In attempting to answer the question “What have I learned and what ought I to have learned?” —
I’ve learned just how incredibly difficult it is to arrive at a consensus in a group without the assistance of a leader, teacher, or arbiter.
I got emails and phone calls asking about Christ’s statement in 3 Nephi: “there shall be no disputations among you, as there hath hitherto been, neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there hath hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the Devil, who is the father of contention; and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.”I replied that you can disagree without an angry disputation. You can have good humor even while you detect a false spirit and reject it. You can wish people well as they go on their way, while altogether condemning their message as originating in a malignant source.It is not required that you attempt to persuade every person of their errors. If you make it clear you do not want to participate in their errors, that is enough.And you can do all those things without ever becoming angry and allowing your heart to become stirred up to contention and argument.If you refuse to make your rejection of false spirits clear, then you are contributing to evil. It is impossible to stand for the truth without rejecting errors and false spirits when they come to confront you. Christ expected us to do that. He even rebuked Peter, telling him: “Get thee behind me, Satan” when Peter opposed the will of the Father. Yet the same Christ announced the doctrine that we are not supposed to “contend” in “anger” with one another. The only conclusion we can reach is that Christ followed the principle He taught, and we can do so also while standing firm and detecting a false spirit when confronted by it.