The State of the Nelson: the LDS president’s fruits 4 years in.
Like many people, I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but I did come around during his presidency when I saw how the fruits of his leadership were directly benefitting Americans. My original estimations of his character were incorrect, but I changed my mind as I directly observed changes in the nation. I had more information now. The results were undeniable.
In the LDS church, I spent the last few years of Monson’s decline (2015–2018) excited for Russell M Nelson to take over leadership.
During that period, Nelson gave some great speeches/sermons to the young men and women of the church, very focused on finding out firstly, how the Holy Spirit speaks to us so that we might clearly understand it, and secondly, finding out the Lord’s will for each of us in our lives specifically.
We took this very seriously, and this personalized focus led our marriage and family closer to the Lord. It was a shift to a less institutional, more deeply personal, scripturally-based form of spirituality. The Lord was now leading us directly.
So, I greeted Nelson’s rise to church president with great excitement. What else might this man in the Lord’s hands do for the LDS church?
Now that we are four years (or one standard presidential term) in to Russell M Nelson’s tenure as LDS church president (that none of us technically voted for), it seems a good time to weigh up the fruits that we have seen from his leadership thus far.
But why? Why would that be important?
Well, in short, because Jesus told us to, and he is our Rock and Salvation. Jesus never once told us to blindly follow man. He told us to test all things, and to discern true and false prophets by their fruits.
KJV Matthew 24:3- “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ (I am your savior/salvation); and shall deceive many.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs (saviors), and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning (of dawn) cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
KJV Matthew 7:15- “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
So, Jesus warned us specifically and repeatedly about false prophets and saviors who would deceive many (even the very elect) in the last days.
He also told us that we would be able to discern true and false prophets by their fruits, and that a good tree (prophet) would not bring forth bad fruits.
This may seem a little contrary to what we’re taught in the LDS church. We sustain the president as a prophet at the beginning of his calling and every six months thereafter.
If anything, there is an implication that failure to sustain him and support him and pray for him will lead directly to less heavenly guidance for the church.
Translation: if the “prophet" doesn’t seem very prophetic, it is on you, you cretin, for doubting him, and not following him and praying for him in all things.
I think we can all recognize the fallacy in this thinking.
If Jesus told us that we need to test all things, and hold to that which is true, and that we would recognize true prophets by their consistently good fruits, then the onus is on the alleged prophet to demonstrate good fruits before we have any sort of obligation to follow/sustain them.
(Many latter-day saints will not be able to read this in an unbiased fashion. If that’s you, you’re free to leave right now.)
For those of you who choose to continue, let’s begin by clarifying what a fruit is:
The fruit is the end product of the plant/tree.
The tree begins as a seed, then it becomes a seedling, then a sapling/stripling, and then it’s just a tree, and goes through cycles of flowering and fruiting until its death.
These fruits contain new seeds which will eventually become new trees.
In this light, nothing from Russell M Nelson’s career as a heart surgeon is valid as fruits. That’s an early growing period. He wasn’t claiming to operate as a prophet then. Ergo, nothing from that period is to be considered a prophetic fruit.
But what about his 38 years an LDS apostle?
I mean, we sustain them as “prophets, seers and revelators", right?
Well, technically, yes, we do. But again, is our sustaining them what makes them a prophet?
Scripturally speaking, anyone with the spiritual gift of prophecy is a prophet, and Paul says that an apostle, as an eyewitness of Christ, is greater in the church hierarchy than a prophet.
When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey gave the apostolic charge to the original Twelve in 1835, it contained a stipulation that their ordination would not be complete until they had seen Jesus personally and he had laid his hands on their heads and ordained them, and that of this they were to go abroad and testify, that they had seen the risen Christ personally; that they were eyewitnesses.
If this is a surprise to you, it is because the modern LDS church has buried and steadily moved away from this idea.
Recent quotes from the church leadership in the last few decades specifically emphasize that none of them have had any such eyewitness experiences, but that “feeling" or “hearing" or just “knowing" is more important than seeing, and that they can be special witnesses without seeing Jesus personally.
Dallin H Oaks even went so far recently as to say he knows of nobody in the top 15 who has so much as seen an angel like Alma the Younger.
Obviously, for those of us who have had profound supernatural experiences in our own spiritual journeys, the idea that the church leadership, and particularly the so-called “living prophet", have not had any such experiences even equal to our own, is a major red flag.
This is reason enough to be questioning, taking notes and comparing their fruits with that of biblical prophets.
But let’s assume, for the sake of argument (as many of us have tried to justify at some point in the last few years), that Jesus is at least talking to the church president, even if none of the other leadership have so much as seen an angel.
So, what are the fruits of Nelson’s presidency up until now?
- Money/Physical Wealth
In the past 4 years, the church’s wealth has been revealed online in far more detail than has been available to the lay membership anytime in the past hundred years. Just the interest from the Ensign Peak investment fund alone (now worth around $130 Billion) is more annually than either the entire church’s annual operating budget (approx. $6 Billion/year) or the annual tithing contributions of all members worldwide (approx. $7 Billion/year).
(This is only a portion of the church’s extensive property. We know that this is only one of multiple investment funds that have profited handsomely during the worldwide situation the last couple of years, and that the church also owns millions of acres of land/real estate, and still profits almost $5 Billion a year from church-owned businesses.)
We now appear to be far past the self-sufficiency point foretold by Joseph F Smith (that the church would one day no longer need the tithes of the membership).
However, since hundreds of general authorities (who are exempt from paying tithing) are paid their annual six-figure living stipends and travel expenses and debt cancellations and all sorts of reimbursements and family vacations and holiday gifts, etc., from the interest accrued by church finances, perhaps their opinions on whether the church is actually self-sufficient differ from the majority of the membership who pay all the tithes and offerings.
Perhaps the 100+ new temples announced by President Nelson during the last 4 years, and further extensive temple renovations altering other historical temples and church sites are contributing to the math problem.
Either way, despite a significant drop in tithes and offerings the past four years now that church finances have become a little more transparent, the LDS church has on the whole grown somewhere between $50-100 Billion wealthier (that we know of) since President Nelson took over.
Good fruit or bad fruit? You decide.
2. The Name of the Church
In a move unprecented since Nelson’s own early conference talks as an apostle thirty-odd years ago, Russell M Nelson threw former presidents Hinckley and Monson under the figurative bus by de-emphasizing the term “Mormon" that the church had spent tens of millions of dollars promoting over the past couple of decades.
Nelson even went so far as to say that those (even in church leadership) who had promoted the term “Mormon" were unwittingly “doing the work of Satan".
Now, obviously, trying to focus more on Jesus Christ and representing him appears at face value to be a good move for the church.
However, the overall effect, besides an expensive and time-consuming job for those at the Church offices in overhauling everything about the church’s online presence, media and promotional materials, was one of delegitimizing Nelson’s own alleged authority.
If Nelson’s own policy changes revealed the weakness of former “prophets" in doing the work of Satan before the whole world, then how soon after this soon-to-be-centegenarian’s death might his own campaigns be similarly revealed by the next guy in charge to also be the work of Satan?
Are all church presidents to some degree doing the work of Satan?
If so, why would anyone but those profiting well from the church continue to be a member?
And if not, why is God allowing some to do the work of Satan?
Doesn’t that in itself destroy the whole unscriptural “God will never allow the church president to lead you astray" idea?
One of the great hopes and comforts that comes to those of faith is that despite an everchanging world, Christ is solid and unchanging.
This solid foundation found in Christ and his word is meant to extend to his church. This is why Jesus named Simon “Peter/Petros", to assure Christians that his church had a sure and solid foundation, as a rock.
But Peter himself is not the rock upon which we are to build. The Book of Mormon helps clarify this that it is only upon the Rock that is our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, upon which we can build with a sure foundation. Peter was simply an archetype pointing us to Christ, as was Moses.
But this recent identity change (as the name of the church has not technically changed since 1851) is just one of many aspects of “progress" (like saying the Restoration is not complete but ongoing) whose results are unsettling and divisive among the membership and broader Christianity.
After allowing the membership to embrace the term “Mormon" as a defining group term/aspect of their identity in the broader world, and using it as a proactive missionary tool, Nelson essentially shamed the entire church into casting that identity aside, creating a manufactured mass indentity crisis, and then by implication usurped the name of Christ for themselves.
Many of you might qualm at that term “usurp", but I use it fairly. The LDS church cannot ever unilaterally own the term “Church of Jesus Christ" as much as they try to drop the “of Lattet-day Saints".
As someone active in many LDS/non-LDS discussion groups online, I can attest that the sheer social impropriety of the LDS church claiming the title “Church of Jesus Christ" in all their media and advertising has not gone over well with other Christians, who had generally been warming to the “Mormons” in recent years before the change.
The response has been much like that of reformationist churches in the 1400s, 1500s and 1600s rejecting the Vatican’s claim on all of Christendom and by extension all the people in the whole world.
As we already read above, Jesus warned us many times of false Christs and false prophets in the latter days, wolves in sheep’s clothing coming in his name. So yes, the true church will identify themselves by the name of Christ, but so will the church(es) of the devil.
Literally no other non-LDS Christian has heard about this renewed LDS focus on the name of Jesus and thought to themselves, “wow, that must be Jesus' true church!”.
And more than a few have supposed something more nefarious to be afoot.
Likewise, the LDS church’s newly adopted image/logo/symbol/line drawing of the Christus, under President Nelson, to accompany the identity change, while seemingly good at first, ultimately accomplishes one of two purposes.
Either this is merely another step away from something else that used to be consistent and reliable about the LDS church in their focus on no graven images, or worse, it is a step towards the open idolatry of the Roman variety.
Already, many Bishops and Stake Presidents have small Christus statues on their desks in their offices. How long before every church and temple has a large one in the courtyard or the foyer? How long before church members are kneeling before those statues in prayer, having substituted the living God for dead stone carved by man?
The pharisees were frequently condemned by Jesus for their focus on outward works and appearances, instead of the spirit of the law. When they fasted, they would intentionally craft their appearance so that people would outwardly know of their works. Jesus said these works were spiritually dead, as those men had already received their reward.
Jesus’ true followers, on the other hand, are identifiable by their testimonies, their love for their fellow man, and the miracles that follow them, not their outward appearances.
So names and images and public professions of virtue are of very little actual worth in the eyes of God.
Discerning the fruit of these changes here would be asking about the impact in terms of genuine conversions, and the personal relationships church members have with Jesus.
Are the majority of members closer to Christ as a result of these changes?
Given that we are witnessing an unprecedented exodus from the church, that has grown exponentially during Nelson’s tenure, with people leaving all over the political spectrum (some for progressive atheism/humanism, some for new-ageism, and some who have left because they actually did develop a personal relationship with Christ and were led away to a more traditional form of Christianity outside the LDS church), it appears to me, no.
LDS members across the world appear to be having faith crises and leaving the church at an accelerating rate, and the LDS church has attempted to cover up this fact by focusing on unreliable/skewed statistics, because most people who feel they have left the church do not actually formally remove their names from the official records of the church.
In this way the church can pretend like they are still a snowball getting bigger and bigger as it rolls down the side of the mountain, unstoppable, and keep building their temples in less and less densely populated areas, while all of us are seeing people we know, family, friends, neighbors, leaving at an unprecedented rate.
So, what do you think, good fruit or bad fruit?
3. Prophecy, Revelation and Miracles?
Towards the beginning of Nelson’s tenure, he gained a lot of favor from the membership by shortening Sunday church from 3 hours to 2 hours and expanding the Come, Follow Me program across all Sunday School, Seminary and homestudy programs, ostensibly to simplify things and allow families to work through their scriptures together.
This seemed like a pretty good fruit.
Many members buzzed that this family/home-focused approach to church would lead to homechurch in the future.
Nelson even stated in October 2019, that next April’s conference would be historic.
So when the events of 2020 began to unfold and church was cancelled worldwide, it seemed to many of us as though the Lord had prepared us through his “living prophet" for this situation ahead of time. Revelation received. Prophecy fulfilled.
Or was it?
Instead of saying, “I told you so,” Nelson’s first words in the April 2020 Conference were that he’d had no idea the empty conference center would be the fulfillment of his words 6 months’ previous.
This was rightly confusing to many, but hey, he was still technically correct, so God must be speaking through him, right?
But then, twice in two weeks, the entire membership, including an open invitation to anyone else in the world, were invited to join together in fasting “that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”
Did any of those things actually happen?
Arguably, yes, it was definitely controlled. But nothing has normalized since. The economy is the worst its been in a long time. And hundreds of thousands of medical professionals lost their jobs for not taking the offered Hegelian pharmaceutical “solution".
Now, was the twice-failure of this unified act of sacrifice a failure on the heads of the membership for their lack of faith?
Did they perhaps only have a quarter of the faith necessary for the miracle, and so only the first of the four goals was achieved?
Or was it perhaps something else?
When Moses asked the Israelites to kill and bleed a lamb and paint their doorways red with blood to avoid the angel of death, they obeyed, and as many as did so were saved, according to his word.
When Jehoshaphat had three different armies gathering to fight against Judah, he asked the people to fast and pray and as a result, the Lord promised Judah through an inspired Levite that they would not have to fight. The next day, the three gathered armies turned on each other and wiped each other out completely, and Judah gathered the spoils of war.
Now, what is the difference here?
I would argue that scriptural prophets, and inspired priests and kings offered a promised blessing in conjunction with their unified act of faith.
President Nelson in both invitations made no such promises of specific blessings or deliverance as result of our efforts.
But why? If he is indeed the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth, then he has every right and ability to promise miraculous blessings.
LDS missionaries are taught to promise blessings along with every invitation they give. So why wouldn’t the church president?
The skeptic might argue that a failed blessing promised falls upon the head of the one promising the blessing.
Without a clear promise from Nelson on the expected outcome, the membership are left to either blame each other for the lack of faith, or blindly believe that things would have been much worse if not for their faith.
Either way, no broader miracles or blessings were seen or claimed beyond a general feeling of unity among the membership.
But that unity was shortlived.
A large degree of gaslighting began to occur over the next year or so as the church continued in lockstep with the worldwide government agenda and the membership grew more divided on the issue.
Many church members (both online and in real life) began to complain against and contend with those exercizing their free will, unwilling to comply with tyranny, and claimed that they were going astray for following the example of Captain Moroni instead of President Nelson, or branded them as hypocrites for not taking the offered Hegelian pharmaceutical “solution", as though that had been what they were fasting for a year previous.
These broad attempts to simplify and unify have unfortunately fallen to the wayside in the wake of the staggering church divided unto itself, drunken with government propaganda.
Even the Come, Follow Me program has revealed itself to be little more than a heavily-controlled standardized curriculum of the variety than has led to the utter failure of the government schooling system; in effect, undoing by action Nelson’s own spoken theme of "find out God’s will for yourself and do it" by manufacturing spiritually dependent automatons.
This is further promulgated as the near-constant refrain of so many of the other leadership around him is the unscriptural catchcry, “follow the prophet, he won’t lead you astray”.
But wait, there’s more.
Of course, we can’t talk about Nelson and revelation without bringing up the whole children of gay parents issue.
In November 2015, the LDS church, in response to the legalization of gay marriage in the US, made a policy that children in households with same-sex parents were not eligible for baptism until they were either 18 or no longer living in that home, so that there was no large fundamental conflict between what they were being taught in church and at home about core values.
Despite Nelson’s public assurances that this was revelation from God and was done in love, it prompted a lot of vocal opposition from members identifying with the LGBTQIAPPP2+ agenda, and even one mass resignation of over 3000 people from the church.
In April 2019, just 3.5 years later, Nelson explained that they had, after applying to the Lord many times (asking again, so to speak), reversed that policy decision out of love and by revelation.
(In reality, they just off-loaded the responsibility to Bishops instead of requiring First Presidency approval.)
However, instead of solving the problem, this policy “reversal” just created a bigger one on both sides of the political aisle.
Not only were the progressives unforgiving for the flip-flopping, but now, many conservative/traditional church members who believed that they had felt a confirmation from God (whether real or imagined) in 2015, were faced with confusion as to why an unchanging God would change his mind on the issue and now alienate the majority of the older, faithful lifelong members as well.
If God is not the author of confusion, why would He tell his “living prophet" to declare something by revelation only to change it once a new guy got in?
Why does the general church policy trend appear to be so much like the conservative party platform; the proverbial one-step- backward to the progressives' two-steps-forward as both wings of the same bird march you closer to the edge of the same cliff?
Are these men actually speaking for God, or just trying to keep appearances and play the unmaintainable fence balancing in the middle of the naturally occurring division growing in the world?
The separation of the wheat and tares, sheep and goats, church of God and churcy of the devil is growing more and more apparent in these last days.
And Jesus first words on the topic were “take heed, that no man deceive you.”
He wants us to turn directly to him.
Now, we could go spent another twenty minutes going deep into:
- the cost/ramifications of telling the membership to toe the one-world government agenda in terms of lives lost, instead of calling out the obvious biblical evil,
- the blatant fabrications of interesting stories in conference talks/sermons that border on outright lies,
- the growing nods and connections to the globalist beast system agenda, the Vatican, and the elite Luciferian symbology in church media, talks, promotional materials, etc.,
- the college Skull and Bones affiliation and family pedophilia connections whose media coverage and cover-up just happened to coincide with the 7-day social media fast Nelson invited all the women in church to participate in,
…but it’s ultimately up to you to decide the fruits of his actions for yourself.
I am not going to tell you want to think.
If you view the fiscal growth of the church at the expense/sacrifice of the members (who are encouraged to pay tithing instead of buying food for their families if it comes to it) as a good fruit of humility and sacrifice and greater security for the kingdom, then you are welcome to believe that. I support your right to your own thoughts, opinions and feelings.
If you view the growing exodus from the church as a test of faith and natural prophesied separation of the faithful and faithless, and feel that all the division prompted by President Nelson/the First Presidency is all good fruits, part of God’s plan for his kingdom, you are welcome to believe that.
If you view the church’s appearing to align more and more with the prophesied Satanic agenda of the last days and church leadership connections to secret combinations as a good fruit, preparatory to the Millennial reign of Christ, and necessary to preserve the church in days of tribulation ahead, that is between you, your discernment and the Lord.
I wish you all the best in your integrity and your faith journey.