Max Skousen Excommunicated Twice


MaxSkousen2Please don’t take offense at the title. It is sensational on purpose but I think factual. Read on to see why. Note: I changed the title from the original because so many people wrote to say they found it offensive. It was not my intention to offend. The original title was: “The LDS Church Excommunicates those who Know Christ” The next week Denver Snuffer was summoned to a disciplinary counsel and was eventually excommunicated. He was one who wrote a book about the Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.”

Some Controversial Writers

I have been reading Max Skousen. You know, the Max Skousen who was excommunicated twice for writing about Christ. It made me think about Mel Fish, my friend from Cedar City who was excommunicated for writing about Christ. As I pondered further, I thought of my LTM branch president, George Pace, who was released as a Stake President for writing about Christ, Finally, I thought of Denver Snuffer, who is under church investigation for his recent books on the Savior.

Remove the Condemnation

What is going on in our church? Why are we forcing men out who want to bring us to Christ? I have read the works of these men and can say without reservation that each of them have been sincere and have gone to great lengths in their labors to teach us how we can come unto Christ. It is not an easy thing to write a book, let alone several of them as some have done, in their efforts to help us remove the condemnation we are under for esteeming lightly the Book of Mormon.

Church Teaches Come Unto Christ

This concerns me. On the one hand, I have been taught all my life from General Authorities, Bishops, Stake Presidents, Gospel Doctrine Teachers, and just about anyone who teaches in this church that if we will but come to know, love, follow and emulate Christ, we will be blessed, we will be happy, and we will be able to help the rest of the world by our example. I have tried to live this principle all my life. My number one goal is to come unto Christ. Always has been.

We Need to Know The Savior

Something is wrong here, or so it seems to me. Have I simply chosen a few poor examples in my list above? These are men whose writings have affected me deeply. I have met and interviewed some, and have prayed about each of them and their writings. Now, to be sure, I am also affected by the words of the men we sustain in this church as prophets, seers and revelators, sometimes very deeply, especially when they teach of the Savior. Aren’t we all supposed to know Christ?

Looking Beyond the Mark

I think the problem is that these men I mentioned above, and you can read about each of them in the links I have provided as I have written about them previously, have gone beyond what the Brethren felt comfortable in letting them share. Does that sound strange? It does to me. It seems to smack of controlling or restraining in some way, something I find distasteful. It makes me ask, of what are they afraid? What do they fear these men have taught or are trying to teach us?

A Blessing Hitherto Unknown

Take Max Skousen for example. He passed away in 2002, but you can read his books on the blog dedicated to his works, with links to Scribed, where they are stored. I have only read a few of his essays and the first few chapters of Looking Beyond the Mark, the first in his series of books, A Blessing Hitherto Unknown. In it he describes how he was inspired by President Benson who invited us to remove the condemnation of pride and unbelief from ignoring the Book of Mormon.

Disciplined for Doctrinal Writings

Max simply expounded that. I read no further than a few pages before I had to know about the man and what motivated him. That’s when I discovered he had been excommunicated twice for writing his books. The pattern became obvious. Each time the Lord has led me to read the works of someone who teaches about the Savior in greater depth than what we find in our curriculum, I discover they have been disciplined in some way or form. Thus I write this post, wondering why.

Tree of Life not Tree of Knowledge

From what I have been able to discover so far, Max teaches us about the differences between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. Oh, how quickly I was able to relate. I have been seeking new and revelatory experiences every day at the tree of knowledge, when all along, I should have been pursuing my way to the tree of life, clinging to the iron rod until I fell down at the presence of the tree to partake of the fruit, which the Lord promises we can taste and even have in this life.

Investment in Denver Snuffer Books

I have only just started reading Max’s works. I am so pleased that someone has gone to great trouble to place them on the Internet where I can find and read them for free. I do not have to buy them like I did when I wanted to read what Denver Snuffer has written. I don’t mind. I suppose I have invested well over $200 in Denver’s books, but I wanted to have them in my library. Some I have read multiple times, and others I am still reading, like Removing the Condemnation.

I Remember a Great Teacher George Pace

I read George Pace’s book many, many years ago, went to many of his lectures, and received personal counsel from him just as I was starting my mission. I’ll always remember his focus on the Savior, and how he KNEW we could have a personal, sacred, and sustaining relationship with him that would give us strength throughout our lives. I was devastated when I later read what happened to him and his family all because he dared teach what he taught about Christ.

Learn About Mel and Gwena Fish

I’ve written previously how I was led to meet with Mel Fish, a man who I am convinced knows the Savior better than anyone I have ever met. If someone were to ask me if I knew anyone who had their calling and election made sure, Mel and Gwena Fish would be the first couple to come to mind. The sprit witnessed to my soul how much the Lord loved Mel and Gwena and just how much he appreciated what they were doing to help people cast off the influence of the adversary.

Conquering Spiritual Evil

By the way, two other other individuals come to mind who have done so much to help people free themselves from the adversary and were persecuted by their church leaders for doing so. One is Doug Mendenhall, who wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil, and my friend Jan Graf who was somewhat of a mentor to me in first learning about communicating with our subconscious mind, although I learned his techniques second-hand and modified through one of his students.

Denver Snuffer Lecture Series

Anyone who has read my blog for the last year and half knows how I was introduced to Denver Snuffer and his writings, as well as the subsequent change in my life as a result of what I learned, and am still learning, from his books. I still hope to make it to one of his seminars in Utah next year. I’m certain I won’t be able to go to his Idaho or Northern Utah lectures anytime this year. I have some very specific questions I want to ask Denver why some teach evil spirits can repent.

Men Persecuted for Publishing Truth

The point of this post is this, and it’s more of a question for those who are my regular readers, if I have any left after being dropped by most LDS blog aggregators for being too controversial. I have felt led to read the works of these men I have mentioned. Their books have thrilled me. They have fed my soul. Reading them have been spiritual experiences, akin to reading scripture. Why is it that these men are persecuted by our church when their writings ring so true with me?

Go Where the Spirit Leads

I have to ask: Am I out of touch? Am I out of line with the General Authorities? Are we or are we not taught by our leaders to seek after Christ, to learn of Him, to come to know him and to emulate Him? Why do I feel that the Lord has lead me to the writings of these brethren I have mentioned in this blog? Is it because the writings of these men represent the meat of the gospel? Is what they write too much, too controversial for the general membership of the church today?

Just Your Basic Everyday Mormon

I don’t feel I’m anybody special. I’ve always said, “I’m just a regular member of the church.” I have no special influence. I am a lowly assistant stake clerk. I like to stay behind the scenes. I gladly accept speaking or teaching in church when asked but I ALWAYS teach ONLY what is in the approved curriculum. I do not deviate unless the spirit directs. I like to think I serve faithfully. I love this church. I love my brethren and sisters. I am your basic everyday common Mormon.

An Effort to Control Publishing

I’ll leave it at that. Some will respond that I have been and am being misled. It happens almost every time I write about Denver Snuffer. My counter is always, “That’s not what the spirit has been whispering to my soul.” Is it at all possible that there is some sort of cover-up or rather an attempt to control, to constrain and to tightly correlate what private members write and publish? If so, how can they expect to do that in today’s Internet world? We can publish anything today.

My Faith Discovery Journey

I’ve been blogging and working on an LDS-themed book for years. My wife just beat me to the punch and published her first book. I’ve watched her journey go in an entirely different direction than where she thought she wanted to go. I can say the same thing for me. I started out wanting to ONLY write faith-promoting, toe-the-line LDS explanations that mirrored the official line of reasoning for every controversial and questionable doctrine or practice. I feel like John Dehlin.

Finding Spiritual Fulfillment

John is much smarter and much more prominent in the LDS blogging world than I am but where I am today is not at all where I expected to be six years ago when I started thinking about adding my voice to the LDS blogging community. I don’t question the right of the leaders of our church to lead. I sustain them. I pray for them. I love them. But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church.

Controversy Always Gets Attention

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not leaving. Where would I go? I also fully recognize feeding my soul is my own responsibility. That’s why I seek out and feel led to the writings of the men I mention at the top of this post. I just can’t figure out why these same men, whose writings I find so very rewarding and fulfilling, can be at odds with those who lead our church today. Is it a made-up controversy? Everyone knows strong opinions and debate generate interest. Maybe that’s it.

General Membership Don’t Read

Maybe the brethren are disciplining and excommunicating these men in order to bring attention to their works, so the members will sit up, take notice and make some effort to find out what all the hullabaloo is all about. Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it? I’m kidding. I really doubt that. But if you can tell me why I am led to find such spiritual satisfaction from the writings of these men who are or have been disciplined for what they have written, I would greatly appreciate you clueing me in.

Looking for Informed Opinions

That is, of course, if you know what you’re talking about, have read some of their works and can advise me with an educated opinion. I dislike reading some of the comments that start out, “I’ve never read a thing Denver Snuffer has written, but I can tell you if you don’t stop reading what he has published, you’re going to lose your church membership and then you’ll be sorry.” But I have a much higher opinion of my readers than that. Send me a private email if you prefer.

You can Reach me Privately

And, as always, thanks for reading my blog. I hope what I share is helpful and gets us thinking. I can be reached privately at tmalonemcse @ gmail.com if you prefer, but why not share your insights with others in the comments? I always respond to private emails, even if it sometimes takes me a few weeks. I appreciate the hundreds of readers who have reached out to me privately for help or discussion. I welcome all, public or private and ask only for thoughtful discourse. God bless.

93 Responses

  1. As far as I know, the public shaming of President Pace was not directed by the FP and 12 as a whole, but was one apostle who felt inspired to say those unkind things. That apostle was known for making other statements as if they were authoritative when they were on matters as to which the FP and 12 were not in agreement and had not unitedly authorized him to speak.

    I cannot speak to the others. I have not read their works. I know Denver because we were in law school at the same time, though different classes. I liked and respected him then, and know of no reason to change that.

    There are back stories on what happened to the September 6. I don’t think those actions were coordinated by the FP and 12 as a group, but likely by certain individuals without clearance from others.

    It is said that those who like sausage and laws should not learn too much about how they are actually made.

    I think the same is true about religion and religious institutions, including our own. It is a pretty common saying that someone should never take a job with the Church unless s/he has a very strong testimony, because it is easy to become disillusioned as an employee with daily contact with the actual day-to-day operations of the Church.

    If the Church really intends to make an authoritative statement or disavowal of any of those teachings, I think it would do so clearly. (In that sense Elder McConkie was kind by making a public disavowal, rather than instituting disciplinary proceedings. The problem was that what he thought was false doctrine was not seen as such by the others in the 12 and FP).

    I would treat those books the same way you treat other uncorrelated books. Sort of the way the Lord counseled Joseph Smith about the Apochrypha–to seek the spirit to distinguish between what was true and what was not in those writings. And God’s counsel to seek learning from the best books.

    I do think that the standard works are valuable as “standards” against which to measure things we read in other materials. And of course our God given ability to reason is part of the evaluation.

    I have plenty of heterodox beliefs or nonbeliefs that wouldn’t make it through the correlation committee. I am likely wrong on some and perhaps right on others. All any of us can do is, like Joseph Smith, seek truth and good with reason, study, prayer meditation. And then do the best we can, by our best lights. I believe God blesses us as we do so.

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    • “I would treat those books the same way you treat other uncorrelated books. Sort of the way the Lord counseled Joseph Smith about the Apochrypha–to seek the spirit to distinguish between what was true and what was not in those writings. And God’s counsel to seek learning from the best books.”
      David, I was especially drawn to the above quote in your reply. This is the guidance that I follow, too, as from “day one”, my life as a LatterDay Saint convert has never been typical or orthodox. Good points.

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  2. Well-said, Tim. I’ve been wondering the same kinds of things lately. This bit really got to me, though: “I don’t question the right of the leaders of our church to lead. I sustain them. I pray for them. I love them. But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church.”

    I’m at that point, too. (And if anyone who knows me happens to read this, that’s not conduct unbecoming of a member of the church. ;o) I can go an entire three-hour block at church, and only hear the name of the Savior mentioned at the end of the prayers. :o( And on a good Sunday, three scriptures from any part of the standard works read aloud (not including the sacrament prayers). On a poor day, the sacrament prayers are the only scripture I hear. The only Word of the Lord.

    I’m also working through why it is that I’ve grown so much in my relationship to my God through the things I’ve learned from Christians wholly unconnected to the LDS Church. (You want to learn about relationship with Christ? I know two pastors who you would LOVE to talk to. Amazing people.)

    Keep writing. Keep thinking. I feel like the disciplinary actions you mentioned are the battles of an inter-generational conflict that began with the September Six, and are in its last gasp now. Leadership can ex whoever they like (really, due to the “unbecoming conduct” clause), as that’s part of the power they hold as leaders in a private corporate organization. And, even though it can be devastating to those targeted, I bear them no ill will. Like you, I love the leaders of our church. I pray for them. I sustain them as the Holy Ghost directs. I’m just so, so glad that no man has the power to separate me from Christ.

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    -Romans 8:35-39, NLT

    Hallelujah! :o)

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  3. (Sorry–I forgot about WordPress and smileys. I meant 😦 and 🙂 . . . lol)

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  4. Tim, you make the following comment, “But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church.”

    Would you be interested to know that Isaiah prophesied that this would be the condition of His Church in the last days? Go read Avraham Gileadi’s fascinating explanations of Isaiah’s mysteries at http://www.isaiahexplained.com.

    In particular, go read his analysis of Isaiah 28(http://www.isaiahexplained.com/isaiah_ch_28.html#_0C). Isaiah refers to this watered down tripe that we get in church as “vomit” on the table. This is a bit long, but I think your readers will be interested:

    28:7 These too have indulged in wine
    and are giddy with strong drink:
    priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor.
    They are intoxicated with wine
    and stagger because of strong drink;
    they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions.
    28:8 For all tables are filled with vomit;
    no spot is without excrement.

    As the political and ecclesiastical leaderships of God’s people appear on a par (cf. Isaiah 3:2–4; 9:14–16; 24:2), so Ephraim’s “fat proud ones” (vv 1, 4) include its “priests” (kōhēn), prophets” (nābî), and “seers” (roᐣeh) (cf. Isaiah 56:10–12). Intoxicated with the wine of self-deception (cf. v 15), they “stray” (šāgû), “err” (tā û), and “blunder” (pāqû). Instead of obtaining revelation from God (cf. vv 9, 14, 16, 26, 29), they water down his word until it is ineffectual (cf. vv 10–13). Their spiritual feasts offer only “vomit” (qîᐣ)—partly digested food regurgitated for God’s people to consume.

    28:9 Whom shall he give instruction?
    Whom shall he enlighten with revelation?
    Weanlings weaned from milk,
    those just taken from the breast?
    28:10 For it is but precept upon precept,
    precept upon precept,
    measure by measure, measure by measure;
    a trifle here, a trifle there.

    Although God wants to give his people “instruction” (dē â) and “revelation” (šěmû â), they are but babes and sucklings who haven’t developed enough to digest more than milk. Their mode of learning God’s word is still “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, measure by measure, measure by measure; a trifle here, a trifle there” (ṣaw lāṣāw ṣaw lāṣāw qaw lāqāw qaw lāqāw
    zě îr šām zě îr šām). Assonance and alliteration parody their rote method of learning by parroting their leaders: “Everyone who uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:13).

    28:11 Therefore, by incomprehensible speech
    and a strange tongue
    must he speak to these people,
    28:12 to whom he said, This is rest; let the weary rest!
    This is a respite! But they would not listen.

    The lesser portion of God’s word proves insufficient to save “these people” (hā ām hazzeh)—God’s alienated people—from being slain and taken captive by their enemies (cf. vv 13, 22). The only way left for God to speak to his people that will cause them to repent is through the “incomprehensible speech” (lā ǎgê ́sāpâ) and “strange tongue” (lāšôn ᐣaḥeret) of the invading Assyrians. Assuming that the lesser law they labor under is the whole law, God’s people who have grown “weary” (āyēp) from it reject God’s “rest” (měnûḥâ) and “respite” (margē â) that embody a higher law.

    28:13 So to them the word of Jehovah remained:
    Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
    measure by measure, measure by measure;
    a trifle here, a trifle there, that,
    persisting, they might lapse into stumbling
    and break themselves,
    become ensnared and be taken captive.

    Instead of receiving a greater portion of the “word of Jehovah” (děbar-yhwh) through divine revelation, the people of Ephraim are ensconced in its lesser portion. The end result is their destruction: “Sanctify Jehovah of Hosts, making him your fear, him your awe. And [to you] he will be a sanctuary, but to the two houses of Israel a stumbling block or obstructing rock, and a snare, catching unawares the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many will stumble into them, and when they fall shall be broken, and when they become ensnared shall be taken captive” (Isaiah 8:13–15; cf. 5:13; 42:18–25).

    28:14 Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, you scoffers
    who preside over these people in Jerusalem.
    28:15 You have supposed, by taking refuge in deception
    and hiding behind falsehoods,
    to have covenanted with death,
    or reached an understanding with Sheol, that,
    should a flooding scourge sweep through the earth,
    it shall not reach you.

    By seeking “refuge in deception” (kāzāb maḥsēnû) instead of in God (cf. Isaiah 4:6; 25:4), and by “hiding behind falsehoods” (baššeqer nistārnû) instead of accepting the truth (cf. Isaiah 9:15; 32:6), Ephraim’s leaders rely on their own counsel as epitomized by a “covenant with death” (běrît et-māwet). Having turned into “scoffers” (ᐣanšê lāṣôn) of God’s word, they think to escape the “flooding scourge”—the king of Assyria/Babylon, God’s agent of death (cf. v 2; Isaiah 8:7–8). Rejecting God’s Covenant of life (cf. Isaiah 55:3), they end up in “Sheol” (šěᐣôl )—Hell or the spirit prison.

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    • Our missionaries are now instructed to give “milk before meat”. This has alarmed me from the beginning. It Joseph Smith and the early Saints were passing around “meat” why should I look forward to “milk”?

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    • This is awesome. Thank you!

      Mormon and Nephi wrote and prophesied about the same things. I was amazed, during the last quarter of last year’s Book of Mormon study for Gospel Doctrine, the things that Mormon wrote . . . they truly opened my eyes, and brought me so much closer to my God.

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  5. Tim,
    Have you read Max Skousens “Temple Book”? I would like to hear your thoughts if you have. Thanks for your blog. It is honest and shows you are a seeker.

    I personally have determined to spend as much time in the scriptures and reading conference talks as I do “controversial” authors. I think you have to be careful and listen to the Spirit and pray for the gift of discernment. Is it possible to become addicted to the tantilizing feeling of excitment when a new idea that is a little controversial is discovered. And then start thinking, ” why isn’t this taught over the pulpit” and become unsatisfied and critical with the things we hear in church? We become like the the Athenians which Paul said in Acts 17:21 ((For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.)

    I can read one Neal Maxwell talk and feel strenghthened in my resolve to keep my convenants and draw closer to the Lord. When I do that the evidence in my life that he has drawn near to me is overpowering. I feel “grounded, rooted, and settled.” If I go to church and listen for the message I am suppose to hear that day, I always do hear it no matter how unpolished it is delivered. If I work on one imperfection that has been revealed to me through a talk or lession the Lord is aware of my efforts and I am blessed. That is exciting to me, to pierce the veil everyday and know the Lord is aware of my efforts.

    It is easy to become distracted by controversial ideas and forget that the work we are here to do is to repent and refine our own souls so we are worthy to be like and with Christ. If we are looking for something sensational and new all the time we may miss the more important message the still small voice is sending. It is sending critical life saving messages on how to improve our own character and over come the flesh.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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    • I don’t think Tim was saying that he never learned anything at all from church. He said he wasn’t getting “the spiritual food that fulfills my soul” from church.

      Big difference there.

      Church SHOULD be the place we come away from overflowing with spiritual nourishment. It SHOULD be the place where the Holy Spirit descends in the rushing of a great wind, angels are seen, and we go back into the world changed and empowered to do God’s work in miraculous, powerful ways.

      If that kind of thing can’t happen when the saints gather together then where on earth can it happen? Matthew 18:20 comes to mind: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The pattern Jesus set in His life was to let ALL come right up unto Him. Touch Him. Hear Him. He didn’t keep Himself locked away from the masses, and send down messages through intermediaries and sycophants.

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      • I also differ in that I don’t believe a personal relationship with Jesus Christ could be called new, sensational, controversial or a distraction. And what on earth could be more important than knowing our Savior personally? That’s why He came to earth. To save us . . . and in order to do that, we have to know Him. And that it’s something that absolutely should be taught over the pulpit. Every week. Every talk. Every prayer. ALL of it should have that focus . . . to bring us closer to Christ, to foster our personal relationship with Him.

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  6. I really like Janet’s reply. I have felt something similar as I have counseled with the Lord. I have come to a similar conclusion to give equal time to foundational material and deeper content. I don’t think either should be ignored. There is great wisdom in finding balance between the two.

    Why are these men persecuted? Shouldn’t all of us expect to be persecuted for bearing true testimony of Christ? It’s unfortunate that often that persecution comes from within the Church. But it shouldn’t be surprising if, as you point out, that very institution that is under condemnation.

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  7. Here is what the general authorities have taught about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    http://scripturalteachings.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/developing-a-personal-relationship-with-jesus-christ/

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  8. A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many.

    – Elder Neil L. Anderson “Trial of your Faith,” October 2012 General Conference

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  9. I understand what you are are trying to get at. You look at these excommunications as persecution. I have not read all of these books. I am sure that most have great insight and perhaps descent and accurate insights. I do know a little (emphasis on little) about George Pace. I was a student in one of his classes. He was inspirational and motivational. I was in the mission field when I heard about his public dressing down at a BYU devotional. What I heard was all hearsay. But here is what I do know and I suspect that what happened to Bro. Pace may be similar to these others that you mentioned. I simply offer my observation of this one situation and I suspect that it may apply to the others.

    The people you have described are not the first LDS scholars to be excommunicated nor will they be the last. Since the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored, there have been scholars and a number of those scholars set themselves up to be prophets in their own right. There can only be one president and the FP and the 12 are tasked with maintaining the doctrine for the whole church. And it is incumbent on the church members to always remember that. I am not implying that you do not recognize that but speaking in general terms.

    In the case of Bro. Pace, and I would not be surprised the the same was true for the others that you mentioned, he had invested a significant amount of time in developing a personal relationship with the Savior and espoused that in his writings and in his classes. He shared his own personal journey. There is no doubt that he has a firm testimony from experiences. He shared his testimony and methods often. It touched many people in profound ways. So much so that he had an almost cult following. I was one of 600-700 students in just one of his many classes. It was next to impossible to get in his class but somehow as a freshman I got in. Bro. Pace was simply sharing his personal experience of his personal journey. There was a significant number of his students almost deified him. They were becoming zealots in following his path. I don’t believe that Bro. Pace sought this nor necessarily encouraged this but it was most certainly the reality. Nevertheless, there were a significant number of young students that tried to emulate What Bro. Pace said he did and some took what he said he did to extremes. The belief of “if some is good them more is better” led some people into divers places. Bro. Pace said he prayed 5 hours per day to achieve his personal relationship with the Savior. He climbed a mountain to his personal prayer spot every day. Now you have students trying to top that and losing all touch with reality. Also keep in mind that some of these fanatics may have never even been in any of his classes or read his books but only got their information second or third hand from others who had. Now put yourself in the position of church leadership who have to deal with these issues and people.

    (now I will generalize without knowing the facts of these other authors cases simply to add a different perspective)

    I think that what may be at issue is that people take the personal insight of these individuals who have invested a great deal of time to gain great personal insight and testimony and when it is shared with people that have not invested the time and energy as they have that they unwittingly set themselves up as prophets and authors of church doctrine that are not authorized to do so. That they too get cult like followings of people. That is not to say that what they have learned is necessarily inaccurate or untrue but that it has not come through authorized channels. And when you get a following of people that take your insight and start teaching it as church doctrine, then the church and you have a problem. Furthermore, we do not know the full extent of the proceedings of the disciplinary counsels nor the counseling that took place prior, during or subsequent to the disciplinary action. So it is inappropriate comment on them with such little knowledge.

    So I don’t believe it is a matter of persecution as you have presented it. It is a matter of keeping unity, proper order and proper perspective. We should not be deterred in our quest to become like the Savior and seek our personal exaltation. Nor should we view or espouse the insights of these individuals as church doctrine. But it is not to say it is not worthy of thoughtful consideration.

    That is my 2 cents worth to add to the conversation.

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  10. If the General Authorities see themselves filling a role similar to the Catholic Magisterium which would make them the ultimate connection to- and arbitrators of- the truth–then yes, you may be out of touch, Tim. If you take the Savior and Joseph Smith at their word, however, and embrace truth whereever you find it–you’re probably right on the mark and doing us all a favor!

    Your post brings to mind Rock Waterman’s explorations of the corporate Church and Damon Smith’s book on Correlation and the corporate Church. Bruce R. McConkie bringing the smackdown on Eugene England comes to mind as well. Sadly, despite England’s humble attempts to reconcile with Elder McConkie, McConkie continued his rough, holier-than-thou treatment of Brother England to the point that England devleoped PTSD and passed away from a brain tumor.

    It would be one thing if McConkie’s title were ‘Cardinal’ but there’s a sadness to him believing he was the arbiter of truth in the gospel that Joseph Smith restored. McConkie’s self delusion was truly breathtaking. It brings to mind the tale of ‘Mormon Doctrine’–how he took it upon himself without counseling with his fellow apostles or even President McKay to define what everything means. The man seems to have been in love with the power of his mind at the expense of actually following the Savior. Yes, he undoubtedly has or will bath the Savior’s feet with his tears but only after doing so seeking forgiveness from the likes of George Pace and Eugene England.

    Do persist, Tim. How is your book about the end of days coming?

    Rock Waterman on the corporate Church: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-corporatism-has-undermined-and.html

    An interview with Daymon Smith on Mormon Stories: http://mormonstories.org/149-152-daymon-smith-on-correlation-the-corporate-lds-church-and-mammon/
    – also on By Common Consent: http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/03/03/correlation-an-uncorrelated-history-part-1-the-mormon-underground/

    An interview with Dan Wotherspoon on the remarkable Eugene England: http://mormonstories.org/281-284-eugene-england%E2%80%99s-life-and-legacy/

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  11. I have liked much of what you’ve written over time, Tim, but I disagree strongly with the title and spirit of this post. I don’t like every excommunication that has happened in our church history, and I lean toward that action only as a last resort, but I also have HUGE issues, for example, with the way Denver Snuffer and Bro. Pace preach(ed) their message and, in my opinion, distort(ed) horribly a few of the core aspects of what I believe to be the overall message of the Atonement.

    I’m not going to go into details here, but I will say that I believe this post is way out of line in its claims.

    Like

    • Hi Ray,

      I accept your rebuke. It is obvious, based on several of the Facebook comments, where most of the early dialog on this post has taken place, that the title was offensive to many. Nevertheless, I felt inspired as I put it in place after having written the post. Perhaps the inspiration was from the wrong source. I offered my reasoning on Facebook, and for what it’s worth, I’ll repeat it here: Stories don’t get read unless they have headlines that draw the readers in. As I thought about it last night, the headline is factual and I knew it would draw people into the story.

      I do indeed have friends who have been excommunicated for what they taught about Christ. The new example I discovered about Max Skousen simply added to my feeling that many of those who dig deeply to understand the atonement and then attempt to teach it as best they comprehend it have been disciplined by the church, some ultimately in excommunication. However, just as I did over on Facebook, I offer my apologies to those who were offended by the title, which now seems to be poor because it makes one think the church does terrible things to believers in Christ.

      Let’s put the George Pace issue behind us on this. He has said he was wrong, he repented, he apologized, he changed his book and he went on to finish an honorable career teaching an additional seventeen years at BYU. As far as I know he still lives in Provo, would probably be an 85 year old man now and deserves his privacy. He did a lot of good. Many people love him for his influence in their lives. I happen to be one of them. He influenced me profoundly in my youth and I will be forever grateful. He taught me how central Christ should be in our lives.

      Yes, Denver Snuffer is divisive. He constantly reminds people he has no spokesman. He does not need me to defend him and I do not speak for him in any way. I am just a lowly reader of books. I like to write about what I read and share observations. The theme of the post was clear – I think you and most others got it – we as a church have excommunicated some who have gone out and on their own authority, written or taught what they felt were things the Lord wanted them to write or teach. Max Skousen, Mel Fish and Denver Snuffer are prime examples. As far as I know, Denver has not been disciplined, but has said he is under investigation by the church.

      So I agree with you that the title was offensive. I am sorry. May I defend the spirit of the post? Why, yes, Tim, you may, since this is your blog, you can write whatever you want. That doesn’t mean anyone will read it. I also have a great dislike for disciplinary counsels. I hope to never serve in one again. I dislike, no, despise excommunication and what it does to a man or woman. In my experience, it has been more men by far that have been excommunicated than women. I hate the way it affects their lives and that of their families for so many years and in so many ways. There is a great stigma attached in our church with being excommunicated for whatever reason – be it for breaking the law of chastity or for teaching false doctrine or for whatever.

      Since we’ve put aside the spirit of how I addressed what happened to George Pace, I ask that we do so now with the way I presented the discipline of Mel Fish, since most people don’t know him anyway. That leaves us with Denver Snuffer since I’ve only started to read Max Skousen. I’ll say this at the outset: I have learned more about the atonement of Jesus Christ by reading what Denver Snuffer has said on the subject than I have learned from any other source excluding personal revelation of the Holy Ghost to me as I have prayed about it. Perhaps he stepped beyond what the Brethren would say is appropriate when he taught that the atonement came in waves. You can read that in his book, “Come, Let us Adore Him.” I had never considered that before.

      My impression was that the atonement was hour after hour of constant barrage by the adversary and his followers as they were allowed to inhabit his mortal tabernacle for a few moments at a time so he could be intimately familiar with what we feel when they inhabit ours in the same way. I wrote about this in a blog a long time ago. To me, it was profound. Nobody commented on it at the time so I guess it was no big deal, but it came after much fasting and prayer as I asked the Lord for greater understanding of how the atonement worked and how my knowledge of it could give me power to be a better man. My view of that night was a sacred and profound event.

      I simply have to ask: Have you read what Denver teaches about the atonement directly from his books or are you simply repeating what you have heard others say? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Our understanding of the atonement is personal to each of us. Ultimately, all we really need to know is what it accomplishes for us: It allows us to repent and to be forgiven. I confess I am curious as to what your “HUGE issue is with the way Denver distorts horribly a few of the core aspects of the overall message of the Atonement,” but I leave it up to you to decide if you want to invest the time to educate me. Who knows, perhaps I truly have been misled and summarily duped by a modern Nehor or Korihor in my understanding of the Atonement.

      Ray, I know what Denver teaches is not the same as what we teach in our modern curriculum about many subjects. He claims to teach what Joseph taught and has pointed out many, many examples of how the doctrine has been changed over the years. I know that’s something that most LDS have a hard time accepting. “Why, we have a wolf in sheep’s clothing among us. And he’s a lawyer too. No wonder he is so good at convincing so many of what he is teaching.” We don’t need Denver Snuffer. We only need the ordinances of salvation administered by the Savior directly to us. As he has said, the ordinances in the church are only symbols of the real thing.

      I guess if there’s anything that bugs people more about Denver’s teachings, it is that statement. I have been exposed to it long enough now that I fully agree with it. Unless the Lord ministers the ordinances of salvation to me directly, I have no hope of salvation of any kind. He and only He holds the keys of my salvation. Yes, the church is authorized to preach the gospel, build temples, collect tithing and publish scriptures, but in the end, the church will cease to exist when the Lord returns. Yes, I sustain and uphold the right of the men we call prophet, seers and revelators to lead and guide us today. I give that to them. I submit to them and their local representatives in all things that have to do with administering this church. But as far as my personal salvation goes…

      I don’t mean to argue or offend, I simply wanted to point out how curious it was that men who spent their lives studying the gospel of Jesus Christ, going about healing others in the name of Christ and in giving all the glory to Christ, should be disciplined by the church for doing so. I am sorry that the spirit of the post was offensive to you. It was simply an observation and limited to a very small subset of men – only those who claimed to really “know” the savior in the sense that they have been ministered to him and could testify that he is a resurrected being because they felt his body. According to Denver, there is a ceremony attached to this ministration and it does not require that one receive the second anointing in the temple or the priesthood before it is received. It is available to women as well as men.

      I’ve said enough. Please forgive me for writing in an offensive manner. I love the Lord. I want to receive him personally. It is my life’s desire, even though I know I am far from that day if I am my own judge. I believe the Lord when he said that we can receive him and be taught by him in this life. I believe what he wants to teach us in this regard will never come from any man – only from Him, by hearing his voice, and by having his hands laid upon my head. Is that so strange?

      Like

  12. Tim, fwiw, I appreciate your follow-up comment, but most of it doesn’t deal at all with why I wrote what I wrote. That is my fault for not going into any detail in my own comment. Let me try to explain a little better why I wrote what I wrote.

    “I do indeed have friends who have been excommunicated for what they taught about Christ.”

    ***That’s not what the title and post say, Tim.*** It’s not even close to what the title and post say. Seriously, it is a radically different statement than the message of the title and the post. I have no argument whatsoever with that wording. It’s accurate.

    I don’t want people generally to be excommunicated for what they teach about Christ – except in those instances when I believe what they teach about Christ is dangerous and damaging. I do not believe Denver Snuffer is an anti-Mormon or apostate, but I do believe there are elements of what he teaches that are dangerous and damaging. I don’t want him excommunicated, but it also is totally inaccurate to say that if he was excommunicated it would be because he knows Christ or because he teaches about Christ – and that is what the title and post say. ***It would be because of what he teaches about Christ and the implications of that teaching.***

    I’m going to say this carefully, because I do NOT equate him with the evil spirits whom Jesus cast out of the herd of swine, but those evil spirits knew Christ and, in their testimony, taught about him. Knowing Christ and teaching about him aren’t the issue; the issue is WHAT is taught about Christ.

    In saying that, I don’t mean to attack or dismiss Bro. Snuffer’s personal experiences – not at all. I would have absolutely no problem with him sharing his own experiences with Christ, assuming they are genuine. However, he isn’t just sharing his experiences; he is taking those experiences and reaching conclusions for other people based on them. He is “teaching about how Christ will interact with others” based on those personal experiences – extrapolating his own experiences into expectations for others. There is a strong element of “anyone can have this type of experience if they are righteous and faithful enough” in what he teaches (and in the message many people take from him), and I find that to be in opposition to much of what we have in our scriptures – and I also have seen the real damage that general belief has done to too many people to accept it. I simply don’t accept it and am opposed to it.

    I wrote a post about a completely different situation only yesterday that is applicable to how I view the aspect of Bro. Snuffer’s teaching I just described. I was not thinking at all of him when I wrote it, but please read it if you want to see a very simple, conceptual outline of how I see that part of his teaching. I think the concept of his experience is lovely, but I believe when it is “put into practice” by and regarding others, it often becomes repugnant.

    The title of my post is, “Some Things That Are Lovely in Concept Are Repugnant in Practice” – and the link is:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013/08/some-things-that-are-lovely-in-concept.html

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  13. You wrote: “I don’t want people generally to be excommunicated for what they teach about Christ – except in those instances when I believe what they teach about Christ is dangerous and damaging.”

    There is something fundamentally flawed in positioning yourself as the judge of “dangerous and damaging”. Dangerous to whom? Damaging to whom? How do you define those terms? How can you tell what is driving someone from Jesus, or bringing them closer to it? In my own experience, most of the time the things I thought would drive someone further from the Lord only served to propel them closer, despite their best-laid plans. I find myself very uncomfortable you would be so at ease with the idea of passing that kind of judgement on a fellow church member. I can’t help but think of something Joseph Smith said:

    “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.”[Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:340.]

    I’m curious to know which elements of Bro. Snuffer’s writings you find dangerous and damaging.

    You also wrote: “However, he isn’t just sharing his experiences; he is taking those experiences and reaching conclusions for other people based on them. ”

    Jesus Christ doesn’t make mistakes. If He does something once, it is His nature. I believe we can all agree He acts according to law . . . and that He can, and will, do again whatever He did before, if the conditions occur again. (One eternal round, anyone?) And the scriptures record clearly, often in His own words, His feelings on being a respecter of persons, and treating all alike. (I trust you are familiar with those verses, else I would cite references here.) Even His behavior during His life was to spend time with the utter rejects of Jewish culture: Roman tax collectors and the vilest of sinners. (I have to wonder if the publicans weren’t more reviled by the Jews than the sinners.) That bodes well for the earnest seeker of Christ, doesn’t it? Why on earth wouldn’t Christ interact with others the same way He interacted with Bro. Snuffer, if the hearts of others were turned to Him in humility? Christ didn’t do anything out of His ordinary way of interacting with people when He ministered to Bro. Snuffer. He is Christ, the living God. He doesn’t play favorites, and He doesn’t make different rules for each of His children. He said so.

    You wrote: “There is a strong element of “anyone can have this type of experience if they are righteous and faithful enough” in what he teaches (and in the message many people take from him), and I find that to be in opposition to much of what we have in our scriptures . . . .”

    Which parts of Bro. Snuffer’s writings say that?

    Nobody can control what others choose to do with the words they say. (Not even Christ.) Mortals (and even God!) do their best to communicate exactly what they mean, and have to trust that those who have ears to hear will hearken . . . and any other reaction is out of their hands.

    It’s similar to a principle of driving I learned early in my driving career. The only space you can control, while behind the wheel, is the distance between you and the car ahead of you. You CANNOT control the distance between your rear bumper and the front bumper of the car behind you. Leave plenty of space ahead of you, so if the car ahead brakes suddenly, you can brake gradually. Even if the person behind you is tailgating, hopefully they will have time to react if you keep that distance generous. But if they don’t, and the person behind you doesn’t stop in time, the liability rests firmly in the lap of the person who rear-ended you, for not maintaining sufficient space ahead of him.

    I’m really curious to know where in the scriptures it says that we are unable to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Or that that relationship is limited in any way. The Book of Mormon is rife with examples of exactly the opposite.

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  14. Annalea, I didn’t say most of what you are accusing me of saying. Seriously, you quoted some of what I said and then accused me of saying, believing and doing things I don’t say, don’t believe and don’t do.

    Finally, we all have to make our own judgments about what we believe is dangerous and damaging – and we all do it. In fact, we are commanded to do it. I said clearly that I believe Bro. Snuffer’s experiences are lovely, and I said clearly exactly what I believe is dangerous and damaging in the way those experiences are presented to and applied by others.

    Tim, this is one of the reasons I almost didn’t comment on this post. I knew this would happen, and I thought initially that it wouldn’t be worth commenting. After further consideration, I decided I respect you too much not to share my concern. I hope you understand what I actually said and that you know me well enough by now to understand that I am not setting myself up as a judge of anyone. I thought I made that clear in what I wrote.

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    • Hi Ray,

      I’m so sorry if you felt I was accusing you of anything. What do you feel I accused you of? I responded to your comment to offer you an opportunity to see how others understand where you’re coming from, and find out what you really meant. If I’m not accurate in my understanding, please help me understand correctly what you intended to convey. My apologies for not explaining that explicitly. I’m always learning and refining online communication, and will try to remember that in the future.

      Responding and asking questions exposes the miscommunication that happens so easily in text-only interactions, and I view those as a chance to further explain and enlighten one another. I read and respond based on my own experience and paradigms. You read and respond based on yours. I hope that, through a dialogue, I can understand you better, because what you said seemed pretty clear to me, as did the logical conclusions from your statements. I really do want to understand, please. I don’t know you at all . . . and I think we could learn a lot from each other.

      Best regards,

      Annalea

      Like

      • That’s fair, Annalea. I will try to respond more fully when I have more time to do so.

        Just so you know, I choose my words very carefully when I comment online, specifically because I have been very active for over six years now and have seen countless times when people have assumed they know what someone else is going to say and, therefore, jump to conclusions without reading slowly and carefully. That’s why I almost didn’t comment in this thread. I knew it is an emotional topic, and emotional topics are notorious for ending up with completely unproductive threads.

        Again, when I have more time, I will try to respond in more detail.

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        • Thank you, Ray, for trusting me enough to honor me with that response. I also do my best to keep emotion out of my comments & responses. It’s good to know we’re on the same page there.

          Have a great day!

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  15. Tim, I appreciate the change of the post title. It might or might not have anything to do with my comments, but I appreciate it, nonetheless.

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  16. Annalea, I have some time now, so I will try to explain more fully and clear up some misconceptions. This might be a long comment.

    “There is something fundamentally flawed in positioning yourself as the judge of ‘dangerous and damaging’.”

    We all do it, and we have to do it with regard to things that other people teach. We do it with political leaders, co-workers, school teachers, potential friends, etc. – and we ought to do it with religious leaders, as well. Ultimately, we are responsible for what we choose to believe and do, so we simply must make those types of judgments all the time. The key, imo, is to try to be as charitable as possible toward the people – even when, ultimately, we still judge what they teach as something we can’t accept. Thus, as I said, I believe Bro. Snuffer’s experiences are lovely – but I am more than just wary of the way I have seen others interpret and move forward with them – the way they have been interpreted and applied in real, practical life by others.

    “How can you tell what is driving someone from Jesus, or bringing them closer to him?”

    Ultimately, all I have is the idea that people will be known by their fruits – particularly when I don’t know that person well enough to have seen into his or her soul on a personal, intimate level. Even with the witness of fruits, however, the injunction still is, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” – which I believe applies to making a determination about the condition of one’s soul and their eventual place and position with God.

    “I find myself very uncomfortable you would be so at ease with the idea of passing that kind of judgement on a fellow church member.”

    I am not at ease and try hard not to do so, and nothing in my comment indicated I do.

    I love the quote from Joseph Smith you referenced, and I use it regularly when dealing with people who classify others as apostate in any way simply for believing something differently than the person doing the judging. However, “calling someone up” and disagreeing are very different things. I’m not trying to call anyone up in any way, and I tried to make that clear; I’m just expressing disagreement.

    ” I believe we can all agree He acts according to law . . . and that He can, and will, do again whatever He did before, if the conditions occur again.”

    I agree – but I don’t believe he acts exactly the same way with every single person based on some kind of formula. I don’t see that at all in the scriptures, and I think such a formulaic construct (input: output) makes God nothing but a machine to be manipulated by the operator. I believe in the “binding” statement in the D&C, but I don’t believe we get to set the terms of what is required in such a binding. I think the verse in question is quoted in isolation, out of context when it is used that broadly – and I believe the idea that “If I do x, God has to do y” is extremely problematic, since we as mortals far too often end up deciding what we think “y” has to be. This is perhaps evident most obviously in the idea that some people have that says if a person pays tithing faithfully, the will be guaranteed financial independence and, at the extreme, grow rich and “prosper” individually. I think that is a dangerous idea, and I don’t think it’s supported by the totality of our scriptural canon.

    More in another comment.

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  17. “Even His behavior during His life was to spend time with the utter rejects of Jewish culture”

    and I believe not following that example more closely and, in too many cases, doing the exact opposite, is perhaps our greatest collective failure as a people. I believe someone who rejects large groups of people and refuses to interact with them doesn’t know Jesus in the purest way.

    That doesn’t mean the person has to accept everything others say and do, but it does mean the person must love those whom s/he would reject naturally – in a real, practical, meaningful way – not just in word alone.

    “Why on earth wouldn’t Christ interact with others the same way He interacted with Bro. Snuffer, if the hearts of others were turned to Him in humility?”

    There is a HUGE difference between being no respecter of persons and interacting with everyone in the exact same way. The best example of this is the concept that there are myriad gifts, but not all gifts are given to everyone equally. The blessing is not given for gaining more gifts or for the exact level of ultimate “spiritual wealth”. The parable says clearly that those who have less but magnify what they have to the best of their abilities are blessed exactly as the one who has more and also magnifies fully.

    That might seem, at first, to strengthen the idea that all can gain a personal visitation from Christ if they simply magnify to the best of their ability – but we have statements like the one in the D&C that says some people have the gift of knowing that Jesus is the Christ, some have the gift of faith in that regard, and some have the gift of believing the testimonies of those who know. Thus, I believe that while God will maximize the efforts of all sincere seekers, there is no guarantee that righteous desire or effort – no matter how intense – will produce the exact same result in this life. Every pure seeker will receive a visitation from Christ, but, for many, that visitation will be the reward for which they persevered in faith during mortality. Those who have the gift of knowing may receive a personal visitation in this life, but it is not a guarantee for all.

    Seeing it as a universal guarantee in this life can be extremely damaging to the faithful, dedicated, sincere, humble, righteous, wonderful person who wants it badly but will not receive it in this life – and I have seen more than one such person break under the strain of those expectations and assumptions. This is true, especially, of people who struggle with some kind of disorder or disability – like someone who is prone to depression or is bi-polar. I have seen and heard FAR too often such people being told that they could overcome their issues if only they had more faith – and, at the most extreme, that if their faith was stronger, they wouldn’t need medication or therapy. I have seen lives and families literally destroyed by that idea – and it is applicable to the idea that all can be visited by Christ if only they try hard enough and exercise enough faith. I would love to have everyone experience such a visitation, but I don’t read that promise in the totality of our scriptures. I might be wrong in that, but I just don’t see it.

    “Nobody can control what others choose to do with the words they say. (Not even Christ.) Mortals (and even God!) do their best to communicate exactly what they mean, and have to trust that those who have ears to hear will hearken . . . and any other reaction is out of their hands.”

    I agree – but that possibility can be lessened somewhat by explicit statements addressing the likely distortions of what is said. Perhaps I have missed such statements from Bro. Snuffer – statements that say, essentially, “This was my experience, but there is no guarantee that any other individual will have a similar experience.” If there are such statements, then the responsibility for what I see as the dangerous and damaging interpretation lies solely with those doing the interpreting.

    “I’m really curious to know where in the scriptures it says that we are unable to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Or that that relationship is limited in any way.”

    That statement is nowhere in our scriptures, and I would never say it. I wouldn’t dream of saying it. However, that statement is not the same thing as saying that every single person can receive a personal visitation from Christ, if they are faithful enough and try hard enough.

    I know Tim asked that we move past the example of Bro. Pace, but I want to repeat something Steve mentioned in his comment. The clear message from much of what he shared, whether stated explicitly or not and whether intended or not, was that he gained his experience because he was willing to put more time and effort into it than others were – that there was a mathematical correlation (a formula) that triggered his experience once his input was enough to trigger the desired output. Given that clear message, again, intended or not, it was natural for his impressionable students to assume that they would have the same experience if only they prayed for five hours each day – and found an isolated place to commune with God – and matched or exceeded Bro. Pace in any other quantifiable way.

    I see such a construct as dangerous and damaging principally because I see it as a conceit of luxury – since it excludes huge numbers of people who can’t dedicate such time and effort to communing with God. My father was an amazing man, and he had a wonderful relationship with God – but there is no way he could have prayed in isolation for even two hours each day or retreated to a pristine wilderness refuge regularly. He was far too busy working multiple jobs, being, in practical terms, both mom and dad to his eight children, and serving those around him – living the heart of the Gospel – to ignore those who needed him and isolate himself from them. He didn’t have the luxury or inclination to do so, but he was as “Christ-lie” as anyone I have ever known. He didn’t need a personal visitation from Jesus; in a very real way, he became Jesus for those around him.

    If I am privileged to see Christ in this life, in a literal visitation, I will rejoice. However, if that never happens, I will rejoice and not count myself less blessed in any way. I know that is not inconsistent with what Bro. Snuffer says, but it is at odds with much of what I read from people who “follow” and/or quote him – and so I am left to say that I believe his experiences are lovely (and I mean that in the purest sense of the word), but the way his experiences are interpreted and applied by and toward others often is dangerous and damaging.

    Since Tim changed the title of the post, I will leave that part of my response alone. It was the charge imbedded in the title (with no disclaimers) and the message the title broadcast to which I objected the most, since it implied much about those who are not excommunicated – and that message is interwoven into the very fabric of my discomfort with the way Bro. Snuffer’s experiences and teachings are interpreted and used far too often.

    I hope that helps clarify my reaction.

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    • http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/25.40?lang=eng#39

      32 And before him shall be gathered all anations: and he shall bseparate them one from another, as a cshepherd divideth his dsheep from the goats:

      33 And he shall set the sheep on his aright hand, but the goats on the left.

      34 Then shall the King say unto them on his aright hand, Come, ye bblessed of my Father, cinherit the dkingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

      35 For I was an ahungred, and ye bgave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a cstranger, and ye took me in:

      36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye avisited me: I was in bprison, and ye came unto me.

      37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

      38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

      39 Or when saw we thee asick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

      40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the bleast of these my cbrethren, ye have done it unto me.

      41 Then shall he say also unto them on the aleft hand, bDepart from me, ye ccursed, into everlasting dfire, eprepared for the devil and his angels:

      42 For I was an ahungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

      43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

      44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

      45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the aleast of these, ye did it not to me.

      46 And these shall go away into aeverlasting bpunishment: but the crighteous into dlife eeternal.

      It seems to me that the Savior is more interested in us being kind and loving to our brothers and sisters than us understanding the nuances of what took place in Gethsemane. That is not to say we should not seek more understanding. But great understanding comes through living and not extended isolation. What impresses me is that we need to find balance and not be extremist in what we do.

      Paul, Nephi and Moroni sum it up this way:

      45 And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

      46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

      47 But acharity is the pure blove of Christ, and it endureth cforever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

      48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be dpurified even as he is pure. Amen.Moroni 7

      Elder Hoybjerg just returned from serving his mission in Chile. He gave the most profound instruction on the topic of charity. It has to do with motivation. Why is doctrinal scholarship so important to you? is it for your own personal benefit and satisfy your pride or is it for the the rue love of God and the building of his kingdom.

      1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not acharity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

      2 And though I have the gift of aprophecy, and understand all bmysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

      3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the apoor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Corinthians 13

      29 He commandeth that there shall be no apriestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set bthemselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get cgain and dpraise of the world; but they seek not the ewelfare of Zion.

      30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have acharity, which bcharity is clove. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. 2 Nephi 26

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      • Thanks for sharing scriptures Steve, You asked, “Why is doctrinal scholarship so important to you? is it for your own personal benefit and satisfy your pride or is it for the true love of God and the building of his kingdom.”

        Was that question intended for Ray or for me? I’ll answer it as if directed at me, even though it’s tacked on to Ray’s response. If it was intended for Ray, then disregard my answer, although I think it was a good question for us all.

        Dude, I am no scholar. I do not even have a four-year college degree. I was raised by a mother who taught me to love reading and learning. I love to read. I love to learn. I spend my day doing both.

        I am paid well for my knowledge of how to keep computer networks running. I don’t think I’m all that technical. There are so many people so much smarter than me. I feel so blessed to have a job where I can help and teach others about computers.

        As I wrote in the post, one of the first things I learned from Max Skousen’s book is that I have been leaning my ladder up against the wrong tree – The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil when I should be striving to reach the Tree of Life and fall down there to partake of that fruit, which is most delicious.

        That is what I seek. To know the Lord, to love the Lord, to serve the Lord. How can I do that if I don’t study what he has said or what he has inspired other good men who love him to say? Tell me why you quoted the scripture. What are you trying to say? Did I answer your question?

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        • Tim, you said “That is what I seek. To know the Lord, to love the Lord, to serve the Lord. How can I do that if I don’t study what he has said or what he has inspired other good men who love him to say? ”
          Although we have many times read that “learned men” seek after their own wisdom and let go of the iron rod, I don’t believe Heavenly Father ever meant for us to not seek knowledge–especially as it flows from him. I truly believe that curiosity and the desire to learn are human traits that we have that gives the Lord much pleasure in us. When I am “seeking after righteousness” I equate that to “thirsting after truth and knowledge”. It’s what makes me human in a delightful way to the Lord. If I didn’t seek the truth, I could not grow spiritually and develop as the Lord desires me to do.
          There is no shame in being a scholar to truth.
          Thank you for you posts from Br Snuffer regarding his response to being investigated. I get tangled in the blog threads sometimes so I appreciated that insight to what he is going through. I especially felt his comment about putting the church between members and God and thought provoking and sad. I know this Church is where I am supposed to be and if this is the only “church in which (the Lord) is well pleased” that what does that say about the state of our world?

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    • Thank you, Ray. That absolutely helps me understand much better. Yesterday was nuts at my house, and the weekend isn’t looking like it’s going to be any slower, so I ask for your patience until I have a chance to reply (it might be Monday).

      I appreciate your time very much, and the respect you’ve paid me in continuing our dialogue.

      Have a great day!

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      • Betty, the verse about the Lord being well-pleased with the church was received by Joseph Smith in November 1831. It was less than a year later that the Lord declared the whole church under condemnation (D&C 84:55), and while after that point He gave His approbation to smaller groups and individuals throughout the Doctrine & Covenants, I haven’t noticed any further general approval of the church in the D&C. There have been plenty of modern opinions that the Lord is pleased with us, but on the whole, since we’re not seeing the evidence of His approval, I personally do not feel that the body of the church can claim that it holds “well pleased” status.

        Over the last two years, the Lord has led me to the community of spirit-filled Christians in my county. And I have to admit being surprised by the power of the Spirit of God in their meetings, many of their leaders, and the signs that follow them. Within the LDS church, we assume that membership demarcates the line between faithful and unfaithful. That signs only happen within our church. That the Lord is srsly ticked with the entirety of everyone else. (At least that’s what I was taught growing up–and to look down gently and with tender pity for those not blessed as I was. I have since repented sincerely.)

        The state of the world is pretty dire. But I don’t hold up the membership of our church as an example of righteousness and that which we should strive to do & be in order to gain the approbation of the Lord. Yes, there are a tremendous number of wonderful, faithful, amazing, Latter-day Saints. But our fruit isn’t what it should be, if we want the Lord to be well-pleased with us as a whole.

        (This is a HUGE topic . . . and if anyone has questions, I’ll just blog about it and post a link. ;o)

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        • I agree with your observations. I taught the Book of Mormon in adult sunday school and felt very deeply that we, as a people, were not even close to making progress toward receiving the sealed portion of the BofM.

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    • (Bullet-point style here . . . )

      I was concerned, not about making personal judgements (which are necessary to making personal decisions), but about the idea that judgement passed by an individual could take something from another person. That it would damn someone in some way. Of course we have to make personal judgements. That’s why we’re told to judge with righteous judgement. But . . . we’re not given the seat of judgement. That belongs to Christ. If someone is coercing or cheating or acting in predation on members of the church, breaking laws of God, I happily concede the importance of excommunication. Dr. Bennett in early church history is a great example. But I have trouble with pushing that form of punishment into the realms of doctrinal differences. Heck, just to play devil’s advocate, one could really say that those who preach that God doesn’t heal us because He wants us to be sick (to learn a lesson) should be under the same scrutiny. Or those that push that we can’t actually teach what’s in the scriptures because we’ve got to stick to milk before meat. That’s damning stuff, that is. And I see it nearly every week when I go to church. Sure, there are no spiritual benchmarks we have to reach in order to gain salvation . . . but WHY are we so discouraged from trying? Persecuted for feeling after our God?

      Sorry, I should have typed “How can you tell what WILL drive someone from Jesus, or bring them closer to Him?” I was thinking of a recent experience when an anonymous member of our ward left me a copy of a conference talk a few weeks ago, with sections s/he felt were especially pertinent to what they saw as my deviation from righteousness highlighted and underlined. I wasn’t eager to tell my husband, Vern, worried that he would be really and truly upset. The letter didn’t upset me for long–after a while of disbelief, I settled on pity. Pity for the person who was so afraid of me, their sister in the church that they’ve known for years, that they couldn’t come and talk to me. My sin? Not managing to use all of the proper “thee, thou, etc.” forms of language in the previous week’s invocation in Sacrament Meeting. But Vern was mad. Hopping, actually. That someone would be low enough to pull out that kind of junior-high behavior. But, over the following hours that Sunday afternoon, I watched God work in him . . . and so much good has come from that experience. That letter being left was NOT the will of God. It was done in fear, and pride. But the end result, contrary to my expectations, was my husband was brought closer to his Savior.

      I agree with you completely on the law of fruits.

      Writings are in a state of potential. They are objects to be acted upon, and have no agency of their own. It’s what an individual does with them that makes all the difference. If you have a book, or blog, that both brings people closer to Christ and misleads them, then logic would lead us to determine it’s user error, and the author’s membership in the church should not be in peril.

      “There is a HUGE difference between being no respecter of persons and interacting with everyone in the exact same way. The best example of this is the concept that there are myriad gifts, but not all gifts are given to everyone equally. The blessing is not given for gaining more gifts or for the exact level of ultimate “spiritual wealth”. The parable says clearly that those who have less but magnify what they have to the best of their abilities are blessed exactly as the one who has more and also magnifies fully.”

      True. But we’re also told to seek the best gifts, and to petition the Lord for what we need. Christ turned none away from Him . . . and for pete’s sake, the wickedest of murderous sinners have seen Christ! If Alma the Younger and Saul can have a cataclysmic manifestation of God’s power, be overcome by the spirit, and see visions and be reborn, then that is available to everyone. Anyone. I can’t tell you the conditions whereby that can be experienced . . . only the Holy Spirit can do that. But it IS available to all. No precept or persuasion from mortals will convince me otherwise. We, each of us, damns ourselves with our own beliefs which limit God. It’s only when we stop saying “Well, God won’t ever do this amazing thing in my life, or God won’t bless me that way” that we finally open the lid on the box we’ve kept the Almighty, Alpha and Omega, in, and He has the permission necessary due to the law of agency to actually BE God in our lives.

      Case in point: this year I was in a lesson in Gospel Doctrine on spiritual gifts. I made a comment, sharing some of the amazingess of God, and urging people to not limit Him in what they expected He would do. It has only been since I stopped telling God “no” through my beliefs and actions that He has suddenly become, to me, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The all-powerful and all-loving and ever-faithful Jehovah. And hard on the heels of my comment filled with testimony and joy and glory, came one of the hardest unspoken shut-downs I’ve ever experienced from a ward leader, who (from his voice) I knew that, far from feeling the Holy Ghost in the same power as I did as I bore that witness, felt only fear. His response? “But sometimes we just need to have enough faith to get through that day. And then just enough to get through the next day.” He referenced depression, and other issues . . . and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to curl up and cry in despair, or strangle him. lol There I was in that classroom, living, breathing, joyful proof that God heals depression and anxiety through His Love, and that healing continued as I walked in it, in absolute confidence in God . . . and my leader immediately negates what I just said by saying, essentially, “But don’t trust God too much, because you might be disappointed.” That’s the devil’s own precept there.

      “That might seem, at first, to strengthen the idea that all can gain a personal visitation from Christ if they simply magnify to the best of their ability”

      I believe that spiritual blessings come the same way falling in love does, the same way a marriage develops, the same way each child goes through all of the developmental stages of its life. The milestones are the same, the lessons learned and the basics of the experiences are the same . . . but the precise way they’re reached are not. And the way they affect each of us are not. We can’t provide a Greek-thought-based nuts & bolts schematic for attaining the presence of the Lord. We’re taught principles in the scriptures, but it’s absolutely a Holy Spirit-led thing. I’ve been stumbling around how to say this for days, but it was a conversation with my sister yesterday that finally brought clarity. We just have to *seek Him*. As we do that, earnestly, the Holy Spirit will tell us what we need to do. And that is what makes feeling the Holy Ghost in our meetings, powerfully and regularly, so vitally important. Without that, it’s possible to be deceived. (Not guaranteed, but possible.) If you actually know God, have tasted of His love and His Spirit in power, deception is a pretty tough trick for the adversary to pull off. Because you KNOW. And there is no substitute for the presence of God.

      “. . . – but we have statements like the one in the D&C that says some people have the gift of knowing that Jesus is the Christ, some have the gift of faith in that regard, and some have the gift of believing the testimonies of those who know. Thus, I believe that while God will maximize the efforts of all sincere seekers, there is no guarantee that righteous desire or effort – no matter how intense – will produce the exact same result in this life. Every pure seeker will receive a visitation from Christ, but, for many, that visitation will be the reward for which they persevered in faith during mortality. Those who have the gift of knowing may receive a personal visitation in this life, but it is not a guarantee for all.”

      We need to stop teaching “Not everyone will see Jesus in this life, so don’t get too excited about it,” and start teaching “You can be as close to Jesus as you want to be in this life! Isn’t that amazing??? Let’s seek HIM, and find out what He wants us to do!” Every time I turn around in LDS culture, I’m met with behaviors and statements that caution me not get too excited about the Good News. To not let myself get swept away in the glory and beauty of the Victory of Jesus, not to revel in it. And yet, I’m right there with Paul . . . I KNOW what he was talking about, and how he felt when he wrote so many of the scriptures that I would read before, and think “Wow, he must have had *some* testimony.” Now I’m wanting to jump up from reading the Word, and cheer, and pump my fist in the air. lol Some would say that’s irreverent . . . but I’ve felt so much love pour down from Heaven when I rejoice like that. :o) We should be cheering at the tops of our lungs, like die-hard fans in the grandstands when their team wins the world championship at the last minute, by an amazing touchdown. This is BIG news! So huge, so wonderful! Instead we’re falling asleep in our pews, and watching the clocks through sunday school and quorum meetings.

      “Seeing it as a universal guarantee in this life can be extremely damaging to the faithful, dedicated, sincere, humble, righteous, wonderful person who wants it badly but will not receive it in this life – and I have seen more than one such person break under the strain of those expectations and assumptions. This is true, especially, of people who struggle with some kind of disorder or disability – like someone who is prone to depression or is bi-polar. I have seen and heard FAR too often such people being told that they could overcome their issues if only they had more faith – and, at the most extreme, that if their faith was stronger, they wouldn’t need medication or therapy. I have seen lives and families literally destroyed by that idea – and it is applicable to the idea that all can be visited by Christ if only they try hard enough and exercise enough faith.”

      I understand completely where you’re coming from. But there’s a HUGE problem with the logic behind the belief that we can overcome if we just have more faith. And that problem is this:

      WE can’t overcome ANYTHING. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

      I spent the last two decades in serious depression and despair. And I was the Molly Mormon, the humble, earnest seeker of Christ. I followed every rule (and I mean EVERY), went to every meeting, kept my covenants, accepted every calling, sustained and loved my leaders, lived the Word of Wisdom . . . you name it, I did it. And I didn’t do it calculatedly, or coldly. I threw my entire self into it. I was completely devoted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to its members, and its leaders. I was called most faithful of the faithful.

      And yet . . . those didn’t have the power to heal. To save.

      Not the church. Not the members. Not the leaders.

      Only Christ overcame. He subdued ALL things beneath His feet. And we aren’t healed unless we let Him do it. All of it. We can’t work our way into more faith, or into healing. It’s a gift–and only comes as a gift.

      Healing came to me only a couple of months ago, in the form of an outpouring of the Love of Jesus Christ, himself. I didn’t have a physical visitation . . . but I felt the reality His love so powerfully, so completely, that nothing will ever be the same. I’m a new creature in Christ Jesus, and suddenly, the difference between the reality of Him and the teachings/policies/practices of men is clearer than black and white. It’s the difference between the most vibrant, vital, glorious living creature and a corpse in advanced stages of decay. And it didn’t take MORE faith to get me here. It didn’t take priesthood blessings. It took seeking the Lord, often in the company of others doing the same through music. (“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise . . .”) It took consciously letting go of every expectation, every spiritual technique I’d been taught, and just seeking Jesus Christ.

      “I would love to have everyone experience such a visitation, but I don’t read that promise in the totality of our scriptures. I might be wrong in that, but I just don’t see it.”

      I don’t think the exact words “Every child of God can have a personal visitation from Jesus in this life” is anywhere in the scriptures. But look at the patterns. Over and over. He says “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and variations on that theme about a million times. (Or what equates to a million times in scriptural numbers.) 😉 We have account after account of visions and glories, of God working miraculously with His people. That book is for US, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now. Ever.y.thing. in it applies to us. So much of the Book of Mormon felt like a fantasy tale to me, with all of its visions and people being overcome by the spirit and fainting dead away. But, over the last year, it finally dawned on me that the Book of Mormon isn’t just a nice story book full of faith-promoting exceptions to the rule. It IS the rule. God deals with His people through miraculous, amazing things. He’s God, for heaven’s sake! lol How ELSE is He supposed to be to His people? He can make His own decisions about when, where, and how. About whether or not those who lack faith will be able to explain away the miraculous things He does. But it’s not our job, not our *place*, to say “God isn’t necessarily going to do this.” It’s our place to say “God can do whatever He likes. He has done this in the past, has promised x, y, & z, and I know He loves me. I’m excited to see what comes next!”

      “I agree – but that possibility can be lessened somewhat by explicit statements addressing the likely distortions of what is said. Perhaps I have missed such statements from Bro. Snuffer – statements that say, essentially, “This was my experience, but there is no guarantee that any other individual will have a similar experience.” If there are such statements, then the responsibility for what I see as the dangerous and damaging interpretation lies solely with those doing the interpreting.”

      Hmmmm. That sounds awfully legalistic. We share the amazing things that have happened to us so others can have some idea of what’s possible. Isaiah wrote “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (My paraphrase.) I had no vision, no idea of what God could really do in my life, because those around me didn’t teach it. We are taught that the Atonement covers all sin and illness. But we don’t hear that Christ has won the victory . . . he is the Ultimate Victor–all sin, death, lack, illness, ALL of it, is subdued under His feet. Just that He paid for it, and He’ll pay for our sins eventually, too. But we’ve got to beat ourselves up for it pretty hard in the mean time.

      Life in Christ is wholly and completely different from life without Him. LDSaints try to follow Him, but we deny ourselves so much of what could be ours because we limit him in our conversation, in our practices. That is unbelief, which Mormon tries to warn us about. And it’s rampant.

      “However, that statement is not the same thing as saying that every single person can receive a personal visitation from Christ, if they are faithful enough and try hard enough.”

      But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that we can’t limit Him. That we should all seek Christ, and see what happens. See what He will bestow upon us. He will be as merciful as He possibly can . . . will bless us with every last blessing He possibly can, with generous measure: pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

      “I know Tim asked that we move past the example of Bro. Pace, but I want to repeat something Steve mentioned in his comment. The clear message from much of what he shared, whether stated explicitly or not and whether intended or not, was that he gained his experience because he was willing to put more time and effort into it than others were – that there was a mathematical correlation (a formula) that triggered his experience once his input was enough to trigger the desired output. Given that clear message, again, intended or not, it was natural for his impressionable students to assume that they would have the same experience if only they prayed for five hours each day – and found an isolated place to commune with God – and matched or exceeded Bro. Pace in any other quantifiable way.”

      Bro. Pace was trying to give others a vision of what was possible . . . to teach the Christ to those who didn’t know Him very well yet. “Matching” doesn’t work, because we’re all unique, as you’ve pointed out before. There isn’t a mathematical formula for drawing closer to Christ. Just D&C 45:57. Receive truth. Take the Holy Spirit for your guide. (And I would add, search the scriptures, since that’s commanded elsewhere along these lines.)

      Praying five hours a day doesn’t have to happen in a mountain retreat. Prayer is turning your mind and heart to God. Some of my most profound prayer moments have happened in crowded places, or stolen moments. In an impassioned “Thank you, God!” when my son was spared ER-level injury just last night on a zipline. Every so often, it’s wonderful to be able to steal away for a stretch of time with God . . . but the people of Alma didn’t have that luxury. And look at their blessings, in Mosiah 24. Miraculously strengthened to not feel the burdens on their backs. The love of the Lord poured out upon them so they submitted cheerfully to their taskmasters. And then the Lord made the Lamanites fall asleep so the entire people of Alma could leave–with all their flocks, herds, children, and belongings–right under their noses. I don’t have that much time, either. And yet, I keep waiting for this amazing new life to dull, for the edges to grow ragged and worn, since I’m raising a large family and have a lot of additional responsibilities as well. But it’s not. The Lord’s mercy truly IS new every day . . . and each morning is very much a rebirth.

      “I know that is not inconsistent with what Bro. Snuffer says, but it is at odds with much of what I read from people who “follow” and/or quote him – and so I am left to say that I believe his experiences are lovely (and I mean that in the purest sense of the word), but the way his experiences are interpreted and applied by and toward others often is dangerous and damaging.”

      This is where I grow adamant. Polite, but firm. Bro. Snuffer can. not. control. how others interpret what he says. End of story. Laying blame at his door (which you seem to insist on doing, because you keep repeating this logical fallacy) is irresponsible. It’s like holding God himself responsible for the Crusades. Or the centuries of horrifying oppression and abuse women have endured at the hands of the Christian world at large. Have you ever *read* any of the fundamentalist Christian blogs out there? Both the Crusades and the abuse of women were a result of the way the scriptures were interpreted. By your logic, the Bible is dangerous and damaging. I simply cannot agree. And I feel the Spirit of the Lord grieving in my heart since I learned Bro. Snuffer has received summons to a disciplinary council. May God save their souls.

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      • ” I’m saying that we can’t limit Him. That we should all seek Christ, and see what happens. See what He will bestow upon us. He will be as merciful as He possibly can . . . will bless us with every last blessing He possibly can, with generous measure: pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

        We agree on the core requirement of discipleship, it appears – and the ultimate reward that awaits such discipleship.

        I’ve tried to be very focused in my comments, so it’s my fault that I won’t respond more fully to some of the remaining misconceptions you have about me, but I simply will say that my original response stands. Now that Tim has changed the title of this post, most of my objections are gone. I still have reservations about some things, based on my own observations over the decades, but I respect your passion and your right to see some things differently than I do. That also is the heart of the Gospel, imho.

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  18. Hey Tim.

    Long time no chat. I don’t reply much to stuff like this but considered the title of this post and read many (not all) of the replies, so I may have missed something but wanted to address a few points. The main point is the title is accurate and clear, plain and simple. If people are going to be “offended” because of the title then so be it, (but this is a problem). Our world is controlled by the fear of “making offense”. We are generally so afraid of being “politically incorrect” or spiritually incorrect that we go over board to be “politically correct” or not making any waves or offending this group or that group. The problem with this state of being is that truth and principle take a back seat to the feelings of others who are offended easily. We work so hard at not having a voice that the people who want to make waves and push their agenda or cause based on personal interests and not principle and truth have a freeway to their goal, their agenda… Those that should have a voice (and you are sharing yours with this post) generally do not express truth and principle. I could be so politically incorrect at this point it is not even funny but I am holding back as I write…

    You know me and my story quite a bit so the above is not new from many vantage points.

    I have been curious about the process of “offense” and being “offended”, why is it that we generally are so easily offended? I don’t need to (but maybe I should) go into detail as to all the possibilities as to why but I do put the question out there for people to consider.

    The Men you have referred to, if they are truly close to Christ (and I know personally one of them and believe he is) and have had wonderful experiences with these relationships with Christ and they have been excommunicated because of what would seem to be simply expressing their experiences then let the facts be submitted and people being offended because of a title simply representing the facts then so be it. The key here is why does a person take offence?

    People who take offense generally feel attacked…

    There is so much more that I could write but will see what happens from here.

    Thanks for the post(s) and your observations and possibly some button pushing…LOL

    Tyce

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    • It was an experiment, Tyce, but I genuinely asked Heavenly Father if it was OK to state the original title the way I did. He said, “I wouldn’t have inspired you with it if it wasn’t.” I don’t pretend to understand all the ways of God, but I think he was saying, “Let’s just see what kind of response you get.” Well, it really hit the fan in the original form.

      It was called “provocative, misleading, a lie, demeaning and degrading.” I was told it was damaging to the image of the church. OK, I got that. Most of the conversation took place on Facebook. I’m thinking of taking down my “networked blogs” widget so I can be more selective abut what gets posted there.

      You can read the comments yourself, I was mainly told, “How dare I judge why a person was excommunicated. He may have written a wonderful book about how to come unto Christ, but maybe he was excommunicated because he confessed to adultery or polygamy.” OK, I got that too. The church will never say. We have to rely on what the person who has been disciplined had to say about the matter.

      Church discipline is a sensitive subject and sacred cow among us. You and I have talked about giving and taking offense before – the source of such feelings and the result of doing so. According to the Lord, the only thing that displeases Him is when we don’t obey his commandments or acknowledge his hand in all things. There’s a lot to that of course, but I try to do neither – give or take offense.

      Thus I changed the title even though I felt it was correct. Many others disagreed with me. I could not use it with any authority unless I absolutely knew for a fact that someone had met the Savior, and then been excommunicated by the church, no matter what the offense. And since I did not “know” the status of these men before the Lord before they were excommunicated, I had to concede the point.

      In any event, the experiment proved something to me, people do indeed read stories based on headlines, especially provocative ones. I knew that and I should be content with the 300 to 500 views I get on my blog each day. I wanted to see if a headline could increase it. I got my answer. I hope some good was done in my dialog with Ross Baron, with whom I served in another stake. I enjoyed answering his complaint that started, “I am extremely disappointed in your article.”

      The man is a CES teacher at BYUI and a stake president. I’m not going to argue with him. He knows the scriptures so much better than I do. You take it from there. Did any good come out of all this? I don’t know. Good to hear from you. Much love to you and your family. You’ll be happy to know that my physical condition is much improved – no more spirit sightings.

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      • So what did you learn from the “sightings”? How did you manage the process? Do you even “feel” anything from time to time? Hmmmm lot’s of cool lessons

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      • It’s been six months. I’ve had a lot of time to ponder what happened to me and why but I’ll take this dialog about dealing with evil spirits offline because it’s not germane to the Max Skousen excommunication dialog. Besides, it will take some time to compose. I’m triple-tasking right now so it will probably be tomorrow before I can put it into words. Later

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      • Answer to Tyce on what I have learned

        I just sat and re-read 1 Ne 11 for my daily scripture reading. There was nothing new there of course. I mean it’s not like I haven’t read it a hundred times before. But I believe in the principle of obedience in that if I sit and read quietly, and then ponder as Nephi did, the Lord will reveal to me things I need to know, or that he wants me to know at this time in my life. Two verses impressed me, which will help explain what has changed in the last six months of my life.

        I’m going to focus on verse one and verse thirty-one. Two things come to mind from verse one: First, Nephi desired to know the things his father had seen. I think as a result of the many things I have gone through in the last six months, especially my encounter with the evil spirits, my desire to know about the things of the spirit world more completely or more assuredly has increased. I believe now more than ever that God can and will make them known unto me, if I desire these things of him as Nephi did. So the two components are desire and belief. Both have increased.

        Oh sure, you can say, Nephi was special. He was a prophet. The Lord had a special mission for him. He was to bear record of the Savior, the Lamb of God. OK, I get that. But I have a special mission too, just like you do, just like we all do. I believe more now than I did before, if that’s possible, in the reality of the spirit world around us, and of the existence of spirit beings in that world that surrounds us. Perhaps it’s more than a belief. Perhaps it is now knowledge. And since I learned the importance of rebuttal in my college philosophy class, let me offer the following:

        Oh, Tim, you just thought you saw those dark spirits. You only saw them out of the corner of your eye. They did not stay after you looked directly at them, at least not the first few times. Second opposing point: you were under a lot of stress. You probably hadn’t been eating right. Your body probably lacked essential nutrients or minerals that caused you to think you saw those dark entities. You only thought you saw them and felt them because you knew your son was in the next room getting high and drunk, and of course, you were very opposed to that.

        OK, you can believe all those things if you want, especially the part about my body not having all the proper nutrients it needed. I’ll admit, after seeing one of the doctors and being prescribed a daily regimen of essential minerals: Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc (in a liquid form no less), the feelings of anxiety began to calm, the visits of the dark spirits ceased and I began to feel better. Of course, perhaps my talk with my son to not drink or smoke dope in the house may have helped, but that only lasted for a few days. Well, that may be, but both my desire to know more of the spirit world and the beings who dwell there increased as well as my belief that the Lord can and will make these things known to me. The mind – and faith – is a powerful thing.

        The Lord promises me sacred things in my patriarchal blessing: that “my home will be a refuge from the ills of the world, a place where I can go before the Lord and invite Him to be with me. It will be a sacred place; a fit abode for heavenly visitations.” You know what I have written about evil portals and you know where I learned that – from Doug Mendenhall’s book. Well, the individual who opened those evil portals into my home is gone now. I have rededicated my home and have asked the Lord to teach me, both with the Holy Spirit and through the ministration of angels. Am I any less worthy than Nephi? Are not all men esteemed alike unto the Lord?

        Now skip down to verse thirty-one. What did the Lord do when he was on the earth? He healed the sick who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and with unclean spirits. They were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out. Do we or do we not believe these things? Do we or do we not believe that this is the mission of the Savior, even today – to heal those who are sick and have need of the power of the Lamb of God? That is the second thing I have learned over the last six months. I have learned the purpose of seeking an audience with the Lord is to be healed. It is as plain as plain can be right there in verse thirty-one.

        Do we not believe this as a church? If we don’t then we are not true believers or followers of Jesus Christ. The desire of the Savior is to heal us. He wants to heal us. He wants us to feel whole and capable of fulfilling our purpose on earth- to learn and grow and serve and to be happy. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it just seems like there are too many people I talk to, even or especially among members of the church who do NOT believe that we can have an audience with Christ. Why is that so hard to believe? It’s as if they are saying, “He has done his work, now it is up to us to simply believe. We can’t expect him to actually come to us. Why I’m certain he’s too busy for that. Besides, he only does that for apostles and prophets.”

        Sorry, I don’t buy that. Here are a few more opposing viewpoints I’ve been reading lately as I’ve tried to share how strongly this has come to my soul in the last six months: “But, Tim, you can have that without a personal visit from the Savior. That’s what the sacrament is for. I know what it is: You’ve been reading Denver Snuffer too much. You’re going to be very disappointed because it’s just not going to happen. The Savior is not going to come and personally visit you. There is no need for that. He has authorized legal administrators who can do everything you need.” I was going to use a profane word here but I won’t. There is nobody who can heal me except the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nobody who can guarantee me a place in the Heavens other than the Lord. What I want to hear comes only from the voice of the Savior: “Because of your faithfulness and diligence in seeking me, I seal you up to eternal life.”

        “But Tim,” I can hear you say, “all you have to do is be faithful and endure to the end. The promise is the same.” Yep, you’re right. That’s what the scriptures say and I believe it, but I guess there’s just something about my personality that wants what Joseph said we could have and what he said we should do: to press on in faithfulness until we receive the Second Comforter and to have our calling and election made sure. Why don’t we teach this anymore? We used to when I was younger. I heard it from the pulpit all the time. I heard it in Sacrament meetings from the best men of our stake – bishops, stake presidents, High Councilors and many others. But I don’t hear it being taught today. “Milk before meat” they say. There are too many new members.

        Well, you asked, so there’s my answer: 1) I have a certain knowledge that there are spirit beings who surround us. I have seen them. They are real. I would prefer to say I have seen some of my relatives in the temple or something like that, but for some reason I had an opposite experience. And this is not the first time in my life I have seen them. It also happened in my youth. Maybe it’s a gift or a curse, I don’t know. All I can say is that I have seen them and I don’t like what I saw or felt when I saw them.

        2) I am more convinced than ever that the Savior wants me to come unto him in a literal and physical way that I never before thought possible. I am positive that He wants us to seek Him, to do whatever He asks of us that He can reveal Himself to us as he has promised in D&C 93:1. He will teach us. He will send angels to teach us how to prepare for that day. But it requires our greatest effort to do all that we feel led to do by his spirit each day. You asked, I answered. I don’t think any of this is a surprise to you. I’m an old man. I see no reason to not spend as much energy as the Lord gives me in pursuit of this objective. That’s it for now.

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  19. Hi Tim, quick question: how do you know Denver is under church investigation? I’ve only ever read that on your blog. Thank you!

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    • For Blufish, a reposting of my comment when I was asked that back in March: (Short Answer: Because Denver Snuffer told us so on his blog in several places). Here’s what I wrote back then: So many people have asked for the additional detail that I can’t keep up with the individual requests, so I’ll post it here. Please note: My sister, who is Elder Perry’s secretary, is NOT the inside source of this info:

      Without revealing the source, I think this can be shared, “Snuffer’s stake presidency was also leaned on by SLC to ex him. They told SLC to take a flying leap because they knew Snuffer well and knew he wasn’t apostate. In fact, until recently, he was on the High Council. Elders Christoffersen and Rasband have been assigned to read all of Snuffer’s stuff and get back to the SP later.” It’s been nearly a year since Denver advised us he was under investigation. I know from personal experience that the wheels of the church grind slowly, but smoothly. That report will be forthcoming soon if it has not already come forth. I find it interesting that Elder Christofferson is (or was) an attorney. As we know, Denver is also a practicing attorney. His skill with persuasion is evident.

      ——- A few quotes from Denver’s blog ——-

      From Denver’s blog, 7 May 2012: “…the Strengthening the Members Committee is a real group, although its existence was denied for a while by the church. … they are not supposed to be pressuring local leaders to harass church members. When they do, it is considered a violation of the process because all church discipline is supposed to be 1) local, and 2) independent. When they interfere it is inappropriate. … I want everyone to know if there is a problem which has offended a distant and imperial committee, it is not because I believe too little in the Lord, but too much in Him and too little in men. …they are misbehaving in a cowardly, unmanly way by this stealth attack. It would be far better, if they want to be credible, for them to address it openly. Do as I have invited them to do. Show me where I’m wrong. Let me respond. Let some sunlight on the matter.

      “It is shameful, even cowardly, to avoid and accuse from a shadow, only to later pretend they weren’t involved. Pressuring local, reluctant leaders who know better from personal experience with their local members is manipulative. I consider the words chosen by me to be measured, appropriate and inspired by the right reaction to a cowardly and shameful act by this subversive committee. They are wrong to behave this way. They have probably engaged in illegal activity by leaking onto the Internet what should be kept confidential. I have done them a service by alerting them to this misconduct. Surely, no matter how misguided their deliberations may be, they intend to preserve their legal protection to claim to have privileges under the law. That protection is forfeited when they act this way.”

      From Denver’s Blog, 15 May 2012: “Now, I find a nameless, distant committee in the Church Office Building questioning my faithfulness (based on Internet leaks from the COB). Though the local authorities have shown nothing but acceptance for me, and I have served honorably and without controversy in my ward and stake, these distant Strengthening the Members Committee, who know nothing of me and have never talked to me, think it their prerogative to meddle. …Seek for God. There is none who can save you but God. If the Strengthening the Members Committee determines to pressure the local authorities to make a decision they would never have made on their own, then you are casting away a friend, not an enemy. To my knowledge this would be the first time you decide to impose discipline from inside the Church Office Building against someone who:

      -Does not challenge your right to preside.
      -Sustains the leaders.
      -Has written about the scriptures and doctrine from a faithful view.
      -Has defended the restoration and Joseph Smith.
      -Has attempted to conform our history to the scriptures.
      -And who will be weighed against your vanity and injured pride rather than the tenants of the underlying religion.

      For my fellow Latter-day Saint (and the Central Command) who choose to condemn me, there is something about this moment you ought to pause to consider. This intersection is not one you want to be in, really. What if I am telling the truth? What if I’m right? In the final analysis, I am a Mormon. I am converted to this faith and will remain converted to it whether you decide to withdraw fellowship or not. My religion will remain whether you let me remain a member of this church or not. Were I in your shoes, I’d welcome someone as committed to the faith as I am, and never adopt the role of an accuser of any Saint. I claim to belong to God, not to you. If you decide to pressure local authorities to cast me off, there is another law decreed before the foundation of the world you will perhaps inadvertently invoke against yourself. This is not the intersection you want to be in, and I mean that in all seriousness and with all my heart; for your sake, not for mine. I know my standing before God, and nothing you can do will alter or affect that, but how you treat me may alter your standing before Him. For your own sake, I would ask you not to do something you will later very much regret.”

      From Denver’s blog, 17 May 2012: “If there is a problem with Mormonism today, it is that it doesn’t believe and practice the original faith restored through Joseph Smith. Leaders have inadvertently put themselves between the members and God. They don’t belong there. I have written eight books (at great personal cost) showing respect to the church, gratitude for all it has done and is doing to preserve the faith restored through Joseph, but also reminding all who read that it is ultimately about connecting with Jesus Christ. You will be damned if you are a successful Mormon with a good relationship with the brethren, but neglect your relationship with Christ. Those in the Strengthening the Membership Committee are in the gall of bitterness when they suggest my writings are threatening to them.”

      ——- End of quotes from Denver’s blog ——-

      I loved Denver’s comments on his blog about the Strengthening Church Members Committee. He flat out challenged them to take action against him, making it clear that he knew the Lord and knew what he was talking about. Wow! Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. I am still amazed how powerfully the Lord witnessed to my soul that what Denver wrote was true the first time I read “Passing the Heavenly Gift” at the invitation of my former bishop. We served together in a bishopric (I was his counselor) and now serve together in the Stake Presidency (me as a clerk and he as the Executive Secretary).

      As Denver says, there is no need to leave the church we love. It is in the church that we can love, serve and strengthen one another. I still feel the power of the Lord with me when I prepare and teach when asked. For me, there’s nothing like speaking in Sacrament meeting or teaching the Gospel Doctrine class. The Lord pours out his spirit and I know I feel edified. Others tell me they do too. It is to the church I gratefully pay my tithing, attend the temple, strive to magnify my calling and help my Stake President.

      Source: https://latterdaycommentary.com/2013/03/03/all-are-invited-to-the-feast/ (Comment, March 6, 2013 at 10:52pm). I have nothing new to add since that time. Perhaps someone will ask that question at one of his upcoming lectures.

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      • Thank you so much Tim. Not sure how I missed all of that. I hope they treat him as Jesus would. (p.s. i really enjoyed reading Ray and Annalea’s comments on this thread) thank you.

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      • P.s. how do I get in on hearing about your expeierence in dealing with evil spirits that you referenced above??

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      • Hi Blufish,

        Since you asked, I will post it here later. I don’t think Tyce will mind. He and I have a long history that goes way back. He is intimately familiar with what happened to me in February that resulted in a couple of ER visits. I attribute them to a “visit” from a lost soul or two that got trapped – at my request – and caused me great distress. Here’s a link to a PDF that describes what happened:

        http://3tcm.net/MyExperienceInDealingWithUncleanSpirits.pdf

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      • Tim, if you are going to quote from a particular blog post, please include the most damning part of the post. You ended your excerpt thus:

        “Those in the Strengthening the Membership Committee are in the gall of bitterness when they suggest my writings are threatening to them.”

        What followed in that same paragraph is enlightening:

        “To promote faith in Christ threatens their **fifedom**? To testify of Christ somehow dimishes the men who claim to represent Him? The idea is so patently off kilter that **it reveals a dark motive to place respect for men above faith in Christ**.”

        It’s hard to make a more damning charge than that, especially when not one of the people charged believes that “to testify of Christ” is the issue in question.

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      • Ray wrote: “It’s hard to make a more damning charge than that, especially when not one of the people charged believes that “to testify of Christ” is the issue in question.”

        How on earth could they really ever make testifying of Christ the issue? However, that seems to be a red flag, doesn’t it, based on the pattern in the post above.

        If the church kicks Brother Snuffer out for believing something other than the sanitized Pollyanna version of church history produced by the Church History Department, then honestly not a single member with an inquiring mind could feel secure in their membership. The leadership turn into thought police, and we all must become, mentally speaking, Camazotsian in order to maintain membership.

        I keep getting the feeling that the outcome of Brother Snuffer’s situation is a pivot, upon which a tremendous number of following events will swing.

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      • “If the church kicks Brother Snuffer out for believing something other than the sanitized Pollyanna version of church history produced by the Church History Department,”

        That’s not the charge, Annalea – and neither is testifying of Christ.

        We can have a productive discussion, but it won’t happen if we can’t address or even acknowledge why this is happening. If the claim is that Denver is facing discipline for the things you have written, there is absolutely nowhere to go. Anyone who defends Denver has to accept everything he has said and deal with the actual reason he is in this situation.

        Steve does that in the other thread, when he says that if God sent Denver then Denver can condemn whomever he chooses to condemn. I can respect that position, even if I don’t agree with his view of Denver, since it openly and honestly admits that Denver has, in fact, condemned the LDS Church leadership. Clouding the issue by not admitting and addressing that central fact does absolutely nothing to defend Denver, since it doesn’t address why he is seen as a threat – and saying it’s about “testifying of Christ” is ludicrous to anyone who also testifies of Christ and is in no threat of disciplinary action. To them, making that charge only strengthens their opinion against Denver. It doesn’t help him in any way, and it hurts him in a real way by “bearing false witness” for him.

        I’m going to say this carefully but frankly:

        If his defenders won’t deal with what he’s actually written and defend the quotes where he literally condemns and attacks the Church and its leaders, it’s pointless. Deal with those quotes, and this conversation can continue; continue the charge that he’s facing action because he testifies of Christ, and it ends now.

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      • I appreciate frankness.

        Equally as frankly: the decision on the charge against Denver (that continued publication of Passing the Heavenly Gift constitutes an act of apostasy, per the summons letter) is a foregone conclusion. My husband recently taught the lesson on avoiding apostasy in Gospel Doctrine. I’m more than familiar with the corporate church’s definition of apostasy. Under their definition, Denver’s guilty of apostasy. By his own actions, and what I understand of his stance through what I’ve read of his writings, he’s not going to comply with any of the demands set forth in said letter. Therefore, they will find him guilty of said “apostasy”. Which means saying things that the leaders of the church don’t like.

        (Understand I am not, in any way, speaking for Denver. I’m surmising and sharing what I believe will happen–nothing more.)

        Most of all, I find it truly odd that grown men, men supposedly the most refined and wise and full of the Holy Spirit, cannot seem to follow two things I have been taught (in church, by my leaders) all of my life:

        1) When someone attacks the church or its leaders, God always turns it to His purposes, and people join the church. So don’t fight it. Just answer questions happily when people ask about it.

        2) If someone attacks me verbally, I’m to follow the example of Christ, and either open not my mouth, or respond in love and reach out to them.

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      • And many thanks, Blufish, for your compliment. I have enjoyed this exchange, as well . . . these conversations always hone and refine my own understanding of so many things. 🙂

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      • Thank you, Annalea.

        Any reasonably objective observer can see that Denver is guilty of apostasy in the traditional sense of that word, and I appreciate you and Steve recognizing and dealing with it openly.

        Frankly, I think this wouldn’t have come to a head if Denver hadn’t scheduled a “tour” to promote his teachings in PtHG more widely – if the leadership wasn’t concerned that he would be charging the Church and its leadership with apostasy on an even broader public scale. I think they see the tour as open defiance, and I think they are justified in that view – whether Denver sees it that way or not. Based on his most recent writings, I believe he has come to see himself as a prophet called to preach repentance to the Church.

        I might be wrong about that, since I don’t know him personally and have never spoken with him about it, but that is the message that I get from his most recent writings. I don’t see it in his earlier works, but I definitely see it in PtHG and in his blog. In “The Second Comforter”, he even taught that respecting and accepting the authorized Priesthood line was important and a sign of humility and discipleship. (my own summary) I think leaders probably see the same thing, since he is not being asked to back away from any of his other books and writings.

        Fwiw, I see someone who started out very differently than he has ended up – but, again, that is only my own view, limited as it is.

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  20. Tyce, fwiw, there was no offense taking on my part. I simply disagreed with the implications of the title and the message it portrayed in the post as a result.

    I also will point out that saying someone took offense often relieves one from actually considering what has been said. I have read that charge too many times in my years online, accompanied by no attempt whatsoever to understand – and it has happened on both sides of any discussion. It can be a legitimate criticism (and often is), but it also can be the opposite side of the exact same coin – a reflexive dismissal that, in nature, is taking offense at the impression of another taking offense.

    I’m not saying that is what you did. I don’t know you well enough to say one way or the other, and there is no objective reason to read that into your comment. I’m merely pointing out that saying someone took offense isn’t always accurate. More often than not, it simply means, “S/he disagrees with me and is so obviously wrong that I can dismiss the input without serious consideration.”

    Frankly, I probably did that (read offense being taken) with Annalea’s initial response to me – and she probably did it initially with me, as well. The key is that we continued to discuss the issue, so, hopefully, we both now realize it wasn’t a case of taking offense. Rather, it probably is simply a case of seeing things differently and, therefore, disagreeing. In other words, it’s a case of being human.

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  21. I have been hungering for the “meat” of the gospel/doctrine starting several years ago. I am now in a position to have more time to really study and search and read. I found Denver Snuffer’s site by accident and love what he writes. I read about what happened to Mel Fish. I did not know about Max Skousen and heard mention of George Pace.
    I agree with you Tim. My wishful thinking is that one day the church will create a class for those who are ready for more meat, or at least help those who are ready for more.
    There are a lot of things the “church” does that really bothers me, and it makes me wonder about how unfair some of it is. I also wonder about how Christ will straighten it all out, and if the top leaders will get special treatment when Christ comes the way certain members get special treatment over the general membership these days. And what about those like Denver, Max, George, and Mel – will it really be that big of a deal to Christ?
    There is so much more I would like to say but will refrain. I accidentally found your site and I really like it! It is great to find people in the church who think like I do. Keep up the good work with your posts.

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    • JRSG:
      I think that if we have a strong relationship with Christ and are familiar with and depend on the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, seeking deeper knowledge with that ‘companionship’ of the Spirit’ guiding us, we are fulfilling a portion of the destiny that our Heavenly Father has for us.
      Prayer keeps us close to Him, and teaches us how to recognise the Spirits confirmation of truth when we come upon those choice nuggets of deeper doctrines.
      Thank you for your thoughts on this.

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      • Christ promised us a feast. An overflowing, amazingly bounteous, huge, rejoicing, wedding feast. That’s not done solo. Yes, we absolutely must study and ponder and be close to Christ on our own . . . but when the saints gather and signs aren’t manifest, when meat isn’t distributed freely to all, why on earth do we meet together? Babies learn to eat by watching their parents. They go through what’s called a “sensitive period” around a year old, a several-month phase when they literally imprint the eating patterns they see around them–most specifically their mother’s. (I only learned this just a few months *after* my last baby went through that. lol/argh)

        The scriptures are full of examples of people hearing, and not understanding. I’ve watched people in sunday school and in private conversations be offered meat, and completely ignore it as nonsense. If someone’s not ready for some truth or other, it’s not going to make any sense, and they’ll continue on their merry way until they prepare their hearts for it.

        “For if I had not been born of God,I should not have known these things.” ~Alma 38:6

        But if meat is never offered, for fear of damning someone with knowledge for which some mortal believes they’re not ready, those who are ready for it are damned because they aren’t invited in to the feast. I find it hard to believe that the leaders that push the “milk before meat” mantra encourage investigators and new members to read the Book of Mormon, because there’s nothing BUT meat in that book. ;o)

        Once someone understands what feasting in company with the saints really means, it’s a cherished, prized, sought-after experience . . . and it’s excruciating to just sit back and say “well, the correlation committee knows best”, as you watch hours and hours squandered on fluffy & peripheral chat.

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  22. Denver has been served with a notice to appear before a disciplinary council. His wife posted the notice on his blog:

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/08/dont-call-me-yes-that-means-you-too_23.html

    Yes. I am sad. It is specifically for the publication of “Passing the Heavenly Gift,” the book I read first, and the same book which the spirit confirmed to me contained truth.

    Wiow. I am literally in shock. From what I understand, it was not unexpected. He hinted at it often in his blog in the past.

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    • Pretty hard to take. There hasn’t been any recent writers that have propelled me further into the scriptures and increased my faith more than Denver.

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  23. Tim,
    I could not copy and paste here because I do not own the book, but I was reading the excerpt from Denver’s book PTHG and find the 3 paragraphs on page 6 both ironic and disheartening. I am not sure why Saints just don’t get it. Perhaps you could paste here for me if anyone else finds this of interest.
    I also found the verbiage in the letter to Bro Snuffer regarding his court summons as crushing and disheartening. It makes me feel fragile and vulnerable that my own membership in the Church could be so shaky and at risk of cancel when I personally stand firm in my devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and feel daily the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

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    • I agree, Betty. I felt the same way when I read the summons.

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  24. The church is a flawed institution made up of people. Not everyone holds priesthood power and when I was reading D&C 121: 16 – 22 this morning, I was also thinking of those who will sit in the position to judge Brother Snuffer. Wo to them and caution. A position of office in the church does not mean that person has priesthood power or is exercising righteous dominion. We dont know and shouldn’t judge the Stake president but I do believe there are many victims of those who claim such power unrighteously. We can pray until the cows come home about a topic, but without repentance, how can we be sure what we are hearing is the Spirit of the Lord and not our own insertion or will? Whether we agree or disagree with Snuffer’s writings is up to us and between us and the Lord. Snuffer never has claimed to be an authority or officially representing the Church in his writings – nor have I read anything from him that is against the Church or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe the church has been in apostasy for a long time, but am I going anywhere else? No. I was a convert in high school and did not grow up in Utah, but the things that converted me to this gospel is the power and authority of the priesthood and the restoration – not the entanglements of men. If my testimony was ever built on such shaky ground I wouldn’t bother with this church at all. Brother Snuffer has touched on many of my own personal thoughts and has been spiritual food that is much needed for me. Reading his books incites in me personal conversation with The Lord. Is he an apostate? I don’t think so, in fact I think it is insane to define him as such. In the end, The Lord is Snuffer’s judge and I believe when I prayed about it this morning, I had my own revelation about it which I won’t mention here. However, I think everyone should be praying for that Stake president right now, because if he is wrong – I would be deeply concerned for him as our brother. A whole lot of weakness is in the heart of man. Priesthood power comes directly from God and we can’t be a vessel of such power if we don’t repent and step out of God’s way. It is His power alone and by His will do we receive such. I can say, when we criticize those who act under the will and authority of God, then we are going up against God Himself. We need to pray for revelation on the truth of what we read, and if we are repentant and clear to receive clear revelation, then we will know. But wo to those who judge that which is God’s work. Scary position to be a “judge of Zion”. I don’t envy any of it. There is much more to say, but if you find what you read edifying and in alignment with the scriptures, along with your relationship with God – and you are receiving affirmation from the Holy Ghost of its truth – then I would go with that other than any “man’s” opinion. Ultimately it is all between you and The Lord – not between you and a prophet or the arm of flesh. The real question for me, is the person who is acting actually acting through the power of the priesthood or is he another weak man acting on fear. If someone is mistaken, then why not offer truth and clarification? I believe Brother Snuffer would shift gears if truth was revealed to him that is contrary to what he wrote. There is nothing malicious I have witnessed through his writings but there seems to be something malicious about the treatment of those who discuss doctrine in a way that might shed light even on the negative. I think disciplinary action is such a serious thing that we must consider the purpose behind the discipline to begin with. Is it to condemn, to help the person or is it because we are afraid? We believe in our Savior Jesus Christ. The big question is what is of Christ and what is not? Who is acting on behalf of Christ and who is not? The Stake President is claiming not only his official position in the Church but also is acting as a judge for God by power of priesthood. It is a real challenge for me to feel anything from God in his letter. I felt fear because of his own beliefs and issues. I am not saying my feelings are truth, but that is what I am picking up from it. I don’t see Snuffer as claiming authority or position of such power over the exaltation of another man’s soul. Like I said – scary stuff. Pray for that Stake President and for the Lord’s will to be achieved through him. Or perhaps The Lord has greater plans in mind for Brother Snuffer. Only we can ask Father to know truth. My truth is I am going to pray for the Stake president. He is going to need all the prayers he can get to make this decision.

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  25. Hi Tim,
    Thank you for your great blog. I haven’t written in a forum in a long time. I do know some things about Max Skousen, and just a little bit about Mel Fish, so I wanted to share. I throw in my $.02 about Denver Snuffer too.

    Around 2000-2001 timeframe, I began to move away from the mainstream of the church. I remember reading an NDE from Mellen Thomas Benedict and believing it to be true, regardless if the church would approve or not. I then happened upon Max Skousen and his teachings. I called and spoke with Max numerous times before he died. I remember talking about his brother Cleon and how much Cleon was upset with him because of his teachings. I remember thinking how close minded his brother was along with the church members.

    I have since thrown away Max’s books, but I will try to give a general feel for his teachings and the problems with them. The concept you brought up regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil and the Tree of Life is a great one. I believe there is some definite truth in it. Max was great at using symbolism. There are some good things to glean.

    However, what Max was really teaching was “enlightenment” through using Mormon canon. Enlightenment is transcending the ego. It is submitting your will completely to a higher power. Enlightenment worships the universal God, not the personal one. You become god. You have everything you need within you. There is no need from outside sources of help such as from Christ. Of course, the teachings do not state this directly, but it is where the teaching leads you. Ultimately, there is no real Fall, no real devil, and there is only good in the world. You create your own salvation and paradise. The atonement is just symbolic. I could go on, but you get the point.

    My advice is to stay away from Max’s teachings. I once heard from a friend that after Max had died, Max came to some of those who followed him in a dream (? unsure) and told them to cease following his teachings and follow Christ. This may or may not be true. I heard it from someone who heard it from someone – you know how that goes.

    n regards to Mel Fish – I spoke with him one time. Definitely interesting. You can tell the whole evil spirit realm comes really natural to him as he has been involved for some time. I think he forgets how strange this can be for the average person to take in. I certainly appreciate him shedding light on this topic. I applaud you for doing the same. It is a real game changer and wakes you up to a new reality (quite literally in your case ). I wish to study these things in more depth at some point in my life.

    Anyway, the only thing that I thought controversial about his teaching is that evil spirits/devils (not unclean spirits) can repent. This is not doctrine, as far as I understand it from a scriptural basis. He believes it firmly and told an amazing story wherein an evil spirit (1/3 of the host of heaven that followed Lucifer) had repented and then had been born into the world, gaining his second estate. Amazing stuff. I am not saying it neither right nor wrong. I really do not know and honestly I haven’t prayed about it myself. Like most things, I am open to it. However, you can see that this is new revelation that he is openly teaching. It is beyond what the church teaches. This is a problem for the church.

    According to you though, it seems he was excommunicated because of priestcraft. If this is the case, I do not agree with that reason, according to what I know and heard about him. But of course, teaching doctrine that is not scripturally based is obviously a problem. I could see him being excommunicated for this if was asked to stop, but refused.

    As for Denver, I can’t speak much to him because I haven’t read his books. I have read some of what you have written about him. Truly, he has some great stuff in it, especially his main message – the purpose of the gospel in gaining knowledge directly from the second comforter. This has helped me greatly. I want to read his books and will when I can.

    However, I will say this about Denver – why not keep his message to just that? Why the need to go after the church so aggressively in his criticisms? Let me get this straight: a man converts to the church, bringing fresh eyes, and taking truths more literally than most 7th generation saints, and then actually takes the Lord up on his word and follows the correct path to true knowledge. How wonderful. But then, he calls out and heavily criticizes the very church that allowed him to have that experience? Honestly, I think he makes great points in his criticism, but to keep doing it with such dedication now, like it’s his only message. It’s like he has lost his real message and traded it in for something destructive. Nothing good comes of this now. If he is a prophet come to set the church straight, then come out with boldness and proclaim that this is your calling and mission. If it is not your calling or mission, then help uphold the very church that allowed such wondrous experiences, so more members can have this experience too. He hasn’t done this. This saddens me. Now, I believe, his message will be less read and cast aside as if it has no value. Further, I do not feel that the church wants to pursue this course. The church is in a tough spot and he is not relenting. In fact, it appears that he is increasing the pressure, forcing the church’s hand. This is just my outside observation and judgment. Surely, if I knew more about it, then I may have a different opinion.

    Thanks Tim for your openness and a wonderful blog.

    Like

    • Jmhiatt, thank you very much for this post. I’ve been agonizing the last few days because of all of this. You’ve helped me. If Denver is a prophet, I wish he’d frankly proclaim as much. What does he have to lose at this point?

      Like

      • {Ahem}

        http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-sign.html

        Blufish, that seems pretty frank to me.

        Like

    • I think this might help clarify some of what you’re struggling with:

      http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/08/current-events.html

      Like

  26. Well, it’s been a few days since the last comment. Has the topic of the blog moved on to the next new thing, or is there still someone left who cares?

    I just want to point out that the Lord has given us the defining parable that teaches us the destiny of the Church, and how Zion is to be redeemed. It’s not pretty, but it provides us the view of Christ, as it relates to the twelve, his servants and their works.

    It causes my heart to rejoice and shout hallelujah that I ever came to know of this glorious work, and the prophet whom God called to head it up. Let us gird up our loins and pray for and sustain our beloved leaders, before the day comes, when they arise, affrighted, and flee away, and their works destoyed.

    Trust in the Lord who shall send his servant to gather the strength of his house, his warriors, the young men and middle age men, to redeem his vineyard, for it is his.

    Oh what joy when Israel sees eye to eye. How beautiful it is to dwell together in love and harmony. How beautiful upon the mountains! We know we are his and this is his work.

    Onward brethren!!!

    (See more at voicesfromthedust.org)

    Like

  27. As a youth I read Max Skousen’s book “How to Pray and Stay Awake” and it changed my life.

    Like

  28. Tim, I apologize for the very rude comments I made toward you a few days ago. I did not read enough of the things you have written on your blog before engaging in way over the top condemnation of you. I have spent this evening reading many of the things you have written and the comments made by others and find you a very good and inquisitive man.

    I hope you accept my apology. I tend to be very sensitive to having discovered many things that have disturbed me since being excommunicated 17 years ago for sharing similar experiences that Denver Smith describes.

    At that time I thought these were honest mistakes on the part of the FP and Gordon B. Hinckley who directed my being removed from the church I love will all my heart.

    I was told by my Stake President he contacted the office of the FP to receive instruction concerning my being brought before him, and he informed me he had received a letter from the FP directing my excommunication and was told to discard the letter, signed by Gordon Hinckley.

    At that time I was very ignorant of church law regarding the the procedures for removing a person;s membership and later discovered that only a Stake Pres. has the authority to do so.

    My Stake Pres never gave me the chance to defend my position and when going before the Stake High Council for my trial, I was denied an opportunity to speak for myself and was simply dismissed after the charges were read and the sentence pronounced.

    The charge was Apostasy. I had never published anything concerning my experiences with the Lord but I was sharing them with those whom I thought may benefit from them. Apparently this is an offense to God. For me to tell my brothers & sisters that I had seen God & Our Savior and we spoke. I was certainly not offended by that personal experience but apparently it offended everyone else including the FP.

    Something just does not add up. I know what I experienced and you would at least think they would want to hear about my experience before proclaiming it to be an Apostate encounter with Satan or who ever they must have thought I was conversing with.

    They came to me in response to a heart felt prayer that merely wanted to know if they really existed. As part of what they revealed to me, they informed me of the Lord’s Church they would introduce me to and the rest was history. I was finally home among my truest brothers & sisters.

    I was at first thrilled to be among people for who a man like Joseph Smith had an encounter just like my own. I was home. But after 23 years of faithful service and loving every minute of it, I guess it must have been wrong for me to eventually share my encounter with God & His Son. I thought it would LIFT the spirits of those who proclaimed to believe the testimony of Joseph Smith. I guess I was wrong.

    But since the time I was excommunicated and began educating myself, I have found things not to be so well in Zion and feel a bit angry at times for what has happened to me and all that my family has been subjected to as a result of being tagged as an Apostate Husband & Father for having proclaimed to simply know God & His Son by having met with them when I was a 20 year old lost soul searching for the truth and profoundly found it.

    This reality has brought me more sadness that I can relate to you in this note. But how could I deny what I saw & experienced without offending God ? I guess I chose to offend man instead and have paid a very heavy price for that. But the Lord has promised to redeem and confirm my words in his own due time. And I trust the Lord at His Word.

    So all I can do is wait and empathize with those who have suffered similar fates.

    Sorry for getting so indignent with you. It’s just that I tend to feel a little more sensitive to these things than yourself when it comes to experiencing what all this has caused my family to suffer for the past 17 years.

    I do not respect or sustain these false leaders who have caused so much suffering to many like myself who have simply tried to share with my brothers and sisters that God does indeed speak with us face to face when the right conditions and circumstances are met for an individual.

    I did not always feel this way when first giving them the benefit of the doubt for maybe being too busy to prayerfully consider my words. But since that time and after becoming wiser to information I discovered in the scriptures….and the fact that so many others have suffered similar fates….This is intentional and unforgivable coming from those who lead us and are held by God to a higher standard of exactness by virtue of their authority over us, but abuse it often.

    This is the Mystery of Iniquity already at work spoken of in the scriptures which will eventually be exposed by Christ. It is also describes the warning given to us in the BOM to not let this Secret Combination to get above us…It already has.

    If you had felt the pain I and my family have suffered, you would not be so tolerant of sustaining men who willfully abused you.

    I love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rob: My heart burned within me as I read your words. Your comment came in my email just as I finished re-reading Max Skousen’s great work, “How to Pray and Stay Awake.” This was one of Max’s more orthodox works. His writings on the Temple endowment and Book of Mormon (A Blessing Hitherto Unknown) have blessed the lives of many. Yet he was excommunicated twice.

      Max was at peace with the first decision. He said it gave him the freedom to write and share what he felt the Lord wanted him to publish. He also made reference to having entered into the rest of the Lord during this period. He was baptized again, continued sharing material he felt would be acceptable to the Brethren, but apparently displeased his local bishop, who cast him off again.

      I don’t pretend to understand what goes through the heart and mind of an individual who has been excommunicated for apostasy, especially when they know they have shared something sacred, that they felt would be uplifting to their hearers. Worse yet would be excommunication after doing what the Lord asked you to do in sharing your testimony and witness of the event.

      According to my friend jmhiatt in the comments above its rumored Max came to some of his readers after he passed away and told them to focus on Christ. That makes sense. We read the same thing from Denver Snuffer all the time. I have always said the purpose of my blogging is to help me come unto Christ. I have a need to share, in writing, before I can internalize some things.

      The LDS church is going through a difficult transition right now. The younger generation has come to see things differently because of the Internet. We are witnessing the LDS church change doctrine right before our eyes. Documents are appearing on the official website, presumably written by scholars and most assuredly passed carefully through the correlation committee.

      The church continues to insist disciplinary councils are conducted solely at the direction of local priesthood leaders – Bishops or Stake Presidents. There have been too many obvious examples of this being untrue – I’m saying this as kindly as I know how. There are priesthood leaders who will excommunicate for a comment on a blog or forum, while others participate in the dialog.

      The test is in Section 121. If the disciplinary effort is intended to control the actions, attitude or beliefs of a member, or to compel them into a certain course of action by virtue of the dominion of the priesthood leader, then amen to the priesthood of that leader. It can rightfully be said any efforts to control what a member of the church says or writes are not sanctioned by the Lord.

      We use the word apostasy in this church when heresy is what is intended. Apostasy means to leave or withdraw voluntarily. Heresy is a “questionable” understanding or interpretation of the scriptures. Which leads to the question: Who has the right to interpret scripture or proclaim what is doctrine? For the church, it’s the fifteen men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators.

      Or is it a committee of scholars and members of the correlation committee? I won’t go there. For me, salvation is a sacred experience between me, my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I’ve asked them for direction in understanding what I must do to be prepared to enter their presence, which we have been promised can take place in this life, and which Joseph often encouraged us to seek.

      I have been led to read many things that I probably never would have read in my younger years. When I was ready, a friend introduced me to the writings of Denver Snuffer. I have learned more from Denver Snuffer about what I must do to come unto Christ than I have from all my years of studying the correlated doctrines of the church each Sunday or reading official LDS publications.

      Rob, I was sorry to read of your experience with being cast off for sharing your testimony of the Father and the Son. That was before you were a member of the LDS Church, correct? See, that just verifies for me the teachings in Alma 13 are true – we bring priesthood with us. This is a doctrine that is not taught in our official curriculum but which I have come to know to be true.

      I would like to learn more about your experience. I hope you would be willing to share it openly but if you prefer the privacy of an email I would love to understand it better. All I can suggest is to forgive those who have cast you out. The Savior requires it of us. The test for all prophets – true or false – is found in their fruits. We are to beware of ravening wolves – who feed upon the flock.

      Like

  29. Tim, I just read your comments to my remarks I made yesterday. It brought me to tears to see you have not held my earlier rude comments against me. Thank you Brother. I’ve been reading many more things throughout your site and I feel your spirit of love and just wanting to know what is true.

    You are the very first person who has ever asked me to elaborate on my experiences with our Brother & Father, even though word had gotten around that I shared my testimony of them and having met with them before.

    I’ve always been loved and respected for my general character and disposition, but when it came to anyone even being curious about the things I would gladly share with them, no one has ever asked. I would love to hear anyone’s experience with our Brother & Father….We are all family.

    I waited almost 20 years before sharing my testimony with a young man I felt inspired to share it with because he had so many doubts concerning his understanding of the Lord and what He is like. He became very excited and began telling others what I had revealed to him and all of a sudden I became public enemy # 1.

    His own membership was threatened for not backing off believing what I had revealed to him and I had to beg him to retract his interest in these things in order to protect him from what he obviously didn’t see coming from his naive young perspective on trusting that all men in the church were a tuned to the Spirit of Truth.

    I would very much like to share my entire experience with you. But I don’t feel it wise to share this openly and prefer to write it in a letter. I will look through your site to see if your home address is listed & will write you. If it is not listed I would appreciate you giving it to me.

    Believe it or not, I’m 60 years old and don’t have a real email address. The one I listed on this post was because it was required to comment. I have no idea how to email. I’ve just always preferred the old fashion way of letter writing. I have written letters to my grown children everyday since they left home. This is how I spend all my spare time. And doing a little reading and study of course.

    I have come to have a profound respect for your honesty and inquisitive nature. And I can see you are a kind and gentle man. A man truly of God. I love to hear a man say he prays and simply receives his answers. Why is this so profoundly odd to many who proclaim to be the Lord’s own ?

    You are a man that I trust would maybe appreciate what I am willing to privately share with anyone who would like to hear what I know of Our Heavenly Father and Our Brother.

    I’ll begin writing my letter now. Hope to find your address. Thank you for forgiving my previous very uncalled for remarks. I’m not accustomed to coming across too many people wanting to hear all what a man would have to say about God and His Son.

    You are the very first person to ever ask me…..So why would I deny such an honest & inquisitive request ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rob, this is an old blog post and therefore an older thread. I’m so glad I made a comment on it because I’ve been getting your last couple of comments sent to me via email. (I never get emails from Tims site, so Im so happy to be getting these) I wish I could give you a hug! I would *love* to hear more about your experiences beyond the veil. And it really touched me to hear you write your children letters every day. Wow. I believe you. I respect you. If you feel good about sending me a letter, I’d love to receive one!
      Is there a way I can send you my address privately?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m with Sarah! I also was following comments on this post, back when it was first published, and was surprised to get an email a few days ago with Rob’s comment in it . . . but I’m so very glad I did!

        I have seen our Lord Jesus Christ in a dream . . . and it is one of the most precious and empowering things to ever happen to me.

        Rob, there is a web site where you could share your experience along with many others’, if you are interested. There are a lot of us out there who have encountered Jesus Christ in very real ways.

        I don’t recommend most of the rest of the public areas of the site (it can get pretty contentious, since it’s mostly about politics), but this one discussion thread is beautiful:

        http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=31742

        Like

    • That would be wonderful, Rob. My mailing address is in the About Tim section: https://latterdaycommentary.com/about-tim/

      But here it is as well: 2481 Balmoral Ct, Camarillo CA 93010. I look forward to reading your account. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  30. Hi Tim, thanks for letting me have your home address. The details of what I am willing to share with you should not be placed on an open forum of any kind. But I see a few others are interested in what I am willing to share with those of Faith & honest inquisitive curiosity.

    Feel free to prayerfully share this with those who want to know…like Sarah & Annalea But please do it by letter. You will understand my request after reading my letter to you.

    My heart goes out to those honestly in Search of the Face of Our Brother & Father. Seeing Their Faces will soon be a common experience among those who truly Love God and Our Savoir.

    God Bless all those who seek what the Lord has Commanded.

    Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. PS My letter will be sent out Monday afternoon, 7-21-14. I Hope to hear from a fellow Brother or Sisters seeking God as I have. It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rob. I look forward to receiving and reading your letter.

      Like

    • Rob: I received your letters safely. They were waiting for me when I arrived home from our extended vacation to attend the Sunstone Symposium last week. I hope to read and respond within the next few days. Thanks again for trusting me with your story. I’ve already enjoyed perusing the first few pages. It is well written. I can tell I will enjoy the process of reading, digesting and responding. God bless you my friend.

      Like

    • Hi again Rob. I read both your letters. The Lord prompted me I needed to do so before retiring for the evening. After reading them, I would like to write you privately with questions. You say you don’t do email. I find that cumbersome but if that’s the way you would like to communicate, I will honor your request.

      Rob, there are a lot of missing details in both your letters. I am not doubting what you have written. It is not in my nature. I am a trusting individual until the Lord shows me otherwise. I express my love for you and what you have shared in confidence. As requested, I will not be sharing it until we have some additional dialog.

      Are you sure you don’t do email? The timing on what you shared needs to be verified within the next thirty days. There’s a reason for that. If you don’t like Gmail because it is really not private (Google will give copies to any federal agency that asks), I invite you to email me at my own domain: tim@3tcm.net. Can we try that just for the next month?

      Thanks and God bless you my friend.

      Like

  32. This has been an interesting journey. I have read the article and all the comments and have responded to many of them, as I am wont to do with such interesting subject.matter. It has taken me several hours but has been worth it, as it has been very mind stimulating. Thank you, Tim, for providing such interesting material as this and for all the comments that followed. Now I can finally go to bed, as it’s 2:30 AM. Goodnight, Gracie. Goodnight, George. May the peace of God rest upon us all, and as described by Bro. Max Skousen. 🙂

    Like

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