What to Expect When You’re Excommunicated


WhatToExpectRockWatermanIf you’re drawn to this blog post by the title, I ask you to look past that to the subtitle. It is “The Believing Mormon’s Guide to the Coming Purge.” Although this will be a review of Rock’s book, I hope it will also provide background and detail on why long-time members of the LDS Church would be willing to lay it all on the line in defending an idea that many find shocking.

The idea is this: The LDS Church is in a state of apostasy and has been since before the death of Joseph Smith. The first time I posted about Denver Snuffer, I invited dialog on his teachings. I certainly did receive it – from both sides. One comment in particular stuck with me. I have been pondering it for years, wondering if it represented an accurate summary of Denver’s message.

This is the comment: “Snuffer’s position can be summed up as follows: I was personally visited by Christ who made my calling and election sure, told me I was part of the true church within the dead church, that he would soon call others like me, and it was my job to help with that.” This was from reader “Fred” on 27 April 2012. I wondered what Fred meant by “…the dead church.”

Gentiles Shall Reject the Fullness

Rock’s book answers that specific question. Rock, of course, is Alan Rock Waterman, proprietor of the “Pure Mormonism” blog, a saucy site that dishes out hot servings of LDS Doctrine with a small twist: “…much of what passes for doctrine among my fellow Saints appears to contain ‘the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.’” His writings focus on early restoration doctrine.

Rock examines the warnings of the falling away of the latter-day saints in our day as foretold in the Book of Mormon. Of course, most Mormons scratch their heads and say, “What warnings?” The discussion centers around 3rd Nephi 16:10 where the Lord says, “…when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel…” Just who are the Gentiles?

In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109:60), Joseph said the “revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” In other words, the Gentiles the Lord referred to in 3rd Nephi 16:10 are in the LDS Church. I have heard the arguments opposing this idea and remain convinced Joseph had it right. We are the Gentiles.

The Higher Priesthood Was Lost

Of course, the next question to be answered is what is the fullness of the gospel? Regular readers of this blog know we have examined that question in particular. In summary, the fullness is the higher priesthood. It is actually more than that, but “higher priesthood” is a good summary. That includes the idea of entering into the presence of the Lord and receiving the Second Comforter.

When did the LDS Church reject the Higher Priesthood? Joseph taught in D&C 124:28 that the higher priesthood could only be restored in the Nauvoo temple, and urged the saints to complete it as soon as possible. Sadly, the temple was not completed before Joseph’s death. Instead of the promised blessings of verses 40-45, the church received the cursings promised in verses 46-48.

Joseph desired to bring the Saints into the presence of the Lord in the Nauvoo temple, where the Lord promised he would “bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.” This is the same thing Moses desired to do for the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, but they insisted God speak only to Moses on their behalf, something Enoch and Melchizedek were able to overcome.

Introduction to Rock Waterman

That’s enough background. If you want more, you can read Denver Snuffer’s books and lectures. He certainly has enough of them to help anyone understand what the Lord was trying to bring about through Joseph Smith and which was cut short by his death. The Lord placed the entire church under condemnation. A modern prophet confirmed we are still under that condemnation.

On to Rock’s book. You’ve got to ask yourself why someone would write a book with such a provocative title. Rock tells you why right up front. He was told by his bishop, who said he was speaking on behalf of an unnamed general authority, that Rock must either 1) Quit blogging, 2) Resign from the Church or 3) Face Church disciplinary action in the form of excommunication.

I was immediately interested in reading Rock’s book for three reasons: 1) I have been an avid reader of Rock’s blog for years, 2) I recently met Rock at Sunstone and 3) I have also been told by my Bishop to stop blogging. I have tried to do as my Bishop requested but after a week-long examination of my feelings and beliefs, have decided I would rather do as the Lord has directed.

Not the Same Church of Joseph Smith

I can’t speak for Rock, but my blog has been a journey of discovery. It has been my vehicle for learning and sharing what I have learned. I love to study the gospel and early church history. I found Rock had a common pursuit in his blogging activities so naturally I was drawn to what he was writing. Rock is a talented writer who has an entertaining although somewhat acerbic style.

The book is 160 pages and can be read in a few hours. I took longer because I wanted to digest the content and compare it to what I was experiencing in my blogging activities. This is the story of a life-long Latter-day Saint who has overcome the blind loyalty to the current managers of the Church operating out of Salt Lake City, which is NOT the same church restored through Joseph.

And therein lies the crux of the matter. If you are convinced the Church today has not changed from the time it was restored, you will not appreciate this book. If, on the other hand, you have seen in your lifetime, as I have, evidences that the Church has become more and more corporate in nature, managed by professionals, then you will find the book helpful in facing the inevitable.

Correlation got Caught by the Internet

Am I suggesting there will be a mass exodus of Latter-day Saints from the Church? It is already happening and has been happening for many years. It started when the Internet became popular. Stories that were once suppressed were being shared in online forums and email reading groups. Today, social media is ablaze with groups dedicated to the sharing of the history of this Church.

The Brethren have made it clear they are concerned about the losses among our Internet-savvy young people, especially returned missionaries, where the losses are said to be as much as fifty percent. Many of these young people are not just going inactive, but are actively resigning from the church, even staging mass-resignation days and sharing form letters online to make the exit.

Why are they doing this? The answer lies in Rock’s book. Remember I asked at the beginning of this post to focus on the subtitle: “The Believing Mormon’s Guide to the Coming Purge.” That’s the key. These young people grew up being taught the “correlated” gospel, went on missions, got married in the temple and then found out surprising things about Church history on the Internet.

Listen to the Prophets but Follow the Lord

Rock is a believing Mormon. I am also. The problem is we apparently believe too much. We believe in things the Church has now abandoned, such as the importance of seeking an audience with the Lord in this mortal lifetime and not resting until it is received. Joseph taught this clearly as being of utmost importance. Today, this doctrine is not found in the LDS Church curriculum.

Instead, we are taught the most important thing you can do as a latter-day saint is to “follow the prophet.” Now, in and of itself, the phrase seems innocuous. The problem is that the phrase is false doctrine. You cannot find it in the scriptures. Or sure, you can find injunctions from the Lord declaring “whether by my own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

What the Lord said was “Come, follow me.” We are to listen to the prophets, consider their words carefully and then pray about them in order to know the truth of their words for ourselves. But that’s not what we teach our Primary children. We teach them the prophet can never go astray. That is simply not true and the Lord never said it, although Wilford Woodruff did.

There is Room for Everyone in This Church

Rock examines these and other examples of how the Church has changed from one led by a prophet declaring the word of the Lord by revelation recorded in the presence of others to a church that only responds to important doctrinal questions through corporate PR staff. He shares the recent case in point of how the church handled the Kate Kelly excommunication debacle.

One case that has come to light in recent years if that of the resignation of the daughter of Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen, a recently deceased emeritus General Authority of the Church who became famous for his direct involvement in the excommunication of one member of the September Six. As it is contrary to scripture, General Authorities should not be involved in disciplinary actions.

Rock even mentioned my case (on page 106) in which I have been feeling the heat from local leaders for my blog writings about “Maverick Mormons” such as Brent Larsen, Will Carter, Denver Snuffer, Rock, Mel Fish and others. My heart goes out to these individuals who I have met, interviewed and shared their stories. Each is accused of or has been cast off for apostasy.

Get Ready for the Coming Purge

Rock concludes his work with detailed advice on how to prepare for a disciplinary council. Although I have serious questions about the guidance of the church today, I will not resign. Rock has stated the same. Why should we? We believe in the original revelations and in the mission of Joseph Smith. We know the Book of Mormon is scripture and the word of God.

Rock steps you through the process of what to expect from a Bishop’s council to a Stake level council. They are similar but with key differences. Having participated in both for many years, I can tell you he has it fairly accurate. Rock supplies scriptures that dictate how such councils should be held, but of course, the Church Handbook of Instructions supersedes the scriptures.

I highly endorse this book. I give it five stars out of five. I found only two typos, not bad for a self-published work put together in just a few short months. I’ve already given my reasons above why you might not like it. I recommend you read it anyway. Try to put aside anger you might feel about the sharp presentation. If you have an open mind, you’ll find the book enjoyable.

Do This in Remembrance of Me


 

BreadAndWineOn that fateful Passover night in the Meridian of Time before Gethsemane, the Savior instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Sacrament was a change from the way His disciples were used to observing the Passover. Therefore, the Messiah gave them a commandment to do the things which they had seen him do, that is, break bread and partake of wine “unto the end.”

In the Book of Mormon, the Lord gave another commandment to his disciples, “that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily … if ye know that a man is unworthy … ye shall forbid him.” Thus, in our modern Church Handbook of Instructions, we find the same injunction. You also find there the restriction of the sacrament as a punishment.

I would like to investigate the idea of restricting a man from partaking of the sacrament as an appropriate inducement to change his way of thinking. Frankly, I disagree with this idea, and have taken many opportunities to counsel bishops with whom I’ve served, of my opinion in this matter. I was gratified when some heeded my counsel, as I served in the Bishopric with them.

Bloggers and Apostasy

Apostasy is the modern church is nebulously defined. It seems that just about anything can be called apostasy if the presiding authority does not like it. This has become especially evident in the case of LDS bloggers who write things about the church or the gospel that leaders consider offensive. The definition of apostasy from the handbook has been shared before, but here it is:

1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.

2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

4. Formally join another church.

So if a local priesthood leader does not like the tone or direction of a member’s blog, or if other members complain to the local priesthood leader they find the blog content “troubling,” the local priesthood leader can impose punitive measures on the member in an effort to compel, coerce or otherwise control or dominate the member to change written expressions found on their blog.

Guidelines from the Church

Although I quoted these in the comments of my last post, I’ll share them again for clarification:

“Church leaders are not asking members not to blog, and they are not attacking the rights of honest explorers of faith to have these conversations in the so-called Bloggernacle.” Church Spokeswoman Ally Isom on KUER radio, June 16th

“There is no coordinated effort to tell local leaders to keep their members from blogging or discussing their questions online. On the contrary, church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue and recognize that today it’s just part of how the world works.”-Michael Otterson, Managing Director, LDS Church Public Affairs, quoted in the New York Times June 18th.

“There is no effort to tell local leaders to keep members from blogging or discussing questions online. On the contrary, church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue, and recognize that today it’s how we communicate and discuss ideas with one another.” -Jessica Moody, Church Spokeswoman quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune June 19th.

Worthiness is the Key

It seems to me that the Lord’s commandment to his disciples to not allow another to partake of the sacrament unworthily would require a mutual understanding of what constitutes a state of unworthiness. I’m not sure I would define what a man believes or shares in a blog, for example, as a proper manner to determine worthiness. Worthiness is determined by actions, not beliefs.

I think we would all agree a Bishop is doing the right thing in forbidding an individual from partaking of the Sacrament who is involved in fornication, adultery, incest, child abuse, rape, spousal abuse, murder, attempted murder, homosexual relations (not for being gay), robbery, burglary, theft, embezzlement, sale of illegal drugs, fraud, perjury, conviction of a felony, etc.

There are others such as abortion, an elective transsexual operation, predatory behavior with intent to commit bodily harm, and the list goes on and on. By the way, did you know that the charge of Apostasy falls under the category of when a disciplinary council MUST be held? But how can blogging be considered an activity that makes one unworthy to take the sacrament?

Examples of Apostate Writing

I suppose if one writes things like, “Here’s why you should leave the LDS Church,” or “How to lie through the temple recommend interview,” then yes, I think that constitutes heresy, which is the correct word for what we now call apostasy. Apostasy literally means to separate oneself from or to leave a body of believers. We use the word apostasy when we really mean heresy.

By the way, although I know it has an agenda, I don’t think the website Mormon Think is an apostate site. Heck, I even struggle with classifying Post Mormon or New Order Mormon as apostate sites. Recovery from Mormonism is a different story. Proprietors of that site make open efforts to persuade readers to leave the church. I also don’t think Rock’s blog is an apostate blog.

And since we’re at it, I don’t think my blog is apostate even though I have been told otherwise by many who feel it is. My blog is dedicated to discussing the events of the last days, one of them being the prophesied falling away of the Gentile church. Of course, that alone is a matter of contention for many who claim no such thing is prophesied in the Book of Mormon. Yes, it is.

Partaking of the Sacrament

As a clerk or counselor in a Bishopric, I suppose I’ve sat in on dozens of disciplinary councils. As a member of the High Council in another Stake, the number was not so high – perhaps ten. In the Stake Disciplinary councils, the Stake President rarely asked us for advice on what counsel or direction he should provide to the one being disciplined to help them in the repentance process.

However, in ward disciplinary councils, the Bishop almost always asked for counsel. Invariably the standards would come out: Read “Miracle of Forgiveness,” Don’t exercise your priesthood in the church, don’t partake of the Sacrament in the Church, Don’t speak up in Sunday School or Priesthood / Relief Society, Don’t offer public prayers, You’ll be released from your callings…

I almost always asked, “Why are we restricting him or her from taking the Sacrament? Don’t you think it would be helpful in their repentance process to have the Spirit of the Lord with them in greater abundance? Isn’t that what the promise of the Sacrament is all about?” The Bishop would pause, ponder and sometimes say, “You’re right. Strike that one from the list of restrictions.”

Sacrament Restriction as Punishment

I say “sometimes” because not all Bishops agreed with me. Some would respond, “I want him or her to feel the loss.” I never agreed with that but held my tongue. After all, he’s the Bishop and the one entitled to inspiration on what would help the member repent. By the way, almost all the cases in the ward disciplinary councils were related to sexual sins – fornication or adultery.

Ordinarily Disciplinary Councils involving Melchizedek Priesthood holders are handled on the Stake level, but often, almost always when the outcome was not going to be excommunication, the council would be delegated to the ward level. No sisters are subjected to the stake level councils nor are those who have not been endowed. Of course there are exceptions to this rule.

In any event, I simply wanted to post and offer for discussion the idea that restricting someone from partaking of the Sacrament when they are trying to repent may not be the best idea. Yes, we are commended to forbid the Sacrament when the individual is unworthy, but again I ask, unless you consider an individual to be in a state of apostasy, does open blogging make one unworthy?

Invitation to Open Dialog

I have three questions for you gospel scholars out there:

1. The church prohibits members from partaking of the sacrament outside of the Sacrament meeting. The handbook is clear that the Bishop holds the “keys” to this ordinance within the boundaries of his ward. In fact, the handbook states the Sacrament should not be administered at family reunions and such. Could a priesthood holder administer the sacrament in his own home?

2. The Church has substituted water for wine in the Lord’s Supper – the Sacrament. When Joseph went to buy wine in section 27, an angel instructed him that wine should be home-made. Yet we now use water. Perhaps it is because it goes against the Word of Wisdom. I don’t know. Do you think this constitutes a change in the ordinance and thus invalidates it? Why or why not?

3. Do you think it is proper for local leaders to place bloggers under restrictions that include not partaking of the sacrament simply because they disagree with the content of their blog? Isn’t this somehow a contradiction to the Lord’s commandment that we partake of the Sacrament often in remembrance of Him? Does blogging about church practices and doctrines make one unworthy?

Keys of the Kingdom Revisited


Keys-of-the-KingdomCarol and I have had a running conversation since Sunday about the succession crisis at the death of Joseph. To me, it has become the crux of the matter when considering the legitimacy of the LDS Church as the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have both been taught all our lives that Brigham had the Keys of the Kingdom and therefore nothing was lost when Joseph was killed.

Before I present anything may I remind everyone that this is the blog of a private member of the LDS Church and in no way represents the official viewpoints or doctrines of the LDS Church. For that, go to lds.org where you can read the official narrative of how the succession between Joseph and Brigham took place. I won’t review it here. I assume you are familiar with the story.

Second point: if my writing about this bothers you, please don’t read it. I am simply trying to understand our history more perfectly. If the history of our Church is not something that has anything to do with your faith or your willingness to follow the prophet or the Savior then go elsewhere. Pease ignore what I am about to present if the succession issue was settled in your mind long ago.

The Death of Joseph Smith

Up until a few years ago, I had no problems with stating Brigham was just as much a prophet as was Joseph. I accepted the standard narrative that the keys of the kingdom were given to each of the apostles by Joseph before he died. I’m sure we have all read the story of Brigham’s concern when he heard about Joseph’s death. He was with Orson Pratt in Peterboro, New Hampshire.

At first, Brigham was not sure and did not know how to proceed. He had to think about it. This was new and unexpected. It had never happened before. Hyrum was the intended successor, but he died before Joseph. Then Brigham remembered the Twelve had the keys. Section 107 tells us the Quorum of the Twelve is equal in authority and power to the Quorum of the First Presidency.

Legal Successors to Joseph

Brigham did not consider himself to be the legal successor to Joseph. He believed that right belonged to either Joseph Smith III or David Smith. He long hoped for the Spirit of God to move either Joseph or David to fill the station Brigham believed their father had appointed to them. We see things as being very clear and orderly today. At the time, they were not so clear to Brigham.

Brigham said, “[Joseph’s] boys … are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but what will say- “Amen! We are ready to receive you.” He also said, “The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph’s legal successor. You never heard me say so. I do not think anything about being Joseph’s successor.”

Elected to the Position

In the great debate between Sidney and Brigham, both claimed they would be caretakers until Joseph’s sons could lead. Brigham relied on the idea that he possessed “all the keys” and was voted into office. When he became President of the Church, he recorded in his own journal he was “elected” to the office. He did not believe he needed any ordination to assume the office.

Did you catch that? Brigham Young was never ordained to be the President of the Church. He was only elected or sustained to the position. Common consent was all he felt he needed to take over the leadership of the Church. And he got it. Things were different in the early days of the Church. The position exists by reason of common consent and gives all the authority needed.

Authority and Power not the Same

Authority in the Church was derived from the consent of its members. However, authority is NOT the same as priesthood. While many have been called, few have been or ever will be entrusted with the power of the priesthood. Power in the priesthood is received by God and not by the laying on of hands. Power in the priesthood cannot be passed from one man to another.

I’ll state it again: Authority in the Church is not equal to power in the priesthood. President Packer made this clear in an April 2010 General Conference address. “The priesthood does not have the strength that it should and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” The power of the priesthood cannot be controlled by men.

Power not Controlled by an Institution

Power in the priesthood comes from heaven or it does not come at all. There has never been an institution entrusted with the power of heaven, and that includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church can convey authority for men to rule over one another throughout the world. But the power of the priesthood comes only one way, and that is by the voice of God.

As the revelation to Joseph states it, man, or the Church does not have any right to either confer power in the priesthood or to prevent it from being conferred. Heaven alone determines if a man will be permitted to act as one of Heaven’s chosen high priests. Ordination is only an invitation. God alone confers the power. Any priesthood holder who has thought about this knows it is true.

Priesthood Independent from the Church

Priesthood and redemption are tied together. And if Joseph Smith’s revelations are to be trusted, then the church does not and cannot control either, because God controls both. Establishing the church was distinct from restoring the priesthood. And priesthood has existed, can and does exist independent of a church. Joseph’s revelations and ancient scripture repeatedly teach this truth.

The Church is completely dependent upon the priesthood to fill the male offices of the Church, but the priesthood still remains independent of the Church. The Aaronic priesthood has power for angels to minister, but Melchizedek priests may behold the face of God. When a man such as Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son in 1820, he must have held the higher priesthood.

Higher Priesthood Comes Only From God

No man can see the Father without this priesthood and live. Therefore, Joseph had this higher priesthood even before the appearance of angels who later conferred priesthood upon Joseph. It is apparent Joseph was among those whose priesthood reckons from before the foundation of this world. The higher priesthood does not come from a man. It is only given by the voice of God.

Priesthood power is clearly something different than an ordination. But it is clear the only thing an ordination accomplishes is to invite the one ordained to connect to heaven. It is from heaven alone that priesthood power is obtained. An ordination confers an office in the Church, but an office in the Church is not synonymous with the power of heaven or power in the priesthood.

Ordinances are Invitations to Get Power

There are two different kinds of apostles. One is an administrative office in the church. The other is a witness of the resurrection, who has met with Christ. When Brigham was ordained an apostle, he was told his ordination was not full and complete until God had laid His hands upon him. The Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?

Most of the ordinances of the church are not the real thing. They are types and symbols of the real thing. They are official invitations, authorized by Christ, and extended to any person who will join the Church to go and get the real thing. Any person who has priesthood conferred upon him will need to go into God’s presence and receive power in their priesthood, through the veil.

Brigham Claimed to Have All the Keys

Every person who joins the church and keeps its ordinances will be invited through these very ordinances to come and receive the Lord. When they do come into His presence, they will find themselves in possession of promises, rights, privileges, power and covenants for themselves and their posterity, for all generations, and into eternity. They will have then turned unto the fathers.

Brigham’s claim to be in possession of “all the keys” previously conferred upon Joseph by heavenly messengers raised the question of exactly what was included in the conferral. Even today there is no full description of what keys were involved or what rights were included. Today, the claim is that the keys identified in section 110 are what were passed to the Twelve.

Joseph Never Taught Section 110

I have a copy of the Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, volume 1 in my possession. I read with interest the account of how section 110 came to be. It was recorded by Warren Cowdery, not as a direct eyewitness but being copied from some document no longer extant. This account is written in the third person and describes the visit of the various messengers to Joseph and Oliver.

The account of section 110 was not inserted into the record until many years after the deaths of the only eyewitnesses, Joseph and Oliver, who never taught or mentioned they had been visited by Christ, Moses, Elias or Elijah in the Kirtland temple. It was not discovered until 1852. In any event, the wording states the keys were committed, as if Joseph already had the sealing power.

Visit Of Elijah Still a Future Event

Until his dying day, Joseph referred to Elijah’s return as a still future event. Brigham Young was ordained an apostle in 1835, more than a year before the 1836 appearance of Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah in the Kirtland temple. Joseph did not participate in Brigham’s ordination. Brigham was ordained by the Three Witnesses. How then, did Brigham receive the keys of the kingdom?

The Apostles were all invited to complete their ordinations by having hands laid upon their heads directly by Him who had the right to confer the Apostleship with power. Brigham Young never claimed such an ordination ever happened. Quite the contrary, he claimed the Lord never visited him. He said he never had any being from a higher sphere visit or speak with him in his lifetime.

Fullness of Priesthood Never Conferred

Brigham Young was correct about who should lead the church after Joseph’s death. The Twelve Apostles were entitled to lead the church. Section 107 makes this clear. The Church has the right to function as a complete organization with all the offices we have today. It also has the right to sustain by common consent individuals to those various offices, constituting authorized leaders.

Did Joseph die before he conferred the keys he held upon another? Was something vital lost to the Church when Joseph was taken? It is clear the Church was offered the fullness, but a temple was required to reveal it. Once completed, it would be the Lord that would confer priesthood power upon the saints, transfer the fullness of the priesthood, and then come to dwell with them.

Keys of the Kingdom Were Lost

But the temple was not built in time. Joseph even offered to sacrifice his life to give the saints more time. His offering was accepted, yet the work was not completed in time. In fact, the temple was never completed. The Lord never visited the building. The promised fullness was not passed to the saints in the manner section 124 commanded. Something vital was lost for a time.

Joseph’s death did not end the Lord’s plan for the Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon confirms the gentile church – we are identified as such in D&C 109:60 – will remain part of God’s plan from the moment of the restoration until the New Jerusalem is built. And so it has. But what keys, if any, were passed from Joseph to Brigham? Who has the Keys of the Kingdom?

Rebuttals Welcome

Parting the Veil


BeStill_FribergI yearn to connect with the powers of heaven. Each morning in my prayers I ask the Lord to walk with me. Each night I ask Him to part the veil that I may see and understand His will for me. On occasion, He does just that. May I share two such experiences from many years ago that remain with me still? I have often wondered why the Lord revealed them to me when I was so young.

Expanding the Mind

At seventeen years of age, most young people don’t have sufficient life experience to know how to keep themselves within the bounds the Lord has set. In fact, they usually don’t know just what those bounds are or why He has set them. New friends come into their lives, bringing new ideas and new things to share. Sometimes, the things shared seem to open the mind but are deceiving.

Cryptic? I think you can read between the lines. After six months I decided I had been deceived long enough. I found myself on my knees pleading with the Lord to redeem my soul from hell. Night after night I cried unto my God. I apologized. I begged for forgiveness. I felt the pains of a damned soul. I could not seem to shake the feeling of being lost, or of having lost my birthright.

The Lord Calls Unto Me

I was not an addict, or was I? Cravings to turn to old ways of sin enticed me day and night. Yet in my prodigal days before going cold turkey, I felt the constant beckoning of my Savior. “Come back to me,” he cried. “This is not what you want. This is not real. I have something better. I can show you what is real.” I held on to this promise through days and nights of pure torture and hell.

I turned to scriptures I had casually carried with me every Sunday, but had not taken seriously. I was especially drawn to the large print, early-morning edition Seminary scriptures. I found in them passages I had underlined. They reminded me of lessons taught by loving and sacrificing seminary teachers who gave of their time and sleep in an effort to reach out to me in my youth.

Putting Off the Natural Man

One night, after an especially difficult day, I found myself in the Book of Mormon, reading the discourse of King Benjamin to his people, sharing the words of an angel he had received only the night before. “Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.” I pondered the idea of being taught by an angel.

Closing the book, I knelt in prayer and poured out my soul for the Lord to save me. I had read once again that “…the natural man is an enemy to God…unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man…” How many times had I read this before? I knew it by heart. Even in the 1970’s we had scripture mastery. This was one that always impressed me.

The Sin of Rebellion

I next remembered another scripture lesson from my Old Testament teacher. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee…” Me, stubborn, rebellious? Yes, you, my son. It sank deep into my heart. I had rejected the word of the Lord. Does that mean he had rejected me?

I cried unto the Lord for peace, but no peace came. I pled for mercy, knowing I did not deserve it. After what seemed like hours of wading through the darkness with a broken heart and contrite spirit, I began to feel a lessening of my burden. I sensed a change in my body. I felt lighter. Did I imagine it or were the cravings really gone? In their place I felt something different in my heart.

An Angel Sent to Teach Me

“Be still, and know that I am God.” I stopped my crying. I became aware of the presence of something or rather someone powerful. This was a new experience for me. This was the first time the heavens had parted. Did I see anything? No, my natural eyes saw nothing. In fact, they were still closed. I sat still for the first time in hours – perfectly still, hardly daring to breathe.

I had never sat this still before in my life. I was not alone. Someone was there with me. I could sense his presence. Somehow, I knew it was not the Lord, but someone sent to teach me or show me something. I literally felt a hand pass across my face, over my eyes, slowly from left to right. I was impressed the Lord wanted to show me something. I got off my knees and lay upon my bed.

An Entry From my Journal

May 1974: “After prayer, I am overcome by the spirit. I lay upon my bed but can’t sleep. In my mind’s eye, I see myself speaking to an overflow gathering of people wanting to be taught the gospel. We are in Southern Utah. It is inside a building like a tabernacle. The feelings are very overwhelming. It is incredibly quiet and reverent. People are listening to me intently as I teach.

“There is an unbelievable outpouring of love and the Spirit. What I am relating is intensely important and has to do with the end of the world and preparations for the Second Coming. The building is filled to capacity and the crowd spills out into the street. People are standing at the windows, straining to hear. The building is lit by candles. It seems there is no electricity. Why?

“I can see I am an older man, in my seventies or eighties. I remember these intense feelings for the rest of my life – they were very real.  I believe it was the Spirit of the Lord showing me what the Lord expected of me. He knew this vision would be motivational to make myself worthy for the gifts of the Spirit – prophecy and revelation – as promised to me in my Patriarchal blessing.”

Another Entry From my Journal

June 1974: “After prayer one night, I remember lying in bed unable to go to sleep because of the intense feelings associated with what I am seeing in my mind’s eye.  I see myself speaking at an outdoor gathering.  It is late summer or early in the fall. It is not cold or wet in any way. There is a green sunshade stretched over the podium and speaker area. There are trees to either side of us.

“I am on the stand with many other individuals participating in the Lord’s work. It is later in my life and I am an old man. There is a gathering of thousands upon thousands of people stretched out for what seems like miles before me.  I am one of the speakers.  In fact, it is my impression I am conducting the meeting at that particular gathering. I am confused by this impression. Why?

“Shortly after we are married, Carol and I visit the Valley of Adam-Ondi-Ahman. I realize I have been there before – it is the same place I see in my mind’s eye this night. I am overcome with the same feelings of that night. I remember most intently the feelings associated with speaking to this large gathering to this day. I am not sure this is an event I will experience during mortality.”

We Can Receive Revelation

These were the first of many revelatory experiences in my life. The Lord gave me permission to share these. In fact, He asked me to share them this evening. I don’t know why. I am not trying to call attention to myself and say, “Hey, look at me. I’m so good. I got revelation.” As you have read, I am not so good. I did not deserve these experiences. I still wonder why I received them.

The only reason I can think the Lord asked me to share these particular journal entries is because there is someone out there who needs to read this. I speak to you, whoever you are. Don’t doubt the Lord is willing to reveal things to us. I am a witness he does. Our Mormon culture seems to forbid the sharing of sacred things such as this. Not so. They are given to strengthen each other.

Share When the Lord Asks

Over the years, I would try to work these and similar experiences into my priesthood, Sunday school or Seminary lessons. I even occasionally tried to share them over the pulpit in a talk or a testimony. I knew the Lord was OK with me sharing them, because He prompted me to do so. For some reason, I have not been prompted to share experiences such as these in recent years.

There have been a few more similar revelatory experiences the Lord has asked me to share. I have done so on my blog over the years. Some He has forbidden me to share. I don’t know why. Some I will only share in private. I don’t try to second guess the Lord. If He says share, I do so. If He says keep it to yourself, I shut my mouth. The point is, revelation is real. I am a witness.

Daily Conversation With the Lord

For the past few years I have had a daily running conversation with the Lord. He knows what I want. He tells me to be patient. He does not say no. He tells me to wait. He is testing me. He told me so. There is more He wants me to know. It can only be known by revelation. Meanwhile, I study and pray because that is what He asks of me. He is constantly directing me in what I study.

I suppose that’s also a form of revelation. I sometimes take it for granted. When I was younger I thought everyone was directed by the Lord in what they should study or learn. I was surprised to learn otherwise. Everyone has spiritual gifts. I know I’m not the only one.

From My Patriarchal Blessing

“You will be guided and directed and schooled in your mission by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit unto you … as you share these blessings with the Lord, He will pour out more blessings upon you. Your cup will run over, your heart will be full. You will have the peace of mind that brings great comfort to the soul.” The Lord has asked me to share, so I share what he requests.

The more I share, as directed by the Lord, the more I feel His pleasure at what I am doing. The more I bear witness of the revelatory process, the more I sense the joy He has promised. As I am blessed, I desire to share that with others. As I do so, He pours out more blessings and fills my heart with joy. I know He is pleased. Revelation is real. The Lord is willing to speak with us.

Remember His Long-Suffering

I did not appreciate the Baptism of Fire I received later that year when I was seventeen. I wish I understood then how fragile a thing it is to retain a remission of your sins. The great secret is to always remember the Lord’s goodness and long-suffering toward us. I remember those days as the Lord called out to me to return to Him. I remember His long-suffering and patience with me.

Lately, my days have been filled with anticipation. Like many of you, I know something is about to happen. Too many of you have shared with me privately and in the comments of this blog to think this is just me experiencing this feeling. There is something afoot. The heavens are open for business. He is willing to reveal Himself to us and show us wonderful things. I know this.

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.”

Facebook Discussion Group for Latter-day Commentary


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

Best Vacation I’ve Ever Enjoyed

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

Upcoming Posts planned for Latter-day Commentary

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

Renewing the Temple Recommend

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

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

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

An Additional Witness Has Come Forward

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

An Apostasy From Within the LDS Church

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

The Gentile Church Will Reject the Fullness

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

Open Invitation to Dialog

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

Comments Welcome on Any of These Ideas

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

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