Pentecost and Patterns


LastSupperLargeSunday, May 24 marked fifty days since the Feast of the Passover. The early Christian disciples, gathered together in Jerusalem, experienced an outpouring of the Spirit and attending gifts following prayer and supplication. Joseph adds that Peter officiated in ordinances: “God obtained a house where Peter washed and anointed on the Day of Pentecost.” (WJS, p. 211)

pentecost_whitsunThe Savior had just completed his 40-day ministry and “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father … for John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4-5)

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4)

ENDOWED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH

joseph_preaching_grove“I preached in the grove on the keys of the kingdom … the keys are certain signs and words by which false spirits and personages may be detected from true, which cannot be revealed to the elders till the temple is completed. The rich can only get them in the temple-the poor may get them on the mountain top as did Moses … There are signs in heaven, earth, and hell, the elders must know them all to be endowed with power, to finish their work and prevent imposition…No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be in the Holiest of Holies.” (WJS, p. 119-120)

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues …” (Mark 16:17)

Nephi’s description connects the baptism of fire with speaking in a new tongue-the tongue of angels, and shouting “praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 31:13-14; 32:2-3)

lehi-pillar-of-fireLehi’s theophany also included praise: “And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth … And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled …” (1 Nephi 1:14-15)

Praise and singing were witnessed by John as he was shown those who are redeemed of the Lord, standing upon the sea of glass: “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” (Rev 15:3)

Alma describes this praise as “singing the song of redeeming love” and experiencing “a mighty change … wrought in their hearts … having been spiritually born of God … having the image of God engraven upon your countenances.” (Alma 5:7-26; Rev 9:4, 13:16, 14:1,9; D&C 133:18)

“That Christ, the Lord Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven …” (Mosiah 5:15).

kirtland-temple-teaching“How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power and the other comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation … the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost … has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham … his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a gentile is to purge out the old blood and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham must … have a new creation by the Holy Ghost …” (WJS, p. 4).

This promised endowment includes spiritual gifts, knowledge, and being baptized with fire. Where are these manifestations in the church today? Remember the early Christian Pentecost and the Kirtland Pentecost included those that held no high church position or calling (In case you’re inclined to argue that it only happens to leaders).

slc-temple-dedication-ticketI attended a temple dedication broadcast last year and felt something amiss in the proceedings. Conspicuously missing was the power of the Spirit. How far have we drifted away from what Joseph first established, opting instead for a diluted and powerless substitute? In contrast, so powerful was the outpouring of the Spirit at the Kirtland Pentecost that many were convinced the Millennium had begun. I suspect that if Joseph lived long enough to dedicate the Nauvoo temple, there would have been similar, if not greater outpourings of the Spirit.

PROBLEMATIC PATTERNS

Our meetings are confined by a rigid block schedule that leaves little room for the spontaneity of the Spirit to work upon us, giving us in the hour, in the very moment, what is needed. (D&C 100:5-8; Mark 13:11)

What is edifying and spiritually instructive about a correlation program that ensures that members receive the very same lesson from a manual on the same Sunday everywhere in the world? How much more powerful and edifying would our meetings be if they were directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. (D&C 42:2; 68:3-4)

general-authoritiesWorshipping (idolizing) local leaders and general authorities is an abomination. The Israelites did the same with Moses. This theme is present with us to this day: They were content with a middleman, and declined the blessings God was offering to them. A comment was made in a priesthood meeting recently that helps to illustrate the severity of the situation: He said, “Why do I need to seek the face of God? We have bishops, isn’t that the same thing?” (If it is, then you must be reading from a different set of scriptures). This is essentially the same spiritual malady that the Israelites had: We need not awake and arise because we have a prophet that speaks to God for us. (D&C 84:23-25)

I remember well as a missionary that when we taught investigators about modern day prophets and continuing revelation, we first established how God is unchanging, and therefore, acts according to divine patterns. Can we continue teaching about patterns, gifts, and manifestations that are not reflected in the church today? Do we experience personally or in the church the blessings shown plainly in the scriptures? Has the Ensign replaced your study of the scriptures? Do we see the spirit of prophecy and revelation in the church?

Do we know more about and lend more of our time and attention to Facebook and other distractions instead of the Book of Mormon? If so, we have great need to repent and come out from under the condemnation of taking lightly what God is offering to us. (D&C 84:54-58)

THE KIRTLAND PENTECOST

June 1831 Conference

kirtland-temple-old-photoA revelation received in January 1831 commanded the elders to gather in Ohio to receive the Lord’s law, and to be endowed with power from on high. (D&C 38:32) Many who were in attendance recorded the events that transpired, including, the heavens being opened and seeing the Father and the Son, the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and the man of sin was revealed, detected, and cast out.

The fact that Satan was present in attempting to thwart the work is interesting to consider. To be endowed with light, one must encounter the opposite to understand the difference between God’s administrations and the devil’s deceitfulness. When Moses received his endowment, he was temporarily left unto himself, and Satan stepped in to tempt him. (Moses 1:9-24)

12 November 1835

“The endowment you are so anxious about you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel explain it to your dark minds, but strive to be prepared in your hearts, and be faithful in all things … be watchful and prayerful, and you shall have a prelude of those joys that God will pour out on that day … you need an endowment brethren in order that you may be prepared and able to overcome all things … the sick will be healed, the lame made to walk, the deaf to hear, and the blind to see through your instrumentality … all who are prepared and sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Savior will see him in the solemn assembly.” (JSP, Journal, Vol 1, p. 98-99)

27 March 1836 – Dedicatory Prayer

KirtlandTemple2“That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house. And that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost. And that all their salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with holy hands, uplifted to the Most High … That thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and thy name be upon them, and thy glory round about them, and thine angels have charge over them. (See also D&C 84:42)

Let the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high. Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon the day of Pentecost; let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof. And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory. Put upon thy servants the testimony of the covenant…” (D&C 109:12, 15, 19, 22, 35-38)

30 March 1836

“While waiting, I made the following remarks: That the time that we were required to tarry in Kirtland to be endued would be fulfilled in a few days … the brethren continued exhorting, prophesying, and speaking in tongues until 5 o’clock in the morning-the Savior made his appearance to some, while angels ministered unto others, and it was a Pentecost and enduement indeed, long to be remembered, for the sound shall go forth from this place into all the world, and the occurrences of this day shall be handed down upon the pages of sacred history to all generations, as the day of Pentecost, so shall this day be numbered and celebrated as a year of Jubilee, and time of rejoicing to the saints of the Most High God.” (JSP, Journal, Vol 1, p. 214-216)

3 April 1836 – Acceptance of the temple

“For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.” (D&C 110:7)

MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION

transfiguration-carl-bloch“Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John who asked him many questions about his sayings, and Jesus leadeth them up unto a high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.” (JST Mark 9:2)

“On the Mount transfigured before Peter, [James], and John, there receiving the fulness of the priesthood, or [last] law of God.” (WJS, p. 246)

MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY

“1st Key: Knowledge is the power of salvation.
2nd Key: Make [your] calling and election made sure.
3rd Key: It is one thing to be on the mount and hear the Excellent voice, and another to hear the voice declare … you have a part and lot in the kingdom.

We were eyewitnesses of his Majesty, we have also a more sure word of prophecy…who can explain this? No man, but he that has obtained these things in the same way that Peter did … there are things in the bosom of the Father that have been hid from the foundation of the world that are not known, neither can be except by direct revelation.” (WJS, p. 206)

This direct revelation includes instruction by the Father, who personally teaches the covenant. (D&C 84:47-48)

“He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the Excellent Glory: This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy Mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy … it is one thing to receive knowledge by the voice of God, and another to know that you yourself will be saved, to have a positive promise of your own salvation is making your calling and election sure … the voice of Jesus saying, my Beloved, thou shalt have eternal life … never cease struggling until you get this evidence..” (WJS, p. 208)

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked


Death is a time of reflection“Why did you do this?”
“I felt it was the right thing to do.”

“Did you think about the consequences?”
“Of course, I’ve thought about them for two and a half years.”

“Do you realize what you’ve given up?”
“Actually, I’ve been more focused on what I have gained.”

“What do you mean?”
“I’ve never felt closer to the Lord or more in tune with His spirit.”

“How can you say that? You just resigned from the Lord’s Church.”
“I resigned so I could get baptized with full purpose of heart.”

“But you’ve already been baptized.”
“I was only eight years old at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

All Decisions Have Consequences

“Did you think about how this would affect your family?”
“Yes. I have fasted and prayed about it many, many times.”

“Do you realize you’ve lost your eternal salvation?”
“I disagree. Eternal salvation does not require membership in the LDS Church.”

“How can you say that after all the LDS Church has done for you?”
“Eternal salvation requires acceptance from the Lord and knowledge of His love.”

“And it requires membership in His Church.”
“Yes, I agree. It requires membership in the Church of the Firstborn.”

“But you can only get that through the LDS Church.”
“No. The LDS Church can help prepare you to receive the Lord.”

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

“Why are you so focused on Christ? Don’t you realize exaltation is to be like Father?”
“The only way back into the presence of the Father is through the Savior.”

“Yes, of course. But what about the temple and the ordinances we receive there?”
“They’re preparatory ordinances. They’re not the real thing. They’re symbolic.”

“What? I’ve never heard of any such thing.”
“Then you haven’t been listening close enough as you participate in the temple.”

“So you’re saying the temple sealing is not binding and not eternal?”
“Not unless it’s sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That’s all over D&C 132.”

“But you’ve given up your priesthood.”
“That’s not true. The Church doesn’t control priesthood. I received it from my father.”

“But he must have received it from someone back to Peter, James and John.”
“I’m not so sure the Higher Priesthood can be passed from man to man.”

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

“Do you believe the Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John the Baptist?”
“Yes, I do. And I believe that’s the priesthood I received from my father.”

“Then how do you believe one receives the Higher Priesthood?”
“It is received only by hearing the voice of God declare it unto the man.”

“Really? And you’ve heard the voice of God?”
“I have. But I don’t believe I’ve received the higher priesthood yet.”

“This is impossible. You’ve completely lost the spirit of the Lord.”
“Quite the contrary. I feel the spirit of the Lord in greater abundance than ever.”

“Don’t you realize you have taken from your wife the greatest hope of her life?”
“She loses nothing. She has the same opportunity. It requires the Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

“This is totally contrary to the teachings of the LDS Church.”
“I understand. But it’s not contrary to what Joseph Smith taught.”

“Are you saying you can prove all these ideas from the teachings of Joseph Smith?”
“Yes, given sufficient time to put the points together in a way you’ll understand.”

“There’s no way. We must rely on the words of the living prophets.”
“Not if they don’t square with the scriptures or the teachings of Joseph Smith.”

“Sometimes you just have to trust they know what they’re talking about.”
“Not when it comes to my eternal salvation. That’s why I study and pray.”

“You’re saying God told you the living prophets have got it wrong?”
“In some very important things, yes, they have got it wrong.”

Deceived By False Prophets

“My friend, I am sorry for you – very, very sorry.”
“Now do you understand why I resigned from the LDS Church?”

“Yes. You have been deceived into believing the ideas of a false prophet.”
“Tell me, how many hours have you spent studying the words of Denver Snuffer?”

“None. And I don’t intend to. I barely have time to read the scriptures and the Ensign.”
“There’s your problem. How can you judge a matter if you don’t study it out?”

“I’ve read enough from others to know I disagree with what he teaches.”
“But you haven’t read, studied and prayed for thousands of hours as I have done.”

“No. Every time I try to listen to one of his talks or read his lectures I get a dark feeling.”
“Then you’re not prepared for what he has written or delivered in his lectures.”

“I know I don’t like what I hear or what I read. He’s not for me. He’s a false prophet.”
“I would be careful about declaring someone a false prophet whom the Lord trusts.”

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

“So Denver is your prophet? You’ve just substituted one prophet for another.”
“I believe Denver is a prophet, a servant of the Lord, and a true messenger.”

“Do you know how blasphemous that sounds?”
“Only to the mind of someone steeped in the traditions of the LDS Church.”

“So that’s why you resigned your membership in the LDS Church?”
“I resigned because the Church Handbook requires I be excommunicated for apostasy.”

“Yes, and rightfully so. You are an apostate. You are leading others astray.”
“I require nobody to believe as I do. I claim the right to share my beliefs.”

“Not in this church you don’t. You teach what the Brethren say or out you go.”
“Precisely.”

“Can’t you see the beauty of having the doctrine controlled from the top?”
“I could if I knew for certain the leaders spoke with and on behalf of the Lord.”

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

“Millions of people can’t be wrong. They all know the prophet speaks with God.”
“We all speak with God, but does he speak for God? What has he prophesied lately?”

“Well, he’s been a little out of it lately. But just you wait. Listen to General Conference.”
“I intend to do so. I enjoy listening to inspired Brethren teach the doctrines of Christ.”

“So you admit the Church is inspired and led by the Lord.”
“I do. I have always felt that way. There are many good men and women in the Church.”

“Then why did you leave it?”
“We’ve been over that. I’ve given my reasons. Do you resent my exercise of agency?”

“I’m simply concerned for your eternal salvation.”
“And I yours. Thank you for your loving concern.”

“I wish there was something I could say to help you.”
“There is. You can always pray for me and my family.”

“I’ll do that. I’ll pray that you’ll be brought back to the light.”
“Thank you my friend. God bless you and your family.”

JesusTeaching

Max Skousen Excommunicated Twice


MaxSkousen2Please don’t take offense at the title. It is sensational on purpose but I think factual. Read on to see why. Note: I changed the title from the original because so many people wrote to say they found it offensive. It was not my intention to offend. The original title was: “The LDS Church Excommunicates those who Know Christ” The next week Denver Snuffer was summoned to a disciplinary counsel and was eventually excommunicated. He was one who wrote a book about the Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.”

Some Controversial Writers

I have been reading Max Skousen. You know, the Max Skousen who was excommunicated twice for writing about Christ. It made me think about Mel Fish, my friend from Cedar City who was excommunicated for writing about Christ. As I pondered further, I thought of my LTM branch president, George Pace, who was released as a Stake President for writing about Christ, Finally, I thought of Denver Snuffer, who is under church investigation for his recent books on the Savior.

Remove the Condemnation

What is going on in our church? Why are we forcing men out who want to bring us to Christ? I have read the works of these men and can say without reservation that each of them have been sincere and have gone to great lengths in their labors to teach us how we can come unto Christ. It is not an easy thing to write a book, let alone several of them as some have done, in their efforts to help us remove the condemnation we are under for esteeming lightly the Book of Mormon.

Church Teaches Come Unto Christ

This concerns me. On the one hand, I have been taught all my life from General Authorities, Bishops, Stake Presidents, Gospel Doctrine Teachers, and just about anyone who teaches in this church that if we will but come to know, love, follow and emulate Christ, we will be blessed, we will be happy, and we will be able to help the rest of the world by our example. I have tried to live this principle all my life. My number one goal is to come unto Christ. Always has been.

We Need to Know The Savior

Something is wrong here, or so it seems to me. Have I simply chosen a few poor examples in my list above? These are men whose writings have affected me deeply. I have met and interviewed some, and have prayed about each of them and their writings. Now, to be sure, I am also affected by the words of the men we sustain in this church as prophets, seers and revelators, sometimes very deeply, especially when they teach of the Savior. Aren’t we all supposed to know Christ?

Looking Beyond the Mark

I think the problem is that these men I mentioned above, and you can read about each of them in the links I have provided as I have written about them previously, have gone beyond what the Brethren felt comfortable in letting them share. Does that sound strange? It does to me. It seems to smack of controlling or restraining in some way, something I find distasteful. It makes me ask, of what are they afraid? What do they fear these men have taught or are trying to teach us?

A Blessing Hitherto Unknown

Take Max Skousen for example. He passed away in 2002, but you can read his books on the blog dedicated to his works, with links to Scribed, where they are stored. I have only read a few of his essays and the first few chapters of Looking Beyond the Mark, the first in his series of books, A Blessing Hitherto Unknown. In it he describes how he was inspired by President Benson who invited us to remove the condemnation of pride and unbelief from ignoring the Book of Mormon.

Disciplined for Doctrinal Writings

Max simply expounded that. I read no further than a few pages before I had to know about the man and what motivated him. That’s when I discovered he had been excommunicated twice for writing his books. The pattern became obvious. Each time the Lord has led me to read the works of someone who teaches about the Savior in greater depth than what we find in our curriculum, I discover they have been disciplined in some way or form. Thus I write this post, wondering why.

Tree of Life not Tree of Knowledge

From what I have been able to discover so far, Max teaches us about the differences between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. Oh, how quickly I was able to relate. I have been seeking new and revelatory experiences every day at the tree of knowledge, when all along, I should have been pursuing my way to the tree of life, clinging to the iron rod until I fell down at the presence of the tree to partake of the fruit, which the Lord promises we can taste and even have in this life.

Investment in Denver Snuffer Books

I have only just started reading Max’s works. I am so pleased that someone has gone to great trouble to place them on the Internet where I can find and read them for free. I do not have to buy them like I did when I wanted to read what Denver Snuffer has written. I don’t mind. I suppose I have invested well over $200 in Denver’s books, but I wanted to have them in my library. Some I have read multiple times, and others I am still reading, like Removing the Condemnation.

I Remember a Great Teacher George Pace

I read George Pace’s book many, many years ago, went to many of his lectures, and received personal counsel from him just as I was starting my mission. I’ll always remember his focus on the Savior, and how he KNEW we could have a personal, sacred, and sustaining relationship with him that would give us strength throughout our lives. I was devastated when I later read what happened to him and his family all because he dared teach what he taught about Christ.

Learn About Mel and Gwena Fish

I’ve written previously how I was led to meet with Mel Fish, a man who I am convinced knows the Savior better than anyone I have ever met. If someone were to ask me if I knew anyone who had their calling and election made sure, Mel and Gwena Fish would be the first couple to come to mind. The sprit witnessed to my soul how much the Lord loved Mel and Gwena and just how much he appreciated what they were doing to help people cast off the influence of the adversary.

Conquering Spiritual Evil

By the way, two other other individuals come to mind who have done so much to help people free themselves from the adversary and were persecuted by their church leaders for doing so. One is Doug Mendenhall, who wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil, and my friend Jan Graf who was somewhat of a mentor to me in first learning about communicating with our subconscious mind, although I learned his techniques second-hand and modified through one of his students.

Denver Snuffer Lecture Series

Anyone who has read my blog for the last year and half knows how I was introduced to Denver Snuffer and his writings, as well as the subsequent change in my life as a result of what I learned, and am still learning, from his books. I still hope to make it to one of his seminars in Utah next year. I’m certain I won’t be able to go to his Idaho or Northern Utah lectures anytime this year. I have some very specific questions I want to ask Denver why some teach evil spirits can repent.

Men Persecuted for Publishing Truth

The point of this post is this, and it’s more of a question for those who are my regular readers, if I have any left after being dropped by most LDS blog aggregators for being too controversial. I have felt led to read the works of these men I have mentioned. Their books have thrilled me. They have fed my soul. Reading them have been spiritual experiences, akin to reading scripture. Why is it that these men are persecuted by our church when their writings ring so true with me?

Go Where the Spirit Leads

I have to ask: Am I out of touch? Am I out of line with the General Authorities? Are we or are we not taught by our leaders to seek after Christ, to learn of Him, to come to know him and to emulate Him? Why do I feel that the Lord has lead me to the writings of these brethren I have mentioned in this blog? Is it because the writings of these men represent the meat of the gospel? Is what they write too much, too controversial for the general membership of the church today?

Just Your Basic Everyday Mormon

I don’t feel I’m anybody special. I’ve always said, “I’m just a regular member of the church.” I have no special influence. I am a lowly assistant stake clerk. I like to stay behind the scenes. I gladly accept speaking or teaching in church when asked but I ALWAYS teach ONLY what is in the approved curriculum. I do not deviate unless the spirit directs. I like to think I serve faithfully. I love this church. I love my brethren and sisters. I am your basic everyday common Mormon.

An Effort to Control Publishing

I’ll leave it at that. Some will respond that I have been and am being misled. It happens almost every time I write about Denver Snuffer. My counter is always, “That’s not what the spirit has been whispering to my soul.” Is it at all possible that there is some sort of cover-up or rather an attempt to control, to constrain and to tightly correlate what private members write and publish? If so, how can they expect to do that in today’s Internet world? We can publish anything today.

My Faith Discovery Journey

I’ve been blogging and working on an LDS-themed book for years. My wife just beat me to the punch and published her first book. I’ve watched her journey go in an entirely different direction than where she thought she wanted to go. I can say the same thing for me. I started out wanting to ONLY write faith-promoting, toe-the-line LDS explanations that mirrored the official line of reasoning for every controversial and questionable doctrine or practice. I feel like John Dehlin.

Finding Spiritual Fulfillment

John is much smarter and much more prominent in the LDS blogging world than I am but where I am today is not at all where I expected to be six years ago when I started thinking about adding my voice to the LDS blogging community. I don’t question the right of the leaders of our church to lead. I sustain them. I pray for them. I love them. But for the first time in my life, I’ve come to a point where I have to say, I’m not getting the spiritual food that fulfills my soul in my church.

Controversy Always Gets Attention

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not leaving. Where would I go? I also fully recognize feeding my soul is my own responsibility. That’s why I seek out and feel led to the writings of the men I mention at the top of this post. I just can’t figure out why these same men, whose writings I find so very rewarding and fulfilling, can be at odds with those who lead our church today. Is it a made-up controversy? Everyone knows strong opinions and debate generate interest. Maybe that’s it.

General Membership Don’t Read

Maybe the brethren are disciplining and excommunicating these men in order to bring attention to their works, so the members will sit up, take notice and make some effort to find out what all the hullabaloo is all about. Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it? I’m kidding. I really doubt that. But if you can tell me why I am led to find such spiritual satisfaction from the writings of these men who are or have been disciplined for what they have written, I would greatly appreciate you clueing me in.

Looking for Informed Opinions

That is, of course, if you know what you’re talking about, have read some of their works and can advise me with an educated opinion. I dislike reading some of the comments that start out, “I’ve never read a thing Denver Snuffer has written, but I can tell you if you don’t stop reading what he has published, you’re going to lose your church membership and then you’ll be sorry.” But I have a much higher opinion of my readers than that. Send me a private email if you prefer.

You can Reach me Privately

And, as always, thanks for reading my blog. I hope what I share is helpful and gets us thinking. I can be reached privately at tmalonemcse @ gmail.com if you prefer, but why not share your insights with others in the comments? I always respond to private emails, even if it sometimes takes me a few weeks. I appreciate the hundreds of readers who have reached out to me privately for help or discussion. I welcome all, public or private and ask only for thoughtful discourse. God bless.

Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer


Denver Snuffer is becoming less of an enigma to me. I still don’t know him but I like him, based solely on his writings. I think his little book, Ten Parables, tipped my thinking to his favor. I’ve now read six of his eight books and am working on the seventh – Eighteen Verses. I have saved the best for last – Nephi’s Isaiah.

I have Denver’s permission to derive my own interpretations of his parables. I offer them here as a way of solidifying what I have read and pondered. He writes in his preface that parables “teach truths by using symbols and analogies.” They are “intentionally susceptible to different interpretations and layers of meaning.”

The book was a fun and easy read. I completed it during a lunch hour at work. It is only 107 pages. Some of the parables were obvious as soon as I read them. Some seemed a little obtuse, requiring a bit of pondering. “They have been carefully composed. The words are deliberate.” I hope my interpretations do them justice.

This is another in an ongoing series of essays on the books of Denver Snuffer. I have previously reviewed Passing the Heavenly Gift and The Second Comforter. Comments are welcome. Obviously you will have had to have read the book. I look forward to reading what you think of the parables.

1. A Busy Young Man

This one is very short. I wondered why he placed it first in his book. I suppose it represents Denver when he was a young attorney. He worked many long years to learn of the Master, while doing the Lord’s work. First the rope for seven years, then the net for seven more. Perhaps it represents Denver’s callings in the church.

2. Wise Men

This one is obviously about the General Authorities of the church. I love the symbol of the fruit tree. It could be so many things, but mostly I thought it was a good representation of members of the church. The symbolism of the telescope is also profound. It represents the ability to see things far off, available to all.

“They became men … with the most cunning and cautious minds. For many years they added no wisdom to the kingdom … They only spoke of … the great lessons of the past.” Then again, the parable could be referring to the religious leaders of the past since there is an obvious reference to either Galileo or Copernicus.

3. Triangularity

This is obviously about temple worship. It contains one of Denver’s common themes throughout his books that the ordinances of the temples are mere symbols and not the real thing. You may also conclude that it is about the study of God or more precisely, the Godhead. I love the many references to orthodoxy and creeds.

Then again, it can also be construed as a much generalized view of the history of man, his beliefs about God and his religious worship practices. The part about wars and schisms leads me to think that. There is reference to the restoration and again, the introduction of orthodoxy and the idea of speaking directly to and with God.

The ending is wonderful. It is so applicable to the church today whether we realize it or not. We do indeed look upon anyone who claims to have an “unusual” story of spiritual communion with God to be heterodox. I suspect it is because of the fear of being deceived that this has been inadvertently promoted by those who lead us.

4. The Horses of Shiloh

This is a wonderful parable about the Savior. I like the implications of the lines, “He was hard for any man to ride, and many feared to approach him. Only the most brave attempted it. Only a few were able to ride him.” Obviously this is referring to the process of coming unto Christ and gaining an audience with Him.

The churches of the world have made an image of the Savior that is nothing like who he truly is. The ending: “In Shiloh there was a neglected statue, in a forgotten back alley, of a rearing horse covered with scars whose disproportionate and unruly form was thought to a symbol of everything vile and unwanted in a horse.”

Sadly, in the end, nobody would ever know what the horse really looked like. I wonder if this is meant to imply that our depictions of the Savior in art today are not at all what he was really like. I suspect this is the intent. Most pictures of the Savior depict him as almost feminine, not the battle-scarred warrior that he was.

5. The Weathered Tree

At first I thought this was going to be a camping story. I was delighted it turned out to be the story of a wise tree that stood alone on a cliff, gnarled and scarred, but who had a commanding view of all that surrounded her. The two forests that grew below her are a good contrast between the foolish and the wise who look to her.

6. Five Men From God

The five men from God are Sampson, John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph and Hyrum. These are the witnesses who were sent to warn and bless mankind. But they were all rejected. God was therefore justified in leaving man to fend for himself, with no warning of impending danger. Man will be unprepared when the last day arrives.

7. Hope and Tarwater

This has become my favorite. I expected something more or different at the end but was pleased that the same theme played out all along. It was a sustained effort. It is analogous to life and the way we travel through it. One young man finds the woods to be a dangerous place. His journey through it reflects wariness and uneasiness.

The other young man found the woods to be a place of beauty and serenity. He was at peace with his surroundings and derived much enjoyment and pleasure from his journey. Although the two men became aware of each other towards the end, they did not meet. They each related their journey to others when they arrived home.

I could write an entire essay about the analogy and the symbolism in this parable. But the end result for me was the way the two young men related their tale at the end and how it confirmed to others their impressions of the forest. They brought with them their perceptions of how things were in the woods, and they were right.

8. Brakhill’s Greatest Citizen

This one is told so well I thought there really was a town of Brakhill, Wyoming and a real children’s author named Olyvie Canfield. I can imagine Denver wrote this for one of his daughters. I got the distinct impression that the building built by the story’s other leading citizen – Ira Wilkas – represented the City Creek Center.

I’m still pondering this one. I wonder if anyone else has come up with who might be represented by Olyvie Canfield. I suppose Ira Wilkas represented the Church. Is it possible that Olyvie might have been a symbol for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? This has probably been discussed on LDS group blogs but I missed it.

9. The Great Competition

This one is about the plan of salvation, told from a very long-range view, including the great battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil. Denver has drawn some profound implications of what happens at that great event because those who chose not to come to compete were invited to the great feast at the end.

The focus is on loyalty. Who would remain true to the king in spite of the seeming unfairness of the competition designed to cause a great division among the people? I would love to share this one in a Sacrament talk or Sunday school lesson, but of course, you and I know that one cannot quote from unorthodox sources in church.

10. The Missing Virtue

I’ve read this one a couple of times since the initial reading. When I first read it I knew right away that it was about Denver. I think he had referenced somewhere else in his books his experience with failure to help someone in need. I suspect this was highly personal and significant to Denver. I’m grateful he shared it with us.

One the one hand you could focus on how much he was affected by having failed to provide something for the beggar earlier in his life. Eighteen years is a long time to wait to feel that you have made up for an earlier failure. Thankfully, he found the opportunity again, took advantage of it and was greatly blessed as a result.

I did not see any judgment of his fellow priesthood brethren in this parable. He only related the facts. He told it the way it was. I too have seen this many times. But I have also seen the goodness of my brethren in similar situations. There are many who go out of their way to help those in need. I love my fellow brethren.