Monthly Archives: March 2017

How Shall I Know?

If one takes the temple endowment seriously, discerning between true and false ministers and messengers is unequivocally paramount to our salvation.

To Adam’s credit he asked the three Angel strangers, “How shall I know that you are true messengers?”  Think of the audacity on Adam’s part to pose such a question that demonstrated he either A) did not perceive these messengers to be angelic beings from a different world and/or B) did not care.

Adam was firmly committed to KNOWING if these were the same messengers his Father promised to send, who would instruct him on how to re-enter into the presence of the Lord AND he simply would not be fooled.

The Messengers seemingly took no offense to Adam’s questioning, in fact, they commended him for his integrity and were all the more pleased to find in him such firm-mindedness.

Satan had apparently fooled everyone else, “Except for this man” who had discerned his false priests as only capable of sharing “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.”

With them Adam would have done as the scriptures teach — he would have listened to their words (the seed), with a soft heart (good soil), and would have pondered and prayed with real intent (water/sunlight) and then would have waited sufficiently to see if the seed that was planted was good.  If it was good it would grow and eventually, with time and continued care, produce fruit. If it was bad, there would be no plant and no fruit.

With fruit a person can then KNOW and like the people at the time of King Benjamin would have been able to proclaim:

Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (i.e. the fruit, see also Galatians 5) (Mosiah 5:2, my emphasis added).

But, during Adam’s time, there were no authorized teachers before the three Messengers appeared.  There was no Holy Man named King Benjamin or Melchizedek or anyone else. Only Satan’s false priests and worldly philosophers.

The first of all the Holy Prophets was yet to fully awaken to his pre-mortal High Priest status (see Alma 13).

So, God, according to His plan, would make his Doctrines known unto Adam by the mouth of angels directly (Alma 13:26) and as he had been the Chief Angel in God’s presence, he would also would be the world’s first Holy Man a.k.a. the First Father.  Then, and only then, would Adam be able to share the Heavenly message with others by the Holy Ghost in such a way that the message would carry unto the hearts of the children of men (2 Nephi 33:1).

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.”

Holy men (including women and even sometimes children) can also speak with the Tongue of Angels after having been sanctified by and filled with the Holy Ghost.

This is the pattern or template (notice the word Temple in template).  This is how we make our way back.  I think it’s especially interesting that as Nephi is describing this Doctrine of Christ he seems to become frustrated and declares that the Spirit “stops his utterance and he is left to mourn,” because his audience seems to not be getting the message. They’re hearing it, but perhaps NOT totally understanding it. Right before he “stops” he says something I think is key:

Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do (2 Nephi 32:6).

I take this to mean that the whole purpose of the Doctrine of Christ is to bring mankind into the presence of Christ in this life.

See Ether 13:3:

And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

And so like Adam, once we decide rightly on the ministers, eventually messengers will come. This is where D&C 129:4 will be important:

When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

And hence how Adam KNEW they were True Messengers.  They gave unto Adam the sign and token (handshake) that only they could give as resurrected beings who had authority. (Think about that one for a while).

For most of us, discerning between true and false ministers, is our current dilemma.  Angels will only come to those firm-minded in every form of Godliness (Moroni 7:30) and it would seem to be that NOT proving to the Lord that we are capable of accurately detecting true ministers from false, will preclude us from receiving further instructions from Heavenly messengers. This seems to be the pattern.  And it also appears that Gentiles are especially prone to not being able to discern between truth and error and are not known for our great faith.

In fact the only reason we have the Book of Mormon is because of the faith of some of its authors who had compassion on us, who they saw the Lord would use to bring their record to their future posterity.  Otherwise we Gentiles may not even have been given the Restoration.

Ether 12:22-28 says:

 22 And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ.

 23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

 24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

 25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

 26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

 28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

It seems apparent that even those who prayed for us to receive latter day scripture had very little confidence that we would believe it and overcome our great Gentile tendencies.

It’s interesting to note that this was believed to be the last thing Hyrum read before he and Joseph were killed at Carthage.  The top corner of the pages of Ether 12, folded over.  Was this Hyrum’s fear as his life concluded?  That we the Gentiles (The Church) would mock, all while believing we are more righteous than everyone else?  D&C 84 reminds us that we are in fact under condemnation precisely for doing as Moroni and Nephi and other prophets feared we would.

I don’t know about you, but I find all this to be very humbling.  If Adam (Micheal, the Archangel) asked “How shall I know?” and labored to discern, then surely I, a lowly Gentile prone to mocking and being critical, have an uphill battle.  And the scriptures testify to me that I am prone to skepticism, doubt and unbelief. How am I to find hope in Christ? How am I to trade my weakness for strength? Did Joseph have my skepticism in mind when he said: “I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never heard of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.” (TPJS p. 374.)

I also worry about the warning from Joseph that “The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” (TPJS p. 181.)

How do I know that my revolting or my disbelief in some idea or to some preacher is not because I am in the devil’s power?

In looking more closely at why the Gentiles would mock it would be because of a true prophet’s weakness in writing.  What does this imply?

Is it possible that a true prophet can deliver a message in such a weak fashion that the natural tendency would be to not believe even though the message is true?

As one interesting example, look at the message from John the Baptist to Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith as recorded in Joseph Smith History.

In this particular case, both Joseph and Oliver were worthy recipients of a message from an Angel.  But, their messages are both worded very differently when they each go to record them.  One could argue that because their messages vary even slightly from one another, that neither is reliable.

Look at the two different passages:

Oliver’s Account:

Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!

Joseph’s Account:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

I’m guessing that when Oliver read Joseph’s version, he very well may have felt inferior to Joseph.  Perhaps frustrated by his weakness in writing in a way that properly conveyed what he saw and heard.  But at the same time, I assume Oliver read every word of what Joseph recorded and agreed it was “accurate.”

In that heavenly realm it seems as though things are conveyed by thoughts rather than by words and so it’s more likely that they each “heard” the message differently and recorded what was conveyed to them in their own “weak words” with BOTH messages being “true” in every way.  Joseph, being perhaps the more fine-tuned instrument, appeared more able to describe the account.

Many of us give the benefit of the doubt to our late prophets. We assume that two different testimonies from Matthew and Luke’s accounts or from Isaiah and John the Beloved, do not negate the truthfulness of the message.  We trust that Oliver and Joseph were both reliable in their differing accounts from John the Baptist.  The same goes for Joseph and Sidney when experiencing the heavens being opened in section 76 who may each have had different words BUT who each had the same experience.

Maybe what’s important is that we learn how to discern whether someone is delivering a message from Heaven or not by some other method than simply mocking what is written.  Maybe the message, and its effect upon the hearer, are more important than the typos or other weaknesses.

If Joseph Smith were to be judged on typos alone, there would have been no believers in his day.  The original Book of Mormon had plenty of typos as scholars such as Mark Twain pointed out. Remember Symonds Ryder, or was it Simons Rider? Because misspelling his name shattered his confidence in Joseph.  How many are like him today?

As history has shown, God does send messengers and they are rarely recognized and embraced by their contemporaries.  If we believe in Alma 13, they are foreordained to come down to this fallen world.  They condescend from an exalted state.  They come with great advantages (D&C 130).  God speaks to them as He has throughout history.  He provides them with messages to be shared.  It then becomes the responsibility of those they preach to, to figure out if these witnesses are from God or not.

Non-Mormons, for example, are often quick to find the faults of the Book of Mormon.  Or at least what they perceive to be mistakes and contradictions with other scripture.  For this reason they “mock” when they receive it.  We plead with them to do as Moroni suggested but often to no avail.  Why would I “ask with sincerity” or “plant a seed into a softened heart” when I know this is all BS?  That it’s from the devil?  Would that not be an insult to God?  An unnecessary temptation?  I already know it can’t be true, because the Bible says no one can add to it!

Do we do the same today?

I also suppose that some members in Joseph’s day found his “re-translation” of the Bible to be silly.  Surely that was the last straw for some of his critics.  “I mean he’s just changing words willy nilly!  Who does he think he is?  This is the proof I needed. Now I know he’s fallen or a fraud.”

Or how about the Book of Moses?  He pulled that one out of thin air?  Or the Book of Abraham, which very few appreciate in our day even among the LDS faithful.  Joseph surely would have been mocked online in our day.

Hugh Nibley showed that the entire Church more or less ignored the Book of Mormon’s existence until the 50s when he became the Church’s premiere apologist.  This was especially true at the time the Spalding Letters were placed in the Library of Congress and accepted by many scholars as fact.  Many Mormons were ashamed to admit they believed in the Book of Mormon during this timeframe.  They felt it had been exposed by the world’s leading scholars as a fraud and some hoped it would simply go away.

Do we think we are so much better or smarter than those who have lived at the time of Joseph?  Would you have stood by Joseph’s side when his critics shouted their loudest arguments against him?  And when he replied with hand written letters that showed he could scarcely spell his own name?  Would you have stood by John the Baptist or even recognized him in the first place?  When the crowds mocked his attire and made fun of his diet?  John the Baptist was like a homeless man, who as Chris Farley would say, “lived in a van down by the river.” Would you have noticed him?

Joseph lamented:

I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.

My hope is that we will each turn to the Lord with a willing heart — one that is soft (usually broken), open to a new message, sincere — and with real intent — applying, nourishing, planting a seed we may be unsure of — with perhaps only the desire to believe — with only a thought it just might be true — if it should be that we receive these things.

I believe that then and only then will we be able to discover if some minister be of God or not.  If not from God the seed will lead to nothing.  If true the seed will become a plant, and then a tree, and will then bear fruit and will lead to further messengers that we will also need to pass by (discern) who will stand as sentinels.

This in my view is how we partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life — It must be from our own Tree that has grown in our hearts. This is how we partake of HIS LOVE and enter into His presence.

But if we don’t properly plant the seed AND if our hearts are hard and the message just happens to be true:

…the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word;

On the other hand:

…he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:10,11)

I have planted the seed and have witnessed tremendous fruits thusfar that I cannot and will not deny, lest God damn me for unbelief.

May we remember that:

To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.321)

AND that:

The devil has great power to deceive; he will so transform things as to make one gape at those who are doing the will of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.227)

May God bless us all. This will likely be my last post for some time.

True Repentance

Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you (Alma 34:31, my emphasis added).

And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men (2 Nephi 33:1, emphasis mine).

He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever (D&C 88:41).

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy (Alma 36:18-21).

O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead (Alma 22:18, emphasis mine).

I love the scriptures, particularly these few I have included. I don’t read them enough. I certainly don’t feast as I should. They give me hope when I make them my focus.

At the end of the day, it’s not about what we think we know, it’s about WHO we know.  The scriptures testify of redemption through the atonement of our Savior.  All things point to Him. The only way out of this creation is through Him.

No matter where we are we can turn to Him. He is our Redeemer.  I don’t think He cares so much if we are a liar, fornicator, drunk, or hypocrite.  He simply wants us to seek His redeeming grace, come unto Him, and to be healed of our sins and tendencies.

I’m overwhelmed to think that we can give Him our baggage. That He has already paid the price.

I spoke to a Christian minister this week who runs a bookstore. He is convinced that Mormons will go to Hell simply because they believe that they must “work out their salvation.”  I guess I agree that we must somehow figure out how to receive His grace, rather than His justice, BUT I cannot wrap my head around the idea of simply “accepting” His grace.  In his mind, just accept His grace and don’t worry about the rest.

I offered the idea that maybe our “work” is to surrender to Him, He rejected the idea of anything that involved “work.”

I don’t know about you, but “working” out our salvation — to me — seems require some effort on our part and takes an enormous amount of the sweat of the brow.

Look at the comments on this blog as an example: So many ideas and voices for how it works.  Bishops, former bishops, leaders, lay members: people of all persuasions and nationalities, effectively disagreeing on what is and what isn’t. All of us trying figure out how it works.  What ideas are correct and incorrect.  Who is a fraud and who is sent.

When it comes to the idea of works, here’s where I am today — I think it all comes down to what does our faith produce?

Do we have works that follow after our faith?  Do we possess the fruits of the Spirit of God?  See Galatians 5:22-26:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Are you loving?  I don’t care if you think you have some important position or reputation, if you do not show me love, perhaps you do not possess the Love of God or the Spirit as you may suppose.

Are you joyful?  Despite the trials?  Despite the pain?  Is your pain swallowed up in your joy?  (I struggle with all these but this one in particular.  My lack of joy at times seems to mirror my lack of trust in God)

Do you have peace?  Despite your longsuffering?  What do you know about suffering?  Do you often wonder what tomorrow will bring?  Do you feel vulnerable?  Have you been falsely accused?  Falsely slandered? Mocked?  Brought to the tribunal by your enemies?  Have you suffered pain beyond description? Unsure if you will make it?  Unsure if you will be able to provide for those you love?

Are you gentle?  Or are you quick to injure?  Do you retaliate when you feel threatened?  Or do you respond with kindness and humility?

Are you temperate?  Have you overcome the passions of the flesh?  Or do you define yourself by what your flesh still yearns for?  Falling into the trap of assuming your desires and appetites are greater than who you really are.

In my opinion, IF YOUR IDEAS DO NOT BRING FORTH THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, then your seed just might be dead, your faith non-existent, your works of no worth.  The only thing that seems to matter is whether we obtain faith unto salvation or not (1 Peter 1:5).  Notice FAITH comes before repentance.

We can all talk a good game and we can hold onto our gospel hobbies and ideas, BUT if we do not REPENT of our sins, WITH FAITH preceding REPENTANCE, then we will remain in our present state, with no redemption, experiencing no true change in our nature.

We will remain self-righteous and pompous — sounding good (sounding brass), BUT WHO KNOW NOT GOD.

I’m humbled by these ideas.  I’m not there yet.  But somehow I believe that the scriptures can help us learn true repentance. Not repentance by the definitions we often employ.  But a true change in disposition.  A rebirth.

I think that learning to distinguish between truth and error is a key.  We must discern between true and false messages and messengers.

I also believe our faith will come as a result of our willingness to sacrifice.  In some cases that sacrifice may come as a result of our having chosen to believe an obscure witness, as did Alma with Abinadi.

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation”  (Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator).

Church Bubbles

This is an image you’re going to see a lot of in the news and around the bloggernacle.  It’s from a leaked powerpoint presentation (UPDATE – the LDS Church has issued a take down notice to Mormon Leaks) that was given to the 12 Apostles in December of 2015.  It highlights what Church leaders deem as the most important issues or ideas causing Church members to be “lead away from the gospel.”

Might I just say at the outset of this post that I truly respect these men who are sincerely trying to grapple with very difficult issues confronting the Church.  I know many of them. Some are my friends.  I do not envy their positions.  I believe them to be as sincere as I ever was as an active LDS person, or more so.

But might I also suggest that this bubble chart is very much the stuff of the corporate realm.  Where paid data analysts and middle management folks do the research and then present a well-thought out proposal to their VPs and CEOs.  As you know, this is one of my issues I have with the Church.  I feel like the Church operates too much like a business rather than by revelation.

I did find it interesting that this particular page of the powerpoint refers to people “leaving the gospel.”  I can’t speak for others, but I see some of these bubbles on this chart as reasons why people may leave the Church (although not necessarily), but who in many cases as a result of their “issues” may actually find the gospel.

As one example, the chart speaks of “pornography, chastity, and lack of righteousness” as to why many people are leaving. And yet we learn in scripture that the Lord gives us weakness that we may come unto Him:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them (Ether 12:27).

I can personally testify that God gives us weakness (one might say the tendencies of the natural man) — that we may be humble — that we may turn to Him.  Or you could say, turn towards the Gospel.

Perhaps the Church is too worried about people’s weaknesses and should see them more as God’s hand in our lives. This reminds me too much of the obsession we have as Mormons to be a part of the Not Even Once Club.  It’s almost as if the Church would prefer no one ever make a mistake rather “learn by our own experiences to choose good over evil.”

I love the verse in the D&C that shows how our Lord uses our weaknesses and trials to His advantage:

And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them (D&C 112:13).

It is usually when I feel most broken (often from my sins and weaknesses) that I experience the Lord feeling after me.  And of course the best part, it is most often then that I become more converted to Him and more healed by Him.

The Church seems to be more concerned with Church activity as a way to measure righteousness.  Some of my most spiritual experiences with ward members have been in hospitals, prisons, at grave sides and in the homes of “inactives,” where in many cases sin or other tribulations have brought someone to their knees.

I spoke to a family member recently for example who is inactive.  Her bishop asked her the other day if she has been praying.  His insinuation was that she was not, because after all, she is “inactive.”  She replied in disbelief and in tears, “I have never prayed so hard in my life for answers.  I have never cried so hard to God.”  She then added that she had recently and for the first time in her life, screamed at God to not let a person she loved, die.  I asked her if it helped.  She explained that although the person did die, something powerful had taken place in her heart in the process of yelling at God.  There was a new trust developed.  A new understanding.  New healing despite the heartache.  All this from someone who has “left” the gospel according to the bubble chart.

Perhaps a better title for this powerpoint page might be “Issues and Ideas Leading People Away From The Church.”  Or “Leading People To The Not Paying Tithing Category.”  I think it would be a more accurate title based on what I think is their goal — to keep people active in coming to Church.

I’d like to spend a minute on what I think is the most important and interesting bubble on the leaked powerpoint:  Denver Snuffer.

Denver is unique on this chart.  He claims to have seen the Lord.  Other people on the chart may be interesting, but in the case of John Dehlin, my understanding is he’s more progressive and would like the Church to change or adapt to more popular and modern positions.

I personally like John Dehlin.  I think he does a great job helping people tell their stories.  He encourages and embraces dialogue.  While I don’t always align with his ideology, I generally find him interesting, intelligent, and compassionate.

But interestingly, Denver seems to want to lead people to the Gospel.  He makes the case that by focusing on the message of the Book of Mormon, all can have and should try to have the same experience he has had.  In fact, Denver, more than anyone else, defends the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham and the Lectures on Faith etc.

I personally always struggled defending the Church narrative when it came to issues such as Polygamy, Blacks and the Priesthood, and Mountain Meadows.  I made awful excuses that justified awful things because I believed the Church version of its own history.

But Denver HELPS the Church enormously.  He makes a great case for example that Joseph never had sexual relations with Fanny Alger (14 years old) or with anyone, save Emma. One would think that IF this was true, the Church would want to exonerate Joseph from all the awful accusations of pedophilia, polygamy, fornication, and adultery.  Can you imagine how many people would be relieved and overjoyed — who perhaps would “Know brother Joseph again” if Snuffer is right?

Snuffer also makes a great case that blacks should have never had priesthood withheld from them.  At least not the priesthood the Church has and gives.  Can you imagine how much easier it would be IF the LDS Church had not discriminated against Blacks up until 1978?  Joseph was campaigning to free the slaves in the 1800s! and was giving them priesthood. That all stopped with Brigham Young, the self-professed Yankee Guesser.

Denver Snuffer also offers a very compelling reason why the LDS Church is still under condemnation, culminating with the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum at Carthage, fulfilling the promise from the Lord in D&C 124 and reflecting the idea of Moses being taken from Israel as is depicted in D&C 84.  Joseph is described by Nephi to be like unto Moses is he not?  (2 Nephi 3:9).  Maybe Joseph was taken because we, like Israel, wanted something less than the Higher Priesthood and the Fulness of His Glory?  This sure makes sense to me.

Everything I have read from Snuffer suggests to my mind a return to what the Lord was trying to restore through the prophet, seer, and revelator Joseph Smith.

Everything the Church seems to do today is with the goal of saving the Church and with keeping people coming to Church.

Admittedly the Church has a very difficult path.  If it exonerates Joseph from polygamy, it throws Brigham and ALL prophets and Church leaders up to the present under the bus. Wilford Woodruff included, who said, “Keep your eye on the prophet, he can’t lead you astray, the Lord won’t let him.”  (Wink, wink.)

If the Church admits that Brigham was the real culprit in polygamy (misunderstanding Joseph’s doctrine of sealings completely), and in denying Blacks the priesthood and in Blood Atonement — the teaching of lawful killing to help save the sinner, i.e. a mixed race couple, then it admits that everything post Joseph is unreliable at best and must be seen as condemned by the Lord rather than condoned.

And hence the dilemma.  Good men generally, who find themselves at the helm of a massive corporate organization, without a Joseph-like connection to heaven.  They believe it is the Kingdom of God on Earth as did I for 40+ years.

I love them. I am sad for them.  Because they rely upon research rather than revelation.  And because they simply cannot consider a more beautiful and truthful narrative that restores and preserves the restoration itself, because it very may well undo the Church.  It certainly would undo the confidence many have in the Brethren, which as Denver has noted is the last doctrine left of the LDS Church.  We hear it over and over in Conference:  “Stay on the Ol’ Ship Zion and look to the Brethren, who can’t lead you astray.”

In my view, Denver Snuffer is the most reliable witness of our day.

Many of my questions, many of my concerns, many of my issues regarding deep and important questions about the gospel and eternity HAVE been answered by this obscure and interesting man the Church sees as a threat.  Denver ironically has kept me in the gospel when I might have otherwise been tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater as so many have when I discovered harsh truths about the Church.  Truths the Church seemed to deliberately keep from me.

I hope the Church will come to see Snuffer as a friend to Mormonism.  IF Snuffer has seen the Lord and IF Snuffer has been called to some work in these the Last Days (another dangerous bubble apparently) THEN perhaps we should at least read and consider what he is saying and ask God if it is from Him or not.

When I read his books, it makes me want to be a better person, turns me to scripture and makes me want to come unto Christ. If the Church determines that is “dangerous” then I am guilty as charged. Guilty of wanting to repent, be redeemed, and to have no more disposition to do evil.

God damn me I suppose, but for now, I’m inspired to hold fast to the gospel, in large part because Denver Snuffer helped me not throw away the restoration along with my many concerns I have with the Church.  This is why I see him as unique.  One the Church should see as a friend, if in fact they care about people not leaving the Gospel.