Friday, August 25, 2017

The Denver Snuffer Movement: Time for a reality check

Most if not all aware of Denver Snuffer are former LDS. All of them have gone through an evaluation process to discover that, while the LDS church possesses many truths that are helpful to drawing closer to God, it also possesses many truths that will prevent a person from drawing closer to God.

If you are in this group, you have been fooled before. What are you to do to ensure you don't get fooled again?

The way to prevent yourself from being fooled is by constructing a strategy that would have alerted you to the state of the LDS church far earlier than you actually found out. In retrospect, you may feel quite foolish, as I do, that you did not see the problems earlier. Chances are that, like me, you discovered the problem only after someone showed you what those problems were. Chances are that even in that case it took quite a long time and a lot of effort before you would objectively consider those problems and test them for yourself.

One key to preventing the same mistake is being able to evaluate hypotheses and evidences individually. In plainer terms, you have to be able to separate out specific ideas and test them one by one. Because error is only palatable because it is mixed with truth, you will consistently be handed a package that has some things that will draw you closer to God AND some bad things that will keep you from him. You have to grow to be able to sort through and keep those things that draw you closer while recognizes and discarding those that keep you away from him.

As an example of this, the LDS church offers the Book of Mormon and a belief that your obedience to the church president is what will give you salvation. The missionaries tell you that you have to pray about the Book of Mormon, and that if the Book of Mormon is true, everything else is true.
That is a logical fallacy that is very obvious to anyone who has thought about it. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon has very little to do with anything not inside the Book of Mormon, perhaps with the exception of the fact that Joseph Smith would have had to have had the power of God to translate it. It doesn't mean that everything Joseph Smith did was sanctioned by God, doesn't mean anything in relation to the church he founded, certainly means nothing about the new church Brigham Young founded after Joseph was killed, and means absolutely nothing about the modern leaders who have inherited the copyrights from Brigham through earthly legal agreements. You have to come up with an approach that allows you to recognize and keep the Book of Mormon, but toss out trusting in the arm of flesh.

The foregoing was a logical test. Some tests require you to compare the teachings to the scriptures. Some will require you to test them by trying them. If you live it, receive the promised fruits, become more like and experience more of God, it is right. If you do not, it is false.

How does this apply to Denver Snuffer's movement? One must learn how to parse out the claims of the movement, accurately inventory what Denver has claimed, what Denver has done, and what effect following his words has had on you. If there are ideas that fail when tested, you should discard them and move on.

Claims and evidence

Claim: The movement is not organized (see here and here)


Evidence: This movement has a trademark logo that serves as a correlation mechanism. Denver has said that Adrian Larson controls this logo, but also has described it as a correlation mechanism:
"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."
Anyone can call a conference, but if Denver and Adrian are not involved, it will not be sanctioned, and will not be listed on the only official website for such.

The movement's fellowships are described as self-organized, independent groups. However, who provided the instructions to form them? Denver. Who controls whether they are recognized as "hostile" or not? Denver. Who controls how much say they have in the organization of or execution of conferences? Denver.

Is there even one single modern revelation by anyone but Denver that has been published, taught, or canonized?

Verdict: This claim is false, and it keeps people from exercising the caution that is due to a movement that purportedly holds unique claim to Zion.

Claim: This group exists to follow Christ and preserve the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith.


Evidence: While Denver's early messages were to this end, beginning with the ten lectures, he began injecting new doctrines and practices that Joseph Smith never taught. He has also ignored and even replaced many teachings that Joseph provided. The scriptures project, which began as an attempt to "preserve the restoration" by a few individuals roused by Denver's calls to do so, were sidetracked into a vehicle for "canoniz[ing] new scripture" (see here). The chief contribution of the project is not a historical recovery of original documents (which incidentally has already been done for both the D&C and Book of Mormon), but to delete scriptures that do not comply with Denver's theology, and add segments of his own construction. Similarly, Denver has delivered a purported covenant to replace the covenant given in the form of the Book of Mormon. Having begun his ministry on the authority of Joseph Smith, he is now doing things that are quite independent of and orthogonal to the teachings of Joseph Smith.

Verdict: This claim is false, and it causes people to accept new doctrines and throw out old ones with far less deliberation than they should.


Claim: Denver is not the head of this organization. This group has no leaders and no clergy (see here and here). Denver said: "Let me be clear: I will not start a church. Period. Won't. Not now. Not later. Never."


Evidence: Which aspect of this movement did not come directly from Denver? His teaching initiated rebaptism, the form of priesthood ordination, fellowships, tithing, conferences, the scriptures project being more than a reprinting, saving for a temple, recording names, who the recorder was to be, the creation of governing principles, discarding certain scriptures and adding others, and every other doctrine or practice that distinguishes this organization from any other.

Even setting aside the source of everything that distinguishes this movement, consider who the influential people are, and why they are influential. Does anything happen in this movement without Denver directing it? The only other people in this movement that have power, as they suppose, are Adrian Larson (who is endorsed by Denver), Keith Henderson (who has his position because Denver endorsed him), the scripture committee (who are directed by Denver and were unknown to the movement until they came to him and he endorsed and took over their project) and the 3 women who are collecting money for the temple (who are recognized because Denver endorsed them). Even in the case where people are voted on by common consent in these roles, how is this any different than a blanket endorsement from the LDS masses when an appointment made by the 15 is announced?

Denver said: "A 'strong man' model is the opposite of Zion. A controlling hierarchy where some are over, and others under control perverts the essential equality that must prevail in order for Zion to exist with one heart, one mind, and all things in common....Read what I've written. Listen to my talks. You needn't think there is a hidden agenda. There isn't and won't be one. I am so transparent that even the church court information has been made public."

Rather than teaching correct principles and letting the people govern themselves (which is a role fulfilled by many people at once), Denver is dictating how people do what they do by having a presiding role in every single aspect of the movement. He is repeating the same mistake of Joseph Smith, who did not make himself redundant.

Verdict: This claim is false. Denver has made the same mistakes as Joseph Smith did, and the stage is set for the same outcome: people focusing on a man rather than on God.

Claim: Denver claims that, without a new temple and a new covenant, we cannot regain the presence of God.


Evidence: Most Christians today are blinded to evaluating the limitations in their religion. Because their religions promise big returns after they die, but nothing right now, they have no way of testing the claim until it is everlastingly too late. However, simple logic suggests that a religion that cannot save you now cannot save you later. It is incredibly dangerous to assume that a theology that cannot bring you into God's presence now will be able to do so once you have a temple. This is the same error that Joseph Smith's followers fell into. What they should have done is realized that Joseph--not having a temple--was able to experience the first vision. If God is no respecter of persons, anyone doing what Joseph did should be able to do the same. The same goes for Denver. Since he does not yet have a temple, all of his experiences should be obtainable by anyone without a temple. In both cases, what is missing is not a building, but repentance.

Verdict: This claim is false.

The big picture


Denver has two messages, and two missions. The first was to testify that the scriptures describing an audience with Christ are true. You, me, Dan Rogers, and a few others are evidence that this message was true. Helping others focus on Jesus Christ is a godly task, and should be considered the mission of every believer in the Lord Jesus.

The second mission, purportedly, is that Denver is a dispensation head appointed by God to close the dispensation of Joseph Smith and open another, to reveal a new covenant, and to build Zion with those who accept and keep it. The test here is whether those following his teachings come up to the experiences he is claiming to have: multiple visits to heaven, frequent visits by God, constant answers to prayer, sealing to the fathers, frequent visits by angels, promises from God, including the blessings of the fathers, etc. I am not aware of anyone who is claiming they have received any of that through his teachings, are you?

Thinking that your experience with the Lord validates Denver's alleged revelations and new doctrines is exactly the same error as thinking that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon makes any and everything the LDS church does valid in God's eyes.

Anyone could have collected and quoted scriptures describing an audience with Christ. This does not imply you are anything special.

The universal message I have heard from Snufferites is that, despite their best efforts, they find themselves struggling with willful sin. They hope that by making a group covenant, they can break through the barrier that has beset them as individuals. I have bad news for you. You will never succeed in a group until you succeed as an individual. The path to Zion is not gathering then repenting. That order is reversed. Nothing can bring you or anyone else to Zion until you repent. It is that simple.

Focus on Christ, or focus on Denver?

While Christ can come to anyone, including sinners, he will not abide with anyone who has not fully repented, for no sin can abide in God's presence. Seeing Jesus is wonderful, but it is not the same as being redeemed from the fall / being saved. Only those who have achieved the latter can enter Zion, and this is why it is so critically important to know if Denver's path can get you there or not. If his teachings don't provide a path to sinlessness, they are at best a distraction, and at worst a damning barrier to salvation.

Has Denver claimed some idea, prayer, statement, ordinance, revelation, etc., that came exclusively to him, which applies to everyone and is relevant to salvation? Many, many times.

Here are just a few. Which have you validated, how did you do it, and what were your results?
-Baptism is only valid if done in the way God has revealed to him.
-Authoritative baptism happens when performed by a man who has been sustained by 7 women. God did not provide that instruction, but, according to Denver, agreed to it after Denver suggested it to him.
-Authoritative baptism must be recorded in his record book kept by Keith Henderson.
-Keith was voted on and accepted after Denver endorsed him (there were 3 contenders)
-Denver's revelations are to be canonized soon.
-Denver has rewritten the book of John.
-Denver has claimed to have received a covenant which will either deliver people to Zion or damn them.
-Denver has claimed to "have a dispensation," that new covenants come only through dispensation heads, that old dispensations are closed and their promises discontinued when new dispensations are opened, and that those who reject a covenant through a dispensation head are damned.
-Denver claims that the Lord removed priesthood from the LDS church as a result of their excommunicating him.
-In addition to expanding the content of the scriptures, Denver instructed the scriptures committee to write a set of "governing principles," a new version of D&C 20, a new rule book. Apparently, there is a difference of opinion on what it should contain, as the scriptures committee has a version, and several people outside the committee have written and submitted their own. People are literally writing their own rules.

Recall that anyone who makes a man their mediator is critically limited in their ascent towards God. Logic dictates that they can never ascend beyond the mistakes of the man they follow, and history (such as the followers of Joseph Smith in his day) suggests they rarely even make it that far. Why not? Because whereas the individual they follow attained whatever stature they have with God through following the Holy Ghost, their idolators can follow them without ever establishing their own connection to God. This is why the Lord taught that those who follow a man are limited to telestial glory, no matter who that man is, and why following one even so great as Moses led millions of Israelites into telestial glory, save 2 who emulated Moses' example and followed the Lord instead.

Fake it till you make it?

Thus far, Denver has demonstrated an unusual pattern of behavior in his actions and purported revelations. He desires something that the Lord has not yet commanded, he starts moving in that direction, then asks God to approve what he is doing, and says God does approve it.

We see this pattern in Denver's version of baptism. Denver asked the Lord to modify the way he authorized men to act in his name because he felt women needed more inclusion in the process, and he says that God agreed to do it.

We see this pattern in the temple fund. Denver admits that God has not commanded a temple to be built. Because Denver thinks he has to one day, he has suggested that people start donating money to that end, so that when God commands it, they will be ready to obey.

We see this pattern in the purported covenant. A group of people said they wanted to reprint some former editions of the scriptures. They consulted Denver. He said this would actually be much more: a revision that they would conduct, then take to God as a covenant. He added his own work. Then he prayed, and claims that God revealed a covenant in response.

We see this pattern in his idea that he "could be" the one mighty and strong. Aside from the fact that he taught for a long time that Christ was the one mighty and strong, Denver has never claimed that God told him that he is this person, or that he has received those assignments from God. He has been asked directly, and he responded that his view is that this person cannot claim that title until they do what that person has done. He is actively pursuing all the tasks he understands this person's responsibility to do. I asked him when God ever followed the pattern of expecting people to guess they have a certain role, and then guess how God wants them to fulfill that role, and then wait till God either tells them they got it right or tells them to knock it off.

I will tell you something that God told me: The one mighty and strong has not yet been called. He does not know who he is. Those who claim they are him are either lucky guessers, but have yet to receive instruction, or are liars.

In my experience, those who insist on doing something a certain way without revelation (otherwise known as steadying the ark), then pray and pray until God confirms want they want to hear will always get an answer. Unfortunately, it rarely comes from God. As Joseph Smith said, "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil."

Now, I could make an argument about how God is not in the merger and acquisition business, adopting the actions of freelancing people who think they have a mission from him. But instead, I will ask:

1. What do we already have in the scriptures? What does the covenant add that we do not have access to already? It only makes sense if you believe that somehow you don't have access to what is already in the scriptures. The only way you believe that is if you believe in Denver's (and the LDS church's) definition of dispensations, both of which are easily proven false from the scriptures.

2. What makes God's kingdom his kingdom and not ours? Our adherence to his words, not the other way around. Great things can happen from small things, and a righteous man can come to the point where he can influence the councils in heaven. However, incredible restraint must be exercised in these matters, because when Israel asks for a king, God gives them a king, and with it all the curses that come from choosing an earthly king over a heavenly king. The Snufferites have asked God for an LDS-type prophet, an intermediary between them and God, and God has given them one, and with it all the curses that come with them having chosen an earthly prophet instead of taking Jesus Christ himself as their prophet.

I believe that Denver has indeed had many real experiences with the Lord. I believe that he accomplished his first mission, which was to testify of the truthfulness of the scriptures describing an audience with Christ. Whatever his second mission, I believe that he has veered off course, allowing his pride and ambition to deviate him from the task of focusing people on the Lord directly, and not through him as a mediator. He has turned away from his earlier claims that he will not start a church, that he will not be a strongman, and that he will not repeat the mistakes of Joseph Smith and the LDS church.

I believe this vision: http://scriptures.info/Scriptures/pgp/train/ I believe the Lord was showing Denver what would happen if he stayed the course. 

He has assumed he is much more important than he actually is, and part of that has come from his pride, part from the unrighteous idolatrous desires of those around him, and part from the devil, who seeks to discredit his earlier contribution.

I don't think it is too late for him to repent, but I do believe he will choose not to. Because of this, the real outcome will deviate from the vision starting when Denver woke up. Instead of what he saw, this is what will happen:

7 And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;
8 While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning.
9 And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth. (D&C 85)
The irony of this will be profound. The Snufferites think they are following the one mighty and strong, and think that having their names in Keith Henderson's book gives them right to an inheritance in Zion and protection from the desolation. Instead, they will completely miss when the real one mighty and strong is raised up by God, because like the Jews with Jesus, their vision of what that will be like is after the way of the world and not the way of God. They will be shocked to see "that [other] man, called of God and appointed...fall by the shaft of death" suddenly, and will scatter to the four winds when they realize their mediator upon whom they had hinged their salvation will not be capable of giving them an "inheritance in that day," but they will be "cut asunder" by the desolation that floods them, along with the "unbelievers."
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.
50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.
51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.
52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.
53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received
55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57 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
58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
59 For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay. (D&C 84)