BOWbutton

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

 

My Peculiar Status

I was asked: “Do you no longer sustain the church’s leaders?”
The question doesn’t apply to me. I am no longer a member of the church. I cannot sustain leaders of a church i don’t belong to. I’m not allowed to sustain them, or anyone in any calling in the church. Nor am I permitted to pray in meetings, or teach, or perform any function beyond attending meetings (which I still do). 
I remain devoted to my faith. But my faith exists independent of the institution. I suppose that was the case for many years prior to my excommunication. However, I was grateful to and supported the institution. As a result of the actions of the institution, I am no longer a member. I did not resign or voluntarily leave. I was told I was no longer permitted to be a church member.
I was also asked: “If there is a future 3rd edition of Second Comforter, would you still write this in the concluding chapter? ‘There are rationalizations for why Joseph was not called of God or if called, why he failed in his task. Or, if Joseph didn’t fail in his task, then the Church officers following in his footsteps have failed in their tasks. Or, if past Church officers did not fail, then the current ones are in the process of failing.’”

No, I’d leave that the same. If you are a member of the church, these things should not matter. The leaders are not the issue. The issue is the faith itself which you believe. Leadership  may try and intrude into your faith, you needn’t let them. You can follow Christ while giving to those who “sit in Joseph’s seat” their due regard. 


Remember, I am in a different situation than those with active membership. There is a difference between a member of the church, who should still submit to church leadership elected through common consent, paying tithing, and participating in the church programs, and someone who has been discharged from that obligation. My responsibilities are different. If you are a member, you should work within the church to fight for the truth, testify of Christ, oppose idolatry and bring others to appreciate the great responsibility and unfinished work of the restoration.

Also, “Would you have ever voluntarily left the church?”

Yes, under circumstances which have not occurred yet. I have to assume each person will weigh for themselves the circumstances which would provoke them to depart. Those circumstances never happened while I was a member, and therefore I did not voluntarily leave. 

Broken Hearts and Critics

Readers have pointed me to places on the Internet where discussions or blogs are critical of me. Some are quite funny; others are just mistaken. I assume the critics are well intended. They have every right to be skeptical of motivation and sincerity. Some of those who are most disapproving of me have had their hearts broken by trusting religious leaders who have failed them, lied to them, or abused them. Therefore, questioning motives is not only justified self-defense, but based on hard learned lessons they have taken to heart.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets, which were before you.” (Matt. 5: 11-12.) This is not just sage advice, it is the way the Lord would like people to interact with one another in order to come to understanding.

There are a couple of people on the internet who are fixated on me. They are watching to see their predictions of my future ambitions, adoption of plural wives and religious ambitions unfold. This is good. They care. They are paying attention and want to see for themselves the mess they have come to expect from religious people.

I understand their heartbreak and disillusionment with organized religions. They are right to be heartsick.
For myself, I believe the Latter-day Saints are some of the best people I know. They are sincere, and do many good things for one another, voluntarily. I love being among the Latter-day Saints. I do, however, have a different view on some things. The common view I have heard is that the trouble experienced by the church is the fault of the members, not the leaders. They accept their own failings, acknowledge their inability to measure up, and then go on to heap adoration on the leaders for their obvious righteousness. Latter-day Saints take as proof of righteousness the church leaders’ callings themselves. It is a “but-for” sort of argument. They would not be a “president” or an “apostle” or a “seventy” but-for their righteousness; because God would never call an unrighteous man to such a position. In contrast, my view is that the leaders are unworthy to lead the Saints. The basic member is more virtuous, more worthy, and better than those who lead them. I’m skeptical of the top, not the bottom.

Leadership treat the religion as a product they own, market and manage. Their decision-making is largely informed by business decisions about their product. The current demographic of tithe payers must focus on the Mormon corridor, and primarily the Utah segment of that corridor. Therein lies the financial engine which foots the bill for the rest of the worldwide venture. These are hardy, largely conservative, middle-aged and older, lifelong Latter-day Saints. As that demographic ages, there must be a new demographic. This new demographic is younger, more liberal, and integrated into a larger population which has very different values than the Mormon corridor. The management challenge for the leaders is to balance retention of the current financial support from the paying demographic, and adjust the message to suit the targeted demographic. Gay marriage illustrates the management’s dilemma. The older, conservative Latter-day Saints in the Mormon corridor oppose gay marriage. Utahn’s voted about 70% in favor of the law recently declared unconstitutional by the US District Court. But the younger demographic, particularly those under age 21, are overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage. The trend lines all suggest that in the future the church will need to remove this barrier to entry/conversion in order to attract the younger members. The church’s recent maneuver with the Boy Scouts is an illustration of the balancing act in open display. The Boy Scouts would have looked for support and approval from its largest sponsors before making this kind of major change to their policy.

Leadership must “hold the line” with their rhetoric to keep the current conservative payers paying, but need to give signals to the younger, more liberal coming population. They are doing just that. Ultimately, good management would seek to remove homosexual opposition as a barrier to converting the younger demographic. This would suggest a compromise of the church’s historic opposition so as to permit open acceptance. But that cannot be done now. Too quickly and it would be a financial disaster. For the present, the worldwide programs of the church require the current conservative payers to continue paying. Their opposition prevents any hasty changes.

From my perspective, the church is run exactly like a business would be run if its product was a religion called “Mormonism.” It gives lip-service to the faith by the leaders/managers/owners but the strong convictions and the righteous lives are not found there. Those things are to be found in the daily lives of the faithful who surrender their purses to the leaders for their use, consumption, distribution and enjoyment. This confers on the leaders the political, business and social power of the purses of the believers. With that, the leaders influence (virtually control) political life in Utah, wield influence in Washington, DC, own vast real estate holdings, and allow fortunes to be made by trading with favored companies and suppliers for LDS ventures.

Some disaffected Latter-day Saints believe that everyone who holds religious sway in any way at all does so for the same reasons as displayed by the LDS church. That is, religion is big business. It is a way to make a profit and acquire influence. They project these ideas on me, and then question my motives and sincerity. I understand it. I honestly do not envy church leaders. I pity them. I’ve concluded that nothing can be done any better in this world than what is being done at present. No matter how it starts out, eventually every organization will become captive of traditions and social and governmental pressures. All organized religions will eventually become Catholicism. I will not leave another relic to become the tool of the established order here below. Religion must be heavenly and otherworldly to remain pure.

However, since I now have these devoted critics’ attention, I’ll address them. Further, I get to live my life before these captivated critics and allow them to see whether or not:
-I love my wife and am devoted to her alone.
-I have no ambition to profit from others’ donations.
-I will/have sacrifice/d for my beliefs.
-I can gracefully endure rejection at almost every hand.
-I use my own resources to give talks, not accepting anything in return.

Or, in other words, they can measure whether I count myself “blessed” by having to live through the ordeal Christ described: “when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” I get to live the Sermon. They get to judge whether I measure up. I do not begrudge them their right to judge me. Their hearts, like my own, have been broken by pretenders. The challenge is to live without pretense. The challenge for me is to not break their heart again by proving there are none who are willing to worship God by what we lay upon His altar. I am keenly aware of my weakness and all my past failings. But I am converted, and I do believe with all my heart in the Lord and His message. Therefore, I do “rejoice” in the limited time I’m afforded to make my efforts here in this temporary world.

A Riddle

Anyone can obtain it, and yet it is:
so fragile it can be lost in a moment,

but powerful enough to destroy nations and defeat armies.

Divine Word Usage

For generations, the words “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” had a clear meaning. So clear, that churches built their doctrine upon it. Then the Lord explained to Joseph Smith that the words had a different meaning:

“Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles. I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest. For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great it is! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my name is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore– Eternal punishment is God’s punishment. Endless punishment is God’s punishment.” (D&C 19: 6-12.)

Instantly, what was once an adjective turns into a proper noun. With that shift, doctrine collapses and a new understanding unfolds.

What makes you think the scriptures are not filled with these same forms of Divine word usages that have one meaning in the minds of the uninitiated, and another to the minds of “mine apostles” [or the Lord’s true witnesses of His resurrection]?

When I read the many arguments regarding the design of God in authorizing plural wives “to raise up seed unto me” (Jacob 2: 30), I am left with the same bemusement about this error as I am with the historic Christian error about eternal punishment. I would ask you to consider whether the designs of God in “raising up seed unto Him” might be fulfilled ONLY by producing eternal fruit worthy of preservation at the coming harvest? (See Jacob 5: 74.) If this is the meaning, then the process of “raising up seed unto God” will require something different than merely breeding. It will require a covenant, and redemption, knowledge, light and truth, and ultimately the glory of God, which is intelligence. I think there was as much going on in using a Divine vocabulary with the term “raise up seed unto me” as there was in the terms endless punishment and eternal punishment.

Our greatest problem is the presumption that we “know” something to be true when it is merely our belief in a notion, coupled with our arrogance and lack of humility before God. We want certainty. We want to be right. We don’t want to be working out our salvation in fear and trembling, as the Gospel requires. (See Philipians 2: 12; Mormon 9: 27.) We want no such anxiety.

Disgusting Too

That same email makes this observation: 

Here in Utah it seems many people who read your blog go to classes and gifted people will DIVINE God and repeat the message to these people. Some have claimed to receive their calling and election this way and have been told through these arm’s of flesh that they were certain people of significance to Christ in probations past.”

This too is distressing. Think about this process, if it is taking place: Someone goes to a soothsayer to receive revelation about God’s will for themselves through another mortal. They do not appeal to the Lord. They bypass Him. They do not learn to fast, pray, approach Him and become capable of receiving light and truth by revelation from He alone who can save us.  They are turning over the “voice of God” to an individual. They rely on another person in place of the one with the absolute right to speak to them (God).

I have never asked another person to receive revelation for me. The only thing that approximates such a thing is the Patriarchal Blessing I received as a church ordinance. Thereafter, all revelation I’ve received to govern and guide my life has come directly to me from the Lord as a result of prayer.

You will never grow to receive angels if you instead rely on others to tell you God’s will for you. They will weaken you, not strengthen you. As the trials of these final days mature, you must have the required oil in your own lamp, and cannot borrow it from another.

The idea of past lives has intoxicated those who preach it. If it were important, it would be set out plainly. If Joseph spoke of it in hushed tones among select few, it was for a good reason. He denounced reincarnation publicly, calling it a “doctrine of the devil” and this was not the “way of eternal life.” (See TPJS p. 105.)  That is the public standard. We would be wise to follow it. The many foolish speculations and arrogant assumptions about pre-mortal experiences are extremely unwise. 

Speculation about what happened before your birth here will not rescue you from the challenges you face here, now, today. The way back is to live as if all eternity was at risk by what you do now (because it literally is). (See 1 Cor. 15: 30.) We are in a battle to survive. There is more than enough evil to be overcome without distracting us from the present challenges by directing our attention to somewhere and sometime other than now. Be here. Be present. Be engaged now. This is the day of the battle.

As King Benjamin lamented, “I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.” (Mosiah 4: 29.) The possible ways we can fail are endless. But the way to succeed is singular. There is only one of them and it requires you to follow Christ in the here and now. 

King Benjamin added, “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” (Mosiah 4: 30.) There is enough challenge to do what is right. So much so there is no time remaining to spend speculating upon what past experiences you had before entering into this mortal probation now underway.

Errors are plenty. Truth is narrow, confined, singular and solitary. You find it between yourself and the Lord. Looking elsewhere for someone else to lead you will only cripple your development and bring to you darkness. (That darkness comes just as readily from foolish reliance upon presumably inerrant “church authorities” as it does from “spiritually gifted” men and women when they become the source of your faith, devotion and trust.) Trust no man. Look to God and live.

A true messenger will point you to Christ and seek to strengthen you in your independence from man.  A false one will seek to make you dependent upon them, so they may exploit you for their own ends.  I do not ask nor want your devotion. I want all of you to become my equal or, better still, my better. I want you strengthened in the Lord. We will never have Zion if we are not equal in all things, both spiritual and temporal. I am too weak a reed for you to rest your weight upon; as is every other man or woman. Trust only God. He alone has the strength to support us all.

Disgusting

I received an email which contained, in part, this alarming information:

To the homes we have been to, your name is spoken in hushed reverent tones, no jokes are allowed to be made about you in a fun teasing way without people glaring. I have noticed a huge amount of people calling themselves ‘Snufferites’ and welcoming us into the ‘Snufferites group’ …. I can see that You are becoming to people a man with ‘God awe’ not of your own doing but of our own love of men and wanting a man to lead us instead of trusting in God. I notice how there are off shoort groups and group leaders that have cult following. There is so much going on with the mystical aspect of different sorts of healings and controlling elements, that I hardly hear Christ mentioned. I hear people well known in these groups dropping your name as to give themselves more credentials because they had a conversation with you, or a phone call or went out to lunch with you.”

I assume this email information is based on actual events and not merely a put-on. It disgusts me to read of such things.

Worship of anyone or anything other than the Lord will damn all those who participate. (D&C 76: 99-103.)  Anyone who listens to what I say or reads what I write knows I believe these scriptures. How utterly foolish to think that changing from one idol to another will bring any advantage in the world to come.

Looking to others for answers instead of looking to and asking the Lord for answers is idolatry which will end in disappointment.

I have no respect for anyone who calls him/herself a “Snufferite.” They have no support or encouragement from me. When have I asked anyone to follow me? When have I asked anyone to believe in me? I point only to belief in Christ and following Him. If you are following me, stop it. Follow Him alone who can save you. (John 14: 6.)

I have repeatedly declared that alleged private communications from me should not be trusted. I’ve written, spoken and published the things that I believe. Anyone who “name drops” to achieve credibility should be the last one you trust. 

All of us should be willing to confine what we believe, teach and accept to the scriptures. I have accepted that burden, limitation and obligation and have expounded the scriptures in all I have taught. The only additional text I have accepted as authoritative has been Joseph Smith’s teachings. Apart from these, I advocate nothing.

If someone is trying to gather their own following they are welcome to acquire whomever they can mislead. They should lead them away, because such people and their followers would be destructive to a Zion community. They need to be “picked off” into these strange paths so they cannot prevent Zion from coming.

We have had too many errors creep into the faith restored through Joseph already. Adding to it new, novel and self-aggrandizing errors compounds the mistakes of the past.


In his day, Joseph was confronted with the dilemma of how to keep order and establish a new faith. He did what then had to be done. The result was an organization which itself is a testimony of Joseph’s prophetic status. The church organization is a miracle and a gift from God to man.

The problem is that any organization, no matter how Divinely inspired, can become corrupted. Without the same Spirit that accompanied its founding, it will invariably become corrupted. This is as true of our government as it is of the church. 

In the meantime, I want it understood that those who follow others and fail to obtain a relationship with the Lord by going to Him for answers, will not be invited to the wedding feast. They, like the foolish virgins, will have no oil in their lamps. Therefore, they will be unable to continue to borrow from others what they believe to be oil, but which is instead merely dross and error which expands the darkness and dims the light.

Zion is the Lord’s. He will decide who to gather. I am satisfied, however, that both the soothsayers and their idolaters will neither be invited to the gathering, nor will they be able to endure the glory there.

Foundation of Destruction

“And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.” (Alma 10: 27.)

Polygamy

I do not find the discussion of polygamy interesting. But it is clear by the comments and emails I’ve received that a number of you do. Without putting the questions I’ve received into this post I’ll explain:

The significance of Joseph’s failure to father other children with plural wives is nothing other than a data point in a much larger picture. Fanny Alger was later married to another man and had, as I recall, eight children from that marriage. She was therefore clearly fertile. Joseph fathered children with Emma. He was clearly potent. But between them, Joseph and Fanny had no children although both were clearly capable of doing so had they been determined to bring children to their union.

The many historical candidates and continuing suspicions resulted in an attempt to identify those who may have been a child of Joseph Smith’s. There was a decades long search, using DNA testing, to try and prove he fathered someone (anyone) other than Emma’s children. None of the suspected children were his. They finished the list about two years ago, as I recall.

This is only significant in one, narrow regard: Joseph’s purpose with plural wives was not primarily to produce offspring.

That is very different from what happened under Brigham Young’s administration, and later. The primary reason for the later Mormon practice was to produce offspring.

There is something very different to me between Joseph’s practice and the later practice. I am not really interested in elaborating fully about the difference. But there was a definite difference in the orientation and justification.

For Joseph, (as has been criticized, condemned and mocked) the explanation dealt with his assurance that the plural marriage would result in “salvation” for not only the wife, but also for “her family.” This was/is regarded by many of the critics and even many faithful Latter-day Saints, as Joseph exploiting women using (or abusing) his claim to priesthood power.

What if there was something more to this idea than we have preserved? What if Joseph understood more about salvation that do we? What if Joseph could offer salvation to these others by “sealing” them to himself (he being a saved soul who had a connection to heaven)? What if Joseph was actually offering something of value to these women and to their families, which had little or even nothing to do with producing offspring?

It may just be that Joseph understood this as something quite different than what later became the teaching of the LDS Church.

To me, the subject is plagued with the Brigham Young version of the practice, which almost all Latter-day Saints believe represented an accurate continuation of what Joseph Smith was teaching. I disagree. I think Brigham Young changed rather dramatically the primary orientation. Under Joseph it was primarily focused on the afterlife, salvation and organizing a family that would endure death itself. Under Brigham Young it was primarily focused on breeding children for this life, and secondarily promised some next-life continuation for the worthy.

To me there is much more to the difference between Joseph Smith’s focus and Brigham Young’s than has been appreciated by those interested in this subject. I think it is possible to view Joseph’s practice in different terms than Brigham’s. I think it is possible to think of Joseph as morally superior to Brigham Young. I think it is possible to believe Joseph had a higher code of personal conduct than Brigham Young. I think it is possible to believe Joseph held women in higher regard than did Brigham Young.

But this is not a topic I think I need to spend any time sorting through. It really does not interest me. The advocates of polygamy who think they believe in some higher law are almost invariably thinking that Brigham Young got it right and his model is worth following. I think Brigham Young didn’t even understand the subject, nor did he have the power to save anyone, nor did connecting to Brigham Young as a sealed plural wife garner any advantage in the world to come.

Some day I may try to fully explain what I think Joseph Smith was up to. But that’s not a current priority for me, and I don’t think it should be a priority for anyone. At least not until a good deal more of what the restoration was designed to accomplish is first understood.

Just To Clarify

I assumed it was clear from all I’ve written before that I am not persuaded polygamy was ever appropriate or understood by the church. Joseph Smith did not father children with any woman other than Emma, his wife. The subsequent advocacy of taking of multiple wives, I believe, was an abomination and offensive to God.

The purpose of the last post was to show how reluctant the church was to abandon the practice, and how dishonest they were about ending it. If the US Government did not force the church to end plural marriage, they never would have. If there was any party that deserves credit for the “inspired” ending of the abominable practice, it was the US Congress.