What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
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?