In response to an email about the Tree of Life in Lehi’s dream, and the potential for John the Beloved to be directly involved in latter-day events, I responded with the following:
The challenge is to elevate others without elevating yourself. The idea of having a strong leader with everyone looking to them for salvation is a demonstrably inadequate model. It did not work with Moses. It failed in the New Testament. It failed with Joseph. It will fail if used again now.
I have written over 2 million words explaining my understanding of Mormonism. It has largely been an exposition of the scriptures to show how they anchor all my beliefs. The scriptures are a library of material about Christ, written by those who knew Him and had understanding given to them by Him. The value of scripture is directly related to the writers’ proximity to our Lord’s mind and words.
Not all scripture has equal value. The Book of Mormon has the greatest value because of its origin. Its prophecies are more relevant to us than those of the Bible
Other than the scriptures, the sources I trust most are approved or written by Joseph Smith, or his brother Hyrum, and others that include the earliest contemporary accounts of beginning LDS history. The further away the source is from the actual events, the less reliable they prove. There are some accounts that have become “history” that were not even written by a witness. They were fanciful recreations intended to promote belief in the religious systems that followed Joseph’s death. They are not true.
Lately, more reliable source materials about early LDS history are available to the public for the first time. Older accounts written without using the new source material are unreliable and outdated. Defending LDS historical accounts using unreliable source material no longer persuades those who are well read in new material. I have tried to make a positive statement of what I have learned and how events can be better reconstructed using what is now available.
The contradictory clutter of post-Joseph contentions advanced by church apologists are neither consistent nor coherent. Those who prize these sources and find virtue in them have courage. I confess I lack the courage to trust myth without searching to discover truth.
Even after all I’ve written, I still have venomous critics who attribute to me the opposite of what I believe.
-Although I condemn plural marriage, I’m accused of wanting it.
-Although I abhor concentration of power in church leaders, I’m accused of seeking to establish my own organization to control.
-Although I spend my own money to teach and serve, I’m accused of somehow wanting to profit from these expenses I bear.
-Although I have told people to remain LDS if they are happy with their situation, I’m accused of driving people away from the church. (I really like Latter-day Saints. They are among the best people I know. If they follow their faith, they are upright, decent and moral people for whom I hold high regard. They only bother me when they ignorantly and vocally damn me for things I do not believe or advocate. Apart from that, I have no complaints.)
-Although I harbor no ill-will to any church authority, I’m accused of railing against them.
-Although I recommend we return to the original name for the priesthood, I’m accused of wanting to rename priesthood after myself.
As the Lord said, “blessed are you when men shall say all manner of evil against you FALSELY for my name’s sake…” It seems I qualify. The critics do not bother to say what I actually advocate, choosing instead to spread false accusations suggesting I believe the opposite of what I actually believe.
The 11th Article of Faith declares:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
I believe this. I also claim this right. I appreciate the opportunity claimed by every “Mormon” sect accepting the Articles of Faith as part of their beliefs. When others want to attack this right, let’s band together to oppose them. Let everyone be free in their beliefs and worship.
It should be no concern to anyone what, how or where I choose to worship. If I am wrong, that is between me and God. I am only sharing what I have learned with those who are interested. You are free to reject my beliefs. If you are right, then you should rejoice in the truth you have found and try to persuade others to see the truth as well.
No one should “own” a religion. It is morally corrupt to claim anyone can dictate what others believe, what they should believe, how they should worship or what they must do to satisfy a man’s demand in order for God to offer salvation. If you think a Pope, or Priest or Prophet can save you, then by all means go get yourself saved, as you understand it. If I think only God can save me, and that too by the grace of Christ, then permit me to seek for my salvation at the feet of the Lord whom I worship.
If we are both deluded then let’s permit each other the joy of our delusions without rancor or contention. You revel in what brings you hope and satisfaction, and allow me to do the same. If we are all wrong, the least we can be is accommodating and happy.
Because of our limited time in mortality, we will all know soon enough the answers to all the questions. While we are here, let’s be courteous to one another. When at last we arrive, we can compare notes and see what other insights we can share with one another.
Until you have done what I have done, you cannot possibly fully understand my faith, and likewise, since your experience is foreign to me, I cannot possibly fully understand your faith. We ought to resign ourselves to peacefully allow one another the privilege to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, and trust that we all take seriously the obligation to search for truth.
Assuming we all act consistent with our conscience, then why damn each other for our good faith beliefs and efforts? Why not be open, even with disagreements? Why feel threatened when someone understands our history, scripture, and God’s will differently? When we allow one another the freedom of belief, an open discussion helps us understand the reason for a different view, and lets us reconsider our own views in a healthy, useful way. Over time we inevitably grow more unified by open discourse.
It arouses my curiosity when someone offers a new understanding of scripture. Curiosity is a very good thing. It is perhaps the most childlike thing about us; something Christ said was required for us to see His Kingdom. When we react in fear and anger at other religious viewpoints we are really submitting to the enemy of our soul. Fear is ungodly. Faith casts out fear. Can you imagine a child who refuses to consider anything new because they fear to hear about it?
We should allow everyone to state what they believe and why– in THEIR own words. Redefining them, attributing motives they do not claim, or questioning their good faith can never lead us to an understanding of one another.
For the first time since Joseph and Hyrum died, there is actual progress now being made. Instead of the atrophy of three and four generations merely marking time, we now see new life begun. There are two important, interrelated challenges before us.
The first is remembering the restoration and reclaiming its truths, ordinances and vitality. This began in earnest with the final talk given in Phoenix on September 9, 2014. Since then, hundreds have gone through the simple but necessary process to reclaim authority and obtain the now required sustaining vote to exercise that authority with God’s approval.
Fellowship groups are collecting tithing and using it to assist the poor among them, and when their group’s needs are met they support others who are in need. I have received wonderful accounts of how local groups are organizing themselves.
One group has two boxes when they meet. In one they deposit tithing, all in cash to make it easy to distribute immediately. In the other, those with needs write down their need. Following sacrament, the needs are reviewed and prioritized based on the group’s agreement of greatest need requiring the most immediate attention, and then ranking second, third, and so on. After agreement is reached, the tithing money is counted and, if all needs can be met, the funds are given to those in need. If only part of the needs can be addressed, the money is distributed according to the agreed priority.
In some accounts sent to me, children of the fellowship see the gospel in action and are impressed with the power of faith to bless and care for one another’s needs. They see this immediately. They see people ministering to one another as the result of the faith they share in Christ and the effort to obey Him.
This renewal allows the great financial power of Christ’s teachings to be fully devoted to immediate needs. No one administers the tithes, nor does anyone control the resources. Common consent is used to accomplish good and address immediate needs. No one is paid to serve, and nothing is required to support an administrative or professional class.
In this new pattern the great evil of priestcraft condemned by the Book of Mormon is avoided. No one can profit, and no one can obtain money and earn their living through this system. The poor alone receive the benefit of the tithing collected.
This pattern mirrors the one commended by the Book of Mormon:
Alma 1:26: And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God, they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
It avoids the practice of priestcraft condemned in that same chapter:
The man Nehor preached in favor of a professional and popular clergy.
Alma 1:3: he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
Nehor was popular because he did not preach repentance. Quite the opposite, he reassured his audience that they would certainly be saved, appealing to their pride.
Alma 1:4: And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
In competition with this false priestcraft, there was an unpaid clergy offering an unpopular message. These true priests warned people tot repent and follow God. The Book of Mormon shows in plain simplicity the religion Christ wants mankind to follow.
The simple but necessary steps have been declared again with God’s approval. In response hundreds now have authority and several thousand have returned to the root of the restoration. These will survive the Lord’s return, because their authorized and authoritative baptism is the sign now accepted by God as proof of faith by obedience.
This will continue to roll forward. Even in this cold weather, over the last two weeks there have been baptisms in the Boise River, northern Utah, and elsewhere. It is delicate and vulnerable, but I do not believe it will go backward. The season is upon us.
This vital new growth from a dead root is a sign heaven told us to watch for in the last days. It is fulfilling the prophecy of Zenos, and the promises given by Christ. This is a new beginning. With this beginning, I think there is every reason to rejoice and take heart.
The second challenge is to see Zion gathered from among the scattered into a single place in the mountains where an ensign will be built. There the Lord will gather some under His wings, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. However, Zion must wait for strength to develop in the first fellowships.
Like men in all generations, I too want to see the foundation of Zion built in my day. This desire sometimes leads me to have unreasonably high expectations for others. This is wrong of me, and leads to my disappointment. Disappointment is always a product of expectations. Because I expect more, when I should not, I am led to want more than is possible for others to give or do. That is wrong of me, and I acknowledge my misplaced expectations.
The Lord is patient, and He knows what will follow and how it all will unfold to fulfill His promises. I have seen the potential of some of you and want that to turn into more than perhaps it ever will or can. For the last few days I have reflected on Sidney Rigdon. He was so important, useful and valuable to Joseph’s work as it began. With time, Sidney became a hindrance. So much so that Joseph asked the church to vote him out as a counselor to Joseph–but instead, the church reelected Sidney. Like Sidney, many others of Joseph’s inner circle proved themselves incapable of rising up and realizing the opportunity presented to them. In the end, Sidney and others skewed the restoration, and in may ways opposed and hindered what the Lord might have accomplished with more obedient and humble people.
In the same January 1841 revelation reminding the church it had forfeited the “fulness of the priesthood” (D&C 124:28), the Lord confirmed upon Hyrum “the office of Priesthood and Patriarch” (D&C 124:91). In Hyrum, like the prophets of old, God gave us a “prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto [God’s] church” (D&C 124:94). Hyrum was a man who could “bind on earth, bind in heaven, loose on earth, and loose in heaven” (D&C 124:93). He was the means to preserve the restoration, had he lived. By June 1844, it appears to me only Joseph and Hyrum were equal to fulfilling the Lord’s requirements.
But Joseph and Hyrum were brothers, and therefore both “pure blooded Ephriamites” (JD 2:269; see also Ensign, January 1991, Of the House of Israel). The ancient covenants required this bloodline to bring forth the Book of Mormon and commence the restoration. However, they, and the priesthood line through them, needed to end before other covenants could be fulfilled. Zion will come through both Judah (king) and Joseph (priest), to fulfill the promises of our Lord (D&C 113:5-6; Isa. 11:10). Accordingly, both Joseph and Hyrum were taken, Hyrum the first to fall.
Hyrum’s line was to be kept “in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever” (D&C 124:96). Even after the Patriarch’s office, held by Hyrum’s descendants, was discontinued in 1979, the church still held some tenuous claims. In 1979 Eldred G. Smith was released and never replaced, but he lived on for decades. The office has now altogether ended according to church publications.
Upon his death in April 2013 at 104 years of age, the sign of the passing of the fourth generation was given. By April of the next year the Lord concluded His work through the LDS Church and set His hand to begin something new, now underway.
The first process of fellowshipping in local groups today is saving souls. It is a required first step, and therefore anyone who claims to have faith in Christ must now come and receive their baptism as a sign of faith in Christ through this required manner. Even if the recipient chooses to continue activity in the LDS Church, or any other church or group, all people of faith must receive the baptism now being offered.
But the second challenge, to have Zion return, is the true object of our Lord’s heart. For that to come, the challenge is an order of magnitude greater than fellowshipping, and will require much of us.
One word of caution: new things taught using the scriptures always give pretenders, ambitious and cunning men an opportunity to improve their deception. Information can be abused, and there are those who are eager to deceive to get power, popularity and financial gain. You must assume the burden of distinguishing light from darkness, truth from error, and pretenders from those sent by the Lord with counsel from Him. Trust no man. Go to God and ask Him about everyone who teaches and everything taught.
We celebrate our Lord’s birth tomorrow.
What a wonder He was and is. Although He was the greatest and “more intelligent than they all,” (Abr. 3:19) He came to serve, kneel and wash the feet of the unworthy, bless, instruct and endure abuse. He was meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29), yet spoke as one having authority (Matt. 7:29).
He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
He bore our infirmities.
With His stripes we are healed.
The world took little note of His arrival on that Spring day. He was born in the springtime to herald new life, resurrection, and rebirth. We celebrate it in the darkness of the winter which can likewise testify of the end of darkness and increase of light–for all things testify of Him. (Moses 6:63.)
The heavens themselves were stirred at His birth. Stars aligned, signs appeared, heavenly choirs sang, and prophecies, covenants and promises were vindicated through His birth, lowly life, exalted teachings, and sacrificial offering. All this before the eyes of a blind, murderous generation, who would kill their God. (2 Ne. 10:3.)
He preferred Isaiah and the Psalms to other scripture of His day. He used a small canon of scripture to expound and teach.
How worthy was the Lamb!
There is none like Him, dead or alive. We are all lost to the grave and prison without Him.
His rescue mission extends to all mankind. We will all be rescued from the grave. He intends to work to bring about our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39), even if this requires worlds without end (D&C 76:112).
A Roman centurion and his cohort said it best: “Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54.)
I received an email that refers to some specific people, events, places and individuals. Therefore I will not put the email up. But the response has a broader application and it is copied below for anyone who is interested to consider.
The reference to the “light winning over darkness” on the Winter Solstice is based on natural ebb and flow of sunlight on this planet. The longest night and shortest day are the day before the Solstice. The beginning of light returning, and lengthening daylight, is the Solstice.
In response to a question about God not presently having a house on earth, it should be clear this is not a reference to men as the temple of God. God does dwell with some now living.
Nor is it a reference to the various synagogues, cathedrals, chapels, temples and religious facilities constructed by all the various religions in which men practice their rites and devotions to God. Some of those are lovely, quiet and filled with reverence and beauty.
It is a reference to a House God will visit and accept as His. He will appear there, send His messengers (angels) to visit and open a fiery corridor between heaven and earth. Or, in other words, a place where a pillar of fire will dwell.
This was not a criticism of places of worship used by men today. It is an observation of present conditions and a description of what will need to be built and accepted prior to the Lord’s return. It will need to be constructed strictly, in accordance with the pattern God requires, and not something men presently construct as their places of worship.
Everything from the location to the details of the design must be according to God’s instructions. It will be proof on the earth for heaven to behold, showing to the Powers of Heaven that mankind (however few) are listening to Him and are now willing to do what He asks. God will control if and when it will be done, and who will be permitted to construct His House. This will not be a volunteer project. God alone will bring it to pass, using means determined by Him.
There must be a site prepared, and an invitation extended, before the Lord’s return. That place must be hallowed. It is a necessary precondition for His return. It is from that site the sanctification of the earth will proceed. Eventually the whole earth will be renewed.
With help from a volunteer the 40 Years in Mormonism has now been converted into a downloadable MP3 format. We hoped to release those before Christmas (and still may). This blog site is not equipped to handle that kind of service. Therefore, we have secured a new website from which all the papers and the recordings will be made downloadable. There remain some technical details to coordinate on that website, and so we may not make the Christmas target. But it is coming, and as soon as we can solve the issues of uploading and authorizing the downloading, a link will be put here on this blog.
I appreciate all the work done by everyone involved to record, copy and preserve the talks. I also appreciate the work done to convert the material so it can be made available.
I am working to produce a book based on the talks and some other material from the blog and the Sunstone paper delivered this year. The book will be different than the talks. It a different and more extensive project involving thousands of additional hours of editing and writing to add additional scriptural and historical support to the topics discussed. It is the most work I have ever invested into a single volume. There is no projected completion date. At present I am only finished through the Las Vegas talk in a first edit. It will go through approximately 3 edits. Completion of the book will likely be sometime mid-2015, at the earliest.
Light won the annual battle with darkness yesterday on the Winter Solstice. I wish light could win the battle in mankind’s dark heart.
God requires holiness and cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, as explained in D&C 1:31.
If we fail to keep God’s ordinances exactly as prescribed, they are broken and no longer effective. (Isa. 24:5.)
God’s House is always to be built for His presence. When accepted by Him it must remain exactly as He ordered it, or there are only two results:
1. If the ordinances are not kept, He withdraws and the house is no longer His. Men are then free to do what they choose within the temple because God neglects it.
2. If He still claims it, then those who offend within His House offend God, and they will die.
Nadab and Abihu were the oldest sons of Aaron, Nadab being the oldest. (Num. 3:2.) They had been in God’s presence with Moses on the Mount. (Exo. 24:9-10.)
Despite their standing, they chose to practice a rite within God’s House (at that time it was a temporary tabernacle) without God’s sanction or approval. God had commanded what was to be done, how it was to be done, and who was to perform the rites. These two were apparently worthy and qualified to have seen God and enter His presence. Despite this, they apparently thought of some additional way to honor God, perhaps by incorporating what they sincerely thought was a worthy act of devotion. They were, after all, within the tabernacle and “before God” when they acted.
Since they came out of Egypt, it is probable the offering they made was taken from the Egyptian practices with which they were acquainted. No doubt they thought some particularly impressive portion of the Egyptian rites would evidence their sincere admiration and veneration for God.
The problem is that the Lord’s House is His, not theirs. They are not justified when they presume they can take just any impressive rite and practice it before God to earn His respect. They were showing disrespect, even rebellion, by incorporating into their rites a foreign idea not commanded by Him.
When they went into God’s House and offered before Him a rite He did not command to be done within His House, they were trespassing and rebelling. They took Telestial behavior within a site hallowed by God to be His, requiring a Terrestrial law. Like those who will be unprepared for His presence at His return, they were killed by the “fire” or glory of God’s presence. (Lev. 10:1-3.) Moses reminded their father, Aaron, that those who come to God must be “sanctified” by the means He prescribes, and no other.
There is no accepted House on earth today wherein God dwells. We are therefore free to observe whatever we think will please God in our individual houses of worship. But when He establishes a House and His presence is to be found there, nothing can be done apart from what He commands to be done, when He commands it to be done, and in the manner He commands it to be observed. If anything varies, then the results will be:
1. He withdraws and it is no longer His House; or,
2. Those who violate the conditions for entering His House will pay with their lives for their rebellion; even if they have been in His presence before.
Given the vanity and pride of mankind, it seems unlikely there will ever be people who are willing to strictly observe only what He asks as He asks it. It is a mistake to think we can improve on what He gives us, and yet we do.
When there is a House built for God (and some future people will build one), it will necessarily be through people of restraint, meekness, humility and patience who take no credit and think themselves no better than their fellows. It will be an undertaking requiring a heart like our Lord’s, full of the virtues He displayed. There will need to be a priest, like Moses, who was the meekest of all men. (Num. 12:3.) There will need to be someone, at last, who knows the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the Powers of Heaven, and when the heavens are offended, they withdraw. When withdrawn, other false spirits rush in to please and reassure us in our vanity and pride.
There have been so many generations of disappointment for heaven. Even if God sent another like Joseph Smith, it is doubtful anything more could be accomplished today than was done in Nauvoo. Like Nadab and Abihu, we stray, offering up our strange incense rather than strictly observing what God asks, how He asks it to be done, when He asks it of us.
Moses took Israel out of Egypt because God knew the traditions of that culture were corrupt. A new and more correct pattern was revealed to Moses. But Nadab and Abihu took it upon themselves to bring Egypt with them, and thought they could please God with their pleasant, but unauthorized, worship. They died.
Why are many called and so few chosen? Why can we not learn from past failure enough to avoid repeating it in our day?
Vanity, pride, looking beyond the mark, self-will, arrogance, and reckless enthusiasm all proceed from a lack of gratitude to God for what He gives us. Instead of accepting in gratitude and practicing it with patience, we demand more, insist we can improve on His ways, and charge ahead into the pass to be destroyed by the beast. The chosen of God remain scatterlings, unable to dwell in the House of God with Him, because it cannot be built with the unclean hands of a wayward generation.
We have moved into a season of increasing light now. But I do not think mankind has yet reached its winter solstice. From all I have seen, darkness continues to hold sway among even the very elect.
I received the following email, which I believe worth sharing:
This is as good a spot, and manner, as any to thank you for staying aloof recently, and for resisting the urge to be a strong man. In the last month, I have had a vision and have been led by God in several ways. I now feel that I have a calling in life. I thanked you because, after the vision, one of my first thoughts was to send it to you and ask what you thought. If I’m being honest, I still would like to know your thoughts…but I instead went to the Lord, and have received much more than just that initial opening. There have been other experiences (like after my recent rebaptism) where I reached out to my friends to share the experience. It was harder than going to a ‘strong man,’ but both they and I have been strengthened by exercising those spiritual muscles. Keep going strong brother. May enough of us arise from the dust to actually see Zion brought about in our lifetime!
I rejoice in the strength of others. All who rise up to know God will understand the source of the words I have spoken and written.
I received an email from a fellow struggling with a spouse who opposes his understanding of the institutional church and the present state of the restoration. What can be done when one person views the present circumstances (and these will continue to change), the church and needed preparations differently from their spouse or other family members?
Families are and must be a priority. Children are owed a duty by both parents. Spouses and children deserve our unconditional love, support, and encouragement. The most important arguments are never won by words, but by our deeds. Live true principles and the example, not your words, will convert others.
The changes will continue apace. There are many reasons for this. The LDS church is not the same today as it was 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The church makes decisions using models based on business and political theories. This is ill-fitted for a religious movement. The result is that changes are made hastily and without careful consideration given to doctrine or how abandoning doctrine affects members.
The LDS church sells the product “Mormonism” to a target market of the unconverted or non-members. Their present customer base (members) have been put through jarring changes. These include changes in temple rites, exclusion/inclusion of blacks for priesthood, stripping women of control of their own organization through correlation, and others. Despite these dramatic changes, the institution has largely managed to keep their loyal customer base. This gives the leadership confidence that the greatest part of their customer base is secure and will never leave. Therefore, their adaptation is tailored to their target market. This includes a demographic who are in large part younger, liberal, progressive, self-centered, emotional, and noticeably lacking in the ability to think critically. This is the future Mormon consumer or target audience.
To make this work, the church pares down its teachings, and reassures the loyal customer base that the radical changes are okay because the church cannot lead its customers into error or apostasy. There are two important tenets that have superceded all others: the church is led by a “prophet” and the leaders “cannot lead you astray.” These MUST emerge as the primary themes. Any dedicated study of doctrine and history shows the church is riddled with contradictions, mistakes, missteps, changing and untrue claims regarding history and non-scriptural dogma. This is excused and rationalized by the propounding of the two mandatory teachings of a “prophet” who “cannot lead you astray.”
Inadequately prepared young men and women are now shouldering the missionary burden. As the older ones cycle through, and the youngsters fully man the missionary effort, the numbers of missionaries out will decrease back to the pre”hastening” numbers. (The math is simple: The population of prospective missionaries was expanded one time. Those who would have waited another year were able to leave a year earlier because of the change in age eligibility. Those already serving, who had gone out at the older age were in the mission field at the time the policy changed. So an additional year’s missionaries were immediately eligible and added to the ranks. Within three years, all the older missionaries who were serving when the change was made will be back home. Those who were able to serve a year younger will also return, leaving at that time only the younger population as missionaries. The willing and available number within any given two-year block is about 50,000. Within three years the temporary increase to 88,000 will subside back to the pre-change number. However, when that happens the maturity and commitment problems caused by the younger missionaries will remain.)
The timing of the age change was to increase the missionary force for the Mitt Romney Presidency. The age change was announced in October general conference before the election in November. Presidents are sworn in in January. By January the policy-change surge in missionaries was well underway, but Romney lost. The surge is not repeatable, unless, of course another age-lowering change is adopted.
Historically the Lord sends a message. Then He awaits the reaction of the people to the message He sent. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, and a fair chance has been given for people to heed or ignore the message, the Lord will preach His own sermon. His sermon is in the gift of tribulation and calamities to afflict us and refocus our attention onto more important, even eternal things.
In our patience we possess our souls. So be patient. Be steady. Be believing and do what you believe God bids you to do. You will not be disappointed. Those who judge the truth through you need your example to show them what faith looks like, what faith acts like, and what faith truly is. Display it in meekness and they will be persuaded far more than through any sermon you can deliver. Sermons are for the believing. Your life lived becomes the means to persuade others.
In a Press Release by the LDS Church on their website on April 18, 2008 titled Respect for Diversity of Faiths, this church has explained how God works with others outside the limited membership of the LDS faith:
I do not post on other blogs either in my own name, using an avatar, or anonymously. Someone has posted using my last name on another blog, the blog owner inquired and I responded that it was not me. This morning I checked and he clarified on his blog that the comment wasn’t mine.
Also, I was told some stake president now claims I advocate killing children or wives, or some other such nonsense as part of his effort to deter people from reading anything I’ve written. When I stopped laughing about it last evening, I thought about our Lord’s blessing upon us when all manner of false things are said about us. Inadvertently this ill-motivated stake president has invoked the Lord’s blessing upon me once again. (And the Lord’s ire upon himself.)
There are many great things underway. I want to encourage and reassure those involved. The greatness of the gospel has nothing to do with our human weakness and limitations. Our weakness is a given, and anticipated by God. His plan requires only a willing and penitent heart. He can do great things with the penitent. In some ways our weakness stands as proof this is God’s work.
Those who are now suffering rejection and persecution should rejoice, for so persecuted they the prophets who went before.
To the South American missionary sent home 37 days early for having an inadequate testimony of Thomas Monson: Rejoice in the Lord. Know that the district leader, mission president and area authority seventy will mourn for what they have done.
To the parents in Boise, who after their meeting re: excommunication, are waiting to hear from the twelve whether their 9 year old and 14 year old children will be excommunicated for their rebaptism: Rest assured God hears your prayers and knows the goodness of your heart. Nothing can separate you from His love.
To the man whose excommunication was recently announced in sacrament, relief society and priesthood meetings where your children and grandchildren attend: Know that this violated the church’s policies and makes a sham of the appeal process, but you are nevertheless now better acquainted with our Lord. Those who hope to be like Him must endure some of what He endured from His fellow man.
To the tithing groups who have blessed the lives of the needy among them with thousands of dollars of assistance monthly: Many have heard of this and know if there were more doing likewise the world would be a better, healthier place to live. Children in your group see these acts of devotion and have more confidence in Christ’s Gospel.
To those who meet over the internet because there are not enough of you in an area to meet personally: Be patient. This is just beginning.
To the thousands who have been rebaptized: This is a sign you are not an idolator and will not be destroyed at the Lord’s coming.
To those who are informed by your fears: The Lord works through love, not fear. When you allow your fears to inform your choices, the distance between you and God widens.
To the former Mormon fundamentalists who have always been willing to endure difficulty for what you believe: You will bring a great wealth of information into any of the fellowship groups you may join. Plural marriage shouldn’t be practiced, but your families should be kept together.
The spiritual experiences many people are receiving for the first time are what the restoration was intended to produce.
Proceed in faith. Practice the principles of the Gospel in your individual lives. Leave the rest in God’s hands.
Joseph Smith taught that it is critical for us to know the mysteries of God. “Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.” TPJS, p. 357.
“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world.” TPJS, p. 217.
Joseph understood we are saved by gaining knowledge about God’s mysteries. When we are ignorant of them, we cannot be saved. No one can be saved in ignorance. It is not possible.
Joseph’s knowledge mirrored what is taught and reflected in the Book of Mormon:
Alma 12: 9-11 explains:
“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”
The definition of being taken captive by the devil is to “know nothing concerning [God’s] mysteries.”
When a person knows nothing concerning God’s mysteries, they are then “led by his [the devil’s] will down to destruction.”
When they are taken captive by their ignorance, they are then bound “by the chains of hell.”
The result of ignorance of God’s mysteries is “destruction” and “captivity.” The ignorant will remain devoted to falsehoods, blinded leaders, and guides who give no truthful accounts of the awful situation faced by the ignorant because they do not understand truth.
D&C 93: 24-25: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.”
We must know the truth. The truth informs us how things are (now, today, in the peril we presently face–unvarnished and in all its terrible meaning).
The truth informs us of how things were (by accurate history, revealing exactly what happened, without mythical or political overlay, with its disappointments and tragedies candidly depicted).
The truth informs us of the things to come (even if the prophecies and promises dash our hopes, crush our vanity and expose our foolishness).
Truth can be startling, but it is necessary. Without the truth it is impossible to repent. We will never change while trusting a lie. But we will never fail to repent when the truth is laid bare before us.
In order to take people captive, all that is required is for people to be content with their ignorance. The greatest threat to salvation does not come from teaching false doctrine, but instead comes from ignoring doctrine altogether. Substituting platitudes and truisms for careful, ponderous and solemn investigation of the deep things of God will suffice to keep people in the chains of captivity. It isn’t necessary for the devil to convince you of lies, only for him to make you content in your ignorance, or fearful of the search for truth.
I have provided a link to the FAIR website where they amalgamate criticism of me. The criticism is fine, but there is one point where I believe they crossed a line. It needed a response.
I have said I was worthy of a temple recommend when I was excommunicated. FAIR has denounced this as “false” and “dishonest” and included their analysis which I copy below:
Snuffer’s claim is false—by his own description of his behavior, he was not “worthy of a temple recommend.” He either does not understand the temple recommend questions, or he is being dishonest with his readers, the First Presidency, and perhaps himself.
He also says:
“I had a current temple recommend at the time of the disciplinary council. I was not asked to return it before the council, nor asked to return it even after the council’s decision. It expired in March, 2014, six months after excommunication.”
Snuffer’s recommend would have been automatically deactivated upon his excommunication; this is done electronically, and should not be interpreted to mean—as Snuffer implies by raising it—that he was known to be worthy and no one dared say otherwise.
Snuffer’s letter from his stake president (published on his website) makes it clear that he may not wear temple garments or exercise priesthood functions: both prerequisites for entering the temple:
You should not engage in activities which require an exercise of priesthood power. You should not pay tithing or wear the temple garment.____________________________
This point of criticism by FAIR should be withdrawn from their website because:
1. They do not grant or deny temple recommends. That is the responsibility of bishoprics and stake presidencies.
2. My bishop and stake president at the time considered me worthy, as did I.
3. From the time the disciplinary council was noticed until the decision was made there was never a request for me to return my recommend. I could have attended the temple up to the day of the council.
4. The interview questions were put to me, and I answered truthfully, fully, candidly and without any dissimulation. The bishop and stake president accepted my answers and issued the recommend.
5. On the day of the council, one of the two whose opinions mattered (my stake president) agreed I was worthy of a temple recommend at the time of the council. As astonishing as this may seem to the people at FAIR, I believe he was correct. I spent three hours with the entire stake presidency a few weeks before the disciplinary council in the High Council room. I used the whiteboard to lay out my understanding, the scriptures, my testimony and various experiences. It was very clear to those three members of the stake presidency that I was a devoted convert to the faith.
I was not dishonest, as FAIR suggests. It is foolish and wrong for anyone to label another as “apostate” because of disagreements about Mormon history. It is offensive for FAIR to declare that I am “dishonest.” These sound bite arguments and labels damage open and healthy discussion about remarkably important issues. We should be deeply involved in carefully re-examining Mormon history to see why the present state of Mormonism is so markedly different from where it began.
Incremental changes do not startle people as much as contrasting the beginning with the end/now. The contrast between what Joseph was doing with the religion and what we are now doing with the religion is important. The LDS curriculum hides these things from average members. They need to be revisited. It is not a sin to study and search for the truth of events.
The idea that history is not a sin would make a good bumper-sticker to respond to the bumper-sticker mentality that consigns study to apostasy. Indeed, understanding things differently is never a sin. A bumper-sticker stating “History is Not a Sin” will be available through the Publishing Hope website and Confetti Books. I do not receive anything from the sales, but I support the idea expressed on the sticker. Study and discussion of LDS history is not sinful.