I am troubled this evening as I write this short post. An online friend has been excommunicated from the LDS Church for apostasy because he wrote in an online forum, much as I have on my blog, that Denver Snuffer is a prophet of God. As the scripture says, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” therefore, if you have knowledge of Jesus Christ, you are a prophet.
Writing Under Spirit of Inspiration
I have read Denver’s testimony of Jesus, as have many others. I concluded long ago he wrote under the spirit of prophecy and inspiration. His books have motivated me to study the gospel and to make greater efforts to live it. I have made no attempt to ask you to believe as I believe nor have I ever mentioned one word about Denver Snuffer or his books in any LDS building.
My Feelings About the Church
Let’s be clear up front. I love this church. I love the people in it. I love the brethren and sisters in my ward and stake. I would not want to do or say anything to cause them discomfort, difficulty or trouble. I love my brethren in the Stake Presidency with whom I serve on a regular basis. I know a stake financial clerk is not that big a deal, but because of it, I know these are good men.
Direction Comes From the Top
Question: What would my stake president do if he received a letter or phone call from a member of the area presidency directing him to convene a disciplinary council on my behalf? Of course he would do it. I would too if I were told to do so. Question two: What if he were given specific directions that I must remove my blog or the twenty-plus posts that deal with Denver Snuffer?
My defense Before the High Council
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I already wrote my defense to the High Council in a previous post. In it I expressed dismay that the Church would try to control the content of a blog written in good faith as an effort to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard. He asked us to be involved in the online dialog going on about the church. That’s exactly what my blog is about.
Definition of Apostasy
Apostasy, in case you’re not aware, is defined as 1) Deliberate opposition to the Church or its leaders in a clear, open and public manner. 2) Teaching as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine after being advised by appropriate authority that it’s false doctrine. 3) To affiliate with, belong to or follow the teachings of apostate sects, such as those that advocate plural marriage.
What Denver Snuffer Teaches
As far as I know, Denver Snuffer does not advocate plural marriage, nor has he expressed any intention to form his own church. I can’t imagine any Church authority proclaiming the doctrine he has taught of the Second Comforter to be false doctrine (D&C 88:68, 93:1, 97:16, 107:18-19). That leaves only deliberate opposition to the Church leaders in a clear, open and public manner.
Why Denver was Excommunicated
From what Denver shared on his blog, he was excommunicated for writing the book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. Now I wasn’t at Brent Larsen’s disciplinary council so I can’t comment about his attitude or if he asked the question, “Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” As I wrote in my previous post on the subject, if the church told me to take down my blog, I would do it.
Similar Testimonies Posted Online
I am encouraged that Daniel Roger’s blog, TheSecondComforter.com still remains. What is so different about posting your testimony of the Savior in a blog as opposed to stating it in a forum? You can read a copy of Brent’s letter of appeal at this link along with some additional insight from Brent’s wife. As always, we only get one side of the story. The Church will not comment.
Submissiveness to Authority
If you are a follower of Christ, talk to me about submissiveness. Tell me what Christ did, how he acted, what he said or didn’t say when he was confronted by those in authority. You know the answer. He was submissive. Like a lamb to the slaughter as the saying goes. Joseph used the same phrase as he went to Carthage, knowing his life would be forfeit to seal his testimony.
And Should We Die
If you’re an old guy like me, you might remember the old B/W movie about the two Mormon leaders in Mexico at the time of Pancho Villa who faced a firing squad rather than denounce their faith. It was entitled, “And Should We Die,” and was made in 1966. I remember we got ahold of a copy on my mission and showed it on the side of the church building one hot night.
It Takes Courage to be a Mormon
We had hundreds of kids and their parents come from many blocks around the church. This was in a very poor part of Central America. Nobody had a TV nor could they afford to go to town to the movie theater. I bring this up as an example of the courage it took to be a Mormon back in the early days of this Church. Now it seems the firing squad has become the local high council.
Killed for Reading a Book
These leaders were killed for reading and believing a book – the Book of Mormon. Apparently if you read and believe books written by Denver Snuffer, you now face excommunication, which in our church is looked upon as spiritual death by some. How can it have come to this? Somebody doesn’t understand what poor PR this is to cast someone out of your church for reading a book.
First Amendment Right Doesn’t Apply
I’ll conclude the way I started this short post. I am troubled by this report. But I’ll reaffirm my intention to do whatever my Priesthood leaders direct. After all, what’s a blog anyway? It’s just a way to communicate and to share feelings. It just seems a shame that we now cast out of our church those who stand up for their right to express their opinions and personal experiences.
The Church is not a Democracy
No U.S. government agency would allow such a thing to happen. We don’t kick people out of America for criticizing the workings of the government or writing a different view of history. But apparently in this church we now cast people out for reading books and expressing our opinion that the author was inspired. I guess the sin was in stating that Denver was a prophet.
This Doesn’t Strengthen the Church Members
All this does is bring more and more attention to what was an obscure local situation in a small part of central Utah. As these excommunications continue, more and more people will learn about Denver Snuffer and want to read his books to find out what all the fuss is about. As I said before, for a church that places such emphasis on good press, this seems like a bad PR move.