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Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day.  Although I’m hundreds of miles away, my thoughts are with my wife. David and Solomon clearly never found a wife to be their equal, helpmeet, love and joy. I pity them. I have she who completes me; my queen and high priestess, love and companion, wise counselor and faithful friend. She is the standard against which all other women are measured, and all others found to be wanting. She is home.

I have yet to see a marriage I think the equal of my own.

The final parable in Ten Parables begins deliberately. I hope readers realize how important that discussion is to the way things really are.

Daniel

When Daniel saw the Lord he “alone saw the vision” (Dan 10:7) and not those who were with him. The others felt the great presence (v. 7) but saw nothing. The physical effect upon Daniel was exhausting. He collapsed and had to be strengthened (v. 10). Three times he collapsed and three times he was touched by the Lord to strengthen him (vs. 10,16,18).  It was real and VERY physical. Yet he alone saw the Lord. It is always so. Hence Paul’s comment “whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell” ( 2Cor12:2).  It IS physical. But those who are excluded merely feel the terrible presence, and see nothing. Those included are like Daniel and Joseph Smith, left exhausted from such encounters (see JS-H 1:48).

Not for entertainment

I was reading in the first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers and came across a letter written by Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde upon their return to Kirtland after their mission to England.  During the interim things had broken down in Kirtland with lawsuits, cross accusations and apostasy.  Although the missions had been a great success, with more than fifteen-hundred converts joining the Church, when they returned they found the existing Saints in disarray. 
 
They were immediately confronted with criticism of Joseph and other Church leaders by the residents of Kirtland.  In the letter to Joseph Smith, received on July 6, 1838, they responded to the criticism they were hearing with a comment which stood out to me.  It would make a good motto:
 
“The faults of our bretheren is poor entertainment for us.”  (JSP, Vol. 1, p. 280.)
 
I like that.  I think it is still good enough advice to remain true over a century and a half later: The faults of the Brethren are poor entertainment for any of us.

What’s in a name

In response to a question asked today:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a temporary institution which will cease to exist after this life.  There is no vision, revelation, scripture or statement promising us that the church as an institution will continue to exist after mortality.  What the scriptures, visions, and revelations do tell us about the eternal description of the saved is that it is “the Church of the Firstborn” or “the Church of the Lamb.”  Membership in that group is separate from membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nephi uses “Church of the Lamb” (see e.g., 1 Ne. 14: 12) to describe the latter-days group over whom the Lord will watch.  Interestingly, although Joseph had this revelation before him when he organized the church, he did not choose the “Church of the Lamb” as the organization’s name.  

When modern revelation refers to those who inherit the Celestial Glory, it calls them members of the “Church of the Firstborn” (see, e.g., D&C 76: 67 also 93: 22).  Those who are chosen in our day to belong to the Church of the Firstborn are shown only one way in which that takes place.  In a revelation given to Joseph Smith while translating the New Testament, Section 77, Joseph gave this explanation of the latter-day 144,000 saved persons in verse 11: “they 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.”

At the time Joseph received the explanation recorded in Section 77 (March 1832) the church had existed for over two years.  When the official name was given in 1838  (D&C 115: 4) the name chosen for the earthly, temporary organization was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – not the Church of the Firstborn.
The Church of the Firstborn exists on the “other side” so to speak.  You qualify to get there by how you live here.  But you have to be invited into that church by the “angels to whom is given power” to extend that invitation.

Explanation

I was asked a question which provoked this explanation of the book, The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil:
 
The book was written to cause the reader internal reflection.  There really isn’t a “punch line” in the book.  My testimony is essentially incidental; merely affirming that the principles taught in the book are true.

I worry that reading only the testimony, divorced from the explanation of how someone moves along in personal progress to the point they receive that personal witness, will make it just another “feel good” read.  The book is a manual.  It isn’t designed to make people feel good.  It is designed to get them to do something.
 
I worry that whenever people read of others’ spiritual experiences they assume that because they have read about such things they are somehow “included” or “worthy” and that they are linked to God as a result.  The book is designed to awaken people to their own lack of an existing link: then to cause them to resolve to establish that link for themselves.

So I think taking only the testimony alone contradicts the whole purpose for which it was written.  The testimony was merely a brief, nine word ratification of the book’s teachings.  The focus was, and is, on receiving an audience with Christ.  The book is a manual for the reader to do that for themselves.  The reader, not the author, is the focus of the book.  Indeed, with only brief exceptions, my personal presence intrudes into the book to highlight how to do something wrong.  Then the book explains how to get it right. 

Truth

When we receive truth we are expected to live our lives in conformity with the truth we’ve received.  We shouldn’t expect to receive more if we do not live what we’ve already been given.  Living in conformity with such truth as you already have is also always required to avoid deception.  It is simply not possible to harvest additional light while refusing to live the light already given.  False spirits visit with those who invite them by their misconduct, rebellion or wickedness.  Hence the need to constantly re-evaluate how you live and the choices you make.

Email

Below is an email I am going to send in response to any new emails.  I regret having to do this, but as should be apparent from the content below, I am forced to do so:
__________________________
Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of meeting, talking, and associating with many new people.  I have had the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about the gospel, about books I have written, and about other subjects that help move along the truth of the restored gospel. I have been contacted by people far and wide who have read what I have written, and as a result, have wanted to meet or talk with me. Some people have wanted to meet over lunch on a weekday. Others have come to my office to meet with me.  Some have made appointments, others have just dropped in.  I have spent countless hours talking with people on the phone.  There are those who have wanted to attend the temple with me, and I have made arrangements to do so.  This has been a great blessing to me.  However, it has grown now to the point that I can no longer accommodate the many requests.

On any given day, I now receive dozens of email questions from people I know or am acquainted with, as well as people I don’t know, who want answers to questions they have as a result of something I have written or for other various reasons.  I’ve been asked to meet at the temple, to come to someone’s home and talk, to allow someone to come to my house to meet with me, to visit in my office, or to do other things for them.  I have been given articles, manuscripts, plays, DVD’s, video tapes, books, letters, and other media and asked to read, edit, and/or give an opinion about the materials.  I have been asked to speak on numerous occasions at various functions, which I have done on a few very rare occasions.  Right now there are over a dozen requests to speak at places in Utah, California and Arizona.

I have sincerely tried to be available to everyone in whatever capacity they have asked me.  I have given up  a great deal of time in order to respond to requests when people have sought me out. I have enjoyed these wonderful associations and opportunities. Many of these have been blessings to me.  I have learned much and I love the opportunity to discuss, teach and learn the truth, and to be taught by others.

It is with regret however, that I will no longer be able to make myself available in this way.  Last Monday was when it reached a point I decided I could no longer continue in the same way.  Before the day was over I spent six hours answering emails related to books I have written.  I have a wife and several children who need my attention, and an active law practice which requires my full time work. My family and business suffer from neglect when I spend excessive time answering Gospel questions.  I employ 6 people whose families depend upon my productivity at work.  They have been very patient with my diversions over the last several years, but they deserve better from me as an employer.   


Despite the inability to be available directly, my wife and I have come up with a plan which will help solve the problem, I hope.  My wife has agreed to maintain a website where I will post answers to questions I have received over the years, comments or things that I believe may be edifying, or whatever I think may be beneficial as a result of something that comes from a reader.  I will try to update it at least weekly. 

The address will be:  http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com
                                    

Thank you for understanding these problems.  I hope the solution will still allow me to be of service to anyone who asks something of me.
Kindest Regards,

Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. 

Principles and Rules

Question by someone:  What is the difference between “principles” and “rules”? 

Answer by me:
Assuming you define “Principles” as the underlying reason for the commandment, then you’re also speaking about what the Apostle Paul called the “Spirit of the law” as opposed to the “letter of the law.”  He said the “letter killeth” but the “Spirit giveth life.”  I think he was right.

Any rule can be abused.  Any rule can become broken even when it is being kept.  Rules can become harsh taskmasters, inflicting punishment when they were designed to bless.  The underlying principle, however, always seeks to bless.  The underlying principle was designed as a blessing.  When the rule begins to oppress, then is should be abandoned in favor of the principle. 

Rules have and do change.  But principles remain constant.  The brutality of the rules was exposed by Christ when He healed on the Sabbath.  He did that specifically to demonstrate the futility of ignoring the principle, while only adhering to the law/rule.  

In the English common law tradition there were cases “at law” and cases “in equity.”  They divided the Courts into separate forums, where courts of law could not do equity.  But courts of equity could ignore the provisions of law, modify them, or establish a higher principle which resolved fairly a dispute despite some legal impediment to the relief sought.  That tradition follows the Lord’s example.  


Principles ennoble.  Rules preoccupy.

I didn’t know

I was amused to find that my wife (who physically maintains this blog for me) had already made it active.  I’ve been sending stuff to her to post, but figured it would be a while before this actually became something available for readers. 

I’m also surprised that some people have already found it.  I got an email today thanking me for it.  So I did a search and found the blog is actually up and running and can be found through Google.
  

OK, then, welcome to this blog.  If you’re reading it, you’ve found it too.  I’ll try and add something at least every few days.  Hopefully something that will matter.