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This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

Missionary Outreach

The purpose of A Man Without Doubt is to allow those with a desire to open a conversation regarding the restoration with non-Mormons to have a resource to invite questions. The best way to introduce new religious truths is by answering questions. The book explains Joseph Smith in his own words. He explained his beliefs simply, forthrightly, and persuasively. When he is allowed to speak, he does not appear to be the fanatical despot most non-Mormons conjure as their imagined character.

I’m giving copies of the book to others in the hope they will want to learn more. It is intended to be a resource for anyone to use with non-Mormons. We all have an obligation to others. When we are informed about how God is advancing His last-days work, we are obligated to inform others, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” (D&C 88:81.)

2016 Sunstone Symposium

This coming Friday, July 29, I will be speaking at the Sunstone Symposium at the University of Utah. I speak at 5:00 p.m. The lecture is titled: Was There An Original?

The lecture will examine how Mormonism changed during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. By taking a few topics to illustrate the overall phenomena, I hope to provide some additional insight into Joseph’s ministry and how to put context to the restoration. It was an incomplete work-in-process. There is a great deal left to be done.

New Book For Christians

A new book addressed to Christians is now available on Amazon. The book is titled A Man Without Doubt.

It is intended to be readable. There are no footnotes, and it is just under 200 pages. The book introduces material written by Joseph Smith by laying the historical setting that produced the document. Then Joseph is allowed to speak to the reader in his own words. The book was reviewed by non-Mormon readers beforehand, and their comments and suggestions were solicited and considered in finalizing it.

If you know of a Christian who has a negative opinion of Joseph Smith, you may want to lend them a copy of this book to see if influences them in a positive way.

Mormons may not appreciate the book. There is very little about the history leading to each of the three writings that is particularly flattering. The book first explains the frustrations and disappointments Joseph encountered in trying to convey to others the higher priesthood. In response to the failure, Joseph set out to address the lack of faith. Lectures on Faith were given in the School of the Prophets, then canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants to address the crisis of faith early Mormons experienced when the higher priesthood did not work as expected.

The second crisis began in 1837 and lasted through 1838. The collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society, the many members angry at Joseph, his flight to Missouri to escape the Mormons who intended to kill him, and the troubles in Missouri leading up to the Mormon War are explained as background. When John Whitmer, the historian of the church, left with the history, Joseph began a new composition in 1838 to replace the one Whitmer took. The background is prelude to the Joseph Smith History, and explains why Joseph wrote many of the comments in his history.

The third crisis was when Joseph was taken prisoner in the Mormon War. For six months in 1838-1839 he was confined in Missouri while Mormons were scattered from the state under threat of extermination. The background explains the circumstances in which Joseph wrote the letter from Liberty Jail.

After introducing the events leading to the three Joseph Smith compositions, the reader is allowed to read Joseph’s response to the crises. Everyone is allowed to form their own opinion of Joseph by considering how he reacted.

There is a glossary to help those unacquainted with Mormon language and leading figures to familiarize themselves with events, persons and texts of early Mormonism.

Most of the opposition Joseph Smith encountered had either disaffected Mormons leading or participating against him. His responses are all the more remarkable because of how positive he remained throughout.

If you know anyone, including Christian ministers, who could benefit from reading the book, please share it with them. Nothing in the book attempts to convert anyone to Mormonism. Its only purpose is to introduce Joseph Smith as a Christian figure whose life, in many ways, was like the Apostle Paul. A quote from Paul in the beginning of the book supplies all later chapter titles.

Now Christians

I finished and submitted for print a new book addressed to Christians. The book is an attempt to re-introduce Joseph Smith as an important Christian figure, separate from institutional Mormonism. It is time he became relevant to all Christians, and no longer regarded as the property of Mormonism. The new book should be available on Amazon by early August if anyone is interested.

The time has come to give attention to Christians who are not part of the Mormon tradition. Other faiths need to be invited to think about what God is doing to finish His work. Christians have barriers, including prejudices and traditions, but all need to be invited to consider how great things the Lord has done for mankind.

For several months I have solicited the opportunity to speak at several theological schools. Although I did get invited to speak to a group of “Mormon Studies” graduate students in California, they are not who I need to address. The other efforts have not proven successful. Accordingly, I thought it appropriate to make it public. I am looking for an opportunity to speak to a Christian audience, and enlist help from others.

If anyone knows of a Christian venue that meets the description below, please contact me and let me know:

I would like to give three talks, one in California, one in Texas and one in Atlanta. I will pay my own travel costs, and do not expect or want to be compensated for speaking. The audience should be comprised of Christians, and not Mormons. I would like to record the talks and make them available on-line for others to hear. The size of the venue is unimportant. I would prefer a theological school, but would welcome any venue with a Christian audience, including a church if one were available. Below is a brief biographical description you can use to solicit the invitation:

I converted to the LDS church when 19 years old, and served faithfully for 40 years. Among other things, I was an Elder’s Quorum President, Sunday School President, Bishop’s counselor, Ward Mission Leader, High Councilor, and Graduate Institute Instructor. I taught for three years at BYU Education Week on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. I graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1980, and have practiced law for 36 years. I have authored 15 volumes on Mormonism, including Mormon history and doctrine. I was excommunicated for publishing a book challenging the traditional LDS church narrative of its history, and offering a new interpretation of the events. My excommunication was directed by Elder Russell M. Nelson, current President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church.

I will be addressing the topic of Joseph Smith as a significant Christian figure, worthy of considering alongside all other important Christian thinkers, writers and martyrs.

You can send a response to dssnuffer@gmail.com.

The Martyrs

Hyrum fell first, and as the eldest brother led the way. Joseph died moments later. Today is the anniversary of their martyrdom.

Exactly as the angel foretold, the name of Joseph Smith is “had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” (JS-H 1:33.) Just as the Lord affirmed to Joseph in Liberty Jail, “fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.” (D&C 122:1-2.)

The evil spoken of Joseph now comes from the LDS Church, which claims him as their founder. It comes from Brian Hales, who claims to be an accurate biographer. It comes from anti-Mormons, and Christian ministers, and fundamentalists who have created a caricature they claim to be Joseph. There is little difference between these people and William Law, Charles Ivins, Francis Higbee, Chauncey Higbee, Robert Foster and Charles Foster who published the Nauvoo Expositor.

It would be good if some (or all) of those who claim Joseph was a sexual predator and adulterer for impregnating another man’s wife, were to apologize and acknowledge there is no compelling proof Joseph ever had sexual relations with any other woman other than Emma Smith. Even the putative last suspected daughter, Josephine Lyons, is now ruled out as his descendant. I have not read any apology for the false accusation that he was the father from Hales, the church, or any of his accusers.

In the aftermath of John Bennett’s misconduct, Joseph pursued an effort to track down what had happened in Nauvoo. By May 21, 1842, the high council met and, “[A] charge [was] [preferred] against Chauncey L. Higbee by George Miller for unchaste and un-virtuous conduct with the widow [Sarah] Miller, and others.” (Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, p. 414, all as in original.) In the trial, “Three witness[es] testified that he had seduced [several women] and at different times [had] been guilty of unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with them and taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women if it was kept secret &c and also taught that Joseph Smith authorised him to practice these things &c” (Id., pp. 414-415, as in original.)

On May 25 the charge was preferred “against Ms. Catherine Warren by George Miller for unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with John C. Bennett and others. The defendant confessed to the charge and gave the names of several other [men] who had been guilty having unlawful intercourse with her[,] stating they taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women and that the heads of the Church also taught and practiced it[,] …learning that the heads of the church did not believe of [the] practice [of] such things[,] she was willing to confess her sins and did repent before God for what she had done and desired earnestly that the Council would forgive her.”(Id., p. 417, as in original.) She furnished the identities of the several men involved, resulting in more church court proceedings to stop the spread of Bennett’s mischief.

On September 3, 1842, “[A] charge was preferred against Gustavius Hills by Elisha Everett[,] one of the teachers of the Church[,] for illicit intercourse with a certain woman by the name of Mary Clift by which she was with child[,] and for teaching the said Mary Clift that that the heads of the Church practiced such conduct & that time would come when men would have more wives than one &c” (Id., p. 424, as in original.)

The next day, September 4, 1842, “Esther Smith gave evidence that [the] defendant [Gustavius Hills] told her that it was lawful for people to have illicit intercourse if they only held their peac[e] & that the time would it was agreeable to the practice of some of the leading men or heads of the Church.” (Id., p. 425, as in original.)

Yet more courts were held as the effort to round up those who were involved in this practice. John Bennett, in response to the treatment given him by the church, set out to tell another story in which he was the hero and Joseph was the villain. He wrote, lectured and campaigned against Mormonism, first to salvage his reputation, but ultimately as his profession.

Joseph left a record of public and private actions taken in opposing the plural wife system. These included: “I preached in the grove and pronounced a curse upon all adulterers and fornicators, and unvirtuous persons and those who have made use of my name to carry on their iniquitous designs.” (Joseph Smith (Sermon at the Grove; Apr 10, 1842)

Then there is the obviously altered Joseph Smith journal for Thursday 5th October 1843, which confirms there was an effort to alter documents to conform to later events and practices:

(ORIGINAL) Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. Gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this Law. Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of— No man shall have but one wife.

(REVISED) Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. Gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this law for according to the law i hold the keys of this power in the last days, for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power? and the keys are conferred – and I have continually said Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of No man shall have but one wife at a time unless the Lord directs otherwise

          Someone revised the content at a later date. Once revised at a later date, it was “on” again, and perhaps retroactively “on” since the original alterations were not possible to detect until the Joseph Smith Papers project made the original available for public view.

There was a published denunciation of polygamy in early February 1844 in the newspaper edited by Joseph:

“As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.”  (Joseph Smith & Hyrum Smith, Times and Seasons Vol. 5 (February 1, 1844).)

The Relief Society later put out a more detailed document titled A Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo that offered an even stronger denial of plural marriage. It was penned by W. W. Phelps at the request of Joseph Smith. The document was presented to a general meeting of the church at which Joseph presided in March 1844, three months before he was killed:

“A vast assembly of Saints met at the Temple of the Lord at nine o’clock a. m., by a special appointment of President Joseph Smith, for the purpose of advancing the progress of the Temple, &c. The Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, was present; also of the Twelve Apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and George A. Smith; also the temple committee and about eight thousand Saints….[later in the meeting] an article was also read by W. W. Phelps, entitled, A Voice of innocence from Nauvoo, and all the assembly said ‘Amen’ twice.” (DHC 6:236, p 241.)

I tire of hearing Joseph’s name associated with evil. Particularly from those who claim to honor him as a prophet. On this day I would defend his honor and affirm he is exactly who and what he claimed. He was a virtuous man, in love with his wife Emma, and opposed to adultery, immorality and dishonesty.

A Bigger Picture

I had a lengthy education the night of April 14th (two months ago) about the overall picture of the Lord’s work. We are important, but He is working with all people, in all cultures, and in all faiths, at the same time. He is not just working with us. We may be important to fulfill promises He made to fathers who went before, but there are billions to whom those promises likewise extend, and for whom He has as much care, concern and love as He has for us.

We get myopic and see things through a very narrow lens, when the God of heaven sees all mankind as the object of His atonement and beneficiaries of the restoration of truth through Joseph Smith. If we are somehow “special” to God, so are all the rest of mankind. His plan is for the advancement of all mankind, to “add upon” every one of us who come to live and die here. We are learning to distinguish between good and evil by the experiences we have.

Even if we think our religious understanding superior to others, the others are also being added upon as well. As I have worked on the paper I will be presenting at Sunstone in July, I have been reminded that Mormonism was intended to include “all truth, wherever it is found” as part of one great whole. It is we who are narrow-minded and intolerant, not God. God has a heart big enough to care for all, and even the least of mankind.

Whenever there is some new revelation by God to me I always stand corrected, because I needed correcting, and in awe of how great our Lord is; and how comparatively little I am.

Word of Wisdom

There’s an interesting article on Yahoo which states in part:

Paris (AFP) – Very hot drinks probably increase the risk of cancer, a UN agency said Wednesday, but coffee — once feared to be a carcinogen — is safe if enjoyed at “normal” temperatures.

Tea and mate, a popular South American herbal infusion, may also be harmful if drunk hotter than 65 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported.

“It doesn’t matter what the liquid is,” said epidemiologist Dana Loomis, who took part in a review of the world’s most popular hot beverages. “What matters is the temperature.”

___________________

The title of the article is Very Hot Drinks Probably Cause Cancer: UN Agency.

D-Day

June 6, 1944, now 72 years behind us, was D-Day. It should remain a sober reminder of what is required once evil is allowed to gain dictatorial control over nations. If we do not fight for freedom through peaceful, political means, then the choices are either enslavement or war. While we are allowed to choose a political solution, we ought to choose wisely. “When the wicked rule, the people mourn.” (D&C 98:9; see also Proverbs 29:2.)

“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.” (D&C 98:10.)

Every freedom mankind enjoys throughout the world is affected by who is elected to hold office in the United States. Those who are allowed to vote ought to do so with sober appreciation of the solemn consequences of our choice. When we choose poorly and elect unfit, unqualified, morally deficient leaders whose integrity is questionable all the world pays a price. A leader (male or female) is best when he regards himself as nothing more than a public servant, and worst when assuming it is to gratify his pride or satisfy his vain ambition.

Sunstone Schedule

The Sunstone schedule is now becoming more fixed. You can review the schedule here: 2016 Salt Lake Symposium.

I will be speaking from 5-6:30 pm on Friday, July 29th in the Saltair Room in the Olpin University Center on the University of Utah.

The talk I will give is titled: Was There An Original? It is about the beginning of Mormonism and the continuity or discontinuity since the beginning.