Women Witnesses

At the time of Christ, culturally women were inferior to men. It was not that way from the beginning. Adam and Eve shared the labor equally. (Moses 5: 1.)

In many ways the Lord deliberately challenged cultural and religious norms of His day. On the day of His resurrection, He made it a point to show His regard for women by appearing first to Mary. (Mark 16: 9; John 20: 14-17.) There were others who also saw Him before His apostles did. The Twelve rejected the testimony of both women and the others to whom He first appeared. This offended the Lord. (Mark 16: 14.)

In Joseph Smith’s day, women were likewise thought to be inferior. Women were not considered “competent” to manage their own legal affairs, and when they married, any property belonging to them became their husband’s. When Joseph was required to have three witnesses (2 Ne. 27: 12) to the plates, Urim & Thummim, directors, breastplate and sword of Laban (D&C 17: 1), it only made sense to have three men be the witnesses.

The Lord, however, clearly showed His high regard for women. Before the three witnesses were shown the plates of the Book of Mormon, an angel showed them to a woman. In June 1829, just prior to when the plates were shown to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, Joseph moved from Harmony to Fayette. During the move the plates were given to an angel for transport. Here is how the events then unfolded:

“Whitmer later recounted that during their journey to Fayette, he, Cowdery, and JS  briefly encountered a ‘pleasant, nice looking old man’ whom JS identified by revelation as a heavenly messenger transporting the plates. Whitmer also recalled that soon after their arrival in Fayette, his mother, Mary Mussleman Whitmer, was met ‘by the same old man, ‘who showed her the plates.'” (Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 1: July 1828-June1831, p. 67.)

This same volume published by the LDS Church Historian’s Press goes on to report: “Though he did not become a witness of the plates for weeks, he [David Whitmer] reported years later that soon after their arrival, his mother was shown the plates by a heavenly messenger.” (Id. at p. 83.)

At that time, as in Christ’s, culture had little regard for a woman’s testimony. But in both of these cases, the Lord chose to first give a witness to women.

We should overcome whatever reluctance we have to listen to women’s voices. Women have been able to vote since 1869. The state legislatures have allowed them to own property post-marriage since the 1840’s. More importantly than those milestones, however, is the Lord’s clear preference to have women as witnesses of His great work. We should take note of this.

Since the days of Adam, the greatest single event was the Lord’s resurrection. And a woman was the first to witness the risen Lord. From the close of the New Testament, the greatest event has been the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Again a woman was chosen to be the first (after Joseph) to witness the plates in the hands of an angel.

The Lord trusts women and wishes we would do likewise.

On the other hand, when women focus on church office they may forfeit something a great deal more valuable. Given a choice, I’d trade away all church positions for a visit with the risen Lord. I would gladly exchange membership for a meeting with the heavenly messenger bearing the gold plates. Perhaps such an exchange is required. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris all left the church, afterall. Granted two of them were rebaptized shortly before their deaths. President Heber J. Grant valued his church membership more than heaven itself, and wanted no angelic appearance to come to him if it compromised his church affiliation.

The Lord has a “strange act” indeed. (D&C 101: 95.)

2014 Sunstone Symposium

I will be presenting a paper at this summer’s Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City. The Symposium will be held July 30-August 2. The theme of the conference is “Mormonism Building Bridges.”

The title of my paper is “Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge.”

I will have a 90 minute time block. The paper will be read in the first hour, then there will be a short response from someone who has previewed the paper, followed by Q&A from the audience.

As more details become available I will post them here.

The Facts

Some recent comments and emails have accused me of becoming increasingly hostile and angry about the LDS church. These accusations came as a response to my recent post that said the church’s press release about the hierarchy not being involved with discipline was “a lie.” I was not angry when I wrote that, and do not intend to insult anyone. It happens to be true, and since I am acquainted with the facts, I believe I have an obligation to disclose the truth. In the long run, the LDS church is benefited by the truth, even if they can’t see it now. So here are the facts:

In 2011 there were rumors circulating that I was to be excommunicated. My stake president at the time was a man of integrity and discretion. I am certain he was not the source of the rumors. But they were persistent and widespread. Strangers would ask me if I had been excommunicated yet. I got emails asking me if I knew the church was after me. Inside my own ward and stake, however, there was nothing threatened and no hint there was anything that would lead to a church court.

I was told by the stake president at the time that I had come to the attention of the Brethren. However, he said he defended me and explained to them he knew my heart was in the right place and I was a worthy church member. His last Sunday as stake president he spent the afternoon with me in the stake offices, told me there were some in the hierarchy who were angry at me, renewed my temple recommend so I wouldn’t be required to be interviewed again for two years, and said the new stake president would not know me but he would do what he could.

Elder Russell Nelson of the twelve heads the Strengthening the Members Committee. He came to my stake and called the new stake president.

A member of the Draper Temple Presidency resides in my ward. In April 2012, he was ready to be released from teaching the Temple Preparation class before the next group of prospective missionaries needed the class. He recommended that I be called. The bishop called me and I accepted the call.

On the Sunday I was to be sustained to teach the temple prep class, the newly called stake president attended our sacrament meeting. Before the meeting, when the bishop mentioned I was being sustained to teach the Temple Preparation class, President Hunt told him to hold off until he had the opportunity to first interview me.

After that sacrament meeting the bishop explained to me what happened, and asked me to begin the Temple Preparation class anyway, unofficially, in my home. I began to teach first one, then three of the priests in my ward to prepare them to go through the temple preliminary to their missions.

On Sunday, April 18, 2012 I had my first interview with President Hunt. He explained I had come to the attention of “downtown” and there had been complaints about me. He needed to meet me and report back. We talked for an hour-and-a-half that Sunday. He said he was “pleased with the interview and had no doubts that my intentions were good.” He ended the meeting by committing to read everything I’d written. In the interview I told him that although I had not been sustained, I was proceeding anyway with the Temple Preparation class and I didn’t want to do that without telling him. I was not going to be sneaky about it, and if he objected I would stop. He did not object.

Several people asked family members if I had “been excommunicated.” One person from Idaho called and asked me if the rumors were true. When I asked what rumors, he responded, that I was “being excommunicated.”

Shortly after that interview, my wife discovered and brought to my attention an on-line thread where someone purported to have inside information about me and my meeting with my stake president. I am certain President Hunt was not responsible for this leak. He has too much integrity to have done so, and I do not suspect him in the least. Therefore, the information must have originated from “downtown” with whomever was provoking the interviews. A copy of the post was cut-and-pasted into a blog post on April 26, 2012 and can be found here. The blog-site, LDS-Glo, where the post originally appeared has removed it and therefore the copy cut and put onto this blog is the only place it can be found.

I believed the leak came from the Strengthening the Members Committee over which Elder Russell M. Nelson presides. I have since been able to confirm this. I learned the person who leaked the information was been disciplined for doing so.

President Hunt and I had another meeting April 29th. During the meeting the phone rang in the office, and I was asked to step into the hallway for a moment. When invited back in, I was told that “one of the Seven Presidents had called” and he instructed that President Hunt was “to do nothing” while he and Elder Christofferson of the Twelve studied what I had written. The interview was over and I was free to go.

The seventy who called was Elder L. Whitney Clayton.

I heard nothing further for months. Then I was asked to a meet in November 2012. On November 4th the entire stake presidency met with me and informed me that “Apostles and a President of the Seventy” were pressuring them to act. They felt “a good spirit” from me but the book I’d written (Passing the Heavenly Gift) was “faith destroying.” It needed to be rewritten to conform to the church’s claims or be withdrawn from publication. These were men of discretion, and I do not believe any of them were the sources of rumors. None of them were in the stake presidency when the rumors began.

In a follow-up email, President Hunt said one of the issues was my “witness of Christ” (meaning my unequivocal statement that the Lord had ministered to me). I responded by asking if that meant the church expected me to deny my witness, or merely not to speak of it again. I have never received a reply to that question.

I quit posting on my blog.

On December 9, 2012 I met with President Hunt again and he said he had “defended me with one of the Brethren” since our last meeting. He asked if I had stopped blogging because of our last meeting, and I said I had. We discussed a missionary from our stake who had returned home early from his mission and he asked if I would work with him. I said I would. I stopped at the young man’s house on my way home from the stake office and invited him to come to my house. I began that Sunday to meet with him weekly to address his issues. I thought the conflict was over and the church was going to leave me alone.

In February 2013 President Hunt informed me he continued to “be pressured by Apostles” to hold a disciplinary court. He wanted to talk. We met and he had copied and highlighted pages from the Church Handbook of Instructions about when a church court was “mandatory.” We talked about the language. It identified “repeated criticism of the church authorities” [that is a quote from my journal and may not be accurate as to the handbook’s actual language]. I explained that I hadn’t ever criticized them, much less repeatedly done so. I quoted President Packer with approval, and praised President Monson on my blog. The “criticism,” if there was anything of the sort, was quotes taken from diaries, journals, letters and talks given by the leaders themselves. The worst of the comments was made by President Heber J. Grant’s mother, recorded in his journal. If there was a problem, then it was how they talked about themselves. He suggested I put some statement on my blog to help deflect criticism. I asked him to draft something and I would edit it into my words and put it up. He also said the book I’d written was “faith destroying” to some readers. I said I had dozens, perhaps hundreds of letters and emails from those who were strengthened in their faith, who returned to activity, or who were going to leave the church but read the book and returned. I offered to let him read them. He said it was not necessary.

I distinguish between faith in Christ and faith in the church. It is essential to salvation that we have faith in Christ. Nowhere, however, do the scriptures ask or command us to have faith in the church. I believe everything I have written encourages faith in Christ. Whether it “destroys faith” in the church or not is irrelevant.

On February 22, I received an outline for a statement which I edited and put on my blog. He was not at all happy with the way it came out.

By March 5, 2013 I was losing hope this could be worked out. I recorded in my journal: “I do not think I will continue to fight the church’s effort to cast me out. The trends are all so distressing that I do not foresee any future… They do not want me… I do not intend to provoke them, but will not do anything to appease them.”

In May 2013, several bishops and stake presidents offered to call my stake president to defend me. I called President Hunt and asked if that was something he wanted me to initiate. He said he did. After two bishops had called and both reported back to me that the conversations with President Hunt did not go well, I became alarmed. I worried that President Hunt might be gathering information about them, as callers, rather than listening to something which may help my cause. I called the rest of those who had offered to defend me and told them not to call because it was not doing any good.

On May 25, 2013 President Hunt called, he had received further “training” and now believed he must hold a church disciplinary council.

June 2nd President Hunt gave all the members of the high council, along with several high priests in the stake, copies of Passing the Heavenly Gift to get their response to whether this was “faith destroying.”

My home teacher (who is a member of the high council) called me the first week of June to tell me the book was apostate and must be withdrawn or I would be excommunicated.

June 16th there was an email exchange between President Hunt and I where he put several questions to me about the priesthood. I asked to meet with the stake presidency and to be permitted to explain my views.

June 20th I went to the stake offices and, using the whiteboard in the high council room, I spent two hours using the board and the scriptures to explain to the three members of the stake presidency my understanding of the priesthood, its history, and the doctrine as I understand it. I bore my testimony, explained my conversion, and the meeting was filled with truth and light. Two of these brethren had tears in their eyes. They all took notes. It was a wonderful meeting. I told them – from my journal, “I have studied the Gospel intently for 40 years, and found it delicious. I told them I had enjoyed every minute of being a Latter-day Saint and hoped they did not end my membership. But if they did it would not concern me, because I know my standing before God.” I ended by asking them to pray and ask God if I was one of His saints. I knew He would vouch for me if they asked.

July 8, 2013 I met again for three hours with the stake presidency and was told I was in peril if I did not withdraw Passing the Heavenly Gift from publication. They asked when the Lord had visited me. If I was awake. If He had touched me. If angels had visited me. If I tested them. Whether I thought the church’s leaders had priesthood. Whether they held sealing keys. If I realized I was pitting myself against the institution of the church. And that “all 20 people who had read the book” in the stake thought it should be condemned. My journal records: “Essentially either I will put the book out of print or I will be thrown out of the church.” I explained that I never intended to create faith in the church, because nowhere in scriptures does it tell us to have faith in the church. That everything I had written or taught was instead intended to cause faith in Christ. I asked to be shown where anything I had done would undermine faith in Christ. Therefore I rejected the complaint that I undermined faith.

August 22, 2013 I received a summons delivered to my door by two of the stake clerks, including a neighbor who lives on my street. On August 28, 2013 a copy of the summons letter was put on the blog so that anyone who would be concerned about reading anything written by someone under threat of church discipline would be aware of my status. I concluded that I should not hide the truth, and mislead anyone about my status.

In emails between the time of the notice and the time of the court, I confirmed with President Hunt that I would be bringing my family. One of my daughters was not able to come home from college that weekend. She was the only one who would not be attending. All the others would be driving home, some from out-of-state, to be with me during the court.

On September 8th the church disciplinary council was held. My journal has pages of entries from throughout the day. When the time arrived, my family and I went to the stake offices. After an hour of discussion, President Hunt refused to permit my family to witness the court. We all tried to persuade him to let us in. He refused. During the hour spent trying to change his mind, I asserted I was worthy of a temple recommend and he agreed. He said the decision to discipline me was “his alone” to make. In response to that I reminded him that we were interrupted by a phone call from one of the Presidents of the Seventy and he was instructed “to stand down. That he then did ‘stand down.’ And that if he really believed I was worthy of discipline he would never have stood down, but would have acted then.” Therefore, this was not his doing, but the doing of those in the hierarchy. He agreed he had been called, and that he had stood down when told to do so, but that he would be the one responsible for making the decision. I told him the decision had already been made, and not by him.

I reminded him that in emails beforehand I had been clear that my family was coming. I did not want them to be unaware of what happened behind closed doors. There would be rumors that this had to do with something other than the book, and therefore I wanted them to see and hear and witness what happened. He said that was a reasonable concern and he said to everyone of us that “this only has to do with a book.” One of my daughters responded, almost to herself but loud enough we all heard her: “A book! A book! Are you serious?” Later, all of my children said they thought President Hunt “looked sheepish and ashamed” at this remark. Because my family could not attend, we left without knowing if the court would proceed or be reconvened at another date. As we drove home all of my family said they felt sorry for President Hunt. I agreed. I thought he was put on the spot and doing something he very much did not want to do.

September 10th at 10:30 a.m. as my wife and I were driving to Boise, I received a call from President Hunt. With his permission, I put the call on speaker. He told me I had been excommunicated and I would receive a letter informing me of the decision.

I wrote a few posts about this at the time of the events. President Hunt told me he had only one complaint about what I’d written. He thought I should have made it clear that this was his decision to make. Therefore, I’ve included that in this post several times.

It is true that church discipline must be taken at the stake level. However, in my case, NOTHING would have been done without the constant pressure from the hierarchy. Repeatedly the stake president and stake presidency were satisfied. Then the hierarchy would “train” them and the relentless pressure resulted in the outcome the hierarchy demanded.

So when I say the recent press release is a “lie,” it is not to belittle anyone or to merely name-call. If the hierarchy wants to be involved then they should take credit for their behavior. They shouldn’t lie about it.

Both bishops who called to defend me were subsequently interviewed and one of them has been released. Elder Whitney Clayton was responsible for the interview of the bishop who was released. I believe he was also involved with pressuring the stake president in the other case, as well. I am glad I did not have others call President Hunt.

There are two members of the seventy who, following my excommunication, have discussed in private the topic of my excommunication with others. One of these men serves on the Strengthening the Members Committee. The content of those discussions has been passed along to me by friends. It is clear the hierarchy was directly involved and the moving force behind my excommunication. It is also clear that only a stake president can deliver the verdict. The fact that President Hunt was a critical, even necessary participant does not change the fact that the hierarchy had a moving role and overall responsibility for securing my excommunication.

I am not angry with President Hunt and have no animus toward him, the other members of the stake presidency, or the high council. One of the high council is my home teacher and my friend. He is welcome in my home. The facts of my case are plain, and in stating them I am not disparaging anyone.

Agreement Through Spirit

Any true doctrine or principal can be used for evil, oppression and excess.  To rightly give measure to the matter in your own life you must be guided by the Spirit of the matter, not the mere letter of the doctrine. Each life is different. Each of us have our own responsibilities to our families, neighbors and communities. A true principal in operation in your life may look very different from its operation in mine.

Truth may be absolute, but lives are variegated and are lived in context. Hence the absolute requirement for individual revelation to guide each of us. And as a result we are all pathetically situated to judge one another, but ideally situated to show one another compassion.

We are only authorized to rebuke “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost” and then “showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved.” (D&C 121: 43.) Given how little we should want to rebuke others, it should be a profound spiritual moment when it is required of us by the Lord. Though, in truth, even then we should take little delight in dispensing rebukes.

Church Discipline Top-Down

The LDS Church issued the following statement posted on its website. I have copied and pasted as it appears in the original:


The Church issued the following statement today in response to questions from the news media regarding Church discipline:
“The Church is a family made up of millions of individuals with diverse backgrounds and opinions. There is room for questions and we welcome sincere conversations. We hope those seeking answers will find them and happiness through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Sometimes members’ actions contradict Church doctrine and lead others astray. While uncommon, some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the Church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs. This saddens leaders and fellow members. In these rare cases, local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.
“Actions to address a person’s membership and standing in their congregation are convened after lengthy periods of counseling and encouragement to reconsider behavior. Ultimately, the door is always open for people to return to the Church.”
It is not true that discipline involving controversial members is exclusively the responsibility of “local leaders” acting independent of influence from the hierarchy. The hierarchy imposes their will from the top-down by instructing the local leaders on what they must do. In my case the news came directly from Elder Russell M. Nelson of the twelve, who presides over the Strengthening the Members Committee. Usually the news comes through Elder Whitney Clayton, one of the seven presidents.  He was also involved in my case, but the original pressure came through Elder Nelson directly.
The assertion by the church in their press release that “Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters” is false. In the case of public, controversial members, it is a lie.

I am far more disappointed the church would lie about what they do than I am at their inappropriate top-down behavior. The reason they lie about it is because they are violating the scriptural pattern for discipline. LDS scripture requires discipline to be local. It isn’t, so they lie to make it appear that way. Morally, lying to cover up their wrong doing is worse than admitting they manipulate local leaders. Now they are responsible for doing both. They should be more honorable.

History of D&C Section 27

Joseph Smith received a revelation on August 28th, 1830. When it was originally received, here is how it read in the first handwritten version (Revelation Book 1):

A Revelation to the Church given at Harmony sesquehann County State of Pennsylvania given to Joseph the Seer at a time that he went to punch wine Sacrament & he was stopped by an angel & he he spoke to him as follows Saying
Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ your Lord your God & your Redeemer whose word is quick & powerful for Behold I say unto you it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory Remembering unto the father that my Body which laid down for you & my blood which was shed for you the Remission of y sins Wherefore a commandment I give unto you that ye shall not Purchase Wine neither strong drink of your enemies Wherefore ye shall partake none except it is made new among you yea in this my Fathers Kingdom which shall be built up on the earth Behold this is wisdom in me Wherefore marvel not for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the Vine with you on the Earth & with those whom my father hath given me out of the world Wherefore life up your hearts & rejoice & Gird up your loins & be faithful until I come even so amen.

The first time it was put into print WW Phelps was the editor in Missouri. The paper was The Evening and Morning Star. He edited it and the version he printed read as follows:

LISTEN to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful.
For behold I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory; remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of sins:
Wherefore a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine, neither strong drink of your enemies:
Wherefore you shall partake of none, except it is made new among you, yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.
Behold this is wisdom in me, wherefore marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you, on the earth, and with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world: Wherefore lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins.

This printed version was from the Missouri press a mob destroyed. Some few copies still exist. But the press was destroyed and the effort had to be made again to publish the document. In Kirtland a new version was printed in the renamed paper. Whereas before it was THE Evening and Morning Star, in Kirtland the paper was titled: “Evening and Morning Star” (no “The” in the title of this newspaper). This version was edited and updated by Oliver Cowdery. He made additions to many of the revelations “to reflect current organization, doctrine, and practice, which had continued to develop side the revelations were first dictated.” (Joseph Smith Papers, “Revelations and Transcriptions,” Vol 2, p. 199.) Below is the version Oliver Cowdery printed (which subsequently became the source from which the 1835 edition of the D&C was taken):

Given September, 1830
Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful.
For behold I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory; remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins:
wherefore a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall not purchase wine, neither strong drink of your enemies:
wherefore you shall partake of none, except if is made new among you, yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.
Behold this is wisdom in me: wherefore marvel not for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel; to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephriam; and also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things, or the restorer of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets side the world began, concerning the last days: ale also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gav promise that h should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias; which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, jr. and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto this first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron: and also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse: and also, with Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham your fathers; by whom the promises remain: and also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days.
And also 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 unit 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, in the whih I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth: and also with those whom my Father hath given me out of the world:
wherefore lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all ye may be able to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth; having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you, taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up that where I am ye shall be also.  Amen.

I will not type the version now in your D&C. Nor will I contrast these versions with each other. It should be apparent, however, that the version given originally and what the editors did with it has been a “growing concern.” The 1835 D&C took the last version and edited it. Joseph Smith was on the editorial board for that version, however, Joseph spent his efforts editing the Lectures on Faith, to be part of the book. He “apparently relied on others to do the actual typesetting and printing and possibly the bulk of the editing, arranging, and other intellectual work needed to prepare the revelations for print.” (Joseph Smith Papers, “Revelations and Transcriptions,” Vol. 2, p. 305.) Therefore we do not know what Joseph thought of the editorial alterations made to Section 27.


I get lots of requests for endorsements, recommendations, for reviews, etc. Here is a recent one:


I’ve found that the word “restoration” is a double-edged sword. The Book of Mormon uses it to mean a sort of “karma,” that what we send out ultimately comes right back to us. In our modern-day vernacular, however, we define it as what Joseph brought back. In other words, he “restored” the opportunity for man to touch heaven and visa-versa. I believe, however, that we can get into trouble using this term, because we are confused about exactly what is being restored. The modern-day Church tells us that it’s the “keys” and authority which are restored to us, but many reject that, saying that Joseph took the power with him to the grave, and we have been lost ever since. These “purists” I’ll call them (not going to say fundamentalists) look at everything that happened until Joseph’s death and seek to “restore” whatever it was that existed in that day (tithing, Word of Wisdom, etc.)
The question which keeps coming back to me is this: Why do we insist on restoring something that history proves did not work? We don’t know how long after the “Book of the Lamb” came out of the “mouth of a Jew” that it became corrupted. It seems, though, that it wasn’t much longer than a single generation. Yet, the Church insists that something called The Apostasy came along and merely put “the true church” on ice for 1700 years or so, and now we are just picking up where they left off. But if it didn’t work for them and was perverted so quickly, why would it work for us? Likewise, if we attempt to restore ourselves to what Joseph had in mind, isn’t it likely that we will fall into the same trap? While I have no doubts that Joseph was trying to tell us something important, how is it that we will come to understand it using the same failed approach? If we think we can know Joseph’s mind based on the tampered records we have, aren’t we going to repeat what happened with the “primitive church”? What’s to stop a recurrence of that history? Are we so much more enlightened and special than those in Christ’s or Joseph’s day?
I would even suggest that we cannot rely completely on the model given us in the Book of Mormon after Jesus’ death. Yes, the people had Zion on earth for three to four generations, but with that light came a higher degree of accountability, and ultimately they failed to the point that their whole culture was obliterated. So are we better than those Nephites, who had the pure record of the Brass Plates as well as (presumably) the extended words of Christ given in Bountiful AND the three who tarried (actual witnesses to the events of Christ’s day)?
If, as you say, “Mankind gets it wrong all the time. The great challenge is to finally get it right,” (which I believe is true), then why do we insist on “restoring” the thing which experience has proven wrong? If you believe the prophecies of the Book of Mormon, the Gentiles will eventually succeed to the point that they will be forever brought out of “captivity.” Sooner or later, they will take this “standard” to the rest of Israel, who will never again be “confounded” because of what the Gentiles teach them. I think that in order for these prophesies to be fulfilled, there needs to be innovation on the part of the Gentiles. I realize that this, too, can be a dangerous path to walk because the tendency is to become proud, puffed up, and to set ourselves up as a light. But I don’t see that it can be done without using our creativity to form a vessel that the Lord can finally fill. Will there be failures with this course of action? Yes, of course. We should expect and even welcome them, because it is by seeing our weaknesses that they become strengths.
Thankfully, we have been given some excellent guidelines to keep us from going off-track. I think the best ones were given by the Savior Himself at the Sermon in Bountiful when He sums up “perfection” as things like blessing those who curse you, walking a mile with those who ask, and looking past the performances of The Law and into our own hearts. We know that the Spirit of Christ is given to every person so that they may know good from evil, and anything that invites and persuades to “believe in Christ” is approved of God. Since we have an outline of what it means to believe Him, it is very helpful. Surely, there is a lot of wiggle room in our efforts to “finally get it right.” I believe we should be more afraid of not trying than of failure, because doing nothing means stagnation while failure gives us experience.
It is with this in mind that I would like to invite you and anyone else to participate in an “experiment” with me. Over the course of the last seven years, I have received a series of visions. In the process of searching to understand the meaning, I have developed a hypothesis of how the Lord manifests His heavenly gift to the world, and specifically how the Spirit has been “poured out” to the Gentiles. For the next 3 months, I will share what I have experienced with anyone who cares to read, at the following url: www.12visions.blogspot.com. I do not expect you or others to believe anything about what I have learned or what I share. In fact, I would like to remain anonymous and let the content speak for itself. On June 1, it will be exactly seven years since I received the initial vision, so that will be the day I post it.
The Book of Mormon tells us that someday the Gentiles and all the world will read a book containing the “words which were sealed…upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ…” I wonder, what is this “power of Christ” which will give people the ability to comprehend something that had previously been “hid from the eyes of the world”? In my opinion, the only way to find out is to experiment until something sticks. While we should not and cannot innovate God’s word, perhaps there are ways of seeing and understanding it that we have not tried. I hope that you are open to exploring the possibilities with me.

I cannot be responsible for what anyone says other than myself, or what others believe. Therefore I do not visit other sites, review other blogs, or read other writers when they are advancing new doctrine. I study history, and read a good deal of historical works. I read all the Joseph Smith Papers volumes as they come out. My wife keeps me informed about things on the Internet, when she believes I should hear about them. But I have little time to keep up with all I must do. Therefore I doubt I will ever see this, or any other website discussing new doctrinal thoughts. I’m focused on a return to the beginnings of Mormonism.

Christ’s Sacrament

Christ instituted the sacrament during the Passover meal. (See Matt. 26: 26-28; Mark 14: 22-24; Luke 22: 19-20; John gives no description in his account.) It was His “last supper” with His closest followers. All the accounts agree on the purpose: to remember the body and blood He would sacrifice on our behalf.
When the Lord appeared to the Nephites, He proclaimed He had fulfilled the law. (3 Ne. 15: 5-8.) All the rites and sacrifices added through Moses pointed to His great sacrifice of His body and blood.
Christ blessed the sacrament many times in His appearances to the Nephites. (3 Ne. 18: 3; 3 Ne. 20: 3-8; and 3 Ne. 26: 13.) Just like the descriptions given in the New Testament, no prayer is recorded in the Book of Mormon accounts. But in both the New Testament and Book of Mormon, the purpose is the same: to remember His body and His blood, which were shed as a sacrifice for His followers.
The sacrament prayer is not recorded in any of our scriptures until Moroni chapters 4: 3, for the bread, and 5: 2, for the wine.
Mormon and Moroni lived four hundred years after Christ appeared to the Nephites. However, they learned from first-hand participants in Christ’s sacrament. Three of the Disciples taught by Christ lived to minister to Mormon and Moroni. (Mormon 8: 10-11.) Therefore, Moroni’s account is taken from the very witnesses to whom Christ gave instructions regarding the sacrament prayers. There is only one blessing to be given for the bread, and one to be given for the wine. The prayers, like all the scriptural accounts, focus on Christ and His great sacrifice on our behalf. 
The purpose of the sacrament is to remember Christ. It is to remind us of His body which was broken to fulfill the required sacrifice. It is to remind us of His blood which was shed for our redemption.
It is not an ordinance intended to:
-Praise us
-Assure us we are “chosen”
-Flatter us
-Make us feel we are better and more holy than others. These are corrupt ideas, coming from a false spirit intending to supplant Christ as the object of devotion and worship. They are, in a word, anti-Christ.
Any man claiming to have authority to change the sacrament through a higher revelation given to him is deceived, or a liar. There is no such thing. Nor did the Lord offer three different “levels” of sacrament when He appeared to the Nephites. Remember there were different people there the second day than the first. If He changed the ordinance the second day, then those newcomers would have heard a different version than the day before. Christ would have introduced confusion and division as people debated among themselves which was approved. Basing the claim to have a new, higher “level” of sacrament because of the silence in the Book of Mormon regarding the words of the sacrament prayer, is foolishness and error. All confusion should be removed when Moroni recorded the prayers.

In our day the sacrament prayers were given to us in a new revelation. Those words are identical to those recorded by Moroni. (See D&C 20:77, 79.) Only a fool will trifle with the souls of men. 

Can It Be Done, Lord?

Enthusiasm can lead to impatience. Impatience causes those who ought to await direction from the Lord to charge ahead and be destroyed.

But it is better for the impatient to be drawn away than gather to destroy the work of God.

A strait and narrow way will be found by only few. (Jacob 6: 11-12.) To find it the few will confront dozens of voices imploring them to diverge from what God has underway (2 Ne. 2: 11), crying “Lo, Here!” and “Lo, There!” (JS-H 1: 5.) It is required for the few to reject false offers of salvation, purported higher knowledge, pacifying doctrines, flattery and errors coming from teachers who command people to hearken to their precepts. (2 Ne. 28: 20-32.)

How the Lord can accomplish His work in this fallen place will be a wonder to behold. None in this generation seem to have the patience to allow Him to do as He has promised.

Can it be done, Lord?
Fear not… “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10: 27-30.)

Themes From Email

I have been answering emails and I detect some themes. Apparently enthusiasm abounds and there are people who desire to lead others. Here are some thoughts:

Teaching your own revelations to others is easy. But that will produce vanity and pride in the teacher, and the student is prone to be misled and likely to displace worship of God to the teacher. (See D&C 76: 99-103.) I confine what I do to expounding the scriptures. There is never any reason to notice the teacher if attention is focused on the scriptures which bear testimony of Christ.

Revelations come from many sources, only one of which is steadfast and true. (D&C 46: 7-9.) Just because you receive a revelation does not mean it comes from God. You must labor even after you receive revelation to determine if what has been received comes from the right source. The scriptures are the best way to measure such things.

The result of faith in Christ should be that we are better servants to our fellow-man. (Mosiah 2: 17.)
Since I have never attended a Jedi class, I cannot comment on them.

Doug Mendenhall’s work in arranging events, scheduling rooms, and recording and distributing CDs enables me to come and talk and not worry about the logistics of the lecture. He pays his way, provides the recording equipment and fulfills deliveries. I pay for rental of the site.
The ordinances are eternal. They do not and cannot change. When changed, the covenant is broken. God cannot and does not change His word. When men change it, they break the covenant and have no promise. (Isa. 24: 5-6.) [The addition of outward observances in the Law of Moses were merely added, and then fulfilled in Christ’s coming and sacrifice. Then, having been fulfilled, they were no longer necessary to observe. (3 Ne. 12: 17-18.) When, however, they were being observed, they did not change. From Moses to John, they were unchanged.]

Any time a teaching, doctrine or precept appeals to the vanity or pride of the audience, it should be questioned. Flattery is of the Devil. (2 Ne. 28: 9-12; Jacob 7: 2.) On the other hand, if it brings you down into the depths of humility, provokes repentance and an abandonment of sin, it is from God.

The requirement for discernment is imposed on all of us. If you continue to follow a man who changes the ordinances, his teachings will eventually reach a point where he will demand you obey his revelations and submit to his will. Eventually you will have witness enough of where you are carefully being led.
I do not think it essential to understand “the manner of prophesying among the Jews.” (2 Ne. 25: 1-2.) Nephi lived about a century and a quarter after Isaiah. He was informed by the visions of heaven. He saw what Isaiah saw. Therefore, he could interpret Isaiah’s prophecies from a higher source. If a technical understanding could provide an advantage, then the Jews would have avoided their Old Testament troubles and converted en-mass during New Testament times. I think Joseph was right: “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (TPJS, p. 324.)

Prophecy does not give us the details beforehand. We can only know the “season” of the times. (Matt. 16: 2-3.) When the events are upon us, we will know how God intends to fulfill His promises.
If your search does not include your spouse, you are leaving behind the very means by which God exalts mankind. (1 Cor. 11: 11.) You will not gain entry.

Excommunication Does Not Remove Priesthood

Excommunication does not remove priesthood. When excommunicated the church requests that priesthood not be used during the period of exclusion from church membership. But priesthood itself is not and cannot be removed by an excommunication proceeding.

Priesthood can and is removed by God. He removes it when men who have been ordained use their authority to “cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride, [their] vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men” at which point “behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” (D&C 121: 37.)

So if a man has not lied, nor cheated, nor committed adultery, nor violated his covenants with God, but is excommunicated because he thinks something the church does not want him to think, it is possible priesthood may be forfeited if this man is excommunicated, but this would not be the man targeted for excommunication. Such a church court would exercise the control, the compulsion, and the dominion against the man. He is not and cannot be responsible for wrongly using priesthood to control another, for he is not seeking to force others to think like he does.

If, therefore, excommunication affects priesthood, the way that would manifest itself is in the members of the court/council forfeiting their priesthood by their wrongful acts. Similarly, other priesthood authorities who participated, encouraged, ratified and sustained the court’s wrongful deed would share in the responsibility and be similarly responsible for the abuse.

In every case of excommunication, the one on trial is not regarded by the church as losing their priesthood. They are instead requested to temporarily stop using it. Inside the church itself, they are not permitted to use it. But it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to use it in other circumstances. Before annotations were made to church membership records, the way excommunication was apparent was by comparing the date of baptism to the date of ordination. If a member had been ordained before their baptism, then it was apparent they had been excommunicated.

Orson Pratt was ordained an Apostle as one of the original Twelve on April 26, 1835.  He was excommunicated August 20, 1842. He was reinstated on January 20, 1843. He was never re-ordained an Apostle when reinstated. However, his “seniority” in the Quorum of the Twelve was reckoned from the date of his readmission in January 1843 and therefore he moved down in seniority and Brigham Young became his senior.

Every other Apostle who was excommunicated was similarly readmitted without being re-ordained.

No one is re-ordained when re-baptized. Their original ordination stands.

Excommunicants are only requested to not use their priesthood. But they still possess it.


I received this email from a friend:

I was wondering if you have ever written anything about slavery and would love to know where to find it.  If not, what your take on it?

I responded:

I haven’t written anything.

I think it was wrong because it limited agency and enthroned abuse and control by one human over another.

But 2 Ne. 1: 6 forces us to ask the question of whether slavery was used by the Lord to bring some people to this land who would not otherwise have come.  If so, then even though it was an evil institution, it was turned to a purpose God intended to accomplish.

America’s history of slavery presents an interesting question for Mormons because of Lehi’s prophecy. The advent of African slavery in the Americas would come hundreds of years later when Dutch and Spanish slave traders would bring the institution into colonial America.  By the time of American Independence, African slavery was woven into the economy of the southern states and economically impossible to eliminate without destroying the south. It took nearly another century before the nation could end the practice. If Lehi’s prophecy is applied to the involuntary relocation of Africans, then Mormons must ask themselves how to understand Lehi’s prophecy: “[T]here shall none come unto this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Ne. 1: 6.)

My first job after law school I worked for a company that built television stations in Nigeria, Africa. One of the employees who traveled to Africa to help construct the facilities was a black engineer from California. After returning from a lengthy assignment, he was overcome with the conditions in Nigeria when contrasted with conditions he and his family enjoyed in California. He had mixed emotions. Although he knew his ancestors were forced to come as slaves to America, his life today was so much better than the lives he saw for the descendants of those left behind. He literally declared: “Thank God for slavery!” If I hadn’t heard him say it I would not have believed that sentiment was possible. To me his reaction was completely unexpected.

The ebb and flow of history shows the obvious immediate results, and later, unanticipated consequences. People are driven by one motivation at one point in time, but generations later their posterity live with the full results. After history unfolds, the earlier reasons may seem crude or even wrong, or they may seem noble and laudable. But life gets to be experienced in the immediacy of the day. We are not permitted to see the long-ranging effects over generations from our acts today. Unless the Lord shows it to us, only later generations will fully appreciate the effects of our choices.

Damned Again

An interesting FYI:
An email exchange received and responded to. 

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, xxxxxxxxx <xxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx> wrote:

Hey Denver,

I met with you in your office a few years ago after reading The Second Comforter.  I was mostly impressed at that time by your recurring theme of obedience.  Now you’ve been excommunicated for disobedience?  Only possible through vainglory and a loss of the influence of the Holy Ghost.  And perhaps other motives, which you yourself would only know about within your own heart.
The fact that you cannot see the glaring oxymoron of your message/actions– while anyone with the Spirit can– is no doubt just one example of what happens when one loses the gift of the Holy Ghost aka light and intelligence. The most amazing, intangible reality/truth about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who truly and sincerely are submitting their will to the Lord’s will with a pure heart is that they/we are unified in possessing the gift of the Holy Ghost (given when baptized, lost when excommunicated) and we are, as a body/church, able to discern who is among us that lacks that same Spirit.  It was pretty obvious you lacked the influence of the Holy ghost when you wrote Passing the Heavenly Gift.  Not knowing that, I bought it,  started to read it, found nothing enlightening, skimmed and eventually discarded it as a book full of contradictions within itself.  All this was months before any controversy about this book began.  I did not need church leaders telling me your book was full of contradictions and even untruths.  I was able to discern that by the influence of the Spirit.
Additionally, your blogs lack the Spirit.  You have lost the Spirit and you can’t even tell that you have.  I suppose that is typical.  The scriptures call it “spiritual blindness.”   I think you are an imminent spiritual train wreck and I am sorry for you and your family.  

Jan Riley

 —–Original Message—–
From: Denver & Stephanie Snuffer <xxxxxxxxx@gmail.com>
To: xxxxxxxxx <xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx>
Sent: Tue, May 20, 2014 10:32 am
Subject: Re:

Thank you for caring enough to admonish me.  I believe you to be sincere.  

I try to be obedient and submissive.  Sometimes that carries a price that is hard to pay.  Nevertheless the same Spirit that brought me into the LDS church informs me now, and I continue to pay a price for remaining true and faithful to The Lord. 
I do not expect anyone other than The Lord to understand me.  But fortunately I also know only The Lord can judge me.  I look forward to His kind treatment of all my errors, and believe He will likewise look with mercy upon yours.
Denver Snuffer

4:07 PM (23 hours ago)

to me
Hmmm…..Sometimes obedience carries a price that is too hard to pay?  Really?  You actually just typed that?  I don’t recall reading anything that even comes close to that in The Second Comforter.  That is just one example of how you have now become inconsistent with your own writings, changing your writings/paradigm to support your behavior, which is as common among those who lose their way as weak faith and a lack of testimony is common.  You have become common, Denver.  Even predictable.  If I decided to check in on your blog five years from now I can almost predict what I will read.

Abraham’s faith and obedience in the Lord is a perfect example that “Sometimes that carries a price that is hard to pay”  is quite untrue.   Obeying the request of the church and your priesthood leaders, which were as loving with you as they could have been, to cancel promoting Passing the Heavenly Gift (which completely lacked the Spirit) is hardly in the same league as the price Abraham was willing to pay in order to prove His desire to obey.   I’m sure you would agree. Yet Abraham obeyed.  Why didn’t you?  That should actually give you a reality check/barometer on where you land in your desire to be obedient.  

The same Spirit that brought you into the church actually does not and cannot inform you now, or every scripture in Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants is not true.  If it did, those who are obedient and also possess the Spirit, would know and recognize that you have the Spirit and there would be a oneness of belief among all.  Or perhaps you think you are the only one on the planet who currently possesses the Spirit?   

You are being deceived by the Adversary who loves what you are doing for him.  Like CS Lewis said, murder or cards, or in your case, disaffection from the LDS Church.  It doesn’t matter to him. It all works for his cause.  You have been cast out and therefore you no longer have access to the constant gift of the Holy Ghost.  Thinking that you do, thinking that your position is different, more honest, unique or enlightened than Sandra Tanner and Sonja Johnson, or Korihor for that matter, is the incredible power the Adversary has upon our paradigms, once we begin justifying/rationalizing our own very special reasons for disobedience. That is why it is called “spiritual blindness.”  But in reality you are headed down the same path and you will land in the same lonely place.  It’s a sad story but one that’s been lived in every dispensation, by many people who thought they were every bit as enlightened as you.

Discerning between truth and evil is not a judgment call, by the way.  Thinking those who are informing you of the truth are therefore somehow judging you is a bogus accusation.  Actual judging only happens when we go so far as to tell each other what degree of glory we are going to ultimately obtain.  I would never do that.  I only know that you are today on track for an inevitable spiritual train wreck, like all the spiritual train wrecks that have been on this same track before you, and hopefully you will wake up and recognize it before its too late for you and your loved ones.  That would require an incredible admission of vainglory, which would indeed make you extremely unique.


10:58 AM (4 hours ago)

to me
Therein lies the rub for you, Denver Snuffer, Jr.  “If you’re not one, you’re not mine.”  All the brilliant blogging you can crank out for the next decade cannot reconcile you to this profound doctrine taught by the Savior Himself.   You may indeed be following a spirit that has brought you both into and out of the Lord’s only organized body of covenant people in these last days, but it is not the same Spirit that the faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are following.  Admit it and do whatever it takes to return, is my prayer for you.

Trust God Alone

Oliver Cowdery wrote a series in the LDS Messenger and Advocate, including Letter VII in July 1836 and Letter VIII in October 1836. In these letters Cowdery recounted early events and provided some of the first details of pre-church events in Joseph Smith’s life.

Orson Pratt prepared a publication while in England in 1840 which drew on Oliver Cowder’s earlier account. Pratt’s Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records likewise retold early events. Pratt’s account actually quotes Cowdery’s account in the relevant part below.

I assume both Cowdery and Pratt believed the material, and trusted it contained important principles for others to likewise learn and believe. It is one detail which they included, but which Joseph Smith omitted from his own account, that stands out to me. I think this omitted detail holds doctrinal significance.

The angel visited Joseph Smith on the day following the all-night visits of 22 September 1823 in his bedroom. He returned when Joseph arrived at the site of the buried book. When Joseph opened the container by removing a top rock, according to both Cowdery and Pratt, in addition to everything you are familiar with already, the following took place:

[T]he Angel of the Lord, who had previously visited him, again stood in his presence, and his soul was again enlightened as it was the evening before, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the heavens were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about and rested upon him. While he thus stood gazing and admiring, the Angel said, “Look!” And as he thus spake, he beheld the Prince of Darkness, surrounded by his innumerable train of associates. All this passed before him, and the heavenly messenger said, “All this is shown, the good and the evil, the holy and impure, the glory of God, and the power of darkness, that you may know hereafter the two powers and never be influenced or overcome by that evil one.” (See JS Papers, Histories Vol. 1, p. 527.)

Both Cowdery and Pratt urge this to persuade others to trust Joseph Smith. It rings of a doctrine heard today. Essentially they claim Joseph could not be led astray, because he was enlightened in 1823 to such a degree that Satan could not thereafter deceive him.

This notion is, of course, false. It was as false when applied to Joseph Smith as it is false when applied to any man at any time, myself included. All men err. All men are tempted and fall victim to their weaknesses and foolishness.

Just five years after the event reported by Cowdery and repeated by Pratt, in July 1828 Joseph Smith allowed Martin Harris to lose the first 116 pages of transcribed material for the Book of Mormon. The Lord stated: “And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his word– Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.” (D&C 3: 6-8.) Joseph was persuaded by his weakness and financial vulnerability to disobey God.

That same summer the Lord also said this to Joseph Smith: “Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous; But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.” (D&C 10: 36-37.) Joseph couldn’t even tell wicked men from righteous men.

There is no guarantee against error. There is no fortification which makes a man, any man, invulnerable to mistakes. Though both Cowdery and Pratt wanted to give Joseph super-human ability to detect the Devil and avoid mistakes, Joseph still made them. When Joseph prepared his own history in 1838 and 1839 he omitted this claim from his own history. He knew he could and did make mistakes. Therefore he wanted no such claim to be made.

Trust God, not man. And for yourself, keep yourself aligned to heaven, so when presented with the opportunity to make a mistake, heaven can help you in your hour of need. Weakness is part of every man’s life. (Ether 12: 27.) To trade weakness for strength we must all “humble themselves before [God], and have faith in [God].” (Id.) That formula given by Christ to Moroni has no room for trusting or coming to a man. Nor does it require you to humble yourself before a man. I fear my weaknesses and try to always guard against them. I know failure is always possible, and indeed more likely than success.

Cowdery and Pratt wanted the same kind of foolishness in their day as people now want in ours. They and we want some man to save us. Some trustworthy collection of leaders who cannot lead us astray or make errors in judgment which will deprive us of salvation. They were wrong, as are all those who similarly today espouse a similarly false doctrine.

Trust God alone. Fear your weaknesses. There is nothing any of us can take pride in. Nor is there anything we can trust other than our own fidelity to God alone.