Looking into the LDS Church from the Outside


WhyIResignedWhen I decided to stop writing in my blog on a regular basis last month, I felt a great burden had been removed. I felt free to think, ponder and pray about my course in life without asking if the Lord wanted me to share my thoughts on any particular subject. I kept my feelings and beliefs to myself and appreciated the idea that I’m just another sojourner on this earth travelling with you. I began to feel less stress, less pressure and fewer impressions or ideas on which to elaborate here.

In many ways I’m no different from you. We have a lot in common. I think we both believe there is purpose in life. We get excited about some things that happen to us as we move through each day and annoyed at others. From past experience I know my audience is vast and wide. Most of my readers are LDS or former LDS. Most are believers in God, a personal God who knows and loves us individually. I especially appreciate many readers have kept in touch with me privately.

Changes in Church Handbook

LDSChurchHandbooks1A lot has happened in the world over the past month that caused me to want to post some ideas as it relates to the last days. The Paris attacks and the change in the LDS handbook both had me wanting to share a few comments but I resisted the urge. I enjoyed a much needed break. Things even seemed to quiet down at work. I still manage the day-to-day operations of my department and move several projects along, but for the most part, I feel less stress in my daily schedule.

I think my health has improved. After spending a week in the hospital and losing fifteen pounds, I began to feel my energy pick up in a way I haven’t felt in several years. This blogging break seems to have been good for me. I moved the blog to WordPress.com, which is free, and off the very expensive site, Blue Host. I miss the plug-ins, and there are still a few missing photos to be restored but I am happy I was able to transfer most of the history and photos to this free format.

My Meeting with the Bishop

our-bishopI also discovered something very interesting about myself and my personal growth. In the last month I have listened to the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, The New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and am just finishing Genesis. Instead of thinking and pondering on my 75-minute daily drive to and from work, I have been listening to the scriptures on lds.org. There’s something different about going through them that fast. Time seems to be compressed.

I also met with my bishop in the last month. I wanted to confirm two things – that I was welcome to attend and that I could sing in the ward and stake choirs, which I had missed very much over the past year. I came to a slow realization I had made a mistake in some of the posts I directed to my Bishop and Stake President last year. I might be LDS today if I had not written those posts. But what’s done is done. I’m now on the outside looking in and have been for over the past year.

Social Stigma of Being an Apostate

preserving-the-restoration1If you’re interested, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts over the next little while about the idea of becoming a member of the LDS Church again. I know this may be a real shock to some readers so let me explain. If you’ll recall, and as far as I can tell, Denver never once advocated we resign from the LDS Church. I may be wrong, and if so, feel free to point that out. I think I did that on my own, believing I could not be baptized and remain a member of the LDS Church.

“Why,” you may ask,” would you want to become a member of the LDS Church once again?” There are plenty of reasons, the primary of which is to be fair to Carol. She feels she was cheated out of something when I resigned. I did not ask her. I told her. That was a foolish mistake. I knew what her response would be had I asked and I was determined to do what I felt the Lord was asking me to do. Of course many said I was deceived, but I assure you I was not deceived.

Purpose of Life is to Gain Experience

brighamyoung.jpgI made my decision about several years of study and prayer. I like to compare what I did in leaving the LDS Church as similar to what Brigham Young did in joining the LDS Church. He was in no hurry and neither was I. He studied, attended meetings, read, prayed and participated with the saints – mainly with his own family – in the LDS worship practices. When I decided to be baptized I seem to recall reading in the Church Handbook that baptism is a sign of apostasy.

Note I was not baptized into any existing or new church. I chose to be baptized as a token or sign between me and the Lord that I believed he had sent a teacher in our day with a message the LDS Church – the Gentile Church – had fallen away or had apostatized from the original format and intended purpose for which it had been established. I was not baptized into the Church of Denver Snuffer. I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is the same.

Perhaps the Church Won’t Want Me

latemple_small.jpgBesides restoring to my wife what was taken from her without her consent, I believe I can do more good from within the LDS Church than I can from outside the Church. I miss the temple. Of course I recognize it will probably be years before the First Presidency decides I am worthy to have my temple blessings restored. Perhaps they will decide I can never have those blessings restored. After all, when I resigned, I did so fully acknowledging the severing of temple links.

I will be happy with simply being baptized again. You and I both know that once an individual dies, their family members do their temple work all the while reciting the phrase, “it will all work out in the end. God will make it right. If they are worthy, they will have the blessings of the temple for eternity. If not, they will receive what they have earned or are worthy of receiving.” I suspect most LDS folks, including many leaders, don’t know the mind of the Lord on this matter.

I Enjoy Attending the LDS Church

SLCSealingRoom.jpgUnlike many stories I read online and that have been shared with me in private emails, I have not had a bad experience in the LDS Church. I enjoyed my fifty-plus years as a member. I enjoyed my mission. I enjoyed going to the temple. I enjoyed serving in many callings over the years, especially the twenty-five years in various bishoprics and on the High Council. I love to teach the gospel and miss that. If baptized again, I doubt I would ever be given a call to teach or lead.

Incidentally, according to LDS doctrine, Carol lost nothing when I resigned. Just as children lose nothing when the sealing of their parents is cancelled, they still have the blessings of the sealing ordinance. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the LDS Church about the temple, what the ordinances represent and how they work. Probably the least understood concept, even among long-time High Priests who should know better, is the Holy Spirit of Promise in eternal marriage.

Lots of Questions to Work Out

baptism-saratoga-springsGo ahead and call me a fool if you like. I am aware of hundreds of people who were baptized as I was, who did not leave the LDS Church. They continue to serve in callings in the church and at the same time hold sacrament meetings at home and invite others to be baptized as a token they accept what the Lord has done and is doing in these last days. I have a lot of things I need to work out with the bishop before I can be baptized again, such as, “What is the Gentile Church?”

Did the Saints accomplish what the Lord asked of them in Nauvoo or were they cursed as the Lord said they would be because they did not complete the temple before Joseph’s death? Just what exactly is the higher priesthood and is it something that can be passed on from one man to another? Why do we have Joseph teaching ALL the prophets of the old testament after Moses received the higher priesthood directly from the Lord. Is that the ONLY way it is received?

Good People Who Are Disciples of Christ

carl_bloch_the_christWhy does the Church Handbook take precedence over the scriptures when most of the general body of the LDS Church has never seen it and certainly has never voted on it as binding upon them as a church? How in the world can the LDS Church punish the children of apostates when such action goes directly against the second article of faith? I have dozens of additional questions like these I am seeking to answer before I can answer the baptismal questions about LDS leaders.

I am in a unique position of being an outsider looking in at the Church after more than fifty years of being a members of that church. My views have changed considerably in the last year since I resigned. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the people in the church. I feel most are still my friends. Most seem to be genuine in their love for me. I believe most are true followers of Jesus Christ and want to please Him. My concern is with those who declare what is doctrine.

Suffer the Little Children . . .

November 2015 may go down in history as the great Mormon exodus. It’s quite the zeitgeist and we can still feel it.

Last weekend’s decision about the children of homosexuals was something of a watershed in LDS culture. Usually when controversial decisions are made by the Brethren, mainstream, active Latter-day Saints come to rescue of the hierarchy, not only in spirit, but in wisdom. This wasn’t the case this last weekend. There were a plethora of stances that were all at odds with each other . . . even among the faithful. I could narrow them down into five categories:

  1. Outrage! Bigotry! Homophobia! – We understand that faction well, it’s been around awhile
  2. I’m saddened and hurt. Call me if you’re suicidal – For may progressive Mormons, this just hurts. They are hoping and praying that the Church will liberalize its stance on homosexuals.
  3. I’m shocked and upset, but I trust in the Brethren – After hearing from Elder Christofferson, I eased into the decision. Now I see the wisdom in it. If all else fails, just trust in the Brethren.
  4. Applause and inspiration! – What a wonderful decision! It’s for the best for the kids. Furthermore, it tells those homosexual activists where we stand! We Thank, Thee, O God, for a Prophet!
  5. Hmmm, this just doesn’t sit well with me – It doesn’t seem to follow the scriptures. I’m no supporter of gay rights, but there’s just something fundamentally wrong with it. It bothers me that it’s a secret policy. It bothers me that it’s punishing kids only two groups . . . that’s right . . . I’m learning that polygamist kids can’t get baptized either! I’m wanting to follow the prophet, but the Spirit seems to be telling me otherwise.

It’s this last group I wish to speak about.

As Rational Faiths blog puts it:

At my last count, I have 11 friends resigning over this issue.  Three of them have already written their letters. I think the mass exodus is a given. I keep hearing that these people just don’t have enough faith in their leaders. I suppose that is true.  But the theme among my friends that are resigning is this: They are putting their faith in the Savior, and not the arm of the flesh. The are following the Spirit. And it is leading them right out the door.

I have personally witnessed a heated argument on my ward’s own Facebook secret page, where most of the members were shocked and outraged at the decision, with one single soul signing up to defend the policy. LDS coworkers, colleagues, former church leaders, etc. are seen liking and sometimes commenting in support of either 2, 3, or 5 on comments that are not seen as supportive of the Brethren on social media.

I reflect on the comments that were made by Charles Dickens as he saw early Mormons departing Liverpool for America to join their new faith. There were 800 emigrants on the ship leaving Liverpool. Expecting them to be a rabble lot, he instead noted that they were “the pick and flower” of England. Likewise, those seen departing from the party line today are increasingly the “pick and flower” of the Church.

Looks like the Google apostasy is over. We’re now on the cusp of the Facebook apostasy. And it looks to be huge.

Look, the heat of the issue will blow over. The emendations by the Church, which softened the handbook language will help. But it also shows, ironically, that public pressure can cause reversals. But then we are faced with the numbing reality of yet another policy that doesn’t seem to be the will of the Lord, or at least people can’t connect the dots back to the Lord. For others it’s come down to the simple, if historically and scripturally flawed logic that the Lord won’t allow the Church to be led astray. This logic, in many ways, is more damning than ever. It’s a catchall. Once grasped and digested, it allows for any error to be made, any flaw to be perpetrated. It takes monumental groundbreaking decisions and places them on par with the bureaucratic and mundane. It covers for sins. It encourages conspiracy. The scriptures that forewarn of this kind of thought pattern are legion, particularly in the Book of Mormon, yet they awfully neglected. I would like to summarize some of the arguments used to uphold the policy and use scripture to discuss the truth of such statements.

The handbook is scripture. It is given to inspired leaders to govern and lead the Church. It helps to declare, teach, and instruct Church leaders on how to properly administer the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Monson has even testified that this is so

Let’s start with Nephi:

There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed (2 Nephi 30:17)”

Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. (2 Nephi 28:9 quoting Isaiah 29):

12241209_10207534525857597_4017755373476722611_nThe Lord does not work in secrets, He does not have secret doctrines, secret policies, or secret oaths. Any such evidence is really evidence that Satan and secret combinations have crept into the church. We can trace much of this back to Nauvoo, unfortunately. But what about “casting pearls before swine?” one may say. I believe the Brethren have great spiritual experiences that justify their callings, but that those experiences are too sacred to relate. To this I respond, there are always doctrinal mysteries that will be revealed to us personally. Indeed the truth of all things must be revealed to us anecdotally through our own connection with heaven. Those things should not and in may ways, cannot be shared. A prophet, on the other hand, is intended to be an explicit messenger of the Lord. He must declare that message to be considered a prophet. The scriptures are rife with fine examples, whether they speak the actual words of Christ, of if they declare the message the Lord has sent them to give. No such declarations has been given with these recent policies. Thus, we can be assured that they can be subject to error. We are not bound by them.

Furthermore, one may always ask, does a policy or doctrine taught bring someone to Christ, or does it keep them from Christ? Is the policy or doctrine meant to protect the Church from creeping sympathy to “apostate” ideas? It may seem like a good idea to make decision in light of strategy of protection and insulation from error, but is it? Indeed the scriptures do give us a case for when we can deny ordinances to someone.

“And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily*, when ye shall minister it; (*I define unworthily different than the Church. Unworthy identifies those that do not have a willingness to believe in Jesus and His mission and to accept Him. To use it in any other ways is in error, for ALL have fallen short, ALL have sinned, and thus, ALL are unworthy).

For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid* him. (Simply put, don’t administer to unbelievers)

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.

But 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.

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. (3 Nephi 18: 28-32)”

Question: Do children of polygamists or homosexual parents fit this category?

For added emphasis, the Savior warns those that keep not these saying in the next verse.

 “Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth”

These versus relate to the sacrament as well. What does the Book of Mormon say to whom we should administer baptism?

“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. (2 Nephi 9:23)

“And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (2 Nephi 11-12)

Skip to 17: 17 “Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

“And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.” (2 Nephi 31:11 )

“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (3 Nephi 11:33)

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.” (3 Nephi 11:33)

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.” (3 Nephi 23)

“And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.” (3 Nephi 23:5)

“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.” (3 Nephi 27: 16)

“Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and bebaptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:20)

“Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.” (Mormon 7:8)

“See that ye are not baptized unworthily*; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.” (Mormon 9:29) (See my discussion above for what constitutes unworthiness–Jesus explains this in Moroni 6 (1-3)

And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. (They, the ministers, had to bring forth fruits of their worthiness–which I have defined)

Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins. (The worthiness requirement is a broken heart and contrite spirit)

And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

For all men must repent and be baptized, and not only men, but women, and children who have arrived at the years of accountability.” (D&C 18:42)

“And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.” (D&C 68:27)

So there you have it. This isn’t meant to be completely exhaustive, but as you can see, the requirements are as follows:

  • Repent, laying hold upon the gospel of Christ
  • Come unto Christ, having faith in Him
  • Have a desire to be baptized
  • Being worthy, or . . . having a broken heart and contrite spirit
  • Being the age of accountability, defined as eight years

There is one mention of a prohibition in D&C 137 where the Church declared they would not baptize slaves contrary to the will of their masters. This prohibition does not constitute doctrine. It was not considered revelation to the Church. The section still carries some controversy. Even so, I believe that the only modern prohibition of baptism that can even remotely correlate to this statement is the prohibition against some Muslims–which in essence is done to protect them from retaliation from their parents who are often justified in declaring murderous fatwas against their children for converting.

Other than this, I find no scriptural support for denying baptisms of the children, which brings me to the second argument that is made:

No scripture can be privately interpreted, Mr. Zion. That’s why we have prophets and apostles to interpret it for us. You are no prophet or apostle. We have the living prophets, and so in many ways that trumps even scripture.

It’s true that no scripture is of private interpretation. Communication being what it is, the only thing you can rely upon is the Holy Ghost. Relying upon modern prophets just inserts another layer by which a person must receive direct communication from the Lord. Be it the written word or a living oracle, the process is the same. Ultimate instruction must come from the Lord.

The idea that living prophets trump scripture is in error, an unfortunate one that was taught by Ezra Taft Benson (as an apostle) but censored by Spencer Kimball, who was THEN the prophet at the time. Benson seems to change his tune a bit after becoming prophet (see below). It’s a shame that the teaching manuals this year spent more time elevating the 14 fundamentals from Benson (for which he was censored) and less time discussing his teachings as prophet warning the Church that weren’t taking scriptures and the former commandments seriously enough.

Living prophets uphold, support, and communicate truth that are almost always already written down. Jesus quotes Old Testament passages uniquely about 50 times (some are repetitive).

To the idea that living prophets trump dead ones, I’m going to quote a dead one right now from his book, Doctrines of Salvation:

“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.” Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), p. 203

God also doesn’t seem to be very happy with how we fare with our treatment of scripture, particularly the Book of Mormon. This attitude was precisely what the scriptures warned against in D&C 84: 54-58

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all*. (Note: it’s not just the average member)

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written

58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

One could say, that was then, this is now. We are so much better with all the temples and missionaries we produce. Well, as late as 1986, a prophet of the Lord spent a great deal of time updating this warning. Even a living apostle, Elder Oaks, gives us the smack-down as it relates to us not being diligent with the things already given!

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If He appears to have changed, indeed, if doctrines are changing, I’m more apt to believe that it’s the error of men, and not God changing His mind, or adjusting to the reality of the situation on the ground, or engaging in strategem, or as this blogger notes, comes from legal frameworks and not revelation.

I think that this is part of the test, and part of the next justification I often hear.

God is separating the wheat from the tares. This social media murmuring cannot compete with the power of God’s living prophets and apostles. This was prophesied to happen. I will stand with them.

Yes, God IS separating the wheat from the tares. Jesus spoke many parables concerning this, from the parable of the ten virgins to the parable of the Good Samaritan. All of these to one extent or another, describe a “wheat” from a “tare.” My favorite is the parable of the wedding feast.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. (ie, members of Christ’s church)

Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: (They were more concerned about Babylon, about “church” reputations, about their own commerce)

And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 24: 2-20)

You see, the Lord is separating the wheat from the tares. I dare say that the proper interpretation of a wheat is someone that practices pure religion, as outlined in King Benjamin’s sermon, not one who totes the party line, who wears the Church colors, or who upholds an institution. You MUST be serving the poor, gathering the weak, THIS is indicative of wearing the wedding garment. You accept the doctrine of Christ, and you practice it through emulating the Christ. Otherwise you will not be found worthy for Zion. For Zion has two criteria. We are all of ONE heart, and there are no poor among us.

We should not murmur. We should not complain. This is a correct assumption. Complaining gets you nowhere. Boldly testifying of truth, however, no matter how unpleasant, and no matter how it differs from the institution, is a true act of courage! Finding a way to get your testimony “in line with the Brethren” is Lucifer’s counterfeit. Get your testimony in line with the Lord! That is His way.

In the early days, the principle of common consent and horizontal authority of first presidency, apostles, seventies, and all high priests was a means for everyone to come to unity of Christ. It was the principle of becoming Zion. I’m not sure it ever got applied appropriately but it is a sound principle. Should not we all agree, independently of one another, by the Holy Ghost, on the doctrines of Christ? If we are to simply line up, what good does that do for our salvation? Anyone can obey a line leader. The Nazis did as well. It would do well for us as a church to insist that all come to a unity of the faith, not just one quorum of fifteen, before we become subject to it. In that way, can we not then say that God is behind us? Can we not ensure that there are no blind spots? King Benjamin’s people all cried together to accept their covenants. They did not simply accept them as so because the king said so. They were collectively AND individually convicted of the truth. Should it not be the same with us? Again, we must be of ONE heart to be of Zion, and have no poor among us. Indeed, we take the name of Zion in vain these days, it seems. Common consent, properly implemented, would help us become more of one heart and of one mind.

I will end with a scenario of pre-Earth life and the test we would take by coming down to earth as Latter-day Saints.

Scenario: You will be sent to earth as a Mormon. You will be raised in a good family, with the gospel of Jesus Christ taught truthfully to you for the most part inside of the Lord’s church. You will feel good when the leaders of the Church speak to you. You will feel of their love. But you will find anachronisms, inconsistencies, errors, and if you don’t you’re not looking hard enough. At a point, you will have to make a decision, and the two choices you can go are this:

A – You can chose to stick with the leaders of the Church, to “follow the Brethren.” You will feel their good messages given in General Conference. You will know they are good men. You will feel that testimony burning within you. When you cannot reconcile some things, you chose to put it on the shelf, close your eyes, walk into the dark, and keep with the majority of the Brethren as they lead the church.

or . . .

B – You can chose to approach the Savior. You can use the good examples and teachings that leaders give you to figure out how to approach the Lord. But you also know that the all men are fallen and make mistakes, even good men, even prophets like Moses, Jonah, Peter, and Joseph Smith. You know that many are called, but few are chosen. You see that mistakes that have been made by past LDS church leaders. So you close your eyes, walk into the dark, and do what the Lord asks you to do.

What nature of test do you think is the one that will lead you into the presence of the Father? I have chosen scenario B. And because I’m unencumbered from the need to “get in line with the Brethren,” the Lord has told me that this policy is not of Him – in particular those that forbid children from being baptized if their parents are apostate homosexuals or polygamists.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


The blog is not over . . .

Tim Malone has retired the authorship of this blog for the time being.

However, Tim and I have discussed the importance of keeping the blog active, with continued posts from those that share in the vision and spirit of Latterdaycommentary. The importance of this blog for the Latter-day Restorationist Mormon community is essential and should be maintained as a place to come for news, ideas, and information on issues that deal with preserving the restoration, ideas that have been taught and espoused by Denver Snuffer.

I See… Awake!

i-see-awake-mendenhallI’m surprised. I thought I knew Doug. A private email list is not enough. Yes, word of mouth works, but someone needs to start the chain. I’ll start it if no one else will. This post is about a book. Some may think it a simple book. Others may dismiss it as just another of millions of self-published books. Doug, this is an important book and it needs attention. It needs marketing.

May I help? I know you didn’t ask for it, but as I prayed about it the Lord asked me to do all within my power to get the word out within my sphere of influence. I admit my influence is small, but there are some who will appreciate this. Adam, for example, who has a distinctive interest in this subject, will want to read it. Adam, keep the books you borrowed as a gift.

It’s not a pleasant subject for some. Never has been. Many reject it outright. Don’t believe it. Never will. That’s okay. This is not for them. This book is for those who have been warned and who understand the powers of the adversary that are becoming stronger and bolder as the time of the Lord’s return draws near. Denise will appreciate this post. Why not – she contributed much.

Part One of a Two-Part Book

Doug, may I express my love for you again. I did so on during out visit last May. It was a cold and windy afternoon in Mt. Pleasant, but you were so kind and gracious to receive me. I told you I came on behalf of the Lord, with a message to encourage you to finish this book. Apparently you didn’t need it. The book is now available and it is exactly what the Lord wanted published.

I know because I asked Him. He loves you Doug. You are a brave man. You are a blessed man. If there is anything in my power to do or say to bring blessings unto you, I invoke them upon you and your household, including your daughter Denise. I don’t mean to embarrass you Denise, but I consider your father a good friend, one who loves the Lord. You are blessed to be his daughter.

Doug Mendenhall of Publishing Hope, Mt. Pleasant Utah, has published another book. He did not announce it other than in a private email list. The book isn’t available on Amazon or even at Confetti Books. Doug is the author of Conquering Spiritual Evil, a handbook in dealing with the devil in these last days. This will appeal to few. That’s okay. My writings also appeal to so few.

Open Your Eyes and See

So consider this a semi-private endorsement of a wonderful new book, written from the heart, with the spirit of the Lord as guide. It is not a Denver Snuffer book so don’t expect the same kind of pronouncements. It is a Doug Mendenhall book. Doug knows what he is talking about. He has a mission in life that is closely tied to being the father of Denise Yale. God bless you my friend.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilI have almost finished the book. It is easy reading. It is almost like a quiet, easy-going, private dialog between two friends. I felt he was writing it just for me. I needed it. I appreciated it. I was spiritually fed by the content. Some will be offended by what they read. Some won’t have the necessary background to understand what they are reading. That’s okay. Others will be blessed.

The book is about opening your eyes – your spiritual eyes. It is about encountering the adversary, his devils and minions. Again, an uncomfortable subject, but one that needs to be brought to the forefront of our attention NOW. The battles are real. These battles are being fought in the secret chambers of our homes, our bedrooms, our closets and places where we invite God to be with us.

Healing the Spirit and the Soul

It is about healing, something I have been seeking for a lifetime. It is about faith, the kind of faith that goes way beyond what an institutional organization encourages or endorses. This faith is the kind that gets the attention of angels, who come and hear the mighty prayers of those who seek to have the thorn in the side removed, yet are powerless themselves to do more that share peace.

There is but one who can heal, yet in his wisdom, He lets us deal with these fiery darts, and other devices of the adversary through our own faith and learning. Perhaps we would not seek learning if we did not suffer so. Thanks be to a loving Savior who stands just outside the circle of our sight, yet makes Himself known as we cry unto Him in pain, sorrow and even intense suffering.

Did not He do the same? Even He was amazed at the intensity of the experience, the power of the adversary to inflict torment, torture, evil, pain, sorrow, sickness and abuse. Undeserved and unjustified, we suffer with him in like manner. Our pain is just as real, but not as intense. Or is it? God knows how much we can stand. He knows how much we can overcome and yet remain.

An Endorsement and an Invitation

I have said nothing about the book other than to mention it and to invite you to obtain and read it. You can only get it from Doug as far as I can tell. It is $25. The money is not the issue. What is at stake is your willingness to learn and to accept the reality of what goes on around us, unseen to our mortal vision, but real nonetheless. Be wise. Be educated in the ways of the opposing spirits.

Perhaps you are so far above such afflictions that this book will serve no purpose in your life. Have you been in the presence of the Lord? If so, you don’t need this. You already understand. If not, you will gain much from what you find in these pages. I offer no review, only a final plea to those whose hearts are pricked by this post. Obtain a copy. Read it. Pray about it. God bless you.

PublishingHopeTitle: Awake…I see! – Publisher: Publishing Hope, a private publishing house, 320 pages

Author: Douglas H. Mendenhall, with insightful contributions by Denise and Kitten

No ISBN. Contact Doug at publishinghope@gmail.com http://www.publishinghope.info/

Price: $25. Send checks to PO Box 282, Mt. Pleasant UT 84647 – Spiral bound

Developing Awesome Spiritual Curiosity – A Thinking Mormon’s Yearning for Zion


  • Awesome – causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, or admiration
  • Curiosity – eager to learn or know; inquisitive.

The Mormon Internet is abuzz these days with the effective marketing of the CES Letter, with this recent one from friends over at Zelph on the Shelf, a comprehensive guide to well-worn criticisms against the LDS Church and Mormonism in general. While there are many questions and challenges that ought to be raised by the CES Letter, many people go so far as to give up on God altogether. While the remnant/restorationist community has quietly added people interested in remembering the original intent of the Restoration by the Prophet, Joseph Smith, their efforts pale compare to the massive successes in the ex-Mormon agnostic/atheist communities. This post is an attempt to answer/address those concerns in light of being respectful of their positions, but helping to show a better way, one that does not give up on seeking the Christ.

I believe one of the keys is to develop a healthy sense of awesome curiosity.

As children, during the toddler years, we didn’t care a whit about authority. When our parents told us not to touch the hot plate, we did it anyway, because we needed to experience these things for ourselves. We said “no” to everything. We tested everything. We did it with childlike wonder, not because we didn’t trust the adults, but because it didn’t matter what THEY thought. The world was so new that we had to test everything for ourselves!

The Savior taught,

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Then there is King Benjamin,

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

There are many applications to these scriptures, but the application I want to apply is the sense of awe that a child displays at learning about the world. There are no pre-conceived notions, no “Occam’s razor,” no appeal to authority, just unadulterated possibilities.

children reaching for JesusWe have too much unbelief as adults, particularly as cultural Westerners, but this cultural tendency has followed us into Mormonism as well. It also follows us out of Mormonism when we leave. We are constantly on the outlook for authority, the safe answer. We crave authority–it calls to us as a safety valve when we are brought up against something that challenges us. It seems as Gentiles that we are forever cursed with it. During the Dark Ages we looked to the Catholic Church and the Divine Right of Kings. The Reformation brought the Enlightenment, reformed church authority, the authority of reason, the authority of government, the authority of texts, and the authority of the authentic self. All of these compete in the marketplace of ideas to one degree or another. But we still crave authority, and we debate about it, and seek to convert others to our understanding of proper authority.

Somewhere between the toddler years and grade school, we learn about the benefit of authority, of learning from someone else’s mistakes so we don’t have to feel the pain of a bad experience. We don’t really much like pain, so we soon learn to trust authority on issues that won’t lead us into a path of pain. To one extent or another, we take this upon us and go with it, to one degree or another. A few eschew it, and others embrace it with aplomb.

We not only fear the pain of experience, but we fear being wrong. We want to believe that the path we are taking, whether philosophical or the actual steps we take each day, are the right steps. Some of us plan ahead for years to ensure those steps are correct. We study manuals, read authoritative texts, test results, consult the experts, and make choices based upon the propensity of our certainty. Even in choices of love, we consult the stars, pedigrees, attractiveness, and spiritual confirmation, to determine a sense of certainty about the person we choose to be with our entire life, all in hopes that the choice will be right, and cause us very little pain.

Belief vs. Knowledge

But many are also lazy in their pursuit of knowledge. We have a tendency to cut corners, to be comfortable with filters instead of getting right to the source. We develop all sorts of opinions based upon authority filters, and we do it with as little work as possible. We become credulous to some authority, and incredulous to others. At the same time, we find little time, effort, or desire to form our own experiences based on our own awesome curiosity. We become stuck weighing authority for the development of truth. This happens whether we are orthodox in our own religiosity, or whether we are orthodox to systems that are loyal to the establishment of reason. Usually I find it is because we read and think too much on one hand, and not enough on the other.

The error here is in the need to develop certainty. Mormons love to teach the value of certainty. In the statement “we know” something is true, we feel to develop the certainty of a principle, even if in the true sense of the word “know” we don’t really know, we just believe strongly. Or . . . we equate feelings of the Spirit on a topic with the concept of knowing. Alma 32 teaches us otherwise. We can only know if something has goodness it in by the process of planting a seed of truth, and then waiting for the fruit. Sometimes we like to circumvent the process and go right for the fruit. I believe that’s an error. If we settle for the feeling without the planting, we can be led astray.

Let me illustrate: How many can distinguish the feelings of peace and love with the feelings of safety and security? I will admit that they are almost the same kind of feeling. The Lord has positive things to say about peace and love being fruits of the Spirit (Note that they are NOT the Spirit). The Lord does not have good things to say about safety and security (or “all is well”). Those feelings are associated with being led astray into deception. If one goes directly to the feeling of an experience, one could be misled. However, if one goes through the implantation process of testing a truth, a pattern emerges where we:

  • Learn about a principle, as much as we can
  • Test the principle by reason and also by pondering about it in your heart
  • Feeling the Holy Ghost or absence of the Holy Ghost
    • Does it cause a “burning of the bosom”?
    • Does it cause “swelling motions?”
  • Does it cause in increase of love for God and for others?

If these things occur, we can know the seed is good, even if we don’t yet “know” the principle is true in the most complete sense of the word. That comes later. All it means is “keep going.” Note that the process is no shortcut. We don’t go straight for the feelings of “peace.” Peace may be a fruit of the Spirit, but sometimes the Spirit encourages us to do things that can cause us consternation or dread, yet we know we must do it. I doubt Abraham, for example, felt much peace taking Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed, or that the Savior felt much peace going to the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes the absence of peace is required. We cannot shortcut this process, no matter how our Gentile sensibilities want us to. We must ask tons of questions of the Lord, and ponder the matter, showing a good-faith effort in our gardening sensibilities. Otherwise, we may be asking amiss.

Feelings vs.Thinkings

The problem with going straight for the peace and love train is that these things are evident everywhere, not just in Mormonism. We can feel peace and love watching a great movie, doing drugs, going to another church, listening to Christmas music, or during the State of Union address (if it’s our guy.) Just going by the emotion is dangerous. The heart “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” – Jeremiah 17:9. The heart cannot be trusted, although inevitably, it will responds positively to righteousness. Otherwise how could man have joy in righteousness?

Man has a tendency to trust either his heart or his head. If his heart, he ignore facts that bombard his brain. He becomes separated from them, enduring “cognitive dissonance.” If, however, a man trusts his brain and not his heart, the problem often then becomes the appeals to authority. Facts, in and of themselves cannot save you. They cannot teach you truth. They can only inform. Men who believe they are trusting only in reason deceive themselves, for the mind plays tricks on us, it creates narratives that are delicious to our sense of needing certainty about things, which in the complete scheme of things, is just another deception of the heart. It is a fool thing to believe that we can elevate ourselves completely beyond our own emotions. We are humans, not robots. The entire history of philosophy has shown the folly of this error. The Age of Reason lasted about 200 years and ended up with Napoleon and Rousseau in the Romantic era. Reason is subject to facts. Facts are incomplete, and the narratives that tie facts together are highly subjective. It’s why today’s philosophers do not try to find a grand theme of truth in reason. They’ve kind of given up.

41P75Z9M0NL._SY300_The folly of certainty through appeals to authority has lead to a long and disillusioned path for Mormons. We are taught to trust in the Spirit, but we often circumvent the process and go for the emotional dessert. The Church (and the church) makes matters worse by using heart-sell tactics to deliver feelings of peace directly to us without any of the work it takes to create real peace. Seeing a meme on Facebook, listening to a choir piece, seeing a beautiful air-brushed photo of the temple, or hearing a tearful General Conference sound-bite on Mormon.org may have great intentions, but they often end up deceiving us into accepting the counterfeit peace for the real thing. When we then encounter these feelings in other arenas, we either feel deceived by the implied “corner on the market” we sometimes assume with such tactics, or we follow these feelings into other efforts that do not save.

For the thinking Mormon, this can be even more destructive, because we often begin to realize that the heart isn’t a good tool to measure truth. We become incredulous of feelings, and rely upon the more sound systems of evidence and reason. But we never seem to be able to give up our need to be certain about things. We displace the authority of the heart-sell to the authority of the head-sell, as we see with the CES Letter. We turn to the experts, to academia, to established science, to peer review, to popular thinking-oriented political philosophies, hoping that as we do so, we will be unable to be duped.

worshipscienceBut grasping onto thinking authority can be just as destructive, because it’s more subtle. While religious and business institutions are well-known for their bottom-line tactics, we seem to me more circumspect about institutions that are supposed to hearken to a different call, in medicine, academia, and in science. We expect them to be noble and righteous. Well . . . didn’t we once think that about our “one true Church?” How are the motivations of humans in noble institutions of reason any more noble than motivations of humans that operate in the spiritual business sphere? There may be more checks and balances, true, but in many ways, there are also more filters to wade through. Most true science hides beh
ind university paywalls that take some difficulty accessing (back to the efficient information problem) so we settle for Facebook memes and soundbites or science and political puff pieces that get promoted in mainstream journalism–hardly an unbiased source. What we often do when we start to move from religious belief to secular belief is really just switch authority teams.

We give up having faith in the “Church”, and we turn to having faith in humanity. Either way, we put our trust in the arm of flesh.

The Mormon Shelf

booksWhich brings us to shelves. The shelf metaphor has been a metaphor for the thinking Mormon, who gathers what she can rationally absorb into the room, and puts what she cannot absorb onto the proverbial shelf, to be dealt with another day. I find the shelf metaphor imperfect. As a little child, one does not stick things on shelves, one plays with everything, with a sense of curiosity even about that which they do not understand. Sometimes those toys are the funnest to play with! I wonder if we would do better not putting sensitive stuff on shelves and instead, wade into the waters with them, embracing them in all of their ambiguity and possibilities, and stop trying to limit what outcomes will be by short-cutting the system with incredulity and appeals the heart or to “Occam’s razor,” which is just another way of saying that you feel like you must limit possibilities, that you must establish a boundary of incredulity. Maybe we should just be a little more patient, even though that’s hard for little children. Adults trying to learn to be like little children, however, patience should be easier because the need for certainty isn’t as dramatic. It’s really an attitude learned and sense of wonder about the universe. As a thinking Mormon, you can go one of two ways. You can fold your arms, gather facts, and develop a narrative that limits possibilities based on appeals to authority. Nephi warns:

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. 2 Nephi 9:28

This appeal to authority is part of “thinking one is wise”, but in reality, they limit the ability to learn truth from other sources, spiritual sources, because it doesn’t fit within the paradigm of modern scientific consensus. However, this can happen whether the appeal is to scientific knowledge or to General Conference authority.

The other way you can is to be learned is to understand that we haven’t even scratched the surface and that we know about as much as a pinhead is to the universe, and that spirituality is virtually untouched! That should shake your certainty to the core, and hopefully make you a little more humble. Humility is a key to spiritual truth. Learn to see the wonder in what you don’t know. Learn to love awesome curiosity!

I’m not saying we need to believe everything to a level of extreme gullibility. Most cases of over-belief into gullibility happen when people give up their critical thinking skills to the authority of another, whether prophet, priest, or professor. The trick in the balance is test as much as you can with your own empirical approaches, in your own appeals for truth, and save your incredulity for authority, ANY authority, even those that preach impartiality and reason as their foundation. The empirical/personal anecdotal should be the most powerful knowledge in the universe, because it is the most meaningful, and we ought to be keeping open as many possibilities to attaining THAT knowledge as we can.

What can I do to develop awesome curiosity?

  1. Stop the appeals to authority! Whether you are orthodox Mormon or a more secular-leaning type, if you have to keep some incredulity or doubt, be incredulous of ALL authority, not just the opposing team. Doubt the prophet, politician, and professor with equal measure. Understand the limits of man, both in his mind, and in his heart. Be an equal opportunity skeptic. It gives doubting your doubts a whole new meaning.
  2. Follow leaders, not preachers – We can all find someone to preach to us, someone that will give us religion, or ideology, whether from the pulpit, or lectern, spoken in fiery rhetoric, or written with dispassionate logic. People have itching ears, and it’s even better when they can bask in glow of a cultural event where they can celebrate that preaching and listen for hours and hours. It’s far better to find someone who has plowed a road, someone you can actually learn from, and then go and try to plow your own road.
  3. Be more empirical – Don’t just believe what you read, or trust someone else’s experience, opinion, or path. Find your own! Prayer is wonderful because it can be a testing mechanism. There are rewards and benefits for doing it the right way. And there are some that have been able to transcend our own reality and peek into something different. The science of the experience does matter (is it inside or outside the self), but the experiences itself matters more, and I believe that can tell you infinitesimally more than naval gazing from the arm chair about whether it’s authentically external or suffers from confirmation bias.
  4. Don’t just believe, test belief – Instead of thinking about belief as a passive kind of Santa Claus belief, believe in a principle while expecting a reaction. An example would be to test belief in a particular attribute about God. Pray and behave as if that attribute is true. Does it make a difference in your prayers? Does it bring greater spiritual gifts? Does it increase your own love for others and for God? Does it bring you closer to God? If you don’t get expected results others have achieved, instead of assuming they are duped, re-examine first whether you have done the experiment correctly. Perhaps you need to make some adjustments.
  5. Adjust to new information – The world is always changing. They are always finding things under the great sandbox of scientific information. Does your personal belief system allow you the ability to be flexible? This doesn’t just mean being flexible to a new fact, but flexible to conflicting facts . . . or no facts at all. Does the absence of fact allow you to still move forward with possibilities? Do new facts constitute a puzzle piece or a narrative of certainty? The more certain, the less capable we are of adjusting to new information.
  6. Do whatever it takes – Does the prospect of finding God drive you? Do others experience help motivate you to find Him? Is it worth it? Do facts on the ground dispirit you from undertaking the quest? I believe that in order to do what it takes, one must have the drive to make this quest the most challenging of one’s life, to view it in terms of being the most rewarding. If all you find at the end of it all is increased bliss, it’s probably worth it to a point, but the world will drag you back down. But if the possibility of an audience with Heaven is the end goal, I would think one would stop at nothing.

I would challenge all of us to undertake this the Grand experiment!

Farewell – May God Bless you

mormon-writing-on-platesAlmost eight years I took a leap of faith, began to write short items I thought might be interesting to others, and posted them on Blogger. For years I labored, seeking to share what I thought would be helpful and enlightening. Sometimes, I know I hit the mark. Other posts were a complete waste of time. But in the end, I felt I did what the Lord asked me to do for a season.

It’s time to say goodbye. The blog expires this Thursday, but I could not let it do so without expressing my love and gratitude to those who helped me on my journey. I have come to love you, especially as I have been in some of your homes, taken the sacrament with you and prayed with you. How grateful I am to have had this season to share and feel of your love and kindness.

Some few of you have been mean and vicious – somewhat immature really. I forgive you. You did not hurt me. You were reaching out in anger, feeling threatened. I understand. I used to feel the same way. That’s how I started my blog – defending the orthodox traditions of the LDS Church. I am no longer a member and that bothered quite a few of you. I am sorry for your pain.

I still love you. The attacks came mostly from those who knew me personally, who grew up with me or served with me in the councils of the church or who worked at my side in a shared career. Others came from fools who knew nothing of which they wrote, but sought only to get attention and elicit a response. I feel sorry for such individuals who have no self-control in open dialog.

But most of you were encouraging and understanding. I thank you for your kind words, for the thousands upon thousands of comments, for the discussion, for the sharing of books, and of scriptures, of authors, references and points of view I had not considered. You are so kind. It is your sharing with me that blessed my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bless you.

Today I meet with our new bishop. It has been over a year since I resigned from the LDS Church. I am not qualified to re-baptized LDS, nor do I think it will ever happen. But because I love my wife and desire to be one with her, I desire to do all within my power to be reconciled to the faith of her forebears. We have great differences of opinion on doctrine but I love her dearly.

BreadAndWineI do not believe a man should have to swear an oath-like promise to uphold a prophet. That flies in the face of 3rd Nephi 11:40. I also am convinced, through prayer and study, that the correct way to partake of the sacrament is with wine, for that is the way the Lord has said he will partake of the Sacrament with us when he returns. Thus, in the eyes of the LDS Church, I am not worthy.

I also believe sealings in the temple are not guaranteed. A man and woman must be sealed by the holy spirit of promise to be united forever. That means they must come into the presence of the Lord together. No promise made by any man across from an altar in a temple on this earth will substitute for hearing such a promise from the mouth of the Lord. I seek that promise in this life.

I accept tithing as a commandment from God but I am not willing to give that tithing money to the LDS Church to support the professional clergy or to build malls or to buy land in Florida. I want my money to go to the poor. Nor do I believe I must pay tithing on my gross earnings each paycheck. I have done that for over fifty years but no longer believe this is what the Lord asked.

I sang in our ward choir today, a hymn of worship honoring Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the focus on the Savior. I am also grateful anytime I am taught the doctrines revealed through Joseph Smith by those who understand them as they were originally revealed and not as they have been interpreted or watered down by the correlation process of the modern bureaucrats in the church.

preserving-the-restorationSo many people don’t even recognize it because they won’t study. I have just about finished Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Preserving the Restoration. I was there for many of the talks that were delivered. He has surely added much to clarify and kept his promise to remove himself from the narrative. I heartily recommend this book if you want to learn purity of Mormonism.

I am still convinced something catastrophic will come to pass in the last days, sometime in the next few years. I have no idea how long we have. It could be economic collapse, social chaos, of what the scriptures describe as the catastrophes found in the Book of Revelation, in the words of the Old Testament prophets and in the Book of Mormon. Yet I go forward in faith trusting God.

I want to be a part of the temple that needs to be built. I desire to contribute to the building of that temple. I want to be a part of Zion. I do not believe the LDS Church has any clue about how Zion really will come about. I am convinced the spirit of prophecy and revelation was lost at the top echelons of the LDS Church with the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph. I’m not a fan of Brigham.

My mission in life right now is to be one with my wife. I love her dearly. She has been hurt by my withdrawal from the church of her heritage. To me, it was a totally logical and spirit-guided decision, made after much thought, pondering and prayer. My decision to be baptized was meant to be a sign I accept Denver Snuffer as the Lord’s messenger in these last days, a leap of faith.

Denver still has not declared himself to be other than a teacher. I declare him to be otherwise. I cannot and will not share words delivered to me in prayer, nor am I called to be a public witness, but my witness is true. He is called of God and has done what he has done because God asked him to do so. I do not know him well, but know the Lord is pleased with what he has done.

mormon-bids-farewellI bid you farewell. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon you. I am not here to tell you your belief in the LDS Church is right or wrong. I simply did what the Lord asked me to do. I provided a forum for a season that some needed and that helped me on my journey to take the steps I know I needed to take to please the Lord. I have a long ways to go. Life is in Christ and in no one else.

I seek not to offend but know some have and will take offense. God bless you my friends. I may add to my record on the free WordPress site from time to time, but for the most part, my record stands. It helped me tremendously to share my life journey with you as I came to a much clearer understanding of LDS Mormonism and what it was that Joseph was trying to restore in his day.

Thank you for reading my posts. Thank you for the thousands upon thousands of comments. Thank you for trying to set me straight. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for the many, many private dialogs. Thank you for inviting me into your homes and to your gatherings. I am so grateful for what I have learned and pray I can live up to the knowledge God has given me.

I look forward to the tremendous changes I am certain will continue to take place in the LDS Church and in American society. The world will change dramatically within the next few years. Today, we are blessed. Perhaps it will be several years before the catastrophes spoken of by the prophets will come to pass. But they will come. It may or may not be in my remaining years.


Keeping the Sabbath, When and How

“Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week” – Alice Walker

elder-nelson-sabbathYou can’t pick up an Ensign these days without hearing much about the need to keep the Sabbath day. This is a good thing. I hope that the Church isn’t just focus-grouping this topic as a sort of “this year’s theme,” or to just amp up the attendance numbers, but see an honest need for people to remember the Lord on a weekly basis. The Church must have data that shows how much it is in disrepair among Latter-day Saints. So it got me thinking . . .

How exactly does the Lord want me to keep the Sabbath day, and keep it holy?

President Nelson’s talk in April is a good resource. I’ve read it a couple of times and I find it to be a great discourse on the subject, as far as some basic concepts:

  • Attend church to offer up sacraments, taking upon us the Name of Christ
  • Rest from your labors
  • Pay devotions to the Most High
  • Serving others–family history is an option, visiting the lonely and sick, etc.
  • Strengthen family ties
  • Preparing food with “singleness of heart”
  • Don’t do your own pleasures, but the Lord’s pleasure

When I was “active,” I enjoyed the gentle call of the Spirit to attend services. When I attended all three hours, I felt a better sense of renewal than I did when I just went to Sacrament meeting. I have not been back to an LDS service in some time, my Sabbath schedule interferes with attending my ward Sunday services, since one of my Sunday fellowships happens over the top of my ward schedule. There are times when I miss that interaction, and I’m challenged to fill my Sabbath worship other ways.

Among folks in this movement, the Sabbath day has also been a hot topic. I thought I would spend some time to break down some of the theories and ideas and hopefully present some ideas on what it means to keep the Sabbath day. I really don’t have a theory on the best way to do it, so maybe you have some better research or revelation as to tell you how to live it best.

Day of the Week

Does it matter? For some of our more Torah-oriented fellowship groups, this is a critical thing. The day is of a vital importance, and as with Jews, the Sabbath should be celebrated from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. They also include festivals and other holy days celebrated anciently. I’m not sure it matters. I think if the exactness of observance is done in a way that causes a greater remembrance of the Savior, it can be a good thing. If it becomes a rallying point, or a brand, or a system that sets certain people up as have the best understanding of “the way,” I think it creates more pride than it does anything. For me, I’m inclined to keep my Sabbath worship on Sunday out of convenience, knowing that for me, it’s not so much the day as it is the fact that I’m reserving one day (or more) out of the week to honor the Lord. Furthermore, I’ve read some interesting ideas that ancient Jews followed the lunar calendar, so what we deem as Saturday, the day of rest, was a roaming date that depended on the cycles of the moon. It would be quite a feat for someone to come up with THAT Sabbath schedule. Maybe someone should. I’m open to being taught more on this subject.

Thou Shalts and Nots

When I was a youth, my mother would note to me that we would never watch NFL football on Superbowl Sunday (we never watched it on any other day, but that’s beside the point). When Superbowl Sunday came round the first of the year, our family made it a point of pride that we would skip out on such an event. It was the hallmark of how closely we kept the Sabbath. We also stayed in our church clothes most of the day, listened only to uplifting Sunday-oriented music, and couldn’t watch TV–that is, until the sun went down, then on popped the ABC Disney Sunday Movie! There was no systematic approach to Sabbath worship in our home, it was all based on how she grew up and her cultural understanding. These days I watch the Superbowl, not because I like NFL football, but that it gives my wife’s family time to get together and deepen relationships–another critical element of Sabbath worship, strengthening family bonds. Sure, we could do other things, but I won’t quibble. I understand the nature of the get together at least in my mind.

Our scriptures say very little about what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath although some general guidelines are offered up in D&C 59. I have highlighted some things that jumped out to me as well as comments in parentheses.

And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; (I believe the house of prayer here is very simple, no need to go to a chapel)

10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. (See my post on confession, how could we better confess to our Brethren and not just to a church leader?)

13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. (Maybe we should be skipping the pot roast)

14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—

Much of what we get on the topic also comes from the New Testament when the Savior was constantly testing the Sabbath cultural rules that He thought were either nonsense or looked past the mark. The point is, “to keep it holy,” and not get caught up in rules and customs that must be kept.

As I began thinking about this, I’ve applauded that the Church has avoided a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts. What President Nelson states is pretty much the sum total and it comes primarily from our own modern scriptures. In the past decade, there was a big push back in the Hinckley era to get people to stop shopping on the Sabbath. I think this is a good albeit somewhat inconsistent application of the term, “shopping,” since gas purchasing, eating out, online shopping, and other types of shopping were sort of isolated from the more leisure shopping as outlined in those discourses. My wife worked at a Mormon-owned restaurant chain in Provo and in the afternoon, the suits and ties littered the place by people who needed to eat–perhaps they were staying in town–or just didn’t want to cook but wanted the fancy meal. The point is that we could understand the need for meals for visitors who were from out-of-town, but for people that just wanted to “rest” on the Sabbath, but have the big meal, it seemed like they were passing on the sin to my wife and her co-workers, who were pretty much forced to work Sundays. Perhaps this is meant by singleness of heart–keep it simple, you don’t need pot roast every week. I think what it comes down to is how much charity do we employ towards others in our day of rest? Does it cause others to have to work harder so we can enjoy our Sabbath? Do we accelerate the engines of Babylon with our Sabbath habits or calm them down? How much does charity play in our activities? Are we using the Sabbath day to do more with the encompassing commandments to “Love the Lord Thy God, and Love Thy Neighbor?” If not, perhaps we need to repent.

The Sabbath is only the beginning

I return to the statement I quoted at the beginning. “Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week.” Perhaps the best use of the Sabbath is to set ourselves up so that we can find more ways the rest of the week, to keep it holy as well. For me, movies, TV, video games, shopping, leisure, have taken a back seat to spending time reading and pondering the gospel in my free time. I don’t say this to boast. I’ve always been a gospel hobbyist and so for me, I have to use my idle time to do more than argue about church matters on Facebook. Taking time to watch an uplifting program with my wife may be a better use of my time.

What has whispered to me as I’ve written this is that all of the debate about the right day to worship is sort of a Telestial affair. In Zion, the Sabbath day will be everyday, not just one day in the week.

I leave my post with the lyrics to Take Time to be Holy by William D. Longstaff

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”


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