Whether or Not the LDS Church Could Fall into Apostasy

…but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.  (D&C 38:39)

for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, pg. 18; DHC 1:316)

I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all), hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 19; DHC 1:316)

There is one clause in Brother Joseph’s letter which you may not understand; that is this, “If the people of Zion did not repent, the Lord would seek another place, and another people.”  Zion is the place where the temple will be built, and the people gathered, but all people upon that holy land being under condemnation, the Lord will cut off, if they repent not, and bring another race upon it, that will serve Him.  The Lord will seek another place to bring forth and prepare his word to go forth to the nations, and as we said before, so we say again.  Brother Joseph will not settle in Zion, except she repent, and serve God, and obey the new covenant.  (Epistle by Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith, which they were appointed to accomplish in a Conference of the Church, January 14, 1833, DHC 1:320-321)

6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will withhold the evil that I thought to do unto them.

9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;

10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will withhold the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.  (Jeremiah 18:6-10)

29  For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.

30  And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison.

31  And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction.  (Mosiah 7:29-31)

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. (D&C 82:10)

And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house. (D&C 90:5)

24     For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their works.

25     Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.

26     But if she observe not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire.

27     Nevertheless, let it be read this once to her ears, that I, the Lord, have accepted her offering; and if she sin no more none of these things shall come upon her(D&C 97:24-27)

39  When men are called into mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

40  They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. (D&C 101:39-40)

7  And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever.

8  But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them.

9  For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men;

10  And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.

11  But verily I say unto you, I have decreed that your brethren which have been scattered shall return to the lands of their inheritances, and shall build up the waste places of Zion.

12  For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing.

13  Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren—your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down.

14  Nevertheless, if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances.  (D&C 103:7-14)

The church is built up by revelation, given from day to day according to the requirements of the people.  The Lord will not cease to give revelations to the people, unless, the people trample on his laws and forsake and reject him.  I request that the Latter-day Saints may pray that we may have the outpouring of the Spirit that we may hear, and I wish them to pray for me that I may have Strength, and that I may make every principle I speak upon so perfectly plain, that we may all understand as quick as when we talk together upon our daily matters.  This church has been led by revelation, and unless We forsake the Lord entirely, so that the priesthood is taken from us, it will be led by revelation all the time.  (Brigham Young, October 6, 1844, in General Conference, DHC 7:284)

If we are afraid to rebuke iniquity, or ashamed to cast it off ourselves, Israel would go to hell, we should be cut off as a people, and the Lord would raise up another; for He is bound to have a people in the last days who will keep His commandments, and magnify their calling, and prove themselves friends of God, and maintain the principles of righteousness, and honor them before God, angels, and men, that His kingdom may be established in purity, and be prepared for the coming of the Messiah;  (Wilford Woodruff, February 25, 1855, JD 2:200)

When “Mormonism” finds favor with the wicked in this land, it will have gone into the shade; but until the power of the Priesthood is gone, “Mormonism” will never become popular with the wicked. “Mormonism” is not one farthing better than it was in the days of Joseph.  (Brigham Young, August 31, 1856, JD 4:33)

Many of this people have broken their covenants by finding fault with the plurality of wives, and trying to sink it out of existence. But you cannot do that, for God will cut you off and raise up another people that will carry out His purposes in righteousness unless you walk up to the line of your duty. On the one hand there is glory and exaltation, and on the other no tongue can express the suffering and affliction this people will pass through if they do not repent. (Heber C. Kimball, September 28, 1856, JD, 4:108)

But unless the Saints will so live and so exert themselves that they can preserve the purity of the holy Priesthood among them, the work will be left to other people. (George A. Smith, January 3, 1858, JD 6:161)

Our Father in heaven wishes us to preserve that which he gives to us. If we are prodigal and wasteful of his blessings, it will be said—“Take from them that which they seem to have and give it to another people.” (Brigham Young: January 26, 1862, JD 9:167)

When we see the time that we can willingly strike hands and have full fellowship with those who despise the Kingdom of God, know ye then that the Priesthood of the Son of God is out of your possession. Let us be careful how we make friends with and fellowship unrighteousness, lest the curse of God descends heavily upon us.  (Brigham Young, October 6, 1863, JD 10:273)

There is nothing plainer to my mind than this, that if the Latter-day Saints become luxurious and extravagant; if they love the world and forsake their former purity; if they forsake their frugality and temperance, and the principles which God has revealed unto them, and by the practice of which they are to-day the people that they are; we shall be overthrown as others have been overthrown(George Q. Cannon, October 8, 1872, JD 15:200)

I do not know but that it would be an utter impossibility to commence and carry out some principles pertaining to Zion right in the midst of this people. They have strayed so far that to get a people who would conform to heavenly laws it may be needful to lead some from the midst of this people and commence anew somewhere in the regions round about in these mountains.  (Orson Pratt, March 9, 1873, JD 15:361-362)

Hear it, ye elders of Israel, and mark it down in your logbooks; the fullness of the Gospel is the United Order, and the Order of Plural Marriage; without these two principles this gospel never can be full. And I much fear that when I am gone this people will give up these two principles which we prize so highly; and if they do this church cannot advance as God wishes it to Advance. (Brigham Young, Dedication Sermon, St. George Temple Dedication, April 6, 1877)

And with regard to the conduct of this people—if an angel should come here and speak his feelings as plainly as I do, I think he would say, “O, Latter-day Saints! why don’t you see, why don’t you open your eyes and behold the great work resting upon you and that you have entered into? You are blind, you are stupid, you are in the dark, in the mist and fog, wandering to and fro like the boat upon the water without sail, rudder or oar; and you know not whither you are going. (Brigham Young, August 19, 1877, Brigham Young’s last public discourse—JD 19:93-94)

I told the people that if they would not believe the revelations that God had given, He would suffer the Devil to give revelations that they—priests and people—would follow after. . . . I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth, they would have error sent unto them and they would believe it. (Brigham Young, June 8, 1878, Deseret News)

The direst persecutions we ever had to suffer, occurred before the doctrine of polygamy was taught or believed in.  There is nothing short of complete apostasy, a complete denial of every principle we have received, a throwing away of the Holy Priesthood, that can save us from persecution.  When this takes place, when all the chief features of the Gospel are obliterated, when we can float along the stream and do as the world does, then and not till then will persecution cease, or until the adversary is bound.  (George Q. Cannon, May 15, 1881, JD 22:374)

What would be necessary to bring about the result nearest the heart of the opponents of ‘Mormonism,’ more properly termed the Gospel of the Son of God? Simply to renounce, abrogate, or apostatize from the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage in its fullness. Were the Church to do that as an entirety, God would reject the Saints as a body. The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn, with its gifts and powers, and there would be no more heavenly recognition of the ordinances among this people. The heavens would permanently withdraw themselves, and the Lord would raise up another people of greater valor and stability, for His work must, according to His unalterable decrees, go forward. (Charles W. Penrose, Deseret News, April 23, 1885)

We are getting into such a condition that if we were to meet the Lord, we could not look Him in the face, and the way we are going it will soon be impossible to tell what we do believe (President John Taylor, quoted in the Deseret News Weekly, March 9, 1889)

I attended sessions of meetings for the institute teachers, held in the assembly room on the 4th floor of the Church Office Building. I cannot say that I was very greatly edified.  Too much philosophy of a worldly nature does not seem to mix well with the fundamentals of the Gospel.  In my opinion, many of our teachers employed in the Church school system have adsorbed too much of the paganism of the world, and have accepted too readily the views of uninspired educators without regard for the revealed word of the Lord.  What to do about it, I don’t know.  It is a problem for the Presidency to consider.  It is a very apparent fact that we have traveled far and wide in the past 20 years [since his father’s death]. What the future will bring, I do not know.  But if we drift as far afield from the fundamental things in the next 20 years, what will be left of the foundation laid by the Prophet Joseph Smith?  It is easy for one who observes to see how the apostasy came about in the primitive Church of Jesus Christ. Are we not traveling the same road?  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Journal Entry of December 28, 1938, Quoted in the “Life of Joseph Fielding Smith,” Joseph Fielding Smith and John J. Stewart, p. 212)

For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel…Thus is the Devil ever God’s ape.  (Martin Luther  1483-1546, “Table Talk” [1569], 67)