Wolves Enter Into the Flock

This is a scripture that continues to bother me. How can we protect our families from those in the Church who would bring them down by teaching false doctrine, and encouraging them to dismiss lightly the teachings of our prophets? What is the eternal principle embodied in this scripture? And how do we implement it as a Church in our lives. I am referring to the following passage from the 57th chapter of Alma:

57 And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;58 For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.

59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

On a related note, yesterday in Gospel Doctrine class, someone repeated the teaching, “Be in the world, and not of the world.” I have heard this teaching throughout the forty-three years I’ve been a member of the Church, but where did it originate? I have been unable to find it in the scriptures. What does it mean? Is it true doctrine? How are we supposed to implement it in our lives? How can we be in the world and not of the world? It has been my observation that altogether too many saints have been unable to do this. I certainly haven’t. The more in the world I become, the more worldly I become.

For an example, I watch cable television because I am a news junkie. And for the same reasons that I don’t watch R-rated movies, and I subscribe to Clean Films movies by mail, I block certain cable channels such as MTV, VH1, and the Entertainment Channel. I avoid reality “dating” shows, and reality shows in general. I don’t subscribe to premium movie services such as HBO and Showtime. Mostly I just watch the History channel, the Sci-Fi channel, the several New York Times documentary channels, and the many news channels such as MSNBC, CNN, CNN Headlines, and Fox News. But much to my dismay, I still get a lot of R-rated content from the commercials on these channels. What is a person to do? Just quit watching television altogether? Living in the roadless wilderness of Alaska as I do, I suppose I could just move out of Ketchikan into the nearby rainforest, build a little cabin, and live without electricity or indoor plumbing as many folks around here do. Reading by oil lamp without television or Internet access is certainly a possibility. But do we need to be so drastic?

So I am curious. What does it mean to live in the world but not be “of” the world? And how can we protect our families from wolves among the sheep who teach false doctrine, and encourage our children to stray from following the prophets?

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2 Responses to Wolves Enter Into the Flock

  1. I tried to give the URL for Elder Cullimore’s talk, but apparently links can’t be actively displayed. Here is the URL for anyone interested:

    http://tinyurl.com/dsnwk

  2. Apparently the phrase, “to be in the world but not of the world,” comes from John 17:11, 14-15:

    “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

    “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.?

    An excellent Conference talk on this subject was given by Elder James A. Cullimore, then Assistant to the Council of the Twelve:

    Here are a few excerpts:

    What do we mean by the “world?? President McKay refers to it as those “… alienated from the Saints of God. They are aliens to the Church, and it is the spirit of this alienation that we should keep ourselves free from.? (Conference Report, October 1911, p. 58.) Elder Bruce R. McConkie defines the “world? as “the social conditions created by such of the inhabitants of the earth as live carnal, sensuous, lustful lives, and who have not put off the natural man by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.? (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 847.)

    Just as the Savior prayed that his apostles not be taken out of the world, but kept from the evil of the world, so are members of the Church everywhere praying that by the power of the Holy Ghost and the priesthood they may be strengthened to withstand the “world.?

    . . .

    We would not want to be free of our responsibility of being in the world by being taken out of the world, for this life is a probationary state. The “world? is our opportunity to prove ourselves. This is a part of the great plan of the Lord, to be confronted with the things of the “world,? that we might overcome them and be strengthened.

    . . .

    President Lee said on one occasion to the youth of the Church: “We don’t pray that you may be withdrawn into a ‘Shangri-la’ away from the evils of the world, because you are to be a leaven wherever you are, to bring about righteousness, but we are pleading with the Lord with all our might that while you are in the world, you may be kept from evil.? (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], p. 223.)

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