Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi has been rebaptized into the LDS Church after being excommunicated for apostasy along with five other writers and scholars in September 1993.
The same group of local church leaders who participated in Gileadi's excommunication were present at the baptism service. "It was like `We're here to support you, Brother Gileadi,' " he said of the atmosphere at the baptism service. Compared to events three years ago, "There seems to be more of a spirit of reconciliation."Gileadi was a rabbinical student in Jerusalem when he converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1972. He then moved to Utah, where he earned a doctorate degree in ancient studies from Brigham Young University and then made his living doing translation for the church, teaching at BYU and writing church-related books and giving lectures and seminars.
His best-selling book "The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon" attracted criticism because of his analysis of scriptures dealing with events preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Gileadi said a church regional authority told him to discontinue lecturing, "which I did." The decision to excommunicate Gileadi followed.
Gileadi said from his home in southern Utah County Wednesday the excommunication left him feeling wounded for a time. It affected his entire family, though he credits the difficulty with strengthening his sons' commitments to serve the church.
Gileadi said his oldest son, David, is nearing the end of a two-year mission for the church in Brazil. His second son, Samuel, performed the Feb. 27 baptism for his father and has an assignment from the church to serve as a missionary in Argentina. Gileadi's third son, Jonathan, at 17, "is looking forward to his mission."
"In my heart I've never felt like I've had an apostate spirit," Gileadi said, adding that the excommunication never left him with a desire to rebel against the church.
"I will repent of whatever was wrong with me and forgive whoever wronged me," he decided. "Excommunicated or not, everyone needs to repent - and forgive."
The period of excommunication suspended Gileadi's livelihood as a church lecturer and writer. He supplemented his lost income by rewriting a version of his BYU dissertation that is titled "The Literary Message of Isaiah."
As a rabbinical student in Jerusalem, Gileadi said he played his guitar and sang on both radio and television. He recently put 24 psalms to music to help bolster his income, but the recording project has yet to be completed.
Gileadi said his church stake president, Leaun Otten, who oversaw the excommunication and performed Gileadi's confirmation back into the church, told him he could resume his work in the LDS market. "He gave me some guidelines for writing and speaking."
Because the details of excommunication proceedings are kept confidential, others may have been left to wonder just what happened to bring the proceedings about. Gileadi said that left him with a certain stigma that is now gone. "I feel a tremendous amount of support."