Answering the Affiliation Question


 

TempleRecommendWhen I turned in my temple recommend I didn’t expect it to upset so many people. It might have had something to do with blogging about it. There is wisdom in keeping some things private. But blogging about the issue paid off in droves. I received countless emails with advice and ideas on how to solve my dilemma. The solution: Most people concluded I was simply being too honest.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t be too honest. Oh, yes you can. For example, what’s the correct answer to the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” More to the subject at hand, think about the Lord’s instructions to Peter, James and John from the first time he sent them to see what was happening with Adam. There are times it is appropriate to withhold information.

The Affiliation Question

For those who aren’t familiar with the question, from what I remember, it reads like this: “Do you support, affiliate with or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” You can read the temple recommend questions online in many places including the church website.

This question has been discussed ad infinitum in dozens of LDS forums and blogs over the years. It’s still a current topic of discussion. The young people in our church have grown up Internet-savvy. They’re concerned about all the different information they read online about doctrine and history. There are so many things online that simply aren’t taught in the official LDS curriculum.

Become Independent Witnesses

We study and research the facts. This is good practice. We need to think about things. We need to make our own decisions. Hugh B. Brown said: “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the Church and resist all efforts to suppress it.  The Church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.”

One of my long-time readers emailed me this morning. He casually mentioned a chat with his Elder’s Quorum President in his home. My friend was excited about some of the things he was reading and shared them with his Quorum President. What was the response? “I don’t think you should be reading that stuff.” When asked why, he replied, “It’s not published by the church.”

Amen to the Priesthood

This sort of answer causes me to think of the words in Section 121 about control, dominion and compulsion. I know the Brethren want us to be educated. I know they want us to be informed. It is not right to tell a man what he can and cannot read. That is contrary to the plan of the Lord. We are here to gain knowledge or light and truth. The Church doesn’t have a monopoly on truth.

We should encourage free thinking. We should encourage our members to study things out. We should not be telling our members to avoid opposing points of view. That causes blindness of the mind and eventually hardness of heart. I’m serious. How can you treasure the truth if you don’t know what others think? We become unbalanced if we don’t know both sides of our doctrines.

Accepting Counsel and Direction

I know cautions like those expressed by the EQ President of my friend are motivated by love. I feel the same Christ-motivated love from my Bishop and Stake President. Like my wise friend expressed in his email, he appreciated the counsel of his priesthood leader. I also appreciate the counsel of my priesthood leaders as they express their concerns for me in what I read and write.

Because I know they love me, I ponder carefully their counsel and direction. Ultimately, what I read is up to me. I read what I feel inspired to read. Sometimes, the material is not particularly uplifting. That doesn’t matter. It’s what the Lord wants me to know. Not everything in life is all light and rosy. While I would prefer direct revelation, the Lord always tells me to study it out.

Traditions of Our Fathers

As I shared previously, when I turned in my recommend, it was because I felt it was the honest thing to do. I have been very open and clear about my study of the writings shared by a former member of the Church. When I started reading his material, he was a member in good standing. I found in his writings an enormous amount of light and truth, as witnessed by the spirit to me.

Here was my reasoning: I agree with many things this good brother has shared. However, he is no longer a member of the church. Therefore, I can’t answer the affiliation question with a “no.” The tradition in our church is when a man is excommunicated you should no longer consider his words of any value and should refrain from reading anything he may write, or so I’ve observed.

Truth is Truth, No Matter the Source

I was wrong for several reasons. First, the only reason I knew the man had been excommunicated is because he felt it important to be open and honest about his standing with the church. I greatly appreciate that openness. Next, the Church has not published anything to indicate we should not read what this man has written or listen to his lectures. How do we know the Church’s position?

I don’t know if his teachings are contrary to those accepted by the Church unless they tell me. I must rely upon my Priesthood leader to tell me. He receives notices from the First Presidency. He can consult with the Stake President – we already have – and the Stake President can then consult with the Area Authority Seventy. But I doubt there will ever be an official statement.

My Answer to the Affiliation Question

Therefore, my answer to the affiliation question is not only no, but an unqualified no. I’m certain the Church will not direct its members to stay away from reading books or attending lectures in the pursuit of truth and knowledge, or would they? In Handbook 2, section 21.1.40, we read the current policy of the Church in regards to certain kinds of “Symposia and Similar Gatherings.”

“The Church warns its members against symposia and similar gatherings that include presentations that (1) disparage, ridicule, make light of, or are otherwise inappropriate in their treatment of sacred matters or (2) could injure the Church, detract from its mission, or jeopardize its members’ well-being. Members should not allow their position or standing in the Church to be used to promote or imply endorsement of such gatherings.”

Beware of False Prophets

Similarly, Elder Ballard has taught in General Conference,

“Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’” (2 Ne 26:29) CR, Oct 1999, pp. 77–78 or Ensign Nov 1999 pp. 62–63.

Attending Lectures and Conferences

I have been to one of the lectures of this excommunicated individual I am discussing. I found it to be uplifting and enlightening. I came away feeling edified. To be frank, I am fairly certain the policy of the Church is referring to certain Sunstone Conferences of the past. It is also clear the intent of the affiliation question is to weed out those who are members of polygamous groups.

It is unfortunate the policy causes some members of the Church to consider all lectures about the doctrines of the gospel not sponsored by the Church to be “off limits.” I don’t think that was the intent of the Brethren when they published the symposia policy, nor do I think it was the intent of Elder Ballard to discourage learning when he spoke about the subject in General Conference.

Forty Years in Mormonism

I have listened to and studied each of the seven preceding lectures presented by Denver Snuffer. I found no fault in his material meaning I heard nothing that disparaged, ridiculed, made light of or was otherwise inappropriate in the treatment of sacred matters. I have also read nothing in his material that could injure the Church, detract from its mission or jeopardize my well-being.

I have declared previously on my blog that the man presenting the lecture series, “Forty Years in Mormonism,” has a message well worth our time and attention. I consider him a messenger from the Lord, with a “Testimony of Jesus” I have not found elsewhere. Specifically, the man claims to have been ministered to by the Lord and will be talking about that subject this very weekend.

Please Don’t Resign Your Membership

To those who plan on resigning their membership from the Church this week on Pioneer Day, and especially to those of my friends who I know have made that decision, I ask you to please reconsider. Instead of resigning, I invite you to consider the message of the man who claims to have been ministered to by the Lord and claims to be sharing a message given him of the Lord.

Yes, this borders on advocating, but I recommend it to the alternative being considered. To those of you who have no problems with the “untaught” history and changes in the Church over the years, this message is not for you. For those of my friends who are unhappy with the perceived deceptive practices and lack of forthrightness of the Church in the past, please heed my plea.

We Need You – Don’t Leave Yet

You can do much good as a member of this Church. Many of you are young, intelligent, returned missionaries, married in the temple. I have heard you teach. I have heard your testimonies. I have seen your loving concern for your brothers and sisters in PEC meetings and in ward council. We need you. We need your voices, if nothing more than to make Gospel Doctrine class interesting.

I express my love for you. I hope you will come back. I have sought the Lord diligently for all my life. I have found no better place to associate with like-minded individuals than within the membership of this Church. I know there are problems. I know it is difficult to attend when you hear the same thing over and over again. There is wisdom in the practice of “milk before meat.”

You Are Some of Our Best and Brightest

I had a long-time reader tell me privately “these are not our best and brightest” that are resigning. I disagree. You are smart and talented. You are savvy as to the ways of the world because you have had to deal with things in your youth we older folks never encountered. You know how to make a convincing presentation and how to passionately persuade others to your views on truth.

You have energy and drive we need. You are knowledgeable about the scriptures, the doctrines of the Church and especially about the issues that face it. Many of the older members are blind in that they do not see these issues. To them, all is well in Zion. You and I know otherwise. Yes, you will make a big splash with lots of media attention on Pioneer Day but what about after that?

I Have Been in the Lord’s Presence

I have been asked if I have been ministered to by the Lord. The answer is yes. I have not seen Him but I have been in His presence. I have never shared this before. The baptism of fire is real. I have also been in the presence of the adversary. They are both real. So is the Holy Ghost. We can talk with the Lord. We can converse with Him through the veil. Please let Him guide you.

I long for the day when I will be ushered into the presence of the Father again. It is the Son that takes us there. It is true there are some things too sacred to share but bearing witness of the love of the Savior is not one of them. You’ve heard me teach. I wish I could be in your presence so you could feel my words. I pray the Lord’s blessing upon you. He asked me to share these words.

Questions on LDS Blogging and Apostasy


StatementOnApostasyIn response to the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, and the pending disciplinary actions against John Dehlin, and Rock Waterman, The Office of the First Presidency issued a statement on apostasy today. As an active LDS Blogger, I am especially interested in this clarifying message positioned as “Addressing Doctrine and Questions.”

Statement from The First Presidency

“In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of His children, the blessings of His priesthood are equally available to men and women. Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the Church has equal merit in the eyes of God.

“We express profound gratitude for the millions of Latter-day Saint women and men who willingly and effectively serve God and His children. Because of their faith and service, they have discovered that the Church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth.

“We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding.

“We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them. Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy.

“Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.”

Applying This Statement to LDS Bloggers

While the First Presidency statement is helpful and provides additional clarification to what is found in the handbook, I still find myself uncertain how it applies to me and other LDS bloggers. I met recently with my Stake President and Bishop to review my own blogging activities, which contain questions about LDS history and doctrine, and my attempts to find satisfying answers.

Blog Readers Not Followers in This Context

In the blogging world, readers are sometimes called followers. I have thousands of readers who receive my posts each time I publish. In some of my posts, questions about doctrine, history or practice go unanswered, with open invitations for my readers to offer their thoughts, opinions, ideas and related quotes. I don’t teach doctrine on my blog. I seek answers to honest questions.

Attending Lectures From Cast-off Members

I traveled to Utah to attend a lecture today delivered by a man some LDS members have called a messenger or servant or even a prophet of God. The lecture was the seventh in a series of ten lectures in a series entitled “Forty Years in Mormonism.” Denver Snuffer was excommunicated for apostasy by the LDS church last year exactly forty years to the day after he was baptized.

Desire to Understand Denver’s Message

This is the first of his lectures I was able to attend in person because it coincided with a planned trip to Utah to attend Carol’s family reunion. I am extremely grateful to Carol, who, knowing how much I wanted to attend this lecture on the Savior, surprised me by arranging a rental car for me to travel down to the lecture in the morning and still attend the reunion in the afternoon.

Sharing Ideas of Those Excommunicated

Because I find Denver Snuffer’s books, blog postings and lectures so fascinating, I share much of what he has shared, usually with additional thought about how it applies to me or to anyone who is serious about his primary subject, which is to receive the Savior while yet in mortality. Inasmuch as he has been excommunicated, does my sharing of his ideas constitute apostasy?

Other Bloggers Disciplined For Sharing

I continue to ask this question specifically because of the recent cases of Brent Larsen and Will Carter, two LDS bloggers excommunicated for writing about Denver’s message on their own blogs. If members are “always free to ask questions as they seek greater understanding,” and “asking questions has never constituted apostasy,” why were Brent and Will excommunicated?

Consideration of Specific Open Cases

You’ll have to decide for yourself if Kate Kelly’s action constituted advocacy that went beyond asking questions. John Dehlin’s case has been “de-escalated.”  He will be meeting with his Stake President this weekend. Can John’s Advocacy for greater kindness toward LGBT members be called apostasy? Rock’s case is open. He has been told to stop his blogging activities or resign.

Advocacy, Criticism, Doctrine and Questions

Without arguing the merits of their ideas or causes, I see advocacy in Kate’s and John’s cases. But what about Rock’s criticism of church practices? There is no advocacy there that I can find. As far as I can tell, his local priesthood leaders simply don’t like the criticism. Is that a just cause to ask him to stop blogging, resign or face disciplinary action? Do you see advocacy on his blog?

Bloggers are Targets for Public Opposition

Of course, advocacy is not the only criteria to judge apostasy. There is also the public opposition clause to consider. Before Denver was excommunicated last year, I posted dozens of positive things I found in his books and on his blog that demonstrated his support for the church. I was amazed by the number of opponents who said they found just as many that opposed the church.

Blogging in a Search for Clarification

When I asked for details, one or two readers shared a few quotes they considered to fall into the category of public opposition. I disagreed. I felt they were simply items of fact from our history. Inasmuch as I continue to assert my belief that Denver is indeed an inspired messenger from the Lord, acting as His servant and thus a prophet, am I an apostate because I also blog about it?

Seeking definitions of Some Key Words

I am not advocating anyone follow me or Denver. I am not teaching doctrine. I am asking a few questions and seeking clarifications on some key words. What is a messenger? Can the Lord send us messengers from outside the church hierarchy? Can a man be a servant of the Lord without being a member of the LDS Church? Are there other prophets besides “The” prophet?

Blogging is Usually a Public Activity

Is blogging considered public opposition by its very nature? The church asked us to be involved in the public discourse. We have been asked to let our voices be heard online. What if some of the voices are not quite in harmony with the standard historical narrative? In recent years the church has rescinded or corrected key elements of our history. The church has admitted error.

Blogging is All About Open Dialog

I’ll finish this post with two thoughts. First, I’m not criticizing the church, its faithful leaders, the doctrine, history or practices. I am simply asking a few open-ended questions. I appreciate and accept answers from all readers. I seek my own answers in the scriptures, books and online sources. But I would be a fool to ignore the extremely valuable resource of thousands of readers.

Receive the Words of a True Messenger

Second, I am serious about answering those questions about Denver. He says he is not important. I disagree. In my lifetime, I have never heard a message so clearly from anyone like what Denver has shared. It has always been there in the scriptures. In the three hour lecture today, the great majority of what I heard came from scripture or from doctrine found in the Lectures on Faith.

The Lord Defines a Prophet, Not the Church

Why in the world would the LDS Church cast out a prophet sent from the Lord with a message intended for our salvation and benefit? According to the Statement from the First Presidency today, I am entitled to ask this question. What I heard today was true doctrine. It inspired me. It increased my desire to come unto Christ. For this good thing, the LDS Church has cast him out?

Don’t Blame Me, I Just Report the News


ThisIsNotThePlaceEarlier this month, a Facebook event was created entitled, “This is not the place.” It is subtitled, “Mass resignation from the LDS Church,” and is to protest Kate’s excommunication. The event is scheduled to be held at City Creek Park on 24 July 2014 in Salt Lake City, which is Pioneer Day, a holiday in the state of Utah. I’m sure it will be well attended, at least by the news media.

Mass Resignations From the LDS Church

A similar event was held sometime after the Proposition 8 fallout. I knew some of the people who resigned at that time. I have kept in touch with many of them. They are still my friends on Facebook. They seem happy for the most part, but of course, I only know most of them from interactions on my blog over the years. I also have some friends who are resigning on July 24th.

We Are Losing Some of the Best and Brightest

From what I see, these are young people – well, young to me. I am an old guy, although not nearly as wise and experienced as those who lead this church. These young people seem smart. In fact, in my interactions with them, I know they are. They are, for the most part, college grads with good jobs, well-educated, many being returned missionaries, many married in the temple.

A Serious Step to Get Your Message Across

Why, we must ask ourselves, are these young people leaving the church? According to some estimates I have read, they hope to have thousands participate in the mass resignation. They are also encouraging those who are dissatisfied or disaffected by the disciplinary actions against Kate and John and Rock to ask their own priesthood leaders to hold a disciplinary council.

Understanding Why People Leave the Church

I’m just a blogger so don’t get upset with me for reporting the news. It’s not a secret. But I would like to point out another site created by John Dehlin several years ago specifically to help young people stay in the church, in spite of their feelings about being lied to about church history or about the discriminatory practices against blacks and women or other concerns they may have.

Consider the Contributions of John Dehlin

I have long been a fan or follower of John Dehlin’s work. I believe he has done more good to help those who are disaffected reconsider their desires to leave the church. He is an advocate for the LDS LGBT community and outspoken about marriage equality. I’m not saying I agree with his work as an activist but I do agree with his work to promote tolerance, acceptance and love.

You May Learn Some Things New at StayLDS

If you haven’t been to StayLDS lately, I encourage you to visit the site and view the presentation originally created by John. There is other good material on the site to help foster understanding about why people leave the LDS church. I especially enjoyed viewing the “Top Five Myths Why Committed Mormons Leave the LDS Church.” It may be an eye opener if you haven’t seen it.

Imagine Being Asked to Resign From the Church

John has been asked to resign from the church. He later reported he will be meeting with his Stake President in the next week or so. I met with my Bishop and Stake President earlier this week and am pleased to report we are working things out. I have a new appreciation from my dear bishop of just how my posts have affected some people I love and don’t want to hurt.

For the Record From Daymon Smith

In the spirit of Daymon Smith’s “For the record” posted Thursday, I would like to post my own official statement of disclaimers, specifically for those who want to know what my intentions are and why I write as I do. I record this late at night, in St George, on my way to a family reunion this weekend, after driving all day, so it may be a little incoherent, but I want to get it posted.

Question and Answer with Latter-day Commentary

Q. Do you feel you have changed your style or tone over the years?

A. I didn’t think so until a long-time reader pointed out some differences in the way I answered some questions put to me by a reader. I was much more church-centric back when I started.

Q. Can you explain what you mean by “church-centric?”

A. I started blogging in 2007. I specifically wanted to provide standard answers that I could use in answering all the common questions we were and still are getting on the Internet.

Q. Like what?

A. Plural Marriage, Blacks and the Priesthood, Mormons and Masonry, The peep-stone in the hat, Multiple versions of the First Vision, Book of Abraham, Adam-God, Mountain Meadows, Mark Hoffman forgeries, Elder McConkie’s treatment of George Pace, President Benson and Alzheimer’s disease, Kinderhook Plates, DNA evidence of American Indians, and on and on.

Q. So why do you call these “church-centric” issue and answers?

A. I tried to make my responses correlate as close as possible with what I had been taught as a missionary, what I had read in the correlated church handbooks and CES material when I was a seminary teacher and with the answers I found on official church websites.

Q. And now?

A. I am more focused on coming unto Christ.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I guess I’m not so concerned about all the historical issues the church has had. Most people who have studied them have concluded the church did not record them accurately, and in many cases, changed the record to make it look better. The church has acknowledged this and is doing something about it by publishing original documents from the very early days of the church.

Q. So you no longer focus on answering historical questions.

A. That’s correct. A few years ago I read a book that changed my life.

Q. You’re referring to Denver Snuffer’s “Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.”

A. No, actually, I’m referring to his 2011 book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift.”

Q. You do know that’s the book for which he was excommunicated last year?

A. Of course. But still, it changed my life when I read it.

Q. How so?

A. I could not put it down. I picked it up to give it a quick perusal just before I went to bed one night to see what it was all about. A friend had asked me about it so I bought it and thought I would write a few words about it on my blog.

Q. And…

A. I stayed up all night reading it. It was a spiritual experience for me.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I mean, I had multiple sacred “ah-ha” moments of enlightenment as I was reading, and when I finished, I knelt down and asked the Lord to let me know what He thought about the book.

Q. And He told you?

A. In no uncertain terms.

Q. What did He say?

A. He said I didn’t need to continue my blogging efforts to answer everybody’s objections to the historical difficulties they were having with our church.

Q. Why is that?

A. Because Denver Snuffer had answered them perfectly.

Q. You do know, of course, there are many people who disagree with his conclusions?

A. Of course. But that means nothing when you get an answer from the Lord.

Q. Let’s move on to something else. You said you are more focused on coming unto Christ.

A. Yes.

Q. Can you elaborate?

A. I went back and read all of Denver’s books, including the other one you mentioned.

Q. “Conversing With The Lord Through the Veil?”

A. Yes. I decided the most important thing I could do with the rest of my life would be to live in such a way that I am prepared to receive a visit from the Lord in this life.

Q. And you believe that is possible?

A. Not only do I believe it, but the Lord has promised it in multiple places in the scriptures.

Q. Now, be honest. How many people do you know who claimed to have seen the Lord?

A. Less than a half dozen.

Q. And you believe them?

A. Why should I doubt?

Q. Because when you meet the Lord, you’re not supposed to talk about it.

A. That’s a myth, generated by those who can’t explain why it isn’t happening to more people.

Q. Let’s wrap this up. What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. Let me do two things. Let me first state unequivocally what I’m not trying to do and then I’ll answer your question to the best of my ability.

Q. Please. Go ahead.

A. First of all, I am not trying to encourage anyone to leave this church. In fact, I am trying to do the opposite. Stay. We need you. We need your strength. We need your talents and abilities. We need your service, your help, your testimonies and your love of the Savior to share with us.

Next, let’s be clear. I am not the cause of anyone deciding to leave this church. Just because I report on events of the day or I write a book review about a controversial book, it is up to the individual to decide how they will take the news or if they like my opinion of the book.

And finally, I want to make sure everyone who reads this knows I have no doubts that God is our Heavenly Father, that He lives and loves us and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior, our Lord and Redeemer. He is calling out to each of us to repent and come unto Him. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to translate the Book of Mormon.

He did this through the gift and power of God. It is scripture and we need to spend more time studying it so we can understand God’s will for us in these last days. I know the Lord established His church through Joseph Smith and restored priesthood authority and keys of the kingdom. I sustain the leaders of this church as prophets, seers and revelators and pray for their success.

Q. Thank you. And the last question: What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. I am on a journey, a spiritual journey. I have questions I am trying to answer. I am sharing my journey with those who are interested. Sometimes the stuff I write may be mundane and boring. But it is my hope and prayer that something I write can help someone else who has asked the same question and is on the same journey, believing that D&C 93:1 can be fulfilled in mortality.

Q. And that concludes our interview with Latter-day Commentary by blogger Tim Malone since it’s now one o’clock in the morning. We hope to have future interviews and delve deeper into some of the subjects you raised, especially your contention that the scriptures about the Lord coming to visit men and women in this life are meant to be literally fulfilled in a physical way.

A. Thank you. God bless and good night.

Conservative Mormon Bloggers Under Scrutiny


RockWatermanOne of my greatest desires as a blogger is to help people of differing beliefs and political ideologies come together in a unified search for peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus I was delighted today to be able to express and expound upon those sentiments to Kristen Moulton of the Salt Lake Tribune, substituting for the vacationing Peggy Fletcher Stack.

Disciplined for Following a Prophet

The focus of the piece is that conservative Mormons, as well as progressives, are being called in and disciplined by their local leaders for their blogging activities. I don’t fall into that category, since I’m under no disciplinary restrictions, but because I’ve written much on the subject, I was honored to be asked my opinion. The piece was well done. My contribution was two small ideas.

Asking Questions is not the Same as Doubt

I’d like to elaborate on those ideas for a minute to illustrate an observation that is now becoming clearer to me each day as this drama unfolds, a drama which many people hope will blow over soon, and which the majority of the church outside Utah has very little idea even exists. First, the idea of asking questions seems to be misinterpreted by many conservatives as expressing doubt.

Some Think it Not Acceptable to Ask Questions

I can’t tell you how many of my conservative friends have written me privately, as well as on the blog, expressing grave concerns for the welfare of my soul. I know they love me. I know their concern is genuine. We’ve served together in past leadership positions or have worshiped in the same wards and stakes over the past fifty plus years I have been a member of the LDS Church.

Some Seem to be Afraid of Asking Questions

For some reason, it just strikes them wrong to ask a question that may or may not be answered in the official curriculum of the church. And if I dare to suggest the answers provided in the official material may not be exactly truthful, meaning they leave out parts of the story or the narrative is perhaps slightly embellished to make the church look better, why, I’m sowing seeds of doubt.

Church Encourages Us to Ask Hard Questions

Nothing could be further from the truth. I love to ask questions. It’s how I learn. It’s part of my nature. I ask questions, then I answer them. I’m confident I can find quotes from at least a half dozen General Authorities endorsing this manner of learning as being superior to simply reading the scriptures every day. We are to search the scriptures and be ready to defend church doctrines.

Elder Ballard Encouraged us to Be Active on Blogs

Second is the idea that blogging is somehow a rebellious activity in the church – something only progressive activists do. Neither idea is anywhere remotely close to the truth but I encounter both every day on this blog. Misunderstanding goes with the territory. I openly invite participation and encourage comments. I do not censor anything, no matter what kind of comment they leave – unless they are obvious trolls.

Trolls Should be Banned for Contention

I get trolls just like every other blogger. In case you don’t know, a troll is someone who will do everything they can to stir up contention. They will be personally abusive with ad hominem attacks and will purposefully misrepresent the facts. I suppose trolls have their place. They can sure get the conversation going, but they don’t contribute anything intellectually constructive.

Blogging Can and Does Make a Difference

I started my blog just before Elder Ballard invited all members of the church to be involved in the Internet conversations taking place with or without us. He said we could make a difference. He was right. I’ve seen that evidenced time after time as friendships are created, ideas are then discussed with passion, and conclusions are reached with agreement or a better sense of unity.

Open a Dialog, Have a Conversation, Let’s Talk

HannahWheelwrightDo all bloggers and their readers agree on the ideas expressed? Of course not, there are too many divergent views based on differing experiences in life. But just the fact we are having a dialog to discuss the doctrine, a policy or practice is constructive and allows us to exercise kindness in the way we respond to each other. It’s especially helpful if we pray before we write responses. I do.

Most LDS Leaders are Ideologically Conservative

Because many if not most of the local leaders in LDS congregations are conservative by nature, and usually very successful in business, law or medicine, they tend to be authoritative and, well, controlling to a degree. I hate to say it but it’s true. They seem to see it as their most important duty to make sure the meetings run smoothly, emotions are under control and all is peaceful.

Seems Not Okay to Ask Questions in Church Classes

While it is a commendable practice, I have to wonder how much ministering is done when the members feel it is NOT okay to bring up their questions in the classrooms. There seems to be an immense amount of pressure to project “all is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth” that nobody wants to get down to the raw nitty-gritty of problems they may be experiencing with doctrine.

Church History Narrative Not Always Accurate

It is especially manifest in discussions of church history. For the longest time, we have been spoon-fed the same standard narrative of “this is how it was” and there is no other interpretation. Unfortunately, there are some who know otherwise. They have done as the prophets have asked us to do and have discovered some things were not exactly as they have always been presented.

Bloggers are an Inquisitive, Questioning Bunch

This is common to both progressive activists and conservative bloggers. President Boyd K. Packer one time proclaimed that three of the greatest threats to the church are intellectuals, gays and feminists. I used to wonder why he would call such members threats. Why should we limit the participation and acceptance of members of our faith because they fall into these categories?

Should be Room for Everybody in This Church

What about John Dehlin’s argument that he is happy as a cultural Mormon and just wants to be left alone? What’s wrong with that? Isn’t there a place for him in this church? So what if he doesn’t believe a lot of the truth claims of the church. Must you believe everything the church teaches in order to be a member? Isn’t any other behavior a controlling and thus forbidden act?

Cultural Mormons Want a Place in the Church

In other words, why are we excommunicating members for what they believe, especially if they are NOT encouraging others to doubt or to leave the church? I have read or listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts from Mormon Stories and have not lost my belief or faith in Jesus Christ or the role this Church has to play in these Latter-days. Why are so many conservatives so fearful?

Excommunicated for Endorsing a New Book

But what really gets me upset is the way some conservative LDS leaders have forced their members to “shut up” and not share their appreciation for the words or writings of individuals who have helped them come closer to Christ. In particular, I am extremely disappointed that stake presidents have excommunicated members for simply telling their friends about a book.

Amen to the Priesthood of that Leader

Seriously. We’ll never hear the other side of the story, but when the excommunicant explains they were cast off for simply recommended a book and wanting to discuss it with friends, I say the leaders have abused their priesthood or worse, have lost it because they exercised control, compulsion, and unrighteous dominion. That is not the purpose of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The Internet Changed Everything for Research

Now back to the story for some concluding thoughts. From Jan Shipps: “The fact they are going in both directions [against conservatives and progressives],” Shipps said, “makes me think the church is finally coming to grips with the fact the Internet is changing the situation.” Oh, how I hope that is true. I’ve made a living with the power of the Internet for the last twenty-five years.

Every Member Should be an Amateur Historian

I have watched it bring people together like nothing else ever has. One of the best uses of the Internet, in my opinion, is the sharing of gospel doctrine and newly discovered LDS historical evidence. The fact should be obvious to all by now our history has been whitewashed, covered-up or embellished, especially in the earliest 1820-1840 developments in some very key areas.

We Lost an Opportunity With the Death of Joseph

Here’s my concluding point. I love to research church history. It makes a difference in my faith. It helps me to understand what Joseph Smith was trying to do. He wanted to establish Zion much more than to simply start a new church. The Lord intended to perform a marvelous work and a wonder through him that simply did not get completed. He died before it could be brought about.

It’s Time to Prepare Ourselves Individually for Zion

Enough time has passed – four generations according to the scriptures – that we now have an opportunity to establish Zion again. But we must individually become a Zion people. We must come unto Christ, receive Him in this life. That’s the entire purpose of the temple, to receive the Savior and have Him confer the power of the priesthood upon us – both upon men and women.

Just Expressing my Thoughts – Don’t Crucify me

False doctrine, you say? Not from what I’ve read and not from what the scriptures teach. Yet every time I try to provide the evidence from our scriptures and our historical records I am lambasted for heresy. I know I don’t have all the answers yet. I wonder if anyone in this church understands what the Lord was trying to do through the Prophet Joseph Smith. What say ye?

Comments are Still Welcome – Trolls are Warned

New policy: Trolls and Haters are subject to banning. The policy against no ad-hominem attacks will be enforced. Your comments are welcome, but only if you can provide a sound and logical argument, devoid of contention. Passionate expression of opinion is allowed and concern for the welfare of others is always appreciated. But please, no knee-jerk “you’re a fool” crap anymore.

God bless and thanks for reading and sharing.

Update: I felt the church’s response was important enough to include a link in the post:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765655450/LDS-Church-responds-to-concerns-over-member-questions.html

Yet, members who leave comments or questions on blogs are still being called in and questioned by their bishops:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58088940-78/church-bishop-leaders-mormons.html.csp

 

Conversation With The Bishop


PriesthoodLeadersThis is a fictional account. It is based on current events, but it is NOT how things went down with my Bishop. I have promised to keep that confidential. I share it because of the intense interest in the excommunication of various LDS bloggers in the news lately, including the impending disciplinary actions against Mormon Activists John Dehlin and Kate Kelly. I do not consider myself a Mormon activist. I considered it at one time, but it always seems to lead to excommunication. Enjoy.

——————————————————

“Hi Brother Malone. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine, Bishop. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.”

“You’re welcome. What would you like to talk about?”

The temple. Specifically the temple recommend questions.”

“Alright, any particular question that’s bothering you?”

“Yes, it’s the one that reads, ‘Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?’”

“I’ve very familiar with that one. What’s the trouble?”

“Well Bishop, you know we’re commanded to “…seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

“Of course. That’s D&C 88:118

“Sometimes I like to read books that some members of the church would find objectionable – you know, stuff from Signature Books, and SunStone publications, that sort of thing.”

“I’m not too familiar with those, but go on…”

“I also like to read blogs and listen to podcasts that some would say are, well… not faith-promoting or uplifting…”

“Why in the world would you want to do that? I barely have enough time to read the scriptures every day.”

“I know. You’re a very busy man. I’m glad you’re the bishop and not me. We always pray for you in our family.”

“Thank you, Tim. I feel the prayers of the members. Now, what’s this have to do with the temple questions?”

“There’s this one guy in particular who has written some really interesting stuff, but he’s been excommunicated…”

“I don’t know, Tim. I wouldn’t go there if I were you. It seems like dangerous ground. Why would you read his stuff?”

“He wasn’t excommunicated when I started reading his stuff. He has some great books on how we can come unto Christ.”

“OK, yeah. I think I’ve heard of him – Denver Snuffer, right? I still don’t think I would read his stuff, but go on…”

“It started as a simple book review. I enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I read. You know I have an LDS-themed blog.

“Oh, yes. I’m well aware of it. I don’t read it but other members have told me about it. You’ve got some controversial stuff.”

“I know. I started it just before Elder Ballard asked us to get involved in the online conversations about the church out there.”

“That’s good, Tim. Tell me how reading this apostate’s book is connected to the temple recommend question you quoted.”

“Remember, he wasn’t an apostate when he wrote most of his books. It’s only his last book that got him into trouble.

“OK, fine. But he’s now been excommunicated for apostasy so I wouldn’t touch his stuff. It seems like a waste of time.”

“I never did very well in school – had trouble with lectures. Didn’t get things until I read and studied it and then wrote about it.”

“I understand. So you’re a hands-on kind of learner, right? Lots of people are like that. They have trouble with lectures and talks.”

“Good. I’m glad. Thanks. That makes me feel better. So you get why I have to not just read stuff, but need to write things out.”

“I get it Brother Malone. Let’s circle back to the temple recommend question. Are you saying this guy teaches polygamy?”

“No, nothing like that. But he’s got a lot of good points that I hadn’t considered before, things that have to do with our history.”

“OK. Is he starting a church and asking people to join? Or are you just having some trouble with the questions he has raised?”

“No, he’s not starting a church. In fact, he’s encouraging everyone to stay in the church and continue to serve wherever asked.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Some of my blogging friends have been excommunicated simply for writing about this guys stuff.”

“And that troubles you….”

“Oh, yeah. There’s this church committee called the Strengthening the Church Members committee.”

“I guess I’ve never heard of it.”

“Yeah, I think Elder Holland or Elder Oaks called it a clipping service, but now everything’s on the Internet, so it more like a reading service.”

“You’re losing me. Why are you bringing this up?”

“Well, you know I’m a computer guy, right? That’s how I make my living.’

“OK, so?”

“Well, we bloggers are very interested in who reads our stuff, how they found us, what keyword searches they use and how long they stayed.”

“OK, makes sense.”

“We can track the visitors down to the IP address they use. We can almost pinpoint the physical address from where they read our stuff.”

“That doesn’t mean anything to me. Can you get to the point about the temple recommend question?”

“Alright, Bishop. I’m sorry. I just want to make sure you understand why I’m turning in my temple recommend.”

“You’re what?”

“Yeah. here you go.”

<Bishop looks stunned>

“I don’t know what to say. Why are you doing this? Is this because your friends have been excommunicated?

“I’m not really sure, bishop. I’m still trying to figure out my own feelings. I am kind of upset about that, but it’s a matter of honesty for me.”

“What do you mean?”

“If I were going for a temple recommend, having never been endowed, and you asked the affiliation question, I’d have to say yes.”

“You mean you agree with the stuff this apostate teaches?”

“I don’t know. But I do know I have sympathy for what my blogging buddies are going through – being ex’ed for simply reading a book.”

“OK. I can understand being upset about your blogging buddies, but you don’t know the whole story and never will. Only their leaders know.”

“Agreed. But because I like to be thorough in my research, I‘m going to attend a couple of the lectures of this excommunicated author next month.”

“I see. I’m going to hold on to your recommend. I think I need to talk to the Stake President about this. I’ve never run across this before.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry Bishop. I know I’m a pain in the rear. I just can’t answer ‘no’ to that question. I hope you’ll understand.”

“I do, Tim. I know you’re a good man. We’ve always appreciated your service over the years. Let’s get together next week with the Stake President.”

“Thanks, Bishop. I’ll look forward to it.”

Defining Bounds the Lord Has Set


PtHG_GoodreadsOf all the comments in my recent posts on Priesthood, this one got me thinking, pondering and praying. I have split Darin’s comment into a few paragraphs. I was especially interested in the third paragraph because I have heard it before from someone I love dearly. I don’t find Darin’s comments offensive. In fact, I’d like to share my conversation with the Lord about them.

On 5 June 2014 at 9:33pm, Darin said

“You quote Snuffer as though he was Joseph Smith or the prophet, be careful. You can see why Snuffer got in trouble. People begin quoting him like he was in charge and was The Prophet. This is not good.

“You have some good ideas, but I implore you to follow the twelve and the FP, as they will lead you in the ways of salvation. Be careful in not going beyond the bounds the Lord has set.

“So if all this does not happen to us in this life are we just damned? Should I live my life in depression because these things have not happened to me or even some of the most righteous people I know?

“I am not a new comer to all this, meaning I have studied and thought and prayed on these things for years. I am not saying you are totally wrong, but straying a little can take you far off the path. There is great wisdom in staying with the main part of the church and its appointed and known leaders. Best wishes to you.”

Endurance to the End is Enough

I’ve heard Darin’s excellent point in the third paragraph phrased this way: “Can’t we just endure to the end? The Lord doesn’t want to talk to me. I’m not a prophet. I’m just a regular member of the church. I’ve been baptized, endowed and sealed in the temple. I go to the temple as often as I can. I try to fulfil my callings and be kind like the Savior. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”

We Determine How Well We Endure

As far as I have been able to determine, the answer is up to us. We determine what it means to endure to the end. We decide if there is more to the temple than we have received. I know the Lord is pleased with any efforts we make to follow His example. Any relief we can give to the poor, the hungry, the suffering is met with appreciation by the Lord and our Father in Heaven.

Use Temple Instruction at Home

Isn’t it possible there is more to the temple than we receive there? What if the Lord intended for us to practice some of the things we are taught there, such as the True Order of Prayer, in our own homes? Is that going beyond the bounds the Lord has set? And, by the way, who is it that determines what those bounds are – the Lord or the Prophet? Should they be one and the same?

Here are the Keys of the Priesthood

When I prayed about a response to Darin, the Lord reminded me of section 121, which has been a part of the dialog in the last two posts. The phrases that came to mind are found in verses 41-42: “…by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge…” Then the Lord surprised me with some additional insight.

The Powers of Heaven Defined

Part of the dialog on priesthood revolved around the word “powers.” We have discussed not just power in the priesthood but powers of heaven. What are the powers of heaven? We determined there are at least angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, cherubim and Seraphim. Above those are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, which we strive to be.

How to Relate to True Messengers

The thought that occurred to me in prayer was this: How do I relate to the powers of heaven? We teach the right way to deal with our fellow man is by using the guidelines in verses 41 and 42. If you back up and look closely at verse 36, or parse it, as someone we know is wont to say, you’ll find it includes instructions on how to relate to the powers of heaven, including true messengers.

The Way of Life and Salvation

After all, isn’t that the first step we should be taking – to receive true messengers from God? As far as I remember, it is these messengers who will lead us in the way of life and salvation. Have I prepared myself to receive true messengers? Do I know what I would ask of them if given such an opportunity? Would I be kind to them, gentle and meek? Will I persuade them to help me?

Do Not Violate Sacred Obligations

Going back to the title of my post, you will note I’m discussing some aspects of the temple in this post. In fact, I have discussed the temple many times on my blog, including the True Order of Prayer. As I pointed out in that post, I asked the Lord if it was OK to share my thoughts on the subject. The Lord said yes. To me, that was evidence I had not violated any sacred obligations.

Blogging as a Gift of the Spirit

I feel the same way with each of my posts lately. I pray about each one of them. I ask the Lord what he would have me share. I seek inspiration as I write. I believe writing in an informative, uplifting and inspiring manner is one of the gifts of the spirit we should seek. I know some people are uncomfortable with some of the things I share. Again, who is setting the bounds?

Testimony of Jesus Spirit of Prophecy

Now for my responses to Darin: Yes, I do quote Denver Snuffer as if he were a prophet of the Lord. That’s because anyone who has a testimony of Jesus and speaks in His name under the power and influence of the Holy Ghost has the spirit of prophecy and is therefore a prophet. I know what you mean by THE prophet. Perhaps we could discuss this to better understand.

Would God that all were Prophets

Just because President Monson is an inspired man whom we sustain as a prophet, seer and revelator does not mean that there are no other prophets. This is obvious because we also sustain the other members of the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers and revelators. Does that mean only they can receive revelation?

God Speaks to Many People

Of course they’re not the only men to whom the Lord speaks. We agree they are the only ones the Lord will inspire with direction binding upon all members of the church. But this doesn’t mean there can’t be other prophets who deliver messages from the Lord. It is up to us to decide for ourselves if we accept messages from others who claim they have a message from the Lord.

Don’t Put Limits on the Lord

I know this is a hard concept for members of the church to accept, but it is true nonetheless. I know what you’re thinking. Follow the Prophet. Amos 3:7. If the Lord has a message for us, he will deliver it through the President of the Church. Wait a minute. Not so fast. Don’t put limits on the Lord. I know he doesn’t want us to be confused. That’s why we have D&C section 28.

Write Not by Way of Commandment

The story of Hiram Page, the seer-stone incident, is instructive for all who write under the spirit of inspiration or revelation. In D&C 28, Oliver was taught “…thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom; And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church…” He was instructed to take Hiram Page aside and teach him this principle.

Write by Way of Wisdom

I’m glad we had this little incident early on in our church history. It has helped tremendously when others have claimed to speak on behalf of the Lord by way of commandment. And that’s the key here. What Denver Snuffer shares in his books, on his blog and in his lectures, as far as I have been able to tell, is not by way of commandment, but by wisdom, for us to consider.

Lead us to the Lord’s Scriptures

Just because I can quote Denver Snuffer doesn’t mean I can’t also quote President Monson or any one of the fifteen men who lead this church. Besides, quoting Denver isn’t so hard. Anyone can do it. Just look up a keyword on his blog and there you go. I quote Him because I find his words to be enlightening, uplifting and instructive. They have turned me to the scriptures.

Controlling What Members May Publish

You wrote Denver got into trouble because people began quoting him. I don’t think that’s why he was excommunicated, unless you know something I don’t. He was cast off because he would not withdraw Passing the Heavenly Gift from publication. You can read the letter from his stake president on Denver’s blog. Even his stake president referred people to Denver’s blog for details.

Press On Until We Meet With the Lord

I finish this post the way I started, by referring to that third paragraph in Darin’s comment. I hear you, Darin. I don’t think we should choose to live in depression if we feel our prayers haven’t been answered and we haven’t been visited by the Lord. I think we should continue to humbly petition the Lord to help us prepare to come into His presence either in this life or in the next.

Appetites and Passions, Not What we Write

I appreciate the reminder from Darin to not go beyond the bounds the Lord has set. I’d like to open the dialog with that thought. It has been on my mind a lot lately, ever since two fellow bloggers were excommunicated for referring to PtHG and writing they found good in the book. I feel the same way. I found wisdom there. Is Denver’s book beyond the bounds the Lord has set?

When Good People Oppose Your Best Work


TMalonePatriarchalBlessingA while back I wrote an article entitled, “When Religion Comes Between Spouses.” It was my best effort at that time to share my ideas, successes and failures in dealing with a personal problem I was experiencing – and continue to experience in my marriage: a spouse who does not feel comfortable with, understand or encourage my blogging activities – for various reasons.

Stick Your Head in the Sand Mentality

I know from past experience this post is going to be difficult for a lot of people. For some reason that is a mystery to me, there are good people who simply do not want to talk about, discuss or see others write about subjects they consider sacred cows, such as what constitutes a testimony, what is a prophet, how revelation is received, who can receive revelation and if it can be shared.

Life’s Work to Teach the Gospel

I do not wish to offend. As with each of my posts, I ask the Lord to guide and bless me in the words and phrases I use. It is my desire to share in a manner that will be helpful and perhaps provide information you need to move your life’s work along. This blog is my life’s work, which is why I have approached the Lord in prayer first. I need to improve my communication skills.

This is Not a Scholarly Piece of Work

My method in writing these posts is to always write what is in my heart first, trusting the Lord to put there what He would have me say. If I were to approach the writing of my posts in the more conventional manner, I would do tons of research, find articles worth quoting, and then put my words together in a manner that uses the experiences of others who we would consider experts.

Using Modern-Day Social Media Tools

For example, my personal preference would be to cite the work and life example of John Dehlin, who has gone through this exact same experience I am about to describe, but perhaps on a more accelerated pace and with greater public attention. In other words, if you want to see how what I am about to describe has been put into practice, I recommend you find out how John has done it.

A Few Responses to Some of My Recent Posts

But since this is my blog, I’m going to cite my own examples and how I have handled it so far. Let me start by presenting an entertaining list of comments – all real-life responses – to things I have shared in posts found here on Latter-day Commentary. You can find some of them if you look, but since the blog currently has over 6,000 comments, I’ll highlight only a few of the best.

The Best Way to Build Blog Traffic

Also note some of these comments were shared in private. Like any blogger, I get tons of emails from individuals who, for one reason or another, don’t want to leave comments in public view. I can appreciate that. But as a blogger, I would always want my comments to be public with a link back to my blog. That’s the best way to build traffic – leave comments on other people’s blogs.

I’m Worried About You – Stop Thinking

Here’s an example from yesterday, a private response to my post “Allow me the Agency of my Doubts.” I may change some of the wording of these quotes slightly to reduce any likelihood of offending those who shared them: “I’m worried about you…” I can’t tell you how many emails start off with this phrase. “I plead with you…avoid speculation…” In other words, stop asking questions. This is just so contrary to the way I think, the way I study and the way I live my life.

Ask, Seek, Knock – God’s Formula

I define speculation thus: “Proposing a theory and then searching for evidence or proof of the hypothesis.” To me, speculation is the heart of the scientific method. My friend was pleading with me to stop thinking. Seriously. To stop asking questions is to stop thinking. Is that the way we are supposed to study the gospel? I find nothing wrong with speculation. It is good and the sign of a healthy, inquisitive mind, something I am certain is pleasing to the Lord. Ask, knock…

You Need to Step Back a Little…

Here’s another example from a few weeks back: “I think you need to step back and think about what you are writing lately…” That’s another phrase several people have used as they start a dialog with me. “Don’t you see how distressed your blog posts are making you? We’re supposed to be joyful in the gospel. You’re pulling away from the Lord, little by little. Satan loves that.”

Comfort the Afflicted, Afflict the Comfortable

Interpretation: What’s happening is this particular reader and others like him or her are feeling a bit distressed by the stuff I’m writing. I seem to bring comfort to the afflicted and to afflict those comfortable in the gospel. That’s not my intention but it’s becoming more evident. I thought life was supposed to be a journey. I thought we were supposed to learn new things on our journey. Why is it so hard to accept that learning new things can be an uncomfortable process? It just is.

Denver Snuffer’s Writings Not for Everyone

Carol won’t mind me sharing this one: “When I have prayed about Denver Snuffer I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t stand to read his stuff.” My response: “I can certainly understand that. How can the Lord confirm something to you that you haven’t studied? If what he writes makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. It’s obviously not intended for you.” The last thing I want to do is cause discomfort for my wife. She certainly has a right to her own feelings.

Honor My Agency to Follow My Heart

Gratefully, as I wrote in the comments on the last post when asked by a reader, Carol and I came to an agreement about my blog, and especially about when I’m writing something that can be attributed to an idea found in Denver’s books. She doesn’t like what I’m reading or writing, she will not read it herself and for the most part, we don’t discuss what I read or write. She finds it troubling and the source of much anxiety. Yet, she acknowledges my agency to follow my heart.

The Appeal of Denver Snuffer’s Writings

I proposed the sexist theory one time that Denver appeals to men because he cuts to the chase, doesn’t sugar-coat anything, tells it like it is, offers no apologies, and will not back down. He keeps saying we should not focus on the messenger. Sorry. I can’t help but make the observation how effective I find his delivery, his writing style and the fact that I feel spiritually fed each time I study a chapter, looking up the scriptures and pondering the new and different interpretations.

Message Appeals to Both Men and Women

I say this is a sexist theory because I wrote somewhere in the comments of a past blog post that only men would find this method of delivery I described above to be fulfilling. I was quickly corrected when a half dozen sisters in the gospel told me they felt the same way – that Denver’s method of delivery enhanced the message, made it more acceptable and memorable. So it’s not a pink / blue kind of thing. Some people simply feel threatened or scared by Denver’s message and I still don’t know why.

The Messenger Has Talent from God

I’ve been called a “Denver wannabe” by more than a few readers. I have always provided the same response: “Yes, even though I have not met him, I find the man’s style captivating. I am transported to a different world when I read his books, I seem to lose track of time and wish I could spend more hours cross-referencing his commentary to the scriptures (Use this tool: https://ref.erenc.es/ds/). I wish I had half the talent this man has in writing about the gospel and getting people to engage with his message.”

The Messenger is doing a Damn Good Job

And of course, anyone who reads Denver’s material cites the standard response, “This is not about Denver. It is about the message that we can come unto Christ, receive Him directly as in D&C 93:1 and become instruments in His hands to do whatever he needs to have done in these latter-days to prepare for a Zion people to gather.” I also cite that response, but do not hesitate to point out that for me, the chosen messenger, who calls himself a fool, is doing a damn good job.

How to Best Help Others – Honor Agency

From another friend: “I wish I knew what to say so I could help Tim.” Of course, this implies there is something wrong with Tim. I know this good man loves me. We have served together in various capacities for many years. I know what he says is an effort to comfort and to help. It also demonstrates the fact assumed by so many people who read my blog about my spiritual state.

Can’t Believe a Man Can Be So Committed

“Tim has either gone off his rocker or has gone over to the dark side. He needs to be saved. He’s fallen into the clutches of an evil man. It’s those apostate books he’s reading. They have warped his brain and changed his thinking. He’s not reasoning straight. He has thrown out all that is good in his life and his hell-bent (another favorite phrase) on seeing this through to the end.”

Rotten Fruits Are Being Made Manifest

And finally, from a Stake President of another stake, far, far away: “Snuffer is an apostate, who has been excommunicated from the Church. He is, as all apostates, following in the pattern of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor, and will in all probability become more like Amalickiah. At the end of the day I stand by the Brethren. Snuffer and his followers are on a dangerous road and the rotten fruits of his work are being made manifest.” I have heard a lot about bad fruit lately.

Show Us Evidence of the Rotten Fruit

One good sister left me a Facebook message as follows: “I have not seen anything good come from Denver. He has destroyed three beautiful families that I know personally. ‘By their fruits, ye shall know them.’ I responded: “Can you tell me more about what happened in how Denver messed up these families? Have these other families gone through divorce or something because they can’t talk about what the other is reading or believing?” Several other readers asked her the same question. Her response was to repeat her original statement or accusation – no elaboration.

Responses Based on Fear – Not Love

Although I could go on and on, I think that’s enough examples to make my point. What do all these arguments have in common? They are all based in fear. You can see they claim to be based on loving concern for me. They will either say that directly or imply it by the way they phrase their words. But deep down inside, their responses are based on a fear, an insecurity, that maybe, just maybe, they are wrong or they are missing something in their own confidence and strength.

Update 5-18-14: A wise man kindly pointed out the fallacy of my conclusion. Although it may appear to me that each of the responses or comments I have cited above are based on fear – and perhaps they are – the problem is I have judged those who have taken the time to respond to me. Whether they are fear-based response or not is not relevant. If the individuals I have judged think or perceive I have judged them to be fearful, there can be no hope of building a bridge between us.

Update (continued): I have failed to put myself in their shoes, so to speak. Usually, nobody bothers to respond unless they do indeed love you, or at least have a spirit of love and concern in their hearts. If there were no love for me present, they would simply ignore their feelings of concern and go on to something else. I have need to repent, and, to state it positively, I now repent of having judged my friends of being fearful. I have returned loving concern with judgment. I am sorry.

Change is Difficult to Watch – It’s Threatening

Oh, they will deny it if you confront them. Or, if they are honest like my good wife, she will say, “You’re damn right I’m afraid of Denver Snuffer. I’m afraid of what he has done to you. I’m afraid of what he writes. It’s false doctrine.” Carol has only read chapter one of PtHG with me. That was enough for her. She also quotes the “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Before we agreed to stop talking about Denver, I would ask, “What fruits? Tell me what evil he has done.”

First Response to Change is Always Fear

But that would only lead to an emotional, fear-filled response about me getting excommunicated, her losing her promise of celestial life, eternal marriage and no father for her son. I mistakenly read to her Lynn’s painful comments from last week’s post. Her response: “That’s exactly right. Are you willing to throw it all away all because of the writings of one crazed lunatic you don’t even know?” Sigh. When will I ever learn to stop sharing such quotes? It’s that pink-blue thing.

You’re asking for Excommunication

And finally, “Tim, are you trying to get excommunicated? Why are you egging on the Brethren? Don’t do this to your local leaders. It’s not fair to them. They have done nothing to you. If you are really hell-bent on going down this path [there’s that phrase again], perhaps an open letter to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles might be more appropriate.

Shooting, Shooting but Missing the Target

“Your poor Bishop and Stake President are going to get whiplash from all this–they will just be confused and hurt.  You’re shooting and shooting, but you’re missing the target.  Aim for the real culprits if you feel you must keep firing away like this.” And this is from a long-time reader whom I know loves and cares about me. He’ll recognize this but it’s too good not to share.

Must Work With Local Leaders First

Here’s my response: Your advice is good but the wheels are already in motion. I am meeting with the bishop this Thursday and the Stake President sometime next week. I thought about an open letter to the First Presidency, but the handbook precludes that. We are specifically directed to work with local leaders first. I don’t have a beef with the General Authorities. My issue is what this church has become or what we collectively have caused this church to become.

The Real Issue – Things We Have Lost

“It’s a place where we’re discouraged from studying the gospel in small non-family groups in homes. Otherwise we can only study in groups at church. It’s a place where prayer circles are not allowed in the home. It’s a place where the true order of prayer is not allowed to be practiced in the home. It’s a place where we are not allowed to display or reveal spiritual gifts such as prophecy, tongues, visions, revelations or healings – only annointings, no charismatic healing.

No Longer Taught Meat of the Gospel

“It’s a place where we are no longer taught or allowed to seek: Being born of the spirit, baptized of fire, calling and election sure or the Second Comforter. I can go on and on but I think you’re familiar with the list and know the source. The particular issue I brought up in my post is the Fullness of the Priesthood. I apologize if it looks like I’m trying too hard to pick a fight with my Bishop and Stake President. I’m only doing what the Lord has asked me to do.

Open Letter to Leaders Waste of Time

“I hope this won’t hurt the Bishop and Stake President. I know they’ve already got too much on their plate but what else can I do? The church requires it this way. An Open Letter to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve will do nothing. It will get no response. It will be ignored. I think we both know this already. I am not trying to get excommunicated, but I am prepared for the eventuality – emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and with my wife standing at my side.”

Not Seeking Change – Just to Help Others

I hope what I’ve shared is helpful to someone. I know it will seem like foolishness to some, but I hope you got the final message. As I wrote in my agenda notes for Thursday’s meeting with the Bishop: “I’m only doing this because I felt the Lord ask me to do so. I don’t question why and I don’t know why. The real question is, “Do you think I am being deceived or am I being led by the Lord?” Is standing up for my right to write book reviews on my blog worth my membership in the church?

This Thing Was Not Done In a Corner

A note on openness: Some have criticized me for sharing this ongoing saga, including reports on what I have discussed with my bishop here on my blog. They say such lack of secrecy or privacy demonstrates unworthiness so that the Lord will never honor me with spiritual manifestations of any kind because I don’t know how to keep things secret. Thanks for your criticism. It has been duly noted. I disagree. All I want to do is document my fight for the right to write book reviews. I pray my openness will help others who are being excommunicated for simply reading a book.

Dates for Denver’s Remaining Lectures

Ephraim – June 28, 2014
Las Vegas – July 25, 2014
St. George – July 26, 2014
Phoenix area – September 9, 2014, this will conclude the 40th year and will take place on day 365.

All talks will be in the morning.

Note on Comments

The WordPress spam filter is being wonky again. I check for blocked comments as often as possible, but if yours gets blocked and you want a quick response, text me at 818-257-0513 or shoot me an email at tmalonemcse @ gmail.com. Thanks for the dialog. I always appreciate comments.

Allow Me the Agency of My Doubts


PeterJamesJohn

Update: A better title would have been: “Please Allow me the Freedom to Have Questions.” The word “doubts” causes people to think you are not a believer. I am a believer, yet I still have questions I want answered. I recognize it is my own responsibility to find answers to my questions but these particular questions are related to some of the fundamental truth claims of the Church, in particular, if the Church has the Fullness of the Priesthood and if it can be transferred by the laying on of hands. I addressed and sent this to my Bishop and Stake President.

I don’t know if you care what I am about to say, but I feel the need to share it. I have asked the Lord in prayer to bless my words that they will help you understand why I do what I do and have done what I have done on my blog especially over the past few years. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope it helps you to understand me better in light of the posts I have written that may have come to your attention.

I Have Loved Serving in This Church

First, let me express my love for you. I hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I admire both of you tremendously. I know what it takes to be a Bishop or a Stake President – not first-hand, of course – but after more than twenty-five years of serving in Bishoprics, on a High Council and as a Stake Clerk, I know it’s time-consuming, at times heartbreaking and a lot of spiritual work. I have loved serving in this church all my life or at least from when I was a full-time missionary.

I Write a Blog at Elder Ballard’s Request

You both know I have been writing an LDS-themed blog for the last six or seven years. For the first five years I assumed a mission to defend the faith, to offer what I felt was the orthodox or standard narrative to combat falsehoods about the church I found on the Internet. I felt justified in what I was trying to accomplish when Elder Ballard asked members of the church, especially young people familiar with technology, to get involved in the on-line dialog about the church.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

A little over two years ago I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer, who, in case you haven’t heard of him, is a now excommunicated attorney from Utah who has written a series of popular LDS-themed books dealing with the subject of coming unto Christ. He has testified of the literalness of D&C 93:1, that we can Converse with the Lord through the Veil, meet the Savior in this life, receive Him as the Second Comforter and have Him introduce us unto the Father.

Passing the Heavenly Gift and Excommunication

It was his most recent book, Passing the Heavenly Gift that got him in trouble with the church and resulted in his excommunication when he refused to withdraw it from publication after being requested to do so by his Stake President at the behest of Elder Nelson. President, I don’t know if you are familiar with this book or of others in the stake who have read it (there are many), but I know you are Bishop, based on your response when we discussed my blog a little bit last year.

Uplifting Addresses from Priesthood Leaders

It is not my intention to teach you anything. Such is not my prerogative or right. I simply want to bring up two recent talks from President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland in our consideration so I can set the stage for what I am about to share. I assume you are familiar with them. The first was rather recent. President Uchtdorf delivered his address in October General Conference of 2013. The other from Elder Holland was from the previous spring’s General Conference in April 2013.

Teaching the Standard Narrative

They both deal with the issue of faith, testimony, doubts, and being accepted in this church in spite of having questions about some aspects of church history, which I confess I now have. I never thought I would confess such a thing to a priesthood leader. I have always seen myself as a stalwart member, convinced, convicted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we teach as the “standard narrative” in regards to our church history. I want to focus on that idea.

We Simply Don’t Have All The Information

In President Uchtdorf’s address entitled, “Come, Join With Us,” he states, “… this Church … honors personal agency … we respect those who honestly search for truth. “ He then said, “We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history … there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. Sometimes … we simply don’t have all the information … Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.”

There is Room For You In This Church

President Uchtdorf concludes, “It’s natural to have questions … regardless of the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church …” He writes more, but the main points I wanted to share include his words that we can have differences of opinions as to what the facts of our church history mean. He also declares that in spite of those differences, all are welcome here. I’m going to ask you a specific question in regards to that invitation and how it applies to me.

Hold Fast To What You Already Know

But first, let me turn to Elder Holland’s April 2013 talk entitled, “Lord, I Believe.” In Elder Holland’s thoughtful, comforting, and compassionate way, he says, “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.” He adds, “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.” He invites us to demonstrate integrity toward the faith we do have and truth we already know.

Honest Declarations of Doubt and Faith

Elder Holland continues, “I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage that is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! … Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another.” He mentions the importance of being kind to others and ourselves as we work through our doubts.

I am Asking for Help With My Doubts

Elder Holland concludes with this observation: “When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help.” He reminds us to do so with real intent, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God. He concludes with his testimony that we will receive help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief and quotes the Savior when he said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” He says he has the conviction of the “more sure word of prophecy.”

Following the Bishop’s Counsel – No Facebook Links

With the background of those two recent conference addresses, please let me now get specific. Bishop, when you called me in last year to chat, I wanted ever so much to talk to you about my doubts, but not once in our three visits did the spirit prompt me to do so. We talked about my health, about my love for my son, about my marriage and just a smidgeon about my blog. You counseled me to soften my headlines and to take the links to my blog off Facebook, which I did.

Temple Interview Loyalty and Affiliation Questions

My temple recommend expires in July. As we all know, there are two questions in the interview process that test for loyalty to the Brethren, specifically to the Prophet, and test for “affiliation” or “sympathy” toward any individual whose teachings are contrary or oppose those accepted by the Church. I’d like to address those two questions with a question of my own first. If I were to express a doubt about one of those questions, would I still be found worthy of a recommend?

Doubt About the Fullness of the Priesthood

RichYoungRulerIn other words, does what President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland taught in General Conference apply to the temple recommend process or was that just talk? If I were to tell you that I have some doubt about the fullness of the priesthood being upon the earth today, would you take away my temple recommend? What if I were to tell you I read the works of Denver Snuffer, a man who has been excommunicated for apostasy, and that I enjoy many of the points he has made?

Example of How Another Brother Was Treated

Before you answer my question, let me share with you what happened to one of the readers of my blog who answered those questions pretty much in the way I have just proposed. I share this with his permission. This individual, who is an Elder’s Quorum Instructor, went in for his temple recommend interview. He was honest in his responses and apparently his bishop had no problem with what he had to say so he signed the recommend and sent him on to see the Stake President.

To Sustain the Church President as the Prophet

After a few moments of cordial introductory chit-chat, they began the interview. When asked if he “sustain[ed] the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator…” my friend responded as follows: “I sustain him but I don’t believe certain things that are being taught in our church today.” I’m sure you can imagine the bells that are now going off in the Stake President’s mind like, “Why did the Bishop sign this man’s recommend?”

Asking Questions – Asked to Be Taught – A No-no

So the stake president asked my friend to elaborate. He said, “There are some things I don’t understand about the higher priesthood. What is the fullness of the priesthood? How do we know that we have it in the LDS Church today?” I’m sure you can guess the Stake President was just a little bit aghast. According to my friend, he was livid. He said, “The Stake President took my recommend and then intimated they might have to consider disciplinary action against me.”

His Wife Feels She Has Lost Everything

He was immediately released from his calling. I quote now from his comments on my blog, “It has been a month and the word is getting out in the ward. I sit in the testimony meetings and my wife cries and mourns her loss when loving TBM husbands testify of their wife’s love or of their children’s innocence. She cries in Gospel Doctrine class when the discussion is following the prophet and “criticizing” the brethren is discussed. In my wife’s mind she sees that all is lost.”

Members Blame Him for Taking Away Her Hope

“She feels she now has no promise of celestial life, eternal marriage, no father for her children, all is lost since GOD’s oracle on earth has damned me to hell for my unbelief. Fellow Saints console her openly and cast sideways glances towards me grimacing. Priesthood leaders currently counsel together to strategize damage control ideas, or how to protect the flock and my family from me or my influence. In fact, the Relief Society is now bringing funeral meals.”

Leader Tells Son to Beware of His Own Father

I found this outrageous scene so unbelievable I just had to call him to confirm. We spoke for about 45 minutes on Wednesday. It was a delight to speak with him. He was not downcast or unhappy in any way. He expressed love and sympathy for his priesthood leaders. He said he understood why they reacted the way they did – that it was typical for his area there in Northern Utah. He said the Stake President called his 17-year old son in to warn him against his father.

Unrighteous Dominion is Alive and Well Today

At this point my jaw just about hit the floor. I could not believe what I was hearing. Did we belong to the same church? Does this Stake President not realize what he has just done to this man’s family, his marriage and his testimony? Talk about spiritual abuse and unrighteous dominion. This Stake President was the epitome of a priesthood leader who had no clue about the right way to help a fellow priesthood brother who had simply asked an honest question.

Persuasion, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Meekness, Love

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

My Blog is All About LDS Book Reviews

President, Bishop, if you haven’t read my blog, and I don’t expect you to have done so since you are both such busy men, you would know it is mainly about writing LDS book reviews. I started out reading Denver Snuffer’s books a few years ago and have written book reviews about just about all of them. I have not advocated anybody believe what he has shared. I have simply done these reviews because he is a controversial fellow and I was asked my opinion by others I trust.

I Seek Deep Understanding – No Cursory Overview

However, in order to understand the books more completely, I had studied them extensively, both because the subject matter is intensely interesting to me – how to come unto the Savior – and about the early history of our church. President Uchtdorf may have been referring to Denver Snuffer’s books when he mentioned there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. It’s OK to have a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.

I Want The Temple To Be A Part Of My Life

I’d like to conclude with a few thoughts and then ask one final question. I plan to go to the temple today to participate in our quarterly stake chapel and endowment session. I love to go to the temple. I love to serve in the temple. I love to be with the members of our stake. I love to serve in my present calling as Stake Financial Clerk. I hope my service is helpful. I’m grateful the temple has been such a big part of my life for almost forty years. It has blessed my life.

I Only Teach Authorized Correlated Material

I love this church. It has blessed my life since I was a little boy. I loved serving a mission. I have always loved teaching the gospel to the saints from the pulpit or in the classroom. I always make certain I stay within the boundaries of the authorized correlated material found in the manuals. I love the Brethren. I sustain the General Authorities. I’m grateful to be able to pay my tithing. I know it pays their salaries, including my sister’s salary, who is Elder Perry’s executive secretary.

I Will Serve Wherever I Am Asked

President, I have tried to serve faithfully in any calling or priesthood assignment I have received. I try to be a 100% home teacher. I love visiting Brother and Sister Harris each month to provide priesthood blessings as he finishes up his cancer treatments. I miss teaching the saints. I loved being a primary teacher, a High Priest Group Leader, a ward missionary, Bishopric counselor, ward clerk, and in my previous stake, High Councilor, Seminary Teacher and Mission Leader.

Only Desire To Build The Kingdom of God

My only desire is to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth and contribute to the preparation of this Kingdom for the return of the Lord. I have never had a problem with tithing and love to be able to contribute in this manner. I strive to keep my temple covenants to give of my time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed me to the building up of the Kingdom of God. I love my wife and strive to do everything to help her find happiness, especially as we worship.

 Permit Me Agency of My Doubts and Questions

Here’s my concluding question: If I confess my doubt, or my question really, about what the fullness of the priesthood really is and if it is found on the earth today, will expressing this doubt preclude me from being found worthy of holding a temple recommend, serving as a stake clerk or will my confession cause me to face disciplinary action? I have thought about this and written about this previously here in my blog. Why am I making this confession? In order to be honest.

Others Are Punished For Asking Questions

God bless you Bishop and President. I hope you will look kindly upon the confession I share. Is there still room for me in this church, as Prsident Uchtdorf has declared? I do not look upon my questions about the priesthood to be doubts, really, but simply questions. I want to be taught. What is the fullness of the priesthood? Is it the same as the Melchizedek priesthood? Is it the same as the patriarchal priesthood? Does it contain the sealing power like Nephi received it?

Concluding Testimony at my Disciplinary Council


MartinLuther95ThesesI shared my testimony in our regular monthly testimony meeting this morning. I wanted to make sure the Bishop and a member of the Stake Presidency present – he’s also in our ward – heard me say I sustain the general authorities and local authorities of the church. Of course these words were in addition to sharing comments reflecting my love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior.

Covering All the Bases

Carol asked me afterward if I did that to offset whoever it was that complained about my blog a few months ago. I assured her I was sincere, but yes, I wanted the whole ward to know of my feelings for those who lead this church. I continue to sustain them with my prayers and with my money. Yes, I know my tithing is used to pay their salary. It also helps pay my sister’s salary.

Follow the Bishop’s Counsel

As far as I know, I’m not under any priesthood leader’s watch list for an impending disciplinary council, but a few of my friends and fellow bloggers have been surprised, so I’m being careful. I’m doing my utmost to follow my Bishop’s counsel to keep my headlines non-inflammatory and to keep links to my posts off Facebook. Those links are apparently where I got in trouble before.

It’s Tough to Be a Bishop

I continue to be appreciative of my Bishop’s opening remarks when he called me to talk the first time a few months back. He said our chats – there were two follow-ups – were motivated out of love. I know I’ve shared this before but I believe him. Our bishop is a good man. I love him and appreciate all he does for our ward. It takes a lot of time to manage the largest ward in the stake.

If Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear

Specifically because some of my fellow bloggers were surprised at the rapidity of the course of events surrounding their disciplinary councils, I want to be prepared, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in case I get surprised. In one case the good brother was notified on Sunday he was to be tried for his membership and was excommunicated 72 hours later on Wednesday evening.

Course of Action Planned in Advance

I’ve written my defense before the High Council in a previous post. Obviously it was imaginary, a defense based on years of observation of disciplinary councils in which I have participated as a High Counselor, a Bishopric Counselor or a clerk. I hope this will never be needed, but in that same spirit, I’d like to have my closing testimony prepared in the event I am allowed to share it.

How I Dislike Disciplinary Councils

In case you don’t know, there’s no guarantee you will get to say anything at your disciplinary council. Seriously. I know what the handbook says. About the only thing they have to let you say is how you answer to the charges – innocent or guilty. Don’t you just hate the whole concept of a disciplinary council? I do. It doesn’t seem right to have such things in the church of Jesus Christ.

Our Decision That You Be Excommunicated

But then, what do I know? I’m just a lowly member, happy to be here, grateful to serve. So with that in mind, and since I use my blog as an auxiliary personal journal, here is what I would like to say if I ever hear the words, “Brother Malone, our decision is that you be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Is there anything you would like to say?”

Shared Desire to Do the Will of the Lord

“Thank you President. I’ll be brief here. Thank you to my brethren of the High Council for their service. And thank you, President, for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration of my case. I know this is painful to you, not because you’re losing a financial clerk, but because I know you are a good man, with a desire to do the will of the Lord. I’m grateful we share that same desire.

Excommunication Difficult on Family Members

“There’s no need to go over the details of my case. The decision has been made and I sustain your action. I suspect the decision was made at a higher level in the church, but that doesn’t matter. I am no longer a member but will continue to attend with my wife for whom I pray night and day. This chain of events has been painful for her and a source of resentment and frustration.

Apostasy – Simply Writing a Few Book Reviews

“I will not be appealing the case. I have never seen it do any good for anyone else. Besides, I have no intention of seeking rebaptism. I was excommunicated for apostasy – for simply reading a book and sharing it with others. I felt led by the Lord in the entire process. I was introduced to the book in the temple. I prayed about the book in the temple and was answered in the temple.

My Issue is With Interpreting Church History

“The book has changed my life. It clarified for me many things I already suspected or believed. I know my path is not for everyone. There are fundamental differences in the way we look at the church. I suspect it will always be so. This is not a personal issue with you, your leadership, or anyone in this room. My issue is with the Brethren in Salt Lake, always has been and will be.

The Priesthood Was Taken From Israel

“I will continue to pray for them, but am no longer allowed to sustain them, meaning they will not accept my tithing. It won’t be missed. I will continue to love them. They are good men who have taught and inspired me. They have done a good job in leading this church. You may think me deceived and naïve, but I feel sorry for them. They are stuck. They cannot escape the past.

Gentiles Shall Reject Fullness of the Gospel

“I don’t want to offend anybody so I won’t say anything more. My reasons are on my blog and will be amplified with greater clarity now that I am free to share more openly. I hope you won’t consider my blog to be anti-Mormon because it’s not. I am not an enemy of this church. I love the church and pray for its success, but believe things about the church that are no longer taught.

Prophecy and Traditional Narrative Differ

“For the record, I refute the charges that I do not sustain the Brethren. Perhaps it’s semantics. I simply disagree with some of their interpretations of history and scripture. I’ve been told I need to repent until my thinking is in line with what the Brethren teach about those certain events in our history. I appreciate the invitation. I know it’s offered with love and concern for my welfare.

Testimony of Church History Not Required

“I’ll conclude with words I wrote privately to a long-time reader who was troubled by my blog: Thank you for your love and concern. My mind is made up. I choose to believe things about our history that are not taught in our church or are taught in a manner that leaves out key elements. The beautiful thing is we don’t have to have a testimony of church history to come unto Christ.

The Purging of the Two Percent

“Let’s focus on what is important – to know Christ. I love this church for the renewed focus we have on the Savior. I have watched it happen in my lifetime. I pray that priesthood leaders will leave good men alone who are striving to come unto Christ but don’t believe some of the history. But recent evidence shared with me privately indicates the purge of men like me is accelerating.

The Truth Will Set You Free

If the church continues on this path, they will alienate and lose the strength and backbone of the priesthood brethren who faithfully pay tithes and administer in wards and stakes in the church. Can the church afford that? Perhaps – perhaps not. God bless us each in our pursuit of the truth. It is the truth that sets us free. When I finally accepted the truth of our history, I indeed felt free.”

This Could Never Possibly Happen

I don’t want to end on a negative note. Other than the interviews with my Bishop and the private correspondence with several bloggers who have recently been excommunicated for apostasy, this is all speculation and supposition. You may say it’s a product of my imagination. “You’ve been under a lot of stress, Tim. Nobody at Church headquarters even knows or cares about your blog.”

Strengthening Church Members Committee

That may be true. I hope the book reviews I write on my blog and what I choose to believe about the contents of those books has nothing to do with the status of my temple worthiness or church membership. Recent evidence from others is contrary. The SCMC is real. They really do determine that certain authors and bloggers are a threat to the church and need to be disciplined. It happens.

We Pay People to Read Member’s Blogs

God bless us all to stay in the good graces of the members of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee. I know I have communicated with a few of them. One is a Facebook friend and a blog follower. He is also a church employee. I have lots of church employees who are friends and read my blog, but this individual is vehemently opposed and vociferous in his opposing comments.

Lo Que Será, Será

I served my mission in Central America. They never used this phrase, but I like to use it. It fits in this case. I do all I can to follow what I believe is the will of the Lord. I know there are consequences of being misunderstood. After I have done all I can to make things clear to those who want to know the truth, all I can do is wait. I used to mock sites that said they had the truth of church history. Now…

As Always, Comments Open

What do you think? Is it possible the church is on the lookout for bloggers like me who write about church history in a way that differs from the standard narrative? Is it possible the church is out to squelch opposing viewpoints from among their own members? Am I a wolf in sheep’s clothing? My patriarchal blessing warns me about such individuals. Do you find my blog offensive? I’d love to read your views.

A Few Administrative Notes


LotsOfEmailsIt seems no matter how hard I try, I am unable to keep up with the private emails asking for additional information from something I’ve shared in one of my posts, particularly those that deal with doctrine and private religious practices such as the True Order of Prayer in the home.  I still have about 35 unanswered emails from April. I apologize to those who are waiting for answers and thank you for your patience. I truly appreciate those who read my blog and take the time to write privately.

Get-Together in LA Area

I am filled with gratitude this morning. It’s 4am as I write this. I can’t sleep because of all the things I’m pondering. A few regular blog readers and contributors got together for dinner last night to discuss current events in the LDS blogging community. We chatted about the apparent ongoing rash of excommunications for those who write about Denver Snuffer. We discussed mutual experiences with private religious practices such as being born of the spirit, conversing with the Lord through the veil and the difficulties of blogging or contributing to an LDS blog.

Continued Growth of Latter-day Commentary

I continue to be amazed at the number of subscribers listed in the upper left of this blog. It keeps going up and up, sometimes by dozens per day. I’m not doing anything to promote the blog. I read and comment on very few other blogs – only those that deal with similar subject matter – coming unto Christ, being Born of the Spirit, Conversing with the Lord through the veil and being instructed by angels. In other words, stuff that the LDS Church says you should keep private and never talk about. Here’s a simple test: How would you respond if someone got up in Testimony meeting and said they had been visited by an angel, or by the Savior? They did not share what they were taught, only that they had received visitors from the spirit world.

Online  Community Seeking the Savior

That’s the kind of stuff we talk about on this blog. That’s what I write about, that’s what the readers share in the comments, and that’s the primary subject of the majority of the private emails I receive. They usually start out like this: “Brother Malone, you don’t know me but I felt impressed to write and share this with you…” and then they proceed to share some of the most uplifting and faith-promoting experiences having to do with dreams, visions, healings, temple manifestations, visits from the spirit world and sacred prayers in which they were instructed by angels or had words given to them by the Holy Ghost. They are simply delightful. Some have been labeled kooks by their ward members. Some have been excommunicated for sharing.

Moroni 7:37 Has Come to Pass

I suppose that’s one thing we all have in common. Of those who met last night, over half were no longer members of the church, one having been excommunicated within the last few weeks. He has yet to receive a valid answer from his priesthood leaders as to what exactly he did wrong. He keeps asking for an explanation of what doctrines he taught that were offensive so that he can repent. No answer. Yes, I know I’m only reporting one side of this, but it’s similar to dialogs I’ve had with other readers. Why is this church so hell-bent on casting out some of the most faith-filled and spiritual members of the faith just because they write they have been visited by the Lord, by angels, or they read works published by others who have been?

Not OK to Talk About Spiritual Experiences

Apparently it’s taboo to talk about your spiritual experiences in this church anymore. It didn’t used to be. It’s OK to talk about the approved or correlated experiences of early leaders of this church. We’ve become a church that celebrates the revelations of our founders, claims to encourage personal revelation, but discourages the sharing of such experiences. “Not appropriate,” they say. “Not correlated by the Brethren,” another will say. “You must be lying,” the most direct will say. It puzzles me. The old adage rears it’s ugly head again and again: “Those who have, don’t talk about it. Those who haven’t, do.” That’s false doctrine. If you have a visit with the Lord and ask permission to share it, or he tells you to share it, then by all means, do so.

We Have Become a Church of PC and Fear

This church has become a church of fear – members afraid of being disciplined for talking about charismatic or spiritual experiences. No, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s simply not politically correct to mention being visited by angels or hearing the voice of the Lord. “Why, that’s limited to the Brethren only,” you’ll hear. I know I do. “You can’t say that. Only the General Authorities have the right to share such things,” is another common saying. Look people, we who have been to the spirit world or have had visitors from the spirit world come to us, know such events are sacred. We understand they are intended for our own edification and instruction, but occasionally someone comes along who says the message they received was important enough the Lord asked them to share it with others – not by way of commandment but to edify and uplift.

Systematically Squelching the Spirit

And that’s where we seem to get into trouble. It’s the old Hyrum Page seer-stone incident all over again. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most bishops and stake presidents don’t know how to handle if someone were to get up and share they had received communication from the spirit world that was powerful, sacred and blessed their lives. In their enthusiasm or naivety, some new to the exciting experience of receiving revelation may want to share it with everyone they meet or from the pulpit in Testimony meeting. What do our Priesthood leaders do? They take them aside afterwards and say, “That’s simply not appropriate to share in Testimony meeting. I also don’t want to hear you’ve been sharing that privately with other members.”

Priesthood Directive – Don’t Share Revelation

That’s a real conversation. Don’t shake your head in disbelief. Yes, it really happens and is considered the responsibility of our priesthood leaders to make sure they “nip in the bud” any such occurrences before they “get out of hand.” If necessary, they warn the offending members they will be subject to disciplinary action if they don’t tone it down or learn to keep such things to themselves. Here we work so hard to get new converts, teach them they can get revelation and then chastise them when they feel led by the Holy Spirit to share spiritual experiences with others. Their only desire is to convey joy and excitement at what they have learned as well as to testify, as did Joseph Smith, that God answers our prayers in this modern day and age.

TestimonyGloveThe All-Encompassing Testimony Glove

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is apparently only one acceptable type of revelation you are “allowed” to share in this church and it must fit neatly into the testimony glove – 1) God lives, 2) Jesus is the Christ 3) The Book of Mormon is scripture, 4) Joseph was a prophet and 5) President Monson is a prophet. You may also substitute “The Church is true” for the last one or to encompass all five. Anything beyond those five items will make the Bishopric squirm and call you in for needed counsel and correction. You may think I’m kidding. I’m not. We need the enthusiasm of new converts who are not afraid to speak out about their relationship with the Savior. We need their new blood, their new life and their excitement in this church.

LDS Bloggers Now Being Excommunicated

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. I’ve preached this sermon at least a dozen times over the years here on Latter-day Commentary. It pains me to do so. I only see the problem getting worse. Some say it’s inadvertent, that the leaders don’t intend to cause new members or even old members feel uncomfortable when they step outside the “sharing” boundaries. The worst part of this epidemic sweeping our church is when a normally shy and reticent member finds the courage to tell in a blog of a sacred experience they had with reading the book of someone, member or not, from which they learned more about the spirit of revelation, how it works, how they experimented upon the word, were blessed and received revelation themselves. Yep, members are being excommunicated for even referencing the works of individuals like Denver Snuffer in their blogs now.

Following the Counsel of Elder Ballard

I’ll get off my soapbox. This is one of those posts I can’t link to Facebook because it will upset too many faithful members who are my friends. I’m trying to follow my Bishop’s counsel to keep my ranting and ravings to myself. This is the one subject that gets me riled up to no end. Just like John Dehlin has become a spokesperson for the LDS LGBT community, I have taken it upon myself to speak up for my blogging friends who are being chastised for following the counsel of Elder Ballard in which he admonished us to get involved in the Internet conversations about the church that were and are happening with or without us. So we get involved, share a few thoughts about our own spiritual experiences and get reamed for doing so. Is this any way to run a church? I’m not critical of the Brethren. I’m pointing out a deficiency in getting the directions to the local leaders.

Tim’s Up On His Gospel Hobby Horse Again

I’m done. I just gave up an hour of sleep because the Lord woke me and told me to write this. Now that’s an audacious claim all by itself, but it’s true. I have learned I can’t ignore these promptings any more, even when they come at inconvenient times in the wee hours of the morning. It has not been my desire to upset you. It has not been my desire to cause you to be offended. I’m fairly certain by now most people are aware of this problem, but then I’m always surprised by the blank stares if I bring this up to my TBM friends. They don’t see a problem. Perhaps I’m trying to steady the ark that doesn’t need steadying. I’m not trying to tell the Brethren what to do. I have full confidence in their abilities to lead this church. I love and sustain them. I’m sure they are aware of this problem. I pray for them. I am certain they are working to address this as best they know how.

Comments Open and Welcome

God bless. Feel free to leave me a comment telling me I’m off my rocker or I’ve understated the problem. Comments open.

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