restoration doctrines, etc. Those who would express disagreement with them are then charged with trying to drive them out of the Church, or (as I was accused of yesterday here) "policing" the thoughts of others.

One of the reasons I participate on this board is to get a sampling of such individuals. Here on the board, they tend to be much more open, and their methods and the language and catch-phrases they use are easier to identify.

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One of the great things about the church is that we have Bishops who have been called as judges and who can make such determinations when it comes to those who seek to undermine and destroy the church.

I think this is what mapman was getting at.

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Ironically, there are few things the critics dislike more than them being critiqued and criticized.

The "how dare you question me or my motivations" type of response comes to mind.

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I think this is what mapman was getting at.

Yep. The discernment of when it is appropriate to discipline someone is given to priesthood leaders and should be done charitably and privately, certainly not in public or on the internet.

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I think this is what mapman was getting at.

Perhaps; I wonder if he can confirm that. (which he did, above).

The exercise in all of this is determining what kinds of judgments each of us has the right to make. The answer lies somewhere between the two extremes of actively searching out people to accuse (such as what Saul did), and doing nothing at all. It's easy to identify an anti-Mormon who is openly and actively seeking to destroy the Church; it's a bit more difficult to determine the difference between someone who is sincerely questioning to find answers, and someone who is trying to sow seeds of doubt. Some people seem to have the gift of being able to discern between the two.

To me, at least, anyone claiming either one of the extremes is the correct thing to do raises red flags for me. Otherwise, the appropriate response in any given situation should be open for discussion, and while there are times when it is best just to be patient, there are other times when it is appropriate to point out someone whose actions or "flattering words" raise questions.

In any case, no one in the ward other than the Bishop gets to decide such matters.

Edited by jwhitlock

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I know precious few people at all who enjoy being criticized.

Likewise. But the irony isn't just in disliking criticism. It is also the degree to which one dislikes the criticism and yet being so engaged in criticism (the very thing one dislikes) as to be called a critic. Thankfully, there are precious few people that are ironic in this way--though the Church seems to attract more than its fair share.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Edited by wenglund

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I'm sure that there are many different ways one could go about destroying the Church. One way could be leveling accusations at people and taking on the role of deciding who should and shouldn't be in the Church.

To me, it is no surprise that Alma himself—the former wolf in sheep's clothing—issued this clear warning to the people of the Church:

Alma 5

57 And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous …

58 For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.

59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

Later, during the dramatic episode with Korihor, whose flattering and deceiving words were instrumental in leading many people out of the Church, Alma called down upon the head of this wolf in sheep's clothing the curse of God, that he was struck dumb. After the sign was fulfilled in him, Korihor then proclaimed his belief in God, and he besought Alma to lift the curse from him. But Alma refused to show pity upon the wolf:

Alma 30

52 … Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: … I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.

55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will.

56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor; but he was cast out …

59 And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people … he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead.

60 And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.

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You are not Alma nor should you call on people to be Alma.

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To me, it is no surprise that Alma himself—the former wolf in sheep's clothing—issued this clear warning to the people of the Church:

Later, during the dramatic episode with Korihor, whose flattering and deceiving words were instrumental in leading many people out of the Church, Alma called down upon the head of this wolf in sheep's clothing the curse of God, that he was struck dumb. After the sign was fulfilled in him, Korihor then proclaimed his belief in God, and he besought Alma to lift the curse from him. But Alma refused to show pity upon the wolf:

What's your point? I agree with the scriptures. The shepherd (Christ) will judge or can delegate it in some situations to priesthood leaders, like with Alma.

Edited by mapman

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I am personally familiar with several individuals who are no longer believers in the restored gospel, and yet, for a variety of reasons, they are still "active" in the Church. More often than not, the stake president and bishop and others are aware of their status as unbelievers. What the stake presidents, bishops, and others are often not aware of is that these unbelieving members engage in what is typically called "fifth-columnist" behavior, both within their wards and stakes and also anonymously on blogs and LDS-related message boards. They are often known for their eloquence ("a man of many words") and are quite often very popular, even among those who are faithful Saints ("[he] did speak much flattery to the people"). If confronted (as many have noted above) they take great offense at being characterized as "wolves in sheep's clothing" ("I am no devil, for there is none"). They also consistently reassure everyone around them that they have a sincere desire to see the Church prosper--but they believe it must abandon the errors of its past, etc.

Anyway, there is much more I desire to say on this topic, but my time is limited today. I will try to post again later this evening ...

I see this in the attitude of those who would endeavor to remake the Church into their own (to them) ideal image, perhaps restructuring it along the lines of Protestant denominations, de-emphasizing or eliminating temple teachings, vilifying Joseph Smith, disparaging Restoration doctrines, etc. Those who would express disagreement with them are then charged with trying to drive them out of the Church, or (as I was accused of yesterday here) "policing" the thoughts of others.

Again, I cannot deny that such may be the case. All I can say is that I have not in my personal experience encountered people of that description operating within a church setting (i.e. at priesthood meeting, Sunday School, Sacrament meeting, home teaching, Church organized activities, parties etc., or just when socializing with Church members). I have not encountered anyone of that description operating within the Church at that level (for long). The question that remains unanswered for me is, if such people exist within the Church, at what level and in what capacity do they carry out their work? William has mentioned the following characteristics: "They are often known for their eloquence ("a man of many words") and are quite often very popular, even among those who are faithful Saints ("[he] did speak much flattery to the people"). If confronted (as many have noted above) they take great offense at being characterized as "wolves in sheep's clothing" ("I am no devil, for there is none"). They also consistently reassure everyone around them that they have a sincere desire to see the Church prosper--but they believe it must abandon the errors of its past, etc." My question still is, at what level, and in what capacity within the Church would they carry out that work? In my experience the majority of Church members are sufficiently discerning to be able to detect and recognize such a thing, and not heed or be influenced by them. That is why I think that people of that description would find it hard to continue to operate within the Church at that level for long, without something giving somewhere, which causes them to either withdraw themselves, or be removed from the Church.

Edited by zerinus

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To me, it is no surprise that Alma himself—the former wolf in sheep's clothing—issued this clear warning to the people of the Church:

In the verses from Alma 5 that you quoted, I noted that Alma commands members of the church to be separate from the wicked and touch not their unclean things (verse 57), which requires that they make some kind of judgement about those things they are to separate themselves from. Then in verse 60, he is more direct in commanding the members of the church (he doesn't appear to be just talking about the leaders here) to not allow the wolves to come in among them lest they be destroyed.

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Perhaps; I wonder if he can confirm that. (which he did, above).

The exercise in all of this is determining what kinds of judgments each of us has the right to make. The answer lies somewhere between the two extremes of actively searching out people to accuse (such as what Saul did), and doing nothing at all. It's easy to identify an anti-Mormon who is openly and actively seeking to destroy the Church; it's a bit more difficult to determine the difference between someone who is sincerely questioning to find answers, and someone who is trying to sow seeds of doubt. Some people seem to have the gift of being able to discern between the two.

To me, at least, anyone claiming either one of the extremes is the correct thing to do raises red flags for me. Otherwise, the appropriate response in any given situation should be open for discussion, and while there are times when it is best just to be patient, there are other times when it is appropriate to point out someone whose actions or "flattering words" raise questions.

In any case, no one in the ward other than the Bishop gets to decide such matters.

I commend JWhitlock's words here. His message is easier said than done, but then, most good advice is.

None of us gets through this mortal sojourn without having to make judgments. The difficulty, I suppose, is determining in each individual instance what constitutes wise, or authorized, or appropriate judgment. The scriptures refer to that as "righteous judgment."

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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Again, I cannot deny that such may be the case. All I can say is that I have not in my personal experience encountered people of that description operating within a church setting (i.e. at priesthood meeting, Sunday School, Sacrament meeting, home teaching, Church organized activities, parties etc., or just when socializing with Church members). I have not encountered anyone of that description operating within the Church at that level (for long). The question that remains unanswered for me is, if such people exist within the Church, at what level and in what capacity do they carry out their work? William has mentioned the following characteristics: "They are often known for their eloquence ("a man of many words") and are quite often very popular, even among those who are faithful Saints ("[he] did speak much flattery to the people"). If confronted (as many have noted above) they take great offense at being characterized as "wolves in sheep's clothing" ("I am no devil, for there is none"). They also consistently reassure everyone around them that they have a sincere desire to see the Church prosper--but they believe it must abandon the errors of its past, etc." My question still is, at what level, and in what capacity within the Church would they carry out that work? In my experience the majority of Church members are sufficiently discerning to be able to detect and recognize such a thing, and not heed or be influenced by them. That is why I think that people of that description would find it hard to continue to operate within the Church at that level for long, without something giving somewhere, which causes them to either withdraw themselves, or be removed from the Church.

The impression I get is that such people claim to carry out a successful masquerade at church but give vent to their true stand when they can do it under cover of anonymity, as on the Internet.

How long they can carry this on, or how truthful they are being about their reported double-life, I can't say.

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You are not Alma nor should you call on people to be Alma.

This may be appropriate nannying if he had considered himself an Alma and had suggested that others do likewise. I don't see that he did.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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You are not Alma nor should you call on people to be Alma.

The Lord himself, through His prophets, has already called upon all the Elders of Israel to awaken to the enemies in our midst.

Isaiah 62

6 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night …

Ezekiel 33

3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

I would also recommend D&C 101:43-62.

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The impression I get is that such people claim to carry out a successful masquerade at church but give vent to their true stand when they can do it under cover of anonymity, as on the Internet.

How long they can carry this on, or how truthful they are being about their reported double-life, I can't say.

I think you've hit on a key point here.

Perhaps we think that sometimes those who are undermining the church are always attempting to do it. They display their true colors when they can do it anonymously, but otherwise it's more of a case where the lie in wait to deceive. When an occasion arises to do so, they throw a seed of doubt in here or there.

The danger is that we as a missionary church have many people come in whose testimonies are just in the budding stage, and who are thirsty to learn. Those who seek to destroy the church secretly may simply be seeking to undermine the testimony of the new convert by throwing a casual doubt in here or there. They don't do it with those who have more mature testimonies because, as has been noted, they are more discerning about such things.

We wonder why some converts, who seem so promising, fall away. The secret, flattering, doubt-sowing words of some are one of the causes.

On the Internet itself, those who flatter can be more open. They can post in venues where there is no one to point out what they're doing. Some are very gifted in the language they use, and very convincing.

"We need to be more open about the things we do in the temple."

"Other churches have negative perceptions of us that are our fault. We need to change."

"Why can't the church apologize for the terrible wrongs its perpetrated on others."

"Look how wrong the leaders of the church are in this matter. Maybe they're wrong about other things."

The list is endless. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, there are members of the church who need do nothing face to face with others, but who can freely flatter and sow doubts on discussion boards.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with identifying those who do so in such forums and exposing exactly what they are doing.

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You are not Alma nor should you call on people to be Alma.

Why on earth would you say this unkind and uncalled for remark?

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I'm sure that there are many different ways one could go about destroying the Church. One way could be leveling accusations at people and taking on the role of deciding who should and shouldn't be in the Church.

So in your mind, Bishops and Stake Presidents are destroying the Church? Really?

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This brings to mind an oldy but a goody from President Benson. I miss that man.

"It is well that our people understand this principle, so they will not be misled by those apostates within the Church who have not yet repented or been cut off. But there is a cleansing coming. The Lord says that his vengeance shall be poured out "upon the inhabitants of the earth . . . And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me" (D&C 112:24-26). I look forward to that cleansing; its need within the Church is becoming increasingly apparent."

LDS General Conference right.png1969 right.pngApril right.png Friday Morning right.pngEzra Taft Benson

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None of us gets through this mortal sojourn without having to make judgments. The difficulty, I suppose, is determining in each individual instance what constitutes wise, or authorized, or appropriate judgment. The scriptures refer to that as "righteous judgment."

Detecting wolves who seek to hide will of course always be more difficult than merely detecting disaffected members who are vocal about their positions and views. I think, that in the interest of mercy and kindness, sometimes we are inclined to overlook negative things.

I recall one man who secretly was involved in plural marriages. A modern John C Bennett. His perfidity was ignored for at least 5 years although there were signs and evidences. He led many people secretly astray and I am sad for the damage he did until he was finally fully reported and released from membership.

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