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


An Email (LDSFF)

I got an email from an anonymous individual at the ldsfreedom forum which inquired:

Mr. Snuffer,

I’ve created a post over at ldsfreedomforum asking you to clarify a teaching you put forth some time ago. The link to that posting is

All the relevant information regarding my question can be found on the posting, so I won’t repeat it here.

Thank you for considering my invitation to have a dialogue about this particular teaching. I’m sending this request from an anonymous email address out of a desire to remain entirely unknown, as I’d rather have people focused on the facts rather than the personalities insofar as it is possible. My handle on ldsfreedomforum is endlessismyname. Any reply you make to this email will only be available to me for one hour from when it is sent, so I will monitor this inbox for the next 12 hours and then try again tomorrow if I haven’t heard back. Another option is for you to send me a private message on the forum.




I responded

Is it possible to talk by phone? It would require a lot of typing and I’d rather save the time and talk. I have a day-long trial preparation meeting with co-counsel tomorrow, an oral argument hearing on Friday, and I am preparing for a Federal jury trial in a couple of weeks. So spending a lot of time typing an email is problematic for my schedule.

If you’d like, I can give you my office phone (provided in my email)

Or my cell phone if you will keep it confidential.

-Denver Snuffer
I sent another follow-up email to the same anonymous inquirer explaining:

I followed your link and tried to put my email response up there. It requires me to register and choose a password and then puts me into the middle of that forum. I do not want to get tangled up in that setting and have my inability to continue to monitor and respond there to be interpreted as something other than I am busy. So I’m not inclined to join their forum and become a fixture there (as would undoubtedly become required if I want to be understood).

I never post anonymously on any site.
He has responded:


Thank you very much for your prompt reply, especially considering the limited time you have available due to your work obligations. I’m happy to talk on the phone but I worry that I may not represent your answer accurately if I try to report back to the forum regarding our conversation, especially if the answer is involved (which it sounds like it might be). Would it be okay with you if I take notes while we talk, create a summary that I think accurately reflects your response to my question, and then pass that summary back to you for your approval before posting it back to the forum?

I don’t know how late you work but I won’t be available to talk until this evening. If you’d like me to call your cell, just send it over in a separate email. I’m happy to keep it confidential.

Thanks again. I look forward to talking to you and getting a clear understanding of what your thoughts are regarding my question.


I just replied:

That would be fine.  I like the approach.

I have a suggestion, however: Your email deletes and you are nameless, and unidentified. I don’t really care who you are, and I respect your desire to remain unidentified, but it would be better if you use a real contact source so these emails do not disappear (as the first already have). I have no reason to reveal your identity to anyone.

My cell is:———— (provided in the email)
-Denver Snuffer
He wrote again:
Understood. I’ve noticed that you sometimes respond to questions on your personal blog. Would providing clarification to this question be something worth doing over there? That way you wouldn’t have to join a forum (which I don’t blame you for not wanting to do. I joined it yesterday simply because I was trying to find a way to contact you, and was told those at the forum might be able to help with that).

I hope you don’t mind my posting anonymously. It stems from nothing more than a desire to not be seen as either a friend or an enemy of Denver Snuffer. In reality I am neither. I’m somebody who has been approached by a dear friend with an invitation to examine your teachings who now needs some clarification regarding a teaching that is causing me some confusion.I’ll post your response on the forum so that you don’t have to join. Thanks for trying to do it yourself.


I replied:

I have been updating our emails on my website because I was not really certain when your email first arrived how to regard it. I thought it might be nothing more than spam, or someone baiting me and wanting to accuse me of hiding. So I put it up to make my willingness to respond public.

I’ve updated them on my website and they are available there- so feel free to do the same at the other location if you choose.
-Denver Snuffer
He replied:

Duplicating everything won’t be necessary. If they conversation is documented on your site I don’t feel it necessary to duplicate the effort on the forum. I’ll just point people towards your blog and they can monitor the conversation from there if they want to.

I’m happy to provide you with an email address that allows us to retain the emails moving forward. I appreciate your respect for my desire to remain anonymous. I have several reasons for doing this, not the least of which is that I don’t want to influence anyone that knows me with my questions. I’d like everyone to be able to come with their own questions, without preconceived notions or prejudices based on my identity.

I’ll send you an email from my normal address momentarily.


In his last response he provided information about contact I will keep confidential as I agreed. But I also sent him this brief summary about myself:


No problem. And now I will not update the website with anything further from you:

How about after 6:30 pm?  I’m pretty open from then for an hour or so.
It would still involve a good deal of typing:
For example by way of introduction:
I spent two decades teaching Gospel Doctrine Class in Pleasant Grove, then Alpine, then in two different stakes in Sandy, and in the last stake in two different wards. I taught by lecture, not by soliciting input from the class. Someone would have to raise their hand if they wanted to participate. I assumed the burden was on me to make the material useful. I spent between 10 and 20 hours each week to prepare a 50 minute presentation. I did not want to ever say the same thing twice. Therefore each time through the scriptures (and in two decades each of the standard works were taught 5 times) the exposition revisited the material from a more expansive study than the one four years earlier.
I wanted the class to expand my own understanding. Therefore whatever had been taught before was kept in memory while I studied to find what else might contribute to the material.
I’ve kept those study habits. I still work about 10 to 20 hours a week over the scriptures and church history.
As I did the math recently, I estimated that I have logged about 35,000 hours of scripture study since being converted to Mormonism. As a result of that I think in terms of the scriptures. Passages run through my mind continually. They are my companion in life. When I was 13 I would have told you apart from my own thoughts, the strongest voice in my mind came from Mark Twain (I had read practically everything he had written by then). Today I would say the strongest voice in my mind apart from my own thoughts, comes through the language of scripture and are continually the source I ponder, reflect upon, weigh, and seek to understand.
Although I have had many remarkable experiences with God, I have found the scriptures contain everything necessary to discuss every topic. Even things I thought were original and revealed for the first time to me upon returning to study I have found are already there in scripture. I just could not see it until it had been shown to me. Then through the light of a new revelation I learned that Isaiah, or Daniel, or Christ already addressed the matter but it was hidden from my view until I saw it as well.
This is the sort of thing that requires a great deal of typing to set out, and even this is cryptic and summary. I would ask if you’ve read Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers at this point in a conversation. In there he mentions that it takes about 10,000 hours of preparation before someone becomes accomplished in any skill. It is Gladwell’s observation, and it may or may not be accurate. But when I read his book I was reminded of what the scriptures have done to influence my own life and how I’ve logged more hours by three times than he suggests produces competence.
Well, I look forward to your call.
-Denver Snuffer
He called and we spoke last evening (January 6th) from 7:02 pm to 8:26 pm according to the clock in my room. He has provided a summary of the answers to his two questions and I have edited it to make it more complete and he will put it up on the LDSFF.


Second-Hand Rumors

Yet another second-hand rumor has been passed along to me. This latest rumor attributes things to me I would not say, have not said, and are not true. In response to this new rumor, I sent an email to the one who is the apparent source of the latest batch of falsehoods. Since I have no way of knowing how far the falsehoods have spread I want to reiterate again, I have NO SPOKESMAN.

You should trust no one to pass along something that I “really believe” or that I discuss “with trusted friends” or in a private meeting at which I “let out information” about important topics.

I speak openly, write and publish what  I think, believe or know, and do not skulk around giving important information to friends, former neighbors or people I “will really visit with candidly.”

It disappoints me that this continues to be an issue.  I assume they think doing this allows them to advance their mischief and make me responsible for it. But I don’t understand why anyone would believe these people when I clearly have said over and over that I don’t use others to advance ideas, deliver information, or pass along secret or “higher” things. It’s hogwash.

Sacrament and Tithing

I was asked about how fellowships should organize their treatment of newcomers on the issue of tithing. In response I said:

I really hesitate to get into the internal governance of fellowships because the right belongs to the member through common consent. Because the right to govern arises from common consent, the decisions of the fellowship can be varied. Perhaps the approach will be changed from time to time based on experiences. But the fellowship has the right to decide, and then later, based on experience or discussion, to change the decision to do something else.

I was asked about what to do with left-over sacrament bread and wine and how appropriate it would be to share with others the following day if they do not share the same beliefs. In response I said:

I would regard the close of the service as also the end of the consecration of the emblems.  So that once the event/observance/service has ended, then I would think anything remaining would be just ordinary food to be used as the case may be. That was what happened to the excess loaves and fishes (Mark 6:43; Matt. 14:20; John 6:13; Luke 9:17), which were gathered and used. I wouldn’t just throw away the remainder, but I’d make use of it all. I think once the service ends then the sacred nature of the emblems likewise ends.

Priesthood Ordination

I was asked about mechanics of priesthood ordination in an email this morning. I responded as follows:

The power to baptize comes from God’s voice to the man. We “ordain” into a brotherhood that follows from man-to-man, no matter what “line” that brotherhood reckons through it is nevertheless only a brotherhood of men when first established. But the confirmation of authority comes from heaven by the voice of God.

In a very real sense, when the confirmation of authority comes from the voice of God, the line of authority changes to Him, rather than the brotherhood of men. But the tradition is to reckon the line through the brotherhood of men because: 1. we have an objective trail we can follow and, 2. that is all the initial “ordination” gives.

I have four lines of authority: 1. One for the Aaronic ordination. 2. A second for the Melchizedek ordination. 3. A third for High Priest ordination. 4. And the final ordination by the voice of God to me conferring the power to act on His behalf as He directs. Of them all it is the last I prize as the one to be valued.

Come Unto Christ

Immediately before taking Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, the Lord prophesied there were “some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28.) This He fulfilled on the Mount when these three were shown the day of the earth’s transfiguration at His coming. (D&C 63:20-21.) One of the Lord’s gifts to many of His disciples is to show them His coming, judgment of the wicked, and redemption of the righteous.

In the final days of His earthly ministry, He was approached by His disciples in private and asked for an explanation of His coming in glory. The group who approached Him included men and women followers. (Matt. 24:3.) He then told them plainly about His return. We have two restored accounts of His lesson: D&C 45:16-59; and the re-translated version of Matthew 24 (JS-Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price). In both, He refers to “holy places” where His disciples will stand “and shall not be moved.” (D&C 45:32.) They will first be gathered by Christ, who “shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (JS-Matt. 1:37.) These are “they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.” (D&C 77:11.)

The Lord’s return is always a subject He wants us to keep in mind. All the latter-day events that will mark the time for His return will happen in a single generation. (D&C 45:30; JS-M 1:34.) Therefore, when that generation begins to witness the signs of His coming, they should prepare so the return of the Master does not find them abusing others. (Matt. 24:44-51; JS-Matt. 1:49-55.)

Among the gentiles, the “covenant” will only be established in His church. He defines His church as “whosoever is baptized unto repentance.” (Mosiah 26:22.) More clearly, in our day He has said, “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same in my church.” (D&C 10:67.) As Christ promised to those living on this land, “But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto who I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.” (3 Ne. 21:22-23.)

Covenants can be broken. By changing the ordinances covenants are broken. (Isa. 24:5.) No organization exists with an intact covenant, but there are messengers the Lord has chosen and sent, preaching and offering the Lord’s covenant through baptism. Salvation is not related to joining an institution, but it is dependent on repentance and receiving baptism at the hands of those He has sent. There is a website where baptism can be requested by one with authority. Baptism can be received even if one chooses to worship with Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslins, or Mormons. Faith in Christ and covenant with Him does not require anyone to be part of an organization run by men. It requires repentance and faith in Christ.

I am sent as another witness to testify He will return. Signs have been, and are being given both in the heavens and on earth. Today there are “false Christs, and false prophets,” who are doing their work “that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (JS-Matt. 1:22.) The elect are only protected “according to the covenant.” (JS-Matt. 1:20, 22.) He has authorized baptism as His own covenant to preserve all who receive it. I have seen His return and I know this newly offered baptism will be respected at His return by those who will return with Him. Baptism is offered as a covenant between you and the Lord. There are no institutional demands made upon you as a result of receiving the ordinance. It is an invitation to renew your relationship with Christ and take an act of faith to show Him you keep Him in your heart.

There is a requirement to record on earth so it can be recorded in heaven. (Rev. 20:12; D&C 128:6-9.) Because it must be recorded, the recorder’s clearinghouse allows you to submit your name on-line. The record consists of only a name, without any contact information. These names are kept confidential.

If, on this journey, you find yourself looking for fellowship with like-minded people, the fellowship locator allows you to locate, or announce your own fellowship and invite others to share in worship. These are voluntary associations and anyone can choose to participate.

Every nation, kindred, tongue and people, black and white, male and female, young and old, are invited to be baptized. There is no charge, and you make no commitment to men. You only covenant to follow Christ.

He is aligning events to complete His work, and the signs of His return are being given to this generation. The time will soon come when it will not be possible to receive this invitation any longer. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.


Though the Lord was not born in December, it is when we remember His birth. Reflecting on His entry into the world some things continue to amaze me as I think about it.

The Lord entered this world with no particular advantages. His social position was obscure, His nation was subjugated to Rome, His people held false religious ideas and would reject His message, and His life was threatened from its beginning. His family fled into Egypt to save Him from the king’s attempt to take His life (Matt. 2:13).

Heaven took greater notice than society, singing praises to shepherds (Matt. 8:16). A handful of His contemporaries knew His birth was significant: Simeon (Luke2:25-32), Anna (Luke2:36-38) and wise men (Matt. 2:1-2).

But for most people He lived among, all things continued as before. We have widespread celebration of His birth today. But when He was born, His birth was largely unnoticed, unappreciated, or unwelcome. He is the same today, yesterday and forever (Mormon 9:9; D&C 20:12). The truth is to know things as they are, were, and are to come (D&C 93:24). Few know Him, and therefore few recognize the truth. It can be spoken openly, because few have ears to hear (Mark 7:16).

Even though the Lord has provided a great many prophecies of His return, and details of what will happen before His return, today is like His first coming.  He can accomplish His work openly, while the world takes little notice. (Hab. 1:5; Acts 13:41.)

He came to save us. Those who recognized who He was and why He had been sent rejoiced. Abraham saw His coming and rejoiced (John 8:56). Enoch foresaw His day was comforted and rejoiced (Moses 7:46). His work has always been to save and exalt mankind (Moses 1:39). He will wipe away every tear (Rev. 7:17).

Even though His work is the solution to mankind’s troubles, men turn their faces from Him (Isa. 53:3). He speaks to us and proclaims: “For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world—a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life. And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.”

Adam’s Religion

I participated in a fellowship discussion with a group of people a few weeks ago about the ministry of angels. I have been reflecting on that conversation since then. I think the ministry of angels is an indispensible part of the gospel, but angels are subject to God, who commands their ministry. (Moroni 7:30.) The angels have a specific ministry. They call men to repentance and fulfill and do the work of God’s covenants. (Moroni 7:31.) We approach God (not angels) and then God sends angels as His ministers.

Adam had a pure religion taught to him directly by God. It contained the full gospel message while other dispensations, depending and their worthiness and readiness, were given portions of it. In a very real sense mankind began with the religion of God, which was lost through disobedience, lack of interest and unwillingness to study. Righteous men have been trying to recover that original religion ever since.

It is the same challenge today. The original religion Adam practiced needs to be recovered. It was prophesied that it would be recovered. It, along with the original priesthood, is destined to return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)

A Book of Remembrance was prepared beginning with Adam (Moses 6:5). Enoch also wrote a book describing the original religion (Moses 6:43-46). The records prepared by those fathers were passed down for a time through heirs, but were relegated to disuse and neglect until restoration came in the time of Abraham. That restoration was needed because Abraham’s immediate forebearers had lost the original teaching through their changing of its doctrines (Abr. 1:31). It was because Abraham obtained the original religion that he was able to practice it in an uncorrupted form. It brought him back into God’s presence.

Although he did not have the complete records, the first Pharaoh did not invent a new religion. Instead he “imitated” and tried to carry on that original which belonged to the fathers. (Abr. 1:26.) Pharaoh was righteous, but he descended through a line that forfeited the birthright and did not have the right of priesthood presidency, or the right to govern the family of God. But the right to that order will return. (Moses 6:7.)

Abraham reestablished the order. Because of this, he could correct and teach the Pharaoh of his day (approximately 2000 years after the first Pharoah), and whose own religion had, by Abraham’s time, lost its way. (See Facsimile 3, final note.)

Once a religion begins to drift, it is very difficult to recover the original. During Abraham’s time, the task was impossible. Egyptian culture, art and government were based on a religion which had changed over 2000 years, despite the intention to preserve its authentic teachings. Even if Abraham could correct everything for the Pharaoh, it would be impossible for that Pharaoh to even reclaim his nation. Once errors have hardened into hierarchy, institutional tradition, wealth, power and governing systems, a single man, even a king, cannot change its course.

Egypt drifted, but was founded by a king “seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father.” (Abr. 1:26.) The religion was not merely faith, repentance and baptism. It was also an “order” which governed. Those holding it, including Adam and Noah, had the right to “reign” or govern. Without God’s full authorization as the foundation of his government, Pharaoh never had the right to govern. He could only “imitate.”

Egypt’s imitation included many truths mingled with errors. The religion of Egypt preserved a slightly better understanding of portions of the original gospel than others. For example, Egypt understood the hierarchy of heaven better than do we. They acknowledged the “four sons of Horus.” They are real. There are four great angels who have power over the four parts of the earth. (D&C 77:8.) We know them as Michael (Adam), Gabriel (Noah), Enoch (Raphael), and John (Uriel), whose control is over air, water, fire and earth—the four parts of the earth. They have “power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to case down to the regions of darkness.” (D&C 77:8.) In spite of their ministry, we are not to worship them, nor to pray to them. Egypt may have identified and understood them better, but they erred by exalting them to worship and prayer along with other heavenly beings the Egyptians called neteru and the Hebrews called angels. These comprise the host of heaven led by Jehovah. The first error God corrected for Moses was this idolatry of angels, who are not to be worshipped, but are to be recognized and respected as God’s messengers and servants. (Exo. 20:3-5.)

Egypt knew of a great god they identified as “Amon” (also Aumn, Ammon—a name given to several individuals in the Book of Mormon) which Joseph Smith identified as “Ahman” (see D&C 78:20, 95:17; and which is associated with Adam being in the presence of God—Adam-ondi-“Ahman”). The Egyptian father, Amon, had a wife identified as Hathor. Their son was identified as Horus. In the oldest form of the Hebrew faith (before they were excised by the Deuteronomist reformers) the godhead included a Father, Mother and son. The Tabernacle and Temple had an image of the Divine Mother that was removed during Josiah’s reforms and never returned. In the restoration, Joseph taught that exaltation of man required sealing of a man (husband/father) to a woman (wife/mother) to allow for the continuation of the seeds (son/heir). (See D&C 132:19-20.) From eternity to eternity the cycle repeats. If you understand the destiny of those who attain exaltation you understand the nature of those who were exalted before.

Egypt acknowledged one of the exalted angels as “the great scribe,” and identified him as Thoth. His real identity is clarified in the writings of Moses as Enoch. (Moses 6:5, 46.) Enoch ascended to heaven. But we do not worship him.

Egypt’s religion erred by turning true angels into gods, to whom they prayed and whom they worshipped. Angels are sent by God and minister the truth to man, but are forbidden to become the objects of worship. Egypt turned mere angelic servants of God into deity and worshipped them.

Throughout the Bible record, the angels clarify their limited role. In the temple, the angel Gabriel clarified his limited role as a messenger. (Luke 1:19.) When the apostle John beheld the angel sent to him, he fell to worship him. (Rev. 22:8.) The angel forbid it, declaring “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God.” (Rev. 22:9.) John has now become a ministering angel. (D&C 7:6.)  When John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver he declared himself only a “fellow servant.” (JS-H 1:69.)

Angels may occupy positions of authority before God, and may have ministries entrusted to them (D&C 130:5), but only God is to be worshipped. Only God’s word will survive into the afterlife. Even if one of the four great angels establishes a covenant, unless God ordains it as His, that covenant will fail. (D&C 132:13.)

We can recover lost information from studying relics left from the past. Egypt left a great body of evidence we can sort through to help us in our search. But as the search is undertaken we must always remember that their religion had through millennia of practice undergone change and corruption. By the time of Abraham, and still more by the time of Moses (and nearly completely by the time of Isaiah), Egyptian religion had become something very different from that of the first Pharaoh who endeavored to maintain the teachings of the “First Fathers”. We must avoid the errors of Egypt that transpired as their doctrine and rituals changed. “The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof; and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.” (Isa. 19:14.) When reckoning through Egyptian wreckage, therefore, our guide must be the truth. We measure truth against the standard of the Book of Mormon, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and confirmed in the teachings and revelations given through Joseph Smith.

We no longer have Adam’s language. It was corrupted at the time of the tower, and lost to all but the Jaredites. Their record was written in the original language, but by the time Moroni translated the record he required the seer stone to make the translation (Ether 1:1-2; Mosiah 28:11-14.)

We do not have possession of their plates, but the Jaredites wrote in the original language of Adam (Mosiah 28:17; Ether1:35). It is interesting that the last people to have written in the original language of Adam were the Jaredite colony whose record is now part of the Book of Mormon.

We do not yet have the original religion taught to Adam. It also was lost long before Abraham, and was restored to him. He had the advantage of possessing the “records of the fathers” and therefore knew what they wrote in the first generations from Adam till Enoch describing the gospel taught by God to Adam.

No society has preserved the original religion. Joseph Smith was called by God to begin the process to restore the original. Through Joseph, we obtained some significant portions of the gospel which had been lost. He was killed before it was completed. What he left has become a muddled mess requiring a great deal of work to understand it. What Joseph restored must now be recovered. Even then, more must be returned before we finally arrive back at the beginning.

The Book of Mormon was translated “by the gift and power of God” and is an essential part of the restoration of the gospel fullness. Indeed it “contains the fullness of the gospel” because it gives account after account of those who were brought back to God’s presence and redeemed from the fall.

All the ancient world’s earliest religions had accounts of man returning to God through ceremonies and rites. But it was Israel who was visited by God. And the Book of Mormon contains the most clear and vast array of examples of successfully entering God’s presence. Lehi (1 Ne. 1:11), Nephi (1 Ne. 11:7, 2 Ne. 11:2), Jacob (2 Ne. 11:3), Enos (Enos 1:5, 7), Alma (Alma 36:22), and many others returned to God’s presence as part of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. It is indeed as Joseph Smith described it: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (DHC 4:461; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194.)

Many trails remain that point backward to the earliest times and the first religion. Some of those trails are in the Apocrypha which was commended to us for study in modern revelation. (D&C 91.) Joseph, followed by other early saints, were eager to read beyond the closed Biblical canon advocated by their Protestant neighbors. Hugh Nibley followed in that tradition. Joseph Smith did not have access to the Book of Enoch. The materials in the Nag Hammadi were not available until 1945. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not available until they were discovered beginning in 1946 and continuing until 1956. Many ancient texts have been recovered after Joseph’s death. Additionally, scholarly Islamic works have been published in English after Joseph’s death. The sources now available for us, but which were unavailable while Joseph lived, fill libraries. Like the Apocrypha, these newly recovered ancient documents have many things which are true. (D&C 91:1.) They also can be understood through the Spirit. (D&C 91:4.) But without the benefit of the Spirit they can be misleading. (D&C 91:5-6.)

We do not yet have the gospel as taught by God to Adam. That is still to be restored. It will be entrusted to those few people who will hearken to the Lord and live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. (Matt. 4:4—Christ quoting Deu. 8:3.) It will return. But it will be given to people who are worthy of it, and will abide by its requirements. They will be meek, humble, patient, submissive, gentle, or in other words, Christlike.


Great or Malignant Sins

Joseph Smith’s 1838 history did not originally have these words:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been.” (JS-H 1:28.)

Instead his original draft ended with this confession:

“I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling (with) all kinds of society I frequently (fell) into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God.” (JS Papers, Histories Vol. 1: 1832-1844, p. 220.)

The history of Joseph Smith was first published in the Times and Seasons. This part of his history was printed in an installment on April 1, 1842. (Times and Seasons, Vol 3, p. 749.) The explanation that Joseph was not guilty of “any great or malignant sins” had not yet been added in April 1842.

The month following publication of this installment of Joseph’s history, on May 11, 1842, John C. Bennett was excommunicated from the church for adultery. Bennett did not go quietly, and therefore public notice of his excommunication was announced in print on June 15, 1842. Bennett got louder and more accusatory and on July 1, 1842 a full account of John C. Bennett’s misconduct was explained in the Times and Seasons.

Because Bennett began his public accusations against Joseph Smith in 1842, on December 2, 1842 a note was added to Joseph’s history. The LDS Historian’s Office explains the note clarified his sins “were of a minor nature.” (See, JS Papers, History, Vol. 1, p. 221, footnote 55.) The addition they describe is in Willard Richards’ handwriting, and reads as follows:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose  me guilty of any great or malignant sins: a disposition  to commit such was never in my nature; but I was guilty of Levity, & sometimes associated with jovial company &c, not  Consistent with that character which ought to be maintained  by one who was called of God as I had been; but this  will not seem very strange to any one who recollects  my youth & is acquainted with my native cheerly Temperament.” (Manuscript History, Note added December 2, 1842.)

The addition of this clarification appears to be directly in response to John C. Bennett’s adultery, the discovery by Joseph Smith of a “spiritual wife” system being practiced in Nauvoo, and the accusation that he was aware of, believed in, and practiced adulterous relationships. As Joseph Smith stated publicly months later in a meeting in Nauvoo:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (DHC 6:411, May 26, 1844.)

I had not noticed this timing until called to my attention this week. Joseph denied committing “any great or malignant sins” in response to scandal brought to Joseph’s attention through the John C. Bennett affair. Put into context it is clearer. His denial was related to the “spiritual wife” system of adulterous relationships practiced in Nauvoo which was being attributed to him.

Obedience and Sacrifice

The first temple covenants are “obedience” and “sacrifice.” The order places the obligation for obedience before the obligation for sacrifice. They belong in that order.

Obedience requires men to support their wives (D&C 83:2) and parents to care for their children (D&C 83:4). [The first verse of the Book of Mormon informs us Nephi was supported by his goodly parents, including receiving a good education. (1 Ne. 1:1.)] This principle to care for family must happen before any sacrifices can be considered.

In other words, before any sacrifice is made to help the poor, build a temple, support a community, or any other good and charitable thing obedience to the commandment to care for your family members must be satisfied. Those who fail to provide for their families are no better than the faithless. (1 Tim. 5:8.) Those who disobey the obligation to support and care for their families bring the faith of Christ into disrepute and cause scorn for His church.