Members for years have sustained General Authorities without question. It makes you wonder sometimes if the alternative is too scary to consider: living during an apostasy. We have all heard the horror stories of the Catholic Church and the Inquisition, and as Americans, our blood boils when we think of the American Revolution and what might have been were we not successful in casting off the shackles of kingdoms and their oppressors, but when it comes to the LDS Church, ironically we are often like lemmings walking off of the cliff as we follow the leader.

Is it possible to live to God if there is no formal Church institution that God recognizes as His own? That is the very question righteous souls would’ve faced during what the LDS have called “The Great Apostasy”, defined roughly as some period after the death of Christ’s apostles all the way until Joseph Smith was called on the scene to restore the Gospel. “The Great Apostasy” is a theme that is central to the concept of the Restoration, since there would be nothing to restore had there not first been an apostasy from the truth. We are very keen to not want something like that to reoccur.

However, in our fervor to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again, have we added teachings to the Gospel that actually come from evil (3 Nephi 11:40)? Have we assured ourselves that such a terrible event is impossible this time around; especially since we are now so painfully aware of the great one that we think we’ve fully recovered from? In our franticness, have we resurrected the very beast we have feared (Rev. 13:3)?

As painful as it might seem, the natural man always has been and always will be an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19), and his addictions resurface time and again. We are not immune from the problems of the past.

So, assuming that an apostasy is possible again, and hypothetically accepting the idea that one has happened again (and that it’s the Church that is doing the apostatizing this time, and not individuals, just like in the Great Apostasy), how does one live in such circumstances? How does one cope with realizing that all chapels, temples, programs, leaders, and efforts, on the large scale are vain and slated for being discarded by the Lord, if not already rejected by Him? (In contrast, the “small scale” would be defined as limited usefulness to programs where virtue is still to be found…some of the Reformers actually remained Catholic, for instance). What about all of that effort building those pyramids today, if they are destined to be ancient artifacts tomorrow? How does one get married for time and eternity, and not just until death do you part, if there is no sealing commission in the LDS Church anymore? How does one receive or perform any authoritative ordinances? How does one worship God? Some of these posts have or will tackle these issues, but in general, what do you do?

What has John the Beloved, who has tarried since Christ’s time, done all these years (see D&C 7)? Especially when there were no congregations for him to attend?

The Lord gave the answer to John when he said his mission would be sweet to his taste (free from the pains and sicknesses of this life), but bitter in his belly (sorrow for the sins of the world; anciently the belly was considered the area from which compassion sprung, because we all can relate to the pangs of hunger) (Rev. 10:9-10). In this description lies the key and answer: it is to mourn for the sins of the world. That is all we can do sometimes. Let it break your heart, and don’t harden your heart (Alma 12:10-13). Cry a little, unto the Lord (Ether 1:37). (Maybe they should make that into a t-shirt at Deseret Book).

In all candor, we hope you will see a pattern throughout these posts, that all of these answers are found within the scriptures. And, not just in catch-phrases from them, but in the real context to be found from diligent labor and searching. We can’t provide all of the answers, and don’t intend to try, but we intend to at least point to the Lord’s words and call attention to some important questions and the fact that there are answers and there is hope.

In a recent conference of stakes in Boise, ID, Elder Oaks boastfully posed a rhetorical question concerning Priesthood keys that played to the apprehensions of his hearers: “If we don’t have them, who does?” (see here)

We were asked this same question when grilled by the LDS Church concerning their interpretation of the temple recommend questions.

The answer, of course, is the Lord. The Lord has the keys.

If we don’t hear that prophet, meaning Christ, then we shall be cut off for sure, no matter who else we have “followed” (1 Nephi 22:20).

“Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee.” -Father Abraham (Abr. 2:12).

The Lord can be found. We will continue to seek Him.

The LDS Church has tried to monopolize terms, but they only have success fully within their own circle of influence. They have said in the past, “There is no such thing as a Mormon Fundamentalist,” (Gordon B. Hinckley, see article here) seeking to capitalize on the idea that the LDS Church is the sole successor to the Mormon faith.

But, Mormonism means accepting all truth:

“One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” Discourses of Joseph Smith, p. 199, Kindle Book, (Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2009)

And,

“It has been stated that this word [mormon] was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon. Let the language of that book speak for itself. On the 523d page, of the fourth edition, it reads: And now behold we have written this record according to our knowledge in the characters which are called among us the Reformed Egyptian … none other people knoweth our language; therefore [God] hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.” … [The] Bible in its widest sense, means good; for the Savior says according to the gospel of John, “I am the good shepherd;” and it will not be beyond the common use of terms, to say that good is among the most important in use, and though known by various names in different languages, still its meaning is the same, and is ever in opposition to bad. We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German, gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; and the Egyptian, mon. Hence, with the addition of more, or the contraction, mor, we have the word MOR-MON; which means, literally, more good.” (“Correspondence”, Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois), vol. 4, no. 13, p. 194] (May 15, 1843); quoted in Joseph Smith (Joseph Fielding Smith ed., 1938) Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book) pp. 299–300.)

The term does not belong to the LDS Church, but was coined, rather in derision, by opponents to Joseph Smith and the Lord’s congregations in those early days (see here). It is similar to how Christ’s followers got labelled in the early days as Christians (Acts 11:26).

We are not Fundamentalists, since that term typically associates with those who follow Brigham Young’s version of Mormonism, and who practice polygamy. We do not practice polygamy. The use of the word “fundamentalist” is problematic for them anyway, since the real fundamentals go back to Joseph Smith and his restoration of Christ’s words. Brigham Young is not far back enough to claim the fundamentals of the religion.

We are not Reorganized Mormons, since that implies just a shuffling of the chairs of power, and there is no attempt to reorganize any church.

“Uncorrelated Mormon” (see here) is too culture specific, and not well understood outside of the Mormon Corridor.

Therefore, to associate with the once derogatory terms, that take upon us the name of Christ, seems fitting: “Mormon Christians”. Christians who seek more good, or all truth.

The old argument from the Protestants that Mormons are not Christians has truth in it only for those who worship General Authorities. It never has been true for the humble followers of Christ who are Mormon. The Protestants argue that to believe Christ and the Father are two separate beings is the lynch-pin that disqualifies Mormons from being Christian. This is not true. Therefore, to say instead, “Christian Mormons”, seems to give credence to the false Protestant arguments, suggesting that a now disaffected Mormon has “seen the light” and perhaps now accepts Trinitarian views. It is their definition of Christian.

Rather, the term “Mormon Christian” seems to be more accurate, and allows for any Christian to become more devoted to Christ than they once were before, as they accept what Christ has restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith; and, the term maintains an accurate description of a convert to Mormonism who no longer associates with the LDS institution, but retains their testimony of the Restored Gospel and maintains active faith in the Lord and in what He is doing today. It describes just what kind of Christian someone is, as opposed to describing just what kind of Mormon someone is, either of which can be confusing on their own.

Using one term to distinguish a variation of the other concedes that there is possibly more than one way to define a Christian or a Mormon. It is better to allow for the possibility of considering there is more than one way to define a Mormon than it is to say there is more than one way to define a Christian. But even if both are true, there is benefit in keeping a purity of terms to avoid confusion, and “Christian” is the more important term, in our opinion. But, unfortunately, “Christian” is a term that has been around longer and has been taken in vain more frequently, with many different types of Christians.

There shouldn’t be more than one way to define either–in that Gordon B. Hinckley had a point–but not everyone knows what you mean if a definition to a term is unclear, no matter how disappointing it is that there is ambiguity in the first place. If you are truly a Christian, you should be able to point to Christ to define who you follow. If you are truly a Mormon, you should be able to point to the concept of following all truth to define your faith. Since the truth is in Christ anyway, both are appropriate; and in effect, synonymous. But, differentiation allows for clarity when facing ambiguities, and we prefer to emphasize a truly Christian identity rather than skip to it with one extra step through emphasizing our “Mormonism” as the base term. And in addition to that, we feel it is still good to remember the quest for all truth to differentiate what kind of Christians we are. That is why we like to say: “We are Mormon Christians.”

No, you do not need the Bishop’s permission to bless the Sacrament outside of church.

If you are going to represent the Ward in blessing and passing the Sacrament to a Ward member or members, the LDS Church requires that you get permission from the Bishop.

If you are visiting family or a friend, you don’t need permission from the Bishop at all, if you are a worthy holder of the Priesthood according to the scriptures (D&C 50:34). The Bishop has no jurisdiction beyond what people give him by common consent (D&C 26:2). Anything that LDS leaders claim otherwise is an example of unrighteous dominion, because it represents a prideful claim to a domain they have not been given authority over (D&C 121:39). Those who request the ordinance without any reference to the Bishop have not given him consent to preside over their individual request, and the Lord has not stifled all Priesthood use within the confines of church jurisdiction, either. You can use the Priesthood outside of church according to God’s will, but within the Church everything is governed by the consent of those within that group.

It is false to assume that the Bishop has control over everything within the Ward boundaries. He only has consent from those who are members who apply to the Bishop for member benefits, including member-based Sacrament services. Members can and do request Priesthood benefits outside of their role as members, which also includes the Sacrament and baptism, etc.

Don’t give up your liberties as a Priesthood holder. Give unto the Bishop the things that are the Bishop’s, but also give unto God the things that are God’s (see Mark 12:17).

If someone asks you to perform an ordinance, and doesn’t refer to their Bishop for permission, pray and get permission from the Lord and proceed (2 Nephi 32:9).

If they ask you to perform an ordinance as a representative of the Ward, explain to them the difference and only proceed if they understand you are using your Priesthood independently as a representative of God. God can and does recognize righteous Priesthood use outside of church jurisdiction. If he didn’t, then Joseph and Oliver’s baptisms would be invalid and John the Beloved would also be condemned (JS-History 1:68-75, D&C 7).

If you perform the Sacrament outside of church jurisdiction, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to do it more accurately with wine (or grape juice if you have a medical reason not to drink alcohol), because the Lord said in scripture, “For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:2). Therefore, the LDS Church cannot restrict you from using wine to better remember the blood of Christ and the transforming effect that the Atonement has on our lives. Additionally, wine is prescribed for sacraments in the Word of Wisdom and you can still answer that question truthfully when asked in temple recommend interviews (D&C 89:5).

The time has come that Family Home Evenings and other family activities should be more authoritative and full of Priesthood power than LDS Ward meetings (see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/the-power-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng). This should include Sacrament and baptisms as well.

Yes, of course! If you find value in service there, there is no reason to stop attending LDS Church services.

The LDS Church publishes as one of its articles of faith: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

Therefore, you have scriptural authority to follow the doctrine of Christ and remain LDS. However, because the LDS Church has cultural, as well as membership policy expectations beyond what the scriptures require, this may be difficult at times, but it can be done. We did this for many years, and followed our membership obligations, but reached a point where we wanted to share the opportunity Christ has extended for everyone to be baptized or re-baptized (for a remission of sins, and to mark a rejection of idolatry, and to look forward to the Lord’s future return). To be honest with ourselves and others in facing the currently accepted role of a “member” in the LDS Church, we have decided that resignation was best for us so we could publish these different views without facing a fight with church leaders (3 Nephi 11:28-30). But, that may not be the situation you find yourselves in. There are many different ways to serve, and when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17).

If you decide to tow the line between scriptures and membership obligations, part of the difficulty comes from unpublished leadership directives that confuse interpretations of membership requirements and temple questions. An overly strict LDS leader can mean the difference between having a challenging experience versus a pleasant one.

If situations like that arise, remember what the Lord said in his Sermon on the Mount, reiterated to the Nephites: “And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (3 Nephi 12:10, Matthew 5:10).

Likewise, there are many good men in the Priesthood who belong to the LDS Church, who haven’t consented to the excommunication of the innocent, and who haven’t condemned or “wrested” the scriptures (see Alma 41:1). These righteous men can still perform authoritative ordinances if they follow the Lord’s pattern in all things. Their individual power in the Priesthood is the true authority to do things on behalf of the Lord (D&C 121:34-46).

Other answers on this site will likely address more about the Lord’s pattern in ordinances, and how a minister of Christ gains power in his Priesthood.

Hear the Doctrine of Christ:

And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

3 Nephi 11:32-40