November 21st, 2006

Division in the Church

Benson

The following is a portion of a talk by Ezra Taft Benson, found in the April 1969 Conference Report, pp. 10-12

“Sometimes we hear someone refer to a division in the Church. In reality, the Church is not divided. It simply means that there are some who, for the time being at least, are members of the Church but not in harmony with it. These people have a temporary membership and influence in the Church; but unless they repent, they will be missing when the final membership records are recorded.

“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 cutoff. 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.

“The Lord strengthened the faith of the early apostles by pointing out Judas as a traitor, even before this apostle had completed his iniquitous work. So also in our day he Lord has told us of the tares within the wheat that will eventually be hewn down when they are fully ripe. But until they are hewn down, they will be with us, amongst us. The hymn entitled “Though in the Outward Church Below” contains this thought:

“Though in the outward Church below
Both wheat and tares together grow,
Ere long will Jesus weed the crop
And pluck the tares in anger up. . . .
We seem alike when here we meet;
Strangers may think we are all wheat;
But to the Lord’s all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
The tares are spared for various ends,
Some for the sake of praying friends,
Others the Lord against their will,
Employs, his counsels to fulfill.
But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown.”
(Hymns, No. 102.)

“Tares among the wheat”

“Yes, within the Church today there are tares among the wheat and wolves within the flock. As President Clark stated, “The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood. . . . We should be careful of them. . . .” (Era, May 1949, p. 268. See also, Conference Report, April 1949, p. 163.)

“The wolves amongst our flock are more numerous and devious today than when President Clark made this statement. “President McKay has said that “the Church is little, if at all, injured by persecution and calumnies from ignorant, misinformed or malicious enemies. A greater hindrance to its progress comes from faultfinders, shirkers, commandment-breakers, and apostate cliques within its own ecclesiastical and quorum groups.” (Era, December 1967, p. 35. See also, Conference Report, October 1967, p. 9.)

“Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications. And these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. As the Book of Mormon, speaking of our day, states: “. . . they have all gone astray save it a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Ne. 28:14.)”

Remarking along these lines, Pres. Benson also said:

Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church—and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing—a famine in this land of one year’s duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned. God, Family, Country, p. 383

We all could use a little introspection to make sure that we are truly wheat, not only by an outward label we like to give ourselves, but by our spiritual DNA that forms the fibers of our person. Are we wheat, or have we been infected by the tares? When the tares are plucked, when things get hard and we are asked certain things of the Prophet we may not like, will we be wheat? The plucking will happen… which side will you be on?

5 Responses to “Division in the Church”

  1. Cal
    November 21, 2006 at 5:40 pm #

    Hasn’t Ezra Taft Benson been discredited? He had Alzheimers, and his own grandson said he was incompetant at the end of his life; it was on an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. It seems the church is always teaching that there are “evil” members, when in reality we are not allowed the right to question or to disagree.

    I never cared for Benson nor his conservative politics.

  2. Doc
    November 21, 2006 at 6:07 pm #

    Cal,
    I thought President Benson was a marvelous and powerful Prophet. I find it pretty amazing that he left politics behind to the extent he did. His talk on Pride remains one of the most profound talks I have ever had the opportunity to experience in my life. I have no doubt that he was inspired, and the fact that he held some divisive political views personally, yet often moderated his views as president is more of a testimony to me. The Church did not become the John Birch society under his reign, conservative and Republican, yes (not likely due to Benson himself though), Uber right wing, no.

    Connor,
    Here is where I struggle with this conception. Prior to the lifting of the Priesthood Ban, the naysayers would have been those who felt this policy was unjust. All manner of men desiring them to be put into their place could use these words to proclaim them as heretics. A large apologetic for the Ban saturated Mormon culture. 1978 comes and Wham, those who believe in the apologetic are dead wrong. If they don’t immediately accept it, they are the heretics. Meanwhile, yesterdays heretics are looking pretty prescient. It turns out that their gut feeling turned out to be right in the long run. Provided they were not overcome with venom and bile from the whole experience, they likely eagerly accepted this revelation.

    So often in history the ones we admire most are those whom time proved right but were considered rebels and heretics at the time. All the prophets openning each dispensation and Jesus Christ himself fit this mold. How do we know that if Christ were to come again to correct folk doctrines that had crept into the church, he would not simply be branded the same way.

    It seems to be that beyond the basic foundational doctrines, we all need to keep an open mind. We need to have room for disagreement because short of a messenger from heaven delivering us a revelation, we may be the ones on the wrong side of the fence. I think this is the real message I get from learning of the apostasy occuring time and again in the scriptures.

    However, if something foundational is going to come to the Church, it will no doubt come through proper channels. We do need to be faithful is sustaining the Prophet. It is just that I don’t think that always means what some say it means. How often do we overread something a prophet says. How often to we hang on to something the prophet once said when it is later corrected by further light and knowledge. Then you could easily have division with both sides dead certain they are following the prophet. These are questions that keep me thinking.

  3. Cal
    November 21, 2006 at 6:22 pm #

    Frankly, Benson was also a racist. The church did have that racist stain during the 70s. If you look back at statements made by Benson, it’s appalling. He kept none of his political views to himself. If you liked Benson, you must love Boyd K. Packer and his persecution of liberals.

    His grandson, Steve Benson, stated several times that Benson made private racist remarks all the time.

  4. Connor
    November 21, 2006 at 6:56 pm #

    Hasn’t Ezra Taft Benson been discredited?

    Uhh… no. Anything he has stated in an official church publication or during a conference is “the voice of the Lord”.

    …his own grandson said he was incompetant at the end of his life;

    So? Hugh Nibley’s lesbian daughter said that her dad was deranged.. does that make it so? No. Nibley’s other children have defended him and denounced their sisters’ statements, and Benson’s other grandchildren hold no such view of Pres. Benson. One apostate descendant isn’t necessarily an authoritative, unbiased source of mental competency.

    It seems the church is always teaching that there are “evil” members, when in reality we are not allowed the right to question or to disagree.

    It’s not “the Church” that’s teaching this, in an attempt to control its membership. It’s the Lord that’s teaching it. Ya know, that whole parable of the wheat and tares? Ring a bell?

    I never cared for Benson nor his conservative politics.

    I love this man, and I love his politics. I’m sorry you didn’t care for a Prophet of God, but he was ordained to and sustained in this calling and his statements and prophesies should be warranted as coming from a man in this high office.

    1978 comes and Wham, those who believe in the apologetic are dead wrong. If they don’t immediately accept it, they are the heretics.

    Bruce R. McConkie spoke about this:

    There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things… All I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness, and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year [1978]. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles.

    So often in history the ones we admire most are those whom time proved right but were considered rebels and heretics at the time.

    This is true, but revelation and church policy stands. Whether you feel otherwise, or think something might “change” in the future, one must “sit tight” and obey the current policy and counsel. The Church is not an evolving, revolutionary organization where members with different ideologies and whims can sway its course. God is at the helm. It will change direction when He wishes it to. Until that time, whether some might seem “prescient” or not, we obey the “line” and “precept” the Church currently finds itself at.

    It seems to be that beyond the basic foundational doctrines, we all need to keep an open mind.

    Definitely. Where there are supporting quotes and statements from General Authorities, but no canonized revelation, those statements will shape my own faith and opinion since we hold these men to be servants of God able to act in His name. But yes, on speculative subjects with no scriptural or revelatory backing, we should keep open minds.

    However, if something foundational is going to come to the Church, it will no doubt come through proper channels. We do need to be faithful is sustaining the Prophet.

    I completely agree.

    How often to we hang on to something the prophet once said when it is later corrected by further light and knowledge.

    Well, whenever this is the case, the person is in error. Anything superceded by another revelation or authoritative statement is nullified.

    These are questions that keep me thinking.

    I’m glad somebody else’s wheels are churning too! :)

    Frankly, Benson was also a racist. The church did have that racist stain during the 70s. If you look back at statements made by Benson, it’s appalling.

    That’s quite the accusation, Cal. I don’t consider a Prophet of God racist at all. Sure, some of his personal and societal views would most likely be different in our world, but perhaps not. But I’d be careful about labeling a Prophet like that…

    He kept none of his political views to himself.

    Haha, is this supposed to be an accusation of some sort? It was John Taylor who said that the Elders of Israel should “understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious.” I see no reason why a Prophet shouldn’t speak out politically. Our current one has done so. Those in the scriptures did so as well.

    His grandson, Steve Benson, stated several times that Benson made private racist remarks all the time.

    I wouldn’t expect anything different of somebody who apostatized from the Church… Again, as I commented above, Steve is hardly an authoritative, unbiased source of the character and disposition of a Prophet of God. Anybody with an axe to grind is going to remember their facts and events with a jaded, biased view.

  5. Steve M.
    November 22, 2006 at 10:27 am #

    I don’t consider a Prophet of God racist at all.

    Are you serious?

    Many of the past presidents and leaders of the Church have made some wonderful contributions to the progress of the Church and the betterment of mankind, but they’ve also made their share of blatantly racist statements.

    It’s really hard to make a case that Brigham Young, Mark E. Peterson, Bruce R. McConkie, and others who are sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators” did not espouse racist views.

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