So darin’ darlin’ stand… by the tree. Oh baby now, stand, by the tree. ….Just as long, as you stand- stand by the Tree
Shortly before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren visited his home. Before he left, President Grant prayed, “O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!”1
This is a fascinating view into a prophet. Here is a man who dedicated his life to the church, he was Born into it, expected to be an apostle from the moment of his baby blessing. His father died when he was 9 days old, he was more or less forced into polygamy taking two additional wives only when John Taylor threatened to remove any brother not participating in polygamy from their position. Here is a man who served as an Apostle or Prophet through World War I and World War II, and on his deathbed, he is scared he might doubt.
Although Kevin W. Pearson sees this as faith promoting, it should cause any member a moment of ponderance and doubt. Did Heber J. Grant not see Christ when he was called as an apostle? What could cause even the prophet of God to doubt as he was dying?
His example is a striking reminder that no one, at any age, is immune from Satan’s influence. Two of Satan’s most powerful tools are distraction and deception.
In Kevin’s mind, the doubt came from Satan, but if we review Heber’s life; where he had to sell the church’s soul to bankers to keep it running, or peddle investment in a bank that was not just failed, but the actual building was a burned husk, he had seen apostles go to jail, and was privy to some very questionable teaching and doctrine shifts. And yet, the only answer Kevin can fathom is the Devil must have done it.
If enduring to the end is essential to eternal life, why do we struggle to be faithful? We struggle when we are caught between competing priorities. Casual obedience and lukewarm commitment weaken faith.
To be absolutely clear, Kevin is advocating zealotry here. It isn’t deceptive business practices such as showing images of translation via using the plates while knowing a rock-in-a-hat-with-the-plates-up-a-staircase is the reality that cause people to shy away from service. It isn’t that the organization fires janitors and turns “service” into non-paid labor that could cause a person to question. It isn’t general authorities renovating their personal houses with church funds, no it’s all about misplaced priorities. One’s priorities should be serving him and the other leaders… oops, we mean Christ, because Christ wants a clean toilette and he doesn’t want to pay for it!
Don’t Forget to Pray – It’s a great thought and I’m glad he at least mentions direct connection to God and not relying on middle-men for answers. The implication that one needs to do more “What more would You have me do?” rather that implying that God would help the person suffering alone in a dark place is fascinating. Definitely implies that he believes in keeping people too busy to notice the problems
Come unto Christ –
We can fill our lives with accomplishment and well-doing, but in the end, if we do not enter into sacred covenants to follow Christ and faithfully keep them, we will have utterly and completely missed the mark.
Given his previous concept that individuals should pray “What more would you have me do?” this seems in conflict. Now if one doesn’t believe in God; both of these seem pretty worthless bits of advice, but if one believes in Christ, this idea that Christ will send you to do more as an answer to help is almost offensive.
Press Forward with Faith
There is a path that leads to the tree of life, to Christ. It is strait and narrow, strict and exact. God’s commandments are strict but not restrictive. They protect us from spiritual and physical danger and prevent us from getting lost.
This is truly telling, it all comes down, in his mind to Obedience, and yet; in Lehi’s dream “Obedience” is not mentioned at all. Simply finding the Gospel is implied to be the course one needs, but in Mr. Pearson’s mind the Gospel isn’t the goal, but obedience to the leaders current dictates is the true goal.
That is cult mentality.
Service isn’t enough; you need to be a zealot. God isn’t enough, god will make you do more for the organization. Faith isn’t enough, obey the leaders. If you doubt, it’s your fault. The boogie-man can get you if you step away even for a minute.
It seems almost that Mr. Pearson read the BITE model of identifying a cult before being assigned this talk, and then began writing based on it.
The Book of Mormon is Key to Survival – See how we’ve moved from “Faithful” or “Enduring” to “Survival”. Deeper into the cult mindset we go!
When adversity comes, don’t let something you don’t fully understand unravel everything you do know. Be patient, cling to truth; understanding will come.
Compare this to secular wisdom:
Instead of clinging to “Truth” which we may or may not know; put your knowledge to the test. Kevin’s suggestions are how we get “Faith promoting rumor” that spreads like wildfire throughout the church. Many times when I point out a flaw in the church people say “Oh that’s the culture, not the church”; talks like this one is what promotes and creates that culture
Don’t be Distracted and Deceived
Heeding those who do not believe in Christ will not help you find Him. Searching #spaciousbuilding for knowledge will not lead you to truth. It’s not posted there.
And here you have anti-intellectualism. Philosophy, thinking about our motivations, or epistemology all are distractions and deceptions to Kevin. Only he and his buddies can tell you about Christ.
Everything else is just words.
May I humbly suggest that this philosophy of a man, mingled with scripture is also “Just words” but words are never “just words”. They cause people to take action. They can hurt individuals. People with OCD, trying to keep every commandment can break when they are told the problem is with them and they need to work harder. People with depression can be crushed under such advice.
Further, calling the other side’s arguments “just words” really isn’t a strong argument.
Talks like this that encourage cult-like devotion to leadership and blame the doubter for their problems and questions; or shift it all to the boogyman under the bed are harmful and individuals who give them should be held accountable for turning a nice religion that helps people along their journey into a cult that could be easily twisted by leadership.
We encourage members and non-members to push for accountability to LDS leadership for when they speak that they must 1) be honest and 2) be accepting of those who are trying and 3) not be harmful to family relationships where someone leaves the organization. This is not expecting too much, I think, from men who control billions of dollars and the devotion of millions of people.