The Snuffer Interview – Part Two

We Must Remember the Restoration

calling-and-electionEach day I receive additional evidence members and leaders of the LDS Church have forgotten what was once commonly taught at the commencement of the restoration through Joseph Smith. For example, today I received an email from a man who shared his highest aspiration is to have his calling and election made sure. He is seeking it diligently. Sadly, his own family mocks him.

His wife says such a doctrine is false, unnecessary and if it were, the LDS leaders would tell us so from the pulpit each General Conference. She tells their children to ignore their father, that he is mentally unstable. The man serves in a bishopric, doing all within his power to help the Saints remember the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith. Sadly, even his ward members rebuff him.

How could this have happened? Joseph clearly taught, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (Teachings, p. 299.) Why are so many Saints either unaware of this admonition or believe it is impossible?

Teach From a Position of Knowledge

JosephSmithIt is because we have changed the focus from what we were originally taught to a much watered-down version that is more palatable in an effort to be popular. Having one’s calling and election made sure was at one time a basic teaching in the church. It did not seem strange to the members of Joseph’s day. They delighted to hear him teach this doctrine and encourage them to obtain it.

It is because the leaders of the LDS Church either do not have this knowledge or this belief for themselves. The idea that is commonly circulated among the members that it is wrong to talk about one’s experiences in coming to know the Lord is in itself so very wrong. It is covering up a lack, a deficiency in knowledge of the Lord from the top of the hierarchy to the local leadership.

I thank God He has sent a witness in our day to proclaim this doctrine is true. Yet because the LDS Church has cast him out, the message is being rejected by the lay members as well. Oh, ye foolish people. How can you be so closed-minded and so trusting of your eternal salvation to those who sit in the chief seats instead of trusting in God? Why do they not teach this doctrine?

We Can See His Face in This Life

see-my-faceThe idea that such a teaching is only to be considered or taught in private is foolish. It was taught openly by Joseph. The idea that this knowledge is not milk for the sheep is also foolish and false. Joseph taught this to the newest converts. He taught it to unbaptized, unwashed, and unendowed people in his day. It is a basic part of the restoration and it has been lost because men have erred.

Nephi taught clearly, “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (2 Ne 32:5-6) The Holy Ghost brings us to Christ.

The Lord added this witness in D&C 93:1 – “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.” The objective is to see the face of the Lord in this life. Why is this so hard to understand, accept and to seek?

Focus on the Message, Not the Messenger

doctrine-of-christ1In my interview with Denver, I asked him directly to confirm he had been taught in the same manner as Joseph Smith. He did so. He has openly declared, as did Joseph, his witness of the Savior. He affirmed he has been taught by angels, ancient prophets and by the Lord. Note his answer below in which he deflects these facts and asks us to focus on the message being delivered.

And what is that message? It is that we have forgotten the very basics of the doctrine of Christ. We must remember. Denver spent a year giving a series of ten lectures which he and his wife have been striving to put together in an expanded, detailed and comprehensive book. I wish there was something I could do to help them in their task. But mainly I pray that people will pay attention.

I know Denver’s declarations seem astounding and astonishing. They should not be so. We should be hearing similar declarations from the men who sit in the chief seats of this great church. Alas, it is not so. The Lord can do his own work. When I ask the Lord in prayer what is to be next, the answer comes to wait patiently for the completion of the book to come from the lecture series.

Comments from the Interview

Question Two: In the lecture on Christ, the Prototype of the Saved Man given in Ephraim (6-28-14), you said, “…either I am a liar, and you ought to forget everything I’ve said, or I have been sent by someone greater than I am. If I have been sent and you reject and quibble over the things I declare to you, it is at your peril! It ought to be that way. I ought to be damned if I’m a pretender, and I ought to be damned and rejected by God if I’m saying things about which I know nothing! But I bear witness to you I know what I’m talking about. I have no reason to lie to you. I have no reason to pay to reserve a place to speak to you, and ask nothing of you but to listen. It requires a sacrifice to do what I am doing. I have no other reason to do this than to tell you the truth. Joseph Smith testified to these things and I am come as a second witness. Therefore you now have two proclaiming the same doctrine.”

You bring up Joseph Smith. Joseph testified the heavens are open. He bore witness of God the Father and His Son as two separate and distinct personages possessing glorified and perfected bodies. He also testified he was an instrument in the hands of Christ to bring about a restoration of things hidden since before the foundation of the world. You say you know what you are talking about. Do you mean this in the same sense Joseph Smith declared his knowledge, that it was received through revelation, vision and the visits of angels?

ANSWER (Denver): The answer to that question is “yes.” If that were not the case, I would not be doing anything. What I do, teach and write is a product of contact with heaven. I’ve not elaborated on all the contacts, messengers, and visitations I’ve received because that would be, in my view, very counterproductive. It would suggest I’m more important than I am. God matters and men do not. God can save you and I cannot. The most important issue involves the substance of what I have taught. The most important individual is whoever hears what is taught.

road-to-emmausWhen Christ appeared on the Road to Emmaus to announce His first lengthy post-resurrection message, He did not bother announcing who He was. All He did was announce His message, which was to expound the scriptures beginning with Moses and all the prophets, in order to show how in all things, it was testified that He needed to suffer and He needed to die. All I’m doing is modeling the One I serve. That is by taking Joseph and all the revelations of the Restoration, and showing how in all things, it is necessary for exactly what has, and is happening, to occur in order to fulfill the word of the Lord.

If I started talking about all the visits and visitations, immediately what people would say is, “This is a great man! He has stood in the presence of various angelic personalities! He’s had various interviews and instructions. O my! Isn’t he wonderful?” And the fact of the matter is, I’m not wonderful. I labor for my support, I have a hard time making all of my ends meet. I have a very difficult time meeting all of the responsibilities my wife and I have.  She and I work together on a lot of problems dealing with family, dealing with money, dealing with limited means and a budget, and dealing with just life’s challenges. I am no better than the next man and feel keenly my own inadequacies.

For me to say something other than the content of the message is to inspire either adoration or envy. It’s foolish. It is unnecessary. It would be regarded as boasting by some, nuttiness by many others. It would not advance anything and may well set things back.

But the answer to your question is “yes.” If it were not so, I would keep my mouth shut.

Question Two (part two): As a second witness then, which you claimed you are, how is the Savior working through you to continue the restoration He began through Joseph Smith?

ANSWER (Denver): God could, does, and will work through anyone who awakens and then pays attention. There’s an army of witnesses and awakened individuals that are being assembled by God. It’s required to know Him. I know Him. I have taught, and I know and understand His gospel. The first task is to assure people that He lives and His gospel exists as an authentic method for saving souls.

The second task is to remember the Restoration that Joseph gave his life to commence. We are ungrateful when we fail to remember and practice it. At the moment, there is almost no clear understanding of that gospel. I’m working to set that out in a comprehensive way.

The Restoration has never been completed. There is a great deal prophesied to roll out as part of the Restoration that is not even commenced:

brass-plates-Do we have Zion?

-What about the lost teachings of the brass plates?

-Do we have the rest of the Book of Mormon?

-Do we have the testimony of John?

-Do we have restored knowledge of the Jaradites?

The list could be very long. But the fact that there is a list tells us that the Restoration must resume at some point in order to be completed. We don’t have the Restoration on the table yet. Remarkably we have forgotten what we once had. So the first job is to show that we are grateful enough to remember, and to remember it in a fulsome comprehensive way before God is going to say, “Now I will permit it to move forward.” We haven’t gotten to the point of remembering yet, which is why we ought to be studying a lot more diligently the material that we got in the Restoration. We ignore it at our peril.

Source Material:

Transcript One:
Note: This version has been reviewed by Denver, missing material added

Transcript Two:

Link to the MP3:
Note: The file is 60MB. It’s best to right-click on the link to download it.

Link to a PDF of answer to question two:

The Fellowship of the Internet

mine-historianI’ve always wondered why some people are afraid of Utah history. The state has many beautiful stories to tell. Most of them are intertwined with the history of the LDS Church. Today I enjoyed a piece of that amazing history up close and personal. I went on a tour of the Dream Mine, also known as Bishop John Koyle’s Relief Mine. I met some wonderful people on the tour with me.

The Relief Mine is rarely opened to the public so this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. I counted about fifty people on the tour, some from Idaho, Arizona and me from California. My friend who lives in Leland, Bishop Koyle’s old ward, now part of Salem, invited me. He added to the comments of our guides and others on the Relief Mine board. I enjoy meeting my readers.

dream-mine-millIt was a forty-five minute hike to the top. This is not a tour for the faint-hearted. Carol stayed in the car while I got my exercise for the day. The view from the top is beautiful. Our guide told us about Bishop Koyle’s vision of the white city that would spring up almost overnight in a year of great economic catastrophe, also an election year, and a year the U.S. President is assassinated.

Tetrad of Blood Moons

Several in the group spoke of the tetrad of blood moons and their significance. The fourth in the current tetrad will occur on the 28th of September this year. There seemed to be quite a bit of knowledge of the Jewish holidays, their significance and the signs in the skies. One tour member has published a book on the subject: Seven Heavenly Witnesses of the Coming of Jesus Christ.

four-blood-moonsI don’t know much about the signs in the skies, but I do know the Lord said he placed the lights in the skies for our benefit – as a warning to signify timing. I also don’t know how much Bishop Koyle knew about the signs in the skies, but you’ll find his dream or vision of the last days to be very interesting. Again, part of that unique Utah history, not something to shun or to be feared.

I suppose what annoys me most when I bring up stuff like this are the comments I get from some readers who announce it is a waste of time and energy to even read or seek to learn the story of such unusual events. I don’t think we should be afraid of learning about unusual dealings in our history. A little knowledge, especially if you make an effort to get facts straight, can’t hurt you.

A Prosperous Church

payson-utah-templeThe night before, Friday night, Carol and I toured the beautiful new Payson Utah temple. This is a full-sized temple. The Church really goes all out on building these beautiful structures. There is no doubt they are impressive, built of the best materials and construction with wonderful designs. It was fascinating to watch the video presentation before and to see the huge turnout of people.

It looked like most of the people taking the tour were LDS. The majority dressed in white shirts, nice dresses and the like. Utah County has the largest concentration of LDS members – about 82% – than anywhere else in the world. I’m fairly certain it is also the largest source of tithing per capita and has the largest number of families sending missionaries to the rest of the world.

If you want to see the influence of the LDS Church, look no further than this area of a half million of the most conservative Americans anywhere. In Utah County – Provo, Orem, Spanish Fork, Springville, Payson, Pleasant Grove, Salem and more – families look happy and the people seem to be just as nice as can be. Utah County is the poster child for the success of LDS Mormonism.

A Little Off the Beaten Path

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. I’m just pointing out how unique this area really is. Where I live in Ventura County, California, LDS Mormons are less than two percent of the population, as they are throughout most of California. Note how I keep referencing the full term: LDS Mormons. I want to make sure you’re aware there are different kinds of Mormons.

dream-mine-entranceI’m a Mormon, but I’m not LDS. I claim Mormonism as my heritage because my family joined the LDS Church when I was five years old. Thus I’m still interested in all things LDS. History of Mormonism is especially interesting to me. That’s why I like going to places like Salem Utah on my vacation to see the Dream Mine, a place I’ve only read about, but not really a tourist spot.

It could be. I wonder if the shareholders have ever considered investing in improving the road up to the mine and perhaps charging for a more frequent tour. The four who contributed to the tour had wonderful and fascinating stories and history to tell. I know they work regular jobs, but with a little organizing and improvement, the Dream Mine could become a genuine tourist attraction.

A Working Vacation

I was pleased to read yesterday Elder Perry has returned to some of his duties in the Twelve. I’ve always liked Elder Perry even before I met him. I was also sad to learn of Elder Scott’s health. I still think there should be an emeritus status for the Twelve. They did it for the church patriarch. Now he’s gone and so is that office – forever apparently. That seems like something significant.

reunion coverI’ve arranged to meet with some writers and publishers this week while in Northern Utah. It’s been a long-time hobby to interview and publish stories of people who value the written word. Publishing a book is a labor of love. Most books sell less than a few thousand copies in their lifetime. Yet it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to produce, edit and publish a good book.

They’ve agreed to allow me to interview them for the blog. I hope to publish a short summary of each of the interviews Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. After that I’ll be on my way to the Remnant Family Retreat up on the Grand Mesa in Colorado. I’m really going because my friend Bret asked me to be there. Besides, when I asked, the Lord didn’t say I shouldn’t go.

LDS Church Not the Only Way

I’ve prepared most carefully for my interview on Wednesday. If it turns out like I hope, the answers to the twenty questions I have prepared could turn into twenty posts. I think you’ll be interested. I am grateful the individual I’m interviewing agreed to be recorded. Some people won’t go on record. There is no attempt to get controversial quotes, just to understand truth.

TimBaptism2aCroppedI’m surprised how many people have told me I don’t stand a chance at salvation now that I’ve left the LDS Church. I simply don’t understand such a decidedly anti-Christ proclamation. I’ve been baptized – twice now. I’ve made covenants. Those have not been nullified. These covenants are between me and the Lord, and between me and my wife. Faithfulness brings the promises.

I’m grateful I was endowed and received the instruction in the sealing ordinance. You know as well as I do the sealing ordinance is conditional upon our faithfulness to God and to our spouse. Being a member of the LDS Church is NOT a requirement for the promises of God. What IS required is to establish that sacred and binding relationship with Christ. I consider that my life’s work.

Vacations – Good for the Soul

I’m looking forward to attending Church with my sister tomorrow. I don’t get to see her that often. Although my siblings and I get together once a year just before Thanksgiving, it can be difficult for my eldest sister to make it down from Utah. I admire my older sister. She has done well with her work in the LDS Church, although I try not to ask her details of what she does.

2014JamesMaloneSiblings2It is the Sabbath tomorrow, a day of rest. I like to read on Sundays – catch up on current views and interpretations of doctrine. It always gets me into the scriptures and onto my knees in prayer. Yes, even on vacation. I love the Lord and I love prayer. It can be the sweetest time as I petition the Lord to not forget His humble servant. Ah! Turn me not away, receive me, tho’ unworthy!

I need ever so much to forget about the demands of managing networks for my employer. Even on vacation, he still turns to me when something isn’t quite to his liking. I appreciate the trust, but wish I could get him to turn to others I have trained who are just as competent. The ways of the world are always there. I am grateful I have good employment and can take a long vacation.

The Fellowship of the Internet

salem-dream-mineThanks for letting me share my thoughts. Thanks for being my friends. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful things with me and bringing fascinating knowledge into my world. I appreciate every good book recommendation, every thoughtful discussion of doctrine and turning doctrine into a religion that can be practiced pragmatically. What good is religion if it doesn’t bring joy?

May God bless you my friends. You have blessed me. You help me understand what it is that the Lord is sharing with you in your life. I don’t claim many gifts. I have had dreams, visions, and have felt the gift of prophecy. I feel the comfort of the Holy Ghost, but also feel alone at times. I know the Lord tests us to see how we will respond. This life is surely a test of character.

We are each special and unique, blessed with various gifts. I want to be a part of Zion. I am still learning what it takes to prepare myself to be counted a friend of my Savior. I ask myself every day if I am living in such a way that He can trust me. There’s nothing I desire more than to be found worthy of being called a friend of the Redeemer of the World, to be His humble servant.

Until we meet again…


Determining Your Mission in Life

JacobBlessesSonsFirst of all, YOU determine your mission in life. Nobody else can do it for you. YOU decide what you want to do with your life. YOU decide what it is that God would like you to do with your life. If you feel God would like you to be a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you be the best damn member of the LDS Church you can possibly be.

If you feel God wants you to become an expert on LDS Church History, then by all means, do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Obviously you’ll want to be balanced in your pursuit. We all have a regular life – you know, work, school, family, sleep, church, social and the like. But if God has given you a desire to pursue something and you feel it is right, then give it your heart.

Don’t take crap from anybody who tells you how wrong you are to be focused on something that gives you pleasure and provides you with enjoyment. Especially beware of well-meaning people who want you to adopt their modus operandi in life as yours. Just because they can’t understand what makes you tick, doesn’t give them the right to tell you how wrong you are for your focus.

May God Bless the LDS Church

For example, on my last post, a well-intentioned individual decided to let loose with all kinds of advice that apparently works well for that person in their life, but is so full of judgement and fear I could hardly read it without laughing out loud. I won’t name the reader. I value their comments and they are welcome to post them as they please, but it was so, so very wrong for my situation.

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI love the LDS Church. Always have. Always will. It has a special and sacred mission. It was established by divine mandate. It was led by the Lord for many generations. The hand of the Lord prospered the LDS Church and just about everything it did. No matter how many ways the imperfect leaders and members messed it up, it always came out on top because God blessed it.

The Lord is still blessing the LDS Church, the members and the leaders. They are sustained by the prayers of the faithful members. I continue to pray for them, every night, by name, and ask the Lord to bless them in their work. I pray for those who are sick. I ask the Lord to join my faith with the faith of millions of members of the LDS Church all over the world praying for them.

How You Judge Reveals You to Others

I was a member of the LDS Church for over fifty years. I continue to attend the LDS Church. I love the local leaders and pray for them each night. I enjoy listening to the counsel of these leaders and see the hand of the Lord upon them. There is no doubt they have prayed for the help of the Lord to magnify their callings. They are blessed according to their faith and prayers.

speaking-in-churchPlease don’t judge my motivation as to why I write about the LDS Church. Don’t assume to know what makes me tick. Don’t think you know what my mission in life is. Don’t proclaim I have a fixation with the LDS Church when you have no right to proclaim any such thing. You have no idea what my mission is. You don’t know what the Lord has shared with me about this.

Just because you are offended by any mention of the LDS Church doesn’t mean I have to stop writing about it. You don’t have to read my blog. Go elsewhere. What you’ll find here are good things about the LDS church, the leaders, the programs and the much good accomplished by the LDS Church. I don’t care about the cost of City Creek mall. I gave my tithing willingly. So there.

Seek to Find Common Ground

My desire is to minister to the good people of the LDS Church. I am most familiar with the inner workings for the church, having served in a local leadership capacity for over twenty-five years. I have no desire to tell, persuade or convince anyone to leave the LDS Church. There is too much good in our local wards and stakes. I look forward to my continued association with my friends.

josephsmith.jpgYou don’t know my mission. I am not here to shake anything up. I am here to bless and bring attention to good things wherever they may be in the LDS Church or in the culture or in any one of the many Mormon groups that claim to be part of the restoration movement. If you know and love Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon then you and I have a lot in common.

I love the LDS Temples. I wish I could go. I miss attending the temple. The LDS Church has not done me wrong in any way, shape or form. They have gone out of their way to be nice to me, to see to my spiritual needs and to truly befriend me as best they can. Nobody is perfect. No leader can be everything we think they should be. The burden we put on local leaders is so very unfair.

Seek to Strengthen Your Marriage

I pray for the success of the mission of the LDS Church. I pray for the continued success or the missionaries, local and foreign. I pray they will be a good example and not mess anything up. They are young and inexperienced. I am so grateful they are blessed with good and faithful mission presidents and mothers who look out for them. Some were my missionary companions.

EldersBookOfMormonIf you choose to leave the LDS Church out of your life, that’s your prerogative. It will be a big part of mine until the day I die. The LDS Church has a mission. I intend to watch it fulfill that mission. I will never be a member again but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a friend. I am married to one of the most dedicated, faithful, loyal and protective members of the Church in all the world.

I have watched her become stronger in her beliefs, her practices and her prayers. She is studying the atonement of Jesus Christ and shares with me her observations as she reads. Carol reads the scriptures every night before she goes to bed. I’m more hit and miss in reading. I tend to spend a lot of time on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the scriptures – the days I work from the home office.

Your Mission Is Not My Mission

Your claim that I have a fixation with the LDS church is wrong. Your statement I am looking backward not forward is wrong. Your claim I must forgive the LDS Church is erroneous. Your proclamation that I am full of judgment and fear more likely applies to your own life, not mine. People tend to see in others what is most bothersome in themselves. I suggest you repent of that.

new-heavens7You ask why I feel the need to talk about the LDS Church now that I have resigned. Has it ever occurred to you maybe that Lord wants me to write about the LDS Church? Have you thought maybe the Lord and I have discussed this and have come to the conclusion my best work can be done by reaching out to those like me who have been faithful all their lives but have questions?

You don’t know me. You never will. Nobody can. My family doesn’t know me. My wife doesn’t know me. The only person who knows me is God. He and I talk every day, all day throughout the day. We discuss the challenges I face. We talk about solving problems together. We laugh about the silly things people do and say. We cry together about misunderstandings and injustices.

Come Place Your Name in the Temple

recorders-clearinghouseWe cry together about the calamities that are coming upon the earth. We discuss ways we can do more to reach people to warn them without sounding like a fool. We mourn for those who judge me and my friends because we are so adamant the Lord is actively moving among the good LDS people in a way most of them don’t recognize. He is finding a few here and there who will listen.

There are thousands who have heard the message of the messenger He sent. Yes, thousands. I wish more people would come forward and record their names on the register. Do they just not realize how important this is? This is the list of names to be presented to the Lord in the temple when He comes again. My name is on that list. Is yours? Why haven’t you sent it to be recorded?

You advised me to let go of the Church soapbox. Sorry. If what I write offends you, don’t read my blog. This is what I know. This is how the Lord works with me. Maybe he works differently with you. I honor that. You can best serve your creator by honoring the choices of others. Don’t pretend you know what is best for another. Only God can tell them that. God reveals missions.


Speaking With The Lord About Joseph

The Prophet Joseph SmithNearly forty years ago I spent six months preparing to serve a mission for the LDS Church. I had graduated from High School, attended Ricks College for a year, worked for six months and was now engaged in extensive preparations to understand the doctrines of Mormonism I would soon be teaching. I was blessed with the time and financial ability to do nothing but study the gospel.

What I wouldn’t give to have that blessing in my life again. My years since have been consumed ensuring the computing needs of my employer are met on a daily basis. On days I make the time and effort to study the gospel I think back on that long-ago year when I did nothing but ponder, read, study, fast and pray about what the Lord is going to do before He returns in the last days.

d-and-c-commentaryIn the spirit of Oliver Cowdery, those were days never to be forgotten. My tutor was the Holy Ghost. My texts were scriptures and commentaries I had obtained from a local book store that carried LDS books. I especially enjoyed studying the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary from Hyrum M Smith and Janne M Sjodahl, the 1972 reprint edition. It’s a lengthy book at 864 pages.

A Promise From the Lord

I lived with two of my unmarried siblings who worked or attended college, my parents having sold their home and sent us out in the world to fend for ourselves. The summer before I attended Ricks College was a spiritual awaking for me, filled with sacred moments in prayerful revelation to my mind’s eye. Asking in faith, the Lord opened my mind to visions of personal future events.

RicksDevotionalIt was at Ricks, after many hours of heart-wrenching prayer, I obtained a promise from the Lord which remains with me to this day. He has not left me, even in my darkest hours. He can and will walk with us through our life’s journey. He will speak to our minds. We can hear His voice. As part of that meeting, detecting the voice of the adversary and his emissaries also became clearer.

I have shared this story before, but have visited it again with a different understanding. Having resigned my membership in the LDS Church, I wanted to know if anything had changed about the revelations I received in my youth. Were they still valid? Had I been deceived? I asked the Lord recently. He answered, assuring me it was He that spoke to my mind that long-ago night.

Always Knew the Book was Scripture

The Book of MormonAfter a few difficult retirement years in Utah my mother moved back to California and stopped attending the LDS Church. I have shared her story previously, including her disappointments with what she found in the Utah LDS culture. Upon returning, she gave me many of her church books along with her journals and papers, asking only that I not share them before her death.

In the ten years since her passing I have reviewed most of her papers. Recently, I have felt the desire to make one of her papers available online. It is entitled “How I gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon.” Mother was a teacher and scholar, well-read, endowed with a keen intellect and a profound ability to teach. She loved preparing lessons, passing her love of learning to me.

If you can, take a moment to review mother’s story. She and I were very close in the years just before and after my mission. She wrote this paper while taking Institute classes. We had many deep discussions about the gospel and church history. She knew so much about Joseph Smith. I was amazed to discover her difficulties with the Book of Mormon and why it troubled her so.

Didn’t Always Know About Joseph

I prefaced what I am about to share with reference to my mother because it was she who gave me the intellectual curiosity to ask the Lord about things which she herself did not know. Her habit was to refer me to a book, then encourage me to take my questions to the Lord. I have her papers on Joseph, the Savior, temple ordinances, celestial marriage and more on the Book of Mormon.

ProphetJosephSmithI learned to read at my mother’s knee. We read the Book of Mormon together when I was young. I experienced first-hand her lining out all the instances of “and it came to pass,” as she shared in her paper. She had a hard time with the Book of Mormon. I loved it from the first time I read it with her. I knew it was the word of God. Always have. But I didn’t always know about Joseph.

That’s what I really want to share in this post. From my notes in front of the D&C Commentary, I’ve recorded the dates I consumed the book. Fifteen pages a day is not much. I also noted a few choice observations the Lord shared with me as I read, one of them being, “No amount of study can take the place of obedience,” and “When ignorance is removed, obedience is expected.”

Some Things Not Lawful to Share

When I finished the book, I felt inspired to take it to the Lord in prayer. I wanted to know if the revelations recorded from Joseph were from the Lord. It was an interesting experience. I did not expect it to take three days. I expected it would take a few hours at most, similar to what I had experienced at Ricks College. I think this was the only time in my life I fasted for three days.

JosephSmithInLibertyJailI would study during the day and pray for hours at night. I took literally the admonition to enter into my closet and pray in secret. Sometimes, after a few hours of study during the day, I would continue my quest in prayer. I wanted an answer. I needed to know. I burned with the desire to receive a response. I had talked to the Lord previously. I had heard his voice at Rick’s College.

As I recorded in my journal and in a previous post, I was surprised at the answer. I want to be very clear about this. We can hear the voice of the Lord. He told me the commentary was written with the intent to encourage faith. But He was more emphatic when He said to me, “Joseph did not tell everything he knew and neither can you. Some things can only be experienced in prayer.”

Joseph Was No Fallen Prophet

At the time I was satisfied with the answer. I should not have been. I should have pressed for more. But it was apparently sufficient for that season of my life. Now I want more. In fact, I have wanted more for many years and have been pressing the Lord to share. Each time He tells me the day will come but is not yet. He and I both know I have not yet met the requirements. So I wait.

JesusRedRobeI want to keep this post short. There are only two things I wanted to share. I hope I have been clear. The first is that we can speak with the Lord, we can hear His voice. We can enter into His presence. He is willing to reveal Himself unto us. The second is that the Lord does call men to speak for him as prophets today. Joseph was the Lord’s prophet and still holds keys given him.

The restoration of the Lord’s work with men on the earth commenced with Joseph Smith. He performed his mission admirably, as did Hyrum. I have been studying the Book of Mormon for over fifty years and have never felt any doubts of the authenticity of Joseph’s claims. The Lord will bless those who speak up for Joseph. I do so with this post. Joseph was no fallen prophet.

Mormonism Without The LDS Church

SaltLakeTempleNightI am a Mormon. I am not a member of the LDS Church. There is a difference between the two – a big difference. The LDS Church does not define Mormonism. The LDS Church has changed dramatically from what God revealed through Joseph Smith. That memory has been lost, altered, redefined, added unto, retracted from and otherwise transformed by leaders of the LDS Church.

For the most part, I believe the change was unintentional. In fact, it was well-intentioned. The leaders were, and I believe continue to be, fundamentally interested in the greater good the LDS Church can do in the absence of direct revelation. The desire is commendable. The outcome is tragic. The death of Joseph Smith was more than tragic. It marked the beginning of forgetting.

In some cases change was done on purpose. It was intentional. The narrative was altered to fit more in line with then-current political expediency. It continues to change today. I have watched it change gradually in my lifetime. The LDS Church has redefined itself in an effort to appeal to a larger audience. In doing so, it has lost the foundational authority and endorsement of the Lord.

Absence of Direct Revelation

The majority of revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in a ten-year period from 1828 to 1838. Many of the revelations were received in the presence of others who witnessed the physical effects upon Joseph as he dictated the words flowing into his soul. This was a prophet, one through whom the Lord spoke. He received revelations even as did Moses.

With the death of Joseph, his followers were lost. They did not know what to do. Joseph had appointed a successor, but his brother Hyrum was killed seconds before he was. The church wanted a replacement leader like Joseph. For a season the quorum of the twelve led but soon Brigham took the reins and was voted in as the new president. Joseph was still “The Prophet.”

Every time we sing Praise to the Man, I wonder if the congregation singing the hymn thinks about these lines: “Great is his glory and endless his priesthood. Ever and ever the keys he will hold. Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom, Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.” Joseph was revered by his followers, but nobody could replace him, no matter how they tried.

Authority and Endorsement of Christ

At one time the LDS Church was authorized by Jesus Christ as the only true and living church upon the face of the earth today. This is no longer true. There are two types of authority. One is to perform preparatory ordinances. The LDS Church had that authority until recently. The other is to perform the higher or sealing ordinances, authority lost upon the death of Joseph Smith.

In a recent correspondence with a humble and sincere seeker of Jesus Christ, who had left the LDS Church, joined the AUB, then came back, I was deeply impressed with his lament about the loss of the keys. I know what the official LDS narrative says about Brigham proclaiming he had the keys, but some keys cannot be passed on from man to man. This has been made clear to me.

“I am really looking for someone to whom the Lord is giving revelations and is a true successor of Joseph Smith. I am really hoping and praying that the keys as described in Section 132:7,18 & 19 are still on the earth and that there is one anointed and appointed with the ‘power and the keys of this priesthood’ to seal by the Holy Spirit of promise. As verse 8 says, His house is not one of confusion, so there must be only one. If the keys have been lost then I fear the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming.”

Verse seven notes “… there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of the priesthood are conferred …” My friend says he is looking for a true successor to Joseph Smith, one who holds the sealing power. Is that man Thomas Monson? Did he receive it in an unbroken line going back to Joseph Smith? You’ll have to decide that question for yourself.

Follow the Savior, not the Prophet

JesusRedRobeWould God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. I honor prophets. I have seen inspiration flow through men upon whom the LDS people have placed the title of prophet. But I do not and will not accept the modern false doctrine espoused that a prophet cannot lead the Church astray.

By tradition, the President of the LDS Church carries the title of prophet, seer and revelator as do each of the members of the quorum of the twelve apostles. I accept them as being some of the best men in the LDS Church, each blessed with gifts and talents used by the Lord to bless and inspire members of the LDS Church. But they cannot claim to secure my salvation in eternity.

I am confident they would agree were I to ask them this question directly – “Can you save me?” Their answer would have to be, “No, I am a man like unto you. Only Christ can save you.” It is to Christ I offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That is not something I offer to any man. I confess my sins only to Christ, not to any man, no matter what his position in the LDS Church.

Remembering The Work Of Joseph Smith

I am on a mission to re-evaluate everything I learned growing up in the LDS Church about the history of the restoration, and especially the significance of the revelations received by Joseph. For a man with limited formal education, he certainly was prolific. Not much of a speller or even composer of succinct sentences, he employed scribes to record and edit the revelations received.

The process of revelation is an interesting one. I am familiar with how it works. While closely tied to inspiration, it is a step higher in the idea of placing one’s mind and spirit in tune with the infinite. It requires faith, practice, discipline, effort and a disposition to place the will of the Lord above all that the natural man within us desires. It does not lend itself to purposes of contention.

Joseph recognized this, shared his experience in being unable to translate because of a quarrel with Emma, and taught us how important it is to have a spirit of peace about us as we strive to be in tune with the will of the Lord. Revelation is sacred. It is a gift as is prophecy. Joseph had these gifts in abundance, given him by the Lord to communicate His commands to man upon the earth.

Modifying the History of Mormonism

josephsmith.jpgUnderstanding the history of Mormonism is important if we are to understand what the Lord was trying to accomplish through Joseph Smith. I submit categorically that Joseph did not complete the work he was sent to accomplish. He was cut short. He was rejected by the members of his own church. The doctrines he tried to teach were too radical for their then limited understanding.

We have come a long ways in understanding since the days of Joseph Smith. We have the luxury of one hundred and seventy years of analysis, review, criticism and discussion about what was the real intent of Joseph in sharing some of the things he was allowed to teach. We have forgotten much of what he tried to accomplish. Even the official history was not authored by Joseph Smith.

I hope the efforts of many good people and groups will continue to sort through the deliberate efforts of the LDS Church to conceal the truth and modify the record. Keeping accurate historical records were not as important to the early leaders of the LDS Church as it was to provide to the members a faith-promoting history. Some things were significantly altered, others covered-up.

Restoration Not Meant to Be Institutionalized

I have long been on a journey to reconcile what I have discovered over the years of studying the history of the LDS Church with what I found in documents, journals and diaries that have been coming to light in recent years. I applaud the Church’s efforts to be forthcoming with faithful reproductions of the original source material. I look forward to the ongoing publication efforts.

The restoration of the Lord’s work in these later-days does not belong to a single institution. It is the Lord’s work. He opened the heavens to show that each of us could have a direct relationship with our God. Woe be unto the man or woman who says they are content to receive the word of God from the leaders of the LDS Church. This is wrong. This is not what God intended for us.

I reject the new order of things perpetuated by the LDS Church in which leaders claim the right to issue commandments and direction, followers fall in line, and nobody is encouraged to go to the source to get revelation beyond the rudimentary testimony of the Book of Mormon. Leading a worldwide church through public relations is a fiasco in the making. This is not God’s doing.

LDS Church Has Morphed Mormonism

I have watched as many of the unique aspects of our religion have been denigrated or completely removed from the acceptable orthodoxy in the modern LDS Church. Orthodoxy is a strange thing. What is considered an acceptable view or practice in one generation is completely wiped out in the next simply by the leader’s general conference addresses and key curriculum changes.

I remember prayer circles outside the temple. Today you will be excommunicated for apostasy if you dare engage in such practices. Partaking of the Sacrament is tightly controlled by the church to the point where it is used as a weapon to enforce dogmatic beliefs and views. It is anti-Christ. This last straw broke the camel’s back for me, compelling me to resign from the LDS church.

It amazes me to realize early leaders of the LDS Church encouraged members to be re-baptized as a sign of their willingness to re-commit and more fully live their religion. Today, participating in such a baptism will get you excommunicated for apostasy. Tolerance for anything outside of the secret handbook of instructions is unthinkable. Independent worship is highly discouraged.

Mormonism NOT controlled by the LDS Church

bookofmormon.jpgMormonism requires study and contemplation. Deep thought, pondering and prayer are a must if we are to come close to what the Lord intended in the work commenced through the Prophet Joseph Smith. That work included preparing a people for Zion. No institution can bring about Zion. It must be done in small groups of like-minded saints which have no poor among them.

Truth is Mormonism. All truth, wherever located and from whatever source, in whatever form it is currently practiced, belongs to the Mormon religion. Mormonism is not what the LDS Church says it is. Mormonism is what the Lord revealed through the prophet Joseph, much of which has been rejected by the LDS Church, while trying to dominate and control it through correlation.

I am a Mormon because I accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, an instrument in bringing forth scripture I receive as the word of God, including the Book of Mormon and the inspired books in the Pearl of Great Price. I accept the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants with the recognition that many have been changed, edited, added to or reduced by unauthorized men.

Mormonism Is A Powerful Religion

The beauty of Mormonism is that it can free our souls from dependence upon man or a group of men to turn our hearts to God in strengthening our relationship with Jesus Christ. My baptism and subsequent receipt of the Holy Ghost to an even greater degree in my life are marvelous to me. My sense of personal responsibility has increased and empowered me in tremendous ways.

Mormonism is a dynamic, truth-filled, confident and powerful religion. It reunites our souls with heaven. The Holy Ghost helps us to recognize truth from unorthodox sources, adapt it to our own needs in drawing us to feeling closer to our God and Christ. It is an exciting religion, as long as it is not restricted and controlled by those who feel it is their duty to limit what people can believe.

In Mormonism, true Mormonism, not the limited and restricted version found in the current LDS Church, all are equal before God. We are free to worship according to the dictates of our own conscious. I can participate in the Sacrament in my home. I can worship in the robes of the Holy Priesthood at a dedicated altar in my home. Priesthood is not to preside over but to serve others.

Zion Will Not Come Through An Institution

I am a Mormon. I am not a member of the LDS Church. I am one of many thousands who have come to realize the Lord has set His hand a second time to open the heavens to those who will take the time and trouble to seek the face of the Lord. He can and will reveal Himself to you and me. We do not have to receive the word of the Lord through another man, but direct from Christ.

I invite you to join with me in investigating this movement away from the control of the LDS institution and toward the Lord’s intended way of building Zion – in small groups who serve, teach and encourage one another as the spirit directs, not as the controlled correlated process from secret handbooks dictates. The rejection of the fullness by the institution was foretold.

The Lord has sent his servant with this message to remember the restoration. It was given as a gift to man in our day. The heavens are open again for business. Let every man know the Lord. We do not have to rely on the word of our neighbor. He will guide and direct our lives. He will walk with us. He will direct our paths. I am a witness of these things, one of many thousands.

To find communities for fellowship, visit:

To find someone to baptize you, visit:


Stay The Heck Out Of My Self-Determination

7 Things To STOP Doing To Be Healthier And Happier - Ali McWilliamsAfter watching, and then reading the text of the “Special” press conference from the LDS Church today, I came away a bit confused. What are you saying Brethren… and one Sister?

Are you saying… I should be allowed to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple based on my religious beliefs but I shouldn’t be able to run my own business and hire the people I want to hire… gay or not? Are you saying, I don’t have to rent my wedding facility to a couple who is gay because of my religious conviction, but I should support a law that forces me to rent an apartment or home to them… and perhaps have them living in my basement? Does it mean I have to have a certain percentage of gays working in my business so not to appear intolerant or mean?

Sorry… you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t endorse legislation that protects LGBT employment, and housing and stand firm on the religious principles that you profess without opening Pandora’s box. States like California, Oregon and New Mexico got caught up in similar anti-discrimination legislation and got more than they bargained for. Simple legislation put a small crack in their systems that has now turned into huge chasms. Little by little LGBT has gained in their agenda through other small legislative laws. Posters in school supporting tolerance of gay relationships (diversity/tolerance) Books on Gay relationships are now in school libraries. (diversity/tolerance) Sharing common bathrooms have passed legislation in California. (diversity/tolerance). The Nondiscrimination laws opened the door to forcing folks to provide services which went against their religious beliefs, and common sense.

Ya just can’t have it both ways…. because, in today’s climate, religious freedom will lose every time… no matter the pleading of Church leaders. Why is the Church asking everyone to support religious rights, then take away my rights to hire whom I want or give housing to whom I want? The Sutherland Institute is claiming that the Church is not endorsing the LGBT legislation. “The Church did not endorse any specific piece of legislation.

Excuse me!  What does this mean then: “It’s for this reason that the Church has publicly favored laws and ordinances that protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and employment.” (Church Transcript) or “protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation—protections which are not available in many parts of the country.” (Church Transcript)

Oh, I see now…“specific” piece of legislation” That word certainly gets them off the hook.

If these are not endorsement statements then what is? And, why was this unprecedented press conference held just a few days after Utah legislators went into session… just to make a “Rights Of Religion” plea? If Religious Freedom was the concern… why did they bring up the LGBT thing at all?

Get Out Of My Life

Government… get out of my life and stop trying to legislate the heck out of us. Laws, Laws, Laws. My right to have my own “Self-Determination” is being eroded away every day by some darn law. My own “Self-Determination” is subjugated by someone else’s “Determination.” My life’s choices are becoming “Other-Determined” by every nit picky law that legislators think it’s their duty to come come up with. We are becoming so dependent on following what others think we should be doing that we will soon have no free-will of our own. A little here and a little there….(Hmmmm… who’s plan is that?)  And, the Church Hierarchy just bought into a little piece of it, AGAIN. They just fell into the clutches of the long term LGBT plan, AGAIN! (First: Boy Scout endorsement for gays.) A little here and a little there and the LGBT will have everything they want, and it may not always be as innocent as housing and employment.

This law may look like a simple thing but I believe it is just the beginning of enacting laws that will encroach in areas that are really morally wrong. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I hope I’m wrong!

I just want to have the opportunity to hire anyone I want… which allows for MY desire to include gays. I want to have the opportunity to give services to anyone I want…and that includes MY “will” to hire gays. In other words…. I want the right to be a JERK…and I want to have the freedom of choice to be a SAINT…. and reap the consequences of either decision. Come what may.

Be Nice To Each Other

Continually enacting laws that trample on my right of “Free Choice” erodes my “Self-Determination. The “Be Nice To Each Other” laws forced by man, will never work. They never have. Sister Marriott referred to Human Rights. In 1948 the UN established 30 Human Rights. Have they been followed? No! In fact they have been trampled on in all countries, including our own. Actually, most people have no idea what they are. The Human Rights Document covers the very thing the proposed Utah law will be reviewing in the coming weeks, now with Church endorsement. (I guess it wasn’t said well enough the first time.)

Setting up a law or establishing a document does not change the hearts of men. It’s the individual… and his own “Self-Determination” that has the power to honor the Human Rights of all mankind…. long term. We are seeing the crumbling of the (Law) Constitution because of the hearts of men are failing. All law comes with a risk of failure.

I believe that perhaps one of the reasons is that many folks are tired of being told what to do and are rebelling against “Other-Determination”…not only with the issue of the Constitution, but many other laws, both secular and spiritual.

Personally, I believe the Church needs to concentrate on reaching the hearts of men and teaching members of the Church and the peoples of world to recognized their inherent goodness and encourage their self-determination. When the hearts of men are touched… then the Lord’s words:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” also called “the ethic of reciprocity,” will make a lasting difference.

In the meantime…if the LDS Church truly believes that same sex activities are against God’s moral code, then they need to stay away from commenting on or endorsing any Babylon “Be Nice To Each Other” laws made by man. It will never work!

Method, Means, and Message

MissionPresidentsI had an interesting experience recently while at church. I live in a part of the world where the church has been developing very slowly and the branches are quite spread out, so a visit from the mission president is a rare and treasured event. A couple Sundays ago he came to our branch and requested that we give him the third hour for a special combined RS/PH lesson.

I want to preface this by saying that I have had several opportunities to interact with this president and his family on a personal level over the past few months, and they are wonderful people, and a breath of fresh air to this area. They engage with local members directly in a way that I have never seen before, and have done a lot of valuable training and teaching. I appreciate, support, and sustain this man as a leader.

Lack of Scripture-Based Teaching

However, as much as I respect and appreciate him and his work, I can’t bring myself to agree with his lesson in our branch. He led a discussion about missionary work, what it takes to be a member missionary, and different ways to do missionary work as a member. The entire hour, not one verse of scripture was referenced. (Not counting John 3:16, when it came up on screen while they showed us the new Christmas video.) There weren’t even any references to scriptural missionaries like Ammon or Paul, or quotes from early Church leaders. There were only references to Preach My Gospel and several modern GA quotes.

Living Oracles

josephsmith.jpgI have a few related thoughts I’m going to string together here, and I apologize in advance if it seems a bit disjointed. As I write this and think about the merit of the scriptures versus the words of modern church leaders, the quote from Brigham Young comes to mind: “I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” What is a living oracle? It is a prophet, rather like Joseph Smith. Brigham would certainly have been referring to Joseph or anyone who had the same gifts: a true prophet, seer, and revelator. Think about it: Joseph, from his own mouth, spoke into being the entire Book of Mormon and most of the Doctrine and Covenants. He also demonstrated the ability to “correct” existing scripture as he prepared the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and revealed many new and brilliant things throughout his lifetime. I believe that what Brigham was saying was that if all the “books” he referred to somehow were to go missing, he was confident that Joseph, or someone equal to Joseph in spiritual gifts, could replace them.

That leaves us with the question of whether modern Church leaders qualify as “living oracles” and Joseph’s equal, and therefore authorized to replace or override scripture. I know people have differing opinions about the prophetic gifts of our leaders today, but I doubt any of those leaders would claim to be Joseph’s equal when it comes to spiritual and revelatory gifts. In fact, I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Church who would claim that modern general conference talks, say, are more valuable to our spiritual welfare than the Book of Mormon.

Relative Merits

That said, let’s consider some of the different ways we receive Gospel teaching. I propose that all forms of Gospel teaching can be placed on a continuum according to their source. At one end of the continuum you have the word of God, as spoken from His own mouth or by angelic messengers, as recorded in the scriptures and the revelations received through Joseph Smith. (Arguably much of the scriptures don’t fit that definition, but I am comfortable putting all scripture very close to that end. I would also put personal revelation at this end of the continuum.) Somewhere along the continuum you have prophetic teachings and messages based on actual words of God as received from Him. But then we run into a bit of a problem: we start having general authorities quoting each other, which removes the message one step farther from the actual word of God. Then you have lesson manuals and other Church publications, which, even if they deal directly with scripture, more often than not are attempting to teach topically and usually take verses out of context (“proof-texting”), and those also use the GA quotes liberally, sometimes even using quotes of quotes to make the matter more complicated. Regurgitated and heavily edited talks and articles are worth a mention here, too. Also, many of these latter articles and lessons don’t even define authorship clearly; they could have been written by any committee or employee in the Church Office Building, so their divine/prophetic source is even more dubious. And then, lastly, you have the local teacher or speaker using the lesson manual or the talk to deliver their own form of Gospel teaching to the “end user.”

Regardless of what you think the relative merit of these various kinds of teaching is, can we agree that there is a continuum, and that we generally are spending too much time at the wrong end of it?

My point is that with each iteration, we get farther and farther away from the actual voice of God. I hope it is clear to all of us that the “philosophies of men, mingled with scripture” are inferior to the words of God, whether from His mouth or by the voice of his angels. Each iteration I described above adds a little more philosophy and uses a little less scripture. Frankly, even this article of mine is my philosophy, mingled with nothing, actually, because I haven’t even quoted any scripture yet. You should treat it accordingly: with interest (I hope), but also with discernment.

When I hear a presentation that ignores the scriptures, uses only contemporary quotes and sources, and borrows liberally from modern marketing techniques, I have to wonder about where it fits on my continuum, and to what degree it is “true.”

Means, Method, or Message?

gospel-messageHowever, the lack of scripture-based teaching paled in comparison to the real problem: the entire hour, all we talked about was the various means and methods of delivery of “the message”—we never even specified what “the message” was! This, in a nutshell, represents on a small scale what I believe is lacking from the church in general: presentation has become far more important that content. Many may argue with me that this isn’t true, and I will concede that probably no one has an actual intent to make the method more important than the message. But look at the evidence: in the Church, a vastly disproportionate amount of time is being spent planning, discussing, training, evaluating, praising, and extolling the way “the message” is disseminated, administrated, correlated, and controlled, compared to the amount of time repeating, understanding, and expounding the actual message, or anything even remotely close to it. Maybe we all assume that we already know the message, so the only thing left to learn is how to share it?

I don’t want to find fault with our leaders, who have heavy burdens to carry and are doing the best they can. But things seem to be going in the wrong direction. There is no one to point fingers at. I personally think it’s the natural consequence of having a complex administrative structure where the organization itself has gained its own momentum, carrying others along with it, despite their best efforts to do what’s right.  Like any other large organization subject to the laws and methods of operation common in the world in which it exists, it has to ensure its own survival, and the tendency is always to do it the way the world does it: sophisticated marketing. And so the message entrusted by Christ to His disciples to personally deliver to the world gets lost in the noise, because the organization as a whole is trying to act as a united force, and somehow in the effort to have us all speak with a united voice, we forget what we were supposed to be talking about.

Let’s try to remember, shall we?

The Message

What is this mysterious “message” that everyone mentions as if we all understand it, but that nobody ever defines? It’s not all that hard. Jesus himself only needed a few verses to explain the whole thing. The best explanations I know of are both in the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 31, and 3 Nephi 11. You know the formula: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.

That is the most common definition, but I believe we usually oversimplify the final step, obscuring what it means to endure to the “end.” I would like to pose a question here: what is the “end” we must endure to? Is it the end of a period of time, such as this mortal life, a dispensation, or final judgment? Or could “end” refer to a specific purpose or goal, the way we use the word in the proverb “the ends justify the means”? If “end” can refer to a goal, then is it tied to a specific time and/or place, or does it refer to the completion of that goal, regardless of where or when it happens?

According to Nephi, the “only and true doctrine” (v. 21) is repentance, baptism, receiving a remission of sins by the Holy Ghost, and speaking with the tongue of angels, doing everything Christ did with faith in him, and eventually receiving a personal promise of salvation from the Father. In this definition, “end” refers to the fulfillment of a very specific promise, an event that is not tied to any time or place or condition other than us completing the initial steps ourselves.

Christ-TeachingChrist also explained what His doctrine was, and prefaced it with a warning that he was giving a clear definition to prevent disputations. (Yet, somehow, we have a whole book of Mormon Doctrine—in conflicting, disputation-inducing editions, too!—that contains all sorts of things Christ didn’t see fit to include.) Christ’s definition also contained an explanation on the importance of witnesses, perhaps because the end goal of the gospel in his definition includes all three of the Godhead bearing witness to us.  His formula is to repent and become as a little child, believe in Christ, and be baptized in the name of Christ. The “end” result is that the individual will be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and receive a witness by the Holy Ghost of the Son and the Father, and eventually the Father Himself will bear witness.

That is pretty serious stuff.

Milk before Meat

Another thought that keeps coming to mind as I write this is the injunction to give milk before meat. In my mind, the “milk” of the gospel is this, extrapolated from the scriptures discussed above: if I (and you, and every one of us) truly repent of my sins, having faith in Christ, and am baptized, I will be filled with the Holy Ghost, and if I continue to press forward in faith, I will eventually come unto Christ in the flesh and gain for myself a sure knowledge of Him and the fact that he has saved me. In other words, the “milk” of the gospel is a general understanding of the end goal, which includes spiritual gifts, the ministering of angels, and a personal manifestation of Christ to each individual who has prepared himself/herself. The “meat” of the gospel, I believe, lies in the HOW, because how we get there is too difficult for us to comprehend at first.

Lest anyone try to tell me that personal visitations and witnesses are meat, not milk, let’s look at the uses of that phrase in the scriptures.

The Three Instances of Milk vs. Meat in the Scriptures

1 Cor 3:2—Paul tells the Corinthians they are not able to bear meat, because they are “yet carnal,” because they idolize their Gospel teachers, instead of laying their foundation on Christ. This, incidentally, is the chapter where we learn that we are God’s temple, where God’s Spirit is intended to dwell; does it get any more up close and personal than that? “Therefore, let no man glory in men.” Get back to the milk—faith in Christ, not in leaders—so that God can come dwell in you.

Heb 5:12—In a chapter about the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, which implies personal audiences with God (see D&C 84:19-22), Paul also mentions how Christ learned “obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:8-9). I believe this is an oblique reference to “meat,” because if Christ learned obedience by suffering, and we must learn to obey Christ…therefore we must suffer as well. But that would be meat, and is left for another day, and therefore Paul returns to “milk,” and the following chapter is about the basic principles of the Gospel and enduring patiently to “obtain the promise” (Heb 6:15), which is when God swears “by himself, saying, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee” (Heb 6:13-14). So we read again: having your calling and election made sure, if I may call it that, is MILK, not meat.

D&C 19:22—A revelation about repentance and what to preach: “And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:31). The first half of this chapter, verses 1-20, talks about the opposite end of the spectrum: what happens if you don’t take that first step of faith and repentance. Despite the harshness of those verses, I believe they are also counted as milk. It is a warning about the importance of progressing in the gospel, and the importance of finding peace in Christ in the midst of your struggle to repent (v. 23), and “that you may enter into my rest” (v. 9).

A final thought: I absolutely agree that we don’t need to be teaching “meat” in church. However, considering the points above, and what God and his prophets considered appropriate “milk” teachings in those contexts, are we even teaching “milk” at all?

Authority vs Means

Back to missionary work and the means of spreading the gospel. Christ didn’t give his missionaries the same kind of training that we give ours. There was no discussion of technique, approach, or how to “bring the Spirit.” Christ gave them His word, His message, and told them who to go take it to. The power lies in the message itself, and God takes responsibility for its success. See D&C 50:21-22: “Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”

The preacher’s only responsibility is to preach under the direction of the Spirit and to teach the right message. The listener is either going to respond and receive, or not—that is no longer the preacher’s problem. There is no correct “method,” because God, by the Spirit of truth, is moving the word from the preacher to the receiver. That’s it. How can the preacher truly work under the direction of the Spirit if he has some acronym he is trying to fulfill, or a video he wants to share? You don’t need a M.E.T.H.O.D., the newest inspirational video, or a technique to set the right mood—you just need to deliver the message you have been given, and make sure you are delivering it at the behest of the Spirit.

It seems to me, therefore, that there are two things we each need to do to prepare, if we want to be “successful” missionaries: first, we need to get the message and make sure we understand it. Second, we need to be able to follow the Spirit. Any other study or preparation will distract us and end up making our task harder.

My Testimony

I better put my money where my mouth is. I wrote this article because I felt it was something that needed to be said, and shared. Yes, I believe the Spirit prompted me to write it and I have felt that guiding influence as I decided how to phrase my thoughts.

I prefer to say “believe,” because I personally don’t “know” much yet; I’m only at the beginning of the Gospel path. But this is the message and the doctrine that has awakened my soul, that makes me feel the most joy, that makes me see most clearly. Everything else I have ever heard that claims to be doctrine pales in comparison to this Gospel. I believe it is true, I do my best to follow it, and I am trying to share it with those around me and redirect conversation from less important philosophies of men to these fundamental truths.

I believe that no message is more important than the true Gospel, the one and only doctrine of Christ. And that Gospel is nothing more or less than the teaching that we must repent and come unto Christ, witnessing our faith through baptism, then continue towards Christ until we receive the promise of eternal life and God witnesses to us that He will receive us home to Him.

%d bloggers like this: