We are told that in the last days, the Church will come out of obscurity, out of the wilderness. So what put it into the wilderness in the first place?
The answer is in D&C 86:
[B]ehold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness.
The famous parable in Matthew 13 is a masterpiece. Tares (“a poisonous weed, which, until it comes into ear, is similar in appearance to wheat,” according to the Bible dictionary) are planted by an enemy in the Lord’s field (the world) to deceive, choke, crowd out, and destroy.
Hmm, what doctrines could possibly fit this description?
What doctrines appear to be good but are poisonous and, without effort from the saints to combat them, choke out true doctrine and banish the Church into the wilderness? What tares first appear like wheat but which, in conformity with the Savior’s instructions, must be left to grow until they can be recognized, rooted out, and burned?
With the perspective of history, one answer is very plain: The Trinity.
Acceptance of this fallacious and illogical doctrine in the fourth century, as embodied in the Athanasian Creed, marked the solidification of the great falling away that began even during the Savior’s ministry, and the foundation for all deviations from original Christian doctrine.
It has been the most successful of all tare-like deceptions:
So now what?
The wheat (Christ’s true doctrine) has been established, and the harvest is upon us. Might not the burning of the tares – strong rebuttals against false doctrines – be the way the Church comes out of obscurity, the opposite of what forced us into the wilderness in the first place?
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Gary Lawrence is a political pollster and author of “How Americans View Mormonism” and “Mormons Believe … What?!”