Some friends of mine organized a scripture study that they then turned into a school of the prophets, citing D&C 88. I joined in for a few sessions to see, but ceased to attend when they started performing the ordinances of washing of the feet and administering the sacrament before they began studying. My question is, am I correct in thinking that this is that the beginning of an apostate group?
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY! GET OUT OF THERE AND TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS TO STOP IMMEDIATELY! REPORT IT TO THEIR BISHOPS!
Your instincts were absolutely 100% correct times 10.
Not only were they performing a priesthood ordinance without proper authority to do so, but NO priesthood ordinance is to be done without proper priesthood keys. You had a spiritual prompting to know that there was something not right about it. And you now have the doctrinal basis behind it.
This is exactly why some comments from Church leaders discourage such study groups. It is not about the studying of scriptures with friends. There is nothing wrong with that. But the tendency is for such groups to begin doing things like performing ordinances apart from their designated purpose and setting and without proper keys. That is what we want to avoid.
A family wants to go on vacation. But instead of going to church at that location for administering the sacrament, the family simply decides to do it on their own. This is also not allowed. In such a circumstance the family’s bishop or most local bishop available should be called. In most instances, the bishops will say no. But if the situation is unusual enough, then he may say yes.
A friend of mine had a family reunion in the Mountains of Colorado around Thanksgiving time. They sought out the local ward and were planning on attending that ward on Sunday. However, the weather was not being compliant. A severe snowstorm swept through the area. Not only was the snow severe enough that it would probably keep most people home anyway, but it was not familiar territory. And it was about a 20 mile drive to the ward building.
They called the bishop and informed him that they had about 40 or so individuals who were in this predicament. They had several high priests and elders as well as a cadre of Aaronic Priesthood holders to administer. Because of such an unplanned and difficult situation, the bishop judged it to be a valid reason for them to hold their own service at their lodgings.
This faithful family went out of their way to make contact with the bishop to obtain permission to do so. And it was only under highly unusual circumstances due to unplanned weather. This is where such exceptions to the rule are applied.
In the case of your friends:
- This was a regularly planned event.
- They never sought out any permission from those who held proper priesthood keys.
- These specific ordinances are not authorized to just anyone.
- They may not have even been doing it right.
Such behavior basically says,”The Church can only take us so far. We need to form our own groups without the Church to go any further.” This makes people a law unto themselves and leads to apostasy.