“How to Live During an Apostasy” Published

 

How to Live During an Apostasy – 6 x 9 – pdf for download

How to Live During an Apostasy – eBook for download

 

This blog, cachevalleybaptisms.org, now titled liveduringapostasy.wordpress.com , has been published as a book entitled “How to Live During an Apostasy.”

A good audience for the book is those who are still LDS who have the remnant spirit in them, but desire to serve in the LDS church still.

The index of Preserving the Restoration and how to form a fellowship and how to administer tithing posts are in the ending chapters.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1539709582/ Print edition

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071QZJX46/ Kindle Edition with links

The cost is as low as I could type it in on createspace for amazon. Some of their advertising channels still give $1 or less profit at that base rate, so I will donate it to the fellowships.

Happy Easter!

 

“Heart of the Matter” Interview

I was interviewed on Shawn McCraney’s “Heart of the Matter” internet TV show about this site and the fellowship movement.

Watch here:

Is There Any Use to Councils and Committees?

The LDS Church makes a lot of use of councils and committees. From the Ward level all the way to the First Presidency, projects and ideas are discussed, debated, and planned ad nauseum until, generally speaking, consensus is reached. In the higher councils, unanimity is required based on scriptural precedent (see the D&C 107 verses below). Yet, many decisions contradict scriptural absolutes, and much time is wasted in meeting after endless meeting, until mediocrity wins out, and until debate gives way to settling on the least common denominator, or the path of least resistance. At other times, a strong-headed chairman/chairwoman makes the final decision despite whatever good advice the council comes up with, making it even more of a waste of time as the heavy hand of a leader with an inflated ego imposes his or her will. It leads one to ask, is there any use to councils and committees in the first place?

In the fellowships of Mormon Christians who meet outside of LDS jurisdictional control, there is sometimes the perfectly understandable and natural response to reject all things LDS, to allow for a fresh start at preserving the Restoration. Yet, this approach can easily throw the baby out with the bath water. If we took the time to forgo the initial revulsion we legitimately feel concerning recent wounds and fresh memories of things done the wrong way, we might see some important elements that ought to be included in what we are trying to preserve, instead of discarding them outright.

Here are some scriptures supporting councils and work in committees:

And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen. (D&C 26:2)

And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—A majority may form a quorum when circumstances render it impossible to be otherwise—Unless this is the case, their decisions are not entitled to the same blessings which the decisions of a quorum of three presidents were anciently, who were ordained after the order of Melchizedek, and were righteous and holy men. (D&C 107:27-29)

The second reference is in the context of introducing the duties of the councils of the various bodies of General Authorities in the LDS Church, but it shows a useful procedural option for any relevant council, if unanimity is the chosen standard. Another procedural option is the democratic approach, with a majority ruling. Unanimity has the attractive quality of ensuring nobody goes home disappointed, and to outsiders, it looks very impressive when a council achieves it. This fact has the very real danger of puffing up the members of such a council to prideful boasting and self-congratulatory rhetoric about the soundness and quality of their decisions. Therefore, to alleviate this danger, the scripture in section 107 further states:

The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. (D&C 107:30-31)

The fact that the decisions need to be righteous is so important that the revelation includes provisions for vetoing bad decisions.

And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision. (D&C 107:32)

The phrase “otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision” should not be read as there is an expiration date on the veto power for any given decision, but that this is the only procedure by which to obtain a veto against decisions by quorums of General Authorities in the LDS Church. Also, “general assembly” should not be read as an assembly of general authorities only, but a general assembly that is church-wide, such as a general conference, where all the members can vote (even though this is not in practice in the LDS Church today). We touched on these points before, but keep the principles in mind as we discuss their application to fellowships where there are no offices and no general authorities.

Presiding Authority in Councils and Committees

Even by the time of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, the word “preside” had become corrupted.

PRESI’DE, v.i. s as z. [L. proesideo; proe, before, and sedeo, to sit.]

1. To be set over for the exercise of authority; to direct, control and govern, as the chief officer. A man may preside over a nation or province; or he may preside over a senate, or a meeting of citizens. The word is used chiefly in the latter sense. We say, a man presides over the senate with dignity. Hence it usually denotes temporary superintendence and government.2. To exercise superintendence; to watch over as inspector.

Christ mentioned this as a phenomenon among the Gentiles.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28).

However, the word history shows the prefix and suffix denote “to sit before.”

preside (v.) 1610s, from French présider “preside over, govern” (15c.), from Latin praesidere “stand guard; superintend,” literally “sit in front of,” from prae “before” (see pre-) + sedere “to sit” (see sedentary).

In some circles, “preside” takes on the original definition of “to sit in council,” and functionally, they are discussion facilitators, with the role switching on a yearly basis. Frankly, this role can switch from meeting to meeting. The person who presides is not allowed to vote during their tenure. They are supposed to announce the will of the council once consensus is reached, without modification, and see that proper principles are employed in the decision making that all have agreed to beforehand (like the doctrine of Christ, for instance…they only veto if the decisions go against that).

The president, since they are excused from voting, has a role to watch and see that D&C 107:30 is carried out, that, “The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.”

In other words, a group can pick someone to watch out for deviances from the scriptures, while the rest are free to openly discuss and debate, and they switch off who “watches” over the scriptures from time to time. This fits the model of a teacher, with not all being spokesman at once (D&C 88:122), as found in the pattern of a president in a school of the prophets: “And this shall be the order of the house of the presidency of the school: He that is appointed to be president, or teacher, shall be found standing in his place, in the house which shall be prepared for him” (D&C 88:128; see also vs. 127-141).

That role has definitely been corrupted in the LDS Church. Even still, the president suggesting scriptures that are being deviated from can only suggest and the council takes up their suggestions in their debate…a president still shouldn’t vote–ever. It doesn’t elevate anyone to fill that role no more than it does to pick someone to record the minutes of the meeting. That’s how the United States’ Constitutional Conventions were run at times, but the rules of order that developed reverence and respect for the role of the “chair” have led others to believe that puts honor on the person itself, and not the role, and even the President of the US is now more powerful than he ought to be. Today in the LDS Church, D&C 107:30-31 is ignored out of ignorance and out of an idolatrous worship of unanimity. Unanimous voice is useless without D&C 107:30-31, and becomes an iron band, with all future councils respecting the decisions of past councils, no matter how erroneous, until a reformer swindles their rhetoric to make it sound like they are still in conformity (So let it be written, so let it be done). They never realize they can discard unrighteous decisions by assembly of other quorums to recognize the faults. There is no need for unanimity for unanimity’s sake. But, there is a need to be unanimous in the principles of righteousness as they apply to any council decision at hand, even if that means undoing previous council decisions as they are discovered to be unrighteous. It turns out that the Lord’s example is the most righteous, with presiding “authority” being synonymous with servitude, and not decision-making power.

No Offices Needed

In this suggestion, there is no need for offices in the fellowships. I think each individual fellowship is getting better, but when we communicate across fellowships, it is sometimes the wild west. The problem is, when more than one fellowship is involved, committees could be an efficient way to facilitate cross-fellowship projects, but committees face the same problems we had in LDS world. To avoid potential abuse, committees could be seriously limited in their power by making them temporary, and by shifting responsibility, with common consent being fixed in general conferences of the fellowships. There would be no offices, only functions and assignments. There are various ways to organize that fit well within certain contexts. Manifestations of organizational particulars are changeable, but scriptural principles for how to organize are more intriguing. Today in fellowships, we are opting for less efficiency, which means a lot less risk. It doesn’t mean we can fault the scriptures for advocating the opposite in different circumstances. We can fault the abuses that have crept up around them, and point to a better scriptural precedent, and leave efficiency behind to a large degree. Efficiency is incredibly tempting (note the storyline in Star Wars with Senator Palpatine getting Senate support for Clone War military powers for efficiency’s sake, but never relinquishing those powers after the emergency). However, we have so much to do to organize our own personal lives first. Denver Snuffer rightly observed: “Rebuild faith through repentance. Once the inward part has been cleansed there will be time to worry about the outward part” (Preserving the Restoration, p. 230).

However, we don’t need to be completely inefficient when we organize. Anytime something smacks of being LDS 2.0, people raise a cry of “You are correlating,” or “You are worshiping Denver Snuffer.” Sometimes fear of change stifles all change. It is clear efficiency is a risk / reward scenario. The greater the efficiency, like concentrating decision making into smaller groups of people, or in one individual, the greater risk for abuse. We should be wise if we think there is any benefit to temporary committees. Being “president for a day,” or having a committee exist until a task is complete, means no offices are needed, and the potential for abuse is limited. Or, shorter terms, such as one year, or for the duration of a project, can be adopted. Personally, I like having some chaos, and the slow inefficiency of switching roles each meeting, so as to allow for anyone interested to fill a role and learn something from it. It is more like a “function need” than an office. However, sitting around like the Quakers with nothing facilitated until someone is moved to say something can become stagnant and boring. Any ideas generated under this model often get squashed quickly by contention and unbelief, with the consensus moving towards not saying anything at all, and not getting anything done.

Here are some of the ways Joseph Smith tried to tackle ecclesiastical balance of power:

TPJS,>>>By Mutual Consent

Section One 1830-34, p.23

The matter of consecration must be done by the mutual consent of both parties; for to give the Bishop power to say how much every man shall have, and he be obliged to comply with the Bishop’s judgment, is giving to the Bishop more power than a king has; and, upon the other hand, to let every man say how much he needs, and the Bishop be obliged to comply with his judgment, is to throw Zion into confusion, and make a slave of the Bishop. The fact is, there must be a balance or equilibrium of power, between the Bishop and the people; and thus harmony and good-will may be preserved among you….

Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the Bishop in Zion, and then receiving an inheritance back, must reasonably show to the Bishop that they need as much as they claim. But in case the two parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, the Bishop is to have nothing to do about receiving such consecrations; and the case must be laid before a council of twelve High Priests, the Bishop not being one of the council, but he is to lay the case before them.

We don’t have to recreate Joseph Smith’s organization style that pandered to a desire to implement the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church. We can and should use, however, principles from the Restoration to organize in ways that are more mature, and less structured.

Secrecy in Councils and Committees

And lastly some thoughts about common consent, and the justification for temporary secrecy in a council, even though the danger of secret combinations are evident throughout the scriptures (i.e., it’s the purpose of the secrecy that counts). There is a dichotomy between being secretive for the right reasons versus being secretive for the wrong reasons, which hinges around the purpose for the secrecy, and the duration of the secrecy. If a general conference of the fellowships decides by common consent to create a committee, the committee is accountable the whole time to the general assembly of people, but this model sometimes engenders too much strife and efforts fall flat due to lack of motivation and opposition.

If a group does good of their own desire, keeping it secret doesn’t mean it has to represent an insider clic or evil secret combination…it could represent their desire to work unimpeded from the temptation to not complete the task. As soon as you announce you are doing something, the motivation to complete it waxes cold, or opposition and contention and misunderstanding can quash it.

After the task is complete, like Denver Snuffer’s example of a prophet completing the task to be able to later be given the title “prophet,” then all can consent to the finished work as “good” or acceptable. Thus, common consent is preserved, and the dilemma of a committee being appointed by a general conference, that fails to produce the desired outcome, is avoided. We wait until we get the desired outcome from independent fellowships or smaller cohorts and–after the fact–consent to accept their production. An example of this dilemma is found in the Council of Fifty records, where a committee was appointed to revise the United States Constitution. They hemmed and they hawed, gave excuses for its lack of completion, then finally asked Joseph Smith to take over by being on their committee, to which he refused. Then, the revelation that the whole council was the Lord’s “Constitution” (as opposed to Joseph Smith singularly) came, and the project ended as later Joseph Smith was martyred in part over their presumptuous appointment of Joseph as a king to the council. Obviously many judged Joseph Smith for having secret Council of Fifty meetings, and Anointed Quorum meetings, all while others used the secrecy to promote legitimacy for the spiritual wifery doctrine.

We ought to steer clear of judging others as being presumptuous for trying to do good. Let God judge the motives, and let common consent judge the outcomes. To judge them beforehand is to provide opposition to a potentially good endeavor, and squash it before it has born fruit. Or, in Joseph Smith’s case, produce a martyr instead of the kingdom of God.

If it is a wicked endeavor, the fruits will display themselves soon enough, without our meddling. Let’s consider how difficult it is to complete something for the Lord with Satan opposing us at every turn…consider how hard it was for Joseph Smith to bring forth the Book of Mormon, then apply that logic to the Council of Fifty.

On the other hand, an example of this working well is the production of the Spanish version of the Second Comforter. Also, the production of some good conferences, including the one in Boise. Doubtless, some of our efforts will fall flat, but there is no need to condemn those who have failed in some material aspect. We get to try again.

Another project that’s been announced is the compilation of a pure form of standard works scriptures set. We ought to uphold those involved with our faith and prayers, (even if we don’t know who is working on it), since they’ve announced their intentions at the last general conference. It sounds like a huge undertaking, and we should assume the best of those involved, and judge only the product after they are done. We can always accept or reject their efforts, but praying for them allows for the best possible outcome due to our combined faith. Sure, it would be nice to know everything everyone else is hatching up, but let’s consider how difficult it is to complete something for the Lord with Satan opposing us at every turn…again consider how hard it was for Joseph Smith to bring forth the Book of Mormon. Sure, it would be easy to say every effort is an attempt to rush up the pass, to use Denver’s vision metaphor, but there are many things to do at the bottom of the pass that don’t constitute rushing up the pass (like the examples above), even if some efforts obviously fit that description.

More Quotes from Joseph Smith

As I’ve been reading the Council of Fifty records…the very first day the council met, we have this gem from Joseph:

The brethren then began each to express his views of the subject set forth in the letter. It was encouraging to witness the union of feelings which prevailed on the subject [ . . . ] Pres. Joseph said he wanted all the brethren to speak their minds on this subject and to say what was in their hearts whether good or bad. He did not want to be forever surrounded by a set of ‘dough heads’ and if they did not rise up and shake themselves and exercise themselves in discussing these important matters he should consider them nothing better than ‘dough heads.’ He gave some good advice which seemed to have due effect. The meeting was prolonged being occupied by several of the brethren speaking their views untill [sic] a late hour when upon motion the meeting adjourned untill [sic] tomorrow at 9 o clock A.M. [p. [24]]. (Sunday, 10 Mar 1844, The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846, p. 39. It is William Clayton narrating from crib notes that he copied and expounded on starting the year after Joseph’s martyrdom. The account is of the first meeting,which began earlier in the day and continued in the afternoon).

A month later, the Council of Fifty received a report from a committee that had been assigned to re-draft the Constitution of the US and perfect it to include more reference to pure principles from heaven. They didn’t get anything done due to the absence of one of the committee members, Parley P. Pratt…and it sounded like he was traveling away from Nauvoo for a while. Joseph said:

Pres. Joseph arose to give some instructions to the council & especially to the committee. He commenced by showing, that the reason why men always failed to establish important measures was, because in their organization they never could agree to disagree long enough to select the pure gold from the dross by the process of investigation. He said that it was right always to judge in favor of the innocent, and it was wrong always, to judge in favor of the guilty He wanted to see a constitution that would compel a man to execute justice in favor of the innocent. (Thursday, 4 April 1844, The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846, p. 79).

Summary

In a temporary council or committee, you can avoid giving a president abusive powers by having a president watch over the scriptures and not vote, who only has veto power based on their understanding of the scriptures, but no decision making power…this would throw the decision back to the council to provide a more persuasive decision that is in righteousness.

The duty of the council or committee is to achieve either unanimity or democratic majority, whichever is chosen for the task at hand, perhaps based on importance. They will also be striving for a righteous decision, but there can be a benefit to having someone sit out of the debate so they can facilitate the discussion and pay more attention to the list in D&C 107:30: “The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.”

See Robert’s Rules of Order for good notes on how a president can facilitate the decision making process of the council or committee members.

A committee can be organized on smaller scales, and be kept secret until they produce good work, and then present their work in a general conference for acceptance, or a general conference can appoint a committee for a specific general cross-fellowship task and receive periodic updates and reports. Once the tasks are complete, the committees can be dissolved.

Also, there is no use to have a committee or council if the tasks can be accomplished reasonably without them.

See also our posts here and here.

What Do I Do About My Priesthood Line of Authority?

For today’s post-LDS gospel dispensation, the servant of the Lord instructed: “How does the authority to baptize come? Because John the Baptist laid his hand on Joseph and Oliver, we have continued the practice to lay hands to confer Aaronic Priesthood. We should continue to respect that tradition. No one should baptize until they have had Aaronic priesthood conferred on them by someone who can trace their authority back to John the Baptist, through Joseph and Oliver.” (Denver Snuffer, “Preserving the Restoration,” p. 508).

The LDS Church doesn’t keep a record of Aaronic Priesthood lines of authority; nor does it keep a record of the date of the conferral of a particular priesthood, only the record of significant ordinations to office, which are subsequently traced as their version of a line of authority (see https://www.lds.org/help/support/request-a-priesthood-line-of-authority?lang=eng). An ordination to an office often occurs on the same day and at the same time as the conferral of priesthood. As the LDS typically ordain men first to the office of “elder” when conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, the line of authority for an elder will be the one closest to their priesthood conferral date, as opposed to an ordaining as a seventy, high priest, apostle, or patriarch. If you have record of a pre-April 2014 LDS priesthood conferral for Aaronic Priesthood and want to use that for your entry in the line, then that would seem sufficient. You will likely have trouble obtaining the dates for all of your prior line members for the same, however, because of what was mentioned above about the lack of records for Aaronic Priesthood lines.

However, in beautiful parallelism and in somewhat of a chiasmus, the LDS temple ceremony used to call the Aaronic Priesthood the “lower level of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” at the same time as calling their Melchizedek Priesthood the “higher level of the Aaronic Priesthood” (see Anderson, Devery Scott, “Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History,” p. xxxiii). This is, of course, in a different context than Denver Snuffer’s descriptions of priesthood categories in chapter 5 of “Preserving the Restoration” titled “Priesthood,” but it is fitting for the context of this post. Therefore, the date when one obtained what the LDS call “Melchizedek Priesthood,” (again, provided this is before April 2014 general conference), could be considered the culmination of their receipt of the Aaronic Priesthood (and, of course, only in terms of it being an authoritative invitation to obtain power from God to perform service in his name). The notes in our post here describe how to confer the priesthood with authority subsequent to the LDS Church’s apostasy, and won’t be repeated here.

But, as far as passing on a line of authority goes, if someone in the line was ordained legitimately in the LDS Church, one could reckon their date from their latest office ordination (as the LDS Church does), or choose the date for their ordination as an elder to tie it closer to the latest conferral of priesthood, or choose the date of the Aaronic Priesthood office, if that is all that is available (or, if that is what is considered preferable). Then, at Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery’s level in the line, tie the line to the conferral of the Aaronic Priesthood through John the Baptist, or to the date at which the voice of God conferred on them the Melchizedek Priesthood in the chamber of old Father Whitmer in June 1829 (see D&C 128:20-21 and History, 1838-1856, volume A-1 [23 Dec 1805 – 30 Aug 1834], pp. 26-29), or mention both.

Such a line would look something like this:

 

LINE OF AUTHORITY

BRIAN ZANG received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was ordained an elder February 22, 1998.

[Full name] was ordained an elder …1977.

[Full name] was ordained an elder …1967.

[Full name] was ordained a high priest …1952.

LE GRAND RICHARDS was ordained an apostle April 10, 1952.

DAVID O. McKAY was ordained an apostle April 9, 1906.

JOSEPH F. SMITH was ordained an apostle July 1, 1866.

BRIGHAM YOUNG was ordained an apostle February 14, 1835.

THE THREE WITNESSES, OLIVER COWDERY, DAVID WHITMER, and MARTIN HARRIS were called by revelation to choose the twelve apostles February 14, 1835 (D&C 18http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/minute-book-1/153).

JOSEPH SMITH, JR. and OLIVER COWDERY received the Aaronic Priesthood on the banks of the Susquehanna River on May 15, 1829 from John the Baptist (JS-History 1:68-72).

JOHN THE BAPTIST (D&C 84:27-28).

or

JOSEPH SMITH, JR. and OLIVER COWDERY received the Melchizedek Priesthood in the chamber of Old Father Whitmer and were ordained apostles by the voice of God in June, 1829 (JST, Genesis 14:25-29History, 1838-1856, volume A-1 [23 Dec 1805 – 30 Aug 1834], pp. 26-29; D&C 18D&C 128:20-21).

GOD THE FATHER.

 

You can also include places if you want, and each line above has unique elements that can be adjusted for each member of the line given the information you have (such as conferred priesthood, or ordained office, or date and place, who each person was ordained by as opposed to just listing the officiator on the next line, etc.). In the above example, it is not known which of the Three Witnesses were voice in ordaining Brigham Young, although it appears all three had a hand in ordaining him. If your priesthood line goes through another apostle, the reference above may include more details for them. At this point, there is no uniformity in describing priesthood lines of authority besides what the LDS Church has inherited through their traditions, so all lines will of necessity reflect that tradition to some extent, seeing that they maintained an authoritative commission for a period of time. Given the new dispensations’ emphasis on a few principles, such as the durability of the Aaronic Priesthood, the different categorization of Melchizedek Priesthood to align more closely with the scriptural teachings about its receipt by the voice of God alone (see JST, Genesis 14:25-29), and new ordinations being conferrals to the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God (with God deciding which degree of priesthood power is conferred in each case), the preceding recommendations have been made as suggestions for language that hopefully begins to move towards a new standard. This is a minor procedural matter and could be rightly taken up as a short topic of discussion for common consent in a future general conference of the fellowships, if diversity in opinion ever becomes problematic. Hopefully, though, the principles involved here will be self-evident and the lines of authority produced and passed on in current ordinations sufficient to defend our claims to priesthood conferral. If there is any room for doubt about your full line of authority back to John the Baptist or God Himself, you can always get re-ordained in the fellowships and receive a new line from the authorized administrator.

During my LDS mission, a line of reasoning was advanced from an experience of Orson F. Whitney that was quoted in LeGrand Richard’s book, “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder,”

“Many years ago a learned man, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, came to Utah and spoke from the stand of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I became well-acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy. One day he said to me: ‘You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.’” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Deseret Book Co., 1950], pp. 3–4.)

This line of reasoning tries to prove a valid point about the need for a gospel restoration with a false premise. The so-called learned Catholic here assumes that their church has the authority to remove priesthood when they excommunicate someone. The LDS Church assumes the same power. However, God has not given such power, only the right of churches to remove individuals from offices particular to their organization. Even if their church had a hand in conferring priesthood on an individual, the relationship that is established thereafter is between the individual and God alone. If a church deems it necessary to cut off a priest, for instance, then that priest may lose membership in that church, as well as the right to serve as a priest in their congregations, but their priesthood continues. If the church cut them off for good reason, meaning the priest was wicked, then the only thing that would follow them as a result of the church’s decision would be “the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption” (D&C 104:9), which, when duly considered, includes the rightful shame they would have acquired from being out of favor with their fellow man (which is likely what Satan will mock them about). If, however, the church cut them off unjustly, then they would be merely suffering persecution, and their priesthood would continue even if they were unrighteously denied membership and/or priestly status. The only way priesthood is lost is as explained in D&C 121:36-44: that is, according to principles of righteousness, as an individual departs therefrom, and God alone judges it to be so, which maintains a proper balance of power, or else mankind could use priesthood removal to threaten the righteous into submission.

Therefore, the above story is a compelling set of logical arguments, but wrong in its assumptions of jurisdiction and authority. There is a third option to the learned man’s propositions: if the Protestants in question lived during a time when the Roman Catholic Church had a commission from God to confer authority (if it ever did), then the Roman Catholic Church could’ve cut off righteous Protestants, and their right to claim the priesthood would’ve continued outside of the Catholic Church, because a false excommunication would not be recognized by God against a righteous priesthood holder. The only thing God would honor is the Catholic Church’s wishes that those priesthood holders no longer minister in their church, and they would likely be called to minister elsewhere where they were accepted.

 

Are Fellowships Considered Another Church?

“Fellowship” is the preferred term because it more appropriately describes the activity involved, and relegates it to close-knit gatherings of family and friends. Don’t you fellowship in family reunions, but still attend your own churches? Do you consider your family reunions a “church”?

Even so, it can definitely be called the church of Christ by definition of that term as well, even if they are not organized as a corporate church structure:

Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen. (D&C 10:67-70).

There is no need for another corporate church structure:

True religion, when it is present on the earth, always existed in a community of believers. If we do not have community then we cannot be willing to mourn with those that mourn. We cannot comfort those that stand in need of comfort. We cannot stand as a witness to one another of God at all times and of all places. We cannot bear one another’s burdens so they may be light, as is required by the gospel and the covenant of baptism. None of this can be done without fellowship between believers. However, we do not need a new corporate church. The only thing we need is a community to fellowship one another. Whether called a ‘community,’ or ‘fellowship’ or ‘society’ it does not matter. Legal entities, whenever formed, become prey to the law. Men can gain control over legal entities. Legal entities are vulnerable to sycophants willing to do whatever is required to show they are desperately submissive to those in power. Hierarchies invite abuse. Aspiring men can always corrupt whatever is organized on the earth. (Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 504-505, see also the crucial and illuminating footnotes on those pages).

What we refer to as the “LDS Church” is a legal entity. Fellowships are “churches” in the generic use of the term. When you read D&C 10, do you consider Christ was referring to an earthly legal entity, or the generic use of the term applied to the conditions he specified?

Consider also, though, that the fellowships are not fully organized as the church of Christ might be, seeing that much of the labor needed in the fellowships is at this time decidedly left to the angels to sort out later (see D&C 20, D&C 42, and JST Matthew 13:39-44). Therefore, a portion of the organizational boundaries for our “church” encompasses the powers of heaven beyond the veil. On this side of the veil in the fellowships, we don’t necessarily exclude others by reference to church articles, nor do we necessarily exclude others from taking the sacrament. We are promised in scripture the following, when all necessary church politics will be sorted out by those angels and Christ Himself:

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1-14; see also Luke 14:15-24).

As Christ says, we don’t destroy the law or the prophets (3 Nephi 12:17) or any church articles, but we seek to live the true intent of them, and not one jot or tittle shall pass away, but shall all be fulfilled in their due time, even if in our limited mortal perspective things look out of place, or out of order. God wills it, and so we must invite all to the wedding feast from the highways and the byways without judgment. These small and simple things will have a great impact, and we refuse to strain at the gnats, because thereby we might swallow the camel (Matthew 23:24). The doctrine of Christ is our priority now. It is useless to build up a superstructure that has no heart and soul. It becomes an empty shell, and the revelations that the early Saints pressed Joseph for were largely premature for them, or missing the mark concerning God’s priorities for the Restoration. But, they were given what they asked for. Even so, all things, including the elaborate church structure contained in the D&C, testify of Christ, and have their place in the Gospel (see Moses 6:63).

As before explained, the “doctrine” in the Doctrine and Covenants was the Lectures on Faith which were removed by the LDS Church in 1920. The “covenants” were not all covenants between God and man, but also covenants between themselves as a church. The early Latter-day Saints believed “in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church”. So do we, but we do not covenant with each other to be so governed in the fellowships. There are no offices. We covenant to pattern in a way that allows the fulness to return, which is less administrative outwardly, and more administered in one’s heart, with the law written on people’s hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3). It is a higher standard befitting friends and family–if we can be so called, and if we avoid contention significantly enough. If not, we devolve into the need for offices and presiding authorities.

The following statement from Denver Snuffer is instructive: “An unchanging God has an unchanging gospel. Rather than taking pride in our ordinances, we should view ourselves in our lost and fallen state. Rebuild faith through repentance. Once the inward part has been cleansed there will be time to worry about the outward part.” (Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, p. 230).

Who is a wise and a just servant? (see JST, Luke 12:41-57).

Is This a New Dispensation?

Yes. It is connected to, and built upon, the dispensation begun by Joseph Smith, but it is nonetheless new. We honor those in the LDS Church who have preserved what they have of Joseph Smith’s teachings, and Christ’s words through him. John the Baptist’s priesthood reckoned from the Jews he wrested the keys from. His priesthood continued, as did Christ’s and the apostles, despite the demise of the Jewish council, synagogues, and temple.

Denver Snuffer has ushered in the dispensation of the last times for the Gentiles, as John the Baptist ushered in the dispensation of the last times for the Jews (D&C 27:13). Joseph Smith’s inauguration of a dispensation of last times was abortive, and thankfully so. The Gentiles were given more time before their kingdoms were destroyed, as the use of those keys were started by Joseph Smith for the purpose of building the latter-day Zion. Zion was not built. Joseph Smith ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times (D&C 128:18), which is a restoration that gathers all things in one, just as Moses did to start his dispensation. This dispensation of Joseph’s was incomplete. We have not received the vision of the revelation of all things given to the brother of Jared, nor the return of the priesthood that the Lord promised to Adam would return in the last days (Moses 6:7). The dispensation of the last times, which is the last time the Lord will prune His vineyard (Jacob 5:62), builds upon and completes the dispensation of the fulness of times, which gathers in one all things; or it could be said the last times completes the prior dispensation so the fulness of all things can be ushered in. The unfinished parts of the Restoration will be picked up and completed and built upon. Joseph’s success was marvelous but not exhaustive. It remains to be completed in another “last times” and “fulness of times” attempt, and the choice is ours to rise up. These are keys that can be implemented whenever God commands, and not conforming to Western definition notions. The dispensation attempt is finalized as the “last times” when it accomplishes what was begun with the turning of the keys to begin it: It becomes the “last times” for the kingdoms that the dispensation is opposed to. When the kingdoms fall of their own accord as they dash to pieces against the rock that is established, then the dispensation will be a success, and earn the title indefinitely in history (see D&C 39:17, where the Lord implores the Saints to be faithful that they may prune the vineyard for the last time). Otherwise, the last times will begin anew with a future generation. Likewise, for the fulness of times, if all things are not gathered in one, then it remains to be completed by another generation who can gather all knowledge, dispensations, glory, and keys into Zion.

All things are relative. Again, in another cycle, there will be other dispensations of last times and fulness of times. They are the ingathering of the harvest, and the burning of the field that happens every season before the long winter, where the Lord’s people are called to dwell in booths as covert from the storm. Moses and John the Baptist are bookends, just as Joseph Smith and Denver Snuffer are, only in the Lord’s strange act, the time has been shorter as the Lord has cut short His work in righteousness (D&C 52:11), as he has caused to be prophesied before (Romans 9:28). We pray for more time to accomplish what we need to accomplish, and that more might be saved.

To say “now is the time which is the dispensation of the last times, and the fulness of times,” is to say the kingdom of heaven is at hand now as well (Matthew 10:7). Today is another of those days.

Another take on the “last times” meaning is that it is the “latest” dispensation, and not the final one, as in Joseph Smith’s usage of “last of all” in D&C 76:22.

 

How To Administer Tithing Within a Fellowship (From Denver Snuffer, Jr., “Preserving the Restoration”)

These are more quotes from Denver Snuffer’s book “Preserving the Restoration” and are used by permission.

 

Basis – Incrementally & Not in Theory Only

“Can we be ‘one’ because we believe in the theory of equality? Can we be one if we believe in the theory of sharing with one another? Is belief enough? Or must there be action? [James 2:14-18]. If James’ letter was good enough to begin the restoration, his advice can help solve our present conundrum. There is an enormous gulf between what was revealed at the beginning of the restoration and the religion practiced now. That gulf needs to disappear. We are never trapped because of belonging to a church. It does not matter if the FLDS church, or the Community of Christ (or the RLDS) church, or the Church of the Firstborn refuse to obey revelations given through Joseph Smith. All of us remain free to practice the restored faith, even if no one else joins in the practice with you. Getting from where we are to where we need to be cannot be accomplished inside institutions that have trapped our minds. Honor and worship inside your churches, but by degrees, begin the process ‘by your works’ to show real faith. Instead of consecrating, we tithe. ‘Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.’ [This is where the notion that tithing is ‘fire insurance’ comes from. If you are tithed, you will not be burned at His coming.] ‘For after today cometh the burning–this is speaking after the manner of the Lord–for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today’ (D&C 64:23-25). We should all pay tithing.” p. 255-256.

 

Paying Tithing to Current Institutions

“If satisfied in paying to your particular church, then continue doing so. Tithing is an offering to the Lord. There is no need to worry about what happens to it once it is donated. Those in charge of the tithes are accountable before God. For us, it is an act of faith. For those who receive it, it is a matter of accountability. Even in Joseph’s day, the poor were a challenge for the church. Today the problem is worse than ever, and this at the same time the LDS church has more wealth than at any time in her history. This is a problem that cannot be addressed directly and not through an institution which may or may not use the resources wisely.” pp. 256 – 257.

 

Reasons Why Some Don’t Pay Tithing

“Excommunicated members are not allowed to pay tithing to the church of their choice. Some members refuse to pay tithing because they do not trust how their church uses the funds. Some believe their church has neglected the poor and choose not to pay. Some refuse to pay because their church refuses to be accountable and open with donations. Some are offended because the LDS Church treats the return on tithing as ‘investment income,’ which is then used to build shopping malls, and establish vast commercial enterprises unnecessary for a church. The Lord anticipated churches would call some of His money ‘investment income’ in one of His parables: [Matthew 25:14-17]. [He owns all of it; the interest, the investment, and His tithing. In this parable there is no such thing as ‘investment income.’] There is nothing divine in neglecting the poor.” pp. 257-258.

 

Paying Tithing in Local Groups of Common Believers

“The primary purpose of collecting the tithes and the yield upon it is to bless and benefit the lives of those in need. Given the commandment to pay tithing, and the Lord saying ‘Organize yourselves,’ one small step that might be taken would be to collect our own tithing in local groups.

  • Assist the poor directly; looking for God’s guidance in so doing.
  • In groups of common believers, pay tithing into a common fund.
  • Then by the voice of those in the group, dispose of it by common consent so that everyone knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out.
  • Have no poor among us.
  • Help provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and transportation.
  • Take the money the Lord intended for the poor and administer it for the poor.
  • Do it by the voice of common consent, through unanimous approval.
  • Let the woman’s voice be equal with the man’s in these decisions.

In any tithing group not only should women have an equal voice, but the women have a great role to fill. When we think of ‘love unfeigned’ in a religious sense, who is more compassionate, and loves more, the man or the woman? When it comes to the home and hearth, the needs of children, women have innate competency worth trusting.” p. 259 (bullet point format added).

 

Paying Taxes

“If money is administered directly to the poor, there is no qualified 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax deduction. The benefits were always intended to be for the poor, not those who give. [Reward for the giver in this life consists only in the act of giving. Recognition for anything more than that in this life and you ‘have your reward’ (Matthew 6:2) now and ‘ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:1.)] Christ had something to say about paying taxes: [Matthew 22:17-21]. There may be negative tax consequences from practicing religion this way. The beneficiary may be disqualified from some government program eligibility because of the help they receive from a group. [Done informally such assistance is more akin to a wedding shower present, or birthday gift, than institutional assistance. Nevertheless, there may be tax or other consequences, and if there are ‘Caesar should be honored,’ and taxes should be paid. It is better to let ourselves be taxed than to become entwined with government-conferred benefits which can produce institutional servitude, as will be more fully discussed later.] Do it anyway. Become independent.” pp. 260-62.

 

Poor Not To Be Idle

“There may be those who, because they have nothing, cannot give. They should remember D&C 42:42‘Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.’  [If you are the beneficiary, not only should you be grateful, but do what you can in turn.]” p. 261.

 

Administering Tithing

“Do not pay one another for service.” p. 261

 

Pragmatic Experience to Become One, Opposition Will Be Encountered

“This is a pragmatic experiment to see how difficult it is to become ‘one.’ This world greatly opposes the idea of Zion. You will learn through criticism from others to suffer for your Lord’s sake. You may lose fellowship with those who do not agree it is your obligation to care for the poor. You may lose a temple recommend, church calling, or even church membership. You will learn that churches care for money above all else. You will also learn how weak we all are. You will experience the same problems that existed in Joseph’s attempt to establish Zion. The scripture explains: ‘there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them’ (D&C 101:6). Even in a small group there will be challenges and failures. This opportunity, if taken, will provide an accurate barometer of ‘what lack we yet’ (See Matthew 19:20)? pp. 261-262.

 

Participation From the Inactive

“The overwhelming majority of baptized Latter-day Saints are inactive. The LDS Church measures ‘active’ by counting attendance at one sacrament meeting every 90 days. There are between 9 and 11 million completely inactive Latter-day Saints. Although these disaffected saints seem utterly disinterested in the LDS Church, they may still be interested in Mormonism. Perhaps some, or many, of them can find renewed life and vigor practicing the religion they once accepted in this manner. We ought to be interested in the stray sheep. Inactive LDS, disaffected RLDS, strays from the Community of Christ, and even the various fundamentalist Mormons who once accepted Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon should be invited to participate in this experiment.” pp. 262-263.

 

Excess of Funds and Gathering

“Remember when it comes to the establishment of Zion, there is no such thing as ‘hastening the work.’ It cannot be done in haste: ‘For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your rearward’ (3 Nephi 20:42). ‘This is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence’ (D&C 63:24). [This instruction from 1831 will apply when the Lord gathers once again. Just as it did before, haste will bring pestilence to the land of gathering.] [D&C 101:68]. [There will probably be excess funds from your collections. The excess can be used to prepare a place, but not in haste. Whether there will be a place prepared for you depends entirely on whether you prepare.] pp. 263-264.

“If you want to donate money to the Lord, then do it as part of a community of believers, and use the donations to relieve the needs of the poor among you. If you have no poor among you, donate to build a temple” (Denver Snuffer, Jr., “Doctrine of Christ,” Sept. 11, 2016, p. 17).

 

Impossible to Establish Zion Without This Tithing Experiment

“There is a great work to do. It is not all to be done in one step. Unless we are willing to experiment, live the Law of Tithing and govern ourselves, it will be impossible to make the transition. The people of God will do this. [D&C 65:5-6.] [When the Lord returns it will be to an existing kingdom set up on the earth. It must precede His coming. The question is whether we will act to accomplish what He has instructed must be accomplished. The window is now open.” p. 267.

“Zion must exist before these things happen. The Lord has decreed by covenant these things will happen, but there is no guarantee we will be involved. He can accomplish His work with us or with other people.” p. 269.

 

Clarifying Comments

“…we need practical experience and not theory. The way in which the practical experience can be had is in gathering in fellowships and societies, collecting our own tithing, and then grappling with the fact that there is a pile of money sitting there, which is ever a temptation, and to deal with that in a responsible way. That forces individuals to confront their own self will, their own pride, their own desires, their own jealousy, their own envy, their own ambition, and their own covetousness. In the fellowships that have been organized there have been moments of profound breakthroughs in the kind of attributes required for Zion. One group, when they begin their meeting, gathers all the needs on written slips of paper and put all of the needs together in an unopened basket. Then they gather the money, which is always cash, into another unopened container. They don’t know how much cash there is. Without opening the cash then, they first open the needs. As a group they reason together and agree on what the priority of the needs are, so that they have a list of the most compelling, and on down. Once they know what the most compelling, the second, the third, the fourth are, they open and count the money. On one occasion, there was a married couple whose need could be satisfied because there was enough money, but they looked at the person next in line in priority behind them, and concluded that in their heart, they thought that need greater than their own. If they satisfy the next person’s need, there would be nothing left for them. So they voluntarily passed on their priority and took none of the money, and allowed it all to go to the next person in line behind them. That is a couple that I would willingly add to a community, because they’ve learned self-sacrifice. They are no threat, and are instead an ideal contributor. Someone who advocates incessantly, ‘We’ve got the live the United Order! We’ve got to have consecration,’ –because he intends to benefit from that change and better his circumstances—is unfit to be gathered. He would destroy Zion because he is selfish and thinking of what he can gain. Someone who says, ‘What can I give?’ at the cost of his own self-sacrifice, and yet is willing to live the Law of Consecration in order to bless and benefit others, not expecting themselves to be blessed or benefited but instead expect themselves to carry a burden, those people can be gathered. They present no threat. They can be “one” with others. They are willing to lose themselves, as Christ instructed. The way in which those people get identified is by practical experience, which is what the fellowshipping communities are designed, by the inspiration of God, to allow to now begin to take place. Every one of us theorizes themselves a great candidate for Zion. But go out and get some practical experience and see how great a candidate you truly are. You will be disappointed in yourself. Most of us would be anyway.” (Denver Snuffer Interview – Tim Malone 5/13/15, pp. 8-9).