For today’s post-LDS gospel dispensation, the servant of the Lord instructed: “How does the authority to baptize come? Because John the Baptist laid his hand on Joseph and Oliver, we have continued the practice to lay hands to confer Aaronic Priesthood. We should continue to respect that tradition. No one should baptize until they have had Aaronic priesthood conferred on them by someone who can trace their authority back to John the Baptist, through Joseph and Oliver.” (Denver Snuffer, “Preserving the Restoration,” p. 508).

The LDS Church doesn’t keep a record of Aaronic Priesthood lines of authority; nor does it keep a record of the date of the conferral of a particular priesthood, only the record of significant ordinations to office, which are subsequently traced as their version of a line of authority (see https://www.lds.org/help/support/request-a-priesthood-line-of-authority?lang=eng). An ordination to an office often occurs on the same day and at the same time as the conferral of priesthood. As the LDS typically ordain men first to the office of “elder” when conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, the line of authority for an elder will be the one closest to their priesthood conferral date, as opposed to an ordaining as a seventy, high priest, apostle, or patriarch. If you have record of a pre-April 2014 LDS priesthood conferral for Aaronic Priesthood and want to use that for your entry in the line, then that would seem sufficient. You will likely have trouble obtaining the dates for all of your prior line members for the same, however, because of what was mentioned above about the lack of records for Aaronic Priesthood lines.

However, in beautiful parallelism and in somewhat of a chiasmus, the LDS temple ceremony used to call the Aaronic Priesthood the “lower level of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” at the same time as calling their Melchizedek Priesthood the “higher level of the Aaronic Priesthood” (see Anderson, Devery Scott, “Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History,” p. xxxiii). This is, of course, in a different context than Denver Snuffer’s descriptions of priesthood categories in chapter 5 of “Preserving the Restoration” titled “Priesthood,” but it is fitting for the context of this post. Therefore, the date when one obtained what the LDS call “Melchizedek Priesthood,” (again, provided this is before April 2014 general conference), could be considered the culmination of their receipt of the Aaronic Priesthood (and, of course, only in terms of it being an authoritative invitation to obtain power from God to perform service in his name). The notes in our post here describe how to confer the priesthood with authority subsequent to the LDS Church’s apostasy, and won’t be repeated here.

But, as far as passing on a line of authority goes, if someone in the line was ordained legitimately in the LDS Church, one could reckon their date from their latest office ordination (as the LDS Church does), or choose the date for their ordination as an elder to tie it closer to the latest conferral of priesthood, or choose the date of the Aaronic Priesthood office, if that is all that is available (or, if that is what is considered preferable). Then, at Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery’s level in the line, tie the line to the conferral of the Aaronic Priesthood through John the Baptist, or to the date at which the voice of God conferred on them the Melchizedek Priesthood in the chamber of old Father Whitmer in June 1829 (see D&C 128:20-21 and History, 1838-1856, volume A-1 [23 Dec 1805 – 30 Aug 1834], pp. 26-29), or mention both.

Such a line would look something like this:

 

LINE OF AUTHORITY

BRIAN ZANG received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was ordained an elder February 22, 1998.

[Full name] was ordained an elder …1977.

[Full name] was ordained an elder …1967.

[Full name] was ordained a high priest …1952.

LE GRAND RICHARDS was ordained an apostle April 10, 1952.

DAVID O. McKAY was ordained an apostle April 9, 1906.

JOSEPH F. SMITH was ordained an apostle July 1, 1866.

BRIGHAM YOUNG was ordained an apostle February 14, 1835.

THE THREE WITNESSES, OLIVER COWDERY, DAVID WHITMER, and MARTIN HARRIS were called by revelation to choose the twelve apostles February 14, 1835 (D&C 18http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/minute-book-1/153).

JOSEPH SMITH, JR. and OLIVER COWDERY received the Aaronic Priesthood on the banks of the Susquehanna River on May 15, 1829 from John the Baptist (JS-History 1:68-72).

JOHN THE BAPTIST (D&C 84:27-28).

or

JOSEPH SMITH, JR. and OLIVER COWDERY received the Melchizedek Priesthood in the chamber of Old Father Whitmer and were ordained apostles by the voice of God in June, 1829 (JST, Genesis 14:25-29History, 1838-1856, volume A-1 [23 Dec 1805 – 30 Aug 1834], pp. 26-29; D&C 18D&C 128:20-21).

GOD THE FATHER.

 

You can also include places if you want, and each line above has unique elements that can be adjusted for each member of the line given the information you have (such as conferred priesthood, or ordained office, or date and place, who each person was ordained by as opposed to just listing the officiator on the next line, etc.). In the above example, it is not known which of the Three Witnesses were voice in ordaining Brigham Young, although it appears all three had a hand in ordaining him. If your priesthood line goes through another apostle, the reference above may include more details for them. At this point, there is no uniformity in describing priesthood lines of authority besides what the LDS Church has inherited through their traditions, so all lines will of necessity reflect that tradition to some extent, seeing that they maintained an authoritative commission for a period of time. Given the new dispensations’ emphasis on a few principles, such as the durability of the Aaronic Priesthood, the different categorization of Melchizedek Priesthood to align more closely with the scriptural teachings about its receipt by the voice of God alone (see JST, Genesis 14:25-29), and new ordinations being conferrals to the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God (with God deciding which degree of priesthood power is conferred in each case), the preceding recommendations have been made as suggestions for language that hopefully begins to move towards a new standard. This is a minor procedural matter and could be rightly taken up as a short topic of discussion for common consent in a future general conference of the fellowships, if diversity in opinion ever becomes problematic. Hopefully, though, the principles involved here will be self-evident and the lines of authority produced and passed on in current ordinations sufficient to defend our claims to priesthood conferral. If there is any room for doubt about your full line of authority back to John the Baptist or God Himself, you can always get re-ordained in the fellowships and receive a new line from the authorized administrator.

During my LDS mission, a line of reasoning was advanced from an experience of Orson F. Whitney that was quoted in LeGrand Richard’s book, “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder,”

“Many years ago a learned man, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, came to Utah and spoke from the stand of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I became well-acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy. One day he said to me: ‘You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.’” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Deseret Book Co., 1950], pp. 3–4.)

This line of reasoning tries to prove a valid point about the need for a gospel restoration with a false premise. The so-called learned Catholic here assumes that their church has the authority to remove priesthood when they excommunicate someone. The LDS Church assumes the same power. However, God has not given such power, only the right of churches to remove individuals from offices particular to their organization. Even if their church had a hand in conferring priesthood on an individual, the relationship that is established thereafter is between the individual and God alone. If a church deems it necessary to cut off a priest, for instance, then that priest may lose membership in that church, as well as the right to serve as a priest in their congregations, but their priesthood continues. If the church cut them off for good reason, meaning the priest was wicked, then the only thing that would follow them as a result of the church’s decision would be “the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption” (D&C 104:9), which, when duly considered, includes the rightful shame they would have acquired from being out of favor with their fellow man (which is likely what Satan will mock them about). If, however, the church cut them off unjustly, then they would be merely suffering persecution, and their priesthood would continue even if they were unrighteously denied membership and/or priestly status. The only way priesthood is lost is as explained in D&C 121:36-44: that is, according to principles of righteousness, as an individual departs therefrom, and God alone judges it to be so, which maintains a proper balance of power, or else mankind could use priesthood removal to threaten the righteous into submission.

Therefore, the above story is a compelling set of logical arguments, but wrong in its assumptions of jurisdiction and authority. There is a third option to the learned man’s propositions: if the Protestants in question lived during a time when the Roman Catholic Church had a commission from God to confer authority (if it ever did), then the Roman Catholic Church could’ve cut off righteous Protestants, and their right to claim the priesthood would’ve continued outside of the Catholic Church, because a false excommunication would not be recognized by God against a righteous priesthood holder. The only thing God would honor is the Catholic Church’s wishes that those priesthood holders no longer minister in their church, and they would likely be called to minister elsewhere where they were accepted.

 

These are quotes from Denver Snuffer’s book “Preserving the Restoration” and are used by permission. The arrangement does not necessarily reflect the views of the author. We hate to think of anything being divorced from context, but to an audience that has hopefully already read the book, we think this will be a useful reference. Some of the comments on a particular category were located here and there and it’s nice to have the points all in one spot. Certainly reading the book first is important for the backdrop of context, but we included a lot of the reference material intended for each point.

 

Basis

D&C 63:9-10; meaning God determines when a ‘sign’ will be given. He determined an earthquake would accompany my talk in Ephraim, Utah, rain would fall while I spoke in the drought-afflicted communities of Las Vegas, Nevada, and St. George, Utah, and record rainfall and a flood would happen at the final venue in Phoenix as signs.” p. 127, fn. 307.

“When the Lord first spoke to me, He expounded the scriptures.” p. 299.

“Faith in Him comes by hearing the word of God, delivered as He authorizes, by whomever He chooses to deliver it. If we receive God’s word preached by someone He sends, then we can have faith in the Son of God. We can receive Him. But if we harden our heart, blind our mind and refuse to receive what He offers us today, then we do not and cannot have faith in Him. We fall short of the faith required by His sons and daughters. This has always been the test. This will always be the test. I have been sent and God is proving you. Joseph Smith testified to these things and I am now a second witness. Therefore two proclaim the same doctrine.” p. 329.

“Society covets position, rank and authority. Christ held no such things. He came ‘beneath all things’ and therefore society had no regard for His authority. He was a renegade, an outsider, easy to dismiss. His society said, in effect, ‘You are too risky to believe.’ Like others sent before, I am now sent to declare faith in Christ. I am His witness in this day, sent by Him. I would not blame you for thinking I only want attention. That is not true, but it is the obvious accusation. If what I declare to you is truth and light, how you respond is important. I ask for your sake to not falsely accuse me. You do not need to like me. But if what I teach is the truth, you need to respond to it. That is between you and God, not you and me.” p. 333.

“Please heed the scriptures, the words of Joseph, and believe that Christ is approachable. I am a witness of that. His work and glory culminates in our redemption. He came, suffered, lived, and died all to lift this creation. Trust that. Receive Him. It may start slowly, small, and distant. Act and it will grow. We will never wind up in the company of Gods and angels if we are unwilling to have faith in the first things given. Ask. Then go and do as He responds. Hearken to the word of the Lord. He will not leave you comfortless, but He will come and take up His abode with you. The idea that this is only to happen ‘in your heart’ is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” p. 348.

“God came as a weak thing in this world. The only invitation you will receive will come through another weak man, speaking in weakness, trying to persuade. It does not matter how earnest I am, because I know my standing before God. What matters is your willingness to be persuaded. I simply put the case as the Lord has put it to me, in the hope that what He has to offer, and what He asked I say to you will get through to your heart. Your relationship and your accountability are not to me, but to Him. Therefore, be persuaded, for your own sake.” p. 381.

 

General Outline

“God’s house is a house of order. He does it according to patterns. It is not God’s purpose to abandon the restoration, but it is His purpose to preserve it, which at this moment is in terrible jeopardy. The restoration must be rescued and preserved. Those who cannot detect the terrible changes it has undergone and is now undergoing, are blind indeed. Shall God forget the work He began with Joseph Smith? Shall the downward course be permitted without Him raising His hand to save it? Or should a kind and merciful God give us a chance to preserve it, with His assistance, if we choose to act? There are many willing to act. We only need some indication from God of how to do so. Thankfully, the pattern was given through Joseph Smith.” p. 502.

 

Baptisms

“Baptism has always been required from the days of Adam until the present. Baptism is always the sign of acceptance of what God is doing in each generation. If He acted again now (and He is), then we need to recognize it by responding. Baptism is a mandatory sign of penitence and turning to face God, and then walking in a new path. It began in the days of Adam and it will continue through the end of the millennium. Whenever there are people of faith on earth, they have always been invited to perform the ordinance of baptism as a sign of their faith.” pp. 502-503.

“Christ gave instructions for baptism. This is in 3 Nephi 11:19-21. [3 Nephi 11:19-21.] Because it is not required to confer this authority, Christ did not touch them. He only said to them, ‘I give you power to baptize.’ Although the record is incomplete, these disciples in all likelihood had been ordained previously. But Christ was renewing His church. All that was needed to obtain the power to baptize was (and is) for Christ to tell you it is given.” p. 506.

“Christ continues His instruction in 3 Nephi 11:22: [3 Nephi 11:22-23]. This living ordinance should be performed in living water, if possible. Connect with God by using the things He provides. [3 Nephi 11:23-25]. When someone has received power to baptize directly from heaven, the words should be as Christ commanded: ‘Having authority given me of Jesus Christ…’ [3 Nephi 11:26-28]. I tell you in the name of the Lord that He renews this commandment. He expects us to follow His pattern and obey this to receive a remission of sins. [3 Nephi 11:28-30]. Do not fight or quarrel, but invite and persuade. The Lord’s parable foretells that most who are invited will refuse to come to the wedding feast. He will judge between them and us. There is no need to harbor ill will and to fight with people. Any who want to be baptized should be. If you have this power given by Christ and anyone comes to be baptized, do not refuse them. Freely give what has been received from God. Never charge to perform an ordinance. The ordinance is between them and God. They need it performed for them by someone God has asked to do it. We must rise up to become the people God asks and empowers. Before baptism, teach the Doctrine of Christ. Christ explained His Doctrine immediately following His instruction on baptism. [3 Nephi 11:31-41].” pp. 515-518.

“A record needs to be kept of the names of those baptized. Only names. Therefore, after you have power to baptize, and have taught the Doctrine of Christ and a person has repented, baptize them.” p. 521.

 

Receiving the Holy Ghost and The Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost

“All that was needed to obtain the power to baptize was (and is) for Christ to tell you it is given. This is in contrast to the power given by Christ to lay on hands for the Holy Ghost. For power to do that, Christ must touch a man. Later in the record, when Christ actually gives power to give the Holy Ghost, the account stresses Him touching them: [3 Nephi 18:36-37]. (Emphasis added.) The promise to show ‘hereafter’ was written by Moroni: [Moroni 2:2]. [Laying on hands for the Holy Ghost is an ordinance belonging to an ‘apostle’ or witness to whom Christ has ministered (Acts 1:22; see also Oliver Cowdery’s February 1835 charge to the twelve found at DHC 2:192-198,) and empowered.] In our dispensation the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost was likewise an ordinance to be performed by an ‘apostle’ upon whom Christ laid hands: [D&C 20:38, 41]. [When the revelation was given, the elders of the church called themselves ‘apostles’ of Jesus Christ. That practice changed when a quorum of twelve was organized. The quorum of twelve were chosen by the Three Witnesses and ordained to their office by them. Oliver Cowdery’s charge cautioned them it was necessary to have Christ lay hands on them to complete their ordination. LDS practice does not limit the laying on of hands to those whom Christ has touched, resulting in many Latter-day Saints struggling with whether they have ever been baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost.]” pp. 506-508.

“The Doctrine of Christ is connected to the ordinance of baptism. Once baptized, we can receive the Father’s testimony of His Son by the power of the Holy Ghost. It comes as a result of baptism. If Christ lays hands on any of us, then we can also confer the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Even in the absence of such an ordained man, the Holy Ghost is given according to the Doctrine of Christ to any who repent and are baptized following His direction.” p. 517.

 

Recording Baptisms

“There is coming distress. Those who believe Christ’s doctrine will need the required baptism to survive the judgments to come. This is the only way to face Him when He comes again. A record needs to be kept of the names of those baptized. Only names. Therefore, after you have power to baptize, and have taught the Doctrine of Christ and a person has repented, baptize them. Record their name and submit them to the central recorder through the central recorder’s clearinghouse [the website is: recordersclearinghouse.com]. A single volume with names will be deposited in a temple to be built before the Lord’s return.” p. 521.

 

Using the Priesthood

“The Powers of Heaven, wherever they are on Jacob’s ladder, are all appropriately called ‘Powers.’ The real definition of priesthood is an association between mankind on the one hand, and those on the other side of the veil. It is a brotherhood. It is also potentially a sisterhood. It is a fellowship wherein mortals are connected with the ‘Powers of Heaven.’ Anyone can form a fellowship, and have priesthood among them. Even Lucifer organizes fellowships. The LDS church has ordained various fellowships, called elders quorums, and high priest groups, teachers quorums, and quorum of the twelve. They are all a form of priesthood. Any group in fellowship with others is a priesthood. The scriptures refer to a relationship between the Powers of Heaven and the few men who qualify to associate with them. That priesthood has power because of the association with the Powers of Heaven. When the Powers of Heaven are offended, they withdraw from the fellowship, and when they withdraw, ‘Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man’ (D&C 121:37). Nothing done thereafter is approved by heaven. Men are left to their own vain ambition at that point and they become part of the great whore, or church of the devil. [D&C 121:36-37]. [An association with heaven is critical to obtain power in the priesthood.] The same revelation explains how this heavenly authority can be used. It is what distinguishes the pretenders from actual priests endowed by heaven. Pretenders almost always work outside the bounds heaven permits, using tools explicitly condemned: [D&C 121:41-42]. Those, who like Melchizedek, are endowed with this priesthood, will only persuade others; not demand or control them. Their only call is to administer spiritual things, and not control others. They are not even to call for a meeting of elders without the consent of the elders themselves (see JS Papers, Documents, Vol. 3, p.61, and pp. 59-64). Like Enoch, they use knowledge of the truth to invite others to believe (See Moses 7:10-12). Like Christ, they will act as servants, elevating others and not themselves (Matthew 20:25-28). Their words will be filled with new truth and shed light on what is dark or mysterious. Those with such authority abide in light and truth. The reason authority is given is to make men more like God; to lift and to elevate them. Those with this priesthood will produce a flood of new truths. They are revelators.” pp. 173-175.

“Authority to baptize was restored as part of the ministry of Joseph Smith and should be retained. In fact, everything accomplished by the Lord through Joseph should be remembered, preserved, and respected. We should neither abandon nor neglect anything given or commanded by heaven. The prophecy of Zenos preserved by Jacob in the Book of Mormon foretells of the last effort in the Lord’s vineyard. The vineyard is the world. The trees are the various efforts to reconnect mankind with God. The ‘roots’ are God’s family and include the religion of God ministered to mankind by angels. Fruit worthy to be laid up against the harvest are those who belong to God’s family, having been sealed to salvation by covenant and by the Holy Spirit of Promise. The ‘roots’ of the restoration include the many ‘dispensations, rights, keys, honors, majesty, glory and priesthood’ [See D&C 128:21] returned through Joseph Smith. God intends to preserve what He began through Joseph and Hyrum (Jacob 5:52-54). The priesthood restored through them must not be abandoned. God will now use other servants to likewise labor in His vineyard to prune and care for His people (Id., vs. 62-64). There will be a ‘last time’ when labor is done, and the Lord will be directly involved with His servants (Id., vs. 71-73). This final time must produce ‘fruit’ that is ‘good’ so the entire vineyard will not be lost (Id., vs. 73-75). We must not neglect what God restored through Joseph. It is a sign ingratitude when we forget and neglect what He has given. We must repent, return and reclaim the priesthood by building on the ordinations given us by the laying on hands. Power comes by petitioning heaven to give us power to baptize. The Power of Heaven must associate again with mortal men. ” pp. 503-504.

“How does the authority to baptize come? Because John the Baptist laid his hand on Joseph and Oliver, we have continued the practice to lay hands to confer Aaronic Priesthood. We should continue to respect that tradition. No one should baptize until they have had Aaronic priesthood conferred on them by someone who can trace their authority back to John the Baptist, through Joseph and Oliver. Importantly, however, before baptizing , one should obtain Christ’s ‘word’ through the Spirit. This is the same thing Alma did in Mosiah chapter 18:12 before baptizing. [Mosiah 18:12]. He may have previously been ordained in King Noah’s court, but Alma got the power to baptize from the Spirit. To perform a baptism, no matter what we have been taught and from whom, ask God to give you the power. Get His ‘word’ through the Spirit, just as Alma did. His example is in the scriptures to teach us the way. We have lost it, and need to reclaim it. If we get power to baptize, we get it from Him and then we are not dependent on someone else. Power is required. It must come from Christ. The pattern must be followed. Alma had been previously ordained as one of the priests in the court of the wicked King Noah. Alma had been ordained because he was wicked, an idolator, lifted up in pride, and flattering those who listened to him. Noah wanted him as a priest because he was corrupt. After Alma repented, but before using authority to baptize, he asked God to give him power. God, seeing his repentance, accepted it, and poured out His Spirit upon Alma to give him power to baptize. The proof of God’s approval was in Alma’s experience and the effect the ordinance on both Helam and Alma. When John the Baptist restored the authority he promised [JS-H 1:69, The gospel of repentance is turning to face God. Baptism by immersion is for the remission of sins.] John the Baptist did not say this authority would not be taken from the church, but that it would not be taken from ‘the earth.’ It was restored and will remain on the earth. It will be preserved by a faithful few until sons of Levi offer a righteous offering. It is still here, though it has been much neglected and much abused. It can be renewed using Alma’s example. Alma was just like Christ’s disciples. All got authority from His ‘word’ spoken by the power of the Spirit.” pp. 508-509.

 

How Not to Use the Priesthood

“One great sin is described in 2 Nephi 26:29: [2 Nephi 26:29]. [Zion can only come through consecration and sacrifice. Priestcraft interferes.] Alma 1:26 explains how it should work: [Alma 1:26]. [This ideal prohibits a professional clergy. Professional ministers interfere with equality. An unpaid ministry guards against pride, vanity and ambition. It requires sacrifice.] D&C 52:39-40 says: [D&C 52:39-40]. [To ‘labor with their own hands’ means they are not professionals paid for preaching. People tend to idolize professional clergy. To avoid idolatry, professional ministers are forbidden. This keeps people from the temptation of obtaining blessings at the hands of a compensated professional.] The prohibition on professional clergy is so ‘[t]hat there be no idolatry nor wickedness practiced.’ [‘Wickedness’ because when you have people elevated to professional status, religious authority leads to control. Control leads inexorably to abuse (See D&C 121:39). Contrariwise, if ministers can only persuade, they have little success, as most are never persuaded. This respects agency and requires the ministers to meekly accept their limitation.] ‘And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things , the same is not my disciple.’ [In both Alma and modern revelation the principles are: First, no professional clergy, second, ‘remember the poor, remember the needy.’ This is no happenstance. A professional clergy diverts funds from the poor.]” pp. 486-488.

“Never charge to perform an ordinance. The ordinance is between them and God. They need it performed for them by someone God has asked to do it. We must rise up to become the people God asks and empowers.” pp. 516-517.

 

Fellowship Meetings

“True religion, when it is present on the earth, always existed in a community of believers. If we do not have community then we cannot be willing to mourn with those that mourn. We cannot comfort those that stand in need of comfort. We cannot stand as a witness to one another of God at all times and of all places. We cannot bear one another’s burdens so they may be light, as is required by the gospel and the covenant of baptism. None of this can be done without fellowship between believers. However, we do not need a new corporate church. The only thing we need is a community to fellowship one another. Whether called a ‘community,’ or ‘fellowship’ or ‘society’ it does not matter. Legal entities, whenever formed, become prey to the law. Men can gain control over legal entities. Legal entities are vulnerable to sycophants willing to do whatever is required to show they are desperately submissive to those in power. Hierarchies invite abuse. Aspiring men can always corrupt whatever is organized on the earth. What then can remain pure? Consider the following as three things that can remain unmolested and uncorrupted: 1. The truth, which is fixed and cannot be touched by us. 2. God’s love, which is free and available to all. (Neither the truth nor God’s love requires effort on our part.) 3. Our desires. (That, however, requires effort. Nevertheless, it is possible our desires can be pure.) We need not leave behind anything that is good, noble or virtuous. But we do not need another legal entity. However, to preserve the restoration, the pattern of scripture needs to be more closely followed. This is no revolution, only a recollection. It is not abandoning anything, only preserving the essential foundation of true religion.” pp. 504-506.

“Meetings can be anywhere.” p. 513.

 

Sustaining to the Priesthood and Recording

“Because of the potential and actual abuse by some priesthood holding men, I asked the Lord to extend priesthood to women. I was told as to public rites, ‘priesthood is confined to men because of the Fall and the conditions ordained at that time’ [Moses 4:22; Gen. 3:16].Until things are reversed at the Millennium, it will remain for men alone to perform the public ordinances thus far given to us. This order is not going to change until the Millennium. I asked the Lord that if only men were to hold priesthood for public ordinances, then could only women vote to sustain them. This pleased the Lord, for it was already in His heart. But He added: ‘There shall be a minimum of seven women to sustain the man in any vote, and if the man is married, his wife shall be one of them.’ If you have already been ordained then you have the right to continue to minister to your family as a matter of right. But outside your family it is different. Even though already ordained, a community needs to recognize and authorize anyone to minister for them. For any who would qualify to minister outside his family, he must meet in a community and obtain a sustaining vote of a minimum of seven women [This is information provided to me by the Lord on the morning of July 27, 2014 only after the talk given in St. George, Utah the day before]. When that is done, all seven women who vote to sustain should sign a certificate. The JS Papers show copies of the certificates given in the early church. These were handwritten certificates to function as authorization. Among your own fellowships, do as they did in the early church. If the man is married, his wife must be among the seven women. If his wife will not sustain him, he is unworthy to provide priesthood service for the fellowship. There is nothing implied in the word regarding a man’s standing before God. Within the community of fellowship, until his wife is prepared to support him acting outside the family, his effort should be within his family. Husbands and wives are one flesh. The struggle to live that kind of oneness is godly, noble and elevating. The word ‘unworthy’ is not a statement of condemnation, but only of qualification. It was the word the Lord used and therefore I do not feel at liberty to change it. In all such matters it has been my experience that, with time, how the Lord orders things proves to be exceptionally wise, even if we do not immediately see it. As to single men, there is no impediment to following the pattern and being ordained in the absence of having a wife. But he should marry a woman willing to sustain him if he intends to use priesthood in a community of believers.” pp. 509-511.

 

Removing Authority to Act Within a Community or Fellowship

“Sustaining is by women, and removing authority to act within a community or fellowship is likewise to be done by the vote of women. If a man’s worthiness to function is called into question, then a conference can be convened to deal with the question. In removing authority, at least two witnesses should speak against the accused, and he should be allowed to speak on his behalf and call such witnesses as he chooses. Men can be witnesses, but only women are allowed to vote. Removal should be by unanimous vote [If a woman is present and cannot judge the matter she may abstain, and the vote of the remaining women, if unanimous and there are 12 votes, will be sufficient] of the women present, with at least 12 votes against a man to end his authority to act in the fellowship community. As for his family, he is free to do as he chooses, but he cannot act in the community until restored by the vote of a conference of that community.” pp. 511-512.

 

Divorce

“According to Christ, in Mark 10:2-9 divorce is a false precept, [Mark 10:2-9].” p. 512.

 

First Time Ordinations and Lines of Authority

“Joseph Smith was commanded by God to establish The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph’s followers, like ancient Israel with Moses, failed to obtain the fullness [D&C 124:28]. The LDS Church has operated under a commission from the time they rejected the fullness offered through Joseph,  with limited authority, just as Israel did after Moses was taken. God decided when and how He would bring an end to the authority of the leaders of the LDS Church, just as He has ended the kingdom of the Jews through John. Once God acts, our doubt about it does not change what He has done. God is now free to proceed with another chapter in His ‘strange act.’ His house is a house of order, but since the days of Abraham, God’s house has included things about which mankind retained very little knowledge.” pp. 496-497.

“How does the authority to baptize come? Because John the Baptist laid his hand on Joseph and Oliver, we have continued the practice to lay hands to confer Aaronic Priesthood. We should continue to respect that tradition. No one should baptize until they have had Aaronic priesthood conferred on them by someone who can trace their authority back to John the Baptist, through Joseph and Oliver. Importantly, however, before baptizing , one should obtain Christ’s ‘word’ through the Spirit.” p. 508.

“There are people coming from different faiths to associate with fellowships, including RLDS or Community of Christ, fundamentalist groups, and other splinter ‘Mormon’ denominations. Some of these have been previously ordained within their affiliations. These, like men who are Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran or other Christian faiths will need to be sustained and ordained. They should understand something about priesthood before being sustained. Once sustained, when ordaining someone to serve in these fellowships ordain no one to an office, only confer priesthood. Let everyone be equal. Keep lines of authority. It will reckon through the one who confers the priesthood. But power can only come from Christ. First time ordinations (after April 2014) should be done within a fellowship. All who are ordained in these communities should keep a record of the line of authority and pass it down. Be prepared to defend those lines of authority using the records kept. All of the women who vote to sustain should not only sign the certificate, but also record it in diaries or journals. Let records be kept so if anyone questions, there will be abundant witnesses and documentation. There can be conferences that can be called by anyone, but must include seven women if the business includes priesthood ordination. There is no need for any building to be purchased or built. Meetings can be anywhere.” pp. 512-513.

“[Speaking of the LDS Church…] We should respect and keep in place ordinations before April 2014. God did not complete the work and send a witness until April of that year, and then only as to LDS Church leadership.” pp. 518-519.

 

Conferences for Business

“There can be conferences that can be called by anyone, but must include seven women if the business includes priesthood ordination. There is no need for any building to be purchased or built. Meetings can be anywhere. In early Mormonism, church business was conducted by calling a conference. A conference was local if it involved an area, branch, ward or stake of the church. It was a general conference if everyone was invited. . . . During Joseph’s life, and for years afterward, a general conference could happen anywhere, and at any time.” p. 513.

“Conferences were held to resolve all questions, disputes, ordinations and even mission calls. Conferences using common consent allow those in fellowships with each other to prayerfully reason together and grow in unity. In one month of 1840, seven conferences were reported in the church’s newspaper. These were all organized locally and independent of central control.” p. 515.

 

Denomination Requirements and Proselyting

“Nothing new requires anyone to leave any church. This is only to add to anything we already have. There is no reason we cannot be part of a fellowship and also a member of the Lutheran Church, Catholic Church or LDS Church. We needn’t abandon any other church if we find value in service there. We should respect and keep in place ordinations before April 2014. God did not complete the work and send a witness until April of that year, and then only as to LDS Church leadership. Rather than abandon the church, let them hear our testimony of God’s ongoing work. Remember this is not limited to the LDS Church. Christ’s doctrine and baptism are for everyone. Proselyting has been halted in the nation of Israel because of an agreement between the LDS Church and that nation. But the restoration must continue there. Not through the LDS Church in violation of their agreement, but through the fellowships. In the Muslim block where religion is enforced by law, these fellowships can be part of their community even if members remain publicly part of the religion mandated by law. Every denomination in the world can be represented in these fellowships. This is not designed to limit the possibilities of shared faith, but to greatly expand them. The restoration must roll forth, even into places barring the LDS Church. Because these are informal, based only on the Doctrine of Christ, and require acceptance of Christ’s simple statement of His doctrine, faith to believe and act, repentance from sin and baptism, the result is that salvation can sweep the world across barriers now stopping the restoration from being heard.” pp. 518-519.

 

Sacrament

“The sacrament should be taken in the way God commanded. Partake of the sacrament in your families and in your gatherings. Christ commanded it. Follow the pattern in D&C 20:76 and Moroni 4:2-3. ‘Kneel with the church’ is how the scriptures direct it to be done. Use wine. If you are opposed to alcohol or have a medical condition that prevents you from using wine, use red grape juice. Use the symbol of the blood of our Lord. Red wine is bitter for a reason. Drinking that bitter wine in remembrance of His blood is symbolic and appropriate.” p. 521.

 

Preaching vs. Learning

“Another revelation in March 1830 confirms Christ’s doctrine and distinguishes it from tenets. D&C 19:21: I command you that you preach naught but repentance.’ [Skipping to verse 29:] ‘And thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see. And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.’  That is the gospel and is what needs to be preached. We have veered away, preaching as doctrine commandments of men. D&C 19 acknowledges there are tenets. There are indeed many tenets in Christ’s faith. As to those, we are commanded to search them and understand their meaning, but not declare them to be doctrine. The thing we are required to have in unity and absolute agreement is the Doctrine of Christ. With that in common agreement, we should be able to fellowship with one another across every other religious divide.” p. 523.

 

Oversight

“The Book of Mormon is more prophecy than history. Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes of families and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s coming return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for the coming social chaos should include fellowshipping in local gatherings, completely apart from control by any centralized hierarchy. Only by functioning independently can we prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion, and precede the Lord’s return. There will also be indigenous prophet-led people coming to Zion, with God’s assistance. They are invited through this book to begin their own preparation. The manner of disseminating authority (by asking God to approve authority to baptize and, once received proceeding to baptize) allows preparation to begin worldwide simultaneously. Even isolated groups can begin to prepare.” p. 524.

“We will make mistakes, but should not make the same ones. Sometimes the way for people to become better acquainted with the Lord is for those who know Him to remain silent and allow others to approach Him. Everyone should gain strength and experience for themselves.” p.525.

“When we submit to the rule of God, we are left in a position where we must depend on Him. We then immediately realize our weaknesses. At that point we will all be tempted to have others tell us how to please God. We must resist the temptation. We must arise and seek Him directly.” p. 526.

 

What Will No Longer Work

“In an LDS baptismal interview the second question now is, ‘Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?’ As a condition of LDS Church baptism it requires a confession that the current church president is a prophet of God. This has been added, and does not conform to the Doctrine of Christ. According to Christ’s doctrine, it ‘cometh of evil.” Because the LDS Church no longer preaches the doctrine of Christ and has added commandments of men, baptism can only be renewed through the process described in this chapter. Therefore, as part of preserving the restoration, baptism is now offered correctly in the simplicity Christ commanded.” p.526.

 

Work for the Dead and a Temple

“Heaven will look for a temple in Zion to accurately reflect the pattern of heaven. When they see it has been built, they will come to embrace its builders and kiss their necks (Moses 7:63). They will only come when we are their sons and daughters, fully restored to the Family of God, united with them in belief, covenant, knowledge, and filled with the glory of God, which is intelligence.” p. 144.

“There is nothing special about us, but there can be. We do not need hundreds of temples, but will need one to which Christ can come. We will not need to perform endless work for the dead until first there has been a covenant made by God with us. We must be first connected to the fathers in heaven. Only then can we do something to liberate the dead.” pp. 526-527.

 

Prophecy

“Prophesy is understood only after it is fulfilled. It is not for us to know beforehand the events with enough specificity so God’s will could be anticipated, prevented, or frustrated. If we knew what He was doing beforehand, we might try to prevent it. God can use any means He chooses to accomplish His promises. God does not disclose everything He is doing at the time it is underway.” p. 501.

 

Receiving New Revelation

“False spirits will come among us. Prideful and pretentious people will ask for honor. Honor God instead. Do not let a personal revelation replace the primacy of the scriptures. The scriptures are a faithful ruler by which to measure any new revelation. This book expounds scripture as Moroni did for Joseph, and as Christ did on the road to Emmaus the day of His resurrection. We must first remember and observe. Preserving the restoration requires us to be very familiar with the scriptures of the restoration. At present we should fear most our ignorance of them.” pp.528-529

 

Use of Scriptures

“Study the scriptures in fellowships and in families. We should teach our children to use written copies of the scriptures. Studies show that comprehension is greater using books as opposed to digital readers. Children should have their own scriptures to study. Teach them through the parables of Christ and teach them to see symbolism as something familiar. Get them to consider analogies and types as tools used in scripture. Help them to reason a problem through using the scriptures as a guide.” p. 529.

 

Individual Prayer

“We all must approach God through prayer. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said prayer should be in secret. Matthew 6:5-8: [Matthew 6:5-8]. When praying in secret, we do not need to consider what others may think of our vocabulary, content, sentence structure, dangling participles, or embarrassing confessions. It is between the individual and God. Our Lord’s example of prayer was so private His disciples had to come to Him and ask: ‘Lord teach us how to pray’ (Luke 11:1). They witnessed Him praying, but could not overhear Him. When He went to pray, He went out alone, apart (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46). Sometimes He spent all night praying (Luke 6:12). The fact He prayed was known by His followers but the content of His prayers were secret. We have two clear examples (John 11:41-42; John Chapter 17). We have the example from the Sermon on the Mount in response to the inquiry, ‘Teach us how to pray.’ He taught them how (Luke 11:2; Matthew 6:9-13). We also have His forlorn prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where He begs to have a cup removed from Him (Matthew 26:39). When our Lord prayed, His prayers were private. He lived what He taught. He did what He said. do not pray for to be seen of men (See Matthew 6:5; 3 Nephi 13:6). John chapter 17 is the great intercessory prayer. Look at how He addressed His Father: ‘These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven.’  [He did not bow His head or fold His arms. He spoke aloud with His eyes lifted upward.] We have the example involving Lazarus. John 11:41 says: [John 11:41]. [Again, addressing His Father while looking upward.] Of course the scriptures have examples of prayer by one lying prostrated on the ground. In one example, the man bowed and beat on his breast, and would not so much as lift his eyes up to heaven. But even in this case the implicit presumption of the example used by the Lord was that the man’s eyes should be lifted up into heaven when addressing the Father. How would you like it if someone spoke to you with his back turned? Look up. Speak to heaven above. As we reach up to Him in prayer, He will reach down to us. In the beginning there was a law ordained before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated. That law is as easily accessible by the father of King Lamoni, as to the father of the young man who was overtaken and fell into the fire and water. It was as accessible to the brother of Jared as it is to all of us. When the law before the foundation of the world was ordained, it was intended for all to receive God’s fullness. If receiving His fullness required a course in rabbinical reasoning, or an advanced theological degree, there would be almost none who are saved. But the Book of Mormon gives us account after account of encounters between mankind and God where the only qualification was a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Those who do not have the required broken heart and contrite spirit come away saying, ‘God maketh no such thing known unto us’ (1 Nephi 15:8-11). Like Laman and Lemuel, their iron necks and brass brows (This is often how God’s chosen people react; see 1 Nephi 20:4) prevent them from looking up to God to be saved.”  pp. 381-383.

 

Praying in the Fellowships

“Early in this dispensation, one of the things regularly done in meetings was group prayer where everyone prayed in turn. Everyone prayed. The meeting would last until all present had prayed. They called it a ‘Prayer Meeting.’ Joseph Knight had difficulty praying with a group. A revelation commanded him to pray: ‘thou must pray vocally before the World as well as in Secret & in thy family & among thy friends & in all Places.’ His son, Newell, had similar difficulty and received a similar command by revelation through Joseph Smith. Prayer by all present was a regular part of early church services, particularly when they hoped to receive revelation. As the minutes of the second conference of the church on September 26, 1830 record: ‘Prayer by all present.’ More than two years later a conference of the church on December 27, 1832 recorded that Joseph Smith ‘recommended all present to prey [sic] separately and vocally to the Lord for to reveel [sic] his will unto us concerning the upbuilding of Zion.’ All present prayed vocally and separately, hoping for a revelation. Prayer should not be limited to the opening and closing of meetings. Have everyone pray in turn.” pp. 529-530.

 

Giving to the Poor

“As soon as his people covenanted with God to receive their redemption through the atonement of Christ, King Benjamin’s attention turns to the needs of the poor. He taught those who were converted to think of the needs of others. This is what James would call ‘pure religion’ (See James 1:27; see also James 2:14-18). It changes the world, here and now. Instead of suffering, the unfortunate are ministered to by others because their religion requires it of them. King Benjamin’s instruction to those who covenanted with God to apply the atonement on their behalf was: [Mosiah 4:16]. There was no room for judging the needy. There was only the obligation to give. As he counseled: [Mosiah 4:17]. [In other words: Maybe the beggars deserve to suffer. Maybe it is their fault. Maybe they shouldn’t have used drugs, or behaved so poorly they lost their jobs, or run away from home and family who would have cared for them if they hadn’t strayed, or any number of other circumstances to conclude ‘their punishments are just.’ Maybe they are all at fault. Maybe they do deserve condemnation, not help. Maybe helping facilitates wickedness. Yes, maybe you shouldn’t help, after all.] King Benjamin anticipates these thoughts and warns: [Mosiah 4:18]. [We judge the beggar this way, even if we are right about their ‘punishments’ being ‘just,’ then we have need to repent. We have no right to do this. We will not be forgiven by God, and cannot enter His kingdom. We are to help the beggar. That is all.] [Mosiah 4:19]. [We only have what you possess in this life as a result of God’s mercy and kindness to us. Even if we think we ‘deserve’ what we own because we have worked hard for it, we are nevertheless beggars whose very existence is drawing upon God’s power to live, and move (Mosiah 2:21).] King Benjamin warned us: [Mosiah 4:22-23]. This has been in our Book of Mormon since 1830. But we hear that the only way we are to help the poor should be through fast offerings, institutionalizing our charity. That would not satisfy King Benjamin. There will be no collective salvation. There is no such thing as group-charity sufficient to qualify us to avoid individual condemnation for refusing the beggar who asks us individually to help. This is the subject addressed by King Benjamin to those who have entered into a covenant with God to obtain a remission of their sins. King Benjamin does not concern himself with all the ways it is possible to get it wrong (Mosiah 4:29). Mankind gets it wrong all the time. The great challenge is to finally get it right. His sermon is an attempt to describe how society may finally overcome failure and draw close to God. Individual righteousness is a rare thing in this world, but it happens more frequently than collective righteousness. King Benjamin’s talk is about societal success, or collective righteousness. Once converted, the work begins. His sermon continues: [Mosiah 4:24]. [Even the poor are required to have a charitable heart. They may lack the means, but they cannot lack the heart. Everyone must have a disposition to help one another. Unless we are willing to render aid to one another, we cannot possibly become one. Until we walk in one another’s shoes, we cannot become one. It isn’t possible to bear one another’s burdens when we are oblivious to the burdens they bear. Alma would preach this as a requirement to be baptized (See Mosiah 18:8-10). Until we are like-minded we don’t even qualify for the ordinance offered by Alma.] The Book of Mormon continues: [Mosiah 4:25]. Coveting is a vile personal failure, and so foreign to becoming ‘one’ as a people, that it is condemned in the Ten Commandments (See Exodus 20:17). It prevents us from being equal. Equality is required for Zion.” pp. 230-233

 

Tithing

See “How To Administer Tithing Within a Fellowship (From Denver Snuffer, Jr., ‘Preserving the Restoration’)“. There is nothing in Denver’s book that suggests a fellowship needs to administer tithing in order to be a fellowship, although tithing is a commandment from the Lord for individuals (“All us of remain free to practice the restored faith, even if no one else joins in the practice with you,” p. 256), and experimenting on tithing within fellowships is required to prepare for Zion (“There is a great work to do. It is not all to be done in one step. Unless we are willing to experiment, live the Law of Tithing and govern ourselves, it will be impossible to make the transition [to Zion]. The people of God will do this,” p.267, “to Zion” clarification added, see prior context).

 

Consecration

“At the beginning of the restoration, the Lord cautioned the early believers that they were required to be equal in temporal things. Because they refused to do so, they forfeited the spiritual manifestations that necessarily accompany Zion. ‘Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld’ (D&C 70:14). They failed. We do not even attempt it. We probably shouldn’t attempt it until we first repent and receive the religion the Lord once attempted to restore through Joseph Smith.” p. 233.

 

Other Items

“An unchanging God has an unchanging gospel. Rather than taking pride in our ordinances, we should view ourselves in our lost and fallen state. Rebuild faith through repentance. Once the inward part has been cleansed there will be time to worry about the outward part.” p. 230.

“We should follow all that has been given to us in scripture. We should be completing the restoration, not throwing anything away. We are trying to preserve, return, and renew. Nothing given through Joseph should be discarded if it is useful, laudable, worthy, desirable, or came through the restoration. God’s purpose is to preserve, not abandon, the restoration.” p. 519.

 

Righteousness

“We have been told, ‘For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance’ (D&C 1:31). [We should all recognize and hold ourselves accountable for our failings and weaknesses. Conversely, we should see no such failing or weaknesses in our fellow man. We should judge every man by the standard we want applied to ourselves. Take no offense, and freely forgive.]” p. 253.

“[Ether 3:3]. [There was no pride. He did not resent being chastened. He did not believe he was worthy. We are in no better position than the brother of Jared. We do not even know enough to be ‘good’ before God. We are not intelligent enough. Our pseudo-virtues are deeply offensive to God (Rising to honor a religious man is offensive to God). Some things that we believe offend God, do not (Taking God’s name in vain does NOT involve ‘swear words’ but instead cloaking a false message with the pretense of God’s approval. ‘Swearing’ is nothing; mere words we react to in childish ways). Our righteousness is pseudo-righteousness at best. Much of our justified guilt is a gift to bring us the humility to come to God. Weaknesses of the flesh will not last into the resurrection. Nowhere in verse 3 are there any self-justifying claims of the proud. There is no claim to be God’s chosen. There is no claim of worthiness. Righteousness includes accepting God’s chastening.” p. 366.

 

Gathering

“There is no reason ‘to gather to Zion’ to fail again. We do not need another Jerusalem, Rome, Antioch, Kirtland, Jackson County, or Nauvoo. We certainly do not need another Salt Lake. We need Zion. Until you are prepared, stay home, serve in your callings and be happy. Not everyone will be gathered. Only ‘one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion’ (Jeremiah 3:14). Zion will be where the qualified meet. It will not be where people come to get qualified.” p. 262.

“Remember when it comes to the establishment of Zion, there is no such thing as ‘hastening the work.’ It cannot be done in haste: [3 Nephi 20:42]. [D&C 63:24]. [This instruction from 1831 will apply when the Lord gathers once again. Just as it did before, haste (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 2, p. 51) will bring pestilence to the land of gathering.] [D&C 101:68]. [There will probably be excess funds from your collections. The excess can be used to prepare a place, but not in haste. Whether there will be a place prepared for you depends entirely on whether you prepare.]” pp. 263-264.

 

Obtaining a Covenant

“The Lord saves, but uses covenant-making as a part of His process. We don’t get to make covenants, but we do get to accept them if the Lord offers them to us. It must be the Lord’s offer and our acceptance for it to have effect.” p. 234.

“This is the day when, at long last, what God promised would happen before His return is now beginning. The gospel is not a record of how God dealt with another people at another time. We must obtain our own covenant: ‘Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you and the people of the nineteenth century. You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants of the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness, nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others’ blessings are not your blessings, others’ curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works’ (TPJS, p. 12). The gospel must come to life through us, or we have no hope. Joseph also said: ‘[W]e cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients for they are not our property, merely because they were made to the ancient Saints, yet if we are the children of the Most High, and are called with the same calling with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant that they embraced, and are faithful to the testimony of our Lord as they were, we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached Him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John and the other Apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Pergamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere walked in the fear of God, and had power and faith to reveal and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ; even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good’ (TPJS, p. 66). We cannot rely on the sacrifices of Joseph and Hyrum to save us, nor claim a covenant long since changed and broken by all of the sects claiming Joseph. We must have the faith to renew and then keep a covenant with God. It is apparent from the original transcripts of the revelations given to Joseph that it was Joseph alone whose revelations were binding on the church. Added headings, footnotes, cross-references and extraneous material have been added. Those additions advocate a new interpretation of the revelations to include other leaders, not just Joseph Smith. But the earliest transcripts reproduced in The Joseph Smith Papers, clarify that God called the church ‘living’ and ‘alive’ and ‘approved,’ because Joseph was His prophet. God was then talking to Joseph. There was an authentic and continuing open line of communication between God and the church. It has long since ended. The work was ‘rolling forth’ in that day with Joseph. Those converted actually had experiences and came to know God. God empowered the restoration and set it in motion through His servant Joseph Smith. Joseph had a covenant from God. Therefore, Joseph could testify to God’s words, and God ratified Joseph’s testimony. People who listened received the wages of following God. We cannot mimic that for the same effect until we do the work, obtain God’s voice to us, and He authorizes us to proceed. God must declare to us, ‘This is what I want you to do.’ If no one else will say it to you, I am saying it to you: God has authorized this work to begin again. This book [‘Preserving the Restoration’] is approved by Him and written under His inspiration and guidance. God is offering again, right now, in our day, to any that will hear, to any that will listen to begin again. What began in Joseph’s day has run its course. It has become a leaky ruin of a farm that Joseph himself no longer wants. This was necessary for God to begin anew. These are the signs of the times. The whole world is waxing old like a garment. God promised He would do this before the end. If we bear fruit, the Lord may give more time and keep the angels from beginning the harvest. That will depend on what we do. If we fail to rise up, He will find another people. We only have an opportunity. We do not have a guarantee. We must rise up in faith to take advantage of the opportunity. At the beginning of the restoration there were some great opportunities. Not much came of them. A church conference on October 25-26, 1831 allowed several additional men to receive the high priesthood. During the first day of the conference Joseph taught them that ‘the order of the High priesthood is that they have power given them to seal up the Saints unto eternal life.’ Sidney Rigdon who spoke afterward added this caution about those who were to receive the ‘privilege… to be ordained to the High Priesthood, telling them if they then should doubt God would withdraw his Spirit from them.’ Following Rigdon, Joseph again addressed those who would be ordained and said ‘he had a testimony that each had one tallent [sic] and if after being ordained they should hide it God would take it from them.’ On the second day, following an opening prayer by David Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon again spoke and warned them because of their indifference to be ordained to that office, exhortation to faith and obedience setting forth the power of that office’ (The minutes of the conference are found at JS Papers, Documents Vol. 2: July 1831-January 1833, pp. 80-87). We can show indifference or proceed in faith. We can fail, or through humility and genuine desire we can connect with heaven. Let me end by testifying that however unlikely this may seem to you, it was just as improbable when John came baptizing. It was just as improbably when Christ ministered. It was just as improbable when Joseph Smith said, ‘I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it’ (JS-H 1:25). It may seem improbable, but what I have written is nevertheless true and an invitation from God for us to return to Him. In 1832 the Lord said He was then nearby and offered to draw near to them if they drew near to Him (D&C 88:62-63). It did not happen then. He is now willing again to draw near to those who will seek Him.” pp. 530-533.

The common LDS use of the term “familiar spirit” seems to imply a set of ideas that are ungodly because one takes them as truthful merely because someone else has vouched for them…hence you come under their influence due to nepotism, or “familiarity” with the speaker. The original sense of the term dealt with a sorcerer’s supposed familiarity with a spirit or spirits from the beyond, or rather, more precisely, a spirit’s willingness to obey and serve a witch or sorcerer. The LDS definition would be an accurate description of someone’s mindset if the person in question didn’t come to their own conclusions about each and every matter, and just accepted a thought because someone like a “Denver Snuffer” or a “Thomas Monson” said so, becoming in a sense, servants to these men. Further, the implication is that the “spirit”, or set of ideas conveyed, is false and ungodly in its own right. “Ungodly” has a specific set of criteria, or rather, “godly communication”, or “truth”, has a specific set of criteria that establishes the communication as coming from God, proving all other communications as evil or base. Those criteria are plainly discussed in the Lectures on Faith and in the Standard Works.

Furthermore, it is obvious in the scriptures that the priesthood of God has power over devils. The question is, when various workshops for hire crop up to teach how to overcome evil spirits, are the devils in question strong-armed definitively by such efforts (See Mark 3:22-30)? Or, does the devil of all devils laugh at them and play games with their minds, leaving them alone just long enough to convince them that they have some power and authority in these things, only to return and torture and tease them anew (see 2 Nephi 9:37 and Moses 7:26)?

Perhaps unintentionally, the LDS Church promotes sorcery by claiming the temple rites employ ancient techniques of using rich symbolism to teach godly ideas (See Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings”), while offering virtually no support for discovering the meanings of those symbols. Superficial treatments on temple symbology are offered in sanitized and approved books that necessarily avoid discussing off-limit topics such as signs, tokens, key words, and really anything involving the wording in the rituals. Within the temples themselves, a culture of fear prevails masquerading as reverence (stemming from the days the LDS Church was scrutinized by the US Government over their secret temple rites), stifling all discussion about such symbols in places that are ostensibly deemed as the only appropriate venues for such holy conversations (in the beginning of the twentieth century, the LDS Church President stopped all conversations about symbols inside of temples because it was feared the US Government had infiltrated the temples with spies…hasn’t the time for the militaristic oversight passed yet?). Ironically, the Masons foster much more freedom amongst themselves to discuss similar symbology, which promotes an insatiable appetite for learning and strong camaraderie over treasured concepts, even if their rituals are only a degraded remnant of something in the past with many interpolations introduced over the years. So, in absence of even this cementing virtue of brotherly love through rich shared meaning and purpose, the LDS have devolved into a stalemate over the symbols themselves. Russell M. Nelson can say the following about the meaning of the symbols: “Teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds” (Ibid.), because there are no cultural reasons for the leadership to avoid discussing the meanings; yet there are for lay-members, who are sometimes afraid to even ask God about them, or ignorant that there are any intended interpretations at all. Devoid of meaning, the symbols have become venerated in LDS culture as magic talismans that harbor mysterious power over the heavenly hosts, as well as over demonic forces. A simple arm raised to the square while invoking the name of Deity is thought to be the authoritative means by which to cast out evil spirits. In the absence of success with this simpler practice (see Acts 19:13-17), more elaborate rituals are concocted by the foolhardy, who prey upon others who pay money to learn all the extra dance steps involved. Such individuals display a hunger for contact with the divine or other-worldly (a natural impulse to be sure), but they hunger not for righteousness; and, those claiming to “live without a veil” also seemingly live without sense in these matters as well, despite how many legitimate experiences they might have had.

Jesus said the adulterous seek after a sign, but do not get them (except unto damnation, see Matthew 16:4); yet the believing, humble, and penitent souls receive signs constantly at his hand (D&C 68:10). Furthermore, he said that some evil spirits “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Prayer is a two-way communication, as the LDS are wont to say, so it begs the question: what is being communicated by God when the case of casting out an evil spirit is presented before Him? A revelation in the D&C is instructive on this point:

Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God. And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God—Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith. He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive. (D&C 50:31-34).

Symbols have meanings. What is dramatized in an ordinance is not the heart of the matter involved, but merely a symbolic parable of an eternal reality. The eternal reality is not reached unless God reveals it to you (the things of the Spirit are only understood by the Spirit, see 1 Corinthians 2:11). Even if studying things out amongst fellow believers in sacred places is an advisable first step, every individual must learn their meanings from God alone. At that point, the use of a symbol becomes infused with power due to the understanding of the person using it, as that understanding is given to them by God. It becomes an extension of language and thought, and not merely a dance step or ritual. Even still, having trivia knowledge concerning symbolic meanings doesn’t mean a person is capable of acting on God’s behalf indiscriminately. The devils understand many meanings, and have no power with God (see James 2:19). There is no valid substitute for meekness (as in only doing those things the Lord asks, no more and no less) and keeping all the commandments of God, as the means by which to develop power with Him:

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. (D&C 121:45-46).

And, although coming from a second-hand account, I find this reminiscence about Joseph Smith’s interactions amusing:

I recollect a gentleman who came from Canada, and who had been a Methodist, and had always been in the habit of praying to a God who had no ears, and as a matter of course had to shout and halloo pretty loud to make him hear. Father Johnson asked him to pray in their family worship in the evening, and he got on such a high key, and hallooed so loud that he alarmed the whole village. Among others, Joseph came running out, saying, “What is the matter? I thought by the noise that the heavens and the earth were coming together,” and said to the man, “that he ought not to give way to such an enthusiastic spirit, and bray so much like a jackass.” Because Joseph said that, the poor man put back to Canada, and apostatized; he thought he would not pray to a God who did not want to be screamed at with all one’s might. (Ohio Reminiscenses About Joseph Smith).

Speaking about his experiences with the divine, Joseph Smith gave us all reason to pause and consider how dreadful a task it is to represent the Lord, a warning that we take seriously ourselves:

…had I inspiration, Revelation & lungs to communicate what my soul has contemplated in times past there is not a soul in this congregation but would go to their homes & shut their mouths in everlasting silence on religion, till they had learned something. (Funeral Sermon delivered at the Nauvoo temple site on August 13, 1843).

One cannot reemphasize the following passage from Joseph Smith’s letter from Liberty Jail enough:

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware 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. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity, thou must commune with God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137).

That depends on how you define the term.

The LDS people have their own definition of what a prophet is. They use, as their standard, a statement made by one of their church presidents:

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2., included as a footnote to Official Declaration 1).

They also refer to a parenthetical insertion in verse 7 of the revelation contained in D&C 132, which states:

(…there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred). (D&C 132:7).

They use this reference to tie the role of a prophet to that of the president of their church exclusively, and create a hierarchy of the role that makes all other prophets, including their own apostles and seventies, subordinate to their one true “Prophet”. They suggest that only the president of their church can be a fully active “Prophet”, while all others are either barred from using the gift of prophecy, or are only allowed to use it if it doesn’t contradict the President, or if the use of it is constrained within the confines of their limited roles, callings, or within their own family.

Neither Official Declaration 1, nor the footnotes from addresses made by Wilford Woodruff, have been accepted by the LDS Church as canonized scripture, despite the text being published as appendages within their standard works. Publishing them there, however, has caused the membership to regard those declarations and writings as scripture without officially voting them as such.

There is evidence also that the parenthetical insertion in D&C 132:7 was added later at the request of Brigham Young, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Instead, simply contrast that parenthetical afterthought with an earlier revelation given by Joseph Smith, where the Lord appoints Hyrum Smith to hold the sealing blessings of the church while Joseph Smith continued to be a prophet to the church:

First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you. I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet. (D&C 124:124-125).

Despite the plainness of language in the D&C 124 revelation, the LDS have created a complex practice of delegation where “sealers” in LDS temples act only under the authority of the highest ranking priesthood holder in their church. Because of their confusion about the Lord’s intentions for the role as revealed through Joseph Smith, the LDS have projected modern organizational concepts onto past practices, and have convinced themselves that Hyrum and Joseph held roles similar to ones defined today to support their acceptance and interpretation of D&C 132:7 as it stands in their version of the Doctrine and Covenants.

On the other hand, the scriptures outline the role of prophets and their status as the seed of Christ with an important clarification. Abinadi says the prophets are the seed of Christ if they have not fallen into transgression (Mosiah 15:13). So, in Abinadi’s definition, a prophet cannot be permanently considered the seed of Christ until they have finished their course on this earth and have avoided falling into transgression. Denver has agreed with this assessment of the title and its application throughout his writings and lectures:

In my view, the word and the title of “Prophet,” is something hallowed and sacred. Like the name of the Son of God, it is something that ought not to be repeated too often. And I don’t think you can take the measure of a man until he finally lays his life down. How he lays his life down matters in the aggregate, as well. I don’t think someone who fares sumptuously and receives accolades during his lifetime is ever much in a position to understand the rigors of obeying God and the difficulties of being thought as merely a wild man, or preposterous, or everything that you are not. Read Paul’s description of the prophets: “―And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were astoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb. 11: 36-38.) If Joseph suffered prison and was slain for the faith he worked to restore, it takes more than we generally give to have the same faith as the ancients. This is why I spoke of Faith in Idaho Falls. The conditions are the same in every dispensation. So when we use the term “Prophet” casually, to me, it seems to take something that ought to be spoken of with a great deal of care and turns it into something like a mere calling card. I find it offensive. I think it cheapens something, and it troubles me. When I think of the word “beloved,” I think of it exclusively in the context of our Savior. “This is my Beloved Son.” The One doing the loving in that context is the Father. This makes the term all the more something to be used with extraordinary delicacy and reserve. When you take those two words and you couple them together (“Beloved Prophet”), my sensibilities are such at this point in my life, that when you use the terms in that manner you are not appealing to me. Instead, you are repulsing me. You are not persuading me, you are offending me. You are not converting me, you are driving me away. I don’t say this to be critical of anyone. I say this because despite everything that I would like to be able to tolerate, despite my best efforts to try and make allowances, there are some things which when I hear, I simply cannot control. My repugnance at the notion that there is one who walks among us, who ought to be called “Beloved Prophet,” is something that I just cannot control. I don’t invite you to join me in that, but I want you to understand that in some respects we talk across a gulf. I say it in part to try to influence those who use the term to be more circumspect. I think the general population would be more persuaded by our missionaries if the terms were used with more caution. I also think applying extraordinary titles are less impressive than having a man preach the truth. If the content of his sermon is prophetic, then everyone can decide for themselves the measure of the messenger.(Denver Snuffer, 40 Years In Mormonism: Zion, p. 24).

Although I can’t find the references now, I remember reading that Joseph Smith and his family often refused the title “Prophet” for Joseph, depending on the context of the use of the title, but either way, in our estimation, he certainly earned the title at his martyrdom. On the other hand, Balaam had the spirit of prophecy and spoke with the Lord (Numbers 22-25), and prophesied true prophecies concerning Shiloh (Numbers 24:15-19), but he was not considered the seed of Christ. Peter described Balaam as someone who proved to love the wages of unrighteousness as opposed to being a true prophet (see 2 Peter 2:15).

Despite Denver and Joseph’s hesitancy to apply the title to themselves, the scriptures use the term “prophet” more generally, as in the Lord’s parable about fruits of true versus false prophets (3 Nephi 14:15-20). The Old Testament even provides us this advice for testing each and every saying from a prophet:

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Numbers 18:21-22).

And the Lord Himself defines the limited role of a prophet by contrasting their function to Moses’ role at the time:

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? (Numbers 12:6-8).

Yet, we often want absolutes and fail-safes. The LDS Church uses the term “Prophet” with the implication that they are incapable of falling into transgression, or at least incapable of transgressing to the point of losing their favored status. So in effect, they believe their prophets qualify for Abinadi’s final definition of who can be called the seed of Christ, while denying Abinadi’s clause about their ability to fall into damning transgression.

For sake of brevity, let’s say the LDS use the term “Prophet” with a capital “P”, meaning someone who earns the title indefinitely, who is protected from falling. And, let’s say “prophet” with a lowercase “p” means anyone who exhibits the gift of prophecy, who might lose or re-gain the gift as time goes on, according to their righteousness. Moses hoped we all could be called “prophets” among equals (Numbers 11:29), so Moses’ use of the word in that instance would be “prophet” with a lowercase “p”.

The LDS have applied a near-permanent status for the term “Prophet”, and consider it the role of their sitting president while he is living. Perhaps to avoid the baggage that goes along with the term, Denver Snuffer has avoided calling himself that kind of “Prophet”. But, if we were using the “prophet among equals” term, perhaps Denver would agree to the designation. This might be what he meant when he said:

Do I consider myself “a prophet?” The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. (Revelation 19: 10.) I have the testimony of Jesus. (Denver Snuffer, Clearing Off Some Pending Questions).

The LDS don’t use the term “prophet” like Moses did, so it seems better not to confuse Denver with the LDS version of “Prophet”, which is more like the term “Pope”, and for which the LDS have all sorts of confusion about. “Servant” seems more fitting for a title for Denver. Despite outside speculation, Denver Snuffer also categorically rejects the title of “the One Mighty and Strong” (see Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 403-404). There are too many references in his writings to worry about defending on that point.

Regardless, one of the big debates surrounding Denver is the claim that he said if you disagree with him you will be damned. The alleged source for this claim is the transcript of Denver’s 10th talk in Mesa, but a word search for “damned” or “damn” only produces a reference to Joseph Smith talking about John the Baptist and to the scripture in 3 Nephi 11 where one is damned for not listening to the Lord’s command to be baptized. In that talk, Denver did say the following, however:

I have never said this publicly, but because of what I think will ensue after this talk I am going to say it, not for my sake, and certainly not for the sake of anyone who believes the truth or who has the Spirit, but I say it only to benefit those who may view things completely otherwise. The Lord has said to me in His own voice, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.’ Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it. (Denver Snuffer, 40 Years in Mormonism: Preserving the Restoration, p. 4).

Whether or not anyone believes that the Lord actually said that to him is besides the point. In this quote, Denver says to feel free to disagree with him, contradicting the common claim against him mentioned above.

Others have issues with how Denver Snuffer expounds scriptures, such as when he learns more and updates his views on tangential topics like polygamy (but it should be noted, he has been against it throughout), or when he suggests non-traditional interpretations of old passages. Their problems stem from the idea that it is the role of a prophet to speak in absolutes at all times, and that he must be as knowledgable as the God he has met and/or talked with. Because of the glaring absence of this absolute in the scriptures (besides the footnotes that the the LDS reference from Wilford Woodruff above), this argument is weak. True prophets often challenge a culture steeped in degraded traditions, and their arguments resist popular opinions and interpretations. If we take John the Baptist as an example of proper expounding, the record shows that he taught things very similar to the Sermon on the Mount, which was radical in his day for suggesting what the true intent of the Law of Moses was on all of the commandments he covered (see Luke 3). It appears the Lord honored John’s “wild” expounding by making it a large part of His central teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, showing that He, the Lord, had the same mind as John on the subjects that he expounded on. Concerning the relationship between the mind of God and the spirit of prophecy manifested by the prophets when they appropriately expound on scripture, it is enough to understand the following quote from the Lord in Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Because of Denver Snuffer’s exposition on the scriptures and his sharing of the spirit of prophecy given to him, some who fellowship together in the way Denver has suggested can’t help but call him a “Prophet” with a capital “P”. This may be zeal without knowledge. It is certainly an impulse that is carried over from LDS culture. As LDS, we have done the same to LDS General Conference addresses and the speakers there, and it is easy enough to see that some are just doing the same to Denver now, despite Denver’s repeated rejection of that type of adulation. When the Lord has given Denver Snuffer or any other prophet something with which to expound on, it should be evident enough to those who know the voice of the Good Shepherd, but how well Denver or anyone else relays that content in their weak state as mortals remains to be seen by the test of time. Many do not consider it possible that a true prophet could make the following claim about their teachings (which again stems from their assertion that a prophet must be infallible, which is, as we have seen, a false premise):

Although what I say this evening represents my current thinking on the material, I could not have given this talk ten years ago. Nor do I expect that ten years from now I would give the same talk. My understanding changes over time, and this is a snapshot of my understanding taken from a moving picture. I hope it is useful to you. (Denver Snuffer, A Talk About the First Three Words Spoken Spoken By The Players In the Endowment, p. 1).

Unless they are quoting the Lord directly (for instance, Denver has proven he intends to portray even the bad grammar the Lord condescends to use, when he corrected the record after mis-quoting one word from the Lord once, see 40 Years In Mormonism: Christ, p. 6), we have to rely upon Denver or any other prophet to accurately convey the information they have been given when they put things into their own words, and teaching is a much more difficult task than one might think. We call the Lord the “Master Teacher” because the rest of us are quite sub-par in this category, including all the prophets and all current servants. Denver seems to rely on the scriptures a lot to avoid the disconnect, and invites us to get the original message for ourselves from the Lord, unsullied, and pure. We have probably read James 1:5 by now, and have hopefully become aware of the benefits, as well as the limitations, of scriptures and messages through messengers, which only cause us to “think” we have eternal life (see John 5:39). If Denver doesn’t portray the content the Lord has provided for him correctly, he says the Holy Ghost will be the last witness to determine that for you:

First, I explained in everything I’ve written, beginning with The Second Comforter, that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to prepare and bring us to Christ. Without the Holy Ghost we cannot come to Christ. Further, in that same book I acknowledged the Holy Ghost’s foundational role by telling the reader that they must receive a witness from the Holy Ghost as they read the book or they do not have the required two witnesses. Without the Holy Ghost’s ratifying confirmation, I tell the reader to discard what I’ve written. Far from denegrating the Holy Ghost’s role, I have made it a central part of the process, without it no person can come unto Christ. (http://denversnuffer.com/2011/09/response-to-question/).

For myself, I have attended almost every lecture of his 40 Years Series, re-read the transcripts, and read the book “Preserving the Restoration” which removes the personal anecdotes and focuses on the scriptures and the interpretations. I’ve made myself a personal index of all the claims I find important, and I’ve asked the Lord if he vouches for Denver as His servant and if the course the lectures outline for us to pursue to preserve the restoration is pleasing to His will, after experimenting upon it for over a year now, and longer if you count prior books. I have heard from the Lord that it is pleasing to Him, and Denver is an authorized servant. As far as Denver’s mistakes and updates on historical facts, (especially considering that all of us are subject to sources that have been tampered with as an LDS cover-up until the more recent Joseph Smith Papers project has exposed the original record more), “if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ” (Book of Mormon title page, and see http://denversnuffer.com/2014/05/damned-again/). If anyone searches Denver’s claims as seriously as they hope an investigator would search the Book of Mormon, they could know the same thing. If the Holy Ghost doesn’t confirm it, discard it. But, if you take a lazy approach, and make a man an offender for a word even after a long reading session mixed with skimming, and don’t experiment and sacrifice to learn about it, then you may not have given it a fair shake. You might end up like the CES instructor that finds contradictions all over the scriptures and has given up his faith in God, saying about the contradictions, in effect, “They can’t be explained.”

We’ll close with just one final note about what fruit to be looking for in a true prophet: Joseph Smith possessed the principle of love, and gathered many Saints, and to this day, even though the LDS Church is in apostasy, the LDS are good hearted, virtuous people. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say that the Book of Mormon is the fruit of the ancient Nephite and Lamanite prophets, while Joseph Smith’s fruit is his own labor of love for Christ and His people. That is Joseph’s fruit. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is how Christ identified his disciples, as those who love one another (John 13:34). Even the RLDS are great folks. The Fundamentalists are not short on their own virtues as well, and even though they are largely Brigham Young’s fruit, many are opening up to the Lord’s word through Joseph Smith instead because of their good hearts, as they discover Brigham’s mistakes in representing what Joseph Smith said. It is those who practice priest-craft in any of the off-shoots who have become hardened. However, those who have taken the message of the true prophets to look to Christ have become Christ’s fruit, who loves us all (see Mosiah 15:10-12). No one “follows” Denver without suffering the same fate as those who follow any man (see 2 Nephi 4:34). The scriptures speak for themselves and Denver is not very important beyond a certain level. With God’s approval, we can all preach and teach like John the Baptist, correct ourselves when we learn more truth, and move on in faith. Besides, the meekness characteristic of a prophet compels them to guard their words carefully so as not to take the name of the Lord in vain, and to establish when they are speaking opinions or provoking inquiry and thought. Casual perusal of Denver’s writings clearly evidences this pattern of meekness. We ought to be careful not to become accusers, which is Satan’s role. Errors in doctrine may be discussed and corrected, but a man’s character ought not to be questioned except by positive evidence of misconduct.

A priesthood holder has authority to do whatever God commands, and any ordinance when commanded, except they can’t do any ordinance on behalf of the LDS Church unless they have an office in that Church (see our posts herehere and here). The fruits are the improved lives of the people, as opposed to a Pharisaical evidence-test that a prophet teaches completely without error. Because of a fear of making mistakes in teaching, the LDS correlate everything and demand compliance. As a consequence, outsiders are often nicer to them than they are to themselves. There are none who dare to molest or make afraid in their congregations. A true prophet, on the other hand, possesses the principle of love, and a pure love of Christ, and adherence, as a minimum, to the doctrine of Christ in 3 Nephi 11. But, true prophets are also fallible men, and they may make many teaching errors when exploring the vast resource of knowledge which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith said the following concerning an excommunication trial drummed up against an elder with strange interpretations of the book of Revelation:

I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:340).

And, Joseph Smith said the following about relying on a prophet too much leading to a darkened mind:

President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–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, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842-43, p.237).

Any casual observer of LDS General Conferences can see that General Authorities make as many teaching errors as LDS lay members do in their congregations. If perfect teaching were the standard, then all General Authorities ought to be excommunicated for saying they are prophets and teaching errors. As for Denver Snuffer, we rejoice when God condescends to use a servant to expound the true meaning of the scriptures revealed in our day as the Standard Works, and pray to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

A great article on the topic of the role of a prophet is by Robert Sonntag, and is well worth the read: What is a Prophet – 10.30.2014.

A council is entitled to have their decisions be considered righteous decisions if they meet a certain standard, and hence have it called the “inspiration” of the council, implying that it is truly from God. They are also entitled to receive revelation from God in addition to inspiration. We see this all over the Doctrine and Covenants. If the LDS Church is calling inspiration revelation, let’s let them concede the point for the sake of argument.

But, in addition to this, the revelations say: “The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision” (D&C 107:30-32).

The use of “a general assembly of the several quorums” doesn’t seem to be talking about General Authorities in these verses, but any gathering of the LDS Church’s priesthood and quorums from the general church membership. It is the members’ right to test the decisions of any quorum for the criteria listed in the above revelation, which means that past consensus on what was righteous, virtuous, etc. is already in the scriptures and provides another litmus test for present decisions to be weighed against. The definitions of those criteria ought to be understood on their own and by how the scriptures define them as well, so decisions can be weighed properly. It is a long list, and even if a decision qualifies in some criteria, the absence of any of the other criteria makes it a worthless decision. The revelation says “all righteousness”, not just part of those requirements.

If the membership doesn’t use its right to veto decisions, there is no appeal, and they have to live with the consequences of unrighteous judgment, and the council thus deciding would be denied being “fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord”.

 

Joseph Smith had this to say about councils and what made them effective in ancient days…a strict standard by any stretch of the imagination:

[On 12 February 1834 Joseph taught the following about ancient councils:]
“In ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or the voice of the council by the Spirit, was obtained, which has not been observed in this Church to the present time. It was understood in ancient days, that if one man could stay in council, another could; and if the president could spend his time, the members could also; but in our councils, generally, one will be uneasy, another asleep; one praying, another not; one’s mind on the business of the council, and another thinking on something else. Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in council upon the soul of your brother.” (History of the Church, 2:25-26)

Remember, the truth impressed on the Seer Joseph Smith was: “Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express.”

The answer is a resounding “no”.

We’ve touched on this briefly in other posts (see here and here), but it deserves further treatment.

In the post about exercising faith outside of any church, we didn’t elaborate on this much, but it is implied and inclusive in the quote from the Lectures on Faith about individual faith:

“…the extent of their knowledge, respecting his character and glory, will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him…” (Lectures on Faith L2 ¶55)

There is more than one way to obtain knowledge respecting God’s character and glory than just reading the revelations God has given man. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1832, the Lord said:

“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” (D&C 84:19-22)

Ordinances are a ritualistic communication of symbols and ideas through experiential ceremony. Everyone understands that sign language can convey as much meaning, if not more, than the spoken or written word. The concept is no different for ordinances. Ordinances represent a legitimate way by which abstract concepts concerning God’s character can be communicated through concrete symbols and allusions. But, who can guarantee that a representation, or even a revelation for that matter, is from God, and properly reflective of what he wants to reveal about himself?

The issue of authority is one of trust in the individual conveying the message, as well as trust in the content of the message.

-Is the individual in question sent by God to convey the message or ordinance? and,

-Is the information accurately conveyed?

Both questions are vitally important to get an accurate view of something revealed by God through others. In addition to this, God can and does reveal himself without intermediaries (see James 1:5), speaking straight to individuals. This all goes to the heart of our conversation about these topics. When priesthood is viewed as a legitimate relationship between the true and living God and a messenger OR an individual, the phrase, “without the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh,” makes sense. It is a plain statement of an obvious conclusion. The “authority” lies in whether or not an individual or messenger truly has spoken with God, at each event and communication in question.

Read this scriptural thought again like so: “without the authority of [an actual communication or connection with heaven], the power of godliness is not [communicated] unto men in the flesh.” It is so obvious as to seem ludicrous to have to mention it, but still, the obvious is sometimes not-so-obvious for those with selfish ambitions. The point of such a statement is to highlight the fact that God himself governs any and all communications about himself, and forbids anyone to take his name in vain, and say they are representing knowledge about him when he hasn’t asked them to. The only way to know if another person is properly authorized by God to convey a message is to have a communication from God yourself about the content of that message.

Hopefully, one has enough trustworthy information from others about God to enable them to get an answer from the true and living God concerning other messages he sends or communicates. Fortunately, God has endowed man with common sense and reason to begin to form their first opinions concerning the legitimacy of messages about God’s character. Anti-Christs have twisted reason to appeal to this basic, fundamental skill of all intelligent beings (see Helaman 16:18), but that doesn’t mean we ought to throw out the use of all good reason. As the Lectures on Faith point out in general, it is not reasonable to assume that any being could obtain and preserve power in the universe without being just, merciful, loving, truthful, faithful, AND fair, or else some other more desirable figure would have at some point dethroned him. Therefore, after obtaining the idea that such a being as a God actually exists, any rational, intelligent soul can exercise faith in such a being so as to obtain answers from Him directly. Messengers can and do offer a benefit to others, but all messages can be independently obtained, and in fact must be, to be verified as coming from God.

This connection to heaven, or “priesthood” as the scriptures denote it, is the essential authority needed for seeking out the Lord through faith, so as to obtain the foundation of knowledge concerning his character and attributes upon which salvation is obtained. All of this is done and described in scripture without any reference to church membership. Only the authority of the priesthood, or connection to heaven, is required.

The LDS Church necessarily has common sense protections against the imposition of claims to “priesthood” or connections with heaven upon its members. However, such protections extend only to the group’s common consent to allow any communication to stand as the accepted voice of the group, and to reject any communication as a group. Can you see how unreasonable it is to suggest that one individual can claim that a private communication is acceptable to the group without the group’s consent? An individual can claim to have a message for a group, but it is up to the group to decide if it accepts or rejects that message as having come from God. An imposition comes if an individual claims their message is accepted by a group before the group decides to accept it.

In the case of the LDS Church, one man has been appointed to have the final say as to what the group accepts, and this man is the President of the Church. The members have long since given up their rights to confirm what that one man proposes, and instead they only sustain it after it is decided, but that is besides the point. Others may deliver messages from God to the group, but according to what the LDS have agreed upon, only one man can decide if the group accepts or rejects the message (according to their interpretation of D&C 43:5-7). Individuals in the group must decide if they accept or sustain that man’s decisions for the group. D&C 43:5-7 does not mean that no one can deliver messages to the group other than the President of the Church. Even the LDS interpretation of that passage only means that no one but the President can claim on behalf of the group that the message is a revelation from God to the group. If the LDS allowed for it, the President could accept revelations from others, even non-members, as binding upon the group as revelations to the group, but with traditional LDS interpretations of “the gate” as being only an LDS baptism, and “ordination” as being only an LDS ordination, it is unlikely that will ever happen.

Despite their faulty interpretations of D&C 43, a message can still be shared by an outsider, and it may in fact come from God. What the Lord advised the LDS people to be looking for was a messenger who had entered into the scriptural “gate” and had been “ordained” as the scriptures outline, whether they be a church member or not. The President of the LDS Church is accountable if he rejects a true message from God and refuses to give it the status of “revelation for the group” if it has indeed come from God from an outside source. It is possible that the terms “gate” and “ordination” in D&C 43 can refer to the works of God independent of any other servant’s authority, but by God himself (see 2 Nephi 9:41 and JST, Genesis 14:25-29 for other possible scriptural interpretations as to what God meant in D&C 43 when he said “as I have told you before” concerning the manner of entering in by the gate and receiving ordination).

Can you also see how unreasonable it is for the group to likewise suggest that what they have consented to as coming from God for the group is imposing on all individuals, except as those individual are involved in group practices? The group can claim to have a message for all individuals (like the Family Proclamation to the world), but it is up to individuals to accept or reject that message as authoritative. The group and the individual stand independent of one another and accountable to God for what they accept or reject. But by the same token, neither have a monopoly on God’s communications and ordinances (see 2 Nephi 29:8-11 , and read it carefully, likening it to the Latter-day Saints or yourself).

Therefore, the LDS Church is not the only resource for authoritative ordinances. Those who have a legitimate connection to heaven, or who have priesthood, are resources for communications and ordinances from God, as God directs. Likewise, obtaining communication from God yourself is equally available to test and vet communications from others. No priesthood holder (whether they belong to any church or not) can impose their messages on a group without the group’s consent, and neither can a group claim to have sole communication rights with heaven. Joseph Smith himself was a priesthood holder without a church for quite some time before the church was organized, as were many scriptural examples such as John the Beloved, Lehi in the wilderness, and so on. It is God who rules over all, and who requires us to be one in these matters (D&C 38:27), without contention (3 Nephi 11:29).

Yes, of course! If you find value in service there, there is no reason to stop attending LDS Church services.

The LDS Church publishes as one of its articles of faith: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

Therefore, you have scriptural authority to follow the doctrine of Christ and remain LDS. However, because the LDS Church has cultural, as well as membership policy expectations beyond what the scriptures require, this may be difficult at times, but it can be done. We did this for many years, and followed our membership obligations, but reached a point where we wanted to share the opportunity Christ has extended for everyone to be baptized or re-baptized (for a remission of sins, and to mark a rejection of idolatry, and to look forward to the Lord’s future return). To be honest with ourselves and others in facing the currently accepted role of a “member” in the LDS Church, we have decided that resignation was best for us so we could publish these different views without facing a fight with church leaders (3 Nephi 11:28-30). But, that may not be the situation you find yourselves in. There are many different ways to serve, and when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17).

If you decide to tow the line between scriptures and membership obligations, part of the difficulty comes from unpublished leadership directives that confuse interpretations of membership requirements and temple questions. An overly strict LDS leader can mean the difference between having a challenging experience versus a pleasant one.

If situations like that arise, remember what the Lord said in his Sermon on the Mount, reiterated to the Nephites: “And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (3 Nephi 12:10, Matthew 5:10).

Likewise, there are many good men in the Priesthood who belong to the LDS Church, who haven’t consented to the excommunication of the innocent, and who haven’t condemned or “wrested” the scriptures (see Alma 41:1). These righteous men can still perform authoritative ordinances if they follow the Lord’s pattern in all things. Their individual power in the Priesthood is the true authority to do things on behalf of the Lord (D&C 121:34-46).

Other answers on this site will likely address more about the Lord’s pattern in ordinances, and how a minister of Christ gains power in his Priesthood.