Denver Snuffer’s “Passing the Heavenly Gift”: Does its publication constitute an act of apostasy?


I am going to try not to expound, teach, preach or do anything else like that with this post.

For those that don’t know, Denver Snuffer, an active member of the church who has written a number of religious books, received and posted on his blog a copy of a letter from his stake president, which was dated August 21, in which he was notified that a disciplinary council for him has been scheduled to take place on September 8.

The council will decide whether the continued publication of his 8th book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, constitutes an act of apostasy.  His stake high council will decide the matter for themselves, as that is how church government works, but since the evidence against him is only this book, which has already been published, the general membership has access to all of the facts of this particular case, too, (if they’ve read the book.)

I thought it would be interesting to take the pulse of the general membership to see what the average Mormon who reads the book will think about it, whether they will say it is apostate literature, or whether they will say it is not apostate.

For the reader’s information, the CHI defines apostasy in this way:

Apostasy

As used here, apostasy refers to members who:

1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.

2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

4. Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.

Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members.  The Savior taught the Nephites that they should continue to minister to a transgressor, “but if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people” (3 Nephi 18:31; see also Mosiah 26:36).

Total inactivity in the Church or attending another church does not constitute apostasy.  However, if a member formally joins another church and advocates its teachings, excommunication or name removal may be necessary if formal membership in the other church is not ended after counseling and encouragement.

Denver’s stake high council has not made a decision, one way or another, so this post is not meant to cast the high council of that stake in a poor light.  It is the responsibility of the leadership to deal with matters of apostasy, so it is entirely within their jurisdiction to call this council.  What they decide is still unknown, and is their business, not ours, as such things are local matters.  If they make errors in judgment, the church appeals system is still available to Denver.

Regardless of their judgment, whether they deem the book acceptable or apostate, because Denver’s writings have apparently affected so many people, I would expect that there will be some sort of polarization among the membership familiar with his writings.

This post, then, is so that people can discuss the merits of Passing the Heavenly Gift and offer their opinions whether it could be classified as apostate literature.  It is not to provide a forum for people to be critical of the church disciplinary council itself and vilify Denver’s stake president and bishop.  They must act in the manner they think most appropriate in matters dealing with apostasy.  The Lord Himself is the one who set up this process, and unrepentant apostates must be removed from the church, otherwise the ones responsible for weeding them out come under condemnation.  This is per D&C 64:12-14.  (I said I would try not to teach, and here I am teaching…)

Anyway, so here is the letter that the stake president sent to Denver:

Click Here

Specifically, the stake president believes Passing the Heavenly Gift “is not constructive to [the] work of salvation or the promotion of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The book’s thesis is in direct conflict with church doctrine.”  He wrote that in Denver’s effort to defend the restoration, he has “mischaracterized doctrine, denigrated virtually every prophet since Joseph Smith, and placed the church in a negative light.  The book is a misguided effort to attempt to bridge the gap between the church and its dissidents.”  The stake president believes that Passing the Heavenly Gift “will attract only the attention of those whose spiritual eyes, ears and hearts are obscured from the truth.”  He also wrote that Denver’s work pits him “against the institution of the church”.

So, that’s the stake president’s current take on Passing the Heavenly Gift.  It may be that the high council agrees with him and Denver is disciplined.  It may be that the high council disagrees with him and Denver is not disciplined.  Or, it may be that after the high council deliberates, that the stake president himself changes his mind and no action is taken against Denver.  We’ll see.

Regardless, anyone who wants to, can use this post to give their own opinion on Passing the Heavenly Gift.  If you haven’t read the book, you can get a copy through Amazon.com and/or read some of the customer reviews that are found there.  Here’s the link.

(For those wondering what my own opinion is, since I have not read the book myself, I can’t offer any opinion, one way or another.  So I leave it up to those in the know, who have read the book in question, to discuss the matter, if they want.)

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68 Comments

  1. “I thought it would be interesting to take the pulse of the general membership to see what the average Mormon who reads the book will think about it, whether they will say it is apostate literature, or whether they will say it is not apostate.”

    Not apostate. I’ve read it twice.

  2. This all “looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism”, doesn’t it?

    Plus I’m really ambivalent about participating in a church that disciplines a Denver Snuffer but lets a John Dehlin range free. (I know there’s been a little bit of investigation of JD.) I don’t think either should be excommunicated, but it seems to me that if you really want to institutionally cohere, you want the fundamentalist loyalist more than the liberal vacillator.

    I went out and bought PTHG as soon as I saw the letter. So I’ll have something to contribute soon. I look forward to the discussion.

  3. LDSA,
    Thank you for putting the CHI information up regarding apostasy. As I awoke this morning and pondered the situation, I felt the it would be an important item on the discussion.

    Of note is the above definition of ‘apostasy.’ It specifically defines the church version of apostasy as a repeated action that is in clear opposition to the to the ‘Church or its leaders.’ There are two components here – opposition to the Church and, also, opposition to the leadership of the church.

    What is the definition of the Church? According to the Doctrine and Covenants, section 10, verse , the Lord has defined His church as those who come unto Him, no more, no less. I doubt this is the definition that will be used in this case. Is Denver Snuffer guilty of leading people away from Christ? While I haven’t purchased the book, I am relatively confident that his writings teach us to seek Christ and encourage people to commune with Heaven.

    The second part is more interesting – repeatedly acting in open opposition to the leaders of the Church. This aspect of apostasy, as defined by the church, is associated with deliberate opposition to the leadership of the Church. There is no mention here that the ‘leadership’ has to be correct or even righteous. Nor is there any need to be founded in scripture. The only issue is that the person accused of apostasy is speaking against the current leadership. It is OK to speak against dead prophets, just not live ones.

    The second item is also important in the scheme of things. To be accused of apostasy, one must persist in teaching, as Church doctrine, something that is not Church doctrine. That begs the question, what is church doctrine?

    First, one must discriminate between today’s church doctrine and past church doctrine. As noted in the CHI, polygamy is an offence that can elicit excommunication – something that was required of anyone holding high office in the days of Brigham Young. Church discipline is, as defined by the CHI, only applicable to the doctrine of the current leadership.

    Should the doctrine of the Church be different from the doctrine of Christ? I wouldn’t think this should be the case. The doctrine of Christ is found in the latter-day scriptures in 2 Nephi, chapters 31 and 32, as well as, 3 Nephi, chapter 11. In this last reference, Christ states that “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…” Who is the guilty party in this case? Who is it that is publically and repeatedly teaching as Church doctrine that which is not the doctrine of Christ?

    Has Denver Snuffer been repeatedly corrected by his church leadership regarding this perceived doctrinal ‘error.’ I don’t have clear insight into this, but there should be a defined log of past warnings to that effect. I doubt that has happened.

    The REAL situation here is not that Denver Snuffer published a book in 2011 that is considered by those who work in the Church Office Building as anti-church. In my opinion, the action that is bringing Denver Snuffer before a disciplinary council is that he is now scheduling ‘talks’ in Idaho Falls and Logan for the latter part of September. I don’t believe that any action would have been taken against Denver Snuffer if he had simply published a book.

    It is a whole different matter to ‘preach’ the contents of the book publically, in what is perceived to be open opposition to the Church. Denver Snuffer is scheduling a venue that can hold 400 people and is warning people that seating is first come, first served. That is a big ‘no-no’ and worthy of excommunication from the corporate church.

    The other aspect to consider is that Denver Snuffer is not being brought to church court based on the initiative of the local leadership. As in the case of the September 6, this action is being driven by those at the highest levels of the church hierarchy. Denver Snuffers stake president is very likely acting on orders from Salt Lake City and is put in a difficult situation. He must tow the party line from church headquarters or his own position is in jeopardy. If President Hunt wants any chance to continue to advance in the leadership of the church, he must actively address the demands of his ‘superiors.’ The term ‘unrighteous dominion’ comes to mind.

    I am personally acquainted with a similar situation. Several years ago, my stake president was told by Salt Lake City to convene a disciplinary court for one of the members of the stake on the charge of apostasy. Within two weeks of telling church leadership that he had found nothing wrong with the person in question, he was notified that he was being released. In other words, President Hunt is toast if he doesn’t exact what the church leadership considers as appropriate punishment.

    How do I think this is going to play out? I expect that Denver Snuffer will be told that he will only get disfellowshipped if he cancels his ‘talk tour.’ If he persists in holding these meetings, he will be excommunicated. Of course, how many active members will go to a meeting to hear an excommunicant talk? Denver Snuffer’s credibility with true blue Mormons will be soundly damaged in either case. Just what the church wants ..

  4. I have read every word of Denver Snuffer’s blog, all 2,400 “pages” of it. I find nothing “apostate” in it, except his explication of the facts demonstrating that the LDS Church has slid into apostate ideas, doctrines and practices since the faith’s foundation. The Book of Mormon itself, Snuffer reveals, is a testament against apostasy, the very thing that destroyed the Nephites (and their church) and now threatens to destroy the Gentiles (and the LDS Church). Indeed, “the Latter-day Saints are slated for destruction if they don’t repent” is the thesis of Denver Snuffer’s book. His concise message is “Therefore, repent and come unto Christ.”

    I have been moved to deeper humility, earnest prayer, faithfulness and yearning for righteousness more by Denver Snuffer’s writings (on his “blog” no less!) than anything I’ve read anywhere outside the scriptures or the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    If bearing witness of the risen Lord and inviting all men to come unto Him is the definition of a prophet, then Denver Snuffer is one, indeed. So I guess now he must be persecuted.

    I am loathe to consider what I (and my family) shall do if he is disciplined for his “testimony”. I share much in common with him. I would not change my testimony or withdraw my witness just because some stake president directed me to do so. Quite frankly, the scriptures, both ancient and modern, reveal how God takes a dim view of those in “authority” (as they suppose) who think to counsel His servants to “keep quiet” or withdraw their testimony of Him.

    Contrary to the stake president’s assertions, Denver Snuffer’s book have brought dozens, if not hundreds, unto Christ. (He helped being me — if not “back” then “more” — unto Christ. There’s one. And I came back precisely because of Denver Snuffer’s approach, not despite it.)

    Snuffer’s book (as I can glean from reading his blog) draws heavily upon Church sources (diaries, discourses, etc.) and is factually grounded in the Church leaders’ own words! The only way (in my view) LDS Church leadership can now refute Snuffer’s thesis is to denounce themselves!

    I, too, went out immediately and purchased PTHG( as well as Snuffer’s The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil) just in case the forces of darkness are more formidable than I supposed.

  5. Spek,

    I think the stake president is using the second definition of apostasy for this disciplinary council. “Apostasy refers to members who…persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.”

    From the letter, it appears that Denver has already been corrected, perhaps as far back as 18 months ago, but has chosen not to comply with whatever instructions he received concerning the book. The letter says,

    After nearly 18 months of prayerful consideration…

    I have tried to be open minded about the issues we have discussed.

    I have tried to persuade you…

    Given the 18 month wait, you may be right that this has more to do with Denver’s scheduled talks than his published book.

  6. On the Amazon.com site, the book description says the following:

    Mormonism has undergone four distinct phases. The first began in 1820 and ended with Joseph Smith’s death in 1844. The second began upon Joseph Smith’s death and ended with abandonment of plural marriage, publicly in 1890 and privately in 1904. In the third phase Mormonism denounced as apostasy its practice of plural wives, marking the first time an orthodox practice became grounds for excommunication. The fourth phase began with David O. McKay and is still underway. In it Mormonism has adopted corporate management techniques to consolidate and direct central church decision-making. The first phase was innovative and expansive, continually adding doctrine, scripture, teachings and ordinances. Subsequent phases have curtailed, abandoned, even denounced earlier teaching and doctrine. Phases two through four have all abandoned doctrine. Growth in these subsequent phases has been defined in terms of political influence, financial gains, cultural inroads, and population growth; while the underlying religion has been curtailed. Today, marketing the institution has become more important to Mormon success than preserving the original religious content. The changes from phase to phase have completely transformed Mormonism, sharing a vocabulary but redefining the terms. Modern Mormonism has now institutionalized change. For the first time in this book Mormonism is candidly described in terms which track the changes by examining doctrine, teachings and practices. Interestingly, the passing of the heavenly gift was anticipated by Joseph Smith’s prophecies and the Book of Mormon.

    I think that OWIW also breaks church history into four phases. (He can correct me if I’m wrong.) I myself have taught, and still teach, that the church will go through three stages, and is currently in the second stage. And I think there are and have been others who have taught similar concepts about church history, dividing it into phases. (I want to say that Daymon Smith is one of them, but I’ve never read his books so I can’t be certain.) I wouldn’t exactly say that that is heretical, so there must be something else in this book that has triggered alarm bells in the leadership.

  7. LDSA,
    Neither of us were there so it is supposition as to how the interaction between DS and his stake president occurred. Is there a difference between ‘discuss/persuade’ and ‘correct?’ I think there is. I would expect that the any persuasion or discussion was not in the context of a warning of apostasy, but I could be wrong…

    Point me to the stages discussion. I don’t recall where it is. As for me, I think there are two/three stages. Approved of the Lord, Condemnation followed by Rejection…

    Spek

  8. I think there is no doubt that Denver’s book is apostate under the definition #2. His claim that Section 110 didn’t happen as the church teaches is one example. His blog states that his lectures will talk about the church that Joseph Smith tried to set up. The CHI know’s that Denver believes the institution today is not the same church that Joseph was after.

    He is an apostate from an apostate institution.

    His books have brought 2 of my family members back to Christ. He teaches nothing but repentance and that all of us should seek the face of the Lord. For as mush as he has written it all comes back to repenting. The institution should be scared of this man but any follower of Christ should cherish his testimony. The man is not an apostate in my book. He has opened my eyes more than any other man. It was reading Denver that allowed me to read more than only the church approved materials. That of coarse lead me to some the brilliant post on this blog and others.

    Denver…Apostate? I guess that would depend on what angle you want to look at it. For me, No!

  9. Spek,

    I wrote of the three stages in the beginning of The Book of Mormon Is a Litmus Test, as well as in other places scattered around this blog. Basically what you wrote, “Approved of the Lord, Condemnation followed by Rejection…”, corresponds to the 3 stages. Stage 1 is when approval by the Lord is manifested, stage 2 is the church under condemnation and stage 3 is when the Lord rejects the church. By that, I do not mean that the instant the church enters into the final stage, it becomes rejected, but that at some point during the 3rd stage, it will be rejected. Specifically, when they stop doing baptisms for the dead, which will be the final straw, akin to the Nephites breaking the very last commandment of God by invading the Lamanites’ land.

  10. LDSA,
    Interesting item you pick as the last straw… Without the ‘work’ for the dead, there is little motivation to attend the temple. Without the need for a temple recommend, there is less need for a full and honest tithing. What will that do to tithing receipts? Or am I being too cynical?

    I see the last straw as the act of throwing those people out of the church who still hold to the gospel as defined in the scriptures, much like what happened in Ammonihah. The same for people that still believe in personal dreams, visions, and revelation. That has already started,

    I have to say it is nice to kick around here again.

    Spek

  11. Spek,

    The 2nd and 3rd stage churches are different. We do ordinances for both the living and the dead in our temples today, with the bulk of the ordinances being for the dead, which is, in particular, an unselfish work of charity. The 3rd stage church will be selfish and will cease doing the work for the dead, altogether. Everything that will occur in those temples will be for the benefit of their own, selfish selves, ceasing the legitimate uses of the temple and beginning to perform perversions in them. So, you are projecting the 2nd church template (what you see going on today) onto the future 3rd stage church. Tithing is a divinely revealed principle, therefore, in keeping with the perverse attitude of the 3rd stage churches, it will be done away. In its place, a doctrine of forgiving people for money will be put in place. And many other such abominations.

    The current church may be considered apostate only in the sense that James (whose real name was John) wrote:

    For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    So, insofar as we have fallen short of Zion, we are all apostate to a degree. The church will not be rejected of God until they have broken every law of God, becoming fully apostate. That full apostasy will not occur until the 3rd stage. And the final straw will be the work for the dead because the dead are completely helpless and dependent on us performing these ordinances in their behalf, otherwise they have no hope of escaping from hell. The refusal or stopping of the work for the dead will be considered the greatest affront to the Lord, for it rejects our proxy status as saviors on mount Zion. It is, in fact, pretty much the only link we have to Zion even now, in our 2nd stage church, and although the church remains condemned due to how we treat the Book of Mormon, etc., it is because of the temple work that we do that a repentance is still granted to us.

    I don’t think I’ve blogged much at all about the importance of temple work in the plan of salvation, and I don’t feel up to it even now to get into all of that, but suffice it to say that were it not for our temples and the work being done in them, the Holy Ghost would stop falling upon people and giving them testimonies, for the church would be altogether rejected. The current leadership understands that it is only because of the temples that the church remains in God’s good graces, which is why just about everything in the church has been planned to point to the temple, so that “all church roads lead to the temple.” There are unfortunate consequences of the church plan the Brethren have chosen to enact, but the underlying goal and intent is based upon revealed principles. Whether they understand what and why they are doing or not, and although errors are introduced, in the aggregate, the hand of the Lord is the guiding influence in the LDS temple work.

  12. JLC,

    What exactly does Denver say about D&C 110? I am not familiar with his alternate take on that section.

  13. After writing the above comment, I did an Ixquick search and found these documents, written by Denver Snuffer:

    THE MISSION OF ELIJAH RECONSIDERED:

    History of Elijah Doctrine

    So, I think these two documents clarify Denver’s view on D&C 110 and Elijah’s mission. Denver raises a historical question about D&C 110’s origins, not a theological one. In other words, he doesn’t say that D&C 110 is a false revelation, but that its origin is shaky. In other words, it may be real or it may not be real. This will have to be figured out by the historians and/or by people who have the Holy Ghost manifest its truth. (Of course, later generations accepted it as real and the saints canonized it, which makes it binding, regardless of its realness. So, since apostles have all assumed it was real, him publicly bringing up its historicity may be considered a no-no, because of the theological significance of the section and also the doubts that may enter into people’s minds when they consider it may be a bogus revelation, meaning a revelation not received by Joseph Smith. Privately revealing his research to general authorities and church historians may have been a wiser course to take, so that some double-checking could ensue before getting the entire church in a frenzy over a possible false alarm.) As far as his writings concerning a future mission of Elijah, to me that appears self-evident. This is, after all, just the preparatory work. Much more stuff needs to be restored and there will be more than one ancient prophet returning to participate in the restoration of all things.

    So maybe it is this D&C 110 business, after all, that is at the heart of the disciplinary council.

  14. Here is the D&C 110 entry from the Joseph Smith Papers Project:

    Journal, 1835-1836, 3 April 1836 Sunday

    Notice in particular the editorial note and then read the April 3rd entry. So Denver’s questioning of the provenance of D&C 110 may have been premature. The Joseph Smith Papers Project satisfy his historical questioning, but perhaps the JSPP research came out after Denver published his own, independent study of the material. (I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, if I can.) Regardless, if he now has seen the JSPP and understands the editorial note, but chooses to keep his book–which is the document that puts the section in doubt–available to the public without correcting it, that may be seen as an intentional misdirection, placing doubts in people’s minds over something that is foundational to the faith.

  15. The Savior gave the true definition of apostasy when He said, “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” This is apostasy and sadly it is more rampant today, than at the time Our Father and the Lord visited the young Prophet, Joseph Smith.

    I have read every word written through Denver Snuffer — the words have brought me to an awakening of my awful situation and to a greater repentance than before possible in my own ignorant state. The Holy Scriptures are now vibrant, alive, and delicious to my soul and I am now on my own quest to seek the Lord. Thanks be unto the Lord our God for these words that awakened me from my deep, deep sleep!

  16. The editorial comment of the JSPP does not add to, nor subtract from, anything Snuffer has said in PTHG

    Snuffer’s work on D&C 110 relates to the succession crisis, and begins on page 74 in PTHG.

    1. There are grounds for suspecting its provenance.
    2. If it is authentic, it doesn’t say what it is claimed to mean.
    3. There is no record of Joseph nor Oliver ever once mentioning the events chronicled in D&C 110.
    4. The source for D&C 110 is unknown.
    5. D&C 110 makes its first known public appearance in 1852.
    5. Joseph plainly taught that Elijah’s return was yet future (see, for example, Words of Joseph Smith, p. 48, 5 October 1840).

    None of this can be controverted, to my knowledge. It’s not the D&C 110 material that is causing the problems.

  17. Anarchist

    That is a huge find in my estimation.

    I am really glad you found and posted that.

    Having not read any of his books, and very few of his blogs, I had no idea that he had rejected the validity of 110 and was encouraging his readers to question it.

    From his writings it is clear that he has taken a very questionable path at least on that issue… and it skews other doctrinal issues related to it.

    Section 110 certainly is “foundational to the faith”!

    I can see how he may have originally arrived at the conclusion he did if he did not have all of the facts at the time he wrote the book, but he surely must know now that he was wrong about that.

    In my opinion, section 110 is absolutely critical in providing context to the LDS restoration movement, at many levels, not to mention the doctrinal and prophetic implications that it provides..

    I have spent many hours pondering the magnificent content and cross referencing passages in that section to other scriptures and I could not possibly feel stronger about its divine origin.

    There is no question in my mind about the fact that the event took place.

    There is a little bit of irony in a person declaring that they have seen and conversed with Christ and then rejecting that written documentation that Joseph and Oliver saw Christ as documented in section 110.

    I agree that it appears curious that Joseph and Oliver did not publicly speak about 110 and I have addressed the issue in many posts.

    I think this sheds some light as to at least some of the concerns that the brethren have about the book and the accusation in the disciplinary letter that he had “mischaracterized” doctrine (and historical events), etc.

    I agree with you that we need to find every possible way to give someone the benefit of the doubt, but, we also need to acknowledge the facts as they are.

    I can appreciate his hesitancy to pull the book and to acknowledge his mistake, one would be costly and the other would be quite embarrassing….

    Nevertheless, it appears as if he is either still blind to the huge mistake he has made, (which would be very disconcerting and would create even more doubt about his claims of conversing with the Lord on such issues), or he is simply unwilling to make the public acknowledgement and accept to cost of correcting the mistake and republishing the book (or just pulling it off the shelves altogether).

    Of course, there may be other similar problems in his book, I don’t know. I am still unwilling to spend any money on it.

    The amazing thing to me about his followers, is that they seldom mention some of these truly radical doctrines that he teaches, they only provide broad emotional endorsements having to do with how he has made the scriptures vibrant and nourished their soul, etc. .

    Great find.

  18. BTW

    Those interested in the history surrounding section 110 leading up to its canonization might want to read the following thesis by Trevor R. Anderson,

    “Doctrine and Covenants Section 110: From Vision to Canonization” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2010).

    http://cdm15999.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/ETD/id/2146/rec/3

    In my opinion there never has been any legitimate grounds for questioning where the revelation came from, the only question is why the Lord told Joseph and Oliver to not publicly talk about it.

    As I recall, Trevor does provide some evidence that it was spoken of in private to some individuals..

    Watcher

  19. Apparently my first comment got caught in the spam filter..

  20. Ah, yes, the point to all of that – D&C 110 is not evidence that the fullness of the priesthood – the sealing keys – were, or could be, passed from Joseph to Brigham and the rest of the Twelve.

  21. Snuffer also treated Trever R. Anderson’s MA thesis in a footnote on page 75.

    It reads as follows.

    “A recent Masters’ thesis from BYU argues there are hints that suggest there may have been private instructions about the revelation. [reference citation omitted] The hints referred to in the thesis were never subsequently clarified by any of the parties involved, to make it certain the hints really do prove pre-death mention of the Kirtland Temple visitation. Another alternative is that Section 110 has assumed a significance after 1870 which it simply didn’t have. It is possible we do not understand what Joseph was teaching about the matter, and our use of Section 110 is a misapplication.”

  22. To be fair, point 1 above is *my* interpretation of the evidence laid out. Snuffer doesn’t actually say “there are grounds for suspecting Section 110’s provenance.”

  23. Please note that the MA thesis referred to says this, as well.

    “No source yet found shows that Joseph Smith taught in a public setting that the 1836 vision occurred.”

    The thesis also never gives evidence which sources Section 110 to Joseph, but asserts it many times.

  24. “Ah, yes, the point to all of that – D&C 110 is not evidence that the fullness of the priesthood – the sealing keys – were, or could be, passed from Joseph to Brigham and the rest of the Twelve.”

    I have never assumed that to be the case. My belief is that the fulness was gone by the time 110 took place. In fact, the events having to do with 110 took place BECAUSE the fulness was lost.

    But that is just my personal beliefs and is not pertinent to this conversation.

    I think you are missing the real point of all of this.

    Section 110 is accepted as scripture by the LDS church. As the Anarchist has pointed out, it is foundational to the belief and doctrine of the LDS church.

    If Snuffer is really stating that he questions the source and credibility of the section, and encouraging others to question it, in the book he has published, that is certainly grounds for the church to ask him stop selling the book or face a disciplinary action.

    Clubs have rules.

    If you want to be part of the LDS church club, you need to follow the rules or loose your club membership.

    (Anarchist would you please pull my first comment out of the filter?)

  25. Your comment has been fished out of moderation, Watcher. I’m not sure why the WordPress system put it in there in the first place.

  26. “If Snuffer is really stating that he questions the source and credibility of the section, and encouraging others to question it, in the book he has published, that is certainly grounds for the church to ask him stop selling the book or face a disciplinary action.”

    If he does question the source, he does not say so. The facts as he has recounted them are also in the masters’ thesis you provided the link to. That would seem to be problematic for the position you are taking.

    “Section 110 is accepted as scripture by the LDS church. As the Anarchist has pointed out, it is foundational to the belief and doctrine of the LDS church.”

    I cannot name a single thing which hinges upon Section 110. Apparently, neither could Joseph.

  27. “Of course, there may be other similar problems in his book, I don’t know. I am still unwilling to spend any money on it.”

    Ah.

    Like the Book of Mormon, PTHG appears to be one of those books that is not necessary to read before having an opinion about it.

  28. Your statement presupposes that I have not read the Book of Mormon and it implies that Denver’s book is a worthy and important to read as the Book of Mormon.

    Both are false.

    It is fine if you value Denvers book and beliefs, Log. But you would do him more service by just stating the facts and not getting so emotional and accusatory with others that don’t see things the same way.

  29. I believe it is a foolish thing – as in, a thing which only fools do – to presume to pontificate upon a work without having examined it.

    It is contrary to reason, and I believe it is contrary to the laws of God. Even the Jews knew better.

    “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”

    Moreover, it is beyond foolish to judge a man rashly.

    Mormon 8:19
    19 For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.

    20 Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.

  30. “Your statement presupposes that I have not read the Book of Mormon and it implies that Denver’s book is a worthy and important to read as the Book of Mormon.

    Both are false.”

    My statement presupposes nothing except that you are presuming to pontificate upon a work without having examined it, which has historically been the case for many critics of the Church.

    “Thanks to its title page, the Book of Mormon “has not been universally considered by its critics,” as one of them recently wrote, “as one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion of it.”1 Even Eduard Meyer, who wrote an ambitious study of Mormon origins, confessed that he had never read the Book of Mormon through.2”

  31. I think perhaps you are the one that has judged rashly.

    I can detail about four things that Denver has definitely taught that has shown me that he has not experienced the thing he claims to have experienced by the person he claims to have experienced it from;

    Once the spirit has born witness to me about these things there is really no need for me to go purchase his books and digest everything he has written.

    I can tell you right now that I agree with lots of historical issues that he brings to light and also lots of doctrinal issues. In fact, some of his posts are remarkable similar to some of mine.

    He and I obviously agree on a lot of issues.

    His readers keep sending me emails and comments pointing that out.

    But your critism of me for not reading his books and judging him rashly is unfounded.

    I have the information I need to know that I don’t need to purchase his books.

    There is really no need for discussion beyond this.

    You have obviously had the spirit bear witness to you that he is a servant of God.

    That is fine.

    I have received a different communication from the spirit.

    Now lets just let it play out.

    No need to banter back and forth.

    Just let it play out.

  32. A search for “elijah” on the lds.org web site, narrowed down to only general conference talks that mention the term, shows that the leadership routinely teaches that D&C 110 is the source authority for all the baptisms for the dead. The church doesn’t teach that baptisms for the dead are performed by virtue of the Melchizedek priesthood alone, or by any other priesthood alone, but by virtue of the keys that Elijah gave to Joseph Smith. So, any questioning of D&C 110 puts the entire baptistry for the dead into question, by the church’s own teaching.

    (Yeah, I made up the word “baptistry,” combining ministry and baptism into one word. My laziness at work again.)

  33. Another thing that Denver teaches, which conflicts with what the leadership says, is that Elijah did not come to the Mount of Transfiguration. Instead, he says that the Elias mentioned was John the Baptist. The leadership routinely teach that Elijah was present and that the Elias mentioned was Elijah. So, they teach two visits by Elijah, whereas Denver suggests that there may not have been even one visit, as yet. (Now, I gleaned that from the documents I linked to above.)

  34. “But your critism of me for not reading his books and judging him rashly is unfounded.”

    You have admitted to not reading the book, and you have impugned him for committing errors in the book which he has not committed, or, if he has committed them, sources you approve of and cite on the same topic commit the same ones. You cannot consistently have it both ways.

    You then presumptively attribute motivations to me which you have no knowledge of, and imply that the position I have taken stems from these motivations.

    Are not both of these things rash judgement? I leave it to the audience to decide.

  35. It is odd, I suppose, that baptism for the dead makes nary an appearance in Section 110. Neither do the sealing keys make an appearance.

    Re: Elias

    JST, Matthew 17:10–14.
    Compare Matthew 17:11–13
    10 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things, as the prophets have written.

    11 And again I say unto you that Elias has come already, concerning whom it is written, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and they knew him not, and have done unto him, whatsoever they listed.

    12 Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

    13 But I say unto you, Who is Elias? Behold, this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me.

    14 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist, and also of another who should come and restore all things, as it is written by the prophets.

  36. One thing I notice in discussing the scriptures with people outside of the Church is that very often what they believe is not what the scripture actually says. When the discrepancy between what the text says and what they believe is pointed out, they tend to reflexively accuse me of being unable to “rightly divide the word of God.”

    For example, the Savior taught, on the subject of adultery, this:

    ” 27 ¶Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

    28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

    By this we can immediately know that lusting after a woman – any woman – constitutes adultery in the sight of God.

    One’s wife is a woman, though, right? At that point, they go ballistic.

    There is a difference between lust and proper, holy affection for one’s wife, had among them who are possessed of the Holy Ghost – but there is no point distinguishing between the two to them. The things of God are only to be discerned by the Spirit of God – and they are blind.

    Likewise, within the Church, there are beliefs which are unsupported by the scriptures that are typically cited to buttress them. The words of the scriptures are not even seen.

    I take no man to be my interpreter of the scriptures.

  37. Having reviewed the church’s policy and procedure for conducting church disciplinary councils, I can now affirmatively say that they are entirely unjust. I’ll explain what I mean in a future post.

  38. If we would understand both the history and the doctrine of temple work, we must understand what the sealing power is. We must envision, at least to a degree, why the keys of authority to employ the sealing power are crucial—crucial not just to the ordinance work of the temples but to all ordinance work in all the Church throughout the world.

    The sealing power represents the transcendent delegation of spiritual authority from God to man. The keeper of that sealing power is the Lord’s chief representative here upon the earth, the President of the Church. That is the position of consummate trust and authority.

    “Boyd K Packer – Apostle”

    ———————-

    The proud descendants of Nauvoo, who have always retained control of the church’s top leadership positions, claim to hold all the keys ever given to Joseph Smith. They teach that they can bind on earth and in heaven. They are the ‘new Popes having the authority the Catholic Pope claims to possess, as J. Reuben Clark remarked.

    “Denver Snuffer – Author, Lawyer (from page 303 of PTHG)”

    ——————-

    If Denver is right, there is zero point to temple work. It is a farce and a parade.

    If an Apostle of Jesus Christ is right, temple work should be a main priority in life for us and our dead and we can place hope and faith in the covenants we have made before the Lord.

    Now, who would want to carefully undermine this doctrinal point I wonder?

  39. The two statements are logically compatible. If Snuffer is right, Packer’s statement can be right; if Packer is right, Snuffer’s statement can be right.

  40. Let me be perfectly clear on my own position on PTHG.

    Snuffer has produced a meticulously researched and reasoned book which accounts for the trajectory of the Church from Joseph’s day to our own, using the Book of Mormon prophecies as the interpretive guide to our history. It is based on publicly available facts, and the conclusions follow as a matter of logic. It has uncomfortable implications with respect to some of our common beliefs, teachings, and traditions.

    Appeals to authority are irrelevant, such as “Apostle X taught such-and-such, therefore PTHG must be false,” since if PTHG is correct, it may indeed undermine or falsify some teachings. This should not be an issue – error has no privileges, no matter the status of the source.

    Responses such as “if Snuffer is right then consequence X must follow, but that’s ridiculous, therefore PTHG is false,” since if the analysis in PTHG is correct, the uncomfortable conclusion still follows, even if we wish it didn’t.

    Stuff like “the Spirit tells me Snuffer is a fraud, therefore his book must be bunk and need not be examined” doesn’t wash either, since personal revelation is just that – personal, and not publicly demonstrable, quite unlike the evidence and analysis in the book. Even if Snuffer were a fraud, that would do exactly nothing to disestablish the thesis of PTHG. Argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy.

    The arguments and analysis presented in PTHG deserve a substantive rebuttal, if an honest rebuttal is possible. The facts of history are publicly available (inasmuch as the Church has allowed their publication), and we have the scriptures before us. If the thesis of PTHG is false, then it ought to be shown to be false on the same terms that it was presented – that is, by demonstrating how the historical events and the scriptures together show that the heavenly gift – in Snuffer’s parlance, the fullness of the priesthood – has not passed from the institution of the Church.

  41. Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

    If Elder Packer says the Church has the sealing authority, how can Denver Snuffers premise that the church does not have such authority also be true?

    And why are “appeals to authority irrelevant”? Because you said so? (ironic your authority must be accepted) All appeals are taken on the authority of somebody. CS Lewis said “A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.” That is to say, most of what you know is based on the authority of somebody else. What better authority than an apostle?

    As for “facts of history”. . . sigh. Have you taken a history class? It is terribly subjective. Which brings us back to authority.

    If the brethren do not have the keys of the priesthood and the ability to bind on earth and in heaven (seal) as Denver Snuffer is preaching, then temples are pointless.

    If the brethren do have those keys and the Prophet does have the power to bind and seal, then we aren’t wasting our money and time on temples and family history.

    Denver Snuffer is trying to pull a very important Jenga piece out of the Church doctrinal structure.

    The problem is if people accept his move, the tower falls to the ground.

    Either Denver is right, or the Church is true.

    He proclaims he still supports the brethren and believes the Church “has validity” but what he is attempting to do is water down the church to weaken the testimony of the saints.

  42. “If Elder Packer says the Church has the sealing authority, how can Denver Snuffers premise that the church does not have such authority also be true?”

    You put up a quote from Packer, and you put up a quote from Snuffer. My response to you was both statements are logically compatible – and anyone can see that they are logically compatible. Now, you are shifting the grounds to something which was not being addressed in my response to you.

    “And why are “appeals to authority irrelevant”?”

    Because truth, and not status or position, matter – unless one is a respecter of men, in which case perhaps all one would care about is authority. Knowledge of truth is not affected by one’s position – one either knows what one is talking about, or one does not; one can either produce evidence supporting his claims, or one cannot.

    “That is to say, most of what you know is based on the authority of somebody else”

    All of what one *knows* is from direct experience – nothing else counts as *knowledge*. Anything else is merely believed.

    “What better authority than an apostle?”

    The example of the “Adam-God” doctrine, taught as revelation by Brigham Young in General Conference, ought to be sufficient put down that simplistic notion. An apostle may not know more than anyone else on any topic he cares to speak on.

    “As for “facts of history”. . . sigh. Have you taken a history class? It is terribly subjective. Which brings us back to authority.”

    Are you sincerely saying that something like “the Saints were driven from Nauvoo” is not a fact of history? What would you call it?

    “If the brethren do not have the keys of the priesthood and the ability to bind on earth and in heaven (seal) as Denver Snuffer is preaching, then temples are pointless.”

    Find where Snuffer preaches that, then maybe this conversation would get somewhere. You clearly have access to PTHG, therefore it should be easy to find, if it’s there.

    “Denver Snuffer is trying to pull a very important Jenga piece out of the Church doctrinal structure.

    The problem is if people accept his move, the tower falls to the ground.”

    It is important to find out if the Jenga piece is there in the first place. If it isn’t, it would be well to know that one’s foundation is missing a vital piece, and that one may indeed be inhabiting a great and spacious building crafted from vain imaginations. What people believe has no bearing on what is real. Masses believing that which is unreal does not make it real, and masses disbelieving that which is real does not make it unreal.

    “Either Denver is right, or the Church is true.”

    That statement could be true, for varying values of “true”. I’m not sure what you mean by “the Church is true.”

    “He proclaims he still supports the brethren and believes the Church “has validity” but what he is attempting to do is water down the church to weaken the testimony of the saints.”

    That is a classic argumentum ad hominem. He says he’s trying to help. You both can’t be right, and, on the balance, I’m willing to grant that a man may be the world’s foremost authority on what he intends, and I have not yet seen convincing proof of the existence of a mind-reading device.

    As I mentioned before, the facts of history are publicly available, and we have the scriptures before us. What Snuffer has done is connect the dots in a way that goes through all the points, not just some of them. The only way to break the argument is to produce some more points which cannot be fit into the pattern.

  43. Are you Sicillian?

    You say a man can only know what he has experienced and then rant on about “facts” of history. If we want to talk about non-invented devices, lets talk about time machines. I am not saying historical statements are true or untrue, just that they are subjective and authority must be relied upon in order to accept them. Hence my previous sentence: “Which brings us back to authority.”

    You say,

    “It is important to find out if the Jenga piece is there in the first place. If it isn’t, it would be well to know that one’s foundation is missing a vital piece, and that one may indeed be inhabiting a great and spacious building crafted from vain imaginations. What people believe has no bearing on what is real. Masses believing that which is unreal does not make it real, and masses disbelieving that which is real does not make it unreal.”

    So you are open to the idea that the entire Church is a sham?

    This is the common fruit of those who follow Denver Snuffer. This is why he is being disciplined.

    Let us skip conjecture and the philosophies of men mingled with scripture and get to the bottom line.

    Denver Snuffer followers (tend to) revere Joseph Smith but discount every prophet and apostle thereafter as members of a false line of priesthood.

    Those loyal to the Church see the modern prophet and apostles as a continuation in an unbroken line of authority and keys.

    Therein lies the divide.

    I know where I stand.

    Now drink your cup. I’ve got a princess to save.

  44. “You say a man can only know what he has experienced and then rant on about “facts” of history.”

    I did not say the facts of history were knowledge, or that I had knowledge of them, or that you did, or anyone else. I asked what you would call them – and you’ve declined.

    “So you are open to the idea that the entire Church is a sham?”

    I don’t know what you mean by “the entire Church is a sham.”

    “This is the common fruit of those who follow Denver Snuffer. This is why he is being disciplined.”

    I could have sworn he was being disciplined for his own fruit, and not the fruit of others, according to the letter from his stake president. Thank you for that clarification.

    “Denver Snuffer followers (tend to) revere Joseph Smith but discount every prophet and apostle thereafter as members of a false line of priesthood.”

    And?

    “Those loyal to the Church see the modern prophet and apostles as a continuation in an unbroken line of authority and keys.”

    I’m not sure anyone, other than yourself, claims anyone else claims that there is not an unbroken line of authority and keys. You actually *haven’t* read PTHG, have you?

    “Now drink your cup. I’ve got a princess to save.”

    You have some other things to do. You have said Snuffer preaches that ““ the brethren do not have the keys of the priesthood and the ability to bind on earth and in heaven (seal)…”

    I have asked you to substantiate this claim. You have declined, without even acknowledging I asked.

    I asked you what you would call events like the driving of the Saints from Nauvoo, if not “a fact of history”. You have declined.

    I am adding a request that you inform the audience whether you have actually read PTHG. It is not clear from what you have written that you have. It appears that what you have cited may be the limit of your exposure to the book.

    These seem to be rather crucial matters – because if Snuffer hasn’t ever claimed that the Brethren don’t have the sealing keys, then the “fruit” of his “followers” becomes entirely irrelevant. Facts are what they are, and people may draw whatever conclusions they like from them; the one who gives the facts is not responsible other’s interpretations of them, neither their actions based on their interpretations. If history doesn’t matter, on your view, since no knowledge about it may be had, then I am very curious on what criterion you believe any account of history, or even if you do. I would be even more curious on what basis you accept any authority at all, even the Brethren, since you denigrate history.

    Denigrating history is an odd position for a Mormon, since the Restoration depends crucially upon certain things having happened in the past.

  45. To be clear, when I use the phrase “facts of history”, understand me to be saying “those things which are almost universally accepted as having happened in the past.” The Saints being driven from Nauvoo would be one of those things which is almost universally accepted as having happened in the past. For brevity, we can say “the Saints being driven from Nauvoo is a fact of history.”

    I speak to be understood, not necessarily to win arguments.

  46. On further reflection, Rubin, you can “win” the argument.

    I will wait, perhaps in vain, for an honest review of the book, along with an elucidation of its errors, if such exist, from those who have, at the very least, read it, and have the necessary background in Church history to be able to critique it.

    My wait may well be in vain, because, as Snuffer rightly points out, “The problem with Passing the Heavenly Gift has not been its accuracy. The issue raised in the notice I received from the stake president does not say the book is false, contains errors or makes mistakes in history. Rather, it ‘contains content which must be withdrawn.’ That is not an indictment of the book’s accuracy.”

  47. Some things to consider about D&C 110 (Adapted from PTHG):

    1. It was written by Warren Cowdery in the third person in the back of Joseph Smith’s 1835-1836 journal. It seems as if it was the last entry. Although, there were blank pages after this third person account of the Kirtland Temple experience. This is the only account we have of it. There is no second or third witness (unless the Holy Ghost witnesses to you).

    2. All of the contemporary records of the period never record any mention by Joseph Smith of visitations from Moses, Elias and Elijah.

    3. It was never taught by Joseph Smith. Not even once.

    4. Oliver Cowdery never taught it, mentioned it or wrote about it. Even in Oliver’s final written testimony given on January 13, 1849 he only mentions seeing Moroni, John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John. It is interesting that he doesn’t say he ever saw Christ let alone Moses, Elias and Elijah.
    Here is his testimony (from http://www.boap.org):

    “While darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people; long after the authority to administer in holy things had been taken away, the Lord opened the heavens and sent forth His word for the salvation of Israel. In fulfillment of the sacred scriptures, the everlasting gospel was proclaimed by the mighty angel (Moroni) who, clothed with the authority of his mission, gave glory to God in the highest. This # gospel is the `stone taken from the mountain without hands.’ John the Baptist, holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, holding the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, have also ministered for those who shall be heirs of salvation, and with these administrations, ordained men to the same priesthoods. These priesthoods, with their authority, are now, and must continue to be, in the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Blessed is the elder who has received the same, and thrice blessed and holy is he who shall endure to the end.

    “Accept assurances, dear brother, of the unfeigned prayer of him who, in connection with Joseph the Seer, was blessed with the above ministrations, and who earnestly and devoutly hopes to meet you in the celestial glory.” Oliver Cowdery. To Samuel W. Richards, January 13, 1849.

    Thus, by the foregoing testimony which he bears, as his last written, and virtually his dying testimony, is secured the promise made to him by the Lord in the early part of his career, that “the gates of hell should not prevail against him; and he should be lifted up at the last day.”

    Notice how Oliver is not hiding anything. He uses the term “unfeigned.” It seems he is not trying to hide a secret visitation from Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah. He is being sincere. I take him at his word.

    5. Oliver Cowdery’s “Kirtland Sketch Book” ends the day before the apperances recorded in D&C 110 even though it also had blank pages left. (PTHG p. 76)

    6. “Joseph referred to Elijah’s return as still future event”. (PTHG p.75) Joseph first mentions the promise of Elijah’s return when telling his history of Moroni’s visit to him in 1823. This was written in 1838. 2 years after the Kirtland experience. Joseph taught in his sermons in the Nauvoo period that Elijah’s return was in the future.
    I believe him.

    7. “We don’t have any reliable way of knowing when Warren Cowdery inserted the account found in the last pages of the journal.” (PTHG p. 76)

    8. We don’t know what source told Warren Cowdery of the event since Joseph and Oliver were the only ones present. (PTHG p. 76)

    9. It “is perhaps significant that Warren Cowdery wrote an article a year later in March, 1837 about these Old Testament prophets. His article refers to Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration witnessing the appearance of Moses and Elias.” (See Messenger and Advocate, March 1837, Vol. 3, No. 30, p. 470.) “So if Joseph and Oliver failed to mention the appearance Moses and Elijah, the scribe who wrote the event displayed an interest in the subject and even some appreciation for the potential doctrinal significance such an event might bring.” (PTHG p. 77)

    10. D&C 110 was unknown in the 1830’s and 1840’s until finally discovered and published in 1852. (PTHG p. 77)

    11. Orson Pratt was the first one to teach that Elijah had returned and affirms that the sealing keys and power were “committed and restored to the earth by Elijah.” to Joseph. (PTHG p. 78)

    God’s word alone confers the sealing power (See Helaman 10:3-10 and D&C 132:46). Also D&C 121 mentions that the rights of the priesthood are connected with powers of heaven. In other words power comes from heaven not men.

    Denver shows that the sealing power was given to Joseph much earlier than 1836. PTHG p. 326-327:

    1. Around 1829 Joseph receives revelation concerning plural wives.
    2. In 1831 Joseph obeyed revelation at considerable personal sacrifice (D&C 132:50)
    3. Following 1831 Joseph’s sacrifice was accepted and his calling and election was confirmed and the Lord granted him the sealing power (D&C 132:46-49). Denver indicates this may have happened on the occasion mentioned in D&C 128:21 which says: And again, the voice of God in the chamber of Father Whitmer . . .)
    4. On Dec. 27 1832 Joseph used the sealing power to seal a group of saints to eternal life (D&C 88:2-5). This required him to be in possession of the sealing power.
    5. April 3, 1836 the events recorded in D&C 110 are said to happen.

    12. The account in D&C 110 never states Elijah gave or committed anything to Joseph and Oliver. Elijah just confirms that the Dispensation keys were in Joseph’s possession. PTHG p. 327

    “Now, if you disagree with history and you are perfectly content with what Orson Pratt bequeathed us as the accompanying commentary when the account was discovered, then you needn’t give this one further thought. There have been generations come and go with that explanation regarded as the absolute truth and the basis for our Temple work. So you’ll be in good company. But there are those serious minded individuals who are trying to sort this out right now at high levels of the Church who know these are important issues which are NOT as settled as the past pronouncements make it appear. In fact, I doubt the current explanations will last much longer because the record simply does not support the conclusions we have urged. The place to start is not after the 1850’s discovery, when there were conclusions leaped to by Orson Pratt which then became the operative explanation thereafter. The place to start is instead from 1836 to 1844 in the records of that time. What was Joseph saying? What was Oliver saying? Why did both of them leave out mention of Elijah in their testimonies of who had come to visit with them? Where did Section 110 come from? That is, who did Warren Cowdery consult with to learn the material he wrote into the book? I work on that in both the book and the talk.” (http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2011/10/history-of-elijah-doctrine.html)

    I will add something else. In D&C 110:14, it states that the time has “fully come.” Not partially but fully and yet Joseph kept teaching that Elijah’s return was future. It it had fully come why would Elijah need to come again?

  48. Kudos to log for holding his ground! I’m actually very interested in seeing a detailed rebuttal to DS’ historical conclusions. I would love to be able to dismiss some of it. Help us out someone!

  49. Watcher: Just because you have a profound place for D&C 110 in your personal theology does not suffice as a response to the contents of Snuffer’s book. Your personal revelations are not public evidence, in any event, and are discredited by your penchant for falsely labelling people “disciples of Snuffer” when they question your private interpretations.

  50. Once LDSA fishes my previous comment out of moderation, I trust it will be obvious that I have no need to “win” at whether or not Snuffer’s evidence and analysis are sound, neither am I trying to; my point is that his book must be answered on the terms it was offered – through public evidence and logical analysis by someone who has actually read it.

  51. Log, you are the one that presented the following challenge:

    “The arguments and analysis presented in PTHG deserve a substantive rebuttal, if an honest rebuttal is possible”

    You appear to be so impressed with Snuffer’s arguments that you question if anyone can give an honest rebuttal.

    Now that I have accepted that challenge, and have agreed to put together a rebuttal of Denvers teaching regarding 110, you are trying to discredit me before I even present the arguments against his rejection of section 110.

    Why don’t you want anyone to hear my rebuttal?

    Why are you so fearful?

    Yes, I have some unique personal theological beliefs of my own.

    Are they unworthy of consideration?

    I would suggest that Denver’s rejection of section 110 also represents a unique doctrinal belief.

    Why is he allowed to provide a unique perspective of doctrine and history but I am not?

    Calling someone a disciple of someone else is not disrespectful if it is true.

    It is simply an acknowledgement.

    When I use the term disciple, I am not being condescending or mean spirited.

    I am acknowledging that the person has received instruction from Snuffer and that they appear to be an adherent of the unique doctrines and historical beliefs that Snuffer presents. .

    Here is the definition of disciple according to Websters

    1. A learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another; as the disciples of Plato.
    2. A follower; an adherent to the doctrines of another…

    Log, when you or another person begin quoting the words of Snuffer on blog sites and challenging people to prove Snuffer wrong, you are acting in the role of disciple, demonstrating that you have studied his teachings and that you have some degree of belief in them, and that you don’t think anyone has the capacity to debunk them.

    On another blog you have indicated that you have been spiritually born again and you have given this profound spiritual advice-

    “Arguing to win, rather than come to the truth, is contention…This includes specifying at all times when they are stating their opinions, or beliefs, or their knowledge. They do not mock, nor wax sarcastic towards, them with whom they are conversing. ”

    As one claiming to have been born of the spirit, Log, perhaps you should take some of your own advice from your words of wisdom above and quit being so contentious.

    Allow me to have the opportunity to put forth a differing point of view.

    The fact that you have made up your mind does not necessarily mean that everyone else has.

    There may be people that want to hear other viewpoints.

    I happen to agree with Snuffer that section 110 does not say what the church interprets it to be saying.

    Clearly, it has nothing to do with the temple or with genealogy work or with bestowing the fulness of the priesthood, BUT, that does not mean that the event didn’t take place.

    It simply means that there may be a more accurate interpretation for the event than what is typically presented as official church doctrine. .

    I am suggesting that by rejecting the historicity of section 110, Denver has thrown the baby out with the bathwater on this most important historical issue.

    Just because the content in section 110 is not consistent with what the church teaches does not mean that it is not a true revelation.
    Matthew-

    If you are sincere about wanting a detailed rebuttal from someone, I will have one on my site within a month or two as soon as I get time to put one together.

    In the meantime, here is just one historical tidbit relating to section 110 for you and Denver to consider.

    In Joseph’s Nauvoo discourse on Elias, Elijah and Messiah, he publicly introduced a radical and very disruptive new doctrinal perspective, namely, that Elijah and Elias represented two completely different and distinct spirits, callings, and historical figures.

    there ” is a difference between the spirit and office of Elias and Elijah” he declared..

    “the spirit of Elias was a going before to prepare the way for the greater”

    “That person who holds the keys of Elias hath a preparatory work…Now for Elijah. The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven.”

    To my knowledge, that perspective had not been presented before by any biblical scholars.

    Biblical Christianity had never separated out the Old Testament Name “Elijah” and the New Testament name “Elias” as being separate and distinct people nor representing different and distinct missions.

    Joseph’s new teaching appeared to contradict the New Testament which uses the term Elias, translated from the Greek, to refer to Elijah of the Old Testament.

    Interestingly, the event in section 110 has Elijah and Elias visiting Joseph and Oliver as different and distinct historical beings that were acting as separate ministering angels.

    HELLO!

    That is one hell of a coincidence if section 110 was a forged revelation.

    One huge problem with Denver’s thesis is that both the sermon by Joseph in Nauvoo and the alleged forged document by Warren several years earlier were perfectly consistent with each other in revealing this new doctrinal concept.

    If Denver’s suggestion is true that Warren Cowdery forged the content contained in section 110, which was clearly given before the sermon in Nauvoo, how is it that Warren nailed the doctrine by having Elias and Elijah visit Joseph and Oliver as separate and distinct historical beings?

    That is quite a coincidence that warren who was not known as a doctrinal scholar or for ever writing anything of significance snuck into the diary and forged a revelation containing a revolutionary new doctrine that Joseph Smith would be introducing several years later.

    Particularly since Warren had absolutely nothing to gain from forging the miraculously inspired document.

  52. It is usually true that the people who preach the loudest about what DS has to say have read little, if any, of his actual stuff. Taking bits and pieces of controversial material out of the larger context of what he has written and pontificating about it is exactly what he asks over and over that people not do, whether they agree with him or not. If a person has any desire to fairly judge what DS has written for themselves, then they ought to have the courtesy to start where the author has requested (see the top of his blog). Again, whether you accept his ideas or not.

  53. “Now that I have accepted that challenge, and have agreed to put together a rebuttal of Denvers teaching regarding 110, you are trying to discredit me before I even present the arguments against his rejection of section 110.”

    We can stop right there, and forget the rest of your “rebuttal”. Since you haven’t read the book, you don’t know why your “rebuttal” is entirely besides the point.

    Because Snuffer, in the book under discussion, does not “reject” Section 110. You are rebutting *nothing*. Literally.

    And accusing me, falsely, of being “fearful,” to boot.

    Snuffer simply recounts the facts – the same facts, by the way, your cited MA thesis recounts.

    A book reviewer is not a disciple of the author, even if the reviewer cites the book and gives a judgement that the weight of the evidence supports the author’s thesis. A judge is not a disciple of the prevailing party. To call someone a “disciple” of Pythagoras because one accepts the validity of the Pythagorean Theorem would be nonsensical. And a person is hardly Snuffer’s disciple for pointing out he has made a substantial, evidence-based argument which requires substantial, evidence-based rebuttal. That is simple a restatement of the fundamental rules of relevance.

    But of course you understand, as we all do, that to call anyone a disciple of a man is to cast a slur on their discipleship of Christ. Therefore, to accuse a man of being a disciple of another man is not only to judge them, but to also judge their status before God. I really thought that was precisely the kind judgement Christ commanded us not to make.

    It is not contention to point out that Snuffer’s evidence and analysis remain untouched because – get this – nobody has competently responded. Nobody who has read the book has put forth a contrary analysis, nor additional evidence which would overturn the argument of the book. And, as you have admitted you have not read the book, you don’t even know what you’re responding to.

    It is not contention to point out that one CANNOT relevantly, nor intelligently, respond to an argument he has purposefully refused to examine.

    Contention means to be engaged in a contest. I’m not trying to win. I take no position on whether Snuffer’s argument is true. I’m trying to find someone who will competently review the book. Frankly, I wish someone would overturn Snuffer’s argument, or produce new evidence which his model of interpreting Church history cannot account for. But you’re not able to do it; you haven’t even deigned to read the book you presume to “rebut”.

  54. Just as it is intrinsically and irredeemably unfair to judge a man without letting him speak, give evidence, and produce witnesses in his defense, so also it is intrinsically and irredeemably unfair to presume to judge the arguments, evidence, and analysis in a book one steadfastly refuses to read.

    Luke 16:10
    10 …He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

  55. I realize Denver probably never specifically commits himself on validity of 110, he rarely does on those types of issues.

    However, I believe he makes his belief pretty clear.

    I leave it up to anyone else to read his words and arrive at their own conclusion

    THE MISSION OF ELIJAH RECONSIDERED:
    http://denversnuffer.info/Elijah.pdf

    History of Elijah Doctrine
    http://denversnuffer.info/HIstory_of_Elijah_Doctrine.pdf

    To make you and leejae and Denver happy Log, I will read his book before providing my rebuttal 😉

    I will not be addressing your contentious spirit any further.

  56. Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

  57. Wow, I read watchers blog, and I must say Log, you put forth an awesome argument. I haven’t heard anyone– on any site– put forth a decent rebuttal of PTHG, although many have wanted to. That is very telling. Denver may be onto something, as unfortunately no one can touch his arguments, without going into straw-man arguments and logical fallacies.

  58. denver snuffer is a priestcrafter. i doubt that a practicing lawyer who charges tons of money for books that supposedly will teach you how to see jesus has really seen him. the scriptures are more than sufficient for teaching us how to recieve the second comforter. also, he stole a little known prophecy from joseph smith and tried to pass it off as a sign that he is sent from god

    “When the Seed of the Woman was born, a new star appeared in the heavens. In like manner, when the Lion of Judah returns, as with his first coming, there will be a new star seen. All the world will note its appearance and shall be troubled at its meaning. When it makes its appearance, you may know His return is soon upon the world. You may also know by that sign that He has given to me the words I have faithfully taught as His servant.”

    Denver Snuffer March 2013
    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-sign.html

    “Jerusalem must be rebuilt.–& Judah return, must return & the temple water come out from under the temple–the waters of the dead sea be healed.–it will take some time to build the walls & the Temple. &c & all this must be done before Son of Man will make his appearance; wars & rumours of wars. signs in the heavens above on the earth beneath Sun turned to darkness moon to blood, oceans heaving beyond their bound.–then one grand sign of the son of the son of man [sic] in heaven. but what will the world do? they will say it is a planet. a comet, &c. consequently the sun [Son] of man will come as the sign of the soming of the son of man; is as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.”

    he doesn’t even have sense enough to call the “star” what it actually is, a comet.

  59. no he didnt try and pass off anything. there is no this is from me. its a random paragraph that is hard to tell where it comes from. yes its his blog but just because its posted on his blog doesnt mean its his words. this is case of he may not know where its from….hes being intentionally vague….or he really is plagiarizing.

    I do agree I havent heard a solid rebuttal of his argument put forward. Hes put together a damning case against LDS folks of today that is hard to swallow but there hasnt been near as well thought out counter argument. he raises many solid points. given most of what he talks about is quoted scriptures it really does make you look closer at said scriptures.

    as for me Ill testify Im quite confident he is doing Gods work. I know I gave some of his books away to people as I felt the spirit told me too. I know on a handful of occassions I signed The Lord’s Name as I wrote a revelation I had explaining why to give the books to those people. I know when I found out he was excommunicated….I was immediately hit with “well are you still confident in signing MY Name???” there seemed to be a you were so sure of yourself….just because the church cast him out are you REALLY SURE???

    I think it was all part of the grand test God is giving me….to put Him first above all else and not care what others think even the church so I think this was another test to see am I still confident in that signing of His Name? am I willing to stand with Him? even though it is an excommunicable offense?

    The answer is clear I think…I stand by signing The Lords name to those books.

  60. “You may also know by that sign that He has given to me the words I have faithfully taught as His servant.”

    what does that mean other than, “this message from god proves i am his servant?” is he saying “because i found this little known prophecy you may know i am gods servant?” if these aren’t his words then he’s stealing them, since no author is quoted.

    i don’t think i’ve almost ever read anything from denver that i believe to be false doctrine. however i am not confident that he is doing gods work. jesus never published books that sold for profit. even if he really does give all his profits to the church, lots of trees are being wasted for information thats already all over the internet, and i doubt his publishers donate all their profits to the church. if he had just stuck to his blog he would never have been excommunicated and would avoid all priestcraft charges. but in a book you don’t have to allow a comment section and then you don’t have to ever defend yourself or your views. i guess he took the comments off his blog anyways though. his books are as much a waste of resources and exercise in ego masturbation as john bytheway talks and the crap from deseret book

    also, i really doubt that signing his books and giving them out is an excommunicable offense. don’t fall victim to the martyr complex denver suffers from.

  61. Those who are listening to Mr. Snuffer are being deceived. Mr. Snuffer has left out many, many facts. Mr. Snuffer contradicts himself.
    I have looked into some things he claims and he is wrong.
    The work Joseph Smith did was the absolute last time for a restoration, no matter what happens. It is written Scripture, and even Joseph Smith himself said so. Joseph Smith knew his time on earth was coming to an end and he gave the Twelve all the keys and authority of the Priesthood, yes even to Brigham Young. Joseph spent a lot of time teaching and instructing the Twelve as to how things needed to be done after Joseph was gone. Joseph could not wait for the Temple to be completed because time was running out and he knew if he did not pass all authority to the Twelve then all would be lost….again.

  62. LDSA, you said in a comment somewhere above

    And the final straw will be the work for the dead because the dead are completely helpless and dependent on us performing these ordinances in their behalf, otherwise they have no hope of escaping from hell

    You said “ordinances” but from my understanding of your other posts, only one ordinance is required to escape hell – baptism in water.
    Do you think it is correct to treat the ordinances of endowment and sealing as ordinances pertaining to exaltation which will happen after resurrection and thus has a lesser urgency attached to it, because these ordinances can be performed during the Millenium without any rush.

  63. Oops, I think I misspoke because you misspoke. No ordinances are needed to escape hell, only repentance. Baptism in water is needed to enter the paradise. With this correction in mind my original question still stands.

  64. jackdale76, there is also the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost that needs to be done. As for the ordinances of exaltation, if you are a spirit that merits exaltation, and you died before the Second Coming, and you never got these ordinances, and then you get resurrected at the arrival of Christ, do you want to wait around on Earth or wherever resurrected spirits will be waiting, or do you want to enter into your exaltation as soon as possible? That question seemed relative to the individual. For you it might be okay to wait around, but to another they may have a sense of urgency about getting on to inheriting their kingdom of glory. Consider, for example, the 12 Nephite disciples. Nine of them wanted to speedily come to the Lord in His kingdom, whereas three wanted to wait around and work some more. Do you think those nine would have been happy waiting on Earth for a thousand years while people took their time getting their ordinance work done?

  65. there is also the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost that needs to be done

    This assertion goes against what you postulated in your post “The Baptism of Fire”. Acc.to it we can receive the baptism of fire 3 times: when we repent, immediately after we are baptized in water, and when the hands are laid on us.

    The laying on of hands is done for the purpose of fire baptism

    by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost
    (Doctrine and Covenants 20:41)

    So, if a spirit in hell repents, he must immediately be worked upon by the Holy Ghost and be cleansed. Moreover, when that spirit is waiting at the gates of paradise and a proxy perform a water baptism on Earth, the Lord must send another baptism of fire to the spirit. So, how does it makes sense that without the laying on of hands (which brings another fire baptism) a person cannot enter the paradise?

  66. jackdale76,

    This assertion goes against what you postulated in your post “The Baptism of Fire”. Acc.to it we can receive the baptism of fire 3 times: when we repent, immediately after we are baptized in water, and when the hands are laid on us.

    Okay, here is what I actually wrote:

    Order: fire and Spirit, then water, then fire and Spirit, etc.

    Re-baptism being a principle of the gospel, the order in which these baptisms are received is not all that important. The only necessary thing is that each one is received, for these are really three parts of one baptism. Nevertheless, the scriptural, ideal order is first the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 20: 37), followed by the baptism of water, followed by another baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and thereafter, any part may be repeated multiple times throughout one’s life.

    Another thing that the gospel states is that after a baptism of water, the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is supposed to follow on its heels, either right after coming out of the water, or right after confirmation by the laying on of hands.

    (Bold emphasis added.) Or even at both times.

    So, if a spirit in hell repents, he must immediately be worked upon by the Holy Ghost and be cleansed.

    Repentance doesn’t cause the Holy Ghost and fire to come upon a person. The exercise of faith does. The ordinances of baptism and confirmation allow us to have, or maintain, faith, by fulfilling God’s commandments, after the condition of repentance has been fulfilled. This is why in the temple we perform baptisms for the dead and also confirmations for the dead. Both ordinances are necessary, otherwise, nobody in spirit prison can exercise faith. They must either be done, or be going to be done, in order for the spirit to exercise faith enough to leave prison, and faith enough to obtain a baptism of fire. However, once the spirit has left, he or she cannot enter Paradise until these ordinances are done in their behalf. Thus, it is not the ordinances, or the moments they are performed, that cause a spirit to receive a baptism of fire, but the exercise of the spirit’s faith in Christ, after repenting of all his or her sins.

    Some of these people who criticize the church and leadership will point to only faith and repentance as what is needed for salvation, saying that the ordinances are unnecessary because the Holy Ghost can come upon a person with only faith and repentance, and thus that person can be sanctified without the ordinances. But the sanctification doesn’t stick for long, if the ordinances are not attended to. In other words, if you knowingly do not obey the commandment of God and get baptized and confirmed, entering into the covenant, or, if no one performs the ordinance in your behalf, ever, you are screwed and, as the commandment has now been broken, you are no longer sanctified, are you? So, the idea that no one needs this church and its ordinances and its priesthood keys is inspired of the devil, that faith might be extinguished altogether among the people, for faith cannot persist unless God’s commandments are obeyed. This is why the Book of Mormon prophets from Nephi onward are incessant in the need for obedience to God’s commandments for salvation. Yes, we are saved by faith, but there can be no faith without first obeying the commandment to repent and secondly, there can be no continued (permanent) faith without obeying the rest of the commandments. And, as having and exercising faith in Christ is, in itself, a commandment of God, all parts of the gospel are salvific because of our obedience to God’s commandments. So, those ordinances are absolutely necessary for salvation. The Christians and heretical Mormons are simply wrong on this point.

    Another way of putting it is in terms of permanence. Unless things are permanently saved, there is no real salvation. If Christ brought everyone back from the dead like He did Lazarus, then we’d all be mortal again and we’d all just end up dying again, just as Lazarus did. Salvation must be eternal and permanent, otherwise it is useless and we’d all just end up going back into outer darkness, making God look like an utter fool, unable to save a single one of us. So, these ordinances, and all other parts of the gospel, are absolutely necessary to make everything stick forever.


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