Here is a list one fellowship put together from Joseph Smith’s definitions of terms to help in the various efforts for a set of principles. As I thought about it, it is more of a glossary as well, pulled together from Joseph Smith resources and only slightly modified in sentence structure to cast them as definitions. It’s archival now that the thrust has recently changed on the Guide and Standard. So, this list is largely obsolete for that effort, but it is included here for your benefit.

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth. Consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft…The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” Joseph Smith

“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316). “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Embrace that. Have the Baptists, Methodists, and so forth? Embrace that. Get all the good in the world, and you will come out a pure Mormon.” (July 23, 1843) “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks. Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith

Truth is knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come. [D&C 33:7 RE]

Faith is the assurance we have of unseen things which are true. It is the principle of action and power in mortals and in God. Acting upon correct belief is the essence of faith. We are all commanded to believe in Jesus Christ and act upon that belief by obeying Him. [LoF 1]

Salvation is here defined in its broadest terms, as in being saved from all enemies, including death. This type of salvation happens if and when you become a joint heir with Jesus Christ and attain the power of the resurrection after this life, such that you can resurrect all those dependent upon you. [LoF 7:8]

God, or the Godhead, is a term describing the unity of two separate, perfected beings—the Father and the Son—along with their unified mind, called the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son. Jesus is also the way, the truth, and the life, and no person comes to the Father but by Jesus. [LoF 5, John 10:7 RE]

God is the object for all people with understanding to have faith in for life and salvation. [LoF 2]

Three things are necessary so that anyone with understanding may exercise faith in God towards life and salvation: The idea that he actually exists, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes, and an actual knowledge that the course you are pursuing is according to his will. [LoF 3]

The perfections of God’s attributes and characteristics [LoF 4:1-2]:

God has all faith or power, and was God before the world was created, and is the same God now, and He always will be. [LoF 3:13, 4:5]
God has all mercy, and He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness, and He was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting. [LoF 3:14, 4:7]
God has all right actions, or justice, and He never changes. His course is one eternal round and He is always willing to teach. He teaches by the power of grace, and gives liberally, to the just and the unjust. [LoF 3:15,21, 4:6,11, James 1:2 RE, Ether 5:5 RE]
God has all correct judgment against the wicked, and He is no respecter of persons (of whatever race or color, young or old, bond or free, male or female) but every person who fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him. [LoF 3:17, 4:7]
God has all truth and He is truthful and cannot lie. [LoF 3:16, 4:8]
God has all knowledge, and He is loving, such that He shares understanding through wisdom that He might save all His creatures. He is love. [LoF 3:18, 4:4,9, 1 John 4:8, John 4:3 RE]

“The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” [Joseph Smith, “Elders’ Journal, July 1838,” p. 44].

The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. The Old Testament contains old covenants. The Book of Mormon, combined with the New Testament, constitutes the new covenant, and both are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” [HC 4:461]. The Teachings and Commandments and the Pearls of Great Price are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. These scriptures are not all that God has revealed or that He has now revealed. God’s words never cease and He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. [WL (AoF) 1:29, 1:30, see also Answer and Covenant]

Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby salvation may come. Salvation comes by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the merits of his atonement. [2 Nephi 13:6 RE, WL (AoF) 1:24]

“Doctrine” means an approved body of teachings.

The doctrine of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me, and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, every where, to repent and believe in me; and whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine; and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me, believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me; for he will visit him with fire, and with the Holy Ghost; and thus will the Father bear record of me; and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost, are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine; and whoso buildeth upon this, buildeth upon my rock; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such, when the floods come, and the winds beat upon them” [3 Nephi 5:9 RE]

“Gospel” means good news, or topics approved for preaching. “Preaching” means public pronouncements that attract interested persons to be taught more.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you, that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me; and my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, I might draw all men unto me; that as I have been lifted up by men, even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil; and for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father, I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name, shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father, at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father; and this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words; and no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest, save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment; repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do; therefore if ye do these things, blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” [3 Nephi 12:5 RE]

Commandments are directions from God on how we may act so that it may turn to our salvation [D&C 80:2 RE]. Keeping commandments produces good works, which are expressions of our belief in God’s character and attributes.

The essential commandments are contained in the Sermon at Bountiful [see 3 Nephi 5-7:1 RE]. The Sermon on the Mount or at Bountiful is the Law of Christ.

“Good” is defined as keeping God’s commandments and “bad” is defined as not keeping God’s commandments.

“Sin” is defined as not keeping the commandments of God that you know about and understand correctly. “Transgression” is generally defined as not keeping the commandments of God, even when you are ignorant of them, but sometimes means to cross over the limits of the law in general, whether you know the law or not.

Repentance is turning away from sin and ignorance and facing God. God forgives sin when we forsake it and seek forgiveness. Believers in Jesus Christ repent by gaining knowledge of His ways and doing as He did. [D&C 17:8 RE]

Men and women will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam and Eve’s transgression. Little children have no need of repentance, and are incapable of repentance. [WL (AoF) 1:23, Moroni 8 RE]

The wicked are those who refuse to repent, for as long as they rebel. [D&C 27:10 RE]

Any sacrifice to God must be accompanied by a broken heart and a contrite (or willing) spirit [3 Nephi 4:7 RE]. The sacrifice of all earthly things is eventually required of all the faithful in some way or form known by them and God to obtain the faith necessary for life and salvation, and to obtain eternal life [LoF 5].

To hold proper authority to perform outward ordinances, a man must be called of God by prophecy (if they have desires to serve God, they are called to the work [D&C 99:1 RE]), and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. True messengers of God will never take wages for their ministerial service. [WL (AoF) 1:26, 2 Nephi 11:10 RE] The constitution of the priesthood, and of all religious discourse, is outlined in D&C 47 RE, D&C 121 LE.

All followers of Christ, men and women, old and young, can be called of God to teach, expound, exhort, and invite all to come unto Christ, and to bless and heal others through the power of faith and by the laying on of hands.

Baptism is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is only to be administered to those who have understanding, who have arrived at the age of accountability, which is at least eight years old [D&C 73:4 RE, JST Genesis 17:11]. Baptism is required of all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Baptism must be performed by immersion, by one holding proper authority, and when possible, in living water such as a river, lake, or sea. Our Lord gave the following instructions:

“Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: ‘Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” [3 Nephi 5:8 RE]

The Holy Ghost is the promised gift of the Father to those who have faith in His Son, repent of their sins, and receive baptism. “Therefore it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven, the Comforter, the peaceable things of immortal glory, the truth of all things, that which quickeneth all things which maketh alive all things, that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment,” [Genesis 4:7 RE]. This connection to God will give you access to truth, which speaks to your mind and heart. There are gifts of the spirit such as the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. [WL (AoF) 1:28]. If you deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you and you know that you deny it, this is a sin which is unpardonable. Whoever murders against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for them to obtain a forgiveness. Therefore, when following the way, have a determination to serve Christ to the end of your mortal lives. [Alma 19:1 RE, Hebrews 6:1-6 RE, Mosiah 2:2 RE]

The names of those who are baptized are to be recorded [D&C 51:4-5 RE], and the followers of Christ should join in fellowship when possible:

“And after they had been received unto baptism and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the Church of Christ, and their names were taken that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith. And the church did meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” [Moroni 6, see also D&C 4:14 RE]

Sacrament is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper consists of bread and wine, is the means by which He may fill us with His Spirit, and is offered to all who have been baptized. The bread is broken, and all kneel [3 Nephi 8:4] while the man says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” [Moroni 4]

The man who is officiating also blesses the wine (or an alternative, such as grape juice, which symbolizes the blood of our Lord). He takes the cup [3 Nephi 8:7] and says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” [Moroni 5]

Giving to the poor is a law of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” [Mosiah 2:2 RE]

Marriage is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman, as originally established by God between Adam and Eve. The woman and the man are to be equally yoked, working together as one in the Lord to follow Him and to fulfill the duty devolving upon them to teach their children the principles of the gospel. The ceremony for contracting marriage follows the guidance of the Spirit. Marriages sealed by the Lord’s oath in a sacred place will endure beyond death and into the Father’s kingdom. [see the Answer and Covenant]

Receiving the covenant is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ [see the Answer and Covenant].
Jesus Christ will personally visit you before you die and give you further doctrine and commandments if you draw near to him in this life. This is called “being redeemed from the fall.” [see the Answer and Covenant, Ether 1:12 RE]

Israel will be gathered and the Ten Tribes restored. Zion will be built upon the American continent and Christ will reign personally upon the earth. The earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. [WL (AoF) 1:31]

The gospel requires its followers to allow everyone (including other professing followers of Christ) to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to worship how, where, and what they may. [WL (AoF) 1:32]

The gospel requires its followers to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, to do good to all, to believe all things, to hope all things, to endure many things, to hope to be able to endure all things, and to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy. This is faith, hope, and charity. [WL (AoF) 1:34, Moroni 7]

It is an eternal principle that the first shall be last and the last shall be first [Mark 8:16 RE]. Also, they that exalt themselves shall be abased, and they that abase themselves shall be exalted [Ez. 9:9 RE]. Therefore, if you have righteous vows and obligations to apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth in your churches, or to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law in your countries, keep those obligations. So far as you have the opportunity to do so, be free, and govern yourselves as peacemakers and as the children of God. [WL (AoF) 1:33, 1:37, 3 Nephi 5:10 RE]

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.

 

Yes. It is connected to, and built upon, the dispensation begun by Joseph Smith, but it is nonetheless new. We honor those in the LDS Church who have preserved what they have of Joseph Smith’s teachings, and Christ’s words through him. John the Baptist’s priesthood reckoned from the Jews he wrested the keys from. His priesthood continued, as did Christ’s and the apostles, despite the demise of the Jewish council, synagogues, and temple.

Denver Snuffer has ushered in the dispensation of the last times for the Gentiles, as John the Baptist ushered in the dispensation of the last times for the Jews (D&C 27:13). Joseph Smith’s inauguration of a dispensation of last times was abortive, and thankfully so. The Gentiles were given more time before their kingdoms were destroyed, as the use of those keys were started by Joseph Smith for the purpose of building the latter-day Zion. Zion was not built. Joseph Smith ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times (D&C 128:18), which is a restoration that gathers all things in one, just as Moses did to start his dispensation. This dispensation of Joseph’s was incomplete. We have not received the vision of the revelation of all things given to the brother of Jared, nor the return of the priesthood that the Lord promised to Adam would return in the last days (Moses 6:7). The dispensation of the last times, which is the last time the Lord will prune His vineyard (Jacob 5:62), builds upon and completes the dispensation of the fulness of times, which gathers in one all things; or it could be said the last times completes the prior dispensation so the fulness of all things can be ushered in. The unfinished parts of the Restoration will be picked up and completed and built upon. Joseph’s success was marvelous but not exhaustive. It remains to be completed in another “last times” and “fulness of times” attempt, and the choice is ours to rise up. These are keys that can be implemented whenever God commands, and not conforming to Western definition notions. The dispensation attempt is finalized as the “last times” when it accomplishes what was begun with the turning of the keys to begin it: It becomes the “last times” for the kingdoms that the dispensation is opposed to. When the kingdoms fall of their own accord as they dash to pieces against the rock that is established, then the dispensation will be a success, and earn the title indefinitely in history (see D&C 39:17, where the Lord implores the Saints to be faithful that they may prune the vineyard for the last time). Otherwise, the last times will begin anew with a future generation. Likewise, for the fulness of times, if all things are not gathered in one, then it remains to be completed by another generation who can gather all knowledge, dispensations, glory, and keys into Zion.

All things are relative. Again, in another cycle, there will be other dispensations of last times and fulness of times. They are the ingathering of the harvest, and the burning of the field that happens every season before the long winter, where the Lord’s people are called to dwell in booths as covert from the storm. Moses and John the Baptist are bookends, just as Joseph Smith and Denver Snuffer are, only in the Lord’s strange act, the time has been shorter as the Lord has cut short His work in righteousness (D&C 52:11), as he has caused to be prophesied before (Romans 9:28). We pray for more time to accomplish what we need to accomplish, and that more might be saved.

To say “now is the time which is the dispensation of the last times, and the fulness of times,” is to say the kingdom of heaven is at hand now as well (Matthew 10:7). Today is another of those days.

Another take on the “last times” meaning is that it is the “latest” dispensation, and not the final one, as in Joseph Smith’s usage of “last of all” in D&C 76:22.

 

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.

Several years ago, the LDS church president spoke of their ambition to make things less complicated in their church:

I need not tell you that we have become a very large and complex Church. Our program is so vast and our reach is so extensive that it is difficult to comprehend. We are a Church of lay leadership. What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is. It must ever remain so. It must never move in the direction of an extensive paid ministry. But we know that the administrative load is very heavy on our bishops and stake presidents, as well as some others. An awareness of that fact has led the Presidency and the Twelve to hold a number of meetings, some of them long and interesting, in which in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again. Our objective has been to see whether there might be some programs we could do away with. But as we have analyzed these, we have not seen much that could be dropped. To drop one is like giving away one of your children. You haven’t the heart to do it. But I wish to assure you that we are aware of the burdens you carry and the time you spend. In this priesthood meeting I wish to mention a few of the items we have discussed. I think you will note that we have made some progress, although it may be small. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To Men of the Priesthood,” October 2002 General Conference Priesthood Session).

When he said, “in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again,” although outwardly a commendable notion, there is no consideration to the idea that programs could well be chosen and administered, or abandoned altogether, on the local level without central oversight.

Speaking to his twelve disciples of old, the Lord said:

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:25-27).

Perhaps it is for this reason that the only result of the LDS meetings to reorganize their structure was, “…that we have made some progress, although it may be small.” Progress towards what end? Perhaps it could be said, instead, that giving up one of their centrally correlated programs was like giving up one of their idols…which throughout history has been ironically difficult for mankind to do, despite the absurdity of worshiping vain things that cannot provide salvation. Without fail, religions that once thrived from direct blessings from heaven, have all eventually dwindled to the point of clinging to their buildings, programs, structures, and traditions when apostasy has set in.

It is evident from the scriptures that the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes sacred oral traditions replete with ceremony, ordinances, and consistency (see Alma 12:9-11). But, care should be taken with temple rites, as much mischief can be done by their misuse (consider Cain vs. Abel, Brigham Young’s polygamy and blood oaths, and see Helaman 6). But, in the proper context, correct rituals can be uplifting, and even essential for our exaltation:

Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 308).

An altered form of the oral tradition that Joseph Smith began in Nauvoo is available in LDS temples or online for review (see caution below). Because it has been altered over the years, it stands in the category of apocrypha, along with many other works that give insight into the ancient oral tradition of the Gospel (see Masonic rituals, and The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, especially his work on the Lord’s 40 day ministry, and the Egyptian Endowment, etc).

I used to be a Free and Accepted Mason, and I can say I believe Joseph Smith translated Masonry and restored what principles were lost into the beginnings of a format for use by the Priesthood in the last days, much like he translated the King James Version of the Bible…but we have lost much of what Joseph has restored.

There are no “keys” that give any man authority to change ordinances instituted before the foundation of the world, for the Priesthood, that are not intended to be changed. Therefore, changes in the endowment ceremony by definition make the ceremonies, to the degree of change involved, apocryphal, and inclusive of “interpolations by the hands of men” (D&C 91). The word history/definition of the verb form of “interpolation” is:

interpolate (v.) 1610s, “to alter or enlarge (a writing) by inserting new material,” from Latin interpolatus, past participle of interpolare “alter, freshen up, polish;” of writing, “falsify,” from inter- “among, between” (see inter-) + polare, which is related to polire “to smoothe, polish.”  Sense evolved in Latin from “refurbish,” to “alter appearance of,” to “falsify (especially by adding new material).” Middle English had interpolen (early 15c.) in a similar sense. Related: Interpolated; interpolating. (see here).

Section 91 expresses principles revealed by the Lord on how to treat Apocrypha, and is worthy of a careful review before attempting to study any text about temple rituals, or to attend an LDS temple itself. In fact, because the rituals are intended to be transmitted in person with heaven’s approval, care should also be taken in reviewing online or written materials. For those who have already received ordinances with heaven’s approval, they can be a useful way to review, especially if the LDS Church has unjustly taken away your temple recommend.

The best current resources for getting at the truth of what is contained in the Gospel’s oral tradition is to read the standard works, Joseph Smith’s teachings, and Denver Snuffer’s teachings (See Denver’s posts here and here where he says in part, “I’m acquainted with all the changes. I have found them all and studied them all. I know all of the many differences.”). Within their teachings are the Savior’s principles that must be applied first in order to prepare for higher, sacred knowledge. That is enough to build upon today. We cannot have more if we do not appreciate and live what we have already been given (see 3 Nephi 26:9 and D&C 88:33). In the chapter entitled “Preserving the Restoration” in Denver’s book of the same title, he says:

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 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).

Having activities for youth are great and wonderful, but become an encumbrance and a hindrance to righteous living when idolatry is involved. Parents are not excused from their responsibility to be the primary teachers of the gospel to their children, so any other wholesome program for youth can be substituted for LDS Church programs as the parents supplement with Gospel teaching on their own. If you choose to wade through the idolatry included in LDS youth programs (that encourage youth to “follow the prophet” and to follow LDS leaders), then you face the challenge of contradicting their errors and persuading your children with truth from the scriptures to combat the evil influence of those programs. But, such a course may be worthwhile if you simultaneously want to take advantage of the good left in those programs. The choice is yours. Many parents organize activities for their youth with their friends in fellowships that are just as uplifting and productive. With many having served in LDS callings for years, it is easy to reproduce only the good parts of activities that are developed from wise, divinely inspired orderliness that the LDS have now commercialized and promoted to yield high tithing receipts and participation. It is perfectly OK to opt out of the LDS Church corporation’s versions of the programs and recreate them on your own, according to God’s will. Then you can pick and choose the parts that are the most uplifting and leave behind the dross.

Nothing needs to be chartered and officially sanctioned unless it involves more people than your immediate family. Follow wise principles and get heaven’s consent before important endeavors, and if you do involve a larger portion of the community, get their common consent and avoid getting trapped into false traditions and bureaucratic excesses. Be smart, be safe, be frugal, and be free. If you were once willing to put forth great effort for a calling and to get the praise of leaders, do it again for your family and for the Lord, where not much of your effort will get recognized publicly. This can include ordaining your young men (or old men) to the Priesthood outside of the LDS Church (see Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 509-515) and encouraging proper preaching, teaching, expounding, and exhorting (see 3 Nephi 14:6). The Lord may call them to service in good and worthwhile organizations that can take them on similar assignments paralleling LDS missionary service (see our post here). The Lord may inspire them to preach in ways more powerful than the limited approach of the LDS for their youth (see Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 519). Remember that this movement started with a 14 year old boy being visited by the Father and the Son, who became a 22 year old who began and finished the translation of ancient scripture.

Much of LDS missionary work is babysitting unconverted missionaries. It is an affront to the Lord and a compulsion for some who have no desires to serve God, but seek only to fulfill a family and cultural obligation. The notion that a mission is what a youth needs to get converted is a false and damnable idea. The pattern the Lord outlined is simple and profound: “If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work” (D&C 4). If there is no desire, there is no call. That being said, there are still sincere, and miraculous efforts in the LDS missionary program from those who truly desire to serve the Lord, but remember, there was no MTC in Joseph Smith’s day, and what was likely Joseph’s sealing to Emma was outside of temple walls (see Denver Snuffer, Passing the Heavenly Gift, footnote 10, p. 18).

Although these are general guidelines, and not specific answers to some of the topics in the question, it should be evident by now in our posts that we do not seek to be the final answer on these questions, but to direct the learner to the scriptures and to the Lord. Hopefully you will see the spirit of the scriptures in these posts, and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd when it has been evident, and be able to face God correctly in your journey forward.

Here are some other noteworthy resources, including a piece about sincere missionary work and inspired resources on how to conduct marriages approved by heaven, matching earlier practices of Latter-day Saints in Joseph Smith’s day:

(Rock Waterman, Where I Went Wrong On My Mission)

(Article on Marriage from the 1835 D&C, section 101)

(Keith Henderson, Marriage and Denver Snuffer, Comments on Marriage)

As other conditions arise that require direction from heaven on how to proceed, such as what to do about Patriarchal blessings, and other important items, heaven can be sought and revelation obtained as God grants it.

Concerning callings, the restraint and balance required of Hyrum Smith by the Lord in regards to preaching is noteworthy in D&C 11, but service to our fellowman is always commendable (See Rock Waterman, The Refiner’s Fire, and D&C 58:26-33).

That depends. In many cases in today’s circumstances, no you will not.

Excommunication is an ordinance just like any other. In the Book of Mormon, the ordinance consisted of blotting out the names of those who would not confess their sins, and baptizing or re-baptizing those who confessed and returned again (see Mosiah 26). Since these actions are performed by ordinances, that means that excommunication and reinstatement through re-baptism take abstract intangible concepts and spiritual realities, and put them into physical rites by the use of symbolism. Being cut off from your community, after a church trial and conviction, is a type or symbol of being cut off from the presence of the Lord, or being cursed so as to be unable to achieve redemption for a time, and to be barred from seeing the Second Comforter. A revealed pattern for conducting the trial is contained in D&C 42 and D&C 102. The scriptures describe excommunication like so: “Inasmuch as ye are cut off for transgression, ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption” (D&C 104:9; see also D&C 78:12, D&C 82:21, and D&C 132:26).

In connection with excommunication being an ordinance, D&C 132 outlines how the Lord validates any action claimed to be performed by His priesthood:

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. D&C 132:7.

Therefore, it follows that excommunication is only valid if it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Excommunication must be done in righteousness, or else it is an abomination on the part of the leaders who so take the name of the Lord in vain by falsely accusing and convicting innocent members. A faulty excommunication would be as bad as baptizing little children (see Moroni 8). Perhaps the Lord’s exclamation would be fitting for those who so profane his name: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2).

In fact, the Lord is more explicit in section 121 (and consider that “anointed” has no reference to general authorities in particular at all, but to any person upon whom the Lord has poured out His spirit because of their innocence and sincerity in believing His word; and meaning none of the general authorities unless they, too, have had His spirit poured out upon them, since a physical anointing is meaningless unless it, too, is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise):

Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death—Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them. They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation. It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea. Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell. D&C 121:16-23.

Ironically, the LDS do not believe that it is necessary to achieve an audience with the resurrected Lord in this life anymore, so the very ordinance they claim to have power to perform (see D&C 104:10) to cut people off from this possibility, has lost its symbolic meaning for them.

The Lord always has had veto power for all of the acts said to be done in his name. Furthermore, when a church loses it’s divine commission, excommunications from that institution become meaningless all the more.

If you are facing excommunication, or have been excommunicated by the LDS Church, how can you tell if you have really deserved that kind of treatment or not? In other words, how can you tell if the Holy Spirit of Promise has sealed a curse upon you because of sin, or how can you tell if someone you know has been excommunicated for the right reasons?

It all depends upon the manner of life that you or they live. King Benjamin said, “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).

You shall know by the fruits of the Spirit, or absence of those fruits…Lehi observed that Laman and Lemuel were being excommunicated by the Lord Himself, as he feared they would be cut off from the presence of the Lord:

My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts the Lord your God should come out in the fulness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever; Or, that a cursing should come upon you for the space of many generations; and ye are visited by sword, and by famine, and are hated, and are led according to the will and captivity of the devil. O my sons, that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord. But behold, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever. 2 Nephi 1:17-19.

Thankfully, it appears the Lord spared Lehi from performing the ordinance of excommunication for his own sons, but suffered Lehi to merely prophesy about it, and performed the excommunications Himself. In all cases of legitimate excommunication, it is the Lord who finalizes the act anyway.

Those who are legitimately excommunicated do not watch their thoughts, words, or deeds anymore; they do not observe the commandments of God such as the Ten Commandments; they do not continue in the faith of what they have heard concerning the coming of the Lord, nor of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In a word, they perish. And, as the Book of Mormon points out about the early stages of apostasy: they “dwindle in unbelief”. (This has nothing to do with disbelieving general authorities, and has everything to do with disbelieving scriptures and the Lord. We have gone over the difference in past posts such as this one, but on with the current subject…).

On the other hand, no matter how many people believe someone has been excommunicated legitimately, and no matter how much they may not like that person; or even, no matter how much they believe their leaders’ excommunication decisions are correct and honored by God, if the person who has been excommunicated has done no wrong according to the scriptures, and if they keep the commandments, and continue in the faith they have received, it is more likely that the LDS Church has lifted up their heel against one of the Lord’s anointed, and cried they have sinned when they have not sinned before the Lord. The Lord will not honor such gross misapplications of His “courts of love”, but will instead, according to His word (see 1 Samuel 2:30), honor the person who was unjustly persecuted and shamed by the priestcraft of false leaders (see also 3 Nephi 12:10-12, as well other scriptural examples that are just too numerous to list, such as the Lord’s whole mortal ministry in the New Testament, and the Acts of the Apostles, and the beginning of the Book of Mormon, and all the prophets in the Old Testament who fought against the established “Church” of their day).

Temple blessings and baptismal covenants are untouched and in force in such cases of false excommunication. Who cannot see the logic in this? Little children can understand as much. Fear not. If you are excommunicated or are about to be, ask yourself, “Do I still have faith?” If so, then as Gordon B. Hinckley used to say, “Go forward in faith,” and continue to enjoy the blessings that a just God will never remove from those who are condemned by false brethren.

 

 

 

It is one of the basic parts of the doctrine of Christ that the believer repents of their sins. Because it is so basic and common a part of the core of the gospel, it is also easily exploited by false leaders and incorrect policies. But first, let’s look again at the definition of repentance.
The Lord said in a revelation to Joseph Smith, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43). This accords with a translation Joseph Smith did of Mark 9:40: “Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell” (Joseph Smith’s additions in italics).
The first entry for “confess” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary reads:

CONFESS‘, verb transitive [Latin , to own or acknowledge.]

1. To own, acknowledge or avow, as a crime, a fault, a charge, a debt, or something that is against one’s interest, or reputation.

The other entries are not much different than the first, so this definition will suffice.
The full entry for “forsake” is as follows:

FORSA’KE, verb transitive preterit tense forsook; participle passive forsaken. See Seek .]

1. To quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from. Friends and flatterers forsake us in adversity.

Forsake the foolish, and live. Proverbs 9:6.

2. To abandon; to renounce; to reject.

If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments – Psalms 89:30.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Psalms 37:8.

3. To leave; to withdraw from; to fail. In anger, the color forsakes the cheeks. In severe trials, let not fortitude forsake you.

4. In scripture, God forsakes his people, when he withdraws his aid, or the light of his countenance.

The word history for “forsake” reads:

forsake (v.) Old English forsacan “object to, oppose, refuse, deny; give up, renounce” (past tense forsoc, past participle forsacen), from for- “completely” + sacan “to struggle, dispute, wrangle; accuse, blame” (see sake). Related: Forsaking. Similar formation in Old Saxon farsakan, Dutch verzaken, Old High German farsahhan “deny, repudiate,” Danish forsage “give up, refuse.” Forsake is chiefly applied to leaving that by which natural affection or a sense of duty should or might have led us to remain: as, to forsake one’s home, friends, country, or cause; a bird forsakes its nest. In the passive it often means left desolate, forlorn. [Century Dictionary]

The reason we have gone to a greater length to lay out the definition of “forsake” will become obvious in a moment. If you look at the word history, the prefix “for-” means “completely”, and together with the suffix, the possible full definition includes “object to, oppose, refuse, deny; give up, renounce.” Each of these similar verbs and behaviors are still different enough as to lead to ambiguity over what it means to forsake one’s sins. Does it mean to completely “give up” and abandon the behavior, with no slip ups in the future? Or, does it simply mean to completely “object to” the behavior in one’s heart, even if you continue to make the same or similar mistakes throughout your life? This ambiguity has led to religious leaders holding sins over people’s heads so long as they continue to fall prey to temptation. They would likely have denied Nephi a temple recommend with the “completely abandon” definition, though, as he confessed:

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. (2 Nephi 4:17-19)

However, Alma’s example proves that forgiveness from repentance is immediate, and not a process over time:

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! (Alma 36:18-20)

Character development over time is indeed a legitimate teaching, but it is not what repentance is defined as. Denver Snuffer contrasted the two by saying, “The development of a godly character happens in stages, gradually. We are forgiven in an instant, suddenly” (See Denver Snuffer’s posts here and here).
It is for this reason that we think the scriptural definition of forsake is “to completely oppose a behavior in one’s heart”. A criminal may admit that stealing is wrong, for example, but he may still love doing it; but, if he has confessed it as wrong, and forsaken it in his heart, he may still be tempted and commit a crime if he were homeless and wanting bread, all the while hating what he is doing. In the latter example, the criminal has repented, but hasn’t developed the necessary character to sacrifice for principle’s sake.
Confessing to the priests is an extension of the Lord’s command to let your yea’s be yea and your nay’s be nay (3 Nephi 12:37). If, in your understanding, your culture commits you to certain agreements with your priests, then you are duty bound to make an accounting of your discharge of those duties. The duties, in and of themselves, however, may not be moral issues at all. What is at issue is your understanding of what you agreed to, your priests’ understanding of what you agreed to, and whether or not you truly broke that trust, and if that agreement between the two of you (or between you and the rest of your fellow congregation) is mutual. A bishop of an LDS Ward offers a convenient way to confess the breaking of that trust you owe to your congregation and your leaders.
However, if you gain correct insight into the meaning of the scriptures and the true requirements of the Lord, the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). There may be some moral issues you owe to your congregation to confess to if you cross certain lines, but certainly many traditional views on what needs to be confessed to another person go out the door the more you understand the scriptures. Most things are between you and the Lord, and reconciliation with others follows common sense principles that the scriptures often touch upon (see D&C 42:88-93). If no one else is offended by your actions, leave it between you and the Lord. However, if “thy brother hath aught against thee–Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother” (3 Nephi 12:23-24). A bishop need not be involved unless you’ve offended the Bishop with an actual offense (and not a made up one they are persecuting you about). If you’ve done something that affects your standing in society, like committed a crime worthy of jail time, you probably owe it to your Bishop to mention that fact so he can take the necessary precautions for the group he represents, and so that he can do his duty in removing any privileges you have among a congregation that you shouldn’t have, for as long as is necessary.
What is most important is to see that the Bishop is not a representative of the Lord in this role, with whom you must go to for spiritual absolution. There is no intermediary between you and God. The Bishop is merely a representative of a congregation appointed to hear confessions of crimes AGAINST THE GROUP ONLY, who mediates reconciliation efforts between you and that group…PERIOD. He does not, and never can, represent God’s absolution of your private sins against God. A church and church representatives only offer an official community confession forum. Other sins are not their prerogative. The same goes for Priesthood holders. Priesthood is a relationship with the heavens, and the only rank and file leader you need to be concerned about is God Himself. You take care of your own Priesthood stewardship, and if you are not worthy in the Lord’s definition of the term…which more often refers to procedural worthiness, like having the correct priestly qualifications, common consent, and most importantly, the Lord’s permission for every act in the Priesthood, then you meekly excuse yourself from service for the necessary time (see Mosiah 21:33). If you have done something serious that affects your standing in the community, like adultery, then you ought to confess to your community and relevant concerned groups.
We are far away from understanding what it means in the scriptures where some few are given power to retain or remit sins on earth and in heaven (see John 20:23 and D&C 132:46), and certainly the Bishop’s role as judge amongst the people (D&C 107:74) does not rise to this level of trust. It is merely a common place role of being a representative chosen by a group. This is the outward ordinance style of the Aaronic Priesthood, and the temporal labor appointed someone who should take caution not to go beyond their bounds in authority with the Lord. And, as the Lord has ended the priesthood claims of the leadership of the LDS Church (see here), there is certainly no Stake level or General Authority level leader with this power to absolve sins as a representative of the LDS Church.
When we were in the Church, we felt the obligation to confess to our leaders when we went contrary to the cultural expectations there, and we were not rebellious. We confessed every time our consciences told us we weren’t towing the line like it was expected of us. I was a lifelong member and my wife was a convert. From the days of my youth, when I needed to confess serious sins, I did so. As I got older and established a family, I kept pace with smaller concerns. My wife did as well. We had no serious transgressions needing confession at the time of our resignation and we have none now. We have clear consciences when it comes to the discharge of our duties and obligations as former members of the LDS Church, and we have “gone not only the second mile, but paused and considered what more we could’ve done” to paraphrase an injunction in my Patriarchal blessing that we both took very seriously as it concerned our work in every calling, and for me, as it concerned my Priesthood service. Anyone who knows us and our labors in the Church over the years can attest to this fact. We only mention it to qualify what we are saying concerning the true nature of confessing sins as the scriptures outline them, having faithfully jumped through the hoops, implied and explicit, that the LDS Church has set up concerning this topic. We know somewhat of the contrast, and we appreciate the plainness of the Lamb of God and His requirements for forgiveness, in comparison to the traditions within the LDS Church. That being said, we are always learning more about the Lord’s intended meanings and are astonished at His doctrine as the Atonement plays a role in our lives. We hope you find the same measure of peace that we have found in going directly to the Lord for forgiveness, and in reconciling with your neighbor in the way and manner He reveals to you when necessary.
The Lord invites: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
The scriptures talk about a godly conversation (1 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:11; D&C 20:69). Perhaps confession to God is more about understanding the category of sin, than it is about the particulars He already knows about. Surely acknowledging the incident with God can play a part, but overall, do you think God would be more satisfied with the person who confesses that the time they stole bread was wrong, but then goes on to steal time from their employer, ignorant of the continuation of their stealing mentality; or with the person who recognizes how their desires and actions are contrary to His commandments in general, and forsakes the breaking of those commandments no matter how sin manifests itself? Like King Benjamin said, “I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them” (Mosiah 4:29), and Jacob: “O be wise; what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12).
Overall, what is important is that, as a part of our confession of faith, we acknowledge the law of God and confess which activities and behaviors really are sinful, showing a godly conversation in that we have the intelligence communicated to us about what is the wrong course for our lives, and we know how to articulate right from wrong. Besides, this gift is given freely (see Helaman 14:30-31, 2 Nephi 2:4 and 2 Nephi 26:27). Denver Snuffer mentioned how the Lord’s instructions for prayer benefited the person confessing sins: “In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said prayer should be in secret. 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” (Preserving the Restoration, p.382). The Lord articulated more in the law to the church in D&C 42:

If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her. D&C 42:92.

Embarrassing private sins can remain between an individual and the Lord. For the example the Lord set for how to pray, Denver mentioned, “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.]…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….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” [and we might add, there was no qualification to confess to a priest or bishop in these examples, only instances where the repentant endeavored to repair the wrongs they had done when their crimes warranted it…see Helaman 5:17] “Those who do not have the required broken heart and contrite spirit come away saying, ‘God maketh no such thing known unto us.’ Like Laman and Lemuel, their iron necks and brass brows prevent them from looking up to God to be saved” (Preserving the Restoration, pp.382-383).
We’ll end this post with a simple review of the story of the ten lepers who were cleansed by God who was with them, for He was the true Priest. Having leprosy made someone unclean under the Mosaic Law, much like many of the transgressions maintained by Latter-day Saints as warranting a need to confess to a bishop make someone “unclean” in LDS culture.
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. Luke 17:11-19.

To the cleansed leper that found the true Priest, even Jesus Christ, the Lord said “Go thy way,” as in, there was no need for him to go to see his ecclesiastical priests.