On Reading Controversial Books


saints-standard-of-truth


It’s been over four years since I resigned from the LDS Church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A lot has changed in my life since that day in September 2014. I have been blessed immensely by the Lord in so many ways. I reflected many times on why I chose to resign back then. I didn’t have to do so but felt it was the right thing to do since I planned on being baptized again, outside the auspices of the LDS hierarchy.

I still get a lot of emails from readers wondering how I’m doing. One reader sent me an email asking “… have you come to any answers about your queries in this article? I feel the same way you do or did, and that is spiritually uplifted and edified by these authors of more controversial topics. Have you come to any conclusions about how this relates to the Brethren’s view of such authors and what they write about?” My response follows…

The Original Post

Thanks for your email. I went back and re-read the post and all 93 comments. That was written over five years ago. It brought back fond memories of deep dialog with many good people. I miss that, but until a recent change in employment, I haven’t had time to invest in reading as writing as much as I used to. I’m trying to get back into that mode. Thanks again for your email and getting me thinking about the subject again. I have pondered your question and my original questions.

Private Sacrament Meetings

SacramentMinervaTeichertA lot has changed in the last five years since I wrote that post. I am no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although I do attend the full three-hour block each Sunday with my wife, partake of the sacrament and participate in classroom discussion from time to time. I am blessed to have a very kind and understanding Stake President, Bishop and Elder’s Quorum President who have encouraged me to participate. I especially enjoy singing in the choir.

Taught by the Precepts of Men

Yes, I have come to some conclusions about how the Brethren view the writings of authors who publish works that are not in harmony with the orthodox teachings found in the official curriculum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A scripture comes to mind, “…they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Ne 28:14)

Harmony With the Mind of Christ

I am not referring to those who write such books, but to those who view their writings as apostate. I retain my original enthusiasm for the works of authors who are diligently seeking truth as humble followers of Jesus Christ. I have enough experience with the Holy Ghost to know when something I read is or isn’t leading me to Christ. That’s the whole purpose of the Spirit of the Lord – to lead us unto Christ. As we give heed It brings us into harmony with the mind of Christ.

Fight Not Against Apostles and Prophets

It saddens me to think that the above referenced scripture, and in many cases, the entire chapter, is referring to the leadership, especially at the highest levels, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have promised myself I would not fight against the prophets and apostles. I will not confront them directly. There is a scripture that counsels those who do that. They will be cut off. I still hold to that belief, that if I fight against the apostles and prophets I will be cut off.

Upheld by Fath and Prayers

One could argue they are not legitimate prophets and apostles. No matter, I have sustained them as such and I will not go against that. I continue to pray for them, thus upholding them with my prayers and faith. At the same time, my prayers of faith are offered on behalf of all those who are seeking diligently to come unto Christ and to teach us to do so, according to their best understanding. Thus I uphold and sustain men like Denver Snuffer as servants of the Lord in these last days.

The Covenant Path is Extended

The heavens are open. We have an opportunity to come unto Christ and to enter into His presence. He has holy places in Heaven to where we can rise up and be taught by Him directly. We can learn of His paths and follow them. I like how President Nelson refers often to the covenant path. I know he’s referring to baptism, confirmation, priesthood and temple covenants in the LDS Church. No matter, it prompts me to reflect on the additional covenants into which I have entered.

A Day of Rejoicing, A New Beginning

tim-malone-baptismSpecifically, I have publicly made a big deal about being baptized again as a sign I accept the words delivered by His servant, Denver Snuffer, as having been either authored by or directly influenced by the Lord. I am familiar with that process of revelation, especially as it is manifested when writing. There are times I feel or hear the words I share in the very process of sharing them. Thus, I am influenced by what I read from the humble followers of Christ who write as they feel inspired. I know that process well.

 

Additional Covenants, Additional Scripture

Second, I have entered into an additional covenant with the Lord about a year ago, in September of 2017 at the time of the Boise Conference, to accept the scriptures as they have been revealed and corrected by the scripture committee, and which the Lord accepted. Part of that covenant included a promise to seek to be of one heart and one mind with those humble followers of Christ who are seeking to bring about Zion as I am. It is an awesome thing to have additional scripture.

Writing Under The Spirit of Revelation

I hope this answers your question. Again, I am always grateful when someone reaches out to me as a consequence of something I have written and posted on my blog. I try not to take myself too seriously. There are times when I have written things I know were pleasing to the Lord, even inspired, especially when I asked him in prayer for guidance and direction in what I felt prompted to share. That post was one of many that was inspired by the spirit of revelation, even the mind of Christ.

But What Do The Brethren Think?

And the response: “Has your Stake President brought your concerns to the Brethren? Surely posing your questions to them isn’t confronting or fighting against them, is it? I admire how you still pray for and sustain them with your faith, and your commitment to not fight against them, but I guess I’m just confused as to why you haven’t had your concerns addressed by the Brethren. Isn’t that the order of things when your local leaders can’t answer your concerns?”

Response of Local Authorities

I think I’m past the point where I care about what the Brethren have to say about my questions. I already know what they have said and written about such topics, having studied their words all my life. In defense of my Stake President, the four of us (my wife, me, my Bishop and my Stake President) met and discussed my questions. At the conclusion of our meeting the Stake President said he had no problems with my concerns or my blogging activities. On the other hand, my Bishop did.

Forbiding to Partake of the Sacrament

Jesus_SacramentWe continued to meet regularly. A few weeks after the meeting with the four of us, my Bishop placed me on informal probation for apostasy, which is really just a hand slap. However, it was his direction that I not partake of he sacrament. That bothered me. I felt it was anti-Christ. I know that’s harsh, but it is truthful. Forbidding someone to partake of the sacrament implies judgement, which, I suppose, it what a Bishop is supposed to do, right? But, it didn’t set well with me and prompted my decision to resign.

Unorthodox Views, Apostasy and Heresy

I’ve never really understood the charge of apostasy. I think the correct terminology should be heresy, meaning your views do not correspond with those of the Brethren on certain issues, in my case, of a historical nature. I’m fairly certain my bishop would not have been so concerned but he was receiving complaints from ward members and former ward members that saw and read some of my blog posts because I had it linked to my Facebook feed, in hindsight, a poor move.

Questions About LDS History

I think the most difficult concern for the bishop was the statement from a former ward member that my blogging activities were influencing her (adult) children. Being friends with her children, I can relate that they had made their decision to leave the LDS Church long before I did. In any event, I did not expect my local leaders to bring my concerns to the Brethren, nor did they. It wasn’t necessary. These were questions of a historical nature for which I would not expect General Authorities to have answers.

General Authorities Not Trained Historians

Unless the Brethren are trained historians, actively engaged in research and teaching, which, as far as I know, none of them are, they simply would not have time to study the historical records like I and many others have done. I know that may come across as arrogant, but it’s true. General Authorities are busy administering the affairs of the Church. For the most part, they are doctors (Pres. Nelson), lawyers (Pres. Oaks) and educational administrators (Pres. Eyring).

Large and Successful Institution

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingThe members of the Quorum of the Twelve had similar vocations before their call to become full-time church employees. I know we don’t like to focus on the institutional aspect of the Church, but it is one of the largest and most successful religious institutions in the world, at least from an economic point of view. Thus the need for professional administrators. It’s been said one should never ask what goes into sausage or how laws are made. Likewise, one must have a strong testimony to be an employee of the Church.

 

 

Read Church Histroy, But Not Too Much

Either that or put blinders on and ask no questions. There’s something to be said for those who innocently and somewhat naively believe the official explanations of the Church in regards to the early historical facts that have come to light in our day, even though some of those facts come right from the Joseph Smith Papers, an official publication of the Church. Most members haven’t read them, nor would they find them interesting.

Of Good Report or Praiseworthy

It’s surprising how many don’t really care about the rise of the Church and what happened after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. To them, it’s a social institution, to be judged solely on the merits of encouraging moral values, which it does extremely well. Therefore, the Church is praiseworthy. There is no need to look too deeply into the past. The Church can be judged on the value it brings to families in the form of programs and practices that encourage and strengthen families. In this it excels and deserves our encouragement and active participation.

Do You Have Priesthood Approval?

church-in-the-home

The history and doctrine are being watered down more and more as time goes on. I appreciate the move to focus gospel study in the home, and the encouragement for individual members to meet in homes specifically to study the gospel, with the hope that the scriptures will be the foundation of that study. Perhaps that will turn things around. There is a question one used to hear in the Church when attempting to organize a gospel study in the home: “Do you have priesthood approval for that meeting?”

He Who Is Compelled in All Things

Wow. What a turnaround. I think this is a big deal and hope the Saints appreciate this change in direction. I believe the Lord will bless those who seek to understand the gospel better through these informal study groups. My only concern is that perhaps some will continue to look to Salt Lake for direction on what to study. In fact, the Church has already published the official guidelines. Why can’t we decide on our own, under the direction of the spirit what we should study?

Comments welcome…

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked


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

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

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

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

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

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

All Decisions Have Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

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

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

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

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

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

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

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

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

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

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

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

Deceived By False Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JesusTeaching

Why I Resigned From the LDS Church


TMalonePic4It’s customary to write an exit letter when leaving an organization after a long period of time, so here’s mine. I have no desire to flame or insult anyone. You don’t have to read this. It’s for my own soul to find peace. I share it in the spirit of love, especially for those who have prayed for me as I have gone through this difficult transition period over the last few years. God bless you.

A Few Preliminaries

First and foremost, I want to thank the many individuals over the years who have taught me the gospel or who have allowed me to teach them. I cherish moments spent in gospel doctrine class, in Seminary, in the High Priest’s Group and in Bishopric and High Council meetings when we have been edified together. There is nothing like being fed by the Lord through the scriptures.

Second, I am at peace with this decision. I confirmed it with the Lord in prayer. In fact, it was the Lord who continually urged this action upon me for the past three or four days. I know, I know. You may say, “Well, it wasn’t the Lord urging you to resign your membership.” I disagree. It was the honorable thing to do. It saved sixteen men many hours of time away from their families.

Third, I do not feel any different. I still feel the warmth and comfort of the spirit of the Lord. You may say, give it time, give it time. I hear you. I know there are things about membership in the LDS Church I will miss, but I will not miss the spirit of the Holy Ghost because he abides with me still, as does the priesthood authority I received from my father when I was but a lad.

A Few Questions Answered

Now for a couple of silly questions: Will I remove my garments? No. They still mean something to me. Will I attend the three-hour block each week? No. I will probably only attend Sacrament meeting with Carol. I will probably have my own sacrament meeting at home for a while until I can find a group with whom I can participate. Community is important. I seek a new community.

Will I continue to pay tithing? Yes. Carol and I discussed this. It is important to her to pay tithing to the LDS Church. I would prefer to pay tithing to a group where I know it is being used 100% to help the poor. But, and I know this sounds strange, unity with Carol is important to me. This is a difficult thing for Carol. Some women would divorce their husbands for leaving the Church.

I know Carol is hurt and disappointed. She is a fifth-generation Mormon. It means everything to her. She defends it with all the passion of a she bear. I have learned not to cross her. I am grateful she attended some of the lectures. I will make no attempt to entice her to follow me. I will only love her as best I can for a man who knows so little about the romantic needs of a good woman.

Don’t Blame This on Denver Snuffer

To all those who now say, “See, I told you so. I warned you the moment you started reading and writing about those books from Denver Snuffer.” Yes, you’re right. You warned me. And you warned me and then warned me over and over again. Thank you for your loving concern. It did no good. I had a witness of the truth the moment I first read PtHG that night in January of 2012.

So am I now a follower of Denver Snuffer? No. I never was and never will be. I barely know the man. I know his writings and have been edified by them, but I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let no man come between you and your God. I suppose if there’s one thing I do feel different already, it is the realization that I now get my marching orders – my daily priorities – only from the Lord.

Previous to this afternoon’s letter of resignation, I was always concerned about, “What would my priesthood leaders think of this?” or “What does the LDS Church say I should be doing with my time?” Maybe that’s my own fault or failing, but it’s has been ingrained in me from a lifetime of hearing it drilled into my soul – follow the prophet. He knows the way. Thanks, but no thanks.

Follow the Prophet – Mantra Gone Too Far

I think I finally realized how bad it was one Sunday in High Priest’s group when I answered a question posed by the instructor about marriage. I simply emphasized something I know we have been taught about temple marriages – that they are conditional upon being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This is a true doctrine. Always has been and always will be as far as I know.

You should have heard some of the comments I got from some of the brethren. And these were brethren I used to lead as the High Priest Group Leader. Somehow, it turned into a diatribe on the importance of following the prophet, that only he could interpret scripture or pronounce doctrine. It was as if they felt I was personally attacking them and their marriages. I was simply stunned.

It seems as if this has become the last stand for the LDS Church. It is a position of fear – follow the prophet. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not attacking President Monson or whoever is the current president of the LDS Church whenever you read this. I simply thank God he has given me a mind of my own, that I can think for myself and I can ask God directly for guidance in life.

Study the Doctrine – But Not Too Much

I feel as if a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders and another one placed in its stead. I am OK with that. It is the burden of life. I have simply shifted it from being overly concerned with conformity to the orthodox LDS way of thinking and acting, to now being careful to think, believe, act and live in the manner intended by my Heavenly Father. I have shifted my priorities.

Was the LDS Church holding me back? Yes and no. It’s the classic story. We are urged to study the gospel. When we do, we learn things that don’t jive with what is currently being taught or practiced in the LDS Church. We are nothing like the church Joseph organized in 1830. There are too many traditions and beliefs taught in the correlated curriculum that are simply not right.

Agency – It Only Goes So Far

I can’t tell you how many times I wrote about something I had studied and received a response, “You had better get your views in line with the Brethren or you’re going to be in trouble.” I got this over and over, from the least studied and newest member of the Church to Stake Presidents (not my current Stake President) and Bishops who read and comment on my blog. It’s amazing.

Do I hold any animosity toward the church or its leaders? No. I thank them for all they have done for me, especially my local leaders who have loved me, prayed with me, counseled me and tried to get me to conform to the orthodox ways of modern Mormonism. I am certain I have offended some of my brethren in the High Priest Quorum stake-wide with my writings. They told me so.

I understand the concern expressed by associates on the High Council and Stake Presidency in my former stake. They are concerned for their children and grandchildren. I get that. I apologize if you feel I am to blame for some of them leaving the church. Don’t put that at my feet. And for those in my current stake whose children have resigned – that was their decision and theirs alone.

Faulted for Believing Too Much

So what do I believe now? I believe in God. I know the Father lives and loves me. I know my Savior loves me and leads me. I have become more familiar with His voice over the past two years than at any time in my life. The Holy Ghost is real. He is the comforter. I appreciate that. I know God has a plan for my life that is not over. I went through hell last year to understand that.

I believe Joseph was a prophet of God. More than that, I know he was. The knowledge received of the Holy Ghost is burned into our souls. I have known Joseph was a prophet from my youth. My testimony of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures has not changed. We received the Book of Mormon the way Joseph said it came forth – translated by the gift and power of God.

Those Last Fingers of the Testimony Glove

TestimonyGloveThe restoration was real. God wanted to prepare a people for the establishment of Zion. It did not work out in the early church. The higher priesthood was taken from the earth. The authority of the Aaronic remained. I received that authority from my father. I still have it. Resigning from the LDS Church does not take that away. Priesthood is not controlled by any earthly institution.

Obviously I no longer believe the LDS Church has what it claims. It saddens me the LDS Church seeks to enforce beliefs by disciplinary measures. Some of the policies in the Church Handbook are an abomination. They can destroy families. It also saddens me to learn of manipulation from the highest councils of the Church to control the affairs of local members and local leadership.

We have often been taught, and I have taught it myself, “While the people in the Church aren’t perfect, the Church itself is perfect.” I disagree. The LDS Church was divinely instituted but is not now what the Lord will use to establish Zion. Zion was never intended to be established by a large institution. Zion is to be established in small groups where there are no poor among them.

A Few Closing Thoughts

I often hear the complaint from LDS Church members, “They leave the Church but they won’t leave it alone.” I owe so much to the LDS Church. I judged my mother harshly when she walked away from the Church after twenty-five years. I was wrong. I have since asked for and received her forgiveness. She was my age or a little older when she left. I understand now what happened.

Mother loved the gospel. She was a disciple of Christ. She taught me to love the Savior and to love to study. She could not have been more devoted to the Church and a better example for me. She taught Gospel Doctrine and performed more temple ordinances than anyone I have known. Yet in the end, she could not find community within the narrow-mindedness of some members.

Following the traditions of the fathers is a real problem in the LDS Church. It keeps the members from progressing. It’s good to safeguard some things that build family unity but not good to hold onto false beliefs and practices such as an over-reliance on “the Brethren” to tell us what’s what. That’s why my mother left after years of dedicated service. And now I have followed in her path.