As foreign translations of The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil are being considered, one question that has come up is whether the book ought to be updated to reflect changes since its original publication 9 years ago. There will be no changes made in the book. If there is a third edition, there will be no changes made there either.
I was an active, faithful Latter-day Saint when the book was written. It is a correct statement of the LDS Church beliefs at that time. The book preserves an important moment in time, before even more radical changes to the LDS Church were made.
When the book was written it was understood that “the second Comforter” referred to Christ. The footnotes in LDS scripture confirmed John 14: 16, 18 and 23 were referring to Christ. They were Christ’s promise that He would appear to His disciples. In the latest revisions to the LDS scriptures, the reference was changed and redefined to mean the Holy Ghost, and not Christ.
The LDS Church has not yet changed, altered or deleted the explanation to John 14:23 in the D&C. That volume of scripture still states: “John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” (D&C 130: 3.)
The elimination of the footnotes was not inadvertent. The LDS Church no longer teaches that it is possible for a faithful Latter-day Saint to receive the Second Comforter. As recently as June 13, 2015, LDS assistant historian Richard Turley and church apostle Dallin Oaks traveled to Boise, Idaho, and while there denounced the idea of church members having spiritual experiences that go “entirely against all the rules of order that we have talked about.” (Recording at 59 minutes.) Turley, quoting President Spencer W. Kimball, warned that this kind of experience “may not come from God. I am sure that there may be many spectacular things performed because the devil is very responsive.” (Id.)
Dealing directly with the Second Comforter, Turley denounced the claim, “only those who see the face of Jesus Christ in mortality will receive Celestial Glory.” (Id.)
Elder Oaks added: “the suggestions that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary.” (Recording at 1 hr. 30 seconds.)
If these statements are not enough, a talk at FAIR was covered by both the Church News and LDS Meridian Magazine. The Church News headlined their article “Speaker identifies ‘spiritual threat‘.” In that article, it reports it is spiritually threatening to have “an inordinate interest in the Second Comforter.” LDS Meridian Magazine reprinted the talk. The talk states it is wrong to have, “Inordinate interest in the Second Comforter or Second Anointing, complaints that the church does not teach or emphasize them enough, and belief that books or teachings by individuals who are not church leaders are the best way to obtain them.”
The last time the Second Comforter was mentioned in general conference was in the early 1970’s. It is not covered in Priesthood, Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine lesson manuals of the church. It is not on the correlation committee’s approved list of topics suitable for discussion.
The book The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil uses scripture, traditional sources and quotes from LDS Church leaders, including Joseph Smith, and books printed by Deseret Book and Bookcraft (a subsidiary of Deseret Book). It is an entirely orthodox book 9 years ago. It represents the actual position of the LDS faith when it was printed.
The shift in just 9 years is so dramatic that the book needs stay just as it is. It demonstrates how very much the LDS Church has changed, and how quickly it did so. It is an important historical document preserving a snapshot that allows a stark contrast to be made in the minds of anyone interested in understanding a rapidly changing institution losing track of its most fundamental teachings.