Sharing Spiritual Experiences


FreedomOne of the binding ties all human beings can have in common, if they want it, is the sharing of spiritual experiences. Because we are children of God, we have His promise and an opportunity to approach Him in prayer, obtain revelation for ourselves, and, when appropriate, share it with others. This has always been the basic premise and core of my blogging efforts over the years.

I know not everyone agrees. I am questioned over and over in private emails, and in comments on this blog, why I feel the need to share some experience or some event from my life. This has been especially true when what I have shared is contrary to what others believed appropriate. I’m not sure why there seems to be this wide-spread fear we’re not supposed to speak of such things.

enospraying.jpgA Call for More Personal Revelation

In 2008 I shared an early experience of hearing the voice of the Lord at age 18. This sacred and powerful spiritual event occurred in prayer at the conclusion of a three-day fast. I was preparing spiritually and intellectually for my mission and wanted to be certain about some aspects of LDS church history I was learning. In the post I detailed how I went about obtaining the revelation.

I was surprised at the response of some readers who wrote privately to say they were offended or that I had offended the spirit. They warned if I continued to share such experiences, I could be certain the Lord would no longer trust me and would withhold any future revelations. I found through personal experience they were wrong and wondered why they felt the need to warn me.

RicksDevotionalLetter to a Reader

In 2010, at the request of a reader, I shared details about my experience of receiving the baptism of fire at age 17. After writing and posting my recollection of the event, I received more private emails announcing such events were for my own edification only and were to be kept private. I puzzled once again over what could have motivated these individuals to urge me into secrecy.

It was as if what I was sharing was foreign to them, that they had never experienced such a thing, and therefore felt either threatened by my account or felt I had been deceived by evil spirits. In fact, some who knew me from the rebellious days of my teens were very specific in accusing me of having simply experienced hallucinogenic flashbacks. They were wrong for several reasons.

TCaliforniaJamhe Attitude of Mocking

The poor decisions of my teen years which led me away from the safety of the Lord for a season caused me to feel like the proverbial coal on the hearth. Away from the warmth of the fire, I felt cold and lonely, even lost. I was away from the fire of the spirit and treading in outer darkness. Seeking comfort in the great and spacious building brought nothing but fear and paranoia for me.

On the other hand, repentance, or the turning from sin, brought immediately relief and a sense of the presence of God in my life again. This was ratified by not one but two sacred events in the summer of my 17th year that have caused me to wonder at the mercy of God in offering such real and powerful experiences to an undeserving and rebellious youth as me. They were profound.

BeStill_FribergParting the Veil

I shared these two experiences earlier this year in my post on parting the veil. If you go through the hundred plus comments you will find grateful readers who experienced something similar in their lives and expressed appreciation for what they read and the feelings it generated. However, what isn’t shared is the number of private emails and contrary comments from my priesthood leaders.

It was about this time I was undergoing regular meetings with my Bishop in which my loyalty to the LDS Church and the idea of following the prophet was being emphasized over and over. It was a difficult thing for me to sort out my feelings. On the one hand I felt the Lord whispering to my soul about what He would like me to share. On the other hand, I had feelings of oppression.

The day of the Lord will come quicklyThe Doctrine of Additional Prophets

I didn’t recognize those feelings until my friend Log pointed them out to me. When disciplinary measures were invoked upon me shortly after this time, I struggled with powerful feelings of frustration and resentment. I knew I was being led by the Lord to share my experiences. Yet I was being told by my priesthood leaders my detailed posts made some members uncomfortable.

My poor bishop was being bombarded with dozens of complaints from members of the stake who were telling him he needed to rein me in. When he shared this with me I about fell off my chair. Was the material offensive? The events were true. They were shared with a desire to bless and inspire, to uplift and to strengthen feelings of appreciation for a God who reveals truths.

Adam-and-Eve-Kneeling-at-Altar-PrayingThe True Order of Prayer

In fairness, perhaps it was not these posts in particular that others found offensive. It was more likely the posts in which I shared my experiences in prayer – the true order of prayer – that caused him to take disciplinary action. I was reading, pondering and sharing my thoughts as I studied the writings and lectures of a man I considered a modern-day Abinidi or Enoch.

You read my post on the true order of prayer and tell me if it was offensive. I was told this post in particular was one that brought many of the complaints. It caused me to marvel and mourn at the unbelief and unwillingness of others in my own stake, some in my own High Priest’s group, to consider that such a practice in the home is not only authorized but encouraged of the Lord.

MormonTempleWhy I Resigned From the LDS Church

My decision to resign instead of go through the disciplinary process was one I considered most carefully. I reflected again and again upon the promises in my patriarchal blessing about being led by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. The patriarch worded the blessing in such a way as to have great affect in my understanding the Lord did speak to me and I could hear His voice.

I felt like Joseph. I had heard the voice of the Lord invite me to share my revelatory experiences. Yet priesthood leaders in my ward and stake were condemning me for sharing such things and demanding action be taken to control or compel me to cease such sharing. How could this be? Why did sharing my thoughts, feelings and spiritual experiences cause them such discomfort?

LecturesOnFaithYou Want Me to Sacrifice What?

It has been a long journey these past seven years. The Lord had been prompting me to start a blog for at least two years before I finally heeded the promptings. Things started small. I knew they would. I hoped to simply reach a few people who might be experiencing similar feelings of cognitive dissonance between what the LDS Church taught and what I knew had happened.

I prayed constantly over the blog. I asked for inspiration and revelation. It came. I shared. I confirmed it was what the Lord wanted in visits to the temple and intense efforts in fasting to make my spirit more contrite. He tested me. He asked me to give up my comfortable job to see if I would be willing to walk away from worldly security. I never imagined such a requirement.

Keys-of-the-KingdomWresting the Keys of the Kingdom

When I was introduced to and read PtHG from Denver Snuffer, I once again had a profound revelatory experience that could not be denied. At that moment I knew where it would lead. I knew the LDS Church and I would eventually part ways. I did my best to stay within the church, but eventually it became too hard to keep what I was experiencing within the orthodox tradition.

The Lord sent a messenger, a trusted servant, one who also was not shy about declaring a witness that eventually got him cast off from the LDS Church. I studied, I prayed, I studied some more, I prayed more intently. I continued to tell the Lord the things I was learning did not jive with what I had been taught growing up. Yet I could not deny it. The Lord was clear and specific in reply.

TimBaptism2aCroppedA Day of Rejoicing – A New Beginning

I knew I needed to show the Lord I believed him – both the messenger and what I was receiving directly from the Lord. I knew what the response would be. It has been the same from the day I started blogging and sharing spiritual experiences. “You have been deceived,” I was told. “It is not the spirit of the Lord telling you these things,” they said. “You must follow the prophet.”

Well, I suppose I agree only my definition of a prophet and theirs are two different things. I’ll conclude with this thought: What if the Lord did send a prophet among us in our day, to tell us the events of the last days pertaining to the establishment of Zion were about to unfold? What if the Lord really did send a messenger from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church? What then?

77Truths77 Truths – Removing False Traditions

It’s only been five weeks ago I was baptized. I thought I was comfortable with and understood how the Holy Ghost works in our lives. I can see now I have been in a preparatory and schooling priesthood all my life. There is a higher priesthood available to us and it doesn’t come from the LDS Church. It comes directly from the Lord and in no other way. It is not received from man.

I invite you to consider what is happening in the LDS Church today. My friend Log has given us good advice in his post to contend against no church save it be the church of the devil. I will not speak evil of the LDS Church. It has been a blessing in my life for over fifty years. But there is another church we need to seek to join. It is the Church of the Firstborn and it resides in heaven.

Wresting the Keys of the Kingdom


KeysOfTheKingdomThe Lord woke me at 3am the other morning. I wasn’t sure what He wanted. I prayed, felt led to search and ponder some recent email communications. He asked me to respond to a good brother with whom I had been conversing about the sacrament. The dialog had turned to keys. I wrote him an email. The Lord told me to make it public. I did not heed the prompting. It kept returning.

This morning the Lord woke me at 2am. Okay. I get it. In a Fast and Testimony meeting a few years ago, a ward member got up and said, “I’m supposed to tell you …” Even though I wasn’t there, I can promise you that testimony was discussed in bishopric meeting. You don’t use those kinds of words in the LDS Church from the pulpit these days. Why? He was not in leadership.

Tradition Shall No Longer Rule

I guess I’m still struggling to shed years of tradition about how messages from the Lord are to be delivered. In the LDS Church, you don’t get up and say, “I have a message the Lord asked me to share.” It goes back to D&C 28:1-7 where Oliver was admonished in verse six, “And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head.” It also relates to the seer stone incident (D&C 28:11-13).

Well, things have changed. I’m not used to having the Lord ask me to do something and share it in a public manner as anything other than my opinion. I have a need to repent. This post is an act of repentance for me. The voice of the Lord was clear and direct, even emphatic. It is not my place to judge if it is appropriate or not. I am not to assume it might offend. My desire is to please the Lord.

Listening to the Voice of the Lord

This is the response I wrote to this good brother. He lives in California. He has contributed a lot to the FAIR website over the years, presented at FAIR conferences. I suspect he is the author of the recent postings on that site related to Denver’s book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, as well as several of the entries about Denver’s blog. I was wondering if someone would respond to those.

Thanks for the ongoing dialog. I appreciate your response to my point about keys. I assume you know my background, having been a member of the LDS Church from the time my family joined when I was five years old until just last month, when I resigned at age 57. Keys, Keys, Keys. I’ve heard it all my life. I’ve taught it from the pulpit as a High Councilor and in the classroom as a High Priest Group Leader or Gospel Doctrine Teacher. I’m fairly certain I know the church’s position on keys. I’m more interested in what the Lord has to say to me about keys. If we can agree on the definition: keys open things and can be either knowledge or authority – you tell me which way you lean – then I’d like to know why you say Denver’s claim that the Lord wrested the keys from the LDS Church is false doctrine.

Actually, I suppose I would prefer to focus on how we can each know the truth for ourselves. I know this is a fundamental basic of Mormonism 101 but it applies to this most important of claims. I don’t care about others who have made such a claim. I don’t know them. I do know Denver – a little. I have read his books, studied his blog postings, attended his lectures and, most importantly, prayed incessantly for the past two and a half years (since February 2012) about what he has shared. According to my Bishop and Stake President I have been deceived. According to your words, Denver Snuffer has been led by Satan in his proclamations. I’m sure you know he said the following in the Phoenix / Mesa lecture. I was there with my wife. We both heard it. I was thrilled. Carol was not.

“The Lord has said to me in His own voice, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.’ Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never heard anyone, at least not to my recollection, be they leader – local or general – or regular member, who has EVER said the Lord spoke to them and made such a declaration. When Carol heard this, she turned to me, with obvious annoyance, even anger in her voice and said, “He makes himself to be equal to Joseph Smith.” Someone later told me it would be more appropriate to say he made himself equal to Abraham (Genesis 12:3). In any event, it was at that moment, even though I already had prayed and received numerous witnesses to my soul about Denver’s teachings, I felt the spirit of the Lord whisper to me, “This man is authorized to speak for the Lord. He has keys.”

You know, I’m not so sure we need to rehash what Joseph said, or what Denver said. I only care about what the Lord said. When the Lord tells me something, I sit up and take notice. When the Lord whispers to me, I listen and I take action. That’s why I was baptized – as a witness to the Lord I accepted the message delivered by his messenger, Denver. I feel to bless Denver, and do so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now you tell me he has been deceived by Satan. Wow. That goes so contrary to what I have felt as I have read his books and have carefully studied his witness of the Savior. I can tell you the teachings of this man have brought me closer to Jesus Christ than the words of any LDS Prophet.

Charles, we don’t need to read everything written against Denver on FAIR or review what Watcher has written in his reviews. If we want to continue this dialog, the focus needs to be on personal revelation to your soul and mine. If you can say the Lord has told you “in His own voice,” that Denver is deceived of Satan when I can tell you the Lord has told me “in His own voice” that Denver is authorized to speak on behalf of the Lord, then there is no point in continuing this dialog. Help me understand how you know the voice of the Lord. I would be more than pleased to discuss my experiences with the voice of the Lord. But if you’re going to curse Denver Snuffer, I don’t want to continue this dialog. What say ye?

I have not heard back from D. Charles Pyle. When I awoke at 2am this morning, in addition to posting my response above, I had an email waiting for me from Keith Henderson. You remember Keith. He was the man who stood at the end of the Mesa lecture and sealed it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In his email, he gave me permission to share the following:

The Witness of Keith Henderson

Bishop B——- & others who may read: (I have elected to leave out the bishop’s name.)

I can no longer consider myself in line or in agreement with many of the tenets or “doctrine” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it exists today.  The Church has, in my opinion, moved itself so far from the original idea of the Restoration, and the pure Doctrine of Christ, as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as to be almost un-recognizable to me.

Those things that are particularly offensive to me, and I feel to the Holy Spirit also, are: (See 1-4 below)

1.  The requirement to espouse a belief in and follow a man as though he is equal to God, or as though he can stand between me and God and arbitrate my salvation.  This is an unauthorized addition to the pure Doctrine of Christ as revealed to us by Nephi, Christ Himself, and Joseph, wherein the scripture says anyone adding to His doctrine is not of Christ, but is against Him, and therefore it follows that anyone believing in such an unauthorized addition makes them also against Christ, and not of His church. (See D&C 10: 57-70.  See also 2 Ne. 31: 5 through 2 Ne 32: 6.  Also 3 Ne. 11: 31-49.)  I believe in the scriptures and not in any such additions by other men.

I have in the past sustained Thomas S. Monson as the man who fills the seat entitled President of the High Priesthood or President of the Church, and have offered my prayers in behalf of him and his counselors, in faith and confidence as required by scripture (see D&C 107: 22).  I have offered these prayers that he would measure up, and be sustained by the Lord in the great responsibilities and requirements of this holy office.

When the Church began requiring me to sustain the First Presidency as prophets, seers, and revelators; presumably using the instruction in D&C 107: 92 where it says, “…And to be like Moses; yea to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church;”  I complied, believing, and understanding this to be descriptive of a hope, or ambition, not as an office, and to be given as gifts to them, if God willed to do so.  I never did presume that sustaining them as prophets, seers, and revelators, empowered them to make the claim to possess these gifts in the absence of God bestowing these things upon them.  So I waited for God’s hand to vindicate the expectancy, never thinking that by merely voting I could elevate a mere man to possess what is God’s right alone to give.

It now has become mandatory that I sustain those of the First Presidency as though these gifts are an office, never considering that perhaps the gifts have not been qualified for.  I will not continue to raise my hand to sustain men who never reveal, never prophecy, never demonstrate seership, nor who never translate.  And if any man has these gifts, he does not need my vote to vindicate his power before God, nor does my sustaining him vindicate his claims.  Rather than requiring me to sustain a man’s claims by my vote, perhaps you should require me to vote on the visible and tangible fruits of his claims, and whether I would have them binding on me by my part in the common consent.   I, however, do have a testimony of Joseph Smith demonstrating all these gifts by their fruits, thereby qualifying for my sustaining vote.

I have found it way more profitable to follow and rely upon my Savior, Jesus Christ, than to follow President Monson.  Actually I have yet to find a requirement in the scriptures stating that I have any obligation to follow any man, but I have found plenty of commandments requiring me to follow Jesus Christ.  I do not follow these men, nor will I continue to sustain them as currently required, in that I am required to say they hold all the keys of the Gospel on the earth.  I do not believe they do.  Further I do not believe they [the leaders] or you [their subservients], when you ask this question as part of the recommend interview, can give a delineated list of what these keys are.  Perhaps a list would be helpful, then I could know what is meant, and exactly what I’m subscribing to.  Others may choose to believe otherwise or however they please.

I think that for myself I will rather believe what it says in D&C 76: 99-100, that those who say they are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas, or of John, or Moses, or of Elias, or of Esaias, or of Isaiah, or of Enoch, or even of Thomas S. Monson; that they who say they are of one or another, or of the whole lot of these, qualify themselves as belonging only in a Telestial Glory.  I don’t want that for myself, and don’t think you should want that for me, or for any other, either.  Instead I will continue as I have come to believe, and as it says in 2 Nephi 9: 41-42,

“O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One.  Remember that his paths are righteous.  Behold the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.  And whoso knocketh, to him will he open…”

In other words, I do not believe that the First presidency can or should speak to God, on my personal behalf.  I do not believe the Twelve Apostles can or should speak to God, on my personal behalf.  I will speak to God directly, in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for and on behalf of my own self, and let Him whose right it is, arbitrate my condition with God, thank you.  The Children of Israel begged Moses to speak to God for them, and not require that they personally speak to God for themselves, and for such a revolution they brought judgment upon themselves containing much less than the fullness of the priesthood, as was God’s original intent.  Can you imagine that?!

“If the children of Israel in that day, were cursed by God because they said Moses must talk to God and not themselves, how much greater must be the damnation upon those today who say, you must not talk to God, because we have one who does so for you!  Who preach that “you are not entitled to receive anything beyond the bonds of your own limited position or calling, in this beehive we’ve constructed!” Damnable heresy!  Doctrines of devils!  Propounded by those who are purveyors of a false priestcraft!  Unauthorized by God! Unsanctioned by Him!  They suffer not themselves to enter in and would hedge up the way for me if I gave heed to them.”

Also I do not find anywhere in scripture, nor do I believe there is any kind of requirement to sustain the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, or that they hold the keys of the Kingdom of God.  Nor do I believe that any of these above named men and in particular the Church President, are protected by God, in that they cannot do, or speak falsely, or lead others astray, because God will not allow it, or take them away first, or whatever.  For me to believe that, requires me to believe that God has set aside the agency of these men which I do not believe.  Others may think however they like, according to their own knowledge.

2.  The idea that any man, be he prophet or not, can arbitrarily change any scripture or doctrine or ordinance given by God to the Prophet Joseph Smith without direct revelation by God dictating the change, and the common consent vote of the membership making such a revelatory change binding upon the body.

There are too many instances where this has occurred for me to list all, so I will just use a couple as examples:

A.  For example D&C 89, commonly called the Word of Wisdom.  The revelation says at the beginning, “To be sent greeting, not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom…”  It has, however, been elevated (actually changed, not elevated) to a commandment, and made a “constraining” requirement for entry into the temple.  However, not all the revelation in this section is considered in this vein, only verses 5-9.  You tell me it is a commandment that I either abstain from these specified items or I will be “constrained” from attending the temple, where you otherwise say my “spiritual” salvation can be assured.  This revelation tells me, however, that these things are the will of God in regard to my “temporal” salvation, (verse 2) and says nothing concerning them affecting my spiritual salvation.  All other parts of the revelation, and whether or not I obey or disobey, don’t have any bearing on my worthiness.  I can eat anything, healthy or otherwise, and it means nothing.  But let alcohol or tobacco touch these lips, and I will be disqualified from almost everything, and especially the temple, wherein you say my salvation lies.

Has common sense taken leave of us?  I know of no place where further revelation changing this original revelation to a commandment is recorded, and know of no instance in which changes were voted on by common consent to be binding upon the body of the saints.  It was done by fiat, by a man, much later than its origination, and now I’m required to just bow and say Okee Dokee.  This is not for me.  I do not believe God works in any such manner as this.  I believe this to be the precepts of men mingled with scripture.  I believe, further, this whole section to be a “principle, with a promise,” (verse 3) and one of those items which Joseph meant when he said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”  If a mere man can change God’s word on a whim, or even for what he considers a good reason, without God’s intervention commanding him to do so, then all scripture is suspect and only confusion can reign.  These are my thoughts and the religion I desire.  Others may think and desire whatever they like.

B.  Also for instance, the changing of the wording of the prayers on the Sacrament.  Every scriptural instance such as, D&C 20: 79; Moroni 5: 2; and the example given in 3 Nephi 18: 8, all tell us that “wine” is the emblem of His blood and you find if you look closely enough, that even though the Lord told Joseph, in one instance, as he went to procure wine from someone whom the Lord knew to be an enemy, that “It mattereth not what you eat or drink,” he never made any allowance for a change in the wording of the prayers.  By the way, Joseph returned home from that incident, and with Emma, Newell Knight, and His wife, and John Whitmer,  made a “wine” of their own preparation.  Water was never used. (see D&C 27: 2-4; also HC 1: 106-108.)   Again, where is the Lord’s authorization for the word change in the sacrament prayers, and where is the record of the common consent concurrence by the membership making it binding on the saints?  Do we think these things don’t matter to the Lord?  I for one, think they do. Others may think how they like.

C.  And one more example.  I have been a full tithe and offerings payer most all of my adult life.  I have felt confidence that my offerings were being used as I directed within the categories offered upon the tithing slip, and beyond that I felt it was indicative of my faith that I allow the use of my paid funds to be administered however the committee on the disposition of the tithes decided was appropriate within those categories.  Then all of a sudden a spurious and unsettling statement showed up on the tithing slip which says, “Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church’s property and will be used at the Church’s sole discretion to further the Church’s overall mission.”

Now I have no guarantee that any of the funds I designate in the titled categories on the slip will be used as I thought or desired they be used.  My desire has simply been wiped out of the equation by a legalese statement making my money the “Corporation Sole’s” money, and he (President Monson, the church’s sole owner) will damned well use it however he pleases.  Not on my watch he won’t!  Not with my money he won’t!  I will take charge of my own tithing and fast offerings and disburse and care for the poor among and around me as I’m commanded.  And others can pray and pay, and do as they like.

I further find out that huge investments are being made, and increased, in land holdings, cattle operations, fruit and nut farms, banks, communication facilities, etc., and that mega-malls and other “for profit” concerns are being built using the tithing funds.  I can hear the screams now.  “No! No! We are not using tithing funds, but only the investment income and profits we generate from all the investments we make.  No tithing is being used.”  Ye vipers!  Have you not read in Matthew 25: 14-27, the parable of the talents?  If so, you do not understand its meaning!  The man who receives one talent buries that talent and when the Master requires an accounting he says, “I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou newest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strewed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.”

In other words He owns it.  He owns all of it.  He owns the interest, He owns the investment.  He owns it all and it is “His Tithing.”  And there is nothing that is generated from tithing that is not tithing, thus making it applicable to the requirements for tithing.   In the parable there is no such thing as “investment income.”  And have you (meaning the church leaders) shut your eyes and are you blind to the condemnation Nephi heaped upon us when he said, “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their [our] churches have become corrupted, and their [our] churches are lifted up; because of pride are they [we] puffed up.  They [we] rob the poor because of their [our] fine sanctuaries; they [we] rob the poor because of their [our] fine clothing; and they [we] persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they [we] are puffed up.” (2 Nephi 28: 12-13. Insertions are mine.)  Who exactly did you think Nephi was speaking about?  Do you not know that the Book of Mormon is prophecy rather than history?  I personally cannot condone this use of my tithing money in this way, and will not participate any longer in this fraudulent use of the Lord’s money.

Then, the lack of financial accountability to the membership is another whole matter which I deplore, but will not go into other than to say it is a shame on your [the leader’s] part that you do not provide the required accountability and that you seek deep to hide your counsels from the sheep you are shearing [and the Lord].  And it is a shame on our [the member’s] part that we don’t refuse you our common consent, because you don’t provide the scripturally required accountability with clarity.

3.  The restructuring of the priesthood, and the correlating of everything to it.

If there is one proof that there is no effective priesthood within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is the hierarchal structuring of the priesthood, and the correlating of all offices, programs, policies, doctrine, and teaching beneath the umbrella of one man’s priesthood.  By doing this you [again, the leadership] have negated the priesthood instruction Joseph Smith gave as D&C 121: 34-37.  You have, by making a hierarchal structure such as this, built into the priesthood system “control, dominion, and compulsion.”  Now I fully understand that this works well for a “for profit” organization, but in the Lord’s church it is forbidden.  It furthermore is forbidden upon penalty of forfeiture of priesthood authority and power.  In the instruction it says,

“That they [the rights of the priesthood] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, dominion, or compulsion upon the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, amen to the priesthood or authority of that man.”

Now the scripture is written on a singular basis, but you [the church leaders] have managed to perpetrate this unrighteousness en mass.  A hierarchal structure such as this is all about control, and dominion, and is fertile ground for compulsion.  So I ask you, where in this church can priesthood be found?  Well, to answer my own question; it can be found in persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love un-feigned, by kindness, and pure knowledge, without hypocrisy, and without guile. (see D&C 121: 41-42.)  Isn’t it interesting that some of our wives are found abounding in these [priesthood] things, while we [the men] are trying to garner to ourselves more control and dominion, and a higher seat, and consequently lose priesthood power, and authority.

All Priesthood power is found only in connecting ourselves to heaven.  You might even say, only by connecting ourself to the power of heaven, or in other words connecting ourselves to Jesus Christ.  Fortunately some few have been able to do this, and by so doing have garnered to themselves a priesthood recognized in heaven: even as it says in JST Genesis 14: 29, “And it [this priesthood] was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.”  This is able to be done because, as I quoted before from 2 Nephi 9: 41, “God, the Holy One of Israel is the keeper of the gate and employeth no servant there.”  I would hope more of us would try it.  But then, I hope primarily without much faith, because, “few there be that find it.”

4.  That those we call prophets have caused the earth to be defiled under the inhabitants thereof by altering and changing the ordinances.

“They have transgressed the law, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.”(Isaiah 24: 5.)  Furthermore, Joseph Smith said, “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p.308.)  Now tell me how many times in your lifetime have you seen the ordinances in the temple change?  This will be dependent upon how old you are; for changes, alterations, subtractions, additions, changes to format, and changes to clothing, have been going on for well over a hundred years.

“Into the darkness that prevails in the minds of men who instigate or authorize changes to the ordinances, enters the devil with such arguments as: “Why do it that way?  It really doesn’t matter or mean anything.  It is arcane and outdated.  It really doesn’t matter as long as you continue to have faith in Christ.”  [That particular lie is very effective because it allows the person to presume they have faith, when in fact they haven’t faith sufficient to obey Christ].”  Continuing on with the lies: “People will get more out of the changes if we make them.  Our numbers will increase.  What we change isn’t important anyway.  If it were important, we would know that, and since it doesn’t seem important to us, and because our polling data shows it is not important to those who attend, it must, in fact, not be important.  Change is proof that God is still leading us.”  …And other such arguments and persuasions from our adversary.  And all that has happened  by making changes to the ordinances is we have been cheated out of God’s gift to us, and we have been carefully led down to hell.  I want no part of this anymore, either.  Others are free to choose their own course.

Now, after all this, my testimony is:

I believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe that Joseph Smith was and is the Prophet of this Dispensation of the Restoration of all Things.  I believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.  And I believe in the many other things Joseph received, which we as a Church have cast off as either not understandable or worthless. [i.e. The Lectures on Faith]. I believe in these revelations and in all the revelations which he wrote, and others yet to come, whether to myself, or to others whom He [Christ] will call as His servants.  In fact, I believe God has called a Servant to speak His words in this our very own day;  one, in fact, who does speak in the name of the Lord God, and gives His words to us.  I believe that Denver C. Snuffer Jr. is that servant and stands as an Abinadi or a Samuel on the wall, or as a Lehi required by God to preach a message to Idol worshipping Jerusalem.  And I believe that many will try to kill him or run him out, or destroy the word which God speaks through him.  I believe that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to come again on the earth and much is available today because of the translations and revelations of Joseph, and also now again, because of the words of Jesus Christ being spoken to us, in today’s part of the Restoration, through the many writings and revelations and talks of this Denver C. Snuffer Jr..  I believe that the fullness of the priesthood is available to anyone who qualifies and receives it by the voice of Jesus Christ, under the direction of the Father.  I do believe there is much worth yet in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in that its crippled ordinances, even now still point the way to knowledge which can be received for real.  And most of its people are kind and wonderful and many are my dear friends, but they do not rise up because they don’t know what has happened, and what is available, and simply where to find it.  I do not, however, believe that the church or its leaders or any other man can provide salvation for any man or woman, and that to the extent we think they can, we engage in idolatry, and move in proximity away from He through whom salvation comes.

In consequence of this testimony I will obey the will of the Lord in:

Seeking for His continual personal administration.
Seeking for Zion and its establishment.
Participating with and be-friending any individual or group I see fit, whether they be atheist, agnostic, lgbt, apostate, excommunicated or antagonist toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or even if they love the Mormons.
Speaking what I view as truth to whomever I please or am commanded, or to whomever will listen.
Holding study groups in my home on any subject I choose.
Attending study groups in other’s homes upon invitation.
Administering my own tithing and offerings. (See seeking for Zion above.)
Worshipping my God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and according to the will of His Holy Spirit upon me.
Influencing my family in my beliefs.
Influencing others in my beliefs.

At this point, I definitely want to state that no part of this account of my beliefs constitute in any way the resignation of my membership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am simply exercising by right and claim that all men should be encouraged and allowed to believe and worship how, where, or what they may, and that I should be allowed to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience.  The beliefs of a man, according to Joseph Smith, do not determine his goodness nor his worthiness.  It is our acceptance and obedience to the scriptures and ordinances which we have all received which should dictate, and not any manual made up by men.

I will understand your desire to exercise your control and dominion over me, and will even tolerate moderate attempts at coercion.

I would like to invite you to exercise your priesthood in this matter, in the Lord’s way.  Threats will not sway me.  Sanctions you might try to impose will mean nothing to me.  Even ex-communication is not a daunting thing to me.  I have a priesthood, and an assignment in that priesthood.  It comes from a source you can neither influence nor abrogate.  You can bless yourselves in how you treat me, and my seemingly, rather unbelievable views, or you can condemn yourselves in the process of your actions; so I would advise you to rely rather heavily on the will of the Lord in any of your matters regarding this.

Sincerely
Keith M. Henderson
October 8, 2014

A Few Final Thoughts

If I were Keith’s Bishop I would be hesitant to act. We can be certain this letter has been seen by Keith’s Stake President, Area President, probably a member of the Twelve and possibly the First Presidency. I presume the Church does not want bad publicity right now, especially after excommunicating the wife of a fellow blogger last Sunday. I can understand why Adrian was disciplined but wonder why they excommunicated his wife in the same council, simply for being his wife and standing by his side. I also wonder what will happen to Keith. What do you think?

Understanding the Historical Record of Priesthood


TheHighPriesthoodOne of the things that always bothered me is the lack of a historical record for the ordination of Joseph and Oliver to the Melchizedek Priesthood. At one time, probably in my seminary days, someone mentioned John Whitmer had the record. He was the first “official” church historian. When he left the church in 1838, he took the record with him. That satisfied me for a long time.

No Doubt About Aaronic Priesthood

Oliver was an unofficial church historian before John Whitmer in that he recorded, as Joseph’s scribe, many of the events of the early days of the church from 1829 until 1838 when he also left. Of course we have section thirteen of the D&C which records the ordinations of Joseph and Oliver under the hands of John the Baptist. It is clear the Aaronic Priesthood was restored to the earth. But what of the Melchizedek? We find these words in the heading of section thirteen:

Interpretive Doctrine in Section Heading

“The angel explained that he was acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John, the ancient Apostles, who held the keys of the higher priesthood, which was called the Priesthood of Melchizedek. The promise was given to Joseph and Oliver that in due time this higher priesthood would be conferred upon them. (See section 27:7–8, 12.)”

Ancient Apostles Visit Joseph and Oliver

We know Peter, James and John also came, but what transpired is not recorded. Oliver said he and Joseph went into the forest and prayed “until a glorious light encircled us, and as we arose on account of the light, three persons stood before us dressed in white, their faces beaming with glory.” The Apostle Peter introduced himself along with James and John. But what did they do?

No Recorded Account of Higher Priesthood

There is no recorded account of Peter, James and John conferring Melchizedek Priesthood. There is passing mention of the event that was added to section 27 by Oliver Cowdery. It was not there when Joseph first received the revelation on 28 August 1830. It is also mentioned in Section 128, a letter Joseph wrote to the Saints while in hiding, on the subject of Baptism for the Dead.

Section 27 Added to by Oliver Cowdery

In the words added by Oliver to section 27, we read the Lord will drink of the fruit of the vine…

“…with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry; and of the same things which I revealed unto them, unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last time; and for the fulness of times…”

Keys of the Kingdom Held by Apostles

Parsing Oliver’s words, we should ask ourselves who it is that possesses the keys of the Lord’s kingdom. To whom were they committed: Joseph & Oliver or Peter, James and John? We might also profit by asking who it is that possesses the dispensation of the gospel referred to in Oliver’s words, added in September. Who is identified as “them?” The words refer to the ancient apostles.

Keys of Their Ministry are Different

If we accept Oliver’s September addition to be authorized by Joseph as accurate and binding, what we can surmise is the following:

  1. Peter, James and John were sent by the Lord to Joseph and Oliver. We don’t know the date.
  2. Peter, James and John ordained Joseph and Oliver to something, but we don’t know what.
  3. Peter, James and John confirmed Joseph and Oliver to be apostles.
  4. Joseph and Oliver were also confirmed to be especial witnesses of the Lord.
  5. They were also confirmed to bear the keys of their ministry.
  6. They were to bear witness of the same things the Lord revealed to Peter, James and John.
  7. The Lord committed the keys of his kingdom to Peter, James and John.
  8. The Lord committed a dispensation of the gospel to Peter, James and John.

It does NOT say:

  1. The keys of the Lord’s kingdom were conferred upon Joseph and Oliver.
  2. Anything about the Melchizedek priesthood being conferred.

Scriptural and Historical Evidence Missing

Let’s parse the words in section 128, where we read, “…Peter, James and John … [declared] themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fullness of times.” Where in our scriptures or historical record can we read that Peter, James and John conferred upon Joseph or Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood or the keys of the kingdom?

By the way, in D&C 128:14, we learn another definition of keys is simply knowledge. Think about it.

Keys Exercised by Peter, James and John

The wording is clear in section 128 the three ancient apostles possessed the keys of the kingdom. This we already knew from Matthew 17 – the Mount of Transfiguration, although it’s not very clear there. In Matthew 18:18 the Lord declares the apostles possess the sealing power. But what keys did Peter, James and John give to Joseph and Oliver, if any, or did they only exercise them?

Just Asking Questions, Looking for Evidence

What does seem clear is the historical record does not shed a lot of light on the conferral of the priesthood in these latter days other than the Aaronic. That conferral seems certain and verified with scripture. But the conferral of the Melchizedek priesthood is a different story. It is simply not as cut and dried as we set it out to be in our doctrine, our lessons and our official curriculum.

There is Only One Priesthood of God

In section 84 of the D&C, also known as The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, we read in verse 33: “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods…” Didn’t Joseph say there was only one priesthood, and that all priesthood was Melchizedek? What about the patriarchal priesthood, does that make three priesthoods, or are they all still one priesthood?

Expected to Receive God in the Flesh

Back to verse 21 of Section 84, note the words, “in the flesh.” I am convinced the whole reason we have that phrase in the revelation is to encourage us to understand and believe we can and should receive the Lord in this mortal life. That’s one of the purposes of priesthood, and I’m not talking about ordination in the church. Priesthood power is only received directly from the Lord.

Priesthood is an Association with God

This is not new doctrine. It is clearly taught in section 84 but we haven’t understood it. Would to God we had a record of Joseph’s teachings on the subject in greater detail – perhaps a few of the lectures in the School of the Prophets. We have records of prayers offered with hands uplifted in that school when witnesses record Joseph reporting God the Father had passed between them.

Power of God Cannot Be Passed on

Not all that we call priesthood is what God calls priesthood. We pass an ordination between us, but the doctrine is clear. God’s power is only received directly from the Lord, not by the laying on of hands. When a man dies, he takes his priesthood power with him. Joseph taught that all prophets who have held the Melchizedek Priesthood were ordained directly by the hand of God.

All Priesthood is Perishable – D&C 121:37

Even if you receive priesthood power from the voice of God, you can lose it if you are unwilling to restrain and to contain yourself within the bounds the Lord has prescribed. Even the fullness of the priesthood with sealing power, can be lost (see D&C section 124, verse 28). Otherwise, why would the Lord say he needed the temple to be completed so he could come and restore it?

Would God That All Men Were Prophets

Joseph taught on page 322 in TPJS, “The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.” Can you imagine what kind of church we would be if we taught that today – that all communication from God must only come from one man we uphold by common consent as our Prophet, Seer and Revelator?

Melchizedek Priesthood is to Bless, not Curse

If someone claims to hold Melchizedek priesthood but uses it to offer up condemnation, control, judgment, compulsion and authority over the souls of men, you can mark it as a sign they hold no such authority. The purpose of the higher priesthood is to bless, to uplift and to raise you up by bringing you light and truth, which is the glory of God, or intelligence (see D&C 93:36).

End of Part One – More to Come

I’ve gone on way too long. These are my study notes for today. My original desire was to trace the historical record for evidence of the Melchizedek Priesthood being conferred upon Joseph and Oliver. I have no intention of introducing doubts. These are simply questions I have. I invite and welcome your instruction and correction. Thank you my friends for taking the time to share.

Study the Gospel, Blog About it, Share it

I’m glad the church has encouraged us to a) Study the gospel on a regular basis, b) Get involved in the Internet conversations, perhaps even starting blogs and c) Share the gospel with our friends and neighbors. I’m grateful for Facebook and for WordPress which allows me to do all three at the same time. I have renewed friendships and made literally thousands of new friends online.

Learn the Doctrine, Be Ready With Answers

I’m also grateful for Peter’s advice to “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…” I’m especially grateful my church encourages me to ask questions.  I love to ask questions, including difficult ones. I then feel more prepared to answer others.

Study Things Out, Don’t Rush to Judgment

It’s good to know we can’t be saved in ignorance, nor can we judge a matter if we do not hear it out completely. Only a fool would judge another without trying to understand them first. God bless us all to take the time and trouble to build bridges and understand those in our midst who don’t think like we do. It’s good to be true and faithful and just as good to have an open mind.

Go to lds.org for Official Church Doctrine

Disclaimer: Because many have misunderstood my intent in publishing these study notes on a semi-regular basis, let me reiterate here: I am not declaring doctrine. I am not trying to teach you anything contrary to what should be provable in the scriptures and by the whisperings of the spirit. It is not my intention to destroy faith in Jesus Christ but to build it up and strengthen it.

Sources for This Summarized Material

Email me privately if you want a copy of my sources besides the ones I’ve shared in this post. A lot of this is not my original material or thinking, but I learn by writing. Many of you will recognize the source. I’m not plagiarizing. It’s just my style. I write my questions out. I answer them. It’s how I study the gospel every day. Some days I publish my thoughts.

This Material May Not Support Official Doctrine

Usually my study notes are supportive and in agreement with the official narrative of the church. Sometimes they aren’t. For example, today, in this continuing series on priesthood, I have asked some hard questions and not bothered to share the official LDS view. Some people will find it distressing and perhaps blasphemous because it does not agree with the standard narrative.

A Final Question About Blogging

Here’s my question: Should I refrain from posting this because it has controversial elements? Should I make sure I especially do not link to it from Facebook for fear of offending all the members of my current and previous stakes who might not understand why I blog? Is it worthy of discipline? Should I not share and ask the difficult questions because they take some thought?

Allow Me the Agency of My Doubts


PeterJamesJohn

Update: A better title would have been: “Please Allow me the Freedom to Have Questions.” The word “doubts” causes people to think you are not a believer. I am a believer, yet I still have questions I want answered. I recognize it is my own responsibility to find answers to my questions but these particular questions are related to some of the fundamental truth claims of the Church, in particular, if the Church has the Fullness of the Priesthood and if it can be transferred by the laying on of hands. I addressed and sent this to my Bishop and Stake President.

I don’t know if you care what I am about to say, but I feel the need to share it. I have asked the Lord in prayer to bless my words that they will help you understand why I do what I do and have done what I have done on my blog especially over the past few years. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope it helps you to understand me better in light of the posts I have written that may have come to your attention.

I Have Loved Serving in This Church

First, let me express my love for you. I hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I admire both of you tremendously. I know what it takes to be a Bishop or a Stake President – not first-hand, of course – but after more than twenty-five years of serving in Bishoprics, on a High Council and as a Stake Clerk, I know it’s time-consuming, at times heartbreaking and a lot of spiritual work. I have loved serving in this church all my life or at least from when I was a full-time missionary.

I Write a Blog at Elder Ballard’s Request

You both know I have been writing an LDS-themed blog for the last six or seven years. For the first five years I assumed a mission to defend the faith, to offer what I felt was the orthodox or standard narrative to combat falsehoods about the church I found on the Internet. I felt justified in what I was trying to accomplish when Elder Ballard asked members of the church, especially young people familiar with technology, to get involved in the on-line dialog about the church.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

A little over two years ago I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer, who, in case you haven’t heard of him, is a now excommunicated attorney from Utah who has written a series of popular LDS-themed books dealing with the subject of coming unto Christ. He has testified of the literalness of D&C 93:1, that we can Converse with the Lord through the Veil, meet the Savior in this life, receive Him as the Second Comforter and have Him introduce us unto the Father.

Passing the Heavenly Gift and Excommunication

It was his most recent book, Passing the Heavenly Gift that got him in trouble with the church and resulted in his excommunication when he refused to withdraw it from publication after being requested to do so by his Stake President at the behest of Elder Nelson. President, I don’t know if you are familiar with this book or of others in the stake who have read it (there are many), but I know you are Bishop, based on your response when we discussed my blog a little bit last year.

Uplifting Addresses from Priesthood Leaders

It is not my intention to teach you anything. Such is not my prerogative or right. I simply want to bring up two recent talks from President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland in our consideration so I can set the stage for what I am about to share. I assume you are familiar with them. The first was rather recent. President Uchtdorf delivered his address in October General Conference of 2013. The other from Elder Holland was from the previous spring’s General Conference in April 2013.

Teaching the Standard Narrative

They both deal with the issue of faith, testimony, doubts, and being accepted in this church in spite of having questions about some aspects of church history, which I confess I now have. I never thought I would confess such a thing to a priesthood leader. I have always seen myself as a stalwart member, convinced, convicted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we teach as the “standard narrative” in regards to our church history. I want to focus on that idea.

We Simply Don’t Have All The Information

In President Uchtdorf’s address entitled, “Come, Join With Us,” he states, “… this Church … honors personal agency … we respect those who honestly search for truth. “ He then said, “We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history … there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. Sometimes … we simply don’t have all the information … Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.”

There is Room For You In This Church

President Uchtdorf concludes, “It’s natural to have questions … regardless of the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church …” He writes more, but the main points I wanted to share include his words that we can have differences of opinions as to what the facts of our church history mean. He also declares that in spite of those differences, all are welcome here. I’m going to ask you a specific question in regards to that invitation and how it applies to me.

Hold Fast To What You Already Know

But first, let me turn to Elder Holland’s April 2013 talk entitled, “Lord, I Believe.” In Elder Holland’s thoughtful, comforting, and compassionate way, he says, “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.” He adds, “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.” He invites us to demonstrate integrity toward the faith we do have and truth we already know.

Honest Declarations of Doubt and Faith

Elder Holland continues, “I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage that is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! … Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another.” He mentions the importance of being kind to others and ourselves as we work through our doubts.

I am Asking for Help With My Doubts

Elder Holland concludes with this observation: “When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help.” He reminds us to do so with real intent, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God. He concludes with his testimony that we will receive help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief and quotes the Savior when he said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” He says he has the conviction of the “more sure word of prophecy.”

Following the Bishop’s Counsel – No Facebook Links

With the background of those two recent conference addresses, please let me now get specific. Bishop, when you called me in last year to chat, I wanted ever so much to talk to you about my doubts, but not once in our three visits did the spirit prompt me to do so. We talked about my health, about my love for my son, about my marriage and just a smidgeon about my blog. You counseled me to soften my headlines and to take the links to my blog off Facebook, which I did.

Temple Interview Loyalty and Affiliation Questions

My temple recommend expires in July. As we all know, there are two questions in the interview process that test for loyalty to the Brethren, specifically to the Prophet, and test for “affiliation” or “sympathy” toward any individual whose teachings are contrary or oppose those accepted by the Church. I’d like to address those two questions with a question of my own first. If I were to express a doubt about one of those questions, would I still be found worthy of a recommend?

Doubt About the Fullness of the Priesthood

RichYoungRulerIn other words, does what President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland taught in General Conference apply to the temple recommend process or was that just talk? If I were to tell you that I have some doubt about the fullness of the priesthood being upon the earth today, would you take away my temple recommend? What if I were to tell you I read the works of Denver Snuffer, a man who has been excommunicated for apostasy, and that I enjoy many of the points he has made?

Example of How Another Brother Was Treated

Before you answer my question, let me share with you what happened to one of the readers of my blog who answered those questions pretty much in the way I have just proposed. I share this with his permission. This individual, who is an Elder’s Quorum Instructor, went in for his temple recommend interview. He was honest in his responses and apparently his bishop had no problem with what he had to say so he signed the recommend and sent him on to see the Stake President.

To Sustain the Church President as the Prophet

After a few moments of cordial introductory chit-chat, they began the interview. When asked if he “sustain[ed] the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator…” my friend responded as follows: “I sustain him but I don’t believe certain things that are being taught in our church today.” I’m sure you can imagine the bells that are now going off in the Stake President’s mind like, “Why did the Bishop sign this man’s recommend?”

Asking Questions – Asked to Be Taught – A No-no

So the stake president asked my friend to elaborate. He said, “There are some things I don’t understand about the higher priesthood. What is the fullness of the priesthood? How do we know that we have it in the LDS Church today?” I’m sure you can guess the Stake President was just a little bit aghast. According to my friend, he was livid. He said, “The Stake President took my recommend and then intimated they might have to consider disciplinary action against me.”

His Wife Feels She Has Lost Everything

He was immediately released from his calling. I quote now from his comments on my blog, “It has been a month and the word is getting out in the ward. I sit in the testimony meetings and my wife cries and mourns her loss when loving TBM husbands testify of their wife’s love or of their children’s innocence. She cries in Gospel Doctrine class when the discussion is following the prophet and “criticizing” the brethren is discussed. In my wife’s mind she sees that all is lost.”

Members Blame Him for Taking Away Her Hope

“She feels she now has no promise of celestial life, eternal marriage, no father for her children, all is lost since GOD’s oracle on earth has damned me to hell for my unbelief. Fellow Saints console her openly and cast sideways glances towards me grimacing. Priesthood leaders currently counsel together to strategize damage control ideas, or how to protect the flock and my family from me or my influence. In fact, the Relief Society is now bringing funeral meals.”

Leader Tells Son to Beware of His Own Father

I found this outrageous scene so unbelievable I just had to call him to confirm. We spoke for about 45 minutes on Wednesday. It was a delight to speak with him. He was not downcast or unhappy in any way. He expressed love and sympathy for his priesthood leaders. He said he understood why they reacted the way they did – that it was typical for his area there in Northern Utah. He said the Stake President called his 17-year old son in to warn him against his father.

Unrighteous Dominion is Alive and Well Today

At this point my jaw just about hit the floor. I could not believe what I was hearing. Did we belong to the same church? Does this Stake President not realize what he has just done to this man’s family, his marriage and his testimony? Talk about spiritual abuse and unrighteous dominion. This Stake President was the epitome of a priesthood leader who had no clue about the right way to help a fellow priesthood brother who had simply asked an honest question.

Persuasion, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Meekness, Love

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

My Blog is All About LDS Book Reviews

President, Bishop, if you haven’t read my blog, and I don’t expect you to have done so since you are both such busy men, you would know it is mainly about writing LDS book reviews. I started out reading Denver Snuffer’s books a few years ago and have written book reviews about just about all of them. I have not advocated anybody believe what he has shared. I have simply done these reviews because he is a controversial fellow and I was asked my opinion by others I trust.

I Seek Deep Understanding – No Cursory Overview

However, in order to understand the books more completely, I had studied them extensively, both because the subject matter is intensely interesting to me – how to come unto the Savior – and about the early history of our church. President Uchtdorf may have been referring to Denver Snuffer’s books when he mentioned there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. It’s OK to have a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.

I Want The Temple To Be A Part Of My Life

I’d like to conclude with a few thoughts and then ask one final question. I plan to go to the temple today to participate in our quarterly stake chapel and endowment session. I love to go to the temple. I love to serve in the temple. I love to be with the members of our stake. I love to serve in my present calling as Stake Financial Clerk. I hope my service is helpful. I’m grateful the temple has been such a big part of my life for almost forty years. It has blessed my life.

I Only Teach Authorized Correlated Material

I love this church. It has blessed my life since I was a little boy. I loved serving a mission. I have always loved teaching the gospel to the saints from the pulpit or in the classroom. I always make certain I stay within the boundaries of the authorized correlated material found in the manuals. I love the Brethren. I sustain the General Authorities. I’m grateful to be able to pay my tithing. I know it pays their salaries, including my sister’s salary, who is Elder Perry’s executive secretary.

I Will Serve Wherever I Am Asked

President, I have tried to serve faithfully in any calling or priesthood assignment I have received. I try to be a 100% home teacher. I love visiting Brother and Sister Harris each month to provide priesthood blessings as he finishes up his cancer treatments. I miss teaching the saints. I loved being a primary teacher, a High Priest Group Leader, a ward missionary, Bishopric counselor, ward clerk, and in my previous stake, High Councilor, Seminary Teacher and Mission Leader.

Only Desire To Build The Kingdom of God

My only desire is to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth and contribute to the preparation of this Kingdom for the return of the Lord. I have never had a problem with tithing and love to be able to contribute in this manner. I strive to keep my temple covenants to give of my time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed me to the building up of the Kingdom of God. I love my wife and strive to do everything to help her find happiness, especially as we worship.

 Permit Me Agency of My Doubts and Questions

Here’s my concluding question: If I confess my doubt, or my question really, about what the fullness of the priesthood really is and if it is found on the earth today, will expressing this doubt preclude me from being found worthy of holding a temple recommend, serving as a stake clerk or will my confession cause me to face disciplinary action? I have thought about this and written about this previously here in my blog. Why am I making this confession? In order to be honest.

Others Are Punished For Asking Questions

God bless you Bishop and President. I hope you will look kindly upon the confession I share. Is there still room for me in this church, as Prsident Uchtdorf has declared? I do not look upon my questions about the priesthood to be doubts, really, but simply questions. I want to be taught. What is the fullness of the priesthood? Is it the same as the Melchizedek priesthood? Is it the same as the patriarchal priesthood? Does it contain the sealing power like Nephi received it?

LDS Members Persecuted For Reading Books


KeepCalmReadABookIn light of the excommunication of several LDS Church members recently for apostasy, and one in particular for simply reading a book, I’d like to discuss a couple of the temple recommend questions, which the church makes available on their website. The two questions deal with sustaining our leaders and agreeing with individuals who teach or write what is not found in the official curriculum of the church. In other words, those who go beyond the basics in their writings.

Standard disclaimer: This is all my opinion

Please remember I’m not a scholar, theologian, attorney or an expert at philosophical arguments. I’m just a regular old member of the church who likes to read books and write book reviews. The temple recommend questions I linked to above are from LDS Tech, an official LDS website. Technically, they are the questions on the Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination Record, but are almost exactly the same minus two questions about keeping covenants and wearing garments.

Deviating From Temple Recommend Questions

I know this has been discussed in many forums and websites, notably on the Stay LDS site. I’m not sensing a purge going on, but wonder why more and more of my readers and online friends have written me privately about their discussions with Bishops or Stake Presidents. They are being asked probing questions that go beyond the specific ones that are supposed to be asked in the temple recommend interview. By so doing these leaders are not following the Handbooks.

This is the Kingdom of God on the Earth

It has been standard policy for over thirty years that leaders “…should never deviate from or go beyond the specific questions contained in the temple recommend book…(First Presidency letter, 5 January 1982).” Let’s take the easy question first. I consider it cut and dry because it deals with the kingdom of God on earth, NOT the kingdom of God in heaven. If you keep that distinction in mind, you should have no problem answering yes to the question without any elaboration at all.

This Earthly Kingdom is Only Temporary

“Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?” The church is an earthly institution. According to section 65, the purpose of the church is to prepare us to join with the Kingdom of Heaven. The church is the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is temporary. It will be absorbed into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The LDS Church Has Certain Keys

Therefore, I have no problem affirming that the man we sustain or uphold as the President of the earthly institution holds priesthood keys or authority to preach the gospel, publish scripture, collect tithing, build and maintain temples and meetinghouses and perform, through delegation, a myriad of other tasks and activities that will build the Kingdom of God on the earth. I also affirm that permission or those earthly keys can be and were passed on from the prophet Joseph Smith.

Difference Between Authority and Power

This includes the right to perform ordinances, including the exercise of the sealing power, albeit a limited kind of sealing power, that are invitations to go and get the real thing. Everyone knows this from the prophet and apostles on down. President Packer has taught this repeatedly – there is a world of difference between earthly authority to act in the church and heavenly sealing power. Earthly sealing power is not the same as heavenly sealing power. You and I should know this.

Seek Ratification From Holy Spirit of Promise

Don’t confuse the Kingdom of God on the Earth with the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Don’t forget what we’ve been taught about the Holy Spirit of Promise. Our ordinances are simply not complete until they are ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I’m concerned too many leaders in our church don’t understand or teach this. I know this because so many members don’t get it. We focus way too much on getting people to the temple without teaching them what to do after that.

Keeping the Church Free From Polygamy

I’m going to skip down to the other, more troubling question: “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” Everyone knows why this question was placed in the interview process. It was and is still intended to weed out those who practice plural marriage. It was not included to keep us from reading non-LDS books or going to lectures.

Criticized and Disciplined For What One Believes

I wrote previously how deeply troubled I felt upon learning of online friends being harassed by being placed on informal or formal probation or officially disciplined through disfellowshipment and even excommunicated – all for reading a book or going to a lecture. This is crazy. This is wrong. This is not righteous exercise of priesthood authority. It is unrighteousness dominion. No LDS leader has the right to tell a member of his congregation what he should or shouldn’t read (see discussion in comments).

Trying to Control Reading Material is Wrong

In the selected policies of the church, we are encouraged to read the King James version of the Bible as opposed to other editions, to read the church magazines and to read the weekly lesson material assignments in advance. Other than that, I could find nothing in the handbook that says “Though shalt not read anything from Signature Books,” or “Thou shalt only buy and read books from Deseret Book.” It especially does not refer to reading D. Michael Quinn or Denver Snuffer.

We Have the Right to Read What we Choose

So what if they have been excommunicated from the church? Big deal. We’re all adults here. If I want to read what Michael Quinn had to say about our history, then that’s my prerogative. Yes, I know it’s contrary to what we’re taught in the official curriculum, but that’s the beauty of it. I get other viewpoints and additional information to help me understand our history. The same thing goes for reading Denver Snuffer’s Passing the Heavenly Gift. It’s just a man’s different opinion.

Multiple Points of View is Healthy

I’ve received private emails from readers who say they have been persecuted for reading Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman, a faithful LDS member and temple sealer. Why are some LDS leaders afraid of opening their minds to other possibilities and interpretations of our LDS history? So what if it differs from the official material we receive in the classrooms on Sunday or in Seminary, Institute and church university religion classes? That just seems so closed-minded.

The Temple Recommend Question is Flawed

Paraphrasing the second temple recommend question we’re discussing, it could be read as “Do you agree with any individual who teaches a different version of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” In my opinion this question is wrong and should be changed to simply read, “Do you practice plural marriage?” Strangely enough, the doctrine of plural marriage is still accepted by the church and found in our scriptures. We just don’t teach it.

The Church Has Already Given Guidelines

This is my blog so I’ll express my opinion a little more forcefully as if I were speaking directly to some Bishops and Stake Presidents who have excommunicated some of my readers. I would tell them to seriously back off and stop prying into the personal reading habits of their members. It’s none of their business. That 1982 letter included this line about sex: “you…should never inquire into personal, intimate matters involving marital relations between a man and his wife.”

Let the Members Work Out Their Own Doubts

I wonder if we need another letter from the First Presidency stating, “Do not ask your members what books they are reading or if they are attending lectures that are not put on by the church.” If a member says no to the second question we’re discussing, then leave it alone and go on with the next question, even if you have heard stories that the member is struggling with the standard narrative of the church when it comes to our history. Let them work it out with their own agency.

Not All Members Fit Into the Same Mold

I know these leaders justify their inappropriate questioning in the guise of love, claiming they simply want to help their members, but they do more harm than good when they try to mold all members into their idea of what a good Latter-day Saint should be like as far as what they read. Sure, we can all preach against the evils of porn but are we going to tell our sisters they can’t read romance novels? You would have half the church up in arms over that, including my wife.

Inappropriate Reasons to Deny a Temple Recommend

Just because a person reads Denver Snuffer and happens to agree with some of his viewpoints is no reason to deny them a temple recommend. Reading Denver Snuffer does not make someone an apostate. I’ve written about apostasy previously here on my blog: It’s defined as deliberate and open opposition to the Church or its leaders, teaching as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine or to belong to an apostate sect, such as those that practice plural marriage.

Temple Recommends Not Used in Heaven

A temple recommend is simply an earthly receipt used by the LDS Church to show that you have paid tithing. You’re not going to need a temple recommend in heaven. They’re not used there. Trying to control what a man believes about our history is not righteous behavior. Threatening a man with church discipline because he tells a few friends his opinion of a book and recommends they also read it is simply not right. Leaders who do this are abusing the priesthood of God.

Face it: We Failed the Test in Nauvoo

To say that someone needs to be disciplined because they have a difference of opinion over how to interpret a document is the worst kind of priestcraft. If this really is the Kingdom of God on the earth we will be looking for ways to include more people, not exclude them for what they read or believe. We’ve got to stop being so sensitive about what happened in Nauvoo. We failed the test, didn’t build the temple in time and suffered hardships for the next four generations.

The Gathering of the Elect of God

With the passing of our last patriarch, Eldred G. Smith, those four generations have passed now. The Lord has put forth his hand again and is gathering the elect through the angels. They are ministering to men and women upon the earth, teaching and preparing them to come into the presence of the Lord. There are many members of the LDS Church quietly doing the Lord’s bidding as asked by Him or as assigned by His angels. This is contrary to the traditional hierarchal institution model.

The Angels Are Inviting and Teaching

I’ve written enough. I hope you can tell I’m a little bit passionate about this subject. I simply cannot believe the church I love and have been a member of all my life would persecute its own members for claiming to have received the Lord or assignments from angels. It’s almost as if the church is jealous of its own members who exhibit spiritual gifts that bless and edify others. The hierarchy of the church cannot control who joins the Kingdom of Heaven. The angels do that.

I’m Interested in Your Feedback

What do you think? Is it right for LDS leaders to deviate from the temple recommend questions? Is it OK for them to ask you what kinds of books or authors you read? Should they be allowed to ask you what you believe beyond the first three basic testimony questions? If you would rather share your story privately, feel free to email me at tmalonemcse @ gmail.com. God bless us all.

A few links to articles on the Temple Recommend Interview process:

Wikipedia article on LDS worthiness interviews

An Ensign article on being worthy to enter the temple

Frequently asked questions from lds.org on temple interviews

Excerpt from the 1982 First Presidency letter from Upward Thought Blog

Article from The New Era on Temple Recommend Interview

Lesson from Young Men’s manual on Recommend Interviews

Lesson from Temple Preparation class on Recommend Interviews

Keys, Keys, We’ve Got Keys


KeysOfTheKingdomI re-read Denver’s Orem talk on the priesthood again tonight. I picked up some clarifications about sealing powers (pages 35-37) but found myself struggling with his discussion of keys (pages 32-34). The printed version of the talk is a little different than the recorded version. (Might be less on Doug’s page.)

The Keys of the Kingdom

I remember this section specifically in the recorded version because it sounded like he was doing a little dance and jingling a ring of keys from his pocket or something. If you were there, tell me what he did. He said, “keys, keys, we’ve got keys,” in what sounded like a theatrical voice.

Discussion of Section 128

The thing that got me thinking and what I want to point out is his emphasis on items other than keys that he spoke about in this section. He mentioned dispensations, rights, honors, majesty, glory and “power of the priesthood.” And then he astounded me with this amazing quote:

Dispensations and Rights

“Now you tell me, you declare to me, what are your dispensations? (I have one, and Joseph had one, but do you have one also?) Tell me what your rights are. Can you even tell me what your keys are? […] You tell me what they are.” Who is he talking to here – you, me, the Brethren?

Understanding Keys is Important

“Stop proclaiming that you own them, and tell me in plainness so as to persuade us all they both matter to salvation and you understand them enough to explain exactly what they are!” […] If you got them and they affect salvation, you ought to understand them.” OK, that makes sense.

Honors, Majesty, Glory and Power

“If you trust you need to have them for salvation, then you should be able to explain them; because a man cannot be saved in ignorance, after all. […] Tell me what your honors are. Tell me what your majesty is. Tell me what your glory is. Tell me what the power of your priesthood is.

Keys Alone Are Not Sufficient

“Because if keys alone were sufficient, I rather think that Joseph Smith who understood what he was writing, would not have gone to the trouble of parsing through the words: dispensation, rights, keys, honors, majesty, glory and power, if it was all speaking to exactly the same thing.”

Denver Snuffer Claims a Dispensation

The subject of keys was introduced as he read section 128, verse 21. But did you catch what he said? Denver said he had a dispensation. I can barely explain what a dispensation is, or at least what I’ve been taught it is, and here Denver Snuffer claims he has been given a dispensation.

We Hardly Comprehend Things of God

Page 33: “You hardly comprehend the things of God. You simply do not know how great things God has done for us. You remain content to allow conceit and foolishness to lead you from error to error without any fear that you are losing your souls.” OK, now he’s really got my attention.

You Must Receive Revelation

Page 34: “…the things of God are not to be taken lightly. Nor are they given to you merely by study. You also must receive revelation in order to understand revelation. The scriptures are a launching point to take your mind upward. You must commune with God to understand the things of God.

The Institution Will Not Save Us

“No man, or committee or organization will ever save you. Nothing some financial institution managed by lawyers, bankers, managers, businessmen and professors offers will matter in the afterlife. The only things which will matter there will be what you secure for yourself from the Powers of Heaven while you live here.” Wow. He lays it on the line here, doesn’t he?

Denver Wants to Get Us Thinking

Before he leaves the subject of keys and launches into an amazing presentation on the various kinds of sealing powers, he says something that I know some people will find offensive. But I want you to consider it and tell me what you think. Is he being controversial here on purpose?

Temple Recommend Worthless at Judgment

“When the Judgment comes, you will not be able to hand a Temple Recommend to your … Judge and have him respect a mere man’s judgment of you. All that document proves objectively is that you paid money to the church. It is a receipt.” I’ve never looked at it like that, have you?

Dare to Ask How Tithing is Spent

“And you don’t even know what your money got used for, because you do not even dare to ask the question of your leaders about how the money was spent.” Wait a minute, we do know and they have told us. The money is used to build temples, meetinghouses and operating expenses.

Subjective Nature of Temple Questions

“For the rest of the Temple Recommend questions, they are merely subjective in nature and allow the vain, the misled and the blind to announce their purported ‘worthiness.’ All of that is a mirage which will pass away when you depart this life.” OK, good point. They are subjective.

Invitation to Dialog

Disclaimer: These are simply a few of my study notes as I try to understand things I deem to be important. I have obviously quoted the words of a man who has been cast out of our Church for teaching these and other similar things. I am not trying to teach them to you. I am not asking you to believe these statements. I simply want to discuss them in an effort to understand them better.

Loss of the Sealing Power


While in a sacred place a month ago a friend asked what I thought about “Passing the Heavenly Gift.” I confess that I had not heard of the book or the author, Denver Snuffer. I assume he asked my opinion because he knows that I have reviewed similar books on my blog that focus on controversial issues facing the LDS Church. Denver’s books are not advertised. People learn about them only by word of mouth or through online reviews on sites like mine.

I purchased the book and posted on Facebook that I had done so. Several of my blogging buddies noted it and expressed interest in what I thought. A few days later after my first quick read-through, I wrote “I speed read the first half. Finding no major faults, I devoured the second half (pages 240 to 499) in about four hours. I haven’t stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to read a book in years.” There is something dramatically different about this book.

Don’t leave the church

I also reported that “My focus in reading was to find anything smacking of disloyalty to the brethren or encouraging the members to leave. He came close on the first point but completely negated my concern on the second.” Before I write anything else I want to focus on that second point. I am convinced that Denver Snuffer has his reader’s best interest at heart. I cannot say that about the authors of any other recent book of LDS History I have read. Denver wants us to stay in the Church.

However, Denver Snuffer has caused me to do something no other recent writer of Mormon history has been able to do. He has produced in me a desire to read his book again and again. I want to study it, to research it, to look up many of the quotes, to read what others have said about those quotes. In other words, I am taking seriously Denver’s claims which, although not all unique to his book, are argued more precisely and effectively than any other author I have encountered.

Receive the Second Comforter

I have just completed the second reading of the book and am starting on the third, this time with pen and highlighter in hand. I have read his first book, “The Second Comforter” twice and have purchased each of the intervening six books. I have invested hours reading Denver’s blog from start to finish and have contemplated each of the points he has made there over the years. Other than the scriptures, I have never invested this much time in trying to understand an author’s message.

Everything I have learned about Denver has caused me to contemplate his message more and more. He has asked that we not focus on him, his life or his background. He has asked that we pay attention more to the process he is trying to get us to pass through – a process that if we follow through to completion will have us receive The Second Comforter for ourselves. I like that. I want that. I endorse that. How can you fault a man for wanting to help you come unto Christ? I don’t.

Details lacking in faith-promoting history

In the meantime, you are going to have to pass through some very difficult realizations that, depending on the strength of your relationship with the things of the spirit, may leave you gasping and reaching for help and understanding. If you are not already familiar with things our detractors have written about us you will have a challenging time reading this book. It will make you angry. It will cause you to think of Mr. Snuffer as an apostate and wonder why he hasn’t been excommunicated.

This book is not for everybody. If you are a casual member of the church you will not be interested. If you are not familiar with some of the controversies about our history being discussed on the Internet today, you will be a little shocked at what you read. You may not understand why some of the issues are problems at all if all you have ever learned about our history is what you were taught in Sunday school, Primary, Seminary or even Institute. This is an alternative view of our history.

Sealing power has been lost

I wish I was at the point where I could say that I can vouch for Denver’s accuracy or that I agree with his interpretations. I am not there yet. I suspect it will take me years to arrive at that level. In the meantime, if you have already read Denver’s works, I want to hear from you. I am especially interested in discussion about the two most controversial arguments in his book – the idea that the sealing power is not on the earth at this time and Denver’s interpretation of the fullness of the priesthood.

<Update 4-29-12> Denver has posted on his blog that “I have never said the church does not have the sealing power.” This obviously is in direct conflict with the thesis of this essay and my (and my wife’s) interpretation of the first chapter of his book, especially this line: “The church and its ordinations and ordinances does not confer power.” (p 36) He’s right. He did not say the church does not have the sealing power. Carol and I did not clearly understand the message of his first chapter. <end of update>

I kept looking for Denver to address the implications of the position he is advocating in regards to the work we are doing in the temples. I confess I have so far been disappointed by the lack of a sympathetic discussion of what this means to the thousands, if not millions of members who have spent so much of their time and energy over the years in researching and performing proxy ordinances in the temples for their ancestors. I am one of those individuals and want to know his response.

The work in the temples

In other words, if the sealing power is not on the earth then what hope do my wife and I have that we will be united in the eternities? If the sealing power is not on the earth, then what in the world have I and my mother and sisters been doing for these past forty years in digging and corresponding and compiling the thousands and thousands of family names ensuring that their work was done in the temples? I see this as the single most important issue to be answered.

Because I am so intrigued by what I have learned so far, I am going to give Denver the benefit of the doubt that he has already answered this question satisfactorily and I have simply not yet found it. I am not like some of my online friends who have become disaffected and left the church then complain about how much they resented the loss of their tithing money or that they felt duped when they learned they had been teaching a “sanitized” version of our history.

Section 110 misinterpreted

This idea of the sealing power is central to my feelings about the church and core to the reason why I have spent so many thousands of hours in the temple over the past thirty-five years. No, I don’t feel that my time was wasted if what Denver claims about section 110 is true. Of all the things that could strike at the heart and soul of Mormonism this is it. If you want to hurt a whole lot of good people, tell them that the the work they have been doing in the temples is not valid.

There is one question I would like to ask Denver, but I won’t because I don’t know him and he has made it clear that he gets far too many requests to answer directly. Because I felt strongly about sharing what I was learning from Denver’s books, I asked Carol to read the fist chapter of “Passing the Heavenly Gift” to me as we drove to Southern Utah for a family vacation this weekend. We had one of the most deep and enjoyable gospel discussions we have ever had over the course of several hours.

Exaltation is a family affair

Carol came away from the reading with the distinct impression that Denver was saying that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is today no different than any other good Christian church. She read that Brigham Young was only elected to be the President of the Church and that there was no ordination that passed the keys of the kingdom to him or to any of the rest of the twelve. She related her feelings while as a missionary she was taught by her mission president that Joseph ordained and passed the keys of the kingdom on to the twelve before they left on their missions.

Denver, what would you say to my wife, who related while she stood at the Far West temple site with dozens of other missionaries how she felt the spirit bear witness to her soul that Joseph successfully passed the keys of the kingdom on to the apostles before he sent them away on their missions and went on to Carthage jail to seal his testimony with his blood? Would you say that Joseph wasn’t referring to the council of the twelve, but to the council of fifty?

An incomplete ordination

What Denver is writing about is serious business. He is apparently all about getting people to question what they have been taught and what they believe about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He says he wants to bring us to Christ but in the process he wants us to rethink what we have been taught and what we believe about the power of priesthood and how it is manifested in our lives. He says the temple will point us to Christ yet says the sealing power is not there.

Am I the first to see the implications of what he is teaching? I don’t think so. Tell me I’m wrong or that I’ve missed the point completely. Tell me that all the thousands of temple workers, so many of them my good friends, are not wasting their time laboring in temples that have been rejected. Tell me that the blessings I have given to my wife and so many others over the years are efficacious even though I have not had my ordination completed by having the Lord lay his hands upon my head.

Receiving the Heavenly Gift

I am not a lawyer, so I can never argue as well as Denver has done. I am a simple member of the church, happy in my faith and grateful to have lived my life in the orthodox manner as taught by my leaders. I have served a mission, been married in the temple, served in bishoprics and high councils for the past twenty-five years and generally loved my time associating with saints of the Lord, who Denver is now calling a fallen and proud people, members of an apostate gentile church.

What do you think? Has Denver taught the truth in his book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift” or is he an apostate like some have declared him to be? Is it worth my time to read the rest of his books? Is there a whole lot more that I don’t see yet that will prove Denver to be right? Perhaps I need to re-read his first book again and put the process to the test as he is asking us to do. Is Denver teaching that we need to do in our homes what we are taught in the temple to converse with the Lord through the veil?

I would love to read your opinions.

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