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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Identifying the "Exceptional Ones"

The other day, I went out to lunch with a friend who ate a whole pizza (including stuffed crusts and breadsticks) and didn't gain an ounce.

Me? I just think of pizza and gain 6 ounces!

And so it is in life -- there will always be people who believe (and maybe are) exceptions to the rule.

Some are exceptions. In January, 2014, 16 year-old Makenzie Wethington was given a skydiving trip as a birthday gift. She jumped at approximately 3,500 feet, only to find minutes later that her chute malfunctioned. She hit the ground...and survived! (Knowing me, I would probably crack my skull jumping off my couch).

Others just think they're exceptions, Take Saul, for example. We read in 1 Samuel 13 how Saul offered sacrifices to God without Samuel present. He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway, because he believed it was a “special situation.” Saul didn't get away with it.

Today is no exception:

  • Congressmen and politicians enact rules and laws which exempt them from certain consequences. 
  • Governments and banks are given billions of dollars and don't have to account for them. 
  • A country can be attacked by terrorists, immediately turn to God for divine assistance, and in the space of a few short years, can do all in its power to ensure God is permanently kicked to the curb.
It is no different among those who profess (or try) to be disciples of Jesus Christ. A few may publicly profess to want to embrace gospel truths in their purest form, yet privately, they count themselves as exceptions to certain commandments.

I'm going to make a rather bold assertion: I believe that such people are dangerous and toxic to the establishment of Zion and those who truly seek it.

The "Enlightened Ones"

About 15 years ago, I had a dear friend of mine who always sought deeper and deeper gospel doctrines. No doctrine was too deep for him. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he sought other sources of exciting insights in a "New Agey" direction, which -- even then -- never seemed quite "deep" enough for him. Eventually, he found himself misaligned with the gospel and Jesus Christ. Years later, he admitted his understanding had evolved past the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fast forward to today.

There are some who insinuate, in so many words, that their understanding of gospel truths has evolved beyond that of practically everybody else. In some cases, they may embrace the teachings of those who offer special "insider secrets" into special spiritual development -- for a price. Or they may align with "New Agey" teachings and behaviors that say there is no sin (despite the fact that God's revealed words say otherwise), there is no punishment for committing sin (which God unequivocally disagrees with) and therefore, they can do this, that or the other thing because "it's okay" (see 2 Nephi 2:13).
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to charge money for special "insider secrets" into spiritual development. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to do porn. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to create an artificial high or mellow state using drugs. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to turn away a beggar, and not seek to help him or her. Ever.
Both the scriptures and current events tell us that we stand at the precipice of an era abounding in unprecedented darkness, and conversely, unprecedented light. I seriously doubt that Zion, even in its embryonic phase, will allow into it those who are not of one heart, one mind and do not dwell in righteousness. I believe that such will be invited, most likely by the Lord and most likely in pretty direct ways, to take their "exceptional" beliefs elsewhere.

So, I invite you -- you, the person who thinks that he or she is an exception, or can heed the teachings of "the exceptional ones" to humble yourself, align yourself with God while you still can and repent.

The "Ones Mighty and Strong"

The scriptures are clear that at some point in time, "one mighty and strong" will appear on the scene who will deal with the drunkards of Ephraim, "set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints" (D&C 85:6-8; Isaiah 28:2-3). Also, the Book of Isaiah is replete with references to a coming Servant.

What isn't clear to me is why there are so many -- today -- who are professing to be...
  • The One Mighty and Strong
  • The Servant
  • The Root of Jesse
  • The man like unto Moses
  • The future New Jerusalem Temple President
  • The reincarnated Joseph Smith or even 
  • One of the Godhead 
...who's here to perform these long-awaited tasks. Or, they are a member of a small, select group or "quorum" of "mighty and strong" ones.

In a document titled "One Mighty and Strong" signed by Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund, the First Presidency acknowledged, "Perhaps no other passage in the revelations of the Lord, in this dispensation, has given rise to so much speculation as this one."  I couldn't agree more.

Indeed, latter-day saint history is filled with such claimants (the sad thing is, this chart doesn't track many currently-living people who make such public or private declarations).

These "strong men" are not of one heart and one mind with the righteous, because they believe others should align with their heart and mind, and that they -- by virtue of some pre-existent setting apart -- know better. Ugh.

What we may be witnessing is Satan, ever the Great Imitator, the Master Deceiver, the Arch Counterfeiter, the Great Forger, doing his best to confuse and obfuscate a truth. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11).

Nephi gave us the pattern or formula by which Satan operates:
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Ne. 28:21–22).
As Elder James E. Faust once taught,
"We all have an inner braking system that will stop us before we follow Satan too far down the wrong road. It is the still, small voice which is within us. But once we have succumbed, the braking system begins to leak brake fluid and our stopping mechanism becomes weak and ineffective." (The Great Imitator, October 1987 General Conference)
If you are one of those who's convinced you're "the man," or you trust the teachings or insights of one who believes they are, I urge you to re-evaluate things and take corrective action before you spiritually harm yourself and quite possibly others.

In the meantime, be "quick to observe" (Mormon 1:2), because there's every indication such claimants are becoming more, not less, numerous.

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