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Interview

I was asked about being interviewed for the Religion News Service. The inquiry asked about “my” movement. In response to the request I replied:

I would [be willing to be interviewed]. But I would not want this to either be or have the aura of self-promotion. The “movement” (if it can be called that) is not owned by me. The participants are independently motivated, and I exert no control over anyone.

Tithing is collected and distributed locally. No benefit comes to me. I donate when I am at a meeting where it is collected, and those who are present decide among themselves by common consent how the tithing is used among themselves. I have never been present when that decision has been made and of course I have not received one cent from anyone’s tithing donation.

There are fellowships across the globe, but I have not founded a single one. They are established by those who share the common belief in the need to be more scripture based, more seriously devoted and more individually accountable for the restoration through Joseph.

Every Word of God

In answer to temptation Christ explained, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4.) In this our Lord quoted the scriptures: “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” (Deu. 8:3.)

This makes us responsible to listen for and respond to God’s voice.

The Lord was confronted by devout Jews who questioned His failure to respect the existing religious conventions. They thought He disrespected the law and authorities. They could not understand that He was sent to replace the existing order with something new. For them, anything that failed to conform to the existing pattern was to be condemned. They knew their traditions were true, they were God’s chosen people, and God had spoken through Moses and the prophets to them. Therefore, Christ’s failure to fall into strict conformity with the existing religious traditions seemed to them proof of His heresy.

Christ explained the change of direction His ministry would cause in these words: “No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” (Mark 2:21-22.)

God spoke through Joseph, who translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. Therefore to live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God we must accept the Book of Mormon, even if this causes us to abandon older forms of religious ideas.

Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of twonations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. (2 Ne. 29:6-11.)

When I Clarify, When Not

There are hundreds of different topics that people discuss with me about which I have no opinion or view. These things matter to others, and in some cases are believed to be vital religious issues for them.

Just a few examples will illustrate:

Bishop John Koyle’s Dream Mine matters to some people. They have invested in it and study what Koyle taught, said and prophesied. I’ve heard them explain their views.

I have heard more than one account of “multiple mortal probations” from those who believe strongly in the idea. Some think it is at the heart of the gospel plan. I’ve heard them but have never been able to reconcile the strongly contrasting forms this idea has taken.

One man believes everything ever revealed since Adam can be extrapolated from the pre-1990 version of the LDS endowment. His complex theories have been evolving, encountering obstacles, taking a detour and reconstituting for years, but he stays on this theme as the basis for all gospel knowledge. I’ve listened to him.

There are many different views of the role and status of women. On one extreme they are breeding stock, of little value other than to be subservient to men and produce offspring. On the other extreme they are goddesses and men are mere brutes, to be endured by the divine feminine as a test in this fallen world; but men will get their punishment in the world to come where women’s true value is known. I’ve heard these various expositions of conflicting views about women.

I’ve attended meetings where strange ideas are taught openly. I’ve  listened and tried to understand what the speaker is attempting to teach. There are hundreds of examples, but I will leave it with these.

I can probably explain many of these strange ideas in the same way as they have been explained to me. But the fact I can listen to them, or restate what others have set out, does not mean that I share their beliefs or support their “cause.” I try to understand them, without the need to do anything more.

For me, these wildly varying ideas are important for one reason: I’m trying hard to understand the challenge we face to become “one” with each other. In the most peaceful, enlightened and enduring society (apart from Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s cities) we have only a brief explanation of their social order. But in the description it tells us four times the same important lesson:

4 Ne. 1:2 “and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” This was a first step. It was not complete. But the people managed to stop their disputes. They may not have agreed with one another, but they were no longer fighting among themselves about their different viewpoints.

4 Ne. 1:13 “And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.” This was a closer agreement where united faith among the people began to bear the fruits of the spirit. It is a second level and developmentally greater than the absence of contention that preceded it.

4 Ne. 1:15 “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” This was yet another stage of development. It came as people’s hearts were filled through God’s love so they would no longer just be avoiding contention, they were now in agreement.

4 Ne. 1:18 “the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.”

The experience these people went through was in stages of progression and development. Over many years I’ve tried to see what the landscape looks like among the different versions of the gospel as understood by widely varying people. I believe them (you) all to be loved by God. I believe them (you) all to be sincere. I let others explain themselves to me, I labor to understand them (you), and let all men go in peace. I believe it is important to allow all men to explain their views, and important to consider this cacophony because of how it separates us from becoming “one” with each other. It is a very real challenge. It is daunting. But it is important to understand as a point of beginning.

I do not interrupt people and challenge everything they say. I do not insist that people change their views to be exactly as mine. If I only tolerated my own view I would interrupt every person in every conversation and make myself an obnoxious mad man.

From time to time there are those who take the views they have announced to me as their belief or doctrine, and associated MY name with it. If they explain their views as theirs, they go in peace. But when they make their belief MINE, and their understanding of things MY understanding, or when it is not true or accurate, then I choose to clarify that I do not share that viewpoint.

An Email (LDSFF)

I got an email from an anonymous individual at the ldsfreedom forum which inquired:

Mr. Snuffer,

I’ve created a post over at ldsfreedomforum asking you to clarify a teaching you put forth some time ago. The link to that posting is http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=41084.

All the relevant information regarding my question can be found on the posting, so I won’t repeat it here.

Thank you for considering my invitation to have a dialogue about this particular teaching. I’m sending this request from an anonymous email address out of a desire to remain entirely unknown, as I’d rather have people focused on the facts rather than the personalities insofar as it is possible. My handle on ldsfreedomforum is endlessismyname. Any reply you make to this email will only be available to me for one hour from when it is sent, so I will monitor this inbox for the next 12 hours and then try again tomorrow if I haven’t heard back. Another option is for you to send me a private message on the forum.

Thanks,

endless

_____________________

I responded

Is it possible to talk by phone? It would require a lot of typing and I’d rather save the time and talk. I have a day-long trial preparation meeting with co-counsel tomorrow, an oral argument hearing on Friday, and I am preparing for a Federal jury trial in a couple of weeks. So spending a lot of time typing an email is problematic for my schedule.

If you’d like, I can give you my office phone (provided in my email)

Or my cell phone if you will keep it confidential.

-Denver Snuffer
I sent another follow-up email to the same anonymous inquirer explaining:

I followed your link and tried to put my email response up there. It requires me to register and choose a password and then puts me into the middle of that forum. I do not want to get tangled up in that setting and have my inability to continue to monitor and respond there to be interpreted as something other than I am busy. So I’m not inclined to join their forum and become a fixture there (as would undoubtedly become required if I want to be understood).

I never post anonymously on any site.
__________________________________
He has responded:

Denver,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply, especially considering the limited time you have available due to your work obligations. I’m happy to talk on the phone but I worry that I may not represent your answer accurately if I try to report back to the forum regarding our conversation, especially if the answer is involved (which it sounds like it might be). Would it be okay with you if I take notes while we talk, create a summary that I think accurately reflects your response to my question, and then pass that summary back to you for your approval before posting it back to the forum?

I don’t know how late you work but I won’t be available to talk until this evening. If you’d like me to call your cell, just send it over in a separate email. I’m happy to keep it confidential.

Thanks again. I look forward to talking to you and getting a clear understanding of what your thoughts are regarding my question.

endless

I just replied:

That would be fine.  I like the approach.

I have a suggestion, however: Your email deletes and you are nameless, and unidentified. I don’t really care who you are, and I respect your desire to remain unidentified, but it would be better if you use a real contact source so these emails do not disappear (as the first already have). I have no reason to reveal your identity to anyone.

My cell is:———— (provided in the email)
-Denver Snuffer
_______________________
He wrote again:
Understood. I’ve noticed that you sometimes respond to questions on your personal blog. Would providing clarification to this question be something worth doing over there? That way you wouldn’t have to join a forum (which I don’t blame you for not wanting to do. I joined it yesterday simply because I was trying to find a way to contact you, and was told those at the forum might be able to help with that).

I hope you don’t mind my posting anonymously. It stems from nothing more than a desire to not be seen as either a friend or an enemy of Denver Snuffer. In reality I am neither. I’m somebody who has been approached by a dear friend with an invitation to examine your teachings who now needs some clarification regarding a teaching that is causing me some confusion.I’ll post your response on the forum so that you don’t have to join. Thanks for trying to do it yourself.

endless

I replied:

I have been updating our emails on my website because I was not really certain when your email first arrived how to regard it. I thought it might be nothing more than spam, or someone baiting me and wanting to accuse me of hiding. So I put it up to make my willingness to respond public.

I’ve updated them on my website and they are available there- so feel free to do the same at the other location if you choose.
-Denver Snuffer
_______________________________
He replied:

Duplicating everything won’t be necessary. If they conversation is documented on your site I don’t feel it necessary to duplicate the effort on the forum. I’ll just point people towards your blog and they can monitor the conversation from there if they want to.

I’m happy to provide you with an email address that allows us to retain the emails moving forward. I appreciate your respect for my desire to remain anonymous. I have several reasons for doing this, not the least of which is that I don’t want to influence anyone that knows me with my questions. I’d like everyone to be able to come with their own questions, without preconceived notions or prejudices based on my identity.

I’ll send you an email from my normal address momentarily.

_______________________

In his last response he provided information about contact I will keep confidential as I agreed. But I also sent him this brief summary about myself:

 

No problem. And now I will not update the website with anything further from you:

How about after 6:30 pm?  I’m pretty open from then for an hour or so.
It would still involve a good deal of typing:
For example by way of introduction:
I spent two decades teaching Gospel Doctrine Class in Pleasant Grove, then Alpine, then in two different stakes in Sandy, and in the last stake in two different wards. I taught by lecture, not by soliciting input from the class. Someone would have to raise their hand if they wanted to participate. I assumed the burden was on me to make the material useful. I spent between 10 and 20 hours each week to prepare a 50 minute presentation. I did not want to ever say the same thing twice. Therefore each time through the scriptures (and in two decades each of the standard works were taught 5 times) the exposition revisited the material from a more expansive study than the one four years earlier.
I wanted the class to expand my own understanding. Therefore whatever had been taught before was kept in memory while I studied to find what else might contribute to the material.
I’ve kept those study habits. I still work about 10 to 20 hours a week over the scriptures and church history.
As I did the math recently, I estimated that I have logged about 35,000 hours of scripture study since being converted to Mormonism. As a result of that I think in terms of the scriptures. Passages run through my mind continually. They are my companion in life. When I was 13 I would have told you apart from my own thoughts, the strongest voice in my mind came from Mark Twain (I had read practically everything he had written by then). Today I would say the strongest voice in my mind apart from my own thoughts, comes through the language of scripture and are continually the source I ponder, reflect upon, weigh, and seek to understand.
Although I have had many remarkable experiences with God, I have found the scriptures contain everything necessary to discuss every topic. Even things I thought were original and revealed for the first time to me upon returning to study I have found are already there in scripture. I just could not see it until it had been shown to me. Then through the light of a new revelation I learned that Isaiah, or Daniel, or Christ already addressed the matter but it was hidden from my view until I saw it as well.
This is the sort of thing that requires a great deal of typing to set out, and even this is cryptic and summary. I would ask if you’ve read Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers at this point in a conversation. In there he mentions that it takes about 10,000 hours of preparation before someone becomes accomplished in any skill. It is Gladwell’s observation, and it may or may not be accurate. But when I read his book I was reminded of what the scriptures have done to influence my own life and how I’ve logged more hours by three times than he suggests produces competence.
Well, I look forward to your call.
-Denver Snuffer
________________________________
FINAL NOTE:
He called and we spoke last evening (January 6th) from 7:02 pm to 8:26 pm according to the clock in my room. He has provided a summary of the answers to his two questions and I have edited it to make it more complete and he will put it up on the LDSFF.

 

Second-Hand Rumors

Yet another second-hand rumor has been passed along to me. This latest rumor attributes things to me I would not say, have not said, and are not true. In response to this new rumor, I sent an email to the one who is the apparent source of the latest batch of falsehoods. Since I have no way of knowing how far the falsehoods have spread I want to reiterate again, I have NO SPOKESMAN.

You should trust no one to pass along something that I “really believe” or that I discuss “with trusted friends” or in a private meeting at which I “let out information” about important topics.

I speak openly, write and publish what  I think, believe or know, and do not skulk around giving important information to friends, former neighbors or people I “will really visit with candidly.”

It disappoints me that this continues to be an issue.  I assume they think doing this allows them to advance their mischief and make me responsible for it. But I don’t understand why anyone would believe these people when I clearly have said over and over that I don’t use others to advance ideas, deliver information, or pass along secret or “higher” things. It’s hogwash.

Sacrament and Tithing

I was asked about how fellowships should organize their treatment of newcomers on the issue of tithing. In response I said:

I really hesitate to get into the internal governance of fellowships because the right belongs to the member through common consent. Because the right to govern arises from common consent, the decisions of the fellowship can be varied. Perhaps the approach will be changed from time to time based on experiences. But the fellowship has the right to decide, and then later, based on experience or discussion, to change the decision to do something else.

I was asked about what to do with left-over sacrament bread and wine and how appropriate it would be to share with others the following day if they do not share the same beliefs. In response I said:

I would regard the close of the service as also the end of the consecration of the emblems.  So that once the event/observance/service has ended, then I would think anything remaining would be just ordinary food to be used as the case may be. That was what happened to the excess loaves and fishes (Mark 6:43; Matt. 14:20; John 6:13; Luke 9:17), which were gathered and used. I wouldn’t just throw away the remainder, but I’d make use of it all. I think once the service ends then the sacred nature of the emblems likewise ends.

Priesthood Ordination

I was asked about mechanics of priesthood ordination in an email this morning. I responded as follows:

The power to baptize comes from God’s voice to the man. We “ordain” into a brotherhood that follows from man-to-man, no matter what “line” that brotherhood reckons through it is nevertheless only a brotherhood of men when first established. But the confirmation of authority comes from heaven by the voice of God.

In a very real sense, when the confirmation of authority comes from the voice of God, the line of authority changes to Him, rather than the brotherhood of men. But the tradition is to reckon the line through the brotherhood of men because: 1. we have an objective trail we can follow and, 2. that is all the initial “ordination” gives.

I have four lines of authority: 1. One for the Aaronic ordination. 2. A second for the Melchizedek ordination. 3. A third for High Priest ordination. 4. And the final ordination by the voice of God to me conferring the power to act on His behalf as He directs. Of them all it is the last I prize as the one to be valued.

Come Unto Christ

Immediately before taking Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, the Lord prophesied there were “some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28.) This He fulfilled on the Mount when these three were shown the day of the earth’s transfiguration at His coming. (D&C 63:20-21.) One of the Lord’s gifts to many of His disciples is to show them His coming, judgment of the wicked, and redemption of the righteous.

In the final days of His earthly ministry, He was approached by His disciples in private and asked for an explanation of His coming in glory. The group who approached Him included men and women followers. (Matt. 24:3.) He then told them plainly about His return. We have two restored accounts of His lesson: D&C 45:16-59; and the re-translated version of Matthew 24 (JS-Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price). In both, He refers to “holy places” where His disciples will stand “and shall not be moved.” (D&C 45:32.) They will first be gathered by Christ, who “shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (JS-Matt. 1:37.) These are “they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.” (D&C 77:11.)

The Lord’s return is always a subject He wants us to keep in mind. All the latter-day events that will mark the time for His return will happen in a single generation. (D&C 45:30; JS-M 1:34.) Therefore, when that generation begins to witness the signs of His coming, they should prepare so the return of the Master does not find them abusing others. (Matt. 24:44-51; JS-Matt. 1:49-55.)

Among the gentiles, the “covenant” will only be established in His church. He defines His church as “whosoever is baptized unto repentance.” (Mosiah 26:22.) More clearly, in our day He has said, “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same in my church.” (D&C 10:67.) As Christ promised to those living on this land, “But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto who I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.” (3 Ne. 21:22-23.)

Covenants can be broken. By changing the ordinances covenants are broken. (Isa. 24:5.) No organization exists with an intact covenant, but there are messengers the Lord has chosen and sent, preaching and offering the Lord’s covenant through baptism. Salvation is not related to joining an institution, but it is dependent on repentance and receiving baptism at the hands of those He has sent. There is a website where baptism can be requested by one with authority. Baptism can be received even if one chooses to worship with Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslins, or Mormons. Faith in Christ and covenant with Him does not require anyone to be part of an organization run by men. It requires repentance and faith in Christ.

I am sent as another witness to testify He will return. Signs have been, and are being given both in the heavens and on earth. Today there are “false Christs, and false prophets,” who are doing their work “that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (JS-Matt. 1:22.) The elect are only protected “according to the covenant.” (JS-Matt. 1:20, 22.) He has authorized baptism as His own covenant to preserve all who receive it. I have seen His return and I know this newly offered baptism will be respected at His return by those who will return with Him. Baptism is offered as a covenant between you and the Lord. There are no institutional demands made upon you as a result of receiving the ordinance. It is an invitation to renew your relationship with Christ and take an act of faith to show Him you keep Him in your heart.

There is a requirement to record on earth so it can be recorded in heaven. (Rev. 20:12; D&C 128:6-9.) Because it must be recorded, the recorder’s clearinghouse allows you to submit your name on-line. The record consists of only a name, without any contact information. These names are kept confidential.

If, on this journey, you find yourself looking for fellowship with like-minded people, the fellowship locator allows you to locate, or announce your own fellowship and invite others to share in worship. These are voluntary associations and anyone can choose to participate.

Every nation, kindred, tongue and people, black and white, male and female, young and old, are invited to be baptized. There is no charge, and you make no commitment to men. You only covenant to follow Christ.

He is aligning events to complete His work, and the signs of His return are being given to this generation. The time will soon come when it will not be possible to receive this invitation any longer. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.

Christmas

Though the Lord was not born in December, it is when we remember His birth. Reflecting on His entry into the world some things continue to amaze me as I think about it.

The Lord entered this world with no particular advantages. His social position was obscure, His nation was subjugated to Rome, His people held false religious ideas and would reject His message, and His life was threatened from its beginning. His family fled into Egypt to save Him from the king’s attempt to take His life (Matt. 2:13).

Heaven took greater notice than society, singing praises to shepherds (Matt. 8:16). A handful of His contemporaries knew His birth was significant: Simeon (Luke2:25-32), Anna (Luke2:36-38) and wise men (Matt. 2:1-2).

But for most people He lived among, all things continued as before. We have widespread celebration of His birth today. But when He was born, His birth was largely unnoticed, unappreciated, or unwelcome. He is the same today, yesterday and forever (Mormon 9:9; D&C 20:12). The truth is to know things as they are, were, and are to come (D&C 93:24). Few know Him, and therefore few recognize the truth. It can be spoken openly, because few have ears to hear (Mark 7:16).

Even though the Lord has provided a great many prophecies of His return, and details of what will happen before His return, today is like His first coming.  He can accomplish His work openly, while the world takes little notice. (Hab. 1:5; Acts 13:41.)

He came to save us. Those who recognized who He was and why He had been sent rejoiced. Abraham saw His coming and rejoiced (John 8:56). Enoch foresaw His day was comforted and rejoiced (Moses 7:46). His work has always been to save and exalt mankind (Moses 1:39). He will wipe away every tear (Rev. 7:17).

Even though His work is the solution to mankind’s troubles, men turn their faces from Him (Isa. 53:3). He speaks to us and proclaims: “For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world—a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life. And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.”