Corbin's analyzes the similarities and differences between the recent excommunications of John Dehlin And Rock Waterman, and then comes to this interesting conclusion: the one thing they had in common was that they questioned the divine calling of the leadership.
Now, at first this may seem shocking. After all, doesn't making obeying the leader so central to the definition of being in full faith and fellowship, and defining the opposite as apostasy seem kind of cultish?
Yes, I think it does. But Mormonism is not a cult or even particularly cultish. It is a major global religious denomination with over 15 million members. So, what is the deal with excommunicating people for questioning the divine calling of the leaders? Well, as it turns out, this action has a very solid doctrinal and historical foundation, going back to the early Mormon Church. It was particularly well articulated, however, during the period of the Reformation in 1850s Utah.
It is essentially this. Since we are all in this great priesthood chain that goes back to Christ through Peter, and it is necessary to have the proper priesthood authority in order to have efficacious ordinances, then your baptism, confirmation, priesthood, endowment, and the whole Megillah is dependent upon your connection to the priesthood. Since Joseph Smith, who received the priesthood from the resurrected Peter, is the font of priesthood for all Mormons, and he is now exalted, then he is your channel or branch through which you receive salvation.
As Heber C. Kimball explained in 1857:
“We receive the Spirit of Jesus as he receives it from the Father, and we receive it from the Son, or down through the channel of the Holy Priesthood from the Father; then we are like one vine or one tree, the Father being the root, and the Son of God the tree or vine that sprung from the Father, and we are the branches, or this Church is the main branch sprung from that vine. Then, inasmuch as we abide in Joseph or in Brigham, and then Brigham abides in Joseph, and Joseph in Peter, and Peter in Jesus, and then Jesus in the Father, don’t you see we are one? And then we will extend it to the Twelve in these last days; they are one with the First Presidency, and then the Seventies with the Twelve, and then the High Priests and other officers.”
So, it very easy to see how rejecting the divinely called apostles of God is, essentially, apostasy. Apostasy, in Greek, means to stand away or apart from something. The rejection of those who hold the priesthood keys simply is apostasy.
Denver and Rock can say whatever they want about where they feel the leaders of the LDS Church has gone astray. People can refer to the Corporation of the First Presidency or any other thing they find oppressive, objectionable, out of order, or what have you. The simple fact is that, from the perspective of the leaders themselves, they bear keys of the priesthood that go back to Peter and Christ. They do, in fact, believe that. Arguments along different lines will of course appear apostate and, frankly, stupid.
So, if you are not prepared to accept God's appointed priesthood leaders on the earth, then you are an apostate and you will be excommunicated for your own sake. An error of this magnitude can only be corrected by excommunication. Hopefully, it will be done in as loving a way as possible. If you argue as effectively as Rock did, then people may be freaked out by how sly your Satanic deception is--the one through which you seek to separate others from the only true priesthood authority from Christ--but they are not going to buy the idea that their own priesthood and that of their leaders is bogus. They have enjoyed too many of its sweet fruits to have what you are saying sound anything other than completely insane. If you know what is good for you, you will reflect upon where you went wrong, and consider this saving creed, intoned by Joseph Young in 1857:
"Believe in God, believe in Jesus, and believe in Joseph his Prophet, and in Brigham Young his successor." And I add, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph was a Prophet, and that Brigham was his successor, you shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”