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. 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 – 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. 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. 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?”
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. 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....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....”
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.
“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? 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'.” That scripture alone undercuts the entire “priesthood authority paradigm” of the Church. “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 least...by 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. 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!
“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?
“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. (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. 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.
 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]
 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]
 The bishop had already rejected my testimony. I wasn't keen on elaborating. [2014 March 3]
 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]
 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]
 For healing, not priesthood ordination, as far as I know. [2014 March 5]
 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]
 I was glad the Lord was speaking through – and they were still listening to – one of their idols! (See Ezekiel 14.) [2014 March 3]
 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]
 Ironically, it appears these brethren think all power and authority can and ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood! [2014 March 3]
 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]
 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]
 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]
 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]
 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]
 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]