Reorganizing the Family of God


the-divine-councilIn the Boise rescue, Elder Oaks spoke much of the temples as evidence of the fruits of the LDS Church. They are beautiful buildings aren’t they? So many resources are poured into these edifices. As President Hinckley once taught, the buildings of the church are not income producing, and constitute a major expense. A lot of tithing money goes into maintaining these buildings, including the wards and stakes.

For over forty years I went to the temple on a regular basis. I went there with thousands of family names my mother had gleaned from years and years of family history work. I performed countless baptisms, inititories, endowments and sealings. I am not alone in my participation in temple work. The focus was always on doing something – proxy ordinances – for family members they could not do for themselves.

While studying the early history of the LDS Church, I noticed a major adjustment in my thinking about the purpose of the temples. I kept wondering about the idea of being “sealed to the fathers.” More and more I found I was contemplating exactly who the fathers were or are. Even after a lifetime of family history research, members of our family could never find family records back any earlier than 1650.

Salvation, Resurrection and Exaltation

CityOfZionI am fairly certain there are some individuals who have been able to trace their family history back to the earliest known records of civilization. I believe I even recall someone telling me they found proof they were related to an individual named in the Bible and could therefore trace their lineage back to Adam. I suppose that’s the ultimate goal of family history research, to find every single ancestor back to Adam.

Growing up in the church I recall being taught we will not be able to complete the family history work that needs to be done because the records are lost. The Millennium is the time when all this work will be completed, because family members will come to those who are living, tell us who they are, when and where they lived and accompany us to the temple while we perform those saving ordinances for them.

Eventually, by the end of the Millennium, everyone will be found, everyone will be sealed and everyone will be joined to the fathers. The objective of life, as I have been taught and believe, is to prepare for a glorious resurrection. That’s individual salvation. But what about exaltation? That only comes about when we are organized by God into His family and participate in ordinances not found in LDS Temples.

Set in Order the House of God

zion-city-of-enochWe need a temple to which Christ can come and reorganize the family of God through an ordinance that seals us to the fathers. As I have written previously on this blog, I hope to be alive when that temple will be built. I hope to contribute to the building of that temple, either financially or with my labor. I want my name to be on the books to be found in that temple. I am grateful to Keith for compiling those records.

Eventually, someone will come along, and “…set in order the house of God, and arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God.” This is found in the last part of D&C 85:7. I have no idea who this person is, but I want my name available to him on the books that are to be found in the temple.

Because “… they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among the unbelievers, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. These things I say not of myself; therefore, as the Lord speaketh, he will also fulfill.” That promise is found in later verses of the same section (D&C 85:9-10).

Why Christ Will Come to His Temple

Question Six: You proclaimed Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to you. You declared you have seen Him, embraced Him and have been given specific assignments of things to teach, which you have done at your own expense in publications and lectures. The focus of these teachings is the establishment of Zion. You have counseled those who wish to prepare for Zion to institute fellowships for gathering and practicing the principles of Zion, specifically to use tithing as a means to help the poor. You have taught there is to be no new church, no legal entity to receive and centrally manage funds and property, yet you acknowledge the need for a temple.

A new website has been established for a central recorder, where those who have been baptized are encouraged to submit their names. The purpose of this gathering of names is to present them to the Lord in a temple. You said in Mesa, “We do not need numerous temples, but we will need one to which Christ can come. We will not need to perform endless work for the dead until first there has been a covenant made for us. We must be first connected to the fathers in heaven. Only then can we do something to liberate the dead.” You have already taught much on the sealing to the fathers, but will you take a moment to elaborate on the difference between the visit of Christ to an individual and the visit of Christ to a temple yet to be built?

ANSWER (Denver): Yes, I can. Individual salvation and promises of eternal life are just that, they are individual. A restoration of the family of Israel requires more, including cooperation and interrelationships that will be formed by God Himself. Promises made to individuals give the individual hope. If you take the vision of the redemption of the dead in D&C 138, he saw a vision where:christ-in-spirit-world

There were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality; And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name. All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. (D&C 138:12-14, emphasis added.)

All of them. These were the righteous. They were in Paradise and all of them were worthy, they had been given hope of a glorious resurrection. Not only did the Savior give them hope before death, He visited with them in the spirit world during the time between His death and His resurrection. But that did not get them reconnected to the fathers in heaven, nor did it even get them resurrected, because it goes on to say in the transcript of the same vision:

…from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead. (D&C138:30, emphasis added.)

So the righteous who departed this life firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, who had offered sacrifice in the similitude, many of whom had seen Him in the flesh, who witnessed Him and were ministered to by Him, and given authority by Him, in the spirit world, remained in the world of the dead to preach to the dead. They were NOT resurrected.

Joining the Family of God by an Ordinance

Only the organization of God’s family through a temple and associated rites, results in finishing the family of God in the House of Order. IF this were to be done it would allow the recipients to follow the results achieved, or allowed the results achieved by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which are described in D&C 132:37. Abraham Isaac and Jacob:

…did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

carl_bloch_the_christNote that in D&C 138:41 Abraham, the father of the faithful, Isaac and a Jacob were also there in the spirit world among the dead seen in the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead. In verses 41-22 of 138, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were there. But in the revelation recorded in 1843 they were sitting on thrones. They were not left behind in the spirit world proselytizing. Instead they are sitting on thrones.

The difference between these two categories of the righteous are the differences between individual salvation, which gives hope of a glorious resurrection, on the one hand, and reorganizing the family of God which must occur by an ordinance in a temple to be acceptable to God, on the other hand. This was why the command was given to build the temple in Nauvoo. And why God offered to restore to them the fullness that they did not achieve.

We need to let God take the lead, and then we need to patiently await each step along the way. This is the stuff of which the prophecies speak, and it is the stuff that will be fulfilled. But the rites and the ordinances necessary to accomplish that? People in this generation don’t even have a clue how that necessarily has to roll forth. But rest assured it will. God intends to set His house in order. He alone will do this.

Sources for the Interview:

Transcript One: http://3tcm.net/a-visit-with-denver-snuffer-transcript.pdf
Note: This version has been reviewed by Denver, missing material added

Transcript Two: http://3tcm.net/tim-malone-Q&A-with-denver-snuffer.pdf

Link to the MP3: http://3tcm.net/Denver_Snuffer_QA_13May2015.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 six: http://3tcm.net/question-six.pdf

Reconnecting to the Fathers


Matt 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…”

D&C 20:73 – “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Mosiah 18:13 – “I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.”

Baptism of Repentance

jacobs-ladderThe first two scriptures I’ve quoted are performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Those who have been endowed and are familiar with the sealing ordinances in the LDS Temples will also recognize the use of the phrase, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Few men on earth are authorized to use this phrase today.

At the end of the series of ten lectures delivered by Denver, Keith got up and offered his witness, sealing it in a similar fashion. Surely there must be some significance to this phrase when it is used. It must mean something in heaven. It does. It caused me to sit up and take notice. I knew he was using the sealing power, but not in the same sense it is used in the LDS Temples today.

“I stand as another witness with Denver, in the law of witnesses, that these things are true. And I expect to be held accountable for this in the days and the eternity to come, before God and my Father and to all men. I bear this testimony humbly and solemnly, but in the power of the most holy priesthood. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.”

The Patriarchal Priesthood

abraham-isaac-altarI have been re-reading, studying and praying about the priesthood talk given in Orem back in November of 2013. Its chalk full of information about the higher or patriarchal priesthood. I remain convinced not many people understand there is such a thing. In the LDS Church, we are used to referring only to the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthood. It seems there is more.

Yes, I know and have read the arguments that there is but one priesthood and that the patriarchal priesthood is lesser than the Melchizedek. I agree there is really only one priesthood, but within that priesthood, I hold the Patriarchal to be the higher priesthood. I understand it can only be received from the Lord, which is why Joseph was so insistent on completing the Nauvoo temple.

This higher priesthood is not received in the LDS temples. It is not obtained by going and being sealed in the temple. It is only obtained when one meets with God in His temple. That’s why I was not concerned and remain unconcerned about resigning from the LDS Church. The church does not control the priesthood. It is controlled by God, confirmed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

The Holy Spirit of Promise

psalm-2-7I have not yet heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Thou art my son. This day have I begotten thee.” I know that day will come. The Lord has told me so. It was in a dream but when I asked for the interpretation, it was clear. I rejoice in this promise. I rejoice I have a calling and election. I rejoice in knowing it is what the Lord desires of me. I am working to make it sure. It will be so.

I understand receiving the Lord is an ordinance. I await further light and knowledge on this. I am grateful for the blessing of time. It teaches me patience. I know a man’s life can be snuffed out at any minute. I take my life in my hands each day I drive to and from work on the freeways of Los Angeles. I wait upon the Lord. When He is ready, I will be connected to the powers of heaven.

In the dialog below you will find Denver’s answer to my question about the higher or patriarchal priesthood. He was smiling at me as I read it to him. I think he knew what I was asking. Note the humble response deflecting honor and attention to John the Beloved. There are others as well. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon each of us to connect to the Lord and prepare to live within Zion.

Question Three: In the Phoenix or Mesa lecture (9-9-14), you stated, “The Lord has said to me in His own voice, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.’ Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it.”

In Genesis 12:3, The Lord said unto Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Abraham was further blessed to be the father of many nations, that in him “shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Abraham was a prophet. Isaac and Jacob were prophets. Abraham referred to the Fathers going back to Adam. You spoke about that in the talk on plural marriage and elsewhere. It seems there is something significant about connecting to the Fathers. Abraham was a patriarch. The LDS Church no longer has a presiding patriarch, or even such an office. Is there a patriarch on the earth today who can connect us to the Fathers?

ANSWER (Denver): Well, the simple answer is there’s always one on the earth. That has been true from Adam to the present.

(Tim): John the Beloved.

(Denver): Yes.

nauvoo-1844Remember that in Nauvoo the Lord had offered to reconnect the Saints, with the clearly defined condition that for that to happen it was necessary for an acceptable temple to be constructed where He could come and restore the connection. The reconnection is ordinance-based, and will require an acceptable temple before it goes beyond the single representative.

First, ideas need to be advanced and accepted. Then second, we need to act on the ideas primarily by repenting and opening ourselves to the influence of God. Third, we have to be humble and patient and willing to practice the religion before we can have any hope of God deciding to gather us.

Practical experience is absolutely necessary. Theories and pretensions are not going to get us anywhere. The gospel requires hard won virtuous experience and not just theoretical or imaginary virtues. Everyone can theorize the virtues that are necessary to gather people together and live together in harmony. Everyone can envision themselves as one of the residents of the City of Peace. But the practical experience required to iron out our selfishness and competitiveness so that we can actually live in peace is another order of magnitude harder.

In the Nauvoo City Council minutes you see them grappling with a society that is trying to be composed of Saints, and the practical problem-solving that happened. There were moments when I was reading the Nauvoo City Council minutes when I was laughing out loud, because they go to solve one problem but the solution creates another.

Basically people are discourteous of one another. Because they are discourteous of one another the City Council adopted an ordinance in order to end one discourtesy, only to create yet another discourtesy on top of that.

Practicing Zion in Nauvoo

zion-imageFor example, one of the problems that they had was that Nauvoo was organized as a city in which everyone had a garden plot. Because most of the garden plots were not fenced, horses and foot traffic would go through the gardens. That killed the plants and caused the destruction of needed foodstuffs. They couldn’t get people to build fences around their gardens despite encouraging them to do so. The solution to the problem to was to turn the hogs loose, because when the hogs are loose they go in the gardens and root around, killing the plantings. And so they adopted an ordinance that let hogs in Nauvoo go free. In pretty short order that produced the required fences they wanted, at the expense of creating a hog problem. There were hog wallows in the middle of the streets of Nauvoo. Until finally some guy, tired of the hog problem, went out and killed, butchered and ate a couple hogs that another guy said belong to him. The owner sued him, and they had the public fight over it.

The point of this isn’t hogs and the Nauvoo City Council, the point of this is we need practical experience and not theory. The way in which the practical experience can be had is in gathering in fellowships and societies, collecting our own tithing, and then grappling with the fact that there is a pile of money sitting there, which is ever a temptation, and to deal with that in a responsible way. That forces individuals to confront their own self will, their own pride, their own desires, their own jealousy, their own envy, their own ambition, and their own covetousness.

Practicing Zion in Fellowships

CityOfZionIn the fellowships that have been organized there have been moments of profound breakthroughs in the kind of attributes required for Zion. One group, when they begin their meeting, gathers all the needs on written slips of paper and put all of the needs together in an unopened basket. Then they gather the money, which is always cash, into another unopened container. They don’t know how much cash there is. Without opening the cash then, they first open the needs. As a group they reason together and agree on what the priority of the needs are, so that they have a list of the most compelling, and on down.

Once they know what the most compelling, the second, the third, the fourth are, they open and count the money. On one occasion, there was a married couple whose need could be satisfied because there was enough money, but they looked at the person next in line in priority behind them, and concluded that in their heart, they thought that need greater than their own. If they satisfy the next person’s need, there would be nothing left for them. So they voluntarily passed on their priority and took none of the money, and allowed it all to go to the next person in line behind them.

That is a couple that I would willingly add to a community, because they’ve learned self-sacrifice. They are no threat, and are instead an ideal contributor.

Seek to Benefit and Bless Others

Someone who advocates incessantly, “We’ve got the live the United Order! We’ve got to have consecration,” –because he intends to benefit from that change and better his circumstances—is unfit to be gathered. He would destroy Zion because he is selfish and thinking of what he can gain. Someone who says, “What can I give?” at the cost of his own self-sacrifice, and yet is willing to live the Law of Consecration in order to bless and benefit others, not expecting themselves to be blessed or benefited but instead expect themselves to carry a burden, those people can be gathered. They present no threat. They can be “one” with others. They are willing to lose themselves, as Christ instructed.

The way in which those people get identified is by practical experience, which is what the fellowshipping communities are designed, by the inspiration of God, to allow to now begin to take place. Every one of us theorizes themselves a great candidate for Zion. But go out and get some practical experience and see how great a candidate you truly are. You will be disappointed in yourself. Most of us would be anyway.

Sources:

Transcript One: http://3tcm.net/a-visit-with-denver-snuffer-transcript.pdf
Note: This version has been reviewed by Denver, missing material added

Transcript Two: http://3tcm.net/tim-malone-Q&A-with-denver-snuffer.pdf

Link to the MP3: http://3tcm.net/Denver_Snuffer_QA_13May2015.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 three: http://3tcm.net/question-three.pdf

Pentecost and Patterns


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

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

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

ENDOWED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROBLEMATIC PATTERNS

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

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

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

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

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

THE KIRTLAND PENTECOST

June 1831 Conference

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

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

12 November 1835

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

27 March 1836 – Dedicatory Prayer

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

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

30 March 1836

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

3 April 1836 – Acceptance of the temple

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

MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION

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

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

MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY

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

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

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

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

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked


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

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

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

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

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

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

All Decisions Have Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

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

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

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

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

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

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

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

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

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

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

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

Deceived By False Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JesusTeaching

Understanding the Historical Record of Priesthood


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

No Doubt About Aaronic Priesthood

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

Interpretive Doctrine in Section Heading

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

Ancient Apostles Visit Joseph and Oliver

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

No Recorded Account of Higher Priesthood

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

Section 27 Added to by Oliver Cowdery

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

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

Keys of the Kingdom Held by Apostles

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

Keys of Their Ministry are Different

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

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

It does NOT say:

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

Scriptural and Historical Evidence Missing

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

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

Keys Exercised by Peter, James and John

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

Just Asking Questions, Looking for Evidence

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

There is Only One Priesthood of God

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

Expected to Receive God in the Flesh

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

Priesthood is an Association with God

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

Power of God Cannot Be Passed on

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

All Priesthood is Perishable – D&C 121:37

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

Would God That All Men Were Prophets

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

Melchizedek Priesthood is to Bless, not Curse

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

End of Part One – More to Come

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

Study the Gospel, Blog About it, Share it

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

Learn the Doctrine, Be Ready With Answers

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

Study Things Out, Don’t Rush to Judgment

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

Go to lds.org for Official Church Doctrine

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

Sources for This Summarized Material

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

This Material May Not Support Official Doctrine

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

A Final Question About Blogging

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

Concluding Testimony at my Disciplinary Council


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

Covering All the Bases

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

Follow the Bishop’s Counsel

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

It’s Tough to Be a Bishop

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

If Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear

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

Course of Action Planned in Advance

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

How I Dislike Disciplinary Councils

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

Our Decision That You Be Excommunicated

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

Shared Desire to Do the Will of the Lord

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

Excommunication Difficult on Family Members

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

Apostasy – Simply Writing a Few Book Reviews

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

My Issue is With Interpreting Church History

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

The Priesthood Was Taken From Israel

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

Gentiles Shall Reject Fullness of the Gospel

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

Prophecy and Traditional Narrative Differ

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

Testimony of Church History Not Required

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

The Purging of the Two Percent

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

The Truth Will Set You Free

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

This Could Never Possibly Happen

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

Strengthening Church Members Committee

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

We Pay People to Read Member’s Blogs

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

Lo Que Será, Será

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

As Always, Comments Open

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

Cut Off From Among My people


LDSChurchHandbooks1When one is excommunicated from the LDS Church, he is provided instructions by the Bishop or Stake President as to what he can and cannot do. Given that the church just severed the relationship with the individual excommunicated you would think the instructions provided are no longer applicable. It is assumed they are given with the intention of helping the individual make their way back to baptism again within a short period of time, even as little as one year.

Instructions Provided When Excommunicated

It has been my sad duty over the years to write and deliver the notice to appear, then to write the summary of the disciplinary council for the report sent to Salt Lake, and the instructions given to the individual who has been the subject of church discipline. Frankly, I have found it a difficult process. It requires that I listen intently and take copious notes so as to capture the essence of what transpired, what was considered, what was decided and finally, what instruction was given.

Alternative Method – Administrative Action

I’m sure you know that many individuals forgo the trauma of a disciplinary council and elect to simply resign their membership. The Stake President is supposed to contact the individual and make sure they are aware of the seriousness of what they have just done. Most Stake Presidents I have worked with have been hesitant to perform this duty, and, in fact, have let it drag on for a year or more before executing that final step which cuts the individual off from the LDS church.

Rights, Privileges and Authority Removed

They are supposed to instruct them what they are giving up, such as all rights to the priesthood, to the temple, to the sacrament and any claims they may have on others such as the sealing of a spouse or even children born in the covenant. As with any individual excommunicated, they are told they may no longer wear the garment of the holy priesthood, may not exercise priesthood authority, may not speak in church, offer prayers, serve in any church callings or pay tithing.

Defending Oneself in a Disciplinary Council

For many individuals, this is a relief. For those who chose the administrative action (no council), it is fairly obvious they no longer believe and simply wanted to stop being bothered by home and visiting teachers. For those who elected to go through the formal council proceedings, one can assume they had hopes to avoid excommunication. In other words, they believe in the cause of the church, enjoyed the privileges of membership and were willing to petition to retain them.

Apostasy is a Whole Different Animal

In the case of someone accused of apostasy, the case has pretty much been decided before the council is held. Either the Stake Presidency has received instructions from the Area Presidency to “take care of it,” or they have decided on their own that the member is too much of a pain in the butt and can no longer put up with the things he or she is sharing among church members that are out of line with accepted church doctrine. Of course, they are supposed to have been warned.

Role of a High Councilor

The wheels of the church grind slowly, but they usually grind smoothly. It’s a bit of a burden to serve on a high council. Besides speaking in church each month, attending early-morning stake council or high council meetings, High Councilors are to serve as advisors to the Stake President in disciplinary councils. They are supposed to be evenly divided with half to see that the interests of the church are met and the other half to see that the interests of the individual are represented.

Apostasy Usually Decided in Advance

In reality, the high councilors probably know nothing of the circumstances regarding the man or woman being tried for their membership until a few minutes before the council begins. It’s pretty hard to represent someone being tried for apostasy when it is clear the “apostate” knows more about church doctrine and history than you do. Therefore, apostasy is usually decided based on the attitude of the individual – if he or she is willing to do whatever is asked of them by the SP.

Keep Your Beliefs to Yourself

I have now had several online friends – fellow bloggers – excommunicated for apostasy because they wrote things in their blog indicating they believed something was missing from the church. Apparently you can believe what you want about the church as long as you don’t share it with anyone else. I even had one individual in a previous stake claim he had just as much right to lead the church as the then-prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, but he also had extenuating mental issues.

I Sustain the Leaders of This Church

I think it’s a little foolish to be so “in-your-face” in your comments about the Brethren or about the Prophet in particular. Unless you are so ticked off at what they are teaching and feel they are perpetuating a myth, then you might want to hold back on the public statements opposing their actions. Lest I be accused by any of being an apostate, let it be known here and now I love the Brethren who lead this church. I sustain them and accept their leadership, guidance and direction.

Open Dialog, Free Speech and LDS Bloggers

As I wrote for many years, if the Brethren or my local leaders ever felt my blog was out of line or too provocative or placed the church in a bad light, I would gladly change it or remove it. I had even expressed that I would have no problem discontinuing the blog altogether, although of course with the Internet Way-back machine, what I have written is preserved for a long time, or at least as long as there is electricity and the server on which it is stored is not nuked by an EMP.

A Preview of Things to Come

I shared in a recent post a conversation I had with the Lord in which I asked for and received his permission to share a few things on my blog in the months to come that I have been hesitant to write about for fear of offending the leaders of this church or causing others to doubt their own testimonies and commitment to the church. I still feel strongly one should look for the good in all things, especially when you have invested a lifetime of time and money to building a good cause.

An Honest Seeker of Truth

I am going to explore a few scriptures and offer alternative interpretations of those scriptures. I am also going to be looking at a few events in our church history and noting interpretations of those events that differ, sometimes radically, of the “standard narrative” we have all been taught or grown up with all our lives. Please don’t label me an apostate or trouble-maker. I believe I am an honest seeker of truth and have felt led to these conclusions by much pondering and prayer.

Living With Difficult Church History

You may think I am parroting the views of Denver Snuffer and in fact, I will be quoting some of his insightful points, but only because he has been bold in bringing them to our attention. I did not hear about these things first from Denver. I learned them in my youth from my mother in the things she taught me and books I read, or I learned them later as I felt led to certain sources that one can find online which were not available until recently. The Internet has changed everything.

Troubling Issues in the Standard Narrative

You may ask why I choose to do this. You may wonder if I am looking to force the Brethren to take action. No, I am only looking for certain troubling issues to be addressed. I recognize that I am in the minority in this church. Some estimate that as few as two percent of the LDS members actually do any serious study of our history and the evolution of our doctrines over time. And if we are to believe John Dehlin (which I do), the Brethren have decided we are irredeemable.

Home Sanctuary – A Sacred Altar

Up until recently I was greatly concerned about missing out on the blessings of the sacrament and the temple if I were to be excommunicated from the church. With what I have learned about the home sanctuary in the last few weeks that concern about the temple has been resolved. And with what I have determined in my own mind about priesthood authority and priesthood power, remembering the Lord through administering the sacrament in my home is no longer an issue.

Bishop Holds Keys to Administer Sacrament

I know what you’re thinking, “Brother Malone, don’t you know that the Bishop holds the keys of administering the sacrament? You can’t do that without his permission.” Well, if the church cuts me off, then they no longer have any say about what I do in my own home, do they? Let me make it clear my issues with the church are not with my local priesthood leaders. I have many times expressed my love for them on my blog and will continue to do so. My issue is priesthood.

Sealing Power Received by Voice of God

The bottom line for me is I am not so sure the higher priesthood can be passed from one man to another. It can only be received by hearing the voice of God or by receiving it directly from God by the laying on of hands – the Lord’s hands, even Jesus Christ. Even if one receives this higher sealing power from the Savior, it cannot be passed on to another. Each man must receive this power for himself. I’m not saying the church doesn’t have authority because I know it does.

A Kingdom of Priests with Priestly Authority

I liken the authority of the church to that of the tribes of Israel after Moses and before the advent of the Lord in the Meridian of time. It is a priestly authority, authority of the Aaronic priesthood, or a type of authority that invites us to go and get the real thing, the power of the priesthood from the Lord and Master of the universe. I know this is quite a claim. We teach Peter, James and John gave this authority to Joseph and Oliver and I have no doubt they did. But was it later passed on?

Seek to Behold the Face of the Lord

Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were asked to choose the twelve apostles. They did so. After they were ordained, Oliver gave them this charge:

“…it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.

Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off you doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?”

 

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