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The Power of God’s Word

I’ve been reflecting on the power of God’s word. It is so remarkable a source of power that Christ was called the Word of God, because He embodies the Father’s will so completely. (John 1:1.)
God’s word alone is what ordains to Melchizedek Priesthood. See JST Genesis 14:27-29. “It was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice…”
God’s word alone conferred sealing authority upon Nephi. Helaman 10:3, Helaman 10: 5-10.
God’s word along conferred the sealing authority upon Joseph Smith. D&C 132:46.
God’s word is the only constant, which will never fail, whether He speaks it or He authorizes someone else to speak it, it is the same. D&C 1:38.
In a very real sense, the power of the priesthood consists in obtaining God’s word. For when He will answer you it is possible to have His word on all things. D&C 132:45 (for Joseph); D&C 124:95 (for Hyrum); Helaman 10: 5 (for Nephi).
Those who have God’s word know how to proceed in all things. Those who do not are always uncertain what they should do and what their standing is before Him.

History of Elijah Doctrine

The talk on Elijah given in Spanish Fork and posted on this blog last week is a continuation of the development of information found in Passing the Heavenly Gift. The foundation for why the Elijah issue required further discussion is found in the book. Some people have listened to the talk without first reading the book. Therefore they are unacquainted with the background information which shows the importance of re-examining the Elijah tradition inside the church. I will give a brief explanation here, although you won’t really understand the reason for the talk unless you read the book.

Briefly, and without repeating all the historic records, journals and sources from which the history is explained in the book, this is what happened: Elijah came to visit the Kirtland Temple in 1836 according to the third person account written by Warren Cowdery in the back of the 3rd volume of revelations in Kirtland. It is the last entry made, and the source of all the later claims made about Elijah, his purpose and appearance. The account is third-person, (i.e., The Lord appeared to them… said to them…., etc.) but when it was later discovered it was reworded to the first person (i.e., The Lord appeared to us…. said to us…, etc.).  You can read the original document, actually see a photostatic reproduction of the original, in the Joseph Smith Papers. I give the cite in Passing the Heavenly Gift.

The record Joseph Smith left makes no mention of Elijah’s appearance. The record Oliver Cowdery left makes no mention of Elijah’s appearance. Joseph died without every explaining anything about the event, or making any mention of it. Oliver also. Both of them testified about visitations they received, and wrote about who had come to empower them, but neither of them ever mention Elijah.

In talks in Nauvoo, Joseph refers on every occasion he mentions Elijah as a future event. Not as a past event. He explains Elijah “will return,” not that he has returned.

Joseph Smith received the sealing power in a revelation given sometime in the early 1830’s, which was recorded in 1843. I take some effort to lay out the chronology in the book, and the information can be reviewed there.

When Joseph Smith died, there is no contemporaneous source to verify the appearance of Elijah in 1836, and the appearance was not known at that time.

There is no mention of the Elijah appearance in 1836, nor 1837, nor 1838 nor ’39, ’40, ’41, ’42, ’43 nor in 1844, though Joseph does say there will be a future return. After Joseph Smith’s death, there was nothing said or known in 1844, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’48, ’49, ’50 nor for years thereafter. When the Kirtland Revelation Book was reviewed in the 1850’s the first notice resulted in the revelation being published for the first time in November of the year it was found. Along with the publication was an explanation given by Orson Pratt explaining it was quite significant. He garbles the chronology in that article, and the chronology ever since was taken from his first editorial. Since then the chronology has remained the same as Orson declared, even though he erred in attributing the revelation recorded on July 12, 1843 to having been given on that date.  The revelation was received much earlier, the first part in 1829. I also walk through that in Passing the Heavenly Gift.

Since the 1850’s when the revelation was found (which is now Section 110) about the Kirtland Temple appearance of Elijah, and then published for the first time in the Deseret News, there have been hundreds of statements which rely upon Orson Pratt’s original analysis accompanying the announcement of finding the record.

By the time the words were discovered, Warren Cowdery who wrote it down was dead. He could not explain where it came from because we couldn’t ask him. Oliver died shortly before Warren, and he also could not be asked. And, of course, Joseph died before either of them, and so he could not be asked either. Therefore the two witnesses left nothing about it, could not be asked, and the scribe who recorded it could not be asked either.

I walk through all these events using the historical records, scriptures and lengthy explanations. It is a topic which takes a lot of material to set out in full, but has been done in the book.

The talk on Elijah’s mission posted on this blog was taking the topic and discussing what the still future mission of Elijah would necessarily involve. Since Joseph expected it to happen in the future when he spoke about it in January and March, 1844, there must be a future mission for him. Because if Joseph, who was present in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 when the Warren Cowdery recorded event took place thought there was still a future mission for Elijah, then it would be important to notice that and give some thought to what it could involve. I’ve done that. Hence the contents of the talk.

Now, if you disagree with history and you are perfectly content with what Orson Pratt bequeathed us as the accompanying commentary when the account was discovered, then you needn’t give this one further thought. There have been generations come and go with that explanation regarded as the absolute truth and the basis for our Temple work. So you’ll be in good company. But there are those serious minded individuals who are trying to sort this out right now at high levels of the Church who know these are important issues which are NOT as settled as the past pronouncements make it appear. In fact, I doubt the current explanations will last much longer because the record simply does not support the conclusions we have urged. The place to start is not after the 1850’s discovery, when there were conclusions leaped to by Orson Pratt which then became the operative explanation thereafter. The place to start is instead from 1836 to 1844 in the records of that time. What was Joseph saying? What was Oliver saying? Why did both of them leave out mention of Elijah in their testimonies of who had come to visit with them? Where did Section 110 come from? That is, who did Warren Cowdery consult with to learn the material he wrote into the book? I work on that in both the book and the talk.

I think Elijah has a ministry still future. I think it is connected to the very things Joseph Smith was speaking about in January and March, 1844. And I explain what that is in the talk linked on this blog.

An Email Response

I got another email inquiry which I responded to yesterday I thought I ought to put up here: This inquiry related to Passing the Heavenly Gift:

[The email linked to several conversations of some length.]  Well, that’s a lot to read.  I did scan some of it, but not all.  I do not mind being criticized, nor people disagreeing with me.  They’re free to do so.  And I mean both criticize me and disagree.  The problem is that criticizing me is sort of a misadventure, because doing that detracts from the underlying real questions.  Who cares a fig about me?  I hope no-one.  But the stuff I write about– meaning an attempt to discuss the Gospel –that is important and certainly worth spending some time thinking about and discussing.

Without the benefit of reading all those posts (I stopped reading when it got noxious), I’ll respond as follows:
First, I’ve explained in what I’ve written (some approximate one million words now) what I think and why.  There’s no reason to re-write it again to answer questions.  If they’d read what I wrote they’d know the answers.  They’d even know the reasons for the answers.  It’s lazy to try to shortcut things and just interpose questions based on false assumptions and interpretations that are, in many cases, so off kilter that even answering is distorting.  I think every one of these questions are answered in what I’ve written far better than in the responses below.
Despite this, and really even anticipating that these answers don’t contribute anything to the discussion, here’s a brief reply:
Does he actually claim in the first quote that all the keys of the priesthood are not held by Thomas S. Monson?
No.  I don’t take a position on that.  In one chapter I entertain the possibility of that and discuss how important the church remains anyway.  As to whether he has them all, that is a matter between him and the Lord.  When he became President, I prayed and was told to sustain him and I do.  That’s enough for me.  The Book of Mormon clearly identifies us (the Latter-day Saints) as gentiles.  Joseph Smith said we were “identified with the gentiles” in the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109: 60).  Book of Mormon prophecies clearly indicate there will be an apostasy or sorts by the gentile church (us).  We either have (in the past) or will (in the future) reject the fullness. I show how a reasonable interpretation of our history could reach the conclusion it was in the past.  If it isn’t then it is in our future.  But if the Book of Mormon can be trusted on the point, and I think it can, then we’ll reject the fullness of the Gospel at some point.  But that’s a quick and altogether distorted treatment of a topic worthy of so much attention and so much care that I’ve written a 170,000 word book on the subject which will do a better job than a snapshot. 
Does Bro. Snuffer actually believe that the sealing power is not with the Church and was lost?
No.  Don’t take a position on that, either.  The sealing power is conferred in one way and that way is described in the scriptures.  I take some lengths to explain, using scripture, the matter.  Beyond laying out the process I never say anything about what the church has.  I do explain the church’s claims.  And I also use the church’s explanations to show where the church’s authority comes from.
That the GAs over the Church’s curriculum are not teaching what God has instructed them to include in our Church manuals?
I’m not sure I understand this question.  Where has God instructed someone to do something about curriculum?  There are committees that do this stuff.  In the fourth phase everything is attributed to the president, and that process is laid out in the book.  This question is a product of that process.  But I really don’t understand the question.  So far as I’ve seen, there is nowhere a claim made that God was involved in writing or developing the church’s curriculum.
We have a ‘devalued gospel’ in the LDS Church?
There are a list of 72 approved subjects allowed to be taught, as a result of the Correlation process.  The Gospel allows everyone to learn all the mysteries of God.  It is, you know, given unto many to know the mysteries of God.  And those who will give more heed to the matter learn more, those who give less heed learn less.  (Alma 12: 9-11.)  By the Spirit we can know the truth of all things.  (Moroni 10: 5.)  Limiting the scope of discussion to the list of approved topics is removing some of the great, even important topics from our permitted discussions.  Therefore the most important subjects have now gravitated away from Sacrament, Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society and into the Internet.  I have seen unapproved subjects on your blog’s index.   

I have also shown that David O. McKay was not the champion of Correlation, but was instead concerned it would lead to the church’s apostasy.  Now Correlation claims he was the one who was inspired to bring it forward, even that it was revealed to him by God and is proof of revelation to the church’s President on the matter.  These claims are opposite to President McKay’s concern that it was both wrong and would endanger the church of apostasy by consolidating power in the hands of the top, when people were always intended to be free to learn, discuss, believe and act consistent with what they understood.  That’s all laid out in the book as well.  And giving a cryptic response is really more misleading than helpful.  Read the book and you’ll have the answer.  And answers to many other things about which we should be open and free to discuss among friendly, believing Saints.
That is the end of the email response. I should note also that in the first 7 books I wrote I presumed the church’s traditional narrative is true and accurate. I wrote them in contemplation of the church’s traditional claims about history, and therefore anyone who reads those will not have their understanding challenged on the matter.

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


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.


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.