Oaths and Loyalty

Oaths & Loyalty

      Loyalty can be a noble thing in life.  There are a number of causes we can be loyal to and as Christians we all know that the loyalty of Jesus’ love for us knows no bounds.  But what about mankind; where’s the line of being loyal and the line of blind obedience which can lead to destruction?

     My family and I watched a movie this past week about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He was a German pastor and theologian who helped secure freedom for Jews from 1939 to the time of his imprisonment in 1943.

     The short film about Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace, is just one of a handful of movies released about Hitler.   Each begs the question of what the difference is between loyalty and blind obedience.  How could something like the Holocaust happen and why didn’t anyone question their moral conscience when swearing allegiance to Hitler?  Every member of the German armed forces swore an oath of allegiance to Hitler.  Notice it wasn’t to the country or the constitution of Germany, but to Hitler.  They oath each member took is as follows:

 The Wehrmacht Oath of Loyalty to Adolf Hitler, 2 August 1934

“I swear by God this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that I shall at all times be prepared, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath.”” 

      Compare the above information with the oaths of personal allegiance to the constitution of the United States that is taken by each member of the American Armed Forces:

 “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

      As you can see, the evidence of where the loyalties of these two militaries lie is abundantly clear.  The American military vows to protect our land and Hitler demanded unfettered loyalty to him.  This is a classic example of how blind obedience leads to tragedy.

     Now while loyalty to your family or friends is commendable, we still have to ask; how far is too far?  Seeing the film on Bonhoeffer reminded me of the oaths Mormons will take each time they go to temple or even the oaths they take towards their own souls when “bearing their testimonies”.  As you well know the testimony of a Mormon is eerily similar to each other.  The same words and phrases are used to define their individual commitment and adoration towards the Church, Jesus, the Book of Mormon and lest we forget; Joseph Smith.

    Let me make something very clear before I proceed any further.  I do not believe that Mormons behave like Nazis.  I do not equate Hitler to any past, present or future prophet of the LDS Church.  The reason I use the analogy is to show how blind obedience to a person and/or system is a dangerous behavior.

     While some of the words a Mormon will use in their testimonies are in a different order, the main theme runs throughout each.  This is typically what you’ll hear;

 “I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true Church on the face of the earth.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I know that the current president (right now it’s Monson) is a true prophet of God.  I know that Christ is the Messiah who died for me and was resurrected on the 3rd day…”

      On the LDS Church News website I found a section that gives instructions for members to teach their children how to “bear their testimonies”.   According to this site “testimony language is different from talking about God”.  Huh?

     The site tells the reader they should teach children what to bear testimony of; Christ, Joseph and the Book of Mormon.  It then tells them to practice at home in informal settings.

     First of all, why would there be such a thing as “testimony language”?  Secondly, why should you be taught to “bear testimony of the Church, the prophet Joseph”, etc.?  A testimony is a declaration of your faith, or a statement you give while under oath in a court setting to tell what you know of a certain situation.  It’s a statement about something you know to be true in your personal experience.

     Thirdly, it says to tell the children that their testimonies will grow.  Isn’t this a given?  I mean why would you tell somebody what to say about the personal things they already know? Why is it they have to be dictated to regarding how they share their own experiences?  This is manipulative.

     Kirk and I traveled extensively throughout Europe when we lived there in the mid eighties and I’ve often said the one place that reminded me most of Utah was East Berlin.  The tones of the people’s voices and the emptiness in their eyes spoke volumes to me.  It was obvious to all that the presence of communism had taken its toll.

     Throughout all our travels Kirk and I met a lot of people and ironically the one thing that attracted me to the Christians was their testimonies.  Each person had their unique story, but each fact they shared with me about Jesus was the same.  He loves me, He died for me and He was God incarnate.  Those were the only similarities existent in their “testimonies”.  No one practiced it before they met me and then recited something by rote, yet the vocabulary they spontaneously used radiated their devotion for Christ Jesus.

      The US military gathers their new recruits together and they pledge to obey so that the forces stay strong.  Hitler did this to another extreme to ensure that everyone did just as they were told at all times so that he could someday rule the world much like the Romans did.  What purpose does it serve for everyone to have similar testimonies, other than to control the masses?

     Can you just imagine what the Apostle Paul would’ve said?  How would he talk about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon?  What do you think his testimony is like up in heaven?  With the utter devotion he portrayed to Jesus in his writings, where would Joseph or Monson fit in?  If we’re so busy talking about Smith, Hinckley and/or Monson then honestly, where in your testimony does Jesus fit?

     To show what I mean about their devotion to Smith take a look at what it says in Joseph Smith:  The Choice Seer, Part III, Chapter 25;

 “The accumulation of all scholarly knowledge in the earth’s history of events past or the projection of things future will yet pale into embarrassed silence when compared with the knowledge granted us through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Such things stand as a third great evidence of his prophetic calling.”

      Just think…even Moses and Isaiah, not to mention Jesus’ knowledge, will “pale in embarrassed silence” when compared to the third grade education of good ol’ Joe.  Now in light of this let’s see one of the reasons they say we should trust the prophet Joseph Smith.  Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pg. 67;

 “GREATNESS OF JOSEPH SMITH. I look upon Joseph Smith as the greatest prophet that ever breathed the breath of life, excepting Jesus Christ. Father Adam, as I have said, stands at the head; but Joseph Smith was reserved to lay the foundation of this great kingdom and dispensation of salvation to the whole human family in these last days, to build up Zion, to establish God’s kingdom, and to prepare it for the coming of the Son of Man.”

      Again, unfettered loyalty to a man is a dangerous thing.  It has the potential of great destruction either to one person or a whole society.  Yet they have the examples listed above on where to direct their loyalty to and even receive other examples from the pulpits of their schools.  At Brigham Young University, the apostle Dallin Oaks said this at the CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium;

 “Our individual, personal testimonies are based on the witness of the Spirit, not on any combination or accumulation of historical facts. If we are so grounded, no alteration of historical facts can shake our testimonies.” (“1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium,” Brigham Young University, Aug. 16, 1985, page 26)

      The point is this; on whom or what do you lay your devotion?  Making public oaths is a serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly, yet this is what each and every Mormon does when they bear their testimonies to what they falsely believe is truth.  For the Mormon the oath is made to not only Joseph Smith, but to all prophets in the Church, the Book of Mormon and the Church itself.  Jesus ends up being a mere sideline attribute.  The pressure of believing all this is tremendous as they’re promised suffering for any incompliance.

     For example, there is a list of protocols called “The Fourteen Fundamentals of Following Our Prophets”.  The complete list will be posted at the end of this article but the last item is what caught my attention.  It says;

 “The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

    Now tell me how this is inspired?  Where in the Bible did Jesus ever tell us to follow mankind and manmade institutions in this manner?

     Pray with us won’t you?  Pray for each and every member of the LDS Church to indeed have a personal revelation and testimony as to the truth of this false church and the truth of the One True God, Christ Jesus.

 With Love in Christ;

Michelle …

 Jude 1:24-25; “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

 Liahona June 1981, pg. 1, Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

(Address given Tuesday, February 26, 1980 at Brigham Young University); “In conclusion let us summarize this grand key, these “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”, for our salvation depends on them.”

 1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.

5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

6. The prophet does not have to say “Thus Saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.

7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

8. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

10. The prophet may advise on civic matters.

11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.

14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain—how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed—the living Prophet—President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency.

May God bless us all to look to the Prophet and the Presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead is my prayer.”

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