There are those within the Church who are disturbed when changes are made with which they disagree or when changes they propose are not made. They point to these as evidence that the leaders are not inspired. They write and speak to convince others that the doctrines and decisions of the Brethren are not given through inspiration.

Two things characterize them: they are always irritated by the word obedience, and always they question revelation. It has always been so. Helaman described those who “began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face” (Helaman 4:23). “They were left in their own strength” (4:13), and “the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them” (4:24). Changes in organization or procedures are a testimony that revelation is ongoing. While doctrines remain fixed, the methods or procedures do not.

Boyd K. Packer  |  Ensign, November 1989, p. 15

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Perhaps it is helpful to note here, with respect to apostate movements, that in any apostasy there are the deliberate initiators and perpetrators of lies (see 1 Nephi 13:27; Jacob 4:14; Moses 1:41), but there is usually also a larger group of innocent and well-intentioned victims (see 1 Nephi 13:29; D&C 123:12). Not all promoters of false ideas have malignant intent; most are to some extent the victims of those who have gone before.

Susan Easton Black  |  “Thy People Shall Be My People and Thy God My God: The 22nd Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium,” p. 176


Why do people apostatize? You know we are on the “Old Ship Zion.” We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. “I am not going to stay here,” says one; “I don’t believe this is the ‘Ship Zion.’ “But we are in the midst of the ocean.” “I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.” Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the “Old Ship Zion,” let us stay in it.

Brigham Young  |  Journal of Discourses 10:295; Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 85

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The wolves amongst our flock are more numerous and devious today than when President Clark made this statement. . . .Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications. And these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble. . . .

Christ taught that we should be in the world but not of it. Yet there are some in our midst who are not so much concerned about taking the gospel into the world as they are about bringing worldliness into the gospel. They want us to be in the world and of it. They want us to be popular with the worldly even though a prophet has said that this is impossible, for all hell would then want to join us.

Through their own reasoning and a few misapplied scriptures, they try to sell us the precepts and philosophies of men. They do not feel the Church is progressive enough.

Ezra Taft Benson  |  Conference Report, April 1969, p. 11; Book of Mormon Student Manual, pp. 39-40

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As for William E. McLellin, his conduct, though kind, was very peculiar. He, it will be remembered, was one of the original Twelve Apostles, chosen in 1835, but excommunicated with David Whitmer and others for apostasy a few years later. He treated Brother Pratt and myself with every consideration, fairly gluing himself to our society as long as we remained at Independence, acting as our guide in visiting every point of interest in that historic town, loitering about our hotel while we took our meals, and waiting to rejoin us at every possible opportunity. He was full of reminiscences, but seemed to be all unsettled in his feelings and convictions, at one moment praising the Prophet Joseph to the skies, and at the next casting reflections upon him and the other Church leaders of his period. I never saw the sad effects of apostasy more plainly manifested. He stated that he was writing a book about his early connection with the Church, but I have never learned that he completed it. When we departed he accompanied us to the railroad station and stood gazing after us until our train disappeared in the distance. I corresponded with him afterwards as long as he lived.

Joseph Fielding Smith  |  “Reminiscences by the First Presidency, Dec. 21, 1901; Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Pres. John R. Winder, Pres. Anthon H. Lund; Deseret News, December 21, 1901, p. 57


It seems that history continues to teach us, You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.

Glenn L. Pace  |  General Conference, 1989; Church News, July, 22, 2000, p. 14

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There is safety in learning doctrine in gatherings which are sponsored by proper authority. Some members, even some who have made covenants in the temple, are associating with groups of one kind or another which have an element of secrecy about them and which pretend to have some higher source of inspiration concerning the fulfillment of prophecies than do ward or stake leaders or the General Authorities of the Church. Know this: There are counterfeit revelations which, we are warned, “shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant” (Joseph Smith–Matthew 1:22).

Boyd K. Packer  |  Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 21