Question: I’m having difficulty with how to respond to people who judge the general authorities of the church based on what the scriptures are saying about our day, and also how to respond when I see the church, its representatives or affiliates withholding the same privileges they give to others from those who search the scriptures to learn of themselves. Is there a right and a wrong way to deal with this?
Answer: Let’s be clear that searching the scriptures and searching the words of Isaiah is the Lord’s commandment to all who love him. And if they truly love him, that is what they do (John 14:15, 21). Searching, moreover, goes far beyond reading or studying and has its own special blessing that only those who make this a practice can know. Second, it is God’s will that “every man warn his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness,” so that “they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:41; 88:81–82).
What members of the church do with what they discover the scriptures are saying of our day, however, can go different ways. If they turn around and judge or accuse the general authorities of the church based on what they read and understand—imputing they are guilty of this or that wrongful policy or have fallen away from God or from his truth—then they are guilty of a sin of commission just as those who don’t search the scriptures are guilty of (1) a sin of omission, and (2) of commission too if they judge others based on their own ignorance of the scriptures.
Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1–2). Did David “lift his heel” against Saul, the Lord’s anointed, even when he himself had been anointed to replace Saul and when he knew Saul’s intent was to kill him? (1 Samuel 26:1–12)? But if those who search the scriptures learn the prophecies of our day and warn others of them, then that accords with Jesus’ admonition to search the scriptures and also warn their neighbor.
As for those who judge the authorities based on what the scriptures say of our day; or who judge the church and its affiliates who are poorly disposed toward those who search the scriptures and voice warnings, we see that neither response serves its makers. Instead, we are counselled to forgive affronts and love others the same. Didn’t Jesus predict that many would be “offended and shall betray one another” (Matthew 24:10). But he also advised, “Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).