Tag Archives: False Prophets

What’s Coming

It’s sobering to contemplate that millions, if not billions of people will die before the Lord comes again. It’s equally sobering to realize that in order to survive the apocalypse, we must be able to discern between true and false prophets. This is what saved the relative few when Jesus came to this continent in 34 AD and it will be what saves those who survive what’s coming here shortly.

I was quite surprised that among all the talks shared at General Conference this last week, not a single “prophet” or church leader warned about the food shortage that is at our doorstep. It doesn’t take prophecy to see what’s happening and a true servant of the Lord would want to warn members… or at least remind them of the warnings of previous “prophets” I would think.

LDS messages today instead seek to flatter and look to not overly offend the world or the Church. They use corporate speak and repeat catch phrases like “positive spiritual momentum, hastening the work, staying on the covenant path, lifting where you stand and blooming where you’re planted, making the Sabbath a delight, lengthening your stride (going way back), and this is how WE hear Him.”

It seems that at every conference there’s either a strange overuse of the president’s most recent catch phrase OR there’s an attempt to create a new one that also sticks. Sister Dibbs (President Monson’s daughter who was a recent General Authority) even suggested her quotable would make a great t-shirt. And thus it was made.

In fact, all quotables that are made by the president along with others that float to the top, are quickly monetized by the Church’s own Deseret Book. Sadly. Elder Devin Durant and his family had already printed the t-shirts and made a website for his “Ponderize” talk, which they apparently hoped would turn his phrase taken from the evangelical world into a little family business. His mistake, ironically, was not trying to sell t-shirts and make money, but rather that he didn’t do so through the proper sales channels of the Church.

We’re on the verge of planetary destruction and today’s Church leaders are focused on t-shirt quotes and airplanes.   (Uchdorf talk GC 2022, Not Joking)

For those of us who think we may be discerning correctly, we would do well to look more closely at the message being given. My family is not ready spiritually or temporally for what is coming. We’re working on it, but we’re not there yet. And who can actually “be ready” for something so apocalyptic, unknown, and devastating. It’s overwhelming for me at times. I personally feel the need to refocus my study on the Book of Mormon and on the words of the true prophets, of which there are only two or three in the last 200 years. It’s too late in the game to be focused on anything or anyone else.

It was a good reminder for me this week to read the counsel from the Book of Mormon about what we should be teaching:

And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people. And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God. Mosiah 9:9 RE

I was also rebuked by what President and Prophet Hyrum Smith said in T&C 152:

And again, I say unto you, an elder has no business to undertake to preach mysteries in any part of the world, for God has commanded us all to preach nothing but the first principles unto the world. Neither has any elder any authority to preach any mysterious thing to any branch of the church unless he has a direct commandment from God to do so. Let the matter of the grand councils of Heaven, and the making of gods, worlds, and devils entirely alone, for you are not called to teach any such doctrine — for neither you nor the people are capacitated to understand any such principles — less so to teach them. For when God commands men to teach such principles, the saints will receive them. Therefore, beware what you teach! For the mysteries of God are not given to all men; and unto those to whom they are given they are placed under restrictions to impart only such as God will command them, and the residue is to be kept in a faithful breast, otherwise he will be brought under condemnation. By this God will prove his faithful servants, who will be called and numbered with the chosen. And as to the Celestial glory, all will enter in and possess that kingdom that obey the gospel and continue in faith in the Lord unto the end of his days. Now, therefore, I say unto you, you must cease preaching your miraculous things and let the mysteries alone until by and by. Preach faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, the laying on of the hands for the gift of the holy ghost — teaching the necessity of strict obedience unto these principles, reasoning out of the scriptures, proving them unto the people. Cease your schisms, and divisions, and your contentions. Humble yourselves as in dust and ashes, lest God should make you an example of his wrath unto the surrounding world. Amen. In the bonds of the everlasting covenant, I am your obedient servant, Hyrum Smith. (T&C 152:3,4)

Again I feel rebuked, for I have taken these things too lightly and I am not ready. I commend to you in closing the words of such a true messenger that are worth reading, pondering, and heeding. One is from this week and one is from 2012. I am humbled by these words and I want to do better to prepare for what’s coming:

It would be wise to take steps to purchase food in advance of coming inflationary price increases and shortages. We will also be going through another government caused “stagflation” cycle. If you aren’t familiar with that term then you should look up how the era of President Jimmy Carter unfolded to explain how both a stagnant recessionary economy and inflation led to that term being adopted.

The bold, shameless advance of sexual abuse of children in the public schools, and unrelenting killing of the unborn are making this and many other countries ripen in iniquity. It will not go unnoticed by God, but will invoke the promised penalty: This is “the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people. And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and for ever should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.” RE Edition Ether 1:6

Instead of instilling honor, integrity, honesty, and courage in children, schools are sexualizing and confusing children with corrupt ideas that result in mental damage. It is perilous and wicked to engage in this foolishness. It mirrors the words of Isaiah: “The show of their countenance does witness against them, and does declare their sin to be even as Sodom; they cannot hide it. Woe unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” RE Isa 1:8 (Source)

And from 2012:

Jacob makes a startling promise for those who live when the destruction begins preliminary to the cleansing of the world before the Lord returns. He says “none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, quakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” (2 Ne. 6: 14-15.)

This amazing promise is predicated on “believing in Him.” This requires us to understand what the word “believe” means in the parlance of the Book of Mormon. Those who believe in Him know and accept correct doctrine, or the truth about Him. Those who do not know and will not accept correct doctrine or the truth have dwindled in unbelief. They do not believe in Him. They may have religion, may belong to churches, may be active in all their observances, but they are not in possession of belief in Him. Instead they accept for doctrines the commandments of men, and their hearts are far from Him. They teach false and vain things. As a result they neither enter into the kingdom nor suffer those who are entering to go in. This includes those who, though they are humble followers of Christ, are nevertheless led that in many instances they do err in doctrine. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)

There will be many who are destroyed who will be quite surprised by it. They will complain that they have prophesied in Christ’s name, and in His name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, but they do not know Christ, and therefore never did believe in Him. (See Matt. 7: 22-24.)

If you are one of those who believe in Him, and who will not dwindle in unbelief, will not accept the commandments of men as doctrine, but will take the Spirit for your guide, then Jacob promises that Christ will not destroy you. The rest He will destroy.

Fire will upset the order of things and make societal collapse inevitable. Men’s self-inflicted woes will not be the only sign of Divine disapproval. The earth will quake to signal God’s disapproval. Interruptions of social order and control will be followed by self-inflicted violence. Bloodshed will be widespread among the survivors. Disease and pestilence will be one of the results of the lack of social order. Air and water will be contaminated. Neglected hygiene will lead to the promised pestilence. As the downward spiral continues, food production and distribution will be inadequate to prevent widespread, global famine. It is as if Jacob could see the sequence of events and gave us the list of how it would unfold, step by step, as the unbelieving are wiped from the earth.

Survival during this bleak time depends on the qualification of “believing in Him.” Suddenly, if you think Jacob knew what he was talking about then our doctrines take on terrible significance. What we believe matters. Not just in the distant after-life, but for the preservation of our present lives. Jacob does make a powerful case for studying the Gospel a good deal more carefully than we can accomplish in a 40 minute class-discussion, with an approved “discussion leader,” using Correlated materials, rather than a teacher declaring and testifying of true doctrine.

I’m pretty sure Jacob would be a very marginalized Mormon, if he were among us today. (Source)

The Destruction of Church and State

The interesting thing about destruction is that those who are “destroyed” are often the last to find out. It’s extremely difficult to recognize such things AS they are happening and there’s usually a delay between the time a nation or institution has fallen and when it’s “swept away” into non-existence.

We can all look back on Nazi Germany and say we would have never been sucked into the propaganda of Hitler, for example, but the truth is, when you’re in it–seeing it for what it is, is really hard to do.

Going against “popular” opinion, even and especially when the opinions are the result of propaganda, usually make one look, sound, and feel crazy. Talk to someone awaiting life saving surgery who is unwilling to get the Covid vaccines or someone on a plane who refuses to put a mask on their special needs child and you’ll see my point.

And so the seeds of destruction are sown while a nation sleeps. Our apathy has allowed the foundations and pillars of our freedoms to be sabotaged and wrecked all in the name of protecting us. “Good is called evil and evil is called good.” “Evil triumphs when good men and women do nothing.” And strangely it all begins to feel very much like Orwell’s 1984.

We see just how hard it is to actually DO something when the forces of evil control everything we think and do. Look at the people from January 6th, rotting in prison, who have not even been given a trial date and in many cases haven’t even been charged. Most of those people, many of whom were patriotic grandparents, tried to save our country from a coup by simply peacefully protesting what they believed was a stolen presidential election. They were in DC to wave the banner of freedom and stand up for America by exercising what used to be called free speech. Now over a year later they languish in jail cells as if they were in the Soviet Union or some third world country.

I suppose we could also talk about what happens to people’s bank accounts and social media profiles and ability to travel on airplanes or eat in restaurants or shop at grocery stores or keep a job when they go against the false narrative… The point is, America has been destroyed from within and many of us still don’t know it or want to believe it.

Of course millions of us and sadly maybe even the majority of us, hope and pray that something will change the tide. Swing the pendulum back. Give us more time. The hopium of elections in 2022 or 2024 to get these tyrants out of office… But to what end? So that Mitt Romney or Lindsey Graham can have more control over our freedoms? Name almost ANY other politician and my question remains the same. To what end? They are seemingly and almost completely ALL corrupted. Or at a minimum rendered useless in a system so deeply compromised, infiltrated, and controlled by secret shadow governments and global power structures in place.

And how is the Church doing at this unprecedented time of national and global crisis? Have they stood up to fight for our freedoms? For free and fair elections? Have they talked much lately about the evils of communism or even socialism? Or abortion? Or forced experimental medical treatments? Or defended our God given rights to speech and assembly?

Who would have ever believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would NOT have written a letter for a soldier in the military, for example, confirming that aborted fetuses being used to make a vaccine goes against his or her religious beliefs?! A soldier who has defended our freedom and who is now trying to keep his job to feed his family… and the Church refuses to defend him? Shameful and unbelievable. Plenty of other churches have offered such support to their congregants, but for whatever reason, our church won’t.

Is the Church any different when it comes to silencing dissenters? They neither defend them nor allow them a voice. They too seek to control narratives and silence dissent. Just ask Richard Harward, the young BYU basketball player who will never play basketball or maybe even be able to run on a treadmill, ever again. Did the Church protect and defend him? His freedom? His right to choose? Have they told his story or LET him tell his own story? Just ask Denver Snuffer, who shared a different more plausible version of Church history, that ironically sought to help people keep faith in the Restoration. Did the Church defend his religious freedom? His agency? Just ask 1000s of others the Church has silenced through excommunication or litigation.

If the Church doesn’t stand up for its God given religious freedoms and protect its own people from government overreach AND won’t let us defend the Church or ourselves either, then what hope can be had that we will be left with any freedom, anywhere eventually? Soon.

What other foundational pillars have we lost in the Church? Can we say that we don’t pay our ministers and that we are not preaching to get gain? Can we say that our preachers are any better or different than those of other churches? Do ours commune with heaven any more or less than anyone else’s? Can we say that the Church is transparent with our finances? Or that lay members have any real voice in the decisions the Church makes with our tithing dollars or with anything? Has the Church completely abandoned the principle of common consent? Of revelation? Of agency? Of life and liberty? Can we say the Church doesn’t support communism when it partners with the UN and supports their 2030 agenda? (If this is news to you, I highly recommend this video presentation).

Can we say that the Church really focuses on the Book of Mormon in its teachings? Or the words of Joseph Smith? Or the Bible for that matter? Or is it more accurate to suggest that the focus is on the words of men? Can we say that the Church is warning people of our loss of liberty? Or really focusing on coming food supply issues and the collapse of world economic markets? Is the Church really preaching or preparing us for Zion?

When, in government and in church, do we pass a point of no return where undoing the damage to such pillars and principles becomes nigh impossible? When the destruction has taken place and is not likely to ever be reversed?

In the Glossary of the Restoration edition of the scriptures it discusses the idea of destruction:

In the vernacular of the Book of Mormon, to destroy did not mean annihilation. It merely meant to end the organized existence of a people or to terminate their government, deprive them of a land, and end their cultural dominance. In the Book of Mormon, a people were destroyed when they lost control over their government and land. Their ability to preserve their own values and choose the way they were governed was taken over by others. Most often it was from a different ethnic group, though not always. Once people were destroyed, they were oppressed and suffered. Often they were oppressed with grievous taxes and had religious liberties removed. Then they faced a choice: either repent, in which case they came through the period of oppression with another chance; or if they were angry and rebellious, they would then be “swept away.” Being destroyed is not at all the same as being “swept away.” It is possible for people to have been destroyed and not even realize it. But when they are “swept away,” they face extinction and cannot help but notice it. (emphasis added).

The most disconcerting thing about all this is that collectively there is likely not much we can do to save our country or our churches. And yet, personally WE must still figure out how to repent, come unto Christ, and protect ourselves and our families as the world around us is being destroyed. Without the protections of government and the spiritual guidance of Church, the opportunity for escape (Salvation), both physical and spiritual, becomes more and more difficult. Especially given that to even embrace truth has become heretical. We can easily see how society could arrive at a place where people are put to death for refusing to worship false gods or to cease to pray to the only true God.

No wonder the Book of Mormon warns us of the great and abominable church that in the Last Days will be the cause of the destruction of so many. Remember, the Book of Mormon was written for those who would read it and when the Lord refers to an abomination, He is referring to “the use of religion to suppress truth or impose a false form of truth. It involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes abominable when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error.” See glossary

Is it possible that something that started as the Lord’s true and living Church could actually become the an abomination to Him? That answer is always yes. This scripture is being fulfilled right before our eyes:

And it shall come to pass that if the gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks, and harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father. Yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land for ever. They shall be no more brought down into captivity, and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded. And that great pit which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church — which was founded by the Devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell — yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God, not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end. For behold, this is according to the captivity of the Devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him. (1 Nephi 3:25 RE)

Christmas Is For Cover Ups

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

More than one month ago, I reported on the vaccine injury of Richard Harward and I said that every day that goes by that the Church is not transparent is further evidence of their dishonesty and willingness to cover up the truth to protect themselves.

As of today, December 23, 2021, the Church-owned Deseret News, BYU, KSL, and the entire leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including, ironically heart surgeon and Church president Russell M. Nelson, are still complicit in a cover up that potentially affects the health and lives of millions of people just like Richard, who the Church and BYU coerced and apparently shamed into getting vaccinated.  Since Richard’s incident, the Church has doubled down on its position, calling vaccines a godsend from heaven to gather Israel on both sides of the veil, as it’s been reported by LDTruths.

The Deseret News decided to finally to publish something about Richard’s condition, which until December 14th, no Utah media outlet was reporting on.  They reported on knee injuries and other health updates of all of its players except for one.  Richard’s.  And now, they report that due to “a cardiovascular issue” Richard is stepping down from basketball.  Likely forever.  With NO mention of the vaccine whatsoever.   (Source)

The Citizen Free Press, an internationally respected conservative news outlet, is way ahead of any and all Utah news outlets in reporting the truth about this awful situation.

Vaccinated BYU Starting Center — I will miss the rest of season due to ‘heart damage’…

I was pleasantly surprised that CFP linked to my story as one of its sources.  But, that’s what real journalists do — they look under every rock and look at every possible source to try to get to the truth.

Where is the real journalism in Utah?  Where is the Free Press here?  Where is the Salt Lake Tribune?  KSL?  LDS Church News?  Deseret News?  The Daily Universe?  Where is heart surgeon Russell Nelson?  Where are the apologies?  Where is the newly appointed committee to investigate?  Where is the transparency?

Thousands of people have left and/or have lost faith in the church and its leaders because of the lack of transparency.  See Mountain Meadows, polygamy, electric shock therapy, child abuse, missionaries abused at the MTC, finances, and much more.  One would think that the Church would be trying harder, given the exodus of so many of its once faithful members, and given its current abysmal growth numbers that, for the first time in at least 40 years, it isn’t reporting to local news outlets and other officials.  (Another story for another day).

It would seem the Church is more interested in protecting its own interests than in telling the truth and protecting the injured and vulnerable.  I propose the Brethren give their combined Church salaries to this young man for the next 30 years along with millions of dollars in restitution (of their own funds) and it still won’t be enough.  Why not remove one of their own names from the many buildings at BYU and place his name on it in the meantime?  Do something.  Saying and doing nothing speaks volumes.

Elder Stevenson

I think it’s also important to shed light on other things the Church is now being strangely quiet about, namely LDS Apostle Gary Stevenson and his role in the company iFit.  The Salt Lake Tribune and other news outlets reported on this Apostle’s “special dispensation” granted to him by the Brethren which allowed him to, instead of go without purse or scrip, actually keep his purse, scrip, and 43 million shares as well as other income from his company iFit (aka Icon).

I have it from a credible source that iFit has struggled for decades with over $1+ billion in company debt.  Despite large annual revenues, its debt service costs have crippled the company and it’s been a problem it could not find anyone to help solve, for years and years.  During all those years, Gary and his business partner, insisted that no matter how much the company might lose in a given year, they would pay themselves millions a year each in salaries.  I assume this is why it was reported that “$53.2 million in loans to managers” would be forgiven as part of the IPO transaction.

I once met a woman who lived down the street from Stevenson for decades.  For 10+ years she worked for him at iFit.  She had 8 children and a deadbeat husband in prison.  She worked the graveyard shift on the assembly line in very poor working conditions, making $11 an hour.  The pay was so little that she was forced to also have a day job at Walmart.  This poor woman worked 80+ hours a week while trying to care for her children’s’ needs.  I’m told she explained her dilemma to her neighbor Gary, whose Logan home is reported to be more than 12,000 square feet, and asked him for a raise.  He told her he could not give her a raise because “it would set the wrong precedent.”

In line with this sad tale is the recent Herald Journal reporting that iFit just laid off an undisclosed number of employees right before the holidays:

Lindsey Lundholm worked as a software tester and was one of the employees terminated on Friday. She wrote about her experience on social media the following Monday — in a post that has garnered over 100 likes and more than 150 comments. “We were told so many times in meetings that the company was growing and doing so well and to refer our friends,” Lundholm said. “A few weeks later, Friday, I get asked to join a Zoom meeting. It was the testing supervisor and an HR representative. They proceeded to tell me that I was getting laid off, that I had until the end of the day.” Lundholm stated the representative and supervisor said they had to cut back on employees and that the department was hit hard. Soon after, she was locked out of company Wi-Fi and removed from a workplace chat app.  “I would guess at least half of my team was laid off that day,” Lundholm added.  “I just feel iFIT isn’t telling the truth,” he said. “They go off telling people how profitable their Black Friday was but then why are they experiencing so many layoffs? … It feels that iFit’s ethics are nonexistent.”  An employee in the home delivery department, who asked not to be identified, said she had no warning she would be let go. She said she was told during her termination that she would be put down for immediate rehire. “There is no such thing, as I found out later,” she said. “Then when I applied for unemployment, they put down that I was fired, which was not the case, and put misconduct and attendance as the reasoning.”  (Source)

It should be noted that IFit’s IPO is now on hold because it’s being sued by two different large corporations, Peleton and Hyperice, for alleged patent infringements, which could ruin its hopes for an IPO at all.

Last checked, Gary Stevenson has at least 3 very large homes, which I’ve been told are all over 10,000 square feet each.  Yet, his company lays off employees at Christmas time, carries a billion dollars in expensive debt, refuses to give a poor woman with 8 kids and no husband a raise and borrows millions in potentially phantom loans from the company for himself and partner.

It’s also concerning to many who have looked into this more than I have, whether Stevenson has used his position as presiding bishop and apostle to advance his personal business interests, which almost made him the first billionaire apostle.  Keep in mind that as presiding bishop, Stevenson was one of only 7 people on earth to know about and to oversee the Ensign Peak 100+ billion dollar fund.  Might there be conflicts of interest that arise while managing such funds and while being in need of funds for his own company?

One could also wonder if the Church has given special pricing for some of the ads we’ve seen from iFit (NordicTrack) in between General Conference sessions.  

I don’t mean to pick on Elder Stevenson nor do I wish him any ill will.  I’m sure he’s likely a very nice person.  But, when a person holds the sacred office of Apostle and maintains such public business interests, there needs to be public transparency and public scrutiny for there to be also integrity and public confidence.  Especially when he and his company decide to lay people off during Christmas and are being sued for stealing someone else’s patents.

It’s December 23rd

In contrast, Joseph Smith was petitioning for bankruptcy at the time of his death.  He could have been the first millionaire West of the Mississippi like Brigham Young, but instead Joseph gave any spare money he had to the poor and spent months in jail unjustly accused of things he didn’t do.  He was known as a poor businessman for giving away his store’s goods, giving away his horses, taking in other people’s children all while trying to care for his own family and was never paid a salary for his labors with the church.  Joseph was also falsely accused as he is today… by his own Church and lamented before his death that no one really knew him and that if his life was of no value to his friends it was of none to him.

Most sad of all for me today is that on this the 23rd day of December, the Church does not remember or honor this man’s birthday.  Not on their website.  Not on Church News or Deseret News.  It highlights Russell Nelson and #lighting the world and job training and CoVid and temples and missionary work in the DRC and interfaith concerts and temple square renovations and President Oaks in Rome…  But not a peep about today being the day Joseph Smith was born.

This was certainly not the case for Russell Nelson’s 95th and 96th and 97th birthdays…

Joseph died trying to expose darkness.  He fought against polygamy, called out impostors, stood against the mobs with boldness and went as a lamb to the slaughter in June of 1844… another day the Church no longer commemorates.  Joseph knew Christ and not only saw Him, but he lived and died by His words.  He was a true prophet and if he were here today, I think he would not be well received by today’s church.

Musings of a Fool

TheParable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

Wise and Foolish Virgins (Source)

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on this blog highlighting things that have contributed to my loss of faith in the direction of the LDS Church.  I began in 2014 shortly after having been released as a bishop.  However, my concerns actually began many years earlier at least regarding certain issues and topics.  I tried to address many of these concerns as a bishop and made honest attempts to be bold, persuasive, and thoughtful as I did.  I discovered that the scriptures are the best way to make a case.  But, I came to realize that even the scriptures or words of Joseph Smith are very often ignored in favor of today’s so called prophets.  “The living oracles” doctrine is the new “stare decisis” of Mormonism.  Sadly.  No one can argue against this statement while being honest, because this is what the Brethren themselves teach.

In fact, the Apostle who preaches this sermon the most is Elder Neal Andersen.  Elder Andersen is a man I happen to like very much.  I find him to be very kind, capable, and sincere.  I think in his mind, not only is NOT sustaining the prophets “the high road to apostasy,” BUT I think he also believes sincerely that sustaining the prophet is the MOST important thing we can do.  That it’s the BEST way we can truly follow Christ.  He leads the Brethren in referring to President Nelson the most in his talks, having named him 98 times in conference since Nelson became president and 23 times in his last Conference talk alone.  (Source)

President Nelson, despite being perhaps the least interesting and least revered president in Church history, “continues to be referenced more than any Latter-day Saint prophet with 133 mentions — whether named, quoted or footnoted” — in this last month’s General Conference.  This clearly demonstrates the idea that this practice of prophet preeminence is becoming more and more prevalent.

Let’s be honest — and intending no disrespect — but, Elder Nelson was never a Church leader most people ever enjoyed listening to in Conference.  His talks were and still are unnotable from a doctrinal or even “interesting” standpoint.  I found myself even as a bishop cringing over his style and his rather creepy, seemingly staged, smiles into the camera.  For me, he’s never been someone I’ve been very inspired by.

Most telling of all as to what perhaps his own peers have thought of him for the last 50 years comes from the very telling comment his wife Wendy made shortly after being installed as Church president, when she said that the new prophet is finally “unleashed to follow through on all the things he’s wanted to do.”  (Source)   Think about the implication of that statement!  The Brethren claim they collaborate and vigorously debate endlessly together over important issues and that they always vote on those issues and obtain unanimity.  So, apparently, ALL the ideas Elder Nelson ever had for nearly 50 years, even while President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were rarely or never embraced unanimously by his 14 other colleagues.  Not a sign of one whose ideas were well loved and accepted.

Now think of the converse of that implication–All the ideas Elder Nelson advocated for for nearly 50 years, which the Brethren were largely against, are now magically being put into action.  Translation?  If the Brethren really did ever debate anything, they don’t anymore.  They now blindly do what the prophet wants to do.  What the prophet says IS what they ALL agree on unanimously.

Of course, when it comes time to finally put into place all the changes of President Nelson that everyone was once against, we get statements like this one from Elder Holland:

“I bear my own witness that these adjustments are examples of the revelation that has guided this Church from its beginning. They are yet more evidence that the Lord is hastening His work in its time.”   (Source)

Here’s a list of some of the “adjustments” that have been made since Nelson became prophet:

2018

March 26, 2018 — The First Presidency updates guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse.

March 31, 2018 — Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares are sustained as Apostles; priesthood quorums are restructured as high priests and elders combined into one elders quorum.

April 1, 2018 — Ministering replaces home and visiting teaching.

May 9, 2018 — The Church will end relationship with Boy Scouts of America, announces new activity program for children and youth.

June 18, 2018 — Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook will be revised to create new, unified editions for the worldwide Church.

June 20, 2018 — A First Presidency letter announces new guidelines for youth interviews.

June 22, 2018 — A new and improved version of “Preach My Gospel” is released.

Aug. 16, 2018 — President Nelson issues a statement on using the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (He later addresses this topic in general conference, and changes are made to Church websites, social media accounts, mobile apps, etc.)

Sept. 4, 2018 — The first volume of “Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days” is released.

Sept. 5, 2018 — Missionary candidates will receive assignments online instead of in the mail.

Oct. 6, 2018 — Home-centered, Church-supported gospel study and adjustments to the Sunday meeting schedule are announced.

Oct. 30, 2018 — Some Church-produced pageants are discontinued.

Nov. 16, 2018 — All young missionary candidates — including prospective service missionaries ‚ will use the missionary online recommendation process.

Dec. 14, 2018 — Changes announced for Primary progression, young men priesthood ordination and youth temple recommends.

Dec. 20, 2018 — Sister missionaries have the option to wear dress pants.

2019

Jan. 2, 2019 — The First Presidency releases statement on temples.

Feb. 15, 2019 — Missionaries are authorized to communicate with their families each week on preparation day by text, online messaging, phone calls and video chats.

March 22, 2019 — Seminary curriculum will align with “Come, Follow Me.”

April 4, 2019 — Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptized without First Presidency approval.

May 6, 2019 — One-year waiting period for temple sealings after civil marriage is discontinued.

July 19, 2019 — The Church announces stakes in the U.S. and Canada will sponsor biennial For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences modeled after BYU’s Especially for Youth program.

Aug. 16, 2019 — The Church announces new training course to help adults know how to prevent and respond to child abuse.

Sept. 5, 2019 — Book of Mormon Videos series release dates are announced.

Oct. 2, 2019 — Women, youth and children may now serve as witnesses of sealing and baptismal ordinances.

Oct. 5, 2019 — Ward Young Men presidencies are discontinuednew Young Women theme, class name and structure changes are announced.

Oct. 6, 2019 — President Nelson announces revised temple recommend questions2020 will be “bicentennial year” with April conference “different from any previous conference.”

Nov. 15, 2019 — The Church releases new missionary handbook.

Nov. 17, 2019 — New Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme announced.

Dec. 17, 2019 — The First Presidency releases statement on Church finances.

2020

Jan. 17, 2020 — Adjustments are made to ceremonial temple clothing.

Jan 30, 2020 — The Church announces new administrative handbook for all Church leaders and members to replace Handbook 1 and Handbook 2.

April 4, 2020 — A new Church symbol is introduced.

April 5, 2020 — President Nelson issues “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.”

April 17, 2020 — The First Presidency releases administrative principles for the Church during challenging times.

June 12, 2020 — Blue dress shirts, no ties are approved as missionary attire exceptions.

Aug. 14, 2020 — The First Presidency announces three global Church magazines will replace the current four; Ensign title is retired and New Era renamed.

Aug. 25, 2020 — Church members can now submit names to temple prayer rolls online.

Nov. 20, 2020 — President Nelson gives his worldwide message on healing power of gratitude.

(Source for the above)

It’s ironic that the least popular prophet, ignored by his peers largely for 50 years, now makes the MOST changes to Church policy (and doctrine) and funny enough, becomes “popular” among the people (in a way) for having made so many changes.  (Examples above such as shorter Church!  No more home teaching!  Home church for a bit!  Shorter temple times with less effort!  No more dresses for girl missionaries!  More casual dress requirements for boy missionaries!  More temples in cool places!  Civil marriage today and sealed tomorrow!  Missionaries able to call home every week!  No more Boy Scouts!!!  Kids with gay parents can be baptized! Etc.)  I think anyone would be more popular if they enacted these kinds of changes.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s be very honest again.  Some of my closest very active Mormon friends have told me discreetly they strongly disagree with and even dislike President Nelson despite all the exciting changes he’s made. And why would that be?  Here are just a few of the reasons:

  1. “While home church is AMAZING and BETTER in every way than Church-church, why did the Church NOT fight for our religious freedoms and rights of assembly during CoVid like other Churches did?”
  2. “Why did the Church make me wear a mask once it began opening its doors, and why couldn’t we sing, and why were we forced to sit 6 feet apart, and attend only every other week, etc?”
  3. “Why did the Church not let us come every week and yet told Priesthood holders they could not do Sacrament in their homes for many of those weeks and why can’t people who still feel vulnerable to CoVid and are still not attending, do Sacrament in their homes in most cases?”
  4. “Why do I need permission from the Church to do Sacrament in my home anyway?”
  5. “Why has the Church been so friendly with the world and why are they pushing that we need to be good global citizens, by wearing a mask as a ‘sign of Christlike love,’ and by forcing vaccinations on its members?”
  6. “Why in the hell (direct quote) does my 18-year old son or daughter have to get a vaccine to go on a mission or to attend a Church college, especially when they’ve already had CoVid?”
  7. “Why won’t the Church grant religious exemptions for people who a) don’t believe the vaccine is right for them and b) don’t want to inject themselves with anything that comes from aborted fetuses?”
  8. “Why is the Church NOT preaching in favor of our Constitution and the liberties it ought to want to safeguard that are GOD GIVEN?!”
  9. “Why is the Church saying we should trust science and medical people, when those same “scientists” are in favor of gender surgeries, abortion, etc?!”
  10. “How can the Church say vaccines are safe and effective when there have been almost 1 million adverse effects “reported” on VAERS, many of which have been deaths of young people, mothers, teens, children etc. AND tens of thousands of permanent disabilities!?”
  11. “How on earth can the Church sit back while elections are stolen and the Constitution is being destroyed?”
  12. “How can the Church be okay with one of its own Apostles contributing to political campaigns?”
  13. “How come the Church congratulated Joe Biden while the election was still being legally contested?”
  14. “Why does the Church seem to hate President Trump so much and yet seems to give folks like Joe Biden, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, et al, a free pass?”
  15. “Why is the Church so pro-illegal immigration?”
  16. “Why is the Church investing in Facebook, Pfeizer, the UN, and a million other entities it should disagree with?”
  17. “Why not invest in sports betting, porn, strip clubs, pay day loans, and pawn shops, if the whole goal is to just make money?”

I could add many of my own concerns, many of which I’ve spoken about on this blog.  But, the point is that many, many LDS people are very upset with President Nelson about one or more of these above issues, hence the reason we are seeing historically low Church attendance/activity and growth rates.  Another irony.

One faithful LDS mom took to the internet and read an open letter to President Nelson.  I strongly recommend you listen to it.  Her plea is incredibly sincere and needs to be shared and heard by the Brethren.

One friend who was a bishop recently told me, “Hey I will deny this in public, but I can’t stand this man leading the Church.”  Another two friends confided in me that for the first time in their lives they believe the prophet can and IS leading people astray.

Add to the above list of concerns many have over a billionaire apostle being granted a “special dispensation” to be able to keep his company interests alive.  So much for no purse or scrip and setting aside fish nets to become fishers of men.

AND secret accounts that only 7 people know about in the world where 126 billion tithing dollars are being gambled on the stock market…

AND the Church becoming more and more progressive on social issues including all things LGBTQ… meanwhile my gay friends have never felt less welcome or interested in Church…  (In other words the Church has a credibility problem).

I think for the first time in my life we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Church’s ability to keep things from falling apart.  I predict we are about to see a mass exodus from the Church.

Interestingly, the Church, for all its postering and unsupported policy impositions, is very sensitive to negative news and to member protests.  Look at what happened recently with the Manti temple when members finally began to protest the Church for its decision to remove original pioneer murals.  The Church went from “Pound sand!” to “Oh so sorry, we’ve heard you!  And we’ve prayed again and good news!  Jesus changed his mind!  He wants us to keep the murals after all!”

The important thing to remember in all this is, DON’T just sit back and trust your leaders blindly!  I know Mormons hate that word “blindly” (along with the word Mormon) and always contend that they don’t follow the prophet blindly…  However… I have family members who literally have told me that they are getting the vaccine because the prophet told them to!  And even if they DIE, they will not regret following the prophet NO MATTER WHAT!  How is this not blind obedience?

Well, I rant.  And I don’t mean to.  Readers will notice that I don’t post much anymore.  This has been largely for two reasons.  1) I really don’t find any enjoyment at this late point in the game to be critical of the Church.  Things are getting too serious and I have too many people I love too dearly who are still faithful members of the Church.  My hope for sharing my concerns has ALWAYS been with the desire to help people simply be willing to think for themselves and to focus on the Lord, not on men.  2) I am not a prophet or one who has words yet that can help produce faith.  I am not one of His servants.  For this reason, I am always reluctant to say anything at all.

And hence why I call these the musings of a fool, which I implore you NOT to give any heed to unless they turn you to the Lord, to the scriptures, or to those He calls.  I am truly a fool before God and man, but I also truly hope He can redeem me and I pray I can learn how to serve Him and love Him better.

I will say this, however.  I have absolutely found a new home in the Restoration movement.  For any reading this blog who may be unaware of what that even means, I would refer you to these resources:

TheTenTalks.com

Scriptures.info

Here you can find a treasure trove of what I believe is God’s word as shared by at least one He has called to continue the work started through Joseph Smith.

The Church cannot save you, does not appear concerned with building Zion (i.e. a safe place to flee to during the troubles fast approaching) or saving the Constitution and will damn the people that follow them and hearken to their teachings if they have not been in the presence of God and His Angels.

The words you will hear in the Ten Talks above will better describe the work now underway AND will show you where you and your loved ones can land when you realize the dire and awful situation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“They Will Never Lead Us Astray”

I’ve spoken about this topic many times on this blog.  The idea that the Brethren and the Prophet cannot lead us astray has become a very controversial topic even among active LDS.

Elder Oaks’ daughter Jenny Oaks Baker struck a chord on Facebook a few days before Conference with this post on the subject:

I woke up this morning feeling with a deep desire to publicly declare my testimony that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a true prophet who communes with God and who will never lead us astray! I also know that the Apostles and other members of the First Presidency are also prophets, seers and revelators who are called of God and who will lead us back to Him if we follow their counsel. My heart has been so saddened as I have seen so many members of The Church doubting and publicly disagreeing with these good and righteous leaders, thinking that they themselves know better. Wearing masks at church and in the temple as President Nelson has asked us to do, is our way of looking at Moses’ staff to be healed. It really doesn’t matter if masks work or not! That is not the point! This is an obedience test! And the same goes for vaccinations! The Prophet has encouraged us all to be vaccinated unless we have a medical reason to refrain from doing so, and if we do get the vaccine, we will be blessed! It’s that simple! I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true Church on this earth! I know it! And I feel so blessed to have the Gospel in my life as it brings my life so much peace and joy. Please don’t let your distrust of vaccinations and hatred for masks be the mists of darkness that shake your hold upon the iron rod and prevent you from partaking of the sweet fruits of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ! I know that following the Prophet in all things, will bring healing, peace and safety to us all!  Facebook Post September 28, 2021 4:55 am #JennyOaksBaker

When I last checked there were 425 comments.  The comments are quite interesting to read and range from completely in favor to accusations that this post is evidence that the Church is a cult.

I would simply point to the words published as said by Joseph Smith, a true prophet of God, forwarded to me by a good friend recently.  This statement reflects quotes from early Church leaders, even Brigham Young, but which the likes of today are considered as grounds for apostasy by the Church.

We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.

Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp. 593-95

The religion restored through Joseph Smith has turned into something I think he would mourn.  I don’t think the Church can continue pushing this “last doctrine” and not lose the vast majority of its members.

Authenticity

A friend of mine sent me a link to The Chosen a year or so ago. We watched the first and only season and instantly fell in love with it. It’s a very well done series about the Savior’s ministry and although it takes quite a bit of artistic license in its telling of the story, it’s done so very well and is incredibly uplifting.

I have since shared the link with many friends and have contributed to the producer’s efforts to raise money for Season 2. For Season 1, they raised over $10M. More than any other crowdfunded film project in GoFundMe history. They hope to do 8 or more seasons and will need about $10M per season. I highly recommend The Chosen to anyone who has yet to see it. You can click on the link below to watch the first episode and season for free:

https://share.thechosen.tv/94Q38E

Here’s a quick sampling:

I think the reason The Chosen has been such a huge success is because of how real the characters are made to feel. Jesus, for example, says things like, “Hey good to see you boys!” He belly laughs and smiles ear to ear on more than one occasion. He feels real. Authentic. Relatable. Approachable. Human, although God-like. He speaks and acts like you might imagine a real person in real life would, even if the Son of God.

Of course, the actors and director know full well, they are not perfectly depicting the characters they are trying to portray, but without question, they have brought a tremendous amount of real-life personality to these seminal figures. Capturing and portraying authenticity is no easy task in the world of cinema, especially when depicting the Savior and other old world prophets.

Authenticity in real life is an even more refreshing thing to witness. Most people want real. Especially from the preachers of religion. Those who are stiff and scripted and speak fancifully in a way that is not relatable may indeed be loved and may even be revered, but they are not going to be very effective, in my opinion. They can control meetings and membership and tempo and curriculum and hierarchy, but they will not truly convert souls unto Christ. Not when approaching the effort in a superficial, scripted way. And certainly not when being dishonest or unwilling to address people’s real-life concerns and questions.

A friend of mine recently highlighted remarks made in a Face to Face by Elder Rasband. His post covered the comments Elder Rasband made about how they, the 15 prophets, seers, and revelators, receive revelation—through a process of collaboration, drafts, and edits. Bare Record’s post led me to watch the full event, which you can find below.

The news of how the Brethren receive revelation may be disappointing for those who still believe they “see the Lord” (as did Joseph) or hear His Voice. Their process is the same as for anyone trying to be inspired but clearly is NOT prophetic by the standards of Scripture. Yet, somehow their way is viewed as better than our own.

Elder Rasband teases in this particular Face to Face that he was grateful that a “couple of his words” made it into the final cut and that when they had all written their drafts, they gave them to the Prophet for him to put it all together. In other words, although all 15 men are prophets, seers, and revelators–the newer the prophet you are, the less important and less respected and less inspired you are by your peers (and possibly by the membership too). None of it feels “genuine” or authentic. It feels mechanical and scripted. I.e. NOT prophetic.

As I tuned in I was very surprised to see that the Church filmed this episode of Face to Face on their Goshen, Utah film set. Apparently, they had planned on filming the event from the Sacred Grove in upstate New York but changed their plans officially on August 10, 2020.

It would be at about that same time that the filmmakers and supporters of The Chosen were fasting and praying to find a location where they could film their second season. And It was at about this same time that the Church agreed to let them “use” the Goshen location. (I don’t know if it’s being donated or rented out). The director of The Chosen made the announcement of the new film location on August 19th, only 9 days after the Church announced its change of venue. Surely, negotiations to use the Goshen location would have been ongoing for weeks if not months before officially securing it. The Chosen view the location as a miracle from God and an answer to their prayers.

But, one may ask, why did the Church change venues at the last minute for its Face to Face to the new set of Season 2 for The Chosen? Why Goshen? I don’t know the answer but, I find it strange that the Church would just happen to move their big event to a location it had just rented out to the amazingly popular Christian series as if wanting to associate itself with the success of the production. The timing is suspect at best and the location for this type of event I believe is unprecedented. It feels very much like the Church is trying to benefit from the popularity of The Chosen, which for me, is a very superficial and shallow thing to do. The least they can do is FUND several seasons! At least then, they can say they helped the cause, instead of surreptitiously trying to promote themselves.

In watching the Face to Face with Elder Rasband, I was struck at how unauthentic it all was. The entire event is supposed to be homey. I think it’s meant to be a modern-day “fireside chat with one of the 15 prophets.” In-person and up close are meant to carry the day. Not scripted and stiff, and evasive.

In this event, every question from the LDS youth of the world is handpicked and responses are all planned in advance. The setting feels extremely stiff with all of the handpicked audience sitting 6 feet apart and all donning the politically correct masks, even though outside on a desert film set. The message seems to be all about exactness. Exactly 6 feet apart. Exactly obedient. Exactly scripted. Exactly in line with the Men who lead the Church.

The first two questions to Elder Rasband are truth claims questions. One from a young Latter-day Saint man named Harry who is considering leaving the Church. Elder and Sister Rasband’s response is effectively, “Don’t you dare leave! If you do, your life will be ruined!” They then turn the audience to a film about a young man who was going to commit suicide, because he was not a member of the Church. The story was nice enough, but I had to wonder how Harry must have felt. “If you leave Harry, your life will be meaningless and you too will likely want to commit suicide. It’s the Church or it’s eternal Misery!”

What people like Harry and Harriet (the other truth claims questioner) want, is someone to be real with them. In my opinion, they just want authenticity. They crave real answers to real questions. And what they get is the inauthenticity of a geriatric version of High School Musical. Lots of theatrics and nice music. So much “niceness” and so many smiles, but no real answers.


Here a just a few of the comments online from those who sympathize with Harry and Harriet:

Why do we need to shelf these items? If these are truly men of god, why can’t they answer the questions? Instead they dodge it and say “just shelf it” well I’ve shelfed it for 36 years and my shelf is broken because of the weight.

Same here. They can’t answer the questions, because if they do, they admit to being wrong.

The thing is……many of us HAVE opened up and sought truth from the Holy Ghost when the leaders of the church were unwilling or unable to provide it. The truths we have found from the Lord speaking through his spirit are that the church and its leaders are not what they claim to be. While this is inconvenient for the church and its truth claims, what we have learned is, nonetheless, true. There is no need to shelve these items. The Lord will answer your prayer. The truth, the knowledge, the answers may not be what you WANT them to be, they may not affirm what you have believed your entire life, but they are real. I am so glad that the Lord has made me aware of this and that I have found a deeper, richer spiritual experience in a different church.

The music felt a little American Idol for me.

Really disappointing to hear people come with genuine questions and then hear a leader say “don’t worry about it, just follow my Twitter”

The thing that got me was hearing elder and sister Rasband respond to a question from a member wondering if they should resign from the church with a video about an individual struggling with mental illness and suicide…. How are those related exactly?

It is so sad how they are given the opportunity to say the right thing and they totally blow. Their responses to concerns were completely irrelevant. Someone struggling with Truth Claims of the church needs answers!

I was disappointed that when a person mentions struggling in the faith over doctrine or history that the issues are never explored. Why is this so? It would seem only natural to want to know what people struggle with in order to shepherd them in the faith. I personally have struggled with discrepancies between the Book of Abraham text and what Egyptologists report from scholarly translation of the fragments in the possession of the church. Nobody in the church seems willing to talk about this or my concerns with the various versions of the Joseph Smith story..

You’re not alone. Anyone who is observant and objective will recognize that the church is dodging the issues. At the very least…the very LEAST…Rasband could have directed the questioner to the Gospel Topics Essays that address these issues on the church’s own website!! But he couldn’t even bring himself to do that. And why?? Because he is aware that many people have left the church precisely BECAUSE of what they learn from the Gospel Topics Essays. Talk about your dereliction of duty!

I really do not like that they screened and prepared the questions and “answers” in this meeting. It feels very staged. I would have liked to have seen honest real answers off the cuff. The emotional manipulation here is intense for those still inside the church bubble. Take one foot out of it and you can see what this really is. Sadly, many never will for fear of losing family and friends, and that’s a legitimate fear. Especially if you live in Utah.


Sadly, many who struggle, see these Face to Faces with “the Prophets” as shallow and unhelpful. The above questions and comments are sincere and worthy of consideration. Why can’t these men be more relatable? Approachable? Off the cuff? Real? I’d invite you to watch the Face to Face for yourself if you haven’t already.

There’s a story that Sister Rasband shares where she was hit by a car as a little girl because she did not listen to the Spirit warning her. Elder Rasband thanked her (no fewer than 1,000 thank you’s in this F2F) and told her while getting choked up that “Their family’s faith has been built on her telling this story so many times over the years.” I’m sorry but the exchanges between Elder and Sister Rasband seem very unnatural. You can watch and decide for yourself.

I also do not like that Elder Rasband stops midway through and asks the audience to #hashtag the event and to “follow the prophet” on social media. Reminds me of the scene in the Truman Show where out of the blue, Truman’s wife takes a moment to thank the Show’s sponsors:

So much advertising. So many hushed tones. So much superficial reverence. So many thank you’s. There’s even a “scene” where Elder Rasband stops the tape and reinforces that HE and HIS WIFE KNOW the SAVIOR! This is their gift! According to him, it’s other people’s gift to believe on their testimony. Sure seemed like Elder Rasband was checking off a box to reinforce to the audience his assignment to be a “special witness.”

Another interesting moment is when Sister Rasband refers to “Anti-Church literature.” I always knew this as “Anti-Mormon” literature, but I assume that Sister Rasband is trying very hard to not use the word “Mormon” in any way, in accordance with the current prophet’s teachings. A little awkward. I wonder if the Church will buy websites such as: “memberofthechurchofjesuschirstoflatterdaysaintsandgay.com so as to be exactly obedient to President Nelson’s teachings.

All in all, the lack of authenticity carried the day. Now, having said that, there are incredibly talented people who sing and there are people there who are amazingly sincere, who surely God loves and watches over. But, Mormonism has sadly become something that appropriately feels very staged and scripted. It belongs on a movie set. They would do well to learn that real, raw, and authentic are always better than staged, scripted, and phony. They need to learn from The Chosen, rather than trying to hijack their spotlight. Again, the Church would do well to give The Chosen millions of dollars. It would be a far better investment than in the City Creek Mall or in the Book of Mormon Musical (aka Hale Theater), which is a very “anti-Church” production.

Trifling With Souls

C. S. Lewis on the Coronavirus

Picture from the gospelcoalition.org website

In trying times such as these there are many voices clamoring for our attention.  Crises present opportunities for self-interested people to sell their wares.  Often it’s an ideology that’s for sale,  fueled by a vain ambition to be popular or to feel important and validated.  It presents a challenge to expose the impure motives of such a person when there is no money trail.  But, look closely enough and you’ll find that the tokens being sold are of greater value to the seller than today’s currency– they yield followers, flatterers, validators, comforters, listeners– in short POWER and VANITY.

For the seller, he/she is led to believe by the adversary that what they have to share is of great value.  “You are great.  Your message is great.  You’re an enlightened soul of this last great and best generation.  The ‘Lord’ speaks to you!  If you don’t display courage and share your message, then who will?”

But, such fools are trifling with the souls of men.

Lately, fear has been peddled and in great supply.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  When fear is your product, you stand to make tremendous gains.  Somehow because you sell fear, those who buy into it will also trust you to get them through it.  You set yourself up, people look to you, and you extract your needed coin from the sycophants you produce.

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination be aware of, because the things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Your mind, O man, if you will lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of eternal expanse. You must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God than the vain imagination of the human heart? None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. (T&C 138:18, emphasis added)

Joseph Smith warned of those who would trifle with the souls of men.  Their fanciful and flowery ideas, their fearmongering, their lies; we should be aware of and surely guard ourselves and others against.

I read Joseph Smith’s quote to say:  If we have NOT communed with God, in other words, seen Him and partaken from Him and been redeemed by Him, then we must be extremely careful in what we say, teach, and share lest we too trifle with souls and damn them and ourselves to hell.

Someone online recently called me a coward because I don’t put my name on what I write on this blog.  One of the many reasons I blog anonymously is because I don’t want attention drawn to myself.  As you’ll notice, I write very little and very infrequently.  I don’t believe that I have much of true value to share.  I have not communed with Heaven.  What I do share is my opinion and is not meant to be followed as if prophetically inspired.  I don’t ever want to trifle with the souls of men, nor do I wish to lead them, where I am a blind guide at best.  For all the times I have trifled with men’s souls, I plead for forgiveness.  It is wrong and it is evil.

The above-mentioned person recently made the statement online that “more than 7 million Americans will die from the Corona Virus this year,” (paraphrasing)  among many other dire and bold declarations.  He also said that 2% or more of the world’s population would die from the virus.  That’s 180 million people!  He posted all this and much more on social media for all to see.  I told this individual I believed he was wrong (a) and (b) that he should not be fearmongering.  I would have hoped he would at least say that this was just his opinion rather than to put such shocking things out there that may cause people to panic, or heaven forbid do something extremely rash.  People can be very fragile especially at a time like this.

In that moment, I was angry and feel bad that my anger was directed towards this individual.  I was angry because this person spoke “as if it was so” — as if his every word would be vindicated because he was “brave” enough and inspired enough to publish it to the world under his name.  I was the coward, but he was the bold and brave one.  I should not have taken it so personally.

If and when only 50,000 to 100,000 people die from the Corona Virus this year in the U.S. for example, will this individual admit he was wrong?  Will he repent for trifling with souls and ask for your forgiveness?  Will he reimburse you for the extra toilet paper or other supplies you bought?  Or will he compensate you for sleepless nights and other distress you experienced imagining 180,000,000 people dying?  Wondering who in your own family might die…

More importantly, will YOU cease to give your time to such foolishness?  Will YOU see this as a fruit of a false messenger and repent of your false belief?

Just because someone puts their name on something does not make them courageous.  There is nothing more foolish or more cowardly in my view than to lead people astray with pretended authority from God.

Joseph Smith said:

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery, and ruin have followed in their train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage, and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed. The Turks, the Hindus, the Jews, the Christians, the Indians — in fact all nations have been deceived, imposed upon, and injured through the mischievous effects of false spirits. (T&C 147:5)

At a time when the Lord is doing His work to bring forth His Kingdom, it is only expected I think, that we will see an increase in such opposing messages.  An increase of false statements and false ideas inside and out of the Church.

I’ve been very clear as to where I stand regarding such messengers.  It’s not intended as unkind.  I am doing what I believe is my duty regarding anyone who proclaims to have a message from God — to discern their fruits and if I believe they are not from God, then to warn others.  It’s not my duty because I’m someone special, it’s OUR duty to NOT be deceived and to help each other figure these important things out.

In my view, subscribing to these types of titillating false messages, whether the example of “prophetic” fearmongering above, or the fables of Bishop Koyle’s Mine, or the Visions of Glory, or the Brazilian Gold Plates — ALL OF THIS HURTS us far more than them.  They, as individuals, will answer to God.  He will be their Judge.  He knows their hearts.  BUT, WE will never be of one mind and one heart while such fecal matter occupies our heads and WE will never be able to find refuge in Zion – let alone help build it.  We must become more firm minded and we must cease giving our time and attention to such false messengers.  In my opinion.

We may be nearing the end times, but surely there have been other times of great uncertainty in this world’s history.  While fools have peddled fear, great souls such as C.S. Lewis peddled faith.  Here is what he said during World War II to comfort the thousands of people who respected him:

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb (Corona Virus). “How are we to live in an atomic (Corona Virus) age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb (Corona Virus) was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb (the Corona Virus), let that bomb (virus) when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.  (See full use of text at gospelcoalition.org)

Another message I have found of great worth recently was given by Denver Snuffer, who spoke a few weeks back just as CoVid19 was shutting things down and the world was beginning to panic.  Contrast his message to the many others you hear.  As always, we are forced to discern and we are forced to choose.  Will we choose fear or we will choose faith?  True messengers or false?

You can follow the link below to Snuffer’s remarks.

The Heavens are Open 

The Dark Shepherd

Black Aqeeq/Black Onyx/Black Agate Stone/Black Stone Natural Certified Natural Gemstone 8.70 Carat by AKELVI GEMS

We often forget that Hiram Page was one of the eight witnesses of the Golden Plates.  Hiram is best remembered for his peep stone and the revelations he was receiving in 1830, a short time after becoming a witness.

I had forgotten that Oliver Cowdery along with David Whitmer and his family, initially believed in Hiram Page’s revelations.  Can you imagine how difficult this must have been for the young prophet Joseph?  Here were several men who were supposed to be sober and firm minded, who were not only witnesses of the Golden Plates, but some of whom had also beheld an angel of God, AND YET EVEN THEY COULD NOT DISCERN that Page’s experiences were not from God.

What should WE learn from this?

Here is part of the testimony of the Three Witnesses:

And we declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from Heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes.

It doesn’t get much stronger than this in terms of witnesses.

Contrast this true witness with the account of Page’s deception summarized on Wikipedia:

While Page was living with the Whitmers in Fayette, New York, Smith arrived in August 1830 to discover Page using a “seerstone” to receive revelations for the church. The only available detail about the stone was that it was black. The revelations were regarding the organization and location of Zion. Cowdery and the Whitmer family believed the revelations Page had received were true. In response, Joseph Smith, the first president of the church, received a revelation during the conference in September of that year to have Cowdery go to Page and convince him that his revelations were of the devil (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 28:11). At the conference there was considerable discussion on the topic. Page agreed to discard the stone and the revelations he received and join in following Smith as the sole revelator for the church. The members present confirmed this unanimously with a vote. Later, the stone was ground to powder and the revelations purportedly received through it were burned.

In dealing with this matter the Lord tells Joseph:

And again, you shall take your brother Hiram Page, between him and you alone, and tell him that those things which he has written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceives him, for behold, those things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church, contrary to the church covenants, for all things must be done in order and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith. And you shall settle all these things according to the covenants of the church, before you shall take your journey among the Lamanites.

Joseph’s ability to discern and get revelations from the True Source, restored peace to the new Church.  But, not for long.  Page and the Whitmers and eventually Cowdery and many others would turn on Joseph and leave the Church or be excommunicated.  Page was later ordained a high priest into the Whitmerite Church of Christ in 1847.  He was killed when his wagon tipped over on him years later.  Page never denied his witness of the Book of Mormon.

I find it interesting that Hiram Page was not a fraud per se.  He was simply deceived.  Somehow he obtained a stone, much like Joseph’s, that he was able to receive revelations from.  Hiram Page was passionate about knowing where Zion would be and in his zeal, he seemed to be trying to imitate the Lord’s servant Joseph.  Hiram knocked and someone answered.  “What is wanted?”  “Who are you?”  “I am the god of this world…”  Make no mistake — this stone worked!  Hiram was absolutely receiving revelations!  Just not from God.

I can scarcely blame Hiram and those who believed him.  Would I do any better?  Do I do any better?  The adversary so often mimics the truth in a way that even the very elect are deceived.

Speaking of the Lord’s elect, look at Mary Magdelene.  She was possessed by devils before her Lord healed her.  We don’t know the backstory as to how she became filled with devils nor do we know what it may have looked like.  None of that is really important.

Image result for mary magdalene

Being under the influence of the adversary in this world is not something to be ashamed of.  It happens to all of us I believe, at some point, in some way.  But, it is essential that those demons be cast out.  That we discern them as false and want them to be cast out.  Their possession of our house prevents us from entering into His presence.

The Lord’s True Messengers will do much more than just receive a few so called revelations.  They will do more than produce a few signs–a peep stone, a staff, a book, a blog, a sword and some “plates.”  If you want polaroids of “angels” there will be many who shall come with such signs who will teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

But if you wish to discern, true messengers will speak with the tongue of Angels and their words, once feasted upon, will produce in you, a change of heart where you lose your desire and disposition to do evil.  If we stay on this course, those same angels whose message we accepted through true messengers, will appear to us and we shall give unto them the signs and tokens (Try the Spirits) and we shall hopefully pass by them successfully into the presence of the Lord.

Sadly discernment is a scarce commodity in a world so filled with darkness and there are many who think they do the Lord’s work, who are employed by the devil.

Maurico Berger, whose name ironically means “Dark Shepherd,” is just another deceived servant of the god of this world.  There are many others just like him who will continue to lead souls away from the truth using counterfeit tactics that mimic and mock God.

Mormon Idol?

One of the definitions of the word idol is “an object of extreme devotion.”  The term is most often used today when referencing movie stars and other famous people.

In the scriptures, we’re taught to not have idols or graven images and are commanded to not even trust in the arm of the flesh.

I think we often assume that idolatry can only exist when we give praise or devotion to someone or something that is wicked.

Is it possible, though, that we as Mormons have allowed our leaders to become idols and are practicing idolatry without realizing it?  Do we give excessive devotion, praise, money, time, energy, and attention to our church leaders?

How much money was spent on President Nelson’s 95th Birthday party a couple of months ago for example?  How much attention and extreme devotion was given to him on that occasion?

But it’s not just the President of the Church that gets special reverance.  Many if not ALL of the Leaders of our church get this kind of praise.  Certainly members of the 70 and up.

When any member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles walks into a room, people stand in reverence.  When meetings are adjourned, people wait for them to stand before they’ll stand.  When they leave a room, people often also stand and wait for them to exit the building or will line up to try to meet them / get a picture with them. 

When the Prophet recently came to BYU, MANY of the students wore church dress clothes to classes that day.  100s of people waited at the doors of the Marriott Center starting in the wee hours of the morning to make sure they got in to see the prophet.

Is any of this healthy?  Would it be wrong to NOT stand when an apostle enters the room?  It was recently pointed out by a General Authority that according to Church policy or tradition, it is, in fact, wrong to NOT stand when an Apostle enters a room.

I recall an Apostle coming to our ward.  It was shortly after he’d been called and was returning to his home ward for the first time since his call to the Quorum of the Twelve.  I was surprised when a hush came over the congregation and when everyone stood up and reverenced this man we all had known for so many years.  It was very uncomfortable for me.  I couldn’t bring myself to stand and found myself feeling even more uncomfortable when I was the only one still sitting down.

What might the scriptures teach us about this type of reverence towards a man?  King Benjamin would remind us that he was no greater than those he served and that he worked to support himself and his own family.  I think also he’d remind us that as humans we are less than the dust of the earth.  His words, once properly understood, would bring us to the dust not bowing to a man, but bowing to God in a plea to be saved from our filthiness.

The scriptures also remind us of what happened when John the Beloved tried to give an Angel a reverential greeting:

And he says unto me, Write: Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he says unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, Do you not see that I am your fellow servant? And of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus? Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 7:10).

My interpretation of the Angel’s words are “Get up, please don’t worship me or give me praise!  Praise God and worship Him alone, I am just like you, a servant of the Almighty.”  (It’s interesting how even the word servant takes on new meaning when we exalt them).

I would love to see an Apostle so uncomfortable when a congregation stands in hushed reverence for him that he motions them to sit down and pleads with them to please never stand for him again because he is intended to be our servant not our Master.

When they speak in Conference and elsewhere, their words are considered Scripture.

I recently spoke to a man who had been married to a current Apostle’s daughter.  Sadly it ended in a bitter divorce.  He told me that his ex-wife and her siblings printed out the General Authority talks and put them in binders to be studied thoroughly for the next 6 months.  They taught the words of these modern-day leaders to their children as if every word came from God Himself.  Their words are considered Holy Scripture for many Latter-day Saints, more important than the Standard Works because they are viewed as Living Oracles.

In my own experience, this is absolutely what I believed for many years.  It’s also what I was instructed to do by my leaders.  But, are their words Scripture?  Or are their words just precepts of men?  Things they’ve learned along the way…

I can think of many reasons and examples for why this teaching might promote idolatry and how treating their every word as scripture could cause many to be led astray.

Let’s just look at some obvious examples:

Brigham Young on Polygamy

Brigham Young taught in General Conference that if the Church ever abandoned Polygamy, it would lose its Priesthood and fall.  He said, “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266).  Also, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).

Are these words of scripture?  Does the Church still stand by these words of a prophet?

Brigham Young said he had never given any counsel that was wrong

“I am here to answer.  I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people.  If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason.”  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

And yet he taught people that Adam is God the Father:

“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner!  When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him.  He helped to make and organize this world.  He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days!  about whom holy men have written and spoken–He is our Father, and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.  Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50).

And he prophesied falsely:

“In the days of Joseph [Smith] it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones,”  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 40).

The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

More recently we see other words that were taught as Scripture from Conference in homes all around the world by prophets ONLY later to be overturned by the Living Prophet.

Here’s an excerpt from an article published in Rational Faith:


A bomb went off in Salt Lake City in the 1980’s.

But this bomb wasn’t set by Mark Hofmann. It was set by Ezra Taft Benson, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The trigger was his famous speech, The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, which he delivered to a packed house at BYU’s Marriott Center on February 26, 1980. But the bomb itself went off in President Spencer W. Kimball’s office at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City when he heard of it.

President Kimball was “concerned about Elder Benson’s February 1980 talk at BYU” and wanted “to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing . . . an unthinking ‘follow the leader’ mentality.”[i]

President Kimball required Elder Benson to explain himself to a combined meeting of all general authorities the following week. Additionally, President Kimball asked Elder Benson to apologize to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but they “were dissatisfied with his response.”[ii]

A Little Background

What was it about Elder Benson’s talk that made President Kimball concerned it would be “misunderstood” as espousing “an unthinking follow the leader mentality”?

A brief survey of the talk should answer that question.

President Benson told his audience of 25,000 that the “grand key” to being crowned with God’s glory and being “victorious in spite of Satan’s fury” was to “follow the prophet.” President Benson then broke this one “grand key” down into fourteen “aspects” which he summarized at the end of his speech as follows, adding that “our salvation depends on them.”

  1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
  2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
  3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
  4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.
  5. The prophet is not required to have any IMG_2427particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
  6. The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.
  7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
  8. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
  9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.
  10. The prophet may advise on civic matters.
  11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
  12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
  13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.
  14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

It is easy to see why President Kimball would be exercised at the content of this speech. He had just been portrayed to the world as a man whose words were more important than the standard works; more important than any other prophet in history; more important on any subject than what anybody else has ever said anytime or anywhere, regardless of their expertise; and whose every word could be considered scripture.

In effect, Elder Benson had just bestowed on President Kimball the thorny crown of infallibility. IMG_2425Elder Benson had presented a false depiction of the true nature of prophets. His Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet were actually Fourteen Fundamentals in Falsifying the Prophet.

And President Kimball was none too pleased about it.

But other than his private vetting of concerns and complaints, President Kimball apparently took no action to publicly repudiate, clarify, or distance the Church from Elder Benson’s fallacious statements.


Most recently Elder Gary Stevenson said this of President Nelson:

Commandments and Blessings

How might you find this heavenly help, even as Moses did, and not be deceived or give in to temptation? A clear channel for divine assistance was reaffirmed in this dispensation by the Lord Himself when He declared: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments.”12 Using simpler words, we might say that the Lord, who knows “the end from the beginning,”13 knows the unique difficulties of our day. Therefore, He has provided a way for us to resist challenges and temptations, many of which come as a direct result of the deceitful influences of the adversary and his attacks.

The way is simple. Through His servants, God speaks to us, His children, and gives us commandments. We could restate the verse I just quoted to say, “I the Lord … called upon my servant [President Russell M. Nelson], and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments.” Isn’t that a glorious truth?

I bear solemn witness that the Lord did in all reality speak to Joseph Smith from heaven, beginning with the grand First Vision. He also speaks to President Nelson in our time. I testify that God communed with prophets in past ages and gave them commandments designed to lead His children to happiness in this life and glory in the next.

God continues to give commandments to our living prophet today. Examples abound—a more home-centered, Church-supported balance in gospel instruction; the replacement of home and visiting teaching with ministering; adjustments to temple procedures and ordinances; and the new Children and Youth program. I marvel at the goodness and compassion of a loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who restored the Savior’s Church to earth once again and have called a prophet in our day. The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ offsets perilous times with the fulness of times.

What’s most interesting about this quote from Elder Stevenson is how he presumes that no one should have any issues with comparing President Nelson to Joseph Smith. Nephi does tell us to liken the scriptures to ourselves, right?  But is this what is intended by that invitation?

Can we simply input our names anywhere in the scriptures and have it be true?  Could I put my name in Joseph’s place and also have it be true?  Could we put Russell M. Nelson’s name where Noah’s name or Abraham’s or Jesus’ or Korihor’s name appears and have it be true?

I know what idea Elder Stevenson is preaching and it’s always felt wrong to me. He’s suggesting that because President Nelson is a prophet, anything said of Joseph as a prophet can also be applied to him—since they are both of this same Holy Order, so to speak.

This concept has never totally resonated for me. For example as a missionary I shared the glorious story of Joseph Smith‘s first vision and how the heavens were literally opened to this young boy. He actually saw God the Father and His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and an innumerable host of angels. Just prior to that his soul was almost lost in hell it seemed and he was nearly overcome with darkness. Evil thoughts filled his head and he was sure he would perish. But then a pillar of light descended upon him gradually.

I often shared that Joseph was a special young boy. At a tender young age he went through an illness and surgery with no medicine that led to bones being cut out of his leg. He limped the rest of his life. He lost his dearest brother Alvin at a young age because of Doctor malpractice. His family was so poor they moved several times. His father had their life savings stolen from them in a ginseng deal gone bad. Etc.

Joseph’s life was and is one I consider amazing. He was tarred and feathered for his vision and beaten by mobs too many times to count. He lost 6 children, one of which was caused by a mob breaking into his tiny home. And of course he would eventually be betrayed by nearly every convert and every friend he ever had and would give his life for the church.

And then as a good young missionary I would say in effect “And as a result of Joseph’s vision, Joseph became a prophet and God established His true church through him.”  ……. “and because God restored his authority to earth and set up his true church, we have a true prophet today just like Joseph smith. His name is Ezra Taft Benson.”

I always felt a little guilty especially when I’d share this teaching and the person’s response was one of awe and reverence. “A true prophet on the earth today? Wow!” And all this was achieved by sharing the wonderful story about Joseph.

So when Elder Stevenson makes the stretch that we can simply place Russell M. Nelson’s name in wherever we find Joseph’s in scripture should not be a surprise to anyone.  Even if illogical and not based on doctrine.

It’s ironic how we teach that today we need a modern prophet to receive revelation for our time. Noah received revelation pertinent to his day and his time. Moses to his. But our times are not their times.  So we say. And yet at the same time, we conveniently apply the revelation given to Joseph to our prophet today.  

Likening the scriptures to ourselves is so we can humbly apply powerful lessons or teachings to our lives, not to elevate ourselves.

1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?

2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.

We might say “Let us be faithful as was Jesus when He did not shrink from the bitter cup” which takes nothing from our Lord and in no way elevates us. Such a likening can give us strength. But to say Russell M Nelson is just like Christ because he drank from the bitter cup of being our prophet is simply blasphemous.

No wonder so much opportunity for idolatry. We assume too much of ourselves and those who lead us. We give them too much reverence. Too much of our devotion.  Joseph would reject such devotion. His teachings led to his death as most true prophets messages do. If people are standing and cheering for you when you walk into a stadium or into a room then your message may not be from God.

1 Nephi 22:23

23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

Alma 1:3

3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.

Pierre Delecto

While many view him as a modern-day Judas, Mitt Romney sees himself apparently as Peter, the perfect stone — “Pierre Delecto,” a secret pen name chosen by his truly.

This is not the first time Mitt Romney has come off as self-righteous or strange. Remember when he was asked what his greatest weakness was as a presidential candidate?  His reply was that his greatest weakness was that he “had so few weaknesses.”

Is this kind of self-delusion a common theme among Mormons?  If so, what causes it?  Do we think ourselves superior because “we have the truth?”  Is it a feeling that we’re somehow extra special as God’s children with a manifest destiny to convert the world to Mormonism?  Is it because we’re clean-cut, well dressed, success-driven, and don’t drink or smoke?

Mitt Romney, sadly, is a terrible example of Mormonism in my opinion (and this is coming from someone who defended him and voted for him every time there was the opportunity) — he is traitorous, petty, self-righteous, lacking in discernment and judgment, duplicitous, backstabbing and disloyal.  In real life, he may be a really nice guy, but he is a pathetic advocate for truth at a time when our nation needs inspired leaders.  Maybe he does really like to hunt squirrels, but surely he will never ride a white horse and save the Consitution.

There are some today, apparently, who see themselves as beautiful stones in the Lord’s hands.  I don’t feel such a confidence in them or in myself.  Pierre Defecto would be a truer description for myself.

False Christs

I’ve always been curious about this idea of False Christs.  I personally have never heard anyone falsely claim that they were the Lord Jesus Christ.  I’m not familiar with any historical figure who believed himself to be the Savior, besides the Lord Himself.  I assume they exist, but surely it’s not a very common occurrence.

And yet in the scriptures, we’re warned to beware of False Christs that will come in the Last Days.

For in those days there shall also arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant. Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake (Mark 6:4).

The Words of Mormon 1:6 describes how pernicious these false christs were in ancient American times:

And it came to pass that after there had been false christs — and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes — and after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people — and all these having been punished according to their crimes — and after there having been much contentions and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people — for behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority, and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people — wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

So what is a false christ exactly?  Does a person need to proclaim they are Christ in order for them to be a false christ?

A friend of mine recently shared the following helpful idea regarding this question:

Those who claim “leadership” and want people to ”follow” them put themselves in the place of Christ. They are, in effect, a false Christ. It was prophesied they would come in the last days to deceive the “very elect” as false Messiahs (see Matthew 11:3,6).

I also recently learned that “christ” simply means anointed or made holy.  Jesus Christ is simply the Greek form of “Joshua the Anointed.”

If we change the word to more aptly fit our day, we might say:

“Beware of people who say they are Anointed by God, but who are not, and thus who are false prophets and false christs.”

The 16th Chair

I think it would be a true statement that our leaders are “anointed” if in fact, Jesus visits them and personally anoints them.  Joseph Smith taught that a prophet of God is ordained by God Himself and not by a man.  If this is or was the case with our prophets, I think calling them anointed or Christened would be appropriate.

But IF they are not…

I was reminded this week that some members still believe Jesus DOES visit LDS Church leaders on a regular basis.

I met with a man who worked as a contractor in a Salt Lake Temple remodel.  He said he had been in the very room where the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet on Thursday mornings.  This is the room referred to when the Apostles speak of the Upper Rooms of the Salt Lake Temple.  It’s always referred to by them very reverentially.  This contractor told me he was puzzled when he counted the chairs in the room and noted there were 16, not 15 chairs.  He remarked that the large ornate chair in the middle was the one he assumed the Prophet sat in.

Then this man stated that he was related to an Apostle through marriage and at a later date was able to ask him why there were 16 chairs in this room. The Apostle then went on to explain that the large chair in the center was the Lord’s and that “He always attends those meetings.”  He went on to say that he was told “unequivocally” by this Apostle that the Lord leads those meetings, looks over blueprints, tells them where to buy land, makes political decisions, etc..  This sweet man, who I know has many personal trials in his life right now, became teary-eyed as he bore his testimony to me of these truths.

I looked at this man inquisitively and tried to have an open heart and mind.  I wanted to believe him.  I would have believed him 10 years ago before I became the bishop of a prominent Church leader.  And then came a flood of thoughts that quickly created quandaries for me:

If the Lord is literally in those meetings and is leading the Church in such a personal way, then why does the Church get so many things wrong?  E.g. Why flip flop on children of gay parents being able to be baptized?  Why struggle to know if we should stay in Scouting or not?  Why the need to make so many adjustments in the Temple ceremony?  Or to the structures of the Church?  Why change the garment?  Why remove threads and screenprint the marks?  Why buy the wrong websites, i.e. LDS.org?  Why use the word Mormon incorrectly for so long when referring to the Church? Why does the Church do things that seem politically expedient if being led, literally, by the Lord?

So, here’s where I think some Mormons make a very big mistake.  They have so humanized this Jesus, that they believe He is not much greater than the rest of us.  He’s our “Elder Brother” not much further along than ourselves.  Prone to mistakes and bad judgment apparently.  So human that He puts on His spectacles and rolls up His sleeves and sits in that 16th Chair and leads the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ.org as THE CEO.  Surely He is never late to those meetings and hopefully, He wears the uniform of the Priesthood–a white shirt and a tie and a finely twined suit from Mr. Mac’s.

Is this why we see ourselves as Pierre Delecto rather than Dust Defecto?  Because Jesus is our CEO and we are not much less than Him as His leaders?

Pierre Delecto, I shall never vote for you again.