“Blotted out” in Mosiah 26:36 refers to excommunication. When a Church member commits serious sin, the Lord’s servants must take steps to assist the sinner through repentance. Sometimes this involves formal or informal Church discipline. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“Church discipline encourages members to keep the commandments of God. Its mere existence … stresses the seriousness and clarifies the meaning of the commandments of God. This is extremely important in an otherwise permissive society. …
“The shepherd has a responsibility to protect the flock. … That responsibility may require him to deny [the sinner] the fellowship of the Saints or even to sever his membership in the flock. As Jesus taught: ‘If he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.’ (3 Ne. 18:31; see also Mosiah 26:34–36.)” (The Lord’s Way , 216, 227).
President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency identified offenses that warrant Church discipline:
“Church discipline is not limited to sexual sins but includes other acts such as murder, abortions, burglary, theft, fraud and other dishonesty, deliberate disobedience to the rules and regulations of the Church, advocating or practicing polygamy, apostasy, or any other unchristian conduct, including defiance or ridicule of the Lord’s anointed, contrary to the law of the Lord and the order of the Church. …
“Among the activities considered apostate to the Church include when members ‘(1) repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; (2) persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or (3) continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority’ (General Handbook of Instructions , p. 10-3)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 52–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 37–38).
In 1985 the First Presidency issued an invitation for everyone to come back, which reminded us of our duty toward those who have had their names “blotted out”:
“We are aware of some who are inactive, of others who have become critical and are prone to find fault, and of those who have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated because of serious transgressions.
“To all such we reach out in love. We are anxious to forgive in the spirit of Him who said: ‘I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.’ (D&C 64:10)
“We encourage Church members to forgive those who may have wronged them. To those who have ceased activity and to those who have become critical, we say, ‘Come back. Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the saints.’
“We are confident that many have longed to return, but have felt awkward about doing so. We assure you that you will find open arms to receive you and willing hands to assist you” (Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson, “An Invitation to Come Back,” Church News, Dec. 22, 1985, 3).