Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, 1st counselor in the YM presidency, warned in a recent talk that activism against the Church is an “effective tactic Satan is using to blind and mislead the young, those transitioning from other religious traditions and cultures, and even longtime and lifetime members of the Lord’s restored Church.”
“In my humble view, it is one of the great mists of darkness of our time. I speak of our enemy’s effort to transform disciples of Jesus Christ into activists toward or against the Lord’s Church and its leaders,” said Brother Corbitt.
“The United States was founded on and through activism and advocacy by activists,” and “you and I are beneficiaries of this activism,” Brother Corbitt said.
“But activism or advocacy directed toward or against the Church is a secular, worldly device misapplied in a spiritual, otherworldly context,” he said. “Change in the Kingdom of God is not accomplished in the same way as change is in, say, government.”
Brother Corbitt continued: “When activism or advocacy is directed at the kingdom of God on earth or its leaders, especially prophets and apostles, it is the wrong tool for the wrong job in the wrong place. Why? Because it effectively but subtly undermines the doctrine of Christ, which is God’s plan for changing, saving and exalting His children.”
From the Church News’s coverage of the talk:
Activism toward the Church, which Brother Corbitt abbreviated as “ATC,” weakens faith and trust in God. Its pattern is to undermine faith in Church leaders, Brother Corbitt said.
“This distrust is the very opposite of the faith the Lord requires of His covenant people in Himself, His prophets and apostles, and those they direct,” he said.
ATC tends to focus on leaders’ imperfections and opposes their testimonies by undermining their credibility in the eyes of followers.
“Masquerading as a higher and nobler cause, ATC instigates distrust of these leaders,” he said. “By seemingly customizing this deceptive approach to the valiant, he (the adversary) cleverly diminishes their real power (faith) and robs them of their true mission (the gathering). He effectively turns the gatherers into scatterers.”
Brother Corbitt said ATC focuses on leaders’ human weakness rather than their strengths and mantles. “In doing so, it subtly gives permission and justification for murmuring, backbiting and evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, all deceptively cloaked as principled,” he said.
Brother Corbitt also counseled to beware of catchphrases that somehow preserve a sense of religious sincerity to influence others, such as “I don’t follow the Brethren, I follow Jesus Christ,” or “I am holding the Brethren accountable to do what’s right.”
“These dangerous claims are as counter to Jesus’ own teachings as they are confused,” Brother Corbitt said. “By contrast, discipleship of Jesus Christ builds and expresses ‘confidence, faith and prayer’ on behalf of Church leaders.”
Church News continued:
Here are some other ways to recognize activism toward the Church:
- “ATC looks backward with an eye of judgment and condemns or looks sideways with an eye of scorn and finds fault.”
- “ATC sits on the trash heap of disappointing history recycling others’ real or imagined sins and shortcomings.”
- “It also finds fault with current attempts to regulate the affairs of the Church, chaining everyone involved to the past or present.”
- “ATC generally ignores Church leaders’ positive features and accomplishments.”
- “By nature, ATC will always drive its followers to find other issues.”
- “ATC … cleverly plays on cultural identities and seeks to elevate them above all else in the minds and hearts of its followers. It substitutes culturally familiar voices for divine ones. … You and I must help those to whom we minister avoid allowing their social identities to consume them.”
- “ATC dismisses prophetic priorities.”
- “ATC is like thrashing in quicksand. … Its methods sink the souls and the faith of its followers because, again, this approach undermines the doctrine of Christ.”
- ATC not only fosters contention but justifies it as noble.
Brother Corbitt encouraged members to counsel with their local leaders, “humbly and lovingly expressing concerns, sharing observations, even lodging formal complaints.”
He offered the following questions to help “valiant friends” know whether to pursue a cause:
- Does it promote the doctrine of Christ in our lives?
- Does it build faith in Christ, His Atonement, His gospel and His promises?
- Does it lead others to trust God and be confident in the teachings and leadership of His servants?
- Is it faultfinding or critical of Church leaders?
- Does it generate feelings of love for all others or some form of anger?
- Does it foster harmony in Christ among all God’s children or does it tend to divide?
- Does it seem more geared to advancing a narrative rather than the cause of Christ?
- In some cases, there is need to warn and urge change; does it do so consistent with gospel principles and methods or does it tend to rely on worldly wisdom or secular sayings and approaches?
- Is it contentious or does it introduce peace, unity and healing?
- Does it advance prophetic priorities?
My take: there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of talks by Church leaders over the years warning against activism toward the Church. One of the first and most important was this warning by Joseph Smith:
“I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.” (History of the Church, 3:385; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 2, 1839, in Montrose, Iowa; reported by Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards.)
There is simply no historical evidence that activism toward the Church accomplishes anything other than distancing the discontented from the Brethren. Today’s social justice warriors will claim that it was activism that caused the end of the Priesthood ban on people of African descent in 1978, but the record shows this is simply not true. In fact, prophets had asked the Lord to end the ban for decades before but were told it was not the time. President Kimball received the revelation, and it was happily accepted by most Church members, but there is no evidence that the petitions of individual Church members had any effect at all.
As Joseph Smith said, the “eternal principle” is that criticizing the Church and its leaders only does harm to the activists. Brother Corbitt’s important talk reiterates this point.
You can read Bro. Corbitt’s talk here or watch the video here.
Here is the whole talk if anyone would like to listen. https://youtu.be/AOIaTaJWIgY
This is precisely why I really don’t care for that Noyce fellow at the Salt Lake Tribulation. I’ll never willingly give money to people that hate me, but I still see teasing tweets (need to know what the twits are up to) or their headlines in the newsfeed. To have the gall to suggest that we should maybe consider an age limit on church leaders? Despicable.
I suppose it was my one free article viewing, but I was greatly disappointed to see the results of that survey on dream General Conference pronouncements. Alma considered it a sinful wish that he were an angel, that he might go forth and speak with the trump of God, so how much worse is it to wish for the Brethren to do away with tithing? Or to alter the Church’s standards so as to be more inclusive of the alphabet soup/rainbow jihad? Foolishness. Tithing is a commandment and a blessing in one, and the Lord has made Himself clear on the family and on our eternal identity and purpose.
Geoff, I found your article on what to make of the Brethren encouraging C-19 vaccines to be most appropriate. Like you, I wasn’t all that surprised they turned out to be a bust but also refused to let it shake my faith. We know that the Lord’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours and therefor recognize there’s no need to know the why, only that it is and that we can seek personal revelation for our concerns. I pray for everyone to seek His guidance on what is in their lane, and leave the Brethren to what is in theirs.
@ Joyce, can you give a brief evaluation of the youtube channel “Thoughtful Faith” where you direct us for the talk. Have you watched it a lot? Looking at the video titles, it seems both interesting and safe to watch as M* is interesting and safe to read. Just wondering.