Ephesians 4:29-5:16; 6:12:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

…For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

___________________________________

Given the nature of our fight (which is spiritual), we ought to resist the culture of conflict that poisons our time, and rise above disputing among ourselves to show by our godly example what it means to follow Christ.

Rebaptism

Edwin Wilde provided me some excerpts taken from his review of 178 early Mormon journals mentioning the widespread practice of rebaptism. Here is some, but not all, of the information he uncovered:

From the journal of Milo Andrus, (1814-1893): “In the spring of 1854, I was sent to Saint Louis to preside over the stake there. Stayed there one year, rebaptized and confirmed about 800 saints.”

From the journal of Elizabeth Brotherton: “March 19 1851 Mr. Pratt was appointed on a mission to the Pacific Coast to organize and set in order the Saints that had gone there not knowing where the church would locate. They went in the ship Brooklyn. I went with him to San Francisco, we traveled in company with A. Lyman, and C.C. Rich when they were going to San Bernerdino with a company of Saints. After a tiresome journey we arrived in San Francisco. Mr. Pratt remained there and rebaptized quite a number in about two months time.”

From William Clayton’s diary: “May 9, 1841 Joseph preached on his side on baptism for the dead (see Record.) Afterwards a number was baptized both for remission of sins and for the dead. I was baptized first for myself and then for my Grandfather Thomas and Grandmother Ellen Clayton, Grandmother Mary Chritebly and Aunt Elizabeth Beurdwood.” (Clayton was previously baptized October 21, 1837.)

From the journal of Warren Foote: “24th. [March 1842] This is the day that I have appointed to go down into the waters of baptism and thereby fulfill the covenant I made to the Lord when I was near death’s door. The meeting was at Elder Jacob Myers house about one mile from Father’s. I walked down there and in company with Amos Kimmins, Franklin Allen, and his wife, Samuel Myers, and Lovina Myers, was baptized by Daniel A. Miller, President of this branch, between five and six o’clock P.M. The foregoing named persons, had been baptized before, and now felt to renew their covenants. As it was concluded to have an evening meeting I thought that I would stay to it. The wind blew up from the north very cool and in going home, I took cold.”

Other entries in Warren Foote’s journal: “8th. [May 1842] Sunday. A very large congregation assembled to meeting. Sidney Rigdon preached. In the afternoon there were many baptized in the font in the basement of the Temple and forty three in the Mississippi River. They were mostly rebaptisms.” “[MAY, 1844] 26th. Attended meeting at Bro. J. Clark’s. After meeting I rebaptized Elihu Allen, Joseph Clark, and John B. Carpenter. We ordained E. Allen [a] priest, and Joseph Clark [a] teacher. It is so wet that we cannot plant corn.” “[JUNE, 1844] 9th. Sunday. My wife with five others were rebaptized by Elder J. B. Carpenter.”

From the autobiography of Joseph Holbrook: “On Saturday, January 5, 1833…I told Brother Lyons and Rich I would like to be baptized if they thought I was worthy as I had brought my clothes for that purpose. So after breakfast I was baptized with my Aunt Phebe Angel by Leonard Rich…My wife was taken very sick on the 7th of July [1842] and grew worse until she died, being taken sick nine days (July 16, 1842), aged 37 years, 11 months and two days…After my wife’s death, I was rebaptized in the Mississippi River by Brigham Young.”

From the autobiography of Joseph Hovey: “I, Joseph, for the first time bowed myself before God in secret and implored his mercy and asked him if what I had read out [of] the Book of Mormon was true and if the man, Joseph Smith, was the one who translated these marvelous records. I, Joseph, asked God for a testimony by the Holy Spirit and truly I got what I asked for and more abundantly. Therefore, my wife, Martha, and I did truly rejoice in the truth we had found in those records. We also searched the Bible daily and found that it did corroborate with the Book of Mormon. We were, therefore, born again and could see the kingdom. Hence, July 4, 1839, we were baptized with water and received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. One brother, Mr. Draper, baptized us…there was a committee appointed by the God of Israel to superintend those houses in the fall of 1840. The fund to commence the building of the temple were raised through tithing, that is every man put in a tenth of his property and thereafter his earnings every tenth day. …I, Joseph, did prosper well in good health but my wife, Martha, was not so well as myself. I, Joseph, did go to work in the stone quarry and I labored exceedingly for the Nauvoo House. I got out several hundred feet of stone during the season. I also worked on the Nauvoo temple cutting stone. In the meanwhile, my wife, Martha, was sick, even abortion took place and she was very low. But she was healed by going to the baptismal font and was immersed for her health and baptized for her dead.”

This is from the journal/autobiography of William Huntington Sr.: “In 1833, I found the Book of Mormon. I read the book, believed in the book that it was what it was represented to be. My mind thus being prepared to receive the gospel accordingly, in the month of April 1835, myself and my wife both united with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. …April 11th, 1841  Joseph [Smith] and Sidney [Rigdon] baptized each other for the remission of their sins as this order was then instituted in the Church. Accordingly, on the 27th of April [1841], I was baptized for the remission of my sins. Also, on the same day, was baptized for my brother Hyrum Huntington.”

This is from the autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson: “In the spring of 1835 before I was baptized, my mother and all her children met at the house of my sister, Delcena Sherman, to receive from Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., our patriarchal blessings. He blessed all according to age until be came to Joseph E. and myself, when he placed his hands first upon my head. My mother told him I was the youngest, but he said that mattered not–to me was the first blessing; and in blessing me, among other great and glorious things, he told me the Lord would call me to do the work of brother Seth, who had been called away by death. In this promise there was to me more joy than ever before I had known; my dear brother was not to be robbed of his blessings, and if I could only live faithfully his work would be done, and I should do it for him. I felt this was the greatest boon the Lord could bestow upon me. …Soon after this, I overstepped my father’s objections and was baptized by Elder Lyman Johnson… On the 13th of October [1838] we crossed the Mississippi at Louisiana, and began to hear of great troubles among the Mormons at Far West, and we were warned of the great danger of proceeding, but our camp was only stirred to greater desire to go on. Here I remembered my former purpose to renew my covenant by baptism, and as one of my associates, D. D. McArthur, was to be baptized, I went with him and was baptized by Henry Hariman. [Harriman]”
From the autobiography of Joel H. Johnson: “At the October [1856] Conference the heads of the Church preached the necessity of a reformation among the saints by confessing their own sins against God and their brethren and forsaking the same and by forgiving the sins of others and making restitution for all wrongs as much as possible. This glorious work of reformation and restitution soon commenced in Great Salt Lake City and spread with rapidity to all the branches of the Church; and all who confessed and restored were rebaptized for the last time for the remission of their sins.” “Thursday, September 18th [1856], I started with my wife Susan and little child accompanied by my son Nephi, with an ox team to go and visit our friends at Summit Creek in Utah County, and also in Salt Lake City, and attend the October conference, and to purchase and drive home a few sheep. We arrived at Summit Creek and Friday the 26th, and found our friends as well. We had a good visit with them and started on Tuesday the 30th for Salt Lake City, and arrived onFriday the 3rd of October, attending conference and done our business and started homeward on Friday the 10th. On our way we called at Lake City in Utah County and purchased 26 sheep, one of which died at Chicken Creek. We arrived safely home with the rest on the 25th and found all well, and was rebaptized on Wednesday, 29th [October 1856], at Fort Johnson by Issac C. Height, President of the Stake of Cedar City.”
The following comes from the autobiography/journal of Lyman O. LittleField: “My mother lingered for four or five days after my arrival. In the warmest terms she expressed her thankfulness to her Heavenly Father that I had come to be with her through her sickness. I conversed with her freely concerning the doctrines and principles of the Church, in relation to all of which she expressed her firm belief, and spoke of her great desire to get well that she might renew her covenant by being rebaptized. She felt that this would be a great satisfaction inasmuch as she had been absent from the Church for several years. She said this had been her desire for a long time, but she had put it off from time to time. “But now,” she said, “if the Lord permits me to get well, I will attend to it, and nothing shall hinder me.'” Also there was this not later in the journal: “While there [Kirtland] I made the acquaintance of Brother Luman Heath and wife and rebaptized her mother in the Shagrin River for the renewal of her covenant, according to her desire. I also made the acquaintance of Brother and Sister Kent and many others.”
From the autobiography of Nathan T. Porter “My brother Lyman Wight Porter, took passage on… the Union Pacific, to the state of Missouri to visit our eldest sister Melinda (Malinda) Chipman, whom we had not seen for many years… A disposal was soon made of the property she had for sale, so that she, with her son Sanford, was on their way with him for Salt Lake Valley… She soon renewed her covenants by rebaptism and received her endowments in which she had much joy and consolation.”
This from an early excerpt of Parley Pratt’s autobiography: “After we had arrived on the ground of Great Salt Lake City we pitched our tents by the side of a spring of water; and, after resting a little, I devoted my time chiefly to building temporary houses, putting in crops, and obtaining fuel from the mountains. …Having repented of our sins and renewed our covenants, President John Taylor and myself administered the ordinances of baptism, etc., to each other and to our families, according to the example set by the President and pioneers who had done the same on entering the valley. These solemnities took place with us and most of our families, November 28, 1847.”

This is from a letter from Parley Pratt to Brigham Young, August 28, 1851; while he was in San Francisco: “Since I have arrived here I have been diligent in the duties of my calling every hour, and have called upon God for His Spirit to help me with all the energy I possessed, and without ceasing. The result is, the Spirit of the Lord God has been upon me continually, in such light, and joy, and testimony as I have seldom experienced. Brothers A. Lyman and C. C. Rich have been here with me some of the time; we have called together the old members and others, and preached repentance and reformation of life. We have re-baptized many of them, and have re-organized the Church.”

From pg 118-119 of the journal/autobiography of Joseph Lee Robinson: “Now, prior to this, after we had fairly gotten up there we called a meeting of the people for it was a nice inviting country and a good many had come upon the lands. We talked to them some, inquiring if they were able and agreeable that I should be their president and bishop and that I should select two of their members and set them apart as my counselors and would they uphold us by their prayers and faith. I wished them to make it manifest by the show of the right hand and there was a clear vote, yes… Our ward was bounded at that time north of Cherry’s settlement and south of Weber River, a very large ward, but a few people. Suffice it to say, we met together often and preached and prayed and sang songs and sometimes, spoke in tongues. We were counseled to be rebaptized as we had been a long time traveling and all that wished to be Saints they should make it manifest. Consequently, there was a number baptized on the first of July, 1849 by John Harris, Joseph L. Robinson, Susan and Laurinda M., two of his wives, Daniel A. Miller, Hannah Miller, and Jacob, Lovica, James S., Susanna, Millers, and John and Olive Garner, Seth Dustin, Susanna Harris, William Harmison, all of which were confirmed by Joseph L. Robinson and Daniel A. Miller.  Also on September 9th, 1849, there were baptized by Joseph L. Robinson, Maria Robinson, Oliver Lee, Ebenezer J., Anna Maria, Robinsons, William P. and Sidney R. Burton, Elizabeth, David and Alma Hess, and Clarica Jane Miller all of which were confirmed by Daniel A. Miller and John Harris. Also onSeptember 9th were baptized by Daniel A. Miller, Benjamin and Rosanna Matilda Cross, Joel Ricks, Eleanor, Louis, and Sally Ann Ricks and Amanda Tomkins—all confirmed by Joseph L. Robinson and John Harris.”  Also there is this excerpt from that same book, pgs 420-421: “November 1891. Aunt Jane Slade died November 21st, 1891. She is gone. We tried to save her from death. The Lord told me he would forgive her and that I might bless her and if she would believe she should remain for a season and enjoy her new home and the society of her friends and have time to reflect and prepare to meet her God, We were really in hopes we could get her well enough that she could come and stop with us awhile, that we might get sufficient faith in her that she might get rebaptized, renew her covenants and baptized for her health. ”

From the autobiography/journal of Allen Russel: “Some time in the Summer, I think before Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother Hiram were killed in Carthage Jail in 1844. Father, Mother, my sister Sally, my brother Horace, and myself, went to the creek where Patriarch John Smith was baptizing, and we were all were re-baptized by Patriarch John Smith and confirmed by his son George A. Smith at waters edge. Baptized about May 10, and confirmed some time in the month of June.” Also from the same journal: “Thursday [May 1899] 11 – I did work for William and was baptized for my health and a man for Brother Ashman, then I was administered too.” Also he wrote: “Tuesday [October 1899] 24 – We went to the temple and Brother Ashman set as a witness. I was baptized for my health and administered to Horace Thorton being mouth and Brother Van Stewart baptizing me.” Still later he recorded: “Saturday [February 1906] 10 – I received $1.50 for temple worker. Preached the gospel to Ted Davis. He said he had been baptized but did not think it would hurt him to be again and said he desired to have his wife sealed to him. I preached to Albert Day and he said he was convinced of his error.”
Daniel Tyler recorded some teachings that he learned from Joseph Smith: “About the time the doctrine of rebaptism for members in the Church was first revealed in Nauvoo, Joseph, the great seer and revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made some remarks on the subject: On one occasion he read, among other scriptures, Hebrews, 6th chapter, 1st and 2nd verses, as follow: Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. The Prophet said the first verse should read: “Therefore, not leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, etc.”  This explanation not only made the entire subject of the two verses clear but reconciled them with other scriptures. Notwithstanding Paul is made to say “leaving,” etc., the inference is clear that if the foundation of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands should be relaid they would have to perform those works over again, as every careful reader of the text must see. This also corroborates a revelation to the Church of Ephesus: Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works. All latter-day Saints know that the first works after repentance are baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Here we find a presiding elder of a branch or ward of the Church commanded to perform these works over again, under pain of removal if he failed to obey the divine behest. Many more passages might be quoted to the same effect, but these are sufficient for my purpose. Joseph’s translation not only reconciles the text with itself, but also with other scriptures, as already shown, and as was explained by the Prophet.'”
Helen Whitney’s diary recorded: “The evening of the 16th, after witnessing the death of Brother William Gheen, who died at 7 o’clock in the evening, father took Sarah and Sister Winchester to the river and baptized them for their health.”
A statement by Orson Pratt found in the Journal of Discourses 18:156-61: “I will here state that Martin Harris, when he came to this [Utah] Territory a few years ago, was rebaptized, the same as every member of the Church from distant parts is on arriving here. That seems to be a kind of standing ordinance for all Latter-day Saints who emigrate here, from the First Presidency down; all are rebaptized and set out anew by renewing their covenants.”

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.”

Adam’s Religion

I participated in a fellowship discussion with a group of people a few weeks ago about the ministry of angels. I have been reflecting on that conversation since then. I think the ministry of angels is an indispensible part of the gospel, but angels are subject to God, who commands their ministry. (Moroni 7:30.) The angels have a specific ministry. They call men to repentance and fulfill and do the work of God’s covenants. (Moroni 7:31.) We approach God (not angels) and then God sends angels as His ministers.

Adam had a pure religion taught to him directly by God. It contained the full gospel message while other dispensations, depending and their worthiness and readiness, were given portions of it. In a very real sense mankind began with the religion of God, which was lost through disobedience, lack of interest and unwillingness to study. Righteous men have been trying to recover that original religion ever since.

It is the same challenge today. The original religion Adam practiced needs to be recovered. It was prophesied that it would be recovered. It, along with the original priesthood, is destined to return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)

A Book of Remembrance was prepared beginning with Adam (Moses 6:5). Enoch also wrote a book describing the original religion (Moses 6:43-46). The records prepared by those fathers were passed down for a time through heirs, but were relegated to disuse and neglect until restoration came in the time of Abraham. That restoration was needed because Abraham’s immediate forebearers had lost the original teaching through their changing of its doctrines (Abr. 1:31). It was because Abraham obtained the original religion that he was able to practice it in an uncorrupted form. It brought him back into God’s presence.

Although he did not have the complete records, the first Pharaoh did not invent a new religion. Instead he “imitated” and tried to carry on that original which belonged to the fathers. (Abr. 1:26.) Pharaoh was righteous, but he descended through a line that forfeited the birthright and did not have the right of priesthood presidency, or the right to govern the family of God. But the right to that order will return. (Moses 6:7.)

Abraham reestablished the order. Because of this, he could correct and teach the Pharaoh of his day (approximately 2000 years after the first Pharoah), and whose own religion had, by Abraham’s time, lost its way. (See Facsimile 3, final note.)

Once a religion begins to drift, it is very difficult to recover the original. During Abraham’s time, the task was impossible. Egyptian culture, art and government were based on a religion which had changed over 2000 years, despite the intention to preserve its authentic teachings. Even if Abraham could correct everything for the Pharaoh, it would be impossible for that Pharaoh to even reclaim his nation. Once errors have hardened into hierarchy, institutional tradition, wealth, power and governing systems, a single man, even a king, cannot change its course.

Egypt drifted, but was founded by a king “seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father.” (Abr. 1:26.) The religion was not merely faith, repentance and baptism. It was also an “order” which governed. Those holding it, including Adam and Noah, had the right to “reign” or govern. Without God’s full authorization as the foundation of his government, Pharaoh never had the right to govern. He could only “imitate.”

Egypt’s imitation included many truths mingled with errors. The religion of Egypt preserved a slightly better understanding of portions of the original gospel than others. For example, Egypt understood the hierarchy of heaven better than do we. They acknowledged the “four sons of Horus.” They are real. There are four great angels who have power over the four parts of the earth. (D&C 77:8.) We know them as Michael (Adam), Gabriel (Noah), Enoch (Raphael), and John (Uriel), whose control is over air, water, fire and earth—the four parts of the earth. They have “power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to case down to the regions of darkness.” (D&C 77:8.) In spite of their ministry, we are not to worship them, nor to pray to them. Egypt may have identified and understood them better, but they erred by exalting them to worship and prayer along with other heavenly beings the Egyptians called neteru and the Hebrews called angels. These comprise the host of heaven led by Jehovah. The first error God corrected for Moses was this idolatry of angels, who are not to be worshipped, but are to be recognized and respected as God’s messengers and servants. (Exo. 20:3-5.)

Egypt knew of a great god they identified as “Amon” (also Aumn, Ammon—a name given to several individuals in the Book of Mormon) which Joseph Smith identified as “Ahman” (see D&C 78:20, 95:17; and which is associated with Adam being in the presence of God—Adam-ondi-“Ahman”). The Egyptian father, Amon, had a wife identified as Hathor. Their son was identified as Horus. In the oldest form of the Hebrew faith (before they were excised by the Deuteronomist reformers) the godhead included a Father, Mother and son. The Tabernacle and Temple had an image of the Divine Mother that was removed during Josiah’s reforms and never returned. In the restoration, Joseph taught that exaltation of man required sealing of a man (husband/father) to a woman (wife/mother) to allow for the continuation of the seeds (son/heir). (See D&C 132:19-20.) From eternity to eternity the cycle repeats. If you understand the destiny of those who attain exaltation you understand the nature of those who were exalted before.

Egypt acknowledged one of the exalted angels as “the great scribe,” and identified him as Thoth. His real identity is clarified in the writings of Moses as Enoch. (Moses 6:5, 46.) Enoch ascended to heaven. But we do not worship him.

Egypt’s religion erred by turning true angels into gods, to whom they prayed and whom they worshipped. Angels are sent by God and minister the truth to man, but are forbidden to become the objects of worship. Egypt turned mere angelic servants of God into deity and worshipped them.

Throughout the Bible record, the angels clarify their limited role. In the temple, the angel Gabriel clarified his limited role as a messenger. (Luke 1:19.) When the apostle John beheld the angel sent to him, he fell to worship him. (Rev. 22:8.) The angel forbid it, declaring “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God.” (Rev. 22:9.) John has now become a ministering angel. (D&C 7:6.)  When John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver he declared himself only a “fellow servant.” (JS-H 1:69.)

Angels may occupy positions of authority before God, and may have ministries entrusted to them (D&C 130:5), but only God is to be worshipped. Only God’s word will survive into the afterlife. Even if one of the four great angels establishes a covenant, unless God ordains it as His, that covenant will fail. (D&C 132:13.)

We can recover lost information from studying relics left from the past. Egypt left a great body of evidence we can sort through to help us in our search. But as the search is undertaken we must always remember that their religion had through millennia of practice undergone change and corruption. By the time of Abraham, and still more by the time of Moses (and nearly completely by the time of Isaiah), Egyptian religion had become something very different from that of the first Pharaoh who endeavored to maintain the teachings of the “First Fathers”. We must avoid the errors of Egypt that transpired as their doctrine and rituals changed. “The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof; and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.” (Isa. 19:14.) When reckoning through Egyptian wreckage, therefore, our guide must be the truth. We measure truth against the standard of the Book of Mormon, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and confirmed in the teachings and revelations given through Joseph Smith.

We no longer have Adam’s language. It was corrupted at the time of the tower, and lost to all but the Jaredites. Their record was written in the original language, but by the time Moroni translated the record he required the seer stone to make the translation (Ether 1:1-2; Mosiah 28:11-14.)

We do not have possession of their plates, but the Jaredites wrote in the original language of Adam (Mosiah 28:17; Ether1:35). It is interesting that the last people to have written in the original language of Adam were the Jaredite colony whose record is now part of the Book of Mormon.

We do not yet have the original religion taught to Adam. It also was lost long before Abraham, and was restored to him. He had the advantage of possessing the “records of the fathers” and therefore knew what they wrote in the first generations from Adam till Enoch describing the gospel taught by God to Adam.

No society has preserved the original religion. Joseph Smith was called by God to begin the process to restore the original. Through Joseph, we obtained some significant portions of the gospel which had been lost. He was killed before it was completed. What he left has become a muddled mess requiring a great deal of work to understand it. What Joseph restored must now be recovered. Even then, more must be returned before we finally arrive back at the beginning.

The Book of Mormon was translated “by the gift and power of God” and is an essential part of the restoration of the gospel fullness. Indeed it “contains the fullness of the gospel” because it gives account after account of those who were brought back to God’s presence and redeemed from the fall.

All the ancient world’s earliest religions had accounts of man returning to God through ceremonies and rites. But it was Israel who was visited by God. And the Book of Mormon contains the most clear and vast array of examples of successfully entering God’s presence. Lehi (1 Ne. 1:11), Nephi (1 Ne. 11:7, 2 Ne. 11:2), Jacob (2 Ne. 11:3), Enos (Enos 1:5, 7), Alma (Alma 36:22), and many others returned to God’s presence as part of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. It is indeed as Joseph Smith described it: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (DHC 4:461; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194.)

Many trails remain that point backward to the earliest times and the first religion. Some of those trails are in the Apocrypha which was commended to us for study in modern revelation. (D&C 91.) Joseph, followed by other early saints, were eager to read beyond the closed Biblical canon advocated by their Protestant neighbors. Hugh Nibley followed in that tradition. Joseph Smith did not have access to the Book of Enoch. The materials in the Nag Hammadi were not available until 1945. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not available until they were discovered beginning in 1946 and continuing until 1956. Many ancient texts have been recovered after Joseph’s death. Additionally, scholarly Islamic works have been published in English after Joseph’s death. The sources now available for us, but which were unavailable while Joseph lived, fill libraries. Like the Apocrypha, these newly recovered ancient documents have many things which are true. (D&C 91:1.) They also can be understood through the Spirit. (D&C 91:4.) But without the benefit of the Spirit they can be misleading. (D&C 91:5-6.)

We do not yet have the gospel as taught by God to Adam. That is still to be restored. It will be entrusted to those few people who will hearken to the Lord and live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. (Matt. 4:4—Christ quoting Deu. 8:3.) It will return. But it will be given to people who are worthy of it, and will abide by its requirements. They will be meek, humble, patient, submissive, gentle, or in other words, Christlike.

 

Great or Malignant Sins

Joseph Smith’s 1838 history did not originally have these words:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been.” (JS-H 1:28.)

Instead his original draft ended with this confession:

“I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling (with) all kinds of society I frequently (fell) into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God.” (JS Papers, Histories Vol. 1: 1832-1844, p. 220.)

The history of Joseph Smith was first published in the Times and Seasons. This part of his history was printed in an installment on April 1, 1842. (Times and Seasons, Vol 3, p. 749.) The explanation that Joseph was not guilty of “any great or malignant sins” had not yet been added in April 1842.

The month following publication of this installment of Joseph’s history, on May 11, 1842, John C. Bennett was excommunicated from the church for adultery. Bennett did not go quietly, and therefore public notice of his excommunication was announced in print on June 15, 1842. Bennett got louder and more accusatory and on July 1, 1842 a full account of John C. Bennett’s misconduct was explained in the Times and Seasons.

Because Bennett began his public accusations against Joseph Smith in 1842, on December 2, 1842 a note was added to Joseph’s history. The LDS Historian’s Office explains the note clarified his sins “were of a minor nature.” (See, JS Papers, History, Vol. 1, p. 221, footnote 55.) The addition they describe is in Willard Richards’ handwriting, and reads as follows:

“In making this confession, no one need suppose  me guilty of any great or malignant sins: a disposition  to commit such was never in my nature; but I was guilty of Levity, & sometimes associated with jovial company &c, not  Consistent with that character which ought to be maintained  by one who was called of God as I had been; but this  will not seem very strange to any one who recollects  my youth & is acquainted with my native cheerly Temperament.” (Manuscript History, Note added December 2, 1842.)

The addition of this clarification appears to be directly in response to John C. Bennett’s adultery, the discovery by Joseph Smith of a “spiritual wife” system being practiced in Nauvoo, and the accusation that he was aware of, believed in, and practiced adulterous relationships. As Joseph Smith stated publicly months later in a meeting in Nauvoo:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (DHC 6:411, May 26, 1844.)

I had not noticed this timing until called to my attention this week. Joseph denied committing “any great or malignant sins” in response to scandal brought to Joseph’s attention through the John C. Bennett affair. Put into context it is clearer. His denial was related to the “spiritual wife” system of adulterous relationships practiced in Nauvoo which was being attributed to him.

Obedience and Sacrifice

The first temple covenants are “obedience” and “sacrifice.” The order places the obligation for obedience before the obligation for sacrifice. They belong in that order.

Obedience requires men to support their wives (D&C 83:2) and parents to care for their children (D&C 83:4). [The first verse of the Book of Mormon informs us Nephi was supported by his goodly parents, including receiving a good education. (1 Ne. 1:1.)] This principle to care for family must happen before any sacrifices can be considered.

In other words, before any sacrifice is made to help the poor, build a temple, support a community, or any other good and charitable thing obedience to the commandment to care for your family members must be satisfied. Those who fail to provide for their families are no better than the faithless. (1 Tim. 5:8.) Those who disobey the obligation to support and care for their families bring the faith of Christ into disrepute and cause scorn for His church.

More on Yesterday’s Post (§132)

It is apparent many people care more about the topic of plural marriage than do I. To stem the flood of emails I am now receiving, let me add these general points:

Context always matters. Who is addressed always controls the content of the message. If an answer is given to a question, then the question controls the Lord’s discussion.

The Book of Mormon sermon of Jacob (Jacob 2:23-33) was to a small branch of Israelites who had departed from Jerusalem. His audience was the common man, and his sermon addressed the morality and virtue expected by God for His people.

The discussion in §132:34-40 is framed by the question Joseph asked. Joseph’s question is restated by the Lord in verse 1. Joseph was perplexed about specific ancient personalities. These were Bible “heroes” or prophets. Bible history indicates they were chosen by God. These men were apparently involved with plural marriages (at least in Joseph’s understanding of the Bible at that time). Joseph wanted to know how the list of men were “justified” before God.

Unlike Jacob’s sermon, the answer to the question Joseph raised was not about morality. [But the Lord does address morality in the first 32 verses, where marriage is between “a man” and “a woman.”] Joseph’s question about  “justification” involved only a legal issue.

In the specific case of David and Solomon (which Jacob condemned in his sermon) the Lord does not describe their conduct as moral or virtuous. He explains how the ancient kings were “justified” in receiving “many wives and concubines” under the ancient system and therefore did not “sin.” Their marriages were political. They were legal. It was part of the ancient system of binding a kingdom to their king, settling disputes, acquiring fealty from influential families, and forming alliances between neighboring kingdoms. It was a political reality, and “justified” in the circumstances. Although not moral, the arrangements were not condemned as “sin” in the answer given to Joseph.

David and Solomon were not moral examples of how the common man should live their lives, organize their families, or establish their marriages. These kings fit the warning Samuel gave about the negatives associated with kingship. Political rule by a king always results in taxes, wars, conscription of young men to fight for the king, and servitude of young women to serve the king. God told Samuel a king would afflict Israel. Samuel repeated what the Lord foretold concerning the abuses kings inflict on their kingdoms  (1 Sam. 8:10-18). It was spot-on.

I have no interest in answering endless questions about this subject. I am working on other important things. The best way to proceed with questions is to study. Study, pray and reflect. Converse with the Lord. Questions should drive you to the Lord. He will answer. Sometimes you must do your homework to arrive at the answer, but He will guide you if you allow Him.

If you believe there is a contradiction, then focus on finding the answer. It is through contradictions that the hidden mysteries of God are found. There are times when the Lord WANTS a matter to appear as a contradiction and deliberately makes it appear that way. He does that to make us think, study, pray and grow. Or, in His language, to “ask, seek and knock.”