Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rising from the ashes

When King David wrote Psalm 51, he had already slept with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah. The man whom the Lord declared to be "after mine own heart" had fallen. Nevertheless, he was privy to the Spirit of the Lord, continued to receive revelation, wrote scripture and communed with Deity.

These words, when first expressed, were not sung by a heavenly choir. They were not embellished with soft music or mood lighting nor were they intoned in lofty melodies. (In truth, such performances -- while soothing and comforting to us -- do not convey the utter agony with which these words were uttered.) They were retched from the depths of this man's soul! David's heart and mind were shattered, obliterated and rent asunder by his own guilt, loss, sorrow and shame. David had tasted of the highest heaven! Now he knew the bitterness of the deepest hell.

David didn't compose these words as a trite afterthought or as a modest proposal for rapid reconciliation with Deity. He was destitute! The king of Israel had become a pauper! He acknowledged his utter and complete failure. He had offended Heaven and, moreover, he had grievously offended himself by his own unworthiness. He was mortified by his own transgressions. He had not only offended God! He had defiled a woman he had coveted and corrupted! He had wounded the man to whom that woman belonged in marriage! Then, to cover his crime, adding even greater injury to insult, he had that man killed.

After all was said and done, David discovered that he could not restore that which was taken nor bring back to life what had been lost.

Only God can do that.

Only God can restore virtue and bring back life to the dead.

By his own misguided acts of sexual misconduct, cruel rationalization and craven selfishness, the prophet/king David betrayed all that he loved and held dear. He broke vows, violated his covenant with God, and, by so doing (and unforeseen to him), ruined everything!

Until David offered this prayer, he was not yet circumcised of heart. He had not yet learned the limits of his powers. He had imagined, after everything he had said, written and done, that he could (and would be able to) do everything, to have it all, according to his heart's desire, both in heaven and on earth!

David was wrong.

And to His Maker, who alone has power to cleanse all that is unclean and heal all that is hopelessly broken, David turned for comfort and reconciliation. Would the God of heaven reject him, even this adulterer? This murderer?

Apparently not.

David secured from Jehovah the promise that God would deliver him and not leave his soul in hell. Nonetheless, David's life, forever afterward, was shattered by tragedy and beset with conflict, struggle and family quarrels. (Hadn't it always been?) The glory of God's kingdom on earth evaded David. Building and entering into God's temple was left to another. For his murder, David's promise of exaltation in this life was forfeit.

Nevertheless, now with even greater humility, David began again the upward climb toward God and godhood. He proved that there is yet hope for all of us: that none are beyond God's grace and mercy, if they seek after Him.

We may all learn from David's experience.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Way Only

“Voyeuristic. It's none of our business. There was no crime committed, no need to call police.”

I wish it were that easy. 

A liar would let such comments stand, give the wrong impression, and be a hypocrite. 

But I am not a hypocrite nor a liar.


Imagine a man driving down the road, doing his best to follow all the signs, to obey all the traffic rules, to keep all the laws of the land. After years of driving without incident (no doubt blessed for his obedience), he grows a little careless behind the wheel. He becomes distracted: by other drivers, screaming children in the backseat, boredom, fatigue, the cares of the world. 

He notices a traffic light ahead has turned yellow, but he senses no danger. He thinks he’s got plenty of time to make it. But, then, unexpectedly, the light turns red! He slam on his brakes! His momentum carries him into the intersection anyway. 

Now what?

He’s blocking traffic. Clearly he’s in violation of the law. He’s run a red light! He’s committed an infraction.

He rolls down his window, sheepishly waves to the other drivers he’s cut off, and mouths the words “I’m sorry.” He apologizes profusely to his fellow passengers, openly admits his fault, then steers his car out of harm’s way…humbled, even a bit traumatized, but strangely grateful, too, that it wasn’t much worse. 

It could have been much worse. 

He got lucky this time.

He could have been caught by the police!

He could have gotten a ticket!

He could have caused a terrible accident!! 

He could have even killed somebody!!!

But he wasn’t and he didn’t.

So now what?

Does he drive around the block (like he heard one General Authority do) and stop at that same intersection and traffic light just to prove he didn’t mean to run it the first time? 

Does he find the nearest cop and tell her what he did, and ask her to write him a ticket anyway? 

Does he look up the infraction in the rule book, write a confession, and send it in to the proper authorities, together with all the money he would have had to pay if he had been caught, including the outrageous administrative fee? (Surely then his conscience would be cleared!) But at what price? Wouldn’t his wife and children be that much poorer for it? Would hurting them be the “right” thing for him to do?

Does he call his insurance company and apprise them of his infraction, proving he’s a reckless driver, practically daring them to drop his coverage?

Does he contact the DMV and tell them they need to restrict or revoke his license? (How would he work? How would he support his family?)

Does he intentionally demolish his car in a staged accident — maybe even killing himself — to “pay the ultimate price,” to prove that he wasn’t trying to “get away” with anything, to “show the world” that he was, indeed, truly sorry for sliding into that intersection in violation of the law? 

Wouldn’t he be better off dead anyway? (The insurance payout alone would make his family rich!) Do his wife and children even love him? Do they even want to keep him around?

“Have you ever run a stop sign or failed to yield to a traffic light?” someone asks him. “Because, if you have, I’m going to turn you over to the police and have you prosecuted!”

Does he answer that question honestly, frankly and forthrightly, as he wants to? Or does he just “eat” it and remain silent, for the good of his loved ones? 


Or does he harden his heart and say, “Hey! I just got away with running a red light! I think I’ll try that again…and do it for as long as I can get away with it! Maybe I can push the limits even farther! Maybe I can start speeding up at yellow lights! And run more red ones!”


Now imagine you’re sitting at a red light. Your wife isn’t with you, keeping you company. She’s off doing her own thing. Your children are sleeping in the backseat. You’re very hungry and tired. And bored. You just want to get home…and be with your wife! But you’re “stuck” here…at this lonely intersection…waiting for a light to turn green that never seems to change.

Then someone pulls up behind you. 

A  much younger driver in a really hot sports car revs her engine. The light stays red. She shifts her transmission into "neutral" and pushes her gas pedal to the floor. “Vrooom! Vrooom!!” Her engine roars! You feel the adrenaline and the excitement! You look in your rearview mirror. “Man, I wish I had a beautiful, hot car like that! What a lot of fun that would be to drive!” The driver smiles at you, daring you to cross over the line and move forward.

You look both ways. No one’s coming. No one else is in sight! Who would ever know if you ran this red light? “Why are we waiting here patiently, wasting gas?” you ask yourself. “It’s so stupid!”

It’s just the two of you anyway. Sitting there. Waiting. Wasting your time. Impatiently. Waiting. To go for it. Wanting to go for it.

But you can’t. 

Not without breaking the law.

“VROOM! VROOM!” She honks her horn at you! She shifts her car into "drive" and nudges you a little with her bumper! She waves at you and beckons: “Go for it! Do it!" 

You can't believe your fortune, that this is happening to you!

And the light still doesn’t change.

“Damn it to hell!” you say to yourself. “This light’s never going to change! What am I waiting for?! Why am I still sitting here?!”

So…though you’ve never intentionally run a red light in your entire life…you say to yourself, “Oh, why not? What will it hurt anyone this time?” 

And you go for it.

You take your foot off the brake, give it a little gas, and barely cross over the line into the intersection.

Then you stop.

You have second thoughts! 

You say to yourself: “I can’t do this!! I swore I’d never do this! It’s wrong! I’m not going to do this!”

You try backing up.

But now more traffic has piled up behind you! Your wife calls you on your cell phone and asks you at that very moment: “Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Why aren’t you home?” Your children wake up in the backseat and ask: “Daddy, why are we sitting in the middle of the road?  Who is that person in the red sports car, making all the noise? What are you doing with her?”

More importantly, what do you do now? You can’t go back! You can’t legally go forward! The light is still red! 

Do you go against the light?

To add insult to injury, the red sports car now blows by you in a blur of excitement and fury, the driver laughing as she spins her wheels in your face. (You say to yourself: “I’d give $50,000 to have a car like that and take her for a spin the way she does!”) 

But, early on, you chose to be the “good” driver. 

And now it eats at you. (You never should have looked in that rearview mirror!)

And now you’re a criminal. You’ve intentionally broken the law (even just a little). Now you’re sitting in the middle of an intersection. You don’t want to go forward! But you can't go back!

What to do?

If you’re honest and faithful, law abiding and obedient, what are your choices? What are your options?

“[B]y small and simple things [like this] are great [and terrible] things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” (Alma 37:6).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Joy and Rejoicing

The story of the Old Testament is one of family. One family. The ancient Patriarchs found beautiful, virtuous wives and lived happily ever after with them, having joy and rejoicing in their posterity (more or less, give or take a few big "hiccups"). Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, three of their sons with their wives. Lot, losing his wife (who turns back, in my mind, out of compassion for her other children). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with their wives -- they all have stories of strife and success, sometimes failure, keeping their families together. Having "power in the priesthood be upon me and upon my posterity, through all generations of time, and throughout all eternity" was evidently supposed to be the focus of my life. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25).

Joy in what? Joy in the Lord? Absolutely! But what is the Lord trying to get us to do? To be like Him! To have a continuation of the lives! To have seed everlastingly, even as the stars of the heavens or as the sands of the seas. 

(This world is but a blip, I suspect, in that process.)

Was Christ Himself married on this earth? Did He have a wife (or wives) and biological offspring? 

I don't know. 

33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3:33-35.)

Jesus' message was that we ought to be "one" with God and one with each other (see John 17:11, 21-22) in such a way that there be no divisions between us, no contentions among us. (See 3 Nephi 11:29-30.) He sought for us to become men and women of peace and holiness. He showed us how. 

Paul counseled: 

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:18-20.)

The Old Testament is one anthology of a tribe of fallen men and women striving to return to godhood. It's all about family and having faith in one's future through one's bloodlines and having faith in one's past because of one's genes.

The Book of Mormon is strangely different.

Except for a few instances, women in particular are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Men serve out their lives with reference to their wives, but not as personalities. Mothers are honored in the abstract and collective. Helaman's valiant warriors are taught on their mother's knees and Captain Moroni rallies his warriors in their wives' defense. But women are usually implied (Mormon has a son named Moroni, but who is Mormon's wife?) and seldom identified. (Sarai? Yes. But who is Nephi's wife?) Alma and Mosiah come and go, having notable offspring, but who are their boys' matriarchs? Wicked kings and wayward priests bandy about women as if they are prizes to be doled out or chattel to be had. Righteous followers of Christ focus on Him, not on the individuals they live with. Their hope is in Christ, not in their posterity. Nephi, after all, lives to see (in vision) the destruction of his entire race. There is no trusting in the arm of flesh for them.

As Denver Snuffer has written (don't ask me where), it's too late for us to follow the Patriarchs now. This world was given to them -- set up for them, designed for them, built by them! -- so that they might fulfill their destinies as gods sitting upon thrones, establishing unlimited increase that would endure for ages and worlds to come.

But us? We will barely escape this orb with our lives. The farther one looks back into the past, the longer the bloodlines grow. The farther one looks forward into the future, the shorter they become -- until you have just "one of a city" and "two of a family."

I was raised (by the Mormons) to believe that "happiness" -- exquisite happiness -- was to be had only by joining eternally with one woman and maintaining that family forever. "Families are forever" I was told.

My experience has taught me otherwise.

Just keeping one woman "happy" enough to stick with me for very long has proven impossible. Now I'
m witnessing my own offspring turn away from me, one by one. They do not appreciate nor embrace my biblical view of the thoroughly, fervently or forcefully as I have taught it to them! They do not know the God I worship as I know Him, they having only heard stories of Him from me. These stories must compete with all the distractions of their day -- the music, activities, labors and entertainments. "Who needs God?" they say to themselves. "All things continue as they were from the beginning." (See 2 Peter 3:4.) I am, for the most part, a fool in their eyes. (See 1 Nephi 2:12.) And a hypocrite.

Now, I'm torn, wondering what to do, if anything. I don't even know what to pray for. The salvation of myself? My family? My wife and children? What do you do when the ones you are seeking to save are only running away from you? Do you run after them?

Or do you call them to you..and run toward them only when they come your way? (See Luke 15:20 and 1 Nephi 8:17-18.)

Anything more than that (forcing someone to follow you or remain with you) smacks of neediness and oppression. Laman and Lemuel, even Lehi's wife, murmured that Lehi "dragged" them into the desert, where they were obligated (by custom and commandment) to "follow" him. Because of that, Lehi's oldest sons grew resentful, even tried to kill him!

Compulsion doesn't work. Even running away (as Nephi and his people did, taking with them the sacred oracles and artifacts) doesn't guarantee peace. The wicked seek to slay and oppress the righteously peaceful.

It's a never-ending saga.

"[A]ll these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7.)

And, hopefully, for our joy.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


"Why all the hate, Brother Carter? Why you always "dissing" on the Mormon Church and complaining about its leaders, etc.? Why can't you just focus on your own sins and shortcomings instead of exposing the faults of others? Why are you so angry? So hurt? So confused?"
Because when you've been led by a "shepherd" who claims to have "loved" you and to have "looked after" you...and you find that you've been led astray and you have been lied to and abused by him because of your confidence in him, then you feel betrayed and cheated and hurt. And you want to warn EVERYBODY about him and the organization he follows (which is NOT the Lord or His organization).
"But Brother Carter, surely you are a sinner! Surely YOU have gone astray, not him! Not the organization he represents! If YOU weren't so immoral, so deceived, so degenerate, you would be able to see the truth and not be led astray! Surely we are right for shunning you, for excluding you from our midst, for defriending you and divorcing you. Otherwise you would infect us with your influence, your bad example and your false doctrine!"
Well, I can't deny that. I am a sinner. I suffer every sabbath day forlorn and heartbroken, without my friends and family. I can hardly take up the scriptures to read them or offer prayer. My tongue is like mud in my mouth. My eyes dare not look up to Heaven, even as I weep. 
"What is God doing? Why have You forsaken me?"
I have not hidden my sins in darkness nor buried my transgressions from before men. My closest friends and family know every one of them. I have revealed them...not because I have to...but because I cannot lie. I will not lie. I will not be a hypocrite. I will not be dishonest or untruthful.

So help me God.

Nevertheless, I am mortal and frail and failing. By confessing my sins I have gained power over them. I do not live in darkness any longer. By the power of Christ, my love for Him and His love for me, I have confidence and have received strength to confess my sins and overcome them. I am no longer tempted by them! I am no longer subject to them. I am no longer a sinner (in that thing).

God has worked (and is working) His me.

But, by so doing, I have lost the companionship of (most of) my friends and family, who are ashamed of me. 

Unlike some who speak of standing in God's presence, I sit in darkness, wondering what will become of me. I have lost all the "loves" of my life.  Everything I ever hoped for or dreamed of (it's a short list: wife and family of my own) is blasted!

They were my "idols" apparently. 
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37.)
I confess, I love my wife as much as I love myself! As much as I love God! (Is that a sin, too?)

I'm not concerned about God. I know He lives. I know He loves me. 

But I don't know if I'm "saved" by Him, however. I once did. I once felt so overwhelmed with love for Christ and love from Him that I never doubted we would be "together" forever. (It took a formidable Church -- with its lists of ever-expanding commandments and impossible-to-ever-fully-meet requirements and ever-necessary "approval" of men to beat that prospect out of me, almost for good, they replacing my God with themselves and their works and words.)

That recognition is not much solace to me now. To rectify my course, I had to take a stand and, taking that stand (including confessing my sins) required me to "piss off" (or hurt) almost everyone I know, including those I love most.

And now I've lost them, too.

My sabbaths are observed in loneliness now, if at all, while those I know and love go to church and sing songs of Zion and offer prayers and praise and thanks to God and claim to love Him and their brothers and sisters.

Just not me. I'm not worthy of their fellowship or their friendship...or even to be included in their family, apparently.

"You deserve it," I've been told. "You brought this upon yourself."

Thanks. I know I'm not alone.

There are those who have done what I have done (and worse!), but who refuse to admit it. They now stand where I stood. They are "set up," even "delivered"! (See Malachi 3:15.)

I do not wish to contemplate their fate. I try not to judge them. I only know that all this will not have been worth it (to me) unless I press forward now and obtain the prize. (See 1 Corinthians 9:24.) 

If I don't have fellowship with Christ in this life and fail to be sealed to Him after all this, then all is vain.

Mormon Priesthood

There was a time when I was "enthralled" with Mormonism and the "priesthood."

I remember first meeting Bishop Livingston (my first bishop in Menlo Park, California) for my baptismal interview, when I joined the Mormon Church at age 15. He positively radiated love and friendship! He was spiritual, insightful, caring, inspiring! He grounded everything he taught in the scriptures. I so enjoyed visiting with him in his office -- even to confess my sins. (How embarrassing!) But he was so gentle and kind, so loving and forgiving and helpful. I couldn't have had more respect for that man! My respect for him was confirmed when he was later made the next stake president.

When I moved hundreds of miles away from his ward just months after we met, he helped get me a job and checked in on me from time to time to see how I was doing. We remained friends for years thereafter. When he came to the desert (where I live now) on vacation with his wife and I saw them at church, I felt as if God the Father and God the Mother were blessing me with their presence! I felt so loved! I knew he loved me and genuinely cared about me. He had showed it!

That man epitomized the qualifications of a priesthood holder as outlined in Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. I love Brother Livingston!

Fast-forward almost 40 years. A series of men pass through my mind, servants in the office of "bishop." Some served like Bishop Livingston. Others ruled with an iron hand.

I remember one bishop at BYU who, while conducting tithing settlement, took my temple recommend away from me, calling me "unfaithful" because I confessed I was "in arrears" paying tithing by just a few days.

I always paid my tithing. I never missed a payment. But I chose this time to pay my rent...or tuition (or something else very important) first...because there was a deadline...and I was a little "short"...and I planned to "make it up" with my next paycheck.

"I have it all planned out," I explained to him.

But he was unpersuaded. "As of today, you are not a full-tithe payer," he said, marking me down as deficient and taking away my recommend. I was mortified and humiliated! 

He exercised the letter of the law.

That man
did not hold the higher priesthood of God. He ministered in darkness.

I knew several men throughout my tenure as a Mormon who held the higher priesthood and several who did not. All were ordained. All were called. But few were chosen.

One recent bishop stands out. He bore witness of Christ while standing at the pulpit. He spoke of Christ's love and mercy, etc., and went on and on about how much he appreciated Christ and His atonement, even shedding tears while bearing testimony of Him!

But when I met with him in his office, his mannerisms were almost invariably perfunctory, condescending and "flat." He did not so much as read the scriptures with me but bludgeon me with them. He did not counsel me so much as dictate to me. He referenced the Church's Handbook of Instructions far more than he did our holy books. Whereas most priesthood holders I knew would offer to join with me in prayer, sometimes even getting down on their knees with me, this man usually did not. Most visits with him included no reference to God whatsoever. He was "strictly business."

I remember one visit with him in particular. (He always asked me to come to his office; he never came to my home.) He plied me with questions about my personal life, asking me if I had ever committed this sin or had ever done that crime. "Because if you have," he told me, "I will turn you over to law enforcement for prosecution."

Charity never covered a multitude of sins in that man's office. He made sure of it!

If he holds the priesthood of God, I would rather go to hell.

Friday, May 20, 2016

More damning Mormonism

I'll keep this short. (No more epistles!)

The "shift" I experienced was the pressure I received (from the bishop to the stake president) to "conform" and "subordinate" anything and everything I did (thought, said, etc.) to the will of whatever "file leader" was "in charge". Whatever he dictated was to be done, right or wrong, inspired or not (they implied, even stated as much).

Everything I said in Sunday School and Primary and Sacrament Meeting, everything I wrote on my blog was to be "filtered" through their permissive (or restrictive) "authority". It got to the point that I wasn't even allowed to speak in Church any more, give a talk, lead a lesson, or bear my testimony.

The question wasn't just "Do you support and sustain the Brethren?" (I was "supporting and sustaining" them all along! Always had!) 

But rather: "Is Thomas S. Monson a prophet [and thus, by extension, am entitled to tell you what to do....and thus ought he and I be obeyed in all things]?"

They quote two scriptures to support this new "doctrine", scriptures which they interpret to say that whatever he says (or they say) is scripture: the mind, will and power of the Lord, etc.; that they have all power given unto them to tell me what to do, etc. 

Bull crap! They twist the scriptures and ascribe to themselves powers and privileges that were never authorized or justified by those very same scriptures. 

The scriptures say that those who are sent forth by God and speak by the power of His Spirit speak by His voice, will, etc. They don't say that whatever someone says (prophet or not) ought to be obeyed in all things, as if they were the Lord! Where did that come from?!

Joseph Smith taught you can baptize a man a hundred times as you would a bag of sand and do him no good...and, by extension, ordain him to the priesthood a thousand times...and it will do him no good...unless the Lord places His Spirit upon that man.

The question ought not be: "Do you recognize that Thomas S. Monson holds the keys", blah, blah, blah, but rather "Do you believe Thomas S. Monson demonstrates the power of his office and calling as a prophet, seer and revelator?" 

I said "I don't know. I think so! I'm willing to say he does!"

But that wasn't "good enough" for them. I asked the bishop and stake president, "When has Thomas S. Monson ever prophesied, translated, or revealed anything?" They couldn't cite one example. ("Nothing comes to mind at the moment," the stake president said.)

And yet, like bullies and pharisees, they cast me out because I couldn't think of one either! 

I imagine they shall live to rue their blindness of mind and hardness of heart. They are duped into "following a prophet" (and serving an organization) rather than respecting the agency and preserving the integrity of those who are striving to follow the Lord. They have taken the strength of the roots unto themselves and see themselves as "the kingdom of God on earth" even as their "tree" bears little or no real fruit (or only "wild" fruit).

And by "fruit" I mean "Who has come unto the Lord?" (Not them. They've never met Him, heard His voice, or seen His face, admittedly. Can they lead us to Him?)

But they follow a prophet!

And they are in do and say and control you as they see fit. And whatever they see fit (because they're in charge!) is the Lord's will. Period. That's their doctrine.

There's only one doctrine left in the LDS Church. It's "follow the prophet". That doctrine trumps everything. History can be rewritten and changed (or ignored altogether) along with doctrine and ordinances. 

As long as we're "following a prophet", all is well.

And that, my friend, is the most damning doctrine of Mormonism. It is putting one's trust in the arm of flesh.

I won't do it.

As long as TSM (and others) are walking in the same direction as I am (toward the Lord), then all is well. I have no qualms with them. 

But when they depart, I will not follow them! (And when I stray, they shouldn't follow me!) Their "calling" does not entitled them to control my conscience...or punish me for speaking the truth!

The only fault they found with me was speaking the truth and refusing to "follow the prophet" right or wrong. (Oh, and they demanded that I deny that Jesus is our personal Savior.)

They can all go to hell.

I was excommunicated from the LDS Church on a theoretical construct that is antithetical to agency, unscriptural and immoral: that one man should subsume his agency to another and "trust in the arm of flesh".

There is a difference, my friend, in heeding the prophets and following them. We listen (hearken) to prophets. They invariably teach us to follow Christ (not them)! Prophets lead people to Christ...then get lost! (See Samuel the Lamanite.) They do not organize a cult of "followers" of men. The Church was intended to be a "flat" organization in which all men know the Lord, from the least to the greatest, and none has need to be instructed by their brother concerning Him. 

 10 ...I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
 11 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 8:10-11.)

Best wishes and all my love to you and yours,


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Damning Mormonism

A beloved former bishop has reached out to me in my extremity through a series of letters. The following is an example of our correspondence. The effortlessness with which I "struck off" my responses to him demonstrates to me the inspiration of these words. I thought to share them with those of you who are interested in such things.

Dear Will 
My heart aches as I read and re-read your last epistle. I love you and [your wife] and it saddens me that your marriage is ending. Oh that I had a magic solution, but of course I do not. 
As to the Church, you and I have beat our differences to death in past discussions, to no avail. There seems little purpose in debating them anymore. However, I was surprised at your reference to that “damn Mormonism” when by your own admission you believe Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. 
I was also amused at your reference to deprograming yourself from Mormonism. The Church is often accused of “brainwashing” its followers. I prefer the word “conditioning.” It’s true that the Church does everything in its power to condition us to give up the ways of the world and follow the ways of Christ. The Church need not apologize for that. The truth of the matter is that we are all conditioned by something but we can choose whether that conditioning comes from good or evil sources. What better thing to be conditioned by than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
As to your marriage woes, I’m sure that there is more than Church differences involved in that. [My wife] and I have been married for over 69 years so I know that there can be trials, offenses, and all kinds of differences to deal with along with all the wonderful and good things. I wish I could say do this and this and this and everything will be OK. It just doesn’t work that way. This must have been a long time coming. I can only pray that you and [your wife] can both find the happiness you seek; but most of all that your children will not be damaged beyond repair. 
With love, Brother _____

I replied:

Dear Bro. ______,

Thank you for your kind and caring remarks. I believe they are heartfelt and charitable.

As for that "damn Mormonism", I target my ire at that manifestation of Mormonism that damns, impedes and misdirects.

Were the children of Israel "damned" or "blessed" by the law of Moses and the ministrations of the lesser priesthood? Some would say "blessed". Others "cursed" (or damned", [see Galatians 3]). Yes, having something that bears witness of truth is better than nothing. But when that something prevents one from embracing all truth -- in this case, Christ -- then that religion becomes damning. Especially when the religion purports to bring one back into the arms of Jesus...but really (by and large) does not.

The gospel of "Mormonism" is fraught with fables, fallacies and false doctrines masquerading as "commandments of God" but which are really the doctrines of men. It has become "the way we do things" -- replete with its own "secret" handbook of instructions which only the hierarchy are privy to control (like the Catholic Church keeping the scriptures themselves under wraps, out of the hands of the "common folk").

Rob Smith has written an excellent book on the subject: Teaching for Doctrine the Commandments of Men: Tradition in Modern Mormonism. (The LDS Church excommunicated Rob in February for publishing this book.) I found it filled with light and reason, testifying boldly of Christ. Rob is one of those who, like myself, has been ministered to personally by Jesus Christ. I "knew" Christ before I ever became LDS, though I did not see His face nor hear His voice by the power of the Holy Ghost until after I attended BYU. (I used to attribute that ministration to having received the Melchizedek priesthood by the laying on of hands by Mormon elders, but I was mistaken -- again, misguided by the traditions and storytelling of men.) My actual experience with Christ told me otherwise, but I was "blinded by the craftiness of men".

Those men today who wear the funny hats and grow their sideburns into locks and do all the rituals and ordinances and observances of their religion, are they "of God" or "of men"? Is theirs the "right" way? Or are they "damned" for their disbelief in a "true" religion that isn't true? Are they impeded in their progress because they do not know but reject the LDS Church, the "only true church on the face of the earth"? Is there something preventing them from receiving all truth now? Could the same be said for the Latter-day Saints? Have we become more "Catholic" than the Catholics, more "Jewish" than the Jews?

I say "yes".

It's not that Joseph Smith wasn't an inspired translator of the Book of Mormon or that the Book of Mormon isn't true. It's that the people who embraced and became "the keepers" of that book aren't true. The "religion" they subsequently created and embraced has been misguided, has gone astray and has become the "something" that prevents us from entering into God's presence...right down to the very temple garments we wear (which have become an "abomination" in God's eyes, I presume, having been changed and altered over time so that they no longer resemble the very thing Joseph bequethed to his brethren, he having used them in a very different form and fashion).

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: "It's not that the Mormons don't know very much. They know a lot! It's just that so much of what they 'know' isn't true!" In fact, most of what Mormons do "know" -- and often hastily testify of "knowing" -- isn't knowledge at all, but merely strongly held beliefs.

Knowledge comes from personal experience. When a person says "I know" such and such, such as "I know John Smith" or "I know that God lives", they are understood to say (if they truly know) that they've had interaction with a living being called John Smith or, in the latter case, God the Father. When someone says "Jesus is the Christ, my Redeemer", are they speaking from "book learning" or from personal experience? (If you say "book learning", then they are only speaking from belief, or "head" knowledge, or philosophy, not personal experience.) The same is true with belief in Joseph Smith's prophetic calling, the Book of Mormon, modern Mormonism, etc.

We are "conditioned" to recite these words "I know" as if we do "know", trusting in the engendered good feelings we feel by telling them, even experiencing our own "clarity" as we put the pieces together in our minds and hearts, so sure of ourselves, so convinced we are "on the right track", that "this church must be true", etc. (Both you and I have "partaken of the Kool-Aid" and have borne that "witness", hopefully inspired by the Spirit of God.)

But that's the test: whatsoever is spoken or discerned by the Spirit of God is scripture, nothing else.

Not even the words of a "prophet".

Much of what we believe is "dictated" to us, not just by conditioning, but by the voice and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He (it) can lead us into all truth. We may "prophesy" (as Samuel the Lamanite did) unto the people whatsoever things should come into [our] heart[s]" by the Holy Ghost (See Helaman 13:5).

But our witness, to some extent, has been false. We have testified not of what we've known and witnessed (as one witnesses a murder and knows the facts of the case from first-hand experience), but rather as one trained in the "facts" of the case, receiving them "second hand," "downstream," relying (to some extent) upon the testimonies of others..."following a prophet," as it were. (This is true for much of our knowledge of LDS doctrine and history.)

But if the prophet's testimony is false (and we continue to rely upon it), then all is vain.

"Following a prophet," after a point, is no way to receive a testimony for one's self. It's no way to receive salvation. We cannot rest our "witness" on the witness of another for very long. We either must get a testimony for ourselves (by personal experience, as Nephi did...and, in that sense, "follow a prophet") or we remain a puppet of those who testify (either truthfully or untruthfully) to knowing something for themselves.

When those who claim to know demonstrate that they themselves do not know, then they are not to be followed. When those "in charge" pretend to know (when they do not know), they become false leaders, the blind leading the blind. And when those blind leaders set themselves up as lights to be followed, and receive praise and glory and the vain things of this world in return for their "service", even getting paid for what they do, then surely they have their reward. Then you may know whom you are truly dealing with: not with true messengers, but with those who practice (wittingly or unwittingly) priestcraft.

Do you think those who served in Israel (after Moses) did so with evil intent? Or with a sincere desire to "serve God" (as best they "knew" how)? I say the latter. But that sincerity and "religion", no matter how earnestly pursued and defended, by and large did not bring them to Christ. Keeping the commandments of God brings us to Christ, nothing else. And when men replace the commandments of God with the doctrines and commandments of men, they get apostasy...and the direct, personal link to God and His power is severed.

That's what we have today in "damned Mormonism" -- a shadow of what once was or what it was meant to be. Some within the organization may yet embrace the fullness of what God has offered and is now, again, offering, but not many. It's just too hard to sift through the chaff to find the grain when the institution itself is focusing on the chaff, calling it grain, and throwing everything else away, including those who say "No, here is the grain!" The prospects for renovation are not good. You cannot put new wine in old bottles. Mormonism has become an "old bottle".

Do not assume I speak against all the "good" that Mormons do. I do not. I appreciate and champion their "goodness". I join with them. It is much of the doctrine that Mormons teach that is wrong. It is the idolatry and lies that Mormons embrace that impedes their progress. It's the "leaven of the Pharisees." It's the elevation of a false priesthood over a true one that "damns" Mormons and Mormonism. There is no Elijah among them. They follow a "minister" who offers "religion" rather than a true prophet who offers a relationship with Christ. (No wonder the Mormon leadership excised from the LDS temple ceremony that warning not to partake of the minister's wares. Modern Mormonism has become just what he offers. And what would the leaders of the LDS Church do without their employ? How would they "justify" their continued ministration and maintenance of power, privilege and prestige if all were "prophets" as they? If all of us were "Nephis", what need would we have for continuing guidance from Lehi? (Even Lehi, eventually, took a back seat in Nephi's boat!)

I'm am not speaking against the need for a "church" or for "leadership." The "church" is the body of Christ who come unto Him and repent of their sins [see Doctrine and Covenants 10:67] and the "leadership" is all those who can testify of Him. They know the Way. In the old days, the "leadership" were the apostles, joined by Paul and those who came to know for themselves. Then it "evolved" into an "organization," with "leadership" conferred by man's authority...and mostly the blind leading the blind thereafter...until we got Catholicism. The LDS Church has followed the same trajectory, believing that "power and authority of God" can be "conferred" by men. (Though Elijah taught us otherwise! See 2 Kings 2:9-15.)
A true prophet "would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29).

Now I don't claim to know the hearts and minds of those who now lead the LDS Church. (I assume their intentions are all good!) But if one from out of nowhere stands up among them and declares "I have seen and spoken with the Lord face to face!", he is put down by those who pretend to hold God's priesthood, who claim to be prophets, seers and revelators themselves but who do not prophesy, translate, see or reveal anything; who (mostly) "teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men" -- He hath given His power unto us. (See 2 Nephi 28:4-5).

I wish it were not so. But it is. I have seen it. I have experienced it. I have met, seen and heard Jesus Christ for myself -- and have been persecuted by the Mormons for testifying of the same. They are anti-Christ. Their religion has become a "stone of stumbling" to them.

It takes a while to become "deprogrammed" from the delusion that is modern Mormonism: that LDS ordinances and leaders can "save" you in the absence of YOU having a personal relationship with Christ, receiving salvation from His hand, having your calling and election made "sure" by hearing His voice declare it unto you. Who can testify among the Mormons the following? "I know Jesus Christ personally. I have met Him. I know Him and He knows me. We have spoken face to face. He has promised me eternal life. He is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Father and my God."

Yet that is, essentially, Moroni's witness. It is Mormon's. It is Nephi's and Lehi's. It is every prophet's testimony who speaks in the name of the Lord.

Then why not today? Has God changed? Is His gospel different? Or are they who think, even "know" they are now "saved" by Mormonism deceived?

I know (by observing the "deadness" of the way and the "blindness" of those who claim they know the way) that they do not know the Way -- even though they may have many "goods" to offer as their "wares" of religion.

In the end, they are wolves in sheep's clothing, the blind leading the blind.

When, years ago, I offered my "testimony" in Sacrament Meeting, speaking boldly of my experience with Christ, the current stake president took me aside in his office and "lectured" me on the impropriety of what I said.

"Didn't I bear my testimony?" I asked him.

"Well, yes, you finally got around to it," he said. "But our testimonies ought to consist of 'God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is a prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, and the Church is true (or guided by a living prophet).' Stick to the basics!"

"Can't we just tape record those five or six things and play them over and over again in an endless loop for 40 minutes during Fast and Testimony Meeting so we don't have to waste any time listening to silence?" I asked, sarcastically.

"That's a pretty good idea!" he joked. (At least I hoped he was joking!)

Apparently he wasn't. I was excommunicated, in part, because of my witness of Christ.

Every soul who would be saved must come unto Christ personally and follow Him (not a prophet), as the Book of Mormon teaches, or he is damned.

Now, as for my marriage, yes, it's a travesty, a disaster, a train wreck. (And a wonderful thing. Consequently, my head and heart and life are spinning!) When one dies by a thousand cuts, or suffers a thousand deaths by a single blow, the diagnosis of what "does one in" is invariably the same: both complex and simple. Our own human weaknesses, our sins and missteps, and the philosophies of men mingled with scripture (rather than practicing the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ) have persuaded my wife to seek to end our union. I would not have it so. But I cannot compel her to remain with me. I know that God joined us together. I believe it is sin now that tears us apart. God gave us the spirit of love that made us "one". I now believe God has withdrawn that same spirit of love from my wife, hardening her heart against me. She no longer sees me as the man she loved or should have married, but as an enemy and a "threat" to her security and happiness. My own sins and proclivities have severed me from the light and truth that would have allowed me to lead my family in righteousness. If I had been altogether righteous (and not "broken" myself), she would have "followed" me (I believe) to the ends of the earth! But I was not righteous. I was broken. I was mislead. And I lost her confidence. That failure rests heavily upon my shoulders, my heart and my mind. [My wife] and my children were my "Isaac," that which I loved (and still love) most in this world. Their "loss" is my greatest failure, my deepest remorse.

The Lord has shown me my weakness...but that knowledge has come at a very steep price: the dissolution of my family and the loss of all that I love. It is tragic.

I am not the man I was before. I am now one or two steps closer to God. But, apparently, I am destined to cross this river of mortality hereafter without the abiding companionship and comfort of [my wife] and (for the most part) my children. How sad!!!

I leave it in the Lord's hands. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.


My good former bishop responded:

Dear Will

Thank you for your response to my note. I am always so impressed with your use of words even though in my mind they are misdirected. You have a wonderful gift; in fact you have many wonderful gifts.

As I mentioned in my last note there is little to be gained by debating our many differences when we are both so tightly fixed to our positions. I doubt that there is anything I could say that would change your mind nor could you change mine; but we can both love and respect one another.

Without addressing every point, there were a couple of things that crossed my mind that were significant to me.

You said: "Following a prophet," after a point, is no way to receive a testimony for one's self. It's no way to receive salvation. We cannot rest our "witness" on the witness of another for very long. We either must get a testimony for ourselves (by personal experience, as Nephi did...and, in that sense, "follow a prophet") or we remain a puppet of those who testify (either truthfully or untruthfully) to knowing something for themselves.

I happened to be reading next week’s Sunday School lesson and this jumped out at me: Mosiah 15:11: Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.

The question is also raised in my mind as to whom, by your standards, do we look for guidance? You? Denver Snuffer? Rob Smith? What are your credentials? What have you done to be prophets? What qualifies any of you to “judge” the Church or anyone in it? Where is your authority?

Just thinkin’!

Brother _____

My response:

I do enjoy the nuances of perspective that are batted back and forth between us, (switching metaphors) sharpening our swords, if you will. Or, again, "keepin' it real" -- as you have said: "What have you done to be prophets?"

Fair enough.

"What qualifies any of you to 'judge' the Church or anyone in it? Where is your authority?" 
This comes dangerously close to that same query thrown at the Savior by those disputatious, disbelieving and doubtful chief priests, scribes and elders: "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?" (Mark 11:28; see also Luke 20:2.) But, as you point out, Jesus and His disciples were doing (healing the sick, raising the dead, even forgiving sins).

So I might ask: "Where is your authority?"

With regard to those challenging Christ and His authority, their authority (to practice priestcraft) came to them by men. They knew not whence or by whom Jesus' authority came. It did not come from them, that much they knew! And they also marveled that Jesus' authority came with power. (Nevertheless, many still disbelieved.) Both the wicked and the righteous understood that possession of real power to do good, even miracles, is demonstrative of having real authority. (See John 3:2 and Luke 5:21-25.)

So your point is well taken.

Yet John the Baptist, being the greatest prophet, worked no miracle. His only "claim to fame", it seems, was recognizing the Son of God and bearing witness of Him when He appeared, remaining true to that testimony all his life, even when threatened with death. 
The Jews rejected that prophet, as well.

Like the Mormons today, they could not believe God could (or would) work outside of the "established" framework and religious hierarchy; therefore they rejected even Christ (like their fathers rejected the prophets before Him). If you'll do some research, you'll see that almost all of the prophets "recognized" today, including Christ's twelve apostles [and] Joseph Smith, [even Christ Himself!] came from outside the "established", "predictable" religious orders.

Hence, Jesus asked them:
4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. (Luke 20:4-8)
John the Baptist was not recognized as a "prophet" by the religious leaders of his day. Yet Jesus said no greater prophet was ever born of woman (see Luke 7:28). 
So it is today. 
True prophets are seldom recognized or respected. They are customarily stoned and rejected, not "beloved," honored, celebrated or adored by those to whom they are sent. (That's a pretty good measure by which false prophets may be detected!) Both Ether and Elijah dwelt in caves (to escape death). Lehi was cast out of the synagogue and fled for his life. Isaiah was sawn in half. Jeremiah cast into a pit. So customary has been the rejection of the prophets by those who call themselves "the Lord's people" that righteous Stephen lamented (even as they killed him!): "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" (Acts 7:52).

Whenever God gives a dispensation of truth to His children (as He did with Moses and, later, with Joseph Smith), the people take what they receive from Him (or reject it) and make a muck of it, invariably (with only two exceptions known to history) sliding into apostasy, almost from the get-go. (The Book of Mormon demonstrates this pattern repeatedly, with the people of Zarahemla casting arrows and stones at Samuel the Lamanite, rejecting his message -- even as a known "prophet," Nephi, dwelt among them. Likewise the wicked priests of King Noah's day, having "authority," burned alive the humble messenger God sent to them.) 
Jesus explained how it would play out in His day:
9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. (Luke 20:9-16.)
His disciples couldn't believe it, saying "God forbid." But it was true. And that's what happened.

We have our modern equivalent today. (See Doctrine and Covenants 101:44-58.) Even so, there are many who cannot or will not recognize the Lord's true servants among them or the loss of God's priesthood and authority even as miracles have ceased and the heavens have been closed now, by and large, for almost two centuries.

Jesus' disciples, being inured to the "traditions" of hierarchal authority and priesthood ordination, bickered amongst themselves for stature and preeminence. (See Mark 10:37-41.) Likewise they complained when they saw one casting out demons in Jesus' name and rebuked him. But Jesus corrected them, saying: "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us." (See Luke 9:49-50.) Was I "against" you? Do the Mormons today respect the ministry and honor the divine "authority" of those not of their sect?

Later, when "apostate" Samaritans denied hospitality to Jesus and His traveling disciples because they deigned to worship in Jerusalem rather than in Samaria, His disciples imagined that He would have them destroy those wicked people! (That's what they would have done!)
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. (Luke 9:54-56, emphasis added.)
Jesus said "Come unto me." (Matthew 11:28.) Not "Go away. You're not welcome here." Do the Mormons follow Christ's example, or someone else's?

But let's get back to your question: "By what authority?!" (I hope you don't stomp off into the wilderness when I tell you! ;o)
When Jesus asked His disciples "Will ye also go away?" Peter responded: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:67-68.) Peter did not cite Jesus' miracles as evidence of His authority, but His words. Peter was a virtuous man. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." (Matthew 16:4.) (I'm not implying that you are wicked or adulterous for your query. It's a honest question: "Do you have any signs or tokens"?)

The signs and tokens of a true messenger are the delivery of pure doctrine and a real testimony of Christ, as one who knows Him, being sent. Gabriel announced:
"I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings." (Luke 1:19.)
This is a true messenger, even an angel! Nevertheless, Zacharias disbelieved. Gabriel's witness was that he stood in the presence of God. He had a message to deliver and his words were fulfilled.

Others today have borne similar witness. I believe them. They have taught true doctrine and have borne a pure testimony of Jesus Christ, as one who knows Him face to face.

Which of your "prophets" have done so? Have any of them claimed to know Him personally (and not just know of Him)? Do they speak of standing in His presence and repeating His words, as a prophet should and would do?

Did Joseph Smith shirk from bearing his witness? Or claim that his experience with Deity was "too sacred" to discuss?

No. Those who have met Christ (like Paul) are inclined to shout it from the roof tops! (I know I did! I couldn't contain my joy! But, somehow, the LDS Church managed to stifle it out of me -- by coercion and shaming and rejection.)

You have your "primitive church" after all, it seems, both before and after Christ's ministry.

"The question is also raised in my mind as to whom, by your standards, do we look for guidance? You? Denver Snuffer? Rob Smith?"
The mistake of the ages is to insert anyone other than Christ into that equation. Even Joseph Smith erred by allowing himself to be elevated (like Moses) to the role of "prophet." Like Moses, the power to discern truth and error and the responsibility to do so ought to be handed down as far as possible, to the lowliest among us, if necessary, so that all may grow and mature in testimony and power in righteousness. When we "follow a prophet" we run the risk of "short-circuiting" our own development and salvation. 
Hence, Laman and Lemuel, when queried about whether or not they had "inquired of the Lord," responded: "We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us." (1 Nephi 15:8-9.) After all, they were not following Christ (as Nephi was). They were following a prophet (their father).

"Following a prophet" almost inevitably renders us Lamans and Lemuels. We look to the prophet (or to our fathers, the "blessed, noble pioneers," etc.) instead of to the Lord.

The only way for a branch to bear real fruit is to remain well connected to the Vine, not to the Vine's husbandman. When the husbandman plucks off the branches unto himself, he kills the branches and stifles the fruit.

I have found others who have spoken the words of eternal life. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27; emphasis added.) Jesus' sheep don't follow a prophet. In fact, those who do "follow a prophet" are damned to a telestial existence (if that is all they do), worlds without end. (See Doctrine and Covenants 76:98-112.) Why is that? Because only association with Christ -- knowing Him and being known by Him, receiving His mercy and His grace personally -- has the power to transform lives. Not "following a prophet." Not engaging alone in religious rituals or receiving ordinances (though those have their place). The power of God is in His ability to transform the inner man by the workings of His Spirit and His love. Those who love God -- because they receive His love -- do not sin. His love motivates them to repent and to be "born again." When we cut ourselves off from Him and His love (by accepting any substitute, even a prophet), we damn ourselves.

Who is a prophet then? Anyone who has a real testimony of Jesus Christ has the spirit of prophecy. (See Revelations 19:10.) "[F]or flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (See Matthew 16:16-17, emphasis added.)

But I regard a prophet as one who has stood in the Divine Council, who has heard the word of the Lord, and has been commanded to speak on His behalf, declaring His words, no more, no less. This is a prophet. Not a miracle worker. Not one likely sitting in the chief seats, dining sumptuously, but rather a "nobody," whose message alone is his "credentials."

I have found Denver Snuffer to fill that role. I believe no one within the hierarchy of the Mormon Church does today. (As much as I appreciate their ministries and their teachings, they cannot lift me if they, too, are standing in the pit.) Who among them has been to heaven (as Denver claims he has)? Who claims to know Jesus Christ and God the Father personally, as Denver has claimed?

I have known and met now several who so testify. I, too, have been ministered to by the Savior. I have seen His light and felt His love. I have heard His voice, unto the melting of my soul. He has borne witness to me by the power of the Holy Ghost that He is real and living and powerful. I have not yet stood in His physical (spiritual?) presence (that I know of), but I have seen and heard Him for myself. And it is enough to give me a rock solid testimony of His divinity.

I have a similar testimony of the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the divine calling of Joseph Smith. Yet I was considered "unworthy" to belong to your church and was cast out for "apostasy."

I dare say there were few, if any, like me in your midst.

--Will Carter