We seem to be so concerned about gathering into the fold that we have forgotten where we were going in the first place. We need to build Zion. That is how we prepare the world for the second coming.
But our understanding of what that means and how it must be accomplished is like someone struggling learning to add and subtract, in order to pass their calculus final next fall.
What has gone wrong with us? We have forgotten that Zion cannot be built without the doctrine. We have forgotten that Zion cannot be built without our membership as a whole coming to a much higher level of understanding, of practice, and of commitment.
Well, so what, you may ask. What does it matter where we need to go? We are doing good work.
Well the problem is that, rather than pressing forward, and growing in our knowledge of the truth, we are in high speed reverse. The doctrine we all knew last week is the doctrine that became controversial yesterday, is the doctrine that is quite-offensive-to-people-and-we-should-stop-teaching-things-that-aren’t-official today, and is the heresy of tomorrow. That is not a new trend, it is ongoing, but increasing in speed.
We are hastening our retreat, not recognizing that the path we needed to travel was already further than we could make without pressing forward with swift diligence.
And the issue is not one of side topics. Nobody cares whether Brigham Young counseled the saints to plant sugar beets. Nobody really even cares about his teachings on blood atonement (but please ignore the horribly wrong lds.org topics article on that, Brigham Young himself said he was misunderstood, and offered corrections, but the lds topics article has all the misunderstandings, and none of the corrections).
The “old teachings” that we want people to stop teaching because they “cause division” are not obscure details, they are core fundamental teachings we already know, but have been trying to forget about, because our members have largely rejected them.
We are in a hasty retreat because we have become obsessed with the gospel of statistics. If we have 10 more active members by teaching 2 less fundamental truths, we think we have made a good bargain. We think being a Christlike leader is about nurturing and mothering, because we have forgotten what Fatherhood really is in an age where men are nothing more than figureheads in their own homes. You cannot obtain real fatherhood from a figurehead. You can obtain a masquerade of it, a puppet rendition, a finger painting of what it was supposed to be. But that is all.
The retreat is not the fault of the brethren, it is a rejection of truth at the local level by the members. Yes, the brethren have suffered us to retreat from some matters. But we want to pretend that it is not for the hardness of our hearts, and to instead pretend that the brethren finally came round to the truth.
And that is a critical distinction. When we admit that what was done yesterday was right, but we are now living beneath it because our parents rejected it, then we sense the need to come about and repent. When we have hardened our hearts to the point that we think the brethren of the past finally saw the light and stopped preaching doctrine XYZ then we are treading the ground of apostasy, we have further hardened our hearts, and we have cut our children off from repentance, having taught them that what our parents rejected and lost was really the brethren coming round to the truth at last.
It is we, as the members, and the local units, that need to stop our retreat. We teach the truth just as Christ did. We say, sure, because of the hardness of our hearts we are suffered to divorce, but from the beginning it was not so. Because of the hardness of our hearts men our figureheads in their own homes, but from the beginning it was not so. Because of the hardness of our hearts we are suffered to limit our children, but from the beginning it was not so.
It is these and other fundamentals that we despise hearing the words of “old prophets” about. It is, essentially, the things the Father laid out from the beginning that we do not want to hear any more. We do not want to hear the truth about them and we blame those who quote “old prophets” of this dispensation, but know in our hearts that there are quotes from God the Father that say the same thing. Is he an “old prophet” that we no longer believe in quoting?
It is not the brethren who erred on the matters, but our parents rejected their teachings. And we are in turn rejecting yet more fundamentals, as there are wards now in which we are ashamed to say that God created them male and female after his image.
We must not back down on doctrine. We must stand by the truth of the matter. It is different to concede than to do as Christ did and be honest. We rejected these things because of the hardness of our hearts. But we will not build Zion until we have retrod the path we have retreated down. Zion is built on these principles and far more. It is built on those things we haven’t yet known, as well as those we have known but rejected.
We will not, we cannot, we have no power to build Zion except on the principles of the laws of the celestial kingdom. Thus we will have to recover and live each of those things our parents rejected and cease to reject one word more before we can even begin to build Zion in truth. Indeed as Christ said in his own day, when we finally build Zion we will find that not one jot nor tittle of the prophets has passed away, but has all been fulfilled. We cannot build Zion on principles other than those we and our parents have rejected and the shortest path to building Zion will be to repent on precisely those matters we like to hear about the least.
The Lord has spoken on this matter and it isn’t to our credit. We know we are called to build Zion, and we believe in our statistics and think that our massive retreat counts to our credit because we were so accommodating that our numbers have grown so much more than they would have otherwise.
God said that Zion cannot be build only on the principles of the laws of the celestial kingdom. And thus it is.
We have cast off so much truth out of our midst that you can hardly say anything that the Father himself in Eden established for his own children like you believe it to be true without offending someone and often suffering persecution from other members for your pains.
We must press forward in truth and doctrine. We must slow our retreat and turn it around.
We have been called to build up Zion.
We have oh such a terribly long ways to go.
We have so much to learn.
We have so much to change in ourselves.
And we have been running in the opposite direction.
If Zion is what we are called to build, shall we not go forward in so great a work? Forward and not backward?
We must not discard the truth we have. We must treasure it, for we need it for our great work.
We must not fail to grow greater and greater in the knowledge of the truth. The Lord has told us as plain as word can be that we are taking lightly the things that we have received, even the Book of Mormon as well as his former commandments.
He has told us plainly that this is spiritual vanity. It is us, looking in the spiritual mirror, and admiring our good looks, rather than feasting on the word in a desperately battle to improve them. He has warned us against this pride. He has told us that all of us rest under this condemnation.
He is not talking about just having read the text. It is an issue of coming to know what is truly taught there. It is coming to cast off the philosophies of men and learning the doctrine in truth through the Holy Ghost.
But we discard his warning, and many among us constantly war the war against good doctrine. It is a war against God’s word, and it cannot possibly be pleasing to him. His requirement is that if we cannot teach by the power of the Holy Ghost, we shall not teach. He wants us learning and feasting on truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. He wants it to become delicious to us, and for us to correctly discern good doctrine from evil doctrine of our own accord, by searching diligently in the light of Christ. He wants us to know as perfectly as the daylight is from the dark night.
A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. Not academic knowledge or trivia, but knowledge of those things that can only come by the Holy Ghost. We start the path with such knowledge, when we gain a testimony, but that is the infant starting place, and the road is very long.
Truly a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. And by that same token, Zion is built no faster than we gain knowledge.
And we gain knowledge no faster than we truly receive the Holy Ghost.
And we must not fail to act on that knowledge, not only to say, but to do according to that which is written.