September 19, 2021
An eminent danger in following a man rather than Jesus Christ is that people so habituated who become disillusioned with one leader will simply transfer their allegiance to another. As false christs and false prophets will be the order of the day (Matthew 24:24), these will find fertile soil among persons who aren’t grounded in following the Master.
If membership in his church creates a codependency that lends itself to the exercise of control or compulsion “in any degree of unrighteousness,” not only does the leader in question forfeit his priesthood but, “ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God” (Doctrine & Covenants 121:37–39).
Victims of such “unrighteous dominion,” on the other hand, if they fail God’s test of their faith by growing disaffected with the church Jesus founded and offer their allegiance to a person who fills their spiritual void, are collectively responsible with the unrighteous leader and their new master for their final alienated state. —Endtime Prophecy: A Judeo-Mormon Analysis, pp 340.
Real or unreal disillusionment with ecclesiastical leaders, moreover, creates a breeding ground for false christs and prophets whom Jesus predicts will precede his coming in glory (Matthew 24:24). Such impostors, however, won’t impersonate Christ so much as his endtime servant who prepares the way before him. Just as a succession of counterfeits preceded Jesus’ first coming—desensitizing people to the true Christ when he came—so they will precede his forerunner.
Lifting themselves above Christ, they nevertheless claim authority from him. Seeking to usurp the role of his servant, they rationalize how the church’s imperfections made God choose them to build up a following outside the church—the church Christ had established and promised it would remain until his second coming: “Whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (Doctrine & Covenants 10:69; cf. 1 Nephi 14:10–14).—Endtime Prophecy: A Judeo-Mormon Analysis, pp 352–353.