Questions on LDS Blogging and Apostasy


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

Statement from The First Presidency

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

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

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

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

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

Applying This Statement to LDS Bloggers

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

Blog Readers Not Followers in This Context

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

Attending Lectures From Cast-off Members

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

Desire to Understand Denver’s Message

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

Sharing Ideas of Those Excommunicated

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

Other Bloggers Disciplined For Sharing

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

Consideration of Specific Open Cases

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

Advocacy, Criticism, Doctrine and Questions

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

Bloggers are Targets for Public Opposition

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

Blogging in a Search for Clarification

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

Seeking definitions of Some Key Words

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

Blogging is Usually a Public Activity

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

Blogging is All About Open Dialog

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

Receive the Words of a True Messenger

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

The Lord Defines a Prophet, Not the Church

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

Don’t Blame Me, I Just Report the News


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

Mass Resignations From the LDS Church

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

We Are Losing Some of the Best and Brightest

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

A Serious Step to Get Your Message Across

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

Understanding Why People Leave the Church

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

Consider the Contributions of John Dehlin

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

You May Learn Some Things New at StayLDS

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

Imagine Being Asked to Resign From the Church

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

For the Record From Daymon Smith

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

Question and Answer with Latter-day Commentary

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

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

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

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

Q. Like what?

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

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

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

Q. And now?

A. I am more focused on coming unto Christ.

Q. What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. How so?

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

Q. And…

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

Q. What do you mean?

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

Q. And He told you?

A. In no uncertain terms.

Q. What did He say?

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

Q. Why is that?

A. Because Denver Snuffer had answered them perfectly.

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

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

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

A. Yes.

Q. Can you elaborate?

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

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

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

Q. And you believe that is possible?

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

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

A. Less than a half dozen.

Q. And you believe them?

A. Why should I doubt?

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

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

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

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

Q. Please. Go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Thank you. God bless and good night.

Conservative Mormon Bloggers Under Scrutiny


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

Disciplined for Following a Prophet

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

Asking Questions is not the Same as Doubt

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

Some Think it Not Acceptable to Ask Questions

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

Some Seem to be Afraid of Asking Questions

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

Church Encourages Us to Ask Hard Questions

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

Elder Ballard Encouraged us to Be Active on Blogs

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

Trolls Should be Banned for Contention

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

Blogging Can and Does Make a Difference

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

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

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

Most LDS Leaders are Ideologically Conservative

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

Seems Not Okay to Ask Questions in Church Classes

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

Church History Narrative Not Always Accurate

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

Bloggers are an Inquisitive, Questioning Bunch

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

Should be Room for Everybody in This Church

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

Cultural Mormons Want a Place in the Church

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

Excommunicated for Endorsing a New Book

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

Amen to the Priesthood of that Leader

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

The Internet Changed Everything for Research

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

Every Member Should be an Amateur Historian

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

We Lost an Opportunity With the Death of Joseph

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

It’s Time to Prepare Ourselves Individually for Zion

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

Just Expressing my Thoughts – Don’t Crucify me

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

Comments are Still Welcome – Trolls are Warned

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

God bless and thanks for reading and sharing.

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

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

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

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

 

Conversation With The Bishop


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

——————————————————

“Hi Brother Malone. How are you doing?”

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

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

The temple. Specifically the temple recommend questions.”

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

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

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

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

“Of course. That’s D&C 88:118

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, what’s the problem?”

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

“And that troubles you….”

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

“I guess I’ve never heard of it.”

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

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

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

“OK, so?”

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

“OK, makes sense.”

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

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

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

“You’re what?”

“Yeah. here you go.”

<Bishop looks stunned>

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Statement on my Status


The sacred power of marriageOwing to the many private inquiries as to my status in the current “purge” of bloggers and Mormon activists, I would like to share this comment I wrote a few days ago in response to a reader’s questions. I hope it demonstrates where my loyalties lie. If you want further information, my email address and cell phone number are prominently displayed on this blog. Please don’t assume anything. I have not received notice of pending disciplinary action.

My statement:

The church has a mission and authority. There is no doubt about that in my mind. It was restored for a purpose. It is still a place where the Lord’s work is being performed. It has a commission to preach the gospel, publish the scriptures, build and maintain meetinghouses and temples and to perform or administer ordinances. Because I am commanded to pay tithing, I choose to pay my tithing to the church. I still accept what the church does with it.

Something was Lost With Death of Joseph

It just seems to me that something was lost. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I noticed it about twenty-five years ago when I was called into a Bishopric. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of administrative work and not enough of a focus on ministering to the spiritual needs of the members. But since I have never been a bishop, I chalked it up to the nature of my callings over the years – secretary, clerk, counselor… I saw my job as an opportunity to take some of the burden off the bishop.

I Love Serving in my Ward and Stake

I still feel that way. I appreciate the opportunity to assist the stake presidency with the financial management of the stake. I love this church. More correctly stated, I love the people in it. I love the opportunities I am occasionally given to teach the gospel in Sunday school or priesthood. I feel the spirit of the Lord working within this church. I appreciate taking the sacrament. I love going to the temple. I love going to baptisms. There’s always a special feeling at baptisms.

I Love the Leaders of This Church

I love the leaders of this church, local and general. I have no animosity toward them. I question some of the decisions made by leaders in other stakes who have excommunicated some of my online friends. I love the First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. I sustain them. I pray for them. I help pay their salaries and that’s OK with me. I accept their leadership. I know they have a tough job. I would not want to be in their shoes in this instant age of the Internet.

Church Discipline seems Displeasing to Christ

Because I disagree with the excommunications taking place in other stakes of individuals I have come to know and love – first online and then in person – I felt it would be less than honest to keep my temple recommend. I turned it in because I could no longer answer no to the question about “affiliating” or “sympathizing” with individuals who the church has cast out for apostasy. I do sympathize with them and I do intend to affiliate with them, many of them next month in St. George.

Let’s Educate Ourselves on Issues of the Day

Many readers have a “cut to the chase” way of observing and summarizing the problem I have been trying to identify for the last twenty-five years. I’m not sure I would have phrased it so directly, but then I assume they are relating it in the negative way they have seen it asked. I also have seen it asked in a negative manner and it somewhat pains me because of the love I have for this church. Surely we can seek to educate ourselves on the issues of the day without being negative.

Denver Snuffer is a Catalyst for Discussion

Like it or not, Denver Snuffer is one of the issues of the day. He is a catalyst for many people who feel the way he does about something being missing. I am one of those people. Although I have not met the man – I will next month – I have read and agree with the vast majority of what he has written in his books, his blog and delivered in his lectures. Instead of recognizing the man for helping us to obtain a better grasp of our history and predicament, the church has excommunicated him.

Disagree with Strengthening Church Members Committee

That bothers me. I disagree with what was done. I disagree with the idea of a “Strengthening the Church Members Committee.” It seems so wrong. It’s like controlling what we read, think and write. I chafe at the feeling of fear and suspicion I sense just knowing such a committee is reading my blog, looking for content worthy of some sort of corrective or disciplinary action. I don’t believe such a committee has any place in the true church of Jesus Christ. It’s just wrong in my view and opinion.

I Want to See the Church Succeed in it’s Mission

I want this church to prosper and continue to grow. I want to see it succeed in it’s mission. I want to help with that mission. I have given most all my life to furthering the work of the church as a missionary and as a “volunteer” leader on the local level with whatever I have ever been asked to do. I have grown tremendously in this church, but I can no longer stand idly by and see injustice done that I have witnessed. Many say I am wrong. My heart and the Lord have told me otherwise.

God bless and thanks to all for your thoughtful comments.

Update: I was interviewed on Friday afternoon by Brian Mullahy of KUTV2 via Skype specifically for this story. I would never have chosen to do something like that on my own, but had the opportunity to testify of Christ and of the service LDS bloggers can and do provide. Of course they cut my testimony and used only two short clips about the SCMC. You can see it here:

http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/whats-lds-panels-role-mormon-disciplinary-actions-11952.shtml

Update2 (6/20/14) : The facts remain: The SCMC is behind the disciplinary action of at least one blogger / author. You can read the very detailed facts here:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-facts.html

 

Defining Bounds the Lord Has Set


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

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

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

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

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

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

Endurance to the End is Enough

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

We Determine How Well We Endure

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

Use Temple Instruction at Home

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

Here are the Keys of the Priesthood

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

The Powers of Heaven Defined

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

How to Relate to True Messengers

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

The Way of Life and Salvation

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

Do Not Violate Sacred Obligations

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

Blogging as a Gift of the Spirit

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

Testimony of Jesus Spirit of Prophecy

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

Would God that all were Prophets

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

God Speaks to Many People

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

Don’t Put Limits on the Lord

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

Write Not by Way of Commandment

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

Write by Way of Wisdom

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

Lead us to the Lord’s Scriptures

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

Controlling What Members May Publish

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

Press On Until We Meet With the Lord

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

Appetites and Passions, Not What we Write

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

Allow Me the Agency of My Doubts


PeterJamesJohn

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

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

I Have Loved Serving in This Church

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

I Write a Blog at Elder Ballard’s Request

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

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

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

Passing the Heavenly Gift and Excommunication

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

Uplifting Addresses from Priesthood Leaders

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

Teaching the Standard Narrative

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

We Simply Don’t Have All The Information

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

There is Room For You In This Church

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

Hold Fast To What You Already Know

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

Honest Declarations of Doubt and Faith

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

I am Asking for Help With My Doubts

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

Following the Bishop’s Counsel – No Facebook Links

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

Temple Interview Loyalty and Affiliation Questions

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

Doubt About the Fullness of the Priesthood

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

Example of How Another Brother Was Treated

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

To Sustain the Church President as the Prophet

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

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

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

His Wife Feels She Has Lost Everything

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

Members Blame Him for Taking Away Her Hope

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

Leader Tells Son to Beware of His Own Father

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

Unrighteous Dominion is Alive and Well Today

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

Persuasion, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Meekness, Love

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

My Blog is All About LDS Book Reviews

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

I Seek Deep Understanding – No Cursory Overview

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

I Want The Temple To Be A Part Of My Life

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

I Only Teach Authorized Correlated Material

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

I Will Serve Wherever I Am Asked

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

Only Desire To Build The Kingdom of God

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

 Permit Me Agency of My Doubts and Questions

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

Others Are Punished For Asking Questions

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

Cut Off From Among My people


LDSChurchHandbooks1When one is excommunicated from the LDS Church, he is provided instructions by the Bishop or Stake President as to what he can and cannot do. Given that the church just severed the relationship with the individual excommunicated you would think the instructions provided are no longer applicable. It is assumed they are given with the intention of helping the individual make their way back to baptism again within a short period of time, even as little as one year.

Instructions Provided When Excommunicated

It has been my sad duty over the years to write and deliver the notice to appear, then to write the summary of the disciplinary council for the report sent to Salt Lake, and the instructions given to the individual who has been the subject of church discipline. Frankly, I have found it a difficult process. It requires that I listen intently and take copious notes so as to capture the essence of what transpired, what was considered, what was decided and finally, what instruction was given.

Alternative Method – Administrative Action

I’m sure you know that many individuals forgo the trauma of a disciplinary council and elect to simply resign their membership. The Stake President is supposed to contact the individual and make sure they are aware of the seriousness of what they have just done. Most Stake Presidents I have worked with have been hesitant to perform this duty, and, in fact, have let it drag on for a year or more before executing that final step which cuts the individual off from the LDS church.

Rights, Privileges and Authority Removed

They are supposed to instruct them what they are giving up, such as all rights to the priesthood, to the temple, to the sacrament and any claims they may have on others such as the sealing of a spouse or even children born in the covenant. As with any individual excommunicated, they are told they may no longer wear the garment of the holy priesthood, may not exercise priesthood authority, may not speak in church, offer prayers, serve in any church callings or pay tithing.

Defending Oneself in a Disciplinary Council

For many individuals, this is a relief. For those who chose the administrative action (no council), it is fairly obvious they no longer believe and simply wanted to stop being bothered by home and visiting teachers. For those who elected to go through the formal council proceedings, one can assume they had hopes to avoid excommunication. In other words, they believe in the cause of the church, enjoyed the privileges of membership and were willing to petition to retain them.

Apostasy is a Whole Different Animal

In the case of someone accused of apostasy, the case has pretty much been decided before the council is held. Either the Stake Presidency has received instructions from the Area Presidency to “take care of it,” or they have decided on their own that the member is too much of a pain in the butt and can no longer put up with the things he or she is sharing among church members that are out of line with accepted church doctrine. Of course, they are supposed to have been warned.

Role of a High Councilor

The wheels of the church grind slowly, but they usually grind smoothly. It’s a bit of a burden to serve on a high council. Besides speaking in church each month, attending early-morning stake council or high council meetings, High Councilors are to serve as advisors to the Stake President in disciplinary councils. They are supposed to be evenly divided with half to see that the interests of the church are met and the other half to see that the interests of the individual are represented.

Apostasy Usually Decided in Advance

In reality, the high councilors probably know nothing of the circumstances regarding the man or woman being tried for their membership until a few minutes before the council begins. It’s pretty hard to represent someone being tried for apostasy when it is clear the “apostate” knows more about church doctrine and history than you do. Therefore, apostasy is usually decided based on the attitude of the individual – if he or she is willing to do whatever is asked of them by the SP.

Keep Your Beliefs to Yourself

I have now had several online friends – fellow bloggers – excommunicated for apostasy because they wrote things in their blog indicating they believed something was missing from the church. Apparently you can believe what you want about the church as long as you don’t share it with anyone else. I even had one individual in a previous stake claim he had just as much right to lead the church as the then-prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, but he also had extenuating mental issues.

I Sustain the Leaders of This Church

I think it’s a little foolish to be so “in-your-face” in your comments about the Brethren or about the Prophet in particular. Unless you are so ticked off at what they are teaching and feel they are perpetuating a myth, then you might want to hold back on the public statements opposing their actions. Lest I be accused by any of being an apostate, let it be known here and now I love the Brethren who lead this church. I sustain them and accept their leadership, guidance and direction.

Open Dialog, Free Speech and LDS Bloggers

As I wrote for many years, if the Brethren or my local leaders ever felt my blog was out of line or too provocative or placed the church in a bad light, I would gladly change it or remove it. I had even expressed that I would have no problem discontinuing the blog altogether, although of course with the Internet Way-back machine, what I have written is preserved for a long time, or at least as long as there is electricity and the server on which it is stored is not nuked by an EMP.

A Preview of Things to Come

I shared in a recent post a conversation I had with the Lord in which I asked for and received his permission to share a few things on my blog in the months to come that I have been hesitant to write about for fear of offending the leaders of this church or causing others to doubt their own testimonies and commitment to the church. I still feel strongly one should look for the good in all things, especially when you have invested a lifetime of time and money to building a good cause.

An Honest Seeker of Truth

I am going to explore a few scriptures and offer alternative interpretations of those scriptures. I am also going to be looking at a few events in our church history and noting interpretations of those events that differ, sometimes radically, of the “standard narrative” we have all been taught or grown up with all our lives. Please don’t label me an apostate or trouble-maker. I believe I am an honest seeker of truth and have felt led to these conclusions by much pondering and prayer.

Living With Difficult Church History

You may think I am parroting the views of Denver Snuffer and in fact, I will be quoting some of his insightful points, but only because he has been bold in bringing them to our attention. I did not hear about these things first from Denver. I learned them in my youth from my mother in the things she taught me and books I read, or I learned them later as I felt led to certain sources that one can find online which were not available until recently. The Internet has changed everything.

Troubling Issues in the Standard Narrative

You may ask why I choose to do this. You may wonder if I am looking to force the Brethren to take action. No, I am only looking for certain troubling issues to be addressed. I recognize that I am in the minority in this church. Some estimate that as few as two percent of the LDS members actually do any serious study of our history and the evolution of our doctrines over time. And if we are to believe John Dehlin (which I do), the Brethren have decided we are irredeemable.

Home Sanctuary – A Sacred Altar

Up until recently I was greatly concerned about missing out on the blessings of the sacrament and the temple if I were to be excommunicated from the church. With what I have learned about the home sanctuary in the last few weeks that concern about the temple has been resolved. And with what I have determined in my own mind about priesthood authority and priesthood power, remembering the Lord through administering the sacrament in my home is no longer an issue.

Bishop Holds Keys to Administer Sacrament

I know what you’re thinking, “Brother Malone, don’t you know that the Bishop holds the keys of administering the sacrament? You can’t do that without his permission.” Well, if the church cuts me off, then they no longer have any say about what I do in my own home, do they? Let me make it clear my issues with the church are not with my local priesthood leaders. I have many times expressed my love for them on my blog and will continue to do so. My issue is priesthood.

Sealing Power Received by Voice of God

The bottom line for me is I am not so sure the higher priesthood can be passed from one man to another. It can only be received by hearing the voice of God or by receiving it directly from God by the laying on of hands – the Lord’s hands, even Jesus Christ. Even if one receives this higher sealing power from the Savior, it cannot be passed on to another. Each man must receive this power for himself. I’m not saying the church doesn’t have authority because I know it does.

A Kingdom of Priests with Priestly Authority

I liken the authority of the church to that of the tribes of Israel after Moses and before the advent of the Lord in the Meridian of time. It is a priestly authority, authority of the Aaronic priesthood, or a type of authority that invites us to go and get the real thing, the power of the priesthood from the Lord and Master of the universe. I know this is quite a claim. We teach Peter, James and John gave this authority to Joseph and Oliver and I have no doubt they did. But was it later passed on?

Seek to Behold the Face of the Lord

Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were asked to choose the twelve apostles. They did so. After they were ordained, Oliver gave them this charge:

“…it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.

Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off you doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?”

 

Mormons Are a Submissive People


Jesus-Rich-Young-RulerI’ve noticed a constant theme over the past few years as I have written about those who have been excommunicated from our church. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence the subject has come up so many times or if I have sought it out. I’d like to explore the idea of submissiveness with you in this post and get your opinion as to what the right attitude should be towards this.

Opposite of Arrogance and Rebellion

I’ve told you I pray about my posts. I’ve also mentioned to specific individuals privately this post was coming. These good people are worried about me. I know they love me and have expressed concern I’ve been dealing in territory they say causes them discomfort. Rebellion and arrogance are the opposite of submissiveness. I’ve had experience with both as a young lad.

Remember Them Which Rule Over You

I’m not going to address the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 of wives submitting themselves to their husbands. I’ll leave that to others. I prefer to center my remarks on the scripture in Hebrews 13:7, which reads, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Obey Counsel of Priesthood Leaders

I note in the Topical guide the word remember is replaced with the word Obey. If I recall correctly the Topical guide was compiled by Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. I believe we can safely surmise the word obey can be used in the place of the word remember, at least in this case. In short, we are to remember and obey the word of our priesthood leaders who preside over us.

Blind obedience not encouraged

That’s probably the crux of the matter. Some of my readers find it troublesome to think anyone could or should come between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. They can quote scripture and words from the Brethren – so can I – indicating how important it is to confirm all we receive from our priesthood leaders for ourselves. In other words, avoid blind obedience.

Examples from Disciplinary Councils

Put another way, we are to submit to their counsel, especially when it is given in love with concern for the salvation of our souls. Perhaps I can best illustrate with a few examples from disciplinary councils in which I have participated over the years. Don’t worry, I’ll provide no specifics; mention no names nor identify anyone in any way so you may think you know them.

Restoration of Full Fellowship

I have been blessed that the majority of these disciplinary counsels have been convened to consider bringing the member back into full fellowship after a period of disfellowshipment or excommunication or. I am pleased to report that most of these councils have resulted in positive outcomes. Tears and hugs all around have usually been expressed at the end of the proceedings.

A Willing and Contrite Spirit

In discussing as a bishopric or High Council what is different in the second council, it invariably comes down to a matter of attitude. We note the contrite spirit, the willingness to do as advised, the demonstration they have done as counseled over the year or years – I hate to see a disciplined member go more than a year without sacrament and temple blessings. They are different people.

Submissiveness Natural Result of Repentance

In other words, they have learned to be submissive. I have specifically heard penitent individuals express words to the effect of, “Bishop (or President), what would you have me do? I will do whatever you ask, anything you say to get my membership back or to be considered a member in full standing again.” There is no pride, no thought for self, only a desire to please their leaders.

The Lord Forgives, So Should We

Of course we ask them to relate their feelings about the Lord. We ask about their prayers. We ask if they feel forgiven. We ask if they feel the Love of their Savior. We ask about their efforts of restitution, if they have asked forgiveness of those they have harmed, used or abused (often a hard thing to do). We ask about their scripture reading, their gospel study and other habits.

Don’t Dwell on the Sin

If you have never gone through a disciplinary council, you may think this intrusive. We don’t dwell on the sin. We don’t rehash details of the sin. We focus on their efforts of repentance. I think my first disciplinary council was in 1989 as an executive secretary. Ordinarily the clerk attends but he was unavailable so I was asked to take notes and write up the report to Salt Lake.

Bishop’s Counsel is Recorded

I can only recall one council in which we decided the individual was not yet ready to be returned to full membership status. They obviously had not taken the bishops counsel seriously. We always provide a written record of what the bishop feels inspired to ask of them as evidence of their willingness to repent. That is his right and responsibility as a sustained common judge in Israel.

Counselors Provide Input for the Bishop

Having sat on the side of the table in which my duty is to provide counsel to the Bishop or Stake President, I have noted their response. With some leaders, it’s just a poll to see what we think, especially if it’s a cut and dry case. With others, the priesthood leader is genuinely interested in what we have to say. I have always appreciated that, especially when I was a new in the calling.

High Council Disciplinary Format Different

Remember, in a Stake Disciplinary council half of the High Council is to speak on behalf of the member. The member is allowed to have witnesses speak on his behalf and if I’m not mistaken, to have members of his family present to be at the proceedings, as long as they are reverent. The format is given by revelation. You can read about in in section 102 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Submissiveness Shows Respect

Now, let’s return back to the idea of submissiveness and respect. I’ve always struggled with the habit we have in our church of standing when a General Authority of higher authority comes into a meeting. To me, this smacks of hierarchy worship. That’s not to say I don’t follow it. I do. When I conducted sacrament meetings and a member of the Stake Presidency entered, I stood.

The Unwritten Order of Things

When sitting in Bishopric training meeting or High Council or Stake PEC, I note that we always deferred to the presiding authority as the last to speak and having the final ward. We usually expressed our opinion from youngest to eldest. It’s just the unwritten order of things that Elder Packer discussed in his talk offered so long ago on the subject, which many said they disliked.

I’m a First Generation Mormon

I suppose it’s the natural man in me, the rebel of a first-generation Mormon. I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and Presbyterian ministers. I attended the Presbyterian Church with my mother until I was five years old and still remember the pomp and formality of the worship service. Dad was a lapsed Baptist. I have many living relatives I love who are ministers today.

Apostasy not same as Moral Transgression

I want to conclude with a short discussion of the difference between a disciplinary council convened for moral transgression as opposed to one convened for apostasy. I’m alarmed we have seen more of these apostasy councils lately. It wasn’t that way as I was growing up in the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Apostasy usually brings up visions of rebellion, arrogance and pride.

Apostasy Usually Decided At The Top

However, in cases I have investigated first hand, I found none of these were present on the part of the individual who was excommunicated. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain, but I have interviewed them or read their account of the proceedings and their letter of appeal. I sense a difference in the actions of the presiding authorities – their minds made up in advance.

Stake President Carrying Out Assignment

This was clear in the account of Denver Snuffer. There is no doubt his stake president was told by members of the SCMC in Salt Lake what needed to be done with no room for negotiation. In other words, the decision was made. The stake president was simply under orders to carry out the formalities of discipline. I feel the same thing happened with Mel Fish and with Brent Larsen.

Even Good Men Can Err in Doctrine

This quote from Joseph reminds me of my friend Paul Toscano: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (HC 5:340)

The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul wrote a book explaining his side of things, “The Sanctity of Dissent.” The more I think about it the more I agree with Paul. I believe we have a right to disagree with the interpretations of scriptures and doctrines as offered by our General Authorities. I believe we should be able to share that on our private blogs without fear of reprisal or punishment from church officers.

Blogs are For Exploring New Ideas

Of course, as I have written many times, I would not dream of teaching my personal ideas or interpretations from the pulpit or in the classroom. I sustain the Brethren and their right to declare what should be taught uniformly throughout the church – but NOT to censor what we write in private or semi-public, such as a blog. Our blogs are not official word of the church.

Blogging is Following Counsel of Elder Ballard

That’s why I wrote in my previous post how it troubles me when we are punished for trying to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard to be involved in the online dialog about the church and our doctrines. We want people to understand us, even if we differ somewhat from the standard or orthodox interpretation of the official doctrines that are presented by teachers in our classrooms.

Seeking to Remain Informed

For those who have expressed concerned I have gone apostate because I enjoy reading, writing about and discussing the writings of certain individuals such as Denver Snuffer, Max Skousen, D. Michael Quinn, David John Beurger or just about anything from Signature Books, please don’t think this affects my testimony of the fundamentals of this church. My testimony is intact.

Many Prophets In Addition to Joseph

I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In spite of his flaws, he was a prophet of the Lord in these latter days. But don’t take away from me my right to call Denver Snuffer a prophet as well. I accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God, intended to be a warning for our day. Again, please don’t take away my right to read and discuss the writings of Denver Snuffer on my blog.

Seek Guidance From God in What to Study

As I’ve written many times, I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve in the small capacity in which I am asked, be it as a home teacher or in my current calling as the Stake Financial Clerk. I seek the guidance and direction of the Lord each day in what I should read and study in addition to the scriptures. I feel lead and am grateful for that still small voice to my soul.

Submissiveness to Local Priesthood Leaders

I like to think I am a submissive individual. I try not to take any offense when corrected by my priesthood leaders. I try to welcome it with a cheerful attitude. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart. As I’ve always said, I would remove my blog in a heartbeat if they said it caused people trouble or caused them to doubt their own testimonies of God and of our Savior.

Expressed Willingness to Remove my Blog

I wonder if the day will come when that changes. This is probably getting repetitious to my regular readers. I am growing. I am learning. I am seeking the face of the Lord. I do not feel this blog is being written by commandment of the Lord but by suggestion and a desire to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles. God bless them, especially those who suffer effects of old age.

Seek Learning by Study and by Faith

God bless you my brothers and sisters. May you seek learning by study and also by faith. I strive to do both. I will not leave my eternal salvation to what I hear taught each week in the three hour block of meetings. It is simply not enough. It is my personality and learning method that I must write and share as I read. Otherwise I do not feel a commitment or internalization of what I read.

Keys to My Participation in Ordinances

Please, rest assured, I intend to be and remain submissive to the direction of my priesthood leaders. Unless the Lord tells me otherwise, I will do as they direct. I sustain them and grant them authority over me. At this point in my life, the spirit directs I should do so. I want and need the sacrament and the temple. These brethren hold the keys of those blessing in my behalf.

Snuffer Reader Excommunicated for Apostasy


LDSFreedomForumI am troubled this evening as I write this short post. An online friend has been excommunicated from the LDS Church for apostasy because he wrote in an online forum, much as I have on my blog, that Denver Snuffer is a prophet of God. As the scripture says, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” therefore, if you have knowledge of Jesus Christ, you are a prophet.

Writing Under Spirit of Inspiration

I have read Denver’s testimony of Jesus, as have many others. I concluded long ago he wrote under the spirit of prophecy and inspiration. His books have motivated me to study the gospel and to make greater efforts to live it. I have made no attempt to ask you to believe as I believe nor have I ever mentioned one word about Denver Snuffer or his books in any LDS building.

My Feelings About the Church

Let’s be clear up front. I love this church. I love the people in it. I love the brethren and sisters in my ward and stake. I would not want to do or say anything to cause them discomfort, difficulty or trouble. I love my brethren in the Stake Presidency with whom I serve on a regular basis. I know a stake financial clerk is not that big a deal, but because of it, I know these are good men.

Direction Comes From the Top

Question: What would my stake president do if he received a letter or phone call from a member of the area presidency directing him to convene a disciplinary council on my behalf? Of course he would do it. I would too if I were told to do so. Question two: What if he were given specific directions that I must remove my blog or the twenty-plus posts that deal with Denver Snuffer?

My defense Before the High Council

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I already wrote my defense to the High Council in a previous post. In it I expressed dismay that the Church would try to control the content of a blog written in good faith as an effort to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard. He asked us to be involved in the online dialog going on about the church. That’s exactly what my blog is about.

Definition of Apostasy

Apostasy, in case you’re not aware, is defined as 1) Deliberate opposition to the Church or its leaders in a clear, open and public manner. 2) Teaching as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine after being advised by appropriate authority that it’s false doctrine. 3) To affiliate with, belong to or follow the teachings of apostate sects, such as those that advocate plural marriage.

What Denver Snuffer Teaches

As far as I know, Denver Snuffer does not advocate plural marriage, nor has he expressed any intention to form his own church. I can’t imagine any Church authority proclaiming the doctrine he has taught of the Second Comforter to be false doctrine (D&C 88:68, 93:1, 97:16, 107:18-19). That leaves only deliberate opposition to the Church leaders in a clear, open and public manner.

Why Denver was Excommunicated

From what Denver shared on his blog, he was excommunicated for writing the book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. Now I wasn’t at Brent Larsen’s disciplinary council so I can’t comment about his attitude or if he asked the question, “Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” As I wrote in my previous post on the subject, if the church told me to take down my blog, I would do it.

Similar Testimonies Posted Online

I am encouraged that Daniel Roger’s blog, TheSecondComforter.com still remains. What is so different about posting your testimony of the Savior in a blog as opposed to stating it in a forum? You can read a copy of Brent’s letter of appeal at this link along with some additional insight from Brent’s wife. As always, we only get one side of the story. The Church will not comment.

Submissiveness to Authority

If you are a follower of Christ, talk to me about submissiveness. Tell me what Christ did, how he acted, what he said or didn’t say when he was confronted by those in authority. You know the answer. He was submissive. Like a lamb to the slaughter as the saying goes. Joseph used the same phrase as he went to Carthage, knowing his life would be forfeit to seal his testimony.

And Should We Die

If you’re an old guy like me, you might remember the old B/W movie about the two Mormon leaders in Mexico at the time of Pancho Villa who faced a firing squad rather than denounce their faith. It was entitled, “And Should We Die,” and was made in 1966. I remember we got ahold of a copy on my mission and showed it on the side of the church building one hot night.

It Takes Courage to be a Mormon

We had hundreds of kids and their parents come from many blocks around the church. This was in a very poor part of Central America. Nobody had a TV nor could they afford to go to town to the movie theater. I bring this up as an example of the courage it took to be a Mormon back in the early days of this Church. Now it seems the firing squad has become the local high council.

Killed for Reading a Book

These leaders were killed for reading and believing a book – the Book of Mormon. Apparently if you read and believe books written by Denver Snuffer, you now face excommunication, which in our church is looked upon as spiritual death by some. How can it have come to this? Somebody doesn’t understand what poor PR this is to cast someone out of your church for reading a book.

First Amendment Right Doesn’t Apply

I’ll conclude the way I started this short post. I am troubled by this report. But I’ll reaffirm my intention to do whatever my Priesthood leaders direct. After all, what’s a blog anyway? It’s just a way to communicate and to share feelings. It just seems a shame that we now cast out of our church those who stand up for their right to express their opinions and personal experiences.

The Church is not a Democracy

No U.S. government agency would allow such a thing to happen. We don’t kick people out of America for criticizing the workings of the government or writing a different view of history. But apparently in this church we now cast people out for reading books and expressing our opinion that the author was inspired. I guess the sin was in stating that Denver was a prophet.

This Doesn’t Strengthen the Church Members

All this does is bring more and more attention to what was an obscure local situation in a small part of central Utah. As these excommunications continue, more and more people will learn about Denver Snuffer and want to read his books to find out what all the fuss is about. As I said before, for a church that places such emphasis on good press, this seems like a bad PR move.

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