Friday, November 21, 2014

God's Great Work

There are many great things underway. I want to encourage and reassure those involved. The greatness of the gospel has nothing to do with our human weakness and limitations. Our weakness is a given, and anticipated by God. His plan requires only a willing and penitent heart. He can do great things with the penitent. In some ways our weakness stands as proof this is God's work.

Those who are now suffering rejection and persecution should rejoice, for so persecuted they the prophets who went before.

To the South American missionary sent home 37 days early for having an inadequate testimony of Thomas Monson: Rejoice in the Lord. Know that the district leader, mission president and area authority seventy will mourn for what they have done.

To the parents in Boise, who after their meeting re: excommunication, are waiting to hear from the twelve whether their 9 year old and 14 year old children will be excommunicated for their rebaptism: Rest assured God hears your prayers and knows the goodness of your heart. Nothing can separate you from His love.

To the man whose excommunication was recently announced in sacrament, relief society and priesthood meetings where your children and grandchildren attend: Know that this violated the church's policies and makes a sham of the appeal process, but you are nevertheless now better acquainted with our Lord. Those who hope to be like Him must endure some of what He endured from His fellow man.

To the tithing groups who have blessed the lives of the needy among them with thousands of dollars of assistance monthly: Many have heard of this and know if there were more doing likewise the world would be a better, healthier place to live. Children in your group see these acts of devotion and have more confidence in Christ's Gospel.

To those who meet over the internet because there are not enough of you in an area to meet personally: Be patient. This is just beginning.

To the thousands who have been rebaptized: This is a sign you are not an idolator and will not be destroyed at the Lord's coming.

To those who are informed by your fears: The Lord works through love, not fear. When you allow your fears to inform your choices, the distance between you and God widens.

To the former Mormon fundamentalists who have always been willing to endure difficulty for what you believe: You will bring a great wealth of information into any of the fellowship groups you may join. Plural marriage shouldn't be practiced, but your families should be kept together.

The spiritual experiences many people are receiving for the first time are what the restoration was intended to produce.

Proceed in faith. Practice the principles of the Gospel in your individual lives. Leave the rest in God's hands.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mysteries And Truth

Joseph Smith taught that it is critical for us to know the mysteries of God. "Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge." TPJS, p. 357.

"A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world." TPJS, p. 217.

Joseph understood we are saved by gaining knowledge about God’s mysteries. When we are ignorant of them, we cannot be saved. No one can be saved in ignorance. It is not possible.

Joseph's knowledge mirrored what is taught and reflected in the Book of Mormon:

Alma 12: 9-11 explains:
It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”

The definition of being taken captive by the devil is to “know nothing concerning [God’s] mysteries.”

When a person knows nothing concerning God’s mysteries, they are then “led by his [the devil’s] will down to destruction.”

When they are taken captive by their ignorance, they are then bound “by the chains of hell.”

The result of ignorance of God’s mysteries is “destruction” and “captivity.” The ignorant will remain devoted to falsehoods, blinded leaders, and guides who give no truthful accounts of the awful situation faced by the ignorant because they do not understand truth.

D&C 93: 24-25: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.”

We must know the truth. The truth informs us how things are (now, today, in the peril we presently face–unvarnished and in all its terrible meaning).

The truth informs us of how things were (by accurate history, revealing exactly what happened, without mythical or political overlay, with its disappointments and tragedies candidly depicted).

The truth informs us of the things to come (even if the prophecies and promises dash our hopes, crush our vanity and expose our foolishness).

Truth can be startling, but it is necessary. Without the truth it is impossible to repent. We will never change while trusting a lie. But we will never fail to repent when the truth is laid bare before us.

In order to take people captive, all that is required is for people to be content with their ignorance. The greatest threat to salvation does not come from teaching false doctrine, but instead comes from ignoring doctrine altogether. Substituting platitudes and truisms for careful, ponderous and solemn investigation of the deep things of God will suffice to keep people in the chains of captivity. It isn't necessary for the devil to convince you of lies, only for him to make you content in your ignorance, or fearful of the search for truth.

Monday, November 3, 2014

History Is Not A Sin

I have provided a link to the FAIR website where they amalgamate criticism of me. The criticism is fine, but there is one point where I believe they crossed a line. It needed a response.

I have said I was worthy of a temple recommend when I was excommunicated. FAIR has denounced this as “false” and "dishonest" and included their analysis which I copy below:
_______________________________________________________________________
Snuffer's claim is false—by his own description of his behavior, he was not "worthy of a temple recommend." He either does not understand the temple recommend questions, or he is being dishonest with his readers, the First Presidency, and perhaps himself.
He also says:
"I had a current temple recommend at the time of the disciplinary council. I was not asked to return it before the council, nor asked to return it even after the council’s decision. It expired in March, 2014, six months after excommunication."
Snuffer's recommend would have been automatically deactivated upon his excommunication; this is done electronically, and should not be interpreted to mean—as Snuffer implies by raising it—that he was known to be worthy and no one dared say otherwise.
Snuffer's letter from his stake president (published on his website) makes it clear that he may not wear temple garments or exercise priesthood functions: both prerequisites for entering the temple:
You should not engage in activities which require an exercise of priesthood power. You should not pay tithing or wear the temple garment.____________________________
http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Denver_Snuffer/Excommunication/Temple_worthiness_claims

This point of criticism by FAIR should be withdrawn from their website because:
1. They do not grant or deny temple recommends. That is the responsibility of bishoprics and stake presidencies.
2. My bishop and stake president at the time considered me worthy, as did I.
3. From the time the disciplinary council was noticed until the decision was made there was never a request for me to return my recommend. I could have attended the temple up to the day of the council.
4. The interview questions were put to me, and I answered truthfully, fully, candidly and without any dissimulation. The bishop and stake president accepted my answers and issued the recommend.
5. On the day of the council, one of the two whose opinions mattered (my stake president) agreed I was worthy of a temple recommend at the time of the council. As astonishing as this may seem to the people at FAIR, I believe he was correct. I spent three hours with the entire stake presidency a few weeks before the disciplinary council in the High Council room. I used the whiteboard to lay out my understanding, the scriptures, my testimony and various experiences. It was very clear to those three members of the stake presidency that I was a devoted convert to the faith.

I was not dishonest, as FAIR suggests. It is foolish and wrong for anyone to label another as “apostate” because of disagreements about Mormon history. It is offensive for FAIR to declare that I am “dishonest." These sound bite arguments and labels damage open and healthy discussion about remarkably important issues. We should be deeply involved in carefully re-examining Mormon history to see why the present state of Mormonism is so markedly different from where it began.

Incremental changes do not startle people as much as contrasting the beginning with the end/now. The contrast between what Joseph was doing with the religion and what we are now doing with the religion is important. The LDS curriculum hides these things from average members. They need to be revisited. It is not a sin to study and search for the truth of events.

The idea that history is not a sin would make a good bumper-sticker to respond to the bumper-sticker mentality that consigns study to apostasy. Indeed, understanding things differently is never a sin. A bumper-sticker stating "History is Not a Sin" will be available through the Publishing Hope website and Confetti Books. I do not receive anything from the sales, but I support the idea expressed on the sticker. Study and discussion of LDS history is not sinful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baseball

Baseball, like life, makes improbabilities seem like inevitabilities.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What's Wrong

An email. 

My wife and I, with some other believers, were baptized recently. I fully expected that now I could receive the power of the Holy Ghost. I believed what you said, that "today is once again a day of salvation, and He has set His hand again." If today is a day of salvation then surely He will now hear my prayers and pour out his Spirit upon us who are striving, with all our hearts, to come unto Him.

It has been over two weeks since my baptism. The entire time I have been pleading with the Lord to forgive my sins and allow me to enter in at the gate. I have felt nothing. I talked to one of the other couples that were also baptized that day. They told me that they had felt their baptism was pleasing to God, as they saw a white dove fly by their car as they drove to the chosen spot that day. Yet, they likewise have received no outpouring of the Spirit. This has been very discouraging for them and for me. The husband of that couple remarked to me that he has been thinking, "Is this just another pantomime? Have we been following another illusion?". I have also read the experiences of others on forums, Facebook, etc. who have been similarly baptized since your last lecture. There seems to be a lack of outpourings of the Spirit or baptism of fire experiences. 

Your words from your books and your recent talk speak to me, as they do to others. I'm willing to accept that they come from God. I just don't understand why He isn't following through with His promises. 

I desire to receive the baptism of fire and to take the Holy Spirit as my guide. I've tried to keep the commandments to the best of my knowledge and I believe others have as well. I don't know what we are doing wrong.

______________________
I gave this response:

The Holy Ghost has as the primary effect giving intelligence to man. It is true there are many "gifts" from the Holy Ghost, but the first, most important and clearest effect is to increase intelligence, or in other words light and truth.

The Holy Ghost "grows" in light as we give heed and diligence to the light. (These are all paraphrases of TPJS and D&C.)

Ask yourself:
-Do you believe you understand better now than before your journey began?
-Do you believe you can see more clearly what you need to do next?
-Do the scriptures reveal more to you now than before you began this process?
-Is there any more "intelligence" or light and truth in your life today than before?

If you can answer any of these "yes" then do not doubt, but press on. I have labored decades to learn what I have learned, and I spend some time daily now studying, praying, contemplating and pondering. Although I have had remarkable experiences, I continue to study because the the things of God are deep, and require careful, patient, solemn and ponderous thought to acquire some of what He has made available.

I believe He will not give an original revelation to reveal what He has already revealed to us in scripture. Instead He requires us to first study His words, then when scripture becomes unable to answer the inquiry, He shows us by revelation how to see what is there before us. Some of the greatest things I have beheld by revelation I have then found to be already described in scripture. I just did not have the eyes yet to see it.

Trust God, but follow His pattern.
If on the day of His resurrection Christ spent the day expounding scripture; 
And if Moroni spent the night teaching and reteaching from the scriptures;
And if I spent a year on an assignment expounding scripture;
THEN look to your scriptures. See if you have any assistance studying them. Let them prove to your satisfaction the Holy Ghost can and will speak to you.

____________________________

As I reflected further on this email and my response I thought of Oliver Cowdery's effort to translate the Book of Mormon. The Holy Ghost does not relieve us of great effort, but instead equips us to obtain truth as the yield from our effort.

Joseph Smith proved the pattern true. He investigated all the religions. He attended their meetings, spoke with the ministers, and paid attention to their claims. He could not determine the truth. Then he "labored" over the scriptures. "At length" he finally decided to do as James asks and prayed. His prayer was answered because he did the preliminary work, the required study, and put in the necessary labor.

For three decades I studied and taught the scriptures. Each week between 10 and 40 hours were invested as I prepared to teach a 50 minute class. I labored, the scriptures yielded to study, and I learned more and more about God. The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead found in Section 138 was likewise obtained by study and prayer.

The scriptures are a Urim and Thummim designed to provoke revelation. You cannot divorce the process of getting revelation from necessary scripture study. God made no such thing known to Laman, Lemuel or us when we do not search the scriptures and invest our heart and mind in learning His ways.

I have studied the scriptures for years. By now, they inform most every thought. 
Fill yourself with scripture and see what the Holy Ghost can do then. Read them now and see how they open to you. If you take no thought except to ask and expect God to do the work, you do not understand the difference between "magic" and salvation. We are saved no quicker than we gain knowledge. 

Study the scriptures. Include the Lectures on Faith as part of that curriculum. Study Joseph Smith. Prepare your mind first, then see what God will reveal to you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Interesting things on the "www"

Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Denver Snuffer

Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Passing the Heavenly Gift

Enjoy.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Standing Aside

I love the response to the lectures (one talk). But I must stand aside now or wound this process. There are still important things left for me to do. Taking a role in establishing communities would harm, not help. I have had numerous requests to baptize people. When I refuse, then someone else will step up. They will ask God for authority, receive permission by the power of the Spirit, and gain familiarity with a process they need to help them. A process that will empower others through that first step to take another step, and then another. I've spoken with the Lord face to face, as one man speaks to another. Now you need to do likewise.

Joseph Smith spoke to the Relief Society on May 26, 1842: “the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption… applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves." (TPJS, pp. 237-238.) 

Ask yourself this: If Joseph Smith had it all to do over again, and wanted to avoid the problem that darkened the minds of believers, how could it best be accomplished? There seems to be an obvious conclusion - just refuse. Refuse to do what caused their dependence in Nauvoo. 

Joseph’s lament in 1842 was too late. He had a twelve-year practice of being the answer-man, and he would die just two years later. If he wanted to avoid this problem, he needed to begin many years earlier.

It was easy for Joseph to make himself indispensable. It was tempting to do so. But he and the saints would have been better off had he refused to shoulder responsibilities that belonged to others. There are incidents along the way that can be identified as moments when Joseph could have seen a pattern emerging. One example was in November 1831 when a conference was convened to approve publication of the Book of Commandments. The book would need a preface. A committee was assigned to draft the preface. “[William] McLellin said that he, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery had been given the assignment to write the preface to the Book of Commandments, but when they presented their draft to the conference, the ‘Conference picked it all to pieces’ and requested that J[oseph] S[mith] petition the Lord for a preface. After J[oseph] S[mith] and the elders bowed in prayer, JS, who was ‘sitting by a window,’ dictated the preface ‘by the Spirit,’ while Rigdon served as scribe."(Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 2: July 1831-January 1833, p. 104.) He then dictated what has become D&C Section 1. 

What if Joseph had refused? What if he told them God had a revelation, but the committee should receive it? What if Joseph insisted others perform their duties, rather than relieving them of their responsibility? Had he declined in November 1831, would the talk given in May 1842 have been necessary?

We are going to make mistakes, but we should not make the same ones. Sometimes the only way for people to become better acquainted with the Lord is for those who know Him to remain silent and allow others to go before Him in prayer for themselves. Why intervene to prevent others from gaining strength and experience for themselves?

Joseph handicapped the saints by taking too much of their responsibility on himself. The saints refused to let him alone and required him to be their answer-man. The best thing Joseph could have done would have been to keep riding when he crossed the Mississippi River with Hyrum. He should have headed to the Rocky Mountains. He didn't. The saints continued to depend on him. When he died, they were unable to call down a revelation for themselves. No one proposed to solve succession by revelation.

Consider that for a moment. A church, which was ostensibly founded and based on revelation, gave no thought to asking God for a revelation when Joseph and Hyrum were slain. They held a convention, and several aspirants electioneered to gain control. The campaign speech by Brigham Young won. Then the saints, already conditioned to "follow the leader," trudged off into the wilderness, dutifully submitting to a strongman to guide them. It has been exactly the same since that time. 

How can you be strong if you depend on another to speak with God for you? Moses sought diligently to sanctify his people so they might behold the face of God. (D&C 84: 23.) But they hardened their hearts and could not endure God's presence. (D&C 84: 24.) They demanded Moses speak to God for them. This was a catastrophe which ended any possibility for Zion in Moses' day. Moses could not get those he led to enter God's presence. Joseph failed to have God come to dwell with the saints of his day.

We may fail also. But we will not fail because I accepted a role that has never worked before. We need to repent, be baptized in a way authorized and accepted in heaven, receive the Holy Ghost, and bear one another's burdens so they may be light.

Some are going to be seduced by false spirits. They may or may not repent. Whether they repent and press forward to be ministered to by a messenger from God, and then find God, will depend on how closely they follow truth and light. False spirits prop up egos and pride. Anything of that sort will lead to darkness. 


True messengers and true messages conform to a pattern: "Behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." (Moroni 7: 13.) More importantly, they have a central focus that will NEVER change: "Every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth man to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil[.]" (Moroni 7: 16.)


Any preacher, leader, bishop, president, apostle, seventy or elder who asks you to believe in men, trust men, accept authority of men, is most certainly not of Christ. (See D&C 76: 99-101.) Anyone who points you to Christ, asks you to seek to know Christ, invites you to struggle to hear and follow Christ, you can know is of Christ. 


Those who boast of their own spiritual prowess as a credential to have you notice them are dangerous. Those who testify of Christ, preach of Christ and ask you to know Him, while admitting their own insignificance, are worth hearing. Everything I believe is anchored in the scriptures. 


Those who are deceived as they struggle to find Christ can repent as soon as they realize they have listened to a false spirit. Joseph was overcome by "thick darkness" before he called upon God and was delivered. Lehi walked behind a man dressed in white for the space of many hours in a "dark and dreary waste" before he called upon God and was delivered. When Adam built an altar and called upon God, it was Lucifer who replied, "I hear you, what is it you want?" Adam had to refuse the offer and await true messengers sent from the Father. 


You will encounter false spirits, as well as true ones if you will persist. You need to be familiar with both in order to choose. These opposing forces are part of the process of becoming competent and adept. No one lacking knowledge of these things can be saved. "A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power." (TPJS, p. 217.)


Do not fear learning and experience. Fear ignorance. Ignorance will damn you.