It is no secret that when a person transgresses against God and doesn’t quickly repent, he loses the light he once had. The result is that spiritual blindness sets in, perhaps without the person himself realizing it. Or he may even assume he sees more clearly now—especially the faults of others—as he unconsciously seeks to dump off the guilt of his unrepented sins on those besides himself. Such is human nature. As he hangs on to what is left of his spirituality without dealing with his unrepented sin, he is diminished from what he was.
We might ask, however, if what happens individually in such cases can also happen collectively. Can an organization lapse into a state of spiritual blindness because of collective sins unrepented of? If this happened to the ecclesiastical institution of which we are a part, would we even realize this had happened now that our collective vision was impaired? Instead of being “watchful unto prayer” to avoid entering into temptation, would we be more prone to “watch for iniquity” in others and hang on more tightly to the spirituality that was left?
An openness to the spirit of inquiry that prevailed in the church saw a dramatic halt in the early 1990s when thousands of members were excommunicated within a short period of time. With some exceptions, these were largely of one genre whose interests lay in the scriptures, end-time prophecy, the U.S. Constitution, the writings of Hugh Nibley and notable church leaders, family preparedness, homeschool, natural healing, etc. Yet, they and their families suffered humiliation and ostracism by the very institution they loved and served.
This reaping down of the wheat with the tares by a watchman on the tower resulted in the emergence of a new political correctness and the fear of man growing more pronounced than the fear of God. The pulpit narrative began to overshadow the scriptures narrative as predigested doctrine became the new norm. Scripturally based topics that had so motivated those zealous members who were let go became marginalized as the acceptable modus operandi discouraged independent thinking and research even in the church’s academic arm.
An effect of this dumbing down of the gospel was inevitable as evident in the next generation’s large-scale exodus from the church. Instead of being challenged and empowered by the deeper aspects of the gospel once sought for, its basic principles began being passed off as its fulness. Doesn’t internal spiritual conflict occur when what our spirits intuitively know differs from what we teach? Today, a narrowing of the approved dialogue has resulted in some being of Paul, some of Apollos, and some of Cephas (Doctrine & Covenants 76:99).
Timely indeed has been President Nelson’s counsel to seek revelation directly from Jesus Christ. But we already possess much revelation from him in the form of scriptures we have taken lightly—particularly the words of Isaiah that provide answers to questions now pressing hard upon us. Do we really expect to hear directly from Jesus Christ when we haven’t searched the words of Isaiah diligently as he commanded? Now that the literary tools for searching are here, are they not unsealing Isaiah’s words and reviving the spirit of inquiry?