Suffer the Little Children . . .

November 2015 may go down in history as the great Mormon exodus. It’s quite the zeitgeist and we can still feel it.

Last weekend’s decision about the children of homosexuals was something of a watershed in LDS culture. Usually when controversial decisions are made by the Brethren, mainstream, active Latter-day Saints come to rescue of the hierarchy, not only in spirit, but in wisdom. This wasn’t the case this last weekend. There were a plethora of stances that were all at odds with each other . . . even among the faithful. I could narrow them down into five categories:

  1. Outrage! Bigotry! Homophobia! – We understand that faction well, it’s been around awhile
  2. I’m saddened and hurt. Call me if you’re suicidal – For may progressive Mormons, this just hurts. They are hoping and praying that the Church will liberalize its stance on homosexuals.
  3. I’m shocked and upset, but I trust in the Brethren – After hearing from Elder Christofferson, I eased into the decision. Now I see the wisdom in it. If all else fails, just trust in the Brethren.
  4. Applause and inspiration! – What a wonderful decision! It’s for the best for the kids. Furthermore, it tells those homosexual activists where we stand! We Thank, Thee, O God, for a Prophet!
  5. Hmmm, this just doesn’t sit well with me – It doesn’t seem to follow the scriptures. I’m no supporter of gay rights, but there’s just something fundamentally wrong with it. It bothers me that it’s a secret policy. It bothers me that it’s punishing kids only two groups . . . that’s right . . . I’m learning that polygamist kids can’t get baptized either! I’m wanting to follow the prophet, but the Spirit seems to be telling me otherwise.

It’s this last group I wish to speak about.

As Rational Faiths blog puts it:

At my last count, I have 11 friends resigning over this issue.  Three of them have already written their letters. I think the mass exodus is a given. I keep hearing that these people just don’t have enough faith in their leaders. I suppose that is true.  But the theme among my friends that are resigning is this: They are putting their faith in the Savior, and not the arm of the flesh. The are following the Spirit. And it is leading them right out the door.

I have personally witnessed a heated argument on my ward’s own Facebook secret page, where most of the members were shocked and outraged at the decision, with one single soul signing up to defend the policy. LDS coworkers, colleagues, former church leaders, etc. are seen liking and sometimes commenting in support of either 2, 3, or 5 on comments that are not seen as supportive of the Brethren on social media.

I reflect on the comments that were made by Charles Dickens as he saw early Mormons departing Liverpool for America to join their new faith. There were 800 emigrants on the ship leaving Liverpool. Expecting them to be a rabble lot, he instead noted that they were “the pick and flower” of England. Likewise, those seen departing from the party line today are increasingly the “pick and flower” of the Church.

Looks like the Google apostasy is over. We’re now on the cusp of the Facebook apostasy. And it looks to be huge.

Look, the heat of the issue will blow over. The emendations by the Church, which softened the handbook language will help. But it also shows, ironically, that public pressure can cause reversals. But then we are faced with the numbing reality of yet another policy that doesn’t seem to be the will of the Lord, or at least people can’t connect the dots back to the Lord. For others it’s come down to the simple, if historically and scripturally flawed logic that the Lord won’t allow the Church to be led astray. This logic, in many ways, is more damning than ever. It’s a catchall. Once grasped and digested, it allows for any error to be made, any flaw to be perpetrated. It takes monumental groundbreaking decisions and places them on par with the bureaucratic and mundane. It covers for sins. It encourages conspiracy. The scriptures that forewarn of this kind of thought pattern are legion, particularly in the Book of Mormon, yet they awfully neglected. I would like to summarize some of the arguments used to uphold the policy and use scripture to discuss the truth of such statements.

The handbook is scripture. It is given to inspired leaders to govern and lead the Church. It helps to declare, teach, and instruct Church leaders on how to properly administer the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Monson has even testified that this is so

Let’s start with Nephi:

There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed (2 Nephi 30:17)”

Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. (2 Nephi 28:9 quoting Isaiah 29):

12241209_10207534525857597_4017755373476722611_nThe Lord does not work in secrets, He does not have secret doctrines, secret policies, or secret oaths. Any such evidence is really evidence that Satan and secret combinations have crept into the church. We can trace much of this back to Nauvoo, unfortunately. But what about “casting pearls before swine?” one may say. I believe the Brethren have great spiritual experiences that justify their callings, but that those experiences are too sacred to relate. To this I respond, there are always doctrinal mysteries that will be revealed to us personally. Indeed the truth of all things must be revealed to us anecdotally through our own connection with heaven. Those things should not and in may ways, cannot be shared. A prophet, on the other hand, is intended to be an explicit messenger of the Lord. He must declare that message to be considered a prophet. The scriptures are rife with fine examples, whether they speak the actual words of Christ, of if they declare the message the Lord has sent them to give. No such declarations has been given with these recent policies. Thus, we can be assured that they can be subject to error. We are not bound by them.

Furthermore, one may always ask, does a policy or doctrine taught bring someone to Christ, or does it keep them from Christ? Is the policy or doctrine meant to protect the Church from creeping sympathy to “apostate” ideas? It may seem like a good idea to make decision in light of strategy of protection and insulation from error, but is it? Indeed the scriptures do give us a case for when we can deny ordinances to someone.

“And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily*, when ye shall minister it; (*I define unworthily different than the Church. Unworthy identifies those that do not have a willingness to believe in Jesus and His mission and to accept Him. To use it in any other ways is in error, for ALL have fallen short, ALL have sinned, and thus, ALL are unworthy).

For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid* him. (Simply put, don’t administer to unbelievers)

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.

But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. (3 Nephi 18: 28-32)”

Question: Do children of polygamists or homosexual parents fit this category?

For added emphasis, the Savior warns those that keep not these saying in the next verse.

 “Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth”

These versus relate to the sacrament as well. What does the Book of Mormon say to whom we should administer baptism?

“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. (2 Nephi 9:23)

“And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (2 Nephi 11-12)

Skip to 17: 17 “Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

“And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.” (2 Nephi 31:11 )

“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (3 Nephi 11:33)

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.” (3 Nephi 11:33)

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.” (3 Nephi 23)

“And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.” (3 Nephi 23:5)

“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.” (3 Nephi 27: 16)

“Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and bebaptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:20)

“Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.” (Mormon 7:8)

“See that ye are not baptized unworthily*; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.” (Mormon 9:29) (See my discussion above for what constitutes unworthiness–Jesus explains this in Moroni 6 (1-3)

And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. (They, the ministers, had to bring forth fruits of their worthiness–which I have defined)

Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins. (The worthiness requirement is a broken heart and contrite spirit)

And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

For all men must repent and be baptized, and not only men, but women, and children who have arrived at the years of accountability.” (D&C 18:42)

“And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.” (D&C 68:27)

So there you have it. This isn’t meant to be completely exhaustive, but as you can see, the requirements are as follows:

  • Repent, laying hold upon the gospel of Christ
  • Come unto Christ, having faith in Him
  • Have a desire to be baptized
  • Being worthy, or . . . having a broken heart and contrite spirit
  • Being the age of accountability, defined as eight years

There is one mention of a prohibition in D&C 137 where the Church declared they would not baptize slaves contrary to the will of their masters. This prohibition does not constitute doctrine. It was not considered revelation to the Church. The section still carries some controversy. Even so, I believe that the only modern prohibition of baptism that can even remotely correlate to this statement is the prohibition against some Muslims–which in essence is done to protect them from retaliation from their parents who are often justified in declaring murderous fatwas against their children for converting.

Other than this, I find no scriptural support for denying baptisms of the children, which brings me to the second argument that is made:

No scripture can be privately interpreted, Mr. Zion. That’s why we have prophets and apostles to interpret it for us. You are no prophet or apostle. We have the living prophets, and so in many ways that trumps even scripture.

It’s true that no scripture is of private interpretation. Communication being what it is, the only thing you can rely upon is the Holy Ghost. Relying upon modern prophets just inserts another layer by which a person must receive direct communication from the Lord. Be it the written word or a living oracle, the process is the same. Ultimate instruction must come from the Lord.

The idea that living prophets trump scripture is in error, an unfortunate one that was taught by Ezra Taft Benson (as an apostle) but censored by Spencer Kimball, who was THEN the prophet at the time. Benson seems to change his tune a bit after becoming prophet (see below). It’s a shame that the teaching manuals this year spent more time elevating the 14 fundamentals from Benson (for which he was censored) and less time discussing his teachings as prophet warning the Church that weren’t taking scriptures and the former commandments seriously enough.

Living prophets uphold, support, and communicate truth that are almost always already written down. Jesus quotes Old Testament passages uniquely about 50 times (some are repetitive).

To the idea that living prophets trump dead ones, I’m going to quote a dead one right now from his book, Doctrines of Salvation:

“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.” Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), p. 203

God also doesn’t seem to be very happy with how we fare with our treatment of scripture, particularly the Book of Mormon. This attitude was precisely what the scriptures warned against in D&C 84: 54-58

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all*. (Note: it’s not just the average member)

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written

58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

One could say, that was then, this is now. We are so much better with all the temples and missionaries we produce. Well, as late as 1986, a prophet of the Lord spent a great deal of time updating this warning. Even a living apostle, Elder Oaks, gives us the smack-down as it relates to us not being diligent with the things already given!

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If He appears to have changed, indeed, if doctrines are changing, I’m more apt to believe that it’s the error of men, and not God changing His mind, or adjusting to the reality of the situation on the ground, or engaging in strategem, or as this blogger notes, comes from legal frameworks and not revelation.

I think that this is part of the test, and part of the next justification I often hear.

God is separating the wheat from the tares. This social media murmuring cannot compete with the power of God’s living prophets and apostles. This was prophesied to happen. I will stand with them.

Yes, God IS separating the wheat from the tares. Jesus spoke many parables concerning this, from the parable of the ten virgins to the parable of the Good Samaritan. All of these to one extent or another, describe a “wheat” from a “tare.” My favorite is the parable of the wedding feast.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. (ie, members of Christ’s church)

Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: (They were more concerned about Babylon, about “church” reputations, about their own commerce)

And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 24: 2-20)

You see, the Lord is separating the wheat from the tares. I dare say that the proper interpretation of a wheat is someone that practices pure religion, as outlined in King Benjamin’s sermon, not one who totes the party line, who wears the Church colors, or who upholds an institution. You MUST be serving the poor, gathering the weak, THIS is indicative of wearing the wedding garment. You accept the doctrine of Christ, and you practice it through emulating the Christ. Otherwise you will not be found worthy for Zion. For Zion has two criteria. We are all of ONE heart, and there are no poor among us.

We should not murmur. We should not complain. This is a correct assumption. Complaining gets you nowhere. Boldly testifying of truth, however, no matter how unpleasant, and no matter how it differs from the institution, is a true act of courage! Finding a way to get your testimony “in line with the Brethren” is Lucifer’s counterfeit. Get your testimony in line with the Lord! That is His way.

In the early days, the principle of common consent and horizontal authority of first presidency, apostles, seventies, and all high priests was a means for everyone to come to unity of Christ. It was the principle of becoming Zion. I’m not sure it ever got applied appropriately but it is a sound principle. Should not we all agree, independently of one another, by the Holy Ghost, on the doctrines of Christ? If we are to simply line up, what good does that do for our salvation? Anyone can obey a line leader. The Nazis did as well. It would do well for us as a church to insist that all come to a unity of the faith, not just one quorum of fifteen, before we become subject to it. In that way, can we not then say that God is behind us? Can we not ensure that there are no blind spots? King Benjamin’s people all cried together to accept their covenants. They did not simply accept them as so because the king said so. They were collectively AND individually convicted of the truth. Should it not be the same with us? Again, we must be of ONE heart to be of Zion, and have no poor among us. Indeed, we take the name of Zion in vain these days, it seems. Common consent, properly implemented, would help us become more of one heart and of one mind.

I will end with a scenario of pre-Earth life and the test we would take by coming down to earth as Latter-day Saints.

Scenario: You will be sent to earth as a Mormon. You will be raised in a good family, with the gospel of Jesus Christ taught truthfully to you for the most part inside of the Lord’s church. You will feel good when the leaders of the Church speak to you. You will feel of their love. But you will find anachronisms, inconsistencies, errors, and if you don’t you’re not looking hard enough. At a point, you will have to make a decision, and the two choices you can go are this:

A – You can chose to stick with the leaders of the Church, to “follow the Brethren.” You will feel their good messages given in General Conference. You will know they are good men. You will feel that testimony burning within you. When you cannot reconcile some things, you chose to put it on the shelf, close your eyes, walk into the dark, and keep with the majority of the Brethren as they lead the church.

or . . .

B – You can chose to approach the Savior. You can use the good examples and teachings that leaders give you to figure out how to approach the Lord. But you also know that the all men are fallen and make mistakes, even good men, even prophets like Moses, Jonah, Peter, and Joseph Smith. You know that many are called, but few are chosen. You see that mistakes that have been made by past LDS church leaders. So you close your eyes, walk into the dark, and do what the Lord asks you to do.

What nature of test do you think is the one that will lead you into the presence of the Father? I have chosen scenario B. And because I’m unencumbered from the need to “get in line with the Brethren,” the Lord has told me that this policy is not of Him – in particular those that forbid children from being baptized if their parents are apostate homosexuals or polygamists.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Decisions Have Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

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

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

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

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

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

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

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

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

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

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

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

Deceived By False Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Facebook Discussion Group for Latter-day Commentary

LDCFacebookGroupAt the request of my bishop, I have created a new space for those who wish to discuss posts from this blog on a closed Facebook group rather than in the comments below. You can find it at this link: I hesitated a long time before creating this group. I feel strongly such a move should not have been necessary. If you are LDS and are even halfway awake you should be interested in learning more about the mysteries of the kingdom and discussing them. But apparently the “tone” of my posts has upset too many people.

Best Vacation I’ve Ever Enjoyed

I just returned from two Denver Snuffer lectures in Las Vegas and St. George, then spent three days at the Salt Lake 2014 Sunstone Symposium. This was absolutely the best vacation I have ever enjoyed. I can’t remember the last time I was able to take two weeks off without having to put out some sort of IT fire at work every night from the hotel via Remote Desktop. Some people like to visit relatives on vacation, others go for culture – museums, art gallery, Broadway plays and the like. Put me in a room of intelligent, educated people discussing how the gospel and church affect their lives and I’m in dog heaven.

Upcoming Posts planned for Latter-day Commentary

I knew I had to get the page created and ready to go for the upcoming posts I have in mind: A review of Rock Waterman’s new book, What to Expect When You’re Excommunicated, a review of Denver Snuffer‘s Sunstone talk, Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge, as well as his lectures from Las Vegas and St George – A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit. I loved Spektator’s talk on The Latter-day Apostasy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a landmark paper that should open the eyes of the most blind of the LDS members among us because of the sound scriptural support contained in the paper.

Renewing the Temple Recommend

I am meeting with my Bishop this evening to get my Temple Recommend renewed. As I wrote previously, I have resolved my hesitation in answering the affiliation question correctly. I now know the correct answer and know the Lord approves because I asked him. I have discussed it with my wife and several blogging buddies and readers in private emails. But just to review, here’s the logic. 1) The handbook is clear the priesthood leader is not supposed to deviate from the questions as recorded in the front of the recommend book. 2) When asked the affiliation question, the answer is no. 3) If the priesthood leader probes, ask for a copy of the official notice from Salt Lake that one cannot hold a temple recommend if they read works from Denver Snuffer. There isn’t one and won’t be one.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

In one of the many conversations I enjoyed while at Sunstone, one of my readers wanted to understand better how to hear the voice of the Lord and discern it from our own thoughts and those of the adversary. I shared many of the experiences I have shared on these pages in greater detail, especially my encounters with the adversary and the importance of the baptism of fire. One of the greatest and most important works we must accomplish in this life is to receive that baptism. It is absolutely essential. I am a witness it is real, it can be obtained, and it is a distinct event – not just a process. Imagine my surprise when a discussion of that very subject came up during the Q&A with Denver. His response: “I promise you the Lord can and will speak to you in complete sentences to your understanding.”

An Additional Witness Has Come Forward

Some have asked for copies of my correspondence with the individual who claimed to have met with the Savior and Heavenly Father at the young age of twenty before he was a baptized member of the LDS Church. I have received his long – 47 page – account and a follow-up 24-page account. I share this with you as evidence there are others beyond the five previously documented cases – I have their affidavits on file – but I have promised him I would not share it on my blog or in any public forum. He authorized the release to two individuals who asked for it, but only if I felt it appropriate. After reading his accounts, I feel the need to engage him in additional dialog before I can share it – but never online – as promised.

An Apostasy From Within the LDS Church

The second document he shared is timely and prophetic. In my opinion – and he noted the same in his written account – there are some things about to come to pass that will amaze and astound the members of the church. I know it’s not fair to tease you like this, but I’ll give you a clue. It involves the fulfillment of D&C 112:24-26. I was introduced to a new word which I’m sure has been debunked by many of my readers, but I’ll throw it out there anyway – Laneshine. For those who follow the link, consider the source. Consider also 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. Has anybody studied this chapter that can offer an inspired interpretation? I’m an open minded guy and thought I had heard all the weird stuff, but this takes the cake. Rob: I’m keeping this private as we agreed – just asking for assistance.

The Gentile Church Will Reject the Fullness

I know this is one of the favorite arguments of those who are opposed to how Denver has interpreted the Book of Mormon. When I was first introduced to his writings I had a hard time with this concept but believe I have now come to understand it. Carol and I discussed this concept, along with many others, during our windshield time on our way home from Utah yesterday. That’s one of the benefits of long car rides together. The idea that the LDS Church could be in apostasy is such a disturbing idea, Carol said even thinking about it made her feel physically sick to her stomach. Here’s a little advice for those who believe this doctrine. Find ways to share it gently, especially to those whose ancestors were converted back in the days of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. It can be a tough thing to hear.

Open Invitation to Dialog

Many of you know I have agreed to a debate, or rather, a dialog with my long-time friend Bill Mason about the idea of the Lord sending messengers from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. I have written about this several times, especially in this post entitled, The Doctrine of Additional Prophets. I knew it hit a nerve by the number of “likes” it received but also by the number of private email messages sent to me with calls to repent, to please consider getting help in casting out whatever evil spirit was afflicting me and numerous requests to remove the post. I will never cease to be amazed why the open discussion of dissident ideas is so difficult for some people, especially those I admire, respect and have served with side by side in the priesthood for so many years. Can’t we just talk?

Comments Welcome on Any of These Ideas

Comments welcome below, on the new Facebook group, via private email, text or a phone call. Let me know how you feel about any of the ideas shared in this post. Help me learn how to present truth in a better way to unify the Saints. Thanks and God bless you my friends. And for the record, I want that temple recommend and believe I am worthy of obtaining it. I sustain the brethren, meaning I have voted for them to lead this church and am OK with following their direction when I know it’s pleasing to the Lord. I am not a “Follow the Prophet” kind of Mormon. I am a “Come unto Christ” kind of member. That’s my mantra. I will do as the Lord directs, and trust me, he does direct me. The heavens are not silent. I have heard his voice and have conversed with Him through the Veil. Cheers.

We Cannot Hasten the Work

HastenWorkI’ve wanted to write this post all week, but I’m glad I waited. It has given me a chance to ponder Denver’s latest lecture last Saturday in Grand Junction Colorado. No I wasn’t there but listening to Doug’s recording was just as good as being there. I suspect there may be a few things on the CDs and in the transcribed lecture that probably won’t be in the final MP3 when it’s fully edited.

Lectures Will Be Available Free Online

For those who don’t know, and it’s no secret, Denver has said he will post the lectures as MP3 recordings available for free on his website when the lecture series has been completed. I buy Doug’s recordings because I want to get a jump on what was taught and compare them to the transcript. It takes a lot of pondering to understand the messages contained in those lectures.

Join One of the Online Discussion Groups

I make no bones about it. I am enthralled by the messages being delivered. I am also grateful for the online discussion groups that have added so much to my understanding. They discuss things I had not thought of. They are anxious to put into practice the concepts being taught. It is exciting to associate – at least online – with people so willing to help each other experiment on the word.

The Internet May Not Last Forever

I feel a little lonely out here in Southern California, away from the Mormon corridor, but find great comfort in the blessing of the Internet. Take advantage of this means of communication while we still have it. The day is coming and it may be soon, that we will lose this marvelous invention which allows us to find and keep in touch with people anywhere who think alike.

Can’t Answer All the Emails

I apologize to everyone who has written me a private email message of encouragement or with questions or asking for advice or just wanting to chat. I get overwhelmed each time I post one of these and am frankly astonished by the response. I never expected to have so many readers. It has grown tremendously in the last few months. I thank you each for your kind readership.

I’m Open to Chatting by Phone

I stand by my offer in the upper right corner of my blog. If you want to chat, shoot me an email with your phone number and I’ll call you. Otherwise, it may be days or even weeks before I get all the emails answered. I’ll usually answer comments in the blog before I get to the individual emails. I prefer to be out in the open with communications about this phenomenon taking place.

Hastening the Work – the Surge

Obviously, by the title of the post, you know two things: 1) Denver discussed the concept of hastening the work in his latest lecture and 2) It goes contrary to the current focus of the LDS Church, which has been in full swing since October 2012 when President Monson announced the lowering of the missionary age to 18 for men and 19 for women. You know the results:

Baptisms per Missionary

Year Qty of Missionaries Qty of Baptisms Baptisms per missionary
2013 83,035 282,945 3.41
2012 58,990 272,330 4.62
2011 55,410 281,312 5.08
2010 52,225 272,814 5.22
2009 51,736 280,106 5.41
2008 52,494 265,593 5.06
2007 52,686 279,218 5.30
2006 53,164 272,845 5.13
2005 52,060 243,108 4.67
2004 51,067 241,239 4.72
2003 56,237 242,923 4.32
2002 61,638 283,138 4.59
2001 60,850 292,612 4.81
2000 60,784 273,973 4.51
1999 58,593 306,171 5.23
1998 57,853 299,134 5.17
1997 56,531 317,798 5.62
1996 52,938 321,385 6.07
1995 48,631 304,330 6.26
1994 47,311 300,730 6.36
1993 48,708 304,808 6.26
1992 46,025 274,477 5.96
1991 43,395 297,770 6.86
1990 43,651 330,877 7.58

Most new Missionaries are Sisters

I’m sure you also know the majority of those responding to the call, at least from the United States, are sister missionaries. And they are doing a marvelous job. We have them in our homes and delight to share in the spirit of enthusiasm and dedication they bring. I am always blessed to remember my own mission experience with fondness as I visit with these sister missionaries.

Social Media and the Church

I am grateful to pay my tithing and offerings to the LDS Church. I fully support the work of the Church. I pray for the success of the missionaries. I love the new focus on teaching, the new focus on family history work, and the incredible strides the church has made in Social Media. I don’t want to embarrass him, but my friend Larry Richman does a wonderful job in this area.

I Love the LDS Church and Faith

I love this church. In the immortal words of Steve Benson, cut me and I bleed Mormon. I like nothing better than to teach a Gospel Doctrine class, a High Priest’s Group Meeting or to speak at the pulpit in front of my ward or stake. I miss my days on the High Council but am grateful to serve as a Stake Clerk. I am pleased and happy to share my time and talents to help my leaders.

The Lord Has Called Other Prophets

So why am I so adamant in declaring that Denver Snuffer is a prophet of the Lord, or at least a true messenger? How can I possibly say that and answer the temple recommend question that is specific to keys only being held by the prophet and the one about sympathizing with apostate groups? 1) Denver has not declared his keys and 2) He has not asked us to follow him anywhere.

Readership of Latter-day Commentary

I know my readership is comprised mainly of others who feel as I do about Denver. I also know I have a few readers in the Church Office Building – and the Administration Building. If you don’t know the difference look it up or ask – you should know these things. My local leaders do not read my blog so this is not written for them. I desire only to serve them and cause no trouble.

Forty Years in Mormonism

I am looking forward to meeting Denver when he comes to St. George sometime in the next few months. Doug has said there will be lectures in Ephraim, Las Vegas, St George, and Phoenix. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to share that but he did. And that should wrap up this lecture series, “Forty Years in Mormonism.” So far, I have simply been blown away by what I am learning.

My Own Forty Year Search

I can identify with the period of forty years. It was forty years ago that I first began to study the doctrine of Calling and Election. It was forty years ago I received the Baptism of Fire and of the Holy Ghost. It was forty years ago I received visions of my future ministry, some of which has yet to come to pass. I can tell you the Lord is very specific about certain future events and places.

The False “Strongman” Model

So why did Denver teach the work cannot be hastened? You’ll have to discover that for yourself. Download the Grand Junction lecture and read it. You will learn more about Zion than you ever did by studying it in Primary, Sunday school, Priesthood or Relief Society. I know I did. You’ll want to focus on the concept of the false “Strongman” model. It was a real awakening for me.

Zion Must Be Ready To Receive Christ

The Lord will not return until Zion is ready to receive Him. Remember, he comes with Enoch and that portion of the earth that was taken up. The City of Enoch must return and the Lord will come with them because He made it His abode forever (Mos 7:21). The key to the return of the Lord is having a people prepared to receive Him – a people who are equal and have no poor.

Follow the Prophet – He Knows the Way

You’ll also want to read or listen to the lecture to understand why Denver says our current mantra or emphasis on following the prophet, drilled in to Primary children in song and to adults is a false dogma: “The Lord will not allow the Prophet to lead the people astray.” Yes, Denver teaches this is false doctrine and I agree with him. You’ll find it on pages 4-5 of the last lecture.

Connect with Christ Directly – No Intermediary

I know this is a shock and causes a strong reaction among lifelong faithful members of the LDS church. The correct doctrine is we must connect with Christ ourselves. There is no intermediary between us and our Savior. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. A true prophet will invite you to come unto Christ and will do nothing to stand in your way of making that important connection.

Be Competent in the Things of God

I conclude with these words from page 2 of the latest lecture: “The glory of God is intelligence. The ‘rest of the Lord’ is the fullness of His glory, or in other words light and truth. Or in other words, it requires a people who are competent in the things of God, who have an understanding that will reach unto heaven.” I offer you that challenge: Are you competent in the things of God?

Make Your Calling and Election Sure

God bless us all to become so if we not already. Learn how to open the heavens and walk the paths of God. I promise you he is willing to speak with you, to show you His paths, and bring you along on your journey until you are ready to enter into His presence, even in this life. “I exhort you to go on. Continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure.”

The Lord Hastens the Work

In case I wasn’t clear in the post, it is not us that hastens the work. There is nothing we can do that will change the Lord’s timetable other than preparing ourselves by becoming a Zion people, among whom there are no poor, neither poor in goods or poor in spirit. The angels will gather people into groups when they are ready. Zion will not be brought about by an organized institutional effort.

A Serious Denver Snuffer Study Tool

I forgot one more thing I wanted to bring to your attention. Michael C. has created a wonderful set of cross references to all the scriptures used in Denver’s lectures. You can find it at this link: I have perused it and found it to be extremely useful. You can also download it. Take a look. Every book, every paper, every lecture and even every blog post has been indexed. What a work of love. God bless you Michael.


Arguments Against Denver Snuffer

UtahCourtBuildingI do not speak for Denver. He needs no spokesman. Go read his blog. These are simply questions I have been asked since I have done a few reviews on his books over the last year or two. They seem to keep coming up over and over as new people discover my blog and want to know some of these basic facts and my opinions. I always respond – go read his books. But in an effort to make it easy for readers in a time-constrained world, I have put together answers to some of the most common questions that have come up more than once. It would be better if you found them for yourself on his open blog or any of his many books which are for sale in several locations in Utah as well as on Amazon, where I picked up all my copies and where they are still available.

01. What kind of a name is Denver Snuffer? I kid you not, these are some of the comments I have received in private emails or here on my blog. One guy said the first time he read Denver Snuffer (he came here from Reddit), he thought he was a serial killer from the mile high city. Denver is named after his father so all his books have Jr. appended to his name. Yes, that’s his name. Denver was not raised a Mormon. His mother was a Baptist. He was raised in Idaho but joined the LDS Church 40 years ago in 1973. He was excommunicated 40 years later to the day. It’s an easily remembered name isn’t it? I think we will be hearing it more as the years go on. If my calculations are correct, Denver is now either 60 or 61 years of age as of late 2013. So what?

02. Why should I listen to someone who has been divorced? I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. As Denver has shared in his first book, The Second Comforter, he’s just a regular guy, the “least” of the saints. He shares very few things from his personal life. He has shared this one in an effort to point out that unlike the LDS Church, which will not consider a divorced man for a leadership position (see my note below), the Lord does not hold something like divorce against us. Denver has since remarried and is the father of nine children, although that has nothing to do with his message that we each can and should have a personal relationship with the Lord, one in which we receive a personal witness of the Lord’s resurrection, also known as the Second Comforter.

03. Why doesn’t he like to have his picture published with his books? You can find pictures of Denver at various ages on the Internet, but he has made it a practice to make sure promotional material on upcoming talks, lectures or book discussion does not include personal pictures. He continues to state this is because he wants people to concentrate on the message, not on him. He has offered many times in many places in his books and on his blog that the messenger is not as important as the message. Obviously, you can infer from this that he feels he has been given an assignment from the Lord to deliver a message to us that the promises in section 93:1 and other scriptures are literal. He says the Lord wanted him to tell the people that anyone can experience a personal visit from the Lord, be they male or female. Endowment is required but not priesthood. In other words, the Lord does not discriminate his visits to women who qualify themselves.

04. What makes him think he can write a book or give a lecture? Denver is an attorney by trade and thus has some expertise in writing and speaking. My reviews of his books have included something to the effect that he is verbose, tends to repeat himself and can go on and on about a subject at some length. That has been helpful to me in many ways as I have read his books. He will introduce a concept, give an example or two, repeat the concept, explain how the idea can he applied in our lives and then conclude by restating the concept again, always backed up with abundant references to scripture, both modern and ancient as well as words of LDS leaders. Some have criticized his writing style. His first book, The Second Comforter, acknowledges editing contributions of others, which he says makes the message clearer or easier to understand.

05. What special claim does he make that I should listen to him? Denver claims, at least for his first book, that he was asked, perhaps even commanded by the Lord to explain to the LDS people in particular that they can and should seek to obtain the witness of the Second Comforter. From what I can tell the gist of his message is that we have left many of the original teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith behind and either misunderstood or misapplied many scriptures for which he offers clarifications from twenty years of callings as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher in various wards and stakes in which he has lived in the Sandy Utah area. He at one time served on the High Council in that stake and, I am told, held many meetings in his home, in which attendance was similar to when he taught or spoke – always overflowing. People came from miles around to hear him. Yet he continues to say he does not want a following. He wants to bring people unto Christ. In short, he does indeed claim that he was given a message from the Lord for the people.

05. Why would the Lord speak through him and not through the LDS prophet? This is perhaps one of the most oft repeated criticisms I encounter in the comments in the dozen or so essays I have posted on my blog about Denver Snuffer over the past year or two. It’s not one that I am qualified to answer. However, it does not bother me in spite of the fact I know the stories of how the Lord dealt with this in the past through the Doctrine and Covenants. I’m referring to the story of Hiram Page and his white stone in section 28. In verse 6, we read, “And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church. For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.” This scripture has been cited by many as the main reason Denver was excommunicated.

06. A messenger from God would not drive a Harley or use swear words. Yes, Denver drives a Harley, or at least he did in the past. I don’t know if he still does. So what? What does that matter? What gives us the right to judge another man by the kind of vehicle he chooses for transportation? Yes, Denver has been known to let slip a “hell” or “damn” in his lectures, but then so did J. Golden Kimball, so there you go. The idea here is that a prophet or messenger from God should and would conduct himself with decorum, be conservative in his principles and would want to portray himself in an acceptable light, more like the way our current general authorities present themselves in public. I don’t believe I have ever heard Denver call himself a prophet, although the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. He has, however, said he has been given an assignment from the Savior, is His servant and is delivering His message.

07. The church does not want us to listen to excommunicated individuals. This is true. That’s one of the reasons why the Church excommunicates members who go astray. The charge against him was apostasy, although many have tried to make a distinction that what he did was heresy in the way he denigrated the brethren, opposed some of their interpretations of scriptures and history and in short, was less than respectful in his writings and lectures towards those whom we sustain as “prophets, seers and revelators” in the LDS Church. The unusual thing of course is that we would know nothing of Denver’s excommunication if it did not come from his blog. In other words, the church does not now or no longer announces disciplinary actions against former members as it once did. Many members simply will not listen to or read Denver because of this.

08. He is a slick, deceiving anti-Christ. Stay away from men like him. Yes, this argument has been presented in the comments of my blog. Personally, I do not find this statement logical, since Denver, in all he does, as far as I can tell, invites and implores us to come unto Christ, to do all within our power to heed the spirit which leads us unto Christ and prepares us to enter the Savior’s presence. His entire first book was all about the steps we can and should take to come unto Christ. Each subsequent book, up until the last, augmented that message. In fact, the last book, Passing The Heavenly Gift, which is the one that brought about his excommunication, made direct statements about how and why we should come unto Christ, even though they were couched in terms accusing the current LDS church of no longer teaching this doctrine of Joseph.

09. He is just trying to get a following to start a church and get our money. Denver has expressed many, many times he seeks no following, does not want a following, has asked people to not follow him but to seek after the Savior. He has even renamed the widget on his blog to display “readers” instead of “followers.” He has explained to us many times he donates the proceeds of the sales of his books to the LDS Church General Missionary Fund (I assume now through other family members). He at one time also explained the printing of his books was contracted through an individual who depends upon Denver’s books for his livelihood to support his family. If I remember correctly the man was handicapped or could not provide for his family in any other way. Denver is NOT trying to start a church, although he has said we should all seek to become members of the church of the Firstborn, which, as you know, does not have an earthly structure.

10. What makes him different from other apostates who have left the church? First, you will have to decide if you feel comfortable calling him an apostate. I don’t. Others have argued he fits the bill so they have no problem with that. They claim he leads members away from the Prophets and is therefore an apostate. I disagree. He had told us to sustain the Brethren, has taken great pains in sharing his excommunication procedures, including some details behind the scenes in which he wanted his children to know he sustained his bishop and stake president. Of course, there are those who argue if he sustained them, he would have done what his stake president asked by ceasing the publication of his books and cancelling this year’s lecture tour. You can read his response on his blog. I am satisfied in my mind he is no apostate. It is true enough that the church cut him off, but I do not see him as someone like the leader of the Strangites or any of the leaders of the polygamous groups such as Lorin Wooley, Warren Jeffs or Rulon Wells.

11. He seemed belligerent and disobedient as he was being excommunicated. Because he made the documents and some of the background discussion public on his blog, there was much discussion here and on the private discussion groups that he was not being cooperative with the requests of his priesthood leaders. I fact, some went so far as to say by bringing his children to the proceedings he violated their instructions and in effect, “did an end-run” around the process. They considered this mockery. Denver explained his reasoning on his blog. You will have to decide for yourself if he was honoring his wife’s right to revelation as I believe he was or if he was trying to manipulate the proceedings. What does it matter? The end result was the same. He knew the decision had been made before the council was held. I was surprised he decided to attend. He told Peggy Fletcher Stack the Friday before in the Salt Lake Tribune he felt it was a done deal. The decision had been made and his local leaders were only doing as they were told. If anything, perhaps Denver was tired of waiting and wanted the process to be over quickly.

12. Why didn’t he stop publishing PtHG like his Stake President asked? You’ll have to ask him that question if you’re not satisfied with the one he gave on his blog about negating contractual obligations. Personally I’m not sure it would have made a difference. The book is published. It has been available for almost two years. I am certain tens of thousands of copies are out there. I am also certain hundreds have read it. I have received written affidavits from individuals who swear it helped keep them in the church, saved their marriage and caused them to reconsider and understand so much of what they had previously misunderstand and been taught growing up in the church. In short, and in my opinion, Denver did not stop publication of the book because he feels Passing the Heavenly Gift is helpful and is helping people come to grips with what they learned from the official curriculum and what history teaches from documents and witnesses.

13. He has given ammunition to the enemies of the church with his book, PtHG. Yes, I have read this from some of my Facebook friends. I cannot understand this since most everything he wrote about is already available and has long been available in a form much less flattering on the Internet from sites like Mormon Think, Recovery From Mormonism, Post Mormon, New-Order Mormons and many, many anti-Mormon sites. They didn’t need PtHG to find the quotes or the stories they use in their publications and on the Internet. If anything, Denver related the stories with greater factuality, from original sources and drew conclusions that were complementary to the individuals involved. I can think of several examples which he told with sensitivity that belies the brutality of what actually happened. Think of some of the way local bishops ran some of the towns in Southern Utah in the late 1800’s. Think of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Denver did not make up these facts and was not the first to relate them. He wrote them clearly.

14. I prayed about it and the spirit told me not to listen to him or read his books. Then don’t read his books. They are not for everybody. It does require a strong testimony to read some of the things in PtHG. The book was not written for the new member of the church, weak in the faith. If the spirit is telling you to not go to his lectures, then for heaven’s sake, don’t go. If you feel a pre-disposition to be offended or are worried about being led astray by what he might say, then, by all means, stay away. Many people find all the spiritual nourishment they need from the regular meetings of the LDS Church. We are encouraged to study out of the best books. I consider Denver’s books to be some of the best. I have gained so much from them. They have answered so many questions for me and removed so many doubts. Yes, removed doubt, not introduced any new doubts. I also have prayed about Denver books and lectures and feel impressed they will be helpful to me in my regular study of the Mormon faith. I read the scriptures on a regular basis, read the lessons for Sunday school and my High Priest Group but I also read a ton of other LDS books that help me understand this religion including Denver’s.

15. Something changed between his first seven books and his last one – PtHG. Yes I have read this one a lot. Some write he went rogue just before publishing PtHG. They write they can accept all his books before this one but not PtHG. Perhaps something did change. Perhaps he got tired of people not “getting” it, because they were stuck in some false beliefs about our history or about our doctrine. Yes, this is getting into deep territory. We teach that only prophets have the right to interpret scripture and teach official doctrine for our church. You may believe what you like about whatever may have happened to Denver before he wrote PtHG. I for one am grateful he wrote the book. As I stated previously, it helped me resolve many discrepancies I had been taught growing up from the official curriculum and what I later read in the journals and other sources. In any event, it’s a moot point. Denver is excommunicated. You can freely ignore him.

16. Why did he make his summons letter and excommunication notice public? I guess you’ll have to ask him this question. I believe it was to provide a witness of what was happening. Denver is not like the rest of the September Six, for example. His stake president proclaimed in front of his children that Denver was worthy of a temple recommend. The disciplinary council was only about a book – Passing the Heavenly Gift. He and President Hunt are friends. From what I read, President Hunt was willing or perhaps suggested individuals who had questions about what had happened to Denver should read his blog for the detailed explanation. Previously I wrote the church did the right thing by excommunicating Denver. I am no longer so sure. With all his knowledge and background in teaching, could they not have made him a consultant to help those who are struggling with a faith crisis? Trust me there are a lot of them, especially in Utah. Although I see only a little here, I read stories of people resigning from the church every day in Utah. It seems to be the in thing to do as a way of protesting the feeling of being deceived.

17. Doesn’t he teach the ordinances are not the real thing – they’re only symbolic? Yes, he does, at least to my understanding. Denver relates and backs up with scripture we should go to the Lord in prayer after receiving an ordinance specifically to ask the Lord to ratify it and send the promised power described in the ordinance, and I mean every ordinance, including those of the temple. The church is authorized to perform those ordinances but as President Packer taught, there is a big difference between authority and power. Power comes from the Lord and only from the Lord. We need to be taught by the Holy Ghost and then by angels what we must do to receive the power described in the ordinance. The ordinances are earthly representations of heavenly things. I don’t think this is a new or different doctrine. Denver does a great job of teaching and explaining it in a way that helps us understand we have work to do after receiving the ordinance.

18. His book claims there was no succession in the presidency from Joseph Smith. I confess this is one I still don’t understand. I may be totally wrong on this point. My wife and I have had several discussions about this point. You’ll have to read the chapter on succession in the presidency from PtHG to understand what he is trying to explain. I have read it probably half a dozen times now and I confess I still don’t understand. I have read Denver’s statements that he never said the church didn’t have the sealing power, yet he makes a very big deal about how Nephi received the sealing power in the Book of Mormon – only by hearing it from the voice of God. We also used to teach in this church that an apostle’s ordination is not complete until he feels the hands of the Lord upon his heads and hears from the Lord himself that he is ordained as an apostle. He makes a distinction between an administrative apostle and an apostle who is a living witness of the resurrection of the Savior. This is not new. You can read the record for yourself how the charge was given to the apostles until the turn of the 19th century. What power or what Heavenly Gift was being referred to in Denver’s book that so upset the Brethren?

19. Why would he publish such a horrible book that does so much damage to the church? When I was first introduced to the book and read it, I thought to myself, “Finally, someone has written all the things about the church I have found spread out all over the Internet in a way that makes sense, presents facts and wraps them up neatly in a nice bow. The ending didn’t always come out so pretty but that’s because some of our history is ugly. Men and women are imperfect. Our leaders made mistakes. I’ve said it many times, these things can be found all over the Internet in ways that are not complementary to the church. Denver’s book does a good job of explaining them in a better light, even though they are not so desirable. They really did happen. The book is not filled with lies. It is filled with a slightly and sometimes radically different narrative of our history from what we were taught growing up in the church or from the official curriculum. In my mind, it is not a horrible book, but I would only recommend it to my friends who struggle with things they have read on the Internet that contradict what we teach in Sunday school class.

20. He is out of order. He criticizes. It is not his place to tell the Brethren what to do. OK, this is one that I chalk up to Denver being a convert. It’s unheard of to disagree with the official story of our history and then to publish it in a non-academic environment with all the peer-review and weasel-words that allow an essay to be read without offense. There’s no doubt this book offends some people, especially when he uses phrases like “proud descendants of Nauvoo” (he explains that well I think). I could never have done what Denver did in publishing this book. I think he knew when he wrote it that it might cause a few ripples, a few waves and perhaps result in some disciplinary action. In an email he wrote to me six months ago, I think he even had an inkling that he might have to suffer excommunication as a result of publishing Passing the Heavenly Gift. But I’m glad he did and appreciate his courage in doing so. The book has blessed my life.

Denver Snuffer Disciplinary Council

NoticeToAppearFor those who don’t know, Denver Snuffer has been served with a notice to appear before the Stake Presidency and High Council to answer charges of apostasy for the publication of his book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift.” Carol and I just discussed this. I continue to feel that he was not surprised, knew this was coming and, in effect, intended to force the hand of the church.

I have publically written about Denver

I am in somewhat of a difficult position because of the number of articles I have written and posted on my blog, most of them in the form of book reviews. I think it interesting that my post on Monday was originally entitled, “The LDS Church Excommunicates those who Know Christ.” Because of the uproar over the title I changed it to something a bit less offensive.

A Day of Sadness for me

I will not deny I am saddened this day has arrived. If he is excommunicated, it will free him up to say some of the things he wanted to say, similar to what happened to Max Skousen. He has asked that we not call him. He, and especially his family, deserves privacy. None of us know at this time how he will respond to the requirements placed upon him to avoid the council.

Requirements of Stake President

One of the requirements is that he cancels his planned lecture series scheduled to begin next month. His response is evident in that he discusses the need to change recording arrangements. I think it is obvious he is not intending to comply with the requirements of the Stake President. Also, as of this moment, Passing the Heavenly Gift is still available for purchase at Amazon.

My Personal Opinion of Denver’s Work

As far as my personal opinions about the work of Denver Snuffer, they have not changed. I have made it clear how I feel in my book reviews and several other published articles. If Denver is excommunicated, I will now have to answer the below temple recommend question for myself with a little bit more thought. I’ve never had to consider this before – never thought it applied.

The Temple Recommend Question

The question is, “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 always assumed this referred to those who promoted polygamy. As far as I know, Denver does not promote polygamy and has written extensively about it on his blog.

Sympathizer or Supporter

I have lots of friends who have been excommunicated. I have lots of friends who have left the church on their own. That does not mean that I sympathize with their causes. I still want to attend one of Denver’s lectures or at least buy the recordings of each of the lectures. Does that make me a sympathizer or supporter or an apostate if he indeed is disciplined and excommunicated?

PtHG is Apparently Offensive

So it appears it is the publication of Passing the Heavenly Gift that is the issue. My reading of the book simply clarified a whole bunch of crap I had already read on the Internet over the years. It was not new or shocking for me, although I can see how it could be for others who do not read or study church history. But then my opinions do not matter a hill of beans in this particular case.

Placed Church in a Negative Light

According to the posted letter, Denver has “mischaracterized doctrine, denigrated virtually every prophet since Joseph Smith and placed the church in a negative light.” I would hate to sit on the High Council and give my opinion because I would have to disagree with that. The decision belongs to the Stake President. I pray that whatever happens moves the work of God forward.

What Denver Snuffer Teaches

PassingHeavenlyGiftThis essay contains my study notes from chapter one of Passing the Heavenly Gift, written by Denver Snuffer, a Utah attorney and published in 2011. I have read this chapter half a dozen times in the past year, shared it with my wife, looked up the quotes and spent considerable time on my knees trying to understand what Denver is trying to teach. It is controversial material.

“…no one speaks for me. … If I have something to say, I will say it. No one is authorized to speak on my behalf. And no one is entitled to interpret what I think, or how I view any given issue or subject. To the extent that I have a view, I will tell it.” – Denver Snuffer blog entry, dated 20 November 2012 (

OK, maybe we can’t interpret what you think, but we can certainly interpret what you write. I mean, why else would you write so much and offer it for sale, unless you wanted us to read and understand it for ourselves? I share my interpretations online to solidify my own conclusions. The feedback I receive from others helps me understand and correct mistakes in my thinking.

The Right Way to Judge

“If you read this blog without having first read his books, then you assume responsibility for your own misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the writer’s intent. Please do not presume to judge Mr. Snuffer’s intentions if you have not first read his books.” – Denver’s blog header

I have read all of your books, some of them several times, as well as all of your blog. I have listened to your recorded public talks, several times. I don’t presume to judge your intentions. I accept at face value when you wrote the Lord asked you to write your books. Because you made that claim, I paid very close attention as I read your books this year. I took them very seriously.

The Perfect Witness

The Lord does still personally appear to mankind. I am a witness to that fact. He first appeared to me February 13, 2003. I have written a book about the topic. … I know He lives. I have seen and spoken with Him.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 452

This is obviously a profound and unusual claim. I have not seen the Lord. I do not know anybody personally who has, or if they have, they haven’t told me about it. I have not seen an angel either. My testimony and witness is therefore incomplete. I am not a perfect witness. I am but a student, a follower, a disciple of Christ. Why have I not read of other men publishing such a claim today?

Although I’ve been a member of the church all my life and Denver is a convert, clearly I have not learned the lessons that Denver has apparently learned allowing him to converse with the Lord. I’ve read his book on The Second Comforter several times and still haven’t figured it out. I’ve read his latest book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, several times in the past year. Things have not become easier or clearer. I’m evidently still not getting something that he has gotten.

Church does not control Heavenly Power

“Gentiles always crave authority to preside over one another. Gentile authority in the church is not equal to power in the priesthood. … The power of heaven cannot be controlled by men. It comes from heaven or it does not come at all. There has never been an institution entrusted with the power of heaven. … The power of the priesthood comes only one way … men do not have any right to either confer it, or prevent it from being conferred.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, pages 27-28

In other words, the authority exercised by the LDS Church to teach, baptize, ordain, endow and seal does not confer any kind of heavenly power. Although I have been ordained and sealed to my wife in the temple, this did not give me any kind of heavenly power. All the ordinances and ordinations in which I have participated as either a recipient or an officiator have, in reality, done nothing as far as heaven is concerned. They were authorized but did nothing to save souls.

Is he calling the LDS Church a Gentile church, as described in the Book of Mormon? In First Nephi chapter thirteen, we read that the desires of the Gentiles included worldly power, wealth – “gold, silver, silks, scarlets, fine-twined linen, all manner of precious clothing” and “many harlots.” Surely Denver is not saying that the LDS Church falls into this category. The Gentile church is the same as the church of the devil and that he is the founder of it. No, it can’t be, at least not the church I know. I worship and serve in this church. It is filled with good people.

Priesthood Exists Independent of the Church

“Priesthood and redemption are tied together. And if Joseph Smith’s revelations are to be trusted, then the church does not and cannot control either, because God controls both. Establishing the church was distinct from restoring priesthood. And priesthood has, can and does exist independently of a church. Joseph’s revelations and ancient scripture repeatedly teach this.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 29

I wonder how many people in the LDS Church really understand and accept this idea. Priesthood power is not the same as priesthood ordination or office. We’re taught this all the time but usually in the context of, “Brethren, if you live righteously, you will have power, because you have been ordained by someone in authority,” implying that the church controls that power. In other words, any Godly power we receive must come through official church channels, right?

We are taught that the church could not exist without the priesthood. Yet we read in section twenty of the Doctrine and Covenants that church offices and officers exist to serve the members. Those called or sustained to such offices receive their authority from the voice of the members though common consent. We sustain them, we “set them apart,” we promise to uphold them in their offices and callings. All this is not dependent on priesthood? How so?

Priesthood Received only Directly from God

“Joseph Smith taught that all Old Testament prophets who obtained higher priesthood during the dispensation of Moses, did so by receiving it directly from God. In the Book of Mormon we learn there is a ‘holy order’ which is ‘without beginning of days’ which some obtained ‘from the foundation of the world’ and brought here. The higher priesthood does not come from man or men, is without father or mother, and is only given one way: by the voice of God to the individual.” Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 31

Now this is very contrary to what the church teaches today. I’ve been a member of this church all my life and never have I been told that I must go and talk to the Lord to get priesthood power. In fact, those who claim they have talked to the Lord are looked upon as crackpots in our church. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but it doesn’t seem to be part of our current curriculum. We are taught that priesthood power is conferred by the laying on of hands by one in authority.

Ordination is only an Invitation

“Priesthood power is clearly something different than an ordination. But it is clear the only thing an ordination accomplishes is to invite the one ordained to then connect to heaven. It is from heaven alone that priesthood power is obtained.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 33

When I was interviewed by my stake president at age eighteen to be ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood, he was very careful to review with me the oath and covenant of the priesthood. We also reviewed several other sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. When he was satisfied I understood the seriousness of what was involved, he signed my recommend.

I was sustained in the next Stake Conference and ordained that afternoon by my father. But never did he teach me that it was now up to me to go and complete my ordination to receive power directly from Christ. In fact, in all the intervening years I have never heard this from any priesthood leader, local or general, and I have served in church leadership for most of my life.

Power of Heaven not Conferred

“Power comes from heaven alone. Therefore, no person who has priesthood conferred upon them has any power prior to having it ratified by heaven. The conferral is only an invitation for a man to go obtain power from heaven, not actual power itself. It confers an office within the church, but an office in the church is not synonymous with the power of heaven.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 33

So, even after having been ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood over thirty-seven years ago, I still have no real power, because it has never been ratified from heaven by the voice of God. I only received an invitation to go see God. How come nobody ever told me that? The office of High Priest that I hold today and have for seventeen years is only an office in the church, and does not really have any spiritual significance as far as God is concerned. How can that be?

Ordinances not the Real Thing

“Most of the ordinances of the church are not the real thing. They are types, symbols of the real thing. They are official invitations, authorized by Christ… Any person who has priesthood conferred upon him will need to go into God’s presence, and receive it through the veil for power in their priesthood.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 36

Wow. That’s the first time I’ve ever read that the ordinances of the church aren’t real. I wonder what he means by “most.” Are there some ordinances that are real? It’s nice that he teaches the ordinances are authorized. That’s good to know Denver believes the church has authority. He makes direct reference to the veil ceremony of the temple. It is apparently only a type or symbol of the actual veil. I wonder where that veil is. Are we supposed to go through it before death?

Temple Endowment a Practice Run

The church and its ordinations and ordinances does not confer power. They invite the recipient to press forward into God’s presence and receive Him, where the actual endowment of peace, joy, promises of eternal life, and power are conferred by Him who as the right to bestow them. The keeper of that gate is the Holy One of Israel, and He employs no mortal servant there.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 36

That is an amazing proclamation, that the ordinances do not confer power, but are only symbols or invitations to go and get power. I think of the ordinances in the temple, including the sealing ordinance, and wonder if Denver meant that there is no power or efficacy in that sacred rite. In effect, he is saying that the sealers in the temple are doing nothing more than saying nice words. Until Christ speaks and ratifies them, the ordinances have no efficacy in our lives or in eternity.

So the endowment is not the “actual” endowment as he points out, only a practice run, so to speak. Where are we to participate in the actual endowment – in our homes, or also in the temple? I wonder how many people have received the “actual” endowment while mortal. I wonder if I know any of them. Are they different afterwards? Is life easier, better somehow? By “promises of eternal life” I assume he means having your calling and election made sure.

Come and Receive the Lord

“Whether or not there is any person in the church with priesthood power, every person who joins the church, and keeps its ordinances will be invited, through those ordinances, to come and receive the Lord. When they do come into His presence, they will find themselves in possession of promises, rights, privileges, power and covenants for themselves and their posterity, for all generations, and into eternity.” – Passing the Heavenly Gift, page 37

Hmmm…sounds familiar. What promises? What rights? What privileges? What power? Are we talking about the right to open the heavens at will, on demand, when desired? Doesn’t that go contrary to everything we’ve been taught that spiritual experiences can’t be forced, that they come when God wills it and not man?

Do we then have the right “To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto [us], to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant?”

Summary and Conclusion

I confess all this is beyond my current capacity to understand. I’ve always believed that all these promises in the Doctrine and Covenants are for after this life. I don’t know anybody who talks about having communed with the church of the Firstborn other than as part of a polygamous sect. As far as I have been taught, these kinds of promises are reserved for after this life and are not a part of mortality. Apparently Denver is teaching that they are for us to strive for in this life.

And apparently he is teaching that this is what Joseph taught, but that the current LDS Church has changed the doctrine and strayed from the ordinances as restored by Joseph. That’s quite a claim, but from what I’ve read in his books, it’s an accurate summary. He is saying that the LDS church, while still authorized to teach the gospel and administer the ordinances, does not have the power to save souls. That belongs only to the Lord. We receive salvation only from Christ.

An Invitation to Dialog

For anyone else who has read Denver’s book, what are your thoughts on the first chapter?


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