I will present three cases for your consideration. I know each of these men, although one only through correspondence. I’ll include a few facts, then a few observations and perhaps draw a conclusion or two. There is a theme I’m hoping you’ll see. There is also a unifying factor in each of these cases which I believe can bond each of us even though we are mostly connected online.
Doug Mendenhall and the Jedi Workshops
First, consider the case of Doug Mendenhall. I met Doug about five years ago at a symposium he was hosting for my friend Anthony Larsen, the author of the Prophecy Trilogy of books on the last days. Doug wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil. He is the father of Denise Yale, a wonderful young lady and mother who lives without a veil, a very difficult thing to do in this dark world.
Doug conducts a series of lectures which he calls Jedi workshops. I think it’s funny, because as you’re probably aware, there are some in this world who have declared their religion to be Jedi. They take it very seriously. Doug’s material has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or even Yoda. Well, maybe a little bit of Yoda. It’s all about the spirit world around us.
When I heard Doug was coming to California to present a weekend workshop I knew I had to be there. A dozen open-minded people gathered in the home of one of our group in Oceanside and for twelve hours over two days we were introduced to ideas about how things work on the other side of the veil that, frankly, would blow your mind if you haven’t read some of Doug’s books.
Insights Into the Spirit World
Much of what Doug knows about the spirit world comes from Denise and Katherine or Kitten as she is called. Kitten is also sighted or lives without a veil. Life is very painful for Kitten. She has paid a terrible price in physical pain and near death, meaning she has been to the spirit world on many occasions, as has Denise. If you can open your mind and your heart, I recommend Denise’s book.
I enjoyed myself immensely during the weekend instruction. Could Doug prove all the things he was sharing? No. Did I accept everything he was sharing? Yes and no. I did not disbelieve. I had no reason to do so as I had limited experience with some of the things he was sharing. If you are interested in knowing details, email me privately and I’ll share some of the things that he shared.
Update: So many people have emailed to ask for a copy of the notes I have created a new post here: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/11/27/doug-mendenhall-jedi-workshop/
My observation: Doug has been called a whacko and worse by neighbors who should have been more loving and accepting of the difficult life through which his family has passed over the last dozen years. I love Doug. I appreciate how hard it must have been to write that book. I learned a lot from the book. He helped me through a difficult situation. His book was an answer to prayer.
When an Appeal is not an Appeal
Second, consider the case of Keith Henderson, the man who sealed Denver’s Phoenix / Mesa lecture. Keith was recently excommunicated, as one might expect. I shared his original letter to his local priesthood leaders here on my blog. It was an eye-opener. Some saw accusations in his letter. I didn’t. I saw statements of facts, observations and perhaps a few challenges to do right.
Keith and I have kept in touch. I have found him to be man of integrity and honesty. His words are thoughtful, cut deeply to the heart of the matter and caused me to ponder things of eternal significance in my own life as I had recently passed through a similar experience of having to decide how I felt about the influence the LDS Church wielded in my life. It was disconcerting.
Keith shared his letter of appeal with me this evening and gave me permission to share it on the blog. I am more than happy to do so because it illustrates a point of disorder in the church – that of announcing excommunications from the pulpit. I thought that practice stopped years ago. How does that fit into the appeal process? It doesn’t. It’s wrong and should not be done. Here you go:
Keith’s Letter of Appeal
November 3, 2014 – Appeal of Disciplinary Council Decision
The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In care of *** * ******, President of the Clinton Utah Stake
[Emailed and post mailed November 4, 2014]
Dear Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf:
I have been excommunicated from the Church on the vague charge of apostasy. I did not attend the Stake Disciplinary Council because I asked President ****** what definition of apostasy I would be tried under, to which he took out the Church Handbook of Instructions. I said that I was already familiar with the definition contained therein. He said there would be no use in wasting my time or his by re-reading it. I then stated to him that I desired, and felt to have the right to be tried as pertaining to the instructions in the scriptures, and not by the instructions of men mingled with scripture as contained in the semi-secret Church Handbook of Instructions, and if this cannot be, then I refuse to attend such a farcical hearing.
I therefore appeal to the First Presidency to overturn the decision to excommunicate me from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immediately reinstate me to full fellowship for the following reasons, and under the following premises:
D&C 102: 27 says, “should the parties or either of them be dissatisfied with the decision of said council, they may appeal to the high council of the seat of the First Presidency of the Church, and have a re-hearing, which case shall there be conducted, according to the former pattern written, as though no such decision had been made.”
2. D&C 20: 80 states with no equivocation, “Any member of the church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.
• The Church Handbook of Instructions neither purports to being part of the canon of scripture, nor does it come up to any definition of such. For instance we have in the Bible Dictionary the following definition; “[Canon] is used to denote the authoritative collection of sacred books used by the true believers in Christ. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the canonical books are called standard works.” The Church Handbook of Instructions is not part of this collection, neither has it [unlike the others] been voted upon by the common consent of the members as being binding as scripture upon them.
• If I had been tried according to the requirements of the scriptures I would have been tried in a court of two or more Elders, the court having been initiated by at least two accusers who were worthy members of the church and eye witnesses of my crime. The scriptural requirement is that they be of my peers (not leaders), whom I would have been able to question; and then, whereupon having been found guilty, the verdict would have then been presented to my congregation. They would have then voted by the raising of the arm to sustain or not. This scriptural requirement for dealing with transgressors or those at fault was not followed, nor even suggested, except by me.
3. Current church practice in church courts creates conflict of interest.
The witnesses who present evidence or who make accusations and bear testimony are, and should be biased, but the High Council and particularly the Stake Presidency take the role of judge, and consequently are supposed to be unbiased and impartial. This requires that neither of these two sitting councils can act as witnesses or make accusations. Any church court that has any of the councilors or any of the stake presidency acting as witnesses or making accusations, in any degree of bias, cannot be called impartial, and thus should recuse themselves from voting on the guilt or innocence of the accused. This then should make such a court null and void as there could never be a fully impartial council under these circumstances. Otherwise it is nothing but a farce.
4. Evidence is not enough.
There is a scriptural process called the Law of witnesses and it is in place for a reason. Evidence or hearsay of wrongdoing without an eyewitness testifying, is insufficient. The witnesses are the saints, and it takes a saint to condemn anyone. Also, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. So if someone in the church, for example, publishes his ideas in a paper, but none of the saints are offended by it, or bring up accusations against the author, the Stake Presidency has no jurisdiction to lay charges against the author, nor does the High Council, nor does the Bishopric. Charges and accusations can only come from a saint’s testimony and it requires two saints for any of these councils to obtain jurisdiction to bring a judgment against a member. The Lord made it this way because it is the jurisdiction of His saints to have the first, and the final word, judging both the nations of the earth and also Zion.
So let the scriptures themselves reiterate: “But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42: 81.)
I submit that not even a modicum of proper evidence has been established against me as perpetrating even a hint of the crime of apostasy and that judgment of me as committing such was done with prejudice and partiality on the part of both my bishop and stake president, because they acted as both accusers and judge. I do not say that I have not written papers concerning my beliefs and understanding of the scriptures. But I do say that if they caused any offense which might have warranted excommunication, it was not handled in any sort of a proper manner by any of those charged as my leaders who have the responsibility of following the scriptures, which delineate the proper procedures to be used.
I therefore repeat my request, and appeal before you, that you take all these objections to that which has been done so far, and overturn the horrendous mistake which has been made by those concerned, and reinstate me immediately to full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sincerely, Keith M. Henderson
Observation: What will happen if the First Presidency decides the appeal has merit and reinstates Keith into full fellowship? What will the bishop do in view of the fact he has stood in front of the priesthood, the relief society and in fact, the whole ward in Sacrament meeting specifically to announce that Keith has been excommunicated for apostasy? Is there a procedure to retract?
A Wild Man Has Come Among Us
Third and final case: I know the majority of LDS Church members have not heard of Denver Snuffer. They are not aware of or read his publications, nor have they considered the message he delivered up and down the Mormon Corridor over the past year (Sep 2013 to Sep 2014) at his own expense in a series of ten lectures. He claims to have done this at the direction of the Lord.
I have considered the message he has delivered. I have read his books, listened to the lectures, studied, fasted and prayed about the message I heard and the claims made. I suppose this is the heart of the matter I want to consider tonight and why I’m sharing this with you. Denver has had a tremendous influence upon thousands of Mormons, both in and out of the LDS Church.
Now that the message has been delivered, he is busily engaged in revising, editing and preparing the message for publication in a book form. It is all about the restoration, what was originally revealed and what the Lord tried to accomplish through Joseph Smith – preparing a people for Zion. With Denver spending every free moment on the book, a sort of vacuum has developed.
Looking for a Strongman
People are attracted to confident leadership. We seem to gravitate to those who speak with authority and sound a clarion call to action. It is actually a rare commodity in today’s world. Business leaders tend to get action through force, threats, fear and coercing. It is rare to find a leader who wields power and influence through love unfeigned, long-suffering and persuasion.
I know many people, especially those in my son’s generation, have said, “now what?” They have said it directly and they have implied it in what they are writing and sharing on the blogs and in the forums. They are looking for leadership – someone to tell them what to do. They are looking for a strongman to take charge, to make things happen and to lead them to the Promised Land.
In steps Bret Corbridge, who has called a conference to be held on May 15th on the Grand Mesa in Colorado, a sacred land and a land of promise. Bret is the author of 77 Truths but don’t call him a strongman. Bret has said his role in this conference is to organize, not necessarily to teach. Some are wondering about this conference, it’s significance and if it is the start of something such as the building of Zion.
Surely Zion Shall Dwell in Safety Forever
What do each of these men have in common? It is a love of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a desire to help others come unto Christ and to experience the joy that comes from knowing him. Each has expressed and demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice and to obey the promptings of the Lord. Except for Doug, they have each been cast out of the LDS church on vague charges of apostasy.
Consider the phrase the Lord uses in Moses 7:18 – “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” I know many who are contributing their tithing to various groups with the specific intent of helping to care for the poor among them. But I’d like to consider the idea of one heart and mind.
I’d also like you to think about how we interact with one another on this blog. It is my belief that almost everyone who comes to this blog loves the Lord, wants to know Him, to please Him, to serve Him and to help others to come unto Him. Each is blessed with different talents and many different ways of seeing life, current events, interpreting scripture and exercising spiritual gifts.
The Holy Ghost Fell on Many
My friend Log has been trying to make a point about the Golden Rule. Some of his observations are astute and astounding. They have helped me as I have had to deal with a difficult situation in my business dealings over the past few days. Log has a need, a desire to express himself under the cover of anonymity. He has his reasons. He is not anonymous to me. I love Log as a friend.
Lynne has shared an excellent post about Having Skin in the Game. I loved and appreciated her forthright comments. I found them inspiring else I would not have posted them under her name with her permission. Nate – Minority of One – has posted some of the most read and commented posts about the Savior and Mother in Heaven that I have found both enjoyable and enlightening.
Accept Imperfections in Each Other
I have in my email archives thousands of private emails from the past seven years. Readers come and go but they all seem to have one thing in common. They are searching for something. We want community. We want to share. We want to express ourselves and to be understood. But the most basic thing I see is we are all of one heart and one mind – we love and want to please God.
I have invited a few other regular readers to share posts, which they will be doing in the near future. I invite each of you who come here to read and share to make the effort to remove any kind of judgment from your heart. I know its human nature. I don’t like receiving emails or texts or phone calls discussing other readers or writers. We love the Lord. Let’s be united in that love.