A Few Thoughts on Priesthood


JosephBaptizingOliverNote: To those familiar with it, these thoughts are taken from Lecture Five. They are not original with me, but I have tried to summarize them in my own words as I have studied them. Sharing my notes is the way I customarily study doctrine. You will note many of the concepts here do not coincide with current teachings of the LDS Church, but they are all based on scripture. I always welcome dialog and discussion, especially from those who offer studied but opposing views.

Higher Priesthood Received From God

“All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS 180-181) This is as true today as the day Joseph taught it. According to D&C 84:42, the higher priesthood is conferred by the voice of God to men out of the heavens.

Priesthood Independent of the LDS Church

Joseph is not talking about offices in the LDS Church. Priesthood existed long before the LDS Church was organized. The LDS Church is dependent upon priesthood for authority and power. Apostle, Seventy, High Priest, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon are offices in the Church. They aren’t priesthood at all. They occupy positions in the Church of various church offices, with or without the presence of priesthood. This is not so radical if you think about our LDS history.

Priesthood Existed Before the LDS Church

When John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver, he had them baptize and then ordain each other. This was in May 1829, long before the church was organized. It is interesting to note the Holy Ghost fell upon Joseph and Oliver in great power immediately after being baptized. They were both filled with the spirit of prophecy. In addition, their minds were enlightened so as to understand the meaning and intention of the scriptures.

Priesthood Received After Exhibiting Faith

Faith and priesthood are two different things. People can heal by faith without priesthood. Men can do marvelous things through faith in Jesus Christ without being ordained to the priesthood. This is evidenced in scripture by young Melchizedek who “was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.” (JST Gen 14:26) His ordination occurred after he had exhibited great faith.

You Can’t Vote On Priesthood Power

Possession of the higher priesthood power comes only by the will of God, not by the will of man. It is not something we can vote on and confer upon a man. Voting is something the LDS church does when sustaining individuals to offices within the church. You can’t vote higher priesthood power upon a man. He must receive it directly by hearing the voice of God himself. “And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will…” (JST Gen 14:29)

Priesthood Not Lost When Leaving LDS Church

A man does not lose the priesthood when he is no longer a member of the LDS Church. Even the Handbook verifies this on page 122 under Restoration of Blessings. Under the direction of the First Presidency, an Area Seventy usually performs the ordinance of “restoration of blessings.” He does NOT ordain the man to the priesthood again, nor is he required to be endowed again. What does that tell you? A man does NOT lose his priesthood when he resigns from the church.

Authority and Power are Two Different Things

In other words, the LDS Church does not and cannot control priesthood. It is controlled by God. This is contrary to letters sent out by local church leaders stating that priesthood is withdrawn. Sorry. That’s false doctrine. I don’t know how many different ways I can express this to make the point clear. I received the Aaronic priesthood from my father. I still have it, along with a line of authority to prove it. The higher Melchizedek priesthood is only received directly from God.

Priesthood is a Call to Save and Redeem

Priesthood is not a franchise. It is not something that is given in order to control others. In its highest form, Priesthood is an opportunity, afforded you by God, to serve and to bless others. It its highest form, the Priesthood is a call to save and a call to redeem. It is a call to rescue others from destruction. The lesser priesthood is often used to condemn. In fact, when condemnation is placed upon a man in the church, you can be certain it is not performed with higher priesthood.

Priesthood is a Fellowship or Association

The real definition of Priesthood is an association between mankind and those on the other side of the veil. It is a brotherhood, and, potentially, a sisterhood. It is a fellowship, a ministry. It is a connection between the Powers of Heaven and the man or woman. Its purpose is raise up and to bless, never to condemn. In fact, if a fellowship or priesthood is used to condemn it may as well be considered as one of Satan’s priesthoods, because such condemnation does not save souls.

Priesthood is Not to Control or Compel

Priesthood is not a hierarchy, at least not the kind that mortals like to employ in which they love to control and compel others. Priesthood is more like developmental stages on Jacob’s ladder. Each stage of association, fellowship or priesthood is moving toward perfection. To be higher in your perfection is to be near to and therefore more like God. The only tools of the priesthood are persuasion, love, meekness and pure knowledge. It is never used to control or compel others.

Priesthood an Association with Powers of Heaven

Joseph named some of the powers of heaven for us: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim. These are all powers of heaven. D&C 121 teaches us how we are to relate to these powers of heaven. If you offer knowledge using persuasion, gentleness and love unfeigned, you are going to find someone who is armed with the power of heaven and who has an association with the powers of heaven as named by Joseph Smith.

Authority is Given to Bring Unto Christ

Priesthood power comes by sharing truth, light and knowledge from a higher source. When one uses priesthood he does not teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. He will teach new truth and therefore shed new light on subjects, because such teachers are filled with light and truth themselves. They have authority given them to make men more like God, to lift and to elevate them, to enlighten and strengthen, to encourage and to point the way toward the Savior.

Priesthood Given to Dispense Knowledge

It will be knowledge that exalts you in the afterlife. We progress and grow, line by line, step by step, rung by rung, until we arrive at the station of an exalted and glorified being, dwelling in everlasting burnings. The afterlife does not consist of only a heaven and a hell. The afterlife is not a destination, and is not limited by time. Remember, it will be a great time after we have crossed through the veil before we will have learned all there is to be learned for exaltation.

Two Different Kinds of Fellowships

There are two different fellowships in the priesthood. One is between men or women and the other is between men and God. The fellowship we have on earth between us is different from the fellowship we have with heaven and the powers of heaven. Enoch taught us in Moses 7:27 it is the powers of heaven who bring us up into Zion. Think about that. While we are attempting to prepare for Zion among ourselves, we must also seek to have fellowship with Zion above us.

Seek to Associate with Powers of Heaven

There are many examples of these two fellowships in the scriptures: Enoch, Moses, Abraham, Jacob and others. They were first ordained to the fellowship among their brethren. They then went and obtained their errand from the Lord and established their fellowship with the powers of heaven. We ought never to be content to simply have the association that exists here. We should always seek to know and associate with the powers of heaven as we prepare for Zion to come.

Priesthood is to Enable us to See God

Don’t let anyone deceive you into believing this association is only meant for the afterlife. The purpose of the priesthood is to be able to see the face of God and live. It is to allow the power of Godliness to be manifest unto men, in the flesh. (D&C 84:21, 76:118, 93:1) This power, this priesthood, this fellowship, this association with the powers of heaven was meant to be laid hold upon by mortal men while here in this life. This life is the time to take care of this assignment.

Fellowships Required of Us in This Life

When Joseph said there were different portions or degrees of priesthood he meant the different fellowships and different associations we can have with the powers of heaven that exist on the other side of the veil. We need to cultivate that association in this life. Our growth requires these fellowships or priesthoods in order to obtain the power of Godliness so we can attain to the resurrection of the dead and dwell in everlasting burnings. Thus we can keep our second estate.

All Priesthood is Perishable

Even that priesthood conferred by the voice of God is perishable, if you are unwilling to restrain, and to contain yourself within the bounds the Lord has prescribed. Although Joseph did not, the church lost the higher priesthood, else why would the Lord point out the need to “restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the priesthood?” (D&C 124:28) While we’re still mortal, it is possible any person can lose the higher priesthood.

Lack of Faith Damns our Progress

I’ve always wondered why angels would choose to be angels as opposed to becoming Gods. It is because they are unwilling to believe they can obtain such a blessing. They limited themselves. It is the same with us. We hedge up our own way to heaven when we fail to develop sufficient faith and confidence necessary to lay hold upon all the blessings offered, because we believe those blessings are reserved for others and not for us. Like the children of Israel, we damn ourselves.

Faith Required to Obtain the Fullness

The Children of Israel would not ascend the mountain. They demanded a prophet to speak to God for them. They would not speak with God themselves. Thus they were cursed by God. Can you imagine how God must feel about those who preach today we are not entitled to receive any kind of revelation beyond what they say we can receive? Yes, there are those among us who say we cannot receive an audience with Christ, because such things are reserved only for prophets.

The Lord Took Away the Higher Priesthood

Joseph could not get the Saints to complete the Nauvoo temple before he was killed. Had they done so, the promised blessing in D&C 124:55 would have been fulfilled. The Lord wanted to restore the fullness of the priesthood – the higher priesthood – to the church. He had placed the church under condemnation in D&C 84:56. In D&C 124:28 the Lord told the Saints He had taken away the higher priesthood. The Temple was required in order to restore what was lost.

The Church was Cursed Instead of Blessed

If there’s one thing I have noticed as a result of being baptized again, it is the way I can now clearly see the meaning of the scriptures. Not only has my desire to study them increased, but the spirit bears witness to me the interpretations the LDS Church has taught for years about some passages, particularly in section 124, are simply wrong. We have lost the plain meaning of what the Lord tried to tell us there, or else we are just too blind to see it or are unwilling to accept it.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

Joseph left us enough of the doctrine in the endowment ceremony, particularly in the method of approaching the Lord at the veil, for individuals to obtain the promised blessings for themselves. In other words, we can converse with the Lord through the veil. We can obtain an audience with the Savior. We can be sealed to the Fathers and eventually, come back into the Father’s presence. This is the promise of the holy priesthood. It can be obtained in this life if we desire and seek it.

We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet


ProphetJosephSmithI attended our ward Sacrament meeting today. Because of General Conference next week, we held our monthly Fast and Testimony meeting. A majority of the testimonies were from the sisters sharing their thoughts about the Women’s meeting last night. The number of testimonies of a loving God and Savior were about equal to those of a living prophet. I appreciated that.

I’ve become more attuned lately to the expressions of gratitude for a living prophet in our testimony meetings as well as in the material we teach each Sunday. I’m obviously going through some adjustments in my thinking about prophets. Yes, I fully accept Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet and acted as such. But yes, I also feel something was lost after Joseph.

Was Brigham inspired? Yes. Was he a prophet? I never knew the man. The people sustained him as such. The first prophet I knew was David O. McKay, but I don’t think I paid attention until the days of Spencer W. Kimball. Yes, I felt he was a prophet, else I wouldn’t have responded to his call to serve a mission. Did he speak for the Lord? I believed so. In fact, I still believe he did so.

Prophets Who Don’t Get in the Way

What about Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf? Our opening song this morning was “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” I always think of Joseph Smith when we sing that song. Do I think these men are prophets? We sustain them as such, or at least members of the LDS Church do so. I am no longer a member of the LDS Church. It makes me think of President Hinckley.

When he was asked the question, “Are you a prophet?” he responded, “The people sustain me as such.” I have always wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say, “Yes, I am a Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course that invites the follow-up question, “Does he talk to you?” and the inevitable answer, “I believe he inspires me today,” or some words to that general effect.

At least President Hinckley went out and spoke to the media. President Monson is getting a bit old and has short-term memory loss. I hope we will see him in good spirits and good health next week. He was at the Woman’s Conference last night. I hope we will hear from him. I still pray for the leaders of the LDS Church. I desire the Lord’s blessings upon them as well as local leaders.

Deny the Sacrament for Asking Questions

I’ve tried to make it clear I hold no animosity toward my Bishop and Stake President for placing disciplinary restrictions upon me as I was going through my faith crisis. I know they were just following the handbook. But I do feel it is wrong to withhold the sacrament from someone just because they are questioning their faith and belief in the authority of the LDS Church leadership.

In fact, I have said it is an abomination and anti-Christ to do that. The handbook is wrong in this matter. To withhold the sacrament because someone is not so sure they see the hand of the Lord on the current LDS Church leadership does not seem like a good idea. I know the Lord said to not administer the sacrament to those who are unworthy, but for wondering about a prophet?

I was willing to sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators because that’s what we have always called them. I told this to the Bishop. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I felt as if I was being asked to bow down to them, that they were to be as Gods to me. This is wrong. Our God is a jealous God and has commanded we have no other Gods before him, especially idols.

This is What the Lord Said About That

I ask myself, as do many, what have these men prophesied lately? What direction have they offered and then followed that with words to the effect of, “The Lord required me to tell you this,” or “As I asked the Lord about it, this is what He told me to say.” And just because I ask these questions, the church handbook says I am an apostate and should be denied the sacrament?

This is part of the reason I resigned. I do not believe asking questions makes one unworthy. I do not believe the church has a right to deny the Lord’s sacrament, of which He commanded we are to partake often, from those who ask questions. So when I heard another man say, referring to baptism, “The Lord has renewed this commandment to you this day,” I asked the Lord about it.

I refer of course to the invitation from Denver Snuffer, given at the Phoenix / Mesa Lecture to go and get baptized in living waters as a sign we accept the message the Lord caused to be delivered by a servant, called from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. The Lord knew very well that such an invitation would separate out those who believed the Lord sent this messenger to teach us.

Centralized Control – Secret Ordinances

We each must rely upon our own feelings about how we feel the Lord answers our prayers. In my case, it was unmistakable. I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Yes, what this man has spoken is the message I asked him to deliver. Yes, you will be blessed for being baptized again.” Simple logic told me I had to keep it secret or else I had to resign from the LDS Church to do so.

One of the advantages of resigning from the LDS Church is I can now partake of the sacrament at home in the way I feel the Lord intended it – with wine. Of course you don’t have to resign to do this, but you’ll have to keep it secret because the LDS Church wants to control it. I believe the ordinance was changed and became invalid when we substituted water for wine in the prayer.

My letter from Confidential Records included the wording, “If you want to become a member of the LDS Church again, see your local unit leaders.” Of course, that would require I go back to no questioning, especially in a public format like this blog. It would also require I accept some of the doctrines and ordinances I am now convinced have been changed. That won’t be happening.

Perform Ordinances in Your Communities

The funny thing is, as a non-member, I could have taken the Sacrament today. The Church, in order to be politically correct, does not forbid non-members from partaking of the Sacrament. But if you dare raise questions about some of the history, doctrines or legitimacy of the current leadership of the LDS Church, you are forbidden to take the Sacrament. Yes, that’s anti-Christ.

I don’t want to be one of those angry former Mormons who rails against the LDS Church. I would much rather focus on what I believe is about to take place in the near future. I was once again reading the Mesa Lecture last night and noted these words, which struck me powerfully. I have always felt strongly about the idea of the disintegration of society before the Lord’s return.

“Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for coming social chaos is likely to include some preliminary preparations by families and friends to fellowship with one another in local gatherings.”

Organize Communities to Build Zion

He indicated these communities would be completely apart from control by the LDS hierarchy. “Only by independently functioning can they hope to prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion and precede the Lord’s return.” (D&C 45:66-68) One of the things I know I am going to miss is the sense of community I once felt with my ward and stake. That is gone now.

Yes, you can say I am the one who resigned, but I promise you it was only a matter of time before I was excommunicated for apostasy. The bishop made it clear. The handbook mandates, requires, demands and states unequivocally a disciplinary council must be held in the case of apostasy with only the two possible outcomes of disfellowshipment or of excommunication.

I was labeled apostate because I was questioning why we don’t believe and teach some of the things we used to believe and teach. Because of that questioning, and because I was finding answers in the writings of a man who the church cast off, it was determined I was also apostate. You simply don’t question the Brethren in the LDS Church. If you do, you are no longer worthy.

To Bear One Another’s Burdens

I seek community. I have found some community online, but that can’t replace getting together to take the Sacrament, to mourn with those who mourn and to bear one another’s burdens. I also feel that Zion can’t be built up unless we seek to eliminate the poor in our communities. I want to participate in such communicates. I may need to travel to them since we are spread out so far.

If there’s anything I got out of the Mesa lecture besides the distinct impression from the Lord I needed to be baptized in living water, it was the idea of communities. I could see them in my mind’s eye spread all across the land. They were small groups at first, meeting secretly out of fear of discovery, just as the believers in Alma’s days had to hide from the searches of the King.

I had a reader ask me why I didn’t focus on the invitation Denver offered in Grand Junction. If you’ll recall, we were invited to organize into communities with the express purpose of learning to care for the poor and needy among us. He quoted Denver’s words in which the purpose of tithing is to bring to pass the words, “and there were no poor among them.” I share them here:

Build Zion Communities with No Poor

“So, given the fact that you are commanded to pay tithing, and some of you are unable or refuse to do so because of the particular circumstances that you see in your church of choice, and given the fact that the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves,’ I would suggest one small thing you could begin is to collect your own tithing in a group. You manage it among yourselves. You assist the poor among you.

“If you disagree with what your churches are doing but recognize the obligation to pay, then take control over the funds to do what you believe God would have done to help others. As groups of common believers, pay tithing into a common fund. Then by the voice of your own group, dispose of it by common consent so that everyone in your group knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out. Then you begin to have no poor among your group.

“You provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and transportation. Do it without a leader. Do it by the voice of your own common consent, by your own unanimous approval. Do it by united agreement. Now, if some of you who hear this decide to begin to do this you will learn firsthand in a pragmatic lab experiment just how difficult it is to become ‘one.’ You will learn how greatly this world opposes the idea of Zion.

The Cost of Discipleship Can Be High

“You will learn from the criticism of others how to suffer for your Lord’s sake. You may even be deprived of fellowship with others who do not agree it is your obligation to care for the poor, but that the church you belong to owns that right to the exclusion of your opportunity to participate. You may lose a temple recommend, or a church calling, or even your church membership. And you will learn how much churches care for money above all else.

“Even in a small group you will find challenges. You want to know how far away you are at this moment from Zion; this will tell you. If you want an accurate barometer of ‘what lack you yet?’ Then organize yourselves and you, unitedly in small groups, gather your tithing into the storehouse you maintain, and by your common consent take care of those who are poor among you. You will receive an education like none other in the reasons men fail to have Zion. The fact that men fail doesn’t excuse you from your own failing. Rise up!”

Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man

Now back to the Mesa lecture to conclude my thoughts. On page fifteen, we can read more about organizing communities for fellowship. Denver quoted the Lord, “There shall be a minimum of seven women to sustain the man in any vote, and if the man is married, his wife shall be one of them.” When I heard these words, I felt very sad. I wanted to participate but knew I couldn’t.

Later on the page: “If the man is married, his wife must be among the seven women. If his wife will not sustain him, he is unworthy to provide priesthood service in the fellowship.” I have thought much about this. I am in this specific situation. Once again, I am found unworthy. Not only can I not officiate in ordinances outside my home, I can’t even contribute to help the poor.

In this case, “The word ‘unworthy’ is not a statement of condemnation, but of qualification. There is nothing implied in the word about a man’s standing before God, only the fact that within the community of fellowship until the wife is prepared to support him acting outside the family, his effort should remain within his family until the wife sees value to her husband serving others.

Unworthy to Contribute, but not Condemned

“The word ‘unworthy’ was the Lord’s and therefore I do not feel at liberty to change it. But I want it clear that when He used it I had a definite understanding that no condemnation was implied. Only an orderly arrangement was given.” I can accept this definition of unworthy. It works. I can accept it because I know it comes from the Lord, not from interpreting some Church handbook.

It’s important to see that the Lord quoted “seven women” to Denver. You can see it yourself in the transcript in the middle of page fifteen. He was specifically quoting the Lord. There has been much discussion of this … “unusual” … aspect of the lecture. As Denver pointed out, the Mesa lecture has become a turning point for many individuals. I see so many who have stalled out.

Those who were expecting just another lecture on doctrine came away shocked. Those who were looking for direction from a servant of the Lord came away pleased with instructions to organize communities in preparation for Zion. I want to contribute financially and in other ways. I wait upon the Lord. Perhaps someday I will be able to do so. For now, this blog is my contribution.

77 Truths – A Book Review


77TruthsI promised my friend Bret I would provide a review of his book, 77 Truths. I usually wait until I finish a book before I write an analysis. In this case, I simply can’t wait. It’s too good. I thought I would read at least the first 21 Truths before writing anything. He recommended that would be a natural stopping point, but I decided after the first three Truths I just had to share something.

Bret’s book is filled with quotes and scriptures. Original content is actually quite sparse, but Bret didn’t need to add much to the collection he provided. If he had, his book would have been much larger than 460 pages. I don’t see how he can publish this for $17.95 and still make a profit, but maybe that’s not his intent. The book is on sale for about $15 at Amazon today, an amazing deal.

For Personal or Group Study

The format of the book is large – 8.5 x 11 – and the layout is unusual in that the scriptures and quotes are center-justified. Thus, most of the book has that appearance. What Bret has done is collect, arrange and comment on his selections in order to make a point or establish one of the truths presented in each chapter. His comments are full-justified, so they’re easy to distinguish.

So why is this book better than Especially for Mormons, which is also a collection of quotes, stories and poems? It’s simple. Bret is not focusing on emotional, feel-good, or inspirational stories. He is presenting truth and backing it up with evidence. Each truth is three to five pages, making it ideal for teaching and discussing in a small group setting lasting an hour or two.

There are seven chapters:

  1. Father’s Eternal Life
  2. The Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
  3. Apostasy by Omission
  4. Cleansing America and the Church
  5. The Fall of Babylon
  6. Gathering the Remnant
  7. Latter Day Zion

I hope to write more about the other chapters in a later post, but for today, I will share a few thoughts about the first chapter. In fact, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to let Bret’s words speak for his book. Omitting all the quotes and scriptures, I’ll share what Bret has written only about the third truth, and if the post isn’t too long, I’ll add a few words at the end.

——— Beginning of Material from Bret ————

Truth #3 – Those seeking salvation in this life and exaltation in the worlds to come must have an eye single to the glory of God. Centering our faith on a “Lesser God” is not spiritually sufficient.

Note to Reader: The purpose of this section is not to criticize the brethren or speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. There is a difference between being intentionally negative about the church versus providing the light needed to obtain a proper hierarchy of focus and worship.

[Quote from Neal Maxwell removed] The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to have an “eye single to the Glory of God” (D&C 4:5). Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to worship the prophet, church, or family, and yet much of today’s Mormon conversation repeatedly focuses on these secondary aspects of the gospel.

[Quote from President Kimball removed] It is an individual and collective choice whether “our god” will be the telestial toys of Babylon, the terrestrial treats of the church, or the Celestial Gods of this Universe.

Growing believers may initially place their faith in the church and its prophet. This trend is summarized as emotional stories and vain repetitions. Heartfelt proclamations such as “I know the church is true,” “We are led by a living prophet,” and “I love my family” are commendable beliefs. Unfortunately, when these supportive elements become the core of our testimony, we may have looked beyond the mark of Christ (Jacob 4:14)

[Quote from Joseph Smith removed] In Mormonism today, emphasis on prophet, church and family frequently overshadows focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Savior is mentioned, it is often implied that He is supportive of “the church” instead of the other way around!

A Jealous God

[Exodus 20:3-5 omitted] Being a “jealous God” means the Almighty wants our problems, praise, devotion, focus, worship, affection, and sins. Thus, a significant difference exists between knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, and friend and having a testimony based on “following the prophet.”

Who is your God?

[Quote from President Benson removed] The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that remaining dependent on other human beings – even if they are true prophets, correlates with telestial glory (D&C 76:99-101). Those who place their trust primarily in church leaders and fail to demonstrate a valiant testimony for Jesus Christ, do not qualify for celestial glory.

The Glory of Men

[D&C 76:98-102 omitted] Under Father’s tutoring hand disciples grow from emphasizing other men to worshipping God the Father personally without apology. This essential shift occurs through sacrifice and adversity, for it is when our hearts have been shredded and torn asunder that we finally stop making excuses and reach out to the only being who can truly save us.

In the Mirror

[Quote from Jeff Ostler omitted] To assist us in surrendering our entire souls unto Christ, endowed members are invited to consecrate themselves, time, talents, and all that they possess to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. To fulfill this covenant requires that we honor the true Bridegroom and end our “affair” with any of the “lesser gods.”

Father First

[Story omitted about visit from General Authority] Gratefully, our Father did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Because of His divine patience and endless love Father stays with His children until they are ready to grow beyond mortal distraction and worship Him as the only living and true God! (D&C 20:19). The result of this process is a proper hierarchy of worship.

Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Jeremiah 30:22)

Another type of “false-god” involves trusting in our own “arm of flesh.” With so much focus on goals, personal performance, and “hastening the work,” is it possible our obsession with doing good works actually represents a subtle form of self-worship? Does being active in the program of the church and answering a few temple recommend questions really make us worthy? [Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler]

Under the chastening hand of our Father, a mighty and disturbing day arrives wherein you realize that what “you want,” your passions, desires, and vain ambitions, and all that you have sought to do with “your life,” is a form of idolatry. During this disturbing and freeing moment, the growing disciple realizes that he or she has been worshiping self over God. This awakening can result in a needed “coup,” which involves our personal spirit again becoming dominant over the natural man. It is then that individual enters into God’s sacred errand.

In relation to this process, consider Joseph Smith’s observation … “all the religious world is boasting of righteousness; it is the doctrine of the devil to hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness.” His warning requires us to ask, have we become too prideful about being active in the Lord’s church?

Saving Ourselves?

[Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler] To imagine ourselves independently “worthy” is an illusion of the ego. The shadow within loves to focus on self and proclaim, “Now is the day of my power!” When this occurs, our imagined “righteousness” delays us from receiving the only one who can really save us. Author M. Catherine Thomas provides an excellent example of growing from a “self-salvation” mindset to a place where we can be transformed by Christ. [Quote omitted]

Just Come

In choosing God and His gospel above all else, much of the world becomes superficial and meaningless. The previous glitter of Babylon fades and we discover, “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalms 118:8). With consistent effort, every believer can come to that glorious day when he or she makes an irrefutable stand for Christ, and with broken heart and bleeding knees, proclaims, “The Kingdom of God or Nothing” (John Taylor).

——– End of Material from Bret ———

I see my friend Kathryn has purchased the book, written a short, five-star review and posted it on Amazon. I hope more people will do the same. The book deserves a grassroots effort to bring it to the attention of thoughtful readers. I will post my review there as well as on Goodreads. Having Bret visit my home and talk about the process of writing the book helped tremendously to understand.

The source for each of the 802 quotes is listed in the Bibliography at the end of the book. You will recognize many if not most of the 100 names of individuals he quoted. I was surprised to find my own name acknowledged, along with several of my friends. It makes me want to take the time to finish the book even sooner. I wonder if something I wrote is included in the book.

Proper Hierarchy of Worship

I stopped after truth #3 in my reading and included it above because I was so impressed with what was shared. It loses a little something without the quotes, but it gives you a flavor for the boldness with which Bret states each truth. I can tell you from personal experience, as I’m sure many of you can, Bret is right on that Mormonism today puts the church ahead of the Savior.

Those steeped in LDS culture are shocked if anyone suggests they are following a man, even if he be a prophet. Isn’t that the most important thing? Well did Denver Snuffer nail it when he wrote there is but one doctrine left in the LDS Church – follow the prophet. That seems to be mantra to solve every problem, answer every question. Wrong – so wrong. We are to follow the Savior.

Visit the Website: 77Truths.com

One last thing: Visit Bret’s website. As of this moment, there are unfinished sections. I look forward to seeing his blog get started as well as work on the dictionary / glossary I see planned. Bret has put a tremendous amount of thought, effort and time into this work. He told me he finished the majority of the book a couple of years ago but the Lord asked him to wait until now to publish it.

I wonder why.

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked


Death is a time of reflection“Why did you do this?”
“I felt it was the right thing to do.”

“Did you think about the consequences?”
“Of course, I’ve thought about them for two and a half years.”

“Do you realize what you’ve given up?”
“Actually, I’ve been more focused on what I have gained.”

“What do you mean?”
“I’ve never felt closer to the Lord or more in tune with His spirit.”

“How can you say that? You just resigned from the Lord’s Church.”
“I resigned so I could get baptized with full purpose of heart.”

“But you’ve already been baptized.”
“I was only eight years old at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

All Decisions Have Consequences

“Did you think about how this would affect your family?”
“Yes. I have fasted and prayed about it many, many times.”

“Do you realize you’ve lost your eternal salvation?”
“I disagree. Eternal salvation does not require membership in the LDS Church.”

“How can you say that after all the LDS Church has done for you?”
“Eternal salvation requires acceptance from the Lord and knowledge of His love.”

“And it requires membership in His Church.”
“Yes, I agree. It requires membership in the Church of the Firstborn.”

“But you can only get that through the LDS Church.”
“No. The LDS Church can help prepare you to receive the Lord.”

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

“Why are you so focused on Christ? Don’t you realize exaltation is to be like Father?”
“The only way back into the presence of the Father is through the Savior.”

“Yes, of course. But what about the temple and the ordinances we receive there?”
“They’re preparatory ordinances. They’re not the real thing. They’re symbolic.”

“What? I’ve never heard of any such thing.”
“Then you haven’t been listening close enough as you participate in the temple.”

“So you’re saying the temple sealing is not binding and not eternal?”
“Not unless it’s sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That’s all over D&C 132.”

“But you’ve given up your priesthood.”
“That’s not true. The Church doesn’t control priesthood. I received it from my father.”

“But he must have received it from someone back to Peter, James and John.”
“I’m not so sure the Higher Priesthood can be passed from man to man.”

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

“Do you believe the Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John the Baptist?”
“Yes, I do. And I believe that’s the priesthood I received from my father.”

“Then how do you believe one receives the Higher Priesthood?”
“It is received only by hearing the voice of God declare it unto the man.”

“Really? And you’ve heard the voice of God?”
“I have. But I don’t believe I’ve received the higher priesthood yet.”

“This is impossible. You’ve completely lost the spirit of the Lord.”
“Quite the contrary. I feel the spirit of the Lord in greater abundance than ever.”

“Don’t you realize you have taken from your wife the greatest hope of her life?”
“She loses nothing. She has the same opportunity. It requires the Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

“This is totally contrary to the teachings of the LDS Church.”
“I understand. But it’s not contrary to what Joseph Smith taught.”

“Are you saying you can prove all these ideas from the teachings of Joseph Smith?”
“Yes, given sufficient time to put the points together in a way you’ll understand.”

“There’s no way. We must rely on the words of the living prophets.”
“Not if they don’t square with the scriptures or the teachings of Joseph Smith.”

“Sometimes you just have to trust they know what they’re talking about.”
“Not when it comes to my eternal salvation. That’s why I study and pray.”

“You’re saying God told you the living prophets have got it wrong?”
“In some very important things, yes, they have got it wrong.”

Deceived By False Prophets

“My friend, I am sorry for you – very, very sorry.”
“Now do you understand why I resigned from the LDS Church?”

“Yes. You have been deceived into believing the ideas of a false prophet.”
“Tell me, how many hours have you spent studying the words of Denver Snuffer?”

“None. And I don’t intend to. I barely have time to read the scriptures and the Ensign.”
“There’s your problem. How can you judge a matter if you don’t study it out?”

“I’ve read enough from others to know I disagree with what he teaches.”
“But you haven’t read, studied and prayed for thousands of hours as I have done.”

“No. Every time I try to listen to one of his talks or read his lectures I get a dark feeling.”
“Then you’re not prepared for what he has written or delivered in his lectures.”

“I know I don’t like what I hear or what I read. He’s not for me. He’s a false prophet.”
“I would be careful about declaring someone a false prophet whom the Lord trusts.”

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

“So Denver is your prophet? You’ve just substituted one prophet for another.”
“I believe Denver is a prophet, a servant of the Lord, and a true messenger.”

“Do you know how blasphemous that sounds?”
“Only to the mind of someone steeped in the traditions of the LDS Church.”

“So that’s why you resigned your membership in the LDS Church?”
“I resigned because the Church Handbook requires I be excommunicated for apostasy.”

“Yes, and rightfully so. You are an apostate. You are leading others astray.”
“I require nobody to believe as I do. I claim the right to share my beliefs.”

“Not in this church you don’t. You teach what the Brethren say or out you go.”
“Precisely.”

“Can’t you see the beauty of having the doctrine controlled from the top?”
“I could if I knew for certain the leaders spoke with and on behalf of the Lord.”

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

“Millions of people can’t be wrong. They all know the prophet speaks with God.”
“We all speak with God, but does he speak for God? What has he prophesied lately?”

“Well, he’s been a little out of it lately. But just you wait. Listen to General Conference.”
“I intend to do so. I enjoy listening to inspired Brethren teach the doctrines of Christ.”

“So you admit the Church is inspired and led by the Lord.”
“I do. I have always felt that way. There are many good men and women in the Church.”

“Then why did you leave it?”
“We’ve been over that. I’ve given my reasons. Do you resent my exercise of agency?”

“I’m simply concerned for your eternal salvation.”
“And I yours. Thank you for your loving concern.”

“I wish there was something I could say to help you.”
“There is. You can always pray for me and my family.”

“I’ll do that. I’ll pray that you’ll be brought back to the light.”
“Thank you my friend. God bless you and your family.”

JesusTeaching

A Day of Rejoicing – A New Beginning


TimBaptism2aCroppedI barely remember being baptized when I was eight years old. My family had joined the LDS church a few years earlier. Being only five at the time, I had the advantage of a few years of instruction in Primary and Sunday school. I also had the blessing of having read the Book of Mormon with my mother. It was the first time for both of us. I remember reading these words:

“… Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.” (Mosiah 18:12) I wondered about these words. Even at seven years old, they impressed me. A man desired to do the work of the Lord. He asked the Lord for power to do that work.

Today I was baptized again. The man who baptized me repeated the words of Alma’s prayer above, then used the words of the baptismal prayer as found in Third Nephi 11:25, “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” He did not say, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ …”

A Commandment Renewed Today

I can’t tell you all the reasons why the wording is different or important but I can tell you this: I know the Lord was pleased I chose to be baptized again by someone using these words. I hope you can see it in my face in the photo I have included in this post. I knew I had completed what the Lord had asked of me twelve days earlier in Mesa, Arizona on the 9th of September, 2014.

When I heard those words that day, “I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again by Him today, to you,” I knew I had to be baptized in the manner I have just described. “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been … he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention …”

I knew I needed to be baptized in this manner and I was not going to argue with anyone about it. Because the LDS Church considers it an act of apostasy to be baptized again, and I had no desire to argue about it, I resigned my membership. I was then free to follow the commandment of the Lord to be baptized in the correct manner, using the correct words. It was a wonderful feeling.

A Temporary Community of Believers

I appreciated being joined by others who were baptized with me today. I will be forever grateful to the man who traveled from his community in Utah to baptize us. There were eight of us who met to discuss the gospel and partake of the sacrament in my home. We used wine – not water – as the Lord directed in the scriptures, grape juice for those who didn’t want to drink alcohol.

It will be awhile before I am able to join with a community who believes as I do. There are not enough in my area here in California. Having received the priesthood from my father, I can bless and partake of the sacrament in my home. That authority is not controlled by the LDS Church, just as the spirit of the Holy Ghost is not controlled by the Church. I felt the Lord’s spirit today.

I will be content with the community I feel with so many of you who read my blog. I know there are many who disagree with what I have done. I understand. Carol and I had a visit with a friend from Colorado after the baptism today. He is a family counselor. We discussed the importance of following the promptings of the Spirit, who leads us to Christ back to the presence of the Father.

A Tried and True Method

TimBaptism3aCroppedEven though I try, I don’t think I will ever understand how deeply this has affected Carol. She was not happy with my decision. Five or six generations of Mormonism have ingrained within her traditions that are not part of my heritage. To me, it was a simple logical decision. I studied the writings of a man who claimed to have seen the Savior. I confirmed his claim in solemn prayer.

This man claimed to have been given a message from the Lord to be delivered in a series of ten lectures. I read, listened to, attended some and studied all of the lectures. I was and am convinced the message he delivered is authorized of the Lord. I confirmed this using the principles I learned growing up in Primary, Sunday school and seminary – I studied them out, then asked the Lord.

I have been told by some, including Carol, that the message of this man is offensive. I did not find it so. It felt right as I studied it. It felt good. I guess you can say it “tasted” good. It fed my soul. The message led me to the scriptures. It caused me to ponder them again and again. I acted upon the message. I exercised faith in prayer culminating in the action I have taken this day.

77 Truths That Stand on Their Own

My friend from Colorado delivered a book to me at the Mesa Lecture. It took him years to write. From what little I have reviewed of the book, it is filled with truth – 77 Truths to be exact, which is the name of the book and the website. I have perused it and intend to review it in a future post. It has nearly a thousand quotes and probably an equal number of scriptures. It will take time.

“Within each of the 77 Truths, scripture is provided that reveals the light and wisdom necessary to receive the mysteries of God and become Zion at heart. Those who accept the Divine invitation represent the “few” who will be blessed to contribute to Millennial Zion. This is the day that each of us must now choose: God or man? Truth or tradition? Zion or Babylon?”

Bret, the author, asked that new readers commit to reading at least the first three chapters, and then, if the spirit prompts, up through chapter twenty-one. That’s only 107 pages. I can do that. I plan to read those first 107 pages before the end of the week. I hope some of you will take a look at Bret’s book with me. He worked closely with the Lord to bring it forth. Truth brings us light.

Promised Blessings of Obedience

When I asked the Lord about being baptized, I received from Him a promise. I asked if I could share it. He agreed. His promise to me is that by being baptized, I have demonstrated acceptance of the messenger He sent, and therefore, over time, and through effort, can receive the same kind of knowledge this messenger has received – a knowledge of what the Lord will soon accomplish.

A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world (TPJS 217). The message delivered by the servant should be carefully studied. I have put dozens of hours into it already. That is not enough. Each portion of the lecture deserves, indeed requires, dozens of hours to comprehend.

The Lord commands us to seek learning, even by study and by faith (D&C 88:118). It is one thing to be able to quote scripture, recite passages from writings or lectures of inspired men. It is quite another to obtain knowledge from heaven and from heavenly beings. That is the promise of the Lord I have received – that eventually, I will be taught by heavenly beings. It is made sure.

TimBaptism1aCropped

A Few Notes from the Mesa Lecture


MesaHiltonI tried to do a little live-blogging to my Facebook Group as the lecture rolled forth. I couldn’t keep up. There were too many declarations coming too fast. I should not have been surprised. Carol has been telling me for months, maybe for the past year that the day would come when Denver would make these kinds of pronouncements. Carol is a prophetess. She saw this day.

Largest Audience of the Ten Lectures

The room was set up to accommodate 700 people. I looked around just as it started. It appeared to be full with only a few empty seats. I want to mention again how overwhelmed Carol and I both were at the kind remarks from everyone who introduced themselves saying they read the blog and how much they appreciated it. The Internet has brought together a very eclectic group.

The Lord has Wrested the Kingdom

Denver read D&C 84:27-28 and implied it applied to him, saying John had wrested the kingdom from the Jews. Likewise, he said the Lord had wrested authority from the First Presidency, because they consented to his excommunication – “Amen to the priesthood of that man.” That’s not a quote but was implied. By the way, this is not new. He implied this previously on his blog.

Amen to the Priesthood of that Man

Denver reminded us that the priesthood doesn’t require a church to exist. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The church requires the priesthood. He reiterated how D&C 121:37-42 works. Power in the priesthood is NOT to control. If it is used to control or compel by virtue of dominion then the priesthood or the authority of that man is lost. Persuasion and long-suffering is required.

First Presidency Lost Their Authority

“Denver referred to another visit with The Lord on May 1st 2014. He said the Lord told him a few things about the Church. He said he was one of the “least of these” through which the Lord accomplished a great work. He said it had been completed. Section 121 applied to all Church leaders. He proclaimed the First Presidency lost their authority at the last General Conference.

Church Control of Local Leaders

He retold the story of how Elder Nelson had, contrary to scriptures, been directly involved in his excommunication. He used control and compulsion in demanding his Stake President take the disciplinary action against Denver. He said the church told his Stake President to not reveal the fact they had been involved in Denver’s excommunication – and to hide what had been done.

I Will Bless Them that Bless Thee

Denver said, “The Lord told me, ‘I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee.'” Wow. This quote was quite disturbing to Carol. She turned to me and said, “He equates himself to Joseph Smith.” Of course the scripture reference is Genesis 12:3 as well as Joseph Smith History 1:33 – that *Denver’s* name should be had for good and evil among all nations.

Denver is Not Starting a New Church

“Denver reiterated he will not start a church. He said we do not need a legal organization which can be controlled and corrupted. He did say we do need to organize as a body of believers. He is discussing that now and how it will be accomplished.” Carol called it “Denver’s Community,” but I heard him say “small groups” that would only be geographical in nature – or would they?

Seven Women to Authorize One Man

Denver is now discussing the way to organize the community. He said only women should sustain men in the priesthood. *Applause* This is amazing what we are hearing. I can’t wait to read the transcript. He added the importance of obtaining power to baptize as did Alma. He also quoted JS History 1:69 saying it remains. It takes seven women to authorize a man to minister.

Use Tithing to help the Poor and Needy

He quoted Luke 18:1-14: “I wish I had the money to place an ad in the LA Times, saying ‘If you want the gift of the Holy Ghost came to this place on this date and I will be there to baptize you. Can you imagine the difference this will make among the poor and the needy to be clothed with the gift of the Holy Ghost? We can’t change the world by legislation but we can do this.”

The Right Way to Conduct Worship Services

Denver quoted D&C 50:17-25, and said “you should not waste another three-hour block of time in nonsense each Sunday. If nothing more, get together and read the scriptures or have a prayer meeting, but don’t waste your time on stuff from Deseret or published by the LDS Church.” What a direct slam on the way we conduct church meetings each Sunday. This got applause.

False Churches with False Teachers

“Denver is quoting 2nd Nephi 28, adding comments that this is our day and describing the LDS Church, especially verse 5. Oh, my. Who is going to write this up for the Trib and how soon will it come out?” He pointed out that the LDS Church teaches this today – that the Redeemer has given his power unto men and that he no longer ministers directly to members of the Church.

They Seek deep to Hide Their Counsels

“Denver is saying verses 10 through 15 are directly referring to the Church today. He told the story of the Church coming to get journals of Neal Maxwell after he died because they held details too sensitive to be revealed. They seek to hide deep their counsels. Wow.” He quoted Isaiah 29:13-15 saying it defines the Church today and is about to be fulfilled now in our day.

You Do Not Need Buildings to Meet

“You do not need buildings to meet. Tithing is for the poor. Joseph Smith only built one building – a temple.” “Denver just announced there will eventually be a temple built. The names of those baptized will be recorded. A record will be kept and deposited once a year in the temple.” This is an amazing declaration. There is to be no hierarchy. The church is a community of believers.

Forbidding to Take Sacrament is Anti-Christ

He also said, “Anyone who forbids you to partake of the sacrament in the Lord’s way is anti-Christ.” He also said we should use wine or if necessary for medical reasons, grape juice. The church should kneel with those who bless the Sacrament.” He was very emphatic that anyone who restricts a member from taking the sacrament to compel a course of action is cursed.

Defining the True and Living Church

“This is the day at long last when God can bring to pass that which he intended to have happen before he returns. The true and living church referred to the church in Joseph Smith’s day. That day passed for a season but is now upon us again. Everything from this talk – all ten segments – is being offered to you by God. The work is beginning again.” – Denver Snuffer 9-9-14

Added to the Doctrine of Christ

“The LDS Church no longer preaches the doctrine of Christ,” Denver said, because it has added the question “Do you believe the current prophet to be the prophet of God?” He then said you / we need to take action. You need to be baptized in the correct manner.” The correct manner is to be baptized using the correct words. Believing in the current prophet is not part of the gospel.

Significance of April 2014 Conference

Per Denver, “If you were ordained in the LDS Church before April 2014 you can bless the sacrament and baptize. Otherwise, you should hold a conference among yourselves to sustain those who will minister unto you.” This is an obvious reference to the date he claims to have wrested the kingdom or authority away from the Church. What an amazing claim to make.

Take Action – Be Baptized Correctly

Referring to 3 Nephi 11:20-40, he said, “This day, is this commandment renewed in your ears, in the name of Jesus Christ. You need to be baptized in the correct way, with the correct words – having authority. However improbable or unlikely any of this may seem to you, I testify it is true. It is from The Lord. These are his words. I have delivered them faithfully.” He then left.

A Witness of the Voice of the Lord

Keith Henderson bore a short testimony he had heard the voice of The Lord declare the message that Denver had delivered was true. A sister got up and said she wanted to organize a group. A brother got up and said those without their wives should excuse themselves. I got up and left. Carol had already left after the first hour. She went to the Mesa temple to think. What a day.

Note: too many people have misunderstood why the brother got up and suggested those without their spouses might want to excuse themselves. He was simply saying his wife was home in Idaho with the kids and he wanted to discuss this with her before he proceeded with any action to organize. That’s all. It was very simple. Don’t read more into it than that.

Preparing for the Final Lecture – Part Three


SnufferSecondComforterThis is part three of my notes in preparing for the final lecture in the Denver Snuffer series – “Forty years in Mormonism.” While I am trying to encourage you to read Denver’s material, particularly the previous lectures in this series, I am not trying to advocate anything other than gaining knowledge by study and by faith.

I would not have put so much time, effort and energy into studying Denver’s materials over the past few years if I didn’t feel it was valuable and useful. It is not my intent to persuade anyone to abandon their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through Joseph Smith. In fact, it is quite the contrary.

It is my hope that your faith will be increased in a loving Heavenly father and Savior who care about our happiness and salvation.

You can read the previous two parts in the links below:

Part One: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/09/08/preparing-for-the-final-lecture-part-one

Part Two: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/09/08/preparing-for-the-final-lecture-part-two

St George – Marriage and Family: 7-26-14

Carol also attended this lecture with me. The venue was hot and crowded, but the spirit was strong. We brought in our camping chairs and sat right up front in an unused corner. Carol took copious notes at both the Las Vegas and St George lectures. As Carol said to me at the end of the lecture, “I didn’t hear anything wrong with or contrary to what I already believe in this lecture. I think he gave this lecture here in the heart of the Fundamentalist Mormons to make it clear the practice should be dropped in this generation.”

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/236754403/St-George-Transcript-Marriage-and-Family

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_9-StGeorge-Marriage_and_Family.pdf

Opening Remarks in St. George:

“This is the ninth installment of a single talk, all of which is designed to remind us of what was once given in the Restoration through Joseph Smith. Much of what went on before is intended to be foundational to what comes today, and to what comes next when we finish in Phoenix. Today the topic is about marriage and the family, and as a consequence of that, I view everything before as foundational to today, because of all things that are necessary to understand before we qualify to be like God, it is having this subject understood and incorporated into how we live.”

Closing Paragraphs in St. George:

This was what we talked about in Ephraim. You need to hear all of these, and you need to hear all of them in one continuous discussion, because it’s all one. This isn’t my material, it’s the Lord’s. All we have been doing is looking at these scriptures. My volume of scripture is actually color-coded. These are the scriptures. My scriptures are color-coded with orange in Boise, and yellow in Idaho Falls, and pink in Logan, and light green in Centerville, and dark green yesterday, and purple today. You can see the Scriptures have become rather littered with markers. These talks are to help you remember. We cannot go forward until first we remember what has been already given.

This is the Gospel of Christ. This is the power of God unto redemption. This is the revelation Joseph Smith was attempting to lay out when he was taken. There is a lot left to yet be done. There is more left to be done than has been started. There is more that has not been revealed than what Joseph was able to get on the ground here before he was killed.

As we have gone forward we have preserved less and less. Now with the engines of Correlation, we are managing to trim yet further. The Gospel of Christ is not about, “Have a nice day.” The Gospel of Christ is not about being a keyhole. The Gospel of Christ is about awakening and arising. It is about you becoming redeemed from the fall and coming back to God’s presence. Thank God, that before Joseph died, he was able to lay out something in the red brick store, through ritual and through ceremony, that described walking back into the presence of God, conversing with Him through the veil, and then entering into His presence. Thank God that in addition to the scriptures, Joseph left us a ritual testimony.

But do you know why ancient Israel had their temple? It was to have ceremonies to point them to the coming of Christ in the flesh. The Latter-day Saints have been given a ritual ceremony to point them to also receive Christ in the flesh. The Israelites thought their temple was an end in itself. The Latter-day Saints seem to do likewise. But do not you do this. See the ritual for what it is: merely an invitation.

There needs yet to be another temple built. But it will be in Zion, and those who go there will meet with their Lord, because that will be His house indeed. You can build that only if you qualify to do so.

Final Paragraph from St. George:

“There is so much left to be done! Right now the only thing that can be done is to remind you of the Restoration, and that is available to all. Everyone is invited. Everyone. But don’t expect the Lord to give us anything further, or permit us to move one inch further, until we first remember what we’ve been given. Even if you are in a fallen world, among a fallen people, who are proud and who are arrogant to think themselves more than they really are, if you will love your wife, and if your wife will love you, you are in the image of God and that will be preserved unto all eternity. No matter what else you may have to go through between now and then, that’s what He’s trying to preserve. That is the image of God.”

Salt Lake – Sunstone – Cutting Down the Tree of Life: 8-2-14

Carol and I also attended this lecture. As I wrote at the time, Denver’s delivery was, as usual, confident, engaging, well presented and well summarized. He raised four specific points where the church has changed or will probably change either a fundamental doctrine or practice. First was plural marriage, next was the policy of blacks and the priesthood, next was the issue of women and the priesthood and finally LGBT issues. I asked Denver if the point of his paper was that the church past and potential future changes was or will be due to social and government pressure for fear of losing tax exempt status. I’m not sure if he answered with a clear yes, but I’m fairly certain I have read a similar affirmation on his blog. I’ve included his complete answer:

The definition of fundamental doctrine is not something that I applied to the Church, it’s what the Church has advocated (or defined) on its own (and for itself). I’m contrasting what the Church said at one time was fundamental doctrine, with what it has done to abrogate, denounce, renounce and even condemn unequivocally out of their own mouth, their prior practice. Their motivation for accomplishing that transition was the focus of the paper. I’m not trying to make a moral judgment. I’m trying to understand the events against the backdrop of why the events took place. Why change when they said it would be right or wrong (to do so), when they said it in the name of Jesus Christ, like the comment of Brigham Young that I read. I read his claim on purpose because he was stating, “I’m telling you this as my status as a prophet of God. I’m telling you this in the name of Jesus Christ, and I’m telling you this will never change,” and (it has been subsequently) changed.

And now the Church, after making the changes, has turned around and said, “We unequivocally condemn that.” That’s the purpose of the paper and also to highlight the fact that institutionally, this is a problem. The problem is that truth and love and purity does exist, but it exists primarily in a form that is not (and cannot be) institutional. According to the scriptures, there are only two ways, “there are save but two Churches only.” And one church, if it’s going to subject itself to institutional control, vagaries of the law, the pressure of the tax code, and everything else; that church will necessarily become sullied and soiled, tossed and pulled, and ultimately wind up contradicting itself. But there is another church that can remain pure, unsullied, untouched, untaxed, and unregulated. That purity can exist in your heart. That purity can be found between you and God. I think any institution is going to suffer the exact same history.

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/235706812/Cutting-Down-the-Tree-of-Life

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Cutting-Down-the-Tree-of-Life.pdf

Phoenix – Conclusion: 9-9-14

We drove in from California on Saturday, spent the day with my sister on Sunday. It rained quite a bit late Sunday and early Monday, perhaps a cleansing of sorts in preparations for Tuesday’s lecture. I am not at all certain what Denver’s subject will be for tomorrow. I don’t think he will simply summarize the previous lectures. He has asked us to be familiar with what has gone on before. Somehow, things will be wrapped up with what will be presented in the tenth lecture.

Will it be a call to action of some sort – to build an organization? I don’t think so. Denver has said he will not start a church. We are to serve where the Lord has placed us. What then, is the purpose of these lectures, besides to cause LDS leaders to fear what he has to say, that he might ask the people to leave the church and to follow him somewhere? You’ll have to be the judge of Denver’s purpose. He says the Lord asked him to present this material. Do you believe him?

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Bonus Material: Three other past lectures from Denver worth reading:

2012 Sunstone lecture: Brigham Young’s Telestial Kingdom

Summary: “Brigham Young’s brief tenure (1851-58) as Territorial Governor and Church President allowed him to wield the power of both church and state. How he used this authority reveals much about the man. During the brief reign as God’s representative and United States’ regent, his sermons reveal how precarious a challenge it presents to consolidate church and state power. His predecessor, Joseph Smith, sought to establish heaven on earth. In contrast, Governor Young had the lesser concern of establishing and operating a “Telestial Kingdom,” while aggregating power and making pragmatic decisions in the present world. This article explores Brigham Young’s Governorship as a “king’s rule,” unsuited to the American republic. It includes cautionary advice from the Book of Mormon against attempting this very thing.”

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101288033/Brigham-Young-s-Telestial-Kingdom

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Brigham-Young-s-Telestial-Kingdom.pdf

What I like about this paper is what we learn when Joseph was referring to the “Keys of the Kingdom,” he was referring to the political kingdom or the Council of Fifty. When Joseph Smith spoke in the late-Nauvoo period about “the Kingdom,” or “the keys of the Kingdom,” he was referring to this council which elevated him to kingship. It was in this council Joseph Smith gave “the keys of the Kingdom” to his inner group of followers to permit them to perpetuate this “Kingdom of God” after his death. Brigham Young is best understood in the context of his sincere belief he possessed kingship given to him by God. His behavior and sermons reflect the conviction it was a king speaking; those who listened were expected to respond accordingly.

The Temple talk, First Three Words (Jan 2010)

This amazing little gem introduces the idea that some mortals are here to be proven and some are here to prove others. Some were Gods before they came here, willing to lay aside their exalted condition to fulfill a purpose in the Lord’s plan. God is willing to reveal to us which group we belong to, but only if we ask Him. Even then, it should not matter or make a difference how we live our lives. The risks of mortality are the same for all who are here. The purpose of this talk is to help us understand things as they really are and to give us hope and appreciation for life.

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/75128804/1st3Words-1

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/1st3Words.pdf

I like the concluding summary found on the last two pages:

First, there are those who were identified as “the Gods” before the world was organized.

Second, there were those for whom this world was designed to be a time of “proving” and testing who were not identified as “the Gods” before the world was organized.

Third, Joseph regarded those who were identified as “the Gods” to be “sons of God who exalted themselves to be gods before the world was made.”

Fourth, you cannot know the group to which you belong because there is a veil between all of us and the pre-earth existence. The risks of mortality, however, are the same for all who are here. The way back is the same no matter which group you belong to, and either can fall from their exaltation or can acquire their exaltation, depending entirely upon the kind of life they live here.

Fifth, only the Lord knows and can tell you of your pre-earth status. If you learn of that it will be only through revelation.

Sixth, nothing about this changes the risks of mortality or the obligations we owe to God while here. It should not change in any way the life you live. It may let you understand things differently, may give you more hope for things, or a deeper appreciation for some ideas, but it should not change how you understand your obligation to live your life. I am hoping, however, that it gives you a new way to view the endowment and how much more we can see within it with a little effort to open our eyes, and follow the admonition from Elohim, to “see.”

The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered (2011)

I would recommend this lecture for anyone who hasn’t heard the idea that even as late as a few weeks before his death in 1844, Joseph Smith considered the return of Elijah to be yet a future event. For those who have the Joseph Smith papers, Journals, Volume One, ask yourself why section 110 is not included in the original book of revelations. It was not found until 1852, years after Joseph’s and Oliver’s deaths.

Section 110 was recorded by Warren Cowdery, who was not a direct eyewitness to the events. He must have been copying from some document no longer extant. This account is written in the third person and describes the visit of the various messengers to Joseph and Oliver. During their lifetime, Joseph and Oliver never taught or mentioned they had been visited by Christ, Moses, Elias or Elijah in the Kirtland temple.

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/75094608/Elijah-Edited-1

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Elijah.pdf

Conclusion: “From the death of Joseph Smith until today, there has not been anything helpful added to what Joseph said on the subject. Although tens-of-thousands of words have been spoken or written about Zion since Joseph‘s life ended, none of it has brought us any closer. If anything, we are further away from it today than we were on June 27, 1844. However, I am not trying to persuade anyone about anything. You are free to believe whatever you want to believe.

“I only attempt to explain what I believe and why I believe it. You owe it to yourself to investigate these things and ask God about them. I would discourage you from accepting what I, or anyone else, have to say on the subject. Ask God. See if He will not make the matter clear to you. Perhaps if enough were able to rend the veil of unbelief, there would be reason to send Elijah and begin the final preparatory work. It only takes a few, as we have seen.”

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