I was asked why there are sometimes "criticisms" of the church on my blog and in the books I have written. Someone would like to know whether or not the views I advance weren't "schizophrenic" by both criticizing and defending the church, and what my true belief about the church was. I responded:
I have had many people with whom I have "ministered" as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Ward Mission Leader and High Councilor who have become disaffected with the church. I've worked to help them come back. What I write reflects this history with these struggling Latter-day Saints. There are many people who have left the church (or have given up on the church) who have read what I write and come back to activity again.
There are those who are in the process of realizing that the church has flaws who now want to quit. There are people who have begun to encounter problems who just don't know how to process them. It doesn't do any good if I pretend there aren't problems. Many of these saints have a crisis underway because they have been pretending, and now they find they cannot cope with the tension any longer.
One of posts at the beginning of this blog describes what my attitude is. I recognize weaknesses, have no intention of avoiding them, and am not an apologist in the traditional sense. But I believe in the church, accept its authority, and think its role is necessary and even critical to the work of the Lord.
Acknowledging the flaws is admitting the obvious. But getting those who are discouraged, losing their faith, or have left the church to reconsider that decision is another thing. They cannot be reached spiritually without some acknowledgment of the problems in the church. They aren't going to be deceived by offering a clever polemical argument.
Once the varnish comes off the institution of the church, for many, faith dies. But that is not necessary. Nor is it inevitable. It is possible to see the frailties of men and still also see the hand of God.
I've had many conversations with what would be regarded as leading Mormon educators, writers, and authorities who have essentially lost their faith and continue to hold on to being a "Latter-day Saint" because of the culture or employment or family. I'm trying to help them and any others in a similar spot. I'm trying to say that the church may be flawed, but despite that, it is worthy, worthwhile, necessary and good. I have had some success.
I've had a number of men and women tell me that I've helped rescue them from their faithlessness. What I have written has helped them balance their attitudes. People who have had their names removed voluntarily, or who have been excommunicated, or who have drifted into inactivity have been persuaded by what I've written to see what they have lost by that disassociation from the Church.
It may be that someone who has "rose colored glasses" will find some of what I write difficult to take in, particularly if they haven't encountered any particular criticism about the church before. I regret when that happens. However, all of us are going to need to confront the growing array of arguments against the church and its leadership as time goes on. Some of the church's most effective critics are former members. Indeed, with the internet, the arguments against the church are multiplying, as are the number of critics. I try not to gloss over the flaws or ignore their existence or to pretend that there aren't legitimate questions being asked about what has or is happening within the institution of the church. I'm saying that we can and should have faith anyway. The church matters and its mission has always been possible to accomplish.
I also want those who sense we've retreated from the original scope of doctrine and practice to realize the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains on the earth. It is as accessible to anyone living today as it was while Joseph was here. The failure of others does not impose any limitation upon the individual who sincerely seeks, asks and follows. We are not dependent upon others or even the institution itself to receive that fullness. Although the ordinances offered by the church remain the foundation upon which the fullness must be built.
Excellent post. For the longest time, the cultural Latter Day Saint has had preeminence over the Spiritual Latter Day Saint. Caste systems, "Zoromitish" clicks exist in each and every ward- What the 2nd Comforter book did was shatter those preconceived notions, awakening many Latter Day Saints as our Savior would want us to be awake.ReplyDelete
For an interesting scriptural read concerning the "fulness of the Gospel"...this search link from the Church's scripture website is very helpful:ReplyDelete
Time and time again, repeated over and over is the direction given to search the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, for in it is contained the fulness of the Gospel.
Denver's writings, at least for me, shifts my thinking, permitting me to receive my own answers and not rely on another person's "borrowed light", (or commentary) who probably 'borrowed' their so called knowledge from some other person's light, or on down the generational line.
If the correlation department wants to publish very basic Gospel doctrine or Sunday School manuals from now until the Millennium, that's perfectly fine with me!!
The words of the living prophet, the scriptures themselves (mainly the restoration scriptures) and the Teachings/ Writings of the Prophet Joseph are are my tools for searching for and gaining further light and knowledge pertaining to my own personal standing and sense of well being.
I hope to be able to write and record one day words similar to Abraham's when he said: "I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me." Abr 1: 31
I want you to know that reading your books and listening to you speak has helped me very much in my life. Your way of "putting it" has helped me to reflect on my imperfetions and strive to do better. You have a good way of telling it like it is with great reference. Thank you for being real and being who you are. I can tell if a person is being real or not by a divine intuition. I appreciate you willingness to be bold with your writing. I'll have to say I haven't always agreed, but for the most part I have seen and felt the good you are trying to portray and appreciate, most of all, the change you encourage others to do.ReplyDelete
My hat is off to you and I thank you for being willing to share.
One of my favorite examples of the concept (the fallibility of man) you have just talked about is found in History of the Church, Vol. 5, Page 323. It is an incident told by Joseph Smith regarding a sermon given by Orson Hyde, who was one of the Quorum of the Twelve. It states:ReplyDelete
At ten a. m. went to meeting. Heard Elder Orson Hyde preach, comparing the sectarian preachers to crows living on carrion, as they were more fond of lies about the Saints than the truth. Alluding to the coming of the Savior, he said, "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, &c. He will appear on a white horse as a warrior, and maybe we shall have some of the same spirit. Our God is a warrior. (John xiv, 23.) It is our privilege to have
the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c."
We dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, "They shall be thankfully received."
As a result of this incorrect teaching incident we now have Section 130 in the Doctrine and Covenants.
I believe this shows that our leaders can only teach us with the understanding they have received up to that point, and continuing revelation allows for those teachings to be verified or corrected.
I love the humility that Orson Hyde showed by his willingness to be taught. To me that illustrates he truly was a chosen servant of the Lord.
So when one obtains the same testimony and understanding of plural marriage, consecration, necessity of the 2nd endowment, etc... how do you suppose we can live those things in todays church? The church doesn't offer that final ordinance required to obtain a fulness? I know the Lord and His eternal, celestial principles and laws stay the same... it is us that stray away.
True, sincere confession is an genuine acknowledgement of our weaknesses before God (broken heart and contrite spirit). As we first recognize and then acknowledge our weaknesses, only therein can we deal squarely in the reality of the moment. We place ourselves in a position where God is able to best help us to move beyond our weaknesses. This is true for people and for institutions. By comparison when either people or institutions cover up, hide, dismiss, or do not recognize weaknesses and blind spots, they miss out entirely upon the greatest growth possibilities which exist.ReplyDelete
My son loves to climb rocks. As he has progressed through the years, he has recognized the value of receiving beta from those who have successfully climbed a route that he still cannot climb. Recently, as I was helping him to connect the dots regarding the Savior's role in his striving process to overcome his weaknesses (repentance), I asked him how important it was for him to receive good beta from others when he simply cannot get past the crux of a climbing project he is working on. For a climber accurate beta enables them to see things in a new light; suddenly possibilities for traversing the impossible begin to appear to them, where before the same face of the rock appeared unscalable. As he has accepted the Savior as his personal balayer through life, he has begun to understand how to transcend striving to actually overcoming weaknesses that repeatedly challenge him. Just as he pauses before what seems undoable to receive beta from his balayer, he is just now begining to understand how to pause when confronting a personal weakness to invite the Savior into the crossroads where he is still weak.
I've taught him that I believe the Godhead is giddy with excitement whenever any of us openly acknowledge our weaknesses and sincerely seek the strength and beta we need to overcome.
It is refreshing to see our weaknesses clearly, both individually and collectively as a church. Therein lies our greatest possibilities for growth.
Recognizing personal weaknesses or weaknesses of the church does not introduce a spirit of criticism; to the contrary, it opens hearts and minds that are locked tight to further discussion and to true hope. The key is and always will be, to what purpose do we recognize weaknesses? Is it to become a critic, which drives a wedge between us and God's Spirit, and which ultimately leads to apostacy, or is it to further the cause of progression and Holiness, which enables us to move more swiftly toward Zion?
I would like for the person making this inquiry to know that Denver Snuffer's books have been an answer to many, many years of seeking and soul searching for me. I was always different with a sort of eternal perspective of things. Even as a child in the 60's there would be times in primary or Sunday school the teacher would say something that every fiber of my being would disagree with. I seem to have been born with an innate belief of the BoM that may have been a gift as I've never for a second doubted it. However, there were so many examples of hypocrisy and things that rang false that my church activity was off and on for many years.ReplyDelete
As I prayed and continued in my scripture study I knew I needed to attend church and to keep my pride in check but I still am too different I guess. When we moved here I wasn't given a calling for 3 years. I've only had 2 and they are both very "safe" callings in which I am not allowed to speak. I'm usually very guarded about questions I ask already, but apparently they have raised red flags.
I've so struggled trying to make peace between a very powerful testimony and the church organizations, and at long last I have found that peace-and mostly free of judgment.
I will forever be grateful for the honesty and courage of Brother Snuffer.