This Site’s MP3s

The reason the MP3 recordings are ‘zipped’ is if we leave them as straight MP3 recordings then people can stream them, causing heavy bandwidth use. We zipped them to prevent streaming so that visitors do not wind up exceeding the bandwidth I am paying for, resulting in slow, or stopped interaction on the website. However, there may be other ways we can go around this issue and we are investigating alternatives.

I appreciate suggestions. Right now the website has been months in creating, and diverted attention that I now want to give to finishing a manuscript so it can be in print. I will add content here, but I am spending time on another project that will reduce the rate at which improvements and additions will happen here.

Also, there was a “warning” for the website which some ISPs put up when connecting through their server. This is likely due to the fact that denversnuffer.com was a parked site while being developed, and could not be accessed. Some ISPs automatically flag a site like that, and the issue should be resolved shortly after this site went live.

Never Disaffected

I’ve said it a number of times and want to reiterate: I am not “disaffected” from the LDS Church. I was evicted, but hold no ill-will.

I am not a critic either. But since I have no membership interest in the LDS Church, my only objective is to understand the truth about Mormonism, its past and present, no matter the cost.

Loyalty to the truth does not endear me to anyone who has a cause to defend. Everyone accuses me of having an “agenda” when I disagree with their point of view. I’m not trying to curry favor with anyone other than God and only seek the truth– even painful truth.

WELCOME!

Welcome to the new website. This has been months of effort and took more work than we ever expected. We had hoped to bring this online for Christmas last year, but missed that mark. Well, Merry Christmas anyway.

I sincerely thank all those who have made this possible and have donated their time to assist.

Equinox

The earth’s orbit is ecliptic and asymmetrical. Science prefers neat divisions and imposes symmetry.

This Vernal Equinox is set by the calendar for March 20th. But nature is going to put the sun in the spot crossing the plane of the celestial equator on March 18th.

There are a lot of these differences in nature, planets, star fields that varies from man’s desire for even divisions. We have split the Zodiacal constellations into 30 degree increments, despite the fact that some constellations are quite a bit bigger and their star fields occupy much more than 30 degrees (Pisces, Virgo and Aquarius for example) and some are much less than 30 degrees (Aries, Gemini and Cancer for example).

The incongruities between the mathematical order we prefer in contrast to the “chaos” of nature means something if Genesis 1:14 is to be trusted. Despite mankind’s desire to make everything fit neatly, God has decreed events to happen on His time-frame.

Star fields overlap. We think we know when one age ends and another begins because of the 30 degrees allocated to each of the twelve constellations. But in the heavens above, Leo invades Cancer, and Pisces invades Aquarius. There is no neat division allowing anyone to say with certainty when God believes one age ends and another has begun. God may have one age begin before another ends for His reasons. Very rarely does man see this.

So you are left to decide if the coming Equinox is March 20th (based on neat divisions of the year) or March 18th (based on the movement of the sun overhead). And also to decide when Pisces ends and Aquarius begins–or if Aquarius has already begun. Many things begin and the world barely notices they are underway. Heaven testifies and men fail to notice.

Jos Smith Letter Sept 1833

Jos Smith Letter Sept 1833

Below I have copied and pasted a transcription from the Joseph Smith Papers publication of the LDS Church Historian Press. The letter is written in September, 1833, while Joseph was working on a series of lectures which would eventually become scripture. They would not be published until 1835 as Lectures on Faith. But the thinking of Joseph in September 1833 shown in this letter to his uncle show how the analysis of the later published Lectures on Faith came from the mind of Joseph Smith. This version is taken from the website, but a printed version appears in JS Papers, Documents Vol. 3, pp. 303-308.

________o0o__________

Kirtland Mills Ohio sept 26 1833

Respected Uncle Silas

It is with feelings of deep interest for the well fare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give  an impartial account of all their works on that great day to  which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I  take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few  though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.

I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things which they have and  not for the things they have not or that all the light and intell igence communicated to them from their benifficen [beneficent] creator wh ether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be  judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and  improve upon that and that only which is given for man is  not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds [p. 228]

out of the mouth of God

Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to unders tand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever  to speak to his creatures when saught unto in a proper manner  why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be  pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation Perhaps  you may be surprized at this assertion that I should say for the  salvation of his creatures in these last days since we have already in  our possesion a vast volume of his word which he has previously given But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not suff icent for Abraham or it was not required of Abraham to leave  the land of his nativity and seek an Inheritance in a strange land  Country upon the word spoken to Noah but for himself he obtain ed promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perf ection that he was called the friend of God Isaac the promi sed seed was not required to rest his hope upon the promises  made to his father Abraham but was priviledged with the assu rance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven by the direct  voice of the Lord to him If one man can live upon the revelat ions given to another might not I with propriety ask why the n ecessity then of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did as is record ed in the 26 chapter of Genesis for the Lord there repeats or rath er promises again to perform the oath which he had previously  sworn unto Abraham and why this repet[it]ion to Isaac Why was not  the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham.  Was not Isaac Abraham’s son And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God.

Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and  different from men in these last days consequently the Lord  favored him with blessings peculiar and different as he was  different from men in this age I admit that he was a peculiar  man and was not only peculiarly blessed but greatly bless ed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the [p. 229]

man or all the difference between him and men in this age is  that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to  him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.

The same might be said on the subject of Jacobs history  Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same prom ise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to  Isaac why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word  spoken to his fathers When the time of the promise drew nigh  for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of  Egypt why was it necessary that the Lord should begin  to speak to them The promise or word to Abraham was that  his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hun dred years and after that they should come out with great  substance Why did they not rely upon this promise and  when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred [years] come out without waiting for further revelation but act entirely  upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come  out.

Paul said to his Hebrew brethren that God b[e]ing more abu ndantly willing to show unto the heirs of his promises the immu tability of his council [“]confirmed it by an oath.” He also  exhorts them who throug[h] faith and patience inherit the pro mises.

[“]Notwithstanding we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to  lay hold of the hope set before us which hope we have as an an chor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth  into that within the vail.” Yet he was careful to press upon them  the necessity of continuing on untill they as well as those who  inherited the promises might have the assurance of their salvat ion confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who  cannot could not lie for that seemed to be the example an ciently and Paul holds it out to his brethren as an object atta inable in his day and why not[?] I admit that by reading [p. 230]

the scriptures of truth saints in the days of Paul could learn beyond  the power of contradiction that Abraham Isaac and Jacob had  the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the  Lord but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation but they could by walking in the footsteps <and> continuing  in the faith of their fathers obtain for themselves an oath for  confirmation that they were meet to be partake[r]s of the inheri tance with the saints in light.

If the saints in the days of the Apostles were priviledged to  take the saints for example and lay hold of the same promises  and attain to the same exhalted priviledges of knowing that  their names were writen in the Lambs book of life and that  they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face  of the most high will not the same faithfulness the same pur ity of heart and the same faith bring the same assurance of eternal  life and that in the same manner to the children of men now  in this age of the world[?]

I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles  and saints in ancient days were saved in the Kingdom of  God. Neither do I doubt but that they held converse and com munion with them while in the flesh as Paul said to the cori nthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed himself to above 500  saints at one time after his resuretion [resurrection]. Job said that he  knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see him in  the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch wa lked with God <and by faith was translated. And I may [believe]  that Noah was a perfect man in his generation  & also walked with God.> I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac  obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the  direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed  with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker. that he  wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a  blessing I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses I may believe that the [p. 231]

saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face aft er his resurection I may believe that the Hebrew Church came  to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God the Heaven ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I  may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the  Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant;  but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me  to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure,  and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by  my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and  will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries,  as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner  they did or is he a respecter of persons?

I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I  may say with propriety at the begining; we would be pleased to see  you in Kirtland and more pleased to have you embrace the New  Covenant. I remain.

Yours affectionately

Joseph Smith Jr [p. 232]

Apostles And Assumptions

A quorum of twelve apostles did not exist in Mormonism until February 1835. Even though no quorum existed, the term “apostles” was used and many individuals were identified as “apostles.” The term meant someone sent with a message from God. The term was used to identify all the missionaries sent to preach the Book of Mormon and restoration.

The revelations given through Joseph Smith specifically identified the following men as “apostles” in the following sections and dates:
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, D&C 18:9 (June 1829)
Joseph Smith, D&C 20:2 and Oliver Cowdery, D&C 20:3 (April 1830)
Joseph Smith, D&C 21:1 and Oliver Cowdery 21:10 (April 1830)
Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt and Leman Copley, D&C 49:1, 11 (March 1831)—sending them forth “like unto mine apostle of old, whose name was Peter”

A series of revelations likewise referred to “apostles” and included the following admonitions, instructions, and commandments to the following audiences:

1.  November 1831 – D&C 1:14: “the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.”
This did not, indeed could not, refer to a non-existent quorum of the twelve. At that time, it referred to any of the “disciples” he sent out as missionaries in the early church as explained in the same revelation, D&C 1:4-9.

2. March 1830 – D&C 19:8: refers to giving information to Martin Harris because “it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.”
Meaning that Martin Harris was entitled to have a mystery revealed to him.

3.  The language in D&C 27:12 is not part of the original revelation given in August 1830. It was added apparently by Sidney Rigdon sometime between 1834 and 1835.

4.  December 1830 – D&C 35:6: informs Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that they could then give the gift of the Holy Ghost “by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.”
This is consistent with everywhere else in scripture which associates “laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” with the status of “apostle.” See, e.g., D&C 20:38, 43; 3 Ne. 18:36-37; Moroni 2:2-3.

5.  September 1831 – D&C 64:39: “they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.”
Given to the elders of the church, many of whom were calling themselves “apostles” as is mentioned two months later in the November 1831 revelation (D&C 1:14, discussed first above). All the missionaries called themselves “apostles.” The revelation meant that the unworthy who were sent as missionaries will be exposed to be unworthy.

6.  September 1832 – D&C 84:63: “you are mine apostles”
Given to the missionaries who were now returning, having been sent out the prior year. All the missionaries were identifying themselves as “apostles” and the Lord was acknowledging and confirming this was true.

7.  June 1833 – D&C 95:4: “For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time,”
Referring to the Kirtland Temple the Lord wanted built (and they had delayed commencing). He said it was necessary to prepare all these “apostles” who were serving missions.

8. February 1834 – D&C 102—minutes of a meeting written by Oliver Cowdery which identifies the “traveling high council composed of the twelve apostles.” This council would not come into existence for another year.

9. March 1835 – D&C 107:23: The twelve apostles are identified as “twelve traveling councilors”
These particular “apostles” were a traveling council with authority equal to the many other “apostles” in the church. The apostles in the first presidency, and in the seventy, and in the other standing high councils are all equal in authority to these traveling high council apostles. 

In 1835, the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, were asked by Joseph Smith to choose the first twelve members of the newly announced quorum of the twelve. The witnesses made their choices at a meeting on February 14, 1835. The three witnesses were also the ones who ordained the twelve chosen men as apostles between February and April 1835. Ordination was accompanied by a charge given by Oliver Cowdery that explained their ordination was not complete until they qualified. In part it included:

It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven to yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.  Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid his hands upon his disciples, why not in latter days? . . .  The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. . . . You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such a testimony for yourselves. (DHC, 2:192-98.)  

Oliver’s charge was nothing new. Joseph Smith had already explained to the “School of the Prophets” that to be an “apostle” required a visit from Christ and the Father. Oliver was just repeating what everyone already knew.

So when the language of D & C 1 (“the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people”) is put into context, it really has nothing to do with a non-existent,  traveling high council that was formed later. That later group displaced and overthrew church government, establishing itself as a controlling oligarchy that is non-scriptural, non-historical. Fortunately, we can know the Lord intends that “they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.” If we compared the claims being made now to the scriptures, I suppose that might be possible to accomplish even now.

Follow and Receive

We should only “Follow” Christ. See, e.g., Matt. 4:19; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21; Mark 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27; 18:22; John 12:26; 21:19.

Prophets are not to be followed; only “received” or, in other words, to be heard. See, e.g., Matt. 10:14; Mark 16:11; D&C 76:101. If sent by Him they testify of Him and not of themselves.

If you will not receive Christ’s prophets and apostles, you will be condemned. See John 3:10-11.

But you are under the burden of determining whether a man is a true or false prophet, true or false apostle, because following a false one will condemn you. Christ will expose the false prophets and apostles. D&C 64:39. But that will be by-and-by, for they must be given their season to claim falsely to be prophets and apostles.

If you will not hear a prophet, you will be rejected. See D&C 1:14.

Those who claim you should “follow” them put themselves in the place of Christ. They are, in effect, a false Christ. We were promised they would come in the last days to deceive the “very elect” as false Messiahs. See, JS-Matt. 1:22.

The trial is underway. The world must choose correctly.

Incompatible

It is impossible to have religious freedom of expression and protection of gay rights without requiring the religious expression to include endorsement of homosexual conduct.

Can gay rights be protected without demanding churches stop denouncing homosexuality as “sin” or as “offensive to God” or “evil?”

If a church believes homosexuality is sinful, offensive to God and evil, but cannot say what it believes because law protects against “discrimination” against such conduct, how are the two reconciled? One must trump the other. One must be given priority over the other. Which? How?

Can a church be called “hateful” when it expresses its honest view that homosexuality is morally wrong and sinful without any legal protection against the “hate?”

Should we be free to hate?

If a Muslim hates a Jew, does he have the right to say it publicly? Advocate for others to likewise hate Jews?

Should ideas be free from legal control? If they are, will we see KKK rallies, jihadist news broadcasts, black liberation ministers advocating revolution, white supremacists denouncing “mud people?” Is that sort of fall out bad?  Bad in an absolute sense, not in a relative sense. Is foolishness portrayed as insight bad in a relative sense? That happens everywhere and all the time. Should the limits of free speech be nearly absolute?

The Supreme Court set a limit using the analogy of “crying ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater” that results in injuries and even death. That analogy has been adopted to limit speech elsewhere by saying “hate” will result in injuries and even death, and therefore it is no different.

When it comes to freedom, however, there must be absolutes or freedom will continually be eroded and eventually lost.

We must allow people to say things we disapprove of, disagree with, resent and wish were never said. Tolerance has no meaning if we only permit things we like to be done, said or thought. The meaning of “tolerance” is to permit what I absolutely disagree with to be “tolerated.” I don’t have to love it, nor do I have to approve it. I only need to “tolerate” it.

If we “tolerate” it, is there an obligation to leave it unmolested, uncontrolled and uncurtailed by law? Whether that is homosexual conduct or condemnation of homosexuality.

The role of legislation is not to carve out ideas for suppression and punishment. Until someone actually assaults another, shouldn’t he be able to think what he wants, and say what he thinks? If anyone assaults another it is a crime. Whether the crime was motivated by hatred of homosexuals, hatred of Jews, or Catholics, or Hindus, or Mexicans or Mudbloods or any other group, no one is allowed to assault another person. The crime consists in the act, not in the thought.

Thought should be as near to absolutely free as possible. No matter how peculiar or offensive, thought ought to be unrestricted. It is not possible to police thought without losing other freedoms.

Further Thoughts on the Holy Ghost

The purpose of the Holy Ghost is to convey truth, understanding and knowledge. Our reaction may be emotional, but the Holy Ghost is informational.

The information we obtain from the Holy Ghost checks emotions, and produces self-control. Paul explained that our flesh is prone to lusts (Gal. 5:19) and to “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, …envyings” (Gal. 5:20-21). But the Spirit helps check those through self-control. A healthy appreciation of our limitations leads to “longsuffering, gentleness, …faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23) which are gifts produced as a byproduct of recognizing our weakness.

If there is a consistent experience produced by an encounter with God while filled with the Holy Spirit, it would be “dread” or “fear.” Comparing our fallen nature to the purity of God causes shame. (The language used by those who experience this include these accounts: “racked with a consciousness of your guilt”—Mormon 9:3-5; “Woe is me, I am undone”—Isa. 6:5; “a great quaking…they fled to hide”—Daniel 10:7; “an horror of great darkness”—Genesis 15:12.)

We become meek, temperate and long suffering with others as we comprehend how little we are in comparison to God. We have no reason to boast after we have encountered purity and intelligence. It is a fearful thing to come into contact with the Living God (Heb. 10:31.)

Intelligence is light and truth (D&C 93:36). Truth is knowledge of things as they are, were, and are to come (D&C 93:24). We clearly see our weakness when in contact with God (Ether 12:27). But the purpose of showing us our weakness is to cause “weak things become strong” (Id.). This “strength” does not produce bragging, assertiveness or boasting. To the contrary, it produces recognition, meekness and fear.

When an authentic encounter with God happens, the person will be filled with anxiety for the salvation of others. (See, Lehi’s immediate concern for his family: 1 Ne. 8:12; Enos’ desire for his brethren and his enemies, the Lamanites, who he viewed as “brethren” also: Enos 1:9, 11; the Sons of Mosiah, who after their own conversion could not bear to have any soul lost if they could convert them: Mosiah 28:3; and the Apostle Paul, who went from persecuting to proselytizing; among many others.)

The results are not magic. It is a natural progression based on knowledge and understanding. God shows us something, and we take it into account. We know more, understand more, and have a far more realistic recognition of what is happening here in this fallen world. Then, with that increased understanding, we look to contribute to saving souls (our own included). This is comforting, because it is real.

The frequent testimonies declaring that a person “knows” something is true because the speaker or writer was stirred with emotion is not enlightening, enlivening, increasing understanding, bestowing knowledge, telling us saving truths, or based upon an actual encounter with God. God awakens us from slumber; which can be distressing and even alarming.

But we need to awaken. And we ought to be alarmed.

(I have used the terms Holy Ghost, Spirit and Holy Spirit interchangeably. I have previously explained how I understand the terms are correctly used in scripture.)

Thoughts on Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost can and does speak to everyone, Baptists, Lutherans, and Catholics included. C.S. Lewis could not have written and comprehended what he wrote and understood, unless the light of the Holy Ghost shown upon his mind. He declares the light of eternal truths in his writings. This is one of the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, or Comforter. 
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment. (Moses 6:61) 
This is in contrast to the power given by Christ to lay on hands for the Holy Ghost. For power to do that, Christ touched (and must touch) the man given that power. When Christ actually gave power to give the Holy Ghost, the Book of Mormon account stresses repeatedly that He touched them: There is a difference between a visit by the Holy Ghost and having its presence always to be with you. “A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.” (D&C 130:23.) This difference accounts for the Holy Ghost being available to all, on the one hand, and the power to lay on hands to confer the gift given by those upon whom Christ has laid His hands, on the other hand.
Many people believe they have the Holy Ghost with them when their emotions are stirred, or they are thrilled by some appealing talk, comment, praise or flattery. However these incidents do not increase light and truth, comprehension or intelligence and are not the Holy Ghost. They are only emotional experiences. Emotional experiences can be replicated in a number of ways. Music, movies, television commercials, general conference talks, books, testimonies, prayers and any number of physical experiences can create tears, goosebumps, or other things that we have incorrectly associated with the Holy Ghost.
Very often the truth conveyed by the Holy Ghost is hard to hear, difficult to follow, and breaks your heart. Sometimes the truth is bitter. But bitter truth is better than pleasing lies and flattery. It is a profound misunderstanding of the “Holy Ghost” when a person concludes it can never convey a message that condemns, convicts or challenges you. Much of what the Holy Ghost will convey – light and truth – causes pain, provokes change and repentance because you are convicted of errors. 
Alma was tutored by the Holy Ghost and it convicted him of his sins. He described it as “my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.” (Alma 36:14.) “For three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.” (Id., v. 16.) He said I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins.” (Id., v. 17.) He repented because he received accurate information by the power of the Holy Ghost showing him exactly where he stood before God. This enabled him to repent and return to God. 
It is a mistake to conclude that only good feelings, reassurance and praise comes through the Holy Ghost. It is likewise a profound error to assume a message that challenges you, tells you bad news about your present mistakes, and warns you to change course is dark, evil or cannot be from God.
There is no organization controlling the Holy Ghost.
Missionaries quote Moroni 10:4, and admonish everyone to pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Investigators are promised that God will manifest the truth of it unto them “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” These are unbaptized, unwashed, and uninitiated investigators who are told they can hear the Holy Ghost speak truth to them. The Holy Ghost does, can, and will speak to anyone.
The claim an organization has a franchise over the Holy Ghost is hollow. The idea the Holy Ghost can be controlled is false. The fact LDS Mormons are acquainted with the Holy Ghost means very little. That acquaintance does not distinguish Latter-day Saints, and it does not separate others from the Holy Ghost and its ministrations, no matter who they are.
The Holy Ghost does not thrill, it informs. It gives understanding. Thrilling music can rouse you. A great TV show can give you goose bumps. That is not the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost enlightens minds, it enlivens senses, it brings light and new and more complete understanding.
“The first Comforter, or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence.” TPJS, p. 149. 
“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” TPJS, p. 328.  
There are some people who have the Spirit with them in such abundance, that to be in their presence is to understand things better. Understanding, comprehension, light and truth—these are the effects of the Holy Ghost.
The word “apostle” means someone sent. An apostle of Jesus Christ must be sent by Him to claim to be His apostle.
Christ gave the power to baptize in 3 Nephi 11:19-21 by telling Nephi (and later others) He empowered them: “And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet. And the Lord commanded him that he should arise.  And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize.” Christ did not touch them because it is not required for this authority to be given by Him. He only said to them, “I give you power to baptize.”
Although the record does not mention any prior ordination, these disciples in all likelihood had been previously ordained. But when Christ came to the Nephites, He was renewing His church. All that was needed for Him to convey the power to baptize was (and is) for Christ to tell the recipient of the power that it is given.
“And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them. And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true.” (3 Ne. 18:36-37.)
The Book of Mormon does show how it was given: 
“And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.” (Moro. 2:2.)
Laying on hands for the Holy Ghost is an ordinance belonging to an “apostle” or witness to whom Christ has ministered and empowered. Acts 1:22; see also Oliver Cowdery’s February 1835 charge to the twelve found at DHC 2:192-198, reproduced in part below.
In our own dispensation the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost was likewise an ordinance to be performed only by an “apostle” upon whom Christ laid hands: 
An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; …And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures…” (D&C 20:38, 41.)
Section 20 was given in April 1830 when the term “apostles” was not associated with an organized church administrative body. At the time the revelation was given, the likely candidates for properly claiming the title of “apostle” were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. These four previously had the heavens opened to them. They had seen the plates of the Book of Mormon, and heard the voice of God declaring a message to them. However, there were many others in the earliest days who claimed to be “apostles,” and the term had no settled meaning in April 1830.
Today many Latter-day Saints associate the term “apostles” with a quorum that did not exist in 1830. Reference to this “quorum” could not have been the meaning used in Section 20. When this revelation was given, all the elders in the church called themselves “apostles” of Jesus Christ. That practice gradually changed after the quorum of twelve had been organized. Reinterpreting the term used in Section 20 because in 1835 there was an organization of a church quorum of twelve is not justifiable. 
Arguably members of an administrative body, even if given the honorific title “Apostles,” would still need to qualify as “apostles” to have the power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The quorum of twelve were chosen by the Three Witnesses and ordained as Apostles by them. Oliver Cowdery gave them a charge that imposed the same obligation on the quorum as would be expected of any “apostle.” Cowdery’s charge told them it was necessary to have Christ lay hands on them to complete their ordination:
It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven to yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.  Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid his hands upon his disciples, why not in latter days? . . .  The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. . . . You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such a testimony for yourselves.” (DHC, 2:192-96, emphasis added.) 
LDS practice does not limit laying on hands to an apostle Christ has touched and given power. Nor do members of the quorum of the twelve receive the charge given by Oliver Cowdery to the first apostles called by the Three Witnesses.
Many people foolishly conclude that the Holy Ghost is telling them something is “dark” or “evil” if it causes discomfort, pain or disappointment. The emotional response should be separated from deciding whether it comes from the Holy Ghost, or if the message is truthful. Does it enlighten? Does it impart knowledge? Does it cause a desire to change? Repent?

About the Tree of Life

In response to an email about the Tree of Life in Lehi’s dream, and the potential for John the Beloved to be directly involved in latter-day events, I responded with the following:

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During the time when their natural lives had ended, the ministry of the Three Nephites was not public.  They ministered to Mormon and to Moroni, but did not minister openly. This is a type of how John also will minister. I do not expect him to openly minister again. The challenge is for mortals to cope with the mortal condition, aided by ministering angels (one of whom is John, others include the Three Nephites, and the cities of Enoch and Melchizedek, and Elijah).  The list in Section 128 includes some of the identities.

But the point is that Mormon as a mortal ministered to mortals. Moroni as a mortal likewise did so. The Three Nephites ministered to the ministers. This is the pattern we see likewise with Joseph. Christ and various other ministering angels ministered to Joseph, and Joseph ministered to the believers.

The challenge is to elevate others without elevating yourself. The idea of having a strong leader with everyone looking to them for salvation is a demonstrably inadequate model. It did not work with Moses. It failed in the New Testament. It failed with Joseph. It will fail if used again now.

The successes are Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s. Both of them confined themselves to the role of preaching and teaching repentance. That’s it. Repentance and faith in God. The meekness of Moses notwithstanding, he failed to bring Zion. The prophetic and productive work of Joseph the Seer notwithstanding, he failed to bring Zion. 

The challenge is to get people to take that step of partaking of the fruit. No one fed it to them. No one got the fruit from the tree, took it out to the wandering and wayward people and handed it to them. No one other than the individual themselves could partake.

We are left with the only approved tools:
-persuasion
-kindness
-meekness
-love unfeigned
-pure knowledge

THESE must typify the ministry of whoever will bring again Zion. Use of any other means will not succeed in allowing the individual to make their own choice to come and partake.

Freedom To Worship

I have written over 2 million words explaining my understanding of Mormonism. It has largely been an exposition of the scriptures to show how they anchor all my beliefs. The scriptures are a library of material about Christ, written by those who knew Him and had understanding given to them by Him. The value of scripture is directly related to the writers’ proximity to our Lord’s mind and words.

Not all scripture has equal value. The Book of Mormon has the greatest value because of its origin. Its prophecies are more relevant to us than those of the Bible

Other than the scriptures, the sources I trust most are approved or written by Joseph Smith, or his brother Hyrum, and others that include the earliest contemporary accounts of beginning LDS history. The further away the source is from the actual events, the less reliable they prove. There are some accounts that have become “history” that were not even written by a witness. They were fanciful recreations intended to promote belief in the religious systems that followed Joseph’s death. They are not true.

Lately, more reliable source materials about early LDS history are available to the public for the first time. Older accounts written without using the new source material are unreliable and outdated. Defending LDS historical accounts using unreliable source material no longer persuades those who are well read in new material. I have tried to make a positive statement of what I have learned and how events can be better reconstructed using what is now available.

The contradictory clutter of post-Joseph contentions advanced by church apologists are neither consistent nor coherent. Those who prize these sources and find virtue in them have courage. I confess I lack the courage to trust myth without searching to discover truth.

Even after all I’ve written, I still have venomous critics who attribute to me the opposite of what I believe.
-Although I condemn plural marriage, I’m accused of wanting it.
-Although I abhor concentration of power in church leaders, I’m accused of seeking to establish my own organization to control.
-Although I spend my own money to teach and serve, I’m accused of somehow wanting to profit from these expenses I bear.
-Although I have told people to remain LDS if they are happy with their situation, I’m accused of driving people away from the church. (I really like Latter-day Saints. They are among the best people I know. If they follow their faith, they are upright, decent and moral people for whom I hold high regard. They only bother me when they ignorantly and vocally damn me for things I do not believe or advocate. Apart from that, I have no complaints.)
-Although I harbor no ill-will to any church authority, I’m accused of railing against them.
-Although I recommend we return to the original name for the priesthood, I’m accused of wanting to rename priesthood after myself.

As the Lord said, “blessed are you when men shall say all manner of evil against you FALSELY for my name’s sake…” It seems I qualify. The critics do not bother to say what I actually advocate, choosing instead to spread false accusations suggesting I believe the opposite of what I actually believe.

The 11th Article of Faith declares:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I believe this. I also claim this right. I appreciate the opportunity claimed by every “Mormon” sect accepting the Articles of Faith as part of their beliefs. When others want to attack this right, let’s band together to oppose them. Let everyone be free in their beliefs and worship.

It should be no concern to anyone what, how or where I choose to worship. If I am wrong, that is between me and God. I am only sharing what I have learned with those who are interested. You are free to reject my beliefs. If you are right, then you should rejoice in the truth you have found and try to persuade others to see the truth as well.

No one should “own” a religion. It is morally corrupt to claim anyone can dictate what others believe, what they should believe, how they should worship or what they must do to satisfy a man’s demand in order for God to offer salvation. If you think a Pope, or Priest or Prophet can save you, then by all means go get yourself saved, as you understand it. If I think only God can save me, and that too by the grace of Christ, then permit me to seek for my salvation at the feet of the Lord whom I worship.

If we are both deluded then let’s permit each other the joy of our delusions without rancor or contention. You revel in what brings you hope and satisfaction, and allow me to do the same. If we are all wrong, the least we can be is accommodating and happy.

Because of our limited time in mortality, we will all know soon enough the answers to all the questions. While we are here, let’s be courteous to one another. When at last we arrive, we can compare notes and see what other insights we can share with one another.

Until you have done what I have done, you cannot possibly fully understand my faith, and likewise, since your experience is foreign to me, I cannot possibly fully understand your faith. We ought to resign ourselves to peacefully allow one another the privilege to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, and trust that we all take seriously the obligation to search for truth.

Assuming we all act consistent with our conscience, then why damn each other for our good faith beliefs and efforts? Why not be open, even with disagreements? Why feel threatened when someone understands our history, scripture, and God’s will differently? When we allow one another the freedom of belief, an open discussion helps us understand the reason for a different view, and lets us reconsider our own views in a healthy, useful way. Over time we inevitably grow more unified by open discourse.

It arouses my curiosity when someone offers a new understanding of scripture. Curiosity is a very good thing. It is perhaps the most childlike thing about us; something Christ said was required for us to see His Kingdom. When we react in fear and anger at other religious viewpoints we are really submitting to the enemy of our soul. Fear is ungodly. Faith casts out fear. Can you imagine a child who refuses to consider anything new because they fear to hear about it?

We should allow everyone to state what they believe and why– in THEIR own words. Redefining them, attributing motives they do not claim, or questioning their good faith can never lead us to an understanding of one another.

Things Now Underway

For the first time since Joseph and Hyrum died, there is actual progress now being made. Instead of the atrophy of three and four generations merely marking time, we now see new life begun. There are two important, interrelated challenges before us.

The first is remembering the restoration and reclaiming its truths, ordinances and vitality. This began in earnest with the final talk given in Phoenix on September 9, 2014. Since then, hundreds have gone through the simple but necessary process to reclaim authority and obtain the now required sustaining vote to exercise that authority with God’s approval.

Fellowship groups are collecting tithing and using it to assist the poor among them, and when their group’s needs are met they support others who are in need. I have received wonderful accounts of how local groups are organizing themselves.

One group has two boxes when they meet. In one they deposit tithing, all in cash to make it easy to distribute immediately. In the other, those with needs write down their need. Following sacrament, the needs are reviewed and prioritized based on the group’s agreement of greatest need requiring the most immediate attention, and then ranking second, third, and so on. After agreement is reached, the tithing money is counted and, if all needs can be met, the funds are given to those in need. If only part of the needs can be addressed, the money is distributed according to the agreed priority.

In some accounts sent to me, children of the fellowship see the gospel in action and are impressed with the power of faith to bless and care for one another’s needs. They see this immediately. They see people ministering to one another as the result of the faith they share in Christ and the effort to obey Him.

This renewal allows the great financial power of Christ’s teachings to be fully devoted to immediate needs. No one administers the tithes, nor does anyone control the resources. Common consent is used to accomplish good and address immediate needs. No one is paid to serve, and nothing is required to support an administrative or professional class.

In this new pattern the great evil of priestcraft condemned by the Book of Mormon is avoided. No one can profit, and no one can obtain money and earn their living through this system. The poor alone receive the benefit of the tithing collected.

This pattern mirrors the one commended by the Book of Mormon:
Alma 1:26: And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God, they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

It avoids the practice of priestcraft condemned in that same chapter:
The man Nehor preached in favor of a professional and popular clergy.
Alma 1:3: he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.

Nehor was popular because he did not preach repentance. Quite the opposite, he reassured his audience that they would certainly be saved, appealing to their pride.
Alma 1:4: And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.

In competition with this false priestcraft, there was an unpaid clergy offering an unpopular message. These true priests warned people tot repent and follow God. The Book of Mormon shows in plain simplicity the religion Christ wants mankind to follow.

The simple but necessary steps have been declared again with God’s approval. In response hundreds now have authority and several thousand have returned to the root of the restoration. These will survive the Lord’s return, because their authorized and authoritative baptism is the sign now accepted by God as proof of faith by obedience.

This will continue to roll forward. Even in this cold weather, over the last two weeks there have been baptisms in the Boise River, northern Utah, and elsewhere. It is delicate and vulnerable, but I do not believe it will go backward. The season is upon us.

This vital new growth from a dead root is a sign heaven told us to watch for in the last days. It is fulfilling the prophecy of Zenos, and the promises given by Christ. This is a new beginning. With this beginning, I think there is every reason to rejoice and take heart.

The second challenge is to see Zion gathered from among the scattered into a single place in the mountains where an ensign will be built. There the Lord will gather some under His wings, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. However, Zion must wait for strength to develop in the first fellowships.

Like men in all generations, I too want to see the foundation of Zion built in my day. This desire sometimes leads me to have unreasonably high expectations for others. This is wrong of me, and leads to my disappointment. Disappointment is always a product of expectations. Because I expect more, when I should not, I am led to want more than is possible for others to give or do. That is wrong of me, and I acknowledge my misplaced expectations.

The Lord is patient, and He knows what will follow and how it all will unfold to fulfill His promises. I have seen the potential of some of you and want that to turn into more than perhaps it ever will or can. For the last few days I have reflected on Sidney Rigdon. He was so important, useful and valuable to Joseph’s work as it began. With time, Sidney became a hindrance. So much so that Joseph asked the church to vote him out as a counselor to Joseph–but instead, the church reelected Sidney. Like Sidney, many others of Joseph’s inner circle proved themselves incapable of rising up and realizing the opportunity presented to them. In the end, Sidney and others skewed the restoration, and in may ways opposed and hindered what the Lord might have accomplished with more obedient and humble people.

In the same January 1841 revelation reminding the church it had forfeited the “fulness of the priesthood” (D&C 124:28), the Lord confirmed upon Hyrum “the office of Priesthood and Patriarch” (D&C 124:91). In Hyrum, like the prophets of old, God gave us a “prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto [God’s] church” (D&C 124:94). Hyrum was a man who could “bind on earth, bind in heaven, loose on earth, and loose in heaven” (D&C 124:93). He was the means to preserve the restoration, had he lived. By June 1844, it appears to me only Joseph and Hyrum were equal to fulfilling the Lord’s requirements.

But Joseph and Hyrum were brothers, and therefore both “pure blooded Ephriamites” (JD 2:269; see also Ensign, January 1991, Of the House of Israel). The ancient covenants required this bloodline to bring forth the Book of Mormon and commence the restoration. However, they, and the priesthood line through them, needed to end before other covenants could be fulfilled. Zion will come through both Judah (king) and Joseph (priest), to fulfill the promises of our Lord (D&C 113:5-6; Isa. 11:10). Accordingly, both Joseph and Hyrum were taken, Hyrum the first to fall.

Hyrum’s line was to be kept “in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever” (D&C 124:96). Even after the Patriarch’s office, held by Hyrum’s descendants, was discontinued in 1979, the church still held some tenuous claims. In 1979 Eldred G. Smith was released and never replaced, but he lived on for decades. The office has now altogether ended according to church publications.

Upon his death in April 2013 at 104 years of age, the sign of the passing of the fourth generation was given. By April of the next year the Lord concluded His work through the LDS Church and set His hand to begin something new, now underway.

The first process of fellowshipping in local groups today is saving souls. It is a required first step, and therefore anyone who claims to have faith in Christ must now come and receive their baptism as a sign of faith in Christ through this required manner. Even if the recipient chooses to continue activity in the LDS Church, or any other church or group, all people of faith must receive the baptism now being offered.

But the second challenge, to have Zion return, is the true object of our Lord’s heart. For that to come, the challenge is an order of magnitude greater than fellowshipping, and will require much of us.
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One word of caution: new things taught using the scriptures always give pretenders, ambitious and cunning men an opportunity to improve their deception. Information can be abused, and there are those who are eager to deceive to get power, popularity and financial gain. You must assume the burden of distinguishing light from darkness, truth from error, and pretenders from those sent by the Lord with counsel from Him. Trust no man. Go to God and ask Him about everyone who teaches and everything taught.

Christmas

We celebrate our Lord’s birth tomorrow.

What a wonder He was and is. Although He was the greatest and “more intelligent than they all,” (Abr. 3:19) He came to serve, kneel and wash the feet of the unworthy, bless, instruct and endure abuse. He was meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29), yet spoke as one having authority (Matt. 7:29).

He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

He bore our infirmities.

With His stripes we are healed.

The world took little note of His arrival on that Spring day. He was born in the springtime to herald new life, resurrection, and rebirth. We celebrate it in the darkness of the winter which can likewise testify of the end of darkness and increase of light–for all things testify of Him. (Moses 6:63.)

The heavens themselves were stirred at His birth. Stars aligned, signs appeared, heavenly choirs sang, and prophecies, covenants and promises were vindicated through His birth, lowly life, exalted teachings, and sacrificial offering. All this before the eyes of a blind, murderous generation, who would kill their God. (2 Ne. 10:3.)

He preferred Isaiah and the Psalms to other scripture of His day. He used a small canon of scripture to expound and teach.

How wonderful.
How mighty.
How meek.
How lowly.
How great.
How kind.
How worthy was the Lamb!

There is none like Him, dead or alive. We are all lost to the grave and prison without Him.

His rescue mission extends to all mankind. We will all be rescued from the grave. He intends to work to bring about our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39), even if this requires worlds without end (D&C 76:112).

A Roman centurion and his cohort said it best: “Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54.)