Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My response to the covenant offered through Denver Snuffer

I quite enjoyed reading Denver's paper "Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant." I strongly agree with the vast majority of it. It is worth reading. Most of what is there reconciles with my understanding of the scriptures, history, and God's revelations to me.

Some of it does not.

There is a lot of ground covered in this post. I've tried to keep it as brief as possible.

What is the covenant we are after, and how is it received?

  • The new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel. It was available from the beginning [1].
  • This is what all men must accept or be cut off [2].
  • One book that contains the fulness of the gospel is the Book of Mormon, according to God.
  • Therefore, anyone that has read the Book of Mormon already has everything they need to make the covenant we are after [3].

How do we keep the covenant we are after?

  • We keep the covenant of the fulness of the gospel by keeping every commandment that comes from the mouth of God. As many as repent are the covenant people of the Lord (2 Nephi 30:2-3).
  • To my knowledge, God has given no requirement given to make this covenant as a group, and every scripture can be fulfilled whether or not a covenant is made as a group.
  • There is no evidence that either of the two successful Zions made a group covenant. 

How will the gathering occur? As a group that gathers then becomes Zion, or a group that has become Zion that then gathers?

  • Incidentally, not one ancient saved man had the Book of Mormon, yet they were able to be saved.
  • Not one of the two successful Zions we know of had the Book of Mormon, yet they successfully built Zion. 
  • It is therefore possible to obtain the fulness of the gospel and build Zion without the Book of Mormon, let alone the newly proposed scriptures.
  • There will be people who are entitled to come to Zion who have never heard of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Denver Snuffer, or his new covenant.
  • Though a new temple could provide a means for providing something that the world does not currently have, everything needed to obey the fulness of the gospel is already available.
  • Therefore, Zion can in fact happen in separate groups that later converge.

Do new versions of the scriptures provide us anything we don't already have?

  • 1840 and other early Book of Mormon versions are already available.
  • All versions of the D&C are already available.
  • The Lectures on Faith are already available.

Fundamental questions:

  • Does Zion become Zion because a group of people decide to keep God's commandments, or because people who keep God's commandments become a group? Another way of asking the same question: Can a people ever become one except through individually aligning themselves with and surrendering to God?
  • If you already have access to the new and everlasting covenant, is your lack of benefits from it due to anything but disobedience?
  • Can the D&C be restored without God providing revelation anew, given the three sources of interference: 1) intentional historical manipulation, 2) intentional contemporary manipulation, and 3) contextual situational biases that do not apply to people today?
  • Denver describes in the paper how this project came about, that God has not yet ratified it, and that feedback from all of you is requested. Has a covenant from God ever been offered in this manner? Did King Benjamin offer a covenant constructed by the masses, or was it given to him from an angel? Did Moses take a committee-drafted list of commandments up to the mount to have God ratify them? In both cases, God came to man, not the other way around. 

Personal revelations from God that conflict with what is being offered:

  • Denver correctly says that no one has a right to be here that God does not give a right to be here through covenant. However, I disagree when he says that without a public, communal covenant, a people cannot be given a promised land. Lehi, the Brother of Jared, and Mulek all obtained lands of promises without a public, communal covenant. In their families, or groups slightly larger than their families, they were able to covenant with the Lord to keep all his commandments, and as a result were given lands of promise. God has not changed today. If you do the same thing as these men did, God will give you the same blessing. I know this from experience. Because I am not special, I believe that anyone who repents and keeps God's commandments will be given their own promised land. As is taught in the Book of Mormon, those who keep God's commandments will inherit this land.
  • Denver says the D&C is part of the covenant God is offering. Years ago, when I was tempted to do the same thing the scripture committee has done today, the Lord told me that the state of the D&C is such that, like the apocrypha: "There are many things contained therein that are true [and] there are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men....whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be" reprinted. Many of the failings of Joseph, his followers, and his self-proclaimed successors can be directly traced to passages in the D&C. Great care ought to be exercised when deciding what should be accepted as God's word and what should not be. I would be terribly uncomfortable making that decision with "inspiration" only. I would not dare make that decision without explicit, plain revelation equaling intensity in how it was originally received.
  • Denver says that Zion will occur as a single group of people receiving a single new covenant from God. Years ago, the Lord showed me how it will actually happen. I wrote some about this before. When an individual believes he is keeping all the commandments, a loving God will reveal to them what they yet lack (Mark 10:17-21), until through persistent heed and diligence, they are perfect in Christ and live the standard of Zion. There is a mirror process for a group. If a group gathers, their suffering will be a function of the sum of weaknesses of the individuals in the group. God has to show them what they yet lack, and it will hurt. As they exercise heed and diligence as a group, they will ascend to the next level, until they are at a Zion level of understanding and practice. The Lord blesses us by not revealing to us what we are not prepared for. If he revealed it all at once, we would turn away from him completely. If a large group gathers at once, they will suffer greatly, and there is a very high probability that many or all of them will turn away from God. It will be clear that this process is greatly facilitated in the conditions of the desolation to come shortly. The ideal situation is for small, family-sized groups to set out to keep all of God's commandments. Strong families are much closer to possessing the bonds of love and compassion that will be required in Zion to transmit truth, prevent offense, and inspire individual contribution to the greater good. Families have kinks, and these will have to be worked out. Reprobate individuals will be humbled through affliction or sifted through captivity or death. Zion requires sifting. Those who do not rise up must be taken away. Every time a covenant is in force, there are steep consequences for disobedience. It has to be that way--there must be opposition in all things. As these family-like groups live up to the light they've been given, they will merge with other groups through divine intervention. God knows all things from the beginning, and will devise means through which groups composed of them who love him will experience exactly what they need to to progress. Less diligent groups will be exposed to more trials than required to bring them to Zion. At every level, a sifting will occur. This merging process will continue until all groups experience the required preparation and reside in Zion. Though there will come a time where Zion's existence and location is publicly known, and people flow to it from all nations, and no unworthy person dare's enter due to the Lord's glory upon it, there will be a preliminary time where no one knows whether Zion exists or where it is. Zion cannot exist until there is a people who have learned and kept all of God's commandments. While I do not expect anyone to take my word for it, and though I admit there are different perspectives that match what is in the scriptures, I am not aware of any scriptures that contradict what I have described here. In other words, if deciding by scripture only, what I have laid out here is just as possible as anything I've ever heard or read.
  • Denver makes an explicit difference between an individual keeping God's commandments and a group keeping God's commandments. I know of no distinction. I once inquired of the Lord about this question: "Why did people like Nephi not obtain Zion? Surely they fulfilled the requirements. If they were righteous, how is it fair that they did not get to live in Zion simply because those around them were less obedient?" God is just, and will always offer the opportunity for those who have become clean from the blood and sins of this generation to dwell with others of the same degree of glory. God will always provide this opportunity to the righteous. If there are no earthly people he can direct together to achieve this condition, he will take these individuals into heaven to have communion with the "cloud of witnesses" and "just men made perfect" there. Some truly Christ-like individuals, like Moses and Joseph Smith, turn away from the opportunity to inherit the glory they have earned and instead opt to condescend by standing in the gap to prevent the destruction of the reprobate and wicked people they love. Even then, he divinely intervenes to bring them to communion with fellows of similar glory, through temporary or permanent translation, or death.

What will happen if you make this "new covenant"?

You will embark on a journey to build a temple, make still other covenants, sell your possessions, move to a common location, have all things in common, be sent out on missions to preach the gospel and gather others. Because your group will consist of people who do not all obey all of God's commandments, the Lord's presence will not be there in any more abundance than it is in the lives of individuals who keep God's commandments now. There will be successive winnowings of the group from strifes stemming from the sins of some in the group and from external situations from which you will not be protected due to the lack of the conditions of Zion. There will be people who leave and people who die. Eventually, some subset of the group can learn from their mistakes, and be led by God to another place where they can continue the sifting/ascension process. Eventually some may make it to Zion.

What does this mean about Denver Snuffer?

I believe Denver Snuffer fully believes that what he is doing is inspired, and I also believe he is correct in that belief. Where we differ is in the Lord's intent for his mission. I believe that, like Joseph, God is using Denver to bring a subgroup of people further along than they could come on their own and providing every opportunity to rise up to Zion despite the inevitability of failure. I commend him as one of the Lord's servants. Though we do not see eye to eye, I don't have any ill feelings towards him and wish him success in the faithful accomplishment of his mission.

An invitation

I invite all that are considering participating in the Boise conference in September to take these months and accept the challenge to repent and fully submit to God. If you need help in the process, consider reading the draft publication on the topic available as a free pdf on the right sidebar of this blog. No matter whether Denver is right, I am right, or neither of us is right, repentance will bring you to God. Six months is more than adequate time to repent of all your sins, and begin to walk in constant companionship with God. With the stakes as high as they are, you really can't afford to be wrong. I encourage you to pray more often, wake up earlier to give yourself time with the Lord, and significantly increase your scripture study in time and intensity. Immerse yourself in God's goodness, and he will direct you in your paths.

1 -
9 Wherefore, I say unto you that I have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
10 And that which I have promised I have so fulfilled, and the nations of the earth shall bow to it; and, if not of themselves, they shall come down, for that which is now exalted of itself shall be laid low of power. (D&C 49:9-10)

2 -
57 And for this cause, that men might be made partakers of the glories which were to be revealed, the Lord sent forth the fulness of his gospel, his everlasting covenant, reasoning in plainness and simplicity—
58 To prepare the weak for those things which are coming on the earth, and for the Lord’s errand in the day when the weak shall confound the wise, and the little one become a strong nation, and two shall put their tens of thousands to flight.
59 And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit.
60 And for this cause these commandments were given; they were commanded to be kept from the world in the day that they were given, but now are to go forth unto all flesh—
61 And this according to the mind and will of the Lord, who ruleth over all flesh.
62 And unto him that repenteth and sanctifieth himself before the Lord shall be given eternal life.
63 And upon them that hearken not to the voice of the Lord shall be fulfilled that which was written by the prophet Moses, that they should be cut off from among the people.
64 And also that which was written by the prophet Malachi: For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (D&C 133)

3 -
And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me. (D&C 45:9)