Friday, March 24, 2017

Responses to St. George Conference and Thoughts on the Movement from Others

All:
After my post two days ago, I was contacted by at least half a dozen people from the Denver Snuffer movement expressing concerns about the new developments there. I have no desire to insert myself into this beyond what I have been told to do and discharged. My spiritual time is of great importance to me, and is being spent in a way that will benefit many more people than spending it on this issue. To balance my desire to remain aloof and the fact that the various Snufferite blogs (by definition) will not give audience to dissenting opinions, I will create this single post and add to it anything that appears reasonably well thought out and respectful. I would highly encourage you to provide your name with what you write, so that you provide people an opportunity to answer you. Rumors and gossip will not be posted. Entries will be given a heading. My email is 2robsmith@gmail.com.

A letter from a group of fellowships

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter on behalf of myself and a small, loosely-knit fellowship of believers who have been continually seeking Christ in this rapidly declining world. Those in my fellowship have maintained ties and associations with other groups gathering towards what we have believed is a common goal. We’ve enjoyed the felicity shared with these groups and have been greatly blessed by these associations.

We have all read and benefitted by the works of those vocal in this movement; namely that of Denver Snuffer. Obviously, against all of his initial pleadings otherwise, he seems to stand as the ensign or model figure in the awakening of those in and out of the Latter-day Saint community, re-centering our worship on Christ and none else.

A core of his shared message revolves around the need to remove any semblance of a “strong-man” organization, the need of diffused fellowships without any central control, and the woes and stumblings of the LDS church; namely their erred transition to a correlated structure over the past ½ century. We all agree with his observations and recognize both the failings of the LDS church as well as our need to put it and all other worldly organizations into proper perspective; centering our minds, hearts, and souls on Christ, leaving these secondary organizations in the periphery.

Yet the topics and grand announcement of a restoration scripture project made during this past weekend’s conference has raised a flag of warning and concern, as we perceived a great shift in Denver’s message and that of the collective conference. As he recounted the experience of how the project came to be it felt more like a retelling of an LDS church correlation committee meeting than one of a divinely inspired project of which we all are a part. Scriptures attaching meaning and fulfillment were all applied in hindsight while the committee's process became glorified in the re-telling.

The process reminded me personally of a quote made by Elder Russell M. Nelson when talking to BYU Hawaii students regarding the children of same-sex Mormon couples desiring baptism. This quote comes from the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation," Nelson, next in line for the Mormon presidency, told the faith's young adults in the first official explanation of the hotly debated policy's origins. "It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson."

Nelson explained that revelation from the Lord to his servants is a sacred process.

"The [three-member] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively," he said. "And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord's will."

He said that protocol was followed when Monson, in 2012, announced lower minimum ages for full-time Mormon missionary service and again late last year with the new policy on same-sex couples and their children.

Another similar quote by the late Gordon B. Hinckley in 1994, wherein he talked about the process used when major action is taken by the church:

“I add by way of personal testimony that during the twenty years I served as a member of the Council of the Twelve and during the nearly thirteen years that I have served in the First Presidency, there has never been a major action taken where this procedure was not observed. I have seen differences of opinion presented in these deliberations. Out of this very process of men speaking their minds has come a sifting and winnowing of ideas and concepts. But I have never observed serious discord or personal enmity among my Brethren. I have, rather, observed a beautiful and remarkable thing—the coming together, under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit and under the power of revelation, of divergent views until there is total harmony and full agreement. Only then is implementation made. That, I testify, represents the spirit of revelation manifested again and again in directing this the Lord’s work” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 74–75; or Ensign, May 1994, 54, 59; emphasis added).

Much of Denver’s talk echoed this type of mindset and described model followed by the current LDS church. Here are some quotes from his talk, "Things to keep us awake at night” (transcribed from the audio). The bold words emphasize the similarity of the correlation committees process:

"As it turns out each group had faced essentially the same group of questions but they'd reached slightly different conclusions for good and sufficient reasons to them. But as they reasoned together....one group had concluded that the catechisms, the questions and answers ought to be eliminated ....one gave voice to the argument .....he found value in ....so as a consequence of that discussion ...one group was aware ....and the other group was unaware of that...and therefore they reached agreement that was the way it ought be done."

We don’t disagree on the premise of the scripture project. We are humbled and grateful for the hours of work each of those on the respective committees have donated to this great cause. Our concern lies in the following:

1) The committee members. We do not want to condemn or judge. Plainly said, we are concerned by the reputation of some of the members associated with the project from personal experience with them. It brings to mind the words of Alma to his son, when he said, “O my son, how great iniquity ye brought… for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.” (Alma 39:11). We have discussed this and feel to not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” However, if this project had been undertaken with common consent, we feel it would have started with the election of a committee instead of having a group of individuals take it upon themselves to work it out.


2) Denver concludes by saying: “Sustaining is planned to happen at the next conference after a chance has happened of a review of the material. This is necessary for the gentiles to claim they have accepted a covenant and a law (2 Ne. 30). Everyone is free to vote when we have reached the end of the line. And they're free to reject it. But if there is some small group who are willing to enter into that covenant, whatever that number is, that will be sufficient. And I hope those who remain opposed will allow those willing to enter into a covenant to depart in peace. Because we've allowed the LDS church or any of the other various sects of Mormonism to depart in peace. I hope that those willing to vote are likewise given the opportunity to depart in peace.”

This quote says that we have a vote, but alludes that to voice disagreement with the process demonstrates opposition and a lack of desire to enter into a covenant. Which is not the case. It feels like those who have concerns with the process aren’t being persuaded (D&C 121), but rather cornered into accepting things as they transpired as totally and wholly inspired. A brief paraphrase of the message is, “we’ve done this work. Accept it and be saved. Reject it at your own peril.” That doesn’t sit right with us.

Our group patiently waits upon the Lord, while filling our time with doing good and helping those around us. We are excited by the prospects presented in the conference and have petitioned the Lord for guidance in this matter. The result of that petition is this letter.

It is not our intent to criticize or complain; but to highlight some incongruities with the way it came about in direct contrast to many of the principles taught by Denver during his 40 Years in Mormonism lecture series, along with others who have been sharing similar concerns.

If you would like specifics on places wherein contradictory comments have been made, we would gladly work on compiling such. However, we felt it shouldn’t be necessary as all of those involved on the committees are most likely aware of these comments themselves.

Thank you for hearing us out as we all strive to come to a unity of the faith.

Signed

-A fellowship of believers

Leo Ebbert

In 3 Nephi, Christ declares his beautiful doctrine in stunning simplicity: "repent, be baptized in my name, and become as a little child”. He repeats it. This was given after warning them against disputations/contentions and preceding another stark warning:

"And whoso shall declare more or less than this and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such”.

My summary of Christ’s words might look like this: “Don’t dispute and contend, that’s not of me. What is of me? Repent, get baptized (in every way, not just water), and be like a child. Don’t try to turn my doctrine into anything more or less than this, that’s not of me.” The two warnings bookend his remarkable doctrine. We (myself included) violate those two warnings with dreadful consistency, disputing amongst ourselves on a regular basis and as a group, making changes to His doctrine.

Christ warns again after giving the people bread and wine. He tells them to do “these things” is to be built upon his rock. "But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation”. There’s that phrase again: “more or less”. Maybe Christ isn’t kidding. Maybe the repetition is because he knows how quickly we embrace more and cast away so we have less.

He expounds on his warning further by saying we have to “watch and pray always lest ye be tempted by the devil and ye are led away captive by him.” What is the temptation of the devil that Christ is warning against? The temptation to add to Christ’s commandments and to take away from them. That is exactly how the devil ensnares us. It takes very little and we are so eager to accept it. Christ is warning against “religion” essentially, the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. That is what men and devils offer. Christ is warning against setting aside his simple doctrine for more or less. Read Christ's words and then ask yourselves whether what is being offered through these conferences is "more or less" than what Christ declared. The answer apparently matters a great deal.

The day after Christ taught his disciples about his doctrine, the disciples gathered with a large body of people and "ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken, nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken”. These disciples seem to have taken Christ literally. How childish of them! Or maybe “childlike” would be a better word. They apparently weren’t willing to add, remove, or substitute one word from what that the Lord said. Is it any wonder, then, that Christ’s promise to baptize the disciples by fire and the Holy Ghost was vindicated almost immediately after these disciples taught in this way? They were encircled by fire, angels descended, and Christ also was in their midst in glory, ministering to them. Christ's promise came to pass!

The disciples went on to preach with incredible success after Christ ascended again to his Father, converting literally the entire land of people to Christ. The scriptures say that “as many as” the disciples taught and baptized by water were baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. Why were they so successful in comparison to us? Why do we lack so completely the promised fruit whereas it overflowed for them? Could it be our penchant for more and less?

Even despite the teachings of Jesus, the people were not initially above disputations. They disputed about the name of their church. The disciples called upon Christ for help in settling the dispute. Christ is exasperated by this. How could the people dispute over such a thing? Don’t they know they have to be called after the name of Christ? The Lord then gives us a way to know whether a body of believers is really His or not. A simple test. The first part is "if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel”. So the name matters. What do we call ourselves? The remnant? Little zion? Restorationists? The doctrine of Christ fellowship? Maybe the last one fits.

But there is another part to the test. Christ says "if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father shew forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel and is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you, they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh and they are hewn down and cast into the fire…”

Well that wipes out a lot of groups that use the name of Christ in vain. I don’t think many of us would dispute that the dead religions of the world lack the works of the Father and are filled instead with the works of men or the devil. Can we apply this test to our own fellowships? Can we apply it to the conferences? Can we apply it to the scripture project or the temple fund? Are those works of the Father or of men or of the devil? How do we know? The answers matter a great deal.

Christ prophesied to the people of Bountiful concerning we Gentiles. We’d be given chances to embrace His gospel in its fulness. He offered this hope concerning us: "For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.”

Christ’s hope was that we wouldn’t “harden our hearts” but instead “come unto [Him]”. Consider those phrases in the context of D&C 84 where the Lord says the Israelites "hardened their hearts" and thus were cursed to not enter His presence. Later in the same section the Lord says "whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.” What the Lord says next is well known to anyone acquainted with this movement--the infamous condemnation the Lord issued against the early Mormons:

"And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written”

It appears that Christ considers the Book of Mormon to be our covenantal scripture. And His hope for us is that we will remember it and actually do what He commands therein. I suspect if we did, the Father's works would be manifest among us.

How different might our fellowships be if we learned from the failures of the past…if we chose to not harden our hearts and instead come unto Christ through his plain doctrine. What if we decided not to reject the words of plainness? What if we decided not to demand religion? What if we ceased from the works of men and devils and waited instead on the works of the Father? What if we said no to more or less than what Christ asked?

How did the people at Bountiful succeed at establishing Zion? Did they gather funds for a temple? Did they petition for "governing principles"? Did they have a trademarked logo? Did they undertake a scripture project and demand a vote on it? How did the people know that those 12 disciples were really Christ’s servants? What fruit came when the disciples ministered? Did the people ask to see their certificate first? Did the people ask for the names of what mortals were vouching for them and their authority? Or were they judged on the fruit of their ministry? What was that fruit? Did the people bring about the works of the Father, the works of men, or the works of the devil? Is it coincidental that nearly the same pattern we see in 3 Nephi played out in the book of Acts, albeit with less success?

"And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost. And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written. And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another. And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them. And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ."

Mormon makes it sound so simple. What if it really is? We all must judge. As was once said, “the game is afoot”. I pray we may all be brought to Jesus.

From a Nonremnant Observer

Upon examining Denver Snuffer's recent new translation/revelation of the Testimony of St. John, I have noticed quite a few contradictions between it and the JST of John.

The contradictions and discrepancies between the JST/KJV, and TSJ (Denver's work) begin from the very first verse and are manifested throughout the entire book.

The terminology that Denver uses also seems very odd. It's nothing like the language structure of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, or the JST/KJV of the Bible.

While there is certainly new doctrine introduced in Denver's TSJ, it appears to replace existing doctrine rather than simply adding new information. Which is in stark contrast to Joseph Smith's translation/revelation of the Bible.

Joseph made minor corrections, which were sometimes very significant. He also added new information. Sometimes the information he added was small and other times he added a lot. He did not to my knowledge replace previous information with completely different information. Nor did he remove any stories. In Denver's TSJ the entire story of the woman taken in adultery is removed.

Some of the new doctrine in the TSJ includes the need to find and follow true messengers, having to see God face to face in this life to be saved, and Christ having progressed from being an ordinary man to Godhead.

All of these things are things Denver was previously teaching, based on his interpretations of the scriptures. In certain places these Denver doctrines appear forced into the TSJ.

There's also the issue of Denver essentialy inserting an account of the Savior having his hair cut as part of ending a Nazarite vow. The Savior being a Nazarite is not supported anywhere in the scriptures. The scriptures say he was a Nazarene (meaning from Nazareth).

Denver claims he was inspired to retranslate the gospel of John to replace the current JST version in the new remnant edition of the scriptures. Does anyone know why he felt a new translation was in order?

Also, if he truly did receive a revelation giving him a more correct translation of the Testimony of John, why is it now being included in the remnant Pearl of Great Price and not replacing the Testimony of John from the JST?

Feedback on my prior post

Hello Rob,

I have cc'd Denver on this email. 

There are some inconsistencies in your post, "We follow a man whom we call prophet". You struck from your original post somethings that are provable. For lack of time to cover all of them, re-consider two based on the following:

1. Your words:

You echo Denver Snuffer's claim that he did not form a church, and is not the leader of a new church. Why do you insist on setting up what he himself will not, and making him what he himself has refused to be? While I don't personally care whether or not someone starts a church, I find the claim inherently dishonest. While we can play Bill Clinton and redefine the word "church" to mean something other than what everyone considers it means, let's avoid the label and examine the facts.

Denver's words: 

Transcribed from the talk by Denver Snuffer, Things to keep us awake at night. 13 minute mark. (punctuation and emphasis mine): 

"Joseph restored the Book of Mormon as his first assignment. But he was required also to revise the Bible. Joseph referred to the revision of the Bible using the term, "the fulness of the scriptures". The Book of Mormon he called "the Book of Mormon". The revision to the Bible he called, "the fullness of the scriptures". In the minutes of an 1831 conference Joseph made this statement: "God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the church. Said the Lord would cut his work short in righteousness and except the church receive the fulness of the scriptures, they would yet fall."

"The fulness of the scriptures or the Bible he was then revising, has never been fully in print. Even the version that has been published by the RLDS church misses several of the revisions Joseph made. All of them and in addition, a handful of revisions that Joseph made orally during talks that he gave in the Nauvoo era, for the first time, are published in the new set of scriptures in the volume, the Old Testament and half the volume called the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. 

The fulness of the scriptures, without which the church would fall, are for the first time now available."
_________________________

A. Contrast with Denver's words spoken in Lecture 8 Transcript – A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (Given in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 25th, 2014), page 27:

"I'm not going to start another church, and I don't intend to compete with the Latter-day Saints, and I don't intend to overthrow them. That is God’s work, and it will be up to Him to decide how useful the various Mormon churches are to His purposes. But it is clear to me we do not need another church. The only thing we need are penitent people. The only thing we need are people whose hearts are right. If someone is here from a Baptist church, then go attend your Baptist Church. Go attend your Mormon church. There's good in all churches, but study the doctrines of the Restoration and get to know God, and then go and do what He would have you do."

Consider...

Joseph said that "God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the church. Said the Lord would cut his work short in righteousness and except the church receive the fulness of the scriptures, they would yet fall."

It is clear from Denver's words. He is calling this body of believers, and using scriptures to back his claim, a church. 

Additionally:

Joseph referred to the fulness of the scriptures as the Bible. Why has this scripture committee gone beyond the Bible and called it "the fulness of the scriptures"? 

2. Your words:

Everything that has the trademarked logo has been approved by this group him

Denver's words:

"An important step has been achieved. A new website titled “Born of Water” is now live. The website allows anyone located anywhere in the world who desires to be baptized to identify themselves. It is all confidential.

The website also allows those with authority to baptize to identify themselves in a confidential submission. Those qualified to baptize can then determine if they are able to assist someone in need of baptism. If they are able and willing to help, the baptizers can send a contact through the site to the one wanting baptism. This way those in remote locations will be able to receive baptism.

The logo on the site is shaped like two hands reaching upward, forming the image of a dove. The eye of the dove is a mark on the wrist of the right hand. The colors in the corners of the mark are the colors of the veil in the Tabernacle of Moses and Temple of Solomon. It is a trademarked, copyrighted and servicemarked registered image that is the property of Adrian Larsen. He alone can give or revoke permission to use the image that is his property."

The logo will appear on three sites: Born of Water, Recorder’s Clearinghouse, and for a time on this site to acquaint people with the logo. The logo is a way to vouch for a site’s privacy and safety. If the logo is authorized for use, the public can be confident it will not take them to a site of a hostile group, commercial enterprise or specious origin. It is a way to identify authenticity.