Sunday, December 14, 2014

Received Email

I received the following email, which I believe worth sharing:

___________________________

This is as good a spot, and manner, as any to thank you for staying aloof recently, and for resisting the urge to be a strong man. In the last month, I have had a vision and have been led by God in several ways. I now feel that I have a calling in life. I thanked you because, after the vision, one of my first thoughts was to send it to you and ask what you thought. If I'm being honest, I still would like to know your thoughts...but I instead went to the Lord, and have received much more than just that initial opening. There have been other experiences (like after my recent rebaptism) where I reached out to my friends to share the experience. It was harder than going to a 'strong man,' but both they and I have been strengthened by exercising those spiritual muscles. Keep going strong brother. May enough of us arise from the dust to actually see Zion brought about in our lifetime! 
_______________________________

I rejoice in the strength of others. All who rise up to know God will understand the source of the words I have spoken and written.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Patience and Faith

I received an email from a fellow struggling with a spouse who opposes his understanding of the institutional church and the present state of the restoration. What can be done when one person views the present circumstances (and these will continue to change), the church and needed preparations differently from their spouse or other family members?

Families are and must be a priority. Children are owed a duty by both parents. Spouses and children deserve our unconditional love, support, and encouragement. The most important arguments are never won by words, but by our deeds. Live true principles and the example, not your words, will convert others.

The changes will continue apace. There are many reasons for this. The LDS church is not the same today as it was 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The church makes decisions using models based on business and political theories. This is ill-fitted for a religious movement. The result is that changes are made hastily and without careful consideration given to doctrine or how abandoning doctrine affects members.

The LDS church sells the product "Mormonism" to a target market of the unconverted or non-members. Their present customer base (members) have been put through jarring changes. These include changes in temple rites, exclusion/inclusion of blacks for priesthood, stripping women of control of their own organization through correlation, and others. Despite these dramatic changes, the institution has largely managed to keep their loyal customer base. This gives the leadership confidence that the greatest part of their customer base is secure and will never leave. Therefore, their adaptation is tailored to their target market. This includes a demographic who are in large part younger, liberal, progressive, self-centered, emotional, and noticeably lacking in the ability to think critically. This is the future Mormon consumer or target audience.

To make this work, the church pares down its teachings, and reassures the loyal customer base that the radical changes are okay because the church cannot lead its customers into error or apostasy. There are two important tenets that have superceded all others: the church is led by a "prophet" and the leaders "cannot lead you astray." These MUST emerge as the primary themes. Any dedicated study of doctrine and history shows the church is riddled with contradictions, mistakes, missteps, changing and untrue claims regarding history and non-scriptural dogma. This is excused and rationalized by the propounding of the two mandatory teachings of a "prophet" who "cannot lead you astray."

Inadequately prepared young men and women are now shouldering the missionary burden. As the older ones cycle through, and the youngsters fully man the missionary effort, the numbers of missionaries out will decrease back to the pre"hastening" numbers. (The math is simple: The population of prospective missionaries was expanded one time. Those who would have waited another year were able to leave a year earlier because of the change in age eligibility. Those already serving, who had gone out at the older age were in the mission field at the time the policy changed. So an additional year's missionaries were immediately eligible and added to the ranks. Within three years, all the older missionaries who were serving when the change was made will be back home. Those who were able to serve a year younger will also return, leaving at that time only the younger population as missionaries. The willing and available number within any given two-year block is about 50,000. Within three years the temporary increase to 88,000 will subside back to the pre-change number. However, when that happens the maturity and commitment problems caused by the younger missionaries will remain.)

The timing of the age change was to increase the missionary force for the Mitt Romney Presidency. The age change was announced in October general conference before the election in November. Presidents are sworn in in January. By January the policy-change surge in missionaries was well underway, but Romney lost. The surge is not repeatable, unless, of course another age-lowering change is adopted. 


Historically the Lord sends a message. Then He awaits the reaction of the people to the message He sent. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, and a fair chance has been given for people to heed or ignore the message, the Lord will preach His own sermon. His sermon is in the gift of tribulation and calamities to afflict us and refocus our attention onto more important, even eternal things.

In our patience we possess our souls. So be patient. Be steady. Be believing and do what you believe God bids you to do. You will not be disappointed. Those who judge the truth through you need your example to show them what faith looks like, what faith acts like, and what faith truly is. Display it in meekness and they will be persuaded far more than through any sermon you can deliver. Sermons are for the believing. Your life lived becomes the means to persuade others.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

LDS Church Not Exclusive

In a Press Release by the LDS Church on their website on April 18, 2008 titled Respect for Diversity of Faiths, this church has explained how God works with others outside the limited membership of the LDS faith:

“We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they
lived, who have loved God, even without having the fullness of the gospel. We lift our
voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers
and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. … He hears the prayers of the humble
and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and
honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments.”

The late Krister Stendahl, emeritus Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm and professor emeritus 
of Harvard Divinity School, established three rules for religious understanding:
(1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of
that religion and not its enemies; (2) don't compare your best to their worst; and
(3) leave room for "holy envy" by finding elements in other faiths to emulate. These
principles foster relationships between religions that build trust and lay the groundwork
for charitable efforts.

The spiritual and physical needs of the world require goodwill and cooperation among
different faiths. Each of them makes a valuable contribution to the larger community of
believers. In the words of early Church apostle Orson F. Whitney, “God is using more
than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. The Latter-day
Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.” Thus, members of
the Church do not view fellow believers around the world as adversaries or competitors,
but as partners in the many causes for good in the world. For example, the Church has
joined forces with Catholic Relief Services[.]"

Krister Stendahl's three rules for religious understanding are ones we all should apply.
In particular, LDS members should accept them when viewing others who do not share their understanding of latter-day history, scripture or doctrine. Tolerance for differences is a
customary courtesy. But, increasingly, tolerance for a different view of LDS history is met
with closed minds, open mouths, and insulting questions about motives and ambitions. It is
just possible that a difference in viewpoint can be the product of sincere inquiry, humble
acceptance, and broken hearts by those seeking.

Similarly, the acknowledgement that "God is using more than one people for the
accomplishment of his great and marvelous work" should limit LDS criticism of all others,
including those who believe in the restoration and accept Joseph as a prophet of God.
This certainly allows for the possibility God will do something more with someone else.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

I Post Here

I do not post on other blogs either in my own name, using an avatar, or anonymously. Someone has posted using my last name on another blog, the blog owner inquired and I responded that it was not me. This morning I checked and he clarified on his blog that the comment wasn't mine.

Also, I was told some stake president now claims I advocate killing children or wives, or some other such nonsense as part of his effort to deter people from reading anything I've written. When I stopped laughing about it last evening, I thought about our Lord's blessing upon us when all manner of false things are said about us. Inadvertently this ill-motivated stake president has invoked the Lord's blessing upon me once again. (And the Lord's ire upon himself.)

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.