Tired of Talking to Former Mormons


“Our numbers are small. There are a few here locally nearby you [in the Los Angeles area] but we are worldwide. At the moment we are composed mostly of former Mormons, and I’m really getting tired of talking to former Mormons. I would like to talk to Baptists, and to Lutherans, and a Methodist – particularly if they’ve made Wycliffe’s material a matter of study –you would add so much to a discussion among fellowship groups.

“Mormons know a lot, but Christians know a lot about the Bible. We would love to see a cross-fertilization of the Christian ideal in which we can bring to you some things that we have learned about the Christian faith and in turn hear from you what you have to share in fellowships. We want other Christians to fellowship with us.”

Source: Lecture one, 500th Anniversary of Christian Reformation. (page 8, paragraph 4)

“All are invited to attend a series of talks, which are free and open to the public, requiring no ticket, rsvp, or reservation. These talks will be delivered by Mr. Denver Snuffer who will discuss Christian history, the Reformation, Christianity since the Reformation, the Restoration movement, and Joseph Smith as a Christian thinker and Biblical preacher.

“Smithsonian Magazine identified Joseph Smith as the most significant religious figure in American history. Yet he remains misunderstood by most Christians, primarily because his legacy has been regarded as Mormon property. In many ways his life mirrors the Apostle Paul. He belongs to the Christian community as much as St. Francis of Assisi, Luther, Tyndale, Wesley, Knox, Williams, and Calvin.”

The Focus is on the Savior

I wish I could go to the second lecture in Dallas. I attended the first one here in the Los Angeles area. I have attended many of Mr. Snuffer’s lectures, read his books and have always felt his focus is on Christ and how we can increase our faith in the Lord. I have a cousin who is a Presbyterian minister. My mother’s family was mostly Presbyterian while my Father’s were mostly Baptist, including several ministers. I love how open they were about their belief in Christ, as evidenced by stories in our family histories from Texas, Tennessee and Alabama.

My family joined the LDS Church here in California when I was young so I grew up studying both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I married a fifth-generation Utah girl and remained a member of the LDS Church until a few years ago. I still attend LDS services on Sunday with my wife and enjoy singing in the choir. However, I’m now considered an apostate because I read Mr. Snuffer’s books and wrote about them in this blog over the years. Rather than be excommunicated for my beliefs, I resigned. Sadly, many of my friends who share my love of the Savior, are now being targeted by some of the LDS Church leadership.

Evidence of Concern is Increasing

The leadership of the LDS Church is becoming increasingly concerned about the loosely organized “Remnant Movement.” Mr. Snuffer is characterized as the de facto leader of the movement, although there is no official organization and no hierarchy in the movement. You can read more on Mormonleaks, including details of communications between Stake Presidents and General Authorities on how to handle the growing problem of those who participate in the “Remnant Movement.”

I share a concern expressed by one of my friends that our private worship practices are now being tightly scrutinized and condemned by some in the LDS Church leadership. What we read and what conferences we attend should not be subject to censure, even if we share our experiences on social media. The facts that we have been re-baptized and partake of the sacrament in our homes are especially frowned upon. I have no hesitation in labeling this scrutiny as Anti-Christ behavior. I don’t believe private practices worshiping Christ or inviting others to do so should be considered grounds for excommunication, do you?

Warnings From LDS Church Leaders

When I interviewed Mr. Snuffer a few years ago, I asked him directly if he considered himself a prophet. He was clear to point out that he preferred being referred to as a servant of the Lord or simply as a teacher. And, if you like, you can conjecture and infer even more by referring to this revelation presented for canonization by those active in the Remnant movement: The New Name David.

The image in this section is taken from a PowerPoint presentation prepared for instructing local leaders on false beliefs of those considered to be on the far right of the conservative spectrum. Note how Denver Snuffer is listed right next to False Prophets. In addition, I note it is apparently now also a sign of apostasy to study the last days or signs of the end-times. Can you image that, being condemned for wanting to be prepared for the last days?

Open Dialog is Welcome

If you click on the image in this section you can submit any question you would like to have Mr. Snuffer address in the next talk scheduled for this Thursday 10-19-17 in Dallas TX. I have been to a couple of Sunstone conferences where Mr. Snuffer was asked and answered all kinds of questions, including one seemingly controversial question on multiple mortal probations. He did not hesitate to answer openly.

I have thought a lot about why Mr. Snuffer would express his desire to talk with Christians other than former Mormons. Those who have come from a background in the LDS Church are often stuck on the idea that certain subjects are taboo to discuss in just about any forum, especially in a classroom setting. Its no wonder so many feel stifled and unfulfilled in the LDS Church. In the ten years I have been blogging about Mormonism I still get asked the same question, “Why don’t you follow the Brethren?”

Let No Man Come Between You And Christ

When I was discussing my church membership with my bishop just before I resigned, I remember distinctly asking him why the focus of the LDS Church seemed to be centered so much on following the Brethren. One cannot enter into the LDS Temples without swearing an “oath-like” allegiance to live by every word that proceeds from the mouths of the fifteen men who preside over the LDS Church. The practice of sustaining leaders in General Conference seems to place them between us and the Lord.

It seems idolatrous to place someone between you and the Lord. If you have accepted the Lord as your Savior and demonstrated it through baptism, it seems to me the Lord will then teach you what you should do to continue on the path to heaven until you reach His presence, or so I have read many times in the Book of Mormon. We must feast on the words of Christ and they will teach us all things we must do, including receive the Holy Ghost until He, Christ shall manifest Himself unto us in the flesh.

Setting Up The Targets


youre-not-invitedI don’t live in Utah so I’m not used to hearing stories like this: My niece married later in life, and now has two lovely stepdaughters. Someone among the friends of the girls was having a birthday party but these two girls were not invited even though they play with the same group of girls or see them every day in school. The reason for excluding them? “Because you don’t go to church.”

Amazing. Does such judgement really exist among the hearts of the Latter-day Saints in Utah County? You know the girls obviously learned it from their parents. What a tragedy. Today, being Fast Sunday, I experienced a small taste of that exclusive attitude that permeates the LDS Church, even here where I live in Camarillo. Please understand I’m not blaming my local bishop.

When I resigned from the LDS Church last year I pointed out that according to the handbook I could now partake of the sacrament, whereas I had previously been forbidden to do so because the Bishop had restricted me due to apostasy. I made it clear I felt this was anti-Christ when I submitted my resignation papers. It was a key component as to why I had resigned at that time.

The Handbook Takes Precedence

LDSChurchHandbooks1With the change in Bishopric earlier this year I asked the new Bishop how he would feel about me bearing my testimony of the Savior, the prophet Joseph or the Book of Mormon from time to time. He said he would think about it. Today, he made it clear he would not allow it, even though all my life I have witnessed those investigating the Church [non-LDS] stand up and speak freely.

The citation is found on page 141 (2010) of handbook 2 which reads, “After the Sacrament, the Bishopric member conducting the meeting … then invites members to bear … testimonies.” He said he was going to have to stick to the handbook even though I had assured him I would limit my testimony to the Prophet Joseph, the Book of Mormon and my feelings about the Savior.

Again, please don’t assume I’m blaming my bishop for anything. The idea of marriage to the handbook is ingrained in “bishops-in-training” from the time they attend their first priesthood leadership meeting, usually as an Elder’s Quorum secretary or counselor. I never noticed just how powerful this indoctrination really is. It also permeated my service on the High Council.

No Apostates Allowed to Speak

BreadAndWineYet a person who is not a member of the LDS Church is not prohibited from partaking of the sacred ordinances of the Sacrament. On page 173 of handbook 2 (2010) we read, “Although the sacrament is for Church members, the bishopric should not announce that it will be passed to members only, and nothing should be done to prevent nonmembers from partaking of it.”

Isn’t it strange that what should be a decision made under careful consideration because the Savior so commanded, is relegated to one-line dismissal in the Church handbook, while one of the most important things a person can do to engender and encourage faith in others – to bear testimony of Christ – is prohibited out of fear that person might share something controversial?

When I first resigned we were preparing for the ward and stake Christmas programs, to which I have always enjoyed contributing each year. I was asked to not participate last year, which I thought rather odd, especially when we were always asking everyone to invite their friends and neighbors who were not members of the Church, to join us. The restriction was later rescinded.

Obtaining Power Directly From God

PassingHeavenlyGiftWhen I was first introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer by a former bishop who simply asked what I thought about “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, I posted my intention to read the book. One individual offered his assessments of the man with the following, “He doesn’t believe Joseph passed the priesthood keys on to anyone. He says they can only be obtained from God.”

I always thought that curious. This individual obviously felt there was something wrong with the way God controlled His priesthood power among men. If I remember correctly, Joseph taught that ALL prophets after Moses obtained the higher priesthood directly from God Himself. This has been a large portion of my study over the past few years – how power from God is obtained.

I have been asked – politely – by several people just how exactly I now differ in my religious beliefs. I assume they ask this so they can be careful with what kind of questions they ask me. I don’t know or understand why people are afraid of offending me. The one who did this the best was my high priest group leader (at the time). I love and appreciate him for his tactful manner.

Common Ground for Conversation

ProphetJosephSmithIn order to make it easy for those who ask me the question in the future, I’ll refer them to this essay. Maybe that will save them some time or potential embarrassment at having to ask the question. They see me attending church each Sunday – at least Sacrament meeting – as well as choir practice and ward socials. There’s always that slight awkward feeling of “what do I say?”

It reminds me of the three commandments of missionary work – steer the conversation toward religion, don’t talk about politics and for heaven’s sake, never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Here are a few subjects that we might find mutually interesting: 1) Something new you learned about Joseph Smith. 2) Some new aspect of doctrine that came up in your personal gospel study.

3) If you feel daring, perhaps we could discuss something from the Church Handbook, but, of course, that only works if you serve in a priesthood leadership position. Funny how that works. Members of the LDS Church are judged by what’s in the Church Handbook over and above what is found in the scriptures, yet they do not have access to this super-secret book. Why is that so?

Deep Knowledge of the Atonement

come-let-us-adore-himYou’re always safe to bring up something about the Savior. I love to talk about the Lord. But I don’t like platitudes which we seem to get so much of at church each week. Perhaps you could take a few minutes and read the chapter on the Atonement as found in the book, “Come, Let us Adore Him,” unless you feel it’s against your temple covenants to read anything but the Ensign.

In there you will learn how the Atonement came in waves – each one stronger than the previous. You might also learn the waves came in pairs. The Savior first experienced the feelings, guilt and suffering that those who commit the offense must endure because of their sins. The second wave imposed the suffering of those who are victim of these offenses. Now you know how it worked.

Please don’t be as the Pharisees who asked by what authority this knowledge is proclaimed. All truth contains its own authority. Don’t say, “Why, this isn’t taught by our modern day prophets and apostles, therefore I won’t accept or believe it.” Why is it so hard to believe that God could send another witness of his divinity and his mission in our day just as He did in sending Joseph?

What Do You Think Of Denver’s Latest Book?

preserving-the-restoration1I thought I was done with my blog. For eight years I wrote over 500 posts on the LDS Religion. At first, I did my best to defend the orthodoxy with which I grew up. Sadly, I was taken to task by many who did not like my version of orthodoxy. I began to dig deeper, I prayed with greater intent to understand what about our religion was important and exactly on what I should focus.

I don’t know if my former bishop (the one with whom I served as a counselor) feels he is an answer to my prayers, but there is no doubt in my mind the Lord sent him to me with that one simple question in the temple that day. I’m sure he doesn’t condone my action in resigning from the Church, but I continue to thank the Lord He had the courage to ask me that question that day:

“What do you think about Denver’s latest book?” My response ended the conversation. The Bishop walked away or someone else caught his attention, but that question stayed with me, along with my response, “Denver who?” For weeks the Lord kept bringing the name to my mind. I didn’t even know his last name. I now ask you: “What do you think of Denver’s latest book?”

 

Looking into the LDS Church from the Outside


 

WhyIResignedWhen I decided to stop writing in my blog on a regular basis last month, I felt a great burden had been removed. I felt free to think, ponder and pray about my course in life without asking if the Lord wanted me to share my thoughts on any particular subject. I kept my feelings and beliefs to myself and appreciated the idea that I’m just another sojourner on this earth travelling with you. I began to feel less stress, less pressure and fewer impressions or ideas on which to elaborate here.

In many ways I’m no different from you. We have a lot in common. I think we both believe there is purpose in life. We get excited about some things that happen to us as we move through each day and annoyed at others. From past experience I know my audience is vast and wide. Most of my readers are LDS or former LDS. Most are believers in God, a personal God who knows and loves us individually. I especially appreciate many readers have kept in touch with me privately.

Changes in Church Handbook

LDSChurchHandbooks1A lot has happened in the world over the past month that caused me to want to post some ideas as it relates to the last days. The Paris attacks and the change in the LDS handbook both had me wanting to share a few comments but I resisted the urge. I enjoyed a much needed break. Things even seemed to quiet down at work. I still manage the day-to-day operations of my department and move several projects along, but for the most part, I feel less stress in my daily schedule.

I think my health has improved. After spending a week in the hospital and losing fifteen pounds, I began to feel my energy pick up in a way I haven’t felt in several years. This blogging break seems to have been good for me. I moved the blog to WordPress.com, which is free, and off the very expensive site, Blue Host. I miss the plug-ins, and there are still a few missing photos to be restored but I am happy I was able to transfer most of the history and photos to this free format.

My Meeting with the Bishop

our-bishopI also discovered something very interesting about myself and my personal growth. In the last month I have listened to the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, The New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and am just finishing Genesis. Instead of thinking and pondering on my 75-minute daily drive to and from work, I have been listening to the scriptures on lds.org. There’s something different about going through them that fast. Time seems to be compressed.

I also met with my bishop in the last month. I wanted to confirm two things – that I was welcome to attend and that I could sing in the ward and stake choirs, which I had missed very much over the past year. I came to a slow realization I had made a mistake in some of the posts I directed to my Bishop and Stake President last year. I might be LDS today if I had not written those posts. But what’s done is done. I’m now on the outside looking in and have been for over the past year.

Social Stigma of Being an Apostate

preserving-the-restoration1If you’re interested, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts over the next little while about the idea of becoming a member of the LDS Church again. I know this may be a real shock to some readers so let me explain. If you’ll recall, and as far as I can tell, Denver never once advocated we resign from the LDS Church. I may be wrong, and if so, feel free to point that out. I think I did that on my own, believing I could not be baptized and remain a member of the LDS Church.

“Why,” you may ask,” would you want to become a member of the LDS Church once again?” There are plenty of reasons, the primary of which is to be fair to Carol. She feels she was cheated out of something when I resigned. I did not ask her. I told her. That was a foolish mistake. I knew what her response would be had I asked and I was determined to do what I felt the Lord was asking me to do. Of course many said I was deceived, but I assure you I was not deceived.

Purpose of Life is to Gain Experience

brighamyoung.jpgI made my decision about several years of study and prayer. I like to compare what I did in leaving the LDS Church as similar to what Brigham Young did in joining the LDS Church. He was in no hurry and neither was I. He studied, attended meetings, read, prayed and participated with the saints – mainly with his own family – in the LDS worship practices. When I decided to be baptized I seem to recall reading in the Church Handbook that baptism is a sign of apostasy.

Note I was not baptized into any existing or new church. I chose to be baptized as a token or sign between me and the Lord that I believed he had sent a teacher in our day with a message the LDS Church – the Gentile Church – had fallen away or had apostatized from the original format and intended purpose for which it had been established. I was not baptized into the Church of Denver Snuffer. I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is the same.

Perhaps the Church Won’t Want Me

latemple_small.jpgBesides restoring to my wife what was taken from her without her consent, I believe I can do more good from within the LDS Church than I can from outside the Church. I miss the temple. Of course I recognize it will probably be years before the First Presidency decides I am worthy to have my temple blessings restored. Perhaps they will decide I can never have those blessings restored. After all, when I resigned, I did so fully acknowledging the severing of temple links.

I will be happy with simply being baptized again. You and I both know that once an individual dies, their family members do their temple work all the while reciting the phrase, “it will all work out in the end. God will make it right. If they are worthy, they will have the blessings of the temple for eternity. If not, they will receive what they have earned or are worthy of receiving.” I suspect most LDS folks, including many leaders, don’t know the mind of the Lord on this matter.

I Enjoy Attending the LDS Church

SLCSealingRoom.jpgUnlike many stories I read online and that have been shared with me in private emails, I have not had a bad experience in the LDS Church. I enjoyed my fifty-plus years as a member. I enjoyed my mission. I enjoyed going to the temple. I enjoyed serving in many callings over the years, especially the twenty-five years in various bishoprics and on the High Council. I love to teach the gospel and miss that. If baptized again, I doubt I would ever be given a call to teach or lead.

Incidentally, according to LDS doctrine, Carol lost nothing when I resigned. Just as children lose nothing when the sealing of their parents is cancelled, they still have the blessings of the sealing ordinance. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the LDS Church about the temple, what the ordinances represent and how they work. Probably the least understood concept, even among long-time High Priests who should know better, is the Holy Spirit of Promise in eternal marriage.

Lots of Questions to Work Out

baptism-saratoga-springsGo ahead and call me a fool if you like. I am aware of hundreds of people who were baptized as I was, who did not leave the LDS Church. They continue to serve in callings in the church and at the same time hold sacrament meetings at home and invite others to be baptized as a token they accept what the Lord has done and is doing in these last days. I have a lot of things I need to work out with the bishop before I can be baptized again, such as, “What is the Gentile Church?”

Did the Saints accomplish what the Lord asked of them in Nauvoo or were they cursed as the Lord said they would be because they did not complete the temple before Joseph’s death? Just what exactly is the higher priesthood and is it something that can be passed on from one man to another? Why do we have Joseph teaching ALL the prophets of the old testament after Moses received the higher priesthood directly from the Lord. Is that the ONLY way it is received?

Good People Who Are Disciples of Christ

carl_bloch_the_christWhy does the Church Handbook take precedence over the scriptures when most of the general body of the LDS Church has never seen it and certainly has never voted on it as binding upon them as a church? How in the world can the LDS Church punish the children of apostates when such action goes directly against the second article of faith? I have dozens of additional questions like these I am seeking to answer before I can answer the baptismal questions about LDS leaders.

I am in a unique position of being an outsider looking in at the Church after more than fifty years of being a members of that church. My views have changed considerably in the last year since I resigned. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the people in the church. I feel most are still my friends. Most seem to be genuine in their love for me. I believe most are true followers of Jesus Christ and want to please Him. My concern is with those who declare what is doctrine.

Suffer the Little Children . . .


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

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

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

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

As Rational Faiths blog puts it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Monson has even testified that this is so

Let’s start with Nephi:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or . . .

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

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

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

jesus-suffers-the-little-children-to-come-unto-him

A Wild Man Hath Come Among Us


OgdenKraut.comI remember the excitement in the online world when the document “Further Light and Knowledge” made the rounds among the early Mormon Internet reading groups. I’m an old man so I remember Mormon-L and other such groups where communication was not like it is on Facebook or blogs. It was more of a mailing list where people shared documents. We read them then offered our opinions and observations.

I think it came into my life just after I had been ordained a High Priest some twenty years ago. I down-loaded and printed it, studied it, marked it up, prayed about it and then did a foolish thing. I went to the Los Angeles temple President (Glen Walker) to discuss it with him. His reaction was astonishing to me. He quickly escorted me out of his office saying, “Prayer circles are only to be held inside the temple.”

jim-harmstonThat always bothered me. Frankly, I didn’t believe it. When I prayed about it, I felt otherwise. It was many years before I found the courage to pray in my home as taught in the temple. I learned long ago prayer circles were regularly conducted outside the temples in homes and stake centers until banned in 1978. I guess the Brethren felt the people couldn’t handle it. Looking at Jim Harmston, perhaps they were right.

Opening the Portal to Heaven

I have always been a rebel and I know it. I have always questioned why we do things a certain way. I guess it started in elementary school. I am a kinesthetic learner, although I didn’t know it at the time. I simply couldn’t sit still for lectures. Unless I was doing something with my hands, I was not learning. I am still that way today. My work on computers today is hands-on. I learn new skills only by practicing.

Tribune File Photo James D. Harmston.

Tribune File Photo
James D. Harmston.

Shouldn’t it be the same way with spiritual skills? Adam and the patriarchs built altars. Why don’t we? What is significant about altars? Does it mean something to heaven when we build an altar and then consecrate it to the Lord? I think so. What about a home altar? Why are we not taught about this in the LDS Church today? Do the Brethren not trust us? Apparently not. Yet they were common in early Utah.

I confess I was attracted to the writings and activities of Jim Harmston. Here was a man who was holding study groups in his home. The Brethren became so concerned they published an edict that such groups were not to be held, mainly because it could lead to experimenting with spiritual things that could open the portals of heaven and hell. Guess what? In this case, the Brethren’s warnings were are still are correct.

Watch Out for False Prophets

Jim Harmston is dead now. Died of a heart attack a few years back. His movement, the True and Living Church of Jesus Christ, based in Manti, has all but died out. We called them the Manti group and spoke of them in hushed tones. They were onto something. Jim claimed heavenly visits at the altar. He went past the will of the Lord when he instituted polygamy and then predicted a day that the Lord would return.

TLC_redbrickstoreWrong. Big mistake. False prophet. I can see why people compare Denver Snuffer to Jim Harmston. Denver has declared he has met with the Savior. Not once, but many times. He claims he has communed with the members of the Church of the Firstborn. I believe him. He says he is doing the work of the Lord. He declares the heavens are opened. He has declared we will need a temple to be sealed to the Fathers.

Hmmm…what makes him different from Warren Jeffs of the FLDS and whoever is leading the AUB today? Or one of the many dozens of offshoots that are all insignificant and failing or failed? There may be thousands who have read Denver’s writings and thousands who have been baptized. The Brethren are obviously concerned about him as evidenced by the recent “Boise Rescuemeeting with Dallin Oaks last month.

How can one know for themselves that the work being conducted by Denver Snuffer is approved by the Lord? It seems to me it will always be a small minority of people who adhere to what he has shared, but maybe I haven’t caught the big picture let. I confess I’m a fledging when it comes to what Denver has said is possible. I have not been in the presence of the Lord, nor do I expect to be for many years to come.

40-years-in-mormonismPoor deluded Tim. He says the Lord has confirmed to his soul that Denver is a prophet. Yet, not even Denver has made such a statement. In last month’s interview, I asked him about his use of the phrases, “Servant, “Witness” and “Messenger,” all words he has used to refer to himself. In his answer, which seemed to be offered in humility, he said he is naught but a teacher – “at this point.” More Hmmm…

Please don’t tell me I’m obsessed with Denver. I’m just trying to analyze the remaining questions from the interview. I can’t wait for the next one in which I asked him about dancing on the Grand Mesa and calling for Mother in Heaven to manifest herself. His answer leaves no room for doubts. Some early students who listened to what Denver had to share have now turned away. But that’s for the next post.

Prophet, Servant, Messenger, Witness or simply Teacher…

Question Seven: I have heard you say, and read in many places in your books and on your blog, you dislike the public attention received as a result of performing the assignments given you by the Lord. You’ve been emphatic we should not replace one idol with another. Yet the people look to you for leadership. For example, in the Phoenix lecture you provided some direction on tithing, the sacrament, ordinations, worship or fellowship groups, and in particular, the requirement that the approval of seven women is needed to sustain a man in performing ordinances in public. You also said a man was unworthy – the Lord’s word – if his wife will not sustain him.

SnufferiteIn the Jewish tradition, when questions arise, everyone turns to the Rabbi. In the LDS Church, local leaders consult the handbook or turn to a General Authority for help with difficult procedural questions. You have stated you don’t like the term used by some – Snufferites – to describe those who read your writings. You have made it clear every man should have a sufficiently strong relationship with the Lord to get answers to procedural and doctrinal questions. Yet, you are the one the Lord sent as a servant, witness or messenger to declare the orderly dismantling of the established hierarchy. Does that not make you a prophet and de-facto leader?

Search the Scriptures for the Role of True Leaders

ANSWER (Denver): Let me clarify. I view my role only to be a teacher at this point. I hope to remain in that role alone. But I would hasten to add, that if you search the scriptures to look at what role was occupied by Enoch and the success that he had in his day, the only thing he claimed to be was a teacher and a preacher of repentance. That’s it. The success he had was not because he was some great dictator, it was because he was a teacher that provoked people to repent.

Melchizedek, Joseph Smith clarified, was not a king of a city, or king of a country, he just preached. He was a teacher and a preacher. He preached and the people, according to the Book of Mormon who heard him, Alma clarifies that they were wicked people, but they repented. (Alma 13:17-18.) And because they repented they were able to gather and live the principles that brought them together.

kirtland-temple-teachingI think the idea of a strong central leader is no more likely to succeed in our day than it was in Joseph’s. At the end, when Joseph lamented that the people were depending too much on the prophet, and they were neglecting the duties that were devolving upon themselves, therefore they were darkened in their minds. (TPJS, p. 237-238.) It was too late. In 1842 when he made that comment in the meeting of the Relief Society, it was too late. The moment had passed. They were dependent upon him. I try to learn from earlier examples and not repeat the same errors. If there are errors to be made, I want them to be new ones, not a repetition of the same old ones that caused the failure before.

The Strong Man Principle – Doomed to Fail

The responsibility of preaching the Gospel is to take the burden and put it upon the individual; to have the individual connect to God. One man being saved and saying, “I’ve got a pipeline to God, and so now I get to be your boss,” won’t save him nor those who listen to him. But someone who says, “God is willing to speak, and does speak to every one of you,” and who teaches to encourage you to use the gifts that God gives every one of us, that teacher may help others. All individuals have gifts, and curious though some of them may be, all of us have some kind of gift. Use it to reconnect to God. And then build upon that to have your life filled with light and truth.

denver-snuffer-booksI really think it is unnecessary to build a new canon of scripture when we haven’t paid enough attention to the canon of scripture we have already. We need to plumb the depths of the volumes that we have been given and figure out what they are saying, because they say whole lot more than we have drawn out of them as yet. What I’ve talked about in the 10 lectures and in the 14 volumes I’ve written is the scriptures. Hopefully it serves to remind people of what the scriptures actually do contain, because they are plentiful. And I think the only role I would carve out for myself is a teacher.

Epilogue – A Few Closing Thoughts

Denver’s answer here was rather short. I suspect there is so much more that he could have shared. His humility is evident, at least to me. I like the man. Carol does not. She sees what he has done or is doing as divisive. I see it as fulfilling a deep-seated and long-held request from the Lord to understand Zion and how I can participate in the bringing forth of the latter-day Temple. Lord, I ask to be used in this area.

Transcript One: http://3tcm.net/a-visit-with-denver-snuffer-transcript.pdf
Note: This version has been reviewed by Denver, missing material added

Transcript Two: http://3tcm.net/tim-malone-Q&A-with-denver-snuffer.pdf

Link to the MP3: http://3tcm.net/Denver_Snuffer_QA_13May2015.mp3
Note: The file is 60MB. It’s best to right-click on the link to download it.

Link to a PDF of answer to question seven: http://3tcm.net/question-seven.pdf

 

Q & A with Tim Malone, Author of Latter-day Commentary


ldc-blog-imageQ: How has your perception of Latter-day Commentary changed since its inception?

In many respects, the direction of this simple blog has turned completely around. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, my intent was to help combat what I perceived to be a plethora of misinformation out there about the doctrines I knew to be true, or that I grew up believing. I now find myself presenting reasons why what I originally thought was false doctrine may indeed be worth considering, especially since early documents support that Joseph originally taught it.

In other respects, the intent and focus of the blog has not changed at all. My intent was to share my gospel study and learning experiences. I have always appreciated teaching, have taught the gospel all my life and enjoyed making lesson plans or outlines of subjects and then fleshing them out with scriptures and quotes. That has not changed. What has changed is my perception of the truth. I have had to jettison some false beliefs that were based solely on tradition. Gratefully, I was prepared. I frequented many LDS group blogs for several years before I started my own.

Although I felt prompted and inspired to start the blog and made it a matter of prayer, I do not say the Lord told me to start the blog, only that I find a way to bring greater motivation to my life in the area of gospel study. I have shared many talks and lessons on my blog that I also gave in the gospel doctrine class or delivered from the pulpit over the years. Sometime last year I felt to dedicate the blog to the Lord and let Him use it for His purposes. Things changed radically. I found myself led to invite others to share the audience I had built up over seven years of work.

ds-blog-imageQ: You’ve had both positive and negative feedback from readers about some of the content regarding DS and the work currently underway. What was your initial reaction to his writings? Can you elaborate on the challenges of retaining your faith in light of recognizing discrepancies in the traditional narrative of the church?

I appreciate both kinds of comments from readers, especially those who can and do form cogent arguments in response to what Denver has written and what I have tried to explain in my own words. I am not always successful in understanding all the intricacies of the doctrines put forth. I may be seeing only a small part of what is being presented in the post and entirely missing how such a radically different view affects families and individuals in situations dissimilar to mine.

My initial reaction to Denver Snuffer’s work was positive. It was a revelatory experience. When I tried to share what I had read with others, I was saddened by how negatively they reacted. It was especially difficult as I tried to discuss what I felt was enlightenment from the Holy Ghost with my wife, who I consider my equal in our knowledge of church history. After all, she served her mission in Independence Missouri, with a Mission President teaching the standard narrative.

On the other hand, my mission president was a convert and always encouraged the missionaries to “push the envelope” in our studies. He did not shy away from inspiring us to reach out and understand the mysteries. He would say, “They are only mysteries because you haven’t studied them.” It’s funny that both our Mission Presidents were CES employees but Carol’s had a much more traditional or orthodox approach to the history of the Church, especially the Nauvoo period.

Retaining my faith in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and most of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants was not difficult. I confess the idea that Section 110 may be of dubious authenticity was difficult for me at first. But when I compared Section 27 side by side with the original, and saw how it had been “expanded” under Sidney’s pen, I made a more careful consideration of section 110, took it to the Lord in prayer and came away satisfied.

40-years-in-mormonismQ: Are you still digesting the material laid out in the DS lectures last year, and if so, what specifically do you find to be significant?

I most definitely am still digesting the lectures and will be for years to come. I re-read lectures three and four again this past week, pondering carefully the enticing nature of how Denver has presented repentance. So many people I know try to “white-knuckle” it through repentance by using the “moving away-from” model as opposed to what Denver presents in a “moving toward” model. I have always favored that approach. It has always worked for me. I fully endorse it.

I’ve studied the lecture on covenants at least four times now and am just beginning to understand the significance and all-encompassing nature of what is found in that short lecture. I think it’s about twenty-two pages if I’m not mistaken. Yet I learned why the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming if we are not sealed to the fathers, as well as came to a better understanding that everything the Father is doing in our day is to fulfill that covenant he made with the Patriarchs.

I have had it reconfirmed to me once again how important it is that we are sealed to the fathers, the Patriarchs, and that this must be done in a temple, like the one Joseph was trying to get the Saints to finish in Nauvoo but which did not happen. There is not a temple found on the earth today which is acceptable of the Lord where He can come and seal us to the Fathers in that binding ordinance that is referred to in section 124 – a place to restore that which was lost.

I am still blown away by the priesthood lecture. I think I’ve read it six or seven times now and am still learning new things each time I study it. There was so much I thought I knew about priesthood that was simply wrong. I’m grateful to have been in attendance at the Mesa lecture. The idea of Preserving the Restoration resonates with me. I have seen so much understanding disappear from that we taught when I was growing up in the church in the sixties and seventies.

ds-interview-part1Q: Your recent interview with DS offered an opportunity for clarity on a variety of topics. How did this interview come about and did you find what you were looking for?

Although I could not attend the early lectures due to work commitments, I made it known on my blog I planned on attending the later lectures. I received an invitation from Denver to meet with him for dinner on the evening of one of the lectures. I suppose he wanted to meet this individual who had written so much about his writings over the preceding eighteen months. Carol and I had dinner with Denver and his family the night before the St. George lecture. We parted as friends.

This year, I celebrated ten years with my employer by taking a two week vacation, something unheard of for a computer guy in a small company. I wanted to make the first week a working vacation. I arranged interviews with several fellow bloggers and readers. On Wednesday, Carol planned an endowment session at the Brigham City temple. Obviously I would not be attending with her. I asked the Lord if there was someone else we wished me to add to my interview list.

He suggested Denver. I asked. He accepted. I asked if he would prefer the questions in advance. He agreed. I used to interview CEO’s and Marketing VP’s for a software newspaper I published years ago so the format was very familiar – sort of like a deposition. After Denver agreed, I went to the Lord for the questions. He provided. So the questions asked were what the Lord wanted to have expounded. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any particular answers. I wanted to understand some of the more controversial points from his lectures. Most of his answers were from PtHG.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of online and offline dialogs with readers about what Denver has written. I have no idea why they seem to think I know what is on his mind. It still amazes me how many people either haven’t or will not read his material. They will read what other people have said about it but won’t read it themselves. This astonishes me. If there’s one thing Mormons are supposed to be good at, it’s having an open mind about writings that are extra-Biblical. In other words, we want people to read the Book of Mormon in order to understand us better.

Yet, so few will take the time to make a formal study plan, combined with prayer in an effort to understand the doctrines behind the writings and lectures. I think some of the questions I asked in the interview were brought up in an effort to get people more interested in going to the source. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish, it was to get people to seriously read, ponder and pray about the lectures. But so many have made up their minds. They are closed. It is so sad.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilQ: You’ve written a lot on the subject of NDE. What has contributed to your interest on this particular topic? How would you characterize common elements found in many NDE based on what’s been revealed about life after death?

I am by no means an expert on NDEs. I have had two dreadful near-death experiences in my life. Both times I was met by beings of darkness. The first time was in my youth. I opened the portal through my own foolishness. It woke me up big time. It turned me around. It caused me to fear for my life and to seek to repent, which took a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish. It was nearly a year later that I came into the presence of the Lord, which I have described on my blog.

The second NDE was a couple of years ago when my son opened a portal in our home at 2am in the morning while doing drugs and porn with a fellow druggie. I’ve posted the story and shared it with those who have asked. I was mislead by a well-meaning individual who told me I could deal with the dark spirits by asking the Lord to bring them into my aura so I could get them to repent. Yeah, right! It was one of the most foolish things I have ever done in my life. I still suffer pain.

My interest in NDEs is a result of having the portal to the spirit world opened in a manner that was not at all pleasant. I suppose only those who have experienced being sucked into that world, even for a moment, can understand the resulting interest in trying to make sense of the things discovered or actually remembered, by entering into such a realm. There are things revealed to your soul that this world denies. One seeks to find others who have been there and can relate.

true-order-prayer-imageQ: Your posts on the True Order of Prayer resonated with many people. The prayer circle was a more prominent fixture in worship (both inside and outside of temples) until May 1978 when the First Presidency restricted its use to certain settings. How have your prayers in this manner affected your relationship with the Lord and/or the Powers of heaven?

I still have a long way to go in this area. I am focusing on altars in my personal study these days. I want to know the history of true altar building, why the Patriarchs built altars, how they built them – no hewn stone – and if there is significance to where they are placed. I wish I had land of sufficient size where I could dedicate a private space to building an altar for worship. In the meantime, I asked the Lord if I could substitute a dedicated home altar and received his approval.

There is something powerful about altar worship. What we learn in the temple is significant. For me, a prayer at the altar is so much more powerful than my usual morning and nightly prayers. I find repetition does not enter into my heart or mind when I pray at the altar. I am filled with desire and am given the words to say. These prayers at the altar have changed my life. It is clear the powers of heaven pay attention when we go to the trouble of praying at a dedicated altar.

At one time in the history of Mormonism, it was acceptable practice to have a home altar. It was a sign of commitment to one’s religion to gather the family together at the altar for worship. I use my altar when I partake of the sacrament in my home. It is so sad to read how such practices as altar worship and partaking of the sacrament in the home are now considered apostate. Joseph Smith would not be welcome in the LDS Church today because of “apostate” worship practices.

Think about what we learn in the temple from Adam’s example with an altar. When he prayed at the altar, he opened a portal to heaven. He received messengers. This is a true and powerful form of worship. Ask yourself why we are taught about prayer in the temple if it was not intended for us to go home and practice this in our own home. Yes, I recognize some have been deceived and have received false messenger, but we have got to learn to deal with this if we want to progress.

posts-on-evil-spiritsQ: You’ve shared experiences in which you’ve come into contact with malevolent spirits and the distress they can cause. Were these experiences connected to prayer? What is your view on possessions recorded in the New Testament versus certain mental disorders in our day as possible possessions?

I think my answer to the NDE question above would have probably been a better fit here. The spirits were not invited, but conditions were brought about that caused them to make themselves known. It is not a pleasant thing to come into the presence of spirits who intend to do you harm. The prayers involved were after the fact, as in, “O Lord, save me from these evil creatures who desire to take away my light and life. O Lord, remove the fear from my heart and give me faith like unto Moses to command them in the name of the Son of God to leave my presence forever.”

I have written at least two dozen posts answering that very question about emotional and mental disorders being caused by evil and unclean spirits. I will refer people to my blog for answers. I will also encourage you to read Doug’s book on Conquering Spiritual Evil. It seems the majority of people today do not want to believe such creatures exist in our day and age. They consider the idea of evil spirits to be a throwback to less enlightened times. Think again people. Think again.

tim-malone-baptism-postQ: You’ve written extensively about your reasons for resigning from the church while acknowledging that leaving the church is not the path for everyone. Are you finding that many people are choosing to stay notwithstanding their belief that something new is underway?

My decision to resign was due to my unique circumstances. I served in leadership positions in my current and previous stakes that made it hard for some people to accept what I was sharing on my blog simply as part of my gospel study. I have had former stake presidents, high councilors and missionary companions who now serve as mission presidents write to castigate me for what I have done in reading and writing about Denver and his books. What are they so afraid of? They are afraid for their children. I don’t blame them. They are trying to hold their families together.

My writings were a threat to them. I understand. That’s why so many went to my Bishop and Stake President asking them to rein me in. Because I served in a somewhat public position at the stake level, I felt it best to quietly resign instead of go the excommunication route. When the Bishop put me on informal probation for apostasy, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew I wanted to get baptized and to write about it on my blog. Why waste the time of sixteen good men? Others felt the desire to go through a disciplinary council. I had been through too many.

why-i-resigned-imageI do NOT recommend anyone leave the church to be baptized. If you want to be baptized, go ahead but don’t announce it like I did. My mission in life is different from yours. I am aware of several thousand who have been baptized. By the way, if anyone baptized reads this and has not yet submitted their name to Keith for recording, please do so before the deadline of July 1st. I wanted my name on that permanent record that will be presented in the temple when it is built. I want the Lord and the powers of heaven to see I am not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

I recognize I am a bit of a rebel, a risk-taker and a troublemaker. I am not afraid of doing what I feel the Lord has asked me to do. I know so many of my friends in the LDS Church are upset with me for what I have done and am doing. My answer is always the same. I spent just as much if not more time investigating the writings of Denver Snuffer as Brigham Young did when he investigated Mormonism. Hundreds of hours in study and prayer have led me to where I am today. No LDS Leader can say I didn’t follow the prophet – search, ponder and pray. I did.

The standard answer – I know, because I have received it in so many private emails from friends in my current and former stakes – is that I have been deceived. They shake their heads and make references to “even the very elect.” Fine. You think what you will. I understand. I tell you I am more certain of my path in life now than I have ever been at any time in the past. But my path may not be for you. Do as you feel directed by the Lord in prayer. There are so many who are doing a marvelous work in their wards and stakes by sharing truth quietly and with discretion.

One final word: please stop telling me over and over how important it is to focus on the Lord and not on Denver Snuffer. Don’t you think I know that? Everything Denver is doing is inviting us to rise up and come unto Christ – to come into His presence. I have a calling, an election and a sure promise as to that blessed event in my own life. I have years of work ahead of me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. Denver is a servant, a teacher, a witness. He cannot save you or me. We must come into the presence of Christ for that. Wake up people. I get it. Do you?

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?

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