Suspending Judgment


moroni-manti-templeI’ve decided to go to the Remnant Family Retreat in a couple of weeks. A reader invited me to visit the Dream Mine next weekend for a rare tour. I’ve read a lot about it over the years but not being from Utah, have never been to see it. It’s also known as John Koyle’s Relief Mine. The story is quite fascinating and a bit heartbreaking, ending in yet another LDS excommunication.

Because there is a week between the Dream Mine tour next Saturday – sorry, not open to the public – and the Remnant Family Retreat on the 15th, I’ve asked a few Utah folks for interviews. These are all interesting people, each involved in writing and publishing. I’m grateful Carol will be joining me on some of the interviews. I hope to post something to the blog after each one.

Keep Thinking – Keep Learning

I’ve always been attracted to critical thinkers and writers, meaning I enjoy considering differing points of views on subjects. I appreciate a persuasive argument written by those who have taken the time to study both sides and have come to a careful, thoughtful conclusion. I have discovered I’m persuaded by folks who invest themselves in their positions, who practice what they preach.

Holding onto an idea or a belief as being inviolate simply because that’s the way you’ve always believed, or the way your family has always believed doesn’t cut it with me. We are here on this earth to discover for ourselves what we think and what we believe about important issues. I am convinced we can only do this by continuing to think, study and learn long after school is over.

Openly Consider Opposing Views

RemnantFamilyReunionFrom the day we agreed as a team of bloggers to announce it, the pros and cons of the planned gathering have been discussed on this blog and elsewhere. There have been some hard questions asked, apologies offered and in general, people have divided into two camps. One group seems convinced this is “rushing into the pass,” while the other seeks a spiritual worship experience.

I have thought about it, pondered it, prayed about it and still have not felt it is a bad thing. I had originally planned to not go, mainly because of the travel expense and because I didn’t want to add any more stress to my marriage. My resignation from the LDS Church has not been easy on Carol. I think getting away from our daily routine for a couple of weeks will be good for us both.

Asking Questions is a Good Thing

I offer my thanks to all those who participated in the dialog here and elsewhere. I don’t always join in but I always read and consider every comment. I think we should have to struggle with the implications of questions when they are raised. I appreciated Lynne’s posts, as well as those from Adrian and Bret. I think we should also deal with fears raised no matter who raises them.

I suppose fear is the greatest impediment to agreement. One side is afraid of something. It could be based on past experience, observation, or private knowledge not openly shared. I don’t know anything about sacred dance, but there are plenty of people who do. I willingly consider what they have to say. If I am fearful of being deceived, I close myself off to learning opportunities.

Long-Suffering, Gentleness and Meekness

7-elevations-of-wholenessOne of my readers opened my eyes recently to an unpleasant reality. She could read fear in my writing. She shared it with me. I reacted badly. Her response was so filled with love I could not help but be persuaded by what she wrote. I went back and reconsidered my judgement. I found I was wrong. Fear was crippling me. She recognized it and pointed it out. I didn’t want to face it.

I am grateful for her courage and her loving response. She is one of the people Carol and I are going to meet with in that week between the Dream Mine tour and the Remnant Retreat. My point is this: she expressed an observation out of love. I reacted out of fear. She responded with kind words. I was persuaded by her gentleness and meekness. I now have a new friend and am very grateful.

Keep Fear Out Of The Conversation

Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Isn’t that what dialog is all about? I watched some of the discussion about the Remnant Retreat go poorly because of fear. I suppose if there’s anything I want to get across in this post it is this: Fear will kill faith every time if you let it. Fear will keep us from learning and growing. Fear will cause us to judge. When we judge, darkness follows.

My personal experience with fear and the pain it has brought into my life has taught me more about myself than I wanted to know. It was not pretty. I know why some of my long-standing prayers haven’t been answered. I have discovered I still carry fear from years past that cripples me. I have wasted too many years listening to this fear. Ask yourself: do you carry any fears?

Faith and Fear Cannot Coexist

Casting Away Satan by Carl BlochFear prevents us from opening the heavens. Fear allows the adversary to keep us in the dark. Fear keeps our minds closed and causes them to shrivel. Fear prevents us from reaching for the things we desire most in life. Fear is irrational. It is based on a lie. Fear has only the power we give it. Fear causes us to judge without having all the facts. Fear keeps us from agreement.

Faith is a risky business. It requires us to step outside our comfort zone. It requires us to reach out in ways we have never done before. Faith is blessed of heaven and always will be. Any act of faith is encouraged by the angels. It takes courage. It takes a willingness to go beyond previous exertions. Faith is always rewarded. Faith can be its own reward. It brings confidence and light.

May God Bless Our Fellowship

I look forward to meeting many of you at the Remnant Retreat in two weeks. Carol won’t be there. She will be at the LDS Story Makers writer’s conference in Provo. I am so pleased with the amazing growth Carol has made in developing her writing talent over the past few years. I have watched her turn criticism into triumph. She amazes me. I’m so glad she still loves me.

I look forward to praying with you. I look forward to hearing from the speakers. I look forward to seeing so many of you again. Please forgive me if I don’t remember you right away. I met so many people at the lectures last year. May God bless those who come to the retreat with a desire to learn, to grow, to fellowship and to find comfort in shared meaningful worship experiences.

 

Don’t Blame Me, I Just Report the News


ThisIsNotThePlaceEarlier this month, a Facebook event was created entitled, “This is not the place.” It is subtitled, “Mass resignation from the LDS Church,” and is to protest Kate’s excommunication. The event is scheduled to be held at City Creek Park on 24 July 2014 in Salt Lake City, which is Pioneer Day, a holiday in the state of Utah. I’m sure it will be well attended, at least by the news media.

Mass Resignations From the LDS Church

A similar event was held sometime after the Proposition 8 fallout. I knew some of the people who resigned at that time. I have kept in touch with many of them. They are still my friends on Facebook. They seem happy for the most part, but of course, I only know most of them from interactions on my blog over the years. I also have some friends who are resigning on July 24th.

We Are Losing Some of the Best and Brightest

From what I see, these are young people – well, young to me. I am an old guy, although not nearly as wise and experienced as those who lead this church. These young people seem smart. In fact, in my interactions with them, I know they are. They are, for the most part, college grads with good jobs, well-educated, many being returned missionaries, many married in the temple.

A Serious Step to Get Your Message Across

Why, we must ask ourselves, are these young people leaving the church? According to some estimates I have read, they hope to have thousands participate in the mass resignation. They are also encouraging those who are dissatisfied or disaffected by the disciplinary actions against Kate and John and Rock to ask their own priesthood leaders to hold a disciplinary council.

Understanding Why People Leave the Church

I’m just a blogger so don’t get upset with me for reporting the news. It’s not a secret. But I would like to point out another site created by John Dehlin several years ago specifically to help young people stay in the church, in spite of their feelings about being lied to about church history or about the discriminatory practices against blacks and women or other concerns they may have.

Consider the Contributions of John Dehlin

I have long been a fan or follower of John Dehlin’s work. I believe he has done more good to help those who are disaffected reconsider their desires to leave the church. He is an advocate for the LDS LGBT community and outspoken about marriage equality. I’m not saying I agree with his work as an activist but I do agree with his work to promote tolerance, acceptance and love.

You May Learn Some Things New at StayLDS

If you haven’t been to StayLDS lately, I encourage you to visit the site and view the presentation originally created by John. There is other good material on the site to help foster understanding about why people leave the LDS church. I especially enjoyed viewing the “Top Five Myths Why Committed Mormons Leave the LDS Church.” It may be an eye opener if you haven’t seen it.

Imagine Being Asked to Resign From the Church

John has been asked to resign from the church. He later reported he will be meeting with his Stake President in the next week or so. I met with my Bishop and Stake President earlier this week and am pleased to report we are working things out. I have a new appreciation from my dear bishop of just how my posts have affected some people I love and don’t want to hurt.

For the Record From Daymon Smith

In the spirit of Daymon Smith’s “For the record” posted Thursday, I would like to post my own official statement of disclaimers, specifically for those who want to know what my intentions are and why I write as I do. I record this late at night, in St George, on my way to a family reunion this weekend, after driving all day, so it may be a little incoherent, but I want to get it posted.

Question and Answer with Latter-day Commentary

Q. Do you feel you have changed your style or tone over the years?

A. I didn’t think so until a long-time reader pointed out some differences in the way I answered some questions put to me by a reader. I was much more church-centric back when I started.

Q. Can you explain what you mean by “church-centric?”

A. I started blogging in 2007. I specifically wanted to provide standard answers that I could use in answering all the common questions we were and still are getting on the Internet.

Q. Like what?

A. Plural Marriage, Blacks and the Priesthood, Mormons and Masonry, The peep-stone in the hat, Multiple versions of the First Vision, Book of Abraham, Adam-God, Mountain Meadows, Mark Hoffman forgeries, Elder McConkie’s treatment of George Pace, President Benson and Alzheimer’s disease, Kinderhook Plates, DNA evidence of American Indians, and on and on.

Q. So why do you call these “church-centric” issue and answers?

A. I tried to make my responses correlate as close as possible with what I had been taught as a missionary, what I had read in the correlated church handbooks and CES material when I was a seminary teacher and with the answers I found on official church websites.

Q. And now?

A. I am more focused on coming unto Christ.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I guess I’m not so concerned about all the historical issues the church has had. Most people who have studied them have concluded the church did not record them accurately, and in many cases, changed the record to make it look better. The church has acknowledged this and is doing something about it by publishing original documents from the very early days of the church.

Q. So you no longer focus on answering historical questions.

A. That’s correct. A few years ago I read a book that changed my life.

Q. You’re referring to Denver Snuffer’s “Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.”

A. No, actually, I’m referring to his 2011 book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift.”

Q. You do know that’s the book for which he was excommunicated last year?

A. Of course. But still, it changed my life when I read it.

Q. How so?

A. I could not put it down. I picked it up to give it a quick perusal just before I went to bed one night to see what it was all about. A friend had asked me about it so I bought it and thought I would write a few words about it on my blog.

Q. And…

A. I stayed up all night reading it. It was a spiritual experience for me.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I mean, I had multiple sacred “ah-ha” moments of enlightenment as I was reading, and when I finished, I knelt down and asked the Lord to let me know what He thought about the book.

Q. And He told you?

A. In no uncertain terms.

Q. What did He say?

A. He said I didn’t need to continue my blogging efforts to answer everybody’s objections to the historical difficulties they were having with our church.

Q. Why is that?

A. Because Denver Snuffer had answered them perfectly.

Q. You do know, of course, there are many people who disagree with his conclusions?

A. Of course. But that means nothing when you get an answer from the Lord.

Q. Let’s move on to something else. You said you are more focused on coming unto Christ.

A. Yes.

Q. Can you elaborate?

A. I went back and read all of Denver’s books, including the other one you mentioned.

Q. “Conversing With The Lord Through the Veil?”

A. Yes. I decided the most important thing I could do with the rest of my life would be to live in such a way that I am prepared to receive a visit from the Lord in this life.

Q. And you believe that is possible?

A. Not only do I believe it, but the Lord has promised it in multiple places in the scriptures.

Q. Now, be honest. How many people do you know who claimed to have seen the Lord?

A. Less than a half dozen.

Q. And you believe them?

A. Why should I doubt?

Q. Because when you meet the Lord, you’re not supposed to talk about it.

A. That’s a myth, generated by those who can’t explain why it isn’t happening to more people.

Q. Let’s wrap this up. What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. Let me do two things. Let me first state unequivocally what I’m not trying to do and then I’ll answer your question to the best of my ability.

Q. Please. Go ahead.

A. First of all, I am not trying to encourage anyone to leave this church. In fact, I am trying to do the opposite. Stay. We need you. We need your strength. We need your talents and abilities. We need your service, your help, your testimonies and your love of the Savior to share with us.

Next, let’s be clear. I am not the cause of anyone deciding to leave this church. Just because I report on events of the day or I write a book review about a controversial book, it is up to the individual to decide how they will take the news or if they like my opinion of the book.

And finally, I want to make sure everyone who reads this knows I have no doubts that God is our Heavenly Father, that He lives and loves us and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior, our Lord and Redeemer. He is calling out to each of us to repent and come unto Him. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to translate the Book of Mormon.

He did this through the gift and power of God. It is scripture and we need to spend more time studying it so we can understand God’s will for us in these last days. I know the Lord established His church through Joseph Smith and restored priesthood authority and keys of the kingdom. I sustain the leaders of this church as prophets, seers and revelators and pray for their success.

Q. Thank you. And the last question: What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. I am on a journey, a spiritual journey. I have questions I am trying to answer. I am sharing my journey with those who are interested. Sometimes the stuff I write may be mundane and boring. But it is my hope and prayer that something I write can help someone else who has asked the same question and is on the same journey, believing that D&C 93:1 can be fulfilled in mortality.

Q. And that concludes our interview with Latter-day Commentary by blogger Tim Malone since it’s now one o’clock in the morning. We hope to have future interviews and delve deeper into some of the subjects you raised, especially your contention that the scriptures about the Lord coming to visit men and women in this life are meant to be literally fulfilled in a physical way.

A. Thank you. God bless and good night.

A Few Quotes from Denver Snuffer


FromTheDeskOfDenverSnufferAs I went through volume one of Remembering the Covenant, I marked passages I thought were interesting, remarkable or controversial. I thought to myself, “I would love to discuss these quotes someday with others who have read Denver’s works.” I realize all the quotes I am about to share can be found on his blog, are all from over three years ago, and have comments there.

However, this is my blog and I wondered what some of my current readers might think of them. I still find it amazing that I did not know about Denver’s writings for so many years. It was only in the last eighteen months that I have enjoyed his books and his blog. I am not introducing these as original thoughts, so it’s not plagiarism. I simply want to see if they elicit intelligent discussion.

The date listed and linked is from his blog. The page listed is from the page in volume one of Remembering the Covenant. I thought I would do this on occasion but after doing this first one, I realized I only got through the first two months. We’ll see. If it proves popular – discussion added beyond the original on his blog – I may continue the series. His stuff is worthy of reconsideration.

12 Feb 2010 – page 7: Church of the Firstborn

The Church of the Firstborn exists on the “other side” so to speak.  You qualify to get there by how you live here.  But you have to be invited into that church by the “angels to whom is given power” to extend that invitation.

16 Feb 2010 – page 11: I am content to let you disbelieve

In response to a critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and you do not.  I’m content to let you disbelieve.  Why are you not content to let me believe?  One of us is clearly mistaken, but I am content with both my belief and your disbelief.  Of the two of us, I think your hostility toward my position reveals an underlying insecurity about your confidence in your position.  I am prepared to be everlastingly judged on the basis of my beliefs.  I insist the Lord has every right to hold me accountable for what I believe, do, think, say and how I behave.

20 Feb 2010 – page 16: Their creeds are false

I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe the doctrine. I am not a traditional Christian because I believe their creeds are false and they teach for doctrine the commandments of men. Unless someone comes to believe that, there is no reason to leave a traditional Christian denomination and become a Latter-day Saint.

21 Feb 2010 – pages 17-18: Acceptance of homosexual marriage

…the LDS Church cannot prohibit or limit homosexual marriage practices anywhere.  Not even in their own marriage ceremonies.  For to do so would invade a “fundamental right” of the persons involved. …ultimately the Church’s position on the “fundamental right” of homosexuals to be employed and housed without discrimination, using the coercive force of the government to protect that “right” against employers and property owners, will be the same reason the government will force the LDS Church to be coerced into acceptance of homosexual marriage.

23 Feb 2010 – page 24: Ceremony of Recognition

In the book I refer to the “ceremony of recognition.” This ceremony has a specific order. It begins with an embrace.  The headnote (written by Elder McConkie) says “hands, feet and side” as the order.  The text, however, refers to the side, then the hands and feet.  That ceremony, so far as it is appropriate to do so, is explained in the text of The Second Comforter.

24 Feb 2010 – page 27: Angels…evidence of a firm mind

…a member of the First Presidency … said that if he ever saw an angel he would “jump out the window.” I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individual lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.

24 Feb 2010 – page 28: We prefer our miracles at a distance

Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.

26 Feb 2010 – page 35: Opinion polling and focus groups

I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.

01 Mar 2010 – page 41: Making lists of commandments

It is not possible to list all commandments.  In one sense there are only two:  Love God.  Love you fellow man.  All others are extensions of those.  If you love God you will do what He asks of you.  Whenever something comes to your attention He would have you do, you do it.  Your individual path back to God will begin with following the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At some point, however, you will find that individual service and obedience to God’s will for you will create disharmony between you and others.

Can’t be avoided.  If you’re following Christ, you will find the same things He found.  Helping someone in need will take you away from Church meetings on occasion.  You can’t make a list and keep it, because as soon as you do the list will interfere with loving God and loving your fellow man. So the whole matter can be reduced to this:  Follow Christ, receive the ordinances, accept the Holy Ghost, who will teach you all things you must do.  Any list beyond that will inevitably result in conflicts and contradictions.

02 Mar 2010 – pages 44-45: The word of the lord spoken to you

Salvation consists in getting the word of the Lord spoken to you as a promise of eternal life.  When you obtain that word, it cannot be broken.  It becomes a “commandment” of the Lord’s which cannot fail.  This is the kind of commandment we should seek. Instead of focusing on a list of things to do or not do, I would commend to you the idea of getting from the Lord those words which will assure you eternal life.  Not His words spoken to others found in scripture, but words spoken by Him to you.  If you obtain this from Him, then you have a sure promise, though the heavens and earth pass away.  This more sure word guarantees you, by covenant from Him whose words cannot fail, that you will be granted life with Him.

03 Mar 2010 – page 48: Doctrine books do not sell

…the decline from the time of President Kimball to today is more than significant, it is catastrophic. I believe the only reason to convert to our faith is our doctrine.  Since the Church has de-emphasized doctrine, the trend of lowering missionary success has confirmed my belief in the necessity of teaching doctrine.  Not just in the Teach My Gospel program, but in every aspect of the Church, from Sunday School and Primary to Stake and General Conferences.  Doctrine is what distinguishes us. Deseret Book has actually told me that “doctrine books do not sell.”  They are interested in fiction, which can be read in one or two settings.

05 Mar 2010 – page 53: I didn’t want to be a Mormon

As a convert to the Church I know what attracted me to become a Mormon.  It had nothing to do with the formulaic discussions of the missionaries, slick marketing or good arguments.  It had to do with doctrine.  I DIDN’T WANT to be a Mormon.  Quite the contrary.  But I knew I should become a Mormon because their doctrines came from God and answered questions other faiths could not begin to answer.

06 Mar 2010 – page 56: The Mysteries of Heaven

There is a system by which men learn the mysteries of heaven and are saved.  That system is set out in Alma 12: 29-30:

-First, angels are sent to prepare men/women.
-Second, they are allowed to behold the Lord’s glory.
-Then they converse with the Lord, at which point they are taught the things which have been prepared from the foundation of the earth for their salvation.
-All of which is driven by the man/woman’s faith, repentance and holy works.

This is in keeping with Joseph Smith’s revelation about those chosen to become a member of the Church of the Firstborn.  They are chosen by the holy angels to whom the keys of this power belong.  (D&C 77: 11.) If this isn’t happening, then faith does not exist on the earth any longer.  (Moroni 7: 37.) Ministering angels are an indispensable part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why those keys were restored so early on in this dispensation, and are so widely disseminated into the Church membership. (See D&C 13 and D&C 107: 20.)

07 Mar 2010 – page 60: The institution (church) is doomed

The scriptures and the Lord do NOT make them omniscient.  As a group the Saints do.  That is the first great error, and it is not the leader’s error but the saints’. I’ve seen many, many mistakes made by the Brethren.  But I loved them and sustained them and have refrained from being overtly critical of them. It is not an institution which will be saved.  Indeed, the institution is doomed to be confined to this world, and not pass into the next.  But, it is the individual who will be saved.  Individuals, however, must receive what the institution offers to obtain salvation.  Therefore respect for the church is necessary.  It’s role is essential.  It’s authority from the Lord.

11 Mar 2010 – page 70-71: It’s YOUR Eternal Salvation

When it comes to the subject of one’s eternal salvation, I can’t understand why someone would simply trust others and leave it to them to tell them what is necessary. I should think everyone would study this matter night and day, and reach their own conclusion about what is important, what is not, what will save, and what is simply foolishness. Joseph said he advised all to go on and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God. Alma said about the same thing in Alma 12: 9-11. When it comes to sacred knowledge, the absence of curiosity and relentless inquiry is evidence of apathy and indifference.

21 Mar 2010 – page 97-99: On a Scale of 1 to 10

Before a discussion begins about gospel subjects, I think it is always helpful to first find out how important the subject is to the person with whom you are speaking. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between how important the two parties view the subject being discussed. To illustrate the point, I’m proposing a completely arbitrary method of ranking an issue on a 10 point scale of ascending importance as follows:

1. Completely meaningless
2. Trivial
3. Relevant
4. Somewhat significant
5. Significant
6. Very significant
7. Important
8. Very important
9. Critical
10. Essential to salvation

23 Mar 2010 – pages 102-103: Near-Death Experiences

Some have used NDE’s to become guru’s and sell books or give talks.  That may detract from getting more light and truth.  The thing about growing in light and truth is that it is always directly connected with the humility of the person.  Humility or openness to new ideas and greater understanding is required to move from wherever you may be at present to a position of greater truth.  It is that openness to new ideas which is indispensable to gaining knowledge of God.

Closed minds, particularly those that may grow out of religious experiences or beliefs, are not benefited by what great things God has to offer in the continuing education of His children.  Joseph Smith once commented that it will be “a great while after we have left this life before we will have learned” enough to be saved.  It is not all to be understood in this life. Openness to ideas and further instruction is necessary to continue in the path of truth and light.  A NDE may open one’s eyes to some truths, but the fullness of what is to be taught or gained from God is not given in a single experience or in a brief tutelage from missionaries.  It is a lifelong quest.

Continue on with Part Two – A Few More Quotes From Denver Snuffer

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