Posts Tagged ‘Evil Spirits’
In the Mormon Church, excommunication is devastating. It is a real and constant threat for those who write publically about the church. In the five years I have been blogging about LDS themes, I confess I have written a few controversial essays. But I have never felt something I wrote could get me into trouble. This essay is different. You may find it to be critical of church leadership.
For the most part, serving in leadership positions in the LDS church is a volunteer assignment. The official phrase is “to receive a calling” but in effect, you are asked to accept a responsibility, often at considerable sacrifice of time and effort. In the local congregations, we have no paid ministry. Instead, the men are asked to lead the meetings and counsel local members as needed.
Being an old guy in the church, I have had my share of leadership assignments, but always in a support position. I would not want to be a Bishop or Stake President because of the difficulty of the task. My role has always been as a counselor or clerk to a Bishop or Stake President. Years ago I served on a Stake High Council, the group of men assigned to assist the Stake President.
One of the duties of priesthood leadership is to participate in disciplinary councils, something I never enjoyed. I am an imperfect man and am hesitant to pass judgment or even offer an opinion on the worthiness of another individual in the church. Gratefully, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Bishop or Stake President and never a bishopric counselor or High Counselor.
In the eighteen years I have served in leadership positions, I suppose I have probably participated in a few dozen disciplinary councils. That’s where a group of men get together to determine if another member should be allowed to remain in fellowship with the rest of the Latter-day Saints. When serving as a clerk, I have also written the follow-up reports that we send to Salt Lake.
In the years prior to the time I started serving in priesthood leadership, a disciplinary council was referred to as a church court. I never liked that phrase. To me, a court focuses on proving guilt, something I personally find distasteful. The purpose of a disciplinary council should be to help an individual struggling with personal moral failings find strength to turn their life around.
The Ideal Standard
I feel blessed to have served with men who loved the Lord and wanted to do his will. The Stake President with whom I served as a High Counselor is now a Mission President. He was and is a kind man, who always exhibited great care and concern for the welfare of the individuals who were called into judgment under his tenure. Let me share just one example of his kindness.
I recall an elderly gentleman who had been excommunicated for teaching false doctrine. It was evident the man had some mental and emotional problems. But he wanted to come back into the church. For those who don’t know, a disciplinary council must again be convened to reconsider the original evidence and to determine if change is evident and sufficient to be baptized again.
This stake president went out of his way to ensure this elderly man and his family members were comfortable with the procedure. He had his executive secretary sit with the family members the whole time the disciplinary council was being held. He sent his clerk out to the waiting area to keep the man and his family informed while we deliberated his case in the High Council room.
Justice and Mercy
Again, for those who may not be aware, in a Stake disciplinary council, half the High Counselors are assigned to look out for the interests of the person whose case is being heard. The interests of the church are the primary concern of the other six High Counselors. I have sat on both sides of that High Council room. In my experience it seems to be a fair and equitable system of justice.
In every disciplinary council in which I have participated, both as a bishopric member and as a High Councilor, without fail, mercy and love have been the prevailing concern. I said I dislike disciplinary councils. At the same time, I can tell you that it is in these councils that I have felt a strong closeness to the Lord as I have witnessed an outpouring of his love for these individuals.
Tears have almost always been shed by most of the grown men in the room as, in the end, we either brought the individual back into the church or pronounced that he or she would no longer be considered a member of our church. Tears of joy or tears of sorrow were accompanied by an overwhelming witness from the spirit to each of us that the will of the Lord had been done.
I want to tell you about a friend who was excommunicated for priestcraft but before I do I need to tell you a little bit about what he does and why it is troubling for some people in the church. I also need to refer to Zoob’s law, which reads: “Generally people tend to oppose that which they don’t understand, the degree of their opposition being directly proportionate to their ignorance.”
In other words, when learning about something new and different, the non-informed attempt to hide their ignorance by a degree of aggressive descent roughly equal to the amount they do not understand. The greater their ignorance, the greater the opposition. If you think about it, you will recognize the truth of this axiom and circumstances in which you may have witnessed it fulfilled.
If you have not had personal experience with something and witnessed the good that it produces, you may feel uncomfortable with the idea or practice until you have had time to study it out for yourself to make your own determination if it is worthwhile. Imagine how you would feel if you are asked to pass judgment on a subject you don’t understand and only heard about hours before.
Opposition in All Things
In contrast, there are those who do understand something, at least to a small degree, and have decided it is not something of value because it exposes personal weaknesses or causes them to feel condemned by the light contained in the thing being considered. For example, if you are a controlling individual, wouldn’t you object to anything that gives freedom to those you control?
Even though it is expressly forbidden in our church, sadly, there are those who exercise control or compulsion upon others, usually their own family members, all in the name of priesthood authority and their right as the head of a household. This control may manifest itself in emotional abuse of their family members, and even more sadly, sexual and even satanic ritualistic abuse.
For those who are not aware, the problem of sexual abuse is well known and documented among church members living along the Wasatch front. In a 1990 document written by Glenn L Pace, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric to the Strengthening Church Members Committee, he detailed sixty alleged incidents of ritualized child abuse among Utah and Idaho Latter-day Saints.
Trauma in Southern Utah
I don’t want to focus on that negative element of the story but you need to be aware it does exist. The victims of that abuse experience deep psychological pain and trauma. It drives some to acts of self-loathing and even suicide. Because some of these individuals are strong, they seek help and healing from counselors and therapists in an effort to find peace and get on with their lives.
This is where my friend comes into the story. Melvin Fish has a Ph.D. in Counseling. He lives in Southern Utah, where, for some reason, there are a large number of individuals suffering from the trauma of sexual or emotional abuse. I know this because I have been studying the subject for about twenty years. Other counselors in Southern Utah have corroborated this fact, at least for me.
Now, to be fair, people come to these counselors from all over the Western United States, in fact, from all over the world. But our story takes place in Cedar City, where the men who sat on the High Council decided to excommunicate Mel Fish for priestcraft. I defined this unusual term in a previous essay but need to expound on the subject to make it clear in the minds of my readers.
Priestcraft in the LDS Church
The scriptural definition of priestcraft is that men set themselves up as a light instead of pointing others to Christ. The definition of priestcraft that seems to be used in the LDS Church today is that men charge money to help people find healing through Christ. As long as a man does his counseling the way the world recognizes and approves, the Church seems to have no problem.
As long as you practice techniques approved by the APA (American Psychological Association) or the AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists) then you are more than welcome to charge professional fees for your services. In fact, the church will support your business by sending you people from local congregations and then paying your regular fees.
In case you didn’t know, there is no place in the APA or AMCAP for the belief that problems of a psychological or emotional nature can be caused by the influence of evil or unclean spirits. In fact, there seems to be little belief remaining in the LDS Church in general that such beings exist. Even if you profess to believe that evil spirits cause problems, you can’t use that in your work.
On the other hand, let’s say you obtain a PhD in counseling with the intent of helping people resolve emotional issues that trouble them. You set up a practice and begin to see clients but are troubled by the fact that they have to keep coming back over and over to get help. Talking about their issues only seems to make them worse. You conclude that psychotherapy is ineffective.
So you search for other, more effective means to help people and are led to ideas and techniques that produce positive results in record time. Not surprisingly, these techniques center in ideas found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of others is central to this technique. The belief that problems can be attributed to the influence of evil and unclean spirits is also essential.
Encouraged, you start practicing a technique of discovering and teaching unclean spirits to go to the light of Christ. The people who come to see you are healed in record time. They go away from their counseling sessions filled with joy and relief, happy to be free of the burdens they have cast upon the Lord. You publish books and teach others how to do what you have done.
Discovering Hidden Stress
Well, that’s what Mel Fish has done. And for this he has been excommunicated. This happened in 2009 about the time I first learned about his work. I purchased his books in 2010, studied them and discovered they contained teachings that brought me closer to Christ, especially as I applied the principle of forgiveness of others and myself. His visualization techniques are powerful.
The problem with what Mel Fish did is that he was too effective. He helped people who were bound by the adversary and in the process upset a few people who lost the control over their family members they once had. They could no longer be manipulated or coerced into doing what the controlling individual wanted. These individuals found fault with Mel and his techniques.
Now unless you’ve been exposed to kinesiology or muscle testing, you may think this method of discovering and identifying hidden stress or darkness is, well, simply put, weird. I have written a blog specifically dedicated to the process of how I first learned about muscle testing and saw firsthand how it helped my family. I appreciate that the weirdness factor takes some adjustment.
Strengthening Church Members
I mentioned this committee previously. When someone finds fault with what another member of the church has written or is doing, they tend to call Salt Lake to complain. Of course the Church asks that such complaints be resolved through local church leaders. But even those leaders will sometimes call Salt Lake because they don’t know how to handle the complaints they receive.
If enough of these complaints are received, it comes to the attention of a loose committee of individuals identified as the Strengthening Church Members Committee. When Elder Oaks was asked about this committee he characterized it as a clipping service. It is much more than that. This committee keeps track of anything that is published about the church by church members.
That includes blogs, which is why I mentioned that this essay about a controversial subject – the excommunication of a prominent published member – is something that could come back to bite me. I don’t want my stake president to get a call or letter from this committee asking him if he is aware of my blogging activities. Ordinarily I do all I can to hold the church up in a positive light.
Telling Mel’s Story
In this case, I would like to share with you what I consider to be failing in our church, brought about because of the efforts of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee and the local priesthood leadership of the Cedar City Utah North Stake. Ultimately the fault can be attributed to the adversary as he works to keep people ignorant of the true power of Christ’s atonement.
When I met with Mel last week, my intent was to write a better book review. I wanted to focus on his work and his books. I was only incidentally interested in telling the story of how he was excommunicated. As we met and discussed things, it became obvious that bringing his story to the attention of a wider audience was more important and what the Lord wanted me to do.
What happened to Mel Fish should not happen to anyone in our church, but especially to a man who has spent a lifetime serving the Lord and helping God’s children heal from pain and sorrow. I can tell you from personal experience that Mel and Gwena Fish are loved of God. I know this because I asked God in prayer with my wife and received a revelation of God’s love for them.
The First Disciplinary Council
Mel first published Healing the Inner Self in 1999 at age 66 after counseling and helping many hundreds of grateful people over the previous decade. He received his PhD in Counseling in 1995. Anybody who has done the work for a PhD dissertation knows how difficult it is to meet the strenuous academic requirements. Mel’s work involved many years of clinical experience.
In 2007 Mel’s Stake President was asked by the Strengthening the Church Members Committee to hold a disciplinary council. The council was held and no action was taken. In preparation for the disciplinary council, the Stake President received expert witness and testimony from Dillon K Inouye, a beloved professor in the BYU Psychology Department before his death in 2008.
I have a copy of that expert testimony and can understand why Mel’s Stake President took no action on that occasion. The document is convincing in demonstrating that Mel Fish’s work is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, it shows that Mel’s techniques are superior over three other well accepted techniques of producing psychological behavior modification.
The Second Disciplinary Council
A copy of that expert testimony was sent to Elder Holland, Elder Bateman and Elder McMullin. Mel’s Stake President was released in 2008. New priesthood leadership was put into place. In 2009, a second disciplinary council was held in which the testimony of the first Stake President was presented, along with a personal endorsement from Elder F. Enzio Busche, all to no avail.
Mel was not allowed to speak in his own defense. He was not allowed to explain his work or how he helped people discover and then relieve their burdens by giving them to Christ. As far as Mel knows, there was nobody assigned to see that his interests were met. At age 76, he was also required to stand for seven hours while the charges were considered and his case deliberated.
At that point in the story I knew something was terribly wrong. It seemed obvious that the church had received one too many complaints about Mel’s work and had made it clear that he was to be excommunicated, no matter what. The disciplinary council was not concerned about Mel. They were only concerned about meeting the technical requirements to justify the action taken.
Of course I wasn’t there so I’m only telling one side of the story that I heard from Mel. As I wrote previously, the church does not comment on disciplinary actions. If you are familiar with the September Six, you know what a chilling effect the Church’s crackdown on intellectual criticism caused at that time. It seems now the Church has done the same thing among healers.
If you were at the disciplinary council I would like to hear from you (Strike that. It’s not an appropriate request to ask someone to break confidences). I doubt anyone will respond but as one who is familiar with the process from personal experience, I want to know if there was a spirit of love and concern expressed for the welfare of Mel’s soul. What efforts were made to help Mel understand what he had done that the Church found so offensive about healing lives?
I still intend to write that review of Mel’s book within the next few weeks. I received training in the techniques Mel uses so I know they are real and produce valid results. I have never seen a conflict between what Mel teaches and practices and what we find in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I welcome your comments. Mel gave permission to share the BYU document endorsing his work.
Update 3-28-13: I reviewed Mel’s book in this post.
Apparently I’m the first to review this book. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it’s because the book is not widely distributed. As far as I can tell, it is only available from Confetti Books in Spanish Fork. It was published in 2011. There is already a second edition, which I’m reviewing. The author is Doug Mendenhall, who published several previous books that you may recognize.
Doug is the father of Denise Mendenhall, who suffered a diabetic stroke and coma at age ten that destroyed the left side of her brain. When she recovered she no longer had a veil, meaning that she could see the spirit world and the spirit beings around us. Denise is not the only one who has such spirit vision but of all the accounts I have read, her gift seems to be the most pronounced.
The Mendenhall family has published My Peace I Give Unto You (2001) with Robert Lake, Possibilities – Lessons From the Spirit (2002), and In His Arms – Experiences With the Other Side (2006), authored by Denise. Doug said his latest book took several years to write but is based on his spiritual experiences with his daughter and others from the previous dozen years.
A Few Warnings
If you’re going to read these books you’re going to need to deal with a lower quality binding that may be disappointing to book collectors. Each of the four books has come apart as I have read them. I’ve had to tape them back up, something I rarely have to do with other self-published or small-press published books. I don’t think I’m hard on books and it really is quite annoying.
The other negative I want to get out of the way right up front is the number of typos that you will find in these books. Doug warns us in advance and for anyone who has self-published, you know how difficult if not impossible it is to find every typo. No matter how many times you review it or how many people put eyes on it before it goes to press, most self-edited books have typos.
The only other warning I want to offer if you choose to read this book is that you need to be aware of the intensity of some of the experiences, especially the chapters on possession. If you are not used to reading about such stuff you may want to prepare yourself by reading some other, shall we say lighter introductory material about the spirit world. I can recommend a list of books.
An Unusual Claim
Doug tells it like it is. I can’t see that he would have any reason to make these things up. He has put his reputation on the line when he says in the preface that the Lord requested him to write this book. If you’re a member of the LDS faith, you know what kind of claim that is. Not many people make that claim and those who do are usually looked upon as crackpots or “out there.”
I have made the claim that my writings have been inspired over the years but have never felt I could say that the Lord asked me to write something. Perhaps I don’t know Him that well. The only other person I know who has made the claim that the Lord asked him to write a book is Denver Snuffer, whose works I have read and reviewed previously on Latter-day Commentary.
Why would the Lord ask Doug to write this book? And if he did, why hasn’t it received more attention in the online LDS world? I have searched online many times since I first heard about the book and subsequently read it. I can find less than a half dozen references to the work in the blogs of other LDS writers. There seems to be no marketing effort being made for this volume.
I was fascinated with the content from the moment I received the book. I confess I jumped right to the chapter on complete possession. I could not put the book down for hours. I read there the account of Rick Bos, an LDS missionary serving in South America in 1969-1971 who dealt with individuals from the Candomblé spiritualist cult. They invite spirit possession through trances.
I had heard similar stories from my mission back in 1976, especially about the Garifuna people of Belize with their African voodoo religious roots. They practiced Gubida spirit possession. Although Belize was a part of our mission, we were not allowed to proselyte there as this was prior to the 1978 revelation on priesthood. I met people from Belize while in San Pedro Sula.
I’m sure a lot of members of the church have heard anecdotal stories of spirit possession from missionaries who encountered it while serving in places where it is common. In some ways we are used to the idea of spirit possession because it is part of our LDS heritage. Who hasn’t read the story of Heber C Kimball’s encounter with evil spirits while opening the work in England?
As I have written previously, I think the biggest problem we have with this subject is naiveté and fear. We either know nothing about dealing with evil entities or we don’t want to because the idea makes us uncomfortable. Doug jumps right in and addresses this subject in the first chapter. The enemy in studying about evil is fear. It is by gaining knowledge that we overcome the fear.
Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same person at the same time. If you’re considering this book to obtain help in overcoming evil in your own life or to understand how evil has afflicted someone you love, you will want to approach your study with prayer and faith. If the Lord has led you to this book, then ask him for help in dealing with any fears you may have about it.
The adversary has done an excellent job of keeping us from understanding how he works by causing fear to come upon us when we think about or talk about his influence. That is not the way we should tackle our task of mastering the devil and his angels. I believe this is something we should study but if we’re going about it with fear in our hearts then we are going to fail.
Reality of Spirit World
Doug next deals with the reality factor. So many people reject the idea of negative entities that it makes you wonder if they accept the notion of a spirit world at all. I can’t think of any belief more basic to our religion than the fact that we are eternal spirit beings temporarily housed in a mortal physical body for a season. To reject this belief is to reject all hope for life after death.
Among some sophisticated, intelligent, educated people, it is considered “not cool” to believe in things of a spiritual nature, especially spiritual beings. Their religious faith does not seem to have room for influences from beyond this physical world, either divine or profane. Sadly, this kind of thinking has carried over to some members of our faith, who seem embarrassed by such beliefs.
If you reject a belief in angels or devils then you won’t get much good from this book. If you do not accept the LDS doctrine that the spirit world is here among us and well-populated by beings unseen to mortal eyes, you will be equally challenged by the concepts presented in this volume. Doug’s work is precisely about identifying and dealing with those unseen and malicious entities.
Four Categories of Dark Entities
In the first edition Doug identified three classes of evil beings, but added the appendix in the second edition describing the fourth. They are of two main types: Those who have never been or ever will be mortal and those who have passed through mortality. Of the first type there are 1) devils and 2) demons. Of the second type there are 3) earth-bound spirits and 4) spirits in hell.
I think in our theology we have the easiest time understanding the idea of devils. We believe that a “third part” of the hosts of heaven were cast out for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Savior. Notice I didn’t say one third. I have done a careful study of the scriptures about this theme and have decided we have assigned a numerical value to something that was only intended to be a class.
We also should not have any problem with understanding the concept of spirits in hell. If there is anything that is universal in most Christian religions – and many others as well – it is the idea of a hell that is populated by those who have done evil while in this life. Yes, Mormon theology includes a hell, although for us it is a temporary abode for those who will someday be redeemed.
Power to Repent
Earth-bound spirits and spirits in hell are still in a probationary state, meaning they can choose to believe in Christ, exercise faith, repent and call upon Him for deliverance. My experience with earth-bound spirits has led me to believe they do not know their influence is detrimental to our spiritual health. These are mainly addicted spirits wanting to use our bodies if we let them.
Those in hell are being tortured for their rebellion and disobedience. They are held in chains, reserved for the Day of Judgment. They do not interact with us here on earth unless they choose to join with Satan in the rebellion against Christ, in which case they become fallen angels and make war against the Saints. Their ability to repent has been diminished by their poor choices.
Devils and demons, on the other hand, are evil spirits or entities that cannot and will not repent. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking we can send them to the light when they bother us. They cannot and will not go to the light. It bothers them. It hurts them. They avoid light. Devils and demons cannot repent. They are evil and have made their choice evident by torturing Christ.
A Personal Application
I bought this book to come to a better understanding of how the enemy of my soul was keeping me bound in a certain area no matter what I did to escape him. I found the answer I was seeking in a discussion about how we actually invite evil or unclean spirits into our bodies by the choices we make and the actions we take. This may sound like basic stuff but bear with me a moment.
Do you remember the scripture (Luke 11:24-26) about the unclean spirit who, when cast out, went and got seven more wicked spirits and came back to the man? What I learned from Doug, through several personal experiences he shared, is that those evil spirits only came to the man when they were invited back. They can’t attach themselves without some action on our part.
Such spirits will not leave until, along with our fasting, we petition the Lord in prayer to come and take them away. We cannot do it alone. Our faith and our priesthood authority is not enough with these kinds of entities – be they evil spirits (never mortal) or unclean spirits (earth-bound). It takes a God who has already battled them and won to remove them according to our faith.
There is so much more I could include about Doug’s book but I wouldn’t want to take away your joy in discovering the truths contained therein for yourself. Doug opens up a whole new vista for some who have never considered that there are spiritually gifted people among us who can see, feel or otherwise perceive things happening in the spirit world around us, both good and evil.
In his book you will read many stories of those spiritual encounters. You will learn how we can and should protect ourselves and our families through shields of faith and weapons of light. If you have read his previous books or Denise’s book, you will continue to be amazed at the simple acceptance of things that seem so foreign to those of us who do not have such spiritual sight.
You may especially be interested in the insights found in the chapter on how little children can be and are influenced by evil spirits. Those struggling with same-sex attraction will find answers that reaffirm the reality of the cause of their addiction. I’ve addressed it elsewhere on this blog but found it clearly and succinctly addressed in Doug’s book in a very matter-of-fact manner.
Summary and Conclusion
This is obviously not an unbiased review. I bought this book looking for something specific and found it. I was not displeased. Doug’s writing style is straightforward. He does not pull any punches. He is not looking to entertain but to inform. The subject is fascinating to me and I am grateful that he took the time to provide so much detail about this so very important subject.
I am confident I will be sharing additional insights I gained from this book and from Denise’s book in future blog posts. I recently purchased a CD recording of Denise speaking at Confetti Books earlier this year on the last days, another of my favorite study topics. I was fascinated by what she had to say and continue to ponder some of the ideas and visions she shared with us.
I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in spiritual healing or in overcoming long-standing addictions and temptations. If you have been wondering why some things would never go away no matter what you did, then this book is for you. If you will take the time to study it and apply the principles contained therein you will be blessed for your time and effort.
This is part two. You may want to read “Dealing With Evil and Unclean Spirits” first.
In order to be a son of perdition, you must have been born. In other words, you must have been mortal. Perdition, a name which means lost, is Satan, Lucifer or the Devil. However, those who followed him in the spirit world, and thus were cast out with him to this earth, are not sons of perdition, as we define it in the church.
Yes, Bruce R McConkie taught that to be a follower of Satan in the pre-earth life was to be a son of perdition. I admit that following Lucifer in rebellion can be a form of son-ship. Satan for them became their father. They would not have God to be their father. However, this definition of the phrase is not what Joseph taught.
Lucifer became the devil because he committed the unpardonable sin. That sin is to deny the Holy Ghost, meaning that you come out in open rebellion against God and seek to destroy him and his work, after he has revealed himself and His Son to you. Lucifer was in a position of great authority and knowledge before he rebelled.
Son of Perdition Defined
Joseph said, “All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition.” In order to become a son of perdition, a man “must have the heavens opened onto him, and know God, and then sin against Him.” He said there are some souls who simply cannot be saved.
There are relatively few who will become sons of perdition. They must, in this life, have obtained a perfect knowledge of the divinity of the gospel cause, a knowledge that comes only by open revelation from God. Those who deny the Holy Ghost will not be saved because they will not repent. They make open war against God.
“He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it.” God will not force anyone to be saved if they do not desire it. Sons of Perdition inherit a kingdom without glory.
Two Questions to Ponder
Yes, I know what is written in section 76. Those spirits that were cast out with Lucifer will not be redeemed from death because they never lived or died. In other words, they will never be resurrected or have a physical body, mortal or immortal. They are in hell now but will they or can they eventually be saved from hell?
The question before us then is twofold: Can evil spirits repent and what is their ultimate destiny? I think we can safely answer the second part that if they do not repent then they are doomed to dwell with Satan in some kingdom without glory forever. In other words, they chose on their own to be damned and cursed forever.
But is being damned and cursed the same as being in hell? To be damned is to be stopped in one’s progression. To be cursed by God is to be declared to be a thing of no worth, not able to be saved. Joseph taught that we are our own tormentors. If we decide that we cannot or will not repent, then there is no way we can be saved.
Evil Spirits Tortured Christ
In other words, can an evil spirit exercise faith in Jesus Christ? I know that they became evil spirits precisely because they chose not to believe that Jesus Christ could successfully perform his mission. Perhaps they also did not believe that we mortal men could perform our mission – to believe, repent and obey in faith.
It must be obvious to them that Jesus did complete his mortal mission with perfect success – the performance of the atonement and the resurrection. They know because they were there that night he suffered in the garden. In fact, they caused a large part of it. God allowed them to torment him as if he were guilty.
Surely they must know by now that many mortal men have successfully completed their missions and have been resurrected. Just as there are various levels of faith and valiancy among men here there must be varying levels of power among the spirits that followed Satan. Their power comes from knowledge and experience.
Sons of Perdition Not Saved
But having the power of knowledge and experience is not the same as having power that comes from light and intelligence. They do not have intelligence because they do not have light. The glory of God is intelligence or in other words, light and truth. Their evil energy is negative, dark and lacking in light or truth.
We are beings of energy. Our objective here on earth is to increase our light. The evil spirits are also beings of energy but they are beings of darkness – dark energy. Is it possible for these dark entities to turn to the light, to believe and exercise faith in Jesus Christ and choose to leave Satan’s employ? Again, can evil spirits repent?
Section 76:42-43 teaches that through Christ, “all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.” But again, do evil spirits qualify as sons of perdition?
Bound by Chains of Hell
Jude 1:6 declares that the angels that kept not their first estate have been reserved in everlasting chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day. What happens after that great day? We know that they will not inherit a kingdom of glory. Is it possible some can escape the power of Satan and repent before that dreadful day?
If they repent, what is their eternal destiny? If it is possible for them to exercise faith and repent or change, is there any mercy for them? Is it possible for them to escape or are they precluded from doing so because they are bound to Satan by the chains of hell? Can they break the chains of hell and if so, how can they do that?
In 2 Peter 2:4 we read, “For … God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” We know the purpose or function of these evil spirits. They are to tempt and to deceive mortal man. Do they thus fulfill one of the purposes of God?
Forfeited Their Agency
In D&C 29:36-37 we find, “… the devil … rebelled against me … and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels.” Do they still have their agency or has that been eternally lost? Can they turn from their rebellion?
Now I don’t believe for one moment that Satan will repent. He’s having too much fun right now. It is the great day of his power. Of course, he only has that power because the Lord allows it and because weak mortal man refuses to believe, repent and obey Jesus Christ. But I ask again, do the evil spirits still have their agency?
Was their only punishment the loss of the opportunity to receive a mortal body and the curse of being bound to the devil by the chains of hell? We are taught that we can cast off the chains of hell that bind us through our faith in Jesus Christ and by choosing to do good works instead of evil. Will evil spirits have that opportunity?
Priesthood and Sons of Perdition
One more thought that causes me to question the idea that evil spirits who followed Satan can be classified as sons of perdition. President Joseph Fielding Smith once taught in General Conference that there will be no sons of perdition who do not hold the priesthood. Do those who followed Satan hold the priesthood? I think not.
Joseph taught that once we have passed to the spirit world, there is no possibility to become a son of perdition. “No man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the mortal body … he must do it in this world.” To me, that excludes spirits who chose to follow Satan in the pre-earth life. How much did they know?
Doug Mendenhall shares on page 190 of his book, Conquering Spiritual Evil, the story of a woman who believed she could invite evil spirits to come to her so she could teach them to repent. They told her to kill herself. She is now in a mental hospital. Only a fool would invite evil spirits to come and teach them to repent.
Devils Have No Desire to Repent
However, is it possible that if they come uninvited, and we are aware of their presence that we could take advantage of the opportunity to declare deliverance through faith in Jesus Christ? Can we not teach them that they do not have to follow Satan anymore? Can they not go to the light and start to do some good?
Doug seems to think not. He agrees that disembodied or earthbound spirits can repent and move on but he does not support the idea of sending devils and demons to the light. I’m not sure I agree with his definition of demons but I yield to his more extensive experience with the subject. To me demons are female devils.
I like his argument. He writes on page 192, “Do we really believe that the devils are going to say, ‘Oh, yes, we were deceived by Lucifer. I think I’ll change now. You have convinced me after talking to me for five minutes. I know I have rejected the greatest beings in the universe, rejected their light, and fought against them for eons, but because of your argument, I’m going to change instantly.”
They Won’t Go To The Light
Doug then asked a friend and quoted his answer at length. I think I know his friend who I have written about extensively on my blog. You can read it on pages 193 to 195 of Doug’s book. If I were the author of the unclean spirits blog I would read those pages carefully and then weigh it against whatever personal evidence he has.
I am being careful on purpose. I don’t want to offend the author of that blog who has obviously spent many years researching the subject and hints at many years of personal experience in helping “millions” of evil spirits repent. I know there are many energy workers who teach we can send devils and demons to the light.
I simply ask you to be careful. This is an area where you want and need to be right. We can be deceived in this area and I can see why Satan would want us to believe that we can help evil spirits repent. Perhaps one might feel that the repentant spirit would then be available to help with future work in this area. Think carefully.
Summary and Conclusion
So who is right about the idea that evil spirits can repent? Does the author of the unclean spirits blog know what he is talking about? If you want a copy of the opposing argument from Doug’s book, email me and I will ask Doug if I can share it. If it comes from who I think it does, then I have made up my mind on the issue.
Do not confuse devils with unclean spirits. They are two different kinds of entities. Unclean spirits can repent. That’s the whole purpose of the spirit world – to give them time to reflect upon this life and what they have learned. As a church, we perform saving ordinances for them. They are not devils, just temporarily lost.
Devils and Demons cannot repent. They don’t want to. They tortured the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. They are liars from the beginning. Their sole desire is to deceive us and to cause us to suffer. They remain unconvinced that the Lord’s pronouncements of their fate will come to pass. They still believe they can win.
I have written about this subject numerous times. It might be helpful to browse through a few of those essays to get some background. In the earlier posts you’ll find what I’ve been taught on the subject, what I’ve experienced and what I now believe. With this essay I reach far back into my youth in an attempt to provide evidence of things not seen but which are true.
8 Dec 2007 – The Influence of the Adversary Today
7 May 2008 – Pondering About the Spirit World
22 May 2008 – The Reality of Satan and Evil Spirits
5 June 2008 – Another Visit to the Spirit World
21 June 2008 – The Near-Death Experience of an Apostle
21 June 2008 – Brigham Young Teaches About Evil Spirits
6 Oct 2008 – Born That Way – Not a Choice
18 Oct 2008 – Speak of the Devil
20 May 2012 – Addictions and Disembodied Spirits
7 July 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
In general, I think we as a people are naïve and uninformed about the reality of evil spirits. We either tend to deny their existence altogether or refuse to deal with the possibility that they could be real. I have seen the full range of responses to the idea that evil spirits could be influencing us. For most Latter-day Saints, it is still an uncomfortable subject, and one they would rather ignore.
I continue to write about this subject because of an encounter with evil spirits early in my life that affected me profoundly. In that experience I discovered what Joseph Smith learned when he went to the sacred grove to pray. In our modern sanitized retelling of the story we tend to either skip over or minimize the importance of that part. Here are the pertinent quotes from his story:
Joseph Smith Encounters the Devil
“I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
“But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me … I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being…”
From the 1835 account we gain some additional detail, “I heard a noise behind me like someone walking towards me: I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer; I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.” I believe Joseph had an encounter directly with the devil.
My Encounter with Evil Spirits
Joseph was fourteen when he first opened his soul to the spirit would. When I was sixteen I found myself in a similar situation. I was alone and attempting to part the veil. In my case, fear seized my heart. I began to feel an extreme case of paranoia. Sounds became distant and unreal to me. I felt as though my spirit was about to leave my body. I was fearful I was about to die.
I heard voices all around me. They laughed and in their laughter I sensed some anticipated evil pleasure. I knew if something didn’t happen I would soon be under their power. My body was no longer functioning as it should. Time stopped. I was in between heartbeats, no longer aware of my own body. I felt as if my spirit was leaving my body. This was wrong and I knew it.
Similar to Joseph’s story, just as I felt I was about to die, I sensed the presence of a being of light, standing over me and behind me. I did not see the angel, but could tell he had a drawn sword in his hand and was there to protect me. I felt an incredible sense of peace and relief. The fear left me. The chattering of the voices disappeared. I came to myself and arose to my feet.
A Transfer of Knowledge
I looked behind me but there was nobody there. I was shaken and could not understand why I had felt such hatred toward me from the voices. Why did they seek to destroy me? What had I done to deserve such animosity? I was nobody – only sixteen years old. There was nothing special about me. Yet the feelings of hatred toward me were real, palpable and powerful.
In my case, I am convinced these feelings did not come directly from the devil but from evil spirits sent to destroy me. I felt their fear. For a moment I knew what they knew about eternity. They had chosen to follow the devil and were filled with anger and jealousy that I had a body while they didn’t. Their weapon was fear. It was intensified by their numbers in the hundreds.
Why am I sharing this? It is not an uplifting story, but it is factual. It happened to me at a young age and convinced me that the spirit world is real. I knew then and still know today that there are unseen beings all around us. They do not want us to succeed in our mission of developing faith and proving ourselves worthy. They look for opportunities to prevent us from parting the veil.
Learning from Opposition
I decided right then and there, based on my personal knowledge and experience with the evil spirits that what I had been taught about God, Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation was real. I am apparently one of those people who learn from opposites. I knew that evil spirits existed. Therefore I knew that angels and beings of light also existed. They can be sent to protect us.
In my encounter with these unseen beings, I experienced a transfer of knowledge to my soul that I cannot explain. As I wrote above, “For a moment I knew what they knew about eternity.” I felt what they felt. Their feelings of fear, resentment, anger, jealousy and hatred all flooded into my heart and mind. I knew they were on a mission to destroy me and I knew how many there were.
From that day I have had an intense interest in learning all I could about the spirit world and how it operates. I have studied hundreds of near-death experiences, read all I could find from the early brethren about their encounters with evil spirits, including the particularly insightful account from Orson Hyde and what Jedediah Grant revealed to Brigham and Heber just before he died.
Discerning of Spirits
I was especially fascinated when I learned of individuals who, in the course of counseling others, have had encounters with those who were overcome with disembodied spirits. I have come to understand the difference between evil spirits and unclean or foul spirits, the first never having had a mortal body, the second being those who have refused to go to the light upon their death.
I have prayed for and believe I have received the gift of discerning of spirits. I am aware when they are nearby. I am sensitive to how they manifest themselves through mortals who are not otherwise aware of their presence. Finally, I have come to understand that unclean spirits can repent in the spirit world. They can decide to believe in Christ and go to the light of his love.
After many years of study, fasting and prayer my confidence in one of Joseph’s revelatory declarations about the spirit world has greatly increased. He taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not” (TPJS p 181 & 190). In spite of what the world teaches about devils and demons, there is no need to be fearful over what they can do to us.
Seeking Visions of Eternity
We can seek to part the veil with trust in the Lord that he will protect us while we enter into the spirit world to be taught the things of the eternities. It is fear that keeps us from parting the veil. We are taught that we must continue to grow beyond our initial spiritual witness of the truth. Yet at the same time we are dissuaded from doing so by well-meaning leaders within our own faith.
I know their concern is based on love. They do not want to see us deceived. How many times have you heard that someone has seen visions and now declares himself to be a prophet? I have read these accounts many times throughout my life. Yet Joseph encouraged us over and over to seek to obtain visions of heaven. We are to part the veil and seek to see the face of the Lord.
We believe in the gift of visions (Seventh Article of Faith), yet how many of us seek to develop this gift? If visions of heavenly scenes are manifest among us then we are the people of God. If we are not a visionary people then our faith is inadequate and we are condemned. Moroni taught that if the ministering of angels has ceased then it is because of unbelief and all is in vain.
Power Over The Spirits
I have written this essay in an attempt to encourage us to be more diligent in our efforts to part the veil and receive the visions of eternity. In my opinion, the biggest impediment to doing so is fear. That fear is placed there by the adversary and is something we need to overcome. The fear is subtle but is prevalent throughout the church, including among those who teach and lead us.
The Lord desires to give us further light and knowledge. That phrase has significance. He is reaching out to us and encouraging us to build our faith in Him, to trust Him and to ask in prayer to have the heavens opened. There are things we need to know that can be obtained in no other way than by having them revealed to us directly by the Lord. He will help us build that faith.
A man would be a fool to ask to have evil spirits sent to him. Yet we must part the veil to open the heavens. In the process of doing so we will encounter spirit beings that are not of God. We need not fear what they say or try to cause us to feel. We have power over them because of our bodies. We can discern between true messengers and those who the devil sends to deceive us.
Unclean Spirits Can Repent
If they are unclean spirits, we can invite them to repent and to turn onto Christ. We erroneously think they are condemned just because they are in hell. These were once our brothers and sisters here in mortality. Christ suffered and died for them. They can come out of hell. It is not meant to be a place that exists for all time, but a place to learn a lesson and then to be freed through faith.
Yes, I know the scriptures teach there is a place reserved for the devil and his angels. From what I can tell it will continue to exist after those destined for the telestial kingdom have come out of their hell through the resurrection and the final judgment. But at some time, those who were once mortal and desire to come out of hell will be allowed to do so after they repent and follow Christ.
I do not know the final destiny of the devil and his angels, those who choose not to repent. The Lord has not revealed it to me. I also do not know if it is possible for those who chose to follow Satan to ever repent. There are many in the church who teach their eternal fate was sealed when they were cast out to this earth. I don’t know how they support that in light of D&C 76:45-48.
Can Evil Spirits Repent?
There are some who teach that evil spirits who have never had a body can repent. You can read the beliefs of one such individual on his unclean spirits blog. At first I assumed this anonymous blog was written by someone I knew who was involved in energy healing stress management. I have since opened a dialog with him and was surprised to discover that I have never met him.
This is a controversial area, one bound to elicit much contention and efforts to dissuade him from his teachings. I can understand why he has kept his blog anonymous. I have also been reading the latest book from Doug Mendenhall, Conquering Spiritual Evil. If you’ll recall, Doug is the father of Denise Mendenhall, who lost her veil at age ten and can now see into the spirit world.
The book is fascinating and highly detailed about how Doug deals with the attacks of the devils that surround us all. I am surprised it is not available on Amazon or reviewed on Goodreads. As far as I can tell, it is only available from Confetti Books. In my opinion, it takes up where “Overcoming Satan in the Latter Days” (Timothy Wood, Gazelem Publication, 1987) left off.
Go to Part Two for Conclusion
This essay is getting long. I have worked on it for a week as I have studied the gospel. There is already a part two, which I will publish immediately. In the second essay, “The Devil and His Angels,” I deal more directly with the claims found on the Unclean Spirits blog that evil spirits can repent. I think you can tell I have tried hard to support that conclusion but no longer can.
Consider two hypothetical conversations. Here is the first:
“Bishop, I’d like to see an angel.”
“Why would you want to do that?
“Moroni 7:37 says that if angels no longer minister unto men it’s because we have no faith.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask to see an angel.”
“Because you might be deceived by the devil as an angel of light.”
“But section 129 teaches us how to know an angel from the devil.”
“I don’t think you should be messing with the mysteries. Leave that stuff to the Brethren.”
Second theoretical conversation:
“Bishop, I’d like to see an angel.”
“That’s wonderful. Do you feel you’re ready for that?”
“Well, I’ve been reading the scriptures. There are so many references that tell me I should seek to see the face of God. From what I can tell, if I exercise faith in prayer, angels come first to tell me what I need to do to be prepared.”
“Since you’ve been to the temple, I think you are ready. I admire your faith and encourage you in your desire. If you feel it’s not too sacred, let me know how it turns out.”
Do you see the difference? While these are both imaginary conversations, they are based on real attitudes I have encountered all my life. I’d like to address the concerns raised by the bishop in the first example, then a few more things I have heard when discussing spiritual manifestations. If anybody feels strongly enough that I’m spreading false doctrine and desires to correct me, please feel free to do so by leaving an intelligent response for discussion in the comments.
Audience with the Savior
First, by asking why anyone would want to see an angel, the bishop is either exhibiting ignorance of the scriptures or is expressing personal hidden fears and frustrations at his own inadequacies in spiritual matters. Perhaps he is testing the individual to see if they are serious in their desire. Either way, it is not a very positive response to a member of his congregation who is seeking guidance in a spiritual matter. Even, “Really? Tell me about it,” would be a better response.
I like the reply of the bishop in the second conversation because it is both encouraging and at the same time is gently probing to determine sincerity. A bishop is to watch over his flock and to encourage them to do good works. I can’t think of a good work more important than preparing for an audience with the Savior. The Bishop is simply trying to determine if there is anything he can offer in counsel to help this person achieve an exciting and admirable gospel ideal.
Lack of Belief
Moroni 7:37 has always impressed me as both a warning and an enticement to increase faith. I can’t imagine how anyone can read this and not ask why they haven’t had an angel appear and minister unto them. Of course the answer is “because of unbelief” or that faith is lacking. But it is the last phrase “and all is vain” that really catches my attention. Is Moroni suggesting that we waste our lives if we don’t receive angels and have them teach us of the things of eternity?
The reaction of the bishop that he didn’t think it was a good idea to seek to be visited by an angel is based on fear and not faith. D&C 67:3 addresses this directly. It is a real problem that was common then and even more common now. It is fear that keeps us from receiving promised blessings such as visits from angels or other manifestations of the spirit such as visions. These and more witnesses are promised in abundance to those who follow the counsel in D&C 67:10.
In fact, if you want to follow that whole scripture chain of promises start with D&C 38:8, then go to D&C 50:45, then D&C 67:10, D&C 88:68, D&C 93:1 and finally D&C 107:18-19. These are amazing and marvelous promises, each with increasingly greater privileges assured until you are promised to be brought into the presence of God the Father and Jesus the Mediator. I have long marveled at these declarations and wondered why they are not more fully believed today.
Now, the big question is, do you believe these promises are intended to be fulfilled in this life or are reserved from some future day, after this mortal life is over? I am convinced that the Lord wants us to do what it takes to receive these blessings while we are yet mortal, specifically in order to prepare us to dwell in the presence of God in the life to come. If we do not, how can we hope to feel comfortable when we are brought to that judgment day to kneel at the feet of Christ?
And yet, how many people do you know who can say that these promises are real, because they have both tested them and proved them? Perhaps some things are too sacred to share but I am of the opinion that we are under the condemnation mentioned in the Book of Mormon because we do not believe and use that book to bring us unto Christ like it was intended. I don’t think the Lord was speaking to Gentiles who don’t accept the Book of Mormon. He was speaking to us.
D&C 84:54-57 clearly spells out that condemnation. We are condemned because we do not believe and act upon the promises contained in the book. Do we or don’t we believe that we can have experiences similar to those of Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Alma, Mormon and Moroni? Or are those kinds of things reserved only for prophets and apostles? Or perhaps you feel that such spiritual manifestations were only intended for the Brethren in early days of the modern Church.
Never Seen an Angel
I write this as much for me as for anyone else who happens to read this. I confess that I have never seen an angel, or at least not one of which I am aware. Perhaps the Lord has sent angels to me as a test to see how I would respond and I did not do as well as I should have. But then, I have never specifically asked to have an angel come and teach me, probably out of fear. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that things are kept from us out of mercy so we are not condemned.
Is that a false doctrine, one that keeps us from asking for further light and knowledge as we should? Everyone has to decide how much they want to bind the Lord by doing as he commands. We are the ones who keep the heavens sealed by not asking in faith and in the way we are taught in the temple. I have taught priesthood quorums and asked the question why we don’t take the Lord seriously enough to ask that angels be sent to teach us what he wants us to do to come unto him.
Seek Visits from Angels
The answer I have received is “We have the scriptures. That’s enough. Everything we need to know about how to come onto Christ is contained in them. We just have to read them and do what they say.” While that sounds fine and admirable on the surface, I can’t help but think of the scripture “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.” It is as if we are saying we don’t need personal revelation because it has all been given and recorded.
The other common answer, which is similar to what the Bishop brought up in my first example, is that we should not ask for manifestations, visits or visions because we might be deceived by false spirits. It’s doubtful that the devil would be interested enough in us to appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14, 2 Ne 9:9, D&C 128:20 & 129:8), but it could happen, right? That’s why Joseph gave us the three grand keys of how we could identify messengers from the spirit world.
Dealing with Evil Spirits
When I was preparing for my mission back in 1975, I read D&C Commentary by Hyrum Smith in about two months. It was a most wonderful time of my life. I had many spiritual experiences. When I got to section 50, I read about how to deal with evil or unclean spirits that may come to us as a result of asking for spiritual manifestations. Note particularly the instructions in verses 30 through 33. They are to be fought, or as I like to say, “taught” in humility and not fear.
Yes, I am saying that if you ask the Lord to send you an angel, it is very likely that you will first be visited by evil or unclean spirits trying to pass themselves off as angels of the Lord. I know this is scary stuff, but from personal experience, I can tell you that it is real. While I confessed earlier that I had never seen an angel of the Lord, I can assure you that I have been visited by evil and unclean spirits attempting to deceive me. There is a difference between them.
Devils and Demons
No, I haven’t seen them with my natural eyes, but the experience is real nonetheless. An evil spirit, also known as a devil (male) or demon (female) has never had a mortal body. An unclean spirit is a deceased individual who died without the light of Christ in them, did not desire to go to the light and continues to hang around trying to co-habit the bodies of those who let them. The unclean spirits have much more power in that they know how to use our bodies against us.
Update (9-8-12): There has been enough discussion about my definition of devils and demons that I feel a need to claify. I had been taught and believed that devils were male evil spirits while demons were female evil spirits. This definition served me well for years. I have since been taught by others I trust that devils fit the description of any unborn (never mortal) spirit that followed Lucifer. Demons, I am told, are creations of Satan, along with imps (more in a furure essay).
You’re going to have to deal with fear if you’re serious about entertaining visitors from the spirit world. There’s no way you can have visits only from the Lord’s angels and not expect visits from the devil’s angels. It’s an eternal principle that there is opposition in all things. That will never go away. It is part of the balance of the universe. Simply prepare your heart and your mind to deal with them with humility and the Love of Christ, not with fear, anger or a rebuking attitude.
Cast out the Unclean Spirits
We read and hear often in Mormon culture about the casting out of evil spirits done by raising the arm to the square and commanding them to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, I have also done this. But lately, I find it more effective that I talk to them first and teach them about faith in Christ, then invite them to go unto Christ or an angel he has waiting for them in the light. This is especially effective with unclean spirits but a bit harder for me with devils and demons.
Update (9-11-12): This is important enough that it deserves clarification. I have learned since I wrote this that devils and demons will not go to the light. They hate the light. They have no light within them. They cannot understand it, comprehend it or even conceive of light. They do not want it and cannot be deterred from their course to destroy light. I have written about this in my essay on Conquering Spiritual Evil. They will not and cannot repent so don’t try to send them to the light. Just cast them out.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. This is all so weird. You’re never been taught any of this in your Sunday school, Priesthood or Relief Society classes. Just like so much of the early history of our church is not taught openly, these things are not in our curriculum. They’re deemed too scared and not for those who are young in the gospel. Yes, I agree with that assessment, but am also concerned that what was commonly understood by the early Brethren is being slowly lost.
Mysteries of Godliness
I conclude with a commentary on the bishop’s final statements in the first example I used. The word “mysteries” has taken on a negative connotation in the modern church. Joseph Smith taught that we should seek to have the mysteries of Godliness revealed to us. Do a search in the online scriptures on lds.org or use the topical guide in your own scriptures. There are 23 results in the Doctrine and Covenants alone that provide evidence of the Lord’s intent to reveal mysteries.
That was then. Today, when we hear that somebody is “seeking after the mysteries” we think of someone who has gone off the deep end and is “looking beyond the mark” or trying to make the simplicity of the gospel into something it was not meant to be. I find this frustrating. Yes, I know of individuals who fit that description, but they are also folks who do not yet have a firm grasp of the basic concepts of obedience and sacrifice, let alone purity and consecration to the Lord.
Seek after Mysteries
I disagree with my fictional Bishop’s advice. I do think we should be seeking after mysteries. I do not think that the Lord intended for us to leave that only to the Brethren who we sustain as the leaders of our church. In fact, I think it’s imperative that we make every effort to seek after greater light and knowledge than we now have. We are only saved as fast as we gain knowledge. Don’t be afraid of going off the deep end. Learn to trust in the Lord to lead you to greater truth.
Am I right or am I wrong? Am I off in left field, going in the wrong direction or have I stumbled upon a basic truth that we need to emphasize and teach more to those who are ready? I confess that I have combined many of the things I have learned from Denver Snuffer and Jan Graf in this essay, but they have all agreed with what I have studied and come to understand on my own over the years. Give me some feedback folks. Let me know if you think this is dangerous territory.
Is there such a thing as orthodoxy in Mormonism? And who has the right to proclaim what is orthodox in our religion that should or should not be believed? I understand and accept that the men I sustain as leaders in the LDS Church have the right to determine and enforce what should be taught in the classrooms and declared from the pulpits of that worldwide institution.
But many things I attribute to Mormonism the religion, are not taught today in the LDS Church. Does that mean the Mormon religion and the LDS Church are two different things? Consider the recent General Conference address from Elder Donald Hallstrom, “Converted to His Gospel through His Church.” He is obviously declaring the Gospel is not the same as the church.
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, the doctrines that teach how we can be saved and live forever in a state of happiness, redeemed from death and hell. On the other hand, the church is the institution organized and established by the Lord through Joseph Smith in 1830 that has undergone a tremendous number of changes over the years.
Religion and Church
Although it embraces both, in my mind, our religion is something altogether different from the gospel and from the church. I suppose that’s dangerous ground. If you think about it, I’m saying what I believe to be truth is not limited to what the LDS Church declares to be truth today. That is indeed dangerous ground. It invites speculation that the Church limits us in some way.
At one time we taught that we embrace all truth. Yet some things we taught as truth in the early days of the church are no longer found in our official curriculum. I’m not talking about plural marriage, blood atonement or restricting the priesthood. I’m talking about things like the reality of evil spirits, catastrophes of the last days and the literalness of D&C 93:1.
I feel a debt of gratitude to three men whose views have changed my life. Although they do not want or care for the attention, I would like to acknowledge them, their ideas and their work. Each has worked tirelessly to bring their beliefs to light and I for one have benefited from their work. They illustrate the idea that something from the early days of our religion has been lost.
Jan Graf – Reality of evil spirits
I first met Jan at a time in my life when I was troubled by many things that would not go away. There is no other way to explain it concisely. Because of his ideas and explanations of things, I was able to make them go away. It’s that simple. What he teaches about how to remove distress is nothing new or different. It is simply the application of the principle of forgiveness.
But what is unique, unorthodox and controversial about Jan’s skill in helping people find peace are his beliefs about what causes stress in our lives. It is the idea that evil spirits are real, can be found in the world around us and are very active in afflicting and tormenting us. That is a very common belief in the early days of Mormonism but hardly ever taught in the church today.
I was so excited about the amazing results in my life from what he taught that Carol and I went to St. George to interview him and talk about writing a book. Because what he does is so easily misunderstood, he asked that I not pursue my project. Out of respect I dropped the idea but continue to refer people to him I know could benefit from his stress-reduction technique.
Anthony Larson – Latter-day catastrophes
A long time ago I ran across a book that got me genuinely excited about how the last days are going to unfold. It was not told from a social, political or even religious perspective but from a cosmological view that could only be described as unorthodox. Anthony Larson explained for me how the signs and prophecies of the scriptures are descriptions of natural events.
What he explained in his trilogy of prophecy books was not thought to be so unusual in the early days of Mormonism. We were at one time considered an Adventist church, preparing intently for the forthcoming return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though his books are based on scripture and statements of early Mormon leaders, today they are considered unorthodox.
I have written many essays about his beliefs and interpretations of scripture. I have attended his seminars, read each of his books multiple times and had many dialogs and conversations about how he interprets myths of the past. I’m in the process of writing a fictional account based on the now unorthodox but one-time common beliefs of this visionary, prophetic man.
Denver Snuffer – The Second Comforter
I was recently introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer, a man who claims to have received the Second Comforter and was asked by the Lord to write about it. That’s an amazing claim and obviously very unorthodox in our modern LDS church. He has generated a lot of controversy. Some have called him apostate or dangerous and said he should be excommunicated.
I have almost finished reading Denver’s eight published books. I have written previously that I would withhold judgment until I finished them all but I think I have made up my mind. Denver’s advice that we read his books in order has merit. I read them in reverse order. That may have been a mistake, but I survived because I read most of the “alternative views” previously.
I have decided I like Denver, or that I can at least accept and trust what he has written. Just as I have with Jan Graf’s and Anthony Larson’s writings, I have pondered and prayed about what I have learned. I am not dismayed or taken aback by his latest book as some others have been although I confess an initial misunderstanding of how he defines the sealing power.
I suppose I need to change my bio on Twitter, Google Plus and here on my blog. Because of my acceptance of the beliefs of the three men I have described, I guess I can no longer claim to be an orthodox Mormon. What’s more, I am discovering I am unusual in my church because I have long believed and taught that we can seek and should strive to have “spiritual experiences.”
After years of sharing some of my sacred experiences online, engaging in dialog about the reality of personal revelation, I have come to the conclusion there are many within our church that do not experience communication from the spirit world like I thought everybody did. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? “Spooky,” an embarrassing unorthodox belief, some would say.
Perhaps that is why there are two conflicting cultures within the LDS church today. On the one hand we are encouraged to share our testimonies, which are supposed to be based on personal sacred events. On the other hand, the subtle message is being communicated that we must keep our spiritual experiences to ourselves, because they are “too sacred” to share.
Orthodoxy seems to be all about what is appropriate and acceptable as the norm. As I wrote at the beginning of this essay, I accept and sustain the right of the leaders of this church to direct what is preached from the pulpit and what is taught in the classroom. The church is a place of order. It is a magnificent, effective organization that does tremendous good.
The meetinghouses, the temples, the missionary force, the humanitarian effort, the welfare system, the lay ministry, the willingness of the members to sacrifice and serve each other all attest to the goodness of this organization. But there is something more to our religion than just the church and our activity within it. There is something intense and personal.
That something today is unorthodoxy. It is our individual efforts to commune with God. It is our testimonies, our spiritual experiences, our determination to study, understand and internalize what we believe. It is developing our ability to hear and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is our participation in the ordinances and adherence to the covenants we make.
In short, it is being different from the world and even from many within the church who are not willing to pay the price of obedience and sacrifice that inevitably bring the promised blessings. The church is not the same as the gospel and the church is not everything there is to our religion. There is so much more to Mormonism but you have to be willing to be unorthodox to see it.
I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:
I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.
My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.
I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.
Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.
And my response:
Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.
I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.
I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.
I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.
That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.
The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”
There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.
At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.
For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.
My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.
I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.
Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.
Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.
Good luck and God bless. You can do it.
This is going to be a little difficult to write because it is both a sacred and a sensitive subject. It is sacred because it involves personal revelation that is intended to be just that – personal. It is sensitive because I know from many years of experience and dialog with other members of the church that not everyone feels the same way or has had the same experiences I have had with the Holy Ghost and in particular, the feeling of the burning of the bosom that I have experienced.
You asked if I thought if everyone can experience or feel the burning of the bosom. I like what Elder Oaks had to say about that: “What does a ‘burning in the bosom’ mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works.”
Burning of the bosom
Elder S. Dilworth Young said, “It is a feeling which cannot be described, but the nearest word we have is ‘burn’ or ‘burning.’ Accompanying this always is a feeling of peace, a further witness that what one heard is right. Once one recognizes this burning, this feeling, this peace, one need never be drawn astray in his daily life or in the guidance he may receive.” Elder Romney taught this many times – that we can make life’s decisions correctly using instructions in D&C 9:8-9.
Elder Packer taught, “This burning in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm light shining within your being.” Another apostle said, “As I have traveled throughout the Church, I’ve found relatively few people who have experienced a burning of the bosom. In fact, I’ve had many people tell me that they’ve become frustrated because they have never experienced that feeling even though they have prayed or fasted for long periods of time.”
Some do feel the burning
So, from both personal experience and from what we have been taught by Apostles and Prophets, yes, we can and many do feel the burning of the bosom at various times in their lives. But for many faithful members, and perhaps most, the burning of the bosom is either very rare or non-existent. I guess it all depends on how you describe it or what you expect. If Elder Oaks can say that he has never felt caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion then I accept that.
I guess I am the exception and can say without a doubt that I do often feel a warm sensation in the area of my chest when I am engaged in something that I know pleases the Lord. In contrast, I have felt a cold feeling or absence of warmth in that same general region of my chest many times in my life when I have engaged in actions or even thoughts that offended the spirit. For me it is a very real and discernable sensation that has blessed me throughout my life since I was a youth.
You asked about my experience at Ricks College in regards to receiving an answer to prayer. This was not my first experience with revelation, nor was it the last, but it was one of the most powerful and tangible up to that point in my life. It has also been one of the most memorable and influential spiritual experiences to come upon me even though it occurred over 35 years ago. As I noted, it is sacred, but I do feel it is appropriate to share with you since you have asked.
I was 17 years old at the time. It was in the Fall of 1974. My family joined the Church in 1962 when I was five so I feel that I grew up as a member, attending Primary, Sunday School, MIA and Seminary. However, during my Senior year of High School, there was about a six to eight month period of time that I hung with the wrong kind of friends and did not attend church. In short, I had some repenting to do and felt a strong desire to know my standing before the Lord.
Early in the Fall of 1974, I attended an assembly at Ricks College, now BYU Idaho, in which I distinctly remember President Eyring introducing Elder LeGrand Richards as our devotional speaker. I had heard Elder Richards speak in General Conference before but I had never been in the same meeting with him in which I could feel his spirit and sense his enthusiasm for the gospel. Something in me caused me to sit still and pay careful attention to what he was saying.
As he taught the gospel and bore fervent testimony of the work of the Lord I remember thinking to myself how much I would like to be able to speak with the power, confidence and enthusiasm that he had. A distinct impression came over me, and I attribute this to the whisperings of the spirit, that I could have that same witness that Elder Richards had and that I could teach like that someday if I would pay the price of study, devotion, obedience and especially of intense prayer.
Led by the Lord
As I left the devotional assembly I pondered the message I had felt from the spirit long and hard. Like Joseph said, I reflected upon it again and again. Never had anything penetrated my heart so deeply. I felt drawn to the possibility that I could know what Elder Richards knew and that I could receive it in the way he testified – through humble prayer and revelation from the Lord. I wanted to know what the Lord thought of my efforts to repent thus far in leaving my sins behind.
On Friday, I determined that I was going to put the promise to the test. My roommate was gone for the evening to a dance so I knew I would have a few hours alone to talk to the Lord in prayer. I felt filled with desire as I began my efforts and was impressed that the words flowed so easily. It was clear to me that the spirit was directing my thoughts and helping me to express myself. I am confident that I went on for a solid hour reviewing my life with the Lord as I prayed aloud.
The second hour was not so easy. In fact, it became very difficult to confess my sins of the year that had passed and to have revealed to me the effects my actions had upon myself and on others. Tears flowed as I saw how I had hurt myself and others and again, the spirit impressed me how the Lord felt about my sadness and the misery through which I had passed. I felt no judgment or condemnation, only that the Lord was pained because of my pain and that he wanted to heal me.
Finally, in the third hour, I was in agony as I pled with the Lord to forgive me and to restore to me the innocence and happiness I had once felt before the days of my rebellion. I asked again and again for relief. I wanted to know that I had been forgiven and that I would yet be able to make something of my life in spite of the sin and disobedience of earlier days. I pleaded and begged for a witness or a manifestation of the Lord’s love for me and that I had been forgiven.
Opposition is real
It was towards the end of the third hour that I saw clearly in my mind’s eye the reality of the existence of unclean and evil spirits. As I recalled moments of my sinful behavior, the Lord showed to me that I was not alone, that there were beings from the unseen world participating with me in my sin. I was appalled at the scenes I was recalling and abhorred the fact that the adversary had used me during those moments. My pain was real and I was suffering terribly.
Just as I was about to give up in despair that I would receive no relief from my torment and just as I had about decided that my emotional outpouring of grief and despair were in vain, I realized that something unusual was happening about and within me. I began to sit very still and to pay close attention to what I was feeling or rather sensing. A tangible feeling of peace came over me and a feeling of happiness, almost euphoria entered into my heart and mind. It was powerful!
Warmth filled my being almost from head to toe. I did not see, but I sensed light all around and within me. Now this is the most difficult and personal part to describe of what I experienced. I did not see anything with my eyes. I did not hear anything with my ears. But I knew that I was not alone at that moment. I began to hear words, no, full sentences in my mind and saw myself at some future time in my life, participating in sacred and powerful events related to the gospel.
I cannot adequately describe what I saw in my mind’s eye and heard in my heart, but I will tell you that I sat transfixed for what seemed like another hour as scene after potential scene of my life was revealed to me. I both saw and heard myself speaking and teaching the gospel with the same kind of confidence that I had seen in Elder Richards earlier in that week. I knew as I was seeing this that it was not guaranteed, but was conditional upon my willingness to prepare for it.
That’s why I say that from then on, everything changed. I knew that I would soon be going on a mission. I knew I would marry in the temple. I knew that I would accept and serve faithfully in many callings over the years. I knew I would serve in a leadership capacity in my local ward and stake. I saw myself doing all these things and especially saw myself teaching and speaking from the pulpit, hearing specific things that I would be saying and teaching. It was amazing to me.
Now, as I said this is personal and sacred. One who is not familiar with the revelatory process could describe this as the frenzies of a deranged mind, brought on by emotional distress over the imagined need to repent for what I considered sins. Anyone can say what they like, but it was real to me and nobody will ever be able to take away this experience that I still hold sacred. The feelings that accompanied this revelatory experience are indescribable but filled me with joy.
Summary and conclusion
Yes, what I experienced that night at Ricks College so long ago was much more than a burning of the bosom. It was a tangible immersion in the spirit. I felt like I was baptized by fire and yet I knew at the same time that I had so much more to do to qualify for a real born again experience. It was the beginning of a long path to realize the dream of being able to teach and speak like I had seen demonstrated to me by an Apostle of the Lord. I still have a long, long ways to go.
Thanks for asking me to share this with you. I think I would like to post it on my blog. I haven’t felt inspired to write much there lately but this experience might do some good for someone else. I hope I have answered your questions about the burning of the bosom and about the reality of the revelatory process. I am a personal witness that it is real. The Lord answers prayer and will give to us what we ask for in faith, if it is something that we need and will be for our good.
I taught the junior class in seminary this morning and yesterday morning as a substitute teacher. There’s nothing quite like getting up at 5am to teach early morning seminary in California. It brought back such happy memories of my high school days when I attended seminary in the old Covina ward building. The kids today seemed happy to be there and I was happy to teach them.
We were supposed to cover chapter nine of the gospel according to Mark this morning but the get acquainted activity I had planned took way too long to get to the lesson. Besides, it was Friday and the 18 kids enjoyed the fun we had with the activity. So I thought I would share something I learned as I prepared the lesson that I didn’t deliver. I hope you find it interesting.
The boy possessed of an evil spirit
Although the Transfiguration is the main point of Mark chapter nine, that topic was already covered earlier in the year when Matthew chapter 17 was taught. So the lesson focused on the Savior healing the boy possessed by an evil spirit as found in verses 14 through 29. It is a sad story about a poor little boy who is tormented by an evil spirit who wants to destroy him.
I’m sure most of you are aware that the modern interpretation of these verses is that the boy had epilepsy but I’m not convinced that was the case. The description the father provides indicates that the child was not in control of his body at times when the deaf and dumb spirit tried to cast him into the fire or into the waters. To the Savior, this was more than some physical ailment.
Evil spirits recognized the Lord
The lesson manual suggested we review previous instances in which the Savior healed those who were troubled by evil spirits. This is the point of my little essay today. I was amazed at what I found with just a few moments of searching. I’m sure you recall the unclean spirit that cried out when the Savior began his ministry, saying “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee?”
And then there is the story of the man in the country of the Gadarenes who was possessed of not just one unclean spirit, but of a legion of them. Again, the salutation to the Savior was, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” As in each of the other events like these, the Savior, and later his disciples, cast them out and commanded them to not return.
Evil spirits in today’s world
In case you haven’t noticed, I have three favorite topics that I seem to repeat in my essays. The first is marriage, the second is the prophesied events of the last days, and the third is the reality of evil spirits in the world today. The topic of marriage seems to be too contentious right now so I’ll give that a break until after the election. Besides, I have stated my position in previous posts.
I have found in the church that when I teach a lesson or give a talk that references evil spirits someone will invariably respond, “Why do you talk about evil spirits? We don’t believe in that any more. That’s just the way they described things they didn’t understand in ancient times.” I get similar responses when I write about it in my blog or discuss it in personal conversations.
The problem of a personal devil
This is not a new phenomenon, but I have watched it become more widespread in the last thirty five years since I first began to suspect that there was something to this belief, or lack thereof. One of the best resources that addresses this issue of a lack of acceptance of the reality of evil spirits can be found in a BYU Master’s thesis submitted by LaMar Garrard way back in 1955.
The Latter-day Saint history is rich in personal accounts of the influence of evil spirits where they have been clearly identified either by vision or by effect. I have written about a few of these previously. Early leaders of the church were much more open in acknowledging the existence of evil spirits but we do not find that so common in the teachings of current General Authorities.
An account of demonic possession
I have in my files an account of a conversation between a priesthood holder and an individual possessed of an evil spirit, having been diagnosed with multiple personalities. The dialog is gripping and revealing. The spirit identifies itself as having been born in England in the very early 1800’s. She willingly answers several questions put to her about how she got into the body.
I know I just stepped into uncomfortable territory for many of you so I’ll stop right there. Shoot me an email if you want to know more. I am not ignoring the scientific side of this as I know there are some of you reading my blog who have worked with those who have been diagnosed as psychotic. Medication can control, mask or diminish but not remove the effects of evil spirits.
A belief in things from days past
I think I am a rarity in today’s modern world. I am a computer technician by profession and have great respect for science and all that we enjoy because of the advancements in science. However, after many years of studying this topic, I am convinced that for all the progress we have made in mental health, only the teachings of the gospel answer some questions for me.
I have seen too many personal instances where behavior could only be explained by my belief in the reality of evil spirits and that they exist today just as they did in the Savior’s time. I confess that this view has shaped the way I perceive human behavior for most of my life. Unfortunately, my beliefs are not popular in the modern world, even among my fellow members of the church.
Summary and conclusion
Just as I believe we are on the cusp of being first-hand witnesses of cataclysmic catastrophes that have not been seen on the earth for thousands of years, I also believe we are about to see a new outpouring of evidence that there are those who walk this earth who do not walk it alone. In other words, they carry within them one or more co-habitants who are not very nice creatures.
Yep, weird stuff, I know. Don’t put me in the category of those who inhabit the LDS Anarchy blog. I don’t go for that hollow earth theory. I’m also not a believer in Planet X, but do believe that the Lost Ten Tribes are no longer found on this planet and will return in a most remarkable celestial event that will shock mankind. But I’m not crazy just because I believe in evil spirits.
A long time ago I met an individual who cast out unclean spirits for a living. This was not in some backwards third-world country but right here in California. Good people who struggled with deep emotional or spiritual problems paid him to diagnose and remove negative entities. That’s a fancy word for evil spirits. He was highly successful and helped a lot of people.
He is also LDS. I know what you’re thinking. That’s priestcraft, isn’t it? No, not really. The technique was such that it was the individual seeking help who did the casting out themselves. After guiding the person through a process to identify the source of the problem, he would help them express words in certain phrases that would cause the negative entities to leave them.
LDS doctrine of evil spirits
There are several things you probably want to know at this point. Did the man have any kind of professional training? Yes, he was a certified stress management consultant. Is that recognized in the State of California? No, there is no board or bureau that requires a practitioner of stress management to register their services, obtain a license, pass an exam or prove competency.
So anyone can claim that they are an expert in stress management and set up shop to help people deal with their troubles in life? Yep. Do Mormons really believe that they are afflicted with evil or unclean spirits that can possess them or even control them? Some Mormons do. So do a lot of good Christians. I have written previously about the doctrine of evil spirits in LDS theology.
Born that way, but not biological
Being intensely interested in what this man was doing for a living, I conducted several in-depth interviews that led to a discussion of the cause of homosexuality. I’m sure you can guess where this is going. He was convinced that same-sex attraction is the result of being tempted by an unclean spirit. And yes, he even felt that a little child could be afflicted from a very young age.
In other words, he did not feel that there was a biological explanation for same-sex attraction. So in effect, he was saying that what so many have been claiming about being born that way is true. That seems to go against LDS doctrine that little children are born pure and innocent. But he felt that they could be afflicted because of a parent or an ancestor that somehow passed it on to them.
Unclean spirits encourage homosexuality
A quote from the interview: “When a female spirit is controlling a man’s body, the man says, ‘I feel like a female trapped a man’s body.’ That’s the evil spirit talking. They really do feel like a female trapped in a man’s body. They’re trying to get that man to want other men, because that’s what they want. The same thing applies to a male spirit trapped in a female’s body.
“Often people get priesthood blessings, but because they didn’t have much faith in the blessing, they didn’t get rid of the cause. The evil spirit would be gone temporarily, but then they would come right back again. Why? Because they hadn’t taken care of the guilt, or anger, or fear or whatever they had that allowed the evil spirit to be there in the first place.” (Source available)
A cure for homosexuality
I won’t disclose the details of the technique this practitioner used to help individuals identify and resolve their own stress issues. I will tell you that he is not the only one who does this sort of thing professionally. This healing modality has been documented in clinical work by a licensed therapist who now markets his services in his local area and sells training through his website.
So there are professionals who are claiming that they can cure same-sex attraction. What they promote is not gender-affirmative therapy, but a technique for identifying and removing negative energy and negative entities that are the root cause of homosexuality. The majority of their work does not involve working with evil spirits but that is covered and explained in their materials.
Summary and conclusion
I throw this out there because I found it fascinating when I was first exposed to it many years ago. I have done enough serious investigation to feel that I understand the technique that is used and the theory behind it. Of course, the proponents claim it is a more than a theory, but is based on doctrine. I have withheld judgment for many years and offer it for discussion and feedback.
Comments are open. Discussion is welcome. Please don’t turn this into a circus. I was very pleased with the fifty comments I received on my last essay on this subject about same-sex marriage, proposition 8, dissent and excommunication. Thank you for the intelligent and frank discussion. I look forward to knowing what you think. I can also share a lot more information.
Update – new conclusion
After much dialog with good individuals who took the time to get me to think this through, I have concluded that my friend was wrong. Our LDS scriptures teach that little children cannot sin and that the adversary has no power to tempt little children. I am also more and more convinced that yes, some people are born with a biological disposition to same-sex attraction.