Jesus reserved his harshest words for false teachers. This is all the more striking because he treated blatant “sinners” with patience and compassion.
Herein lies an important lesson for us. False teaching angers Jesus’ tremendously. Not only does it twist his Word, it also leads many people away from him. Think of the countless people who will be in for a rude awakening when they die. They think they are acceptable to God only to learn the bitter truth that what they believed was totally false, resulting in eternal punishment rather than blessing. It’s no wonder Jesus so strongly condemned false teachers.
I thought of all this while reading an article by an LDS apostle in the latest issue of the Ensign (March, 2017). It was written by Elder Quentin L. Cook and is entitled, “The Gospel and the Good Life”. The part which especially made me think about Jesus’ condemnation of false teachers was his conclusion. Here is what he wrote:
“The most important meeting each of us will have on the other side of the veil is with the Savior, “the keeper of the gate” (2 Nephi 9:41). Regardless of who our ancestors are and whether we are rich or poor, we will report on our adherence to the commandments we have been given. We should live so we can “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).
We will want to joyfully report that we have lived a truly good life.”
I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I read it correctly. I especially couldn’t believe how he used Psalm 100:4. Compare how he continues with how the psalm continues:
- Elder Cook: We will want to joyfully report that we have lived a truly good life.”
- Psalm 100:5: “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
The psalmist says he can enter God’s gates with thanksgiving because the Lord is good and his mercy is everlasting. Elder Cook says we can be thankful and joyful because “we have lived a truly good life”. Talk about taking a passage out of context and making it say the opposite of what was intended.
What really bothered me is that his address was not only printed in the magazine read by millions of Mormons. It was also part of a devotional he gave at BYU – Idaho. I can just envision thousands of impressionable young people giving him their rapt attention and hanging on his every word. After all, he is one of their 12 apostles. How many lives did he impact with these words? How many people will not be joyful when they meet their Savior and he tells them they didn’t lead a good life? That the only people he will welcome are the ones who have clothed themselves with his perfection?
Jesus made a distinction between false teachers and their followers. While condemning the teachers, he felt sorrow for their followers. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. He and his apostles patiently tried to convince them of the truth.
This is a distinction we too need to keep. May our anger at LDS false teachers never cause us to quit trying to speak the truth in love to Mormons. They too are like sheep without a shepherd. Or, as we like to put it, they are victims and hostages of Mormonism. May we never tire of trying to save them.