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Reply to Questions

I was asked in an email to clarify some topics. I am posting this in response:

The appearance in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple does not appear to have fulfilled the return of Elijah. This is a topic the church is grappling with at the moment. Not at the bottom, where I live and write, but at the top. Though there are continuing statements made in public, behind the scenes there is a debate going on over the meaning of Elijah’s appearance, when Joseph Smith received the sealing power, how he received it and whether the history should be revisited and clarified. I am setting out what I believe. It is for others to decide for themselves what they believe. But this is not as settled a subject as some public statements made for generations by the church make it appear.

Why does Joseph Smith omit mention of Elijah in his letter to the saints in September, 1842 (Section 128) if Elijah’s return was completed in Kirtland in 1836?

Why does Oliver Cowdery never mention Elijah in his testimony about the restoration, though he does mention Moroni, the voice of God, John the Baptist and Peter, James and John?

Why does Joseph Smith speak of the return of Elijah as a future event in both January and March of 1844 if the Kirtland appearance satisfied the promise made in Malachi?

These are serious questions. There are people trying to answer them right now. I’ve provided my answer. Anyone is free to disagree with it. Anyone is free to decide it for themselves.

I don’t think I am Elijah, and that’s so stupid a proposition that I have a hard time even dignifying it with an answer. I want to say: “Are you serious???!!” But I’ll leave it with, “no.”

The sealing keys came to Joseph, like they came and were conferred upon Melchizedek and Nephi the same way. I explained it in Passing the Heavenly Gift. I’m not going to repeat it again here. It comes in only one way, that is by the Voice of God.

I’ve never said any church leader was “evil” or “of the devil.” On the contrary, I’ve continually said they are the only ones entitled to lead the church, and no one has a right to interfere with their leading. No one has the right to call someone to any office in the church, collect tithing, or lead people away from the church. But EVERYONE has a duty to testify of the truth and to teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom. Therefore we are all under some obligation to declare what we believe, explain why, and defend it using the scriptures and declarations of the prophets. As to the analogy of church presidents to “Popes” that is J. Reuben Clark’s terminology, as you can see in the book, and is not mine. I defer to him for that characterization. It is relevant to see how a member of the First Presidency viewed the role of the President and for that reason was included. I do not say whether I agree or disagree with his characterization, I only provide it. In fact, I do very little evaluating or concluding in Passing the Heavenly Gift. I merely set out what was said, done or written with the exception of one chapter which presumes, for purposes of that chapter, that the things promised in Section 124 were not delivered. Then, in light of that presumption, I explain what would then be the case. The book is an alternative view of history, which people are free to consider and reject. It is proposed as a way to grapple with inconsistencies and glaring problems which are not adequately reconcilable with the current stories we tell one another. I believe it is faith promoting. Particularly for those who are aware of the problems with our history. But, it is only faith promoting if you read the entire book. Reading only the first part will not be faith promoting, because it acknowledges the many problems and acquaints readers with the reasons why there is a crisis of faith among some of the most serious students of our history. I do not try to hide anything. It is or should be clear I’m not trying to shirk from difficulties. After setting it out, I then explain why I believe God’s hand still lingers over the church and the saints. What is amusing to me is that one apostate reader thought it was too much an apologetic work (i.e. a defense of the church) for him to finish reading it. In other words, he thought it TOO faith promoting.

I do think the words of a dispensation head, in any dispensation, are binding upon all who follow. I do not think any prophet subsequent to Moses had the right to change Moses’ teachings, for they were binding upon them. Until the Lord makes a change and opens a New Dispensation (which I expect Him to do personally), what Joseph Smith brought us is binding upon everyone, including all following prophets. We are told to be obedient to what we have received from him. (D&C 28: 2-3.) I believe that is still true. Meaning that no one, regardless of position or rank, can ignore what came through Joseph Smith except to their peril. Until a New Dispensation arrives, what Joseph Smith launched is supposed to remain intact.

“Elias” for our day is, I believe, Joseph Smith.

I expect Elijah to return the same way he departed. That’s one of the great assignments to him. He must return because he will reopen the way through which others will follow. It will be, I believe, the same person as departed and not someone who self-proclaims or self-identifies as being “Elijah.” It will be him. Not another. Anyone making that claim would (to me at least) be someone who does not understand the scriptures and is not to be take seriously.

I think that covers it. But I have to say the mischief comes from speculating, interpreting or emotionally reacting to the words I’ve written or spoken. Not in the words themselves. I try to be clear. The words are not attempting to “suggest” anything. Only to explain what I believe and why I believe as I do. They are the result of a great deal of work, which is set out in the text or footnotes, or bibliography.

Technical Transcription Challenge

I do intend to post a transcription of the talk eventually. The voice recognition software which was to do the greatest part of the process has difficulty recognizing words correctly because of the large area in which it was recorded, with an echo, and background noises. So I’m going to have to get it physically transcribed by a person doing the work.

Once that is done, I’ll edit it. I noticed some problems as I listened to it, for example when reading about Enoch from the Book of Moses I once referred to “Enoch” as “Moses.” That sort of thing will be cleaned up as I edit it. I also omitted citing the scriptures being read, and I’ll add those as I edit it.

There were also thoughts which, because of time, were not complete. I did not explain, for example, the reason it was John the Baptist and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration was because these two were the opener and the closer of the preceding Dispensation. Moses, who opened, and John the Baptist, who closed, the preceding Dispensation were there to “hand off” (so to speak) to Christ. These two witnesses, along with the three living mortal disciples, answered all the requirements to end one and begin another Dispensation. The Mount was also where these disciples received their instructions on the heavenly ascent, or endowment. But those are details I didn’t touch upon. I may do so in the edit when it is transcribed.

In any event, I will put it up here. But I make no promises about how long it will be before it is finished.

Posted Audio of Elijah Talk

ElijahTalk

Talk Write Up

There’s some silliness going on about the talk I will give at Confetti Books tomorrow. I promise I will write up the talk and put it on this blog. When I do, there will be citations, and probably more information than will be covered in a spontaneous discussion tomorrow. It’ll be no doubt better organized than will the talk. I never write a talk in advance, I just give it. But I’ve also written up talks after they were given, and have made them available to anyone interested.

I want to make clear a couple of things:  First, I assure you I’m absolutely unimportant and not worth your notice. There are ideas, doctrine and history which are important, but for the most part you can find them in the scriptures and in Joseph Smith’s writings. You don’t need me for that. So if you’re really interested in the truth, you would probably be better off spending the time with your scriptures and Joseph’s writings than listening to me. They are original, I am merely derivitive.  Second, the ideas are the only things which are important, and you don’t need me for them. They come to anyone through the Spirit. So if you’ll do as Moroni tells you and ask God, you can “know the truth of all things” from Him, directly. (Moroni 10: 4-5.) I am utterly unimportant, irrelevant, and without any merit whatsoever. The doctrine is what matters. You can get that from God.

As the last book also made clear, the only ones who have any right to manage the church are those who are sustained by common consent and therefore hold office in the church. You should listen to those you’ve sustained and give heed to their counsel because that’s the system established by revelation and which is still in operation today. I am absolutely not someone who has any authority over anyone, but am, like you, subject to their rule in the church. Therefore, although I can offer some views from the scriptures, they are my views and set out my understanding and you are free to accept or reject them. But if you decide to accept them I would remind you that you need to have the Spirit or revelation confirm something before you decide I’ve said anything worth even considering.

No one needs to travel, interrupt their evening, or go to any inconvenience to be there tomorrow. Everything will be put up here in writing, and I’ll personally make a digital recording and make it available. For that I haven’t figured out if I can do it through this blog, or if my wife is going to have to send email attachments to anyone interested. But I promise I’ll make it available. Along with a written version. And the written version will be better. So you don’t need to be there.

Finally, I don’t want any videos taken. I’m not worth notice and don’t want to be noticed. Photographs and videos tend to distract from what is important (doctrine) and refocus attention to someone who does not matter. You have church authorities who are known, whose images are available for you to notice and recognize, and I’m not one of them. I don’t want your attention. If an idea helps you, that’s a good thing. But as for me, I’m irrelevant.

Ticketing

I got an email this morning telling me the following:

 > You need to contact Confetti about tickets (which they are
> requiring). That allows them to keep it organized somewhat.

That allows them to make a lot of money.  According to their Facebook
page “To get tickets you must call us at 801-798-0137 and Order Denver’s
latest book Passing the Heavenly Gift ($28.95) via phone,” which gets
one 2 tickets.  It might help your blog readers if you post Confetti’s
phone number and mention the purchase requirement.

______________________________________
Although I do not make a living selling or writing books, there are those who do. All throughout the book industry there are those who spend their lives making it possible for things to be put into print. They invest time, resources and effort, which in turn makes it possible for them to support their families. I do not begrudge the fact that, for example, Mill Creek Press makes money on what I write, CreatSpace makes money printing the books, Amazon makes money by marketing the books, the Bench family makes money selling them through Benchmark Books, and Confetti makes money by purchasing them, stocking them, and selling them. I do not have copies except on rare occasions. When I get them I do so with the intent to give them away. But it is an expensive proposition to give them away, and therefore the numbers have been reduced from the first book (I gave away 200 copies) to the last book (I gave away 35 copies).

I wish it were possible to show gratitude without raising ire. But here, in this world, those who want to be offended will always be offended; while those who are grateful for the service of others are grateful to help them and show gratitude by their acts as well.

I do not rely upon book revenues to support my family, but the people at Confetti do. Therefore they have determined to charge for admission; though my appearance there is donated and without any fee paid to me. I believe they have rented a space for that evening, and are using what they make from the book sale commission to pay the rent on the space for the evening. But those are details I am unacquainted with and really do not intend to concern myself with. I will be there from 6:30 to 8:30 to talk.

There are two other interesting things happening at the same time. The Sacred Geometry conference was announced on this blog, and I believe has an admission charge. But Benchmark’s event with Terryl Givens is free, I believe. I think either of those would be worthwhile and you would be edified by attending either of them. I believe there is going to be a recording of the things I have to say, and I’m anticipating it will be made available. If I can figure out how to accomplish it, I’m hoping to make it a digital recording which gets put on this blog for anyone who cares to listen to it. I cannot guarantee that will happen, however, because I’ve never attempted to do such a thing and am therefore not confident I can figure out how to accomplish it. Nevertheless I intend to try.

Tickets for Friday

I forgot to mention, Confetti Books is handling the event. All I do is show up and speak. You need to contact Confetti about tickets (which they are requiring). That allows them to keep it organized somewhat.

Friday October 14th

I’ve previously posted notice here about the events on Friday of this week. There is the Sacred Geometry event (see below) and the Benchmark Books event where Terryl Givens will speak. But I have not mentioned that I will be speaking at Confetti Books in Spanish Fork.

I do not like to speak at events, and generally decline to do so. However, I owe a debt of gratitude to Confetti Books because they have carried all of my books for years. They have asked me to come and I have finally agreed to do so.

Confetti Books is located on Main Street in Spanish Fork, Utah. They have a remarkable bookstore, and carry many titles which are difficult to locate. If you have not visited their store, you should take a look at their diverse collection of LDS books.

I am speaking from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening. I’d like to see some of you take the time to shop at Confetti beforehand (they are open until 6:00) and then join us at the evening talk. It is likely the talk will be recorded, and if so then copies will be made available at some point.

Finally, let me add, I am not being paid for this event, nor would I accept any payment for doing it. If it is recorded, and copies are sold by those who take the trouble to accomplish it, any payment which would go to me will be donated to the missionary program of the LDS Church. I have always refused to accept payment for such things.

I want to extend a particular invitation to those who believe I am “an apostate” to come and listen. It will improve your capacity to judge me if you take the time to listen to something I have to say. I do not intend to change your mind, but rather I want to equip you to make a more sound judgment.

Repentance

The first step for repentance is always to recognize something is wrong and needs changing. Oddly, that is a more difficult challenge than it ought to be. We all like to think of ourselves as being in the right way. It makes people mad to suggest otherwise.

Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was never intended to be temporary, with people cycling in and then out of the church. Once they come aboard they should stay aboard. The Gospel, as restored through Joseph Smith, has a delightful and expanding source of almost endless truth available to all of us. We were not meant to be bored, flattered and comfortable.  Instead we were meant to be challenged, provoked, delighted and engaged in the relentless search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God. When we take it and instead make it flat, curtailed and predictable, we often attract only temporary members. People who come for the doctrine at first, and then leave because the new faith offering answers at last to their questions, ends in a repetition of brief and superficial answers to probing questions after a brief cycle of a few years. I wish all men were motivated to study deeply for themselves, but they are not. For such people, they rely upon others to bring them along further and further in the right Path. When they falter because we aren’t teaching them invigorating, challenging material each week, they presume we have nothing to offer. The truth is we have a lifetime of rewarding information available for their endless edification and growth. But, when they will not search into it for themselves, they do not find it.

We make a mistake when we discourage the search or claim they MUST confine what they investigate to our limited approved church curriculum. They get the mistaken impression that is because our official manuals are all the Gospel offers. They presume we are no better informed than are the other mainstream churches, whose memberships are static or dropping.

In our Region of the church (we’re about to have a Regional Conference in two weeks), one of the greatest problems we face is adult apostasy stemming from reading critical things about the church’s history on the Internet. A great number of adults are dismayed when they learn of things from hostile, even bitterly opposed sources working to remove faith in the restored Gospel.  There are some people assigned by the church to investigate this problem, and who are discussing how to address it. I suggested to my stake president that my book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, might be of use. I know of twelve men now who have returned to activity in the church after reading the book. These are bright men, well read and engaged in searching into things which matter to them. They had all reached the conclusion the church was not being honest about its history and therefore ended their activity with the church. After reading the book, however, they decided it was not as they presumed, and the Lord does indeed have a destiny for the Latter-day Saints, foretold by the Prophets in the Book of Mormon and revealed to Joseph Smith.

I have found nothing quite as engaging, challenging and hopeful as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To me it is exactly as Nephi put it: “delicious.” It takes a great deal of effort to make the excitement of eternal truth into something stale and boring. That effort ought to be spent letting the Gospel understanding expand, under the tutelage of a benign church, tolerant of inquiry and discussion that is open ended and tolerant. The discussions are going to happen. Any efforts to stop them will only drive them into places where the truth may not receive an invitation to even contribute.

There is nothing so wonderful as the truths we were handed by Joseph Smith. All those who awaken to his great ministry still “seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under [his] hand.” (D&C 122: 2.) The truth never had a better friend than Joseph Smith. Even when it put him into conflict with all the world, he nevertheless declared the truth. That is because truth compels the recipient to declare: “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth. I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (JS-H 1: 25.) Praise to the man, indeed!

I could not have repented (at least not in an effective way) if I had not listened to what Joseph taught. In that sense, he brought me to Christ. Therefore, although Christ is the Redeemer and Savior, it was Joseph Smith who taught me how to return to the Lord. No man can save another. Yet there are those we owe some gratitude for the light they brought. Not because they are more than men (for all men are weak and prone to err), but because the Lord worked with them despite their weakness.

Some Random Updates

There are two events on October 14th of note.  The Sacred Geometry matter announced below will begin.  Yvonne Bent has organized the event and several interesting speakers are coming.  For those interested in the subject it should be delightful.

The same evening Benchmark Books will be hosting an event in which Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow will be speaking about their new book on Parley Pratt.  This will be held at the Benchmark store location at 3269 South Main, Suite 250. 

Both of these events look to be quite worthwhile.

I was saddened by the passing of Matthew Brown, who was only 48 years old.  His widow and children are not protected by any life insurance and a fund has been set up to donate for anyone interested.  I would encourage anyone who can to do so.

My wife brought a matter to my attention which I thought I’d comment about again.  I put up some cautions about how the new book was going to have those who wanted to take sensational statements out of context and put them on the Internet in isolation, separated from the many sources carefully assembled to lay a foundation to understand the statements.  That has begun.  I’d only remind those who are interested that anything can be made to look sensational if it is divorced from context.  I could make the most benign of Joseph Smith’s statements look fanatical and rob them of all meaning if I wanted to do so.  But to understand the Prophet, it takes careful, even prayerful, study.

I have no agenda apart from explaining the truth as I understand it.  But when I explain it, I give (particularly in the case of the latest book) enough historic and scriptural support that any conclusions are only an extension of what the Prophet, or the Book of Mormon, or the history itself compels us to conclude.  The conclusions are rather anticlimactic.  They are only the result of the accumulated and disclosed body of information preceding them.  When, therefore, someone takes merely the conclusion and represents it as an accurate statement of what I’ve written, it is so gross a distortion that it is essentially untrue.  Time, care, patience and great effort was taken to show the history for the benefit of the reader.  Divorcing all that from a single sentence and parading it as what I think is, at best, a disservice.

But people crave the ‘sound-bite’ solution to everything.  Therefore the cunning and fearful want to rush to expose and distort, in hopes to mislead and inoculate people from learning some things which help them find their way to the Lord.  As I say in the book, I’ve been ministered to by the Lord.  I’d caution those who want to distort what I’ve written to be careful, therefore, and prayerful (as I have been) in how they elect to proceed.

The souls of men are something no one should trifle with.  I’ve never done so.  I’d encourage others to avoid doing so unless they are certain they are on the Lord’s errand.