Concluding Testimony at my Disciplinary Council


MartinLuther95ThesesI shared my testimony in our regular monthly testimony meeting this morning. I wanted to make sure the Bishop and a member of the Stake Presidency present – he’s also in our ward – heard me say I sustain the general authorities and local authorities of the church. Of course these words were in addition to sharing comments reflecting my love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior.

Covering All the Bases

Carol asked me afterward if I did that to offset whoever it was that complained about my blog a few months ago. I assured her I was sincere, but yes, I wanted the whole ward to know of my feelings for those who lead this church. I continue to sustain them with my prayers and with my money. Yes, I know my tithing is used to pay their salary. It also helps pay my sister’s salary.

Follow the Bishop’s Counsel

As far as I know, I’m not under any priesthood leader’s watch list for an impending disciplinary council, but a few of my friends and fellow bloggers have been surprised, so I’m being careful. I’m doing my utmost to follow my Bishop’s counsel to keep my headlines non-inflammatory and to keep links to my posts off Facebook. Those links are apparently where I got in trouble before.

It’s Tough to Be a Bishop

I continue to be appreciative of my Bishop’s opening remarks when he called me to talk the first time a few months back. He said our chats – there were two follow-ups – were motivated out of love. I know I’ve shared this before but I believe him. Our bishop is a good man. I love him and appreciate all he does for our ward. It takes a lot of time to manage the largest ward in the stake.

If Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear

Specifically because some of my fellow bloggers were surprised at the rapidity of the course of events surrounding their disciplinary councils, I want to be prepared, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in case I get surprised. In one case the good brother was notified on Sunday he was to be tried for his membership and was excommunicated 72 hours later on Wednesday evening.

Course of Action Planned in Advance

I’ve written my defense before the High Council in a previous post. Obviously it was imaginary, a defense based on years of observation of disciplinary councils in which I have participated as a High Counselor, a Bishopric Counselor or a clerk. I hope this will never be needed, but in that same spirit, I’d like to have my closing testimony prepared in the event I am allowed to share it.

How I Dislike Disciplinary Councils

In case you don’t know, there’s no guarantee you will get to say anything at your disciplinary council. Seriously. I know what the handbook says. About the only thing they have to let you say is how you answer to the charges – innocent or guilty. Don’t you just hate the whole concept of a disciplinary council? I do. It doesn’t seem right to have such things in the church of Jesus Christ.

Our Decision That You Be Excommunicated

But then, what do I know? I’m just a lowly member, happy to be here, grateful to serve. So with that in mind, and since I use my blog as an auxiliary personal journal, here is what I would like to say if I ever hear the words, “Brother Malone, our decision is that you be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Is there anything you would like to say?”

Shared Desire to Do the Will of the Lord

“Thank you President. I’ll be brief here. Thank you to my brethren of the High Council for their service. And thank you, President, for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration of my case. I know this is painful to you, not because you’re losing a financial clerk, but because I know you are a good man, with a desire to do the will of the Lord. I’m grateful we share that same desire.

Excommunication Difficult on Family Members

“There’s no need to go over the details of my case. The decision has been made and I sustain your action. I suspect the decision was made at a higher level in the church, but that doesn’t matter. I am no longer a member but will continue to attend with my wife for whom I pray night and day. This chain of events has been painful for her and a source of resentment and frustration.

Apostasy – Simply Writing a Few Book Reviews

“I will not be appealing the case. I have never seen it do any good for anyone else. Besides, I have no intention of seeking rebaptism. I was excommunicated for apostasy – for simply reading a book and sharing it with others. I felt led by the Lord in the entire process. I was introduced to the book in the temple. I prayed about the book in the temple and was answered in the temple.

My Issue is With Interpreting Church History

“The book has changed my life. It clarified for me many things I already suspected or believed. I know my path is not for everyone. There are fundamental differences in the way we look at the church. I suspect it will always be so. This is not a personal issue with you, your leadership, or anyone in this room. My issue is with the Brethren in Salt Lake, always has been and will be.

The Priesthood Was Taken From Israel

“I will continue to pray for them, but am no longer allowed to sustain them, meaning they will not accept my tithing. It won’t be missed. I will continue to love them. They are good men who have taught and inspired me. They have done a good job in leading this church. You may think me deceived and naïve, but I feel sorry for them. They are stuck. They cannot escape the past.

Gentiles Shall Reject Fullness of the Gospel

“I don’t want to offend anybody so I won’t say anything more. My reasons are on my blog and will be amplified with greater clarity now that I am free to share more openly. I hope you won’t consider my blog to be anti-Mormon because it’s not. I am not an enemy of this church. I love the church and pray for its success, but believe things about the church that are no longer taught.

Prophecy and Traditional Narrative Differ

“For the record, I refute the charges that I do not sustain the Brethren. Perhaps it’s semantics. I simply disagree with some of their interpretations of history and scripture. I’ve been told I need to repent until my thinking is in line with what the Brethren teach about those certain events in our history. I appreciate the invitation. I know it’s offered with love and concern for my welfare.

Testimony of Church History Not Required

“I’ll conclude with words I wrote privately to a long-time reader who was troubled by my blog: Thank you for your love and concern. My mind is made up. I choose to believe things about our history that are not taught in our church or are taught in a manner that leaves out key elements. The beautiful thing is we don’t have to have a testimony of church history to come unto Christ.

The Purging of the Two Percent

“Let’s focus on what is important – to know Christ. I love this church for the renewed focus we have on the Savior. I have watched it happen in my lifetime. I pray that priesthood leaders will leave good men alone who are striving to come unto Christ but don’t believe some of the history. But recent evidence shared with me privately indicates the purge of men like me is accelerating.

The Truth Will Set You Free

If the church continues on this path, they will alienate and lose the strength and backbone of the priesthood brethren who faithfully pay tithes and administer in wards and stakes in the church. Can the church afford that? Perhaps – perhaps not. God bless us each in our pursuit of the truth. It is the truth that sets us free. When I finally accepted the truth of our history, I indeed felt free.”

This Could Never Possibly Happen

I don’t want to end on a negative note. Other than the interviews with my Bishop and the private correspondence with several bloggers who have recently been excommunicated for apostasy, this is all speculation and supposition. You may say it’s a product of my imagination. “You’ve been under a lot of stress, Tim. Nobody at Church headquarters even knows or cares about your blog.”

Strengthening Church Members Committee

That may be true. I hope the book reviews I write on my blog and what I choose to believe about the contents of those books has nothing to do with the status of my temple worthiness or church membership. Recent evidence from others is contrary. The SCMC is real. They really do determine that certain authors and bloggers are a threat to the church and need to be disciplined. It happens.

We Pay People to Read Member’s Blogs

God bless us all to stay in the good graces of the members of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee. I know I have communicated with a few of them. One is a Facebook friend and a blog follower. He is also a church employee. I have lots of church employees who are friends and read my blog, but this individual is vehemently opposed and vociferous in his opposing comments.

Lo Que Será, Será

I served my mission in Central America. They never used this phrase, but I like to use it. It fits in this case. I do all I can to follow what I believe is the will of the Lord. I know there are consequences of being misunderstood. After I have done all I can to make things clear to those who want to know the truth, all I can do is wait. I used to mock sites that said they had the truth of church history. Now…

As Always, Comments Open

What do you think? Is it possible the church is on the lookout for bloggers like me who write about church history in a way that differs from the standard narrative? Is it possible the church is out to squelch opposing viewpoints from among their own members? Am I a wolf in sheep’s clothing? My patriarchal blessing warns me about such individuals. Do you find my blog offensive? I’d love to read your views.

Led by the Hand of Christ


LedByTheHandOfChristI love reading books about NDEs – Near Death Experiences. Last year I gathered a few dozen from my library and wrote short reviews. It continues to be a popular post. Since that time several readers have written to advise me of additional NDE books I might enjoy. For example, in December I read and reviewed Home and Back Again by Imelda and Thomas Fowler.

Email from the Author

Suzanne Freeman wrote me a few weeks ago and suggested I might enjoy her books, starting with Led by the Hand of Christ. I purchased them and sat down one evening last week to read the first one. I couldn’t put it down. It was an easy read – straightforward story-telling, fascinating material and inspiring. I don’t think it took more than a few hours to get through the 150 pages.

Additional Works by Suzanne

As this was her first book, Suzanne used the services of Shirley Bahlmann, a professional author. Although I haven’t read her second book, Through the Window of Life, the synopsis contains wording to the effect that makes the book comparable with Visions of Glory with scenes from the future. Her third book is entitled The Spirit of Liberty, relating yet more of her spirit world vision.

Favorable Book Reviews

The book generated favorable reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble and Google Books. I few readers mentioned the same thing I felt as I read the book, that perhaps there was some embellishment or writer’s license involved. After all, the writer did not experience the NDE, so she had to interpret what Suzanne was telling her. Still, Shirley interpreted it well.

Died on the Operating Table

No two NDEs are exactly the same, but many of them have similar elements. Suzanne’s had a very unique beginning. She died on the operating table of an ectopic pregnancy. Hovering in the upper corner of the operating room, all she wanted to do was return to her body. Her family needed her. As Suzanne relates it, she was stopped by the hand of Christ upon her shoulder.

She Told the Savior No

There was no long tunnel, no sense of going toward a bright light, only the desire to get back to her body and return to her family. The Savior told her there were some people who wanted to see her. Suzanne said no and struggled once again to return. The Lord had to hold her back, sternly calling her name to let her know it wasn’t time, but promising she could eventually return.

A Tour of Paradise

With this reassurance, Suzanne began a tour of the spirit world, meeting family members and famous individuals. She met prophets of the Bible and LDS history, as well as founding fathers and many presidents of the United States. An especially touching chapter relates a conversation with mother Eve, whom she describes as being very tall, at least seven feet, as well as Adam.

A Tenacious Mama Bear

A humorous theme throughout her travels is that everywhere she went she was celebrated and recognized as the woman who said “No” to Christ. She continually downplays the action, explaining her only desire was to return to her children who needed her. She even equates it to the tenacity of a “Mama Bear” when someone is standing between her and her little children.

Writing in the Book of Life

Suzanne learns much from the Savior, including the importance of building our self-esteem. He illustrates this when he takes her to a room full of white books, where he takes one down – hers – and writes in it of her desire to return to her children. She relates she was astounded, mentioning she knew lots of mothers who would have done the same. The scene seems highly symbolic.

Prayer for a Return of Memories

In fact, you may perhaps feel that much of what she relates is symbolic and maybe it is, but it is how she remembers it. Oh, about that. Suzanne tells when it was time to return to her body, the Savior told her she would not remember anything, but if she prayed, the memories would return. I can relate as my own experience in the spirit world at age seventeen took years to remember.

Some Complained is was Too Mormon

I always read the one and two star reviews after I write my own. I can relate to what they were saying – mainly that it was told from a very Mormon perspective. Yet, at the same time, some of the Mormon reviewers wrote the story did not jive with what they believed about paradise, so go figure. I guess it depends on what you expect. Again, I stress perhaps some of it was symbolic.

A Well-Edited, Well-Told Tale

I recommend the book. It was well-told and well-edited. I’m always delighted when reading a book that is well-edited. This was not self-published so it had the advantage of good editing. I have read a few books from Spring Creek, and recognized several of the authors and titles when I went to their website. It’s good to see an independent publisher making it in the Mormon world.

I Recommend You read the Book

I look forward to reading Suzanne’s other two books, which I also bought, and wish her well on her continued publishing journey. I am pleased to add her books to my NDE collection and to be able to recommend at least the first one so far. It takes courage to tell your story, even today with so many NDE books on the market. Read it and determine for yourself how much truth it relates.

 

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

Duane Crowther Has Not Been Excommunicated


DuaneSCrowtherI write this at the request of Brother Crowther. I don’t know him well enough to call him Duane. In fact, we have never met, as far as I know. But if I do slip into familiar voice, please forgive me. I feel as if I have known him for years, over forty at least. That was when I was first introduced to his two most popular books: Life Everlasting and Prophecy: Key to the Future.

Life Everlasting and Prophecy: Key to the Future

I have read it so much I have lost the jacket cover of Life Everlasting. The jacket cover of Prophecy: Key to the Future (hereinafter referred to simply as Prophecy), is worn and taped on all edges and corners. I grew up with these books. I read them when I was a teenager and have read them perhaps a dozen times each, especially Prophecy. I think you can tell I’m an old guy.

Bookcraft – publisher of many wonderful books

Life Everlasting was first published in 1967 by Bookcraft (now there’s a name that brings up memories), while Prophecy was first published in 1962, also by Bookcraft. In case you don’t know, in the old days, if your book was not published by Deseret Book, it wasn’t considered top-tier Mormon doctrine, or perhaps had some questionable or debatable content as the subject.

My Introduction to Duane’s Writings

If I remember correctly, Prophecy was first written as a Master’s thesis at BYU and later expanded for publication. I fell in love with the book from the moment I first laid eyes on it at Ellsworth Stationers in Baldwin Park California, the place we went to buy LDS books in my youth. It was with my sister, Tricia, now a librarian, and my mother who bought and read them.

Our Regular Trips to the Book Store

I seem to recall I devoured it that night. This was the 22nd printing of 1973 so I was sixteen. I also bought Life Everlasting as well as The Coming of the Lord by Gerald Lund on the same day, and Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition, by Bruce R. McConkie. We were allowed four or five books each trip to the bookstore. They didn’t cost nearly as much then as they do now (maybe $5).

Books That Augmented my Testimony

Later favorites from these trips to Ellsworth included Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard J. Arrington, The First 2,000 Years by W. Cleon Skousen, along with The Third Thousand Years and The Fourth Thousand Years. Mother bought me several biographies about Joseph Smith including one by Donna Hill and No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie, which she gave me when I was going to college and Institute after my mission in 1978.

I Inherited My Love of Learning

My mother was a wonderful person, a schoolteacher and amateur gospel scholar extraordinaire. She taught the gospel doctrine or genealogy / family history classes for about as long as I can remember while growing up in the old Covina First ward and Covina Stake. Mother loved to teach and she loved to teach her children. I inherited my love of learning from my mother.

Mother Owned an LDS Book Store

Mother loved LDS books so much she opened her own LDS bookstore in La Verne CA back in the early 1970’s called Leta’s Books. I remember seeing all the new books each year with James Mortimer of Deseret Book. The bookstore didn’t last long. Mother had no business sense so she lost a lot of money – all of my dad’s life savings, but if it bothered him I could never tell.

My Recent Email / Letter From Duane Crowther

I hope you get the impression I love to read LDS doctrine and history and have since I was a teenager. But I digress. Let’s get back to Duane Crowther. I was surprised with a post on my blog from Duane the other day. It was put it in my “About-Tim” section. I answered it within two hours, also posting a public reply. He emailed back privately as did I and this is the result.

I Have Written Much About Excommunication

You’ll have to read both letters to get the full story but in a nutshell, because I have written a number of stories about individuals who have been excommunicated (Mel Fish, Denver Snuffer), my blog shows up high in a Google search on the topic. By sheer coincidence, I also published a bunch of reviews on NDE books, another favorite subject, and Duane’s book shows up there.

Unintended Consequence of Search Engine Optimization

Now I’m a computer dude by trade, but I’m more of an old-fashioned infrastructure kind of guy. That means I design and administer networks to make them run efficient. I don’t know much about websites, blogging or especially SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Duane pointed out that when you Google his name, excommunicated shows up afterward, along with other words.

SEO Can Cause Some Weird Google Search Results

Well, he’s not unique in that regard. You can find weird stuff behind famous people’s names, including LDS authors if you Google their name and leave a space. For example, “obituary” shows up behind Gerald Lund’s name and as far as I know, he’s not dead yet. He was our Institute Director and bishop for many years so we keep pretty close tabs on him. I think we would know.

Duane Crowther Has Not Been Excommunicated

Oh, you may be wondering why Duane wrote me about this little problem. It just so happens my blog shows up first under his name and the word “excommunication.” Now we know Duane has not been excommunicated and never was. He currently serves in the temple presidency of the Asuncion Paraguay Temple. Naturally he thought I was writing he had been excommunicated.

Google – They Keep Their Secrets to Themselves

I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job of convincing Duane there was anything I could do to make that connection go away. Google concatenates words and phrases from several posts in some random order only they understand. We bloggers have very little to say and no control over what appears under our names or the subjects about which we blog. It’s really unfortunate.

This Post is in Response to Prayer

So again, this post in in response to a private request from Duane separate from the public letter he posted in my “About-Tim” section. He asked me to pray about it and explain the situation in one of my regular blog posts. I’m more than happy to comply. The last thing I want is offend one of my boyhood heroes who got me started down the path of studying about the last days.

SEO is Like Free Publicity for Bloggers

I guess I’ve done too good a job at SEO – unintentionally, let me assure you. All I do is make sure when I write a post, it gets announced in Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook. I think that’s all done through a widget called Networked Blogs. I’m grateful for the publicity. Seems like ninety percent of my hits come from Google searches, then Reddit and a few LDS bloggers.

Anonymous Searches Beat Out Directed Searches

I don’t get anything from the conservative LDS Mormon blog Aggregators anymore – ldsblogs, Mormon Blogs and places like that. As I’ve noted before, they either dropped me when I changed from Blogger to WordPress or when I started blogging about Denver Snuffer. So all you people who come here from a Google Search – about ninety percent – thanks for your visits.

Duane’s Official Quote – A Misleading Listing

But if you came here expecting to learn more about Duane Crowther being excommunicated, you won’t find it here. I know nothing about that, but I will share what he wrote again: “…I’ve never been excommunicated, nor have there ever been grounds for that to take place… such a misleading listing can be very harmful to one’s reputation.” I agree and wish Google wouldn’t put them together.

How to Get Google to Change Their Algorithm

Now maybe you SEO experts out there can offer some suggestions on how I can grant Duane’s request with some action on my part. I know you can work with Google in correcting erroneous information about a company listing. For example, we did that the place where I work. But still, the 2001 Aspen crash will always be listed under the name of Avjet. It is simply unfortunate.

Conclusion – My Public Apology to Duane Crowther

Brother Crowther, in addition to what I wrote in my letter, please accept my sincere apologies for this unfortunate sequence of events from my blog that causes a Google search to concatenate your name with a word I have used a lot in many of my posts. As I wrote there, I have a lot of respect for your contribution to the world of LDS Book Publishing. God bless you my friend.

Expressions of Support for Denver Snuffer


LDCPostsOnDenverSnufferYesterday, I and many others received letters of support for Denver Snuffer in the face of his upcoming disciplinary action. Many people have said that their reading of “Passing the Heavenly Gift” helped them reconsider plans to leave the church. These good people are willing to give credit to Denver’s book for helping them through a difficult time. I have read accounts of many individuals who have resolved their feelings of deception upon learning certain things about our church history. [Note: this is an edited opening paragraph from the original sent to subscribers,]

No Need to Defend Denver

This morning, Denver explained why he posted the disciplinary summons on his website. He said he wanted to make sure that anybody planning to attend any of his lectures was aware of his status with the church – either pending or accomplished. He also said that we need not defend him with such heartfelt letters because he said they would do no good and may result in the church taking notice of those who step forward. He doesn’t want that to happen to anyone else.

Let This Run Its Course

“No matter your own sentiments, it would be best to just let this run its course without involving anyone other than me.” I am amazed about the outpouring of sentiment I have seen on both my blog and in the private online groups who discuss Denver Snuffer’s readings. Many of you are not old enough to remember the kinds of public demonstrations held outside the disciplinary councils of the September Six. Like Denver said, it does no good except draw media attention.

Media Attention Inevitable

I suspect Denver’s lecture tour will draw media attention enough. As I have pointed out several times before, I show up second on a Google search for Denver Snuffer. I did not intend this to happen but feel some responsibility since it is a fact. I am a simple regular member of the church who likes to read and review books. I have thought about what I wrote yesterday about how I would answer the temple recommend question about loyalty should Denver be excommunicated.

My Writings on Denver Snuffer

Taking Denver’s advice, I have no plans to write a letter to his stake president defending what I feel are the writings of a man who has helped me in so many ways. My blog is public. You can find everything I have written over the last year and a half about Denver since I started reading his books. My Bishop can read them, my Stake President can read them and so can any member of my ward or stake. Many of them do. I know because of their public and private comments.

Reading Books of Former Members

Should Denver be excommunicated, I will continue to read his writings. I still plan to find some way to get up to Utah to hear at least one of his lectures. I intend to continue to buy each of the offered recordings. I have made up my mind where I stand. I do not feel he is an apostate. I have learned more from reading his books than I have from just about any other LDS writer. I read the works of other excommunicated LDS writers and have never felt that makes me an apostate.

The Temple Recommend Question

I can see how a Bishop or Stake President could feel otherwise, but I cannot believe that temple recommend question was intended to weed out those who read controversial material about the church. Some of the articles in the Salt Lake Tribune would qualify for that restriction. We are counseled to be informed. How can one have an informed and educated opinion without reading the source material of the subject in question? Otherwise your opinions are simply ignorant.

Links to my Denver Snuffer Posts

But just to make it easier for anyone to find what I have written about what I have read in his books, you can read any one of the following essays written and posted here on my blog. I think it is clear that I have enjoyed analyzing what I have read in Denver’s books since my former Bishop first introduced them to me in January of 2012. He simply asked my opinion what I thought of Passing the Heavenly Gift. How could I give an opinion without reading it? Here’s the list:

01. August 23 2013 – Denver Snuffer Disciplinary Council – Summons announcement
02. August 19 2013 – Max Skousen Excommunicated Twice – Material halfway down
03. July 20 2013 – The Lord Prepares Groups of People – Angels gathering the elect
04. June 12 2013 – A Few More Quotes From Denver Snuffer – Taken from his blog
05. June 10 2013 – A Few Quotes from Denver Snuffer – Intended this to be a series
06. June 1 2013 – In the Tops of the Mountains – Where will Zion first be gathered?
07. May 15 2013 – Progress Report on Denver Snuffer – Thoughts on my readings
08. April 17 2013 – Remembering the Covenant – Thoughts upon receiving the books
09. March 24, 2013 – Overview of The Second Comforter
10. March 9, 2013 – A New Star Will Shine Forth
11. March 3, 2013 – All Are Invited to the Feast
12. December 25, 2012 – The Four Phases of Mormonism
13. December 11, 2012 – What Denver Snuffer Teaches
14. July 7, 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
15. May 12, 2012 – Orthodox Mormonism
16. May 5, 2012 – Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer
17. April 8, 2012 – Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil
18. February 26, 2012 – Loss of the Sealing Power

Remembering the Covenant


RememberingTheCovenantI received my copies of Denver Snuffer’s Remembering the Covenant, Volumes 1, 4 and 5 the other day. Why would I invest $55 to purchase printed versions of something that is available for free online? I’ve already purchased and read Denver’s previously published eight volumes. And for the most part, I read the majority of what’s in the books on Denver’s blog over the past year.

Two reasons: I’m an old guy. I like physical books. I enjoy turning the pages, marking them up and seeing them stored in my library. Second, I found it interesting Denver hinted at something I have been thinking about for a long time. We take the availability of the Internet, Blogger and hey, even electricity for granted. The day may come when these things are no longer guaranteed.

I like the formatting of the books, the new chapter organizations and the footnotes. The blog comments are not included. That’s understandable. If you’re read some of them, they get way off the subject and frankly, there are some weird things in there that are distracting from the content. I’m not saying comments aren’t valuable, just that they can take things in unintended directions.

Commentary on The Second Comforter

I feel like a late-comer to the Denver party. Now, he wouldn’t like that characterization. He has always said the important thing is the message, not the messenger. And of course, Denver is not the only one focusing on the idea that we can and should receive the Savior in this mortal life. By that I mean a personal visit from the Lord in which he ministers to and teaches you sacred things.

As Denver noted on his blog, volumes two and three in the series were published previously as the single volume Removing the Condemnation. The advantage of purchasing them in this new format is that they are in a larger font and split into two volumes. I chose to save a few bucks by just getting the ones I didn’t already have. Amazon already has the three other volumes bundled.

So for me, having the luxury of the printed volumes allows me to study Denver’s commentary on his original book at my leisure, which is usually at night before retiring for the day. I learned recently that if I work on the computer right up until I retire, it makes it difficult to get to sleep. There’s something more relaxing about reading a book instead of reading on a computer screen.

Two Areas of Disagreement

In the year or so since I was introduced to Denver’s writings, I’ve made it a point to share with Carol some of the things I have been learning. She’s not all that interested, especially since the first book I
read from Denver was his last one, Passing the Heavenly Gift. We basically disagree on two points – the desirability of meeting Christ in this life and just what priesthood power is.

Carol was taught all her life and believes that there is no need to receive the Savior in this life in a literal way, meaning you don’t need a personal visit to be saved or exalted. She says that will come after this life. When I show her the scriptures and the teachings from Joseph she responds, “Well, the majority of the members of the church aren’t going to see Christ in this life, so there.”

We read chapter one of Passing the Heavenly Gift together. I wrote about her response in my first essay about Denver early in 2012. We’ve had an ongoing discussion about power in the priesthood ever since. Every time a baby is blessed, a baptism is performed or someone is confirmed or ordained, she leans over to me and whispers, “not valid – no power, right?”

Difficult Ideas to Accept

She’s trying to point out that, in her mind, Denver’s argument that power of some kind was lost, does not make sense to her because of the special feelings we each feel when we witness an ordinance of the priesthood, partake of the sacrament or attend the temple. While in the Celestial room, we’ve discussed what he has written. Gratefully, we’ve been able to keep it quiet and civil.

Carol’s viewpoint is that receiving a personal visit from Christ in this life is not necessary, at least according to all we’ve been taught growing up in this church. The focus has always been, receive the ordinances, including marriage in the temple, then endure faithfully to the end. That means as long as you attend church, accept callings, pay tithing and pray often, you’ll be exalted.

Thus, she says the focus of Denver’s first book is unnecessary, at least according to what we’ve been taught. What she got out of Denver’s last book is that he was very clearly saying that the church lost something with the death of Joseph, perhaps even sooner. She took great exception to this idea. What exactly was lost has been a matter of discussion between us over the past year.

Focus on the Book of Mormon

I’m glad I read his last book first. I had long been feeling that there was something missing in our modern church compared to the early church, meaning in the days of Joseph Smith. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is scripture and is intended to guide our lives.

I also believe that Joseph received the sealing power from God, just like Nephi did, but that there was so much more he wanted to share with us that he received from the Lord before his life was cut short. He did not live to see the completion of the Nauvoo temple. There were things he knew that he tried to teach in the last few months of his life, that we just didn’t quite understand.

I’m looking forward to reading and studying these three volumes, Remembering the Covenant. I note that he positions them as a commentary on the Book of Mormon. I like that. There is so much of this marvelous book that even after a lifetime of studying I still don’t understand. I know Denver taught much of this stuff in his Gospel Doctrine classes over some twenty years.

Remain True and Faithful

In case you were wondering, I see no incompatibility between studying the works of Denver Snuffer and remaining a faithful member of the church. In fact, as many others have stated, I don’t think I have ever studied the gospel more intently in the past year since I first encountered his works. Denver has repeatedly encouraged us to remain faithful and serve in the church.

Yes, his first book is somewhat unconventional in that the doctrine of seeking an audience with Christ in this life is no longer taught in our church. And yes, his last book is controversial in that he put in one place all the arguments we have been reading on the Internet for years that there is something amiss in the direction of the church compared to what Joseph restored so long ago.

Can one believe that something is missing or not quite right in the church today and still answer the temple interview questions honorably? Absolutely.  I sustain the Brethren as authorized to lead this church. I see nothing in what Denver writes to be contrary to or opposing the teachings and practices of the Church. Denver has encouraged us to be faithful and serve in the church.

Future posts on Denver Snuffer

Although this blog is not devoted to discussing the writings of Denver Snuffer, I intend to bring up a number of things I have read in his books that I find interesting and worthy of discussion. I have had a paradigm shift in the way I view the priesthood that answers so many questions for me. I am also delighted to see the idea of meeting Christ in this life being taught and promoted.

Surely the Brethren cannot find fault with anyone who encourages us to seek an audience with Christ for the specific purpose of receiving instruction pertaining to our salvation. And surely they can’t fault him for informing us in one place, in a very favorable way I might add, about the things we have read in many places on the Internet regarding a different view of our history.

Don’t call me a Snufferite. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m just a regular member of this church. I merely want to know what I must do to have an audience with my Redeemer in this life. I can’t imagine anybody labeling this as an undesirable thing. I’m simply grateful that Denver says it can be done and that he has done so. Thank God for his testimony and witness.

For More Information

In case you are interested, I’ve written several previous entries about Denver Snuffer:

01. March 24, 2013 – Overview of The Second Comforter
02. March 9, 2013 – A New Star Will Shine Forth
03. March 3, 2013 – All Are Invited to the Feast
04. December 25, 2012 – The Four Phases of Mormonism
05. December 11, 2012 – What Denver Snuffer Teaches
06. July 7, 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
07. May 12, 2012 – Orthodox Mormonism
08. May 5, 2012 – Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer
09. April 8, 2012 – Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil
10. February 26, 2012 – Loss of the Sealing Power

Overview of The Second Comforter


JesusRedRobeOn my blog, I review a lot of LDS books. For some reason, most of them are not found in Deseret Book. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it is because some of them are considered controversial. I’m fairly certain Denver Snuffer does not care if his books are in Deseret Book. He has written that he wants people to have to search them out, make an effort to find them.

I thought I had reviewed his first book, The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. Apparently not. I wrote about it here, but didn’t cover much of the material. There is already a plethora of book reviews out there on Amazon, Goodreads, and various other sites. I thought it might be helpful to share my study notes from the introductory overview.

Note that the numbers at the beginning of each paragraph correspond to the page numbers found in the 2008 second edition of the book. These are simply the notes I took as I read those pages. There may be some overlap and some additional ideas I have added but that’s because I felt inspired to add it as I was reading the content. I always want to be able to teach from my notes.

3 – The Lord is the Promised Second Comforter – There are two comforters. The first is the Holy Ghost. The second is the Lord. (John 14:15-18). This is a basic doctrine of the church. I think most people who have attended any LDS Sunday school class over the years have heard it at one time or another. The idea is that when we are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, we should continue to humble ourselves before the Lord, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, seeking to live by every word of God. We then have the promise that we may receive the other Comforter, which is to have the Lord minister unto us from time to time. Apparently, there are times when we need the comfort of a personal visit from the Lord to help us pass through trials. Besides, there are some things that can only be revealed in person.

4 – We are to have the heavens opened unto us – Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by the Lord on several occasions. He taught that this promise is to be taken literally by all the Saints. It is not just a promise for Joseph or the current prophet of the Church. Joseph wanted us to understand that this is an actual, physical visit with the Savior to us. This involves having the heavens opened. It is the culminating part of Christ’s gospel in which the Savior ministers to us individually, one at a time, just as he has ministered to others before. In other words, it should not seem strange or unusual to us to have or expect the Lord to visit us, while we are yet mortal. This is a promise to all the Saints. It is our heritage and a blessing for those who strive to keep his commandments. Obedience is a requirement. We should seek for and obtain this blessing.

5 – You can receive Him – there is no exception – When the Lord makes a promise, he does not excuse himself. He intends to keep his promises, even if men do not. If we come to him in obedience, he has no intention of leading us along, only to disclose an exception. There is no exception. We can all receive Him as he has promised. In the Millennium, men will walk and talk with the Savior. Any person who abides the laws that will be kept during the Millennium can expect to receive the promised blessings of the Millennium, including that of walking and talking with the Savior. It is the privilege of the saints today to receive the Lord, to separate ourselves from the world, to ask for and to receive the personal ministration of the Lord Jesus Christ. This doctrine is a part of the fullness of the gospel. It is a promise of Jesus Christ unto those who love Him. If you obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel, exercise faith and come unto Christ, he will keep his promise. D&C 93:1 lays out the five requirements for receiving the Lord.

6 – You will always need church programs and ordinances –Some teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are not for the novice. They require maturity, time and patience. The Church has wisely chosen to focus on the basic doctrines of salvation in the curriculum, especially since so many members are new to the gospel. As we grow and mature in the gospel, we are left in large measure to seek further light and knowledge on our own.  Some people think that seeking to be ministered unto by the Lord is one of those “mysteries” from which we should stay away. Done the right way, with the right understanding, approached in humility as intended, it is right. You can never outgrow the programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can never outgrow the need for the saving ordinances. The Church is His medium for delivering the gospel. Therefore, it will not be something you leave behind. Besides, it’s a great place to give service and help others learn the gospel and the only place to pay tithes to an authorized agent.

7 – Intellectual criticism brings no revelation – Many church members want a deeper understanding of the gospel. There are numerous publications and organizations, trying to append themselves to the church, attempting to satisfy this desire for higher knowledge. Dialogue and Sunstone are two periodicals addressed to Mormon intellectuals. While there is much good found in their covers, there is also much criticism and even outright hostility toward the views of the Church in many of the papers and conferences of such organizations. Revelation does not necessarily come through critical thinking. Although we are commanded to study things out in our own minds before we turn to the Lord for a confirming witness of the truth, finding fault with the Church or those we sustain as its leaders does not bring us closer to the Lord. To be learned is good if we hearken to the counsels of God. Humility is needed with intelligence.

8 – Debate is not the right method – Seemingly established to combat Dialogue and especially Sunstone, FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Religious and Mormon Studies) and FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) grew out of the need to respond to the critics who employ scholarship or pseudo-scholarship to accuse the Church of alleged failings. These groups seem to employ a combative approach (especially FAIR) in presenting pros and cons of many matters that are not included in the Church’s internal teaching materials. These approaches promote debate among the Saints which has never been unifying. I have read many stories of disenchanted individuals who report they had never heard of some doctrine or practice of the church until they read it on the FAIR website. Sometimes the arguments composed to explain the questionable historical events do more harm than good, leaving seekers unsatisfied. Note that FARMS is now the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and a part of BYU.

9 – Intellectual approach is insufficient – All of these publications provide some interesting reading. The polemics are entertaining, even when they are not enlightening. They can be useful for defining issues and providing a source for further study, but they make no attempt to instruct in the process of receiving the Second Comforter. Denver’s book is about receiving the Second Comforter. It is an attempt to show the reader a roadmap for going from where he or she is now to the position where the Lord can be received. The book is not about the afterlife or some future millennial day when all mankind will see the Lord. Rather it is about receiving the Second Comforter during your present lifetime. The Book will explain what it means to receive the Second Comforter and outline a course of conduct to apply those teachings in your life. It is intended to provide a practical guide, an examination of what you must do in order to receive the promised blessing. It is not intended for mere academic inquiry. It is also not a scholarly work. It is about how the scriptures teach us to grow in light and truth until we reach a perfect day.

10 – Reason and scholarship does not produce revelation – Many of the things discussed in this book will be foolish to the academic. Scholars are some of our harshest critics. This work does not participate in the scholars’ debates. The greatest theologians in history have failed to crack open the heavens in the slightest. Reason alone does not provide light and truth. There are some irrational – or more correctly extra-rational – sources of truth as well. Angels do not come to us because we have an interesting paper to present to them. The well-schooled are not those who have received the greatest truths revealed to mankind. Angels visited and Christ ministered to fishermen and plow boys. The greatest prophets of history came with less education than most modern-day high school graduates. They had access to truth from another source. There is a significant distinction between the process followed by the revelators and the reasoning of theologians and scholars. Divine revelation will never come through the scholar’s tools. Instead, it comes as people follow the principles of the gospel and obey the commandments of God.

11 – Revelation obtained through a practical process – Even those who rely on reasoning and intellect must ultimately base their reasoning on the basic truths revealed to simple but faithful people who have received revelation. Scholars attempt to teach others to use analytical tools to reach reasoned conclusions. They use logic, reason and supporting studies to establish their “truths.” Prophets attempt to duplicate their experiences by teaching others to obey God and to ask Him to reveal hidden knowledge. Prophetic knowledge is not obtained merely by study, reason or logic. It is obtained by obedience to God’s will and from revelation. What we need is a practical process to discover what is required to get revelation and then we want to get that revelation. We want the truth through revelation. The scriptures tell us how to get the “mysteries of God.” Learning these “mysteries” is the fullness of Christ’s Gospel. Scholars do not pretend to uncover new mysteries or revelations from God. They do no attempt to open the heavens for us. On the other hand, the scriptures do attempt to open the heavens to all, under specific conditions. Some knowledge can only be received by revelation. It is to be learned but is not to be taught.

12 – Seek further light and knowledge – The majority of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are composed of new converts. The primary focus of the teachings of the Church in Sunday school and Sacrament meetings is always going to be the fundamental principles of the gospel. Discussing the “mysteries” before the foundations have been adequately established is more destructive than edifying. Immaturity leads some curious but unprepared folks to seek these things prematurely. Encouraging them in this before they are ready may result in deep frustration or even losing their testimony altogether. In most lives it will take many years of development before this process is appropriate. Those many years of development can best, perhaps only, be acquired by faithful service within the Church. Church service is the best means for obtaining the necessary preparation. The Church is literally preparing its members for citizenship in heaven. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the work of God. Through its institutions the ordinances which must precede and accompany the acquisition of mysteries are given to the members. Seeking further light and knowledge is not independent the Church, but utterly reliant of it. We need the Church. The Church needs our strength and support.

13 – Must live up to what we receive – Throughout his ministry Joseph was always torn between the desire or requirement to teach on the one hand, and the preparedness and willingness of the Saints to receive instruction on the other. In Nauvoo, Joseph lamented: “I could explain a hundredfold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” Permission to reveal and preparation to receive go together. No one is “permitted” to reveal something else unless “the people are prepared to receive them”. That limit also applies to angels. God waits for each person’s preparation before giving them light and truth. We decide what we are willing receive. If you decide you are willing to receive more, then you must follow the path to do so. There are rules which govern these things. We want to find and follow those rules. You cannot avoid the rules and then hope to get what they offer. This book is a guide to discover and apply those rules.

14 – So many people are not prepared with basics – Those who are unprepared will never receive and incorporate spiritual things into their lives. Since they are unwilling to live a higher standard they will not be judged against that standard before they have first had a merciful season to prepare. Almost anyone will accept truth if they are prepared to identify it as truth. But many people are unprepared, and cannot recognize it as true. So, for them, the Lord withholds information to allow them to prepare first. You have no right to impose upon unprepared souls, higher information than they are able to bear. This book is intended only for active, faithful members of the Church with many years of faithful living. It is for those faithful members who have felt there is something  more to the Gospel, but do not have a secure sense of how to proceed to receive it. It is for people whose lives have been filled with years of active service in the Church supporting its programs and providing service to others. It is for those who have attended the temple, and consistently returned to worship there. It is for the few humble followers of Jesus Christ as described by Nephi (2 Ne 28:14). You decide if it is for you.

15 – People today have received the Second Comforter – To receive the Second Comforter we must allow others who have been so blessed to serve as our guides. Their instructions and testimony need to be accepted and followed. The steps in this book are not innovative. They are based entirely on the scriptures. This book will show the propriety of these things from scripture and then show the reader how to approach the task. If this subject makes you uncomfortable, this book may not be suitable for you. Heaven will not open to the skeptic. On the other hand, if you believe there is a deeper level available through faith which you long to experience but is just beyond your reach because you are unsure how to proceed, this book can help you. You may already have the faith required, but you may lack the knowledge or the confidence to realize these things are in fact available to you. Rest assured they are part of Christ’s Gospel. There are people today who have received the Second Comforter. It can be done by any Saint who is willing to abide the conditions set to receive this kind of comfort. It can be done by you.

16 – Rethink – Search into the mysteries of Godliness – Joseph admonished the Saints; “I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” The notion you should “leave the mysteries alone” has become a mantra for some Saints. Perhaps that is an appropriate mantra for most Saints and in most settings and for all those whose maturity in the Gospel has not prepared them for receiving the deeper things of Christ’s gospel. But there are some Saints who have a legitimate right to these things. Gospel understanding is not meant to make you popular or garner acclaim. It is meant to remake you into a humble servant, to change your heart so you, like the Good Samaritan, will minister to others in need. You will not get recognition for pursuing this effort. It must be a private struggle, about which the world will never know. If you hope for status from the experience, you will be disappointed. But if you wish to know God, you will not [be disappointed].

17 – Visions are private and for our own benefit – Receiving these things does not mean you are authorized to get in front of the Brethren who preside as authorized agents, and begin teaching doctrines either in addition to or different from their authorized message. No one, at any time is authorized to teach beyond what the Lord’s chosen authorities have taught. Joseph said, “…if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction…” The mysteries can be received by any person who will follow the process to receive them, but they cannot be taught. You should note that within this last quote from Joseph is the expectation that there will be those who will receive “a vision or visitation from a heavenly messenger.” That is the right of the Saints. It is one of the characteristics of true faith that the heavens communicate to men and women on the earth.

18 – Many people are learned but cannot be taught – However, limited disclosure is one of the requirements of receiving these things. We are to “impart only according to that portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.” (Alma 12:9) If you are incapable of obeying these requirements, then you cannot receive any new mystery by revelation. Heaven will not permit any soul to receive mysteries if they cannot resist revealing them unwisely to others. The constraint that they may be learned but cannot be taught is enforced by withholding them from those who will not be able to abide by this constraint. If you are one of those who cannot respect this limitation, then the process will not work for you. Joseph said, “The reason we do not have the secrets if the Lord revealed to us, is because we do not keep them, but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets…” Joseph later said, “If God gives you a manifestation; keep it to yourselves.” The Second Comforter is for your individual comfort and instruction, not for public display.

19 – We must be trusted to keep sacred things sacred – An audience must be prepared and worthy to learn of sacred things. This is a binding limitation and an essential part of the process. To be qualified you must be someone who can be trusted to keep sacred things sacred. Of course, when required to testify of something by the Lord, the Lord’s insistence upon that testimony always takes precedence. The general rule is to keep them to yourself. The exception is when the Lord constrains you to do otherwise. The Second Comforter is not provided in order to produce faith. Rather, he comes in response to faith. If you are seeking a sign, it will not be given. He comes to you at the end of a path, and not merely to begin or move you along. If you hope to receive a sign as a result of the message in this book, you will be disappointed. The witness comes after the trial of our faith. These things are given in follow-up to a lengthy process. They are not given before then. “Those who are the most anxious to see these things , are the least prepared to meet them…” (Joseph Smith DHC 5:31). There is a process, and it must be followed. The revelation comes after a maturation process, not before.

20 – Learn to practice perfectly the right sequence – The process needn’t take long, but almost always does. The expression “practice makes perfect” is really incorrect. If you practice imperfectly you cannot hope to become perfect. The expression should be “perfect practice makes perfect.” Having the veil open to you is like seeking to open something kept shut by a combination lock. No amount of turning the dials on the combination lock will open it until you have the right sequence and the right numbers. So it is here. Unless you have the right sequence and the right information, it is not possible to have the veil open. Joseph taught, “That this is a situation to which no man ever arrived in a moment.” Elsewhere, he said, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge.” He encouraged us when he said, “If you do right, there is no danger of you going too fast. God does not care how fast we run in the path of virtue. Resist evil and there is no danger.”

21 – Work on the things most wrong at the moment – These things cannot, however, be rushed. You teach complicated or intricate steps one at a time. There should be in the mind of the student only one thing to do. There is always only one thing to do. There is never more than the single thing to be addressed. It is the thing most wrong at the moment. Once that is addressed and corrected, then you can move on to the next thing, where again there is only one thing to do – and it is the next thing in the sequence. When the next skill is acquired, then there is still only one thing to do. So it is with these steps. There is only one thing for you to do. You will know what you need to do within the context of your own life. Whatever it is that most hinders you is the one and only thing you have to do. When it is resolved, you move on to the next thing. If you cannot figure out what the thing you most need to resolve is, ask the Lord. He has always been willing to answer the sincere inquiry of “what lack I yet?” But the answer to that question will always be the one thing you should work on. Never work on three, thirty or fifty things at once.

22 – Feelings are more important than thoughts – There is harmony and balance to this process when it is being done correctly. You can feel it more than think it. You need to seek for balance in your life. It is the object of this work to get you to become balanced, nimble, and more attuned to feeling than to thought. If you are reading this book as an intellectual exercise, or for evaluation purposes only, it will do you no good. This is a workbook, with specific steps that must be done, completed and passed before you are ready to receive more. You will know when you have passed each step. The Lord will reveal it to you, but you must ask him every step of the way. Sometimes, you may need to go back and review a lesson. The Lord will also let you know that if it is needed. If you are not already, you will become comfortable with the voice of the Lord and know what it is he wants you to do to come into his presence and receive what he has to offer. There are some things that can only be received through His personal ministration.

23 – Test the process, experiment, prove it – Much as been written about Denver Snuffer by those who want to criticize his work. In an effort to discredit the process he describes in this book, they want to find and reveal his weaknesses. As you read the book, you will discover that he gives you plenty of ammunition if you want to go that route. Each chapter has a small but instructive vignette from Denver’s personal life that demonstrates his human weaknesses. I can’t imagine a more humble approach in teaching us that even someone as imperfect as Denver can successfully navigate this process. As he writes, “The content of this work stands alone as the authority for these things. If you accept anything from this book, you must do so on the strength of what it says and not who is saying it. This work should not be accepted for any reason other than it persuades you it is true. If it does not persuade you, then you should reject it. Test its teachings. See if they do not provide you with growth in your walk with Christ.”

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