The Thesis of this Short Blog Post
This is a small Mormon-based blog read by few people. I don’t think I appear on anyone’s list of recommended LDS blogs any more. That probably started when I went public with book reviews of the now-excommunicated Denver Snuffer. In this post, I would like us to consider for just a moment the possibility that the Lord could send a messenger or servant to the LDS people who did NOT come from the rank and file of the General Authorities or the Quorum of the Twelve. It has happened in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Isn’t it possible it could happen in our day?
A Small Diversion for My Aching Head
Friday night Carol and I went to see Catching Fire, the latest episode of the Hunger Games series. It was a welcome distraction from a difficult week at work, and a sort of celebration for me for having completed 712 hours of advanced technical training over the past nine months. For those who follow my blog, you’ll remember it was also some nine months ago I had what I considered a couple of undesirable existential experiences that drove me to the ER for treatment. I still suffer continual headaches but have made recent progress in other, more important areas. I’ve shared details in previous posts. Email me if you want to know more and can’t find it.
A Surprising Whispering of the Spirit
At the end of the movie I was surprised to hear the spirit whisper something to me I was not expecting. It had nothing to do with the movie, but rather was an answer to questions I carry in my heart. I don’t have doubts about the church – never had. But I always have questions – still do. In my interpretation, I heard, “You are to be an observer and a witness. You were not sent here to manage or control anything.” I was astonished because it answered a long-standing prayer about my mission in life. I was also surprised because that seemed like an unusual time and place to receive inspiration or revelation. Perhaps it’s because my mind was disengaged. My spirit soared as I considered the implications of what I had just heard or rather felt in my heart.
Witnessing the Fulfillment of Prophecy
I started this blog some six years ago with the intention of sharing personal commentary of things coming to pass in my day that could possibly be based on scriptural prophecy, such as the surprising news today that the United States has made a deal with Iran to admit them into the nuclear weapons club. In my mind, this pulls the trigger of Israel’s attack on that country, and the response by the rest of the world, including the United States, in uniting against Israel in what will ultimately be WW III. I now consider myself more of an interpreter of current events that are LDS related, specifically about what is happening among church members. I do this mainly by writing reviews of books that deal with topics recommended to me by some church members.
Questioning the Traditional Narrative
In January of 2012 I was introduced to the writings of one now persona non-grata among our LDS writers, a man recently excommunicated for writing a book of doctrinal analysis that also happens to contain a lot of LDS history, told from historic and scriptural sources. Passing the Heavenly Gift was not written by collecting and combining anti-Mormon stories circulating out there. Denver Snuffer, an attorney by trade, questioned the traditional narrative of how we have taught ourselves what happened to the LDS Church at the end of the Nauvoo period in 1844. Denver Snuffer is also the author of the widely-recommended book, The Second Comforter.
Cursings Instead of Blessings
I wonder why nobody has commented on Denver’s latest blog post yet, also published this last Friday. Perhaps I’ve missed where it was shared among all the Mormon blogs out there. If so, someone kindly point me to the source. I’ve been pondering it for three days. I even re-read the scriptures regarding this post with Carol on Friday night. Before we had completed reading the passage, she said, “Well, of course that’s right. I taught the D&C in Seminary and remember this well.” I am referring of course to the verses in Section 124 where the Lord promised “Cursings Instead of Blessings” if the Nauvoo Temple was not completed within the designated time.
Pondering in the Temple
I went to the temple yesterday specifically to ponder what I felt in my heart on Friday night. Yep, I heard it right. The feeling remained the same. What Denver wrote in that post deserves our serious consideration. As Carol said to me, “Everyone knows the saints were cursed for not completing the temple like they were supposed to. They had too many other building projects going on.” We discussed their having to leave Nauvoo in the dead of winter, crossing over the frozen Mississippi River, a miracle of sorts, although not as uncommon as I once thought. We talked about the difficulties and hardships of crossing the plains. Carol served her mission in Independence, Missouri. She knows what winter is like in Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. Brrr…
This Post Qualifies as Sunday Worship
It is Sunday morning as I write this. I hope somehow to get this post published by the end of the day. Our Sundays have become too full with the addition of ward and stake choir practices both before and after our regular block of meetings. It takes a lot of energy for me to memorize and harmonize Christmas choral numbers even though we have both been doing it for years. When we’re done with choir practice, Carol wants to sit and vegetate in front of the TV. ‘Tis the season for Christmas shows. Since I can’t get this off my mind, I’ve asked the Lord to help me get this published tonight. I’m taking a vacation next week to catch up with the ton of private emails from readers. I hope to publish this tonight for subscribers to read Monday morning.
Thesis Revisited for Clarification
I want to state it again and ask you to ponder it seriously. Is it possible the Lord could or might call a man to deliver a message to the general population of the church? We know that flies in the face of D&C 28:5–7. It also goes contrary to the standard narrative (now mantra) taught in this church that any message from God to his people will come from the prophet and only from the prophet. Today, this of course refers to Thomas S. Monson, the man we (and I) sustain as the president of the church. We have also given the fifteen men who lead this church the title of “prophet, seer and revelator.” I also sustain these men as leaders in our church. But could there possibly be other men, not among these fifteen, sent by the Lord with a message that the Lord wants his people to hear and understand? It’s unthinkable, isn’t it? It would be too confusing.
Kingdom of God on the Earth
Thus, as I have written before, the church was right in following established procedure of having Denver Snuffer excommunicated or barred from membership in the organization of the church. It has happened many times before and will happen many times again before the days of the LDS church as an established organization are over. Wait, did I just imply that the LDS Church as we know it today could possibly be dissolved or disorganized when the Lord returns? Haven’t I used that phrase all my life in teaching classes, speaking from the pulpit, in private and public prayer? I have. Isn’t the LDS Church the Kingdom of God on the Earth today? Aren’t we Zion? You mean this church we belong to will no longer be needed when the Lord comes? Poppycock!
Be Careful What You Write in This Church
I brought this up once before and was severely castigated by a former colleague on the High Council, now a Stake President at BYU Idaho. As he wrote in response to my Aug 19 post in a comment left on Facebook on Aug 21: “The statement that the LDS Church will not be on the earth when the Savior comes is a provocative statement and not true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth and is awaiting the kingdom of heaven to arrive where they will be united (See all of D&C 65). The Lord’s Church is the way wherein Israel and Gentiles are brought to a fullness and to fully come unto Christ.” And my response:
We Have Changed What We Teach These Days
“…you’ll have to forgive me. I’m an old guy. I grew up in an era where High Council speakers would shoot from the hip (not read prepared talks). I always loved listening to High Council speakers, especially those who took it seriously to prepare. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that statement growing up in the old Covina Stake, that ‘someday, there will be no more LDS church. We won’t need it. The Lord will run things without this institution we have built up over the years (that’s paraphrasing).’ The closest thing I could find to back this up is this quote from Daniel Peterson: ‘The church today, as has often been noted, is simply the essential but temporary scaffolding that surrounds an eternal family-priesthood structure in the process of construction; until that construction is complete at some point in the postmortal future, priesthood is mediated through and associated with the church.’ I think Brother Peterson and I see priesthood similarly. The church needs the priesthood, not the other way around.
The Church is Just a Temporary Scaffolding
“I even seem to recall either Elder Packer or Elder Perry talking about the church being the temporary scaffolding that won’t be needed when the Lord comes because the priesthood will run things – everything – in that there would no longer be a need for the LDS institution as we know it today. Not trying to argue with you. I do appreciate your comments and getting me to read section 65 again. Thanks for leading me to the scriptures. PS – No response necessary. I know you’re a busy man.” Adding to that Facebook comment: I feel stronger today than I did back in August that the LDS Church is a temporary institution, and was NOT what the Lord intended to be the conclusion of what he tried to accomplish through Joseph Smith. What the Lord wanted to reveal to the Saints was never revealed. It had everything to do with the Nauvoo Temple not being completed and therefore, the church going into exile, disorganized and cursed by the Lord.
Love and Devotion in the LDS Church
Please don’t misunderstand me. I love this church. It has blessed my life. I have tried to be as submissive as I could from the day the Lord told me at age 17 the following: “Joseph could not teach the people everything because they would not receive nor could it be taught outside the temple.” That’s almost a direct quote from personal revelation recorded in my journal. I’ve written about this before as part of my testimony in the early part of this blog. I have been blessed by choosing to serve a mission, seeking and receiving revelation as to who to marry in the temple, accepting every calling ever issued and even by singing in the choir when practices consume so much from me besides time. I love to teach, I love to preach. I love to take the sacrament and I love the temple. As I’ve said so many times before, if asked by my leaders, I would delete this blog without a second thought. I’m more interested in keeping covenants.
Only Christ Can Provide Certain Things
I’ll conclude with this: I’m missing something I cannot receive from this church and so are most of you. I feel like my friend the Stake President mocked me when he asked: “…if you’re saying you aren’t being fulfilled at church, or by the standard works, where else are you looking to be fulfilled? Is Denver Snuffer going to tell you something more powerful than President Monson? Is Max Skousen going to reveal something more relevant than Abinadi? It would be like a thirsty man leaving the safety of the oasis to go seek water in the desert wastes. So again, my question is, what can Denver teach me that the Savior cannot?” I answered him there but I’ll also answer here. I want the world to know why I think the Lord has sent us a legitimate prophet in the form of Denver Snuffer. I know that is a blasphemous claim to some. Please try to understand.
Church is Filled With Men Who Love God
I have loved every Bishop with whom I’ve served as counselors or clerks over the past twenty-five years – a dozen. I have loved every Stake President who presided over me, inspired me, led me, helped me learn how to administer so well, and some even how to minister better. My bishop asked me to come in to talk recently. I’ve never had a bishop do that. He said the Lord told him to do so. The first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t know why the Lord prompted me to have you see me, but I feel impressed he wants me to tell you that you are loved. We talked for almost two hours about what it’s like to raise a son who is both a genius and is afflicted with mental and drug issues. I did a lot of crying in that first meeting. I could not help myself. But I never got around to what I really wanted to talk about. The spirit didn’t prompt me to do so.
Called In To Speak With The Bishop
We met a second time about a month later. This was within the last week. Once again I hoped the spirit would prompt me to bring up the real issues that were troubling me. We had a visit that I would describe as two servants of the Lord talking about what it’s like to stay on the path while serving in this church. He taught me from the scriptures. I went home and shared them with my wife that evening in our scripture study. They are found in Ether 12:27 about why God gives men weaknesses – so they can be humble. The other was in 2nd Nephi 9:28–30. He emphasized verse thirty where Nephi has Jacob teach us the importance of having our hearts set in the right place. I wanted so much to talk about specific steps one must follow to be taught by angels or have the Lord visit me in my home as my patriarchal blessing promises me I shall be. But again, I felt constrained by the spirit to not bring the matter up. I have asked myself why that would be so.
The Church No Longer Teaches Detailed Steps
I feel better about it now. As I write this section, it is after church. The assigned teacher for our High Priest’s group did not show up. The group leader was out of town. The First Assistant asked, “Has anyone read the assigned talks from General Conference we were asked to discuss?” A good worthy brother volunteered and led the most inspiring discussion of the Redemption of Jesus Christ and the desire of the Savior to forgive. You’ll find both in the April 2013 General Conference addresses. During the discussion someone mentioned the idea of a checklist of things we need to accomplish before we die. He even mentioned “that some people feel you must have your calling and election sure, but we’re not supposed to talk about that.” I felt I just had to add a few comments and spoke for nearly five minutes about the idea that not only can we receive the Second Comforter, but that we were commanded to do so by Joseph just before he died in 1844.
Discussing The Second Comforter in Church
Nobody was aghast. Nobody complained. Nobody said, “I’m going to tell on you for talking about something that is forbidden.” To the contrary, I felt the rapt attention of all twenty or so High Priests in the room, nodding their heads in agreement, saying, “That’s right,” and adding their comments that, to me, seemed to be in agreement to my words spoken with passion, “I don’t know why we hear we’re not supposed to talk about receiving the Second Comforter. I shared my witness of seeing the Savior in the Garden and then explaining in my own words what really happened that night that to me, answers the question, “How is it done?” asked by Enos. I ended by asking, “Why do we feel in this church that we can’t talk about receiving the Savior? Why don’t we teach each other how it is done, step by step? Of course I didn’t mention Denver Snuffer but I basically taught them a combination of Denver’s witness from Come, Let us Adore Him from memory, as well as my own witness. Was that wrong? No. The Spirit had prompted it.
Back to the Thesis for a Conclusion
Why did the Church excommunicate Denver Snuffer? He was cut off for publishing Passing the Heavenly Gift and for conducting the lecture tour in which he is now engaged and which he is almost halfway through. A convert to our faith, who claims to have done as we were taught by Joseph Smith – he received the Lord in person – has been expelled from our association solely for delivering a message he claims he was commanded to deliver. I believe the Lord has sent us a legitimate prophet or messenger with a specific message and as an authorized representative of the Lord. After nearly two years of reading his many works, pondering his words and praying numerous times, I want to go on public record – hardly anybody reads my blog anyway – that Denver Snuffer is a servant of the Lord, doing what the Lord told him to do. I have asked this of the Lord too many times to count. I knew it the first day I read PtHG and it has not changed even though the man has been separated from our association by force. I am not saying the fifteen men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators are not authorized by the Lord to lead our church.
A Final Thought
What I am saying is we need to open our minds to the possibility that the Lord could and has sent a messenger, another authorized servant, a prophet with a message that we should consider, and to which we should give heed. I know the man is not perfect, but I do know he was asked by the Lord to teach what he has taught – at his own considerable personal expense – and that the Lord will bless him for being obedient, in spite of being cut off by the institution of the LDS Church. I am not the only one who feels this way. There are many who have received their own witness. I may be one of the most vocal and the most visible due a simple fluke of how search engines work. I feel like Joseph Smith when he said, “I had seen a vision, I knew it and God knew it. How could I deny it?” (paraphrasing) You can tell me I’m deluded, that I’ve been deceived – join the crowd – but that will not change the fact that the Lord has told me over and over that the man cut off by our church for apostasy was simply doing what he was asked to do by a kind and loving Savior. I am like Brigham Young. I studied this for nearly two years. The witness only grows stronger.
Invitation to Dialog – Open to Discussion
I know many of you disagree. I have written about this over twenty times. It started out as a simple book review. Until today, I don’t think I have ever come out and directly expressed my feelings that Denver Snuffer’s books and lectures were inspired by and accepted by the Lord. In other words, why excommunicate a man for doing what he felt the Lord told him to do? I did not find the books to be a trial to my faith, although I know others differ with my opinion. I don’t feel this is a competition between Thomas Monson and Denver Snuffer. What I know about keys is that they give the one who holds them permission to perform a specific assignment. I have no problem answering the question: “Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?” The answer is yes. But I cannot deny when the spirit tells me the Lord gave Denver Snuffer an assignment that he is doing his best to fulfill. I simply do not see any conflict. What do you think?