Wisdom Through the Ages

I wish I could attend this upcoming conference. I’m grateful to those making the effort to broadcast portions of the conference live. Years ago, it was easier for me to get to the various lectures, symposia, conferences and fellowship gatherings. Life has become much more complicated. Click on the image on the left if you are interested in learning more about the conference to be held in Mesa 24-25 March 2018.

Another upcoming event that may be of interest to some, especially those in the Southern Utah area is a regional fellowship gathering to be convened 20-21 of January 2018 in Parowan. The invitation is posted publicly on Facebook and I’m sure you will be welcomed. Living in Southern California all my life, I’ve treasured the times I have been able to get to events like these. I’ve come to appreciate the value of fellowship among those who hold the same beliefs.

Fellowship in the Last Days

Two friends have asked me to answer a few questions publicly and share some thoughts on a difficult subject. This last day of the year seems like an opportune moment to do so. They have to do with why I continue to identify with or associate with the remnant movement and how this has affected my marriage. The question on marriage was, “How can I make my marriage work when my wife and I no longer believe the same things about the LDS Church?”

I made a very public statement a few years ago that got a lot of attention, at least among the LDS blogging community. I decided to get rebaptized after reading Denver’s books and attending a series of lectures on the gospel. In the early days of the LDS Church, it was a common thing to get rebaptized. Today, if you do so, you open yourself up to discipline from those who preside over your local congregation.

In my case, having served in numerous local leadership councils and not wanting to go through that process, I simply resigned my membership in the LDS Church. I don’t mean to imply I did so without much soul-searching and prayer. I spent many a night on my knees envisioning the ramifications of what I was about to do. My greatest concern was how this would affect my marriage. At times I was certain my wife would divorce me because of my decision.

The Rest of the Story

I was baptized over three years ago. Before I tell you how I think it’s going, let me add some background in response to my other friend’s questions. He asked me to record my thoughts in video format to post on the blog, Zion’s Return. I’m pondering that request. I did a video interview with KUTV a few years back about the LDS Church cracking down on bloggers. It’s funny how news organizations can ask enough questions to record a half hour of footage but only use two or three five-second snippets. I invite you to visit Zion’s Return.

Question One: “How did you come to find out about what the Lord is doing today and about this movement?” That’s an easy one to answer. I was standing in the Celestial room of the Los Angeles temple about six years ago when a friend asked me what I thought about Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. I said, “Denver who?” He repeated the name. “Never heard of him,” I said. End of conversation.

But the name stuck with me. Over the next few weeks, often while praying, that name would pop into my mind. I love to read about LDS Church History. Carol and I have a large library. I inherited many books from my parents who at one time had an LDS book store. I was in the habit of adding new books about the LDS Church to my library on a regular basis. Finally, after about three weeks, I bought the book on Amazon.

A Book that Changed my Life

Question Two: “What brought you to the point of feeling like something was missing in your spiritual life/journey?” I suppose I always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right with what I was being taught in the official curriculum and what I was reading in the books in our family library. My mother loved biography. She was a public school teacher and read voraciously. I’m fairly certain we had every biography published about the prophet.

Even after forty-five years I can still remember raising my hand in response to a question in seminary, responding with what I had read in one those biographies and receiving a blank stare from the teacher. She seemed a little uncomfortable. Finally, she said, “no, that’s not right,” and proceeded to read the official response from the approved curriculum. I asked my mother about it when I got home. Wisely, she asked me, “Well, what do you think?” I said I thought the teacher was wrong. “I’m just glad you’re reading, son.”

Living With Cognitive Dissonance

I learned to keep my thoughts to myself, or more accurately, I learned what the expected responses were to the typical questions and what the sources were for those questions that always come up when studying church history. I kept thinking if I just study harder I’ll understand things the way they were explained in the Sunday School manuals I taught from and the Institute manuals from which I later studied. I went on a mission, got married in the temple and began thirty-five years of service in Elder’s Quorum Presidencies, Bishoprics, High Councils, High Priest Group Leaderships and finally as the Stake Financial Clerk.

I saw the book had arrived when I came home from work a day or two after ordering PtHG, started my usual quick perusal of the book and ending up reading it until two o’clock in the morning. I simply could not put it down. Here was someone who had done the research, presented the evidence and let the reader draw their own conclusions. My prayer that night was one of the most memorable of my life. I knew my life was going to change forever. I finally had my answers. The cognitive dissonance lifted from my mind. I literally felt encompassed in light. This was not the first time I had experienced such a thing, but never this powerful.

Standing on Top of the Wall

Question Three: “What is the greatest blessing you have received since going [into] this movement and / or hearing the message the Lord is delivering in our day?” Again, another easy question. I have received a baptism that will be recognized when the angels begin to sweep the earth with the foretold destruction and, just as important, I have received a covenant that allows me to join with the Saints when they gather to Zion for protection from the events of the great and terrible day we read about in Matthew 24.

Because these answers may seem so out there, I sometimes feel like Samuel the Lamanite standing on the wall of Zarahemla. Let me be clear: The baptism to which I refer and the covenant I mentioned are not administered in the LDS Church today. Another blessing I hope to receive in time, if I live long enough, is to enter a temple to receive instruction directly from the Lord about walking in the paths of heaven. “But Tim,” I can hear you say, “You’ve already had those blessings since you were endowed in the LA Temple over forty years ago.”

The Process of Readmission

Question Four: “What insight/understanding do you now enjoy that you didn’t have before and how has that impacted your life?” I’ve been labeled crazy, deluded, deceived and possessed of a devil. My bishop at the time of my resignation wrote in his formal letter of response that went to my file in Salt Lake: “I fear your blindness has come from looking beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14).” He also noted that because I was under discipline for apostasy, approval from the First Presidency would be required for readmission.

I think the greatest insight or understanding I have received and now enjoy is the confidence of knowing my path is pleasing to the Lord. That is one of the things Joseph taught we must know to exercise faith in God. Carol and I have talked several times about starting that process of readmission to the LDS Church. While I enjoy attending sacrament meeting with Carol each Sunday and especially enjoy singing in the choir, I have felt there is no way I could write that letter to the First Presidency. There are still too many things taught in the LDS Church that I consider doctrinally damning, such as the concept of keys and authority.

The Reality of Baptism of Fire

Question Five: “Have you had any significant personal experience or witness that you can share that may benefit someone else who is seeking truth? * A witness that God answers prayer? *Baptism by fire? * Pivotal experience that shaped your spiritual journey?” This is a tough one, mainly because relating events from your life you consider sacred can be and are easily misunderstood. I still like President Packer’s analogy of explaining spiritual experiences to someone who has never had one: “My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt and you have not. I am [not] able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come…” If you want some fascinating responses to this anecdote, Google “Packer Salt Story.” Especially read the Reddit post.

However, unless two people share the same spiritual experience such as Joseph and Sydney, there can never be a complete unity or common understanding of what just happened. I know. I have tried on many occasions and in many posts on my blog. One is the baptism of fire I experienced when I was just seventeen. You can read it but may come away with only a cursory understanding that I had a nice long prayer and felt good when I was done. Yet, to me, it was a baptism of fire, pure and simple. I knew I had been in the presence of the Lord. I heard the voice of the Lord declaring I was His son, begotten of Him that day. I make no claim to having received the Second Comforter at that time nor any other promises or blessings besides forgiveness.

The Power of The Covenant of Christ

Question Six: How has your worship and relationship with God, your family and/or others changed because of the added truth you’ve received? Hmmm…while Carol and I have always read, studied and taught from the scriptures (we both taught seminary), we have implemented a practice of reading aloud and teaching each other from the scriptures every single night. Up until a few years ago it was hit and miss. We’d go for a few months then peter off. I treasure these nightly sessions of reading and teaching each other as the highlight of my day. Of course, I slip in insights gained from reading Denver’s commentaries. We’ve had some especially interesting discussions lately about what it really meant for the Savior to lay aside his glory, his exalted status.

There are some subjects we don’t discuss because they are too painful. For example, imagine how Carol feels as a fifth generation Mormon believing all her life that the highest LDS goal is to marry in the temple. She felt terribly betrayed when I resigned from the LDS Church. There are still bitter tears when the subject comes up in Sacrament meeting or especially when we read something about marriage in the scriptures. My relationships with others have changed. I am much more interested in people I work with every day, and how I can serve them. I attribute this directly to rebaptism and acceptance of the covenant of Christ at the September conference. Once again, let me express how grateful I am to those who arranged for me to participate from home.

Time to Fish or Cut Bait

Question Seven: “Is there a particular book or talk that impacted you profoundly (of Denver’s) that you can tell us about?” Well, I’ve already related my experience in reading Passing the Heavenly Gift. I suppose lecture ten in Phoenix / Mesa was profound for two reasons. It was the conference where Carol and I parted ways in our response to Denver’s message. Denver had gone out of his way to invite us to have dinner with him and his family before one of the lectures. Carol attended several of the lectures with me, but could not handle what she heard in lecture ten. So, it was a bittersweet experience for me. Here’s why:

On the drive home from the lecture, as Carol napped through the California desert, I had a long talk with the Lord about what had just happened. Lecture ten was not like the others. It was time to take action. I heard it clearly. I think Carol also felt it but was not prepared, and still isn’t, to make the kind of changes that were brought up at that last lecture. I knew I needed to show the Lord I believed his servant by an outward sign, the ordinance of baptism. This was a deep, profound, and thoroughly life-changing talk. By responding as I did, I knew I’d be laying everything on the line, all because I heard the voice of the Lord tell me the words of his servant Denver were pleasing to him, and required action if I wanted to continue to grow and progress spiritually.

The Lord of the Vineyard

Question Eight: “How [have] your family, friends and other relations been impacted by this, and how do you deal with that?  Why are you willing to risk everything for what you are learning?” Interestingly, my siblings have said nothing of my leaving the LDS Church. We still communicate regularly, get together occasionally and express our love for one another. My sister closest in age to me will be leaving to serve a mission in England in a few months. I recently had an interesting conversation with my niece about how millennials perceive the church. She sees so many of her friends who have left and attributes it to the stuff they find on the Internet. On the other hand, some members of Carol’s family are not happy with me and have told me so very clearly.

I knew this would happen. The Lord showed it clearly to me all those nights I was praying about it before I resigned. I am grateful to our local ward and stake leaders who continue to reach out to me with love, kindness and respect. I am still invited to and attend ward socials. I still sing in the ward and stake choirs and generally enjoy Sacrament meeting. The biggest impact this change has had on me is obviously on my marriage. Carol does not like it when I write in my blog, which is a major reason I stopped for so long and rarely write here anymore. You asked about risk. The greatest risk I face is in not doing as the Lord asks. He has asked me very plainly to do all I can to reassure Carol of my love for her and yes, be willing to apply for readmission if it is the only thing that will save my marriage. The Lord takes marriage seriously and so do I. Marriage is the fruit He labors to lay up in store.

The Gospel Brings Hope

Question Nine: “Why does all this matter so much to you?” I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else when it comes to the gospel of Christ. It should be important to everyone. What’s surprising to me is how many people can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church. Even the thought is abhorrent to so many who have opposed what I have shared on my blog. I can truly understand why Denver turned off comments on his blog years ago. I can only imagine the awful individual emails he receives from those who feel and express he has ruined their families. What a burden he must carry. I know a little about doing what the Lord asks, meaning, I have felt the displeasure of the Lord when I have been slow to hearken after I’ve asked for His direction.

This matters because it gives me hope. I have a goal in my old age to see Zion established, and that’s not going to come about through a large institution. The signs are becoming more and more evident that we are living in the generation that will see the return of the Lord. I rejoiced when I heard that a temple is to be a part of this effort to establish Zion. I want to contribute to the building of that temple. I want my name to be in the book that will be presented to the Lord when the temple is completed. I am grateful to know there literally is a book being kept and that my name is in it today. That baptism is so essential. Oh, how I wish more people understood this. I am saddened by but understand why so many can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church.

Receiving the Higher Priesthood

Question Ten: “Anything of your background, briefly, that may have been worth noting at the beginning that would enhance what is shared.” There’s no way I can condense ten years of blogging into ten questions. I started my blog with the intention of providing sensible answers to all the misinformation about the LDS Church that was popping up on the Internet. Along the way I kept finding more and more legitimate questions being asked by young people who had real concerns about what they were reading in newly-available historical records and what they were being taught in the official curriculum of the LDS Church.

There’s a lot to love about what this great institution has accomplished, but it became obvious, at least to me, that something very basic was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it so, like so many others, I put my concerns on the shelf. If I had not read PtHG I would probably still be serving somewhere in the Stake as a clerk, which for some reason I seem to do well, probably because I manage computer networks for a living. Two fundamental things changed. I realized open revelation had ceased with Joseph Smith. I also came to understand the priesthood very, very differently. The Higher Priesthood is not received the way it is taught in the LDS Church. It must come by hearing the voice of God declare it unto you.

Concluding Thoughts on Marriage

To my friend who asked for advice on how to make his marriage work when he no longer believed as his wife, I can only offer the following: Put yourself in her shoes for a minute. Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Being right is not as important as being kind. I’ve referred to it earlier and I’ll reiterate it here. If the Lord were to ask me to apply for readmission to the LDS Church. I would do it in a heartbeat, especially if it would bring happiness to another, in this case, to Carol. I have received baptism in the way I believe the Lord has asked and have accepted the covenant of Christ as it was offered.

I can’t imagine the LDS Church asking me to deny or retract the covenant I have made with Christ, can you? It seems to me one should be able to worship and fellowship in the LDS Church or the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church or any fellowship that acknowledges Christ. A man can believe what he wants in the LDS Church. I’ve heard some pretty crazy things over the years from someone everyone would consider an orthodox member. Knowing what I know now about keys, I can sustain the Brethren. In fact, I do so every time we have a stake conference. I can pay tithing to the LDS Church but I would pay it differently than I have all my life because I understand it differently now. But who am I to give advice on marriage? Go talk to the Lord.

Update: The Video is up on YouTube. It’s about thirty minutes: https://youtu.be/_MD6wlP4LAA

As an alternative, I’ve also posted it on my domain site here: http://3tcm.net/TimMaloneStory01012018.mp4


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.

Doctrine of Christ Conference Update


Doctrine of Christ Conference

March 18th – 19th 2017 — St. George, Utah, USA

The website at DoctrineofChristConference.com is being updated with the following information on February 27, 2017

About this Conference

The idea for this spring conference came after the September 2016 Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference where an amazing thing happened – people said they felt something entirely new and different there. For the first time, after so many years of hearing about Zion and reading about Zion, some of us found real hope that we really can learn to love each other enough to live together in a city of peace.

That’s what the Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise gave us, and that’s what we pray that the St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference will become to those who gather there this spring. Every detail of what we have planned and sacrificed in order to make this conference happen is to invite our Lord to be present, again, and to feel that sweet spirit of fellowship that makes life worth living.

Who we are

We are a few friends and believers in the Doctrine of Christ as taught in The Book of Mormon. We are not a formal organization or fellowship.

This conference is non-denominational and is not affiliated with any organized religion. There is no specific group hosting this event – we’re all just individuals contributing our time and effort to make this happen. The heavy lifting for the web site, and technical help with sound and recording comes from some of the Boise folks who did it before and are kind enough to do it again so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We thank them sincerely.


We chose Southern Utah for several reasons. One is for the sheer beauty of the place. Another good reason is the warmer spring weather in the Southern Utah area. But proximity to our friends in California, Arizona and Nevada was most important to us, since St. George is about halfway between them and our North Idaho and Canadian friends. Having this conference at the crossroads will, we hope, make it a little easier for those who were unable to make the drive to Boise. God brought us together, we want to stay together.

Spring break is a tough time to find room at the inn in this area. Hopefully, if you haven’t yet booked a room you can still find a place nearby in the surrounding areas of Mesquite, La Verkin, Hurricane, Cedar City, or Parowan.

Please make your reservations ASAP.

With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference,

and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so, in spite of difficulty. There is a place provided on the website for you to request help, or to provide help for those who are requesting lodging, but please be aware that options are very limited. The organizers are few in number but will do what we can to assist.

The timing and the date of this conference

Spring Equinox is a time each year when light begins to overcome the darkness

of winter. This is the perfect time to gather again with old friends, to make new friends, and to rejoice in the light of new revelations coming forth in our day. The conference presentations of Saturday March 18th, and Sunday March 19th will provide a natural transition into the actual day of Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017.

The planners had originally envisioned organizing a conference sunrise service at the Parowan Gap Monday morning, but have decided instead to focus all logistical time and resources on the speaking and Sacrament sessions of the conference. We leave it to individuals and families to create the Parowan Gap sunrise experience on their own. Maps of Parowan Gap and other interesting local areas will be available at the welcome tables at both venues.

The venues  

As we first contemplated organizing this conference and searched for locations, the impression came to go big or go home. We knew we needed to plan for at least a thousand people, probably more since general press releases will go out in Las Vegas, St. George and Salt Lake City.

There are many considerations for a group this size, especially for families with small children. The Cox Center for the Performing Arts seemed perfect. There’s seating for 1,200, an easy access location, good parking, clean accessible restrooms, and great acoustics for speakers and recording. There is a carpeted foyer for toddlers to roam, and piped sound and video to the foyer for any overflow crowd.

The Cox Center is on the campus of Dixie State University and therefore alcohol is not allowed on the premises. It’s a great place for speakers, but we found that there was just no way to do a conference Sacrament service there.

We wanted to be able to provide a place where the Sacrament with wine could be served, so we had to rent a separate “wine friendly” place. That’s the reason there are two venues. The Hilton Garden Inn was chosen because of proximity to Cox, and because the ballroom seats about 400. If needed, we can provide two Sacrament services, one after the other, to accommodate all of those who would like to take the Sacrament at this conference. The earlier Sacrament will start at 6:00 pm, and a second Sacrament service may be available at about 8:00 pm if there are those who were not able to take the Sacrament at 6 pm. Families with small children may want to attend the earlier Sacrament meeting. Although over 1,000 are estimated to attend, and the Cox Auditorium seats 1,200, we will only be able to accommodate 800 for Sacrament service, so please be prompt.

The Hilton charges a $5.00 per bottle (or per canning jar) “corkage” fee for any wine brought from outside, so we are asking that families please do not bring your own wine to this Sacrament meeting. All bread, wine and grape juice will be provided.

We have secured the Hilton from 8 am to 10 pm Saturday as a general meeting and gathering place. After the last Sacrament there will be time available for socializing at the Hilton until 10 pm. Although a welcome table will be available and there will be greeters there off and on during the day Saturday, the Hilton is not available to us on Sunday.

When we got the actual cost figures for renting The Cox Center for the Performing Arts and the Hilton Garden Inn we were nearly overwhelmed. We were trying to figure out how in the world we could possibly do this when a donor stepped up and provided the cash contribution which enabled us to secure both places under contract. Of course that person wishes to remain anonymous, but we hope that when he/she is sitting there in the audience surrounded by all of us experiencing the blessing of being able to witness this event, the magnitude of the effect of that generosity will warm the heart and soul of our donor.

There are significant costs associated with any large event like this. We’re not out of the woods yet and are doing our best to cover the remainder of the costs of the venues, all the Sacrament bread and wine for 800+ people, program printing, etc.

We could sure use your help to cover these costs. Anything you can contribute is needed. On the web page at DoctrineofChrist.com is a place to contribute, if you can. Please know that after basic conference costs are covered 100% of all extra funds will go directly to those in need of financial assistance.

Saturday morning baptisms

We have scheduled 9:00 am for baptisms at Ivins Reservoir, in order to allow time to get back to St. George, dress, eat lunch and make it to the Cox Auditorium for the start of the Saturday conference at 1:00 pm. But baptisms can of course be any day or time which you prefer.

There are other places around the area for living water baptisms. One warm springs pool is close by has a steep trail down to it. (See notes at the end for detail.) Maps and information will be available at the welcome tables, and from contacting the Born of Water web host directly yourself, which we encourage you to do if you have any questions. That link is listed on the website.

Ivins Reservoir is about 12 miles from St. George, and is easily accessible for baptisms at any time. It’s a public place, so there may possibly be others there, but that’s not very likely at 9 am in March. The water is quite refreshing (OK, really cold). There are no public restrooms but we’re planning for a tent to be there for changing and dressing. If you think you may want to be baptized, please bring your own extra towels. Someone with authority from Jesus Christ will be at Ivins Reservoir at 9:00 am to baptize you if you have not brought someone yourself. (There will not be anyone standing by at other baptism sites besides Ivins.) Information on how to get to Ivins Reservoir is posted on the web site.

The Speakers and the Program

After a lot of prayer, and our willingness to let the Lord indicate who the speakers should be – each one of the speakers became an obvious choice to contribute their particular perspective on an aspect of The Doctrine of Christ.

Their topics and speaking order will be listed in a later update. For now we have confirmed the following as speakers; Rob and Quintina BearChief Adolfo, Denver Snuffer, Karen Strong, Jeanene Custer, John Pratt, Chris Hamill, and Paul Durham. There may be others to come.

All conference speakers will be recorded, and their talks will be made available on the Doctrine of Christ Conference website at a later date. Where possible, transcripts of talks will also be made available. Denver Snuffer’s talk may also be available on his website in audio and transcript form at a later date.

All conference prayers will be by invitation. Various musical numbers will be presented, as detailed in the printed programs which will be available at the welcome tables. There will also be congregational hymns. Testimonies at the Saturday Sacrament meeting are by inspiration and invitation. Because of time restraints there will not be an open testimony mic at this conference, but hopefully the time will soon come when that is possible.

Although starting times of each session are fixed, as noted below, we have reserved additional time at both venues in order to make the ending times flexible enough to accommodate the spirit of whatever is being presented.

Please be aware that ending times may go over what is posted in the schedule.

Both Chris Hamill and Denver Snuffer will have Q and A time in the speaking schedule. 3×5 cards for writing your questions for both Chris and Denver will be available at the welcome tables. A submission button tor questions for Denver will be active on the Doctrine of Christ website shortly.

General Schedule

Saturday, March 18

9:00 am       Baptisms

                        Ivins Reservoir

1:00 pm –      Welcome and Saturday Conference Session

4:30 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

6:00 pm-       Sacrament Meeting/Testimonies/Music/Social Gathering

10:00 pm      Hilton Garden Inn

1731 S. Convention Center Dr.

St. George, Utah 84970

(435) 634-4100

Sunday, March 19

9:00 am –      Sunday Conference Session

1:00 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

There will be an additional information update to the Doctrine of Christ website about a week before the conference with more detail. With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference, and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so. We sincerely hope you will come and we look forward to seeing you there.

With love, and in the name of Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ,

The St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference

Organizing Committee


Strengthening One Another in Fellowship

HatchRockTwo weeks ago Carol and I travelled to Moab Utah for the weekend. We attended a conference of the Southern Utah and Colorado fellowships. We were asked to refrain from promoting it on social media, thus I wrote nothing in my blog. It was a wonderful gathering held at the Rockland Ranch (Hatch Rock) over two days with speakers from the various fellowships. I am so grateful to have been able to attend.

I am also grateful Carol went with me. I did not tell her much about it, nor especially did I mention that Denver might be there. Although Carol attended several of Denver’s lectures with me in 2014, and was especially complimentary of his lecture in St George on marriage, she is not particularly fond of the man. Perhaps it is because I resigned from the LDS Church after reading his books and attending his lectures.

On Saturday, I was asked to provide a short report of our fellowship activities in California, a difficult task since we are spread out so far up and down the length of the state, a few toward San Diego, a few here near Ventura, a few more in Northern California. I did my best – it was pouring rain – then sat down to enjoy the fine testimonies of others and they bore witness of how their various fellowships were blessing their lives.

And Their Number Were Few

FewInNumbersI have to ask myself, and upon receipt of a social email from Denver, I asked him, why so few? Why are so few willing to read the words he has written, or listen to the testimony he has borne of the Savior? He reminded me we are constrained by section 121: persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge… These are the tools of the Savior to persuade.

I also ask myself, after having served in the church for so many years, why was I unsatisfied? Why did I not feel fulfilled in my soul with a sense of purpose and meaning that should come from participating as fully as I could in what is proclaimed to be the true and living church upon the face of the earth? Was I not reading the scriptures or studying the gospel enough? I asked the Lord in prayer. That was not the case.

I want you to know I love the Lord. I wish I could tell you more of the things He has revealed to me, but He has asked me to refrain. I have hinted and tried to share as much as I dared in years past when He revealed them to me. I have been in His presence. He has encircled me about in His love. I have felt the reality of forgiveness from sins. He is quick to forgive. But there is so much more He would give us.

Correlation is Death to the Spirit

PriesthoodCorrelationLast week I attended a small gathering of our local fellowship – just five or six of us. We witnessed baptisms, partook of the sacrament and then discussed the gospel in a way that fulfilled my soul so much more as compared to sitting in a High Priest Group being fed the correlated lesson. And I was a HP Group leader. My point is the spirit is real and gives life but there is something missing in those correlated lessons.

I hope not to offend anyone. The LDS Church is doing a wonderful job, but something is lacking. I did not recognize it until a few years ago while serving as a High Priest Group Leader. There are many standard questions and equally standard answers. If your answer does not fit within the accepted nature of what is suggested in the manual, the brethren around you are quick to let you know. I speak from experience.

This should not be. Man should be free to speak his mind and expect respect and illumination from his brethren who share the same faith. Sadly, the correlated curriculum has destroyed that opportunity to be free with one’s thought and explications on the subject, quote or verses being considered. This is sad to me and is the very reason I refuse to attend Gospel Doctrine classes or High Priest’s group anymore.

A Loosening of the Tongue

start-a-blogBesides, as a non-member, the HP Group is considered a private meeting, is it not? I could be mistaken. My purpose of this post is not to rail against the tightly controlled structure of the LDS Church class meetings, but to write about the benefits and joys of fellowship among those who love you and feel the same about the Lord and the Restoration. For the most part they have been cast out or have resigned.

After witnessing baptisms in the living water of Ventura harbor, we sat on the grass a little inland, blessed and partook of the sacrament in the open air and under a bright sun. You may say that wine loosens the tongue but I tell you it caused those who partook to feel the love and blessings of the Lord. We do not drink wine to get drunk but to remember the Lord, his blood which was shed for us, and the life he imbues in us by so partaking.

We speak of what we write – three of us are bloggers – or what we read on various blogs. The gospel is discussed. The utmost importance of obeying the commandments, the reality of the Lord’s admonition to give unto the poor, without restraint. Tithing is to care for the poor, not to pay the salaries of the many General Authorities or build shopping malls.  I didn’t used to have a problem with that idea. Now it galls me.

Discussing the Gospel with Joy and Gladness

blogs-of-noteWe laugh. We joke a bit. We express love. We hug. We speak of deep doctrine and often speak of the foolishness of those who write on our blogs who have no clue what they are expressing, not having studied of contemplated the subject in depth. We are not perfect or scholars. We are each sinners as are all who have need of fellowship and the sacrament. But when we leave, we are uplifted and strengthened.

I express gratitude to my brethren and sisters who participate with me in our fellowship meetings, even though we do not get together as often as we like. I administer the sacrament in my own home each week after attending the local LDS Sacrament meeting with my wife. I pray with passion, I study the gospel, I write – either in my journal or here on my blog. I wish our fellowship could get together more often.

This will be short. I simply wanted to express gratitude for those the Lord has placed nearby – within a few hours travelling distance – and for their willingness to drive that distance here in the Golden state. I love you my brethren. You know who you are. I pray for you and your families. We share many of the same feelings about the LDS Church even if we currently attend the meetings or not.

God bless all the humble followers of Christ who desire to cry mightily unto him and to obey his commandments. I am so grateful for the Sacrament. I love my brothers and sisters who attend our LDS Wards, but derive so much more from our small fellowship, even if we sometimes only get together via the Internet. NOTE: If you wish to read or hear Denver’s address to the combined fellowships at the conference, you can find them on his downloads page.

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.

Life is Unfair, But You Knew That

life-is-unfair1Why is there suffering? And why is life so unfair? Why do some have bigger burdens than others? Why do so many people live in poor war-torn countries?

One possibility is that the abused deserve their abuse—that perhaps they were an abuser in a previous life.  This kind of thinking, even if true, can enable abusers—“You totally deserve my abuse, who am I not to fulfill God’s will?”  This is the dark side of Hindusim–“we have a caste system because God wills it–we brahmins are on top because of our exceeding righteousness in the past life and you losers are living in squalor because you weren’t as righteous in the last life.”  Even modern prophets seers and/or revelators can fall victim to this kind of thinking:

“This privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valient, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations….”  Harold B. Lee

On the other hand, was Jesus abused because He was an abuser?  What about Abinadi, Paul, Peter, and Joseph?

There is another possible explanation why people endure horrible things in life:  Before the earth is created, God says, “I have to respect free will, and some jerk is going to be an abuser.  Who will volunteer to take this douche’s abuse?  Who will volunteer to starve in Africa? Under the volunteerism explanation, it really flips around the question of who the elect really is, and all of us might be found wanting.

[Never mind, we’re totally the elect, not those other guys who are suffering.]

Either explanation is possible, maybe some are abused as punishment and others volunteered for abuse.   We can’t judge.

I suggest a third possibility: some of the abused neither deserved it nor volunteered for it.  Life isn’t fair, and that might be part of the test–can we love and accept a God who set up a rigged game?

Look at the 9th parable in 10 parables. My interpretation of it is, basically, those that followed Lucifer in the premortal life are invited back into the kingdom. Many who were righteous were upset by this and walked out on God. The test is not what we think it is.

From the 9th_Parable:

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

The game is rigged. On purpose. And not because God is incompetent. God wants to see who will not be upset if He rewards people unfairly.

11th-hour-workersMatthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

when-life-isnt-fairBut why? Why is the test about enduring unfairness rather than testing who will obey the commandments the most?

When we perceive that we are treated unfairly, we seek compensation to make up for our unfair treatment. We think it will be just if something is taken from the person who has more and given to the person who has less. Well, maybe we only think it is unjust if we are the person who has less. (When we have more, we pat ourselves on the back and assume that we totally earned it.) This motivation is at the heart of those who seek revenge for mistreatments, either real or perceived.

In the eternities, God offers us everything. He wants to share His glory and power with us. But what if that isn’t fair? Why should someone who didn’t do the same awesome righteous works as I did get the same reward? Why should a laborer who showed up at the 11th hour get the same pay as I did for working all day?

And more importantly, what can I do to stop this slacker from getting a reward he doesn’t deserve? Well, God did give me His power, right? So I can use that to make his eternal reward less than mine. Although it might be hard, since he also has God’s power, so if I break any of his stuff he can fix it. But I could probably find ways to make his eternal reward less rewarding. One way (maybe the only way) I could do him harm would be to tempt his children into doing wickedness.

At this point I have become a devil.

This might be why only the best of feelings (charity) can prevail between people if they will enter into a true order of prayer—prayer doesn’t become a true order just because the person praying repeats signs and tokens while wearing symbolic clothing. A true order of prayer means that a person has received the power to ask any blessing they want from God. People will only get this power if they have the best of feelings toward their neighbor (charity). People without the best of feelings might ask God to curse their neighbor as compensation for unfairness.

So life is unfair because God cannot save people who are upset by unfairness, or those who will not forgive their neighbor.

Here’s the 9th parable in it’s entirety:

OlympicCompetitionThere was a King who loved his people. He also loved the competition of games. He called his advisory council together and asked them how he might improve the health and vigor of his people. They considered the matter and decided upon a great plan.

The King called his city together and told them of a great competition he and his council had devised. “All the city would compete,” he announced. They would proceed in turns to go into the coliseum and compete on the field. All were welcome to watch before or after they participated, but all would have to compete. The competition would test the citizen’s loyalty, while also improving the lives of the citizens.

“I haven’t the strength to compete. I am old and past my day and cannot hope to win in competition with younger men,” said one.

The King responded, “Not all the competition will be of strength, some will be of intellect, some of patience, some of music. It will develop the skill of each individual from my kingdom and will improve every citizen.”

“I refuse,” said the one. He and those who agreed with him departed in anger.

The day arrived and the competition began. Men, women and children all entered in turns into the coliseum. Some sang, some threw spears, some lifted heavy weights, and some recited poetic works of beauty and wisdom. The people not competing at any given time would watch from the seats. They gained as much from watching as they did competing.

Many were reluctant or afraid entering the competition, but found when they competed their fears were unfounded. Some believed it would be fun to compete. However, upon entering the competition failed to do as they hoped, and regretted their poor efforts.

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

“All those who have been loyal have been identified. They will remain in my kingdom. All those who have rejected my plan, or spoken against me in hatred, will be removed from my kingdom. Those who leave are free to follow their own course. However, they cannot be among my people any longer, for they have been tested and failed in their loyalty.”

It required a battle to remove those who were to be exiled. Many argued they had endured all the King had asked and only spoken ill of him when the disaffected exiles returned. They claimed it was unfair to have been put through this final test of loyalty after allowing the return of the exiles. They argued a feast that included those who refused the King’s request was unfair. It rewarded all alike; the loyal and the disloyal. They claimed their final disloyalty came only as a result of their original loyalty later proving to be of no value, since even the exiles came to the final feast.

Others complained that the King was mad. His whole course was destructive of a people who had once lived in harmony and peace. They claimed it was the King who should be thrown in exile; not the citizens who were discomforted by the King disturbing their peace.

Still others complained the King was never honest with them. Had they known this was to be the result, they would have been loyal throughout. They thought it unfair he kept his counsel to himself and thereby lulled them into disfavor.

Yet others complained the King gave them too hard a test. It was unfair. Although they had passed the test, they had family members and friends who failed and if these whom they loved had failed they would refuse for their loved ones’ sake to remain with the King.

Some even said that the original test was supposed to improve the citizen’s “health and vigor” and not their loyalty. It was unfair to claim to test for one virtue when actually testing for another.

And finally, some claimed there could be no future test coming for which this test of the citizens would prepare; that the only thing this great plan tested was the patience of the citizens. If there is some great future test coming, then the King ought, in fairness, to share that information with them rather than to hide it and make claims which cannot be proven.

lingdom-of-peaceAll the arguments were unavailing. The King expelled them all. When the kingdom was set, and none but the loyal remained, the King again called a great assembly of his people. To all those who remained the King announced, “I discovered long ago the power to make my kingdom last forever. I am now prepared to share the secrets of all I know with my people. From this day forward you will no longer be citizens in my kingdom, but you will be kings and queens, sharing with me in life which will never end.

“Before making you all kings and queens with me, I needed to have a people who would live in peace together.

Immortality without peace among us would be a great punishment and not a great prize.

“All of us who remain in this kingdom have lost friends, family members and others whom we love. However, all who remain will be able to live in peace, forever.”

The King did as he planned from the beginning. He and his counselors were able to find those who could live in peace, and for whom life would endure in peace forever.

There is not now, and never has been, a kingdom more stable, more happy, more at peace, and more enduring than this King’s. Though he ceased to reign as a king, he continued to be loved above all others. For he was the one who brought to life the happiest people of all.

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