Monday, September 29, 2014

Preparing for General Conference

Every six months or so, immediately preceding General Conference, the leaders of the LDS Church, in every meeting (more than they usually do, which is practically every Sunday) reassert their foundational principle: "follow the prophet". Yesterday's ward conference was no different. The bishop and stake president spoke. The bishop lauded the virtues of Church membership -- ironically, speaking of several people who died despite having receiving Church priesthood "blessings" -- while the stake president warned of the dangers of not "following the prophet". Those who fail to "follow the prophet", he said, are doomed to suffer the consequences.

Several examples of not "following the prophet" were given. He pointed to those who rejected Noah's ministry and the plight of those who dissed Moses. Then he highlighted the consequences to Saul for his defiance of Samuel's instructions. The stake president made a convincing case, no some.

But Uriah the Hittite he did not mention. Uriah was a follower of David. And David was a prophet in his own right. He was also the king. Literally the Lord's anointed. David believed and received the Lord, uttered scriptures recorded in our Bible, and prophesied of Christ. (Jesus even quoted him!) David did many mighty works, was greatly rewarded, beloved of the people, and honored by God for his devotion. He was called "a man after [God's] own heart". David likewise honored and revered Nathan, another prophet. But David disobeyed God's commandments. He slept with Uriah's wife, then had Uriah killed when his wife became pregnant with David's child. David thus fell from grace and lost his exaltation. He was vexed all his days because of his sins, his many wives and his wicked offspring. David wasn't mentioned by the stake president, except as one to replace "disobedient" Saul. David's son, Solomon, likewise fell into idolatry, leading Israel astray, even as he established a glorious temple to Jehovah and surrounded himself with all the trappings of holiness, power and authority from God.

Moral of the story? Do not trust in the arm of flesh. Men cannot be trusted.

The Book of Mormon, in its very first chapter, indicates that the Lord raised up prophets outside the established hierarchy of the ecclesiastical structure and bloodlines recognized by the religious community of Lehi's day. That's because those who know God and come unto Him come unto Him not by right nor by rite, but by revelationThe Book of Mormon is a history of those who did not reject the testimonies of those "outcast" prophets, but rather received them and were thus "outcast" themselves (or worse). But unto Christ they came nonetheless!

Our scriptures record that the glory of the Lord departs from those who turn from or who do not seek after, call upon or inquire of Him. (See Moses 1:15-20 and Zephaniah 1:4-6.) Our scriptures also never mention "follow the prophet". (Look it up!) Unfortunately, even in the Promised Land, many chose to "follow the prophet" anyway, even David and Solomon (or Joseph and Brigham), leading to great sin.

The first book of Kings, chapter 13 tells the tale of one who "followed a prophet" rather than the Lord. A man of God, of Judah, faithfully spoke the word of the Lord unto the wicked king Jeroboam, showing forth both signs and wonders as a testimony of that prophet's divine commission. But then another "old prophet" sought out the man of God and invited him to eat and drink with him. When the man of God refused, saying he had been forbidden by God from doing so, the old prophet lied!
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
This story reminds us of fasting, famished Alma and Amulek coming to his rescue, does it not? Surely an "old prophet" could not... would not...lie, would he? But he did! We all know what happened next:
20 ¶And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.
The man of God was, indeed, speedily destroyed in the flesh for disobeying God and hearkening, rather, unto men, even to that "old prophet". The stake president didn't mention these examples of "following the prophet". I wonder why.

This is what you may expect to receive when you put your trust in the arm of flesh: you can expect to be lied to and deceived, receiving a prophet's reward. (See D&C 76:99-101.) But the Lord God cannot lie. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (See John 14:6.) We are commanded to follow God -- and we are encouraged to follow the counsel of holy men as they speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Since the Holy Ghost vouchsafes the inspired words men utter, they become God's words. But only in this special case! Anything less -- and anything else -- is sin.

The Lord is no respector of persons. Ironically, the stake president quoted this verse to "prove" his point: that we ought to follow men rather than God...or rather, that we ought to follow men as if they were God:
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
These words completely unravel the stake president's case! (Not that anyone was listening, apparently.)

In today's ward conference, the words of the prophets and apostles of old were presented as "evidence" that we ought to follow other men even now. Those men who served as apostles and prophets anciently were identified as the ones upon whom the Lord's Church was then built. It was implied that similar men now comprise the foundation of the modern LDS Church today. Several scriptures were cited. (Among them Ephesians 4:11-15 and Ephesians 2:19-20.) Thus we were admonished to "follow" them...the Brethren...or else. The stake president, in effect, said "follow me", "follow us", "follow them", "we have the authority", etc., etc., implying that by doing so, we would be "following the Lord".

How did this happen? When did the Lord cease to do His own work and give His power unto men? (See 2 Nephi 28:5.) Was not the failure of Nephi's brothers to inquire of the Lord for themselves not imputed to them for sin?

Then why are we not encouraged to follow the Lord directly? Is He not able to speak to us on His own behalf? One imagines economies of scale and efficiencies of hierarchal management, I grant that. But the scriptural record speaks of a personal God:
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
7 ¶Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Beautiful, truthful words like these are spoken only by men when they are filled with the Holy Ghost. These men have a personal knowledge of God. Their "authority" comes from that knowledge of Him, directly. Every apostle and prophet (until the modern era) knew God personally and bore witness of Him. The words of scripture cited above are not the words of scribes and pharisees, who quote the words of others, speaking of those witnesses, then appealing to that "authority" as their own, saying that it has been "passed down" to them, thereby demanding that they be "hearkened" unto and "obeyed". Rather, the power of godliness and the authority of God manifest in every age is renewed unto those who receive it! God makes Himself known unto those who would be His servants; otherwise, they are not. (Unless we serve Him unwittingly!) It is not enough to be called, consecrated and ordained by man! One must also receive one's errand from the Lord. Ought we to "hearken" to a Peter or a Paul, a Nephi or a Moroni, who knew (and know) the Lord for themselves? Yes, we should. Because they know Him!

But that does not let us off the hook. We must come to know Him, too, for ourselves...or we cannot be saved.

Who are these men today who come in the name of the Lord? Do they lay claim to that knowledge which surpasses the whisperings and witness known to all of us who have received the Holy Ghost? Do they bear witness of a personal knowledge of God and Christ that equals that of the ancients? Do they witness of Jesus and His resurrection bodily? Or do they, rather, champion the institution that bears His name and laud its many programs, accomplishments, and people, in effect, setting up false idols?

A collective body richly funded may accomplish great things under the direction of focused leadership. Great pyramids have been erected and mighty wars have been fought. Men have even stepped on the moon! Anciently, the Lord overthrew a people who labored to build a tower to get to heaven perhaps because the inertia of a misguided organization can overcome, even obliterate, the subtle promptings and directions of the Spirit of God. Men can get "caught up" in themselves and worship the work of their own hands. Unless they are united in the Lord above all, their unity becomes a stumbling block to them.

Nephi, in fact, said the Lord God would raise up a "prophet" whom the people should "hear in all things". But he identified this "prophet" would be the Holy One of Israel Himself!
21 And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.
LDS leaders now weave a clever message of trusting in the arm of flesh, self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, food storage, receiving the ordinances of the priesthood, gaining education, getting out of debt, loving God and family, etc., while demanding that they be followed...or else.

I would not be opposed to following such men who claim to be "prophets, seers and revelators"...if they actually prophesied, saw or revealed. (Perhaps this is why the Lord has withheld such gifts from them. We are not yet converted enough to the Lord to not be dissuaded or distracted from "worshiping" and "following" others who might manifest His power.) But the current crop apparently don't prophesy, see or reveal (any more than I do!). They spout common sense -- and even nonsense -- and call it "prophecy". They take a stand...and then waffle on the stand, declaring that what was most sacred and sacrosanct, even "essential" to our very faith and salvation, was not "doctrinal" after all! At other times they attribute to "folklore" (and not to God, prophets or ancient scripture, as they previously declared) institutionalized discrimination against a whole race (because it's no longer "politically correct" to hold those views). Prophets indeed! We follow them at our peril. Or we don't follow them at our peril.

Which is it?

Why do these people who claim to act by God's authority get a "pass" just because their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers received an ordination to a priesthood office, so called, by which their words may never be called into question now? And, if they are, why is the one questioning -- not the one being questioned -- automatically found wanting?

I watched this morning (as a silent by-sitter) as, apparently, 100% of those LDS members in attendance raised their hands to "sustain" the names of every stake and local leader read aloud. "You are all leaders!" it was said, in effect. "Some of you, like me, are now called 'president' while others of you are now called 'first assistant', 'counselor' or 'secretary'. Follow and sustain me and someday you, too, may become presidents of men!"

Somehow I think they got that commandment confused.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Answers -- Because Nobody Asked

Well, maybe one person asked. (Thanks, Geoff!)

I was rebaptized last Sunday (September 21, 2014) by one claiming to hold the Holy Priesthood of God. He had been ordained a priest (or elder) by one (supposedly) having authority in the LDS Church (even as I had been ordained by one supposedly having authority). He produced a certificate, listing names of individuals (known to others in our group) who sustain him in his exercise of that priesthood (after the pattern presented to us on September 9, 2014). I trusted these were real people and I believed this man satisfied the requirement of the Lord to perform this ordinance on my behalf.

I believed Denver Snuffer's message delivered in Mesa. (I didn't like it. I didn't "want" it. I would have preferred not hearing it.) But I had faith that it was true. Everything else Denver has taught has resonated with me. It has "smacked" of truth.

So what has changed?

It should surprise no one that one having authority, coming in the name of the Lord, should upset the tables of those who make merchandize of our Father's House. The fact that those merchandizers cast me out demonstrated to me that they were not truly about our Father's business, for God had not cast me out. I knew for a fact that they did not speak the truth -- because I saw them hide the truth and unwittingly corrupt it. Therefore I knew I could no longer "follow" them. They could not be trusted.

And that was a good thing, actually, to have my faith in men destroyed. I had grown dependent upon them. I needed to exercise greater faith in God and acquire "ears" to hear again the Holy Ghost for myself. Our God is a jealous God and demands that we worship Him because He alone -- as our Creator, our Redeemer and the personification of all that is holy and perfect -- is the only Being worthy of emulation, worship and obeisance. In that same spirit, after reading this morning the third truth revealed by Bret Corbridge as reviewed by Tim Malone, I purchased Bret's book and look forward to perusing its passages with my family. (For those less spiritually inclined, here are 77 other truths to distract you.)

I did not feel like I needed to be rebaptized. (I was baptized a member of the LDS Church on November 19, 1977, when I was 15. That date has been sacred to me ever since.) But I also know that the LDS Church has "died" from the top down. That fact was ultimately proven to me when the First Presidency failed to respond in kind to my appeal after I clearly demonstrated that I was excommunicated under false pretenses. The bishop, stake president and hierarchal authorities of the LDS Church interposed themselves between me and God and demanded that they be obeyed as God, in His stead. Their word, they told me, was God's word. (They even quoted two whole scriptures to prove it: here and here!) But I knew their words -- not those two scriptures, but many of their doctrines and traditions and practices of men and much of their history and some of their commandments and precepts proffered as God's will and word -- were false and not of God. Therefore I could no longer trust them or follow them. When they sought to coerce me into following them anyway, exercising control, dominion and compulsion upon my soul -- even threatening me with the dissolution of my family if they were not heeded and obeyed -- I knew they were (regrettably) on Satan's errand. They were serving a false god, even while clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood and serving in God's holy house. It broke my heart.

The Church had died. I did not want this death. I did not seek for it and I did everything in my power to stop it. I bore my testimony of Christ, but my testimony was rejected. (After all, who am I?  A "nobody", no one of consequence.) The LDS Church has now become just another "religion", just another church -- no more, no less.

I don't want a religion. I want a relationship with God -- not a relationship by proxy through other men. I cannot allow any man to interpose himself between me and my Creator again. Unlike many "in charge" in the LDS Church -- who misunderstood their (once-held) divine "commission" -- Denver Snuffer is doing his best to not become just such an interloper.

By being rebaptized, I wanted to show the Lord I was willing to obey and submit to Him. Denver Snuffer has said the Lord is offering again another opportunity to come back into His presence, to commence the work of restoration, and I wanted to avail myself of that opportunity. Progress requires sacrifice. It was a sacrifice for me to drive to Camarrillo to be rebaptized. It was sacrifice to forsake all that I have known and loved and held dear. But I could find no reason -- no scriptural foundation -- upon which to reject Denver's words (while I have found many discrepancies and contradictions in the words of those offering their "religion" to me instead).

I do not claim to speak for God or to know all things. I did not see a burning bush or knowingly entertain angels before I committed myself to rebaptism. (Admittedly, the LDS Church made that decision easier for me by kicking me out and by "voiding" -- in their books, at least -- what, I thought, was a covenant made only between me and God. But just to be sure, I did it again.) I wanted to publicly demonstrate that I am endeavoring to be on the Lord's side. The baptism with which I was baptized is every bit as authoritative as any that has been offered in any chapel, temple or font of the LDS Church throughout its history. Indeed, it is even more authoritative now (if Denver is to be believed) because the Lord has withdrawn His authority from the ranks of the LDS Church and has renewed it again with those who merely believe in Him and receive authority from His hand.

While there are many who follow the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, and even a few who follow a "prophet", there are not many who follow the Lord. Not many at all.

The scriptures promise that those who enter in at the gate of repentance and baptism, according to His word, will receive the remission of their sins "by fire and by the Holy Ghost". This is the doctrine of Christ. "[T]here will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh" (2 Nephi 32:6). I am striving to do my part. I am waiting for the Lord to do His part.

I do not say that Latter-day Saints are any less "Christian" or "Spirit-filled" than I am. Heavens no! I do not say that my nascent faith is any more enthralling or rapturous than any I have experienced before. (It's not.) I did not witness the heavens open to me upon my rebaptism nor did I feel anything "special" because of it.

But I did drive home in peace. I was filled with a spirit of patience and contrition, of quiet confidence that I had exercised as much faith in Christ as I could muster. (I may be mistaken about many things, but if I err, I err in the service and discipleship of Christ.) I can afford the same benefit of the doubt to those who serve in the LDS Church and I pray that the charity of God may cover the multitude of our sins.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seeing eye to eye

Normally I don't want to link to another man's words and thus be derivative. But I have been baptized with the same baptism with which he has been baptized. His words are the same words I have received from God. We see eye to eye. I am gratified that he has spoken them (even as nicely as he has!). He has spoken the truth as I understand the truth.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The divine right of kings

Not too long ago I served as an assistant ward financial clerk – about as close as I ever got to having any kind of real “responsibility” in the LDS Church. I learned that the typical LDS ward (if ours was “typical”) has a “budget” of approximately $8,000 per year. (That number would be slightly higher now, perhaps, due to inflation.) In other words, the typical gross tithing paid by one veteran school teacher in my stake could pay for all our ward’s annual needs (not including caring for the poor). The lights, heat, air conditioning, copy paper, maintenance – all of the programs deemed to be “Church” related – are paid for by one person’s tithing receipts. The rest? It goes to Salt Lake.

It's an enormous sum. Hundreds of thousands of dollars per year per ward (in the U.S. at least). This money is used to run the general operations of the Church, including the building of new chapels and temples. A typical chapel costs upwards of $3 million. A temple ten times that. Schools (like BYU) cost enormous amounts of money to run and maintain. While the Church strives to have each “department” pay its own way, the Church’s tithing funds are really just one big “slush fund” to allocate in any form or fashion the Presiding Bishopric and First Presidency deem appropriate. (They could even build a mall with it, if they wanted.) This pool currently represents billions of dollars of income to the Church each year. Tax free. Literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of paid employees are sustained by these “sacred” funds. The Church is a huge enterprise. It would be a Fortune 500 company if it weren’t a church. In fact, it is a Fortune 500 company despite being a church. And because it is a legal entity which can be sued, the Church is very wary to maintain a posture and to put in place policies that mitigate and preclude any substantial risk to the institution or its income stream.

In other words, if there is any chance you or your activities might cost the Church money, you (or your activity) will be curtailed or eliminated.

The Church used to own hospitals. Hospitals cost enormous amounts of money. Hospitals (in the U.S.) are required by law to fend for the sick and afflicted and (for basic services) not turn anyone away. This was deemed an “unnecessary” expense and risk to the Church’s income stream. (At one time, the Church was broke, and may not have been able to afford maintaining even one hospital.) So the Church got out of the hospital “business”. A strange thing to do for an institution ostensibly devoted to caring for the sick and afflicted. But choices have to be made.

People who don’t (or can’t) go to the temple don’t have much incentive to pay tithing – other than the fact that paying tithing is the “right” thing to do. But what if your church ordains that, even if you do the “right” thing, you still can’t go to the temple? What if you’re invited to pay the “full price of admission”, but then you’re not allowed to see the movie anyway? What then?

It seems almost laughable that the LDS Church isn’t allowing hundreds, maybe even thousands, of TBMs (True Blue or True Believing Mormons) to hold temple recommends, even kicking some out of the Church entirely, because they actually believe D&C 124:28! The Church is expelling formerly full-tithe-paying members because they merely “support and sustain” the leaders of the Church but perhaps haven’t obtained a “testimony” (an actual revelation from God) that the one currently at the top (Thomas S. Monson) is a real prophet of God.

If Bro. Monson, God forbid, were to die today, members of the LDS Church would be automatically expected to attest, with the right hand raised to the square, that they “know” Boyd K. Packer is the “prophet of God on earth”. This, for sure, is not by dint of anything Bro. Packer has ever said or done – for every LDS prophet is thus assumed to fill the position of his predecessor – but, rather, LDS prophets are made into prophets by the traditions of men and by a mechanism Latter-day Saints have accepted and put in place as a “protocol” for priestly succession. This protocol is nowhere found in scripture. It’s “built in”, rather, to the Church’s official charter and by-laws, no doubt found in the “succession clause” of the legal paperwork filed with and acknowledged by the state, by which the current “living prophet” is the corporate sole trustee of all of the property and affairs of the Church. This property, being owned by him and him alone, is passed down to the next “living prophet” after the former passes on.

So when one “bears witness” that the “prophet” is, indeed, a prophet, one is perhaps only swearing allegiance to a system that, at best, can historically be found only in the generational succession and maintenance protocols of the Aaronic priesthood.

One recalls the conversation had between Elisha and Elijah immediately prior to Elijah’s departure into heaven:

“…Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
 10 And [Elijah] said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.” (2 Kings 2:9-10)

Clearly, just being a devotee of a prophet, following him everywhere he goes, and belonging to his “inner circle” does not guarantee to any "would be" successor the prophetic mantle. The new prophet himself must possess the attributes of a prophet! In other words, calling him a prophet does not make him a prophet. The simple fact that he belongs to a quorum, body or institution does not deem him “approved” by God. God must anoint His prophet with His Holy Spirit or he is not a prophet.

The fact that some Mormons are actually cast out of their church for believing that all men are fallible and ultimately “unworthy” of blind trust and obedience and that only God is to be exalted as the ultimate and only “General Authority” ought to be shocking to the conscience of every Latter-day Saint. We still believe, don’t we, that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things”? Where is it written that God has ceded this ultimate power and authority to a mere mortal?

It is contrary to the mind and will, practices and purposes of God to believe that one naturally receives the Lord’s prophetic spirit and mantle by sheer dint of biology, by merely outliving one’s peers. To believe such is to express faith in the ultimate abomination: “trusting in the arm of flesh”. Elijah himself said it wasn’t so. And no example of such occurring can be found in scripture. It is a modern invention. An institution of men. One perhaps tolerated by God. But a man-made creation, nonetheless, reminiscent of the divine right of kings.

Leaders of men may be chosen by rites of succession and so forth. But God always chooses His servants with manifestations of power and authority from heaven. It has always been so.

Men follow men – and call them “prophets” -- at their peril.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Priesthood terminated

Denver Snuffer said -- in consequence of his being tried unrighteously, in a manner contrary to the order of heaven as given to the LDS Church and outlined in scripture, and being found wanting by those in (supposed) authority, charged with committing crimes which are not sins, leading to his excommunication, perverting the right ways of the Lord, and the subsequent denial of his appeal to the highest officers of the Church, either through negligence or unrighteous dominion by the same -- the Lord has withdrawn His priesthood -- His authority given to men to act in His name -- from the leaders of the LDS Church, every one of them who knowingly took part and raised his hand to the square to sustain the actions of those who committed this gross injustice.

The Lord is no respecter of persons. If He can slay the man who, in good faith, raised up his hand to steady the ark and -- for smiting a rock and calling forth water to a thirsty people, to his own glory, rather than to God's --- keep Moses from entering the Promised Land, then He can withdraw His priesthood from Thomas S. Monson, Russel M. Nelson and all the rest, individually or collectively. He can "undo" the authority of the LDS Church. They cannot claim that they are entitled to speak and act on His behalf regardless of what they do, without consequence.

And though they be good men (for all I know) and though I dearly love many of them (with great fondness), what's good for the goose is good for the gander. As you judge, so shall you be judged.

I told my bishop and stake president prior to my excommunication that what they did to me they would do to themselves. They didn't believe me. 

The Mormon Church has "died" from the top down. The businessmen and lawyers and marketing gurus who run the Church today -- and who are in the Church's employ -- think to wrest the kingdom from those to whom it rightfully belongs. The Lord sent His servant to deliver a message, to call the people to repentance, and to set aright the house of the Lord, and those who thought to make themselves judges and keepers of the gate abused him and cast him out.

The Lord does not look kindly upon those "wicked" men.

I have known personally many of these men. I have loved -- and still love -- Jeffrey R. Holland and Russell M. Nelson. Robert D. Hales personally held my oldest daughter in his arms and blessed her, giving her her name. (He blessed me and my wife, too! I love Robert D. Hales.) I have known of their righteousness and faithfulness and goodness. I have witnessed the power of God work in them and through them. I am sure the Lord loves them.

But whom He loves He also chastens. And the gross injustice, the gross iniquity, the transforming of the gospel and doctrine of Christ -- which is very simple and plain to be understood -- unto something it is not, unto the turning away of the meek and the damning of the humble and repentent -- is an abomination unto Him. The LDS Church has erected a mighty fence of obstacles and disbelief which prevent others from coming unto Christ. They will not come unto Him themselves and they prevent others from doing so! Indeed, they cast those out from among them who dare even to try.

The Lord announced His decision to Denver (if I understood him correctly when he spoke on September 9) on May 1, 2014, saying that the Church's authority was terminated in conjunction with last April's General Conference.

When Jesus dined with His disciples for the last time, He turned to Judas Iscariot and said "That which you do, do quickly." The spirit of the evil one had entered Judas' heart and the Lord knew what he conspired to do that night. Even so our Lord let him. He could have killed him right there! He could have saved His own life! But in conformity with His own word, He loved him...and let him go. 

Judas withdrew...and betrayed the Savior swiftly. Unwittingly, he served the Lord's eternal purposes.

When the Lord withdrew His priesthood authority from the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 5-6, they acted quickly to exercise unrighteous dominion against me.

It is not coincidence that while the closing credits to General Conference were still scrolling on the screen, I received a phone call from Bishop Christian Risenmay, greeting me cordially (with a "kiss", as it were), asking how I was doing on that Sunday afternoon. I told him my family and I were just concluding watching the final session of General Conference. 

He said: "I'm glad to know that you are watching conference. I am calling to let you know that a meeting has been scheduled at the stake center on Wednesday night at 7 pm for you to meet with the stake presidency and the stake high council to try you for your membership. You may bring whatever witnesses you wish."

"To try me for what?" I asked. Of course, I knew. The bishop and stake president had met with me twice previously to grill me about my "testimony" of Thomas S. Monson and whether I believed the Church held "legitimate" priesthood authority. I recorded my recollections of that conversation in my journal soon thereafter. Those who doubt that the leaders of the LDS Church pervert the right ways of the Lord will do well to consider the following dialogue. These men -- Chris Risenmay and Matt Morris -- are not "evil" men, merely misguided ones. And inasmuch as they make themselves "judges in Israel" and claim all the rights, privileges, powers, honors and responsibilities of administrating the affairs of the Lord's kingdom, they can also share accountability for the same. I warned them to take care what they do -- for as they judged me they would be judged. They were both "fine" with that and blithely excommunicated me anyway. I take them at their word. 

I sent them a copy of the following transcript shortly after our discussion, asking if any part of it was factually inaccurate. Neither of them had any corrections to make -- though my (former) bishop complained that I came across as "very arrogant" and made them both look "foolish". Oh well. They are lucky I did not record the event. They would have no cover for their sins.

From my journal:

[2014 March 3: Monday: 0256 hrs.] Sunday morning I met with Stake President Matt Morris and Bishop Chris Risenmay. The two “tag teamed” to “beat me up” (some more). It was like something out of “bizarro world”. I still can't make sense of it. Unable to find sufficient fault with my conduct (to deny me a temple recommend), they felt qualified to judge my “head” and my “heart”.

President Morris opened the meeting by asking me to pray. I felt a dark spirit come over me as I did so. My mouth was almost stayed. I didn't want to be there...and I didn't have anything to say. I forced myself to invite our Father's blessing upon these men in their deliberations and grant His Spirit to be with us.

President Morris asked me what I wanted to talk about. I gave him a blank look like, What do you mean? “I have nothing more to say”, I told him. He looked at Bishop Risenmay and back at me, confused. The two apparently found something to talk about, for the ensuing conversation consumed the better part of two hours! (I wish I could have recorded it!)

President Morris asked me how I was doing and Bishop Risenmay expressed that he had misgivings about extending to me a temple recommend because of various blogs and books I had read.

I explained how my understanding of the Church and its operations has grown and matured over the past year because of my reading. I told them I have learned many things, some of them quite disturbing. I used the analogy of my children who, at first, were deeply disappointed when they learned there was no Santa Claus, but, eventually, got over it and got into the “spirit” of it. “I used to think that every word that dropped from the Brethren's lips over the pulpit was the inspired word of God”, I said. “Now I know that's not true; the Brethren make mistakes; they sometimes speak for themselves; what they say isn't always scripture, but only when they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.”

“So you're saying you once worshiped the Brethren, Bill, but now you realize they're only human?” President Morris mocked me. [I add here that his calling me "Bill" indicates just how long he has known me. Only my family and those who have known me all of my life call me "Bill".]

“I never said I worshiped them! I said it's a common mistake that converts, like me, make: to suppose that whatever the Brethren say in General Conference is inspired. Those born in the Church – like yourselves – generally have a different opinion.”

I granted that each of us (in the room) were well read; that each had studied the same history and scriptures, for many years. I asserted that I had read more of these blogs and books than they had read, however, and consequently I had a different understanding than they had.

Those who study Church history and read the scriptures carefully come to realize there are gaping holes in the narrative: contradictions, false doctrines, even fabrications in Church history. “My studies have helped me come to understand how this came to be.”

“We believe you should be reading more from the scriptures and less from those blogs”, President Morris interjected. Both of them seemed curiously disinterested in anything I had to say. They were there, it seemed, merely to set me straight. There wasn't the slightest hint that either of them believed I had anything to offer them.

“I do read the scriptures! I read them all the time! I read them with my family every day! We have Family Home Evening not once each week, but every day! Before I go to work!” I mentioned that reading those blogs had actually helped me to read and understand the scriptures.

The president and bishop asserted their belief that I was headed down “the road to apostasy”, a refrain they repeated many times. They had seen it “time and time again”, they said. “You're going to lose your testimony of the Church!”

“I don't have a testimony of the Church! My faith isn't in the Church! Or even in the Brethren” I said, pointing to their pictures on the wall. “My faith isn't grounded in things that people normally get 'derailed' on. I don't care about DNA in the Book of Mormon. Or the translation of the papyrus of the Book of Abraham. I don't care about changes in scripture. Or flip-flops by Church leaders over doctrine. Or any of the other things that cause people to lose their faith...because my faith isn't grounded in those things!

“Then what is your faith based on?” Bishop Risenmay asked, incredulously.

“My faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know He lives and I know the Book of Mormon is true. I can't deny that. Believe me, I've tried! I've wanted to walk away, many, many times. I used to struggle with sin, rising and crashing in stupendous failure, again and again, encountering tremendous opposition and having many reasons to give up and move on. Many people have tried to push me out of this Church, both from within and without. I watched family and friends 'circle the drain' as I became a Baptist. Then I watched many more go down when I became a Mormon. I'm not giving up now. My focus is on coming unto Christ. If I wanted to leave this Church, I could have, long ago. I have been given many reasons to leave, believe me. But I can't. I know the gospel is true.”

“How do you know it's true?” the bishop asked again. I looked at him incredulously. “Why do you ask me that? You don't even believe me! You don't believe anything I say! You've rejected my testimony already.” (I stopped short of reminding him that he had characterized my testimony as “a rant and diatribe”. I didn't want to cast that in his face again, as he had apologized and I had forgiven him.) “You don't believe anything I've told you!” But I told him (some of it) again anyway.
“The Lord has ministered to me. I have heard His voice.[1] I can't deny that He lives. He showed me the Book of Mormon. I have seen the gold plates – not in flesh, but in vision[2] – and I have heard His voice declare to me that they are true. I cannot deny it. And while I am not anything like Him, I know He is divine – His mannerisms, His words, His Spirit.[3] I have seen His glory, and I have seen that same glory upon select members of His servants, namely, Neil A. Maxwell, Spencer W. Kimball and Jeffrey R. Holland.[4] So I know they are His servants, but I can't speak for the rest.”

They were astonished that I would divide and disaggregate among the Brethren as I did.

I intentionally omitted mentioning Robert D. Hales, an apostle – even though he, too, named and blessed my daughter, Ariel, and blessed me and my wife to be restored in the Church (both of which came to pass!) – for I had received no witness from God that he was the Lord's anointed and any man having “authority” in this Church could have told Pres. Zundel to “make it so” and it would have happened thus. Not a bad man, by any means! But I have received no witness from the Lord regarding him. Nevertheless, I had nothing but good to say about him. Or any of the Brethren!

To emphasize the need to refrain from the smithering skepticism of scholarship, so called, Bishop Risenmay appealed to a beautiful conference talk delivered by Jeffrey R. Holland, quoting Neil A. Maxwell (two of my favorites!) advocating “conformity” in the face of perilous mutiny from the faith.
In this Church there is an enormous amount of room—and scriptural commandment—for studying and learning, for comparing and considering, for discussion and awaiting further revelation. We all learn “line upon line, precept upon precept,” with the goal being authentic religious faith informing genuine Christlike living. In this there is no place for coercion or manipulation, no place for intimidation or hypocrisy. But no child in this Church should be left with uncertainty about his or her parents’ devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Restoration of His Church, and the reality of living prophets and apostles who, now as in earlier days, lead that Church according to “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … and the power of God unto salvation.” In such basic matters of faith, prophets do not apologize for requesting unity, indeed conformity, in the eloquent sense that the Prophet Joseph Smith used that latter word. In any case, as Elder Neal Maxwell once said to me in a hallway conversation, “There didn’t seem to be any problem with conformity the day the Red Sea opened.”
Haha! Such a clever insight! But the Red Sea did open.

I rehearsed for the bishop and stake president, just to be clear, that one must receive the Lord's servants in order to receive the Lord. I didn't want them to think I believed that leaders of the Church were not the Lord's appointed servants just because I had not received a revelation concerning some of them. But no matter how many times I recited “I 'support and sustain' the Brethren as 'prophets, seers and revelators'”, they would not believe me!

“I'm not going to parse words with you, Bill”, President Morris said. “Is Thomas S. Monson a prophet of God or not?”

“We call him a prophet. He doesn't call himself one. I don't know if he is. I 'support and sustain' him as such. But I can't make him a prophet, simply by calling him one! That's the Lord's doing.” This was a novel argument for either of them to hear. “Not to be ... sacrilegious” – I said, struggling to find the right word – “let me ask you a question: has President Monson ever prophesied? Has he shared a vision? Has he ever revealed? Has he ever translated? I don't know of any, do you?”

They looked at each other in disbelief. I continued: “Which of the prophets never prophesied? Any of them? Surely there must be at least one who didn't.”

After a pause, President Morris said “I can't think of one right now.”

“It doesn't matter. If the Lord wants to use Thomas S. Monson”, I said, “as a prophet, seer and revelator, I'm sure He can! The Brethren, at the very least, stand as 'placeholders'. The Lord has ordained for them to be where they are now. Even if they don't do or say anything on His behalf, they hold the place and confer and transmit that authority by the laying on of hands. In the Book of Mormon, when someone had nothing to say or write, they simply passed it on to the next guy – from father to son and brother to brother and man to man. They simply kept the 'chain' going, passing on the book – and authority, as it were – holding the spot. The Brethren today, at the very least, hold the spot. The Lord can speak through them, if He chooses.”

In these men's minds, my words were tantamount to apostasy!

“So you think President Monson is a 'fallen' prophet, do you?” President Morris asked me, pointedly.

“I wouldn't know. I have no idea. I hardly know the man. I've only met him once...and he seemed like a nice enough guy.[5] The Lord hasn't told me anything about him. I've appreciated his work and his words. But I've never heard him prophesy. I sustain him as the leader of the Church. He is the only one, as far as I know, who has the authority to lead this Church, which authority he receives, at the very least, by our common consent, when we raise our hands to 'sustain' him.” I lifted my hand to the square, to demonstrate. “That, alone, gives him the right to preside. He also may have other authority from the Lord to hold and exercise 'keys'...but I know very little about those. In fact, I'd like to hear from you, bishop, about those keys!” He declined to take up the challenge. “I know of no other person on earth possessing the keys – whatever they are! – or authority to lead this Church”, I said.

You would think that would be enough for them. But no!

“Maybe you should pray to receive a testimony that President Monson is a true prophet of God”, President Morris suggested.

“We aren't required to have a testimony of the president of the Church in order to receive a temple recommend”, I told him.

“Uh?” President Morris looked shocked! “But don't we...?” He stumbled to find the right words. Bishop Risenmay helped him out: “Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?”

“Yes, I do”, I said. “I 'support and sustain' all of them as such.”

You would think that would have been enough!

But no! It wasn't!

Bishop Risenmay then elaborated on his perception of my dilemma. He believed that I believe many things that aren't true and worried that I “support, affiliate and agree with” people and organizations whose precepts and practices are not accepted by the Church.

“Let's get that on the table, then”, I said. “Let's name the false doctrines you believe I believe and I will denounce them here and now” I said, tapping on the desk, “one by one”.

“There's so many of them!”

“Then let's name them, one by one. Surely you can name one!

“Okay”, Bishop Risenmay proffered, “there's the false doctrine that Denver Snuffer teaches that to receive priesthood authority you must first see Christ. That's ludicrous!”

“I don't believe that. And Denver Snuffer didn't say that. What he said was....”.

I wasn't allowed to finish. Bishop Risenmay cut me off, eager to move on to the next point. He wasn't listening to me anyway.

I've learned something from this: the bishop and stake president hear what they want to hear; they think they already know. I would say one thing and they would hear another...and argue about what they thought I said, rather than what I actually said! They simply couldn't understand my words! Because they didn't believe them! They “judge” me not for what I actually believe, but for whom I associate with: an “apostate” (in Rock Waterman) or an excommunicant (in Denver Snuffer). Because I agree with those fellows in some things, I'm now “guilty”, not to be trusted, in error, heading for apostasy.

I mentioned Paul. “Paul was a prophet. Paul had seen the Lord. He was called by Jesus Christ directly.”

“But Paul”, President Morris said, “didn't get the priesthood from Jesus.”

“Actually, he had hands laid on him by Ananias[6]....Peter, James and John, as the leaders of the Church, didn't know anything about Paul – only that he was their enemy. And they were suspicious of him....”[7]

The stake president moved the discussion along, saying this was going in circles. And maybe it was too much for them to handle.

To show I was objective, I made a point of explaining where (I thought) Rock Waterman was wrong (regarding tithing), but this did not placate the bishop or advance my cause any.

“Can you give up reading those blogs and books?” the stake president asked me.

“I don't want to. I have learned more truth in reading a few paragraphs of Denver Snuffer's blog than I have learned in all the Conference Talks I have ever listened to!”

“But they're destroying your faith!” Bishop Risenmay said.

“That's not true! My faith in Christ has been remarkably deepened; I've been driven to my knees in greater prayer and repentance, by reading Denver Snuffer's blog and books.”

“Is it possible”, President Morris asked, “to drink pure water from a poisoned well? Or to eat good fruit from an evil tree?”

“I know what you're saying, president. I just heard Sister Whitlock in Sunday School talk about 'poop in the brownies'. You don't want to eat any poop in the brownies!” They chuckled at the metaphor. “Precisely!” President Morris remarked.

“But we are all 'poop in the brownies', to some extent. We all have false ideas, doctrinal errors, misconceptions. If we reject all but the 'perfect' we reject everyone. We can learn much, even from people who have gone astray and who are in error in some things”, I said.

I returned to Bishop Risenmay and his accusations of “false doctrine”, wishing to get that “resolved”, once and for all. I asked him, again, to “place on the table” whatever he had against me. Pressured to find something, he identified Snuffer's thesis of the “fulness of the priesthood” being taken from the Church. President Morris agreed that this was a grave false teaching.

“This is the premise of Snuffer's thesis, as I understand it”, I tried to explain. (Notice I'm arguing Snuffer's thesis, not my own! I never would have thought of it myself! His alleged “false doctrine” is now apparently my false doctrine, by association!) “It's grounded in D&C 124. The Lord promised to restore the 'fulness of the priesthood' (see D&C 124:28) to the Church, through Joseph Smith, even as He offered it to Israel, through Moses. Seventy of the Elders of Israel did, in fact, go up to Mt. Sinai and enter into the Lord's presence. God told Joseph Smith, by revelation, that He wished to grant this same blessing to the Church if they would build a house unto Him. No other place on earth would do, He said by revelation. Yet the saints failed to build the Lord's House as invited (though they built many other houses for themselves). And Joseph was subsequently taken from their midst and, with him, went the opportunity to receive the 'fulness of the priesthood' offered. That is Denver's thesis” I said. “And that's why the Saints, by and large, are not entering into the Lord's presence today.”

Seeking to “cut to the chase”, President Morris asked me the following:

“Is the baptismal ordinance recognized by the Lord?”

“That's a good question.”

“Is the sacrament ordinance accepted by the Lord?”

I held my peace, not knowing if he was speaking rhetorically or wanting an answer.

“Is the sealing ordinance that you and your lovely wife received in the temple efficacious?” He thought he was making head-way here. “Do we have priesthood authority in this Church, or not?”

“We have lots of authority” I said. “Our problem is we have very little power!”

They agreed that was true. “That's what Elder Packer said”, Bishop Risenmay confirmed.[8]

“The ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are outward ordinances”, I said. “They are symbolic. They do not depend upon the worthiness of the officiator to be efficacious.”

“What...?” President Morris recoiled, wondering how this answered his question. “You're saying Bishop Risenmay shouldn't be worried if one of his priests blesses the sacrament unworthily? That's 'okay' with the Lord?”

“No, I'm saying the Lord accepts it. The Church will not deny the efficaciousness of an ordinance simply because an administrator is unworthy to perform it. Otherwise, what would happen if it were discovered (after the fact) that a priest had blessed the sacrament unworthily? Or if a father had baptized his daughter unrighteously? Would the ordinance have to be repeated, even years after the fact? No, it would not. The Lord accepts such ordinances, even in the temple, even when performed by wicked Aaronic Priesthood holders! Think of wicked Eli and his two wicked sons. Or Caiaphas, sitting in Moses' seat. Jesus said 'Do as they say, but don't do as they do, for they are wicked.' Jesus acknowledged their 'authority', despite their unworthiness.”

I continued: “Unlike the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is utterly dependent upon personal righteous for the exercise of any priesthood authority or power. Said power cannot be conferred by the mere laying on of hands alone.”

This was practically blasphemy to them! They were shaking their heads with incredulity. I was a babbling fool! I was speaking obvious false doctrine now, for surely priesthood power is conferred by the laying on of hands! For so they had been ordained!

“Jesus never appealed to authority to be obeyed by saying 'Look at me! I am the Son of God!' or 'Listen to me! I've had some guy lay his hands on my head!' Even His disciples, being ordained to the priesthood, sometimes couldn't cast out demons. Why?[9] Jesus demonstrated His authority by exercising power. In the absence of power, there is no real authority.”

Again, another false doctrine, they thought. They knew better. But I continued anyway.

“Jesus said 'Which is easier for me, to forgive this man's sins or to say unto him, rise up, take up thy bed, and walk? But that you might know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins also, I say unto thee (speaking to the man) Take up thy bed and walk.' Jesus thereby demonstrated He had authority by exercising power.

“D&C 121 explains”, I continued, “'no power or authority can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood'.”[10] That scripture alone undercuts the entire “priesthood authority paradigm” of the Church.[11] “Power and authority cannot be established or maintained by virtue of mere priesthood ordination alone,” I said. I refered to (but did not recite in full) the scripture below:

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only [except] upon the principles of righteousness. 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
“Amen to the priesthood and authority of that man!” I said. There is no “priesthood authority” – no Melchizedek Priesthood authority, at which the power of godliness can be made manifest – without power in righteousness. Only the man who is righteous has real power and true authority. Divine power, righteousness and authority are eternally conjoined and cannot be separated!

I might add: No one possessing of the rights of the priesthood has any right to compel, coerce, intimidate or demand, but shall lead and guide “only by persuasion, by long-suffering,  by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:41-42). “Because I said so” just isn't an option under the auspices of the holy priesthood.

“So the temple ordinances are not efficacious? We don't have the sealing power in the Church?” President Morris asked me, incredulously. “Why would you want a temple recommend if the temple ordinances aren't valid?”

“They are valid. The temple ordinances are outward ordinances. They are all symbolic. The blessings of the temple are conditional upon our faithfulness and obedience. The sealings, the anointings, the ordainings to be kings and priests, the embracing of the Lord at the veil...these are all symbolic. They have not yet been received. They are Aaronic Priesthood-type ordinances.”

“You're conflating Aaronic Priesthood with Melchizedek Priesthood”.

“Yes, I am.”

Surprisingly, he didn't pursue that line of reasoning.[12] Instead, he castigated me for sending my daughters (a few years ago) to another religious organization's Youth Camp, rather than to our own, thereby (as he said) subjecting them to ridicule, persecution and proselytizing by members of another faith. I reminded him that the leaders of that group were the girls' own grandfather and uncle and that I sent my girls to that camp because our church wouldn't let them attend ours![13]

“I fear you're leading your family down a dark path toward apostasy”, President Morris warned me again.

What came to my mind, however, was Lehi leading his family down a similar path shrouded in mists of darkness, fraught with temptations, dangers and filthiness, susceptible to the mockings and persecutions and misinformation of those (both within and without the Church) who would not continue to partake of the Tree of Life. “You are leading your wife there. You are leading your children there. I'm not confident that you will be able to venture down that path without losing your grip on the rod of iron”, he said. “Your cynicism will destroy your faith and that of your family.”

The highlight of our conversation (for me) came somewhere in the middle, as I bore my testimony of the Savior and summarized all that I had suffered in seeking His face. It came after the stake president almost mocked me for wanting to be active in an organization which, in his mind, I no longer believed. I told him that I have a testimony of the Lord and of His gospel, that the Church fills a vital, and thus important, role; that without the Church we would not have the ordinances of baptism or sacrament or the temple; nor would the Book of Mormon be carried by the missionaries to the world. I summarized my witness by saying thus (and “fire” welled up within me as I spoke): “If I cannot have a temple recommend, I will go. I will not be part of this Church.” No “half-measures” for me. How could I support a Church which does not support me?[14]

“It works both ways, bishop”, I said. “Do you 'support, affiliate or agree with' me?” He wouldn't answer.

The president seemingly ignored my “ultimatum” and went on to something else.[15] (He apparently wasn't listening very carefully.) But I interrupted him: “I meant that, president. Either I get my recommend back or I go.”

I'm not sure those were the humble words of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. But I am tired of being treated as a “second-class-citizen” in this Church – first estranged for my sins, then repulsed for my beliefs. (Meanwhile, the Church has nothing but good to say about my wife and children, as if I had nothing to do with that!) “I see what you're doing”, I said. “You think I'm falling out of the Church, and you're trying to push me back into it!”

“Exactly!” they agreed.

“But I'm not a 'cultural' Mormon”, I told them. “I will never be a 'cultural' Mormon. It is very easy to be a member of this Church so long as you embrace the culture. And no one in the Church is going to criticize you for doing that.” President Morris agreed. “But I will never be that guy”, I said. I wasn't going to abandon my faith and testimony to conform to the 'culture' of Mormonism.

The purifying process has had its effect. I can see the standard of truth going forth boldly, nobly, and independent...even into my own heart.[16] President Morris told me, “I believe your heart is in the right place, but I'm not so sure about your head!”

The brethren resolved, after all this, to “go home and pray about it” and let me know.

If the bishop does not give me my temple recommend back, there is no place for me in this Church. (And there's nowhere else for me to go...except to Christ.)

I prophesy this: these brethren who sit in judgment against me will, by their own verdicts, either lock themselves out of the Lord's presence...or let themselves in.

[1]     I stopped short of saying “I have seen His face.” They would have been offended and incredulous and I didn't want to cast that pearl where it would not have be appreciated. [2014 March 3]
[2]     I also didn't bother to tell him that the “gold plates” I saw was a giant leaf from the Book of Mormon, presented to me in the air, as it were, so that I was able to “read” it – though what it said, exactly, I can't remember now, other than that it related to priesthood and exercising faith in Christ and something to do with the topic described in Alma 13. But he had no business hearing that. [2014 March 3]
[3]     The bishop had already rejected my testimony. I wasn't keen on elaborating. [2014 March 3]
[4]     I fibbed a bit on that one, too; I had not seen any glory upon Elder Holland; rather the Spirit told me (when I heard Pres. Holland speak at BYU) that he had received the ministry of angels, whereby he was able to speak divine words. That was enough for me to lump him in with those others. [2014 March 3]
[5]     I fibbed again. President Monson seemed like a brooding fellow, sitting on stage by himself throughout the entire party, as if he were to be recognized or adored, rather than mingling with the rest of us down on the culture hall floor. Of course, I may be mistaken. Perhaps he felt he was doing his “duty” to “preside”. (Maybe he was just tired and wanted to be left alone!) I don't know.  I just didn't make a “connection” with him that day...or since (though I have respected his work and words). [2014 March 3]
[6]     For healing, not priesthood ordination, as far as I know. [2014 March 5]
[7]     My intent for mentioning Paul was to show that the Lord could raise up other prophets – as he did with Paul – independent from the other “leaders” of the Church; in fact, He did so without their knowledge, giving Paul a mission to perform. Denver Snuffer may be one the Lord has so commissioned. I do not doubt it, myself, for virtually every word he has written I find to be inspired, appropriate and useful for my salvation. He brings me unto Christ – not unto himself, some organization or program. He brings me unto Christ. What more (what else?) would a prophet do?
Anyway, the stake president wouldn't let me take the conversation there. All the better, I suppose, as supporting Snuffer certainly wouldn't have helped my cause. [2014 March 5]
[8]     I was glad the Lord was speaking through – and they were still listening to – one of their idols! (See Ezekiel 14.) [2014 March 3]
[9]     In part, because they were not righteous. They squabbled among themselves, preferring one over another, seeking to excel. They judged each other unrighteously and did many things that offended the Spirit, negating the “power and authority” of their office and calling in the priesthood, which is to serve as Christ serves and thus bear witness of Him. [2014 March 5]
[10]   Ironically, it appears these brethren think all power and authority can and ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood! [2014 March 3]
[11]   Our Church is fashioned after the structure and manner of the world – the “business” model of Babylon: top-down, authoritative, ruler and ruled. The prophet speaks; the people hearken. The general commands; the soldiers obey. The CEO directs; the employees comply and perform as directed. It's all very linear, hierarchal and – frankly – not the way the Lord does things.
The scriptures tell us: “He employeth no servant there” (2 Nephi 9:41). Instead of the ministerial (and magisterial) structure we now have in the Church – with echelons of authorities directing this and that – the Lord has decreed that the day shall come when it shall be said of them who love and serve Him: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11). There must be no unrighteous dominion, compulsion, coercion or force used in the kingdom of heaven over the hearts and minds of the children of men. People serve in love and receive in gladness; they cannot be compelled by “edict” or “authority”, or the value of everything they do is lost.
In the councils and meetings of the Church today, I feel palpable fear and hear threats being lowered.  I feel and experience coersion, compulsion, punitive measures, contempt and scorn. The Spirit of the Lord is restrained so that I have no liberty to bear my testimony for fear of being made “an offender for a word”. The leaders of this church practice banishment and disfellowshipment and excommunication. They withdraw what limited support and affiliation they ever offered and remove blessings rather than increase them to those in need.
That is not the Lord's way. He taught: “Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you and persecute you. If ye have ought against thy brother, council with him while ye are yet in the way with him, that ye may be reconciled to thy brother. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and by pure knowledge.” Bishop Lowell does this very well; Bishop Risenmay hardly at all. [2014 March 5]
[12]   It would have been damning for me, had he done so. For I find little evidence of “Melchizedek” priesthood authority exercised in the Church today. Many are so ordained and “higher” officers in the Church abound. But power is rarely manifest in the Church and, consequently, little real authority exists. At least, the authority that comes from God. The revelation of God and His powers are in short supply. The vast majority of elders, high priests, bishops, stake presidents, apostles, yea, even “prophets” fail to avail themselves of the privilege of coming unto Christ. They fall short. They miss the mark. They are unable to “cast out the devil”, as it were, despite their ordinations and callings in the Church. [2014 March 5]
[13]   I may have been mistaken about the details. I'm not sure either of my daughters “qualified” for LDS Girls Camp that year. Besides, they went for the archery and swimming, not the sermons. I was confident they would withstand the “opposition”; in fact, my wife and I thought it would be good for them! (And it was.) [2014 March 3]
[14]   Was I the Church's new “black man”? Ironically, I defended the Church's position denying priesthood to blacks as an expression of the Lord's mercy toward the Church; for surely the Church would have been destroyed if black elders had ventured south to preach the gospel, deliver Books of Mormon...and claim as polygamous wives the southern belles of white southern gentlemen. Surely, every elder then would have swung like Spanish moss from Savannah’s trees! But the Lord, in His wisdom, precluded that from happening.
These brethren were not impressed either with my insights or my testimony. [2014 March 3]
[15]   Both the stake president and bishop spoke of “pigs”, referring to my friends Rock Waterman, Denver Snuffer and Daymon Smith (though not mentioning them by name), accusing them of being filthy and sinful, misguided purveyors of false doctrine, lies and damnable heresies. “Why would you want to roll around with the pigs?” President Morris asked me. However, the only “pigs” I knew were those before whom I was apparently casting my pearls that morning. [2014 March 5]
[16]   In a previous conversation, Bishop Risenmay cited this scripture as evidence that the Church was destined to go forth boldly, nobly and independent...and would never falter or fail (like it has failed in every other dispensation!). But I reminded him that it was the truth that was spoken of to go forth, not the Church. (Just another example of the metatext of “cultural Mormonism” replacing the actual word of God.) [2014 March 3]